Former 5-time WWE Intercontinental Champion Stu Bennett has spent up to 14 years in the pro wrestling business and counting. Over the past several years, he has gotten back in commentating, played a few on-screen General Manager roles and continued to diversify his acting career. On June 19th, the ‘I Am Vengeance: Retaliation’ film that Bennett stars in released in the U.S. and it’ll release in the United Kingdom on July 13th.
Starring in the film along with Bennett is Vinnie Jones, Jacob Anderton, Lainy Boyle and Sam Benjamin to name a few. Coming from the world of pro wrestling, Bennett has picked up some acting skills naturally and while chatting with him, Bennett told POST Wrestling that there was a bit of a learning curve in regard to the transition from wrestling to acting. He explained that learning curve from his point of view and how some aspects of wrestling that drew him in as a kid, molded him into the performer that he is today in wrestling and acting.
“It’s a little bit of both really. I think for me personally in pro wrestling, I was always a bigger fan of the storylines and the characters and the promos than anything else. That’s what really drew me in as a kid watching pro wrestling and even as a performer, I think my biggest strengths were my speaking abilities and my character abilities above anything else so, a lot of that goes into the acting world. When you’re making movies and things like that, there is a lot of crossover but again, there is some things and fine tuning that you need to be able to do when your performances on film are generally a lot smaller than the kind of reactions and behaviors you get in the pro wrestling ring. They always say in pro wrestling, you need to make your emotions and your facial expressions big enough so that people in the very back row can see them. Whereas in film, you generally have a camera two or three feet from your face at all times so everything’s a lot more subtle, and even the fight scenes are very different. In pro wrestling, we are connecting, we are actually punching each other even though we’re not trying to kill each other with each shot. But in the film world, there’s a little less of that and actors I found tend to get a little upset if I punch them for real. They’re not expecting it. I learned that very quickly in the acting world so I’ve had to fine tune some stuff there too.”
Bennett is no stranger to the commentary desk as he is the current commentator for the National Wrestling Alliance along with Joe Galli. Stu was offered the position in the Fall of 2019 and debuted with the organization at their ‘Into The Fire’ pay-per-view that December.
On top of that experience, Bennett was also the color commentator for the World of Sport reboot in 2018 along with SoCal Val. Stu was the on-screen General Manager for that program as well but Stu’s commentary roots date back to Florida Championship Wrestling where the late Dusty Rhodes felt that Bennett had a voice for commentary.
“For sure. I was very fortunate in about 2008 or 2009, I was a developmental wrestler in Florida Championship Wrestling and my boss at the time or the head of that creative area down there was Dusty Rhodes who, obviously the world of wrestling is a huge fan of him so I was fortunate enough to get to work with him and he liked the way I presented myself, he liked the way I talked and he actually put me on commentary for the developmental TV show down there in Florida at the time and so, even before anybody knew who Wade Barrett was on TV and The Nexus and Bad News Barrett and all that stuff, I was actually a commentator prior to all that so, I kind of took a detour then and went into more wrestling and didn’t commentate for a long time and then when I left WWE, I knew that I wanted to do more of it. I always loved commentating and I got opportunities in W.O.S. like you said. Another company I was commentating for was called Defiant Wrestling in the UK. So when NWA called me a few months ago and said, ‘Look, we’ve got this opportunity. We like the way you present. We’ve heard your commentary in the past. We think you’d be a great fit.’ I was already a fan of their product so I jumped on it and working with Billy Corgan and David Lagana there has been fantastic. I encourage anybody there who hasn’t seen NWA before to go check it out. It’s free, it’s on YouTube. If you’re a fan of kind of the narrative and the storylines and the character-style of pro wrestling, absolutely go check it out because it’s a wild show.”
The former Wade Barrett admitted that he does get more excited being behind the commentary table more than he does in the ring. He explained that he enjoys telling the wrestlers’ stories more-so than just having random matches and doing moves that have no meaning to him. He added that he thinks he’ll be doing commentary for a long time and hopes that his career with the National Wrestling Alliance continues to progress.
“I absolutely do because my favorite part of being a pro wrestler was the occasions where I got to tell wrestlers’ stories rather than just having random matches with a guy and doing moves that doesn’t mean anything. That’s never appealed to me and a lot of pro wrestling these days unfortunately has become that. It’s a stunt show at times. So now, whenever I’m commentating, no matter what match is going on ahead of me, it’s up to me to add some color to the match and add some storyline and some narrative and get excited about it and I can’t help but get absorbed into these matches and feel like I’ve become a part of it and I’m telling these stories for them so, I love doing it. I think I’ll be doing it for a long time, and I hope to see my career with NWA progress.”
Prior to the ‘I Am Vengeance’ films, Stu Bennett was a part of the cast for ‘Dead Man Down’ and ‘Eliminators’ which were WWE Studios projects. Now that Bennett has two outside projects under his belt, he shared the differences between working on a WWE-organized film and working on an independent film that doesn’t have as big as a budget. In a wrestling comparison, he used WWE and PWG as examples, whereas PWG may not have the biggest budget but they turn out a good and unique product and WWE is more of lights, camera and action with a substantial budget.
“I think the biggest difference really between something like ‘Eliminators’ which I think I shot in 2015 or ‘16 — the biggest difference is probably my experience level now is higher, and that not only improves my performance as you would expect but it also gives me confidence to make certain suggestions to directors and producers about the script, how we should change this, how this scene isn’t working whereas when I did Eliminators, I simply did what I was told. I was very much in that WWE wrestler mindset where, ‘Here’s your orders for the day. You have to follow them and don’t deviate at all from what you’re doing’ and that was very much how I had to wrestle at the time and how I was told to wrestle at the time so, now I have a bit more freedom in my life and I don’t have this oppressive force telling me, ‘No, you can only stick to this very fine pathway that we’re giving you.’ It allows me to look at scripts and make suggestions and make tweaks and things like that so that’s probably the biggest difference in my mind. In terms of budgets and things, we’re working to very similar budgets. These aren’t the big Hollywood blockbusters, hundred million budgets and crazy casts that you would get from Hollywood. It’s definitely indie film and I think that gives you a very different flavor in the film. I would compare it to, if you’re a fan of WWE wrestling, that’s the biggest and most expensive production in the world, and a lot of people love that but there’s also something to be said for the smaller independent companies like, for example a PWG who got huge in the past and that is a very different feel. It’s obviously lower budget but you get something very different from that-that you don’t get from the bigger guys like WWE so it’s just a different flavor of ice cream as they like to say in the pro wrestling world.”
Stu has been under the NWA banner for seven months. Throughout his time, he has seen many performers in action for the organization. When asked what performers in the NWA have stood out above the rest thus far, he specifically pointed out NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion Nick Aldis and NWA Women’s World Champion Thunder Rosa.
“I would say the two singles champions we have in NWA. I would put them toe-to-toe with any male champion or any female champion on the planet. The male champion is a guy called Nick Aldis. He’s an Englishman who I have known since probably 2003, 2004. He was actually my first-ever opponent out on the indie scene in the U.K. and I’ve known him for years. Great guy, he is matured to the point now where you could take a picture of him and you know that guy has to be the champion. He looks like a champion, he presents himself like a champion, he wrestles so many different people with different styles and I’m always blown away by how much he’s developed into what he is and the female side, it’s a lady called Thunder Rosa, who is a Mexican lady and she has to be the most aggressive, technically sound athlete I’ve ever seen in a women’s division. I think she’s absolutely superb. She has a great persona too. She has this kind of Mexican-style face paint on and she’s just a really captivating character so, I would say if you’re not familiar with NWA, if you wanna check anybody out, check out Thunder Rosa and Nick Aldis and that will give you a very good feel for what NWA is all about.”
In November of 2018, Stu Bennett appeared on the season four finale of Lucha Underground. His name on the show was going to be “The Lord”. Bennett never got the chance to expand on the character because there was never a follow up to season four of Lucha Underground. Former writer and producer of Lucha Underground, Chris DeJoseph noted in a tweet in February (2019) that he believes the show “is dead”. Stu Bennett revealed how the opportunity to be a part of Lucha Underground came to be and stated that he was supposed to run a group whose plan was to take over The Temple and that reminded him of his run with The Nexus.
“So they were very clear on the pitch with me for that one. It kind of came out of the blue but they told me, ‘Look, we haven’t got funding yet or approval for a season five but we want a big finish to season four and we’ve got some ideas. We’ve been building this character, this mythical character for a little while and we think you’d be the perfect fit for it. Here’s what we’re suggesting, we’ll film it, we’ll put it out. Hopefully we’ll get funding for the fifth one but we can’t guarantee it. What do you say?’ And coincidentally, I was gonna be in L.A. when they were filming anyway so I agreed to do it. It was a very short film cycle. I think they needed me for about three or four hours just to film that little segment so I went and did it and unfortunately, it seems like Lucha Underground is done and dusted now. Maybe it’ll come back one day but the plan was that I was gonna be this kind of character who was controlling an army of guys. I think they were gonna call me The Lord. The Lord of Wrestling or something like that and I was gonna be controlling these guys who were gonna come in and take over The Temple and attack everyone. A bit like my Nexus days if I’m quite honest with you. It sounded a bit like that so who knows where it could’ve gone. I don’t think the idea was fully fleshed out but, that was the rough pitch that was given to me.”
‘I Am Vengeance: Retaliation’ released in the U.S. on June 19th and it’ll release in the United Kingdom in July. All information about the film can be read via the film’s official Twitter page.
Stu Bennett can be found on Twitter @StuBennett and on Instagram @stubennettofficial. The video of this interview can be watched at the top of this article or on the Andrew Thompson Interviews YouTube channel.