Rockstar Spud has shot up the card in TNA rapidly since breaking off on his own. I had the chance to speak to him yesterday about his size being an obstacle, as well as the huge choice he faces on tonight's episode of Impact Wrestling. We'll also have a second part of his interview up soon.
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Pro wrestling is often a big man's game. Did you see yourself in such a prominent spot when you got into the business, given your size?
"Always wanted to be. I knew it was going to be tough. It's a big man's business after all. It was just a case of me loving wrestling so much. The character that you see on Impact is the closest to James Michael Curtin you will ever see as a human being. What you see portrayed on the screen is pretty much what I went through in day-to-day life. I was surrounded by all these big guys and people who are going to tell me I'm worthless and there's no point in trying. It resonates for so many people because everyone's went through that in their life. Whether they've been bullied by a best friend or taken advantage of by someone. Or been in a position where people questioned whether they're good enough. That's what's important and connects.
"It's my story that went from Birmingham to this Wednesday when I've got option C. I've got the option to wrestle the greatest wrestler of all time for the World Championship. Fairy tale? Let's hope so. It's my decision on Wednesday what I do, I know what my heart's saying, I know what my head's saying, and I know what everyone else is saying to me. It's a little strange. I'm very blessed to be in this industry, this industry has given me a lot, it's been very good to me, I've met a lot of great people. I can only hope that this ride I'm on now keeps going higher. The fans have been with me through this whole ride, as long as I have them, I'll be fine."
Step inside your character's mind. He's the ultimate underdog, and facing Kurt Angle for the world title is the ultimate underdog story. What do you think you'll do?
"Completely on the fence. I sent out a (poll on Twitter) and it's been polarizing. It's nearly split right down the middle. It's got me to realize how many risk takers there are in the world, how many passive people there are in the world. If you risk it all and you lose, there's no reward. That's a risk I can take. Then there's people like 'Go for it, go for it, and if you don't make it, you were that close.' I agree with that as well. It's just like gambling in a Las Vegas casino. I could never get an opportunity to wrestle for the World Title again. I could risk everything I've earned up until this point and say this is my one in a million opportunity, let's do it. I don't know what I'm going to do. Wednesday night on Destination America, you'll find out what I'm going to do. The plot thickens."
You had a run with the X Division title, but the way that TNA scheduling was set up, you only held it a few weeks. Now you regain it and may forfeit it again. Do you look at that as having to start all over?
"(Laughs) It's really weird. I'm probably going to be known as the most regular cup of coffee champion. Any time you get to wrestle for a championship it's history. I've said this publicly, I don't care if they work for the company or not, Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, Kazarian, Jerry Lynn, Amazing Red, Austin Aries, Kenny King, Zema Ion…all of these people were a part of that history and that lineage. They were a part of this company and help build this company, and you can't just ignore that they were a part of this company. When I used to watch as a fan, those are the guys that built the X division. I'm not going to ignore them, I'm not going to go out on television and pretend they don't exist. They are the reason this championship means so much to the fans and to me. Even if I hold it for a day, a week, an hour, it means something. It means you're on the list, and I'm on the list, and I'm humbled because they're the best wrestlers in the world.
"Then you've got the World Heavyweight Title with the same great lineage. Sting, Jeff Hardy, Kurt Angle, Bully Ray, all these legends, and I could be on that list if I cash in? What do I have to lose?"
You mentioned right now is the closest we'll see to your real persona, but last year was almost a 180. You played an obnoxious, annoying heel. How important is it to have that range?
"I never stopped being Rockstar Spud. The situation has made the character adapt to his surroundings. I never had a job with Impact Wrestling until Dixie Carter came along and gave the position of Chief of Staff. Because of my blind loyalty, I would have done anything for that family. Yes madam, no madam, anyone have shoes that need cleaned? The same with Ethan Carter. When you're put in a situation where you give blind loyalty to a friend or business partner and they publicly berate you and turn on you and disrespect you. Then you're in a situation where you're like 'Okay pal, I like you, but back the hell away.' We've all been in those situation. Even when someone's cracking on to your girlfriend at a bar where you can sit there and hope she deals with it, or you get out of your chair and be a man about it. Those real life situations draw people to wrestling. We've all been in them, we don't connect with our head, we connect with our heart. We all have feelings and emotions that we went through, and I think that's what endeared me to the audience. I used to be just like them. I used to just want to get in the ring and be a wrestler, and the story that they're seeing is what everyone's went through when you want to be something an everyone's telling you no.
"It's perfect pro wrestling storytelling. Credit to the writers, Dave Lagana, Matt Conway, John Gaburick, Billy Corgan. Some of the things that they do that you don't see, and the time and the effort that you guys don't see, it's a real credit to them that a guy like me connects with the audience so well. It's a two-way street. I can't thank them enough"
How can fans follow you on social media?
"I'm all over the place. You can see me on Twitter at RockstarSpud, Instagram Rockstar_Spud, and Facebook at Rockstar5pud, because someone decided to take the RockstarSpud off me, so the 's' is the '5,' does that make sense? (laughs)"