ZERO1 Monthly Interviews: AJ Istria (December 2012)
AJ ISTRIA has been a mainstay in ZERO1 Australia for the past few years despite calling Queensland his home. He recently returned from a 3 month tour of Japan with ZERO1 and this is what he had to say about his career so far.
First memories of wrestling?
I never actually properly watched and supported pro wrestling properly until around 03/04. My memories include the likes of Brock Lesnar, Eddie Guerrero, Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit having great athletic matches.
Who were your influences growing up?
As cliché as it sounds, my family were my biggest influences growing up. It’s a blessing and a curse to come from a very successful family, but it has always motivated me to be the best I can be. There’s also Lance Armstrong, but ah, the less said about him nowadays the better.
Where did you get your start in wrestling?
I got my start in Wrestling back in Queensland, however, I credit Zero-1 Australia and their dojo for giving me a true sense of direction, understanding and purpose within wrestling.
If you weren’t a Professional Wrestler, what would you be?
I would be a highly successful University student that would graduate to find no jobs within his respected field due to the Global Financial Crisis.
I am a Hip Hop and RnB kind of guy.
Jamie Foxx, Boyz II Men, T.I, Mase and Notorious BIG are probably top 5 most listened artists.
Certainly not Romantic Comedies. You won’t catch me watching films like Notting Hill, How To Lose A Guy In 10 days or Love Actually. Not at all!
Worst injury in wrestling?
In Japan I had an unfortunate stint of 3 relatively minor injuries. I twisted my knee, had my tooth bent back and broken in half and then had a rough landing on my neck.
You have just returned from a 3 month tour of Japan with the ZERO1 organisation. How did this opportunity come about and what did you take from the experience?
The opportunity came through Zero-1 Australia and my affiliation with them. I believe the entire experience gave me a lot more discipline as a person and athlete. I put everything I had into being something unique for Zero-1 and the Japanese fans. I can honestly say that I learnt many things, both good and what to avoid, off of everyone that ever entered the Dojo in my time there. Also a big thank you has to go out to our trainer Ikuto Hidaka who allowed me to train extra sessions to work on my Jujitsu and Grappling. I hope to show off my new discipline and skill set in 2013.
What has been the greatest accomplishment in your career so far?
Two come to mind. Firstly, my debut with Zero-1 Japan. I stood beside several men who I didn’t know at the time but would end up being like my big brothers whilst I was in Japan. The moment where we waited for Otani, Tanaka, Kamikaze, Sai and Kohei to enter still gives me chills thinking about it.
Secondly, I was awarded the “Interstate Wrestler of the Year” in 2011. To know I earned the respect of the Zero-1 Australia roster meant the world to me.
Who have been your favourite opponents so far?
Damian Slater – Training and wrestling him I learn so much. I feel like I am finally at a point where competitively we could have some great matches.
Shito Ueda – Trained and wrestled with Ueda many times whilst in Japan. Had a bunch of solid outings and learning experiences.
Robby Heart, Graham Brothers, Esteban Molina, Chris Foster, Shinjiro Otani. The list goes on.
List 3 wrestlers you’d like to face in the future and why?
Damian Slater, Robby Heart and Hartley Jackson – These are my three main influences in wrestling. I want to prove to them that I’m not the clueless kid anymore and can bring it in the ring.
I also want to go back to Japan and face Kohei. He is considered the toughest and scariest man Zero-1 Japan. It might be a death wish, but whilst I’m picking fights with the 3 biggest dogs in Australia, why not Japan too!
What are your plans for 2013 and beyond?
In early 2013 I intend on bulking up to become a Heavyweight. Following that I hope to wrestle more of the top guys in Zero-1 Australia and hopefully return to Japan sometime to continue what I started over there. Nothing is set in stone except my goal to punch Hartley Jackson, Damian Slater and Robby Heart in their ugly mugs.