ZERO1 Monthly Interviews: Jayson Cooper (February 2013)
February’s interview was with young veteran of the Australian Wrestling circuit and former NWA/ZERO1 Australian National Champion Jayson Cooper. Hear what Coops had to say about his storied career in both Pro Wrestling and MMA, his long list of injuries, his retirement in 2010 and his plans for the future now that he holds a guaranteed title shot that he can cash in any time in 2013!
First memories of wrestling?
I recall over 20 years ago I use to love watching Hulk Hogan do his thing. I also loved my Captain Lou Albano toy (and chewing all off all his fingers). But it was only when i saw the Mankind Vs Undertaker Hell in a Cell match in ‘98, my love for wrestling grew and I ended up at the Monster Factory Wrestling School in Salisbury.
Who were your influences growing up in wrestling?
Would have to be Mick Foley and Jeff Hardy. Mick Foley is by all accounts a gentlemen, and was always willing to put it all on the line for the fans. Jeff’s matches were always entertaining, and at the time he brought something not often seen in mainstream pro wrestling – innovative acrobatics.
If you weren’t a Professional Wrestler, what would you be?
Before wrestling, i was involved in baseball, swimming, boxing and street hockey. However, if i didn’t follow the path of a wrestling, I would have likely pursued Ice Hockey. Love the game and the athleticism.
Don’t have a favourite band, but listen to anything from Metallica to Enya.
Shawshank Redemption, Dawn of the Dead, Evil Dead 3 to name a few!
Worst Injury in wrestling?
Unfortunately it’s common knowledge that my body hasn’t kept up with my ambitious mind over the years, and I have paid for it. Worst injury would certainly be the torn MCL ligament in my elbow (once in 2000, tore again in 2011) which doctors are saying will sideline me permanently, but never say never right? Right?!?!
You got your start training with Australian wrestling legend Col Dervany in the late 90’s. What was it like training with Col and then wrestling with the only South Australian promotion at the time (PWSA)?
From the beginning, training with Col was always a sink or swim scenario. We always had to 100% while on Col’s watch, no excuses. If you tried to slack off, Col would be right there to twist your ear off or will drop you with his dreaded small package (depending on what mood he was in and who was watching). He also had some of the quickest cat-like reflexes I’ve ever seen, plucking bird sized moths out of the sky and tearing its head off in under a second.
What has been some of the greatest accomplishments in your career so far?
Would have to be that I was the longest NWA Australian title holder in its history (may have changed since?), and having the opportunity to defend it in San Diego, California against Damian Slater.
Who have been your favourite opponents in wrestling?
Would have to be Havok, Hartley Jackson or Spike Steele.
You retired from Pro Wrestling in 2010 to take up a career in MMA. What was it that led to this decision?
The ongoing injuries I’ve sustained from pro wrestling over the years had forced me to go easy and look for an alternative that was more forgiving on my back. I took a keen interest in BJJ late ’08, and following that to kick boxing in ’09. I found the transition from pro wrestling to BJJ very simple, and was very successful in comps, gaining Gold Medals at a state and National Level. Following winning my MMA debut by Unanimous decision in 2011, I reinjured my right arm and had to undergo a complete recon of my MCL ligament. This has side lined me to this day, but I’m working hard on rehab to get back in the Octagon real soon.
At last year’s WRESTLE RAMPAGE event you returned to the ring in the ‘Wildcard Battle Royale’ and won the match securing yourself a ZERO1 Australian National Championship for 2013. When do you plan on cashing in this title shot?
It’s no secret that going into the match I wasn’t 100%. On top of the recovering from an elbow reconstruction, my neck has always been an issue for me. After the match when Chris Vice gave me a tombstone piledriver, I re-injured my neck and haven’t been in a ring since. I’ve been working hard with my physio to get back in shape. As for when will I cash in the shot, well I guess I’ll have to decide real soon. I still have a lot of years in front of me and 1 last run with the gold has been a goal of mine for years, but for the first time ever, my health comes first.
What are your plans for 2013 and beyond?
I tend to take things day by day. My focus has shifted to MMA, but Pro Wrestling is something that I dedicated myself to for over a decade and I still love getting in the ring. My priority right now is to get back as close to 100% as possible. Then after winning back the ZERO1 Australian National Championship, I want to have my 2nd Pro MMA fight. Now that South Australia has legalised A-Class rules and the use of a cage, that’s something I have to experience.