ATPW got the chance to speak to current TNA X Division Champion Rockstar Spud earlier today. Here's how the interview went down.
ATPW - The thing that everyone's talking about at the moment is obviously WrestleMania, did you catch it last night?
Rockstar Spud - I did, indeed. I watch everything. Phenemonal show, from top to bottom. A great night of entertainment. I hope everybody that went and everyone that watched had a good time.
ATPW - Was there a particular match that stood out for you last night?
RS - Not really. I just love the overall spectacle of pro wrestling shows anyway. I mean, it was great, great show from top to bottom nothing really stood out as any better than anything else.
ATPW - When you first came to TNA, your character saw some changes from what were used to in the UK, how much of that was from you and how much came from the company?
RS - Here's how I see it, you get given an opportunity and you've either got to take the ball and run with it or you'll do the "Ugh this is stupid" or you can go in half-arsed because you don't really feel it. Whatever they'd have given me at that point in time, I would have knocked it out the park for them, because the way I look at wrestling, that when you're given a character such as the "Chief of Staff" or any sort of character really, you're researching a role, like an actor would. As in what this characters motivations are, what this characters movements would be, what this character is trying to achieve in his every day life, what makes this character get up in the morning, what motivates him.
That's pretty much what I thought. It's no secret I used to work in a bank before I got signed by TNA and a lot of the time I was just surrounded by people that when somebody who apparently was important to the company would walk in, it'd be "Yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir" and waiting on them hand and foot. Telling people to put their jackets in the cloakroom and make sure the desk was tidy. No eating the baguette and all this crap. It just used to drive me nuts, it was like this guy contributes nothing to anyone's society or anyone elses life but in this little bubble, he's so important. So that's what I based it on, real life experiences of overly panderous people towards an individual that was in power. That's where the Chief of Staff came from. I was the British company suck-up and I was very proud to be it and very proud of everything I did with it.
ATPW - It was a character that everyone knew someone like, maybe not to the extremes of the Chief of Staff, but everyone knew someone who would do that to their boss. Do you think that helped towards the connection with the fans?
RS - Yeah, there's not a lot of people who can relate to someone who's seven foot tall, muscles on their muscle, tattoos all over their body, that can lift 10,000 lbs on a squat. People can't relate to that because there's not many of them. But people can relate to an arse kisser and a company suck up, you can see them a mile off. You turn your nose up at them because you're like "They're pathetic". That's what I wanted to make the character resonate with the audience at home. I want people to think I was this pathetic, weasley little man and I didn't want any likeable qualities about him. I just wanted people to hate him. I feel I achieved that.
ATPW - So when it came to the turn last October, how did you find trying to change the character from being hated to someone people wanted to get behind? Did you face any difficulties trying to tweak the character?
RS - Once again it's a situation that everyone's been through in their life, that's what's wrestling's built on. It's human emotion. It's not built on moves and high spots and athleticism. It's built on human emotion. Just as a movie would be. It's all built on what you feel in the heart and what it does to you. It's not visually what it does to you, because fireworks can be amazing, but they don't last long. But if you've got the sense of feeling in the heart, then wow. If you feel something a character, if you feel something for a situation that character's going through. Whether it be a movie or TV or a soap opera or anything like that, you identify with it. That's the reason shows like Coronation Street and Eastenders have been running so long, you identify with the characters. There are people that you know who are like these characters.
Every bodies been in a situation where they've been bullied or disrespected or treated unfairly by someone they thought was a friend and tried their best to be a good person about it and that person just weren't what they used to be with you. That's what you found with Rockstar Spud and EC3, the situation made Rockstar Spud the less of two evils, because he was an idiot, but in the means of the fans, he was their idiot. Just like character like Bobby Heenan back in the day, because you knew what he was doing was for your entertainment and he didn't mind having the cake in his face in order to do it or he didn't mind embarssasing himself to entertain. The smarter fans who watch wrestling realise that, and that's where the lesser of two evils comes from, because they hate EC3, but they also hate Rockstar Spud but being in that situation made him the lesser of two evils.
ATPW - With feud with EC3, was it a decision from the beginning to not have singles match until the Hair vs. Hair match in London?
I'm sure if it was up to us, we wouldn't have even been in the ring with each other at all. Obviously, you've got weeks of television to fill so you have to. Without the writers, without agents, without the management and without our own input and the input of everybody who was involved Tyrus, Anderson, Mandrews, Jeremy Borash, without their input as well we can't tell a great story. It had everything to do with a team effort, every moment that you saw, it was a team effort. That's what I pride myself most on with Impact Wrestling, as well, because as much as someone can visually see that there's two performers in there it takes a lot of graft from a lot of people. I can't thank them enough, because that's what got us to that moment at Wembley arena.
ATPW - How did you feel coming back for British Boot Camp 2 and what do you think it did for the scene as a whole?
After the first British Boot Camp, I think people were a little skeptic and then they saw it and it legit changed my life. I was one of the guys that was grafting every day of the week as much as I could to achieve this pro wrestling dream and it happened to me. The person least likely you'd think it would happen to, 5ft 4, 150 lbs, Rockstar Spud. But it completely changed my life. Jeremy Borash knows it completely changed my life. So going into the second series, everyone was like "It changed it for him, maybe it can change for me now" and there was that belief. What I went in with in the second series was that it was different for me because I'm looking at it from the outside and you've got to remember that these people have the same hopes and dreams that you did before you achieved yours. You've got to respect that. I hope that everybody saw that that was what I was doing, because I don't want anyone to feel bad about being told "No", I don't want anyone to feel bad about missing an opportunity. I don't want anyone to feel bad at all, because we're all in this together. We're all brothers and sisters in this industry and we've all got to look after each other. You've got to nurture someones dreams, you can't take a crap on someone's dream that's not your place. That's not your right. The people that came into the show were just wonderful people and all deserved to be there. From the final 16 to the final 6. It was an emotional, because I was one of them once. My heart's still with all the guys and girls in England, because they got me to where I was and that's what you've got to remember. I'm hoping there's a season three and I really that season two is going to change the life of Mark Andrews. I hate when people say "He's got big shoes to fill", forget all that. If you remember that Mark Andrews is Mark Andrews and Rockstar Spud is Rockstar Spud. We're two totally different people. He's amazing at being Mark Andrews. He's got his own clothing range. He's got his own band. He's a world class performer in the ring. The sky's the limit for him. I really can't wait for you all to see the best of him.
ATPW - You had a couple of matches back on the UK scene not to long ago, how did you find being back in that environment?
It was lovely. It was nice going back to place I used to be week in, week out, month after month, year after year. It was nice coming out at Fight Club: Pro in Wolverhampton because that was the place where they treated me like their absolute hero, they hated me, but when I won British Boot Camp, they knew they were losing someone really important to the promotion and they've shown me amazing respect on the way out and amazing respect on the way in. I can't thank them enough. It was a fun time. It was nice to give back to the promotions that you've worked for before, because they helped you a lot by exploiting your talent to make you a focal point on their shows, which in the people's eyes is "You're a star" for that promotion. So coming back and being able to give something back to them, that was fun.
The UK fans are some of the most passionate fans in the world, if not the most, because we are starving for pro wrestling, we absolutely love it. That's why so many of them travel to America to go watch the big shows, they actually love it. That's what's so unique about the UK scene and that's why I'd call Impact Wrestling the adopted promotion of the UK scene. We're on Challenge every Sunday at 9 and we're the highest rated wrestling show in the UK. The adopted sons! That's kinda cool.
ATPW - Was there anyone while you were back over here that caught your eye that you hadn't seen previously?
Not really. See I didn't stick around most place. It was great to see Richard Parliament down at Future Pro Wrestling down south. Seeing him in British Boot Camp, he's one of the ones that took advantage of an opportunity, which you're supposed to do in wrestling. He didn't sit there and say "How stupid is this, you've got to go for an audition?" Well, an audition is a try out. You honestly think when you go to a try out at WWE, you're trying out to be a wrestler, no. So we called it what it was, an audition, because you're auditioning to be on a television show. It's an audition. It's a try out. It's an opportunity to get in front of some important people and potentially live your dream.
That's what Richard Parliament did on British Boot Camp 2. No one knew who he was, I never knew who he was, no one who I'd been on the UK scene for year had ever heard of him or knew who he was, neither did the judges know who he was. But he stood out and he got himself noticed. It was great to come back and wrestle him, knowing he took that ball from British Boot Camp and actually ran with and became an attraction for the company. That was good to see, just seeing someone took something from British Boot Camp and went for it was pretty cool.
ATPW - Finally, where do you see yourself in five years time? What's Spud doing in 2020?
RS - Hopefully the World Heavyweight Champion, that's my goal. Or a former World Heavyweight Champion. Or wrestling for the World Heavyweight Championship. I really really believe that I can be the World Heavyweight Champion. When I first started people said "You can't be a wrestler.", I did. People said "You're good at this wrestling, but you'll never get signed by an American promotion" I did. People said "You'll never be a champion or make something of yourself with an American promotion" I did it. So I'm going to World Heavyweight Champion one day. I really believe that I can be and I really believe I'd be a great asset to the company as a champion. That's not up to me, but it is up me because I'm the master of my own destiny, but we'll have to see.
A big thanks to Spud for taking the time to speak with us, as well as Simon Rothstein for setting up the interview. All photo credit goes to impactwrestling.com