Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Interview: IMPACT Wrestling's Rockstar Spud (July 2015)

We'd spoken to Rockstar Spud back in March, during our ATPW24 campaign which raised over £200 for MIND, in what turned out to be not only a popular article, but an enjoyable interview that I hope left anyone who read it wanting more. So when an opportunity to travel to London and speak with Spud in person came up, ATPW jumped at the opportunity. 

Since our last chat, Spud has been busy winning the X Division Championship on two occasions, as well as getting the opportunity to wrestle for the World Heavyweight Championship opposite Kurt Angle. All that and more is covered here. There's a slightly new style ahead, with questions shaken up a bit and a heavier focus on what was said. Any and all feedback welcome as usual. ENJOY!

Spud on: Becoming a leader

I'm really enjoying [my training seminars], because I just love helping people, I like putting a smile on people's face. The more I help people here, the more I can help the UK scene and the more I can help the industry here, because I thoroughly believe that within the next ten years, if we all get an understanding of how to do business, a promotion in this country could be on television. You've got to be able to understand that element of the business. A bad guy really needs to be a bad guy, otherwise it just doesn't work. 

Spud on: Fight Club: Pro locker room

I don't watch, I listen. I always listen to how the crowd is reacting because I always believe that that's the most important thing, when they get to their highest point that's when you take it away. The opening match when Tyler Bate hit Dave Mastiff [with a German suplex] and the place went nuts. It was just like my entrance earlier in the show, I couldn't hear my music, I could hear the noise they were making, then [MK McKinnan] comes and takes it way from them and they're livid. That's the stuff, I just listen. I think that's the stuff that comes with being a grizzled old pro, who's been doing this for absolutely years. I just listen to the audience, I don't ask people how was that match, I ask them how many people were in the building. How many people were here at the last show, how many people are in the building with me on the card. 

Spud on: His perfect boss

Alan Partridge. I think it'd be an absolute calamity, but I think it'd be absolutely hilarious. I don't know who else. I'm thinking for entertainment value. The audience would have a good time, we'd have a hell of a time. Alan Sugar, you'd have a boardroom meeting every show, I think that'd be interesting. 

Spud on: X-Division title runs

I enjoyed them both, obviously anytime you can represent the company as champion is a huge honour, that belt's been very important for the company and still is. Obviously the second run was only a week long run, because I had a big decision to make in regards to the World Heavyweight Championship. I didn't want to make light of handing over the X-Division title, but I want to be World Heavyweight Champion. I lost, but that's what an underdog does, he fights and fights and always get's that close, you don't know when that day is going to come, but he's going to do it. That's the beauty of being an underdog, you just never know. You can lose every time, but if I show enough heart and drive the the fans will to see it again.

Spud on: facing Kurt Angle at Destination X.

At first [it was] very intimidating, because that's Kurt Angle, that's someone who I grew up and watched and obviously he's a thirteen time World Heavyweight Champion, he's done all this stuff in the industry, but knowing that I got in the ring with him, held my own with him ,stood on the same stage, is something that I'm really proud of. That's what pro wrestling is all about, the elevation of a young guy, by losing, but got made by being in the ring with Kurt Angle and looking competitive. I can't thank Kurt enough, the stuff he said the backstage after and the fact that he tweeted and he sent me a wonderful DM.

It was all about making Kurt look even more of an amazing champion. People go "You're on Match 1, you're not disappointed it wasn't the main event" I'm in there with a former 13 time World Heavyweight Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist, it doesn't matter what match on the card it was. Am I proud of that match? Of course, I am. It was match one and it was part of a bigger picture for another match, which means I did my part and I watched it go forward and Aries does his part, and then Ethan comes out and does his part and all of a sudden their match becomes so much more. That's what it's all about. 

Spud on: The near future and Bound for Glory

Where would I like to be? I'd like to be in the World Heavyweight title picture, going into the UK tour. I want to fight EC3 in my home town, because I think we'd tear the roof off. If you think what we did in London was something, you ain't seen nothing yet. Bound for Glory time, it's like I said, just put me on the show and let me be involved. I just want to put smiles on peoples faces. If I'm in the World title picture that's even better. 

Spud on: Billy Corgan

He's a real good dude. He's a pro wrestling fan as well, so we can just talk about pro wrestling. He's a great addition to the team. He's a human being, it's nice to interact with someone who shares the same passion you do for the business and comes from an outside perspective as well, because he's not looking at it from inside the pro wrestling bubble, he's looking at it from outside in the entertainment bubble. It's really rewarding, especially when you know he's watched your work before being there. 

Spud on: Fight Club: Pro fans

There's a die hard bond between the fans and the performers. They're not wrestling fans, they're Fight Club: Pro fans. They actually care what happens to the performers.

Spud on: Films

Every film has an obstacle to overcome, that's what human's love, it's what human psychology is run on. It's like going back to being an attraction, every movie that's ever done well has had an attraction. You can have the most well-written story of all time...Do you remember Shawshank Redemption? did no business at the box office, best movie of all time. Yet, Independence Day, who everyone pans, Titanic, that everyone pans, Jurassic World, that everyone probably pans, made money, because they had a clear attraction. Hulk Hogan and John Cena whose wrestling ability everybody pans...that's it. 

Spud on: New British Talent in TNA. 

All phenomenal. All in their own special way as well. Bram is full of intensity, just that look, and he doesn't really how good he is yet. I've been really impressed with Drew Galloway, who's clearly got a huge passion for the industry and making things work. Mandrews again is a phenomenal talent, one of the best high flyers going. Grado's just Grado and that's why people love him. I've known him for many years. When you see him walk out with his fanny pack and his singlet on, you know you're going to have a good time.

Spud on: Multi-week TV Tapings

It's all I've ever known, I know there was a time of week-by-week tapings, but it's all I've ever known. Yeah, it's tough and we get hurt and banged up, but everyone's in the same boat. Kurt Angle's had a broken neck a couple of times, Jeff Hardy and Matt Hardy have been through multiple TLC matches, I'm not gonna sit and complain about it. You can do that all you want, but they're gonna have their arms up and you've gotta have your arms up. The next stretch of tapings is going to be the longest we've ever done.

Spud on: His return to Fight Club: Pro on 10th July.

I hate them. No, I get a hero's welcome when I come back, before I left that company I was the most hated, hated piece of garbage and now every time I come back it's like a heroes welcome. I left with their respect and it took me a long time to get that respect, because they hated me! But I wanted them to hate me. I did my job very well when I was there, I think that's what they respect. It was awesome being back there and being in control of it all. It was awesome.

Just a good time to go back there and I'll always try to go back there whenever I can. Without the guys there I honestly would have jacked it in, a lot earlier. They gave me the confidence I needed. I was really down on a period in the business. I was like "I can't be arsed with this anymore. It's not getting me anywhere and they go "Nah man, come on, you're Spud, let's have some fun here" And it got me motivated. I was hitting the gym hard again, I was eating better and really began to enjoy myself in the ring.

Spud on: Heels

Heels aren't heels anymore. Because everyone's insecure about going home and reading that the fans thought they were a good wrestler. It doesn't matter ,you're a heel, no one gives a damn, if you're a good wrestler, you're the heel. Boys in the back know you're a good wrestler and that's all that matters, the boss knows you're a good wrestler that's why you get paid. It doesn't matter what the fans think of you. Your job as a heel is to make a babyface, the problem is everyone wants to make themselves. They're not drawing anymore and that's why no bad guys are getting booed. When a bad guy does get booed everyone goes "Oh he's not very good, I hate him, I hate him" and they can't understand why he's on TV every week. Because he's the only one getting booed. 

It's got nothing to do with the fans. The heel wants to lose all his heat, you can't draw money with him anymore. I saw the perfect example once of a heel and a babyface came down. He got booed on his entrance, babyface got cheered, and they had a match where they're both kicking out of each other's stuff constantly, left and right, left and right, left and right. By the end of it the heel hits his finish and leaves to applause, because he had a good match. Lost his heat, he wasn't booked again for the next couple of months, because he had no heat there. It doesn't effect the babyface, it effects the heat because "I can't draw with you at the moment, we've got rebuild". It happens all the time. It's down to not knowing what this business is about. 

Spud on: The build up to Destination X

[It's all from] the writers. I don't care if it's kissing ass, Dave Lagana, Matt Conway, John Garburick have never written anything that doesn't work for my character or that I've not been able to make work. In regard to the written, they're write stuff for me, I'll put my own sayings on it, but they give me some great direction. 

It was nice stuff because it gave a vulnerability to me, what people don't realise is it showed how important the X Division title was. And the reason I cashed it in, due to Ethan Carter berating me and belittling me. 

Spud on: What to expect from his training seminars

[My seminars teach] the ability to make money, that's what this business is all about. What I'm offering is, you can be a great wrestler, you can be the best wrestler in the world, no ones going to pay to see a great wrestler. If you're an attraction they will. It's how to draw money , you don't draw money without love and hate, nowadays there's a lot of "This is the good guy, this the bad guy" they wrestle, everyone does a load of false finishes and everyone chants "This is awesome". So now the fans like both of them, so now we don't care who wins or loses, it was "good match". How're we going to draw money with that? Because you like both of them, so now the heels got no heat, so now the heel is a babyface. But if you loved a babyface, just like you loved Rockstar Spud, and hated EC3 and not one  person in that building wanted EC3 to win, everyone wanted Rockstar Spud to win. After what he did to him, did you not want to see him want to see him get a kicking, but you also want to him lose. Would you not pay to see that again? That's how you draw money. It's got nothing to do with being a pro wrestler and having a good match, it's about being an attraction. 

Spud on: Ethan Carter III

The stuff with EC3, that's not just the performers going out there, it's our job to act out [the writers] vision. They've given us some great vision, some great direction, that we're then able to go out and build upon. I love going out there and making it even better

You've seen the Empire Strikes Back, you don't know when Return of the Jedi is going to happen. When he gets in the ring with me and when I get in the ring with him, he knows no one wants it more than me. I know no one wants it more than him. You can see that when we're acting you see that when we're just backstage, or when we're in the ring together, as you saw at Wembley.

Spud on: Orlando vs. New York

New York's New York and Orlando's Orlando. There's a lot more families in Orlando and there's a lot more educated audiences in the New York area. It's all about catering to your audience. Also, I can stay in the hotel next door in New York, so it's not really a long walk, so I get longer in bed, there's a gym in the hotel too. Other than that it's deal with what audience you've got. You can turn up with a bunch of apples and people want ice cream or you can turn up with a bunch of water and people want beer.

Spud on: The bigger picture

It's not about me, it's not "I'm an independent contractor, independent means I've got to look out for my business. It's about the bigger picture and everything else. If we can all work together to make the company better, the company draws more people, it earns more money, we can earn more money and if you continue to do good business with the company they'll want to continue working for you, because you always want to work with them. Not saying "No" to creative or losing or boo boo face over politics or anything like that. This is pro wrestling. There's a view of get the money while it's there and I understand that, but for me it's all about seeing the bigger picture. 

Many thanks to Rockstar Spud for taking the time to sit down and chat with us, as well as Simon Rothstein for helping set up the interview. You can catch Rockstar Spud on Challenge TV in the UK ever Sunday night at 9pm on Impact Wrestling.

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