Following the weeks after the COVID-19 pandemic began in the United States, specifically on the wrestling front, Ring of Honor received a great deal of praise on social media as wrestlers who were scheduled to compete at ROH’s soon-to-be cancelled shows were paid for their booking[s]. As the months and weeks went on, Ring of Honor talents would do interviews with media outlets and shared that the company has taken great care of them financially during the pandemic.
The likes of Joe Hendry, PJ Black, Mark Haskins and several more talents have been outspoken about how grateful they are towards Ring of Honor for how the company has handled the past several months regarding talent. I recently had the opportunity to chat with Mark Haskins and one of the first topics of the conversation that was discussed was his experience in ROH thus far. Mark’s contract with the company allows him to take any independent booking he wants outside of the United States. Mark feels that ROH has not gotten the credit that they deserve as of late and spoke about the stability that the company has provided for him and his family during this time.
“Dude its been great. Like genuinely, working for Ring of Honor for the past year, 18 months or so now has been one of the best experiences of my life. I don’t feel that they get the credit that they deserve for how well they look after a lot of talent. The shows in Vegas got cancelled and they still paid people who they were gonna bring in for their Past versus Present show. They’ve been super supportive. We have almost week-to-week meetings now via Zoom, just to check up and just to see what kind of ideas we have. It genuinely feels like it’s a family just trying to keep things going, trying to keep it afloat. It doesn’t feel like anybody is just trying to pick up a paycheck. Everybody is trying to do the best that they can, and it’s super awesome as well that I still get to take whatever indie bookings that I wanna take and that’s a really refreshing thing as well. I’ve been a pro wrestler for — gosh, I think it’s about 13, 14 years now and it’s definitely been stages of my career where its felt like its become a job and where you’ve had to take bookings because that’s your only source of income and that’s what you have to do at times, and it hasn’t gone over my head how fortunate I am and super lucky I am to be with a company like Ring of Honor where there’s security, there’s stability there, but it also allows you to do what it is you wanna do. We all got involved in this because we love wrestling, right? And I wanna be able to put on the best show that I can for fans and realistically, the best show that you can put on isn’t always five or six days into a loop when you’re feeling just battered and tired so, I’m very fortunate I get to choose, I get to be a little bit more selective with what I do, independent-wise and then just try to create a piece of art I guess is the best way to put it. Like trying to create something with those indie companies to put on the best show that I can.”
Another topic that has been brought up by Ring of Honor talents during recent interviews is the talent/executive meeting that was held in Baltimore, Maryland at the ROH headquarters. Mark Haskins shared some details about what was discussed during the meeting and how Ring of Honor took some of what was discussed and implemented those propositions into their system. Haskins mentioned that ROH flew in talents from different pockets of the world to Baltimore to gauge their thoughts on what could improve within the company from their perspective.
“You mentioned the meeting in Baltimore and that was interesting because a bunch of people flew in from all over the world. We sat down for a few hours, we discussed all these different ideas, everybody spoke up and everybody had a different point of view and it all got written down across this wall, so since then, so many of those ideas have been implemented and they’ve taken steps towards, ‘Okay, let’s start working on this aspect now’ or, ‘Let’s try this idea.’ They’re showing how much now they wanna rebuild and they’ve had to do that so many times. Ring of Honor is a company that’s built itself up and then the talent has gone elsewhere and they’ve had to build themselves back up again and what we’re doing now, we’re in a stage of rebuild and everybody is working tirelessly together to try and make it the best product that it can be.”
This past February, Mark Haskins wrestled fellow Ring of Honor talent Session Moth Martina for OTT. Back in February, the topic of intergender wrestling was brought up to Martina during an interview with POST Wrestling and the question stemmed from her then-recent match with Mark Haskins. Months later, Haskins was asked the same question about intergender wrestling and in regard to whether people like it or dislike it, he feels wrestling is subjective.
Mark stated that there are great stories to be told within an intergender match and thinks some things may need to be tweaked in order for it to work. Regardless, Haskins feels that the turnout of the match depends on the type of crowd in attendance.
“Well, it’s one of those things where, I believe wrestling art, and art is subjective. It’s very similar to music, right? Overall, you have music then you have all these different sub-genres. Just because one person might listen to Hip-Hop or Heavy Metal doesn’t mean to say that somebody who plays classical is crap. It’s just a completely different thing. You know what I mean? In wrestling, you have your strong style as it is, you have luchadores, you have intergender’s, you have all these different things and I think it’s something that as long as it’s done well, I think that’s kind of the thing. There’s so many stories that you can tell and I think that there’s a lot of potential for different storytelling in an intergender match and I think it’s just kind of fine-tuning it and a lot of time as well, it’s hard to pick your audience. You can have the most amazing match ever but if it’s in front of the wrong audience, it doesn’t matter what it is.”
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ring of Honor was nearing closer to their Supercard Of Honor show, the Pure Title tournament, the Ring of Honor Women’s World Title tournament, their Past vs. Present show and tons more was on the slate for the company in the coming weeks and months before the pandemic. With the excitement for those events came a looseness backstage and a vibe that all could enjoy. This is exampled by Mark Haskins pranking his longtime friend and ROH booker Marty Scurll. One of Haskins’ pranks came in the form of Marty needing to use the restroom before he and Haskins’ match and Haskins promising Scurll that he would burn some time for him on his way to the ring.
“I found this hilarious although Marty didn’t. So basically we had a show in San Antonio and he had the worst upset stomach ever. He was telling me, ‘I think I’ve got the flu or something like that down in Mexico’ and I was like, ‘Okay,’ and the match before us was still finishing up and he really needed the bathroom and I was like, ‘Don’t worry mate, you’ve got time. I’m gonna take a lot of time with my entrance. I’ll buy you some time. If you need the bathroom, you go.’ He’s like, ‘Ahh! Thanks man, I appreciate it.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah man, no problem.’ As he walks away, I have never hit the ring quicker in my life. The Ultimate Warrior couldn’t have caught up with me. I stormed to the ring, arms up, arms down, turn around, face the entrance way. Like give them no reason to keep the camera on me. His music starts playing and apparently, he literally just got to the bathroom and sat down as he hears his music playing and I’m in the ring and I’m smiling and I think everybody else was like, ‘Where’s Marty? He’s really making ‘em wait for this intro tonight.’ He finally comes out and we have the match and I found it funny even if he didn’t.
I think he just kind of rolled his eyes like, ‘Ohh Haskins!’ Like, ‘This again?’ I’ve known Marty for years, he’s been one of my closest friends. Years ago, I used to sleep on his couch and we used to train together so, when he moved out to [the United Kingdom], [he] was based down in Chichester and we used to train in Portsmouth which was about 20 miles away so, I’d travel down, I’d spend time at his place. We’d work out together, we’d eat together, we’d go train in a ring together and stuff and we did that for about a year so, he’s one of my closest friends at that point so, I’m just a pain in the ass.”
The former PROGRESS World Champion Mark Haskins is also close friends with WWE’s Drake Maverick. Back in April, Maverick was released by WWE along with a handful of on-screen talents and backstage producers. Shortly after the announcement, Maverick put a video up on Twitter and expressed his disappointment and sadness that he was let go from the WWE. Maverick was brought back to the WWE for the Cruiserweight Championship tournament which he made it to the finals of. At the conclusion of the finals, Maverick was met on stage by Paul “Triple H” Levesque who had an NXT contract in-hand for Maverick.
Mark Haskins shared his thoughts about Maverick’s recent/on-going run in WWE and is proud that Maverick managed to turn a negative into a positive.
“So, Spud is a smart guy. He clued up very quickly because I remember when he started out, he used to really go out there and physically — I wouldn’t say ‘damage himself’ but he put his body on the line. You know what I mean? He was willing to do crazy things. I’ve seen him jump off of balconies onto people or whatever. He was one of those guys who kind of would always go out there and risk his health, literally, in big ways to entertain people and then he kind of smartened up and he just changed that and he’s very much like a chameleon. He’ll always try to make the best out of every opportunity that he gets and that’s something that’s very refreshing. Too often, I think people get disheartened if they’re not in the right place or they’re not doing the right thing whereas he’s always a guy who made the best out of every opportunity that he can.
I’m super glad to hear that he’s doing great and I hope it works out for him. Like I said, he’s a smart guy and managed to take something I think, maybe… he managed to take a negative and he’s turned it into a positive. I think he’s one of those guys who, they’ve only now seen just how good he can be because he’s taken something that they anticipated would probably be the end of him and he’s managed to turn it around and really make something out of that and yeah, my hat’s off to him.”
With over a decade-and-a-half of experience in the pro wrestling business, Mark Haskins has mapped out what he wants to do once the in-ring portion of his career is over. Haskins is interested in opening his own gym in either the U.K. or the United States. He feels that he could be of great help to the next generation of talent and teach them what they may not be able to learn at other wrestling schools/gyms that won’t hinder their long-term careers in the sport.
“Yeah definitely. With the amount of arguments I’ve had with bookers over the years, I’d like to think I knew something,” Haskins laughed. “I guess kinda putting that to test at some point. I think there’s definitely other roles that you can sort of transition into wrestling-wise. Something else I’ve also been working on for a few years is I’m also a qualified personal trainer so, what I’m gonna transition to at some point is opening up my own gym, or whether it’s an affiliate program with a certain company or something, and just being able to train other people, train young aspiring wrestlers but also use the science behind it as well because a lot of the times when you come through into training schools, the things that they tell you to do, physically or whatever, workout wise, isn’t the right advice. A lot of times I think that it’s just things that people try to do to see how tough you are mentally to see whether you’re gonna try and grit your teeth and get through it or not, but I also feel in a lot of regards that can be quite detrimental towards people’s sort of long-term career so, yeah, training aspect is something I’m definitely salivating at the prospect of, and yeah, it would be nice as well to have your own kind of little gym that you can go into, you have whatever equipment that you need and just being able to live out your days doing something that you love.”
Mark Haskins last wrestled this past March and had an ROH World Championship opportunity waiting for him in the following weeks. He’s one of countless wrestlers that are eager to step back into the ring on a consistent basis again.
Haskins can be found on both Twitter and Instagram @ThisIsHaskins and the video version of this interview can be watched at the top of this article or on the Andrew Thompson Interviews YouTube channel.