Alex Chamberlain has honed his skills and paid his dues working around the world. All the hard work was worth it in the eyes of the well-traveled wrestler's for opportunities like performing on the August 11 edition of AEW Dark. Though it wasn't the first time working for the company. The South Florida resident was used for roles like stand-in for Dark Order member under a hood during the Bash at the Beach at the start of 2020. Chamberlain got the sense they were going to call him again. Of course, COVID-19 happened and threw a wrench in everything.
Months later the phone did ring again. Luckily, the independent vet stayed ready thanks to Gangrel's Wrestling Asylum. The former WWE superstar has been putting on shows streaming on Facebook Live where Chamberlain got to keep the ring rust off going through the motions with Gangre's students. The Sunshine State was impressed by the precautions AEW is taking to keep their roster and crew safe with an extensive testing protocol in place.
"Tony Khan spared no expense when it comes to that. As soon as you get to the hotel the first thing they have you do is meet with the doctor. You go and get a blood test right then and there. You sit down with your mask on. They give you the 15-minute rapid response blood test. So they take a little sample from you. Then the doctor will clear you," Chamberlain explained.
"Then they put a wristband on you to show you are cleared from COVID. Otherwise you don't have access to any of the other facilities or the other talent that has been tested already. Then once you roll into Daily's Place where the Jaguars stadium is right behind it, they have a gate where there is this digital temperature check. They have you stand in front of a monitor. They take your temperature and allow you in the facility.
"Honestly, it's an open-air facility but everyone is still wearing masks unless you're sitting down to eat at catering. It was super good. Every single person is tested in the facility. Every single employee. Every cast member, office worker, everyone. Even the roadies. Everyone has to get checked coming in and out of that place. It's really cool how they do it."
Chamberlain was grateful for the opportunity. He felt treated like a star, surprised to have complete video graphics and music.
"Rukus, the guy who does their music and entrances. He is really good. He knows people's vibes from meeting with them," he said. "You meet him for a few minutes and go from there. I think once you're more under contract, they do a super deep dive with you. They have you collaborate heavily. I know Scorpio Sky was really involved with his entrance theme. Even for an independent talent to be showcased on this platform, that's awesome.
"WWE doesn't really do this for any enhancement talent or tryout matches. Let alone giving a guy full entrance, video on screen, his own music. Time to do an entrance. It's really unheard of, so it's really cool they go above and beyond to showcase independent talent. The other thing that comes to that. It's a huge way to get more work on the independents and grow your brand. They give you all the tools to really help you be the best you."
Chamberlain was matched up with a familiar face in Shawn Spears. If sharing the ring with the accomplished talent weren't enough, he had the added pressure of having legendary Tully Blanchard watching ringside.
"It was awesome. I've seen Shawn for years from when he was working for Afa and a couple of other spots throughout the indies. That was kind of cool that we knew each other beforehand. It certainly helps. Having Tully there and having his input. Having one of the greatest tag team workers of all time. He is crazy smart and knows how to do the less is more approach," Chamberlain said.
"That is really what we wanted to do. We figured they put us together for that kind of wrestling match with two dudes who have some size and can showcase that more fundamental side of wrestling. It's an easy story to tell. Two dudes going at it and trying to one up each other. That's what we were going for. Strong lockup. Not a crazy amount of movement or speed. Just showcasing selling and registering everything. Making every move matter as opposed to packing a lot of stuff in. Less is more."
Chamberlain made sure to have his eyes and ears open to feedback. Even in defeat, he gained something much more important than a victory on AEW Dark. A solid first impression.
"LIterally all the feedback was like, 'Damn, that was a really good match. Both of you looked absolutely amazing out there,'" he recalled. "Tully was like, 'There was absolutely nothing wrong with that match. That was a great, solid match.' To hear Tully Blanchard of all people in the back say that, it made my night. It was really cool. Everything felt it was solid. Selling was a big thing. It's a kind of thing modern day wrestling loses a little bit in selling. Make something matter."
He is proud of how the match with Spears went. Chamberlain now looks for the phone to ring again.
"I definitely got a sense I would be coming back. Everyone seemed pretty happy with what they were seeing," he said. "So now it's the waiting game. It's the worst part of wrestling. You go out there and have a good match and showcase what you can do. Then you wonder what will happen next. I got a pretty good feeling I'll be coming back."
Alex's full interview aired as part of a recent episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it's released Monday - Friday afternoon by clicking here.