Much of what’s come out of Phoenix’ mouth has been during menacing promos that emphasise his superiority over the rest of the OCW roster. I sat down with him recently to see if I could coax out a different side.
When I asked Phoenix about his status as the ultimate heel of OCW, he was quick to correct me. “Life isn’t black and white, it’s all shades of grey,” Phoenix said. “I try to make the audience see from my perspective; that I’m in the right. I try to give them reasons why they should be thinking along the same lines as me. I provide an element of doubt; there’s someone in the crowd that might actually go along with it, thinking ‘I see what he’s doing’.
“I cheat because it’s the right way to go about it,” Phoenix says, somewhat self-righteously, but “based on logic,” he is quick to correct me.
I brought up Phoenix’s lack of dirty victories of late. “[As I said,] I don’t think of it as cheating; if it was ‘cheating’ I would have been disqualified,” Phoenix reasons. “I’ve been the champion for almost a year and only once has there been a disqualification. I would think of it more as good strategy; smart tactics. Having someone on the outside, some backup to tip the scales, is a tactical strategy, and when that person’s not there, you have to up your game with different strategies.”
If you’ll cast your mind back to Hardcore Halloween, Phoenix strategised all on his own, prising the championship from above the ring while worthy competitor Adam Brooks floundered at the bottom of the ladder. This brings to mind the tactics of WWE’s “Ultimate Opportunist”, the 11-time world champion, Edge.
And that’s ultimately what the champ sees himself as, regardless of whether the fans boo or cheer him. “I don’t believe I’m a bad guy, I believe I’m a good guy. You put me in a situation and I’m gonna do what I need to do to win [yet] they call me a bad guy. KrackerJak would do the exact same thing and they call him a good guy. It’s a matter of perspective.” Phoenix is doing a good job convincing me of this. He continues with tongue in cheek, “I’m a bad guy, I cheat, because that’s what bad guys do. People might be like, ‘that shouldn’t have happened’, but it did happen, and it’s the people in life that take these opportunities that go places. That’s the lesson you’ve got to take away here.”
Phoenix takes pride in having faced the best wrestlers in Australia and the best wrestlers in the world—coups for which OCW has become known—following a stint wrestling across the Ireland and the UK. He says, “We’ve got the best talent from around Australia and around the world and I’m gonna beat them in the best match possible so the audience gets their moneys worth.”
Call him a hot potato or a leprechaun if you will, but Phoenix has been the Outback Championship Wrestling champion for the better part of a year and he could be considered a honourary Aussie. The fans might not like him, but at the very least, we do have to respect him.