When I began writing these, I planned to keep them in chronological order. However, there are so many awesome stories I want to get out that outweigh the timeline, so I’ll be bringing my A-Game over the next couple of months with some juicy content. I am skipping forward now to the year 2012. I’ve been blessed to have been offered multiple tryouts before. However, my first tryout will always be the most unique and personal experience I’ve had with WWE. This is the first WWE Tryout, I had.
Firstly only a select few got the chance to be apart of this one. If my memory serves me correctly, I believe there were 6-8 Male Talents and 2 Female Talents. Myself, Shane Haste (Thorne), Mikey Nicholls (Nick Miller), Matt Silva (Buddy Murphy), a guy with a black belt in Judo & a bodybuilder who I can’t remember his name but he worked as well. Funny thing is NO ONE from this tryout got signed. However, three months later, Matt Silva got signed at an FCW Tryout. And then Mikey and Shane were signed maybe a couple of years later. Thus proving that in wrestling, you have to be seen by the right person. Each “Talent Relations/ Scout” has their idea or perception of what the boss wants.
The First WWE Tryout
John Laurinaitis served as the Head of Talent relations at this point while Canyon Ceman was in charge of Talent Development. So let’s take a step back to how it all came to be. I was talking to Lance Storm about the best way to try and get my foot in the door. He suggested waiting until news of WWE coming to Australia and getting in contact with Canyon. When the tour was announced, I sent off my resume straight away. What’s that you say a resume? YES, these still existed in wrestling when I was around.
So what’s the difference between a regular job resume and a wrestling resume? Not much, In fact, they are pretty similar when you think about it. Education like University or High School was basically where you trained. So in my case, it was Lance Storm’s School in Canada. What are the different places you worked in? Well, that’s simply the different promotions you have worked for and where? And extra credits would be things like seminars or names you have worked in the ring against.
At this stage of my career, even though I was only 4 years in, it seems like I had enough on it to get my foot through the door. Taking Lance’s advice, I sent off my resume when the tour was first announced. I would wake up every morning, waiting for that email to come through. But nothing. I waited for months, but nothing came. I was beginning to think that maybe it wasn’t my time.
The First WWE Tryout
Two weeks before the WWE came to Australia for their tour, I finally got the email I was waiting to receive. I couldn’t believe it. The email was short and to the point, but I didn’t care. I jumped on the opportunity. The email just said something along the lines of “Andrew, we have been watching your stuff for a while and are interested in you as a prospect. Are you able to attend the following dates” The typical tour was in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. For me, Melbourne was the quickest and easiest from Perth. I emailed back to confirm, and I was on my way!
My friends and family were so supportive and proud of this huge accomplishment. Just being named as a potential prospect was more than many will ever achieve, so I was on cloud nine. But now I have about 11 days to get into the best shape of my life and get ready. I shared the news with one of my closest friends in the business, James Grace. Now I will say this. I have ALWAYS preferred quality over quantity, and I keep my circle VERY small. But these are the types of friends that hang out in my inner circle. Upon telling Grace the news, I was expecting a “that’s awesome mate, good luck,”.
While yes, that was the initial response, 20 mins later I got a call back from Grace again. He tells me in classic Grace fashion how proud of my achievement he was and that he is coming with me to Melbourne to support me because “He wanted to be there when I got signed.” That’s the kind of friends I have and the reason my closest friends are godfathers to my kids. I was blown away by the support and knew now that I truly had to bring my A-game and give it my all.
We flew into Melbourne the night before the tryouts. That night and the next day were the longest days ever just waiting. When the moment finally arrived to get in that taxi and head to the Rod Laver Arena, nerves were at a peak. I’m someone who deals with anxiety issues since I was a teenager. I was about to fight for my dream job for the biggest wrestling company in the world – you can only imagine how I was feeling at the time. When the taxi pulled up, there were already fans beginning to arrive at the arena. It was a little overwhelming but somehow felt right. I felt like I was supposed to be there, seeing fans, the production trucks, and WWE staff everywhere.
What does the first tryout in WWE mean?
It felt like home. I arrive at security to get backstage. I got my backstage pass, and on day one in WWE, I began politicking. Grace being my guest, wasn’t on the list, but I informed security it was cool he was with me as he was my manager. Unfortunately, it wasn’t “cool” with security, and Grace had to leave until the show started. He already expected that it wasn’t an issue, but what a cool story it would have been.
I was the first to arrive, so I figured I would make use of my time and introduce myself to everyone. After I said hello to the staff, things started to get surreal. “Doo doo doo” Michael Hayes is a few feet away in catering, and I get the “Good Luck Kid,” I walk into the locker room where Primo, Epico, Kofi and Swagger are. I then introduce myself to them and then keep walking until I find Cena, Santino, Tensai, and Big Show playing cards. For a brief moment, I forgot Santino was a gimmick, and when he spoke to me in his normal accent, I couldn’t process what was happening. My poker face was strong, and he didn’t notice.
Other prospects started arriving, and we had to wait on John Laurenitits to give us the rundown. The first thing was to get changed into our gear then see the medical team for a check-up to make sure we were all healthy to compete. Upon completion, we all made our way down the entrance ramp to the ring. I have to say, looking up from the ring to a 10,000 seat arena is everything you can ever dream about. But it’s time now to put all those thoughts away because it’s time for business. We warmed up with a couple of drills before John Laurenitits, John Cena, CM Punk, Jack Doane (Referee) & Canyon Ceman all sat down halfway on the ramp and watch what’s next.
The First WWE Tryout
We are called at random to have a 5-minute match. As this was The First WWE Tryout I worked with Mikey Nicholls, it’s all called in the ring on the fly with no direction. Which is what I loved doing because my memory is horrible! But to some, that’s a major freak out moment. I called a Super Kick for the finish. Bam nailed it perfectly, 1,2,3. I look over at the entranceway straight away. To see a smile and nod of approval from Cena and Punk. With two of the biggest names in WWE at that time giving me the nod, I thought it went well. But John Laurenitits in his deep raspy voice, says.
Nice superkick, but I don’t think Shawn Michaels would appreciate you using his move.
I’m thinking to myself well obviously I’m not using it if I get on TV. It was a finish for an off the fly match. Anyways there was one more match after mine, which got torn to shreds. That got my hopes up. Then since the Judo guy didn’t have any experience in true WWE fashion, they asked him to dance instead. Yeah, that’s right. Then to finish off, it was promo time. No one was getting high praise, but I blew mine out of the water, One thing I’ve always loved, and that drew me to wrestling was promos. This was the first WWE tryout.
I knew this would be the thing that got me over everyone else. I cut a promo as only Shark could cut. Putting over my achievements in freestyle wrestling, soccer, and football, and now I’m here in the WWE. The pipe bomb expert Punk himself loved it, Cena said it was great, and then Jack Doan leans over to me goes “Great job kid, I think you may have got yourself a job.”
I was on top of the world. I text Grace as soon as it was over, telling him the news. On completion of the tryouts, we went to catering to get dinner and bond with the WWE Staff. When it got close to show time, we were given tickets to watch the rest of the show. We were told we would hear back in the next couple of weeks. I thanked everyone for the opportunity and headed out to enjoy the rest of the show. It would be a long wait for that next email, so I figured it would be best to enjoy the moment and the rest of the night!
Until next time, Stay Safe.