“Everywhere Luke and I have went, we’ve made it to the very tippy top of the promotion. We have every intention of doing the exact same thing at IZW.”
Tag team wrestling has always held a unique position within professional wrestling. Some of the greatest athletes of all-time have made their mark as part of a team gaining more success and accolades working as a cohesive unit than as an individual. But not everyone can do it. Two grapplers that excel in this environment are the KC Wolves, Graham Bell and Luke Langley. As the KC Wolves prepare for their biggest match in IZW, on February 1 at “Violent Valentine” live on GFL.tv where they will square off against the current IZW Tag Team Champions What Wrestling Should Be (“Lights Out” Jordan Jacobs & “Larger Than Life” Jermaine Johnson) I caught up with the duo for a multi-part, extensive interview. Here is PART 1 with Graham Bell.
The KC Wolves have wrestled for IZW on several occasions in 2013 and are getting their chance to shine in 2014. For Langley, a forever free-spirit, pro wrestling was seared into his memory dating back almost two decades ago. “My brother got me interested in wrestling. He’s nine years older than me so he was into it in the early 90’s. I remember he had Warrior and Hogan wrestling buddies. I didn’t know anything about it though until Christmas of ‘97. We got a PS1 for Christmas and some games. One of those games was WWF In Your House. Everything in that game was way over the top. Bats flew out of ‘Takers hands when he punched, Doink shocked people with the Joy Buzzer, and Owen Hart threw razor sharp playing cards at people. One night my brother was like, ‘Do you wanna watch wrestling on TV?’ I was like ‘hell yeah’.
“I remember the very first image I saw was Vader’s head in a plastic trash can. A lot of early stuff is blurry because I had to go to bed halfway through ‘RAW’ so I would miss the main [event] a lot. But our living room was at the opposite end of the hall as my bedroom, so one of my fondest memories is sneaking out of bed and peaking around the corner to watch what I could, and I’d have to duck behind the wall if I thought my mom was coming,” Bell chuckled.
While growing up in Seymour, Missouri, Bell likened the small rural town to a “Bizarro Mayberry” that had its share of peccadillos. While Bell does back to visit family from time to time he swears his hometown was built on a “hell mouth”. Growing up around such peculiar and strange characters only set the table for a life as a professional wrestler in a business full of oddities.
“I started training in the summer of 2011 under ‘The Good Rev.’ Chad Sullivan. I live about two hours south of Eldon, Missouri where Harley Race’s school was based out of. I had just assumed I would get a job and go train there. Jobs were harder to come by then I thought and that didn’t happen. I finally got sick of waiting and went searching for other schools. I called up every place I could find, but they were either too expensive or too far away. I had pretty much given up looking when I saw an ad on a website saying “Rings and Cages Training Center Open Tryouts.” The tryouts were in Bucyrus, Kansas. That was only two and half hours from my house. I went, passed the tryout, and started training. I had my first match after about a month in Ottawa, Kansas. This big dude named Sledge knocked me out,” Bell deadpanned.
“There are so many greats that influence me, but as a kid the ones who really made impressions on me and made me want to be a wrestler were: Goldberg, Jeff Hardy, Stone Cold, DX, and Mysterio. Mysterio was so small, but could do all these incredible things and he never quit. I related to that because I was like the smallest kid in my class. DX and Stone Cold were at two opposite ends of the ‘We-Got-A-$h!t-Ton-Of-Personality’ spectrum. Stone Cold didn’t give a damn. He did what he wanted, said what he wanted, Stunned who he wanted, and he did it all on his own. He didn’t need or want help from anyone. He was so unapologetically himself.
“DX was the same way, but more lighthearted. They were funny, crude, and immature, and they knew it, and they loved it. Ask anyone who knows me, it definitely left an impression. I loved Jeff for the same reason I loved Stone Cold. He was himself, but on a whole other level. He made me feel like it was okay to be weird, and I was a weird kid, and I’m a weird man-child now, so that helped me a lot. Growing up in a town of 1800 and being into Yu-Gi-Oh!, Power Rangers, Star Wars, and D&D you take a lot of $h!t from people. I could look at Jeff and say “Look at this weirdo. He loves what he does and who he is, and the people love him for that. I can just be my weird self too.
“And then there was Goldberg. Goldberg was just the man to me, because in my mind he epitomized what wrestling was. In wrestling the goal is to win, and that’s all Goldberg did. Goldberg won, over, and over, and over. He was big, fast, tough, and mean and I dug it man. He had all these power moves, but he would also throw a Savate kick or something like that in every now and then. I was just crazy about the dude. I think I cried when the streak ended. Actually, I still cry when I think about the streak ending,” Bell added.
Along with the aforementioned names who inspired Bell from afar on the TV screen, Bell also picked up a few pointers from the legends and stars of the sport that also contributed to his unique in ring style.
“I believe I’m what’s classified as an American Cruiserweight, but I try to hybridize my style. I’ve been fortunate enough to do seminars with people like Bobby Eaton, Harley Race, Colt Cabana, and so on. They all have something different to teach and I try to incorporate a little bit of all of it; whether it’s a move, a tip on psychology, or whatever it may be. It’s harder for people to prepare for you when you don’t have a defined style. I like to be a tool box player. I don’t have a universal preference, it all depends on who I’m going up against. If I’m wrestling someone like Convict I’m gonna stay away from the striking game, just like I wouldn’t try to outwrestle Double D. That being said, if I can stay to the air against Convict I could chop him down. That’s why, like I said earlier, I like to learn from as many different people and have as many tools as possible. That way I can be ready for anyone.”
One of Bell’s many tools he utilizes over and over is his finisher. In fact, Bell has two distinctive moves that he uses to put the nail in the coffin of his opponents. Both require a degree of athleticism and precision that very few wrestlers can pull off inside the ring.
“I used the Sliced Bread #2, but I call it the Bell Tower, and I rotate a little more with it than other people who use it. I chose it as a finish because I can hit it on anyone, and even though it’s my finish it’s not really the move I’m known for. I use a move called the Knuillotine, (like guillotine). You know how a Fame-Asser is a described as a leg drop bull dog? Well the Knuillotine is a knee drop bulldog. The dude’s bent over, I jump up, and I come down with my knee right on the back of his neck and ride it all the way to the mat. It’s pretty vicious. I came up with it while trying to think of more moves to do to the neck. A lot of my offense attacks the neck, I guess I’m just ornery like that, I don’t know. But I was trying stuff out with these GI Joe action figures I use to come up with moves and I had the idea for it. So next chance I got I tried it in a match and it’s become my main weapon.”
In PART 2 of my interview with Graham Bell we discuss the KC Wolves, IZW, career highlights, “Violent Valentine”, Independent wrestling, and more!
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