There’s More Than Just Gold That Glitters For IZW Heavyweight Champion Jermaine Johnson
“I don’t want to do anything but wrestle.”
For the reigning and defending IZW World Heavyweight Champion, Jermaine Johnson, he is well on his way to making that statement a reality. Through hard work, an unbreakable drive and continued passion, the 27 year old Wichita, Kansas native has already achieved more and reached greater heights than most in the sport will ever know. But for the always confident Johnson, that’s not enough. The Champion wants more.
“My main focus in this business is to have wrestling pay my rent. I want to be a full-time professional wrestler and I would love it to be with IZW. I’d love that more than anything. I just want wrestling to be my job. I don’t want to have a regular job anymore,” Johnson chuckled.
Johnson is IZW through and through. Having trained at IZW’s training facility, the Impact Academy, and come up through the IZW system, Johnson is a testament to how superior an infrastructure IZW has been able to create for professional wrestling in the state of Oklahoma. It’s no wonder that Johnson excelled at the Impact Academy as he was willing to make tremendous sacrifices just to find a reputable pro wrestling training facility.
“I was living in Kansas and I looked up schools in Kansas, Missouri, Colorado and Oklahoma. And I found a school in Colorado and I was going to drive back and forth from Wichita, Kansas to Colorado Springs. And the trainer was amazed that I was going to do that because it’s an eight hour drive, each way. He was impressed with my determination so he helped me out and gave me a number from a group out in Oklahoma and that turned out to be IZW. And I started from there,” Johnson recalled.
“So I was driving back and forth from Wichita to Oklahoma City every Saturday. It’s like a 3 or 4 hour drive and I started doing that in August of 2007. I had an 11pm to 6am shift at my work and then I would drive down to Oklahoma City at 8am every Saturday so that was my start. I made my debut with IZW in March 2008 and never looked back,” Johnson continued.
And the drive?
“I moved down to Lawton in 2008, in January, even before my debut, because I found a place that I could really soak up professional wrestling and decided to jump in with both feet,” Johnson said.
Things have come full circle with Johnson and the place where he cut his teeth in the pro wrestling business because now he is the trainer at the Impact Academy now based in Lawton. “Jordan Jacobs is the most recent graduate from there. Randy Price came from out of there too. It’s a hard training school. We don’t really worry about quantity as much as quality. If you come out of Impact Academy you are going to be able to wrestle, point blank,” explained Johnson.
But there’s so much more to Johnson’s game, to his persona, than just what he learned inside the ropes. Johnson is a can’t miss, blue chip prospect who is well on his way to mastering all the tricks of the trade that a successful professional wrestler must have in his arsenal.
“I study a lot of Ric Flair, Chris Jericho and Ricky Steamboat. I call myself a “wrestleologist”, I’ve got tons of books and dvds of all the greats and I just study them, over and over, and try to get better every day. Ric Flair is great, especially with the persona of being Heavyweight Champion and wearing the nice clothes. I try to dress nice and that’s all Ric Flair,” Johnson said.
With Johnson’s years of training that he originally honed at the IZW Impact Academy, along with the countless hours he has spent dissecting some of the greatest matches ever and learning from the best in the business, it comes as no surprise that Johnson has made a name for himself in the Mid-South territory, especially in IZW where he wrestles exclusively now.
Johnson has had the company’s top belt around his waist, the IZW World Heavyweight Championship, for over a year. It’s a belt that Johnson originally won on November 6, 2010 against IZW mainstay “The Real Deal” Aaron Neil. Since then, Johnson has defended the belt against every member of the roster who earned a title shot. In another “come full circle” moment of Johnson’s wrestling career, he will be defending his IZW Heavyweight belt against the man he defeated more than a year ago, Aaron Neil, on IZW’s last iPPV of the year, Chaotic Christmas on December 17, live on GFL.tv. The always cocky and confident Johnson already believes the match is in the bag.
“December 17 at Chaotic Christmas is MY coming out party. Aaron Neil has worked so hard to reach this moment. It’s been a year in the making since he’s wrestled for the IZW Championship. It’s been a year since he could pretend that he was the IZW Champion. What is Aaron Neil going to do, what are his fans going to do when he fails? Because that’s what’s going to happen,” Johnson quipped.
“I’m smarter than Aaron Neil, I’m better than Aaron Neil and at Chaotic Christmas, once and for all, I’ll prove it. I’ve already proven this before but I’ll do it again. Because defeating Aaron Neil at Chaotic Christmas won’t make me the greatest IZW Heavyweight Champion of all-time. I’m already that… Beating Aaron Neil at Chaotic Christmas will send me into iconic status. I’m talking about having my own wing in the Hall of Fame. After I win there’s going to be a huge celebration with the streamers, the confetti and all the bells and whistles. Because Aaron Neil’s failure will be my biggest accomplishment. And all the fans watching, they might not want to, but they’ll have to, they’ll have to give it up to meeeeee!” Johnson exclaimed.
For outsiders, Johnson’s antics and speech might come off as brash and irreverent. But for anybody that knows what Johnson has already overcome and accomplished in this grueling profession, you have to admire somebody that has the mental and intestinal fortitude to put everything on the line and pursue a dream. The more you talk to Johnson the more you begin to realize that he has that same amount of confidence in the whole IZW locker room. Even his adversaries.
“I don’t even see IZW as on the same level of other federations in Oklahoma anymore. We’re striving to get on the radar of ROH. I think we have something for every wrestling fan, whether its WWE fans, TNA fans, ROH fans or disenfranchised fans that like the old-school territories. We have it all. We have feuds and battles that rival anybody in the business and from a presentation standpoint, I don’t believe any organization outside of WWE and TNA is at our level. IZW produces great shows. Check us out on GFL.tv or YouTube. We have a professional looking wrestling show from top to bottom and it’s all shot in HD. Not many companies can claim that,” Johnson said.
Johnson also realizes the importance of the marriage between IZW and GFL.tv as a way to reach new fans and grow the IZW audience. “The GFL and IZW partnership is the greatest thing to happen to this company. It motivated our entire roster. It gives the company and the wrestlers world-wide exposure and is going to enable us to break out of the pack. We’ve just started but, at some point, wrestling fans around the globe are going to know about IZW because we do wrestling better than anyone else,” Johnson explained.
There’s not much you can say about Jermaine Johnson that he hasn’t already said for himself. For the last year he has carried the weight of the company on his shoulders as the IZW Heavyweight Champion, and the organization has had breakthroughs it has never experienced before. A large part of that is a testament to the work ethic of Johnson. Come December 17, Johnson will look to steal the show once again in his main event bout with Aaron Neil and put an exclamation point on the end of 2011 by defending his IZW World Heavyweight Championship. For wrestling fans, it’s a match you don’t want to miss.
To find out more about Jermaine Johnson and hear from the man yourself, follow him on twitter @JermaineAboutME.
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