Tracy Williams has wrestled in two of the biggest indies in North America, with a stint in Chikara in The Colony and in Evolve, where he worked with WWE superstar Drew Gulak in Catch Point.
However, he now calls Ring of Honor his home and is part of the faction Lifeblood — a group that wants to bring honor back to ROH.
He competes this weekend at Death Before Dishonor and is advertised for a three-way match for the ROH TV title with champion Shane Taylor set to defend his belt against Tracy Williams and Flip Gordon.
While that match is in question, Tracy Williams spoke with Monsters & Critics about the pay-per-view, the mission of Lifeblood, and his thoughts on the current professional wrestling boom.
Monsters & Critics: Before you came to Ring of Honor, you wrestled in a few different places like Chikara and Evolve. What made you choose to go to Ring of Honor rather than follow some of your friends like Drew Gulek to WWE?
Tracy Williams: Ring of Honor, in my eyes, is the company guys that really want to succeed at professional wrestling go to and that’s my strong point. It’s what I love to do and what I thrive at — trying to be the best professional wrestler that I can be. When I came into wrestling 11 years ago, it was the place where guys like Bryan Danielson went to really have no limitations and do the best professional wrestling possible.
That was what I wanted. I wanted that place to continue to exist and continue to have that reputation. And I figured it seemed like the most logical place to aspire to go. Now, it’s on me to prove that Ring of Honor is still what it can be. I am the next generation of the sort of guy that does great professional wrestling that Ring of Honor has always been known for.
M&C: When Ring of Honor was first starting, they had the Pure title, the shaking of hands before every match. It was about wrestling over everything else. That seems to be what Lifeblood is about — to bring it back to the days when it was all about wrestling? How do you guys plan to fulfill that goal?
Williams: Well, that is definitely the goal. It’s a process that takes different shapes, and there’s going to be lots of bumps in the road and different twists and turns. But that is the idea.
You know, it’s no secret that around the time I came into Ring of Honor, a lot of the other guys left Ring of Honor. The guys in Lifeblood came there, and the company was going through a lot of big changes. And when a company goes through big changes, they have to sort of refine their identity and determine what that is. Show people this is why you come to see our show, and not somebody else’s show.
So, the idea behind Lifeblood was to say wrestling is the identity, what goes on in the ring, you know, it’s going to be the best that you’re going to see. And that’s the long and short of it, the focus. And I think you know, with so many different opportunities for so many wrestlers, and so many different shows to see, it’s a good thing. You know, fans have options. And the more options, the better.
But the thing is, you know, each place has to have its own identity. So, what I’m trying to do, and other guys in Lifeblood, what I’m trying to do is show if you want to see great international wrestling, this is the place to come. It’s a long process. And it’s a work in progress. But that’s what I’m hoping to do.
M&C: I interviewed Christopher Daniels awhile back, and he said the one thing that Ring of Honor prides itself in is the wrestlers go out on every single show and put give 100% every time and don’t take any show lightly. How true is that is with the new breed of wrestlers in Ring of Honor? Are you guys still going to tear the house down No matter if there are 100 people there or thousands of people watching?
Williams: Yeah, absolutely. That’s still the case. And I mean, especially with guys like myself and a couple of other guys, where you know, we’re coming into these guaranteed contracts coming out of a career on the independents where you never really know what you’re going to get crowd wise, or venue wise, or viewership wise. We come out for the love of doing it. Eventually, you know, obviously, the goal is to get in front of as many people as you can, but I’m used to going balls out in front of double-digit crowds.
That just happens, and it doesn’t affect what you do in the ring at all because we all love it so much, everybody there. So, signing onto Ring of Honor with an exclusive contract like this, it doesn’t matter which events, no matter what the crowd size is? A pay-per-view, a live event, if it’s streaming, these are my chances to show what I do in professional wrestling. And that’s pretty much it.
So yeah, the guys like me and everybody else in Ring of Honor with contracts or are trying to get one is going to take every opportunity that they can to get out there, whether it’s in front of double digits, whether it’s in front of thousands, to do the absolute best that they can. So yeah, that sentiment still holds true, if anything now more than ever.
M&C: Looking at Death Before Dishonor, the match you’re in is a three-way for the TV title. It’s impressive because you have Flip Gordon, a guy who can do the most amazing moves. You have you, who is one of the top technical wrestlers out there. Then you have Shane Taylor, who’s just a beast. How fun is it to go into a match where you have three different styles and then work to put on a cohesive match where all those styles blend together.
Williams: I think the more different you are from your opponent, the more dynamic the match. I love that and even you know within Lifeblood, we try to bring all the different styles that we can. What makes the show interesting, for the most part, is mixing those styles up.
And yeah, I mean, that Triple Threat certainly sounds interesting, but apparently I don’t even know if that’s the match now because I’m seeing that Shane Taylor apparently negotiated a buyout for his contract or something and so I don’t know what fight I’m heading into going into at Death Before Dishonor. I know that’s still in the advertising, and I hope that match still takes place, but I don’t know what’s going on with the TV title right now. But you know, I guess we’ll see.
M&C: It’d be interesting if it were just you and Flip Gordon because you guys have that history now with Flip betraying you guys and moving on to Villain Enterprise. Talk a little bit about that story about Flip. He was a babyface for so long. You know, just one of the biggest fan favorites there, and now all of a sudden, he’s doing his own thing.
Williams: Yeah, what I gather from it is that what Gordon is angry that the last three or four times we’ve been in the same ring together, he was carried off injured. You know, the second he turned on us in Lifeblood, he did a 450 off the top of the table onto the floor and ripped his arm off. So, I guess he’s blaming me for that.
When we had a singles match way back when I first started my contract with Ring of Honor, he threw a dropkick at me and like exploded his knee. So, I guess he’s blaming me for that. Since then, you know, he’s come back off the shelf a couple of times and just tried to make my life a living hell, and he’s kind of succeeded at that a little bit. So, I’m looking to return the favor any chance I can get.
And I guess you know, he’s angry that he can’t wrestle and just keeps exploding his own limbs when he’s trying to attack me. And it’s like, yeah, I’ll teach him how to wrestle whenever he wants. All he has to do is getting in the ring with me.
M&C: If you do get the TV title match, there’s also Bandido and Mark Haskins wrestling for the World Tag Team Titles. Lifeblood could walk out with three belts on you guys. How would that elevate Lifeblood into the top of Ring of Honor if you guys all walked out of there with titles around your waist?
Williams: Yeah, I mean, that’s a very real possibility. And I think you know, what better way to show everybody like this the direction, that’s what Ring of Honor is. It’s about wrestling. It’s about incredible wrestling in the ring. And you know, if we can do that, walk out with those titles and show everybody, okay, we’re going to start over here. This is what it’s all about. Keep your eyes on us and watch what happens. Trust us. We will lead the way. And everything is going to be A-OK. I mean, hopefully, that’s the way things turn out.
M&C: Right now, it seems like there’s a boom period in wrestling. You have friends everywhere. You have Chucky T over in AEW. You have Drew on 205 Live? Cesaro on the main roster in WWE. You’re there in Ring of Honor. The fans are all taking sides. Behind the scenes with the wrestlers, are you guys cheering each other on? And are the companies wanting each other to succeed right now and it’s just a fan-thing when it comes to wanting this one to succeed and this one to die? All these wrestling companies coming up is a good thing for the business.
Williams: Absolutely, I do see it as a good thing. And you’re absolutely spot on that everybody that’s actually in the companies, all the actual wrestlers that make up these rosters and make these companies what they are, are all supporting each other. And we’re all friends, we all came up in wrestling. We all just, you know, took different paths. And it’s not a war in the sense that you want another person to fail ever, you know, we all want wrestling to succeed and be as big as it can be.
Like, you know, the rising tide raises all ships or whatever the old phrase is. Very true in this sense. And yeah, I mean, there’s this whole thing of a fan taking sides and treating it like it’s some war that they’re a part of. Its just people bored on the internet. I don’t know why you wouldn’t just want the thing that you love to be as big as it can be and create as many opportunities for as many people as possible.
I would really like to see that dynamic sort of shift between the fans and the companies. There’s no reason that it needs to be that sort of negativity that just kind of plagues the internet in general. Like everybody needs to take a breath and go outside and enjoy life a little bit more. Go walk your dog, as I’m doing right now in beautiful Riverside Park. Continue to love wrestling. There’s so much more to life than wanting a wrestling company to fail because you decided arbitrarily to pick the one with the t-shirt you like the best. It’s just silly. We all do this because we love it and we all watch it because we love it. It’s all love.
M&C: Outside of your match on Death Before Dishonor, which match are you most excited, looking forward to seeing?
Williams: I think the Lifeblood versus the Briscoes is going to be a hundred percent the kind of match that makes Ring of Honor is made of. The Briscoes, love them or hate them, they’re incredible in the ring and have never slowed down for a second. They’ve been doing it for so long. And they just completely embody style-wise, what makes Ring of Honor so special. Talk about giving it your all and no matter who your in front of or what the match is or anything, those guys do it.
And it’s inspiring to see people like that, who have been on the roster for so long, that continues to just go balls to the wall every single time. And to see that go up against these, like new guys like Haskins and Bandido are just coming into Ring of Honor within the last year, who has something and everything to prove, you know, not only to the fans that to themselves to the company, to all the eyes that are on them, to the world.
So that sort of dynamic between like, you know, new blood and these old, you know, vicious dogs, there’s going to be incredible, so I had to pick one that tag team title match is something I’m really looking forward to.
Ring of Honor Death Before Dishonor airs on PPV and Ring of Honor Honor Club on Friday, September 27 at 9/8c.More: Death Before Dishonor, Ring of Honor