Calvin Tankman Talks Signing With MLW, WWE Tryout Demands and Racism

Bringing you an interview with new MLW signee Calvin Hardman with POST Wrestling’s Andrew Thompson. Here are the highlights:

Calvin talks signing with MLW: “MLW kinda happened out of nowhere. So, I had the WWE stuff, and then I guess I had my name brought up with some other places but it was one of those things where I didn’t have the indie name value yet. I didn’t have the audience for someone to be able to say, ‘Alright, let me pick you up, put you on TV and you’re gonna already have a buzz following.’ At least that’s what I assumed. But it never materialized into anything serious there and then I got contacted by MLW.

They said they’d come across one of my videos and they were really interested so from then on, we signed a contract back in May and it was just one of those things where I had to keep it hush-hush, until they were ready to announce it. That’s difficult to do. Like we were talking about [earlier], I’ve been a wrestling fan since I was three-years old so, to be able to say I was gonna live the dream and actually get to wrestle on TV, I kinda had to be quiet and not tell anyone for two-and-a-half months.”

Calvin on partaking in WWE’s tryout in December (2019)/describes how demanding and testing it was: “I was in there with a guy that was a bodyguard for Drake, with another female that I think she had an NCAA record in like 100 meter dash or 400 meter dash or something like that. She has an NCAA record. We had ‘Ill’ Will Brooks, championship-level Bellator fighter and these people are struggling with this workout. So, to say that it’s [trying]? That’s an understatement. When you have the elite of the elite and they are struggling then you know you’ve done something that’s challenging, and one of the first things William Regal said to us is that he’s never had to do any of this stuff for a job and he — basically, he wouldn’t have been able to do the things they ask you to do at the tryout.

They really push you, whether it’s [an] unprompted promo, randomly that you didn’t know you have to do or from weightlifting to multiple sessions in the ring for hours at a time. We would have to be dressed and ready in the P.C., ready to go, dressed at 9 AM and we didn’t leave until after 6 PM, and we just had an hour break for lunch. Those three or four days, we were hustling and so like, by that third day, you’re hardly getting out of bed. It’s a struggle.”

Calvin shares his experiences with racism in wrestling: “One of my first matches, I had a fan tell me to go eat another bucket of fried chicken. Now I was a heel. I ain’t saying that’s cool but I’m saying I wasn’t antagonizing him, he was ignorant and the fact [is] he shouldn’t have said it. But it’s one of those things, that was literally one of my first three matches. So I was trying to be a heel and I was yelling at him and he said that back and it stopped me. It was one of those things where I was like, ‘Wait, he really just said that?’ It took me out of everything, and then I’ve had someone call me a monkey. These are fans too. These aren’t even workers.

It’s kinda like you’re being childish. You ain’t got nothing else to say to contribute to the conversation or you get caught being wrong or something. You can’t talk your way out of it so instead you just try and end the conversation by insulting the other person and trying to hurt them. In reality, you just make yourself look ignorant. That’s the thing that always comes to my mind. For you to do that type of thing, it’s just ignorant, but that goes for anywhere.”