Over The Top Wrestling is well and truly back, folks.
Show after show since the pandemic the company has seen a rejuvenation of talent with a focus on creating new Irish stars and mixing them with some of the best. Shane “Swerve Strickland, Rob Van Dam, Mark Haskins, Aussie Open have all graced the squared circle in recent times but you certainly cannot get better then a man who will be appearing on their next show/ It is none other then the current AEW All Atlantic Champion, “The Bastard” Pac.
Anybody who has ever seen Pac, the former Neville, in the ring, knows that to even just keep up with his awe-inspiring ferocious arsenal would take a special talent. Fortunately, talent is something we seem to have spades on the Emerald Isle. Sheamus, Finn Balor, Becky Lynch, Fit Finaly, Big Damo, JD McDonagh, Valkrie and session Moth Martina have all experienced tremendous success representing us Irish on the international stage. The next one who is looking to step up the plate is one of Irish wrestling fastest rising superstars, LJ Cleary.
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At such a young age LJ has been touring Europe, teaching classes and putting on clinic after clinic in various different companies. His toughest test yet though awaits him in the form of the aforementioned Pac. With one of wrestling biggest assets on the line, the AEW All Atlantic title, we needed to hear from LJ ahead of the match with has the potential to launch him onto the international stage.
“I’m extremely excited. This match was meant to happen on March 14 2020. If you know that timeline is right around when COVID pandemic and lock downs kicked in. So I actually woke off on my 21st birthday on March 12th and found out that the show had been canceled, like the match had been canceled. “
“I kind of flip flop about, I’d be upset about it and I’d be positive. I did keep telling myself that it is going to happen eventually, the match is gonna happen. Part of me thought that maybe the ship had sailed on that happening in Ireland, maybe I’ll get that match a couple years down the line, whether it’s in the States or somewhere in Europe, but the fact that it’s actually happened to back at OTT at the new venue in Dublin at the complex especially. It’s surreal. It’s excitement, but you know, there’s obviously a little a little bit of nerves there, but it is definitely more excitement than nerves.”
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Over the pandemic we spoke to various different sporting disciplines about the effect that the removal of training can have on the development of a young talent. In boxing, if you don’t get the opportunity to spare someone, you inevitable lose a touch or two. The knock on effects on a potential career at such crucial stage of their evolution can have devastating effects. Speaking with Scoreline though LJ believes he may actually of becoming better after the layoff,
“So I am a massive wrestling fan. I’ve been since I was a kid, like, you know, I would say obsessed. I think you have to be obsessed to be in the position that I’m in now. So I just made sure of myself that I was going to come out of the pandemic a much smarter wrestling. I was watching wrestling every single day, trying to look at it in maybe in a different way than I had done before. I was doing things like online classes with groups of people where like I give them matches to watch. Then we take notes about it and speak about it. So regarding like mentally, I feel like I can I actually came out a much smarter wrestling in the pandemic.”
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“I am so much more ready than I would have been when that match was actually meant to happen. The fact he it is now for the AEW All Atlantic Championship. That couldn’t happen two years ago. I also found out about the match while I was doing some time at the NXT UK Performance Center, which again, I wasn’t there when the match got announced the first time.
“I definitely look a lot better than I did, I definitely am a better wrestler.”
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Over The Top Wrestling debuts at the Complex Venue in Smithfield for Poetry Slam this Friday night, with tickets sold out. You can catch the show on OTT On Demand in the days after.
Listen back to the full interview below on Scoreline Extra, with the interview beginning around 13 minutes in :