Timothy Thatcher Talks Huge Title Opportunity, WWE And AEW Working With Noah, Possible 'Forbidden Door' Matches, More! - Exclusive

The last time many pro wrestling fans in the United States saw Timothy Thatcher on TV, he was holding his teeth in his hand following a brutal kick to the face from Matt Riddle in their infamous WWE "NXT" Fight Pit match. Shortly after that bout, for whatever reason, Thatcher was relegated to the role of backstage coach at the WWE Performance Center before being released this past January. While his run was brief, it was also memorable, and his fan base has stayed with him despite his removal from the company formerly run by Vince McMahon.


In the wake of his WWE exit, Thatcher has taken his vicious grappling skills across the Pacific to Pro Wrestling Noah in Japan. Thatcher's run with Noah has been nothing short of fun to watch — he's undefeated so far, and he looks to further solidify his role as a main player in the promotion as he faces GHC Heavyweight Champion Kaito Kiyomiya this Thursday at Global Honor Crown. 

In this exclusive interview with Wrestling Inc. Senior News Editor Nick Hausman, Thatcher opens up about his title match against Kiyomiya, his time in WWE, why he chose to sign with Noah, potentially walking through the "forbidden door" into AEW, and more!

Taking The Spotlight

You wrestle a very physical style and you've got this big GHC Heavyweight Championship match on the horizon. For folks over in the States who haven't heard from you in a while, how are you feeling? Physically and mentally? How are you doing these days?


Oh yeah, I'm real good. I definitely enjoyed my time in Japan. It's very much the kind of wrestling that I really much enjoy. And especially Noah is very much at the forefront of that. So yeah, I'm good. I'm still going at it.

How has it been for you reinventing yourself over in Noah, Tim? A lot of people last saw you obviously in "NXT" over here, and we're just starting to get waves of what you've been doing over in Noah. How has that experience been reinventing yourself over there?

Well, thankfully as I said, Noah and I kind of share the same mindset. So I didn't really have to invent myself or reinvent myself too much. It's just kind of getting back to doing it again, because WWE and "NXT" I left being an in-ring competitor; I was working as a coach for a while. So the hardest part of that was getting back now to wrestling at a regular basis again. So that was the biggest goal. But no, Japan's been great. Noah's been great to me, really enjoyed it.


Do you find yourself bringing your coaching experience and what you learned from WWE over to Noah right now? Or do you find yourself just falling into the Noah system right now and separating it a bit?

I just kind of do my thing. The Japanese, the way that they train people and all that stuff, is a very specific way, and it is their traditional ways that they do it. So I just try to stay out and let them because it's their business. I'm an outsider, so I come do my matches and I try to be ready for the shows.

Well, at Global Honor Crown this Thursday night, you are, like I said, in the GHC Heavyweight Championship match versus Kiyomiya. What are you expecting here in this bout? Why should fans tune in and check out this big title bout for you Tim?

They should tune in because Kiyomiya is definitely one of the rising stars over here in Japan. This is his second reign as GHC Champion. His first one was when he was 22. He's the youngest champion ever. He had a hell of a first run and he just started his second one. And he's already had... just after I challenged him, he had an incredible match with Kazuyuki Fujita. Brutal, brutal. So I intend to bring the same sort of intensity, maybe a little more focus on submission stuff ... I'm the first foreigner to get a title shot at the GHC Heavyweight Belt since 2017. And Eddie Edwards actually was the last one to do it, and he actually won the title. But no foreigners had a title shot since then. So it's a bit of a historical event. It's kind of leading Noah to a new regime and a new direction, which I'm very proud to be a part of it and I think my bout with Kiyomiya will be an excellent clash of styles.


The Great Muta Brings Attention To Noah

Another gaijin tearing it up in Noah is Ninja Mack. How is Ninja Mack doing?

I've just gotten him in passing. He's a ninja, he's disappearing in and out of the shadows and stuff. So sometimes he's hard to get ahold of. But obviously the Japanese fans have taken to Ninja Mack incredibly ... So he's doing very well. Obviously it seems to be going well for him. So good. Noah, I'm grateful that Noah really is getting into the spotlight because I believe they deserve it. And I believe they've deserve it for quite some time as well ... But I know they're making a push to get to a global audience now and I think it's very well deserved.


Well, a big part of that attention recently has of course been the news that the Great Muta is going to retire. It seems the whole wrestling world is embracing Noah right now around that. What was your reaction to finding out the news that Muta was going to be hanging up the boots here?

I guess it's not a shock because eventually everyone has to stop at this, right? And Muta's been wrestling for a very long time. I'm very grateful I've been on all his shows that have been his countdown shows now. And it'll continue to be so up until February 21, which is his big final show. So yeah, of course. The allure of Muta-san is incredible and it's stretched for so many years, worldwide. And it's great that he's showing up in different places and saying his goodbyes... But I'm grateful ... because I get to be there to see it too.


Have you had a chance to speak with him at all or change any words? Anything like that?

No, no. I just always see him in passing because he's a busy man, he's got an entourage, people are following and everyone wants to talk to Muta. So I'm just very polite to him and all this. But incredible to watch. Even Kiyomiya, the Budokan show that was a few months ago was Kiyomiya and Muta. An incredible match. Kiyomiya actually got the three from him and Muta's been passing down techniques to Kiyomiya since then. So it really enhanced him as a performer as well. So yeah, Muta's influence is still felt every day.

WWE Steps Through The Forbidden Door

And obviously a big announcement about the tour WWE is going to allow Shinsuke Nakamura to come over and wrestle Muta. That's a big... now you spent time in that system, Tim. Are you surprised that WWE is allowing this to happen I guess?


Yeah, of course Nakamura is a big star for them. And I know when we started in NXT, I know previously that they were allowing... obviously the NXT guys sometimes could go other places and do other things. After I got signed I was allowed to go back to Germany and have one more match in WXW, which is greatly appreciated. But then that kind of stopped, obviously COVID kiboshed a lot of stuff. But as you move up the thing, obviously Nakamura is big SmackDown star and all that stuff. That's a different thing than allowing some of your NXT stars to go out to different places. So it is incredible that it happened. Yeah, that's very amazing. So it'll be great, January 1 will be, that'll be an epic contest I think.


Well it's certainly a statement. Obviously management has changed up a bit over in WWE since you were there. Triple H would've been the one to sign off on this. Tim, I know how much you talk about how you really fit Noah and I agree, you're a wonderful fit there. But you're also, I look at you very much as a Triple H project, man. You've got that bloodsport mentality, he put you in the fight pit. Are you still close with Hunter? Do you guys still keep in touch ever since you've moved to Japan and he's kind of doing his own thing here in the states or no?

No, he's a very busy man. His and I relationship was obviously a boss and employee relationship while we were there. He's a very nice man and he's been very kind to me. As you said, everyone at WWE honestly was very kind to me. I'm very grateful for my time that I got to be there. But no, once you leave a place ,that's in the past now and if our paths cross again, then we'll have conversations again. But he's got a lot on his plate now, especially since he's in charge of the whole thing. That's quite the undertaking now that he has to do. So he doesn't need to be hearing from me.

Yeah, I was just curious because obviously with Shinsuke coming in looks like maybe wanting to work with other promotions. I didn't know if you saw this as maybe good for you and Noah, Triple H moving into this position here. Maybe opening, creating opportunities for you. Again, I thought you were just such a layup, you're such a guy that obviously is someone he would like.


Well you're too kind sir. I hope it's good for Noah, that's what's important. Any bigger exposure for this company I think is deserved and I think I'm very grateful for. I'm a big fan of... wherever I'm working, I think they should get the focus. Because if I don't have a place to work, if the company isn't thriving, then hey, I don't got a job. It doesn't work out well for the wrestlers. So I hope this leads to big things for Noah.

The Man They Call The Great Muta's Partner

Well of course that's the WWE side of the coin, but man, everybody's getting in on this. It's not just WWE and Shinsuke. You've also got the door swinging the other direction here. You've got Darby Allin and Sting also coming in to tag team with Muta. How does it feel, man? I've never seen anything like this with all the companies converging at once. Does it feel special to you to be in this moment where all these people are coming in and affording you and Noah these opportunities right now?


Yeah, of course. As I said, the power of Muta, isn't it? Because he's done so much all over the world and all different things, he's bringing all these people together. So yeah, of course it's always incredible. It's always wild when different companies are able to just ... They want to come too. It's not like... it's on their own volition. Sting wants to be a part of Muta's retirement thing. Nakamura wants be part of Muta's thing. It's pretty incredible and Noah just happens to be the company that hosted and kind of has been Muta's home for the past few years.

And AEW's obviously done, they did the Forbidden Door pay per view with New Japan. Would you like to maybe see something like that with Noah? Maybe like a co-Noah, AEW show? Is that something you'd be interested in?


Of course, obviously AEW has many talented wrestlers there. I believe Noah has a lot as well. And I think some people would line up very well. I know recently like Masa Kitamiya has been asking for a match with Eddie Kingston and stuff like that. So those are very cool things to think about if they could happen and stuff. And I think they would be wonderful for people to see as well.

Well I agree. I saw the Eddie stuff, I was going to bring that up. But for you Tim, who's on your bucket list over there? There is a lot of talented people on the other side of that forbidden door.

There is. Battling anyone from that Blackpool Combat Club is kind of up my alley, isn't it? ... Mr. Regal has always been very kind to me and as well. And if he picks you to be in his corner, he's amassed quite a crew over there with Claudio and Moxley and Dragon and Wheeler. So yeah, those guys are always worth a fight.

The Blackpool Combat Club

Well and you say Regal's always been kind to you. Talk to me a little bit about your relationship with Regal. Because I was actually at Blood Sport, I think it was in New Orleans, when he was up in the rafters, I think with John Moxley watching as everybody was scrapping and pulling at each other. That was a really cool moment man. Just if you don't mind, just tell me a little bit about what it's been like for you to work with Regal and learn from him.


Yeah, very ominous. Right? And just seeing him standing on the balcony, staring down at all the combat below. It's a wonderful, wonderful sight. Yeah, I've known him since 2012; I had a tryout for WWE and he was very kind to me then. And then we stayed in contact after that and he always checks up on me and sees how I'm doing. And when I was in WWE, he was very kind to me and I got to share a lot of wonderful conversations with him. And yeah, he is a very kind man who wants the betterment of professional wrestling. I think that is something very important.

And someone that has the knowledge and is more than willing to give it to anyone that is willing to listen, which I think is sometimes a rarity with people that have been there and done that. But for him, he will take all the time in the world to talk to anyone that wants to talk about pro wrestling and he will do his best to help anyone that he sees fit. So I was lucky enough to be one of those people, of, I think, hundreds if not thousands of people at this point.


You talk about how he still catches up with you and stuff like that. I mean a lot of people were curious, did you ever talk to AEW about maybe going there or even being in the Blackpool Combat Club? I had a lot of writers on the site ask me to ask you about that because obviously you have done really, really well there. Is there everybody to talk about that or no?

I ended up with Pro Wrestling Noah rather quickly because Hideki Suzuki asked me. Pretty much once he made the decision after we both got fired, he made the decision that he was going to go back to Japan and work for Noah. And he asked me, "Would you like to do it?" And Hideki's a good friend of mine and I told him yes. So after that everything else becomes null and void because I told my friend that this is what I was going to do. So if other stuff came and there was talks and all, it was null and void at that point. Because I agreed I was going to come to Noah, I gave my word to my friend. So that's how that happened. And so I'm with Noah now. We'll, see if stuff changes. As I said, if forbidden door is allowed to be and there's a wonderful working between the company, then maybe we'll see. But my commitment is to Noah pretty quickly after we left. So that's how it stood.


Playing The Game

Well I respect that Tim. And it's just like, I hear you dude, so genuine, respectful. How did it not work out? How did they not get you Tim? How did WWE not understand you? I'm still at a loss for that. I was such a big fan of yours in "NXT." I don't know if you could tell or not. So.


You're too kind, sir. That's very nice of you to say. Many people make many different decisions and different people see different things in pro wrestling. And there's different things that are valuable to different companies and we don't have control over that as wrestlers. We just go out, we do our thing, we do what we do and if it works for the current situation, then great. If it doesn't, then it doesn't. That's just how it is; that's with every company in wrestling and it's timing and it's situational. As I said, after they made a change of direction with the company, it was very kind that a lot of people were looking out for me and kept me on to help coach there, which was a wonderful thing. And then what happened in January happened. But the list of people that left on the same day that I did, I'm glad I went out with that list. Because Mr. Regal was on that, Hideki Suzuki was on that, Samoa Joe was on that. So if you're going to go out, those are the guys you're going out with.


Fair enough, fair enough. Well you guys again, this Thursday night it's going down. You're in the main event for the GHC World Heavyweight Championship. Where can people go find this, Tim? How do people go watch the show, support Noah, all those wonderful things?

Wrestling Universe is what Noah is on and I believe they still offer a two-week free trial. So please sign up, get your two-week free trial, watch me and Kiyomiya do battle. And I think the rest of the show is incredible too. All the matches on that are title matches, so you'll get to see the great national champion Masakatsu Funaki versus Hijo Del Dr. Wagner Jr., which should be a great match... So please, on the 10th will be, I think a very good showcase of what Noah has to offer.