Former WWE star Tyler Reks recently spoke with Alex Obert from the Journey Of a Frontman website. Here are the highlights:
Alex Obert: For the wrestlers on the road, how does a ten minute match in the ring compare to a standard workout?
Gabe Tuft: It’s two completely different animals. There is no substitute for in ring conditioning, there’s just none. You can be overweight, you can be skinny, or you can be in super good athletic shape with a great physique, but you may not have ring shape. It’s all about being able to take bumps, there’s really intense stresses that are being put on your body in the ring. And you just cannot compare to that. But building muscle outside the ring is also completely different and it’s necessary because the idea of wrestling is to look at somebody with a decent physique. Sometimes you get guys that are bigger and heavier on purpose and that’s their character, but for the most part, we want to see athletes. So that takes a completely separate regimen. If you’re on the road, doing house shows and TV every week doing a ten, twelve, fifteen minute match, that’s gonna keep your wind up in the ring. But you still need to go and you still need to lift.
Alex Obert: Who were your favorite wrestlers to work out with on the road?
Gabe Tuft: Masters was awesome cause he didn’t miss a day. Hawkins because we rode together all the time. Curtis, currently known as Fandango, another great guy to lift with. Tyson Kidd. Just guys that are really consistent that aren’t afraid to be pushed or to push me. Alex Riley was always in the gym, good guy to work out with. Mason Ryan, obviously huge and an inspiration, I think he was one of my main motivators while I was there. So those guys, great guys to work out with.
Alex Obert: With leaving WWE and starting your own business with Body Spartan, what is your advice for current WWE and TNA wrestlers who might unexpectedly get released and need a game plan so they don’t wind up on the indies in their fifties and sixties?
Gabe Tuft: That’s a tough one. They can always come work for Body Spartan! (laughs) The door is wide open for any of my brothers in the wrestling community to come take part and be apart of the team. But on a separate note, as far as starting a business, I was lucky enough that I have a degree in civil engineering and I’ve always been an internet geek, that I was able to start something from scratch. I started an internet marketing company with my brother in law. I would just say for the guys out there, wrestling is not the end all. There is life after wrestling. You just have to stay motivated. It’s like in the book where I talk about finding motivation for being in the gym, the same goes for life outside wrestling. Gotta be motivated to go make money. Be innovative. Be entrepreneurial. Don’t get caught up in the rat race cause if you’re wrestling, you don’t wanna be in the rat race anyway. You’re meant for something different with all the ways to make money out there. I encourage guys that if that happens, call me, tweet me, I’d be happy to chat with you. I do start ups all the time and we help brand new companies with their branding and with their digital marketing. Any of those guys, man, I’m happy to have a free consult, sit down to do a phone conference, and hopefully get ‘em on the right path.
Alex Obert: Getting into your wrestling career, the first question I have, what was it like on NXT Redemption working main event programs with promo time and lengthy matches?
Gabe Tuft: It was the best thing that ever happened to us. Before, when on Smackdown and RAW, things were happening so quick, we would just sit there and hope for a match. If we got one, it was really short and there’s no time for promos. We couldn’t develop our characters. And all of a sudden, while on the C show, Vince just didn’t care about that. It was obvious because the writers were like, “Well, they don’t care so do whatever you want.” Tom was one of the main writers and he just came up with these great ideas, he came from a soap opera background, so he loved storylines. He was into writing not just a story for this week, but a story for five or six weeks, which as you saw, was something that happened. And we got tons of mic time, long matches, and I loved it. Hawkins loved it. It helped us develop our characters. And we had this miniature cult following and they loved it. Some people on social media were just saying that NXT Redemption was better than RAW and Smackdown. I don’t know if that’s true, but I had a great time. I enjoyed the fact that the fans loved it and they appreciated it and they liked the storylines and matches. We’re not Jerichos, we’re not Ortons, we’re not Cenas, we don’t have that many years under our belt, but we had a good time. And we think it was pretty entertaining.
Alex Obert: What’s your take on why WWE chose to abandon the competition format on NXT Redemption midway through the season and basically turn it into what the WWE version of ECW was?
Gabe Tuft: I think it was just a lack of anybody in a position to make decisions that cared. I just think it was kind of fallen off the radar, they had too much going on. The competition, it just started going on forever. The writers didn’t really think past this week, they never really thought into the future, it’s just what’s going on that week. “Okay, we’ve got Cena to wrestle, we’ve got Orton to wrestle, these guys wrestle. We’ll spend two minutes writing NXT.” That kind of thing. So it just kind of became it’s own different show, the whole competition just suddenly disappeared! (laughs) Nobody had any idea what was going on.
Alex Obert: A true wrestling veteran, William Regal, was apart of NXT Redemption. What did you learn from him?
Gabe Tuft: Regal is just a book of knowledge. And it was little things like ways to engage the crowd, how to pick one single person out of the crowd that was an agitator and to make eye contact, getting that person riled up so the people in the crowd would get riled up, just ways to work the crowd. How to work differently and creatively, how to build a story creatively, how to take our time. There’s a lot of stuff that the vets can offer, a lot of knowledge that you just can’t get in FCW and you can’t get unless you work with the guys in the ring, whether they’re there to compete or watch your matches and give you advice. It was not something that he just dished out. He was quiet at first and then he understood that we cared and we wanted to learn, so he gave us a little more and a little more and before you know it, he was helping us out quite a bit.
Alex Obert: You also worked a lot with Matt Striker on NXT Redemption. What was your relationship with him like backstage?
Gabe Tuft: Striker’s a great guy. He would always pull me aside and give me advice. Him and I are buddies, again, great guy. Another guy with a lot of knowledge, a great amount of knowledge for creating a story that’s interesting, not just going out there and wrestling, but telling a story. It’s just kind of a lost art. That’s what those vets have to offer. And Striker would watch every match and watch every promo Hawkins and I did. He’d sometimes pull me aside or grab me and grab Hawkins and say, “Real quick, just wanted to tell you this, this, this. Maybe try this or may I suggest you talk to the writer and try something like this? You got nothing to lose.” And ninety nine percent of the time, he was right. He just had a ton of good ideas that came to fruition for us.