Exclusive: Royce Isaacs Opens Up About NJPW, West Coast Wrecking Crew, Impact, Minoru Suzuki

(Photo Credit: Royce Isaacs)

Royce Isaacs, who makes up one half of one of the best tag teams in the world the West Coast Wrecking Crew, joined PWMania.com’s Lewis Carlan for an exclusive interview.

Royce discussed NJPW, teaming with Jorel Nelson as West Coast Wrecking Crew, Minoru Suzuki, Impact Wrestling, West Coast Pro, Aussie Open and much more.

Below is the complete exclusive PWMania.com interview with Royce Isaacs:

You were recently in Japan, teaming with fellow Team Filthy member Tom Lawlor on numerous G1 Climax shows. How was the experience being on those prestigious G1 Climax shows?

“I think it was a dream come true. I know that’s kind of cliche. But for me, Japan was always my main goal, my main place I wanted to be. I watched it growing up and I am a fan of everything like that but New Japan was always the goal, going to Japan was always the goal. I’ve been a fan of Japanese culture, as well as Japanese wrestling for as long as I can remember. So especially with the G1 Climax, I feel like to me is out of all the tours to me is the most interesting and important because it kind of sets up for everything else that’s going on. And it’s like the best wrestlers having the best matches. And it’s a really long tour. So I was over there for like five and a half, almost six weeks. And so everything about that was just like I was in heaven. I can’t wait to go back. I really loved it out there.”

How did this tour of Japan compare to your first Japan tour with DDT Pro?

“I ended up doing a total of three tours with DDT in 2016 and 2017. I have nothing bad to say about those times, I really, really enjoyed that, I was really green at the time, and I was still pretty new to wrestling. DDT was a great place to kind of cut my teeth and there’s a really good crew there. I even got to see a few of them while I was in Japan and have dinner, catch up a little bit. There’s so much talent over at DDT. I really can’t put them over enough honestly, in terms of how they treated me and the kind of crew that they got over there. That said, New Japan is the king of sport for a reason. And when you’re over there and you’re wrestling for New Japan, you definitely do feel like a bigger deal. They take care of you really well and you’re treated like a first class athlete.  I absolutely loved my first tour with New Japan and I really got to see all of Japan while I was there. Going over there for New Japan was wonderful.”

Being on the G1 Climax shows, there must have been a different vibe since it was a G1 Climax show as compared to other shows that you’ve been on. 

“Yeah, of course, anytime you’re on something that’s bigger, you’re gonna have bigger vibes. I think probably the best thing as far as the fans go, they weren’t allowed to technically make noise like audibly they’re supposed to only clap. But I still felt the energy because when you have, an arena with 3000 people, 5000 people, New Japan for the G1 tour runs a lot of big arenas, so we are wrestling for good crowds and it’s just like the fans all kind of just wanted to see you do your best. They were interested, they knew you were good, because you wouldn’t be over here if you weren’t. So it was just like it was a different kind of pressure. It was like a good kind of nervous pressure where instead of like, I better not mess up like I have to do well because I’ll just get booed, it’s like everyone is just like very encouraging. Like it just made me want to have my best possible performance. And I think for me that was really nice because like that made me feel very at home. I just worked really hard. I think me and Tom worked really, really hard. And I think we made the best with what we had. I’m really proud of the matches that we had over there. You know, even though the wins and losses maybe don’t reflect what you’d hope for, I think we grew a lot. We did some really cool stuff. And it’s all learning experiences. You know what I mean? Like when you’re on a tour like that, so it’s all really good learning stuff.”

You made it look easy but how difficult was it to German Suplex Jonah?

“You know, I’m a strong boy. I really, really pride myself in working really hard in the gym. I actually think I might have to retire from deadlifting not deadlift suplexing that I’ll never retire but like actually deadlifting the lift. Because a couple of weeks ago, I threw my back out really bad deadlifting. I couldn’t walk for like days, I just wrestled Minoru Suzuki and I was like, how am I gonna get through this match? Luckily, I did a bunch of chiropractic and cryotherapy, and like a hot tub, sauna, all this stuff. So I was able to be upright. But I’m still paying for it. I just think between being in the gym really consistently, still grappling quite a bit like rolling jujitsu, all that kind of stuff. I’m used to like picking up bodies. I guess I’m kind of just built for that kind of stuff. And so it serves me well, for all like the German suplexes and whatnot. I’m sure there’s like a limit to it. And right now I’m still in demand. But I’m sure there’s a limit to it, but I’m not sure who in wrestling I couldn’t suplex. I feel like as far as strongboy suplexes I gotta be up there. I know even in New Japan there’s Alex Coughlin and people like that, that give me a run for my money. But I just think that I can be mentioned up there with any of them. And on my best day, I can do it with the best of them.”

Now your regular tag team partner is Jorel Nelson in the West Coast Wrecking Crew. But in Japan, you teamed with Tom Lawlor. Do you have to make any adjustments when teaming with Tom Lawlor because you’re so used to Jorel Nelson?

“Yeah, I think the good thing was we had so many, I don’t remember how many, we had like 12 or 13 matches or something like that. By the end of it, we were gelling really well, I think it was definitely some getting used to especially like Tom, he does the tag matches, but he’s mostly a singles wrestler. So like, there’s like an early one where maybe like, we’re not quite in sync in terms of like when to roll out or when to tag. But I think we got in sync pretty quickly. Tom is like a top-tier top-flight talent. So being in the ring with him, you know, he was elevating me, he was making my job easier. I love tagging with Jorel that’s always going to be the number one tag partner. That’s my best friend. But tagging with Tom was really good and I think I got a lot of that as well.”

The New Japan Pro Wrestling World Tag League is coming up. Could we see the West Coast Wrecking Crew in the World Tag League this year?

“I really hope so. You know, that’s the goal. I think we should absolutely be there. Obviously, at the end of the day, it’s not our call and it’s October right now. So we should be finding out very shortly. But I absolutely think we’re in that mix. I absolutely think that there’s a good shot of it. So well, I guess we’ll find out shortly. I really hope so I think tag league would be a really good move for us. If for some reason we don’t do tag league this year then the goal is just to run the gauntlet next year and run through tag league undefeated, take it and just prove that we were supposed to be there the whole time but right now we’ll see, fingers crossed, I would really like to do Tag League. I think that would be a really good place for me and Jorel.”

What’s your status with New Japan Pro Wrestling? Are you currently under contract with them?

“No, I’m still technically a free agent. Obviously, Team Filthy all day. And I mean, New Japan is really where I lay my head. They have been great for me in my career ever since I got into them during the pandemic. And I’m very grateful and New Japan has always kind of been the end goal. So right now I’m taking things one day at a time. Obviously, the goal is a contract. But enjoying the journey for now. And we’ll see what the future holds.”

Recently, the West Coast Wrecking Crew had an absolutely spectacular match with Aussie Open for the New Japan Pro Wrestling Strong tag team titles. You came so close to winning the titles. I’m guessing you guys want another shot?

“Yeah, absolutely. The thing is, I think that Jorel and I were a little bit frustrated right now because to us, we were kind of the first tag team, like the main established tag team of New Japan Strong very early on, and New Japan Strong in its infancy. And I think that we’ve been holding it down for so long. Maybe we got a little complacent and let things sneak up on us because obviously, we lost to TMDK recently, we lost to Aussie Open and so we are not the New Japan Strong Openweight tag champs but I feel like that was almost like we were those for the first year that we were there that just the titles didn’t exist yet. But unfortunately, we kind of just slipped up right at the moment where we needed to be as focused as possible. That’s obviously a goal is to get those titles because like I said, like, I feel like it’s something that should have belonged to us even though they never have. We definitely want another shot at Aussie Open. We wrestled them at PWG as well, I think we had a really, really tough match with them there. Every time we wrestled them, we’re getting closer and closer to beating them. So I want another shot at Aussie Open. I want another shot at TMDK. And I want to show everyone who runs the New Japan Strong tag division.”

You mentioned Minoru Suzuki a little earlier. You faced him at Lucha Libre and Laughs, what are your thoughts on that match? You said you went in a little hurt.

“I went into it, I was really hurting. But as soon as the bell rang, I was like, there’s only one way to go about it. And that’s to do the damn thing. Minoru Suzuki is an absolute master. I don’t know if there’s anyone that I’ve actually wrestled that’s been like more encompassing of the term master than him. Yeah, he’s just a true master of the craft. I think he brought out a new level in me. I’m really excited to see it, I think it’s supposed to drop on YouTube pretty soon the match. I’ve only seen a little bit of footage. But I came up a little bit short in the match. But the thing is the match meant a lot to me because it was in Denver, which is my hometown. I moved to LA about five years ago, but I was raised in Denver and so getting to do a match with Minoru Suzuki, who’s never been to Denver to wrestle and I had to represent how to put on for my city. And you know, it’s like Suzuki who has a real respect and love for wrestling and the craft and he’s not just going to go out there for anyone so it’s like I felt like there was a lot of pressure but in a good way. And I feel like I represented myself exactly the way I wanted to. And I just felt like I learned a lot in there and it was a victory through a loss. So I’m really happy with myself and I’m really happy with my effort. And I hope that any fans that get a chance to see it on the Lucha Libre and Laughs YouTube whenever it does drop, hopefully pretty soon here. I hope they enjoy that too because I truly do think, one that he has a master and two that I raised the level of my game and it was a great match.”

On October 30, the West Coast Wrecking Crew take on C4 in the opening round of the T4 Summit. It’s going to crown the first-ever IWTV Tag Team champions. How important is it for you and Jorel to win those titles? And tell me a little bit about your feelings on C4?

“Yeah, I mean, to me, I think it’s easy just to like everyone kind of just says, oh, like we’re the best, we’re the best these days. It’s kind of a thing rather than like proving it. But I do think that when you look at the Indies and you look at tag wrestling, there are definitely some really great teams out there. So this isn’t like meant to shade or disrespect anyone but if you look at the West Coast Wrecking Crew, there is something different about us, we are a special, special tag team. And we’re having banger ass match after banger ass match. We’re going everywhere. It’s like every time I think that we’re peaking we keep getting better and it sounds cocky but honestly, I think the confidence is just catching up to the abilities at this point. Like it’s just being real. I think it means a lot to us in terms of the titles wouldn’t make us but we could make those titles because it’s like we’re the West Coast Wrecking Crew. And the end of the day, it’s just like, they definitely call it the eyeball test when you look at us we pass the eyeball test. It’s like yeah, that is the West Coast Wrecking Crew and that is the team that should be the IWTV tag team champs so I have a lot of respect for C4 in a lot of ways this almost like this kind of feels like a finals match in the first round. I think it’s tough being on the West Coast. There’s like a lot of East Coast bias if you ask me honestly when it comes to like indy wrestling, but West Coast has always had some crazy ability in terms of wrestlers. And C4 is a really, really tough up-and-coming tag team. We wrestled them a couple of times. Cody Chhun & Guillermo Rosas those guys are super, super talented, we always seem to bring out really, really good matches with each other like we we raise each other’s levels and are competitive with each other and really, really push each other. So I’m excited. I’m excited, especially because it’s going to be at Prestige at Roseland which means it’s going to be a couple of thousand fans, they’re going to be crazy off the chain, they’re going to bring good energy, and I’m going to bring that fight out of us even more. But at the end of the day all the respect and all the like hugging and you know, it’s nice, but me and Jorel are out for blood. We want those titles so, C4 is going down for sure.”

Another great promotion is West Coast Pro. You and Jorel are West Coast Pro regulars. Do you feel they should introduce a tag team title? I know they have the World Heavyweight title, Titus Alexander just won it. But do you feel they should introduce a tag team title?

“Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s overdue. I think it is long overdue. I think if you ask the promoter, he would probably agree with that. But I mean, just like with New Japan, it’s like we’ve been kinda like the West Coast Pro uncrowned tag team champions for three years running now because we’ve been just holding it down there. But at the end of the day, we’ve also gotten to do some stuff that to me is bigger than winning a title like we had the Motor City Machine Guns first indy the tag match in 10 years and that was at West Coast Pro and to me that’s a bigger honor than like a trinket, like a belt is but like that’s a moment that will be with me forever. I’m sure sooner than later West Coast Pro will have tag titles and as soon as they do you know they’re gonna end up in me and Jorel’s hands, you can take that to the bank with the envelope, it’s done.”

Impact Wrestling just lost a few great tag teams, Good Brothers, a few months ago The Briscoes and now Matt Taven and Mike Bennett. Would you and Jorel Nelson have any interest in going into Impact Wrestling and chasing the Impact Wrestling tag team titles?

“Yeah, absolutely. I think Impact always maintains a very high standard for their tag wrestling. I think that’s one thing that they’ve always kind of really been known for and really done well. Me and Jorel would fit right in there, but I also think we would absolutely excel there. I think we could absolutely win the Impact tag titles. I think it’s a matter of getting that opportunity and showing what we can really do because I believe in me and Jorel, and I really, once again like none of this I’m not trying to come off as cocky. I just know what I have with me and Jorel.”

You guys actually had a match in Impact Wrestling as One Percent?

“Yeah, we were the 1%. So originally, we were put together at Future Stars of Wrestling by the promoter there, Joe DeFalco. And we just kind of happened, it was one of those things where it just happened to work really well. We’re oh, wow, that’s weird, this guy just turns out to be my best friend in the world. And everything worked really well. But we were the 1%, we did an Xplosion match. After we got an Impact tryout. They had us do an Xplosion match against another team from the tryout  But that was all we ever did. That was probably like four or so years ago at this point. And then, during the pandemic, Jorel and I kept teaming, we really believed in ourselves. We thought there was something there. And then I got signed to NWA. NWA was looking at both of us and only ended up taking me. So as an awkward situation where we got ended up getting split apart. And then the pandemic hit, I asked for my release from the NWA. I got granted my release and no wrestling was really going on in California then at that time, barely any at all, because there was still such a lockdown at that point. But me and Jorel were like once things get more open, we’re like hitting this really hard. We’re going full speed ahead. And I brought up at the time, like, maybe we should think about a name change because now would be a time to rebrand. And we didn’t come up with the 1% and I think it’s kind of like, it was a good thing for like our start of our team. We could be like, ‘Oh, we’re these cocky, we’re better than you top 1% heel kind of thing.’ but it’s a fairly basic thing. And it wasn’t us whereas I saw West Coast Wrecking Crew. I saw like, oh yeah, we’re like a wrecking crew. We give a Steiner Brothers kind of vibes. We give a Minnesota Wrecking Crew kind of vibes, if we can, like feed off something like that. I think it fits our personality more. Me and Jorel went back and forth with it. And we thought this was a name that fit us and we decided to rebrand. We did like a whole little promo vignette rebranding, and then a few months later, I think I got on Bloodsport. And a few months later after that, we got on New Japan Strong together. And from there, it’s been off to the races. I think everything was cool as the 1% but this just fits us a lot better. And it kind of just it’s like, oh, like you don’t have to give your resume like you already know that’s the West Coast Wrecking Crew. And then you see us and you’re like yeah. Okay, that’s the West Coast Wrecking Crew.”

When people are talking about the best tag teams in the world right now, do you feel the West Coast Wrecking Crew should be in that conversation?

“No questions asked. Absolutely. I think we’re somehow still kind of like a best-kept secret where like, people kind of know us. But I think they’re gonna really realize what some people know but more people are going to know, I think that’s all coming. 2023 I think it’s gonna be a big, big year for us. I’m enjoying the journey. I’m really happy with all the stuff we’re doing. I have no doubt that we’re gonna prove that people that believe in us right very soon.”

Last question. Will there come a time when you say I’ve done all I can as a tag team wrestler, it’s time to accomplish some goals as a singles wrestler.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever say I’m done as a tag wrestler. But I still love that I get to do singles matches, like during the match with Suzuki. If I could have my druthers, I wouldn’t wrestle any less with Jorel as a team. I would just probably do a couple more singles bookings as well here and there. But that said, like I’m very blessed with my career that I get to do both tag and single stuff. Maybe one day I’ll make the singles more of a focus but for now I’m really happy with how things are going and so if I pick up a few more singles bookings then great. If not, there will be a time where I guess I’ll focus a little more on that but I don’t I think I would ever fully just stop doing tag wrestling. I love tag wrestling and I love to tag with Jorel.”