Exclusive: AKIRA Opens Up About Signing With MLW, His Journey Into Pro Wrestling, His Death Matches and Future

(Photo Credit: @red.shoes.media)

Highly touted indie name, AKIRA, who has signed with Major League Wrestling, recently sat down with PWMania.com to take part in an exclusive in-depth interview regarding signing with MLW, his journey into pro wrestling, death matches, what fans can expect from him in MLW, and more.

AKIRA, originally from the Midwest but now based in the Northeast, is making a name for himself in the independent and death match scenes, as well as working shoot-style matches. He’s worked matches for GCW, Prestige, Beyond, ICW, and C4, among others, and wrestled in over 100 matches in 2022. Last year, Jon Moxley was seen wearing one of AKIRA’s sweatshirts on AEW Dynamite.

You can check out PWMania.com‘s complete exclusive interview below:

The first thing we need to address, and we’re going to get to your MLW signing because it’s very big news, but you just let the world know that you’re not 45 years old. How long was this ruse that you’ve been employing been going on?

You know, it’s funny. I have never told people my actual age. People always assume I’m like 21 or 20. And as soon as I open up all the articles, and it’s like, 29 year old from Bringhurst, Indiana, I’m like, How did you know? I kept quiet about that. Whenever somebody meets me, I always go like, how old are you? I’m like, 45. It’s just what I would always say. I feel like crap. And I assume this is what 45 feels like. Because it’s either I say that, or people assume I’m just really young. Once it got announced and I was reading through every article, because I didn’t even know it was getting announced that day until I had like, 45 people texting me messaging me going. Congratulations. And I’m like, What are you talking about? It is like nine in the morning. I’m not even awake yet. And then like they sent me the article. I’m like, oh, oh, okay. Should I say ‘Yeah, thanks, guys.’

So you found out just like the rest of us did.

So I mean, it’s been like a goddamn thing for a couple of weeks, like two or three weeks before Christmas. It never it never really settled in. I talked to Sean Ross, who is a friend of mine. And he messaged me the page I think, like a day or two before and he said, ‘Oh, cool. It’s a design bubble, blah, blah, blah.’ I wasn’t even awake. I was like, ‘okay, cool. Awesome.’ That’s probably going to pop out at some point, you know, in the next two weeks or so. Then I had that match at GCW, I had those two crazy matches the rest of all that people said were disgusting and I’m like, ‘That’s what I do.’ Then… was it two days later… Mosh (Masha Slamovich) is getting ready to do a match and all of a sudden, like my Twitter’s just exploding. That’s how I found out that it was officially official, even though MLW hasn’t really said anything. But you know, it made my interview and everything else.

You just mentioned GCW, so it’s been a long road to here (MLW). So, when and where did this journey begin?

Okay, God. So once again, if you read all the articles you’ll go back to when I was in Bringhurst, Indiana, which coincidentally is basically Delphi, Indiana. And that is where Dick the Bruiser hails from. Such a weird coincidence in terms of wrestling. I was working like two or three jobs when I got out of college. Basically, living the post college life of working three jobs, hating your life. I used to be college swimmer. I was athletic. I just got tired of living the nine to five life. I’m an artistic guy. I’m a creative guy. However, I was also an athletic guy and I missed competing in sports. There was never really any time to do that when you’re working two to three jobs. I said ‘to hell with it one day, I’m going to find a school and train.’ I was going to go originally to Lafayette, Indiana where Billy Rock had his school and the year I wanted to do it, they closed so I was like, ‘crap.’

So I found a school like three and a half, four hours away. And I said, ‘Hey, I want to do this.’ I drove three and a half hours all the way there after work. Did the tryout and basically got it. I was like the one student that was there too. To be honest, it was one of those… not a bad school, like I love my trainer to death. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them, you know, but it was definitely one of those were the people came in, they were there for two things and they chickened out. I was pretty much the only one in my class that finished training. Afterwards, my trainer was basically like ‘Get the hell out of dodge, go hit the road, get in cars, go to seminars, don’t stay here because if you stay here you’re never gonna go anywhere.’

That’s basically how I lived the first year to of two of my wrestling life. My family kind of kicked me out because I lost two of my jobs because basically my bosses were kind of scumbags, I was kind of sick of them. Gotta call them out on it. They didn’t like it and they told my parents who basically told me ‘okay quit wrestling and find a job.’ I said ‘no.’ That night, I grabbed all my crap, headed on down to Jeffersonville, Indiana. The great wonderful Jeffersonville, Indiana right across from Louisville, Kentucky. I was I guess, technically homeless for three or four days until someone was like, ‘hey, come crash at my place.’ And I slept on their couch which evolved to me getting a job that was kind of okay with me wrestling. My boss at the time was Billie Starks’ mom. So a lot of wrestling continuity here, folks. I just, you know, eventually got my own place, which led to me hopping in more cars. Got into cars with John Wayne Murdoch, Reed Bentley, aka ‘The Rejects,’ Shane Mercer. Everyone knows that freak. And basically, this led to me eventually going to Mexico one day because I was at GW watched KSI vs. Cologne, and it was this match that made me go ‘death matches are beautiful, death matches are cool.’ Because I was always a strong style technical wrestling guy. When I saw that, I was like, okay, death matches aren’t just two slobs hitting each other, you know, it could be something more. And ironically enough, it was at that show that my friend Aiden Blackheart. got a text from John and Reed who said, ‘Hey, you want to get out of Mexico?’ And my friend asked me ‘hey, do you want to hop in and drive, maybe get on the show?’ ‘Sure. Why not?’ And mind you. This is when I was 170 pounds. I’m not you know, 190 like I am now skinny, long hair.

I wanted to be Shinsuke Nakamura because Nakamura was God to me. Nakamura was the reason I got back into wrestling to begin with, the reason I went all the way down to Mexico, you know, on a hope and a prayer. This led to my first death match where they said, ‘Hey, you, you look good. But we have a spot on the card for you, a death match.’ In my head, all the red flags went up, but mentally I was like, ‘I’m in Mexico.’ I went all the way down here. I really didn’t care about my well being I said screw it. Why not? And literally that all led to here, because then they came back to America. People heard how great that match was. I actually started to have more death matches but I was also having matches with than regular matches with guys like Tony Deppen. Suddenly it dawned on me that my death matches have helped elevate my regular wrestling career to new levels. It all is like yin and yang it all goes in a circle. It all fuels itself so I’m never gonna be that guy that quits doing death matches because I’m not here without them. But it led to me going to the East Coast kind of getting a name for myself.

So is there a different mentality going into a quote unquote regular match as opposed to a death match? Is there a different psych up you have to give yourself for that?

I first started, yeah. Funny enough. Simon Gotch, he was kind of like a mentor, friend etc. told me he said any match is a death match if you try hard enough. So now, even all my regular matches whether it’s shoot style, just regular one v one where we go for, you know, 15 to 20 minutes, we’re kicking the hell out of each other. My mentality is, let’s go wild, you know. So nowadays it’s I just go out there and I’m in the zone. So basically, whenever you see me in a regular match, you get death match AKIRA, you get that psycho who’s willing to get dropped on his head on concrete or whatever, but in a regular wrestling match, and I guess that’s why the past year and a half, two years I came to that realization.

Out of all of the MLW talent that are on the roster, is there anyone specifically that you say to yourself ‘when I jump in, I’m starting with this person?’

Who do I want to fight? The answer is everyone. Sorry for everyone else. I plan to kick you in the head. I plan to break your arm. I plan to put you through barbed wire. That’s just the game. Oh, definitely. I would definitely headbutt Jacob Fatu. I would. Listen, I took a headbutt from one of the craziest dudes on the Indies, Joker. The other wrestlers that were there that night said that somehow that was the worst part of that whole show. They’re like that was the nastiest thing. Hearing that thud and you just laughed in his face. So yes, Jacob Fatu, I want to headbutt you. I want to drive my skull into yours. And then I want you to drive your skull into mine. But once again, you just listed like the craziest roster to me. I mean, you got Davey Richards, Hammerstone, the Billingtons, Davey Boy, Alex Kane, very wide and diverse roster which I pride myself in because I’m a very wide and diverse styled wrestler.

Despite what people might think of death matches when you watch my death match work, and you watch my regular work, people tend to realize ‘Oh, this guy is a traditional grappler this guy will throw you under and then this guy will punch you in the face.’ The answer is yes to all that. I would gladly Punch him sir, I would gladly take on any of these guys in any rule set because I know that not only can I hang, I can supersede, I can overcome that. Which is part of my whole mission statement, which is to prove that death match fighters, death match wrestlers aren’t the same as they were 20 years ago. We’re in a different league now.

Is there one person on this roster you’re looking forward to work with more than the rest? Or is it just all in? I don’t care.

I’m all in and they all have something interesting about them. That makes me want to fight them. I mean, Davey Richards, it’s Davey Richards, who doesn’t want to fight Davey Richards who doesn’t want to test himself against the American Wolf? You know? Alex Kane and I could go and have a pure rules match. Guido’s on there. It can happen there. I would love to fight anybody on that roster and in the rule set that they feel they’re comfortable with. And if they dare to step into what I’m comfortable with, which is everything, good luck.

In your time with GCW what would you say is the first memory that always comes to your mind of, you know, big time moments happening?

For me, I mean, I don’t know if I’ve ever had that GCW moment that people just talk about, but I will say my match with Alex Colon is definitely one of the highest peaks as well as the match I had on New Year’s this year with Masha, the tag match that we had those two are just Cornerstone moments. Oh, yeah, I guess even the midnight match that I had with Cole Rodrick at Planet Death. Those were matches that when everyone’s done the crowd couldn’t help but stand up and applaud. That’s what I love to do is show my work in the ring. Despite what I’ve said in this interview but I’m not much of a shit talker. I’m much more of a do it in the ring, tell the story in the ring. Let’s fight in the ring. Because I believe that’s the purest form of the sport. And because that’s what I fell in love with. I fell in love with you know, New Japan. I felt like, especially even when I was younger my dad had like New Japan tapes, and that’s what I would watch and just it always clicked with me. I loved those styles of matches and I love competing in those types of hard hitting matches. I’ve had the chance to do a lot of cool things and compete in matches like I saw in NJPW. I got to do one of them with the love of my life. That’s pretty cool.

I guess another moment would be I did a scramble match with guys like Speedball, Jordan Oliver, and Nick Wayne like crazy, crazy, crazy, little scramble. And I think I was like a surprise. You know, like that I wasn’t announced I kind of just came out. But hearing the crowd just continually chant for me even when other guys were coming in. And they were just going AKIRA. AKIRA, and it made me sit there and go. Well, what do I say to that? Especially when Nick Wayne, bless his soul, that sweet child looks, looks around at the crowd and starts pointing to me goes, it sticks his thumb up like it approval and I’m like Nick Wayne, you silly little boy, I love you. He’s too pure for this world.

What can we expect from you heading into MLW?

I’m not here at MLW to waste my time. I’m not here at MLW to you know, just ‘oh, I signed a paper. I did it Mom and Dad. That’s cool.’ You know, it’s great. You know, the young guy from Indiana that everyone wrote off, you know, then he became a death match guy. And everyone said, that’s all you’re ever going to be. I signed a paper. I did what a lot of other people said I would never do or what a lot of death match guys would never do. That’s great. It’s wild. I want to go in there, look everyone in the eye and have them know I’m coming for your spot. I’m coming for your head. And if you’re complacent, and if you’re lazy, I’m going to run you over because my mind is going at 100 miles an hour. And I can see the cracks and I can see some people that are happy to be there. Or they think that this is the pinnacle. Or, you know, they think their sh*t doesn’t stink, because they’re at MLW. They see a guy like me and they think ‘oh he’s death match guy from the Indies.’ Guess what? One of the most diverse fighters on the independents, been traveling around the world and I didn’t need a company to fly me. I just did it. And these places flew me themselves. No, no dime out of my pocket. I’m coming to MLW to fight all of you and get to the top of the pedestal and look down and smile. I’m coming to look down at you and smile at all of you and say, come take it from me. Which I doubt many of you can. Now there’s of course there’s people once again, Davey Richards, who can easily kick me and break a rib.

I know that I’m not going in so cocky as to think I’m immune to damage. I’m immune to the challenges that other people are going to pitch to me. But the fact of the matter is, I’m ready. I’ve been through hell, I’ve been thrown on concrete. I’ve been kicked in the dome by some of the best in the world. Trust me Spees Ball Bailey kicks really hard. But the fact of the matter is, I’m gonna look you in the eye, and I’m gonna say ‘try to take me down.’ My goal, my mission, my motto, my creed has been for four years ever since I was labeled as a death match guy, has been to show that we are the best in the world, that we deserve the same chances that everyone else does. Just because you think all we need is glass, we need barbed wire, we need a gusset plate. We don’t. That’s my objective. And if it’s to shame all of you, because I’m putting in the work and you’re not well, that’s not my problem. That’s my mission in MLW. I’m going to expose the cowards. I’m gonna expose the phonies, and I’m going to expose people that are just playing out complacent.