Interview with Luke Langley of the KC Wolves
By Drew Archer
“I attended and graduated from Kansas State University in December of 2009. I have a Bachelor's of Science in Sociology.”
Sociology is defined as the study of human social behavior, especially the study of the origins, organization, institutions, and development of human society. As any pro wrestler can tell you, being able to understand humans and their social behavior, actions and reactions is a necessity to becoming a superstar in a business that is predicated on making a connection with the fans in the arena and making your mark on the wrestling community at large.
Most wrestlers get their knowledge of sociology and psychology and how to stir up a reaction from a live crowd from listening to the vets in the business that know every trick in the book. For Luke Langley, one half of the KC Wolves, his college degree also adds to his overall pedigree as a pro wrestler and gives him a step up from most in that department.
But for Langley who was born in Fort Worth, Texas but spent most of his life in Overland Park, Kansas (just south of Kansas City) his interest and desire to get in the pro wrestling business started way before he got to college. “I think everyone in this business started out as a fan. Pro wrestling was a part of my life since I was in elementary school. My first wrestling memory is seeing Sting with his old-school face paint. In 5th grade I started amateur wrestling, mostly because I thought it would be like what I saw on TV. At my first practice I put another kid in a Boston Crab. I continued amateur wrestling through high school. I also played seven years of football,” Langley said.
After school and still looking to fulfill that athletic itch, Langley decided to pursue his lifelong dream head on. “I started training in February of 2011. The man who introduced me to the business was a wrestler named Angel Skycall. He showed me some of the basics and was kind enough to allow me to travel to a few shows with him. I would not be where I am in this business without his initial guidance.
“In April of 2011, I started training full-time with ‘The Good Reverend’ Chad Sullivan at his Rings and Cages training center. This time constituted most of my formal training and I credit The Rev with really giving me my real start as a performer. About a month after I started training with Chad, a young blond kid named Graham [Bell] joined the school. I would have my first match on June 4th, 2011,” Langley remembered.
The training with The Rev, combined with Langley’s own athletic past makes for an impressive combination in the ring. “I feel that I have a pretty well-rounded style that helps me compete with any opponent. I guess you could call it ‘American Cruiserweight’ if we need to have a label for it. My amateur background definitely shows in my mat game. Being technically sound has always been very important to me, but it would be a mistake to label me as a purely scientific wrestler. You need to be able to do it all to a certain extent. I'm always adding new strikes and high-flying moves to make myself more dangerous to any opponent.”
Langley’s “American Cruiserweight” style was also molded after one very important international star. “First off, Steve Austin will always be my all-time favorite. I'm sure that's a very common answer. His connection with the audience is something we all aspire to in our craft. My first favorite, however, was Ultimo Dragon. I always loved his well-rounded, fast-paced style. The flashy costumes and his killer moveset in the ‘WCW vs NWO World Tour’ video game didn't hurt either. And as you can probably tell from my entrance jacket, I've always loved the Road Warriors.”
Like Ultimo Dragon, Langley wrestles a high impact, dangerous style. And although Langley has been lucky and not suffered any serious injuries it’s a reality that every pro wrestler has to deal with. “There's always the threat of something catastrophic happening. It's something you have to put out of your mind in order to perform.”
Langley’s biggest hurdles to leap over so far have been when it concerns his friends and loved ones and the time management that every wrestler must juggle. “The travel and time investment is the biggest thing for me. It puts a strain on your relationships outside of wrestling. Even if the people you love understand why you can't always be there, it still changes your relationship with them. It forces you to make the most of the time you are able to set aside for those people. All of these challenges test your mental toughness.”
Langley’s mental toughness is matched by his physical toughness as he and his tag team partner Graham Bell offer the wrestling audience a diverse style, with various methods and approaches all meshed into one cohesive unit.
“Our tag finisher is called Kirisute Gomen. I hold the opponent up in a fireman's carry, Graham superkicks their head, and I drop them with a Death Valley Driver. The name is a reference to a samurai's right to cut down anyone who challenged their honor. We chose it as a reminder to never back down from any fight. Literally translated it means ‘Don't mind me while I cut your head off.’ In singles competition I use a Death Valley Driver onto my knee. It's called the Manhattan Project,” Langley added.
Langley’s take on singles versus tag team wrestling sheds some light on the different mindsets that most fans don’t even notice when a match is going on. “They're totally different. They're almost separate sports. I don't think either of us expected to be a full-time tag team when we were training together, but it's something I've really grown to enjoy, especially in the last year. Tag wrestling requires you to worry about so much more in terms of positioning and ring awareness. It's way more complex than just adding two bodies to the match. It's a lot more mentally taxing, but it's that much more rewarding when it's done well. Singles matches are a lot more clear-cut. Win or lose, you have no one to blame but yourself. The things I loved about other sports in my past I get to enjoy in pro wrestling. Camaraderie and teamwork, learned and loved in football, used in tag wrestling; individual effort and grit, used in singles matches.”
The KC Wolves have cut a swath or excellence across the heartland of America as they have collected numerous championships and left their mark on every promotion they have ever stepped foot in. “Graham and I have been Tag Champions in Kansas Championship Wrestling, Steel Rage Pro Wrestling, and United Wrestling Entertainment. We were also voted Tag Team of the Year in Oklafan's 2013 year-end awards, which was pretty cool. We've had an opportunity to wrestle in Falls Count Anywhere, Ladder, and TLC Matches, all of which were uniquely special.”
2014 is shaping up to be the KC Wolves biggest year ever as they are already vying for the IZW Tag Team Titles (the envy of the whole territory) in less than a week at “Violent Valentine” on February 1. For some, the pressure of taking on What Wrestling Should Be (Jermaine Johnson & Jordan Jacobs) is a daunting thought, but Langley remains calm, cool and collected when talking about their upcoming scrap. “Our very first match in IZW was against them [WWSB], and I think we showed we're not a team to be taken lightly. We almost defeated the Tag Champs in our debut, and we're going to prove it wasn't beginner's luck. I also have a singles win over Jordan Jacobs, something I'm sure he hasn't forgotten.”
Langley believes IZW is the perfect home for the KC Wolves as there are multiple challenges up and down the roster and IZW offers a platform that no other Independent company can match.
“IZW has the deepest roster of talent of any promotion we've been a part of. I feel like I can have a great match with anyone in the locker room. Its production is fantastic, virtually without peer at this level of wrestling. The most admirable aspect is the way ownership consistently makes changes to keep improving the product. IZW has a bright future because they are never satisfied with the status quo.
“As a wrestler, you want your work seen by as many people as possible. Literally anyone in the world with a computer can watch IZW [on GFL.tv]. That alone should be reason for anyone to want to work here,” Langley added.
There is a synergy with the KC Wolves, where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, which makes them a cut above the rest. “Graham is an absolute delight to team with. We're similar in lots of ways in terms of in-ring style, but not remotely clones of each other. He has more natural athletic ability in his little finger than I do in my whole body. He gets labeled as the team's high flyer while I'm usually pegged as our ground attack. To some degree that's true, but we're both well-rounded enough to make us a difficult match-up to prepare for. Honestly, I probably spend more time on the top rope than he does. He just does springboards, flips and other things that require grace and balance, whereas I tend to just climb up top and then fall with style. You'll see him use more agility-based moves, while I tend to use a bit more power in my arsenal. Our double team moves have been our bread and butter, and it's because we seem to have a natural knack for timing and positioning with each other. I don't even think about what Graham is doing, I trust him to be in the right place at the right time.
“Outside the ring, we're actually quite different. He tends to be the more outgoing of the two of us. My personality is more reserved. Sometimes he's quick to shoot his mouth off and I have to be the voice of reason, but he always means well. I help reign in his goofier side and he helps to coax me out of my shell. Sometimes it almost feels like I'm his older brother in some ways. Our taste in almost anything pop culture is usually quite divergent. I made him listen to an entire Avenged Sevenfold album, one from before they sucked, during a 17 hour road trip and I'm sure it was hellish for him. Ultimately, we've spent enough time in a car together to find that we usually agree on the important things in wrestling and in life. As an added bonus, it's great to have a partner who is always working so hard to improve himself, because it forces me to elevate my game even further,” Langley added.
For those who want to learn more about Luke Langley and the KC Wolves there are plenty of social media sites to connect with.
We're past the point of ‘making an impact’ or trying to establish ourselves. We aren't just happy to be here. We're a well-oiled tag team machine and we expect gold around our waist soon. Some might call that cocky, we call it confidence. With the support of The Pack, the sky's the limit for us in IZW.
“Join the Pack! Reach out to us on Facebook or Twitter. Tell us where you want to see us next and what kind of KC Wolves merch you guys want and we'll make it happen. Also, whatever Graham tweets or posts is solely his opinion, so don't come asking me for an explanation,” Langley joked.
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