Interviews

Interview With . . . Lykos Gym

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The lineage of the PROGRESS Tag Team Championship is a who’s who of stars who’ve gone on to make a huge impact across the wrestling world: Aleister Black, Pete Dunne, Will Ospreay and Tyler Bate to name a few. At Chapter 112, two more teams look to add their names to the already prestigious list when The Young Guns take on our guests Lykos Gym!

Kid Lykos and Kid Lykos II sat down with Inside The Ropes‘ own Innes McVey to discuss Lykos I’s return to the ring after temporarily retiring, the Kid Lykos moniker being passed on to Lykos II, their upcoming PROGRESS Tag Team Championship match against The Young Guns, their hopes to defend the titles against The Motor City Machine Guns and The Usos, Lykos I’s experience facing Akira Tozawa & Meiko Satomura in Japan and much more!

Photo credit: Rob Brazier / Head Drop Photography

Before we dip into the tag title match at Chapter 112, I wanted to ask about both of your extended breaks from wrestling with the pandemic shutting everything down. How was it stepping back into the ring after so long, especially with crowds not being there and with you, Lykos I, coming out of retirement?

Lykos: For me, it was an odd one because I wasn’t sure if I was gonna be able to come back or anything, obviously, I had to retire because I had to have major surgery on my shoulder. Once I knew [that returning] was a viable option, it was in and out of good and bad. I went and started training with [Lykos II] and a bunch of other people just to try and get some ring fitness.

The thing that was the most difficult was the pandemic because, with physiotherapy, they discharged everyone who wasn’t in the hospital and stuck in hospital and needed it. So I was just recovering blindly for a long period and I knew I could wrestle at this point, but I didn’t know when I’d be able to do so. I was just constantly planning for random times that I couldn’t know if I’d meet because I just trying to work on my recovery myself. But once I got in the ring regularly and started rolling, it was just flying off to the races.

Lykos II: It was a weird feeling… It was unnatural to not wrestle for so long, especially after training constantly and travelling constantly and being on shows constantly. It was literally the longest time in my career that I’ve not had two feet in a wrestling ring. It was literally the longest period. My first session back was difficult in a way, like I’d just forgotten how everything works. Obviously, nothing compared to [Lykos] because you had double the time away from the ring.

Lykos: I relate though because there’s muscle memory, obviously, but [after a break] everything is so hard. You can run the simplest sequence to try and blow yourself up and feel ready for wrestling but doing it that first time back, it kills you.

Lykos II: There’s not a comparison that you can do in the gym. There’s simply not a comparison of the cardio that wrestling brings. You can’t do it in a gym. The only way to properly build your cardio for wrestling is actually wrestling, so it was difficult. But I felt a little more thankful for wrestling. There was so much perspective and there was so much time to take and then getting back into it, I was like ‘Wow, man, this really is for me because I missed this so much.’

Lykos: You appreciate it more for sure.

When you got back into wrestling matches, was that any ring rust with specific moves and anything similar?

Lykos II: I wouldn’t say specific moves, because we’re dead good, just generally wrestling. Getting yourself through a match is very difficult because you go so long without getting hit in the face and then you start to get hit in the face. It’s a harsh reality that, again, is not comparable to anything else, even in wrestling training. It’s not really comparable.

Lykos: Yeah, once you get in the ring for an actual match, it blows any training you’ve done out the water.

Lykos II: It does, yeah.

Lykos: For me, it was hard because it was… I was coming back and I had to reinvent everything about myself as far as the moveset and everything, I had to adapt to my circumstances. So there’s certain things I will continue doing and have continued to do. But it wasn’t necessarily things like the moves being awkward to do or dying doing them, but it was more just figuring out what I wanted out of wrestling, what I wanted to do in the ring to build my matches and to beat up my opponents really well.

You mentioned there about the retirement and you coming back. Back when you weren’t sure if you were coming back to the ring, we came to see Lykos II come into the fold. What was the decision behind making Joe Nelson the one to take on the Lykos moniker?

Lykos: Basically, I know my experience with the Lykos character… When I first started doing th, I was just a white meat babyfaced teenage-looking boy and that’s not a draw. It’s not interesting. You can only go so far. I’d been doing it for seven years at the time, I’d been wrestling seven years, and I was still seen as this green new kid. Changing to Lykos just changed the whole game for me.

I got seen as a wrestler, got seen as a good professional wrestler and there is nobody that wrestles as well as Joe Nelson did in that capacity. There were other names thrown about, it was a conversation between not just myself, but with Chris [Brookes] – I’d have the conversation just to see who’s out there. But no one was at the level that he was and in the same position that I was because he’d been doing it the same way I had in that he’d been doing camps for years…

Lykos II: …Our stories of how we were both brought into pro wrestling are strangely similar.

Lykos: There are parallels, right? You’d been around for years and years and years and years, you were a veteran at this point and you were still seen as just the teenage boy. The same things happen now: People see Lykos II as a professional wrestler and a damn good one, rightfully so. So I think the logic behind the decision was, ‘This is a very similar situation to mine and this will help this person break out and be the star that they deserve to be.’

And for you, Lykos II, what did it mean to continue the legacy of that character?

Lykos II: At the time it was wild, man. Honestly, it was wild because there are so many points I can remember from when I was trying to network at shows and show up to help out that [Lykos I] was wrestling and I was like, ‘Holy sh*t, man, he’s sick.’ I was a fan of Kid Lykos and then we slowly started to build a relationship like, ‘Oh now I get to wrestle on his shows.’

To me, that was enough. I was like, ‘Fantastic, this is cool. One of my personal favourite British wrestlers is a fan and using me on his own product, Schadenfreude and Friends’ and then it was such a strange transition. I won’t lie, it was something that, at first, I was kind of hesitant on just because it was terrifying in a way. You see characters changing all the time, right? You never see them completely different and I mean, flipped on its head. So it was terrifying at first, but honestly, it was maybe the most humbling and cool thing to happen to me.

Lykos: You don’t see it that often, the only other person who’s had a change of that drastic a nature is Cara Noir. It took him two and a half to three years to even get the opportunity. But now you see him and he’s a star and this is the same for Kid Lykos II. But the difference is he’s so incredible, you can’t deny it and you can just see it any time he steps in the ring. You can see from the bloody lockups, from the lockups to the Brainbuster at the end. You can see he’s incredible and you can’t deny that. That’s why he’s getting the opportunities he is.

Moving on to the tag title match, you two are facing The Young Guns for the vacant PROGRESS Tag Team Championship at Chapter 112. When I was looking into this, I noticed there was an interesting statistic in that if you win this match, you, Kid Lykos, will become the wrestler with the most PROGRESS tag team title reigns in history. Do accolades like that add any pressure to this match or is that more of a motivating factor?

Lykos: I would say it adds no pressure. I would say, if anything, it’s calming because I’ve been here countless times before. I’ve wrestled incredible teams in the past and I’ve proven I can do this at the highest standard. Like I’ve said in promos gone by, I’m the only wrestler in the tournament with legitimate PROGRESS main event and tag title experience and that’s what I’ve been teaching [Lykos II].

That’s why we’re going into the main event, we’re going into the final, wrestling The Young Guns who are incredible – incredibly annoying as well – but within their right, very good wrestlers. But they’re nothing like us. They’re not as smart as us. They don’t have the knowledge that I possess and Kid Lykos II possesses. That’s why we’re going into it, we’re taking the tag titles, and that’s why I will become the person with the most PROGRESS Wrestling tag title reigns in history.

The last time you, Lykos, held and defended the tag titles was about three and a half years ago. What’s the difference between the Kid Lykos then when you were defending the title and the Kid Lykos now challenging for it, both physically and mentally?

Lykos: Well, first, I want to point out that I’ve only ever lost the PROGRESS [tag] titles once in my three reigns. I’ve had to vacate them, I’ve never been pinned for those belts. The issue at hand is that, yeah, it was three and a half years ago and, yeah, that’s a long time. I’m a different competitor though, [before] there was always a worry when I was coming back in the previous injuries that it could happen again. The previous surgeries aren’t the ones you need in this degree of physicality.

Now that I’ve had something that completely prevents the situation, touch wood, I feel confident in the ring. I don’t worry about reinjury, I don’t worry about taking hits because I know I’m built for this and mentally I’m better than I’ve ever been. I spent years advancing my wrestling brain whilst not stepping in the ring, working backstage at shows, doing roles that… I’m not going to go into but roles that build matches for other people. That’s how I developed the brain I have for this business and I think I can apply that and put on a spectacle and be the professional wrestler I know I always wanted to be.

Some people might argue that The Young Guns have the experience edge as a team. They’ve been together for nearly three years now. So what do you two bring to this march that ultimately lead you to the victory on June 5th?

Lykos II: So the fact that the word experience was just mentioned is funny, to be honest, it is. Between us now is over 20 years of professional wrestling experience. You’ve [Lykos I] been wrestling since you were a child. I have been wrestling since I was a child. We’re two of the youngest veterans… We are the youngest veterans in this country, in Europe. There’s not two professional wrestlers that have the same story as we do. There’s not two professional wrestlers that’ve had the same upbringing in wrestling as we do. So the fact that experience is a team is even considered a threat to us is laughable.

Lykos: They’re experienced as a team but their experience in the ring is probably just about as long, they’ve been together since day one. The natural chemistry between us, for one, incredible; the wrestling ability, incredible; the experience, incredible – we eclipse everything that they have. They can do a fancy wristlock all they want but [when] we get in there, we can do anything. You don’t know what’s going to happen.

You’ve seen our previous incarnations, we can fly about with the best of them. [Lykos II] is a technical wizard but he doesn’t get to show it that often. He can outwrestle everyone. And that’s what we plan on doing: We’ll use our brains, ours smarts, our tactics and we’ll go in there and we’ll eclipse this ‘tag team experience’ that they have.

Say if you do become champions – Is there anyone in particular, any teams in particular, that you want to defend against? Any goals you have as champions?

Lykos II: I mean, so far we’ve beaten everyone that we’ve wrestled. We’re the only team [in PROGRESS] who hasn’t lost as a team.

Lykos: No one seems to be intriguing at the moment: We’ve beaten veterans like Charlie Sterling and Nick Riley, we’ve beaten newbies and comedy wrestlers like Gene Munny and Big Guns Joe. I’m sure we could beat laughable wrestlers like The Sunshine Machine, could easily pin Danny Black as has been seen. I think personally, I think there’s no one that intrigues me to wrestle unless you get to bring in someone ridiculous.

I want to wrestle The Motor City Machine Guns, I want to wrestle The Young Bucks, I want to wrestle The Usos, I want to wrestle anyone who’s been doing this at a high level like we have. The goals for it is just to carry the PROGRESS tag team division, like we already have been doing, on our backs and prove that tag wrestling is the superior style of wrestling and that we do it better than anyone else in the UK, let alone Europe.

You mentioned Danny Black there and I saw on Twitter earlier that you were praising your recent match with him as one of your favourites that you’ve had since you came back. Alongside him, who else in PROGRESS right now should we be keeping our eyes on as potential stars of the future?

Lykos II: Lykos Gym.

Lykos: Always, there’s no other names that matter. Like I said in the tweet, it’s very rare I’ll say that someone’s good and Danny Black gave his best for me and that’s fine. I’m impressed, I am, because he’s very new. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who else is here in PROGRESS. Who should you be watching? Big Guns Joe? Sure, you wanna watch him? By all means, give it a shot. But no one is doing it to the standard that we are doing it. So if you’re watching PROGRESS Wrestling, you should be watching us and that’s it.

As we wind down here, I wanted to move away from PROGRESS and ask you, Lykos, about one of the crazier matches of your career when you and Chris Brookes took on Meiko Satomura and Akira Tozawa in Korakuen Hall. What was the whole experience of that like? Because I imagine facing a WWE-contracted talent outside of WWE is rare enough, let alone in Korakuen Hall.

Lykos: It’s a mad one, it’s one of the best moments of my life. Tozawa is one of the greatest wrestlers to ever do it. And, although some people might say you don’t see that now, regardless, you can go back and watch a wrestler who is unparalleled sometimes in the situations. He is an idol of mine and to get the chance to wrestle him was incredible. Meiko Satomura is a legend. I’ll disrespect her all I want it in the ring, but I’ll be honest, she’s a legend of the sport.

To get to wrestle the two of them together, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and to do it as what should have been and realistically was the main event, only due to the logistics of cleaning up glass couldn’t be. It’s the main event of that show in my opinion. It’s the main event of Korakuen Hall and I think it put us on the map. That’s why Chris Brookes is in DDT right now, that’s why I was meant to be in DDT before my injury.

It’s because we killed it in front of the people that mattered and they realised that two British wrestlers can come to Japan and do what they need and do what appeals to them and get the crowd to enjoy our style of professional wrestling. So to wrestle two legends and what came of it, it’s incredible. Even now, looking back on it, I can’t believe things [like] that have happened in my career.

You mentioned there about how you were meant to go over to DDT with Chris. Is there any plans for that to happen now that you’re back to wrestling or is your focus purely on PROGRESS?

Lykos: I’m solely focused on one thing and I’m so solely focused on Lykos Gym. Wherever Lykos Gym ends up is where Lykos Gym ends up. Right now, I’m focused on taking the PROGRESS tag team titles and proving that we are the best tag team going.

To cap us all off, I actually spoke to Eddie Kingston recently and he mentioned you, Lykos I, as someone he’d like to see in AEW and obviously we mentioned earlier about how Chris is killing it in DDT. Beyond PROGRESS, where would you guys like to see yourselves in the future? Is there any specific promotions or career goals you have in mind?

Lykos: I didn’t know that about Kingston, that’s really nice of him.

Lykos II: That’s very nice of him.

Lykos: That’s a genuinely heartwarming thing to hear…

Lykos II: He’s a nice man.

Lykos: Eddie Kingston’s a real one. You can see on Twitter he retweets the people he believes are good people or his friends. He shows them off to the world now, he’s a superstar and he’s still looking after the little guy. It’s incredible. AEW is a great example. I think we can both say with your relationship with Kip Sabian, we’d love to be there and I think we could tear it up with people like Jungle Boy, I mentioned The Young Bucks previously but who couldn’t kill it with them?

I think the tag division there… Angelico and Jack Evans, I’ve already wrestled them but I think we’d have a banger. AEW is very appealing, but then there’s loads of wrestling everywhere that’s incredible. IMPACT is killing it, Dragon Gate is my favourite promotion of all time, my favourite place to watch. And I’m not speaking for [Lykos II], but I’m sure it’s similar in stature in your regard.

Lykos II: Absolutely, it’s right up there.

Lykos: DDT, obviously, I love and I still appreciate to this day the way they were looking at bringing myself and Chris in, but I’m happy to go anywhere. I just want to prove that we are exceptional professional wrestlers. I want to prove that we can do it to the highest standard with anyone, put us anywhere. Send me back to Tijuana with [Lykos II] and we’ll kill it. Bandito, Flamita, [El Soberano Jr], anyone. We’ve got it and we’ll kill with anyone. I want to prove that to everyone worldwide. America, Japan, Mexico, we can do it.

Lykos II: We are solely confident that beyond any promotion, beyond PROGRESS, beyond AEW, beyond Dragon Gate, that we are two wrestlers to revive British wrestling.

Big thank you to both Kid Lykos and Kid Lykos II for taking the time out to speak to us and to PROGRESS Wrestling for setting up the interview!

Lykos Gym are set to face The Young Guns in the final of the PROGRESS Tag Team Tournament to crown the next PROGRESS Tag Team Champions at Chapter 112: The Flowers Are Still Standing, streaming live via Peacock and the WWE Network at 5pm BST on June 5th. The show will also be available on-demand at Demand PROGRESS.