Smiley, a 1984 Miami Beach Senior High School grad, trained under Boris and Dean Malenko and South Florida’s Rusty Brooks. Born in Northhampton, England, he grew up in Miami, debuting on the Florida circuit as Black Magic in 1985. Best known for his time in WCW with Ralphus, his manager, Screamin Norman won the WCW Hardcore title twice, the first time to become to the title’s first holder. His signature Big Wiggle a crowd favorite.
Smiley also worked as Lord Norman, and he competed throughout the world, including stints in Japan and Mexico, winning the CMLL title. His demeanor, experiences, knowledge and skill set make him good at what he does.
“I loved [traveling the world],” he said. “The art of sports entertainment goes much deeper than a lot of people imagine. Having the luxury of working out with the same guys who you have a match with is one thing, but then when you consider that you might have to go to Korea or Africa or Japan or Mexico and perform with somebody who you’ve never met, doesn’t speak your language, his style is totally different, the psychology is totally different, that’s when you know that you’re beginning to learn this art.
“A lot of the public says it’s acting, but it’s not acting. It’s reacting. So you have to be in a situation that something happens in the ring, and you’re reacting to your opponents. It’s a fascinating art.
“Many, many students that I have came from different walks of life -- playing in the NBA, NFL, MMA. There’s not one person in the close to six years that I’ve been here -- way over 1,000 students -- who have ever said what we do [pro wrestling/sports entertainment] is easy. Not one. They all say it’s difficult, extremely hard.
“There are so many different elements one has to consider when performing. It is acting? Yes, to a certain degree, because you have to be aware of camera angles, but it is so much more that that. Regardless of what determines their success or not, they all walk away with a newfound respect for what we do here in WWE.”
Smiley also wrestled for Mexico’s AAA, ECW, NWA and TNA. He returned to South Florida in the mid 2000s with Four Star Championship Wrestling under the guidance of Rusty Brooks. While there, Smiley helped Antonio Banks, who later became MVP in WWE, and Ryan O’Reilly, who is currently Conor O’Brian of the Ascension in WWE NXT.
“MVP was driven, and he achieved so much more than I thought he could ever do,” Smiley said, “Conor O’Brian, right now, he’s on the right track. In 2006, I took him with me on a wrestling tour in Korea.”
This is O’Brian’s second tenure with WWE developmental.
“He’s now got a newfound hunger, and he’s driven, and what a character,” Smiley said. “When his character gets up and off the ground, it’s extremely entertaining. It’s one of those personas that as soon as his music plays, until the second he goes back, it’s captivating to watch.”
Smiley, 48, has accomplished plenty inside the ring and out.
“It’s been a tremendous ride over the course of the past 27 years,” he said. “I broke in here [Miami], originally the company was Championship Wrestling from Florida, which had the great [announcer] Gordon Solie and the great legends like Dusty Rhodes and Blackjack Mulligan. It’s just so ironic that 27 years later I find myself in a position that I’m able to give back, not only give back to the talent that we see on TV on SmackDown and Raw, but training legends’ kids -- Ric Flair [Charlotte], Jimmy Snuka [Tamina], Haku [Camacho], Carlos Colon [Primo], Ricky Steamboat [Richie]. So I’m truly, truly Blessed. I feel extremely lucky.”