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WWE News: TJ Perkins on working in Japan, TNA, living out of his car and who came up with the gamer gimmick

The Cruiserweight Classic winner speaks about his struggle and rise in pro-wrestling.

WWE Cruiserweight Champion T.J Perkins

We all know Cruiserweight Champion T.J Perkins was homeless at one point many years ago. He is your average “boy next door” characters, but that is exactly what makes him so appealing in the hearts of many. The Cruiserweight Champion was on Talk Is Jericho recently, and he spoke about several things.

On New Japan Pro Wrestling Opportunity:

Perkins said that NJPW was the first opportunity, and he was absolutely thrilled about it because Japan was the only spot he ever wanted to work. As soon as he turned 18, he was handed a visa and tour contract.

During his time in NJPW, he was referred to as a “young boy”. He mentioned of another “young boy” in his group named Shinsuke Nakamura. Apparently, Nakamura got a pass from doing lot of the grunt work usually done by young boys, because they knew early on he was going to be special.

He said that it while it was rare for foreigners that young to get opportunities, it wasn’t all luxury. He had to do things such as wash the backs of older wrestlers, carry their gear, open the ropes for them when they came and he had to watch matches from ringside. He was on-and-off in NJPW from 2002-2006.

On his career  after NJPW:

NJPW gave the Filipino sensation opportunities to wrestle in Ring Of Honor and Mexico as well. Post-that, he had a tryout with FCW (WWE’s developmental territory at the time), and when things didn’t pan out, everything began to quickly fall apart as he was 23, broke and evicted from his apartment.

This was during the 2008 recession period. His parents were bankrupt as well and they too like him were living out of their car. 

He said that he was forced to work 15$ bar shows 3 nights a week, but it gave him food to eat while he lived in his car. Then, he started wrestling for an independent promotion named EVOLVE.

He got back to his feet when he went to Mexico and Japan, after which he spent 4 years wrestling for TNA. After this, he became a free agent wrestling for EVOLVE after which William Regal gave him a call and approached him with the idea of participating in the Cruiserweight Classic.

His Gamer gimmick on Raw:

Perkins said he thought up the idea for his gamer character because he thought it would be quite original - it would be compatible with the way he works in the ring and he feels it's an interesting take on his own persona.

WWE seemed to like the idea right away and he credits their staff for making the character come to life with some great theme music and graphics.


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