Sam Gradwell looks back fondly on his time in WWE, recounts helping behind the scenes while injured

Former NXT UK talent Sam Gradwell speaks highly of his time with WWE and said he has nothing negative to say about his time there

Photo Courtesy: WWE

Sam Gradwell looks back at his time in WWE. 

Coming up in the new year will be WWE’s presentation of NXT Europe. The NXT U.K. brand had been running and over the summer, it was announced that it would be going on hiatus and in its place will be ‘NXT Europe’ in the new year. 

One of the talents who was let go from WWE as a result of NXT UK’s hiatus is Sam Gradwell. He guest appeared on the Wresting With Johners Podcast and reflected on his time with the company. Gradwell does not have any negative things to say about WWE or their system. 

Me before WWE, before NXT UK and now is just absolutely night and day… By the way, if anyone’s tuning in-in the hope that I’m gonna say anything negative about that place then this is going to be a very boring interview for you because I’ve got nothing but amazing things to say about my time there. I really, really did find myself within that system and specifically within the pandemic, empty studio period. I really, really came to grips with who I am as a wrestler and who I am as a character and a performer as well and a lot of that is to credit — we had a fantastic roster there, a fantastic set of coaches and also, there’s something strangely freeing about walking out there with no audience and not having to worry about the instant gratification of that.

There was a point when Sam missed a portion of 2018 and all of 2019 due to an ACL injury. While he was sidelined, he helped out backstage at NXT UK shows. 

Gradwell timed shows and feels it may have been the most beneficial time of his career because he was able to be on headset with Shawn Michaels, William Regal and Matt Bloom along with members of the production team and hear what they liked and did not like in regards to presentation. 

But I will say that two years [I was out due to ACL injury] might have been the most beneficial of my career which may surprise you because whilst that was happening, you may have seen some pictures on my social media of me in Gorilla Position with a headset on. So, that was what I did. I was timing the shows in the production aspect of things the whole time I was out injured. So the whole time I’ve got that headset on, I can hear Shawn Michaels, Matt Bloom, William Regal, I can hear the guys in the production truck. I can hear exactly what they like, I can hear exactly what they don’t like and that just made me a better wrestler. I could see everything that was bad or wasn’t so good that the camera guys in the truck were trying to hide or they were trying to make look better and I just took so much knowledge from that. I just applied it to my own stuff and also, it forced me to watch every single bit of every single match and it really, really challenged me to make everything that I did different to everything else that was already on the show.

He is back on the independent scene and said things are vastly different from what they were when he first signed to WWE. Gradwell added that it’s cool to see wrestlers who were finding their way all those years ago now seemingly having things in order.

It’s been a pretty mad few months actually because that change [NXT U.K. wrapping up] came at a real transitional period in my life as well because I’ve just welcomed a new daughter into the world… It’s been good though. The landscape now on the British indies is totally different than it was. It’s a completely different scene all together when, you know, I signed with WWE five or six years ago. It’s also cool to see the guys that were just kind of finding their feet when we got signed and they’re now just absolutely awesome.

Gradwell is 31 years of age. His last match for WWE was taped in early July against Metehan (Teoman), who’ll be competing in the 2023 16 Carat Gold tournament

If the quotes in this article are used, please credit the Wrestling With Johners Podcast with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions. 

About Andrew Thompson 8465 Articles
A Washington D.C. native and graduate of Norfolk State University, Andrew Thompson has been covering wrestling since 2017.