411 Interviews: Gran Akuma of Resistance Pro and Chikara
Gran Akuma is a longtime independent wrestler, who will be competing on the Resistance Pro debut show, Black Friday, which takes place on…Black Friday. Akuma has also returned to Chikara after not being with the company for over a year (he had been with Chikara since 2002). Over the years, Akuma has also competed in Ring of Honor, Dragon Gate USA, Evolve, Combat Zone Wrestling, and many other independent groups.
TJ: You were recently announced as one of the members of the Resistance Pro roster. Resistance Pro is owned and operated by Smashing Pumpkins frontman, Billy Corgan. How did you get hooked up with this new and unique promotion? What are your goals for your time with this promotion? Do you know what your first match is going to be when the promotion debuts in Chicago on Black Friday?
GA: I was actually among the first to get a call from Billy and the brothers Baron. As we worked everything out, I wound up hooking them up with a few other guys they were interested in.
I’ll be part of the R-Pro tag tournament, teaming with Teddy Hart to face the Briscoes in the first round. I’m on a mission to reinvent myself a bit, as I’d fallen into a rut of being known primarily as a heavy striker. Moving into 2012, people are going to see a much more well-rounded Gran Akuma.
TJ: During the last weekend of Chikara’s season 10, you returned at both Cibernetic: The Animated Series and the High Noon iPPV to attack Icarus. Do you plan on “invading” Chikara more in Season 11, or do you hope to be an official member of the roster again?
GA: I definitely plan to make CHIKARA my home moving forward.
TJ: At the High Noon iPPV, in an attempt to kick Icarus’s head off, you accidentally kicked the handicapped hero, Gregory Iron. While you obviously intend on doing physical harm to Icarus, is making amends to Iron also now a part of your plans?
GA: I think it has to be. Returning the way I did wasn’t ONLY a matter of getting revenge, it was also about making a statement. FIST singled me out as the “weak link”, and I simply don’t get disrespected like that. It isn’t a coincidence that I returned on arguably the biggest CHIKARA show ever, when Chuck Taylor and Johnny Gargano weren’t in the building. While I did make a pretty big splash, Greg Iron got caught in the crossfire. As if a 3 on 1 fight wasn’t enough of an uphill battle, I very well have made another enemy.
TJ: While you now understandably have no love for Icarus and FIST, I was wondering if you could share some thoughts with the readers about how you feel the run you, Icarus, and Chuck Taylor had as a Trios team? What was it like to win King of Trios 2009, where the three of you defeated Bryan Danielson, Claudio Castagnoli, and Dave Taylor in the finals?
GA: I was intensely proud of that entire weekend. Over the course of 3 days,we defeated 4 teams that couldn’t have had less in common in what many thought were among the standout matches of the weekend. It’s not often you get to trade punches with Necro Butcher and get hit with Dave Taylor’s Butterfly Suplex in the same weekend. Back then,I firmly believe we were as good or better than any trio in the world. Winning KoT 2009 simply made that official.
TJ: Wrestling fans also recently saw a lot of you in Dragon Gate USA and Evolve until late 2010. What did you think of your time there? If you don’t mind me asking, why did you stop wrestling for those two companies?
GA: DGUSA was both a lot of fun and a big disappointment for me. I got a bad neck injury on the second show that slowed me down in a lot of ways. I couldn’t train as hard as I wanted to, and I had to drop my bookings down to only CHIKARA, DGUSA, and EVOLVE to try to heal, but in retrospect I should have taken more time off to heal properly. As far as why I’m not wrestling there anymore, I can only guess. On one hand, I wasn’t at 100%, and DGUSA and EVOLVE are pretty elite companies. On the other hand, when I was taken off the first DGUSA iPPV, I responded to the email saying that I clearly wasn’t delivering and asked what I could change. I got a “we’ll talk after the shows”, and then never heard back.
TJ: For this section of the interview, I was hoping you could share your thoughts on some prominent matches from your career:
Chikara Running in the Red 2005: Gran Akuma vs. Shane Storm: Mask vs. Mask
GA: I loved that this match followed Lucha tradition to the letter. Storm and I had wars together, and this was no exception. To this day, he still has the torn up mask he won from me that night, and I still have the bloody mullet I ripped from his mask in the Cibernetico that preceded it.
Chikara Brick 2006: Gran Akuma & Icarus vs. Chris Hero & Claudio Castagnoli for the CHIKARA Campeonatos De Parejas Titles
GA: This is arguably the biggest win of my career, and had a finish people still talk about. We went toe to toe with probably the best tag team in the world, and more than held our own.
DGUSA Enter the Dragon 2009: Gran Akuma, Icarus, Hallowicked & Amasis vs. Mike Quackenbush, Jigsaw, and The Colony
GA: This should have been the match that made my dreams start to come true. The opinion of the Dragon Gate Japan office was that we stole the show. After the match, CIMA walked over to us and said “Everybody…VERY good match. Thank you.”. He then bowed to us, and walked away. Afterward, we were told that the DG office was very excited to be involved with us, and that CIMA was particularly impressed with…me. It seemed things were about to get really exciting for me…
DGUSA Freedom Fight 2010: Your run to the finals to crown the first DGUSA Open the Freedom Gate Title
GA: …until this show. In between the debut show and this show, there was a show in Chicago where I nearly broke my neck. I got a really bad stinger, my left arm was paralyzed for about 60 seconds, and I thought I my career was over. Backstage I could lift my arm up, but not all the way, and I had to go through weeks of physical therapy to get full mobility in my arm again. With everything seemingly going my way with DG (and my biggest dream of all – wrestling in Japan) hanging in the balance, I rushed myself back in the ring in time for the Open the Freedom Gate show. If I wasn’t at enough of a handicap, the DG guys freaked out about my kneebrace.
I’d torn my ACL in a 4 way in ROH back in 2007,and was told I had to wrestle with a metal brace. In my second match with it, I attempted a tope and the brace hooked the middle rope, nearly killing me. To prevent future brushes with death, I started wearing a thigh pad over the top of the brace, a kneepad over the middle, a kickpad over the bottom, and went back to long tights to keep the entire thing covered up.
In short, once the DG guys saw it, they were certain I’d hurt them with it and suddenly didn’t want to do anything with me. Even when YAMATO and I were beating down BxB Hulk after eliminating CIMA, YAMATO wouldn’t let me get anywhere near Hulk. The funny thing is that I have a scar on my chin from a BxB Hulk spin kick, where a sharp edge on his kickpad sliced me open. The guy that was terrified I’d hurt him with my kneebrace cut me with something he was wearing on his leg. Ah,irony…
DGUSA Enter the Dragon 2010: The 8 man elimination match between Chikara Sekigun and Kamikaze USA
GA: This match was my last attempt at getting back into the good graces of DG/DGUSA. By this point, I’d started doing a more intensive lower body workout and switched to a brace made entirely out of fabric in an attempt to get the DG guys to work with me. I even went back to short trunks on these shows,as if to say “See guys? No knee brace! You don’t have to be afraid to wrestle me anymore!”, but sadly that ship had apparently sailed. I thought the match itself was pretty good, but by this point, the life had been sucked out of me.
TJ: Thanks you so much for taking the time to do the interview. Is there anything else you want to promote (Twitter, Facebook, website, merch, upcoming appearances, booking information, etc)?
GA: Thanks for having me!
The debut RESISTANCE is Black Friday! If you’re looking for me, I’ll be making CHIKARA and RESISTANCE Pro my home(s), and be wrestling for various other indy companies as often as my schedule allows.
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