Mark Haskins says Ring of Honor has treated its stars "like a family" during the Covid-19 crisis as he revealed what it's like working for his close friend Marty Scurll as head booker.
Haskins was flown back from the States once the global pandemic was announced and says the American promotion has been very supportive throughout.
The 31-year-old wrestler, from Faringdon, Oxfordshire, has been a part of the ROH roster since making his debut during the company's UK tour in 2017.
During that time he's won the International Cup and is now gunning for the ROH World Championship when its live shows resume.
While ROH has cancelled all of its scheduled events in June, the promotion has also 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, Haskins discussed working for his longtime pal and new ROH head booker Marty Scurll, how he has been able to stay in shape during lockdown, the impact social media has had on his career, and much more.
So how have you been keeping sane during this Covid-19 pandemic and also, as a professional athlete, how have you been keeping in shape?
I'm unsociable at the best of times so I have been loving life. I feel so guilty saying that, because everyone else is hating the current circumstances and things, but I think because I am away so much from the family with work and travel, that it's great to be home. I am being able to be more hands on with the kids and help them grow as little people. It's really nice. It's a time where you don't have any interruptions as you can't do anything so I have been very fortunate to be at home.
I figured things would get worse just before lockdown so I went out and got some wood and I have built a little pull-up bar outside in my garden. I have done a lot of functional training before, I am a qualified personal trainer and bootcamp instructor, so I would like to think I know what I'm doing across a lot of different training.
I have been able to switch it up and do something a lot different and have been very calisthenics based and it's been very reviving in a lot of ways. I have a FitBit now and I am tracking all kinds of progress, it's been really nice. I never try and think of an issue as being a stop to things. It's not a question of doing it, it's a question of how.
We have seen on social media a number of ROH talents commenting on how well the management have treated them during Covid-19. What are your thoughts on how ROH management have dealt with their workers?
It's been great, they have stayed in touch with us. They have been super awesome during this time. It was mid-March when I was last out there and as soon as our plane landed we got told that the shows had been cancelled and they weren't going ahead, and looking back I think that was the right call to make because we wanted to prevent the spread of this virus.
Ring of Honor have been awesome, they got us early flights home, they have taken care of us, they still paid everybody and they have not run the risk of any kind of spread of this virus. They have also been paying guys and girls who were supposed to be wrestling for them as a one off. It's really nice that a wrestling company is supportive, it really feels like a family.
It's great to hear that. Just touching on your status with ROH - how long do you have left on your contact and what was it about ROH that attracted you to sign with them, as I suspect there were other offers on the table at the time?
Well, I don't ever kiss and tell. I signed for a two-year deal and that will be up at the end of the year. Who is to know where this is going to go in the next few months. They have just been super cool to me since I started working for them in 2017 and have been with them over the space of a few tours and I eventually signed in 2019 and they have been super supportive since day dot.
The great thing about signing with ROH is that it allowed me to wrestle a lot of independent bookings. I am US exclusive for them, but I can wrestle anywhere else in the world. It allows me to look at different avenues and choose my own schedule a little bit more. I am a dad, I have two kids, I want to see them grow up. I feel there is a certain sense of freedom you get being your own boss, especially when you have a family.
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You mentioned working with ROH during UK tours. Do you suspect we will see another ROH tour in the UK once we resume normality?
For sure, I think definitely at some point, but who knows when that will be. There are new people like Marty 'The Villain' Scurll pulling the strings. I am sure he wants to come home and see everybody.
What has it been like working for Marty, someone who you have a very good relationship with?
Working for Marty, it's terrible man! How do you feel it is, that the person who is your boss is the same person you have carried home drunk before? Marty has been one of my closest friends, who I have the dumbest sense of humour and jokes with. It's a struggle, but you know, I am fully supportive of him in that role. I am just going to have to deal with my inner conflict with that! Haha.
Given how long you have been wrestling for, I am sure you have seen lots change. But one of the biggest things to change in recent years is the influence that social media can have. Do you feel that social media has changed wrestling in a positive or negative way?
I feel as much as anything can do good for the business then you are going to be faced with the same amount of problems. In the sense of a meme or a GIF that creates to some extent notoriety. Every once in a while that can make someone famous but might not always be for the right reason.
Social media has changed the game a lot and has helped guys and girls keep closer to their fans. There are a lot of people out there who wouldn’t be making the name they have without it. So it is super important like anything in life to understand the power it can have and how much it can help you. Just try to not let it envelope you in any way.
Within the current wrestling landscape there are now more options for talent than in years prior. What words of wisdom would you give to any talent on the independent scene who were looking to make that next step?
That's a tough one. I guess it's just really, know what it is you are looking for, and work towards that. A lot of the time opportunities can be dressed up in a way where it looks like something that it doesn't turn out to be. Make the best of every opportunity you get. You don't get a second chance to make a first impression so wherever it is, just know that is what you are going to do, and give it your all.
Every Wednesday night at 11pm on the Fight Network, UK fans get to see ROH on television. Do you think that having ROH on TV in the UK is a vital step to increase the footprint of ROH to UK fans?
Well the UK scene has been huge over the past few years and it would be stupid not to take advantage of that the way a number of wrestling companies have done. We have some of the most passionate and loyal fans. It continues to amaze me the lengths that some fans are prepared to go to and travel. I think it's a great step to have that presence in the UK.
What sort of content can we expect to see on the TV show?
So the first episode was a very special episode. It was the best of Mark Haskins episode, which I am sure that everyone will be delighted by during lockdown. You had an entire hour of Mark Haskins in ROH and if you enjoy me kicking people like Bully Ray, who was very fun to kick, check it out. Then we had a show focused on Marty Scurll, which was also great... you don't want to miss it.
Mark Haskins can be seen on Ring of Honor TV on Fight Network UK (Sky 192/Freesat 161/TVPlayer.com and app) every Wednesday at 11pm.