wrestling / Columns

Jason ‘The Gift’ Kincaid Talks With 411 About ROH Tournament, Facing AJ Styles, More

March 10, 2016 | Posted by J. Onwuka

This week we’re not doing a Super J-Column. Cancelled after two weeks? Say it ain’t so!

It ain’t so.

But instead of the Super J, this week I’ve got an interview from a guy who’s been lighting up crowds but maybe not getting his just due just yet. I’ve been keeping an eye on his career for a while now and I’m really glad to see that he’s in the process of blowing up, getting some real big wins in the past couple years. Without further stalling, join me for the feature.

Those who keep their eyes on the US independent scene, especially what still runs under the NWA banner, are probably long acquainted with the man known as Jason “The Gift” Kincaid. Just recently he showed up for Ring of Honor‘s Top Prospect Tournament, quickly becoming one of the fixtures on not only the ROH calendar but the American wrestling calendar as a whole. His appearance there is not the culmination of many years’ work; as he will tell you himself, this is far from the peak of what he aspires to and he is constantly climbing higher. A former NWA World Junior Heavyweight Champion as well as the winner of the 2014 Smoky Mountain Cup and the 2015 Super 8 Tournament, Kincaid is building up a resume that demands attention. In the ring, his fluidity of motion is a testament to the hard work he’s put in to get this far and his devastating maneuvers show creativity tuned to a purpose.

Mr Kincaid was gracious enough to answer a few questions for me by e-mail. What follows is an edited version of our exchange.

ROH TV spoilers ahead.

First questions are about your recent exposure in Ring of Honor’s Top Prospect Tournament. How do you feel about your match against Lio Rush? Were you disappointed that you were knocked out in the first round?
Stepping into a Ring of Honor ring holds a substantial personal significance to me. It’s been a goal of mine for over a decade. To realize that goal, through all the struggle, was a beautiful moment for me. Of course, I’m disappointed to go out in the first round, but considering the caliber of athlete that Lio Rush is, the fact that he won the tournament and I came close to beating him on a couple of occasions, and the amount of positive feedback I have received from the match… well, call it alchemy, but I fully plan on turning that disappointment into huge success. Just give me time and opportunity.

How did you get into pro wrestling?
I was always a standout athlete, but I was more into extreme sports like skating and rock climbing. I never enjoyed the structure and safety of organised sports: I have a deep infatuation with chaos and danger. At age 17, I trained in a half burned-down building that was formally a frame-shop turned into a tiny skating rink. I originally broke in under Scotty McKeever, who would tell me to practice my breakfalls until he told me to stop. He’d then leave the building and go get drunk, while I kept throwing myself at the mat. After about an hour, he would stagger back in and tell me, “Okay, tha’s enough. Now, hit th’ ropes, ’til I say ‘stop’.” That usually ended with me puking into a trashcan. After McKeever took off on the road, I finished my training under TJ Phillips and the Batten Twins.

Do you spend a lot of time training?
I spend about an hour in the gym, five days a week. I do a lot of superset weight lifting and calisthenics. I never touch the cardio equipment; I prefer outdoor sprints and hill climbs.

How would you describe your wrestling style?
Gifferent. Kinnovative. Technical Wizardry.

What’s your mindset going into a match?
I have a meditation ritual that I do before I wrestle. I mentally express my gratitude to the Universe for something, anything, then I expel all thought and try to hold that thought-free state for as long as possible. I find my connection to Source and I allow myself to feel the oft-forgotten immense power of being a living being. Then I set an intention for the match. Usually that intention is to return from the ring healthy. I’m always aware of the consequences of stepping between those ropes. So, my mindset is all about pushing the boundaries of body, mind, and will, while understanding and respecting that those boundaries are there for a reason.

You’ve had something of a rivalry with Chase Owens, the two of you being probably the top American junior heavyweights associated with the NWA. Thoughts on him as an opponent?
Chase and I have grappled as far south as Houston, Texas and as far north as Edmonton, Canada. We’re both constantly evolving as competitors. So, every time we face off it’s against a new, better opponent. That’s a wonderful thing. You cut diamonds with diamonds; me and Chase always carve each other up rather nicely.

Any opponents that you feel have brought out the best in you?
AJ Styles and Chris Hero. Styles pushed me to my brink in my salad days, but the fact that I was able to just keep up helped me earn a lot of respect locally, here in West Virginia. I’ve wrestled Hero on a handful of occasions and every time he teaches me a valuable lesson that takes me a rung or two higher on the ladder to my goal of being one of the top athletes in the sport.

What’s your opinion on pro wrestling as art?
Pro wrestling is art in it’s truest form; it’s storytelling, it’s poetry of motion, it’s rhythmic, it’s visual and auditory, it’s emotionally rousing, and it’s more free-form than it’s ever been. I see myself as a work of art in progress. My look is an expression of my artistic will, as are my original moves, my gear, my vocal cadence, my in-ring paroxysms… everything really. Even my personal life is consumed by my artistic drive to create something special in professional wrestling.

What motivates or inspires you to go further in wrestling?
I want to contribute to the profession that made my life worth living. I owe it to wrestling to get as far as I can and do something great, if I can, because it has given me the best experiences of my life and made me a greater man than I would have been without it. I really believe that.

Is WWE a major career goal or are you taking things as they come? Any specific goals you have in wrestling?
I’m taking things as they come. I would love the opportunity to perform on the highest stage, but I’m a true believer in the journey being more important than the destination and I’m having one hell of a journey. I would like to travel the world and wrestle everywhere they have wrestling. I would like to be the first World Champion to defend the title on every continent… Yep, even Antarctica.

Is there anybody wrestling today that you’d really like a match with?
Lots of guys. I’ll fire off thee first 10 that come to mind, in no particular order: Michael Elgin, Jay Lethal, Zack Sabre Jr, Low Ki, Sami Zayn, Cesaro, Shinsuke Nakamura, Kazuchika Okada, Blue Panther, Rey Mysterio Jr.

Where can people see you wrestle? Any upcoming dates?
I’ll probably be out for a couple weeks with whiplash, but I should be back for: Sunday March 20th in Huntington, WV for APW; Thursday March 24th against Chase Owens for NWA Smoky Mountain; Saturday March 26th in Yadkinville, NC for AML; and Thursday March 31 in Fort Worth, TX at the NWA Parade pf Champions event. I’m also training hard for the 2016 ECWA Super 8 Tournament, which will take place on April 23rd in Woodbury Heights, NJ.

Any thoughts on a rematch with Lio Rush somewhere down the line?
Actually, the matchmakers at NWA Smoky Mountain have booked a rematch between Rush and myself for the Smoky Mountain Cup on Saturday, April 16, in Kingsport, TN, and I’m very much looking forward to it. I think maybe the ROH fans would like a rematch there as well.

Once again, I’d like to thank Jason Kincaid for responding to my questions.

Follow Jason Kincaid on social media
Twitter: @GiftKincaid
Instagram: @GiftKincaid
Facebook: facebook.com/jasonthegift
YouTube: youtube.com/thejasonkincaid

Contact Jason Kincaid for bookings
E-mail: [email protected]
Facebook: facebook.com/jasonthegift

The World Champions Podcast has reached 10 full episodes! Follow the history of professional wrestling from its earliest days in prizefighting and local tournaments up through its transformation into a fantastic artform. For this tenth episode the WCP focuses on a man who more than anyone else protected the sport while it finished this great shift. That man is, of course, Lou Thesz: the definitive NWA champion and, in a way, the last gunslinger.

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If you’ve got a comment or a question, leave it below. Thanks for everybody that’s been keeping up. I’ll probably have a normal column next week but we’ll see what happens, won’t we?