by Tim Birkbeck
He was the winner of the first British Boot Camp, he was the company suck up, he is a former x-division champion and most recently he lost to a one-year-old boy.
For Rockstar Spud he has seen a lot in his time in TNA, but with the recent spotlight on UK wrestling and change of management at TNA, but Brummie grappler is expecting good things in the future.
Tim Birkbeck caught up with the Rockstar after the recent WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament.
Hi Spud how are you?
I’m very well thank you very much young man, and yourself?
I good thanks, so where are you at the moment?
I’m currently In Fulham at my friends house as Progress Wrestling brought me in for a match in my home town of Birmingham, and they needed a Brummie so they got the best of a bad bunch. So seeing a few friends, doing some seminars at the Progress Wrestling School as well, which is good to see some of their up and coming trainees, and I am currently making bacon and eggs because I have missed a full English breakfast.
As you touched upon you made your Progress debut in Birmingham, but the whole weekend in general was great for British wrestling so for you what was the personal highlight of the weekend?
Just seeing old friends which I wasn’t expecting, bumped into my old friend Fergal (Finn Balor) and a bunch of the boys from Progress who I haven’t seen in ages and are all doing tremendous things for British wrestling. Obviously you recently had the World of Sport (WOS) show and the WWE UK Tournament which just happened, so it really is a whirlwind time here in British wrestling and that is one of the reasons why I and multiple other talents over at TNA are trying to push to get back into the UK. I honestly do think that TNA were the real pioneers of pushing the UK scene towards the British fans. And it has just been nice to see it over the years being a British wrestler to grow and grow and grow.
To some extent you blazed a trial for modern British guys appearing on American TV on a regular basis, starting with British Boot Camp and everything you have down with TNA. The company’s relationship with the UK fan base has wavered here and there, but considering how strong the UK scene is at the moment, do you see that relationship growing again?
I think so, one of the real big game changes was the British Boot Camp series, because it introduced an American audience to see hang on there is a lot of talent in the United Kingdom, and it possibly put other eyes from different companies on us. With British Boot Camp 2 and it opened it up to even more talent it really did open a lot of eyes to how talented people were.
I mean I remember that second series final at York Hall like it was yesterday, because there was 16 guys and girls including people like Nikki Storm who is now with NXT, you had Dave Mastiff and Rampage Brown who have gone on to do the WOS show and then you’ve got Mark Andrews who was the eventual winner and came to us. There was just such a plethora of talent on that show that were just such main stays in the UK scene for so many years, that I don’t think people realised who they were. I mean they knew the names but not the faces.
I mean if you even look at the first British Boot Camp with Marty (Scurll) it was an absolute game changer for him, getting told no and now he has completely reinvented himself and become this global star. I just really think that British Boot Camp and TNA really pushed that forward.
With the new ownership at TNA and the deal with Challenge TV is no longer there, with the development of the new app do you think that will entice a new audience?
The Total Access app is only £4.99 a month and it just shows that we are evolving with the times. We are looking to talk to other networks to get a television deal, but we still want to have a relationship with the UK scene so they are able to see us constantly. One of the biggest complaints we get from Impact fans is when we are live tweeting the shows from the USA and then you get people complaining about spoilers because they don’t get to see it until Sunday night. This is why I think the Total Access app is going to be so awesome because you can see it all at the exact same time. Yes you might have to stay up until 1am in the morning and that is the worse thing ever to watch live wrestling in the UK, but if you have the luxury to stay up or you want to watch it on you commute to work, you can just watch it on the app. You can watch television anywhere now. I always compare it to total recall, we’ve got video phones so you can watch it absolutely anywhere. I mean it has all the PPV the company has ever done. Which is good for those fans who watch back in the beginning as they can go back and see the first X-division champion being crowned. You can watch all the old Double J matches – and welcome back to him, you can watch when Rhyno won the world title, when Raven won it, Abyss, Sting all these people who were legends. It’s a pretty decent amount of footage, especially from back in the day.
There is also a new inside Impact show on there, which the clue is in the name, you are going to see what goes on behind the curtain. So it is very much a way for us to keep fans interested and bring new ones in.
You touched upon the return of Jeff Jarrett, but since you’ve been with TNA you must have seen quite a bit of change?
What have I seen, when I arrived at the company we were working with Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff and Herbie Productions and Double JJ was around but not in a full management capacity. When the services were severed with Hulk I think I was working with Double JJ for a couple of weeks and then he split and did his own project. Since then I was mainly at OVW, so I wasn’t really privy to this regime changing because I was working for OVW and getting my education and I always say this, the best one year education I’ve ever had in the business. But I have only every really personally worked with John Gaburick, Matt Conway, Bill Corgan and Dixie. So I didn’t really get that one-to-one with Hulk and Eric Bischoff . Nothing has really changed for me as the talent, I just turn up for work and I know who I need to speak to in regards to what I’m doing, so I just turn up to work on a Monday and get on with it.
Since the official announcement of the Anthem Sports takeover, has there been any instant change or is it business as usually?
For me it was business as usually, besides another one of my flashy gimmick changes. I’m going to be honest with you that initial change was one of the most fun weeks I’ve shared with the company. Obviously we don’t get to see each other all the time, as we tape every couple of months. I will tell you this though, some of the stuff that we saw this week, which is going to air on Impact going forward is such exciting stuff. Without spoiling anything there is a wedding angle that we finished the whole loop and I have never seen the place so back since back in the day of the Impact Zone. I was in the ring whispering to the other guys going ‘wow this place is packed’. People say oh its at a theme park they can come and go as they please, yeah they do but people walked into that and they stayed for the whole thing. And it is going to be some of the best TV you are going to see from our company in a long time.
I just want to credit that to Madison Rayne, whose new to the creative side of things as it was her brain child and it was absolutely brilliant.
For quite a while TNA unfortunately had a bit of a negative vibe to some fans, did this come across to you guys in the ring or did you just got on with it?
It does come across when you see certain tweets etc. Our job as talent is to do as instructed and to the best to our ability. I think a lot of the negativity is unfairly there because for some reason everybody wants to stick up for pro wrestling and if people feel hard done by we end up getting dragged into it for some reason, and there isn’t really a lot we can do because we aren’t in control of that.
Now I honestly believe we have some of the best performers in the world. Lets throw it out there … Broken Matt Hardy. The Hardy’s have been broken, Brother Nero is obsolete, Bobby Lashley is having some of the best performances of his career, we’ve got EC3 who is still everyone’s favourite wrestler, but to me will always be the biggest scumbag on the planet. Eddie Edwards becoming the world heavyweight champion, which is great because Eddie is just such a hard worker.
You were part of the Final Deletion.
Oh yeah I was part of it with Matt’s stupid ass son, and his diva demands. Did you see what he came to the ring in? A Mercedes. During the day he was crying, he didn’t want to film it till the evening he was moaning it was past his bedtime, his milk wasn’t the right temperature. Maxwell Hardy is a scumbag of the highest order I would go as close to EC3. I swear honest to god I’ve never worked with anyone as unprofessional in the world.
So how did this all come about, and how was the idea of the Final Deletion put to you?
Listen to me, there was a volcano in the middle Cameron North Carolina, which people were wrestling around, I have no words. I was suckered into the broken universe, I believe there were three murders on that show at the hands of Abyss and Crazy Steve. Watching it back it was what a pro wrestling Saturday Night Live would be. It was absolutely hilarious, it was entertaining from start to finish, expect for my match.
There’s a broken universe and there is nothing else to say really.
Matt Hardy has allowed people to get suckered in and people absolutely love it. It is mental and I have no words, but all in the best way.
Finally you mentioned before you debuted a new gimmick pairing up with Aron Rex
No, no no you can’t just say his name you have to sing it, I do it.
I’ve got a bit of a sore throat sorry Spud but I’ll have to pass. But how did pairing with him come about?
Well I was defeated by a one-year-old boy in Maxwell Hardy, Then I was unmercifully squashed by Hornswoggle who is the size of a one-year-old boy. So like any classic bad guy I quit the company and then showed up next week.
But the moment Aron walked into the company he wanted to work with me because he had this brain child, and he is one of the most fabulous entertainers I have ever been around. His passion and energy he puts into a role is really inspiring, he is a complete lunatic, but in all the best way and I am really excited to see where these characters go. It is in the same vein as Liberace and Scott Thorson, but it is also in the vein of this man and myself do not really recall anytime that you wanted to come see us wrestle we just want to entertain and we are fabulous entertainers. So come one come all and we are going to give you the greatest show on earth every time you watch Impact.
Spud thank you very much for your time.
Thanks mate it’s been a pleasure.