The Music Man: ROH’s Joe Hendry On Staying Busy, Churning Out More Hit Songs For Fans In Quarantine

Joe Hendry says times are tough but we might end up seeing some great character work and content in spite of the current circumstances in the world.

Hendry recently spoke with WrestleZone Managing Editor Bill Pritchard about what he’s been up to since he’s been at home. Ring Of Honor is not hosting any events at this time due to safety concerns for talent and fans during the coronavirus pandemic, but Hendry says he feels like he’s busier than ever creating content for people to enjoy at home. Hendry considers himself to be a workaholic and says his aim is to make people laugh during a difficult time, citing his new “Joe Vs.” web show that features him tackling different challenges against the ROH roster.

“We’re working on a new YouTube series, which is like a challenge or game show. Last week we had me versus The Bouncers in a beer-drinking contest. I don’t think it’s going to be any surprise when I give you the spoiler that it didn’t go so well for me. [laughs] I’ve just been enjoying things. Walking the dog, he loves it because I’m home all the time now, but one of the great things is Ring Of Honor is really looking after everybody. We’re continuing to get paid as normal so it means that I’m not having to stress about where the next meal is coming from. I really can just focus on providing some entertainment and staying healthy, getting exercise. Just being ready and safe, so I feel very privileged.”

One of the most important parts of the Ring Of Honor live event loop is their visits to local children’s hospitals in their host city. Not only are the wrestlers being kept out of the ring, but they are also unable to visit the kids due to health restrictions. He says they have had internal discussions on how to do something in the interim, but called it a very rewarding experience.

“We’ve had discussions about if we can do Skype calls, stuff like that for these kids that maybe just need to have their day brightened. I think we just wanted to give the health services some space to deal with the task at hand, the emergencies at hand, and then we’ll reach out to some of these programs remotely.

“It was hands down the most rewarding part of my job. Going to the hospitals, but also, we went to see some youth programs and got to see what kind of after-school activities they had. We’d talk to them about goal achievement—it was extremely, extremely rewarding. I miss that aspect of the job for sure.”

Some of Hendry’s most popular videos feature parodies of pop culture staples and new trends like Tiger King. Hendry says sometimes it’s hard to actually enjoy the things he creates because he’s such a workaholic but trying to keep his finger on the pulse actually serves as a self-regulating process where it’s forcing him to relax a little bit more. In addition to staying current, Hendry has several years of experience as a musician to aid him in creating songs and building his character. He says he had no idea it would translate so well to his new career, but music and wrestling go hand-in-hand and he owes a lot of his success to his parodies.

“I had a horrible 2012 and I said ‘New Year’s Eve, I’m not going to celebrate. There’s nothing to celebrate this year, but I’m going to plot for next year.’ I used to have grand expectations but I said I’m just going to work my ass off and see where it takes me. I did have this thing in the back of my head like ‘I want to be the World Champion.’ That’s the long, long, long term goal, but a lot of the skills carried over for sure. I learned so much about entertainment in general from learning wrestling, and then from wrestling it opened my eyes a little bit like you were saying hooks and choruses, because a good song is like a good match. The same principles apply, like a good film or a good TV show. There’s a lot of parallels of what comedians go through too, and this is what I tell my students—some people just the wrestling will get you over but there’s a lot of people that put time into character. A lot of time it’s the things outside of wrestling that differentiate you from the competition.”

Hendry pointed out that in today’s day and age, ‘niche is king’ and everything is so meta now. He pointed out that wrestling is just like everything else where it moves in cycles and wrestling was probably due for a reset.

“Ring Of Honor has been allowing myself and Dalton [Castle] to show those character elements. Even someone like Josh Woods—before he was presented as this shooter badass, and he is one—now we’re getting to see these funnier aspects of his personality and that’s the thing that endears him more to the fans so they can then get into his wrestling. I’m glad that now with the industry there seems to be more of a ‘total package’ approach and I think that the [limitations from the pandemic] will bring that even more to the forefront.”

“There will be people that do nothing. But there will also be people that use this opportunity to create something new and discover new parts about themselves and their character, and they will use this time to get more over because of it.”