Sam Gradwell picked up the biggest win of his NXT UK career last week.
The self-proclaimed ‘Thunderstorm’ of WWE got the three-count against Dave Mastiff, securing only his second-ever victory via pinfall in NXT.
But make no mistake. Gradwell is about to take over the British Brand… and he’s predicting big things to come.
“It’s the biggest win of my NXT UK career so far and I believe it will be nothing but wins going forward,” he said of his success against Mastiff.
“NXT UK especially over the last year, we’ve really picked up our identity. Our backing track has been flesh on flesh, hard-hitting, in-your-face action and that’s where I’m most at home.
“I’m comfortable trash-talking, I love getting in an opponent’s head and in the coming weeks you’re going to see more of that.”
Gradwell’s confidence might sound borderline ‘cocky’, but he has been on quite a journey just to get to this spot in NXT UK and he won’t be giving it up now.
His path to WWE began way back in 2009 and this week, ‘Thunderstorm’ shared his journey with GIVEMESPORT, detailing his incredible rise from meeting William Regal for a tryout to accepting his WWE contract offer… while sitting on the toilet in his grandparent’s house.
In his own words, this is Sam Gradwell’s journey to NXT UK.
The beginning of a dream
“I was 17 when I first started wrestling training. I found the Grand Pro Wrestling training school in Manchester and got the train from Blackpool to Manchester on a weekly basis.
“It was run by Johnnie Brannigan. It was the best thing I ever did. We would train for three hours on a Sunday and throughout that my imagination ran wild.
“As soon as you think you’ve learnt it all or you’ve learnt enough you soon realise that you’ve only just scratched the surface.
I had my first match in February 2009, that was great. I wrestled a guy called ‘William Gaylord’. I’ve watched it back recently and my toes curl, but it doesn’t hold up too badly!
“From my first match, everything kind of snowballed from there. My first went into my second, into my third, into the fiftieth and hundredth.”
WWE make contact
“A few years later, Robbie Brookside came and did a training seminar and when it was over, he pulled me aside and handed me a WWE business card.
“He said ‘do me a favour, send me a couple of pictures, matches and we’ll see where we go’.
“I’d emailed him but I didn’t hear anything for about six months, so I thought it was one of those bits of false hopes.
“Then eventually I got an email from someone in WWE inviting me to a three-day tryout at the O2 Arena.”
Catching a break
“When I got to that tryout, I thought I was ready.
I thought that when I walked down that ramp that Vince McMahon was going to take one look at me and say ‘there’s my star, come here you, get away from these tryout lot, get here!’
“That didn’t happen, but I did strike up a relationship with William Regal that day. He pulled me aside and said ‘you’re not ready now, but there’s something there and you eventually will be.’
“Regal kept in contact with me, whenever WWE were touring the UK he’d bring me in for extra work, let me have tryout matches before the cameras were on.
“Then, when the WWE UK Championship tournament came around [in 2017], it was about 7:00 am in the morning and I was sat on the toilet in my nana and grandad’s house and my phone rang – it was William Regal.”
The call that changed everything
“Regal says to me ‘we want to offer this developmental contract, we’ve got something coming up and would you be interested?’
Just as I’m about to answer, my nana appears outside the door shouting ‘Sam, are you going to be long in there? Your grandad needs a wee, you know he can’t hold it!’
“I’m like ‘yes, yes I’d be interested!’ and the rest is basically history.”
Where were you when you got your dream job offer? The chances are, you weren’t anywhere as awkward as where Sam was… sitting on the toilet in his grandparent’s house.
But that hilarious moment will be one he’ll remember forever – and it makes for a cracking story to tell.
Discussing the call, Gradwell explains that it really was dream come true to sign with WWE, but suggested that it was also just the beginning of the hard work to come.
“It was a dream come true, anyone that gets that call and tells you differently has a problem with telling the truth. It’s hard to explain,” he continued.
Someone like William Regal, knowing he’s gone to bat for you – motivates you beyond what you thought you’re capable of.
“To get that call, it felt like it was the beginning. A culmination of a dream come true, the end of one part of my career and the beginning of another.”
After picking up a big win in NXT UK, Gradwell will be looking to push his career to new heights over the coming weeks… and you’d be a fool to bet against him doing so.
Sam Gradwell will be in action in NXT UK, which airs every Thursday night on BT Sport.