Interview Charlie Sterling – “The British are better wrestlers but the American’s character brings something completely different”

Charlie Sterling has risen to prominence over the last two years, gaining success with ICW, OTT and Rev Pro. He entered the business in a unique way having been spotted by Tyson T-Bone who told Sterling to jump in his van to help set up. T-Bone took Charlie under his wing and worked closely with him to build his talent.

We spoke to Charlie about the fantastic gimmick he has developed, his gymnastic background and how he feels the British wrestlers have better in-ring capabilities compared to the Americans.

What was the scene like in Bristol when you first started?

There really wasn’t anything going on around the time that I first started. There weren’t any companies or training schools, so I had to venture out to Gloucester and Swindon to see any shows. I say I’m a Bristolian but I actually grew up in Bath, there was one little company called UCW, and that was the only exposure I had to wrestling at the time.

When did you start seeing the change in UK wrestling in terms of popularity?

I started when I was 21, which was about 5 years ago, and it really started to change then. In Bristol itself there really wasn’t much going on but the north of the country was where it really began. When I was watching it around 2006, when CM Punk and Samoan Joe were coming over, that’s when it really started to kick off. When I was training the British wrestlers really started to push through and compete with the Americans, especially on the Indies.

Character-wise the Americans bring their personalities and the charisma, which makes them shine through. I still feel the British are better wrestlers but the American’s character brings something completely different. So when they came over it definitely helped the UK guys develop.

What process have you gone through to develop your character?

When you’re a young guy you’re seen as the blue-eyed babyface character, which I often play, in fact right up until 2016 when I went over to OTT. I got a reaction, which I didn’t expect, they jeered me. In Ireland I am more of the Patriot character, so I was thinking all things British, a teacup, the silly beret, a flag and eventually the name Sterling, that’s how that developed. I took it elsewhere with ICW, Rev Pro and a few other places as well.

Do you give as much work to your character as you do with your wrestling?

See I think I am still experimenting between character and wrestling style. There are promotions where I will push a lot more of my character work as it gets more of a reaction. Whereas in ICW, I will project more of my actual wrestling style, probably because I am more of a babyface in that environment. I am a big believer that the heel’s job should be to get over the babyface. The face needs to get all of his moves in and the heel needs to make him look great. I believe in that ‘old age’ psychology that still works to this day. I see it like this; the babyface controls the content of what’s going in and the heel controls the volume.

You’re in great shape, is it hard to maintain? Especially as you take bump after bump.

I was lucky as I grew up as a gymnast and I was always on the trampoline as a kid, so I was able to build a foundation of fitness. Now days I keep a strong diet and I train 3-4 times a week. It is definitely a lifestyle to stay in good condition. Wrestling used to be a business that was all about bodies and shapes but that is changing. It isn’t about being the biggest guy on the show, its about being the biggest character.

What do you make of this whole “dive vs headlock” twitter battle we have seen recently involving Rip Rogers, Randy Orton and Will Ospreay?

My take on it is that wrestling is an art form, Randy Orton has a very different style to Will Ospreay. I don’t think indie wrestling is damaging wrestling at all. Maybe a dive or two might knock a week off of your life if it goes wrong. Everyone has their own style; I like to use lots of different styles. The great thing is if  Will Ospreay and Randy Orton had a one-on-one match I bet it would be fantastic.

The fans are clearly enjoying indie wrestling. Do you think the top promotions see the Indies as a threat?

Definitely. The evidence of that is the World Of Sport program taking place and then the WWE reacting by putting on the WWEUK Championship. That shows you that the market in this country is so desirable. WWE don’t want to lose that market and with WOS coming about they have shown some insecurities.

It used to be that when you were signed by the WWE you were off the Indies all together. One of my mentors Joel Redman, the first NXT tag champion, he was signed by the WWE and that was it, he was over in Florida. Now wrestlers are being recycled back in to the indies to tap in to that audience. Noam Dar is a great example with ICW.

What are your wrestling ambitions?

I just want to keep doing what I am doing. Keep making my character more interesting and marketable. That’s the great thing about the time we are in; there is more of a discussion available. You have opportunities with TNA, WWE or you can go as far as Japan. Currently my main ambition is to keep wrestling and make lots of money too.

You can follow Charlie on Twitter