If you thought that Spuds were just potatoes, you didn't take this one into account!
James Curtin, more commonly known to the wrestling world as Spud, has spent most of his career being compared to TNA's Amazing Red. There's a good reason for it.
At 5'3", Spud is the smallest mainstream wrestler currently performing in Britain, but don't let his size fool you.
He is the definition of a live wire. High-flying, death-defying, and electric, Spud is always dropping jaws wherever he goes.
Curtin began his training at the tender age of 16, under the tutelage of K-Stars Wrestling trainers Jack Storm and Chris Gilbert. However, Curtin, desperate for a larger opportunity, moved to SAS Wrestling to begin training with "Charming" Don Charles.
It was this partnership with Charles that lead to the start of Curtin's wrestling career.
Like many wrestlers, Curtin spent the first few years of his ring career jobbing to bigger names in promotions all over Britain and Europe. Looking back on this now, he said:
"There was method to the madness. I didn't see it then. I automatically thought that I should be the one making a name for myself, not losing week in, week out to those who had more of a sway in the business. I realise now that it was because they wanted to test me. Being so small, they didn't think I'd have the strength to succeed, so I worked at proving them wrong. Hell, if that meant having to work my dues, then that was what I did."
It wasn't until 2003 that Curtin began to pick up any sort of momentum in his career.
His first taste of gold came on Aug. 30, 2003, when Curtin, wrestling for Revolution British Wrestling, defeated Jack Hazard to become the promotions first ever British Welterweight Champion.
It was during this match that the commentators remarked that Curtin, with his unique look and recognisable hairstyle, looked like a Mr. Potato Head toy.
This line led to Curtin's reply that he was the Spud-sized version. The name has stuck with him ever since.
The newly christened Spud was able to hold onto the Welterweight title for over four months, before losing it to Ross Jordan in December of the same year.
Over the next few years, Spud began to expand his horizons, wrestling in different continents and picking up different styles of wrestling, most notably, Lucha Libre, which forms the basis for a large amount of his move set.
It was also during this period that Spud gained a reputation among British promoters as a man that people would pay to see perform. This led to him garnering a large and loyal fan base all around the country.
"Most of my early fans were usually mothers, as embarrassing as that sounds. It was because I was always presented as a sweet, butter-wouldn't-melt-in-mouth kinda chap. They thought it made me vulnerable. A funny experience occurred actually during one of my early shows. I was wrestling Jonny (Storm, british wrestler) and one of the old ladies at ringside stood up, leaned over the rail and shouted to Storm 'Don't beat up the poor little lad, that's not nice!' I got so much stick for that afterwards!"
Spud's first opportunity at becoming known outside of Britain came in 2005, when he joined 1 Pro Wrestling (1PW) as one of the original alumni.
Billed as the extremely outmatched underdog, many of his feuds were against larger, heavier opponents, most notably Sterling James Keening and "The Monster" Abyss.
This opened the eyes of many, as it showed that he could hold his own against some of the strongest competitors on the circuit.
"One word for Abyss: Huge! Trust me, watching him on TV does him no justice. I would literally only come upto his chest, thinking: S**t, what do I do here?! Needless to say, I didn't have much of an opportunity to do anything, because when he comes at you, you just stand still and hope for the best! It's weird watching him in TNA now. Every time I see him, I'm like: Wow! I wrestled him a few years ago. Truly awesome experience. Would never do it again though!"
At this point in his career, Spud began to work simultaneously at many promotions, including the likes of 1PW, IPW:UK, and FWA.
It was during his tenure in FWA that he began his most memorable feud against Ross Jordan for the FWA Flyweight Championship.
In a tournament hosted by FWA to determine the inaugural champion, Spud and Jordan met in the finals to decide the winner.
In the course of the match, Spud faked a leg injury, leading to the referee stopping the match and awarding the win and the title to Jordan.
Over the coming months, Jordan repeatedly attacked Spud in an attempt to cripple him and end his career. This bitter rivalry spanned the whole of 2005 and most of 2006.
The feud culminated in a "Last Man Standing Match" at FWA Last Fight At The Prom 2006, a match that Spud won after fighting for nearly an hour, gaining him the title that should have been him in the first place.
"I will always look back on that as one of the highlights of my career thus far, for the simple reason that I was seen as the biggest target of the Flyweight division, no pun intended. It made me feel like I was the best there was. Winning the title only made that moment feel sweeter for me. I still have tapes of that match which I watch whenever I need my love of the sport to be reaffirmed. That one event has stopped me leaving so many times."
It was after this that Spud became known as one of the best wrestlers on the British circuit. It also led to him being handpicked on several occasions to take part in international tours for many American promotions, including PWG, ROH and most recently, TNA.
Despite all the attention from overseas brands, Spud never let this interfere with his roots. He was still a permanent fixture in British wrestling promotions, gaining titles in every single one of them.
In the space of three years, Spud won tag team gold twice with his longtime partner Dragon Phoenix, the Commonwealth title once, the IPW:UK Extreme Measures tournament as well as many others.
Currently, Spud performs for SAS Wrestling, Anti-Watershed Wrestling (AWW), and Triple X Wrestling (TXW), where he has made history by holding a major title in all the promotions simultaneously, cementing his legacy as one of the best in Britain.
"I still can't believe it myself. At the moment, I am wrestling in three promotions, holding three titles and being targeted by some of the most formidable guys on the circuit. If that isn't awesome, I don't know what is! I mean, it's not everyone who can say that they are currently a Heavyweight Champion (AWW), a Flyweight Champion (TXW) and a UK Champion (SAS)! It still makes me tingle everytime I hold them belts. It helps me to prove to myself that I have come a long way from being the same James Curtin who got paid £5 a night to lose to some random guy from the countryside. I am nowhere near finished in my career, but this has shown me that I can eventually retire with honor at proving myself one of the greatest!"
As JR would say, "It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog." Well, Spud has shown that even though he may be literally and metaphorically looked down upon, he is in no way a push over.
Armed with an arsenal of high-flying, high-risk moves, as well as lightning quick agility, Spud has shown time and time again that one move could be the difference maker in a match.
His Spudsault finisher is one of the most athletic moves ever to be devised, showing the influence that Lucha Libre has had on him, as well as the lengths he is willing to go to in order to secure gold.
Not only is he skilled in the ring, but he's skilled on the microphone, too.
Spud is currently rallying up the crowds in his current heel persona of the "RockStar", showing off his obnoxious and self centered side to the fans, all while proclaiming that he is coming to "Rock the world" of those who are unfortunately enough to be on the opposite side of the ring to this wunderkind.
Whether you love him or hate him, one thing is for certain, this 5'3" wonder will always be the original, jaw-dropping, human highlight reel!
"Wrestling isn't a career choice, It's a mindset. Careers you can drop, but once you enter the wrestling business, you find yourself drawn back into it so many times, regardless of what you say. It sticks with you always. For as long as the fans are name dropping you in conversations, watching clips on YouTube, or in attendance chanting your name, you can never really leave. That is what it means to the fans, and as long as I am able, I will never let them down."
Sources: Wikipedia, OWW, Spudleyville.com, RQW.com, SAS.com
Thank you to James Curtin for allowing me to interview him about his career.