TK Cooper & Dahlia Black Exclusive interview – “We arrived at the best possible time and we are leaving at the worst”
You know you’re over when a petition is started to keep you in the country. South Pacific Power Couple, individually known as TK Cooper and Dahlia Black, have set the UK indie scene on fire in the last two years. Sadly all good things must come to an end with their visa having expired. The pair will be starting a new chapter of their careers back in New Zealand and Australia.
Having made us all uncomfortable with their public displays of affection with PROGRESS we had the chance to catch up with them from the comfort of their bed. Tremendously talented and remarkably ambitious the couple shared their views on having to leave the country, working closely with your partner in the ring and the incredible journey they have gone on together.
You guys are leaving the UK so what exactly is the story with that?
TK: Basically two years ago we applied for a Youth and Mobility Work Visa that allows us to have two years in the UK. I don’t think anybody has ever used that visa to pursue professional wrestling before. It’s generally just for university graduates for work experience. So we arrived on June 22nd 2015 and our two years is pretty much up now and we are set to leave on the 11th of may. We aren’t allowed to stay and work once the visa expires.
I’m guessing you’d like to stay over here?
DB: Yeah I think we definitely do want to go home to reconnect with our friends and family and that’s really important to us. The long-term goal is to come back to the UK. We are doing too much and we are doing too well for it not to go anywhere. If we can’t come back to the UK we are going to try and move to Australia, most likely Melbourne, and base ourselves there. We need to keep ourselves on the map as much as possible.
Did you guys hear about the petition to keep you in the country?
TK: At first I thought it was some PROGRESS fans having a laugh, I thought it was a funny thing to do. Then I realised that after 10,000 signatures the government has to respond. Both Dahlia and I were really flattered. It was great to know the fans care that much that they will take it to that level. I’m just really taken back that people will make that much effort for us.
There seems to be an incredible camaraderie amongst this golden generation of wrestlers in the UK. What is it like being part of the scene?
TK: I guess it is hard to comment on it as we weren’t here before it was as big as it is now. It’s like we got dropped in to it at a time when it was at its hottest, at least in indie wrestling, obviously there was the World of Sport days. As far as we know now everybody is on the same page with what we want to achieve. Obviously everyone has their own individual dreams be it New Japan or WWE. However, while we are all on the indie circuit we are all working towards the same goal of making British wrestling really sick. All the prevalent names on the scene are working to make sure everyone knows British wrestling is the best. Although we aren’t British all of the guys and girls have accepted us as part of the team.
DB: And Travis [Banks] too. When we first moved here I don’t think we realised how good our timing was. TK knew that the UK wrestling scene was on the rise all the way from New Zealand. When we first moved over here and started getting involved with PROGRESS our timing was immaculate. Saying that, the timing of our leaving couldn’t be worse. We are almost there and UK wrestling is making such a huge impact at the moment we are leaving.
So if the visa issues didn’t exist, hypothetically, would you stay?
TK: If the visa issue wasn’t a thing we would just use going home as a holiday to see friends and family. We are treating it as a holiday that doesn’t have an end date. There is no reason for us to leave as things are starting to take off and get really fun. It’s a shame we have to go.
There is a buzz in Australia particularly about you two coming back. What is the scene like out there?
TK: When we were in New Zealand, Australia seemed like the biggest thing. Now we are coming back from the UK it doesn’t seem quite as significant. There are still a lot of good promotions out there, some of which we haven’t worked with before. I have done Newy Pro in Newcastle NSW, Wrestle Rampage in Adelaide and obviously MCW in Melbourne, and I hear some new ones that are cropping up. Because it is so far away it’s been difficult to keep up with it. It seems to be building. It might just be a step below the British scene, in the sense that it is about to blow up.
Do you think you can help expand the scene out there?
DB: It’s flattering to think we can do something like that, and I know PROGRESShas an international fan base, but I’m not so sure how much coverage we have over there. You have family shows in New Zealand with 8 year olds cheering for John Cena. They would probably look at us and think – who the hell are those two?
TK: Essentially we are just as interchangeable as any of the characters that are already on the shows. Ideally we would use the brand we have built to draw in crowds and hope the fans get engaged and find new gems on the card. We always knew we were good enough to go anywhere and it was only when we got the platform of PROGRESS that people took notice. All of these other people in Australia and New Zealand that are just as good as us and just as talented can have this platform to. If we can use the name of TK Cooper and Dahlia Black to draw in crowds, hopefully it will create opportunity for other people.
DB: 100%. We know about six Australians and a few Kiwis who now feel they can do the exact same thing as us and are doing it in the next few months. A lot of them are coming over to the UK because Travis, TK and I have shown them that it is possible.
What’s it like doing everything together as a couple?
TK: It’s the best. This is the most fun I have had in wrestling ever and it’s the best experience to spend all my time with my best friend. We come up with our merch, character and promo ideas at the dinner table. We throw ideas at each other. It’s really easy to be honest with your partner.
DB: We have adapted to spending so much time together. You hear people say – don’t ever work with your partner. People think that the amount of time you spend with each other will drive you crazy, but we know how to do it. We do spend time apart but we prefer doing things together. Like TK said, we are best friends.
When you go overseas and experience amazing things it’s much more special doing it with someone else. We help each other remember the good bits and we talk for hours about the things we have done. When I tell my Mum and Dad about it they don’t quite understand our world but they support it. I find it hard to explain to them the feeling of standing in the ring while 700 people boo the living hell out of you and you’re making out with your partner.
TK: (laughing) It’s not really a relatable situation for them.
DB: I think they wish I had continued with musical theatre.
Sum up your time in the UK
TK: We have achieved so much over the last two years. We turned up with nothing and we have left with WWE experience, NXT experience, US experience and main event with PROGRESS experience. We have been all over the country. This trip has been everything I wanted it to be, every goal we set has been achieved.
DB: We set some ambitious goals.
TK: Our only goal coming to PROGRESS was to make it on to one chapter before we come home.
DB: I remember saying to TK – if we are two weeks away from our visa running out and we are almost on a chapter show, we will overstay until we do. We achieved that goal within 6 months of being here.
A documentary is in production about their journey being directed by Robyn Goding at Beyond Gorilla. Visit the Twitter account for more details.
For our antipodean readers you can meet the pair in May both in New Zealand and Australia. MCW on the 13th of May in Melbourne or SPW in Invercargill in NZ on the 20th May.