“Teenage Jack would have never believed that would be the reality one day.”
When the entrants for Pro Wrestling NOAH’s N-1 Victory tournament were announced last year, there was an unfamiliar face among the crowd of Japanese heavyweight royalty. Situated in the B Block, Jack Morris came into the tournament as an unknown. For some that might be a relief, a lack of expectation on your shoulders, but conversely you only get one chance to make a first impression.
You’d be hard pushed to find a more emphatic first impression than pinning Kaito Kiyomiya in your debut.
From that moment on Jack Morris has soared to higher heights, quickly becoming engrained in NOAH’s roster.
He may not have won his block in the tournament but the feeling was he’d earned something just as important: respect. He stood toe-to-toe with NOAH’s most lethal in Katsuhiko Nakajima, grappled with one of MMA’s all time greats in Masakatsu Funaki, and met the charging lariat of Satoshi Kojima head on. Jack Morris was in NOAH to stay.
He started his year with “The New Year 2023” show in Nippon Budokan, defeating the dominant Timothy Thatcher in a singles match. But, it was the immediate aftermath that was the talking point; the crowd stunned to see former AJPW Triple Crown Heavyweight Champion Jake Lee make his NOAH debut and form an alliance with Morris. Alongside other members the group are aptly named Good Looking Guys, strong contender for best named group in wrestling today.
A month later Morris was in the main event of Great Voyage in Osaka for the biggest match of his career; challenging Kaito Kiyomiya for the GHC Heavyweight Championship, in what many would say is his best match in a NOAH ring so far. “Despite the loss I think it’s the best match I’ve had in my time at NOAH so far”, Morris told us.
Jack Morris has grown in star-power, the Scottish powerhouse improving every single day. Even his style has evolved to incorporate the famous NOAH strong style, pairing his striking look with a tough style. In a remarkably short time he has endeared himself to the NOAH crowds, becoming an important part of the roster. He’s now primed to challenge for NOAH’s coveted GHC National Championship on April 16 in Sendai, when he’ll step into the ring with Hijo de Dr. Wagner Jr. and look to make history again by getting his first taste of NOAH gold.
One thing is for certain, win or lose, he’ll look good every time he steps into that emerald green ring.
Ahead of his title challenge, Wrestle Inn spoke with Morris to get his thoughts on his NOAH career so far, sharing the ring with active-legends and competing in iconic venues across Japan, how the name Good Looking Guys came to be, his appreciation for Japanese wrestling, his dream matches and a lot more.
Q: You came into NOAH as a big unknown by entering the N-1 Victory Tournament. Was it daunting knowing that NOAH fans would not know you or freeing knowing you had a blank canvas to work with?
Morris: It was a buzz. I’m still relatively early on in my career, so wrestling in front of new fan bases is something that I was doing regularly in the UK before coming to Japan. Obviously NOAH is on a much larger scale than the independent shows that I was doing in the UK, but I had enough confidence and belief in myself that I could and would make a good first impression!
Q: In your debut you defeated Kaito Kiyomiya in the N-1 tournament in Yokohama Budokan, immediately letting fans know that you’re going to be a serious contender in the future for NOAH. Did you feel there was a lot of pressure going into that match and even more so after, knowing you’d just defeated one of NOAH’s greats?
Morris: First day of the N-1 Tournament, against someone like Kiyomiya, live streamed around the world – it’s hard to think of a bigger way to make your debut in NOAH. I felt a lot of pressure, for sure, but most was from within. Putting pressure on myself to put on a performance that showed I was worthy of being in a NOAH ring. I knew I could do that, it was just a case of putting that thought into action. Looking back on the match; my first time wrestling in Japan, first match for NOAH, one of the first times I’d wrestled in a 20ft ring, I’m happy with it. Picking up the victory was a great feeling that gave me a lot of confidence for the matches to come.
Q: What was the N-1 Victory Tournament experience like for you? To go from mainly competing in Scotland, being a regular for ICW, to facing the likes of Satoshi Kojima, Katsuhiko Nakajima, Takashi Sugiura and Masakatsu Funaki in important singles matches across Japan?
Morris: Incredible. Surreal. A HUGE learning experience. I mean no disrespect to any other companies but NOAH is a whole other level to anywhere I had wrestled before. Standing across the ring from these guys was surreal, but when that bell goes it’s time to go to work and you need to be at your very best. I don’t think I could have got a better learning experience than being in the N-1. 7 matches against some of the biggest names in NOAH.
Q: On January 1st you were part of NOAH’s “The New Year 2023” which saw you not only make your first appearance in Nippon Budokan, but you picked up the win in a singles match against Timothy Thatcher. Do you get excited ahead of competing in these iconic venues?
Morris: Definitely! I’m a long term fan of Japanese wrestling so I’ve watched many matches and events held at these iconic venues; Nippon Budokan, Korakuen Hall, Yokohama Arena, Tokyo Dome! Going from watching events taking place in these venues from my bedroom to actually wrestling matches in them is wild! I’m also a huge music fan, and I remember walking into Yokohama Arena and there being pictures of some of the artists that have played there; Frank Sinatra, Eric Clapton, AC/DC, Prince! Even the Nippon Budokan, if you’re reading this, take a look at the history of that venue!! The Beatles played it. Muhammad Ali vs. Antonio Inoki fight was held there! Very, very cool.
Q: You mentioned being a long term fan of Japanese wrestling, does that give you a greater appreciation for competing in these venues and against Japanese wrestling legends like Masakatsu Funaki and Satoshi Kojima?
Morris: I was a fan of Japanese wrestling long before I even stepped foot in a ring myself. I grew up a huge wrestling fan when I saw my brother watching it on TV, when I was 5/6 years old and I’ve watched ever since. My first exposure to Japanese wrestling came when I was a teenager. With wrestling becoming more accessible through the internet, I was able to watch more than what I could through Sky TV. I discovered Ring of Honor and saw the likes of Jushin Thunder Liger, Misawa, Marufuji and Kenta, which then led me to Japanese wrestling. Even now, 7/8 months on from my NOAH debut, it still feels mad that I’m here in Japan wrestling. From watching the men I now share a locker room with for so long and seeing so many events at venues like Korakuen Hall, Nippon Budokan, Ariake Arena… Teenage Jack would have never believed that would be the reality one day.
Q: After your match the crowd was stunned to see former AJPW Triple Crown Heavyweight Champion Jake Lee make his NOAH debut and since formed a group with yourself and Anthony Greene, which is aptly named GLG: Good Looking Guys. Could you explain how this partnership came to be between the three of you?
Morris: If you look at us all individually, we’re three guys that are hungry and driven to achieve success here in NOAH. Jake has come to NOAH having already established himself and achieved great things outside of the company but on a mission to continue that success here. As for Anthony, he’s very experienced in North America but like me, is fairly new to Japanese wrestling and out to make an impact every time he steps through the curtain. Jake see’s that hunger and desire in each of us and has taken us under his wing and we all drive each other forwards. Both Jake and Anthony have so much knowledge and experience and I’m embracing the chance to learn and grow alongside them.
Q: We have to ask; how did the name Good Looking Guys come to be?
Morris: I feel like it’s a natural and obvious choice for a name, look at us!? In all seriousness, I believe it was Jake’s idea to name us that. I like it. We look good aesthetically, we look good in the ring, we look good together… GLG!
Q: Another iconic venue you recently got to compete in, perhaps the most iconic wrestling venue in the world, was Tokyo Dome. On that night you teamed with your GLG partners for Keiji Muto’s retirement show and you pointed out on social media that you are the first Scotsman to compete in Tokyo Dome. How special was that occasion, to not only be competing in Tokyo Dome but being the first Scotsman to ever do so?
Morris: Never in a million years did I think that I would ever get to wrestle in the Tokyo Dome – the stuff of dreams. I have had so many cool moments in the last 8 months during my time with NOAH but wrestling at Tokyo Dome has to be number 1! An incredible experience, an incredible day and an incredible event to be a part of! I’ll be forever grateful for that opportunity. Being the first Scotsman to wrestle there is something I’m very proud of! I didn’t even give it a thought until somebody tweeted me about it. Something nobody can ever take away from me – in the history books!
Q: You only had the one in-ring meeting with Keiji Muto, him rounding out his time in wrestling just as you began to get started in NOAH. Did you have any interaction with Muto in the months ahead of his retirement, whether it be that one match or outside of the ring?
Morris: The most interaction I’ve had with Muto-san was probably the day of that match, yeah. I have exchanged a few words with him on prior shows and since and each conversation was an honour. Getting to wrestle Muto is on par with the Tokyo Dome experience for sure. I also think I’m the only Scotsman to wrestle him… Another one for the history books that I’m massively proud of! Muto also did commentary on my GHC Heavyweight Championship match with Kiyomiya, which is incredibly cool.
Q: Your debut win over Kiyomiya paid off eventually as you challenged him for the GHC Heavyweight Championship on February 12 in Osaka. It was a remarkable match, incredible back-and-forth action, but unfortunately you didn’t win the match. What are your thoughts on that match looking back now?
Morris: I am very proud of that match. Despite the loss I think it’s the best match I’ve had in my time at NOAH so far. I think me and Kiyomiya have a natural chemistry; we are similar ages, we have similar athleticism, so I think that makes us good dance partners. I was given a platform and an opportunity, a main event Heavyweight Championship match, which allowed me to show what I can really do. Not every match allows you to do that so I had to make the most of it, and I believe I did. I think the match also showed how far I’ve came in the 7 months (at the time) since arriving in NOAH. If you look at my debut match against Kiyomiya and compare, you can see how much I’ve grown & improved.
Q: You have a very varied move-set, what influences have impacted your style the most? Do you think your time in NOAH has already influenced your in-ring style?
Morris: A few of my favourites in 20+ years of watching wrestling; Mr Perfect, Bret Hart, Marufuji, AJ Styles, so if you see even the slightest bit of their influence in my wrestling, then awesome! My time in NOAH has definitely influenced my in-ring approach. I’m more aggressive than before – more physical, more hard hitting. If you look at some of the names I’ve shared a ring with; Nakajima, Sugiura, Timothy Thatcher to name a few, if you don’t step up your physicality with men like that, you’re not gonna stand a chance!
Q: You’ve impressed against multiple high-profile names, such as Katsuhiko Nakajima and Kaito Kiyomiya, and had high-profile matches, but what do you think is your most important match in NOAH so far?
Morris: Prior to my GHC Heavyweight Championship match against Kiyomiya, I would have said that my two matches against Nakajima (N1 Tournament and the match on 19 December 2022 at Korakuen Hall) have been my best performances in a NOAH ring. Nakajima, like Kiyomiya, there’s great chemistry between us. For me, the Kiyomiya Championship match edges both, but yeah, they are my top 3 matches since I came to NOAH. I’ve touched on it already but the Championship match definitely felt like a breakout moment. Not every match allows you the platform to really showcase what you can do, for various reasons, and I think after that match anyone that had any doubts on what Jack Morris can do in the ring had their doubts erased.
Q: At Great Voyage in Yokohama you picked up a victory over GHC National Champion Hijo de Dr. Wagner Jr. and the NOAH office quickly made it official that you will be challenging for the title on April 16 in Sendai. How do you feel ahead of the match?
Morris: It’s very exciting! Another championship opportunity and this time I plan on completing the job and becoming GHC National Champion. I’m a big believer that hard work pays off and that hard work leads to opportunities. I’ve done the hard work, I’ve got the championship opportunity and it’s now a case of showing up on April 16, as prepared and as focused as I can be and bringing my absolute best. I have a lot of respect for Hijo de Dr. Wagner Jr. and his family’s legacy in wrestling but when the bell goes in Sendai, I have a match to win and I’ll be doing everything in my power to become Champion.
Q: The wrestling world is more open than ever before, you recently went from competing for NOAH in Japan to competing for RevPro in the UK before heading back to Japan. The year began with Shinsuke Nakamura in a NOAH ring, NJPW went to war with NOAH in Yokohama, at Tokyo Dome there was a parade of different promotions represented and now there are feuds brewing between NOAH and AJPW wrestlers. Are there any particular wrestlers you are keen to step into the ring with outside of NOAH?
Morris: There’s quite a list! There’s a lot of people in NOAH that I haven’t even had singles matches with that I would love to have! Marufuji (our only interactions have been in tag matches), Kenoh, Ogawa… Go Shiozaki! But to answer your question, outwith NOAH; In New Japan, there’s Tanahashi, KENTA, Okada, fellow Brit Will Osprey! In All Japan, a man who has been in the ring with a lot of the NOAH roster in recent weeks, Kento Miyahara, would be very cool! And if we’re going state side, AJ Styles would be THE dream match!
Q: If at the end of your career there was a Hollywood film made about you, about the storied career of Jack Morris, who would you want to play you?
Morris: Good question! Let’s go with Jack Nicholson… A young Jack Nicholson feels like a good choice! Or maybe Mark-Paul Gosselaar.
A big thank you to Jamie (@JJohnson_16), host of the Purovision podcast on the Wrestle Inn network, for helping with additional questions.