Last time we saw Abyss in the Impact Zone was on March 22, 2018. He was squaring off with Kongo Kong in a Monster’s Ball match. And Abyss lost, despite the barbwire and the thumbtacks he’s used to loving so much. He lost like his alter-ego Joseph Park did 3 weeks before. Everyone knows behind every wrestling monster hides a real man.
Joseph Park revealed himself as Abyss in 2014. And ever since, the wrestler has been playing with these 2 characters, and also his backstage duties as Impact Wrestling producer, creative and agent. For his absolute delight.
SteelChair Magazine had the chance to talk to the very last TNA/Impact Wrestling Original and true Monster. He candidly talked about his characters, why being a backstage producer has become so important to him and how he’s not decided to relinquish as a wrestler yet.
(Editor’s note: this interview was recorded a few days after Slammiversary XVI)
Not that many people know that Abyss is a character you brought in TNA. How did you build it and make it evolve?
I developed it in Puerto Rico back in 2002, right before coming to TNA. Dutch Mantell really helped me put the character together, really helps me fine-tune it. We all know how to play the monster character, but Abyss had to be unique. It’s been a great character, it’s been almost 20 years of my career, 17 of it with Impact Wrestling. So I’m very excited about the character and just how much longevity I’ve gotten out of it.
The wrestling business has changed with social media, so everyone knows there’s a man under the monster. But it’s still working. Is there still a place for a character like that in this new era in wrestling with the social media involved and everybody knowing everything about everyone?
Social media has become such a strong component of the business now, very, very important. Like you’ve just said, people know that I’m a regular person under that mask. You cross them over and then they cross-mix, and back and forth. Social media is such a strong platform to use to promote and so forth. But under the character, there’s a real man under the character who’s just like everybody else with social media and all the good stuff.
We can see Abyss in the ring, but also Joseph Park, another character. How are you dealing with these two different personalities and how are you able to be these two very different characters at the same time? And which one is the closest to you?
It’s a fun challenge to do two different characters, especially when they’re so different. Joseph Park is so laid-back and lovable, a real teddy bear, and Abyss is the monster. They’re like Jekyll and Hyde and it’s very fun to play both. As for the character close to who I am, I’ll say, Joseph Park, because he’s really who I am.
Talking about ‘Slammiversary XVI’, we are just one week after the PPV and the reviews have been extraordinary. As a wrestler, but also as a backstage producer and Creative and writer, all that you are right now for Impact Wrestling, what are your feelings about it?
I’m excited because we’ve got such a great strong hungry young roster, so it’s very much fun to help produce. I’m a big believer in helping the next generation up and this next generation is amazing here. So I want to help them as much as I can, producing and mentoring and writing, helping them to attain the goals of the company and their own goals too. So it’s very important to me and I’m very much into helping young talent.
It was just great for us to do what we do best. There’s a bunch of talents in the roster starting to come together. I’ve been around for the whole company’s existence and this is the first time in a long time we’ve had such good reception to one of our pay-per-views. I think it’s just a combination of good writing and great talent that are so hungry and passionate. I think that’s what you get when you can see Slammiversary. It’s just a collaborative effort, a team effort of everybody working together for the best product.
We are talking about you helping the talents backstage, how did the transition happen? Was it all of a sudden you decided that it was time to wrestle a little bit less or was it a very different context?
It’s a lot of fun, I’ve been around for 20 years, 17 in Impact Wrestling, I’ve been around a long time, I’ve seen it all and I’ve been fortunate enough to do it all. So now, to be an agent and a producer, to help with the creation of the show, it’s such a big thing, such a big honour for me. I just enjoy it very much so it’s just about cultivating and helping the young talent grow and, as they grow, the company will grow and that’s what we’re doing right now.
The backstage team is great. I think that’s the strongest team that Impact Wrestling has ever had. Jimmy Jacobs and Sonjay Dutt are just unbelievable writers, Scott D’Amore and Don Callis do a great job of running this company and running it like a professional company so the team in place is very strong. Ed Nordholm and Anthem Sports have really put in a strong team that’s got a lot of leadership and that’s what it takes and that’s what we’re doing. You have to surround yourself with good and hard-working people to succeed.
Like you were saying, you are the last TNA original you’ve been there since the beginning and in a way, it was a kind of a gamble because the company had ups and downs but you never left when I’m sure many companies offered you a lot of money and a lot of possibilities. Why staying, why believing in this product more than anything?
Because Impact Wrestling is home to me. I spent my whole career there and I’m very proud of that. The company is my family. I love professional wrestling and I love Impact. I spent most of my adult life there. To me it’s family, it’s home. It’s what I love and I want to see the company succeed and do good. There’d been a lot of bad things in the past, I think that’s behind us now and I think really good days are in front of us.
As a backstage writer and creator, which are the feuds that you have built?
I was the producer of the Sami Callihan-Eddie Edwards feud. Sami driving a baseball bat into the face of Edwards and breaking his nose and orbital bone was an unfortunate accident It was gutsy to capitalize on it but, at the same time, it was a great storyline to develop.
Who are the talents that you see as future opponents for Abyss?
There are a lot of good young talents there. Kevin Kross is definitely a custom-made talent for monsters and he’s got a lot of experience. Sami Callihan, Eddie Edwards, Moose, Austin Aries, LAX, Brian Cage, they all are so great too.
At ‘Slammiversary’ in some ways, Tommy Dreamer passed the torch to Eddie Edwards of the hardcore style. If you were in the position of passing the torch to one of the people on the roster, who would it be?
I would say, Kevin Kross or Sami Callihan.
‘Bound for Glory’ is more or less the land of Abyss because there have been like seven or eight Monster’s Ball matches at this PPV since its creation. May we expect to see the Monster in October?
Oh yes! The Monster Abyss will be back and be involved! Stay tuned…