Ladies and gentleman, after the success of Tough Enough 40 Finalist Tommaso Giannuzzi's Interview (available only in Italian), Zonawrestling, in the person of BazingaHWF (Walter Farinella), has the pleasure to interview Hank Avery Jr, one of the 13 finalists of Tough Enough 2015. Hank was unluckily eliminated in the 1st episode of the show last week, but he had the possibility to live one week in the Barracks, compete in the challenges etc. The interview is very intresting, because we talk about so many aspects of the show, including the Performance Center, the Tanner Controversy, the relationship with the other guys and the judges and much more.
W: Ladies and gentlemen here we are with Hank Avery, one of the 13 finalist of WWE Tough Enough. Hank, to start tell to WWE Italian fans something about you. Who is Hank Avery?
H:First of all Hi Walter and hi to all Italian fans. I am Georgian native who has grown up with sports all his life. I played and lettered in 3 separate sports in high-school including baseball, football, and track, winning and participating in state championships in all three! I went to college on a football scholarship and am currently finishing up my finals credits in college this next semester. I have a wife, my high-school sweetheart, and a 6 month daughter who just began to crawl! I am 1 of 6 children in my family and the eldest out of them as well. I Powerlift and bodybuild to keep my physique on point.
W: Yes, definitely you have great physical skills. And It's something to be proud. Here in Italy, on the other hand, there is not a great attention in Sport in the growth of kids.
Anyway, before to talk about Tough Enough, the Performance Center etc, let's we talk about Wrestling in general. Have you any Pro Wrestling basical skills? What are your feelings about Pro Wrestling in general? Who is your WWE favourite Superstar?
H: Until the show Tough Enough, I had no prior Pro Wrestling experience other than practicing with the wrestling team on occasion in high-school. I grew up watching Pro Wrestling with my father and younger brother. I remember watching Sting descend from the rafters and Macho Man talk with all his insane colors and his hats on, it was cool and to have an opportunity to be a part of that same thing is awesome to say the least! My favorite WWE Superstars as of right now are John Cena, and Randy Orton. My most favorite one of all time though is definitely Macho Man!
W: Macho Man is out of any doubt one of the greatest of all times as John Cena is. Changing topic, can you tell us about the selections you passed to be part of the program? When you submitted your video you believed to arrive at this big result?
H: Absolutely, the challenges we faced before the final 13 were selected were intense! A lot of it was cardio centered and a lot of guys that came in looking great didn't perform great because of their cardio wasn't on point. We hit the ropes, did roles. Gosh, so many rolls, forwards, backwards, left, and right! Up-downs, push-ups, anything and everything that was an explosive movement.
When I first submitted the video, I thought nothing would come of it to be honest. I had made a 1 minute video and then realized that close to over 11,000 people had already submitted a video and mine would have been just lost in the shuffle. After I got the phone call that I had made the final 40 and I would be headed to Orlando it was like Christmas! I knew that this could be my chance to shine on a global stage and I was ready to prove that on the show!
W: Perfect. Let's we talk about the workout sessions and the Performance Center in general. What was your reaction when you visited the 1st time the Performance Center? And what was your reaction to meet the NXT Superstars? And also, the workout sessions were really so tough? Tommaso told us that Pro Wrestling training in WWE is the toughest, more than MMA or other fight sports.
H: Having first walked in the Performance Center I could tell there was a lot of time, dedication and preparation in creating such a place. It is a state of the art training facility that is well kept and everything is at your fingertips, literally.
A memory about meeting NXT Superstar is for example when I met Kevin Owens walking into the locker room after workouts. They are all just regular Joes, real genuine people that you can sit down anywhere with and share a conversation together. You have to be that kind of person in this business, you have to be open to the public and fans, because at the end of the day that is what drives the company forward. For me the training was tougher than football because there are breaks in between your reps, but not in wrestling. It was a very strenuous training, but I am glad I was able to take part in that and am looking forward to continuing this dream!
after Booker T and Billy Gunn's chops
W: You had the lucky to live one week in the Barracks. How was live there with the other guys? You were constantly filmed by WWE cameras? What was your relationship with the coaches Billy Gunn, Booker T and Lita?
H: We all come from similar athletic backgrounds, and each of us are competitive of course. We were constantly being filmed by cameras 24/7. They left no stone unturned when I came to finding each and everyone's secret conversation, or fight/argument. The only place where we had any freedom was in the bathroom (haha). Our coaches were awesome! I enjoyed being around them to teach us some of the basics and to soak up the knowledge they had to give us on the show! I might be biased, but Booker T & Billy Gunn were my favorites. Booker T seemed to like my attitude and personality a lot, giving me two nicknames while I was there: Darkhorse & American Sniper. I enjoyed knowing that a WWE Hall of Fame to time to notice me.
W: Thinking about it, you really look like Chris Kyle the real American Sniper. And in fact, when I studied the profiles of all the 13 finalists, I thought you could do a long road in this program. But what happened? Maybe any misunderstandings. About this, what was your relationship with the judges? They criticized you and some other guys about the Tanner controversy. What are your feelings about it?
H: To be honest I really don't know. If you watched the competition special I was portrayed in the limelight as the Darkhorse, as a possible champion of tough enough, but then I was portrayed in a way I did not like and was voted off. I did exceptionally well in the competitions. Myself and the other 12 competitors thought it was going to the competitions that defined whether you go or whether you stayed on the show. Obviously that is not the case, so maybe our own interpretations were the misunderstanding of the show. It's a reality television show, and that's what it mainly centered around, reality. People want to see drama, arguments and fights on television, I'm not about that. I tend to just do it and not brag. In my opinion, viewers want the exact opposite of that. But it's ok, I'll keep rolling with the punches and hopefully you'll see me on the big stage again someday! My relationships with the judges were merely professional. We had not seen the judges until the night of the show so little was known about them. We all met Paige in the mall earlier that week but other than that it was our first time seeing them. Daniel Bryan didn't like my comments toward Tanner I guess because he's several inches shorter & smaller than him in reality. Tanner was simply talking too much for my liking and others and I just got fed up with it and voiced my opinion, an opinion Bryan did not like. Everyone in the house seemed to agree with me though.. But at the end of the day, I never changed who I was, even if I was portrayed in a way I am not, and that is something I am grateful for. It was an awesome experience to take part in and an even greater one to cherish forever.
W: Obviously it's a reality and the drama and those similar things are part of. In my opinion it was a misunderstanding about the Tanner controversy, or the ZZ controversy with Paige. But as you said it's a reality show and those things could happen. In general what was your relationship with the other guys? Who were the closer to you?
H: All of us got along extremely well. No one was really at each others throats until it came to competition time. Josh was probably the guy I related to the most. Having both a background in football and a kid back home I believe that is what made us connect on a personal competitive level.
W: Yes, this aspect of your friendship with Josh come out from the program. Anyway, in the post-show you said that, in your opinion, Patrick and Sara Lee are the favorites to win the program. Do you confirm those predictions? And why?
H: Yes I believe Patrick and Sara Lee are the front runners in this competition. They are both hungry and want to prove themselves to not only themselves but the world. All of the contestants are hungry for the prize but there's something about Patrick and Sara Lee that just stand out to me from the others. They seem to have that x-factor about them for sure.
W: Before you said that you want to continue to follow the dream to became a Pro Wrestler and a WWE Superstar. In my opinion you are a good guy with excellent personal valours and physical skills. There is any chance that you can work for WWE again? Maybe a tryout to aspire at a NXT development contract?
H: Yes there are multiple possibilities to pursue my future in the Pro Wrestling business and hopefully with WWE. I would enjoy nothing more but to be able to work for such an outstanding company and touch lives both young and old through it! I plan on attending another tryout for the WWE in the fall of this year in addition to have a good 3 months of training under my belt. I will continue to strive to be the best and to achieve a WWE contract in the near future! I grew up seeing Hulk Hogan and the Macho Man as superman characters, hopefully if possible, I can be someone's superman by achieving a contract.
W: I think that you can achieve your dream. Thank you so much for your kindness and helpfulness. If you want, you can say something to the Italian fans.
H: I Thank you all for the support and love shown my way! Maybe one day, if the time is right, I can wrestle in Italy, come face to face with an amazing culture, and taste some great food in the process!! Thank you again Walter and Zonawrestling for this interview.