Fergal Devitt On Life In New Japan Pro Wrestling

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Fergal Deviit was a wrestling fan growing up in Ireland, and had spells playing both football and Gaelic football, but his dream of becoming a professional wrestler became a reality at the tender age of eighteen when he made his debut for NWA UK Hammerlock.


The Bray, County Wicklow grappler then made to move to Japan with New Japan Pro Wrestling where he has held numerous titles and has had the chance to work with the likes of MVP, Giant Bernard and Shelton Benjamin.


Sportsvibe.co.uk caught up with Fergal to talk about his idols growing up, comparison between British and Japanese wrestling and if he would consider a move to America.



Q. How did you first get into the sport of professional wrestling?


I was always watching wrestling as a kid, and I even used to watch the old World of Sport wrestling when I was really young. As I got older I began watching the WWF at the time and it was just something I never grew out of. 


I then saw an advert for NWA Hammerlock UK wrestling school down in Kent and that was it, I've never looked back since.



Q. Who were some of the wrestlers that inspired you when you were growing up?


I was a massive fan of a number of British wrestlers including Rollerball Rocco and Johnny Saint. When I first saw the WWE compared to World of Sport it was a totally new thing and I was a big fan of guys like Shawn Michaels, Rick Rude, Koko B Ware and all of these over the top characters. At such a young age you can't help but be drawn in by these colourful characters.



Q. Your career took off in 2000 with NWA UK Hammerlock, what is it like making your wrestling debut?


It was a very serial experience, when i first started going to Hammerlock it was really just a hobby as all I wanted to do was some pro wrestling training. I never thought I would have a match but when I did it was like a dream come true, I still remember it clearly. It was in an eight-man tag match with guys who I had been training with and it was just a very odd experience.



Q. How did it compare to what you had been watching from the WWE?


It was a lot more hard hitting than I thought it was going to be. Hammerlock had a reputation for being a brutal in ring product. It is hard to compare the two but wrestling is wrestling all over the world. It can be different in different parts of the world but at the end of the day it is the same.



Q. You still come back and wrestle on UK shows. How would you say the standard of British wrestling has progressed?


It seems to be in a lot better condition than it used to be when I first started. I was told by my trainer at Hammerlock that I had just come around at the wrong time and that I was born just 20 years too late. 


However at the moment over in the UK there a number of really good promotions and they are all putting on great shows. 


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Q. Having settled in Japan, before signing with NJPW in 2006, did you watch much Japanese wrestling and who were some of the wrestlers that you enjoyed watching?


I would say from the age of about 16 or 17 that is when I started to discover tapes (before YouTube was around) of different styles of wrestling from around the world. There were numerous Japanese wrestlers that I enjoyed watching and I enjoyed the juniors as much as the heavyweight guys. 



Q. How does the British style of wrestling compare to the Japanese style?


People always say they are two completely different styles, with the Japanese style being more hard hitting whilst the British style is more technical. To me they appear to be quite similar. Since coming across to NJPW I haven't really done anything different to when I was wrestling back over in the UK. I'm sure to fans watching there are lots of differences but to me wrestling is wrestling and it is all the same. 



Q. There has been an influx of British wrestlers in America with both WWE and TNA, can you see more British wrestlers making there way over to Japan?


There are a few British wrestlers getting involved with Japanese organizations, I know Zack Sabre Jr. has been doing work with Pro Wrestling NOAH. The door is open and the talent is there in Britain to make it in Japan but it is just a case of having the guts and the balls to man up and get over there and give it a shot.



Q. How would you compare NJPW against the likes of WWE and TNA?


As an overall company NJPW blows TNA out of the water, obviously as an international market at the moment they can't compete with the WWE, but I think that the in ring product blows any other promotion in the world away. 

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Q. MVP and until recently Giant Bernard have been wrestling in NJPW, what is it like working with guys like that?


Both MVP and Giant Bernard have come into NJPW from a different neck of the woods from me. They are able to give lots of advice on different aspects of pro wrestling than the Japanese wrestlers can.


You have to look at it from the point that they are now out of their depth and they are in a different country and have to adapt to the the different situations that they find themselves in. Giant Bernard did that incredibly well and has now returned to the WWE.


Shelton Benjamin is making the move over to NJPW and Low Ki is over here as well and you can learn something from everyone so I just keep my ears open and listen to everyone's advice. 



Q. You have held numerous titles during your time in NJPW, what have been some of the highlights for you?


Making my debut in Japan was a great experience, it's hard to say the highlights, I have obviously had a lot of achievements in NJPW including winning the IWPG Junior Heavyweight Championship and the IWPG Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships.


One of the highlights was my title defense against Kota Ibushi at the Tokyo Dome in front of lots of family and friends, there was a lot of pressure on the Juniors at the time to perform on the big stage and I think we stepped up to the bar that night, we showed them Junior wrestling was something that needed to be recognised.  



Q. Having enjoyed so much success over in Japan, would you ever consider moving to America with either TNA or WWE?


You can never say never, but at the moment I am very happy where I am in NJPW. Obviously someday in the future I will want a new challenge but for the time being I'm with NJPW and that's where I'm going to be for a while.



Follow Fergal Devitt on Twitter @fergaldevitt


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