Adrian McCallum, better known as Lionheart, is a wrestler from Ayr in Scotland whose career is a long series of titles and great matches.
He held the BCW title twice (his second reign lasted two years – and a day), and he also held the PCW belt in two occasions, although the first time he lost it in the same evening he won it. In 2011 he wrestled both for TNA and for WWE, during the two promotions’ UK tours: in January he lost to Jeff Jarrett in TNA, while in November, in WWE, it was Justin Gabriel who defeated him – or rather, he defeated Matthew Kaye, the name the WWE had given him for that night.
In 2011 he also opened PWE (Pro Wrestling Elite), that he presently owns.
On the 1st of March 2014, just after having defeated AJ Styles in PCW, he suffered a fracture of two bones in his neck. He’ll return to the ring on the 13th of March 2015, in the same promotion. There, after having been forced to vacate the title, he recently worked as a General Manager.
Besides this, he conducts a successful podcast called “From the Heart”, that can be found on iTunes and on the PWE website.
Despite being an extremely busy man, he kindly found the time to have a chat with us.
WtW: According to Cagematch, you made your debut in August 2002 in Coventry, as Leon Lionheart, defeating Chris Charizma. What do you remember of that day and of that match?
Lionheart: Not me I’m afraid… My debut was in Glasgow in 2003. Six man tag match. [it was in BCW; Lionheart, Red Lightning and Draven Cage defeated Kolobos, Rab Ferguson and Whiplash Krash]
WtW: In 2011 you wrestled both for WWE and for TNA, in house shows in the UK. Could you give us an idea of how different is the atmosphere in such shows compared to what you find in the European indies?
Lionheart: For the most part, the atmosphere is very very different. Largely because it is in a much bigger venue. On the independent scene, the venues tend to be significantly smaller so the crowd and atmosphere is more intimate, which can actually make for a pretty exciting experience. A lot depends on the type of crowd… For example companies in the UK like ICW, PCW and Progress, all cater for a more mature and educated audience which makes for a much more fun atmosphere, whereas a lot of companies focus on families and younger people, which is still fun but is different to the others…
WtW: As everyone knows, on 1/3/14 you suffered a very serious injury, in which two bones in your neck were broken. You are already announced as booked in at least two shows in March 2015, which means that you made a complete recovery in one year. What helped you through this process?
Lionheart: I wouldn’t say I’ve made a complete recovery… I’m still sore, I still have issues I need to work on including a lack of strength in my right side, but all in all I’ve recovered very well… I just really refused to have my professional wrestling chapter of my life end on that note… It was all a step at a time really. Every individual thing I was told I couldn’t or shouldn’t do, so far I’ve done… The final and most challenging step will be to get in the ring and do it again!
WtW: As we all know, the injury we just mentioned happened at the end of a match against AJ Styles. If you were asked to wrestle him again, would you accept?
Lionheart: If both circumstance and money were correct, yes… All day… Reality is though, at the independent level that’s a challenge…
WtW: At the moment, your wrestling “homes” seem to be PCW and ICW; what makes them different from the other promotions?
Lionheart: ICW and PCW I’ve mentioned briefly, with their target audience and calibre of events, they always feel like you are a part of something very special… They have a very different business model of what they want to be, what they want to achieve and who they want to be seen by… They are proving incredibly successful and on the whole, both (particularly PCW) have been exceptionally good to me in the past year…
WtW: In ICW, you have an ongoing feud against Jackie Polo that is getting really personal. Are you allowed (and willing) to tell us how much of it is kayfabe and how much is real, personal heat?
Lionheart: I’ve pretty much commented on this as much as I’m really prepared to… It’s a personal situation that I’m being paid to work within… I’m a professional so am able to do that.
WtW: Linked to the above, what is your opinion about Jackie Polo *as a worker*?
Lionheart: His job is to have people hate him… Plenty of people do… Take whatever job success you want from that.
WtW: You are also the founder, owner and booker of PWE: can you tell us what makes it different from all the other promotions?
Lionheart: I think I put a real focus on storylines throughout the year… A lot of companies, just have random matches, and that’s ok… But there needs to be something to emotionally invest the crowd… I feel I follow up on that with my shows… I also try to have a decent production, from dimmed lights, good sound, entrance videos and hype packages… All part of the experience… I’m certainly not miles ahead of other companies, but I’m not far behind any either…
WtW: At the end of 2012 you announced your retirement, but then you changed your mind some months later. Why had you decided to quit, and what made you go back to wrestling?
Lionheart: I was very disheartened with wrestling at the time… Several knockbacks had really put me questioning whether I should continue with it, and I ultimately decided to leave… I quickly realised that was a pretty immature approach and regretted it, so I came back to what I really love.
WtW: What do you answer to the usual accusation that “wrestling is fake”?
Lionheart: I take offence… I have a broken neck, does that sound fake to you?
WtW: In your career, you held numerous titles: what does it mean to a wrestler when a promoter decides to give him a title run?
Lionheart: It’s always a privilege when any company (especially larger ones) want to give you a run as ‘the guy’ You should be considered the benchmark for everyone in that position, you should be entitled to call yourself the best… There is also a lot of pressure to deliver as well
WtW: Who is your favourite opponent?
Lionheart: I have many stand out opponents over the years… My favourite UK guys to work with are Kris Travis and Noam Dar… I don’t click with any two individuals more than I do them… So many more like Wolfgang, Dave Mastiff, Martin Kirby, CJ Banks, BT Gunn, I could go on forever, really far too many to mention… Davey Richards and Nigel McGuiness were real favourite opponents of mine too…
WtW: What’s next for Lionheart?
Lionheart: The return… All of the pain, emotion, hard work, all comes full circle… From there, I just want to prove I can be among the best and aim for that ultimate goal…
WtW: Do you know anything about the Italian wrestling scene? Any names you know, any matches you’ve seen…
Lionheart: I’ve worked alongside a couple of the Italian guys over the years, their names escape me just now so I apologise but I have been a part of a couple of shows alongside some yes.
WtW: In wrestling, like in any other walk of life, of course there are unacceptable characters, criminals and what have you; why do you think that only (or almost only) in wrestling they are used as an example to prove that ALL wrestlers are “bad people”?
Lionheart: Professional Wrestling has always had an air of negativity around it, because it’s not fully understood by the general public nor is it fully in the public eye these days… it’s looked upon as a poor form of entertainment by many of the general public… Your earlier reference to the word “fake” is used… You look at promotion for companies like mine PWE, I go out postering, most shops will not put up a poster for me, but they will put up one for the circus? People need to understand, that wrestling is the most beautiful art form on the planet… Nobody can create what we can in one take.
WtW: Anything else you want to add?
Lionheart: Just a big thank you to everyone who has supported me. I’m working very hard to get back to performing for you again and I hope I don’t let you down…
WtW: It’s time for you to plug yourself for your fans: how can they keep in touch with you? Twitter, Facebook… podcast…
Lionheart: Twitter: LionheartUK Facebook: Lionheart PWE: www.prowrestlingelite.com
Thank you very much Lionheart, and… see you soon! #believe