ZERO1 Monthly Interviews: Damian Slater (June 2012)
The first of our monthly interviews was with Adelaide’s Damian Slater who is currently preparing for his July 28th match against Australian National Champion, Ryan Eagles. This is what Slater had to say about his career so far and future aspirations…
First memory of Wrestling?
Survivor Series 1998. I’m pretty sure it aired on a 6 month delay in Australia. It blew me away as I’d always associated Wrestling with being cheesy PG type stuff but this was cutting edge, especially for an 11 year old! I remember not being into Wrestling at all growing up but it became super popular to the point where I felt left out for not liking it. So I jumped aboard the bandwagon and became more obsessed than anyone else. Who knew that it would change my life so drastically! *laughs*
Who were your influences growing up?
When I started I was really young, small, weak and un-athletic. So when I looked for influences, I realised that mat wrestling was something I could do and was within my comfort zone. I used to watch guys like William Regal and Dean Malenko early on.
After I developed my frame I looked to wrestlers such as Alex Shelley, TJ Perkins and Ikuto Hidaka for inspiration as I really enjoyed how fluid and innovative their wrestling was. I also felt drawn to the way they incorporated the Japanese, Mexican, British and American styles all into one.
If you weren’t a Professional Wrestler, what would you be?
Easy one. I’d focus more on Jiu Jitsu.
Every Time I Die
Worst injury in wrestling?
My most painful injury was in a match with Cletus Blood in Melbourne a couple of years back. I picked him up for a modified Tilt-A-Whirl and felt something in my chest pop. It felt like I’d been shot. As soon as I got backstage I sat down and couldn’t really breathe or move. I went to hospital where they took X-Rays and they said it looked like a small part of my sternum had broken off but weren’t 100% sure. To be honest I think it felt a lot more like a partially torn abdominal muscle. Either way I had to sleep sitting upright for 2 weeks.
What was it like to wrestle in Japan against some of the Japanese greats? (sent in by Jamie Vandenberg)
An absolute dream come true. The Japanese style has been my main influence for several years now. It still seems kind of surreal that I was able to experience the same lifestyle that I have read about in so many autobiographies. Living at the dojo and training with Ikuto Hidaka was an amazing experience as he was always somebody I watched growing up. My match with Masato Tanaka was a war that I won’t forget in a hurry. He pushed me further than anyone has before and I felt like I could truly hang with one of the best in the world.
What did you learn in Japan that will make you a better wrestler here in Australia? (sent in by David Drane)
The main thing I learnt wasn’t any style or move set. I learnt a lot about myself. Being in Japan made me really analyse myself and put a lot of things into perspective. I think I am far more confident since the experience. I feel as though I have all of the tools to achieve as much success as I want, it is just up to me put myself out there and grab it. Since then my two matches back on home soil with Davis Storm and Rocky Menero have been some of my favourite ever. Confidence is one of the most important things in the game and I think the next year or so will prove that.
Who is your favourite wrestler to be in the ring with here in Australia? (sent in by Brendan West)
Shane Haste hands down. His level of talent is world class and wrestling against him brings you up to a whole new level. I’d have to give a special mention to Davis Storm and Ryan Eagles as well. Two of the smartest and most confident wrestlers in the ring and it truly shows.
List 3 wrestlers you’d like to face in the future and why?
Ryan Eagles – I had some great matches with him in Sydney and Canberra a couple of years ago and think it would be awesome to have this match in my hometown.
Ikuto Hidaka – my Zero1 trainer whose style I have idolized for years. I believe that he is probably the best mat wrestler in the world
Fitness Maniacs – Best tag team in Australia and one of the last remaining on my bucket list who I haven’t wrestled
What are your plans for 2012 and beyond?
I am yet to hold heavyweight gold in my hometown as of yet so it’s always on the back of my mind. However recently I have had the opportunity to face the best from around Australia on a consistent basis which to me is bigger than anything else. I want to test myself against everyone. I think I am living proof that you can achieve great success without holding a title. Of course I want to return to Japan in the near future as I have plenty of unfinished business over there. The only thing holding me back is myself and that is the one thing that I need to overcome.
Thankyou for taking the time to speak with us and all the best for your future
No, thank you!