I recently had the opportunity to sit down with former WWE Superstar, original Nexus member and three-time WWE Tag Team Champion Justin Gabriel, who Lucha Underground and GFW fans may know as “The Darewolf” PJ Black.
PJ will be appearing for 5 Star Wrestling this February at a number of dates as the UK promotion looks to relaunch in a MASSIVE way. Check out their website and social media for more information on those shows, which kick off in Liverpool on 2/1. He also confirmed that he’ll be at the upcoming Lucha Underground season four tapings, and has signed on with the company through season six.
Below are a few highlights from the 30-minute interview which you can check out in full in the player embedded above. Of course you can subscribe to ProWrestling.com on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play and wherever else you listen to your podcasts to catch the very latest episodes as soon as they’re available.
On meeting a homeless Adam Rose because he snuck into his dad’s backyard:
“In my backyard my dad had a wrestling school and we had two or three wrestling rings. I would come home from school and bump around, and kind of train myself basically. I never had anyone to practice with, and this kid – I guess he was homeless at the time – jumped over the fence and started training in the ring. I was like ‘who the hell is this kid?’ and we just kind of became friends because I had somebody to practice with. He knew all the moves I knew, and from there we started a tag team. We literally had our first matches against each other.”
On if he still keeps up with WWE as an independent wrestler:
“I try to man, but there’s so much stuff going on right now on TV. I try to catch the pay-per-views at least. It’s impossible for me to catch the weekly shows; it’s just too much for me. I’m just too busy. I don’t ever have time to just sit down by myself for an hour, and if I do I’ll read a book, go to the gym or do some yoga; something to better myself. I don’t even own a TV.”
The original concept for NXT as a reality show and nothing being scripted:
“Do you remember The Ultimate Fighter where all the fighters staid in the house? That was the initial idea, or something like that. But obviously time ran out [and]two days before they were like ‘Oh shit, we don’t have a house, we don’t have anything.’ That’s how unorganized they are. Basically everything was just free-style. Nothing was scripted in the matches and promos, nothing was scripted. I think we messed it up so bad that season two was HEAVILY scripted. It was kind of an on-the-fly thing and it was kind of a cool learning experience.”
On whether or not Nexus was cut way too short:
“Yes. Definitely. Everyone says that all the time. It comes down to that one SummerSlam match and we probably should have gone over. You can debate this all day, but it probably would have ran longer. We didn’t even get to WrestleMania because we were only around for like less than a year.”
How being drunk one night cost him a year in Lucha Underground:
“Apparently Lucha [Underground] called me, and I have no recollection of this, but DJ the head writer said he called me and I must have been drunk. I don’t drink anymore [laughs]. He said I was really cocky and I was like, ‘Give me a call back in a year or so.’ A year went by and I watched the show on TV, and when I saw the first season I was like, ‘How the hell did I turn this down? This is amazing!’ He called me back the 2nd of October exactly a year later and was like, ‘Are you ready to come to work?'”
On the best things he’s been able to do in Lucha Underground:
“That’s tough, man. Every day there is so different and so unique. I’ve been wrestling for 20 years now and Lucha is definitely the most fun I’ve ever had. Winning the Trios title – that was pretty dope. Just all the unique vignettes that we get to do. I don’t know if you’ve seen my debut, but that to me was probably the best thing ever.”
Bringing the “Darewolf” gimmick to the indies after WWE nixed the idea:
“I actually pitched that in WWE and Vince loved it, so he obviously trademarked it immediately. And then Hunter didn’t like it that much… That’s what happens in WWE. They have so much talent and I feel like the office is like, ‘Hey what are we gonna do with this guy?’ They kind of go back and forth like ‘No let’s do this, let’s do this’, and then move on to the main event, and then they kind of forget about those guys. I think in the era that I quit that happened a lot.”
On the quality of the indies in 2018 and if he’d ever return to WWE:
“In WWE there’s not a lot of money. I probably make more money on the indies these days. There’s so many good talents out there right now, and I have creative freedom. I’m just having the time of my life right now. I just went to Australia, before that it was South Africa, I get to compete in England next week. I get to go to all these places that, even though in WWE we went, but we could only spend a day because we would do a show and go to the next time. Now I get to spend time in all these cool places. Never say never, I learned that from Vince. But probably never.”