by Josh White
Continuing our insight series, today’s article is dedicated to the ‘King of slap style’, Papa Slick himself, Gio. Having already slapped his way up from the Knucklelocks Academy in Brixton training alongside the likes of Jack Sexsmith to appearing on such promotions as the ever-growing Anarchy Pro – 2018 seems to be destined to be the year of the slap.
Move over Dog, there’s a new zodiac in town…
For those that don’t know you, who are you?
My name is Gio, I’m 22 and I’m from Surrey. I wrestle as Slick Lombardo, baby.
Why pro wrestling? What inspired you to get into it?
I’ve been a fan of wrestling since I was 10 years old. Like most people, WWE was my first introduction to the sport. In 2015 I was unhappy and felt directionless so I decided to hire a personal trainer, get into shape and join a wrestling school.
When did you start training? Where do you train now? Are you quite regimented when it comes to physical and mental well-being? If so, do you think it benefits your in-ring performance?
I had my first ever training session on February 7th, 2016. I now train at Knucklelocks Gym in Brixton under Darrell Allen. I’ve been to several schools and Knucklelocks is by far the best in my opinion. You’ll be pushed to your full potential, and you are taught about all aspects of wrestling. Etiquette, business, gym, diet etc., not just how to do sick moves (but we get taught those as well). I struggle with binge eating/impulse eating but have managed to keep it under control recently, I go to the gym 3-5 times a week and training at Knucks (Knucklelocks) you are surrounded by people who force you to up your game and constantly improve.
Who would you say gave you that all-important “first shot”? Is there anyone out there that you still feel is invaluable to your development as a performer?
Danny Duggan, Cieran Donnelly and Cuban Heat have helped me and pushed me since Day 1 and it was thanks to them that I had my first match, and to this day they still push me. We all push each other. Mark Young was the first promoter to book me and he has brought me back for every show so I cannot thank him enough.
Tell us about the development of Gio from the AC Roma loving slapster to Papa Slick. Why the change? Do you feel it’s important to continually evolve to stay relevant on today’s independent scene?
Why the change? I couldn’t keep the accent up! It sounded more Spanish than Italian. I had so much fun with the Italian gimmick while it lasted; it was perfect for getting heat in places like Kent. I’d come out with the flag and instantly get booed. “Go back to wherever you came from!” because they were too thick to work out the country from the flag! It’s definitely important to keep up with current trends and adapt, otherwise you’ll get left behind. I don’t how much longer me slapping people will stay popular, so I’m currently working on an inverted 450 dragonrana slap to stay fresh.
What was it like stepping out from behind the curtain for the first time in front of a paying audience? Who was it with and do you still work for them?
Indescribable and unforgettable. Instant adrenaline rush. An actual dream come true and I instantly knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It was at Future #20 in Snodland. Shows don’t run in Snodland anymore and I haven’t worked for that company in coming up close to a year. They know where to find me.
Who are you currently working for? What promotions would you like to work for in the future?
You can currently find me at The Wrestling League, Apollo Championship Wrestling, Battle Pro Wrestling and Anarchy Pro Wrestling. I want to work everywhere. Every promotion. But at the top of my list are PROGRESS (on a dome show or chapter show), wXw (Westside Xtreme Wrestling) and RevPro (Revolution Pro).
Let’s talk adversity – what challenges have you faced so far in the business and how have you worked to overcome them? Is there anything you would change about your journey so far?
I wished I’d worked harder in the gym. With my PT I was eating clean and training 3-5 times a week and then I got lazy, plain and simple. I’m fixing that now though. There’s no excuse not to put the work in.
To turn the above on its head, what achievements stand out for you? What would you say you’re most proud of so far?
Wrestling on the latest wXw (Westside Xtreme Wrestling) London show was an incredible experience that definitely stands out for me. I am very proud of the match I had with Cieran Donnelly, as before our match I hosted a ‘Victory Celebration” with a live band, ‘fireworks’, decorations, the whole lot. My favourite thing about wrestling has always been the entertainment side so I really went the extra mile and it didn’t go unnoticed. I am very happy with how it came out.
Favourite match so far that you’ve been involved in as a wrestler?
I’m gonna have to say the Halloween Gimmick Battle Royal at Anarchy Pro Wrestling. I got to wrestle as SHEIKY BABY (The Iron Shiek) for crying out loud. There wasn’t a single paying customer that night that was not sports-entertained. Check it out on YouTube, Kafka did such a good job as Luke Harper that there were people who genuinely thought Anarchy had managed to book him for the night!
Who’s been the best wrestler that you’ve shared the ring with? Who would you like to face in the next 12 months? What is it about them that makes you want to step between the ropes with them?
Too many to name, but Sammy Smooth and Danny Duggan really stand out, everything they do is so solid. I have wrestled Daz in training matches and that’s always a dream; I’d love to do it on a show soon. Again there are too many names (it’s probably quicker just to name the people I don’t want to wrestle but that would be a stupid ass one way to ticket to HEATSKI WITH THE BOIS), but bring me NIC, Grizzled Young Vets, Mills, Mayhew, Chapman, Sexsmith and Havoc just to name a few. My dream match is against Pete Dunne. Or John Cena.
Any bad experiences with other wrestlers?
I haven’t had any bad experiences because I choose to only surround myself with positive people.
Are you hard on yourself when something goes wrong? Do you find yourself thinking back to what you could improve the next time around?
It’s a good thing (when something goes wrong). If you don’t criticise your performance you’ll never learn and improve. Who wants to live in a bubble THINKING they’re wicked when in reality they are rotten?
Aside from being an active wrestler, I understand that you’ve MC’d for Progress on their freedoms road project if I’m correct in saying? You also wrestled for them. What was it like working with one of the biggest promotions on the independent scene today? Are there plans for you to return one day?
It was a fantastic experience and I learned so much, both from MC’ing and wrestling for them. I’m as fascinated by the production side of things as I am by the wrestling side and I’m working harder every day so that I end up working for them full time.
The wrestling league – I’ve been seeing some incredible things recently about TWL. What’s it like to play the role of GM? Also, I saw your flight from America was delayed so you, unfortunately, missed the show where you were due to face Nick Payne. Will we still see Slick slap the piss out of that ‘il cazzo’?
The Wrestling League are doing things that no one else in this country are doing and you can literally see the improvement from show to show, every show is bigger and better than the last. If you told 10-year-old Gio that 22-year-old Gio was the General Manager of a wrestling company he’d lose his shit. I love it. It’s great for promo practice. You absolutely will see me vs Nick at the next show. It’s going to have an extreme stipulation of Nick’s choosing, which should be interesting…
What are your long-term aspirations in the business? Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
Last but not least, give us those all important social media links so everyone can find you!
- Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/SlickLombardo
- Twitter & Instagram: SlickLombardo
Watch out or you might be the next one to get a slap…
Joshua White – Steelchair Magazine 2018.