Next up in the “Breaking Through the Ropes” series is an interview with Joshua Wavra.
On the road of “Breaking Through The Ropes”, I had the awesome opportunity to sit down with the Submission Savant, Joshua Wavra. Balancing a phenomenal nuance between operating on a cold, impressive technical level and the lighthearted wackiness that finds its place so often in wrestling, Joshua Wavra is a renaissance wrestler of high proportions.
As their title would indicate, Joshua is a proficient technical wrestler, having trained under the tutelage of Ring Of Honor mainstays in Cheeseburger and Jonathan Gresham. And Wavra is following the footsteps of their trainers by performing across the indie scene in promotions, such as F1ght Club Pro Wrestling and Camp Leapfrog, and landmark events like Effy’s Big Gay Brunch. As for how their career started, the Submission Savant can explain better than me.
“I was pretty severely bullied as a kid. And I always think it’s kind of a funny story, I originally started watching wrestling because the kids who were bullying me were interested in it. And it was my attempt to try and fit in with them. “
“And I remember they were talking about-I think the Royal Rumble or something one year, and I watched ECW on SyFy, in like 2008. The day after they were talking about it. That was the first time I watched wrestling, and I was pretty hooked on it right away. Then it got to that point where they all started to kind of outgrow it, and I was still interested in it. And it was just a consistent thing for me.”
“Throughout the years after that, no matter what I was going through, or what I was dealing with, I was always able to turn back to wrestling as a source of relief from all the hardships of everyday life, growing up and whatnot. And I really couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else. It’s just the thing I love most.”
As mentioned earlier, Joshua Wavra is a well-traveled member of the indie wrestling scene, having been praised as a fantastic worker by their trainer in Jonathan Gresham or fellow indie stars such as Lee Moriarty. But even with such high praise, Wavra stays humble throughout.
“It’s very surreal. Especially because I think a lot of that praise that I’ve gotten from Lee (Moriarty) or (Jonathan) Gresham and whoever else, I believe a lot of it is based on things that the general audience really hasn’t been able to see or hasn’t seen yet. Where it’s stuff that I’m doing in training, it’s stuff that I’m doing behind the scenes that not everyone gets to be exposed to. And I feel as if I really haven’t lived up to that praise on a public stage yet. So I feel that sometimes it kind of comes across as maybe undeserved. But maybe that’s just me kind of being tough on myself.”
“But I’m grateful for it. Because I realized I’m very fortunate and very privileged in wrestling, to be able to have trained with Jonathan Gresham, to be able to train with Cheeseburger, to have been able to have trained with Drew Gulak, Orange Cassidy, Chuck Taylor, and Hallowicked-all these talented people. And to not only get to work with them, but to see that they see something in me from that work. It really means a lot to me. And it encourages me to be more ambitious, to try and do more then maybe I would be able to motivate myself to do on my own.”
Looking towards the future, Joshua Wavra has opponents in mind they would like to put their technical skill against in the ring. I for one would be more than happy to have a front-row seat to any of these matches that Joshua put as their goal.
“I’ve always said that my two biggest technical dream matches, at least for the moment, are Daniel Makabe, from the Pacific Northwest. Very talented. He had a great trilogy with Timothy Thatcher. Had a great match with Jonathan Gresham. Has had great matches with Alex Zayne, Lee Moriarty at the Collective this year. And just a wonderful guy to talk to. I was able to meet him for the first time at the Collective and we talked about different kinds of Japanese shoot-style wrestling. Like Battle Arts, Rings, and stuff like that. I would very much like to wrestle him. I really enjoy his work and his style.”
“And I also would really like to wrestle Madison eagles. I don’t think she really gets enough credit as a technical wrestler. But you know, a talented woman from Australia. Was the first independent women’s wrestler to be number one on the PWI women’s 100. And I feel like you know, people talk about Sara del Rey, and Daisy Hayes as the top independent women from back in the day, and I don’t think Madison Eagles gets brought up in that conversation enough.”
“I guess my primary focus now is wrestling people with a particular technical style. Because iron sharpens iron, you know.”
Wrestling has often not been kind to queer wrestlers of any stripe. As a pansexual and non-binary person, Joshua Wavra is one of the many new-age wrestlers blazing the way forward for the next generation, doing away with old and false stereotypes.
“I think it’s really cool that I get to represent, whether it’s other people who identify as pansexual or other people who identify as gender non-binary. Because, and this might have become a cliche at this point. But, I never really got to see people who I was able to identify with when I was a fan of wrestling or in any media.”
“The whole reason that I dealt with severe bullying when I was a child was because I was a lot more feminine than the other boys my age. Before I, you know, before I knew that I was non-binary. Or before I knew the term non binary, I should say. And so I kind of always felt like I didn’t have anyone who I could truly fully connect to, because I didn’t see that. And I like the idea that, y’know, I’m showing people that ‘Yeah, I can be this cool, technical wrestler who takes themselves very seriously.’ And at the same time, I can dress up as a girl from my Hero Academia for Halloween. Or I could dress up as Sailor Jupiter for this wrestling show. And that’s not weird. It’s just who I am. All that matters is that I think it’s cool.”
“And I want more people to be able to kind of feel empowered in that way where they only care about being cool to themselves, and not feeling as if there’s a specific mold that they have to fill.”
Joshua Wavra is not only a phenomenal singles competitor but is also an accomplished tag team wrestler with their partner in the team of Oreo Speedwagon-Xavier Faraday. Beginning in Chikara, the duo has spread outwards to promotions such as Camp Leapfrog, Pizza Party Wrestling and F1ght Club Pro Wrestling.”
“I love teaming with Xavier. Xavier is, by far, my best friend in wrestling.”
“I only met Xavier, because of the Crucible story that we were doing at Chikara. Because the person in charge there had brought in this group of, or at least some people, from this group of people who were former backyard wrestlers. You know, that’s how Matt Demorest ended up there. And that’s how Xavier ended up there as well. And, it just happened to be that the story was written out that Xavier and I would be the técnicos coming out of the Crucible. And just being out and trying to get matches under our belt, we ended up teaming together in a bunch of different places. And it just happened organically.”
“But we get along great. I think we have similar creative visions, where we’ll text each other all the time and say, ‘Hey, I had an idea for this combination’ or ‘I had an idea for what we can do in this match’ or whatever it may be. And it kind of always clicks. We have a really good rapport with one another, where it doesn’t ever feel like we have conflicting interests or goals, it feels like we’re always truly on the same page. I think that’s what you need to be a successful tag team.”
“And I hope that eventually, with enough practice and enough matches under our belt, then we can truly get to that next level and be one of those great tag teams that are out on the independents right now.”
“Either way, whether I’m on my own or whether I’m working with Xavier it’s I still get to push you know, my own creative limits and push that envelope, no matter in which capacity I’m competing. And I’m glad that I have someone like Xavier, who can continue to push me in that way.”
Joshua Wavra is not simply local to the American scene either. They have traveled and performed in venues across the world, taking the road tripping-or rather plane flying-aspect of wrestling to heart just as quickly as the technical aspects. I personally hope to see them perform in my own country of Ireland someday.
“I think my proudest moment in wrestling was getting to go to Australia at the beginning of this year. I wasn’t flown out. I didn’t have expenses paid or anything like that. But I got to go basically all the way across the world to have a match with one of my best friends in the world, on a show that happened because he was able to find an audience and connect to them. And that’s just a really special moment to me.”
“So, if anyone reading this interview hasn’t heard of Ultra Love Jet Steel. I encourage you to check out our match from the Endless Summer of Ultra Love on YouTube. It will be under Joshua Wells, not Joshua Wavra because it is prior to the change in name. But I highly recommend checking out that match, I would say that’s my proudest moment in professional wrestling.”
As the technical wizard in the ring themselves mentioned earlier, Joshua is an avid fan of anime and manga, something they share with many likewise wrestlers. As a fan of Shonen anime, in particular, I did not want to pass up the opportunity to let Wavra go before I could pick their brain on what their personal picks were.
“My favorite anime all time? Probably YuGiOh GX. It came around at a very, very endearing point in my childhood, where I completely look back on it with the nostalgia glasses. But at the same time, I can go back and watch it and it’s the perfect amount of kind of campy and cartoony, where it can make me laugh, whether it’s, you know, a good moment or a poorly written moment.”
“But I think at the moment, I’m going to go with demon Slayer. I’m really enjoying watching that right now. I think part of me, because of the anime that I watched growing up was stuff like YuGiOh or Pokemon, I guess I always thought of anime as a form of children’s media. But then, watching things like My Hero Academia or Demon Slayer, you realize that it goes into these very complicated adult feelings of loss and grief, that it’s really able to make you feel something very intense in a very short amount of time.”
“And that’s why I really like Demon Slayer, because in the first four or five episodes, it’s not like a whole lot happens action-wise. But it’s able to really make you care about the characters involved and really make you feel something potent and even change the way you look at the world and the people around you.”
Submission Savant. Worldwide performer. Anime aficionado and world-class wrestler. Joshua Wavra truly has a resume any promotion would be lucky to have booked on their show. And if they are smart, those promotions will get on that as soon as possible!
This was another edition of Breaking Through The Ropes, a spotlight series based on highlighting non-binary wrestlers in today’s scene. Come back next time for another phenomenal guest!