Before becoming an overnight sensation in AEW, Powerhouse Will Hobbs spent well over a decade perfecting his craft in pro wrestling. As he progressively became an indie darling, a massive opportunity landed in his lap when he received several opportunities to showcase himself in WWE during their tryout sessions.
This week on Oral Sessions with Renee Paquette, Hobbs described what his tryouts for WWE entailed and how one of them landed him an opportunity to work with Baron Corbin.
“I did a couple of tryouts at the PC (Performance Center). Probably my best tryout was with Big Swole and Eddie Kingston. We were all together for this tryout and just something between us; we cheered each other on and helped each other out,” Powerhouse Will Hobbs recalled. ” Obviously, from that tryout, nothing happened from it. And then, I did [some] extra work for the WWE when they came out to the Bay Area. I did a match with Baron Corbin, which went really well, but nothing happened.
“It was a last-minute thing. I was walking from catering, and one of the agents approached me like, ‘Hey, I need you to go and put on your gear.’ I go put on my gear, and in gorilla, I’m talking to Baron Corbin. We probably had six or seven minutes to put it together.”
Going back to his time at the Performance Center, Paquette and Hobbs revisited a moment where he invoked an awe-inspiring response from the audience during a promo class when he told the story about his older brother, who tragically passed away several years prior, and how their dream of becoming the next great wrestler/manager duo would sadly never be fulfilled.
“When I did my promo, I forget who yelled it out, but someone yelled out, ‘Now that’s a promo,'” Hobbs remembered. “I didn’t want to give a wrestling promo about how I’m going to see you next week and blah, blah, blah, this and that. I just told a story.
“I told the story about my brother, and you know, that was supposed to be my partner in this thing. Unfortunately, things happen, and he didn’t make it. But from what I was told, when you give a promo, you give that real feeling and pull the people in. It’s all about the real emotion. And that’s what I did.”
Following that, Hobbs told the pivotal story about his brother’s passing.
“So, my brother did what he had to do to pay the bills,” Hobbs began. “My grandparents had passed away, we were in their house, and their mortgage had to be paid. He led a life of crime and did things he shouldn’t have done.
“One day, I was coming home, rushing to get into the house, and a black car comes slowly creeping and eventually takes off down the street and starts firing. I got pushed out of the way, and I got hit in the forearm. He got hit six times and passed away. I get choked up just talking about it. Like, I get this feeling talking about it. It’s just one of those things where you’ll never get over [it], even though I try. It’s something I think about daily.”
Instead of letting his brother’s passing derail his purpose in pro wrestling, it motivated him even more to carry forth their childhood dream and make it into a reality.
“I didn’t want to be like a lot of my friends that I grew up [with]. A lot of my friends got into gangs and drugs. There’s a handful [of them] that are in prison and a handful that are dead. I never liked to be a follower. I always liked to do what I wanted to do. Whether I got made fun of or it was completely opposite of what everyone else was doing. I knew from a young age I wanted to wrestle, and watching wrestling with my sister, my grandparents and my brother, that was the thing that didn’t derail me. I always wanted to do what I wanted to do.”
With a chuckle in his voice, Hobbs recalled what a smooth talker his brother was and how their grandfather even thought his brother had the tools to become a prominent wrestling manager.
“He wanted to be a manager,” Hobbs noted. “He had a tongue on him. He could talk slick. My grandpa always said he could sell a polar bear toenail[s] if he wanted to.”
You can listen to Powerhouse Will Hobbs’ full interview here. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Oral Sessions w/Renée Paquette with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.