Until his recent push in the NWA, as a part of the Rude Boys tag team with “El Rudo” Sam Adonis, it might be fair to say that “That Dude” Jamie Stanley was, in fact, “that dude” that you didn’t recognize, whether it was banging the glass during the NXT closed-set pandemic tapings, an unnamed security guard, or as one of the people watching the Raw Underground fights.
So he’s been that close to the big time.
Stanley is all-in on a wrestling career, and recognizes the chance in front of him with the NWA.
“It’s the biggest opportunity that I’ve had. I’ve been wrestling for about four years now, and mostly around the southeast,” Stanley told SlamWrestling.net at NWA Powerrr tapings done at the Georgia Public Broadcasting center in early December, where the NWA was shooting four days of television. “I’ve done a lot of extra work for WWE, and things like that. But Billy [Corgan, NWA owner] and then the NWA, the fact that they were able to take a chance, and stick their neck out for me, it means a lot. And I am absolutely ready and prepared to show them that ‘That Dude’ belongs in NWA.”
But who is “That Dude” and where did he come from?
Nick Stuible is a native of Lansing, Michigan. He played fullback and linebacker in Division II football at Northwood University. A fan of the Monday Night Wars, he didn’t exactly have a wrestling dream, but once football was over, it crossed his mind.
“When I was done playing football in college, I had that huge hole that I wanted to still entertain, I still wanted to have that competitive edge and compete and do something that was athletic and got my heart going and was invigorating,” he said. Flipping channels, he found wrestling again, and did a Google search, and there was a school three miles away, which Stanley calls fate.
The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder had his initial training as a pro in Nashville, at Wolfie D’s House of Champions. Stanley walked in, just wanting to watch a class in progress; instead he was encouraged to get in the ring. “As soon as I got in there and started running the ropes, man, I was hooked. And I got in and I guess the rest is history, and here we are 10 years later.” After learning from the veteran Wolfie D (PG-13, Nation of Domination, Slash in The New Church in TNA), Stanley furthered his education under Chris Michaels.
“When everybody starts wrestling, they want to play what they think a wrestler will be like. Then just over the years, I just tried different characters out,” said Stanley. At that time, he used the name Nick Stanley, usually in plain white trunks, a traditional good guy. “I used to be a gladiator that would hand out roses to a special somebody in the crowd and I would call them Stanley’s sweethearts. That stuff might work in small town Tennessee, but that’s kind of where it stopped.”
So did his career. He only really wrestled a couple of years and then took a break after getting married. He and his wife, Renee, have a three-year-old daughter and an infant son.
“Just recently, in 2019, I came back and made my return. So in between that, I guess you piece together it’s been about four years on and off, but I’m here to stay now,” the 33-year-old Stanley said.
To get back into ring shape, he established a base in Clarksville, Tennessee, with Tried-N-True wrestling, run by Anthony (Crimson) Mayweather, and featuring many other regulars in the NWA like Jax Dane. “They welcomed me with open arms,” he said.
Clarksville is where “That Dude” took shape. He’d heard Jim Ross and Stone Cold Steve Austin talk about how the best characters are yourself with the volume turned up. Stanley took a look in the mirror and reconsidered.
“I’m naturally a pretty introverted guy, but I say dumb and ridiculous things just to pop my wife basically,” he recalled. “So I was like, how can I take that and just be the most obnoxious, dumb, just douchey — for lack of a better term, pardon my language — guy that I could be? It’s like, well, okay, let’s put together this guy who just knows he is the most handsome, talented, charismatic, and humble man. And if you look at this jawline, I mean, how could you not think about America? You think Mount Rushmore, you think eagles, you think home-cooked apple pie and baseball.
“It came pretty natural when I just sat down and looked inwardly and said, ‘You know what? Just be dumb and let all the inhibitions go and see where it takes me.'”
His one named appearance on WWE TV came as Stanley Watts in NXT in January 2019, teaming with Hector Kunsman in a loss to Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel.
Like many stories, the COVID-19 pandemic changed plans.
On March 10, 2020, Stanley had made his way to Orlando, for a WWE tryout. You can probably guess the rest – the world closed.
“It was a Wednesday morning, got there at 9 a.m. As soon as we sat down, they said, ‘Guys, thank you so much, we appreciate you taking the time out, and coming to see us and investing in us. Unfortunately, the world is shutting down, we’re not sure what’s happening, or what’s going to happen. So we’re gonna have to turn you around to fly you back this afternoon to your house.’ They said, ‘We’re not sure what’s going to happen or when there’s going to be a tryout, or if there’s going to be a tryout, but we’ll be in contact.'”
A global pandemic didn’t deter Stanley and his young family. They decided to truly pursue the dream, he needed to be in Florida. Fortunately, Stanley had been working remotely as a data analyst since 2015, so he could keep his job and live in Orlando. Stanley recalled thinking, “I really want this and I feel like we’re being called to do this.”
“June of 2020, right in the middle of the pandemic, we decided to burn the ships as they say, and totally uproot our family,” he said. “We didn’t know anybody in Orlando, but we went in on this crazy dream of mine, and moved to Orlando in the middle of a quarantine and a pandemic. We’ve been super blessed because ever since then, things have really been picking up. I couldn’t be happier with the old Orlando area and just super excited to be there.”
This is where the WWE extra work comes in. WWE was running shows out of the Amway Center in Orlando, and the Performance Center in Winter Park. “I was right down the road. So I was like, ‘You know what? I’m just gonna be obnoxious. I’m going to be in their face, I’m gonna be knocking on the door whenever they need me, they can they can have me.’ I was doing extra spots for WWE two, three times a week, during last summer.”
The persistence paid off, and Stanley attended a proper tryout in February 2021, that was also properly socially-distanced. The first aborted tryout was a big class, but this go-round, WWE had cut back. “There were 10 of us, and it ended up with six of us. So four people dropped out, they apparently realized it just wasn’t for them. It was not the the regular PC, they had a makeshift one because they were running shows out of the PC, so it wasn’t set up for training,” he recalled, launching into the rest of the story:
Everything was set up for social distance, following guidelines, everything like that. … It was a two-day tryout. The first day, they just did a lot of basic stuff, a lot of the rolls and seeing how you move and how you could control your body and in the ring and stuff like that. And then we went over and did a workout with their strength and conditioning coach, Sean Hayes, so that was a lot of fun. He’s a very intense guy, but he knows his stuff. That was a great experience.
Second day, we came back, we had promos that we had prepared and showed them. And then we had matches. And then we had one more blow-up drill, which if you aren’t familiar with that, it’s basically to try to get you to puke, or try to get you to quit, whatever comes first. Just one last all-out cardio workout to kind of test your mettle.
After that, they’re like, “Awesome, guys. Thank you so much.” And this was before they started releasing people, so they still had 1,000 people on their roster. So they said, “We’re not really hiring right now, but we will be in contact within the next few weeks, months, whatever. And you’ll hear from us.”
I kind of had the same situation coming out of it as I did going in. So lo and behold, after a few weeks, they said, “We loved your character. We loved your your leadership, your tenacity, your drive, work ethic” [and] your jawline, obviously, because they have eyes and they can see.
But, they said, “Unfortunately, we’re not really hiring anytime and good luck on your future endeavors.”
At that point, I was like, well, I guess I can go one of two ways — I can quit and go back to my day job and say, “Well, at least I got a tryout, and this isn’t for me,” or I can go back to the drawing board and buckle down and say, “Okay, what’s next?”
Stanley had put together a package for the NWA brass to see, and was invited to the tapings at the Khorassan Ballroom of the Chase Park Plaza in St. Louis in August.
“I’m super grateful because I just fell in love with the company, the atmosphere, Billy [Corgan] is awesome, Pat [Kenney, head of talent relations] is awesome, all the administration, all the boys, all the girls; it’s just a big family here, which you definitely didn’t see in a lot of other companies. Everybody has each other’s back,” Stanley raved. “We’re all concerned about the end product and then helping each other out. That’s why I think that is just such a great fit for me, and this is this is my home right now.”
Stanley found himself in a tag team, the Rude Dudes. The veteran Adonis couldn’t be happier with the pairing.
“I knew nothing about Jamie Stanley before working here at NWA. It was kind of a project that was thrown together last minute, because we’re both overwhelmingly egotistical and full of ourselves,” chuckled Adonis. “But we’re both big guys with bleached blonde hair. It kind of happened naturally, it was just, ‘Hey, let’s put these guys together.’ And it kind of works, because Jamie’s a great learner, a listener. He’s somebody that’s able to take his natural ability and apply it to what I’m able to bring to the table from my experience and my years of wrestling around the world. It’s been great how fast he’s been able to pick it up and just learn on the fly. And I think, honestly, already with the three sets of tapings we’ve done, we’ve already been able to make an impact here in the NWA.”
Stanley has no problem admitting he’s still growing as a performer, and he relishes the chance to work with the small studio audiences that the NWA celebrates, getting immediate responses from fans. “I’ve a lot to learn, definitely, but that’s first and foremost, just trying to make a connection with the people — good or bad. A lot of them hate me, which I don’t know why because I mean, look at me,” he said, modestly, always modestly. “These people come because they want to be a part of the show. They want to be entertained, and they want a connection with those in the ring. So I try to focus on that first. It’s like, okay, I want to entertain, I want to be this larger than life character, like the types that I gravitated towards when I was a kid watching. I don’t remember what moves people did or what highspots people ran. I remember people’s catchphrases; how they made me feel when I watched them, the connection to the audience, their character, their charisma. I just try to emulate that.”
“That Dude” has a look, and Stanley credits his wife for much of it, as she is now making his gear.
“I bought her a sewing machine a couple years ago, to kind of force her to at least try, and that thing sat and collected dust in the closet for three years,” he laughed. “Then I had a little mishap with my most recent gear before she started making it, where it just took forever, and I wasn’t sure if and when I was gonna get in. She was like, ‘You know what? Let me just take a stab at it.'”
Self-taught through YouTube videos, she learned and made the trunks for “That Dude” including his emblem and catchphrase. “She made one pair of trunks and they were the best fitting and they looked really good,” Stanley raved, tipping off that maybe Santa would be bringing more sewing equipment. “God bless her, man, she’s not only willing and able, but she has fun doing it. So she is an angel for sure. She’s the reason why ‘That Dude’ looks so good.”
With a day job (“I obviously have the enormous brains to go with these strikingly good looks”), and kids who have allowed dad the chance to rise early to workout and work, Stanley is appreciative of the flexibility.
“As long as I’m getting my work done, I can go and play superhero in the ring and wrestle people in my undies. So it’s kind of the best of both worlds and it’s been a huge blessing because I definitely would not be able to be here this weekend or take these long trips without that kind of freedom and flexibility — so it’s a godsend,” he said.
Working on a computer is fine and all, but “That Dude” needs to be seen, and wrestling is his solution. “Believe it or not, data analysis just doesn’t give you that same type of rush.”
TOP PHOTO: Jamie Stanley backstage at the NWA Powerrr tapings on December 5, 2021. Photo by Greg Oliver