It took 10 years of Rockstar Spud paying his dues, honing his skills and wrestling before he got the opportunity that would change his life.
The native of Birmingham, England was able to officially change his occupation from bank clerk to full-time TNA superstar thanks to winning the company’s “British Boot Camp” reality series in the United Kingdom.
After the competition, the 31-year-old was sent to Ohio Valley Wrestling, TNA’s developmental territory, for further grooming. The hard work paid off with Spud a regular on the main roster serving as company President Dixie Carter’s onscreen “Chief of Staff.”
“The year has been an absolute whirlwind since I’ve been brought up to television,” Spud said during a recent conference call to promote TNA’s One Night Only special “X Division Xtravaganza” now available on pay-per-view and the announcement of a second season of ‘British Boot Camp’ on Challenge TV in the UK.
“It has been nonstop. We’ve had off the last two weeks, and I honestly don’t know what to do with myself. It’s been nonstop for me. I’m living the dream. ‘British Boot Camp’ was absolutely everything it was promised to be. It was myself, Marty Scurll and the Blossom Twins.
“It’s something we will never forget. I briefly saw the finale of the last season from an advertisement, and it brought back those same emotions from that day when they told me I was the winner. It’s amazing…”
The upcoming second installment will be an eight-part series that will follow the search for aspiring professional wrestlers, who are trying to make it big in the ultra-competitive world of TNA. The budding pros will have to demonstrate their prowess and wrestling skill levels to a panel of judges made up of three of TNA's top personalities.
The top finalists go on to compete in New York City, in front of the toughest fans in the world. The winner receives a contract from TNA President Dixie Carter to become a full-time member of the roster. Three runners-up also secure a spot on the company’s UK tour, which will occur in January 2015 and be taped for global television.
“You pick things up as you go along,” Spud said of his journey leading up to his big break and beyond. “It’s obviously a slow process because you’re not wrestling every day of the week. You have to go back to your normal job in order to pay the bills. At the same time you are wrestling people who are on the same experience level as you. So you’re not going to be picking up those intricacies as you would wrestling more experienced talent or being trained by more experienced talent.
“When I was at OVW I was wrestling every day of the week, performing three to four times a week. It was just constant wrestling that I was able to sink into my mind, as it was my job now. I dedicated 24/7 to learning. That was the difference. Yes, ‘British Boot Camp’ saw my potential, but that doesn’t mean I was ever going to be a success. So it was also everything I learned at OVW after ‘British Boot Camp’ going into TNA.”
Spud is truly a success story becoming a regular fixture on TNA shows working with Dixie and her “nephew” Ethan Carter III. He has proven to be a natural with impeccable comedic timing. His personality is as loud as the trademark color suits he wears.
“The only time I’ve been nervous about ever being on camera with Dixie is when I have to save her from a near-death experience,” Spud said. “If there are ever points like that, I have to be here because I’m literally saving the woman’s life. I’m a hero. I’m Mr. Carter’s hero as well. I was born a hero…I taught myself to be comfortable in front of a camera because I realized that’s what pro wrestling is about. It’s not about how great a technical wrestler you are or how great an athlete you are, if I can engage the audience through the television screen where millions of viewers are. That’s what I taught myself. Any time Dixie is in peril or Mr. Carter is in peril, that’s when I fear for my life because if I don’t save them I’m going to be in trouble and will probably lose my job.”
Spud enjoys the freedom TNA gives him to explore and evolve his character, which he says is very similar to himself outside the ring. He appreciates the company’s faith in him. His position on the show has given him the chance to work with some of the most accomplished names in the business including Tommy Dreamer, Jeff Hardy and Bully Ray. Spud even headlined an Impact with EC3 and Rhino against Dreamer and Team 3D. Not bad for a lifelong fan who fell in love with pro wrestling after seeing a picture of Hulk Hogan draped in the red, white and blue.
“That was one of the best moments of my career so far,” he said. “Watching the people you grew up watching and then seeing them walk down the aisle with or against you. I’m very blessed to be with TNA and do these little things I think only my close friends at home who aren’t in the wrestling business will understand. When they would go out drinking and socializing and playing futball and different kinds of sports I was a home watching professional wrestling and watching these people and emulating these people and admiring these people. So to be in there with them is a real honor and more of an honor to know I beat these people on national television.”
Spud is proud of where he came and where he is going. In a business once dominated by a land of giants, he overcame adversity. He said he enjoyed the larger-than-life characters, but was told at school he was too short for literally every sport.
“Then when I was told when I first started wrestling that I was too small for this, I actually was like, ‘No, I’m not,’” he said. “I actually believe that I can make a difference in pro wrestling being small. What it was, I’ve never shied away and I would never shy away from what my appearance is and what I look like. Obviously, I have to look after myself athletically and cosmetically, but I never shied away that I am 5-foot-4 and am 150 pounds, but there is one thing you can never take away from me. My personality is the personality of somebody who is 7-foot and 500 pounds. So that’s was the one thing, I just needed someone to notice this, and that’s what ‘British Boot Camp’ was.
“As I always say about that process, it was the right time with the right people and the right opportunity and the right situation. It really was the case. I needed someone to notice that you do judge a book by its cover with me. I’ve had many pro wrestlers in the business that have been around through the years saying, ‘When I first saw you I didn’t see anything in you.’ The more they experienced watching me or being in the ring with me they understood more and more, which is a complete blessing.
“It’s so nice to see that and for them to be complimentary. I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing. As long as people are watching and people are paying money to see us that’s all that matters to me. I just want people to come to see TNA and see Impact Wrestling and if they want to see Rockstar Spud, whether they want to cheer him or boo him. As long as they are paying to see me, that’s all that matters to me.”• Catch “X Division Xtravaganza” available on pay-per-view.
• Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN.
Challenge TV in the UK announces the return of TNA Wrestling: British Boot Camp, a new series searching for the UK’s next wrestling superstar. Commissioned with TNA Entertainment, this thrilling eight-part series will air exclusively on Challenge this Autumn and follow the search for aspiring professional wrestlers, who are trying to make it big in the ultra-competitive world of America’s TNA Impact Wrestling.
Ambitious wrestlers from across the UK and Ireland will be invited by TNA to attend open wrestling try-outs filmed in the three announced locations of the 2015 TNA Maximum Impact Tour: Glasgow, Manchester, London. The budding pros will have to demonstrate their prowess and wrestling skill levels to a panel of judges comprised of three of TNA’s top personalities, who will be announced shortly.
Wrestlers auditioning for TNA British Boot Camp will have to prove themselves before the judges to progress in the competition, with the stakes getting higher with each progressing round. Wrestlers making it past the audition round will return to face off against one another in a ‘Best of Britain’ showcase, where the top competitors from the event will win the opportunity to travel to the United States to continue in the series, meeting the stars of TNA and experiencing first-hand what it takes to be a member of the TNA Impact Wrestling fraternity. The top finalists will compete in New York City, in front of the toughest fans in the world.
The winner will receive a contract from TNA President Dixie Carter to become a full-time member of the TNA Impact Wrestling roster. Three runners-up will also win a spot on TNA’s annual Maximum Impact UK Tour, which will occur in January and be taped for global television.
The winner of the first series of British Boot Camp, the former Birmingham bank clerk turned wrestler, Rockstar Spud, is now a successful member of the TNA Impact Wrestling roster, representing the company at events all over the world. Spud will counsel and encourage this year’s contestants throughout the series.
“The first series of TNA Wrestling: British Boot Camp was so successful that the winner has gone on to be a major star in America’s TNA IMPACT WRESTLING,” said Stephen Ladlow, Director of Challenge. “As Challenge is the UK home for TNA, it’s only fitting that we commission a series that invests in a new UK talent and inspires passionate TNA fans and Challenge viewers alike to the high pressure world of professional wrestling.”
“I am thrilled TNA is once again partnering with Challenge to bring season 2 of British Boot Camp to our incredible fans across the U.K. and Ireland,” said TNA President Dixie Carter. “The first season brought Rockstar Spud – my amazing Chief of Staff – to TNA, and I anticipate discovering another incredible athlete and entertainer on this new season.”
British Boot Camp Executive Producer and TV presenter Jeremy Borash said: “The number one question I always get from fans across the UK is ‘when will we get a second season of British Boot Camp?’ And with the first season's popularity, combined with the incredible success of Rockstar Spud, we couldn't be more excited with this news. Everything about season 2 will be bigger, more competitive and more exciting for our fans. If you loved the first season of Boot Camp, then fasten your seatbelt.”
TNA Wrestling: British Boot Camp 2 will search for a UK superstar.
Exclusive to Challenge TV in the UK, the series will follow the aspiring home-grown wrestlers as they pursue a professional wrestling contract with TNA Wrestling. TNA will be inviting wrestlers to try out for the show in televised trials, which will occur in Glasgow, Manchester and London in August.
Any professional wrestlers over age 18, who would like to apply to be invited, can email email@example.com
TNA Wrestling: British Boot Camp 2 was commissioned for Challenge by Chris Brogden, acting head of Sky Entertainment. It aims to compliment the burgeoning success of the TNA Impact series which is one of the top performing series on the channel. The series supports Sky’s commitment to increase its investment in home grown content to £600m.
For information visit www.challenge.co.uk