Rik Van Damage hails from Birmingham in the West Midlands. Van Damage is known for his huge power moves as well as his high flying ability and spectacular moves. Van Damage has wrestled for companies such as Wu Tech, Ironfist, AWW, MAXD, Slam, Pro Evo, VWF, PWL and WAR just to name a few.
1. For those who dont know you, How would you describe yourself?
I’m a laid back, easy going guy, with a huge amount of passion for professional wrestling.
2. How was it growing up for you?
Growing up for me was cool. In school I was always the guy who hung out with everybody, good at all sports but never really having an interest in anything but wrestling. I did Karate from a young age and got up to my brown/white belt (one down from black) but my mom died when i was 12 and after that I never wished to carry on with it. After that I did a bit of Kickboxing and I enjoyed working out with weights from a young age. I was quite gifted academically but found it hard to keep interested in certain subjects.
3. When did you first think I want to be a wrestler?
I always wanted to be a professional wrestler since the first time I saw it at about 5 or 6. My Mom used to say It was a phase and I’d grow out of it but I never did. Hulk Hogan was my first ever hero, and I can remember watching him on TV and feeling ultimate excitement watching his usual routine. Getting beat up, hulking up, winning, and the posedown at the end. It was always the same, but i believed in it 100%
4. What is it like being part of Wu Tech
It was great to be invited on to the show and even sharing the same dressing room with a bunch of guys that I have the utmost respect for in terms of their wrestling work. I saw the poster with me on it along with Mark Haskins, El Ligero, Dave Mastiff and of course Sabu, and I had the feeling that I didn’t really deserve to be on the poster with these guys. The same thing when i was in the dressing room with them. T Bone, Manson, a whos who of British wrestling basically. So thanks to Daryl the promoter, for inviting me to be part of the show and Kane Thomas for actually recommending me and getting me the booking in the first place.
5. How was it to be trained at AWW?
A lot of people are under the Impression that I was trained by AWW, but actually I was trained at K Star in Birmingham years ago. I was trained by Carl Brookes and Madd Dogg. Both great wrestlers and really great trainers. They not only taught me the bumps, moves, etc but they also explained the psychology aspect of putting a match together. Some places just show you the bumps and expect you to figure out the rest yourself. I wrestled for K Star for a while under a different character (Romeo Vain) and then life kinda got in the way and I fell out of it. I always loved wrestling and never wanted to leave but stuff happens. I saw a poster advertising AWW 9th anniversary show, and found out they had a school, so i went along and started training again at around August time. At first i was a bit worried that I’d lost my agility but i soon found out it was like riding a bike, you never forget. I could still do all the big kicks and flips and stuff. Kevin O’neil booked me as his bodyguard for the 9th anniversary show in September, but I didnt have my first match till December against Matt Lightning. Overall I enjoyed my experience with AWW but I decided I needed to branch out on my own and get bookings elsewhere, coz I really craved in ring time, and Kevin O’neil ( who by the way is a great guy) always kept me on my toes and I was always left wondering “are you gonna book me?” I needed to know coz I’m 28 now and not getting any younger.
6. What has been your favourite promotion to work for so far?
I’ve enjoyed working for mostly every promotion tbh. It would be easier for me to tell you the few promotions I’ve had bad experiences with, but it would be unprofessional of me to say so. But on the whole I’ve enjoyed working for 95% of the places I’ve been.
7. How do you feel about claims you’re a Rob Van Dam wannabe?
When people say I’m a Rob Van Dam wannabe, nothing could be further from the truth. I throw Kicks, and do a bit of high flying, and if I’m in front of a young audience, and they ask for a frogsplash I’ll do it. But other than that and the name I can’t see where I’m ripping him off? People say i look like Jean Claude Van Damme, so i thought I’d just use Van Damage. My real name is Rikki btw so thats where the Rik came from. I thought it would help me get bookings but some promoters hate and i can understand why. Might change my name soon tbh. But I could never be Rob Van Dam. Theres only one RVD. We don’t even wrestle the same style anyways. So anybody who says im a RVD wannabe has obviously never seen me wrestle. They see my look and the name and assume. People forget that Rob Van Dam ripped off Jean Claude Van Damme in the first place. You can’t please everybody, so I’m not gonna even try. When i go to a show and I get feedback from the fans and they enjoyed my work, or they message me on facebook to say they had a good time, thats all i care about. I could care less about the haters who pretend like they know everything about wrestling.
8. Who has been your favourite guy to wrestle?
In all honesty I’ve enjoyed wrestling everybody I’ve been in the ring with. Every experience is different which is part of the reason i love wrestling, so I couldn’t really single anybody out, coz i wouldn’t wanna leave anybody out. If your reading this and you’ve worked with me, just know I’ve enjoyed it.
9. How was it to be in the same locker room as Sabu?
Being in the same locker room as Sabu was cool. Growing up you start looking for a wrestling product that isn’t as cartoonish as WWE, so i discovered ECW. He was one of those guys i always looked up to as a “smart” fan. He was different. He didn’t look like your typical wrestler and I loved his crazy innovative style. He’s a legend, and I’ll always mark out for him. It was great to shake his hand and say hi.
10. What are your career goals?
I don’t really have any career goals tbh other than just to keep wrestling. I love wrestling, and whether its in front of 5 people or 500 people it’s all the same to me. I always give my all, and as long as I’m in the ring I’m a happy man.
11. What promotion who you like to work for in the future?
I’m happy to wrestle anywhere tbh. I’m not really into messaging promoters and asking to work. I always think, if they want you on the show, they’ll ask you. It must be so annoying to be a successful promoter and receiving loads of messages from guys asking to work, so thats another reason I don’t. If a promoter asks me to work I’m happy to work.
12. What do you think of the current state of British Wrestling?
British wrestling is at an all time high at the moment. Theres loads of promotions popping up everywhere, so plenty of places to work, which is good in one sense, but bad in another. The fans are spoilt for choice and sometimes theres like 3 shows on the same day, so promoters have to work that much harder for every customer. I’d rather be a wrestler than a promoter anyday. Too much of a headache.
13. Who is the best wrestler you have seen in the UK?
I couldn’t really name one particular wrestler as the best in the UK. Right now in the UK, the level of talent is incredible and I don’t think it’s ever been this good. Obviously, Ligero, Mastiff, The Hunter Brothers, Manson. These guys and countless others I look up to and aspire to be like. I could never just name one.
14. Who were you heroes growing up?
My heroes growing up were Hulk Hogan and Jean Claude Van Damme. Then i discovered ECW and first saw Rob Van Dam. The first time i saw him wrestle i was hooked. I’ve never seen anybody wrestle like that before. His moveset was innovative and breathtaking. I’ve also met him a couple of times and he was a really great guy. They always say you should never meet your heroes coz they disappoint you, but he exceeded my expectations.
15. Who has been your favourite promoter to work for?
My favourite promoter to work for is probably Luke Douton for SLAM I’d say coz most the guys on the show are regulars and u get to know each other and hang out. Really easy going and more like family than business. But I’ve enjoyed working for nearly every promoter.
16. Any dates you want to plug?
My next wrestling show is for SWA on the 27th September, and I have various other promotions in October coming up. Wu Tech again, and some others which are a bit hush hush atm 🙂
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Apart from that i would like to thank Rik for allowing me to do this interview and i will see you guys on the next interview!