Kenny King Describes Auditioning for Tough Enough, Why He Didn’t Cash-In on His TE Experience, Athletes Not Being Able to Transition to Wrestling

Peter Bahi

kenny king

Former TNA and current Ring of Honor star Kenny King was the recent guest on Colt Cabana’s “Art of Wrestling Podcast” which you can listen to in full at this link and in the player below. The following are some interview highlights:

On Auditioning for Tough Enough:

Tough Enough was the first time I was in a ring. I was 20 years old. I was at University of South Florida. I was going to go to Florida State and play Football, but it just didn’t work out, so I went to South Florida and played Football, and then I wasn’t really happy..it transitioned from A to D1. I really wasn’t happy with what was going on. My parents were in Vegas; and my dad dropped a tape on John Robinson (former Head Coach at UNLV) at his desk and so, long story short, I got an opportunity to go to UNLV and play. You know how coaches are; my transcripts mysteriously continued to get held, so I couldn’t play that fall. I basically waited a year of eligibility during the Fall of 2000. So, I was going to school, walking around the school newspaper and I see the headlines: “Are You Tough Enough?” I remember watching the first season with Maven, and thinking to myself, man, these guys aren’t even athletes; I can do that! I was thinking about the tryout tapes and thinking, yeah, I can do this. Some of the failed tries at Tough Enough were ODB, Ken Anderson, Johnny Nitro [Mundo], who I knew at Tampa, Amazing Kong; so, there were a lot of swing and misses with that group. I was a big wrestling fan; in fact, I used to get yelled at by my dad on Monday nights and say, “you should watch football instead of watching wrestling!” I loved wrestling, and that was it. Well, I figured, since I am not playing Football, I mine as well give this a shot and sent in, what I felt was, the worst promo of all-time. My buddy had this old, beat up, camcorder, and went to BestBuy to get a tape. We filmed it in his apartment and sent it off, and was like, eh, maybe it would be good. I took my shirt off and sent some awful stuff in my promo. Then I get a call and said, “hey, would you like to come to Vegas, oh, you are in Vegas..perfect!” So, that was how it worked. The audition was two days. I remember being at Caesar’s Palace, there were like 200 people there at 5am in the morning. I ended up becoming one of the finalists; a final four. Linda and Jackie won. A guy named Jake won and ended up playing Slam Ball. That dude was one of the most athletic guys there, but he was an idiot, he couldn’t pick it up. As far as an athlete, he didn’t have much of a body IQ, so it was very difficult moving him or do things that we are able to do.

On Athletes Not Being Able to Transition to Pro Wrestling:

A lot of dudes that play Football have bad feet. They just go north and south, so you have to have good feet. You see when guys start wrestling and they end up taking 16 more steps than they have to. It’s one of the things that when you become confident and robotic; boxing being the same way.

On Not Wanting to Cash In on His Tough Enough Experience:

I wasn’t sure. What I did was, I looked at some of the guys that didn’t win the first season and wanted to see what they did. A guy named Jonah, he wasn’t good; they had brought him in once, and from that point on; seeing him, I realized that I did not want to be him. I wanted to be really good, so I was fortunate enough to go to the Las Vegas Pro Wrestling Academy. I didn’t know what to expect. “Cowboy” Scott Casey was one of the trainers there, and Nick Bockwinkle was very involved, so I got sucked into this, where as, the first year after Tough Enough, I didn’t take many Indy bookings. The only one I did was UWF in Vegas; we did shows there every Friday night, and Scott [Casey] would run the classes Monday and Wednesday’s, and Thursday’s, Nick Bockwinkle would come in and do promo classes with you; and Nick was no joke, he would really take you to task and do it again, do it again. I felt that working with Nick Bockwinkle early in my career helped me establish a character, and cut promos and be able to exude. If you ever been around Bockwinkle, he was very meticulous about your manhood. The little things he was very particular on. After Tough Enough, I couldn’t really throw a punch or put a match together. I thought I was the man since I was in Tough Enough, but man, there were people who were green running circles around me a UWF. I couldn’t really put a match together, just basic stuff, I knew that I needed to get better. I knew that if I wanted to get better and not be a Weekend Warrior and make money, I had to work on my craft.

To listen to this entire podcast, subscribe to the Art of Wrestling podcast on iTunes.

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