ZERO1 Monthly Interviews: ‘The Kiwi Bullet’ Link Barnett (June 2013)
We caught up for a chat with one of Australia’s newest citizens, formerly based out of New Zealand, Link Barnett. Barnett spent several years wrestling in his homeland of Auckland before moving to Adelaide to pursue the art of professional wrestling. The high flying young talent made his official debut at last month’s REVOLUTION and was all too keen to share his thoughts and introduce the world to ‘The Kiwi Bullet’.
Where did you get your start in wrestling?I got my start in wrestling with Mania Pro Wrestling in Auckland, New Zealand. I used to travel up to Auckland from Napier, and train with Mania whenever I got the chance. By the time I’d finished high school, and made a move to Auckland to live, Mania was reborn as Impact Pro Wrestling, where I made my debut, and have wrestled the majority of my career until this year.
What are your first memories of pro wrestling?
I remember watching WWF sporadically in the late 80’s and early 90’s, and loving it every time I did. I remember liking guys who wore bright, fluoro colours (the Rockers, Ultimate Warrior, the Hart Foundation). But the moment where I realised that wrestling was the greatest thing going, and started my life-long obsession with it, was when a school friend of mine invited me over go his for a weekend to jump on his trampoline and watch wrestling videos. We hired out WrestleMania X and King of the Ring ’94 (new releases at the time), and they absolutely blew my young, impressionable mind (particularly the Bret Hart vs Owen Hart, Razor Ramon vs Shawn Michaels and Owen Hart vs 123 Kid matches). The trampoline was fun too.
Who have been some of your biggest influences both growing up and now?
As a bit of a follow on to the above question, a few years after I got stuck into wrestling, WCW started airing on New Zealand free-to-air TV. The very first match shown was Ultimo Dragon vs Psicosis. My mind was blown again. The Cruiserweight division of WCW was (and kinda still is) probably my greatest influence as far as what I wanted to be. Guys like Dragon, Psicosis, Rey Mysterio Jr., Chris Benoit, Steven Regal, Dean Malenko, Chris Jericho, Alex Wright, Juventud Guererra, Eddie Guerrero, La Parka, Billy Kidman, Hector Garza… (I could probably go for another half a page or so) were/are big influences on my style and knowledge of wrestling. In more recent years, I’ve been a keen follower of the Japanese Jr. Heavyweight scene. A few of my favourites now are Kota Ibushi, Naomichi Marufuji, Masato Yoshino, Prince Devitt, Kenny Omega, KENTA, CIMA, Dragon Kid, PAC… (you’ve got me started again…)
If you weren’t a Professional Wrestler, what would you be?
Yikes! I’d hate to think…
Well, my other, other job is refereeing Roller Derby. I’ve been doing that when I can (ie. when not wrestling) for a few years. Heaven forbid if I’m not able to wrestle, I’d do that more. I’ve also dabbled in media creation, and that’s always tickled my fancy. Other obscure pipe-dream jobs would include being a travel writer, a stunt person, or something where I get to make a healthy living via running around doing jumps and flips, somehow.
I am happy listening to a ridiculously wide variety of music. As an example, I’ll list out the first five bands that turn up on shuffle: Enter Shikari (trance-core), G-Dragon (K-Pop), Anamanaguchi (8-bit pop-rock), The Samurai Pizza Cats theme song (Samurai Pizza Cats theme song), Battles (…they sound like Battles). Did I mention I like music?
The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Akira, Scott Pilgrim vs the World, Snatch, The Matrix trilogy, Marx Bros. movies, the Goonies, Gremlins, anything Studio Ghibli makes, Star Wars, Kill Bill, Battle Royale, Monty Python films, the Back to the Future trilogy, Tron (original and Legacy), Crows Zero, Ghostbusters, Animalympics, Mortal Kombat, the Last Starfighter, most movies starring Jackie Chan, Koyaanisqatsi (and the like), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Robocop, The Land Before Time, Predator…
These are the first ones that come to mind. Did you want more? I could name more…
Worst Injury in wrestling?
Excuse me while I knock on the largest tree I can find. I’ve never had an injury keep me from the ring. I’ve had my face and nose bloodied up a few times, strained some ligaments in my shoulder, but that’s about it. I fear I’m overdue something horrendous…
What has been your greatest accomplishment in your career so far?
Not getting injured!
The only title I’ve held in my career thus far is the IPW Tag Team Championship. But above and beyond that, just being able to go out to the ring, present myself to the fullest of my abilities. And prove my worth to the fans, and myself, is something I don’t take for granted.
Who have been your favourite opponents?
Through wrestling in New Zealand and Impact Pro Wrestling for the majority of my career, some of the names I’ve come up against frequently, to explosive encounters include ‘The Deal’ Dal Knox, Kingi, my former tag-team partner Liger, Brian St. James, and perhaps most notable, Liam Fury.
You moved to Adelaide early in 2013 to expand your horizons. How has the training experience been at ZERO1 thus far?
The saying “to become who you want to be, you must change who you are” I think sums up succinctly what this year has been for me. After getting a taste of what ZERO1 was all about last year, I made the choice to challenge myself in about as immersive a way possible. It has been tough, it has been gruelling, but the results will justify it all.
List 3 wrestlers you’d like to face in the future and why?
Travis Banks: For having been wrestling in New Zealand for so long, Travis is about the only guy I never got a decent opportunity at facing. As the last IPW champion, a match against him would be a great show of how I stand in the scheme of New Zealand wrestlers in the world today.
Robbie Eagles: I’d heard a lot of buzz from over the ditch about him in the last few years. Watching him where and when I could. I managed to watch him live in March at ZERO1, and he certainly lives up to the hype. Probably Australia’s premiere Jr. Heavyweight wrestler. I think a Kiwi vs Eagle, trans-Tasman battle could be one to remember.
Damian Slater: As much as I’m probably known for my explosive, agile, high-flying style, what I like just as much (if not more), is a solid, technical, hold-for-hold game of human chess. Having trained under Slater for the last few months, I think the two of us could put on a good old-fashioned grappling exchange. Wrestling at its core.
What are your plans for the remainder of 2013 and beyond?
It’s good to have gotten my first full match for ZERO1 under my belt. Unfortunately a loss for AJ Istria and myself, but a start none-the-less. Now I want to build on that, establish myself within ZERO1, and gather some momentum and wins. And while ZERO1 is my new home, I’d love to soon make my way around this country, and show what this ‘Kiwi Bullet’ can do!
Well thankyou for your time and we wish you the best of luck in your future with ZERO1.
Wait, what? That’s it? You’re not even going to ask me about video games?? Cause I bloody love video games! Do you want me to make you a list of stuff I’m currently playing? Or stuff I’ve finished more than twice? ‘Cause I will….. Also, if you could please add “video game/anime voice actor, professional video game player” to the line about obscure pipe dream other jobs, that’d be swell too.