One of the more interesting characters in wrestling right now is TNA star Gunner.
He served in the US Marines as a gunner (hence the name), is a deeply religious man, and two weeks ago he had one of the most violent wrestling matches televised in the last few years.
When we caught up, Gunner had just completed a date for indy promotion PWA.
How was the match last night against Chris Andrews?
It was great, man. He did an awesome job, really good in the ring. I was pleased with the match and I think the crowd was too, they were really behind both of us.
From PWA’s Facebook page it sounds like you were a hit at the seminar you gave.
Yeah there were a few guys who showed up for the seminar and I just tried to pass the knowledge on and help out the guys out as much as I could. Same for the show, man.
How is the energy different between TNA and indy shows?
They’re both enjoyable in different ways, and indy shows have more of a personal setting. So when we do TNA TV tapings I don’t get as much chance to interact with the people as much as coming over here and doing an independent show. I like doing meet and greets and taking pictures. Last night a little boy came up to me and gave me a bracelet he had made and you don’t get to experience that a lot at our big shows, and it means a lot to me. I grew up as a kid wanting to wrestle and getting a chance to give back means a lot.
Who was your guy growing up?
Aw man, I got a lot! But Bret Hart and Macho Man are the two I really remember wanting to be like.
Oh yeah, absolutely. They were both amazing at what they did.
Your time watching as a kid would have crossed over with the rise of the Ultimate Warrior. What were your thoughts surrounding his death a few weeks ago?
Aw, it was sad, man. Very surreal, especially seeing as he had just got inducted into the Hall of Fame. Kinda bittersweet, the way he went out, he had just apologised for the things he’d done wrong, and people shook his hand and went on their way, but it was so unexpected. It’s horrible for the wrestling world and of course his family and my thoughts and prayers go out to them.
Last weekend you faced James Storm at Sacrifice, which was excellent.
Thank you, it was… physical!
You guys killed each other out there.
(Laughs) We were both pretty busted up. I know James had to get some x-rays on his ribs and his back and my head was gashed open and I had nice welts across my back from the belt shots he was giving me. The whole match took its toll on us. The feud has been brewing for five months and that was our blow-off match to end the feud and it ended up being a good story we told, and thankfully I wasn’t the one who ended up saying ‘I quit’.
The storytelling has been great. TNA has its critics, but this feud has been strong from start to finish.
It has, I agree. They’ve taken their time with it and let people get emotionally attached to what we’ve been doing, which means the world. What we were doing was like a small movie, and they’ve given us time to put that out there and make the characters either loved or hated.
You and James Storm have a lot of chemistry. Even on the mic, your confrontations have a sense of authenticity.
I agree. He’s awesome at what he does and I feed off that as well and it’s taught me a lot. Even as a tag-team, I fed off his energy as well, and that taught me a lot of mic skills and ring work too. He’s helped me.
Would he be one of your favourite people to work with? Do you have other guys up there you love to compete against?
I really don’t have a favourite per se. I mean I always enjoyed working with AJ Styles but he’s obviously not here anymore, but James has recently been one of my favourites because of the feud and the chance for the both of us to continue telling a story, so he’s definitely ended up being one of my favourites. I always really enjoy working with Ken Anderson too, and Bobby Roode.
You mentioned AJ then – I’m guessing you’ve had time to at least hear about his big weekend.
Winning the IWGP title, yeah. Awesome. Good on him, man. I knew that him leaving TNA wasn’t going to stop him achieving more than he already has done. The guy’s amazing. I’m good friends with him and I knew he wasn’t just going to stay at home and cry about it. Things happen, that’s how the business is.
There’s a lot of speculation at the moment about the future of TNA. Rumours about Panda Energy’s involvement and Spike not renewing the TV deal. Does that affect you at all?
No, and I think it’s more what you just called it – rumours. The internet is going to make up what they think they want to hear. It happens with TNA, it happens with WWE, it happens with everything. We’ve just signed with a new agency in California, which is a good thing, Spike TV is still with us, we’re still pulling the same ratings as before if not slightly better. As for the Panda Energy stuff, I don’t see any problems going on. They’ve just re-signed me, James Storm and a couple of other people, so if there was anything going on they wouldn’t have signed us to new three-year deals either.
When you’re not wrestling, what do you get up to? A lot of the guys I speak to are massive gamers.
I’ve never been a big video game player. I’ll dabble in, like, Grand Theft Auto so I can drive around and kill people but other than that, I’ve never been good at them. I like to read a lot, and I’m a Star Wars nerd (laughs), but yeah mostly reading. I’ve also been trying to get my foot in the door with some anti-bullying campaigns and Children’s Miracle Network stuff and do something positive. There’s a lot of sick children out there, who can’t help that they’re sick and a lot of people complain that they have a headache or a job that they don’t like when there are children who are paralysed or who don’t have long to live, so I want to give back and put a smile on a kid’s face. It’s something that’s important to me.
I’ve also been doing a lot of auditions for acting so even when I’m off I’m always on the go.
Is that something you’d like to seriously pursue?
Absolutely, that’s one of my big goals in life, to do a movie. Or more than one movie!
What sort of films do you want to do?
I think I’d like to try a bit of everything, but mostly action. You look at guys like The Rock who does action and then different roles here and there to broaden his horizons, and that’s what I want to do; a bit of comedy and bit of action, everything.
If Batista can do it, you can.
(Laughs) Yeah! Bless him.
Aside from acting, where would you like to be in five years? Will you still be wrestling?
I do still want to be wrestling. Wrestling’s always been the number one passion for me ever since I was five and I’d love to wrestle for as long as I can. I want to hold the world championship one day for TNA and continue what I’m doing for as long as my body holds up, and one day have a family and enjoy life. But I definitely want to leave my mark on wrestling.