Thomas Kingdon out to prove himself in WWE NXT
Thomas Kingdon knows he has a lot to overcome if he wants to succeed in WWE. He joins the latest class of recruits at the WWE Performance Center from the world of bodybuilding. That alone brings certain negative connotations in the eyes of the most ardent members of the WWE Universe.
However, the Michigan native is determined to break the mold and change people’s notions of what bodybuilders can do inside the squared circle. WWE.com sat down with Kingdon to talk about his unique road to WWE and his plans on becoming a Superstar.
WWE.COM: Can you talk about your background in bodybuilding?
KINGDON: I started in bodybuilding when I was 19 or 20. I played high school football and planned on playing in college, but I was too small for my position. I went into bodybuilding because I loved the gym, but there was more to it than just that. It’s an art form, achieving the impossible as far as physique goes.
I looked up to the really fantastic pros; I really wanted to be close to that.
WWE.COM: Some people might look at bodybuilders and think all it takes to succeed is being a gym rat. What does it really take?
KINGDON: Being a high-level bodybuilder is a lot more than earning your pro card. Being a successful bodybuilder is close to being a successful WWE Superstar in that you have to be marketable. It helps to be a character. A lot of bodybuilders are great at doing photo shoots, but you have to be good with the media.
Other than the gym, you have to prep your own meals, so you’re a chef. You have to be a scientist when it comes to supplements and types of food. You have to know your body. That’s the main part of bodybuilding in that each body, every person is different from the next. You might have similar traits, but individually, everyone is different. You have to know how your body runs specifically. A lot of pros don’t even have that mastered yet. That’s the difference between beginner and expert – knowing what your body takes to look and be its best.
WWE.COM: How have you found your bodybuilding experience translates into sports-entertainment?
KINGDON: There’s a lot of drive, hard work, intensity and consistency in both. In bodybuilding, you have to be consistent. It’s a long journey. You have to build and sculpt. When you cut up for a competition, it’s that competition. It doesn’t mean you’re the best in the world, you’re the best at that show. You have to sculpt more to get better. It’s about the bigger picture in the end. It doesn’t happen overnight.
It’s the same thing here. I’ve learned that there’s so much to WWE. Learning how to do the moves and techniques, the emotions … there’s a lot to pick up. It’s about consistently learning and having the drive to become better. You have to have the will to do the workouts and the training, and stay on top of eating right and rest, having a healthy lifestyle.
WWE.COM: What led to you wanting to try out for WWE?
KINGDON: Growing up, I pretty much stuck to bodybuilding, but I branched out and realized that there are different opportunities, as far as athletics. After I won my last bodybuilding championship, I got the opportunity to try out. It’s not something I ever pictured myself doing. I had been told many times in the past that because of my personality, it would be great to see me doing something like WWE. When I heard that, I didn’t think it too far through, because bodybuilding was my main focus.
I started to put the wheels in motion when I got the opportunity for the tryout. I dove right in and gave it my all. That’s what helped me, my drive to not quit. When I got the contract, I was surprised at the path I was taking, trying something completely new that I had never fathomed before. Honestly, I can say that I’m glad I made the choice that I made.
WWE.COM: When you were going through the tryout, what was going through your mind? Was it like anything you’ve ever done before?
KINGDON: I did football for many years. Some people tried to compare the tryout to football workouts, but it’s completely different. Could I have prepared myself with bodybuilding? I don’t know if there’s anything I could prepare myself for.
I probably could have done a lot more cardio to get ready. But, as a bodybuilder and knowing my body, I have a higher metabolism, so I didn’t do a lot of cardio year-round, so I could pack on more muscle and size. The tryout itself is a real eye-opener. You can’t really prepare yourself for it. You’re either able to do it or you’re not. At my tryout, half of the people there were indie wrestlers who had done this their entire life. Others were people like me, bodybuilders and fitness models. Out of those people, I think I was the only one who could do everything and still be mobile.
It’s basically what you’re given, your God-given talents. I’m bigger than some, which can be a disadvantage, because you’re moving a lot of weight around, but my God-given ability to be mobile and my natural athleticism helped me with that. To be able to get ready for that tryout, unless you’ve done wrestling before, you’re not going to understand what they want out of you.
WWE.COM: What has it been like at the Performance Center since you arrived?
KINGDON: We do ring training and workouts. I can handle the workouts, because I’ve done powerlifting and bodybuilding. In the ring, it’s all about learning. This time is to learn and pick up things, to mold me into the Superstar that I came here to be. It’s taking everything in.
With someone like me, who doesn’t have an extensive knowledge of this, it’s all very new. I have to learn and be coachable, while appreciating everything that’s being thrown at me.
WWE.COM: Do you feel like you have more to prove, being that you didn’t come from a wrestling background?
KINGDON: Absolutely! I’ve been told that bodybuilders get a bad reputation, because they’re not mobile or athletic, they’re not relaxed. I’ve seen bodybuilders that have no personality and can’t talk to save their life. I had to really prove myself. I think I surprised a lot of people by being able to move and hang, and do the things I’m being taught in the first few months. I think it was a disadvantage, having that as a background. I was told at the start that I was being given a chance and I had to really prove myself and show that I really wanted it. So far, I’ve done just that.
WWE.COM: What have you been watching to learn about sports-entertainment?
KINGDON: I have WWE Network, so I’ve been watching a lot and soaking it in. I don’t want to get myself too far ahead and try to replicate the moves I see. In the class I’m in, we only do so much because we’re new. There’s a chance I might not be able to do stuff like that yet.
But I look at the emotion and how [WWE Superstars and Divas] react. I see how they inspire people in their matches.
WWE.COM: What are your goals here in WWE?
KINGDON: I want to be a WWE Superstar and make a name for myself. I hope people see me and it means something. I want to be remembered and make a mark. I want to be the face of the company. I’m never going to give up at that. I’m not going to say that I won’t fail, but you can never say I’m going to give up. I want to get back what I put into this, which is everything I have every single day. I’ve put my life into this.