It seemed only right that our debut written interview piece focuses our on first ever Sheety winner Ru Gunn. Being new to the wrestling community myself, it wasn’t long before I discovered her on the twitter feed. Seeing as though our world consists of mostly gentlemen, she stuck out like a sore thumb to me for all the right reasons. Ru has been instrumental through not only her Smackdown articles by way of Voices of Wrestling but through her presence on twitter as well. Although I have not met her I have had the pleasure of speaking with her enough to know she is credible.. and incredible ☺. I find the combo of wit and words fascinating and always engaging. With her permission of course, I was able to document our last conversation.. please enjoy getting to know Ru Gunn through a different lens.
1) How did you get into wrestling, and when?
I got into wrestling properly just over three years ago. For a long time my passion was videogames, but there were a couple of quiet years where I lost interest in the videogames industry and fandom– and I was frustrated by the backlash against anyone applying critical thought or standards to the medium– so I looked for a new hobby that could scratch my itch for glamorized violence and over-the-top superhero personalities. I like to jump into things with both feet, so I devoured everything WWE I could find, and became completely besotted.
2) You mention on Twitter about NJPW..how did you get into that?
The buzz on Twitter during the 2014 G1 Climax tournament totally seduced me. I’d previously thought of Japanese wrestling as being really inaccessible to English-speaking fans, but suddenly I was reading excited all-caps tweets from friends, and seeing gifs that blew my mind. I watched a few matches from the tournament, and while I wasn’t quite sure about some of the stories being told yet, I was enthralled and desperate to find out more. It totally reframed my opinions about wrestling quality and I found myself immediately connecting with the characters despite the language barrier.
3) How did you connect with Voices of Wrestling and specifically SmackDown articles?
VOW were a great resource after watching the 2014 G1 to sate my thirst for more Puro info and background– and where to go next to find quality wrestling. I listened to the VOW flagship podcast religiously and found it so exciting to hear Joe and Rich gushing over the same things I loved. At the same time, I was still watching WWE every week– and boring my friends by over-analyzing it and texting them unsolicited fantasy booking in the middle of the night. When a spot came up for a regular SmackDown reviewer at VOW, I tried writing a sample review of the previous week’s show as an experiment. It flowed easily and was so satisfying and cathartic to be able to express my frustrations and joys with the show. It suits me really well because I have a passion for writing about B-shows; I love the challenge of finding something interesting or enjoyable in unusual places.
4) With experiencing both Japanese wrestling and WWE… Do you favor one over the other and why?
It doesn’t take long to figure out that if you watch WWE every week, your intelligence will end up being insulted. Characterization is inconsistent, plotlines are at the whim of a crazy old out-of-touch man, and women are treated horribly. There’s a lot to love about Japanese wrestling– which is immensely diverse. I love the sincere and consistent portrayals of interpersonal relationships in NJPW, the high quality ring work, and the overarching stories that feel engaging and meaningful. I also follow DDT, which manages to have a spectrum of things to enjoy from charming, genuinely funny comedy wrestling right through to emotional championship matches. I have just started getting properly into Stardom too!
I don’t want to give up on WWE. For better or worse it’s a company that influences things internationally. But I want better from it.
5) What is your experience in your role with Voices of Wrestling and even on Twitter being a woman talking predominantly to a male audience?
Immensely positive. I was initially very tentative about trying to break into such a male-dominated arena, but I’ve been more than welcomed by VOW and their readers. When I get criticism, it’s usually about my opinions –which I am more than happy to defend or discuss– rather than about the validity of my claim to the wrestling critic “space”. There was one notable exception: being accused by a Twitter malcontent of having “too much estrogen” to review wrestling credibly! I think that for a better wrestling product, lots of diverse voices are needed to provide criticism and analysis. While it was a real honor to be the only woman represented in your Sheety awards, I’d love to see more of a gender balance in wrestling fandom and criticism going forward.
(Editor’s note: Dear guy who made the “ too much estrogen” comment.. “YOU SUCK”…. Come at me with that… I dare you- Love Sealia)
6) What are the main ways you digest your wrestling content? (i.e. podcasts/articles/websites?)
It’s so hard to keep on top of all the wrestling media! I like to read a lot of reviews and analysis but I’m not too bothered about being on the cutting edge of wrestling gossip or scoops. Twitter for almost everything. All of the high quality content on VOW.
7) What would you like to see out of SmackDown this year?
I wrote about some of this here in anticipation of the USA Network move. We’re already one step in the right direction with the addition of Mauro Ranallo providing a legitimacy to the product with his quality commentary elevating the rest of the show: but the booking doesn’t seem to have improved so far. I’d like to see better quality wrestling matches with clean finishes, more diverse and daring booking– and either a focus on SmackDown as a pure wrestling show, or a genuine consistency with the plotlines on RAW. I want it to feel important. I want new faces in the main events. I also want someone to fire Jerry Lawler into space.
8) Who is your current wrestling crush? Both NJPW AND WWE:
WWE would probably be Chad Gable, if he counts. I have a weakness for handsome compactly-framed wrestlers with dazzling technical skill. I’m not sure I crush on any NJPW wrestlers??
9) If it’s not your NJPW crush .. who is your favorite NJPW wrestler?
Tanahashi! I wrote about a million words on him in the profiles section of the new Voices of Wrestling 2015 NJPW ebook. As well as his incredible wrestling skill, he’s such a nuanced and complicated character.
10) How many NJPW wrestlers have you met?
I was lucky enough to meet a few NJPW guys at the meet and greet at Rev Pro in Reading in October. I got a chance to tell Okada that he was amazing face-to-face, after my mascara was still smeared from getting a bit teary during his match. I showed Tanahashi my poster I made of him! I got to hold the IWGP Intercontinental Championship because Nakamura said it was too heavy for him, which made me blush. They were all an absolute joy and it was very exciting and surreal.
I’m hoping to see Kenny Omega in a couple of weeks at another British indie show, too, which is particularly exciting, being that he’s rapidly become more important in NJPW after the events of New Year Dash….
11) Who has your favorite mullet in wrestling ?
12) Who is your favorite manager in wrestling?
13) Who is your favorite giant?
This is a hard one. I’m not sure that’s my specialty. I’m recently working my way through a tonne of early 90s AJPW and my younger brother has become obsessed with Jumbo Tsuruta. He seems enormous but Wikipedia claims he’s “only” 6’6”– is this giant status? And then….Colin Cassady is 6’10”! But is he a giant? Is being a giant a state of mind?
14)What was your favorite wrestling toy when you were growing up?
Being a latecomer to wrestling fandom, I didn’t have wrestling toys as a kid (although I do now!). I was into action figures: mostly Batman.
If this is your first exposure to Ru Gunn may I recommend you check out her work on Voices of Wrestling and follow her immediately on twitter at @ru_gunn. Talking sheet looks very forward to seeing her “Storm you chumps like she’s thunder and lightning” in 2016! Thanks Ru!