Dalton Castle on the Ring of Honor Bubble & Potential David Arquette Match
Dalton Castle is happy to venture outside “Planet Peacock” again and back into a Ring of Honor wrestling ring. The company resumed production in August, strictly adhering to Maryland State Athletic Commission regulations. ROH events and tapings were cancelled since March when the pandemic took hold.
Now that the action has picked up, the start of the Pure Title Tournament will play out on TV over the next few weeks. Castle faces fellow former world champion Jay Lethal in the first round. Here, the charismatic performer previews the big match and gives us his impressions of the “ROH Bubble.”
Ring of Honor made the conscious decision to pause filming and events while other promotions continued. What were your thoughts about that?
Dalton Castle: I was thrilled Ring of Honor was being cautious and taking their time before we stepped back into it. We observed and made what appeared to be an educated move. It gave us all reassurance.
You and others on the roster provided content to ROH in unique ways like “Dalton’s Castle” on YouTube. That looked fun to produce.
Making sketches and acting is one of my favorite things, especially if it’s along the lines of comedy. I find comedy to be the most important thing in the world. It was nice to know I had Ring of Honor’s support. Instead of sitting at home and doing nothing. It’s not fun and frustrating because if I’m not creating or working toward something. Otherwise I would have the time to think about what is going on in the world and drive myself crazy and second guess every move I’ve made in the past. Instead I had the opportunity to do something that was in the world of wrestling that wasn’t wrestling, and I loved it. I wasn’t allowed to do the first thing I love, which is perform in front of an audience. So I got to do the next best thing, which was send my performance to my audience’s faces through YouTube.
Ring of Honor is known for its in-ring quality. However, this time really allowed the stars to show who they are and connect with fans on a deeper level. Do you feel the time away, in a sense, has been a blessing in disguise?
I think it’s a blessing to those who have some hidden charisma or talent because they may not have had the opportunity to show that in the ring before. The audience only gets to see, depending where you are on the card, the time you’re allowed in the ring. And in the ring you’re limited to what you’re allowed to present to everyone in the room. To do something on your own where you’re in control and you are calling the shots and writing your own material. It’s an opportunity to sink or swim. There is no hiding behind your muscles when it’s on a video.
Anyone in particular that surprised you with what they created?
Recently, I saw Flip Gordon doing like action movies. That surprised me. I thought it was rather enjoyable. That was the most recent thing I saw. Flip Gordon kicking people’s faces off in a warehouse. I didn’t think we’d get there, but we’re there. And I kind of like it. Vincent, I don’t know how he does it. Maybe he just lives in a creepy weird desert because there is always a picture of him doing something online like every week.
You hear the stories of how other companies have handled the pandemic. Tell me about your experience leading up to the first set of tapings and being inside the Ring of Honor “Bubble.”
I think everyone was on edge. I know I was. There was a lot of concern. There was some serious protocol we had to follow. There was a lot of rules leading into it. There was a lot of paperwork. We had to do at-home testing even before we had to get another test. From my perspective, I was afraid to be that person who messed all this up for everyone. I know we were all very hungry to get back to work.
We all were very excited to perform again and just be in the same area as each other again because we’re all very good friends. We’re all very used to each other. We’re in this position where we’re in the same building, but we can’t talk to each other or see each other. It was a very weird environment, but it was also very exciting at the same time. It wasn’t anything like going back to work. It was something different and as good as we were going to get. We were all kind of happy to be there. I documented it. I filmed a lot of it where I’m going to be releasing a “Planet Peacock” episode shortly after the airing of the first episode. Just to give some insight into what my trip was like.
As someone who feeds off the crowd and is very theatrical, how did this crowd-less environment affect you?
I had to change course because I wasn’t getting the same thing out of wrestling that I had in the past. The live audience and instant gratification is what I love about wrestling and working as a team. It’s not just me and my opponent in the ring. It’s the crowd too that decides the pace and the action that is happening. That wasn’t there, so I went in knowing and thinking about that wasn’t going to be there for six months.
My approach changed in that I was no longer working with a group. I was working as an individual. Instead of focusing on performing, I was going to focus on pain and creating the most damage I could in a match. I hope when people watch my matches back that they get as much enjoyment out of watching me throw around people and hit people hard as they did as me saying something silly to the guardrail where they’re sitting.
You’re in the first round of the Pure Title Tournament against Jay Lethal. Given your amateur wrestling background, this looks to be the right environment to really spotlight that.
It was very upsetting when you see your first opponent is the only other world champion in the whole tournament. I feel we should have been seeded one and two and met in the finals. But if we’re going to do it, let’s do it in the first round. Let’s give the people the match they could be excited for. This is the very first match on Ring of Honor television since everything happened. It’s going to be the first new thing Ring of Honor fans have seen in over six months.
I’m excited to be doing it with a man who has the experience and is the caliber of Jay Lethal. You know when you pinch a hose and the water stops. Then you let it go and a whole bunch of water comes out at once. That’s what is going to happen with wrestling moves against Jay Lethal and my next opponents. You may not see the fun-loving Dalton Castle. I can’t spoil any outcome of the tournament. But when you do watch my matches on TV coming up, you’re going to see people who got in the ring with me that are very upset they got in the ring with me.
How did you stay ring ready while on hiatus?
Ring ready is what I am at all times. It’s in my DNA. I can’t turn off my reactions and muscle memory of being an amazing wrestler…I’ve been lifting. I changed my regimen when gyms were closed for a while, but I did a lot of body weight exercises. I bought a Bulgarian bag. I’ve got these resistance bands. I bought pull-up bars. I do a lot of running. The last month or two leading into the taping, the gyms opened back up. I’ve been putting heavy lifting back in my routine. With a mask! With a mask of course at all times in the gym.
How many peacock masks do you own?
I don’t have any! I know that’s a shock. If I’m going to wear something peacock, it should be a gift. The mask I have right now is multi-colored with a cat face on it.
That’s still very Dalton Castle.
It’s kind of a blend of the two. The patterns is kind of peacock feathery.
Your exchanges with David Arquette, whose documentary You Cannot Kill David Arquette is out now, have created some buzz on social media. What do you make of his journey back into wrestling and the idea of facing him?
He better hope we don’t have a match together because there is some frustration I’d like to take out on him. I consider David a friend. We now kind of live near each other, so we’ve seen each other often. Before the movie came out, things were good. Then the movie comes out. Here’s what I like about it, 90 minutes is an easy watch.
Here’s what I don’t like about it. I was around for a lot of that footage, and he cut me right out of it. How do I feel about that? Was he afraid Dalton would steal the show? Was he afraid that the combination of Dalton Castle and RJ City on camera together was going to rip the universe in half and explode everything and charisma was just going to spill everywhere, and everyone would be in a lot of trouble. Maybe he was saving the world from a handsome catastrophe. Or maybe he was just jealous and cut me out. So now if he gets in the ring with me, I don’t think I would approach it like I would a friend.
Ring of Honor is looking to build some momentum again. There is so much competition out there. What does the company need to do to get back into the conversation? What do you think the organization has learned the last couple of months they can implement moving forward?
We’re on the right track. If you look at whatever has been released leading into these Pure tournament matches that are going to be airing on TV, you’re going to see a well-produced product by Ring of Honor. I saw the setup and wrestled in it. I loved the environment and love even more how they are presenting the profiles on all these competitors. If we continue that kind of approach, I think the fans are going to be very happy. At least I am.