I spoke with TNA star Robbie E earlier this week. In the first part of the interview below, Robbie discussed being a wrestling fan at a young age, getting his start, the early days of TNA, his cameo during the Edge - Ric Flair feud, working with Hulk Hogan, Rampage Jackson signing, TNA's live event in GA tonight and more.

Make sure to check back next week for the second part of the interview, where Robbie talks about Kurt Angle being inducted into the TNA Hall of Fame, TNA cutting down on pay-per-views, Impact on the road, Zack Ryder and much more.

Also, fans in Georgia, make sure to check out the Impact Wrestling World Tour at The Forum Civic Center in Rome, GA tonight. Robbie E, TNA World Heavyweight Champion Bully Ray, James Storm, Bad Influence, AJ Styles, Bobby Roode and Gail Kim are amongst the wrestlers scheduled to appear. Tickets are on sale at The Forum Civic Center box office, forumevents.org and charge by phone at 706-291-5281 or 1-800-858-7601. Tickets start at $15, and fans who purchase a $65 ticket will receive an early-entry autograph session with select TNA at 5:30 p.m.. You can also follow Robbie on Twitter @RobbieEImpact, on Instagram at RobbieEImpact and on his website, Robbie-E.com.

WrestlingINC.com: I understand you were a wrestling fan at a very early age. What are some of your earliest memories of the business?

Robbie E: Weirdly enough, I know the first match I ever saw was on [WCW] Main Event, I think it was called. The show that WCW used to have on Sundays and it was Dan Spivey vs. Sting. I remember that was the first match I ever saw, weirdly enough. But then from there I had an older brother, so he was into it. So I just kind of watched with him just because he liked it so I wanted to like it. But I remember Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, obviously, I was a little kid. I started when I was like four. All the heroes from that era were the guys that I liked.

WrestlingINC.com: Who were your favorites of that era?

Robbie E: Definitely Hulk Hogan. I was a Hulkamaniac when I was four.

WrestlingINC.com: Did you realize when you were a kid that this was something you wanted to do once you got older?

Robbie E: Yeah, I actually knew really young that I was. I liked wrestling in elementary school and then I got out of it in middle school because I was into girls and I was too cool for it. But then I got back into it in high school and when I got into it in high school, from freshman year on, so say I was like 13 or 14, I liked it in a different way. Like, I actually started to want to learn about it and took it more serious. I watched the wrestling for the cool athletic stuff in the ring.

So I'd say at about 13 or 14, I started telling people I was going to do it. I knew right when I turned 16, there was a school in Jersey that if you had your parent's signature you could start at the age of 16. Like the day I turned 16 I went and had my parents sign and started it. I was like 130 pounds.

WrestlingINC.com: So, you actually started wrestling in 2000, is that right?

Robbie E: I started in 2000. I was a junior in high school, I was 16. I was already taking 8x10s of myself and selling them in school to my teachers, my principal, the other students and stuff and telling everyone that I was going to be a huge wrestling star.

WrestlingINC.com: Wow, that's crazy because it was only a few years later when you made your first appearances for TNA, during their early days. What are your memories of wrestling for them during that period?

Robbie E: If you worked for NWA Wildside for Bill Behrens, you kind of got the opportunity to go out there and get a tryout with TNA. So I was asked to go down a few times. Any experiences like that, you want to get around all the guys that are at the top. You want to listen and learn everything you can and hope that something happens for you. I was super young and super small. Still a lot to learn at that time.

WrestlingINC.com: Did you think that they'd be around and on national TV ten years later?

Robbie E: Weirdly enough, I did. I don't know why, there was just something. Maybe it was because there were no other wrestling organizations around at the time. They were the only other one. So, I just kind of felt like they kind of had to stay. Everyone there was so positive and they had good guys. There really would have been no reason for them not to last.

WrestlingINC.com: You also made a cameo in WWE in 2006 with the Edge and Ric Flair feud. What was that experience like and also getting to be involved in an angle with Ric Flair?

Robbie E: It was what it was. But again, at the time, when you're on the independents, you basically just take any opportunity you can get. I was just looking for something bigger and better from where I was. That really happened when I finally got to TNA. Almost three years ago now I signed a contract with them.

WrestlingINC.com: What was that like when you finally got your big break with TNA in 2010? I mean, you had been on the independent circuit for 10 years. Were you starting to lose faith at all or did you know it was coming?

Robbie E: I wasn't losing faith because the thing about wrestling is a lot of right place, right time. You just need the right opportunity and to be seen by the right people. I was always confident enough to know that I was good enough in the ring. I'm entertaining enough on the microphone. I was always in shape. I was always tanned up. I always took care of myself well. I was always trying to work on new characters. I had a good attitude, so I was always positive and felt that I deserved it and at some point my time was going to come. And it did. It's all about patience. Too many people give up too quick. They think it's going to happen over night. That's not the case.

WrestlingINC.com: The character, the kind of Jersey Shore-inspired character, was that something you were doing before TNA? Or was that something you started once you signed?

Robbie E: I don't feel like it's so much my character. Yes, it's TV where sometimes you act goofier than you normally are, but I'm from Jersey. Every single bar or club that you saw in the show The Jersey Shore, I went to and still go to. My life's pretty much going to the gym and tanning, that's all I do on my off days. It's really just my life. So there's really not much to it being a character. It's really me. If you know me, you know that.

WrestlingINC.com: What was it like getting involved with The Jersey Shore cast, shortly after debuting, and being put into a high profile feud?

Robbie E: We've had Angelina on our show, we've had JWoww, we've had Ronnie. Obviously that show at the time was super huge. So whenever they're on our show, it's going to attract viewers and for me to be involved with them while the new viewers are watching is a big thing because it just makes me more popular and more known and more of a star, which is really all I care about.

WrestlingINC.com: You mentioned being a Hulk Hogan fan growing up. What's it like now working with him in TNA?

Robbie E: It's good. It's just now, instead of wanting his autograph when I take a picture with him, I just want to make the money he makes.

WrestlingINC.com: Quinton "Rampage" Jackson signed this week. It sounds kind of similar to the deal King Mo did with Bellator and TNA. What's been your reaction to that announcement?

Robbie E: Again, it's kind of like when you brought up the Jersey Shore people earlier. Bringing someone into wrestling that is a huge star, just on a different platform, so when you bring him here he's going to attract so many new fans to Impact Wrestling that he has, it's great for us. It's great for him. Perhaps I could pull him aside and he can teach me some crazy MMA stuff and I can use that and incorporate it into some of my matches.

WrestlingINC.com: Do you follow MMA at all?

Robbie E: I watch it here and there, but to be honest, with our schedule and stuff, I don't really get to sit down and watch full shows or anything.

WrestlingINC.com: Do you think from what you have seen, do you think it's possible to do both concurrently and be successful doing both?

Robbie E: Yeah, why not? If you dedicate your life to doing both, pretty much your whole time will be occupied by it, but if that's what's more important to you tanning and gym then more power to you.

WrestlingINC.com: You guys have a live event [tonight] in Rome, GA also. Have you been to Rome before?

Robbie E: I have been to Rome, but not Rome, GA. But I will be there and I'm looking forward to it.

WrestlingINC.com: Do you know who you'll be facing at the event?

Robbie E: I don't, but as far as Impact Wrestling live events, they are an experience. It's not just coming to a wrestling show. You're really buying a ticket and you have so many opportunities when you buy a ticket. You could pay a little bit more money for the meet and greet package where you basically get to meet every wrestler on the roster that's there that night. You're paying whatever extra and you get to meet Jeff Hardy, Kurt Angle, Mr. Anderson, Bully Ray, Sting, whoever's on the show. That is unheard of. You can't do that anywhere else. It really is a full on experience and it's fan friendly. There's throwaways in the audience and giveaways and stuff throughout the show and surprises. Going to an Impact Wrestling show is like going to not other wrestling show.

Make sure to check back next week for the second part of the interview, where Robbie talks about Kurt Angle being inducted into the TNA Hall of Fame, Impact on the road, Zack Ryder and much more.

Also, fans in Georgia, make sure to check out the Impact Wrestling World Tour at The Forum Civic Center in Rome, GA tonight. Robbie E, TNA World Heavyweight Champion Bully Ray, James Storm, Bad Influence, AJ Styles, Bobby Roode and Gail Kim are amongst the wrestlers scheduled to appear. Tickets are on sale at The Forum Civic Center box office, forumevents.org and charge by phone at 706-291-5281 or 1-800-858-7601. Tickets start at $15, and fans who purchase a $65 ticket will receive an early-entry autograph session with select TNA at 5:30 p.m.. You can also follow Robbie on Twitter @RobbieEImpact, on Instagram at RobbieEImpact and on his website, Robbie-E.com.

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