Ring of Honor's Session Moth Martina has revealed the tip that helped her win over fans in America.
The 29-year-old, from Dublin, Ireland, has long been one of the most loved characters on wrestling's independent scene.
She signed a deal with Ring of Honor (ROH) in September and made her debut at the Free Enterprise event on February 9.
While ROH cancelled its live events in June, it made its TV return in the UK, every Wednesday at 11pm, on the Fight Network.
In an exclusive chat with Mirror Sport's Tony Quant, Martina, real name Karen Glennon, discussed her decision to sign with ROH, turning down a WWE NXT UK contract, the tragic death of her friend Hana Kimura and the impact of social media on performers, and much more.
How have you dealt with the coronavirus pandemic and what was it like being out in America when it took hold? Are you glad ROH cancelled all its shows?
Yeah, I was on the way to Las Vegas for the Ring of Honor shows and right as I landed, they were cancelled. So when I was doing my connecting flight I landed in Atlanta, everything was fine and it was all going ahead, and then by the time I got my next flight and landed in Vegas they (ROH) had cancelled everything. We stayed for two days and it was kind of before Vegas shut down. I had fun in Vegas and everything seemed to be okay, but the next day after I left they shut down Vegas completely.
I do think ROH did make the right choice just for the fact that they refused to put anyone at risk, which is very noble of them. Their whole approach has just been as long as you are comfortable, that's the main thing. They check in with us to make sure we are okay and just reassure us that we will be back.
The nature of your job sees you spend huge amounts of time travelling and on the road, so has it been nice to be at home longer than a few days?
No! Haha. I mean I think at the start when it all kicked off it was kind of nice to have a break and rest your body. But half of the reason I usually like to be home would be to train more, but my training school is closed. And the other reason is to see my friends from home, but you can't do that either. Other than catching up on Netflix and trying to find some new hobbies, there isn't anything to do.
I have just missed wrestling so much and missed travelling. I will never take it for granted again, I used to moan about getting up at half three in the morning for a flight, but now I can't wait for that. I think I'll then look forward to appreciating my free time again.
The pandemic has prevented us from seeing much of Session Moth in ROH. Just going back to your decision to sign with the promotion, how much of a factor did bringing the full Session Moth character with you have in signing with ROH?
ROH never really had a wrestler like me before and they assured me they wanted Session Moth. They knew they wanted what I was putting out to the indies and I guess they just assured me I had creative freedom, which is very important to me. I have been building this character for five years and I was having so much fun on the indies, that I didn't want to sign somewhere and have to give that up. I was really excited with the idea of getting to travel around America and see all these other parts of America and build your name out there. This is my way to make a bigger name in the States.
I understand you were also offered an NXT UK contract by WWE last year. What made you choose ROH over NXT UK?
It is true I got the two offers simultaneously. Last year was a much better year than this year, I'll tell you that. Again it comes down to the fact that I was having so much fun on the indies at that point. I had just got back from Australia and my America tour, and I had Japan coming up, and things were on fire. And then I got the two offers and then the tryout for WWE and it was so much fun and a great experience.
There were huge pros to both, and negatives to both contracts. But I am so proud to be the only Irish person to sign with ROH and I'm the only female to be signed from Europe. It's a history making stamp that I have, which I think is really cool. Definitely once upon a time it was a dream to go to WWE, but I just never really saw myself there as soon as I started to do Martina. I found it a huge surprise when they did come looking, but for me, I realised I would be happier with being with ROH.
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Given your character, do you ever feel anxious about being accepted by a new promotion/fanbase and if so, how have you managed to overcome that?
I was definitely worried when I joined ROH. I always think about 'what if I don't fit in, what if the audience doesn't like me, do they know what they are getting with Session Moth?' I wasn't really worried about the people, because people like Mark Haskins and Joe Hendry have all said it's their favourite place to work, and it's so lovely and welcoming, which was really reassuring. At first I guess I was kinda worried because I am very much a character, 'how much of my character would they want, do they want me to go full blown Martina? Do they want me to wrestle more? Should I start with comedy and then progress into wrestling?'
I remember when I first wrestled in the States, which was about two years ago at WrestleMania week, I was very nervous because I kind of progressed past a lot of the comedy of what I had done in Ireland and I was focused on wrestling. I remember talking to a friend and saying to him 'I don't know what to do, I'm scared because what if America don't like me'. And he just said to go back and do basic Martina, which got me over in the first place. And so I did that and it really, really worked out.
But even though I have only worked two shows with them, I feel like I've already started to work out what way to go and how to present myself in ROH. There are not many comedy women wrestlers in the world and so that's my niche and I went with that and it worked. That's kind of my thought process going into ROH, I want to be a niche, I want to be the only comedy girl and that's what's going to make me stand out from the rest of them.
I imagine the fact there are a few familiar British faces backstage at ROH has helped and eased the nerves slightly when you first walked into the locker room?
I have always been so lucky because being at OTT I got to meet so many of the British wrestlers who would come over and I became friends with them so every time I went to England, I had people that I knew. I think with ROH it was next level scary because you just want to prove that you are worth the investment and you were a good pick.
But I am very lucky to have Joe and Mark and I remember when I went in on my first day there was another guy from Australia making his debut and we were there the day before doing media and we kind of hung out and stayed together, which was good. But I remember as soon as I walked in, Haskins walked me around and introduced me to everyone, and on show day I was making jokes and chatting to people. And after I had signed with ROH, I saw Joe at a show and he talked me through the whole Visa process, which was so nice of him.
I have known Marty Scurll for years, he came to Ireland when I was doing Kazza G, years ago. He was very aware of me and how popular I was in Ireland and it's great that he knows what he is getting with me. Having someone you know and talk to is important.
You raised a great point earlier in that you are one of the only comedy women wrestlers in the world. With that in mind, where do you draw your inspiration from for your character?
I think a lot of it comes down to my actual personality. I don't like to be too serious, I like to have a lot of fun, I like to drink, I am a bit of a party girl. I think a lot of that comes into it, I don't mind making a fool of myself backstage. So I think what's the harm of putting that into my wrestling. I definitely find comedy wrestling the most genius wrestling of all time, because you have to be different every time. You can't tell the same joke over and over.
It's more exciting as well. When you find yourself in the ring and you are doing a creative spot it's a thrill like no other. I have been very fortunate to work with so many great comedy wrestlers that have just helped bring me up to that level. Would put a lot of it down to who I have got to wrestle with. I love watching like DDT Pro, because it's just mad and different and I find it more exciting. It's a creative outlet that I just prefer and it's fun and makes me happy.
Lastly, I just want to get your thoughts on social media. Obviously we had the devastating news of the passing of Japanese wrestler Hana Kimura, who you knew very well. How do you feel social media has changed professional wrestling in the last few years?
It has major positives and clearly major negatives. I think it's a great tool and a lot of my success comes down to Twitter to be honest. I feel like that's where I have been recognised the most and where most people know me. I'm quite fun on Twitter and try and have a laugh and stuff. It's great to keep in people's minds during the lockdown, but it's essential now, it's part of the package.
I do respect people like Juice Robinson who has no social media and he is still one of the best in New Japan. I respect the fact that he doesn't feel the need for it, some people do and I feel like I would be one of the people who do need it, because I like to portray my personality and comedy that way.
But putting yourself out there some people like to tear you down and it can clearly affect people. It's a sad day that it can be taken so personally and used as a tool to hurt people. It's devastating. I try to look at the positives of Twitter, I never get into debates on there or look at that stuff. I do try and filter out negativity and I think a break from it is essential. My advice would be try not to value yourself on your Twitter.
Fans in the UK can watch Ring of Honor TV on Fight Network UK (Sky 192/Freesat 161/TVPlayer.com and app) every Wednesday at 11pm.
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