Hailing from Green Bay Wisconsin, standing at 6ft 2in and weighing in at 243 lb its Mr. Anderson...Anderson! Ken Anderson is a professional wrestler so good he announces himself twice when coming to the ring.
The 35-year-old made a name for himself in the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) taking on the likes of The Undertaker and winning the United States Championship.
Ken then moved to Total Nonstop Action (TNA) in 2010 and has since become a two-time world champion - the grappler has become not only one of the best in-ring performers but his skills on the microphone are second to none.
Sportsvibe.co.uk caught up with Ken to discuss talk about, being a late bloomer, assholes and the Green Bay Packers.
Q. How did you first get into wrestling?
Its kind of a crazy story, I didn’t start to watch wrestling till fairly late in my life. I was about 20-years-old but when I fell, I fell hard. I was of the mindset that wrestling was just a bunch of guys rolling around on the mat with each other, but when I realised it was just raw entertainment, I was kind of ashamed of myself for having those stupid feelings for as long as I did. I began to watch as much as I could, whenever I could and really went back and started doing my homework on the sport catching up on the things I had missed.
I talked about it so much that I had a friend of mine who knew somebody that went to a wrestling school and when I heard you could actually go to wrestling school I was all over it. Nine months later I had my first match and then spent the next six-and-a half years running around the country on the independent scene. I was constantly sending tapes and making phone calls to guys like Kevin Kelly and Tommy Dreamer until I eventually got called up.
Q. When you first started watching wrestling, who were some of the wrestlers that got you into the sport?
The guy that got me interested the most was Stone Cold Steve Austin. At the time I remember everyone being very entertaining, it seemed like everybody on television meant something and mattered. Whilst I was mainly waiting to see what Steve Austin was going to do, everybody else from top to bottom also entertained me, even the lower card guys that had really cool gimmicks and storylines.
Q. You managed to get your big break with the WWE in 2006. What was your time with the company like?
It was great. It was a dream come true for me, it was everything I expected plus a lot more. It was a great experience and I learned a ton from it. I guess I’ve got to where I am today from the experiences that I encountered during my time with the WWE.
The one thing that always stands out in my mind is the first time I ever faced The Undertaker. I was standing in the ring in Oklahoma City, the lights went out and when I heard that gong for the first time, it gave me goosebumps and I remember thinking ‘how did I get here?’
Q. You’ve been with TNA for nearly two-years now. In those two years how has the company evolved and how have you evolved?
I think the company is always evolving. We’re really focusing right now on trying to get more viewers and do a lot of the things that work for the other company. You look at the WWE and the machine that they have, there’s a reason why they’re so successful. I don’t think we’ve copied them, but we’ve taken some pages from their book and definitely added them to ours. As far as I go, I’m just trying to get better everyday and I’m always learning.
Q. TNA have started to take episodes of flagship show Impact on the road. Is that something you enjoy and will TNA be taking more episodes on the road next year?
Absolutely. If we could take every episode of Impact on the road it will be a beautiful thing. There is such a different feeling to working in front of the crowd at the Impact Zone in Orlando, who are quite spoilt. When you go to other venues across the country they appreciate what we do a bit more.
Q. Coming up in January is the fifth Maximum Impact tour of the UK. What did you make of last year’s tour?
It was awesome. I love going over there. It was a tough tour and there was very little sleep combined with lots of travel, but at the same time the fans are just awesome in the UK and are some of the best crowds we perform in front of each year.
Q. For fans that may never have been to a TNA live event before what can they expect?
I always say wrestling is a bit like ice cream; there’s a different flavour for everybody. Some people like vanilla whilst others like bits with chunks in - I’m that guy! Certain fans like the comedy stuff, some people like to see the ladies wrestle, whilst others like the hard hitting action and if you come to a TNA live event there’s a little bit of something for everyone. Even if your not a wrestling fan and you come to a live event, you will be entertained I guarantee it. Sometimes we sit behind the certain and watch the fans, which is fun.
Q. You have referred to yourself on TV as an ‘Asshole’ – who is the biggest ‘Asshole’ you’ve worked with?
(Laughs) I think for the most part everybody here is professional and if I ever have a problem with somebody it’s easily taken care of in the ring. I’m the kind of guy if somebody hits me when there not supposed to hit me, I will immediately within two seconds hit them back and try to hit them back harder. That usually takes care of the problem.
Q. On the flip side to that, who are some of the people from the industry you get on with the most?
From TNA I would have to say AJ Styles. We get on pretty well and have a lot in common. We’re both massive (American) football fans and video game fans, but on the most part I try and keep my work and private life separate.
Q. Having worked in both WWE and TNA, what are some of the differences and similarities between Vince McMahon and Dixie Carter?
Over in the WWE - and this is their business decision - you are told exactly what to do; how to walk, how to talk, how to react to certain things. Wrestlers are performers and artists. Generally artists and actors are pretty free-spirited individuals and when you tell them exactly what to do and how to act it doesn’t tend to work so well.
I think here with TNA we are given a lot of freedom as far as character development goes. We may be given bullet points, but we are told to put them in our own words and put our own spin on things. When we do that, it makes it more organic and more real and people will be able to relate to it more rather than if you were playing a character.
Q. Since arriving in TNA you’ve been a two-time world champion. Do you feel you would have ever got that opportunity in the WWE?
I do believe I was 24 hours away from accomplishing that in the WWE had I not sustained an injury that kept me on the shelf for a little bit. I actually had a talk with Vince and he told me what was going to happen. He wanted me to cash in my ‘Money in the Bank’ then in the very next match I got injured.
Q. You’ve mentioned you’re a n American football fan and support the Green Bay Packers; the current Super Bowl Champions. They are unbeaten so far this season so it’s not a bad time to be a fan…
They are doing very well. They’re almost too good right now and I’m kind of hoping that they get beaten by a team that there not expected to lose to, just so it wakes them up because I think they will be able to repeat what they did earlier this year. If any team can repeat a Super Bowl win it’s the Green Bay Packers and that would be interesting because it’s a bit like a pattern they’ve had throughout their history. They won Super Bowl One and Super Bowl Two, they got back and won in 1996 and lost in 1997. They won last year and hopefully can repeat that this year and add to that pattern.
TNA are coming to Nottingham (January 26), Manchester (Jan 27) and London (Jan 28). For more information go to www.facebook.com/tnawrestlinguk.
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