An Interview with Shad Gaspard...
Shad Gaspard is a professional wrestler and actor best known for being apart of the Tag-Team duo Cryme Tyme. Outside of the WWE, Shad has had a successful career in movies, television, and video games. Some of his roles include stunts in Birds of Prey, movies like Get Hard, and even video game motion capture for Kratos from God of War. I managed to get an interview with Shad, and here it is below:
1) When did you first get interested in wrestling? Were you always interested?
I was always interested in wrestling. Growing up as a kid in the Caribbean, wrestling was one of our main forms of entertainment. We wrestled outside with each other all of the time because if wrestled inside we would get spankings from my grandmother. I remember as far back as being six years old, I told my friends I would be a professional wrestler and then laughing because they thought “how could a kid in our circumstance ever even think about doing something like that.”
2) What was your favorite territory growing up?
When I was a kid I didn’t really know about territories. I lived in New York, so WWF was all we knew. I would catch glimpses of matches from WCW, but the only team that really spoke to me were Doom due to the fact that most of WCW’s programming was geared towards southern white people.
3) Who was your favorite wrestler back then?
Of course Hulk Hogan, but soon after I started to like guys like Jimmy Snuka, The Ultimate Warrior, Powers of Pain, Sid Vicious, and Junkyard Dog. Then I kind of stopped watching wrestling and the person who got me back into it was The Rock. I thought he was Caribbean by the way he dressed and talked. His matches with Triple H made me like wrestling again, and the two of them inspired me to want to become a wrestler again.
4) When did you first start training and wrestling?
In all honesty, I could say when I turned 20, after Tough Enough, but in reality, I was always training to be in the WWE; that’s all I ever wanted. It was something that obsessed me to the point where from the time I was 14, I emulated wrestlers in my day to day life, and focused hard on my training for boxing and Muay Thai…but secretly desired to be in the WWE.
5) When did you first get to the WWE?
Crazy enough, I got to the WWE before my 21st birthday by appearing on MTV’s Tough Enough. Then being invited to try out for OVW and getting a partial contract from the WWE at 21 years old. I look at my success in somewhat disbelief, seeing as how it took so many others such a long time to reach what I did at a young age. But then again, I knew what I wanted and I focused all my energy and time on it, never letting people tell me what I could and could not do.
6) Who are some of the people that have helped you along the way?
If I try to name every last one, it would take forever. My family always believed in me, and my real friends always supported me. Then when I got in the business, guys like Sgt. DeWayne Bruce, Rocky Johnson, Brian Colding, Al Snow, The Rock, and so many more, all were super supportive.
7) When did you first meet JTG?
I met J while training in OVW because a female wrestler named Kat, who is a WWE Hall of Famer, told me about a kid who was riding the bus from New York all the way to Kentucky every weekend just to train. His passion and determination was just so evident from the beginning, like mine, so I offered him my apartment that I was moving out of since he didn’t have enough credit to get his own. My landlord trusted my judgement, so he took over my lease and moved into my apartment right away. We became best friends ever since.
8) How did Crime Tyme start up?
I had a singles run in OVW against CM Punk, and Paul Hayman suggested that I create a faction. Not wanting to be partnered up with too many people, I opted to instead be in a tag team. From the guys that I had to choose from, JTG was the one I trusted the most.
9) What would you say is the height of your career?
I don’t think that I have reached it yet. And I don’t think that I will know until I am dead because I do not blame on stopping any time soon.
10) Who was your favorite person to work a match with?
To be honest, I never really had one favorite person to work, I just always liked wrestling my friends. So much of this business is about the sacrifices you make to get where you are, so it’s always fun working with your friends who are going through the same thing.
11) What would you tell a young wrestler looking to get into the WWE?
I would tell them to not strive to just get into the WWE, but to strive to learn to be the best at their craft. They should strive to learn as much as possible rather than to just be successful, because the more they learn the better prepared they will be for the success they strive for.
12) Was racism a major problem in the WWE for you?
Not for me because I can f*** people up. Ninety percent of the time, racists are the nicest people to me because I can beat their ass. The thing about ignorance and racism, they seem to go away when the reality of getting your ass kicked presents itself.
13) What was the most important part to keeping in shape?
Just having a desire to want to work out. The more you want something, the harder you work for it.
14) How have you been after leaving the WWE?
Overall, really happy. I spend most of my time pursuing all of the things that I like, and I invest my energy into the people most important to me in my life.
16) What are some of the things you have done since then?
Well, I’ve been a major video game character, I’ve appeared in multiple films and multiple TV shows, and I’ve found my true passion, which is being a father.
17) How do you feel about your martial arts experiences?
From day one, martial arts have always been a big part of my life, and its honestly shaped my mindset throughout my life. I find a lot of the determination and discipline that I have stems from martial arts, and the dedication it takes to be the best.
18) As an actor, what would you recommend younger actors looking to get roles do?
I would say the same as wrestling, focus on your craft. Most people do not understand, or realize, that overnight sensations took years to make. There are way more talented people than me in this world, but they have zero to none of my determination. The first sign of failure, they quit. If things get too hard, they complain. My refusal to quit or give up has always been my biggest benefit.
19) What has been your favorite project to be a part of?
I would say a Bollywood movie called “Brothers,” where I had to fight one of India’s biggest stars. The film itself was cool, but the thing that stood for me was the experience I had with the cast and crew. Everyone was happy, we played practical jokes on each other 24/7, and we all bonded during a great experience.
20) What’s it like during a day of filming?
It’s a lot of hurry up and wait. Even though you’re on set, and the camera is on you, you have to wait for everybody else to get things just right so you can film. If they cannot, or do not, the film suffers.
21) What is it like preparing for a nationally televised match? What do you have to do or know beforehand?
For matches, if you’re on stage for global or national TV, the preparation came way before the match was even announced. The preparation came during your training and learning. I am a big believer that if I have 6 hours to chop down a tree, I spend the first 5 sharpening my ax, rather than just hacking away like a madman hoping to chop the tree down. The more you prepare for your success, the easier it will be to receive it.
22) How much creative freedom did you have with your gimmick?
Normally most wrestlers aren’t given that much freedom with their characters or gimmicks, but I used the book called “The 48 Laws of Power” which helped me understand how to work within the corporate system, so I could make my ideas seem like other’s ideas. Therefore, I would be able to get the creative freedom that I wanted. So with that I had a lot of freedom to come up with things, but then also make others feel like it was their idea for me to do something with my gimmick.
23) If you could play any Marvel or DC character of your choice, who would you choose to play?
Icon from the Milestone Universe. He is a character created by Dwayne McDuffie that inspired me as a kid. Most people want to say that he was basically black superman, but in all honesty, he was more than that. Superman’s alter ego, Clark Kent, is a play on the weakness of humanity, Icon’s alter egos are played on the strength of black excellence. I always found that little trivia interesting in how an alien saw black people as intelligent and strong beings.
24) Lastly, what comes next? What do you have coming up in the future?
Currently, my number one project is being a great dad and a better husband, but I’m finding more success in the dad part than the husband part. After that, I have an animated cartoon series that I’m working on, several film projects that I have written, and hopefully after this pandemic is over, I have a film role in an up and coming film.