Wednesday night, June 3rd, is a big one in the wrestling world. TNA moves its flagship Impact program to a new day, Ring of Honor debuts on Destination America as a lead-in to Impact, and the regularly-scheduled NXT and Lucha Underground shows air. It’s also a big night for TNA star Rockstar Spud, who is debating the option of dropping his X Division title and chasing Kurt Angle’s World title.
Doing the media rounds on Tuesday, Rockstar Spud (James Michael Curtin) is easy-going and honest. He’s excited about all aspects of the new Wednesday Night Wars.
“It’s an amazing time to be a wrestling fan. Wednesday is wrestling day in the United States of America,” he said. “Wrestling promotions and wrestlers tend to their set groups of fans that follow them everywhere. For example, if a professional wrestler comes to Impact Wrestling, their following will come with them. It’s just like the Hardy Boys here, Team 3-D. It’s just the following will come with.It’s a great time to be a wrestling fan. I’m so excited that we’re on Wednesdays as well. There’s all this pro wrestling traffic that’s going to be on social media, it’s going to be in the public eye.”
Like those followers, Rockstar Spud is decidedly a fan too.
“I will never deny this to anybody — I may be a professional wrestler, but I am the biggest wrestling fan in the world and I watch everything. I’m doing exactly what people at home are doing — I’m DVRing everything and I watch everything. I like to keep up with what’s going on in the industry.”
As for what’s going on in his career, here’s the short version: He won the first TNA British Boot Camp after eight years as a wrestler in the United Kingdom. He reinvented himself shortly before the camp, going from a small underdog babyface to the colourful Rockstar Spud. He spent some time in OVW, TNA’s developmental territory, and made the main roster as the company’s Chief of Staff, alongside owner Dixie Carter. Over time, he ended up wrestling more and more, and is currently the TNA X Division champion.
Wednesday night he faces a choice; according to the storyline there’s an option in his contract whereby he can forfeit the X Division belt and challenge for Kurt Angle’s World title.
What will he do?
“Biggest decision of my bloody life, mate. Never did I think that I’d be in a situation where I would be handing over a championship,” he admitted.
Winning the X Division title meant a lot to him, in part because it was a title that he’d seen in person.
“When I was growing up, I was in the United Kingdom, and we had people like Christopher Daniels, A.J. Styles, Samoa Joe, Austin Aries, Jerry Lynn, Amazing Red, we had all these people coming over to the United Kingdom and on rare occasions, one of them would be the X Division champion. This was the first time you’d actually seen, like a real belt, a real belt that means something all over world. You’d look at it and you’d be, ‘I want to be like that,'” he recalled. “These guys looked like such stars and carried themselves like such stars and held the championship with pride and promoted TNA while defending the championship everywhere. I was like, ‘I want to be the X Division champion.'”
After a feud with Ethan Carter III ended with a defeat in a Hair vs. Hair bout, Spud entered the X Division title picture. He beat Low-Ki for the title on January 31, 2015, a match which aired on March 20th — technically just after he’d lost the belt on March 16th to Kenny King in a ladder match, but that bout didn’t air until May 1st. On May 11th, he regained the X Division title and now faces the big choice.
Winning the X Division belt “was the most amazing feeling I’d ever had in my life,” he confessed. “I thought, ‘Nothing is ever going to get better than this.’ Now I’m in a situation with Option C where I could trade in all of that and face the greatest wrestler of all time, Kurt Angle, the former 13-time World heavyweight champion, and have to choose on national television, worldwide, to wrestle this man and potentially be the TNA World heavyweight champion. Now, the goal to be X Division champion was succeeded, twice. … But to be a World heavyweight champion? They say dreams don’t come true. That’s the boyhood dream forever.”
He wasn’t about to tip his hat on what will happen, so tune in on Destination America in the U.S. and on The Fight Network in Canada.
“They’re going to put me on the spot. I really don’t know. It’s the biggest decision I’m ever going to make in my career thus far,” he said.
A big part of Rockstar Spud’s appeal is his lack of size. He’s 5-foot-4 on a good day, and only about 140 pounds.
He’s used to it. “I’ve been a small guy that the odds are stacked against from Day 1. I will say that I just won’t stop fighting. That’s been me my whole life, ‘Tell me no, I’ll prove you wrong,'” he said. “Someone like me, the writing’s on the wall says that if someone looks like me, dresses like me, acts like me and talks like me, should not go as far as I have.”
The reinventing into the obnoxious 1980s-type rock star sure helped.
“I was the underdog babyface on the independents. It was a weird time in the industry because a lot of white-meat babyfaces weren’t really accepted by the fans at the time. So I switched my character up, and became the personality that I am — but it wasn’t the personality that I was portraying in the ring. So, all the negative traits of my personality are turned up to 11 and are put in the ring with Rockstar Spud. He’s a weasely little man with short-man syndrome.”
Rockstar Spud has gone a long way, though fans in North America may not know his whole story.
“It’s strange because probably not a lot of Impact Wrestling fans know my career before British Boot Camp,” he said. “From the moment I walked in to do British Boot Camp, all the way up to this moment on Wednesday night, to decide whether I take the opportunity to be the World heavyweight champion or decide to stay the X Division champion, they’ve got all the footage all the way from there. It’s literally like I’ve nursed this little baby and it’s just grown and grown and grown, and still growing now. That’s because of the fans as well, because one thing that’s important with our business is the connection. For some reason, the fans have connected with me, understand my story, love my story. It’s not a pro wrestling angle, it’s my story. It’s me, I’m me. It’s the closest thing you’re going to see to James Michael Curtin every time you turn on an Impact TV show. It’s the guy that you’ll meet outside the ring, it’s the guy you’ll see in front of the ring. It’s my story and it’s just panning out, and going and going and going. I don’t know when it’s going to stop, I don’t know when it’s going to end, and when it does, I hope everyone is still with me then.”
They say you can’t teach charisma, but Spud will admit that you can learn how to harness it and better use it. Much of that learning came in OVW.
“I was in OVW for 10 months, and learned so much, so much of what this is all about, what this business is all about, with Al Snow, Rip Rogers, Danny Davis, anyone who passed through, I’d just take bits of information and learn and learn and learn. It was just great to have a refresh. Now I’ve got all this knowledge now, and I’m Chief of Staff, and I know what to do and know where I’m going to go, I know where I’m going to be, I know how I’ve got to act, I know what I’ve got to do here, I know what I’ve got to do there. It’s just really cool. I don’t regret any of my time in OVW. I think they were some of the best times I’ll ever have in the business. It was just a great, great 10 months of learning.”
For many, it was his association with Dixie Carter and teaming then feuding with her “nephew” Ethan Carter III that established Rockstar Spud as someone important.
He’s okay with that, but is hoping that a decade down the road that there will be a lot of other feuds and moments to be remembered for as well.
“Some people might have liked us when we were pairing, some people may have not. Some people may have liked it when we fought, some people may not. It’s a subjective industry, and you have your favourites and you have the ones you don’t like, and that’s the beauty of pro wrestling. You can decide for yourself, make your own decision on what flavour of ice cream you want, and how many different flavours of ice cream you like. Anyone can look back on anything that I’ve done, he’s done, or anyone in the pro wrestling industry’s done, treat that as a blessing, because if anyone can look back on anything you’ve done and say, ‘That guy entertained me, that guy made me feel good, that guy made me hate him, that guy made me enjoy it when he got beaten up.’ If you can make anyone feel something, just for a moment, they’ll remember it for the rest of their lives, that’s a big, big blessing, Everyone should take real pride that this industry gives us the ability to do that.”
The wrestling industry also gives lots of options, including giants, little people, muscular beasts and smaller rock stars.
“I know that there’s a lot of people that will resent someone like myself. I can understand that because I’m not 6’4″, I don’t have muscles on my muscles on my muscles. We’re all different. Pro wrestling has always been a circus. If you don’t want clowns, you want the lions. If you don’t want the lions you want the trapeze guys. That’s what’s different about me. The little guy that you see on TV, that’s what’s different about me. The fact that I can connect, the fact that I can grab a microphone and make in believe in me, that’s what’s different about me. I want you to believe in me. That’s all I strive to do. If you believe in me, then we’re going to go on this ride together. It’s going to be the most fun ride you’re ever going to have.”
Tune in tonight to find out where that ride goes.