Meet NXT host Greg Hamilton
If you have attended an NXT Live Event this year, you’ve likely become familiar with his personality as a host. If you are an avid viewer of NXT television, you’ve been privy his backstage interviews. This week, we take a closer look at the newest addition to NXT’s broadcast team, Greg Hamilton. From his most awkward moments in the ring to his passion for WWE, Hamilton opens the door to his background and his future goals.
WWE: Greg, tell us how you got your start with WWE NXT.
GREG HAMILTON: I started in mid-January, but the audition process for me started around September of last year. The way I found out about it was nothing more than luck, but I had my work cut out for me once I did. A friend of mine was playing a pick-up basketball game with a producer who mentioned WWE was looking for a host. My buddy threw my name out there and the producer said, "Sure, have him send me his host reel." After that, I had to put together a pretty extensive audition video that showcased different skill sets. Finally in December they brought me along with two other guys to Orlando for a live, two-day audition at the WWE Performance Center. After the second day, I was on my way back to the hotel when I got a call asking me to drive back to meet with them again, and the rest is history.
WWE.COM: I understand you have an extensive television background, can you tell us what your experience entails?
HAMILTON: I've had a wide variety of television hosting gigs, but primarily involving some form of entertainment; I've never been a hard news guy. My first television experience was as co-host of an entertainment/lifestyle morning show in San Antonio, Texas, called “Great Day San Antonio.” I learned so much there and my executive producer, Luis Munoz, is still one of my best friends and a mentor. I also had a weekly segment at Fox35 in Orlando, Fla., called “Hot In Hollywood,” where I reported on entertainment news as national hosting for GAC-Great American Country. One of my favorite experiences, however, was hosting a pilot for a celebrity cooking show in Los Angeles called “Celebrity Eats.” I've also done a ton of live event hosting including in-arena hosting for the NBA’s Orlando Magic.
WWE.COM: Your role as an exclusive host at NXT Live Events is a pretty new venture for the company. How does it feel to be the first person to assume that role full time?
HAMILTON: This has been incredibly fun so far. What I find most appealing is the fact that as you mentioned this is a new venture. So I feel like a prototype, which is fun. I get to be a part of creating and molding whatever this becomes and I think that's pretty exciting. I can't wait to see what else we come up with for this hosting role and be a part of its growth.
WWE.COM: How nerve-wracking was it to perform in front of an NXT audience for the first time?
HAMILTON: This is actually pretty funny. My first weekend of shows, I got booed out of the building in Jacksonville, Fla. While that sounds like a bad thing, I looked at it a bit differently. It let me know that the NXT Universe takes pride in NXT and that I would have to earn their respect, and I was perfectly OK with that. It's taken me a while, but I feel like I've finally earned their respect and they actually like having me be a part of NXT now.
WWE.COM: Any memorable stories come to mind during your interactions with fans and Superstars?
HAMILTON: I interviewed a woman in the audience at an NXT show and asked her who she was with, and she was there for her bachelorette party! It was fantastic, and she and her friends were great sports. We had fun with them all night long. Two things come to mind with wrestlers. One day, I pulled up to work at the Performance Center, gathered my bags and my coffee, casually got out of the car only to see Hulk Hogan and The Mouth of the South, Jimmy Hart, get out of the car next to me! I absolutely froze. I'm not one to get star-struck, but Hogan got me. The second took place at this year's Axxess at WrestleMania. Part of my hosting duties included Q&As with current and former Superstars. One of those interviews was with Hillbilly Jim, who I loved as a kid. After the interview, they hit his music, and we do-si-do'ed in the middle of the ring! I felt like that kid who watched him on TV again.
WWE.COM: What kind of satisfaction do you get from the job?
HAMILTON: Oh man, I get a ton of satisfaction from this job. A lot of it comes from just connecting with the people in the NXT Universe. I try to stay really active on Twitter and tweet back and forth with them at shows and get their feedback and answer their questions. The other thing that comes to mind is the opportunity to learn about the business, entertainment, and just life in general. Being around people like Dusty Rhodes, Michael Cole, Triple H and so many more is something I don't take for granted, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. There are some phenomenally talented people that I get to work with on a daily basis all of whom have a wealth of knowledge that I can benefit from.
WWE.COM: Were you a wrestling fan growing up?
HAMILTON: Absolutely. The Superstars of my childhood were so much fun to watch. Guys like Junkyard Dog, Randy Savage, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper; they were such great entertainers. I grew up in Ohio and I remember when it was announced in 1993 that King of the Ring was coming to Dayton, Ohio. You would've thought it was Christmas morning the way I started jumping and screaming in our living room. My mom took me and one of my friends to the show, and I lost my mind seeing Bret Hart and then, of course, Hulk Hogan versus Yokozuna.
WWE.COM: What has it been like to experience the growth of NXT in the short time that you've been here?
HAMILTON: It's crazy; it's been warp speed from day one. I came in on my first day quite nervous and then a month later I'm on a plane to Columbus, Ohio, to host at The Arnold Classic and a live event in Cleveland. I think the rapid growth really hit me when we came out in front of a sold-out crowd at San Jose State University; you could feel the excitement. It was palpable. That was one of the best nights I've ever had professionally.
WWE.COM: What is your goal in this position?
HAMILTON: This is something I've been personally assessing lately now that I'm getting settled into my role. First and foremost, even getting the job was a goal. Now that I see just how much possibility for growth we have in WWE, I've certainly come up with some. I want to continue to grow with NXT and be a part of taking it to cities across the U.S. and even further. Another huge long-term goal has to do with the WWE Network. It's really cool to see how well it's been received by fans. The content we already have is so much fun and someday I would love to help produce and host a new show from the ground up. I'm pretty passionate about food and travel, and I already have some show ideas that I hope to pitch someday. It's way too early in my WWE career for that right now, but they are definitely in the back pocket.
Follow Greg Hamilton on Twitter @GregHamiltonWWE.