PJ Black is the "Darewolf." And, while pushing those limits and being the "Darewolf", he recently severely injured himself while in South Africa.
He's back in the US and shares the story of his mishap with us for the first time.
Plus, talk about Lucha Underground, his being contacted to return to WWE for 205 Live, and so much more!
YouTube: Wrestling Epicenter #459 - Darewolf PJ Black FKA Justin Gabriel Confirms Injury Rumor, more
For MP3: WrestlingEpicenter.com - PJ BLack Interview
On confirming his injuries and how they happened:
"I did a base jump. I jumped off a building, about a 320 foot building which is actually plenty high. A lot of people think, "Was it too low." Here's what happened. Short version. I jumped, my body position wasn't perfect. The parachute turned at about a 180 degree angle so instead of flying away from the building, I flew straight into the building. I managed to kick off one of the ledges and flip myself around. In doing that, I broke one of my ankles and then while I was flipping around, my finger got caught in a satellite dish and it ripped the tip of the finger off. I've now got 2 titanium plates in my leg and a pretty messed up finger. But, I'm alive. So, that's pretty cool!"
On how long he is expected to be out of action:
"So, the South African doctors told me, pretty good doctors by the way. They said 3 to 4 weeks, non weight bearing. So, I'm still on crutches and then I can start walking at least, obviously with a moon boot on. But the American doctors also found some extra arthritis and dead bones and stuff so they reckon I'll be on crutches for about 3 months. So, anywhere from 6 months to 12 months depending on how quickly I recover. I guess all the arthritis and dead bones are from my 20 years of wrestling. (laughs)"
On having Lucha Underground Season 3 back on the air:
"Oh my Gosh, it is so exciting! For a little while there, I couldn't watch wrestling. There is so much to watch! I just cannot keep up with 10, 15 hours of wrestling each week. But watching a Lucha show is like watching for the first time because there's so many storylines and, you know, everything is filmed out of sequence. So, it is very exciting and it is very cool. Of course we're also on Netflix now. More eyes are on the show now. It is pretty cool. I was just traveling to South Africa, UK, and Australia and all those fans watch the show. Obviously, illegally! (laughs) But, one of these days, it will be on Netflix out there for them too."
"It was exciting when we were kids, right? All the over the top characters, colorful characters. I think I think a lot of these shows on TV these days, the live shows, you know which ones I'm talking about... They focus too much on, I don't know what they call it, the "reality era". They try to make it too real. Everyone knows it's not real so why not just run with it and have over the top characters?"
On the mid-season break for Lucha Underground Season 3:
"The same way. I mean, it was kind of unexplained. I did some research No surprise. It was the heads of the network... They got a new head of the network... I don't want to say too much, I'll probably get in trouble. They had to change stuff around and numbers had to match up. But, that's a whole other story. We're just glad to be back on TV and it is pretty cool!"
On making the tough choice to leave GFW to join Lucha Underground:
"It was a very tough decision for multiple reasons. Jeff Jarrett, he was like, "You're gonna be my guy." I mean, I could literally do anything I wanted. He was good to me. We share the same vision which is very rare, me and a promoter these days. (laughs) Very tough decision. Lucha Underground contacted me for the first season but that was like the first week that I left WWE or maybe month, whatever. I jsut didn't really want to sign with anyone. TNA called, ROH called... I was just kind of like, "Listen, I just want to do my own thing for a while. I've never done the indies in the US. Let me see what that's about." I told the guys from Lucha, "Call me back a year from now." And in that year, i started watching the show and I was like, "Holy crap! This is amazing? How did I say no to this?" They actually called me back the 1st of October, exactly a year later and I was like, "Yep! Sign me up." They were like, "Do you want to discuss contracts?" I said, "Whatever you guys are offering, I'm fine with that!" (laughs) I told Jeff, "This is something that I have to do." If the Global Force show had been picked up on TV, it might have been a different story. I just had a feeling... I know how these things work. It was going to be a while before it got picked up and it still hasn't gotten picked up. So, I guess it was the right decision, eh?"
On the GFW Amped TV and how it compared to Lucha:
"I've seen some of the stuff we've recorded. We recorded in Vegas. The crowds were phenomenal. The story lines were really, really good. And the talent... It was a very, very different show. All wrestling on TV except Lucha, they're all the same. But, Global Force did something different. I kind of hope people get to see the season that we filmed sometime in the future. I know Jeff took over TNA. Maybe they'll show some matches. Or, just sell a DVD. I mean, fans want to see it. If they put out a DVD, I would buy it!"
On bringing the "Darewolf" to WWE TV:
"I did (want to). That was the plan. I experimented with a lot of different characters. I wasn't really being used on TV. I was like, "All right, back to the drawing board." I wasn't one of the guys that would sit in the back and just collect a paycheck - I wanted to work! I didn't really care too much about the money back then. I just wanted to work, be on TV, and let people see my work. I started working with a lot of different characters, Dusty helped me with a bunch of promos. Just kind of working on lots of different stuff. We kind of got stuck on this "Darewolf" character. WWE called me "Capetown Werewolf". I guess this was during the Twilight days? (laughs) Matt Striker came up with the idea of putting the werewolf and the dare devil together... The character was kind of a dare devil like a modern day Evel Knievel. He came up with the word "Darewolf." Everyone loved it except Hunter. WWE actually trademarked that immediately. There is something with the patent laws in the US, if you don't use it in 12 months, it gets abandoned and someone else can apply for it. When I left, I don't know what I was doing but I was googling. I came across this file that said it was abandoned. I was like, "Yep, I'll just trademark it myself." It's not a word that exists so I was like, "Hmm. Could be on to something.""
On why Triple H didn't like the Darewolf:
"Um, I'm not sure if he didn't like it. But, when I told him "Hey, I've got this great idea!" He was like, "Just because you came up with it doesn't mean it is a good idea." (laughs) I have no idea what that means! I still think about it to this day. He's a very sarcastic person so maybe that's what he came up with on the spot."
On his roots in being a high flyer:
"The Simpsons were high flyers. I was obviously fans of them. Their dad was the promoter. Not a lot of people know this but in the 70's and 80's and early 90's, South Africa was actually one of the territories. You know how wrestlers used to move away from territories and stay for months? I remember as a kid seeing Hogan job to our champion. Andre the Giant come over. There was no Internet back then. There was no YouTube back then! So, there was no people posting like, "Hogan jobbing to our local champion in Africa!" It is a pity there is not more footage of this stuff. I've tried to dig out old photos of my dad, old photos of Undertaker, some of his first matches were there. Sometimes I think I should just write a book. Wrestling kind of died out in '99 in South Africa. But, yeah, the Simpsons were high flyers. But, our style was very much influenced by the British style. The high flying style was obviously very exciting. My dad used to bring me tapes back, tapes from Japan, tapes from CMLL.. What I did, I kind of combined all these different styles. I didn't create that. I took all these different styles and put it into 1. That hybrid style, if you go to any indy show, that's what everyone does these days."
Ony funny road stories with Heath Slater:
"Oh man, Heath's the man. He's just a good soul, good The way that he handles himself, he's in a diferent class. He's a real country boy. He'll probably have a job for life! You can stick him in any story line... Be the comedy guy, be the real wrestler guy. He just fits in anywhere! Lets see. The night that we won the tag titles for the first time! For like a year, we traveled together. Heath was the kind of guy who liked to sleep with the TV on. I'd wake up in the midle of the night, switch the TV off like every night. The night that we won the tag titles, I wake up in the middle of the night, I switch the TV off but I see he's not on his bed. So, I kind of look around and kind of fall back to sleep. He comes running out the bathroom, he's got a cigar in 1 hand, he's got the belt on, he's butt naked, and he's got a blow dryer in the other hand and he's yelling, "WOOO! We did it! Angel, we did it!" He still calls me Angel to this day, by the way. (laughs)"
On becoming Justin Gabriel:
"Vince is friends with Chris Angel." He goes on to say, "In that era, when NXT started, they wanted it to be like a reality show. Justin Angel was too gimmicky. I don't know if anyone noticed this but everyone had 2 names, like a first name and a last name, in the first season and everybody wore trunks. It was supposed to be a reality show. It was going to be a reality show, They were going to put us in a house and film everything like the Ultimate Fighter. The writers waited too long and then it was like, "Oh, that house stuff fell through. Here's 5 minute segments, you guys go out there and freestyle and do whatever." (laughs)" He finishes, "When NXT started, Vince changed it on the day without me knowing. When i walked to the ring, I heard the announcer say "Justin Gabriel", I was like "What? I'm Justin Angel. I guess it just stuck from there!"
On Lucha Underground Season 4:
"I don't know anything but rumor is we'll go back to filming in October. But, then again, nothing is set in stone. I thinkt aht all the time, I'm like, "Is there going to be a Season 4?" But, I signed for 3 more seasons. I'm pretty sure they would have let me out of my contract by now if that weren't the case."
"It is a huge possibility especially with the way things are run now. They actually ahve contacted me for a few things for 205 Live but obviously I'm signed to Lucha right now and I weigh 220 pounds right now and with 205 being a legit 205, they're actually going to do stories with guys trying to make weight, I'm not willing to lose the weight. I kind of like being a heavyweight! (laughs) Never say never! If they offered me something, it is going to be hard to say no. But, it also depends if I ever get back to normal with this leg."