Mark Haskins got into the sport of professional wrestling at a young age and dreamt of becoming a star himself whilst watching tapes as a kid. Haskins pursued his dream, which later became a reality as he worked his way through the UK independent wrestling scene to eventually signing a contract with TNA in America.
We caught up with the 24-year-old grappler, to talk about his time in TNA, the state of British wrestling, and reality TV wrestling stars.
Q. How did you first get into the sport of professional wrestling?
Both of my parents have told me I would sit in front of the television and watch the old World of Sport wrestling when it was on, so maybe that had something to do with it initially. However the first memories I have were when I was nine-years-old and watching a WWF video tape that a family friend brought around and from that point on I had pretty much made up my mind that wrestling would be something that I wanted to pursue.
I think my family expected me to grow out of it, but then soon enough I started training to become a professional wrestler.
Q. Who were some of the wrestlers that inspired you to get into the sport when you were younger?
I loved watching guys like Kurt Angle and AJ Styles, guys that were a bit smaller than the rest of the wrestlers on the show, yet they could go out there and really go. Both Kurt and AJ are incredible and are two of the top guys in the world right now.
When I was a kid I wanted to be in that mould and categorize myself along with those guys, and hopefully that is where I will be one day.
Q. When you first started wrestling over in the UK, what was it like compared to what you had seen on TV from the United States?
It was crazy. I was very fortunate, at the start of my career I ended up on some high profile shows in England. The company I was wrestling for had probably the highest production values of anybody in the UK at that time, so I was kind of thrown in at the deep end. Fortunately enough that led to different avenues and different places, it's only really been in the last few years where I have ended up in the working clubs, and I have my sights set higher but I'm loving what I'm doing and being in that environment.
Q. What was it like when you first got the call from TNA?
I was stupidly excited about getting the chance to work for TNA. I was very lucky and happy that I got to be a part of their 2011 tour which was throughout Europe, so I guess that kind of warmed me for going out into the Impact zone and competing on TV and PPV.
TNA is very different to anywhere I have been before because their audience isn't just the people in the crowd like the indy show's I've been on, their audience is millions of people across the world watching at home.
Q. There's quite a few Brits in the TNA locker room including Doug Williams, Rob Terry and Magnus, does that help?
Yeah definitely. One thing that I never realised is how different the English language barrier is in America compared to back home in the UK. There would be certain words or phrases that I would use and people would just be there standing at me as if to say, 'what did you just say'. So it helps with the other Brits in TNA and we can talk to each other.
Q. What has it been like working with guys like Hulk Hogan, Sting and Ric Flair?
It has been really cool, but at the same time it is kind of bizarre to be back stage and walking past Hulk Hogan and saying 'hi', and then just remembering back to when I was a child and had a Hulk Hogan sticker on my lunchbox. It is just a surreal experience.
Q. You have been involved in the TNA tours in the past, but what can we expect from the next TNA tour with the Impact cameras also coming back to the UK?
It is really exciting. Every year TNA somehow out-does the previous year when it comes to their tours. Last year in 2011 they had an epic tour, this year's tour was even better with the television cameras and filming two episodes of Impact. The next tour I think will be even better yet because as well as the television cameras it is the first time TNA are bringing the steel cage across the pond. I don't know how they are going to keep making the tours better and better each year.
Q. You still wrestle on shows in the UK, how does the UK wrestling scene compare to indy shows in the United States?
There is a ridiculous amount of good British talent right now. Certain shows in the UK from bottom to top of the card are full of guys that can go and are really talented. Those shows obviously stand out and they are the ones that do better for themselves as of late.
I urge anybody who wants to go and see a local wrestling show to do so, because these guys will make a show that good for you and it will be an enjoyable experience. There will be a great atmosphere, plus you will get to see the top talent in Europe today and maybe even the next star in either WWE or TNA.
Q. Who are some of the British wrestlers we should be looking out for as the next big thing?
Some guys that I think are really good and will go far in this business or at least have the potential to are, Marty Scurll, who is very talented and was on Take Me Out (with Paddy McGuinness). Another guy is Rampage Brown and he is on another level, he's a good size, and is a great athlete with a good intensity to him. There is a kid called Noam Dar, he is only 18-years-old and I wish I was as talented as he is at 18-years of age because I have know idea where I will be now, he is going to go far in this business.
Q. With Marty Scurll on Take Me Out and Ricky Martin on the the Apprentice, do you feel wrestlers in the UK going on reality TV shows is a good way of getting the sport noticed?
Ricky and I use to be a tag team and actually held the tag team titles in IPW:UK. However I feel that by having guys like Ricky and Marty on television shows like that will bring more awareness to the product and fans might be more inclined to go watch a show if they've seen one of the wrestlers on TV.
Tickets are available for TNA's Road to Lockdown 2013 UK Tour and can be bought from www.gigsandtours.com / 0844 811 0051 or www.ticketmaster.co.uk / 0844 826 2826. Full details of the UK and Ireland events are:
Monday January 21 Dublin National Stadium 0818 719 300
Wednesday January 23 Glasgow Braehead Arena 0844 499 9990
Thursday January 24 Nottingham Capital FM Arena 0844 412 4624
Friday January 25 Manchester Arena 0844 847 8000
Saturday January 26 London Wembley Arena 0844 815 0815