Terminology Of Load Cell
Join 1000's of Authors at StreetArticles Today!

WWE: Stuart Tomlinson's journey from Burton Albion to NXT

By Stephan Shemilt

BBC Sport

As a goalkeeper, Stuart Tomlinson's size made him a regular target of abuse from opposition fans.

Stick 'Stuart Tomlinson fat chant' into a search engine and you'll find AFC Wimbledon supporters mercilessly taunting him with an "Any pie will do" sing-a-long during his time at Burton Albion.

Lord knows what they'd chant at him now as he dances his way to a wrestling ring wearing only a pair of boots and some pink polka dot trunks.

It turns out the former Crewe, Barrow, Port Vale and Burton keeper wasn't fat at all. Nicknamed 'The Tank', he had a torso chiselled out of granite, honed by hours in the gym. Another online video shows him bench-pressing 180kg. In flip-flops.

Tomlinson was so toned he did some modelling on the side and even adorned the cover of Men's Health magazine. It proved the launch-pad for a transformation that saw him swap the penalty box for a wrestling ring, and move from professional sportsman to sports entertainer inside a year.

The magazine cover was seen by a talent scout from World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), the world's largest professional wrestling promotion which has been home to the likes of Hulk Hogan, the Undertaker and the Rock.

"Most of the lads who I played with knew I was a wrestling fan, particularly at Port Vale," said Tomlinson. "When we were travelling, I was always talking about what I'd watched.

"Going into wrestling when I finished football was definitely something I thought about, but I never knew how to get involved. Luckily enough I was there when opportunities were being given, in the right place at the right time."

Fast feet, ladder drills & plyometrics

Men's Health magazine

Tomlinson was featured on the cover of the April 2013 Men's Health magazine

Tomlinson was still at Burton when he got invited to a WWE try-out, something he kept quiet because "in a changing room full of 20 or 30 lads you don't go running your mouth off".

He pitched up to his trial at the O2 Arena with no experience of what the WWE likes to call 'sports entertainment' - sport because the athleticism and risks involved are very real, entertainment because the characters are outlandish, the storylines soap-like and the results of matches predetermined.

Still, his football background gave Tomlinson the edge over thousands of others who applied for a shot at wrestling stardom - men twice his size, men who can perform a back-flip quicker than a hiccup, or have been wrestling independently at carnivals and in town halls.

"The try-out was tough, but luckily I'd been doing pre-season so my fitness level was high," he said. "Agility-wise, I was quite good, going against people who were bigger and heavier.

"Port Vale goalkeeping coach Mark Grew and Burton's Kevin Poole probably don't know how much they helped me - they'd had me doing fast feet, ladder drills and plyometrics every day for the previous couple of years."

Tomlinson went back to Burton, but had done enough to impress the WWE and stayed in touch for the next year.

In July 2013 he decided he no longer wanted to battle a knee injury and retired from football at the age of 28. Five months later, he signed a three-year deal with the WWE and moved to Orlando to join their developmental arm, NXT.

'You have to engage with the audience'

Stuart Tomlinson

Tomlinson played his last game for Burton in May 2013

The Florida lifestyle was already a world away from diving around at Burton's Pirelli Stadium - "the sun is shining every day, I'm not on a pitch where it's raining and you've got fans calling me fat" - but his new training regime provided Tomlinson with another culture shock.

"A basic day at football would be train for an hour, maybe play a bit of five-a-side, have a laugh and a joke, then go home," said Tomlinson. "In a day, I would probably do two hours' work - an hour's training, an hour in the gym, then the rest would be free time.

"Now, a normal day would be wrestling for two or three hours - learning techniques, new moves, getting comfortable with what you're doing.

"You'd have a break for dinner, then do some weightlifting or power work for an hour or two, then we'd usually have a promo class for an hour."

For those unfamiliar with the theatre of pro wrestling, the promo is where the performer tells the crowd just how good he is. Think the braggadocio of a less controversial Tyson Fury, but solo in the middle of the ring, trying to tell a story to thousands of restless fans.

"Getting interviewed after a match stood me in good stead, especially when you're getting asked dodgy questions about losing 5-0 and it's all your fault," he said.

"You have to engage with the audience. If you are confident in your delivery, people will believe it."

'Hugo is a little more amplified than myself'

His previous career not only helped Tomlinson with his oration, but gave him the confidence to put on a staged fight in front of packed arenas. After all, this is a man who played at Wembley, winning the FA Trophy with Barrow in 2010.

"I've not been fazed, maybe because I've played football in front of big crowds," said Tomlinson. "I've seen people try out in front of just their peers and they would struggle.

Post-football careers graphic

"I've always been fairly confident in my own ability to do something, ever since I was young. If you walk into something and you're not confident you will achieve, then you probably won't."

Confidence is what brings Tomlinson to his character, his alter-ego. He performs under the name Hugo Knox - a name chosen from a list of five he was given - in those polka dot trunks.

"Hugo Knox is a lively, high-energy and bubbly guy," he said. "On my way to the ring I'll be dancing my socks off, but when the bell goes then it's time to get down to it.

"Hugo Knox and I are the same person; he is a little bit more amplified. I'm myself, I'm not trying to be anybody else - it's just a little bit more turned up.

"The gear you wear in the ring is totally up to you. I went with the polka dots. Someone suggested toning it down, but there's no point training every day if you're going to cover it up. I want the smallest polka dot pants possible!"

'I was a semi-decent footballer'

Tomlinson speaks with the enthusiasm of a man who loves his new career, and appreciates the opportunity that a life outside football can offer.

"It's naive if someone thinks they are going to play football for the rest of their lives," he said. "Sometimes people get brainwashed in that whole football scene and a lot struggle to find work after they have been playing.

"People who make a career out of football are very lucky, but it was drummed into me from a young age by my mum and dad that it wasn't the be-all and end-all and I should always have other opportunities, to look outside the box."

The message got through. What began as a love for lifting weights in the gym led to the modelling, which in turn led to wrestling and ultimately, a new identity.

"I was a semi-decent footballer, respectable," he concluded. "I probably didn't achieve what I wanted to achieve, but I had good fun doing it.

"Within a year of training to be a wrestler, I have performed in front of thousands of people. I watched this year's Wrestlemania, where the crowd was 80,000, and I want to perform on those big stages.

"I would like to be remembered as one of the better wrestlers to come out of England. They might also say I was a footballer too."

Also related to this story

Burton goalkeeper Tomlinson retires 08 Jul 2013 BURTON

Messi wins fifth Ballon d'Or award 11 Jan 2016 EUROPEAN FOOTBALL

Eastleigh could face Leeds in FA Cup 11 Jan 2016 FA CUP

Lawro's predictions v comedian Elis James 13 Jan 2016 PREMIER LEAGUE

How to get into Football 02 Dec 2014 GET INSPIRED

Street Talk

No comments present
You May Also Like
Dynamics CRM 2015 Mb2 - 704 Dumps
If you want to choose passing Microsoft certification MB2-704 exam to make yourself have a more stable position in today's competitive IT area and the professional ability become more powerful, you must have a strong expertise. And passing Microsoft certification MB2-704 exam is not very simple. Perhaps passing Microsoft certification…
By: firmangary in  Reference and Education  >  Online Education   Jun 08, 2016  
  Likes: 0

IBM Certified System Administrator C9010 - 030 Questions
IBM C9010-030 authentication certificate is the dream IT certificate of many people. IBM certification C9010-030 exam is a examination to test the examinees' IT professional knowledge and experience, which need to master abundant IT knowledge and experience to pass. In order to grasp so much knowledge, generally, it need to…
By: firmangary in  Reference and Education  >  Online Education   Jun 08, 2016  
  Likes: 0

Sources to Search the Best Literature For Writing A Thesis
There are many scholastically satisfactory sites, most connected to colleges and different foundations. This is a rundown of the most well known in different controls from therapeutic science to English writing. Connections to a portion of the destinations are at the end of the article. Jstor: Jstor has a tremendous…
By: Kim Sanchez in  Reference and Education  >  College University   Jun 07, 2016  
  Likes: 0

1z0 - 329 Oracle Global Human Resources Cloud 2016 Implementation Essentials Exam
Examunion providing Oracle 1Z0-329 exam pdf download are very close to the content of the formal examination. Through our short-term special training You can quickly grasp IT professional knowledge, and then have a good preparation for your exam. We promise that we will do our best to help you pass…
By: examunion in  Reference and Education  >  Online Education   Jun 06, 2016  
  Likes: 0

Updated Microsoft Mb2 - 712 Exam Test Questions
You can also find study aides from Microsoft MB2-712 Press, a line of courseware created exclusively for Microsoft MB2-712 exams. It offers incredible career enhancing opportunities. They have a team of IT professionals that focus on providing our customers with the most up to date material for any IT certification…
By: examunion in  Reference and Education  >  Online Education   Jun 06, 2016  
  Likes: 0

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mb2 - 712 Practice Exam
If you want to participate in the Microsoft MB2-712 exam, quickly into Passcert website, I believe you will get what you want. If you miss you will regret, if you want to become a professional IT expert, then quickly add it to cart. Passcert not only provide the Microsoft Dynamics…
By: firmangary in  Reference and Education  >  Online Education   Jun 06, 2016  
  Likes: 0

Comptia Advanced Security Practitioner (casp) Cas - 002 Dumps
Give your career a boost and start earning your CompTIA certification today.The Passcert CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP) CAS-002 dumps are designed to maximize your learning productivity and focus only on the important aspects that will help you pass your exam the first time.We provide you with CompTIA Advanced Security…
By: firmangary in  Reference and Education  >  Online Education   Jun 06, 2016  
  Likes: 0

Philosophy & Gender - Intro Piece
Does philosophy have a gender? Interestingly enough, this depends on what one believes about knowledge. Throughout history, many in the field felt that abstract reasoning and logic had no relationship with gender. Truths could be revealed and everyone who used the correct methods and the correct information would get correct…
By: Miriam Pia in  Reference and Education  >  Continuing Education   Jun 05, 2016  
  Likes: 0

Huawei Hcda H31 - 211 - enu Practice Questions
The trouble can test a person's character. A bad situation can show special integrity. When to face of a difficult time, only the bravest people could take it easy. Are you a brave person? If you did not do the best preparation for your IT certification exam, can you take…
By: examunion in  Reference and Education  >  Online Education   Jun 04, 2016  
  Likes: 0

Microsoft Sharepoint Server 2013 Core Solutions 70 - 488 Test Questions
In this age of advanced network, there are many ways to prepare Microsoft 70-488 certification exam. Examunion provides the most reliable Microsoft 70-488 exam test to help you pass Microsoft 70-488 certification exam. Examunion have a variety of Microsoft certification exam questions, we will meet you all about IT certification.You…
By: examunion in  Reference and Education  >  Online Education   Jun 04, 2016  
  Likes: 0

Mb2 - 701 Extending Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Practice Exam
All the MB2-701 Extending Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 practice exam that Passcert can provide are based on the extensive research and real-world experiences from our online trainers, with 10 years of IT and certification experience. Custom written content for on-the-go professionals such as yourself. Passcert MB2-701 Extending Microsoft Dynamics CRM…
By: firmangary in  Reference and Education  >  Online Education   Jun 04, 2016  
  Likes: 0

220 - 901 Comptia A+ Certification Exam Dumps
Passcert have a huge senior IT expert team. They use their professional IT knowledge and rich experience to develop a wide range of different training plans which can help you pass CompTIA certification 220-901 exam successfully. In Passcert you can always find out the most suitable training way for you…
By: firmangary in  Reference and Education  >  Online Education   Jun 04, 2016  
  Likes: 1

How to Benefit From PTE Coaching?
When it comes to English language proficiency exams, IELTS (International English Language Testing System) and TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) are amongst the most popular for students, skilled workers and migrants seeking to study, work or migrant in English speaking countries like Australia. In recent years, another…
By: catherinewalsh in  Reference and Education  >  Languages   Jun 03, 2016  
  Likes: 0

Ccie Routing And Switching Written Exam 400 - 101 Exam Questions
If you are interested in being a controller then you could take up Cisco exam. Pass Cisco 400-101 exam is easy. Professionals interviewed noted chiefly the use of CCIE Routing and Switching 400-101 exam pdf download. Therefore to pass an examination you need to have some CCIE Routing and Switching…
By: examunion in  Reference and Education  >  Online Education   Jun 03, 2016  
  Likes: 0

Ccie Security Written 350 - 018 Certification Training Material
Examunion are able to provide you with Cisco 350-018 training material pdf which are closely similar with real exam questions.Are you one of them? Are you still worried and confused because of the the various exam materials and fancy training courses exam? Examunion is the right choice for you. Because…
By: examunion in  Reference and Education  >  Online Education   Jun 03, 2016  
  Likes: 0

Article Views: 794    Report this Article