As we have reported, a number of TNA wrestlers were in London for the Film and Comic Con. The Royal Ramblings team were fortunate enough to sit down with TNA stars 'Cowboy' James Storm, Robbie E and Brook for a brief but candid chat, following a tour of the UK parliament.
TNA has just announced that British Boot Camp 2 will be coming to Challenge TV. What does that mean for the company, how strong is British wrestling in your opinion and what impact has former British Boot Camp winner Rockstar Spud had in TNA?
JS: Well, we're still trying to get rid of Rockstar spud!! But seriously, I think it's really cool to have a show like that. It gives British wrestlers an opportunity to be seen by an audience before they get to the roster. You talk about the Brits in wrestling right now, well it's almost kind of like the Beatles now, they're getting huge. You have Magnus and Bram in TNA and also Rob Terry. In other promotions too, the Brits are being pushed. So I think it's a pretty good time for British wrestlers.
RE: TNA wrestling is so big in the UK, so it's pretty smart to have a programme like this to keep building new British characters for our shows because it will keep the British fans interested.
Br: Well I want to see a girl win this year, that's what I want to see
Well, Gail Kim is judging this time around...
Br: Which is really awesome. I think she's a great pick, she's been doing this for 15 years and so that is a great move for Impact Wrestling. But I also want to see a few more talents involved. We had a number last time - the Blossom Twins, Rockstar Spud and 'Party' Marty. I'd also like to see more training - the more grueling part of pro-wrestling.
We're told that referees and announcers can apply for British Boot Camp 2?
RE: Well, referees and announcers are just as important as wrestlers. They're all part of the show so they should have a chance too
JS: If you have a bad referee, the match can be horrible and it's the same way with ring announcers. The announcer is the one that introduces us and gets the crowd going.
Br: ... and keeps them going... I don't think people realise how hard that is...
JS: Yeah, it's a hard job and I've been a special referee before and it sucks! It's hard! Doing their part is very different to being a wrestler.
Growing up, who were your favourite British wrestlers?
JS: Of course, mine was the British Bulldog. I watched the Hart Foundation all the time and even watched him in his earlier Calgary days.
RE: Well, I don't often agree with James Storm! But I've got to go with Davey Boy Smith. In fact, both British Bulldogs. Because when I started watching wrestling those were really the only British wrestlers around - or at least the only ones I knew of. So that's what I remember from when I was younger - and I want Matilda to be my dog!!
You mean you didn't see any of the British wrestling from the 70s and 80s?
RE: I didn't, at least not until later on
JS: Everywhere I go round here though, everyone always mentioned Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks!
RE: I once body-slammed Haystacks Calhoun, just throwing that out there...
What is your opinion on the 6-sided ring?
JS: I don't like it. I've been here since day one and I'm more of a 4-sided traditionalist. The 6-sided ring hurts. The structure's made different than a 4-sided ring, there's more steel under there. It's a little bigger, which is no problem, but the ropes are shorter and so they're tighter and the corners are not 90 degrees. I think it should be brought back for special events like Destination-X or Slammiversary. Just for that one night, for a Pay-Per-View to do something different. Give it 3 months and it won't be special anymore.
RE: You think of pro-wrestling and you think of 4-sides!
Br: ... and growing up that's what you see, 4 sides! You might think more of MMA and the octagon when it's that style of ring. I've never wrestled in it so I personally and have no idea what it's like but it's not something that I'm personally very excited about. It's going to be confusing.
JS: Our 4-sided ring was 16x16 and this is 18x18 and its 20x20 corner to corner so it will throw you off if you're not used to working in it.
There was a great deal of internet buzz about TNA's New York Shows. They are coming to UK TV soon. What was your take on them?
JS: To me it was just another show. I show up, put my stuff on and go and do my job. I don't treat New York any different to Columbia, Tennessee. I've got a job to do, I go do my job and to me the crowd was just as good as when we were in Dallas.
Br: Absolutely, everyone deserves it, every fan in every arena deserves us putting in the effort.
JS: You know a lot of people think it was special because there were ECW guys there but to me the crowds not really there to see ECW, they're there to see TNA - that's how I look at it.
RE: Yeah I agree, I think the New York fans think that they're privileged and that they're stars themselves, but we're the stars. I think they think that they deserve respect and that we're doing something extra special for them but that's just not the case. Like Storm said, no matter where we show up we're doing our job. We want to win our wrestling matches and be the best wrestler we can be. It doesn't affect where we're at, we're always giving 110%.
In a previous blog, we argued that TNA book external talent well - the Von Erichs in Texas and Rhino/Dreamer in New York. But what's the impact in the locker room when talents arrive and win the title shortly after?
JS: You know me, being there from day one, I go out and do my job - and I'm not in control of booking and management and I don't make the decisions - but I'm old school and I think you need to put your time in and you need to earn it. Just because you come from somewhere else doesn't mean you should be our world champion. You need to come into our locker-room and earn respect from the guys because when you come in and they put the belt on you right away, I can tell you, a lot of guys are thinking that's BS. You need to come in and you need to earn it.
RE: I think you should ask me first, Storm keeps saying what I want to say! I agree with him. There are a lot of times where I think to myself "I want that opportunity" and I think I will get those opportunities but ultimately I'm most worried about Robbie E. So at times, things do bother me but I care most about Robbie E and if I'm still ticking then I'm still happy.
Br: In my view, it should be whatever's best for the show and not just brining in someone with a past following. We have future stars and they're the ones that need the push not somebody that has already had a name. It does seems that anyone that has had a name has the opportunity to come in and be on top but we're full of a lot of talent that can be used.
JS: A prime example is when Sting was in TNA. Now you know he's not going to be there long, so use him to build up talent. I wrestled him 9 times in a row and you know how many times I won? 0. It's not going to hurt him to loose but it will help me to win because it helps to build me up. It was the same way with Hogan when he was at TNA. When he was getting ready to leave, use that to build somebody up. Let somebody go out there and just beat him up. I don't know what it is, those guys, management or whatever but to me that's a rule. If somebody's leaving - an older star or established guy - you use them to build up other guys.
We recently spoke to Al Snow and he told us about a rib he pulled whereby he stole a goat and let it into somebody's room. We know the TNA locker-room has now twice had everyone sing him happy birthday when it hasn't been his birthday. What's the best rib you've played on someone or that you've had played on you?
RE: I think Al snow was around at a time when it was a lot crazier, not sure it gets crazier than goats! Believe me, I know! So to be honest there isn't much that goes on in TNA. If anything, Storm's the one that would try and do things. When I first got here he used to steal my elbow pads all the time!
JS: He still gets mad! He'll forget an elbow pad or something else at home and come right up to me and demand it. I'll tell him I don't have it but he won't believe me! Then later on he'll find it!
RE: Well, I set up surveillance in the locker room and now he knows better...
Br: I think it's different for the Knock-Outs. Some girls would get very mad if I stole their stuff. I don't think they would all see the funny side of it!
JS: If I were you I'd glue their heels to the floor! ... I can tell you one we did on Rhino. We were doing some shows in Tennessee and he was staying at my house with Billy Gunn. Billy and I went out drinking the night before the show and so we made Rhino drive the next day. We were going to Jackson, Tennessee and my brother is a police officer there - and he looks nothing like me. So I had my brother pull us over and mess with Rhino. He did the whole windows down, hands on the steering wheel business... meanwhile I'm throwing fries and they're hitting Rhino on the head and he's cussing at me. My brother asks for his license and registration and Rhino gives him the license but says he doesn't know where the registration is because it's my (Storm's) car. My brother asks, "What's his name" and Rhino said: "I don't know", which didn't go down well with my brother. Rhino explained that he didn't know my real name because we're all professional wrestlers but my brother said he didn't watch wrestling. He then asked Rhino if he'd been drinking and Rhino told him no at which point I shouted out that Rhino was actually on steroids! Billy, who wasn't in on the joke was completely shocked by this point. My brother then pulled Rhino out of the car and gave him the drinking test. Meanwhile, I have some bullets in the back of my truck, because I often target shoot. I held up a bullet from the window and shouted "officer, he's got a gun on him!". Rhino, in complete shock, looked at me then turned around and saw that my brother had his taser aimed at him and was screaming at him to put his hands on his head. Rhino reached up but my brother kept telling him to reach higher. At that point my brother told Rhino he was taking him to jail. He takes Rhino to the car and puts one hand behind his back and cuffs him. I get out of the car, come running over and hit my brother from behind. He goes down as if he's been knocked out. Rhino turns around, one hand still cuffed and says "What did you just do Storm!". I shouted "Dude, let's get out of here. We'll rip the camera out of his car and they'll never know it was us". He simply said "FU, I'm leaving". He goes to take off, running into the woods. At that point we let him know what was happening. He told me he was convinced I'd gone completely crazy. He was going to run into the nearest house and call the cops!
In the short time we spent interviewing them, it was clear that James, Robbie and Brook were all thoughtful and intelligent people, passionate about their jobs and TNA. Any British talent surviving the boot camp will find these established talents a hard act to follow and as we heard, will need to be putting the time in to earn the right to face them.