Samuel Shaw discusses training in OVW, the pros of the Gut Check Challenge and Tough Enough

Former TNA wrestler Samuel Shaw recently took some time to participate in an interview with me. Shaw reveals his work with Gunner, training under Curtis Hughes and the WWA4 Wrestling School and what he believes the benefits of either the Gut Check Challenge or Tough Enough. Check out excerpts of the complete interview below and the complete interview here:
About the pros of the Gut Check Challenge/Tough Enough:
I really feel like in the long run, I feel like the Gut Check challenge and Tough Enough are really good ways to take a talent that might have not had an opportunity otherwise. Especially with Gut Check, I felt like they were bringing in some talent that somebody might have seen somewhere and said, ‘hey, let’s give this guy an opportunity’ and I don’t know if it’s always for the right reasons. For me, it’s just my personal opinion but I felt like I was brought in to the Gut Check because they were going to say no. I feel like they had already said yes to a number of talent for whatever reasons whether they performed well or not. Alex Silva was going to be a no but then Ric Flair changed his mind on the spot. I think there were 3 yes’ and they were looking for a no because they were trying to make this like an American Idol thing. We need some drama, we need some guys to not pass the test and make this good TV.
I think the decision was already made, like I said just my opinion. I feel like I performed well and I had showed a lot of heart and passion and I really wanted it and I was told yes and even Eric Bischoff came up to me afterwards and he mentioned to me, ‘I pretty much knew it was going to be a no but then you went out there and did really well. How can we say no to that’? Do I think I would have gotten those opportunities in TNA to get a contract there? Yes. But, everything in this business is right place, right time. I was given that opportunity and I was always told to go out there and shine. With whatever opportunity they give you. It was crazy because there were some really bad Gut Check performances and I almost don’t want to name names but I remember one particular guy that Gunner had to wrestle and honestly it made for really good TV. You saw this talent given an opportunity to come and he basically wasn’t ready for that environment. It just showed up in his work and he had blown up and Gunner was just like ‘oh, man’. And you can tell it was just bad. For the casual fan and the diehard fan you could see how real this could actually get, really quickly.
On training under Rip Rogers in OVW:
I remember the first day sort of showing up a tad bit late to my first OVW training camp session with Rip Rogers. I have no idea what to expect. Al Snow told me ‘oh, you’re going to love training with Rip Rogers’, you’re going to learn a lot. I show up and of course he’s already got people in the ring doing stuff. There was about 20 people there and I walked up and I put out my hand and I try to introduce myself to Rip Rogers and he just sort of looks at me and says, “Who the f*** are you” and I am like I’m Samuel Shaw and he responds, “Okay, why the f*** should I care? What the f*** do you want?” I’m oh my god is this really how this is going to go? I’ve heard stories about this guy but okay and he tells me to get in line and let’s see how you can bump and by the end of it I think he sort of like me because I showed him some sort of athletic ability and not just a jabroni that is just coming in and wasn’t some bodybuilder muscle look to him and he wasn’t going to really do anything special. But at the end of it he was really receptive to me and I enjoyed training with Rip Rogers. It was very short.
The developmental program for TNA at OVW was very short lived and changes were always happening. There was no real structure I guess you could say. It was sort of like here we have training a couple of days a week and you have 4 or 5 shows a week which is tremendous because you are getting into that mode of working each and every day and I think that it was a tremendous learning experience. I went into the whole OVW experience thinking that I was already trained really well coming from Curtis Hughes and then coming from Team 3D academy for four years. Getting signed with TNA and then I thought I had to go back and train some more? Destroy my body and this and that. I was there for practically a year and I feel like I learned a tremendous amount in that time and I look back on it as a very fond memory for me.
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