by Daniel Johnson
Interviewer’s Note: “Lord of the Manor” Paul Tracey is a veteran of the Irish wrestling scene. Tracey has held a slew of championships across the country and has also defended prestigious championships outside of Ireland’s borders. Arguably the most notable championship Tracey has held is the NWA British Commonwealth Championship. These days Tracey still performs for a bunch of promotions including the Irish based Wrestling.ie, Fight Factory Pro Wrestling (FFPW) and No Limit Wrestling (NLW) and has been performing more and more for Westside Xtreme Wrestling (WXW) in Germany. Tracey has a Facebook page that can be found here. This interview was completed on October 23, 2013. In this interview Tracey and I focus on the topic of wrestling in Ireland.
Daniel Johnson: In a nutshell how would you describe yourself as a performer?
Paul Tracey: I guess I have gone through a lot of different styles as a performer in the years I have been wrestling. Right now I have a character that I love portraying and developing, and a lot of the local shows I have been doing lately are family orientated shows so the character shines through on those shows. That being said I love the challenge of wrestling on different types of events. I think a good wrestler should be able to adapt to his surroundings and work to them. I like to think that through experience I can do that and adapt to whatever challenge is put in front of me.
Daniel Johnson: For those unfamiliar with you where and when were you born and how long have you been wrestling?
Paul Tracey: I was born in October 1979 in Dublin, Ireland and I have lived in Bray, Co Wicklow, Ireland all my life. I began training at NWA: UK Hammerlock in August 2000, and debuted in Maidstone, Kent in the UK for NWA: UK in November 2001.
Daniel Johnson: What is your earliest memory of watching wrestling as a fan?
Paul Tracey: King Kong Bundy squashing Hulk Hogan with an avalanche in the corner of a steel cage match. I think it was Wrestlemania 2, but I could be wrong!
Daniel Johnson: When did you know you wanted to become a wrestler and how did you go about finding a place to get trained?
Paul Tracey: I grew up watching it and was fascinated by it and once I started secondary school I always believed I’d like to give it a try. A good friend of mine from Bray, where I grew up saw an advert in a wrestling magazine for a week-long summer training camp in the UK. We both went along and that’s where it all started.
Daniel Johnson: What did a typical day of training look like for you?
Paul Tracey: Starting out it was cardio, conditioning, stretching, bumping, chain wrestling, submission wrestling, rope running spots and move execution. Our training at Hammerlock was very old school and had a lot of emphasis on the old British style combined with submission wrestling. I will always be grateful that we started out that way, it benefited us a lot and made us all technically very good wrestlers, and made us really appreciate the art of wrestling. I think that is missing a lot more these days.
Daniel Johnson: How long did you train before you had your first match? Also, do you remember your first match at all? If so what stands out from it for you?
Paul Tracey: I didn’t have a huge amount of training behind me when I debuted, but I was lucky in that I took to everything well and picked things up quickly. I’d say thinking back I did four or five training camps before my first match. I don’t remember much of it, except how nervous I was on the train to Maidstone ! It was an elimination match and I wasn’t in it for long ! I was relieved, but also happy when it was over. It definitely left me wanting more!
Daniel Johnson: I first heard about you from your work at NWA Hammerlock. How did you get involved with this company?
Paul Tracey: Hammerlock was where I started training, and at the time we were running 40 or 50 shows a year with three long tours every year, generally every March, June, and October, as well as spot shows in between. Attendances were good and I had a great crew around me who helped me out a lot. It was a great place to be, especially for a guy from Ireland where there were no training schools or shows going on at a local level.
Daniel Johnson: Do you consider NWA Hammerlock your first home promotion? If not then what was?
Paul Tracey: Yes, 100 percent. Hammerlock was home, and I learned so much about the business there. It will always be special for me and I will always be grateful for it.
Daniel Johnson: You have not wrestled for NWA Hammerlock in quite some time. What made you stop working there?
Paul Tracey: When Andre Baker, the original Hammerlock promoter and trainer began winding down the shows I began wrestling in other places. Before that I had no need to wrestle anywhere else because we had such a busy schedule! It came to a point where Hammerlock was only running one venue in Chatham, which I still went and did. The last NWA: UK Hammerlock show I was involved with was in Maidstone, the same venue I debuted in, and was a tribute show to our late promoter and mentor Andre Baker, who had passed on one year earlier. A second version of Hammerlock started up with new promoters and new wrestlers but I was never involved there really. I was happy to move on, wish them well, and keep the memories I have of Hammerlock as I knew it.
Daniel Johnson: Getting more into the independent wrestling scene in Ireland. In a broad sense how would you describe the wrestling scene there?
Paul Tracey: Right now it’s pretty good. I wrestle mainly for a promotion called Wrestling.ie where we are selling out most of the places we go and have had sellouts of 700 people on three separate occasions recently, and that is on top of smaller sellouts of 300, 400 people or whatever the number may be. That would have been unheard of in the past to be doing those numbers in Ireland with just local talent so hats off to the promoter Stephen who works very hard. The best wrestlers in the country are involved there so it’s a great place to be! There are some other promotions and training schools: Main Stage Wrestling (MSW), Celtic Championship Wrestling (CCW), Fight Factory Pro Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Ulster (PWU), Emerald Wrestling (EW), Irish Whip Wrestling (IWW), so the scene is busy. I’d like to see more talent coming through the training schools, I think the country as a whole has lacked new stars the last few years, but hopefully this will happen in the future.
Daniel Johnson: How many wrestling promotions have you worked for in Ireland and what are they?
Paul Tracey: NWA Ireland, Wrestling.ie, American Wrestling Rampage (AWR), No Limit Wrestling, Fight Factory Pro Wrestling, Main Stage Wrestling, Full Throttle Wrestling (FTW). I think that’s it for Ireland!
Daniel Johnson: What promotion have you worked for in Ireland more than any other? Also what keeps bringing you back there?
Paul Tracey: Wrestling.ie has given me a lot of regular work over the past few years, and I love the buzz there, the top quality opponents, the full houses, the family style entertainment, the energy of the crowds, the good vibe backstage. It has it all for me at the moment so going forward I hope to be involved there for a long time to come! In my promoting days when I was one half of the NWA Ireland promotion team, I obviously had to do a lot of work for my own promotion, but this was work not so much in the ring, but admin/promotion/training school work. I was happy to leave all that behind me!
Daniel Johnson: Are there any promotions you have yet to work for in Ireland that you would like to? If so then where?
Paul Tracey: Not really to be honest. I go where the business takes me! I’m fairly content here at the moment, although I would like to see a regular over 18 style wrestling show set up here. If it was done right it would be another dimension to the scene here.
Daniel Johnson: What are the hot spots to wrestle for in Ireland? What locations are you likely to get a hot crowd?
Paul Tracey: Its strange because people always associate big cities with big crowds, so most people would associate Dublin, being the biggest city here, with the biggest crowds. But the fact that WWE, TNA and some of the local indie promotions run events in Dublin, it is a bit overdone. I find in Ireland that the biggest and hottest crowds are in the country towns away from Dublin. Two big sellouts of over 700 that I have done in the last few months were in Kerry, four hours from Dublin and Galway, three hours from Dublin. These towns are often starved of live wrestling action so when we go there the venue sells out. That being said, I guess any show can do well if the promoter works hard and promotes the event well.
Daniel Johnson: Do you remember the hottest crowd you ever worked for in Ireland? If so then what was it and how did you make the most of it?
Paul Tracey: I’m not sure if I remember the hottest, but I have done shows in front of many hot crowds here. With my current character in wrestling, the “Lord of the Manor” I make the most of it with promos, in-ring psychology, and the fact that I have learned to work and get the most out of an audience over the years helps me out. I am obviously a heel character with a very British look and demeanor. This generally upsets an Irish audience and I know how to push their buttons!
Daniel Johnson: On the other side of the coin are there any places that have really rough crowds in Ireland and have you worked in front of any particularly rough one?
Paul Tracey: Yes, there have been a few! I remember a few years ago we ran a show in a dull and dreary hall on a dull backstreet in a town in Co Wicklow, and only about 60 people turned up, mostly teenagers with nothing better to do than cause problems for us all night and all felt the need to jump into the ring at the end of the show! Not one of the better ones I ever did, but I guess you learn from your mistakes! Needless to say we never went back there!
Daniel Johnson: For people unfamiliar with the the independent wrestling scene in Ireland what is one thing you would say to them that might get them interested in it? Also, is there any places online you would suggest where readers can check out independent wrestling in Ireland?
Paul Tracey: There actually isn’t a place that I’m aware of online to read show reviews and results. Wrestling.ie is the website of the main group I work with here. I’m not even sure if all the other promotions have websites, but all are on Facebook and probably Twitter. That being said there could be an online site that I am not familiar with. I generally don’t read show results or reviews from anywhere I go so I’m not aware of any unfortunately.
Daniel Johnson: Likewise, who do you think are some Irish wrestlers readers should look out for?
Paul Tracey: Obviously there is Sheamus doing great in the WWE and Prince Devitt doing great in NJPW. I am obviously traveling a bit myself and getting on shows in many places around the world. We have a tag team here called Big Hangovers (Sean Guinness and Jordan Devlin) doing great, and are current Pro Wrestling ZERO1/NWA International Lightweight Tag Team Champions, Paddy “Suicide Machine” Morrow is a wrestler that I have traveled all over Europe with as well as to the USA and Canada and is an awesome talent, as is Dunkan Disorderly who I have had so many great matches with over the last few years. Danny “The Beast” Butler is current No Limit Wrestling Champion here and is doing well. The list goes on really, some great guys here at the moment.
Daniel Johnson: What advice would you give to a young person in Ireland who wants to become a wrestler? Also, are there any wrestling schools in Ireland that you would suggest?
Paul Tracey: I guess I would give the same advice to anybody starting out, you have to learn to crawl before you can walk. Find yourself a good training school with reputable trainers, and get yourself in shape and look like a wrestler. Why should people pay to watch somebody who looks like their next door neighbor. Also, if you have some muscle on your body it helps to protect your bones when you are bumping on your back so much. Then you need to learn the safest ways to land on the mat to protect yourself as best you can and learn the basics of how to wrestle. There is no point in being able to do a 450 splash if you can’t do a headlock properly! Learn how to run the ropes, learn how to execute moves properly, listen to advice, be humble, keep your head down, work hard. If you can do all this there is no reason why you should not get a start somewhere. There are four wrestling schools that I am aware of there: PWU (Belfast, Northern Ireland), MSW (Dublin), FFPW (Bray, Co Wicklow), CCW (Cork/Waterford area). I think IWW and Emerald Wrestling may have training schools too, but I am not sure where they are based. I am not currently affiliated to any training school, but I do run some training sessions here and there. I may get more involved again in training/coaching wrestlers again next year.
Daniel Johnson: How difficult is it to get noticed by major international wrestling companies in Ireland? Is it possible to stay in Ireland and get noticed or would you suggest going elsewhere for better exposure?
Paul Tracey: I guess it’s hard, but in many ways no harder than anywhere else. If you put yourself in the right positions you make the right contacts and you might have a chance. If you are traveling around the indie circuit and having great matches every time you go out and making waves, you have a good chance of people taking note, especially if you are wrestling good guys, in well lit venues and you tape it right and get the footage out there. One big disadvantage for Irish wrestlers is our location. There are hotbeds of wrestling in the USA, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Japan, but the flight prices to all those places are very high from here. Why would promotions there pay such high air fares and take a chance on an independent Irish wrestler when they have local wrestlers in the area, which is understandable! Also, we aren’t on mainland Europe so we can’t drive to shows like a lot of guys there can. For example guys from France can drive to Holland or Germany to do a show. For Irish wrestlers to work outside of Ireland it is always flights, which all add up – especially now in recessional times!
Daniel Johnson: I also had some more general questions about your wrestling career. I always like to hear ribs and road stories. Do you have any that you would be able to share?
Paul Tracey: I have loads, and get asked many times! But I never share them! As the saying goes, “What goes on the road, stays on the road.”
Daniel Johnson: From 2006 to 2007 you had a lengthy reign as the NWA British Commonwealth Champion. What are some memories you have from this run?
Paul Tracey: It was great, I really enjoyed it. The Commonwealth title was the most traveled title in the NWA at the time! At the time the world title never left North America. I know I had it in a few countries within Europe, and also in the USA and Canada I think. It was great and was an honor to hold the title. I actually lost the belt to Dru Onyx in Vermont in the USA on my birthday in 2007! I enjoyed the run though, and the challenge and responsibility of helping to build the title and to get it noticed
Daniel Johnson: Do you consider this to be the most prestigious championship you have won yet? If not then what is?
Paul Tracey: Yes, that was definitely a great one to win. I also had a short reign as Pro Wrestling ZERO1/NWA United National Championship, which I won in Japan. That was an amazing feeling to win a title over there and was of big personal significance for me. Also, the first time I won the NWA: UK Hammerlock title was great with it being my home promotion, and was the first time a lot of trust, faith and responsibility was put in me.
Daniel Johnson: Recently you have been working a lot for WXW in Germany. How did you get involved with WXW and what would you like to accomplish there?
Paul Tracey: One goal at WXW is to be the world champion there. It is a great promotion and is great to have been a part of. Everyone works hard there and it is a big, and still growing promotion with a big future. I first met the WXW match maker Felix at a Dragon Gate show in Spain where I was wrestling Mike Quackenbush. We kept in contact and several months later he invited me to work at WXW. The office guys of Felix, Tas and Jakobi are great there and I cannot speak highly enough about them. Great group of wrestlers and a fantastic locker room.
Daniel Johnson: What is one short term goal you have in wrestling over the next year or so?
Paul Tracey: I honestly don’t know what will happen next! I want to stay busy, hope the strong Irish scene at Wrestling.ie continues, get back working more around Europe, go back to Japan, and wrestle in some new countries!
Daniel Johnson: Looking more broadly where would you like to be in five years?
Paul Tracey: It’s hard to say really. The business changes so much these days! If I’m still doing this in five years, I suppose I would like to have a contract somewhere and be earning a weekly paycheck out of pro wrestling! Although I know that nowadays that is very difficult. But I guess that is the main goal for a lot of wrestlers.
Daniel Johnson: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment to be in wrestling to date?
Paul Tracey: I honestly don’t know. I have had a few and it’s hard to rate them. Things like playing a part in setting up a training school in Ireland when there was none here. Training some great guys and girls and seeing their success. Wrestling in so many countries. Wrestling on big shows in front of thousands of people. The list goes on. I’m just happy it lasted so long and I had such a good time doing this.
Daniel Johnson: I also like to ask five non-wrestling related questions just to bring a little uniqueness to the interview. Outside of wrestling, what television shows do you enjoy watching these days?
Paul Tracey: I don’t really watch TV shows! I generally sit and flick the channels, and if there is something I like on I will watch it until I get bored! I am a big football (soccer) fan and am a big fan of Liverpool FC in the UK! If we are playing on TV that is what I will be watching! I watch a lot of football!
Daniel Johnson: What was your favorite movie that came out this year?
Paul Tracey: I’m not a huge movie fan. Generally anything funny is good for me! One of my favorite movies ever is Stepbrothers.
Daniel Johnson: What is your favorite food that you tried for the first time this year?
Paul Tracey: Seaweed!
Daniel Johnson: What is your favorite song to come out this year?
Paul Tracey: “Wake Me Up” by Avicii.
Daniel Johnson: What is the last book you read and would you recommend it?
Paul Tracey: Believe it or not, the only book I have read in probably the last 15 years was Ric Flair’s autobiography [Ric Flair: To Be the Man] a few years ago! I‘m obviously not a big reader, but I read the whole thing in about four days! I loved it, and would definitely recommend it to anyone who hasn’t read it yet!
Daniel Johnson: I wanted to close with just a few more brief wrestling questions. What is the weirdest part of being a pro wrestler?
Paul Tracey: Just the variety of it, not going to know what is going to happen next, the places you get to see, the lifestyles and traditions of these places, the outfits I wear, the character I play, the after parties, the traveling, the stories, the friends you make, the things you see and experience, the buzz of the live audience, every show being different. All in all its weird in a lot of ways, but truly awesome at the same time!
Daniel Johnson: Who is one wrestler 25 or under that you think readers should know about?
Paul Tracey: I’d have to give you three: Zack Sabre, Jr. (England), Jordan Devlin (Ireland), Noam Dar (Scotland).
Daniel Johnson: Is there anything you would like to promote?
Paul Tracey: I’m not on Twitter, but please keep up with me on my Facebook page: Lord of the Manor – Paul Tracey. I am always looking for new “Paul Tracey guys” to Join my revolution and to praise the lord !
Daniel Johnson: Is there anything you would like to add?
Paul Tracey: Just to thank you guys for having me on here, thanks to everybody who reads this, and to thank wrestling fans in general, without the fans there would be no show and no wrestling business. You guys are the most important part of it all !
Check out Paul Tracey in action! Aside from Ireland, Tracey has been to a lot of different places to wrestle. In this match from Scottish Wrestling Alliance (SWA): ZERO1 Tracey takes on “Private” Bobby Roberts:
Categories: Wrestling Interviews