When it comes to filling big shoes, they don't come much more sizeable than those of 'The Enforcer' Arn Anderson: the legendary Four Horsemen member undoubtedly forged an incredible grappling career for himself and is widely regarded as one of the best minds in the business today.
Yet 26-year-old Brock Anderson, son of the WWE Hall of Fame competitor, does not feel overwhelmed by any weight of expectation placed upon him. He shares his wrestling journey so far on the #WrestlingLifePod.
"That was an interesting phone call"
Anderson joined 'Wrestling Life with Ben Veal' shortly after making the decision to move on from AEW, the promotion that had been his home since 2021. For Brock, the timing was right to move on to the next chapter.
"Just where I'm at in my career [right now], it was not a money issue, it was just simply getting reps. The contract that I had with [AEW] did not allow me to get enough reps at this early stage. So that's why.
I sent back a counter [offer], never heard from them, and then six weeks later I was told that I was released, which was news to me as I was already under the impression that I was a free agent - so that was an interesting phone call!"
Having spent most of his tenure working tag team matches with the likes of Lee Moriarty and Brian Pillman Jr, Anderson's quest for reps between the ropes, he believes, is an essential step that he must take in order to grow and evolve as a performer. "Not getting those reps [in AEW] became a huge factor, so when my contract came up, I didn't feel the need to sign that extension. I felt it was more important to bet on myself and just go see what's out there: get as many reps as possible, wherever, whenever."
"You can't please everybody"
Despite being only a handful of years into his professional wrestling career as of time of recording, Anderson clearly has a very mature head on his shoulders and a vast grasp of the ins and outs of the wrestling business - garnered not only through the knowledge imparted on him by his famous father, but also through working under, and alongside, veteran competitors such as Lodi, John Skyler, QT Marshall and Cody Rhodes - the latter of whom would tag with Brock in 2021 for his televised AEW debut: "For a guy of his stature at that time ... it's pretty cool for [Cody] to be like, you know what, I'll tag with you [for] your debut match", reflects Anderson.
As a second generation talent, Anderson is acutely aware of the importance of earning his spot on the card, and recognises that some within the industry will perceive him to be gaining an unfair head-start due to his lineage: "I think it puts a spotlight on you in the locker room," reflects Brock. "You can be as nice as you can to everybody and shake everybody's hand, but there will always be somebody who looks at you like you've been given a gift to be here, like you didn't do what [they] did ... maybe sometimes they're right, maybe sometimes they're wrong, but you can't please everybody. I've learnt that very early."
"I didn't know my dad as a wrestler"
Growing up with a legendary grappler for a father, and being so immersed in the backstage world of WWE from a young age, Anderson had a unique insight into the positives and negatives of the business - particularly in terms of work/life balance and the personal sacrifices that top-tier talent have to make to thrive in the industry:
"I was born Feburary of 1997. My dad had his neck surgery a little bit after I was born to fuse his neck. He was working on a comeback ... a couple of instances at the gym, he realised that if he stepped back into that ring he could be in a wheelchair or it could be a death sentence. And I think looking at me, he made the decision to step [away] and retire. I say all that to say that I didn't know my dad as a wrestler. I knew he was a wrestler in his past life, but I didn't really know what he did.
"My whole life, basically as long as I can remember, my dad worked for WWE [as an agent]. He'd be on the road Sunday to Thursday, he'd come home, unpack his bag, throw it in the laundry, maybe play with us for a couple of hours, and then he'd go upstairs and he'd sleep. Sometimes he'd sleep through all the next day. And then sometimes he'd have to be out Friday for a house show loop ... he was on the road all the time."
"They had the people in the palm of their hands"
Anderson typically takes a methodical, "ground and pound" approach to his own in-ring work - yet surprisingly, his favourite competitor of all time is the high-flying 'The Heartbreak Kid' Shawn Michaels: "you could tell he was different, you could tell he was special," comments Anderson. One classic match, witnessed live by a young Brock Anderson in Houston, Texas in 2009, would play a transformative role along his road to pro wrestling:
"The defining moment for me was WrestleMania 25 ... I was about twelve [years old], at that stage where you're rebellious and you just don't care and you think you know everything [and] this is also that timeframe when these WrestleManias are getting very long ... by the time you even get to the semi-main event it's been six hours."
"I'm losing interest, when all of a sudden I see this video package take place and this white platform descends from the arena top ... it's Shawn Michaels coming down from the heavens ... and then The Undertaker comes out, complete opposite: heaven and hell.
"They go out there and have that match, and I remember, I was sitting there with my Nintendo DS just to kill the time. I put my DS down and I watched every minute of that match. I thought it was the best thing: the way they had the people in the palm of their hands with every waking move. There was no wasted movement, everything they did had purpose. I was watching that match and [I thought] this is actually a possibility. This is actually something that I want to do."
Episode 006 of Wrestling Life with Ben Veal is out now: real talk from real talent.
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