EC3 is making waves in TNA. An unbeaten streak, a headline talent and limitless potential. We sat down with him to talk Networks, rival companies and training. Read the first part of our full and frank interview below and then make sure to tune in to Impact on Challenge TV on Sunday nights at 9pm to see him in action:
You recently succeeded in beating Spud at Wembley. What was the reaction like from the UK fans?
The atmosphere was something I'll never forget. I've been through a lot in this business without a lot of return but just for that moment, to live it, was something I'll never forget. The crowd made it what it was because everyone felt the emotion of the match and it was excellent. We tried to build this feud upon the emotion that we had and the emotion it provokes in people. I won't say it's an easy story to tell but it's a time-tested story. David vs Goliath in a sense. The little guy vs the entitled machine so to speak. So out there, in London, we let it all out.
Was a 'Hair vs Hair' match a way in which to create dynamic programming for the new network?
I think it's a stipulation that people don't see a lot and it's garnered some attention. I think the way the story had progressed, Hair vs Hair was the only option although our hair isn't necessarily an important aspect in either of our characters or our programmes. I think it's definitely something people haven't seen in a long time and I hope that it generates some interest.
Destination America put out a press release praising TNA but numbers have fluctuated. Are you confident you can keep viewing figures high?
At Destination America, I don't think we can look at anything until we've been entrenched there for a while. I think having them as a partner has been a great asset to TNA and has helped us acquire some fresh, new international television and being a part of their network and part of Discovery regionally can only help us grow more and get better and get more eyes on the product. If it starts on the international stage, I'm fine with that because so many of the loyal fans are international.
There has been some controversy about training in wrestling and you tweeted about it. What did your tweets mean?
The tweets are in response to people I respect highly in this industry, true veterans. I think we both agree that this business is very hard, training needs to be hard, dues need to be paid, it's not for everybody and sometimes you do need to weed out the weak. But as far as what I've seen and heard - and I have seen, those weren't the case. This was the case of seemingly bullying and abusing power and intimidation and just general awfulness that came to light. It's not something when I left that I commented on or made statements about because I didn't want to come off as a bitter guy being bitter and making things up but there was a pattern and the kid that documented it spoke about it and it opened up the door to the conversation that we're having. It is what it is.
In an interview between Vince McMahon and Steve Austin, it was suggested that "with all due respect", TNA are not competition for WWE. What do you think of that?
I think we can't look at ourselves as competition until we establish ourselves with our new direction and our new branding. I think TNA and WWE are neck-and-neck in things like ratings in international markets, so to dismiss us as not competitive is wrong. I think domestically we have ground to cover but I think most important for us is to build our product and be an alternative as opposed to a competitor.
Is there any particular independent talent you would like to see in TNA?
Well there's going to be some acquisitions that we have made that will be on Impact soon but I don't want to give anyone away. These are people you may have seen before but don't know a thing about because of what they've done in the past. They are completely and fully capable of becoming huge stars given the opportunity and they'll have the opportunity with us. As far as anyone by name I can't think, I just know I want people on this team that are loyal, dedicated, bust their ass and are for our cause to build our programme and build our brand.
The internet tells us you're into Zumba. Is that true?
My Wikipedia is rocked with fallacies. As far as Zumba, for me it was a one-off. Let's put the gavel down right now - important topics, headline news, plastered everywhere, I do not do Zumba all the time.
Do you have a favourite 'rib' [practical joke] story?
I can tell you the greatest rib of all time is Robbie E existing.
You were willing to have your head shaved, is there anything you wouldn't do for the art of wrestling?
There is nothing I wouldn't do for the art of wrestling. That's the attitude I think you need. If you love it, that's the attitude you should have. At the end of the day, you're living your dream. This is your dream job there should be nothing beyond what you will do for it.
Part 2 coming soon....