Alexander Hammerstone Discusses Signing With MLW, MJF’s Departure From Promotion

Alexander Hammerstone

Photo Credit: MLW

MLW National Openweight Champion Alexander Hammerstone joined Spencer Love of the Conversations With Love podcast to discuss a number of topics, including his reasons for signing with Major League Wrestling, the creation of his Nightmare Pendulum finishing move and more.

The full interview can be found here. Below are some of the highlights: 

COVID-19:

“It’s been an adjustment, that’s for sure. Not wrestling is rough, (and) not having access to a gym is rough, but luckily I’m making the best with a little home gym setup and I’m playing a lot of Halo.” 

“I was never a gamer; for year, I haven’t even played games, but this current situation is letting me dive in. The bonus is, because I’m so far behind, the games I’m buying are only like five dollars because they’re so old!”

On his match with Laredo Kid in Tijuana:

The whole experience was wild, just because we were on barely the cut-off of the whole pandemic. Leading up to that week, when the news was just really starting to hammer home (of) what was going on, we didn’t know if the show was even going to go through the day before. Actually, I think, once we got into San Diego – because that’s where the crew flew into to film all of our pre-tapes and stuff like that – Court Bauer, the president, sent all the guys a personal message letting them know that if they had any concerns or if they didn’t feel comfortable going across the border and going to perform for such a large group, they didn’t have to. So, then, you’re sitting there thinking ‘should we not?’ But, I mean, I’m hard-headed and I’m going to – I would perform tomorrow if I could.”

“So, it was crazy in that aspect, and then Tijuana’s always a crazy crowd, (because) they can fit five thousand in that arena. Then, I wrestled Laredo Kid, of course, who is one of the absolute best luchadors in the world right now. So I really lucked out, because I saw Mance Warner in a half-Mexican Death Match getting stabbed in the face and people getting lit on fire. That’s not my cup of tea. I got to have a great wrestling match with a great wrestler, so I was happy.”

If he prefers working opponents of a particular size:

“I’m definitely an ‘anybody.’ I like all shapes and sizes, all styles. I think early in my career, I had a specific type of match I liked to do, but as you carry on, not only do you get bored and you want new challenges, but as you get more demand people want you for different things. So, I think the best approach is to be flexible. Whether it’s wrestling heavyweights that are my size or even bigger, wrestling little guys, luchadors, high-flyers, or even – one of my favourite matches this year was with Nick Gage. You’d see that matchup and you’d go ‘that’s not Hammerstone’s style,’ but I like doing a little bit of everything. I like testing myself. But, I’ll always have a soft spot for breaking luchadors in half.”

His recent Iron Man challenge:

“It was one of those things where we didn’t know how long this lockdown was going to last. When it first happened, I thought it was only going to be a week or two. Then, I hear ‘okay, end of April,’ and then I thought we were going to wrestle again. But now, it’s looking like even longer, so when I first put it out I didn’t even think MLW was going to run out of pre-taped shows, but now it’s looking like a possibility.”

“I kind of put it out half-knowing that the company wasn’t going to want to go through that. Just knowing Court, he’d rather compromise and play some reruns or repackage a highlight show rather than put any of his staff at risk. But, at the same time, I’ve always wanted to do an Iron Man match just to test myself. Like you alluded to, (it’s) just a new thing, a new ‘hey, let’s try this out.’ If it ever did go through, I think what better way to keep as safe as possible but still do something interesting for the fans.”

Why he chose to sign with Major League Wrestling:

“Realistically, there were some options on the table. (With) MLW, we kind of have the image where I don’t think anything’s tarnished the companies image. I think we’ve been on a steady climb, and people see us as that alternative that’s continuing to grow. So, from one aspect, we have a good look. There’s nothing bad tarnishing the company. There’s no this, that or the other. There’s no black eyes. But, besides that, when they approached me it was much less ‘hey, here’s a number, I think maybe we want to sign you. You seem like a guy we might be able to do something with.’ It was a ‘hey, we want to sign you, we want to start you on this date, do you want to do it? Because we have some plans for you.’”

“That’s what I wanted to hear. I’m the type of guy who wants to dig my teeth into something. Especially (with) where I was at with pro wrestling, I’d been doing it for so long, and I’d kind of gotten to a point where I was feeling stuck and I was feeling like ‘oh my gosh, give me something. Give me a ball and let me run with it, and if I fall, then fine,’ but I’d rather do that than just pick up bread crumbs and be collecting a paycheck. I wanted to do something, and I think it’s paid off huge. The last year, the difference in name value that I have is incredible, and it’s a huge part thanks to MLW.”

If signing with MLW was the right decision:

“Oh yeah. One hundred percent. It really comes down to where I think we have a company where they’re looking for who’s going to step up (and) who’s going to kill it. If they could put you in a situation where you’re wrestling great matches with the talent on the roster, then they send you to Japan and you wrestle great matches in Japan, you wrestle great matches with luchadors. I’m not trying to toot my own horn and say I always have great matches, but I think I’ve stepped up to the plate in that regard.”

“Not only that, but from a behind-the-scenes standpoint, people who are going to be on time for their pre-tapes, who are not going to miss flights, who are going to do media, who are going to do all the things that some of the fans don’t always see. It really is a company where I feel like you have the chance to grab the brass ring, and it’s very, very obvious that there’s no one holding you down, there’s no politics in the locker room. It’s really come and take it and you’re going to get it.”

What differentiates him in MLW:

“One thing some people might not realize is I’ve been doing this a little bit longer than some. I’m not some 20-year veteran, but I’ve been (wrestling) about ten years, whereas some of the guys on our roster are closer to three, four, even five (years). That difference in time gives me a different perspective on things, a little bit more maturity. And, not to say in the sense of being immature, but maturity of my vision of the business and how to conduct myself and how to play certain situations.”

“Not only that, just the way I was trained was a little bit old-school. But, I really thing I’m seeing how the new age of pro wrestling works, too, as far as carrying yourself on social media, interacting with the fans in the right way, engaging in the right way, but still maintaining those old-school qualities in the ring and in my promos and things that fans can relate to. Some guys are old school, but they’re not resonating with the fans of today, and then some of the new age (wrestlers) are doing all the cool stuff, but they have no substance to what they’re doing. I think I’m finding a good job, hitting my stride blending those two things together.”

How he feels pro wrestling has changed:

“It’s hard to pin down. There’s definitely a sense of the young kids – not even the young kids, just wrestlers have this ‘okay, boomer’ (mentality), where they would get anyone old and say ‘oh, you’re just saying this because of this, or that,’ but it’s like, no. There are a lot of things in wrestling that it really is, like, I could tell you the stove’s hot, but you still have to touch yourself and burn your hand. Those old vets, yeah, some of them didn’t move on to WWE and some of them didn’t do all of this and that, and some of them are bitter and mean, but with all that time comes wisdom and knowledge. A lot of people don’t listen to any of it, but I’ve been lucky enough to have some really good mentors to help me.”

“I’m not going to say things are changing for the worse, it’s just changing. You can’t argue it. A lot of people like to act like pro wrestling is changing, but it’s not pro wrestling, it’s the world. It’s music. Is current music worse than the Beatles? It’s very easy to say of course it’s worse, but it’s all subjective. It’s all down to taste. There’s a business for it. There’s money in it. There’s fans in it. It’s just a constant changing thing, and for you to try to fight the change is a battle you’re going to lose.”

If he feels he’s an ambassador for Arizonan professional wrestling:

“No, and here’s why. I’m really not trying to crap on my own state or anything like that, but coming up, there (were) guys fighting over who was the best in Arizona. My first trainer always told me ‘I’m not training you to be an Arizona wrestler. I’m training you to be a travelled wrestler.’ It was always strange to me, the guys who were fighting over who was the best in Arizona, and guys getting upset over who got what spot on an Arizona show, or fighting over who’s winning championships for 75 people. When I did start getting certain opportunities, certain guys talk about ‘oh, he only got this because he looks this way,’ or stuff like that. It’s just like, ugh!”

“It’s not to say it’s all bad; there’s a lot of talented guys in Arizona. But early in my career, I had the opportunity to really learn a lot in Vegas (and) up in Portland and a lot of places. So, I never thought of myself too much as a certain area’s guy. I travelled very young in my career, I was very fortunate in that respect. I learned from a lot of people, and if anything, Arizona’s one of the states that I wrestle in least, so go figure.”

How he came up with the Nightmare Pendulum:

“There was a move called the Shouten from Japan, and it’s very similar. He ends up going down to his knees rather than sitting out with it, but I just remember seeing it and thinking ‘that’s the most impactful thing I ever could see.’ The thing about me is my knees are pretty banged-up, so coming down and doing a knee bump hurts. So, I ended up trying sitting out with it, and I thought it looked a lot more vicious that way. First of all, it looks a lot more impactful. Second of all, there’s no confusion of whether or not he countered it into a DDT. I’ve seen people do a similar move where they come out and kind of Rock Bottom the guy, and it almost looks like the guy countered your vertical suplex and DDT’d you. So, I think the sit-out was the right way to go. For some reason I just love sit-out moves. I think they look very impactful (and) very cool. If you watch what I do, a lot of my high-impact moves, I actually sit out with them. It’s very comfortable, it saves my knees, so that’s the story there.”

“Funny enough, when I first started using that move, I wasn’t even using it as a finish. I was using something else. One match I did it, I think maybe we double-downed off it, and I got through the curtain and the promoter goes ‘dude. That move you hit in the middle of the match was the coolest thing anyone did all night, and you didn’t even pin the guy!’”

How the Dynasty has impacted his career:

“The thing with Max is Max is one of the smartest guys I’ve ever met in wrestling. I still get caught up sometimes in the things I think are cool in the moment, or I get married to an idea that I want to do this thing. Max is always, always, always able to step back and see the bigger picture. Sometimes, people might say ‘oh, what he did here was boring,’ because they look at this one thing. In reality, Max is one of the most over wrestlers in the world right now. So if you try to judge this one thing he did and say ‘oh, this match was lame,’ or ‘this segment was boring,’ or ‘that thing he said wasn’t this,’ because he’s not trying to do the coolest thing every single time. He’s working on the bigger picture. He’s really taught me to step back and view things for the bigger picture sometimes. Some wrestlers are so concerned with getting, y’know, this move in in a match, and it’s like, ‘why? Why are you doing that?’ Yeah, you’ll have a cool .gif you can put on Twitter, but that’s not going to get you the $100,000 contract. Max was always able to see that bigger picture.”

“Holliday, he’s such a good character. He’s such a good promo guy. The thing with him is when we first started the Dynasty, he wasn’t getting the fair shake. It was kind of like me and Max were going back-and-forth, and Holliday was just there if you watch the very early Dynasty stuff. The first couple episodes and promos that we did, they almost didn’t give Richard speaking lines. I just kept trying to get him to squeeze in and take his share. Like I said earlier, once he started talking, they realized how good he was, and they gave him more and more and more. I’ve just learned to be more of a spontaneous character being around Holliday. As much as people might think we do multiple takes of promos or sit there and decide what’s going to be funny, some of our most iconic Dynasty lines are just off the cuff, because we’re just playing off of each other. Very, very seldom do we go ‘ooh, let’s re-shoot that.’ It’s usually ‘that was great! Let’s take that.’ He’s taught me how to be a character in the moment a lot better.”

How MJF’s departure will affect the Dynasty:

“Obviously, to an extent, Max had a lot of eyes on him and a lot of people with the perception he is what he is just because he’s on a competitors show. So, there’s some people who were watching specifically for him and being like ‘ooh, he’s the star, and these guys are with him.’ I do think MLW and just the way we made sure we came across from the get-go was very much (that) we stood out in our own way.”

“When the Dynasty first started, I was concerned about it hindering me in that regard (of) ‘is this going to steal my thunder (and) steal my spotlight?’ I’ll be honest. I’m a selfish guy. I want the biggest piece of the pie. I want to stand out. I want to be the top guy in the company. But as we got rolling, I didn’t feel that at all. I didn’t feel like it was chaining me down, I didn’t feel like it was holding me back. I know we were a group faction, but I feel like we all found our ways to stand out on our own.”

“With Max gone, I think to some fans the perception might be me standing out more, but that’s all it is. I don’t think it’s anything other than fans are going to perceive things the way they perceive them. The way it is is I’ve been a singles champion having big-time singles matches and big-time main events for months now, so regardless of Max’s position, it is what it is.”

If he’ll be back in Alberta to wrestle in the future:

“I would hope so! I want to go anywhere and everywhere. If it’s up to me, I prefer to travel and wrestle in some newer places. I always like the challenge of getting over in front of new fans, I like meeting new people, and I like working new talent. If it’s up to me, I’m travelling as much as possible as many places as possible.”

If he was surprised being offered an MLW contract so quickly:

“Yes. I hadn’t even met them. I had contacted MLW when they first rebranded, because I’m very good friends with Gangrel, David Heath. We were just kind of shooting the shit one day, and he brought them up. He was like ‘hey, I did a one-off for these guys, they might be a good place for you to work.’ So, I sent them an email, and they were very nice, but nothing ever came from it. Then, pretty much beginning of 2019, they sent me an email asking me a handful of questions about working there, and I answered them. The response wasn’t ‘hey, here’s a date, can we book you?’ It was ‘hey, here’s a contract, do you want to sign it?’

“Again, that goes to speak for their faith in me as a performer, because the only other company that I was kind of really discussing things with and really contemplating trying to sign with, I had done multiple events with them. I had had matches with them. I had had matches against people on their roster, and they were still sitting there on the fence about whether or not to use me. Whereas MLW, all they had to go off was the footage they had seen and the word of mouth of people on their staff that were in my corner. It was a very good feeling to have a company say ‘hey, we already know that you’re going to be one of our guys.’”