TJP is in a unique position as he was around for the early days of Impact’s X-Division and was also around for the start of WWE’s Cruiserweight Division. He talked about the similarities and differences between the two when he spoke spoke to Wrestling Inc. on our WINCLY podcast.
“I always thought that the X-Division affected the social culture of wrestling in the 2000s the same way the WCW Cruiserweight Division did when it was first starting. I meet young fans who grew up on the X-Division and during that time TNA was the hot, trendy thing. The generation is so far removed from it now that people forget that the type of trendiness AEW has now TNA once had,” said TJP before discussing that smaller promotions have since started to have their own regional titles or X-Division-esque titles and that’s when he knew it was affecting the culture.
As for WWE’s Cruiserweight Division, TJP says that the best thing about it was it giving opportunities to guys of his size.
“It opened the doors for a generation of guys who didn’t have a certain stature and didn’t have an opportunity for maybe 10 years. There was a time I was homeless and went down to FCW in 2008 and 2009 and it was unheard of someone of my size trying to get in,” revealed TJP.
He said that only a few small guys got in and they were considered novelties. He cited Tyson Kidd and Evan Bourne as two of the few to break through with WWE.
“What will go down as why this was important, mostly from the CWC, it now opened the doors for guys like Cedric [Alexander] and Lucha House Party to be doing what they’re doing. Now it’s not even about cruiserweight wrestling, it’s about allowing guys of a certain stature to have real opportunities and it started out by just being a part of a division,” stated TJP.
One cruiserweight who has started to elevate in recent months is Ali and TJP talked about his success.
“It doesn’t surprise me for any of the guys. That’s kinda why I made it a point to mention the night of the [CWC] Finals when they asked me to speak,” TJP said of winning the Cruiserweight Classic in 2016. “They didn’t give me a script and let me talk about whatever. I thought about talking about my family or career, but it was important for me to address that all 30 guys could have been in that position.”
He then said as they moved along there are a lot of unsung heros like the Singh Brothers who found important roles. He also noted Lio Rush and Drake Maverick as smaller guys who have also been given chances.
As a proud Filipino, TJP recently appeared in PWR, the premier wrestling promotion in the Philippines. He talked about the reaction videos of fans finding out about him coming to PWR.
“I didn’t expect it as it’s kind of like the reaction videos of like an NFL field goal where bars of fans have meltdowns or get really excited,” stated TJP. “When these videos came in, I realized how big of a deal it was for them. I don’t normally think I’m in those terms. I knew it would be special but I didn’t realize the effect it would have.
“When I heard all of that and was able to see it, in the [social media] post I mentioned that it brought me to tears and that’s the truth. You forget what kind of effect you can have on people in your day-to-day life.”
TJP can be seen every Friday night at 10 pm on Pursuit and Twitch as part of Impact Wrestling. He will also be heading to Manilla on October 13th for PWR’s Homecoming. Tickets for PWR’s Homecoming will be released shortly, follow PWR on Twitter at @pwrofficial to know when they are! His full interview with Wrestling Inc aired as part of a recent episode of our WINCLY podcast. It can be heard via the embedded audio player at the bottom of this post. In it TJP discusses getting to perform in his mother’s home country of Manilla, what Manilla’s pro wrestling scene is like, why he returned to Impact Wrestling, his desire to resurrect the Suicide character, the differences between Impact’s X-Division and WWE’s Cruiserweight Division, Impact and WWEs’ creative structures, the Jon Moxley – Chris Jericho interview and more.