PART 2 – LIVING THE AMERICAN DREAM
There’s that old saying that puts fear in many a person; Never meet your heroes.
Everything you believe in in a certain person can be crushed in a second, with an interaction that will never leave your memory. I myself have had that same experience with wrestlers I’ve admired in the past and been left disappointed.
But does that same old story ring true for The “American Nightmare” Cody Rhodes?
Not even in the slightest.
For a man with the whole weight of the pro wrestling world on his shoulders leading up to Wrestlemania at the time, there is no end to the generosity and kindness of The “American Nightmare” Cody Rhodes. There is the public stories of his generosity, but not all of them make it to light. Giving a suit to a student who couldn’t afford the right attire on promo day is just one small example of the type of person he is. Although he did personally greet my partner Sofie and not me due to a pun-filled shirt she was wearing at the time, I try not to hold grudges.
But that’s not what you’re here to read about right? Of course not!
From Day 1 I knew I wasn’t in for an easy ride. I may have had some years experience, but America is a different ballgame. But what I didn’t know was what laid ahead of me was going to be some of the most emotionally gruelling weeks of my life.
If you were going to lay out the dynamic between Head Coaches QT Marshall and Cody Rhodes it would be this; Good cop, Bad cop.
While Cody would be the coach to initiate the pep talk huddle to boost morale, QT was the coach to tell you “nah we ain’t doing that shit”. The epitome of brutally honest tough love, but the type of man you need to grow as a person in this industry.
The camp consisted of individuals with a myriad of different backgrounds. Backgrounds such like Lance Storm-trained Canadian twins, mentally tough ex-military, a celebrity fighter with exceptional athleticism, plus many passionate folk stepping into a ring for the first time.
I will admit to have been frustrated at times due to the differing levels of experience with the camps participants and the different progression levels. At the age of 30, there is a level of pressure (be it self-made or age based) that can take its toll on you, and being a perfectionist feeds you into being your own worst critic. I didn’t come all this way to America to spend 12 weeks at one of the best schools in the world for a fun-time holiday. So in saying that, I am very thankful to have the support base I have in my loving partner Sofie and my family, that many times I had to lean on to keep pushing along as the weeks went on and self-doubt crept in.
Through all the split lips, niggling injuries, sickness and times where others would’ve quit, I have all the respect in the world for the camp goers. Even if some of them never wrestle again after the 12 weeks were conpleted, it’s a accomplishment not many can say they’ve achieved.
I can’t do the training experience justice in an article, but there were certain standout moments that I will never forget. Standing in a room with Cody Rhodes as he critiques your promo was equally terrifying and gratifying. It made me walk away with a lot to think about as a person and the character I want to portray. Having the pleasure of having John Cena visit as the camps guest during a particularly frustrating week of training was a privilege I will never take for granted. Plus Sofie became best mates with Billy Gunn! (One day he’ll reciprocate my love).
But the one moment that will stick with me forever was an unexpected motivational talk from “tough cop” Coach QT Marshall, that made me truly assess my own life. I am someone who not widely known has a crippling fear of failure, stemming from my father’s passing. I have self-sabotaged many potential opportunities in the past in order to protect myself, in my professional and personal life.
I can’t pay the right respect to what was said by QT, but his own journey of coming from being a last minute fill-in as an agent at the first All-in show, to becoming a vice president in AEW through constant hustling can be summed up by one simple question;
“What’s the worst that can happen?”
By the time of the final week, my whole understanding of professional wrestling had changed. Pacing, structure, positioning. The little things I personally believe holds an individual back from making to that next step as a performer.
And in saying that, as the time flew by and the final week rolled around, so did the Nightmare Factory Showcase…..
TO BE CONTINUED (AGAIN)