The Young Bucks are proof you don’t have to be in WWE to make an impact in pro wrestling.
The brothers are a hot commodity in the business, so it was a major get when Ring of Honor signed them to a contract. Look for them on ROH midnight/11 CT Wednesdays on Comet TV and during weekly airings on Sinclair Broadcast Group affiliates.
The Bucks were in high demand. The California natives found themselves traveling all over and racking up those frequent flyer miles.
“We were feeling burnt out, and our bodies were hurting,” Matt said. “We were missing that valuable time at home. We are fathers with young babies. About a year ago, we really started thinking that maybe it’s time to slow it down and take a little bit of a break. Ring of Honor has this great thing with New Japan — this relationship. They got together and wanted to help us. They saw how banged up we were. ROH offered us this great deal and New Japan backed it. We looked at each other and thought now was the time.
“They offered us a good amount of money,” Matt continues. “Basically, the same amount of money we would make on the independents anyway — and we would have a lot more time with our family. So it was just win-win for us. It wasn’t really a hard decision once the offer came. We are signed for 14 months and now 13 months are left on the thing. Once we signed, I think we felt pretty good. Now that we are living the new schedule it feels really good to be home more. My body feels a lot better.”
Looking back, Nick, 26, believes their team really began to resonate with the audience around two years ago. It became a perfect storm.
“I think it was when we got screwed by TNA, and they didn’t know how to use us properly,” he said. “Then the WWE thing happened with Booker T. Then we went to ROH and that didn’t go good with [Jim] Cornette. So I think the fans had a lot of sympathy for us. They felt like we didn’t deserve the treatment we were getting. From all of that, I think they had sympathy for us and liked what we were doing at the time. They felt we were getting screwed. I think they supported us from that, and it snowballed.”
Matt, 30, feels their popularity can be attributed to the fact that people in general like to see the rebellious side of a person. The Bucks aren’t afraid to say what they want or do things their way.
“Nick and I decided if we weren’t able to do what we want in these bigger companies, let’s just be ourselves in these smaller companies,” he said. “Places like Pro Wrestling Guerilla, Chikara and Dragon Gate USA. We basically decided to let our hair down and have fun. Once we started having fun out there, people started having fun out there with us. I think we never really truly found ourselves or our identity until we branded ourselves with the whole ‘Superkick Party.’
“People started saying, ‘Oh, that’s who these guys are. They aren’t trying to create a fight atmosphere like 95 percent of the wrestlers are doing before the bell. They are creating a party atmosphere.’ So when the Young Bucks come out of the curtain, it’s not just going to be a fight. It’s going to be a party. And people like to party with us. They realized we were fun. They were having fun and having this journey with us.”
The high-flying tag team grew up watching the ‘Attitude Era’ and WCW. They were inspired by legendary factions like DX and the NWO, and have infused some of the elements that made others successful into their own in-ring personas.
“I feel like it’s a nostalgia feeling,” Matt said. “They still get that childhood feeling with us. We do all the things people like to do. Everyone likes to do the [crotch chop] ‘suck it’ [gesture]. The social media thing has played a vital role in us getting over. We use it as a tool not only to promote ourselves, but to get our characters over. We walk that fine line where people go, ‘Did you see what the Bucks said? Are they serious?’ To tell you the truth, nobody really knows. I don’t really know!
“When I say stuff, I go, ‘Did I mean that?’ A part of me does. I do it to get a reaction. Some of these guys have the luxury of being on TV every week, sometimes two or three times a week. We don’t have that luxury. We are on ROH and are lucky to be on once a week. Before all that we started to use social media and tweet out stuff. We put stuff on YouTube, Instagram or Facebook. People can see what we are up to. We have really used that.”
The Bucks fan base isn’t just people in the crowd, but others in the industry as well. WWE superstars Cesaro and Dolph Ziggler do the Young Bucks signature pose at a live event.
“It’s funny. We get a laugh seeing that type of stuff,” Nick said. “We feel like it’s a cool shout-out. We’ve even talked to Cesaro recently. He is like, ‘We all like you guys. We do it because we feel like it’s funny.’ We find it funny too.”
“I like it,” Matt agrees. “It’s all fun. I turned on Raw for a minute — and I haven’t watched it in a long time — but this week I decided to watch a little bit of it. I’m sitting there with my wife, who isn’t necessarily the most wrestling educated person in the world, and she is going, ‘Oh my God, these guys look like you,’ and ‘These guys are doing moves like you, Matt. Are they copying you?’ I don’t think they are copying what we do. Maybe that’s just the wrestling trend right now. Whatever is popular is popular for a reason. We all kind of do it.
“The Bryan Danielson era everyone was into the chain wrestling and the holds when he was the American Dragon,” he continues. “With Low Ki, everyone was doing the double stomp. Right now superkicks are in. Everybody is doing it. I think it’s just wrestling culture. It was just funny my wife was watching and took note of it. Everything is flattering. I enjoy it.”
Nick and Matt are part of the Bullet Club, which has transcended New Japan and become a phenomenon within pro wrestling. Bullet Club shirts are top sellers, and WWE is currently developing its own share of groups like it. However, Nick doubts the company would allow them to do the stuff they do with the Bullet Club.
“New Japan doesn’t prohibit us at all,” he said. “In WWE, there is a fine line. You can’t do anything that you want to do. You have writers — Vince McMahon and whoever. I don’t think they have the same freedom. So I don’t think anything could reach what we are doing right now, because it’s us doing what we want.”
“I’m really new to The New Day,” Matt said. “All I hear about is what they are doing. Kevin Owens is always putting them over to us. So I decided to watch them. That’s kind of the same attitude as the Bullet Club. I can tell they are having fun, fooling around and doing what they want. It seems like people enjoy that. I think it is possible, but it’s hard. I think you have to get over first in a place like that. They’ve gotten over, so I think they can get away with it.”
There were some who thought the Bucks crossed the line when they superkicked a young fan during an event this past summer. Even though the father gave his consent before the planned spot, the moment was no doubt controversial. The video went viral.
“I told Matt when we were approached about the idea that there was no way we can do it,” Nick said. “I thought we would get way too much heat and hatred from everyone. We just can’t do it. Matt, of course, convinced me otherwise.”
“I’m all about it,” Matt said. “I want to do everything taboo. I want to do anything you’re not supposed to do because that’s the stuff that gets the most talk. Most of our career when we started to get over, it was when we got people to talk. We made a girl bleed in the ring by hitting her with a shoe with thumbtacks attached to it. You’re not supposed to do that. I saw this kid — maybe eight or nine. Immediately Nick told me no way. I said, ‘We have to kick this kid. How can we not kick this kid?’
“I knew it would be big,” he continues. “I just didn’t know it would be as big as it ended up being. Anything that everyone is afraid to do, I want to do it. As soon as we left the building, I wanted someone to get me a clip of it. Sure enough, seconds later a fan posted it and here we go. I loved it. I thought it was fun and a positive thing. It made the kid’s life. I would do it a hundred more times.”
“He loves us to this day,” Nick said. “We’re his favorite wrestlers, so he is going to remember that for a long time. I’m glad it didn’t get too much hatred, aside from guys like Cornette.”
The two fathers have done their share of dastardly acts in the pro wrestling ring. They know once their children are old enough an interesting discussion will be coming up.
“I was against the thumbtack spot,” Nick said. “I told him the reason being that, 10 years from now, I don’t want to talk to my children about this clip — because they are going to see it. We’re going to have to explain to them why we kicked a girl with a shoe with thumbtacks on it. That’s the reason I don’t want to do that spot. Matt somehow convinced me otherwise again.”
“I think I gradually became crazier, but honestly it’s a conversation we are going to have to have,” Matt said. “It’s not only the thumbtacks. It’s going to be why we tell hundreds of people to suck it and so much stuff our children will watch. That’s part of being a good parent is having that conversation, sitting them down and telling them this is our job. This is a pretend world we live in. None of this stuff is real. This is us acting. I know it looks bad, but this is what it was and how daddy pays the bills.
“I know it’s not going to be my finest moment, but I’m not afraid to have that conversation when the time comes. I hope it’s not for a long time. I think that is part of being a good parent. I think we are going to have to take responsibility for all of it, but remembering its fake stuff. This isn’t daddy hitting mommy with a superkick. It is two different things. But it’s usually Nick urging me no, no, no. I’m like yes, yes, yes.”
All this talk about superkicks may have one wondering what the man who made the move famous thinks about the Bucks.
“I’m not sure how Shawn Michaels would feel about it, but we met him before we became what we are now,” Nick said. “We tweet him all the time just to get a reaction out of him. He doesn’t sell it. So I have no idea what his thoughts are on it. I think he would be entertained by it if he saw it.”
Moving forward as ROH strengthens its relations with New Japan and transitions to Comet TV, the Bucks are looking to make the next year memorable.
“We want to do big things,” Matt said. “We see ROH on the rise. We want to keep killing it, producing money and fans for the company. We want to help them like they helped us. We want to put on awesome matches. Hopefully, the brand becomes more popular.”
“This year we want to make Ring of Honor our number one priority and make it as popular as possible,” Nick said. “Not only having good matches, but we’d like to recruit a few big names and try to get them to do what we’ve just done. We want to make them the true alternative because right now we’re the alternative. I feel like WWE fans are looking for an alternative .We want to be bigger and for ROH to grow more and more. Right now people are searching and are not happy with what they are seeing on Mondays.
“Right now we can capitalize on what we are creating. The houses are up. Fans are into it and buying the merch. It’s a good opportunity for Ring of Honor to jump in and pick up those fans. Right now wrestling is in a weird spot. There are a ton of fans looking for new things. I feel this year we will be able to give them that. The goal would also be to become ROH tag team champions again. I would like to repeat what we did two years ago and have New Japan, PWG and ROH titles all at once. That was pretty cool to do again.”
“Within this year we are trying to change the business,” Matt said. “I’m not going to give anything away. We happen to be in a good spot where we are popular enough and have the leverage to make good relationships. We are trying to start things with other companies and hopefully that can help. It’s always good for the boys. Maybe we create something like what NXT has done with Evolve. We’re trying to do an outreach. It’s strength in numbers and talent. If we can do something like that, it’s great for everybody.”
- Ring of Honor’s next pay-per-view is Final Battle Sunday, Dec. 18 at 9/8CT.
- Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN.
Photos Courtesy: ROH