Last week on Impact Wrestling we saw
. While his unique look set him apart, it was complemented by the presence of Rockstar Spud as his personal valet. If you've only recently returned to watching Impact Wrestling, you might not realize just how much of a mark Rockstar Spud has made since arriving. The English-born wrestler has been a staple of Impact Wrestling for nearly four years now, and in that time he's gone from competing for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship to being pinned by an infant and everything in between.
The former two-time X-Division Champion exclusively spoke with RealSport earlier this week to talk about the highs and lows of his time in Impact Wrestling, as well as the new transition that the company has been going through since being acquired by Anthem Sports & Entertainment.
An unlikely path to TNA
Spud took an unconventional route to Impact Wrestling by being part of British Bootcamp, a reality television show that followed four of the UK's most promising talents as they competed to earn a contract with TNA Wrestling. I asked him to give us a quick insight into his career to this point, including how he went from an unknown Brit to one of the most entertaining wrestlers on the TNA roster:
"Where most people would go the professional route and get a tryout, I went the unprofessional route and decided to go on a reality show. I got drunk and punched someone in the face, accidentally mugged off Hulk Hogan and Sting, and somehow got myself a job. I then moved on to be the arse-kissing brown nose to the president of the company, before I was viciously and unnecessarily banished by her terrible nephew, leading to one of the bloodiest feuds in the company's history, i
n which I got my head shaved and spent some time bald for the first time in my life.
"I went on to wrestle Kurt Angle for the TNA World Title in a losing effort, before finally getting my revenge on that swine, Dixie Carter's nephew, EC3 by slamming a cage door into his face, before going on the biggest losing streak in my career by not winning a single wrestling match in TNA in the year of 2016. I lost to a one-year-old boy, lost to someone the size of a one-year-old boy, quit the company, only to return a week later, because that's what bad guys do. They lie."
While he may be a bad guy right now, not many would argue that Spud is one of the most entertaining and creative characters that TNA has ever seen. I asked him how he has fared with his size and stature whilst playing the role of "the bad guy." It's very common that you see a larger wrestler as a bad guy, while smaller competitors tend to be the underdog hero. That's far from the case with Spud:
"It's how you do it. I've always remembered and never shied away from the fact - 'hi everyone, I'm 5'4'' tall and I do not have an Adonis complex.
I actually know who I am, and I'm not insecure with the fact that I'm short - don't know if you've noticed? I think that's one of the things that people admire about my work. I've got no lifts on my boots to make me
6-foot. I don't feel the need to get my muscles as big and ballooned as possible. I'm very comfortable with who I am. I'm going to make chicken soup out of chicken shit. It'll be a small portion, but it'll be the best chicken soup you've ever had."
Making the best of a bad situation is something that many British athletes have had to do when working for big American companies. In the past, we've often seen Brits displayed as generic heel personas with not much else going for them. Essentially, places like WWE and even TNA in the past have relied on crowds disliking the competitor simply because they aren't American.
Being British in the world of professional wrestling
In recent years, we've actually seen an increase in British stars really getting over with audiences. In WWE, we've seen competitors like Neville and Jack Gallagher as well as Irish competitors like Finn Balor and Becky Lynch find a fan following, while in TNA, we've had Rockstar Spud, Magnus, Bram, and the Scotsman Drew Galloway similarly get over. I asked Spud if he's seen a change in fan appreciation for British stars in TNA:
"It's not the fan appreciation for the performer. I think it doesn't matter where you are from. One of the big compliments I ever got was from Pat Kenny, one of the agents at TNA. He said, 'when you go out there people don't remember you are English' - besides the fact I've still got that thick Brummie accent! It's really nice to go out there and people don't look and you and say, 'oh look, there's the Brit'. I don't think people remembered it with Magnus either, and I don't think they do now with Bram and Drew (Galloway), except for that thick Scottish accent of his."
Spud has been a part of TNA for nearly five years now, and in that time he's been involved some of the most hilarious moments in the company's history, as well as some of the most entertaining matches you are likely to see. I asked him what his most significant memory of his TNA career to date was:
Wrestling Kurt Angle for the TNA Title is up there, as is Austin Aries' final match in TNA. That was great, and of course the match with EC3 is what everyone remembers most. Because, for the first time in a long time, people had been encouraged to watch our product because we did something really special that night. For me, honestly though, my best memory was granting a Starlight wish to the little boy Reegon. I still keep in touch with his family to this day. I'm an ambassador for the charity, and it's a great organization to be a part of. It's amazing the impact you can have on someone's life just by putting on a pair of spandex pants and acting like a wally in the wrestling ring. That's the most rewarding thing I've done.
For those who aren't aware, Starlight Children's Foundation is a charity that grants wishes to seriously and terminally ill children. They also provide entertainment in hospitals and hospices across the United Kingdom. Spud went on to say:
When you follow Rockstar Spud on social media, if I'm a bad guy on TV I'm going to be a jerk to you on social media. But in reality, the guy behind the persona is just a pretty normal dude from Great Barr in Birmingham. I always want to give the fans the full experience, but there are some things that are bigger than wrestling.
As he mentioned, Spud is a native of Birmingham, England, one of the stops on TNA's tours of the United Kingdom. I asked him what it was like performing in his hometown on a huge platform like TNA:
The first time I performed for TNA in England was during their UK tour when I was the Chief of Staff. I was part of the Joker's Wild event, and I still say that if you can find the DVD to that show, watch it! It was one of the most fun shows that you are going to see from TNA. Christopher Daniels, Kazarian, Samoa Joe were all on that show. I was in a match against Mr. Anderson and Austin Aries, and I was teaming with Bully Ray, which was the biggest oddball couple ever. It is one of the most entertaining matches you are going to see, where I am failing miserably at being Devon [Dudley]. Utterly useless. For example, when Bully said 'get the table,' and gives me the push, I fell flat on my arse. Earl Hebner body slams me. I tried to lift the table and it was too heavy for me... just a useless, useless, man. But I won! I was in the ring with three former world champions, and where? In Birmingham, in my hometown. Those three guys, whose careers speak for themselves, put me over. Birmingham were like, 'okay this guy's one of ours.' I'd got my acceptance.
New beginnings in Impact Wrestling
Moving forward, TNA is
under the Anthem Sports banner. It was one that didn't get off to the best start for Spud, as he lost a match to Swoggle (known in WWE as Hornswoggle), a competitor who is just 4'6'' tall. After the loss, Spud immediately quit the company in the ring. I asked Spud what was going through his mind at that point:
You know what? I turned up next week, and people were saying to me, 'didn't you quit last week?' And I was like, 'no?' Classic bad guy! I'm just a crappy, shitty bad guy. People would say, 'didn't you quit?' and I would reply, 'I've never quit anything in my life, I don't know what you are on about!' Bad guys lie everyone, I'm just saying!
Spud went on to discuss what changes Anthem have made and what the company will look like going forward:
One of the big things that Anthem have done since arriving is to sever ties with Challenge, who were just an amazing television partner, but it's now 2017. We can watch TV wherever we like now on our phones! Just like with Total Access, the TNA app which is available in the UK and Ireland for £4.99 a month. You get all the PPVs, all the one nighter shows, including the one I've spoken to you in depth about. You can watch it late at night, live, or on your way to work the next morning spoiler free! For £4.99 a month, you can watch a few guys you might have seen on your TV screens, whose names you've heard of before - guys like AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, and all of them lot. Well, they were in TNA for nearly a decade! You can watch all of their great matches, and also a guy who's been inducted into the WWE and TNA Hall of Fame, Kurt Angle, who, after seven years in WWE, spent ten long years with TNA. The £4.99 a month is worth it just for that pure wrestling gold.
For more information on TNA's new app, check out our
. Spud's start to life under the new regime may have been rocky, but he seems to have recovered and is now working alongside another great entertainer in Aron Rex, known in WWE as Damien Sandow. It's a partnership that I, like many others, was very intrigued to find out more about. I asked Spud how the idea came about:
This idea was talked about since Aron joined the company. Let's be honest, no one pays to see him wrestle! Everyone watches to see him entertain, and I myself happen to be a bloody good entertainer. So he came up to me and said, 'what are you doing right now?' I said, 'nothing,' to which he replied, 'great, we are doing this,' and laid out the whole idea. We have a common bond in the fact that you people come to see us entertain and not wrestle. He's all-in, and so am I, and I love it when you have someone who goes all-in 100%. The reception backstage when we had our outfits on for the first time was great - let's just say heads more than turned.
Only time will tell where the duo of Aron Rex and Rockstar Spud go, but one thing is for certain: whatever happens, it is sure to be just as vibrant and entertaining as Spud has proven to be all throughout his career. With Rex by his side, and Anthem Sports leading Impact Wrestling into a new era, the sky is the limit for the Birmingham native.
What do you think of Rockstar Spud's time in Impact Wrestling? What are your favorite moments of his? Let us know in the comments below!