Words that stuck with Tyler Bateman over his long career came from Tracy Smothers. The idea that he had a real job most of the time to support his “wrestling habit.” These days things have been looking up for the veteran who is currently aligned in The Righteous with Vincent and Vita VonStarr in Ring of Honor. He also just signed a new deal with the promotion. Despite all the success, Bateman never forgets the steps it took to get him to where he stands today.
“I started in Oklahoma and my first show was in 2001. I first moved to California in 2007, and that whole period I don’t think there was a time I wasn’t working once or twice a month. I moved out to Southern California where it took me two or three months to get booked and having to start all over again,” Bateman recalled..
“After establishing myself in this area and seeing others witness their career take off, getting their time to shine. Not necessarily being upset with them but wondering, ‘What am I not doing? Am I dong something wrong?’ Hearing so many times, ‘You just need to be seen by the right people. Mechanically you’re not wrong.’”
This was hard for the relative newcomer to digest because the people telling him were the right people seeing him. There were times when he thought about quitting, but Bateman remained persistent. Some breaks started to reveal themselves along the way including a tryout at the WWE Performance Center, thanks in part to Brian Kendrick. The experience of taking part in the New Japan LA Dojo and working for Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. He is grateful to people like Kendrick, as well as Brody King, the Santino Bros. and “Bad” Brad Michaels.
“It took a village to raise this idiot,” Bateman added.
The Side Hustle
To stay afloat while honing his skills, the dedicated pro wrestler took on a number of jobs. Steady work within the food and service industry allowed for flexibility and helped pay the bills. Juggling the schedule wasn’t easy.
“You work as many shots as you possibly can, which you’re usually making a hit on anyway,” he said. “You want to make enough to make food, rent, gear trying to look professional, making merch, paying for the design of merch. I work any day of the week Monday through Thursday, but I need to be out at this time on this day…..It can be an absolute screaming nightmare, but it became routine at the time.”
New Japan Strong
The year before he was initially signed to Ring of Honor it had gotten to a point where the income between the day job and wrestling were at 50-50. It was a little less stressful, but ROH changed his life in many ways. The promotion also gives him the freedom to expand on the dream by appearing on NJPW’s Strong show including a recent standout match with Ren Narita. He hopes the working relationship between ROH and other companies remain strong.
“Officially working on the cerulean blue mat of New Japan means the world,” Bateman said. “[My career now] justified that I hadn’t just been throwing my time away.”
Watch ROH weekly in syndication, on ROH’s website or HonorClub.
(Featured Photo Courtesy: Ring of Honor/Mike Adams)
Bateman’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 audio, as well as the video from Scott’s interview with Bateman, below.