Interviews

Interview With . . . Masha Slamovich

Masha Slamovich has taken the United States by storm, so much so that the Russian Dynamite has appeared on AEW, been confirmed for NWA Empowerrr and her own event coming up soon – Beyond Wrestling’s Borscht At The Beach! At only 23 years old, Slamovich has shared the ring with everyone from Daniel Garcia to Deonna Purrazzo, Kimber Lee to Anthony Greene – with her brutality knowing no bounds.

Well, Inside The Ropes‘ Lead Writer Gary Cassidy caught up with Masha Slamovich just a couple of weeks before her shock AEW Dark appearance and NWA announcement to chat all about her impressive career thus far!

How’s it going today, Masha?

It’s going rather well! How are you?

I’m not too bad. The first thing I want to ask, because I know that you’re, I believe, just traveling back after having had a match with Daniel Garcia, and it looks to me like a pretty physically demanding match. And I know both your matches are physically demanding because the style that you work, how are you feeling after that?

I’m feeling great. The match was just about a week ago, so I’m actually on my way to one of my next shows, my little loop this weekend. But it was a very intense match with Daniel Garcia. And I was very happy that we got to make history being the first intergender rules match. And that’s something that’s going to stick with me for a while. So I’m very, very happy with the work we put out.

And you came out on the right side of it as well with your hand raised, so that’s even more even more history, absolutely brilliant. So, you know, Daniel Garcia is one of one of the many names like yourself right now that you look at on indie scene and you go, “My God, like they’re just doing amazing work in so many different promotions.” You’ve wrestled even just recently the likes of Kimber Lee, Deonna Purrazzo, I know you’ve spent a lot of time in Japan, you know, in terms of wrestlers that you have shared the ring with, who is the one that you’ve been in the ring with and you’ve went, “I’ve just learned so much being in the ring with this one person”?

Oh, that there’s…- you know, when you ask the question of learning from a match, I could give you 50 different answers of 50 different things that I learned in different matches. And, you know, it’s all very dependent on the style you’re wrestling, who you’re wrestling.

I’d have to say that in Japan, I grew exponentially as a wrestler and as a person learning from people like Chigusa Nagayo and everyone else who was brought in and wrestling for all of the many promotions that I did while I was out there, [it] was the best learning because it wasn’t just specific, it was also me just growing as a wrestler and as a person.

Yeah, definitely I know that we’ve mentioned people that you shared the ring with; one thing that I know that has been a big influence on you and you can tell just by your name, and then when you watch your matches, you can see the influence of the Dynamite Kid. In terms of just looking back, for me, it’s always a strange thing because I believe you’re only 23 years old. But the Dynamite Kid was around quite a long time ago. Is that just the kind of thing where you’re flipping channels or was that someone that you were watching a lot growing up. How did you first see the Dynamite Kid, was it when you were really young?

0Well, first off, I’d like to say I’ve been getting several comments lately about people watching my work and relating to Dynamite Kid, which in itself is a great compliment and one of the best things I can hear.

I discovered the Dynamite Kid… When I started watching Chris Benoit, originally, I was so enamored with the style, because he was on TV when I was a little kid and I was watching his stuff and I thought, “Well, you know, who influenced him? Let me look into that.” And then I discovered the work of the Dynamite Kid. And I thought it was phenomenal. And it was a whole wormhole that I went into.

Yeah, that’s one of the things I wanted to ask, because I think Russia runs parallel in wrestling like Scotland where I’m from. Many years ago, there wasn’t really much representation of the country on television – not to mention the added stereotype seeing non-Russian people playing Russians like Roddy Piper and Scotland did – but nowadays we’ve got this rich, wonderful contingent – yourself, Leyla Hirsch, Ilja Dragunov, Natalia Markova to name a few, all doing brilliant stuff. What do you think of the way kind of Russian wrestling has progressed? Because we don’t see much in terms of what’s happening in Russia but we do see amazing wrestlers in the States and the UK.

I think it’s absolutely amazing to see all these Russian wrestlers representing our nation and doing so quite well, like you said, Leyla Hirsch is currently on AEW, and she’s putting out a great product.

I’ve wrestled her just recently, a few months ago, and that was a really awesome match. So it makes me really happy to see, like you said, there was absolutely zero representation for people like myself growing up, and that’s just drastically changed.

I did mention it there and it seems to happen with almost any country that’s not America, where any representation you see growing up was always a stereotype. Right now, particularly with Russia, that seems to have changed massively – even from a few years ago with Rusev and Lana in WWE. You don’t really see stereotypes now, you don’t see so much of “they’re foreign so they must be a heel” or any of that kind of thing. Is that something that you’re conscious of at all when trying to get across heritage, being proud of heritage while not being stereotyped. Is that something you’ve had to battle at all?

I do think that sometimes that is an issue, especially, like you said, being Russian and then everyone immediately just going towards the “you’re a communist, you like vodka”. I think that it just depends for the wrestler or the person specifically if they do want to make their character very heavily, you know, like nationally proud or whatever, however you want to put that. But then also there’s people like myself who, when I first started, being Russian was kind of a crutch because I didn’t really know who I was. But now, I am me. I’m still Russian, but it’s not my entire character. There’s a whole person here who just happens to be Russian. It is not the main focus of the story anymore.

Yeah, definitely. That brings me to something I really wanted to ask about which was just beautiful. It’s so subtle and I absolutely loved it – it’s a little vignette from yourself. It’s almost Fallout-esque, and it’s got the black and white, the countdown. And then it’s just your hard-hitting style showcased amazingly. I want to ask, how much of that creatively was you, is it something where you’re like, “well, I just did the wrestling then find the best person to edit the video”, or was it your ideas? How much of that was you?

So I had a hand in picking like the.., because originally there was going to be music, but then obviously we put the JFK thing into it. So originally I was in charge of picking the music and like sending the match clips that you saw in the video.

But the video was actually done by one of my sponsors – their name is Gorilla Press. You can find them on Twitter, Instagram at press_yt. They’re the ones who made the awesome video because while we were brainstorming all these ideas, just one day, they’re like “JFK”, just messaged me, “JFK”. And I was like, “alright, do whatever you want”. And they sent me the final product and I lost my mind. It was super amazing. The one input that I did have was that I still think is really cool is at the end when it flashes and it’s just like my face until the light goes out. I was pretty adamant about that being in there and I think that works out well.

It’s so good, I absolutely love it. I’m just like watching it going ‘the production level of this is insane’, it’s just absolutely incredible production.

It was really unreal to the level to which the video was made. And I still really love it.

Yeah, definitely. Now I know that you work a lot of different promotions. We mentioned Leyla Hirsch being in AEW, your name obviously lends itself to that promotion in particular, the Russian Dynamite. Is there an aspiration of going to AEW, or competing on AEW Dark or whatever, or are you content right now where you are, which seems to be everywhere?

I mean, it’s a little bit of both. You know, I, throughout my career, have mainly made a name for myself up until this year working outside of the United States, so I am thoroughly looking forward to going to places like Australia, Mexico, England, perhaps Scotland, you know, all these all these places that I’ve got my eyes set on.

Across the United States as well, there’s places like GCW, Southern Honor, places that I’ve yet to be and, of course, AEW is indeed on that list. But you never know what the future holds, so we’ll see where the where the journey takes me – and that’s what I live by.

Yeah. GCW just seems like a perfect fit for your style so that’s one that needs to happen! Well, there’s so many options that’s the beautiful thing about wrestling just now, there’s not just one place, there’s millions of options. So one thing that I recently watched and it was actually from that I watched a lot more of your matches was, you done a little interview with Xenia, and it was all about gatekeeping and kind of gender, essentially. How important for you is intergender wrestling? We mentioned the history-making match that you had at the weekend there. How important is that for you to put on a classic match no matter who’s involved, no matter what gender they are?

That has been my belief in regards to pro wrestling since day one. I never personally saw anybody as a gender in the ring.

I was never treated at my places of training… For example, with Johnny Rodz, my gender was never even considered during training. So to me, none of that means anything. Everybody is a pro wrestler when they get in the ring, plain and simple.

For anyone who hasn’t watched that chat with Xenia, I definitely recommend that they do – but I’m going to briefly move on as nothing I could ask in that field would live up to that conversation.

One thing that’s probably more pertinent now than ever, you’re well-travelled in terms of independent wrestling. A lot of wrestlers have been released from the WWE and will end up working in many of the places you do. What’s the feeling for you when that happens? Do you look at it and go, “Yes, there’s so many new talents I get to wrestle! This is great”? Or is it a feeling of, “There’s going to be so much more competition, there’s limited spaces and I now have to compete with all of these people”?

I don’t really see it as either one of those. I don’t know. It’s typical to say, but I try to keep myself focused on my own business, focused on progressing myself and my wrestling, and taking more bookings. I don’t feel the need to look at somebody and say I need to compete with them, the only person I need to compete with is myself. To be harder on myself, be more disciplined. People are going to get booked regardless of me being concerned about it or not, so I better make sure that I put the work in to be the person.

Absolutely. I love that. And the one thing that you mentioned that you’re so very young, obviously very experienced because you’ve wrestled for a long time, but you’re still very young. Looking ahead ever so slightly, what is the one thing that you think you five years from now might want to be telling yourself now?

Focus harder, recover better from all of your training, focus on recovery, and just make smart decisions. Have your head focused on your goals, pick a goal, fight for that goal. And I never want to look back and say, “You should have done that.” I want to make sure that I am doing these things and doing everything in my power to progress.

Thanks so much to Masha Slamovich for taking the time! You can follow Masha on Twitter here, Instagram here, and subscribe to Masha’s Patreon for exclusive content here.