As one half of the longest reigning NXT Tag Team Champions, Vik The Spacelord (fka Viktor) is most known for his time tagging with Konnor in The Ascension. Years before he made it to the WWE stage, Vik cut his teeth at the infamous Hart Dungeon.
Speaking to Wrestling Inc. Managing Editor Nick Hausman on the Wrestling Inc. Daily, Vik says he always had a passion for wrestling but was always a bit lost when it came to finding a place to turn it into a legitimate career.
“I was such a huge wrestling fan when I was a kid,” Viktor said. “I grew up in a very small town in Northern Alberta. I don’t know, I was always such a rebel headbanger I suppose. I didn’t really know what to do with myself other than that a couple of me and my best friends always loved wrestling. We got back into it as teenagers and were just messing around. I was just trying to figure out what I was going to do with the rest of my life, and everybody around me was like, ‘You should try being a wrestler.’ And I was like, ‘Uh, we live in nowhere. This doesn’t exist.’
“I think just before the year I had moved to Calgary we had started getting an indie company, which was called Can-Am Wrestling, which is actually where I first met Dr. Luther back in the day. They would run a couple shows at this place called BJ’s Sports Club. And immediately me and my friends we’d just try to talk to the wrestlers after the show and stuff. You know, I met a bunch of the dudes. There was Mike McFly, there was Luther, there was a little Alberta, Canadian legend in Steve Gillespie.”
Viktor revealed that the local talents offered to train him, but the future tag team champion had other plans.
“Everybody was super cool, they were like, ‘Oh, we can train you,’” Vik said. “And I was like, ‘Oh, actually I just signed up for the [Hart] Dungeon.’ And they were like, ‘Oh. Okay. Uh, good luck. You’re going to need it.’ From what I can say, I spent about seven years training with [the Hart Dungeon]. I lived in Calgary for about seven years. So we were always kind of training, on and off, doing shows. It was just such a great experience.
“I got trained for about three or four months before I actually started going out. And they would do tours then, right in like early 2000, which is when I started. We would go tour around Alberta and Saskatchewan and stuff.”
Viktor offered a bit of insight into what training at the Hart Dungeon was like. According to the tag team specialist, Stu Hart brought some real grit anytime he came to the school.
“When we were at the Dungeon, we weren’t usually in the ring. We were mostly just in the dungeon. [Stu Hart] used to come down sometimes,” Viktor said. “And it would be funny because you’d be dying from practice or something, and you’d go out to this dark, horrible-looking basement. It was just so scary looking as a kid. It’s funny to think about it. I remember watching Stu, he’d kind of have to walk backwards down these super old iron stairs that came down into the basement. You’d see him coming down, and go, ‘Hey kid. It sounds like there’s really something going on down here today. We’re going to show somebody some stuff.’
“And you’d go, ‘Oh, s–t. Stu’s here.’ And then he’d come down and he’d sugar hold somebody, or he’d grind his stubbly old chin into somebody’s eye sockets for a little while. Stu never did it to me. It was always odd because he’d be telling me a story about somebody, and then he’d grab whoever was next to me and he’d do something to him, but he’d never do it to me. He took one of my best friends one time, and was like, ‘Here, come here,’ and he’d just like, sugar him. Passed him out right there.”
Another notorious trainer of the Hart Dungeon was Bruce Hart, brother of Bret and Owen. Viktor recalled how Bruce would do his best to get a reaction out of his trainees.
“Bruce had his own forms in the dungeon that were usually pretty funny,” Viktor said. “I remember, it might’ve been one of my first days in there, and this was one of Bruce’s favorite things to do. He’d be like, he’d make you do these weird scenarios for some reason. It was trying to get an emotional reaction out of you, because everyone shows up the first day and they’re just terrified. He’d be like, ‘Alright, you two are about to get into a fight, and you just slap him.’ You’d be like, ‘What? Just slap the guy?’ ‘Yeah, just walk up and slap him. It’ll be funny.’ And you’d go to do it, but it was never hard enough. Nobody ever slapped whoever it was hard enough.
“So then Bruce would start laughing and he’d get a little bit closer, start explaining everything to you. ‘All you gotta do is take your hand and cup it, real good, just like this, and keep it soft.’ So he’d like, start to show you, and he’d almost be looking at the other guy, you know, talking about it, and as you’d get into it all of a sudden BOOM, he’d haul off and slap you in the face. That would always get the reaction. I’d see a lot of people, you know, just immediate red. Immediate anger. Just because they didn’t know how to respond. Like, they wanted to punch him, but they obviously don’t because he’s a trainer, and you paid him a s–t ton of money to learn how to wrestle.
“Bruce had a way of doing an eye poke the same way, where he basically, he didn’t poke you in the eye, but he’d smack you in the face. And so like, no matter what, you’d be like, ‘What the f–k? You motherf–ker.’ He had a lot of dirty tricks he liked to play on people. But you know, it was pretty cool. I got a real good education on how to protect myself in wrestling, because Bruce had a lot of stories about people f–king him up all the time, because he was an a–hole. He’d always be like, ‘Do it this way, or do it this way, because I had somebody mess me up doing it that way.’ It took a while before I finally understood, because you’d meet people who knew Bruce and would hear how much they hated him.”
Viktor trained alongside two of the last trainees of the Hart Dungeon, Harry Smith and Tyson Kidd. The former, who is the son of Davey Boy Smith, apparently lied about his age in order to train as early as possible.
“I think when I started, Harry used to lie about his age. So I don’t know if he was 14 or if he was 16 at the time, I never remembered,” Viktor said. “He used to always lie. But he was such a tall, skinny kid, and was just a total s–t disturber. I bonded with him and TJ (Tyson Kidd) pretty quick because they were both awesome already at their age. They were so much fun to be around. We would always train together. We had a pretty good crew. I’d say the first year I was in the dungeon, I probably saw about a hundred kids come and go. There was a handful, maybe, that stayed.”
Speaking further on Smith, Viktor had nothing but praise for the former WWE Tag Team Champion, citing his throwback style and mentality as especially admirable.
“I mean, he’s so traditional, which is awesome because there isn’t a lot of people that have that same mindset,” Vik said. “He’s very traditional, and he really always loved every aspect of wrestling. Not just the entertainment side of it. He just loves wrestling. Once he started traveling and getting out, he just never stopped. He’d go work with Josh Barnett to learn how to fight. He’s always taking advantage of anybody he could learn from. Like, I was super jealous when I saw he met Billy Robinson and learned some stuff from him. I was like, ‘Ah man, damn. You’re lucky.’ He keeps going at it, you know, he loves it. I’d say he embodies the sport more than anybody, just looking at it, because he’s just very wrestling. He’s such a great personality, like I’ve watched that guy change so much over the years but it’s never been for the worse.”
Vik and Smith’s bond went beyond the dungeon, as they would occasionally wrestle each other. Vik shared a funny story about how the two once had a match where they gave each other their favorite powerbombs.
“I remember way back in Stampede, there was a time when both of us were just obsessed with powerbombs,” Viktor said. “I loved the Wild Pegasus Bomb, and he was in love with like, the Liger Bomb. Something like that. We had a match where we both gave one to each other, and I remember I gave him a Pegasus Bomb, and he goes, ‘You win (groans).’ And I laughed, and I don’t know if we ever powerbombed each other ever again after that. That was a long time ago, and it wouldn’t happen nowadays.”
The Awakening (fka The Ascension) battle The Headbangers for their Atomic Revolutionary Wrestling Tag Team Championships on Friday February 19th. You can find more info by following ARW on Twitter @WrestlingAtomic.
Viktor’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. You can find the full interview in both video and audio form below: