"There's so much talent at TNA that I haven't got the chance to dance with yet. I'm very excited about what I've done and what the future has in store."
The story of John Skyler, in many ways, is just beginning - despite the veteran performer stepping into the squared circle almost 1,500 times to date over a fifteen-year professional wrestling career.
Skyler has been a mainstay on the IMPACT Wrestling roster since signing a multi-year deal with the promotion last year and, alongside The Good Hands tag team partner Jason Hotch, is growing his reputation week-on-week as one of the many exciting talents competing on the promotion's roster today.
With a much-publicised rebranding back to TNA due to take place in 2024, Skyler is very positive about the company's future, as he shared with Wrestling Life Online's Ben Veal on the #WrestlingLifePod.
"The name change back to TNA is going to open up a lot of doors for us"
"Everything's great [at IMPACT Wrestling] right now. We're getting ready to make the turn back to TNA which has got a lot of good buzz going for it. IMPACT has really reinvigorated my passion for pro wrestling.
"When you look at 2024 and what we're going to do, I think the name change from IMPACT back to TNA is really going to open up a lot of doors for us, not only in terms of bigger venues and new locations but [also] maybe a different network, more eyes on the product, who's to say? But just the nostalgic aspect of it is really cool for me, because at the height of my fandom, when I was first following things on the internet, NWA-TNA was just taking off, and when I first started learning about work-rate in professional wrestling, it was AJ Styles, it was Christopher Daniels, it was Frankie Kazarian, it was the Motor City Machine Guns, Samoa Joe, so many others. So [with that rich history] it's kind of surreal that I can call myself a TNA wrestler now."
"Alex Shelley has got an incredible wrestling IQ"
Of course, being a TNA wrestler brings with it a plethora of exciting dream matches and potential opponents - and for Skyler, a long-term fan of the product, perhaps the most tantalising prospect of all is an opportunity to face reigning IMPACT World Champion, and TNA veteran, Alex Shelley.
"Alex has got an incredible wrestling IQ," Skyler shares on episode 5 of Wrestling Life. "He's so smart and he thinks about wrestling in a completely different way to anybody else that I've ever seen. The other cool thing about Alex Shelley: fans don't get to see this, but before the doors open, at every television taping, at every live event, Alex is in there with the young guys and girls, teaching them new holds, ways of looking at psychology and rolling around in the ring. That's an invaluable experience. And Chris Sabin is great; a laid back, cool guy, he's one of the brothers. I'm really looking forward to getting the chance - hopefully soon - where me and Jason Hotch will get to work with the Motor City Machine Guns because it hasn't happened yet."
A love for professional wrestling was imbued in Skyler from a very young age and it's clear, when speaking with him, that his passion for the industry remains as strong today as it has ever been.
"It was like the world changed"
"I always wanted to be a pro wrestler, ever since I was a kid," says Skyler. "I grew up in a little town called Blithewood, South Carolina and there wasn't much out there; I remember when we finally got cable TV, it was like the world changed. I was such a big fan of wrestling - I was a big Bret Hart guy, a Shawn Michaels guy, Mr Perfect, Eddie Guerrero, Arn Anderson ... it was all about the workrate, but I was also infatuated by the colourful characters, like Koko B. Ware with Frankie, The British Bulldog [Davey Boy Smith] ... I just loved wrestling, and it puts a smile on my face just thinking about it."
John's path to where he is today in IMPACT has been anything but straightforward - including eight years spent working as a teacher - and much of his considerable in-ring experience has been garnered from working internationally, including several stints working for legendary British promoter Brian Dixon's beloved All Star Wrestling promotion, a period of time that John describes as "the best time of his life."
"I had more fun working for Brian than I did in college. It felt like as close as my generation will ever get to working a territory. You would get in the car, put the ring up, do the show, tear it down, pick up some brews, get in the van, tell stories, drive to the next town, do it all the next day ... I felt like a full-time wrestler. It was so cool; so much fun.
And look at the list of people that have come through there: Nathan Cruz, Cash Wheeler, even David Findlay, just so many guys - and you can't help but get better when you're wrestling every day. The cool part for me was coming back here Stateside and my mind just being so sharp after wrestling every day. I felt invincible out there when I came back from working with Brian."
"I'm showing the world what I'm capable of"
Skyler is clearly proud to call TNA home at this point in his career, and is vocal about the role that the promotion has played in allowing him to break the mould and ply his trade in front of a global audience of wrestling fans.
"The big selling point for me [on TNA] was that it was the road less travelled. I'd done jobs on television for WWE and for AEW numerous times. For me this was an opportunity to break the perception of who John Skyler is in the global eyes of the masses.Nobody gets into wrestling to be a loser. Nobody gets into anything to be a loser. I always circle back to Bret Hart because he's like the Yoda of wrestling. He said "do I take winning and losing too seriously sometimes? Well yeah, because nobody grows up wanting to be a loser."
For me, IMPACT was a chance to break the perception of what I'd been seen as up until that point. I started off in Impact and my first match was against Matt Cardona and I get the win, then they put me in big matches with Loredo Kid, with Jake Something, I'm getting the opportunity to work with all these guys and show the world what I'm capable of.
That's exactly why I chose IMPACT Wrestling ... there's so much talent at TNA that I haven't got the chance to dance with yet. I'm very excited about what I've already done and what the future has in store."
Episode 005 of Wrestling Life with Ben Veal is out now: real talk from real talent.
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