Hi Gianni; thank you for the time you dedicated to We the Wrestling, and welcome to our site! How did you get to know the world of pro wrestling?
I started watching wrestling at the age of 8 years old, with my grandpa every Sunday on italian tv which used to be broadcasted in Malta. From there I never stopped watching it and just became more into it the more time passed.
Wher did you start training?
I started training at VPW in Portsmouth,UK. There was no wrestling in Malta back then, so I had to move out of the country. My head trainer was UK Kid who himself was trained by Shawn Michaels.
Did you have anyone you considered a point of reference during your formation? Is there anyone specific you would like to thank?
Personally, my parents have always supported me, even though wrestling wasn’t what they hoped I would be doing in my life. Also a few of my close friends who supported me from the beginning.
To whom or to what is your gimmick inspired?
The Undertaker was the first wrestler I remember seeing on tv and my first ever favorite wrestler, so from the beginning I feel I was always part of the dark side haha. Even growing up watching different anime/movies, I always supported the bad guys. My gimmick is someone who just wants to hurt and beat people up. Get a win by any means necessary and has no pity for his opponents. I like watching stuff mainly from Ox Baker, Bruiser Brody and Fit Finlay.
How did your interest in bringing pro wrestling to Malta begin? How does it feel being the owner of a promotion and at the same time wrestling in it?
I always felt there was opportunity for wrestling in Malta. It was a pity that such a great sport was missing from my country. I also wanted to give opportunity to other local pro wrestling fans that wanted to give this sport a try,but didnt have the place where to train. It is very stressful being owner and wrestler at the same time, but I enjoy it. I take care of most of the stuff for PWM so it does get a bit hectic. Especially during our events trying to take care of everything that is going on, concentrating on your match becomes a sort of impossible task.
In 2014 you wrestled in Portugal and in the UK, in promotions such as Centro de Treinos de Wrestling and British Empire Wrestling; how was your first approach with them?
Nel 2014 hai lottato in Portogallo e nel Regno Unito in federazioni come la Centro de Treinos de Wrestling e la British Empire Wrestling, come è stato il primo approccio con queste due federazioni? Ti ricordi qualcosa in particolare che ci vuoi raccontare? I made the contacts with the right people while living in UK before, so it was an easier getting there. I knew the owner and promoter and they invited me over.
The following year brought you to Wales for Monmouthshire Championship Wrestling; how was the atmosphere there? How did you feel wrestling for them?
It was great for them to invite me over. The locker room was a fun one and made me feel really at easy. A nice group of people.
In 2016 you won the PWM Heavyweight Championship defeating both the former champion Francesco Messina and someone that has recently become a household name, Zack Gibson, presently in NXT UK; how did it feel winning that title? How was sharing the ring with a talent such as Gibson?
That day was the peak of the feud between francesco and I, which started more than a year before. Back then I was a different person, ‘the maltese warrior’ and the maltese people looked up to me to defeat the italian mafioso who always cheated his way into winning. It was a great feeling winning the belt not only for myself but also for the fans. Gibson was a true professional. Very humble but also very wise in the ring. It was a great learning experience.
In the same year, in Pro Wretsling Malta, you wrestled and defeat Pete Dunne, the present holder of the WWE UK Championship, a talent on whom WWE seems to be investing a lot. Can you remember that match? Had you noticed anything in him suggesting that he would reach the level he is at now?
Once you see Pete wrestle, you know immediately that he has IT. The match was great fun…and painful. Just like with Gibson, that match was a great learning experience and a great push for me personally.
Along with Malta the Damager, you were part of “The Maltese Marauders”; you even wrestled in the US, for Fight The World Wrestling. What can you remember from that time?
It was a great time. Malta the Damager is like a brother to me and he helped me so much in the USA. We wrestled in 3 different states and for 3 whole months we were undefeated. We brought something different to the table. Here come these 2 giants invading the US wrestling scene with helmets and the whole thing, just want to hurt people. It was a good experience as it was my first time wrestling as a proper tag team, but also good fun.
What differences did you find in the fans and the in-ring skills between European promotions like ours and those in the States, where you wrestled for different organisations?
In USA one thing I noticed is that talent have so much more opportunities than over in Europe. They have no idea how lucky they are. Shows are mainly the same and all matches. But it also depends on the area. North Easter fans where I was prefer seeing a lot of crazy spots and some areas in the south prefer a more traditional kind of wrestling. It all depends on the area one is wrestling in.
You also had a chance to wrestle often in Italy, for promotions such as Power Wrestling Entertainment, Italian Championship Wrestling and Bologna Wrestling Team. In those matches, you fought for several titles. For instance, in “PWE From the Ashes” you and Francesco Messina were defeated by The Roman Dynasty with the PWE Tag Team Titles on the line, while at “ICW Guerra Civile 2017” you lost to Andy Manero an Italian Title match; “ICW Battaglia del Vesuvio”, again in 2017, saw you come short against Interregional champion Nick Lenders. This year you wrestled for the BWT against the champion, Leon, and VP Dozer. Which of those matches do you remember more fondly, and why?
All matches were different in their own way. The favorite one was for BWT in February this year because I know the guys. Leon wrestles in Malta all the time and Dozer we had met before. And also it was a 3-way between 3 huge guys, which you don’t really see often in Europe.
In your 7-year-long career you often wrestled in the UK for promotions such as WrestleForce, Full Force Wrestling and British Empire Wrestling, whose Heavyweight Title you hold since last February, when, during “Rising Empire III”, you defeated the title holder Kyle Ashmore and a former NXT and Impact Wrestling athlete such as Bram. What can you tell us about that day? How did it feel being on the ring with Bram?
It was a great personal accomplishment for me. BEW was one of the first places that gave me an opportunity after I returned back to Malta, so to finally hold the belt it was a great personal achievement. Again it was a great learning experience. Everytime I step in the ring it is a learning experience for me, but it is more when being with someone of that level.
In 2017, you defended your PWM Heavyweight Championship against athletes who are very well known in the UK and in Europe such as Eddie Dennis, Mark Haskins and Red Scorpion, the Italian wrestler. With which one of them did you feel more comfortable, and who gave you more troubles?
All of these mentioned guys have their own different style and I am happy to see that they are doing well in their career. I think my favorite match from these mentioned was with Eddie Dennis. It was the first time wrestling in Malta with my new character and it got a positive reacton. The hardest I think was Haskins. With his small stature it was hard to keep him in place haha. His condition and cardio is off the charts. Top guy.
Since the beginning of 2018, you are in the AJPW roster, in Japan; it’s one of the oldest, most famous promotions in the world. First of all, congratulations from WtW for this achievement. Back to the question: you tag with former WWE Tajiri, you tok part in the Real World Tag League 2018, you wrestled for the World Tag Team Championship during the Summer Action Series tour, being defeated by the holders, Violent Giants (Shuji Ishikawa & SUWAMA). How does it feel, wrestling along an athlete such as Tajiri, so well known worldwide? Did he teach you some of his secrets? What are the objectives you have as a tag team?
It was the best experience I ever had. Being in the ring with tajiri I got to learn so much, just by watching him wrestle. Unfortunalty I cannot say any secrets haha but he did teach me a lot. Always giving me his feedback and how I can better myself. I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for Tajiri.
Still talking about AJPW: who made a stronger impression on you, from a technical or a personal point of view? And, on the other hand, who made you feel disappointed?
All of the guys here in AJPW are great wrestlers. Seeing some of the legends like Tajiri and Akiyama who are close to their 50s and still having great wrestling matches on a daily basis is huge.
What differences did you notice between Europe, USA and Japan? Where did you feel more comfortable as a wrestler? Where are the fans more competent and supportive?
From my personal experience in Japan is where I felt most accepted and the sport in general is supported hugely by fans. And most importantly the fans respect the wrestlers and consider them actual athletes. On the other hand in the States as mentioned before there s so many opportunities and so many different kind of fans that you cannot actually put the whole scene as one.
If you could pick a wrestler of your choice, any wrestler, to face, who would you choose? Is there a dream match you’d like to have?
From wrestlers who are still active? Chris Jericho for me he is the total package. And I always tried to base my career like his. Travel the world as much as I can, get as much experience around the globe and better myself. As a japanese wrestler, since I am currently based in Japan is Minoru Suzuki. He always amazes me when I see him in the ring. And I am sure I will learn a lot from him.
Would you like to wrestle for the biggest promotions (even thug AJPW is already extremely relevant)? If so, which one(s)?
I am really happy being in AJPW. They have given me the opportunity to do this at a full time level. So I am truly grateful. At the same time wrestling is my career, so whatever better opportunites may arise, I will consider accordingly when the time comes.
What are your targets in the world of pro wrestling? Do you have any dreams you’d like to share?
Personally to keep improving, getting better in the ring as a wrestler and person and getting better opportunities. I also want to keep working hard to make pro wrestling one of the biggest sports in Malta and hoping my boys will do better than I am doing now.
How would you judge your 2018 as an in-ring worker? And what about Pro Wrestling Malta?
It was a huge year. Best year so far both personally and for PWM.
What are the targets you set yourself, for the near future, for Pro Wrestling Malta? Also: would you like to mention some of “your” wrestlers that you consider ready to appear in bigger context than European pro wrestling?
From 8th January 2019, PWM will start airing a weekly tv show on a National TV channel in Malta,so it’s a huge step for us. I want to keep working with my team so that we can have bigger audiences at our shows, and keep growing not just as PWM but also the sport in Malta. A number of guys are really good and love wrestling. Of course there are some who take it more seriously than others and will of course do better in the future because they work harder for it. One of them is Jack Quinn, who has been travelling abroad alone and getting more opportunities on his own. In a few years he will be doing really well for sure.
What do you think of the work done until now by Italian promotions? Do you have any advice you’d like to give them?
From my experience there s a lot of politics in Italian wrestling. No need for that. Work together not for your own benefit but for the italian wrestling. If the sport gets bigger and more popular in the country, all of you will benefit in a way. Not only the promoters but also the talent.
What would you say to a young person who would like to become a wrestler, or who would like to make pro wrestling his or her main source of income?
Just give it all you got. First step it to start training. If you do that,you have already did more than all the others who were afraid to try. After that keep pushing hard. The more you train and work hard the better you will do. Study matches, attend shows that you are not booked on and offer the promoter to help, go to the gym and have a proper diet. Be professional and polite. The more you give in the more you will get back, like everything in life. But don’t quit. It is a very hard road, but in the end it will be worth it.
I’ll close with a question we ask everyone: what do you say to people who insist that pro wrestling is fake?
I am the owner and head trainer of a wrestling school in Malta. I invite them over for a free trainng session with me and the boys. Afterwards I would like to hear again their opinion.
How can your fans and our readers keep up to date with what you’re up to?
I have my facebook page, Gianni Valletta and also on my instagram – giannivalletta_pwm.
Thank you for your time, and good luck in your future, in pro wrestling and in your private life.