Exclusive Interview – Petey Williams: “I Want to be Able to Help Others Develop and Get Better in Their Characters”

Petey Williams came back to the Impact Zone nearly a year ago when nobody was expecting him to come back. Like he told us last year, a few words from an old friend and the support of family were enough to make him get out of retirement. At 36, The Canadian Destroyer proved week after week he had yet a lot to say in a ring. His recent encounter with Dezmond Xavier in the Impact Zone showed the world not only how good he is, but also how good he can make a wrestler be. 

SteelChair Magazine had the opportunity to talk to Petey Williams. As he was just announced to be a part of Slammiversary XVI, in his own country, to replace Rich Swann who was injured earlier this week, he shared with us on his experience with the company and how he’s quietly transitioning from in-ring action to backstage work.

(Editor’s note: This interview was done before the recent episode of Impact Wrestling where Kross and Williams faced off)

You’re currently involved in a feud with Kevin Kross who recently made his debut he very impressive and striking way in the Impact Zone. What are your thoughts on him and the way he started?

I’ve seen some of his stuff he was doing in Mexico where he wrestled there. He’s going by the name of Killer Kross on Impact Wrestling. Even if I’m in a feud with him, I really enjoy his character. I mean is it’s like a psychopathic character and it kind of reminds me of the Patrick Bateman character in American Psycho or Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs. I really enjoy his character and I really think he’s going to be a big star in the future in Impact. He’s made a lot of people laying backstage so it’s been a big build-up though he’s only been on our television show for a couple of weeks now and everybody’s already talking about him. People think I made a mistake going in there and hit him with the steel chair and all that kind of stuff but I’ve been beaten up really bad before. During the Scott Steiner era, I’ve got my butt kicked all the time so I’m not afraid. But I’m still going to get some revenge on him whether he likes it or not. 

The build-up of Kevin Kross’ arrival has been amazing, with all the mystery and the red X-Cross cards. 

I think the storyline started with Sonjay Dutt came up with it. He’s the head of Creative now. In introducing his character they kind of wanted to do like a little storyline. Everybody was speculating it was me who was making people laying. I know other people are supposed to be involved in the storyline. I wasn’t supposed to be the guy that he was involved with but sometimes you have to rewrite shows. When it was creatively just not going in that direction, so it ended up being him and I. Definitely you’re going to see a match between myself and Killer Kross, I’m set to get my revenge on him. He’s probably upset that I was running in there and hit him with the steel chair a couple of times. Actually, this will happen before Slammiversary. I don’t believe I’ll be wrestling on Slammiversary, as it stands right now, but I will still be in attendance.  I’m still excited to be there and I’ll definitely be there for the TV tapings following Slammiversary

In front of Kevin Kross, Petey Williams is not afraid

When we had the chance to talk last November, there was a match you wanted to have, against Dezmond Xavier. This match happened a few weeks ago and it was one of the best X-Division matches we’ve had the chance to witness. Was the match the one you were expecting, as well as the level of wrestling and high-flying abilities you were expecting from Dezmond Xavier?

I wanted it and I remember talking to you about that. There was no build up for this match. I would have personally liked if he had like maybe a feud or something to build up towards, like ‘hey this is Petey Williams vs. Dezmond Xavier and the winner could get a future title shot’. Dezmond has a more high-flying style than I do, my style is more like a grounded one. Everybody knows that I always just try to go through the Canadian Destroyer, but I thought we had a very good match. I remember getting to the back and Matt Sydal was very pleased with the match. He doesn’t usually tell me that but he said ‘yeah that was only the best matches that I’ve seen out of you guys’. So I was really happy about that. I really do believe Dezmond Xavier is the future star of the company. He has become super athletic, I’m so good the way his mind works. So yeah I really enjoyed it. 

It was really a great match, with two guys that respect each other, and there was like ‘I’m giving you a little bit of myself, of my knowledge from you to him’, like a passing of a torch.

After the match, it wasn’t planned for me to shake his hand. I raised his hand or anything like that, that’s just something that I did and he appreciates it. You don’t have to do that at the end of a match. You’re absolutely right, it was a passing of the torch. 

Shaking hands with Dezmond Xavier after a brilliant match

Not so long ago Tessa Blanchard was praising you because you helped her when she made her debut. Do you feel like your role in the company now is more like the one of someone that can help the talents, someone that can help build a match or a character, more than a full-time wrestler? 

You’re right, that’s my goal. I’m still a wrestler that can do what he can to get good matches out of guys. I’ve been helping the Knockouts division with similar stuff and Tessa as well when she arrived. That’s my goal, I want to be able to help others develop and get better in their characters and be comfortable when performing in front of the TV, the production and all the stuff that goes along with it. That’s where the guys used to do for me and I remember that guys like Jerry Lynn, they used to help ourselves and I just like to kind of pay it forward. There’s nothing I could do to repay guys like Jerry Lynn but I can pay it forward to the next set of guys and just pass on my knowledge.
I still love wrestling but the tough part of it is I’m getting older. I still love the wrestling business, I
 want to be involved in it and take part in it. I like doing the backstage work, it’s really enjoyable learning from me rather than just learning about me and my matches. I don’t know how much longer I have in the wrestling business so I’m just kind of taking it all, just enjoying every man and every match, not caring if I win or if I lose. I just want to be there and perform and be part of the show.

We have the best example of longevity with Scott Steiner, your former mentor, who’s now 55. Is it still a pleasure to share a locker room with him?

Definitely, I kept saying “bring him back, bring him back”, I almost made it as part of my conditions to come back. If I want to Scott Steiner to come back, it’s because I  love sharing a locker with him and that just goes to show his longevity. Obviously, he can’t do physically all the things he used to do in the ring just because of years and years of wrestling and injuries. But he’s still the character Scott Steiner and people still listen when he talks and he could still go in the ring. At our last set of tapings in April that we had, when he was there, he wrestled five nights in a row with us. Before coming down with us, he also wrestled 2 independent matches and then, when he left us, he wrestled two more independent matches. He was on a 10-day tour at 55, just for the show because he loves this business.

With his former mentor and friend Scott Steiner

What is your state of mind coming to Slammiversary, back in your home in Toronto?

I always love coming back to wrestle in Canada. Back when I was with Impact in 2004, all of our stuff was filmed in around Orlando, always in the United States, and I’ve also played the Canadian character. Now, fast forward, 15 years into the future almost, finally a lot of our shows now are filmed in Canada. Our last set of TV tapings were in Windsor, out of Toronto. All the time and efforts I put into playing the Canadian character is finally paying off. The people are like ‘yeah our Canadian hero will appear now”. At Bound for Glory, the roar of the crowd was insane, unbelievable.

Some British events are coming for Impact Wrestling, with Wrestling MediaCon in September and also, for the first time, Slammiversary is going to air live in the UK. It’s always been a great fandom for Impact, are you enjoying the fact of possibly coming back?

That’s great that finally, the UK will be able to see Impact or Slammiversary live. About Wrestling MediaCon and September 9 show, no matches have been announced yet, only appearances. It will be coming soon. I don’t know if I’ll be a part of it, but I would love to. I’m really looking forward to it, absolutely, I love wrestling in the UK. One of the last time I wrestled here, it was a month before I retired the first time in  2014, I remember being on a show with Finn Balor and a couple of other guys and it was great. I always had a good time in the UK, always loved the wrestling fans there. When I first started going over to the UK in 2004, at first I wasn’t a fan of the wrestling, I felt like it lacked a little bit. But now I think the UK and the talent that they have over there, they’ve really stepped up their game and they have some of the best wrestlers in the world. This new generation of UK wrestlers is awesome.

Follow Petey Williams on Twitter @iPeteyWilliams. All pics and screencaps courtesy of Impact Wrestling.