The Young Bucks Talk AEW Year 2, Potentially Facing Each Other and More
Tag teams are an integral part of professional wrestling. Many of the biggest stars in the business either started as part of a duo or formed a popular team later in their career. When it comes to modern tag teams, few are as popular or well known as The Young Bucks.
Nick and Matt Jackson have worked all over the world for promotions like Ring of Honor, Impact Wrestling, New Japan Pro-Wrestling, Dragon Gate, Chikara and numerous indie promotions. These days, they are executive vice presidents and performers with All Elite Wrestling.
Together with Kenny Omega, Cody Rhodes and Tony Khan, The Bucks helped found and establish AEW, with Nick and Matt focusing on building the tag team division.
The brothers from Southern California have been successful, but like anyone in their position, they have also encountered their fair share of critics.
They have chronicled their journey in a new book titled Young Bucks: Killing the Business from Backyards to the Big Leagues.
Nick and Matt spoke with Bleacher Report about writing their book, AEW, tag team wrestling, FTR, their future plans and much more.
An Update on Matt's Injury
Matt recently revealed he has been suffering from partial tears in his ACL and MCL. That and a storyline ankle injury were a focal point in The Young Bucks' match against FTR at Full Gear on Nov. 7, when the Bucks won the AEW tag titles for the first time. We asked him how he is feeling after the pay-per-view:
"I feel pretty good all things considered. It's funny because it's kind of an older injury. I want to say it happened in August. Initially, I thought I had broken my leg. When I was 16, I broke my right fibula and this was kind of the same tender feeling. I kept telling my wife I think I fractured my leg and she's like 'Enough of this. Let's go get it checked out.' So we ordered an MRI and it ended up not being the bone. It was soft tissue in the back of my knee.
"It was considered a minor tear. I don't even remember hurting my left leg any time recently so this is something I might have been dealing with for like a decade. I've been rehabbing and it feels great. Even right now after that match with FTR, I feel pretty good. I don't think it's anything to be too concerned about."
What Winning the AEW Tag Titles Means to Them
Having won over 30 sets of tag titles across several different promotions, winning gold is nothing new for The Young Bucks. However, Nick and Matt were visibly affected by their victory at Full Gear.
"It feels like it was our biggest accomplishment as a tag team simply because we helped build this tag team division and make it what it is," Nick said. "To win the big prize means we are the top tag team, and we feel that we have the best tag division in the world. It feels special because in the last six to eight months, Matt and I had lost a little bit of confidence in ourselves, and now we have that back."
"AEW is our baby. The biggest thing when we started this was telling Tony Khan that we wanted to have the best tag division in the world, and to his credit, he let us build," Matt added. "We handpicked everyone, and these are guys we have worked with all over the world and now we are all in one company. It's kind of crazy and it goes to show you the importance of what these titles mean. When I hit that final superkick and the crowd popped, I hadn't heard that kind of reaction in eight months since this pandemic started. It felt special.
"Lately, it's been hard to tell if you were part of something special because you don't hear the people, but that night, we heard them. I'm not the emotional type. I will cry like a baby over my kids but not about wrestling. That night, it meant so much to me and tears starting welling up in my eyes. For us to share that moment with Kenny Omega was really special because the three of us kind of started this whole elite thing, and now we have All Elite Wrestling."
Where Do FTR Rank Among Their Best Opponents?
Before coming to AEW, Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler were known as Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder in WWE. They began trading shots with The Young Bucks on social media and began building a feud they never knew if they would ever get to finish.
After being granted their releases from WWE after numerous requests, it seemed like a no-brainer for FTR to end up in AEW. The groundwork had already been laid, but they didn't immediately jump into a fight with Matt and Nick. They took their time and won the tag titles from Omega and Adam Page first.
The match that had been building for years finally took place at Full Gear. We asked Nick where FTR ranked among their greatest opponents in the ring.
"Definitely up in the top," Nick said. "They are one of the best tag teams we have ever been in the ring with. I would put them in the same category as The Briscoes, The Motor City Machine Guns and the Hardys, and those are some of the best tag teams in the world. We had never been in the ring with those guys or practiced anything, so to be able to go out and have that match; it tells me we are going to have a lot of very good ones with these guys later on as well."
What Comes After Wrestling?
For every athlete, there comes a day when they have to make the decision to step aside and let the next generation take their place. For pro wrestlers, that decision is not always something they get to make on their own, especially if an injury is involved.
Being able to train new wrestlers is an option many retired stars have pursued, but there are others who have gone into acting, politics and opened businesses like restaurants. Matt and Nick are not yet at the age where they have to think about retiring, but it is something they have started to think about.
"One day, at least for me, wrestling will go away and I will have to find myself and a new identity," Matt said. "Most importantly as a human being, I identify myself as a husband and a father, so I will probably bug my kids all day and hang out with my wife. Writing the book has opened my eyes that one day I could possibly be a writer. Nick and I have always discussed what might come later and maybe we will get into the business of flipping houses or maybe my wife and I will open a coffee shop. None of those things get my blood pumping like pro wrestling, but we are closer to the end of our careers than the beginning. I need a lot of soul-searching."
"I am a family man. I have three kids and a wife and I love them so much," Nick added. "We recently bought a wrestling ring so I could see maybe opening a wrestling school. We are going to have to start thinking about this soon because time goes very fast."
What Fans Can Expect from Their New Book
A lot of legendary pro wrestlers have written books. Mick Foley and Chris Jericho have both made the New York Times' bestsellers list, and many other stars have told their stories in biographies and autobiographies.
It might sound easy, but trying to accurately write down your life story is harder than it seems. Not only are our memories unreliable as we get older, but it's also hard to remember how you felt at a specific point in time.
"It's something we really poured our heart and soul into for about two years, and we did it during the craziest time in our careers," Matt said. "We cover our childhood and stories about us that we have never told publicly. We dive deep into our independent days and how we struggled and how we literally wrestled sometimes for nothing but a hot dog and a handshake. One time we got a payday in a luchador mask. We talk about being extras in WWE, working in TNA and our 10 years in Japan. At one point, we almost quit wrestling. I didn't have any money and I thought we were going to get evicted. I just hope people can be inspired by it, especially in 2020."
"I know this was a huge bucket list thing for Matt to accomplish," Nick added. "I am kind of just going on the journey with it. Matt has always been inspired to write so when HarperCollins contacted us, of course, we're not going to turn something like this down. I knew it would make Matt really happy. Just fact-checking everything we had to write ourselves, I didn't realize how hard that would be. We would look stuff up and ask our parents about dates and you don't realize it takes so much time and research. We wrote this whole thing on our iPhones. In the beginning stages, they asked us if we wanted a ghostwriter and Matt was like 'No, we want to do it all on our own.' We had an editor help us with everything, but it's coming from us so it's very special."
"I had to call old friends and look up match results on the internet," Matt said. "And you would be surprised. Some things I would know for a fact how it went down and then I would realize I was off by two years. It put things into perspective for me."
Will We Ever See Brother vs. Brother?
One of the biggest tropes in wrestling is the family feud. We have seen sons battle fathers, brothers fight brothers, cousins battle cousins and everything in between. If two people in the wrestling business are related, they will probably brawl at some point.
Nick and Matt have squared off in the ring before, but anybody who was hoping for an all-out war like we saw between Owen and Bret Hart might be disappointed.
"I think fans just want to see us as a team, so as of now, I don't see it ever happening," Nick said. "The only way I would ever wrestle on my own, and the same goes for Matt, would be if one of us was injured for six months or something like that. We discussed if there was a singles tournament, Matt and I could wrestle in the first round. Something like that would be the only way you would see us wrestle, but I can't see us having a feud."
Who Is on Their Radar?
With The Bucks being in charge of the AEW tag team division, they always have to keep an eye out for new talent they may want to bring in for an episode of Dark or Dynamite.
They have faced most of the AEW roster either on Dynamite or in different promotions, but there are still people they hope to work with in the future.
"I so happened to get an Instagram message from this young tag team called Top Flight about two months ago," Matt said. "Normally I never check my IG messages, but something made me gravitate toward that message and I ended up clicking the link to watch the video, and within 30 seconds I knew I was going to book these guys because they've got something. I found out they were brothers and for me, any time I see a brother tag team, I want to work with them because it's so relatable. They are young, and watching the clips they put together, I feel like Nick and I can really do something with them. It gave me the same feeling as the first time I saw Private Party. I look forward to mixing it up with those guys."
"Jon Silver and Alex Reynolds would be another team," Nick added.
"Oh man, those guys have really shown us something with their personalities on Being The Elite," Matt said. "I love watching them work. They have this explosion of energy out of nowhere that a lot of guys aren't able to tap into. They're good.
"I was thinking of singles guys who would find a tag team partner like Darby," Nick said. "I would love to get in the ring with him. I saw him do a Code Red Bomb at an indie show and sent the clip to Tony and was like 'We need to sign this guy.'"
Goals for Year 2 in AEW
Winning the tag titles was always going to be a goal for The Young Bucks, but now that they have accomplished that, they have other things they would like to do.
"I would love to main-event a pay-per-view with the tag titles," Nick said. "I know we got close at Full Gear, but maybe it can happen soon."
"[My goal is] just to have the most compelling stories week to week and give the fans something to look forward to," Matt said. "We love telling stories and paying them off. I hope wrestling fans can be conditioned to watch the show week to week. I truly believe wrestling can be just like any other great powerful drama you can watch on Netflix and HBO."
Do They Prefer Being Heels or Babyfaces?
The Young Bucks spent the entire first year of Dynamite as babyfaces, but during the leadup to their match with FTR at Full Gear, they began to display more antagonistic traits.
Having played both roles many times in their careers, Matt and Nick can transition from one to the other whenever they want. We asked which role they prefer playing, and both brothers indicated they enjoy both.
"It's tough to say because I am used to hearing a crowd cheer or boo," Nick said. "When we were in Japan, I absolutely loved being a heel. Being a foreign guy in Japan and getting everyone to boo you was so satisfying. Here in the States, there is nothing better than a babyface comeback. When I get a hot tag and get fired up and the crowd is cheering, there is nothing better than that. I like being both."
"I kind of like being a heel," Matt said. "It feels like it's easier to get people to not like you than to like you, especially the cynical fans. There is something about being a heel where you feel like you have more swagger. We have always performed best when we have a chip on our shoulder, and it's easy to bottle up that energy to be cocky. We've been doing this for close to 17 years and we know we are good at it. I like being the bad guy who backs up everything they say. There is something to what Nick said about the hot tag and getting sympathy. I love selling. People have probably figured that out by now. Getting people to believe in something is fun and it's something you can only do as a babyface. I love both, but I think I am most comfortable in my own skin as a bad guy."
Thoughts on Jim Cornette's Criticisms
Any time somebody achieves success in any sport or part of the entertainment business, they are also going to receive a lot of criticism, especially on social media, where everyone has a voice.
The Young Bucks' most vocal critic has been Jim Cornette. The legendary manager has forgotten more about wrestling than most people will ever know, but when it comes to The Bucks, he never seems to have anything nice to say. We asked Nick and Matt about Cornette's comments and if there is any personal animosity on their end.
"As of now, I think he is just doing it for the attention," Nick said. "He has a podcast he is trying to sell and right now, it's hot to talk about AEW. He'll bury anything AEW does to get listeners. That's the only reason why he acts like he hates us. It's all a work. He's trying to work an angle that's never going to happen because we aren't going to hire him. We saw him once at a show and the first thing he said to us was 'Hey Bucks, we've got the hottest angle right now on the internet.' We just kind of rolled out eyes. He's stuck in the past and the poor guy won't grow up."
"With Jim, it's a sensitive topic because as soon as you say something, he is going to create a thread about it and it just gives him more content," Matt said. "He's a shock jock and he has to say things because it gives him listeners. People don't listen to his podcast to hear him say good things about people. They want to hear him rant because that's his gimmick. If he is making money doing it, then great. Good for him. It's hard to make money in the pro wrestling business. If there is an audience for him, then that's great. There's an audience that loves what we do, too. If that's the way he wants to do it and that is the way he wants his legacy remembered, that's up to him."
Why Should Fans Watch AEW?
As with any show on television, the goal is always to get more viewers. We asked Matt and Nick what they would say to someone who has never seen Dynamite to get them to watch the show.
"This is unlike any other wrestling show you've seen," Matt said. "It's various styles. I try to describe it as Cirque du Soleil on steroids. You can watch a more old school match with Cody and it's like a throwback. You can watch a guy like Kenny Omega who jumps out of the screen and looks like anime. You can watch our show as a non-wrestling fan and get something from it. It's a live one-take fight scene, and you don't have to be a wrestling fan to like what we put on. If you like over-the-top characters, we have Britt Baker. We try to provide a plethora of styles."