When Simon Gotch’s run with WWE ended in 2017, it signaled the end of one chapter in his career. However, the former Vaudevillian was always confident in his abilities and that the seasoned performer’s story in pro wrestling would continue, and it has, working for top promotions including MLW.
Ahead of the MLW Fusion television taping on July 12 from GILT Nightclub in Orlando and Battle Riot on July 19 from the Melrose Ballroom in New York City, here Gotch looks back at his year post-WWE and gives his honest opinions on a number of topics. Fans can catch the champ and all the stars of MLW on MLW Fusion 8 p.m. ET Friday nights on beIN Sports. Battle Riot will air as a two-hour special 8 p.m. Friday, July 27 on beIN Sports.
It has been about a year since your exit from WWE. How would you some up this time to have the freedom to explore your character creatively and work in different promotions during this time in wrestling where there are so many quality ones out there?
It has been a lot of fun. I’ve actually gotten to travel more to areas that I’ve always desired to go to and work with people I’ve wanted to work with. I never really worry about creative stuff character-wise because I feel whatever I’m going to do is going to come out of me naturally. If anything, it’s the freedom of not having to worry about a specific character I’m being fed by someone else or being told, “This is how your character will act. This is how they will react to this. This is what they would say.” I have a good idea of my character. I think I know it a little better than a guy who was just given a job 10 minutes ago.
Looking at the landscape right now and comparing it to what WWE is doing right now, how would you say your career trajectory has changed. Do you see it as a blessing in disguise that you now have this opportunity to go out on your own?
I never saw it as a blessing in disguise. I never saw it as a blessing or anything in disguise. I saw it as an opportunity to do what I’ve been doing, rather what I wasn’t allowed to do, for the last four years. The reality is I was never at a point where I was depressed or angry or sad about working for WWE anymore. I was frankly thankful that it was no longer my responsibility to have to please these people who I think did not share the same vision I had for myself.
What was the biggest adjustment for you during that initial transition period?
There aren’t always showers in the buildings. That is in all honesty what I appreciated about WWE. There were always showers in the buildings we were in. Every night, no matter how bad the building was, there was always a shower. On indie shows, there are showers sometimes. Sometimes there are not. Depending on what my schedule is, I may not get a proper shower. I’m entirely too old to be scum bagging it through an airport at 5:30 in the morning. So, I’ve more than once had to go into the family restroom and clean myself off in the sink with paper towels and baby wipes.
Still paying your dues even today.
I don’t believe in paying your dues. I will say paying dues is an old phrase used by old people who are bitter to get young people who are optimistic to do work for free. I’m simply dealing with the nature of the job.
Got it. Who had the idea for “Team Lawlor” with you, Seth Petruzelli and Tom?
Mister Saint Laurent actually pitched it to me. I contacted him because I’ve known him for years when I worked the indies in Florida briefly in 2006. I trained with Seth at his gym, The Jungle here in Orlando. It was a natural fit to put the three of us together. And the fact the two are professional fighters, I’ve also been training in martial arts off and on since high school. It was a natural fit for us to showcase a different style in the ring.
It also seemed you transformed in appearance. What do you attribute that to? Is there something you changed after WWE, whether it was a diet or workout routine?
I’m just not depressed anymore. Mental health is a big part of it. The reality of it is when you’re in WWE, if you’re not doing work you’re proud of or happy with, it’s going to wear on you. You’re not going to be in the right mindset. Even when you’re working hard, you may not be working as efficiently as you could be. The difference of being on the road 200 days a year, flying out Saturday morning and not getting back Wednesday morning. The difference between if I’m at MLW, I’m 10 minutes and home. Flying out I can leave Friday morning and being back Sunday night or Monday morning, that extra couple days you are off actually makes a huge difference. It allows you to focus a bit more on training or dieting and have the options of doing things like going to yoga or MMA training to strengthen my overall body. The extra freedom allows you to do all this. WWE’s schedule is very demanding as far as the time. With indie shows, I can show up when I need to be there. If the show is at 7, call time will be at around 5. WWE, TV time is at 7 p.m. Call time can be at 2 p.m. There is significant amount of time where you don’t need to be there, but you have to be there because that is the call time.
You have the big event called the Battle Riot. What are your thoughts on this concept and MLW branching out to New York City within eight months or so? All these things are happening pretty quickly.
When you look outside Florida, MJF would be an example. ACH, all the guys with initials. Callihan, multiple ones who come in from outside like Darby Allin, Jimmy Havoc. It’s not outside of the company’s budget to fly in people. So, it’s not too different shifting where they are flying them. You also have to consider expansion is the goal of any company. If it costs the company a certain amount of money to run I Florida, as long as they are not going tremendously overbudget to run that same show in New York or Chicago. In a major market they know they can get a wrestling audience, it’s a feasible investment. Even at eight months. The thing that MLW has done right is take the time to build a product and not overextend itself to early. If they had done this two weeks in, I can see how people would be concerned. But after eight months with a TV deal. I think it’s a perfectly feasible move.
What are your thoughts on Battle Riot?
I believe Court was planning to do this around 14 years ago, and it never happened. So that he is finally able to do it is awesome. Even at that, being able to do such a big match in New York. It’s a great market to do it in with a long wrestling tradition and Madison Square Garden…It really is a great chance for people to come out and see a lot of these stars they are used to seeing in various independent promotions all in one place. You’re going to get to see them slug it all out in a pretty big match. Note that it might not be the Greatest Royal Rumble as far as numbers go. It’s bigger than a normal Royal Rumble. We’ve got that going for us. It’s the second Greatest Royal Rumble.
That would be hilarious if someone comes out and does a play on the Titus O’Neil slide.
I really would like to see is for someone to make like they are going to do it and slide and stop dead before getting to the ring. I want the tease. That would be a better way of going with it.