At IPW Fallout on May 15th, Jamie Tagataese defeated Niwa in an epic Last Man Standing Match. That bout was also the 1000th match to be officiated by IPW Senior Referee Conan Wood. We sat down with the ‘Hardest Working Referee’ in the country to chat about this career milestone and his passion for New Zealand wrestling.
Conan, congratulations on 1000 matches! How does it feel to achieve such a milestone?
Honestly, it’s been quite humbling. This was a milestone I was looking forward to personally for a while, but I never expected to be presented with a beautiful plaque from the IPW family to commemorate it. My passion for wrestling and in particular IPW is what keeps me going and I do my best to contribute where I can.
That may be an understatement! Our fans may not realise the extent of your work behind the scenes at IPW. You are referred to frequently by the team as “the glue” and it is often pointed out that IPW couldn’t function as well as it does without you! Whether setting up, packing down, driving the ring truck, promoting events, you are involved across the board.
Again, it’s the passion. I appreciate the thanks that I get for the work I do, but my hope is that it inspires others to work hard for IPW to keep it going and growing. If I were to leave any kind of legacy, I hope that’s it.
Switching gears; 1000 matches is an amazing accomplishment. What moments stick out to you most from your career so far?
There are so many! Let’s see… Working at the Armageddon shows comes to mind straight away. My first being in 2010, where I called my first match: Liam Fury vs. Alfred Valentine. The first championship match I officiated was a tag title bout between Neo Justice and Dal Knox & Dave O’Connor. Getting to call the IPW New Zealand Women’s Title match between Britenay and Evie (now Dakota Kai) was a privilege. Being in the ring for IPW’s first steel cage match. Counting to three for Jamie Tagataese’s first IPW title win. Calling the main event of A Decade Of Impact was an emotional roller coaster, thinking that that would be IPW’s final night of existence was a lot to process; eight years on I’m so thankful it wasn’t!
We all are! You mentioned Armageddon; any specific highlights from those events?
Definitely winning the hot dog eating contest (Laughs). But again, so many. Refereeing 16 matches in one day was quite the achievement. And getting to work with so many legends, including WWE Hall Of Famers, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Haku, the Honky Tonk Man and Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, who actually cut my hair! So that was cool!
Speaking of hair, you have something of a reputation for your choices of hairstyles…
Indeed I have. In my time in the stripes, I have had a shaved head, a mohawk, a mullet, cornrows, a ponytail and rocked seven different hair colours!
That’s an impressive effort! In closing is there anyone you’d like to make special mention of?
I want to thank the fans for being so loyal and supporting us. The past year has shown us how important fans are to wrestling. I would like to give a nod to the wrestlers and referees I’ve worked with and to our production team and behind the scenes crew. And I especially want to thank my partner Amanda, not just for loving and supporting me but for the work she puts in to IPW events as well. She’s a star!
She sure is! And so are you, Conan. Once again on behalf of everyone involved with IPW, thank you for everything! Congratulations on 1000 matches and heres to the next 1000!
Y’know, some might not want to referee another 1000 matches but Conan… would!