Matt and Nick Jackson, better known as The Young Bucks, are arguably the best tag team in all of professional wrestling.
The brothers from California have competed all around the globe in promotions such as New Japan Pro Wrestling, Ring of Honor and Impact Wrestling. When their contracts with NJPW and ROH were coming to an end, they had a big decision to make regarding whether or not they sign with the juggernaut known as the WWE or remain independent.
Due to the success of All In, an independent show they helped set up with Cody Rhodes, the Jacksons remained united and took their talents to All Elite Wrestling. Along with being wrestlers in AEW, the Jacksons also serve as executive vice presidents of the upstart promotion.
After having numerous setbacks, the brothers finally reached the top of the mountain, defeating FTR at their latest pay-per-view offering, Full Gear, to capture the AEW tag team titles.
The Young Bucks sat down with Sporting News to discuss their book, “Young Bucks: Killing the Business from Backyards to the Big Leagues,” which is available at bookstores and local retailers, and if the highly anticipated match with FTR delivered.
(Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.)
Sporting News: When you got into wrestling and seeing all the wrestling books that were already out there, did you ever think you would have your own book someday?
Nick Jackson: Matt likes to say all the time and the same with me, but we never really thought we would ever have a career to write about. So for us to have an offer from Harper Collins to write a memoir on our career, we couldn’t turn an opportunity like that down. It’s pretty crazy. It’s been a whirlwind, especially these last few years.
SN: You guys get approached with a lot of stuff. When Harper Collins approached you, was it one of those like, ‘This is a funny joke. Who is this on the phone?’ Or did you guys take it seriously from the get-go?
Matt Jackson: We’ve had a couple of book offers. But when it was Harper Collins and Day Street, and it was like a legitimate offer. I’m not a huge avid reader, but my wife is. As soon as she heard those names, she’s like, ‘No, you don’t understand, this is big-time.’ I started doing my research, and I realized this is a real offer. Then they sent the offer in. We were going through this period in our career where we were gonna have all this time off. Well, that’s what we thought we’re gonna start AEW.
Nick and I thought to each other, ‘Well, hey, we’re gonna have time off. This is the perfect opportunity to write a book.’ We didn’t realize that this was the worst time to write a book because creating a wrestling company in itself is nearly impossible, especially when you’re starting up and you’re under ten employees. At one point, when we were breathing life into this thing in the very, very beginning, it was me, Tony Khan (owner of AEW), and my wife. The three of us were the only three individuals on the phone talking about this being a reality. It was literally from the ground up. And in the middle of all that, ‘Hey, you want to write a book?’ It was crazy. But we knew that it would make for an interesting story because even at the time of writing it, I remember thinking like, ‘What’s the ending of this book? Are we gonna end up in the WWE? Are we going to end up with this new project?’ I didn’t know the ending of the book because we were writing it while this is all going down. That’s what made it kind of interesting. It was fun to relive all the other memories of our childhood. But the real fun thing was like, ‘Hey, I don’t even know the ending to my own story yet.’
SN: I wanted to talk about the recent match you guys had with Top Flight as it was fantastic. You guys announced they are officially with the company. The match reminded me of when you guys were in TNA faced The Motor City Machine Guns in 2010? Do you guys see any similarities between those matches at all?
NJ: It’s funny you say that because Matt and I talked to those guys about the match, we brought that exact story up. We’re like, ‘This is weird. It’s like we switch roles with The Guns, and you guys are The Young Bucks.’ It almost felt exactly in that exact way.
MJ: Darius is the older brother. He’s 21. His brother, Dante, is 19, and he hit me up on Instagram. He sent me a message and said, ‘Hey, I know this is a shot in the dark, but me and my brother are a tag team and want an opportunity. He sent me sort of like a resume, who trained him and all that. As soon as I saw Eric Cannon’s name pop up — that’s one of my boys — so I took him seriously. He had a link to one of their highlight reels, and I do something I never do, I clicked it. I clicked it, and within 30 seconds, I saw something. I saw these two young brothers, you know, coming out in masks, and that right away was interesting to me because it was a different aesthetic. I saw their combinations, their tag moves. They were so inventive and innovative. I didn’t even finish the video. I paused it. I replied right away, and I said, Let’s get you guys on (AEW) Dark. I sent Christopher Daniels, our head of talent relations, a message. I said, please contact these guys. I want them on Dark immediately.
Nick and I sat (in the crowd). We told everybody, ‘Hey, we’re bringing these guys in. They’re really good’. Everybody watched the monitor. You know, within the first few minutes, I knew these guys got something. I was already telling Tony Khan that I wanted to wrestle them immediately. Right after the pay-per-view, we knew our plans for that, and we were going to take the titles, and we needed a fresh match right out of the gate. I told him Top Flight are the guys. It’s just one of the things that worked out perfectly. Meeting them was surreal because it was, like you said earlier, like meeting our former selves, like our younger selves. They’re nice kids. They listen. They have this crazy athletic ability. Dante has this vertical leap I’ve never seen in my life. It’s incredible. They’re just so good. We went out there, and when we wrestled, they were these confident veterans almost. The way that they moved and positioned themselves showed to me that they have something. We immediately told Tony we got to pick these kids up, and they’re officially signed with us now, and they’re going to do this full time. I couldn’t be more proud.
SN: You just had a great match with FTR at Full Gear that had everyone’s talking about how it was one of the best matches of the year. Everyone talked about the build, and maybe it wasn’t what everyone thought it would be. But the match delivered when it mattered most. After four years of hype, and you look back on it, did it deliver in your guy’s eyes?
NJ: I think more than delivered, because of the settings that we are in having 1,000 fans with masks on that are socially distanced, and in an outdoor building and for them to react so strongly when we won the titles. It felt special. I haven’t had that chilling feeling from a match in a long time. I knew right away that this is something good. The feedback was great. It was scary, though, because there’s so much high anticipation for that match. So you want to deliver, and you want to deliver a good one. It’s hard to do it these days because wrestling’s so much tougher without the crazy fans. We all know that it’s almost harder to watch now because just any sport is right now, to be honest. It’s not just wrestling. I struggle to watch basketball and the NFL right now. The fans make a huge difference. You don’t realize it until you’re watching it without fans. For us to have that match in those circumstances, I think I’m even more proud than I would have been if 10,000 people were watching in a live arena.
SN: Was there any consideration of putting the match off?
MJ: We talked about it. The truth is, nobody knows when the world is gonna open up again. We suggested in the very beginning that we got to save this for the fans. Then this thing (COVID-19) keeps getting longer and worse and worse. Finally, it got to the point where it was like, ‘What are we waiting for? We can’t just keep waiting, and we can’t hold back. Because who knows, this can go another year. By the time we finally do it a year later, do people even care at that point?’ Do you know what I mean?
It was Tony’s call to finally do it because we are even suggesting trying to hold off until Revolution. He said, nope, now’s the time to do it, we’re doing it. In retrospect, he was right in hindsight because it did work out, and it did deliver. Would I be saying the same thing if the match didn’t deliver? I’d be pissed off right now. But the four of us delivered, and a lot of people are saying it is a classic now. I think people will only remember the match for that, a love letter to tag team wrestling. You know, the build maybe could have gone a little bit longer (as) people said it was a little rushed. But again, I don’t think at the end of the day, nobody’s even gonna think about that. They’re just gonna think about the match. Nick made a great point. Nobody thinks about when Hogan and Rock wrestled (Wrestlemania 18), nobody thinks about the fact there was a diesel involved, and someone got killed. Nobody thinks about that. They think about the match they had. I’m not comparing our match to that match. I’m just saying two different matches, but nobody thinks about the delivery of the match. I think we stuck the landing.