Few people can do what Calvin Tankman can do. He is the Heavyweight Hustle, the heavyweight who can fly like the cruiserweight and the newest challenge to the MLW Heavyweight Title. After carving a path of destruction through the company he’s now on route to not only give CONTRA a black eye but claim the top prize in the process. He is the first person in a while to really scare Jacob Fatu. We here at SteelChair Wrestling Magazine got the chance to talk to Tankman ahead of his big Never Say Never main event and talked about all things MLW and where the meaning of Heavyweight Hustle comes from. Enjoy!

Since it’s your first time on SteelChair, can you give us a brief introduction of who you are and your style of wrestling?

“My name is Heavyweight Hustle, Calvin Tankman. I am a current roster member of MLW. I’ve been wrestling for five years, six in November, and I don’t know what I’d class my style as. Stylistically, I don’t really fit in just any one category. I guess I’d describe myself as well-rounded. When you watch MMA, you hear about well-rounded fighters. I think when it comes to wrestling, I can do a bit of everything.”

What would you say Heavyweight Hustle means?

“Heavyweight Hustle is just that do-or-die mentality. That kill or be killed mentality. Heavyweight Hustle means that when you’re at the end of a fight and you want to give up, you don’t quit because you have so much that you’re fighting for. It’s just one of those things. Heavyweight Hustle is my term for it. It’s the work ethic my dad instilled in me from a young age. My dad worked his hardest. Both my parents worked, then my mom got sick and had an accident at work so everything was thrust upon my dad. He had a ton of medical bills to pay, so at times things were looking bleak. There were times when we couldn’t heat the house, we had to heat it with the stove. Through all that, I always saw the same work ethic from my dad. I always saw him doing whatever he could to keep me in sports and put food on the table for me and my mom even if there wasn’t enough for him to eat. So, I take that and put it into what I do now with professional wrestling. I did that with football and I kind of have that same mentality when it comes to me and my daughters, provide by any means necessary.”

What was it that brought you to MLW? You were one of the hottest free agents on the indie scene, what made you sign with MLW?

“Court (Bauer) was one of the first people to reach out and really have that vote of confidence in me. They said, “Listen, we want to give you this stage, this opportunity to show the world what you can do because I’ve seen what you can do and I believe you’re an elite, a special talent.” So, them having one of the top rosters filled with talent from all over the world, it was really an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

How have you found it? A lot of your matches so far have been beating up Luchadors…

“Yeah, that’s been the draw really. They’ve been the guys who haven’t been scared to get in the ring with me at the time. Now, we’re moving onto the biggest and the baddest in the company.”

Why step up and challenge Fatu?

“There’s a multitude of reasons. He’s one of those guys that, when he first exploded onto the scene more nationwide, immediately caught my eye. We match up stylistically in the ring, both being two of the biggest and strongest but also at our size, two of the quickest and most agile. As well as not being afraid to use those gifts that not everyone our size has. That was a match that I wanted since then. Given the opportunity and the time I’ve come in, he’s the top dog. He’s had that belt; he’s been dominant and no one has been able to stop him. I believe I have the recipe to take that title away from him and like I said in my interviews, champions get paid more. Main eventers get paid more. That’s more money to feed me and mine so any time you got a belt, any time there’s a main event spot up for grabs, I’m going to be there trying to take it.”

What do you think this recipe is that will beat Fatu? We’ve seen a lot of people step-up and try to do it but they’ve all failed. What makes you think you’re going to be the one to do it?

“Not only do I match up with him, I feel there’s a lot of intimidation. The match starts well before you get in the ring with him. There’s the loud boisterousness of him talking, there are the promos for weeks, there are mind games from CONTRA, and all kinds of things that lead into that. But I’m not intimidated. He’s not the most difficult thing I’ve had to deal with. I’ve dealt with a lot of difficult things in my life, so it doesn’t really faze me. I match up with him so well. I’m one of the few people who if I want to put him on his back, I can put him on his back. I’m really looking forward to punching him in the mouth and seeing how he reacts. That was one of the biggest things when we had our face-off and I hit him with that pounce, you could see as soon as he hit the ground and he got out of the ring that he was pissed, he was heated. He was out of control. That’s what I want. I want to get him out of his game plan. I want to put him in situations he’s not used to being in and put the pressure on him.”

I think you managed to achieve that when you dived on him and his crew during last week’s episode. I think you caught him by surprise with that one…

“Definitely. That’s really what I go for. That’s a big part of my game plan. It’s perception, you think it’s going to be one thing then when I hit you with something else out of nowhere it’s way more effective.”

Are you concerned the rest of CONTRA are going to interfere? We’ve seen Josef Samael be a thorn in challenger’s sides. Simon Gotch and Daivari have been following him everywhere. Does that bother you at all?

“I feel like I’ve accepted it. There’s only one path to the belt right now and it’s through CONTRA and it’s through Jacob. That’s just par for the course. You already know it’s going to happen so you have to be prepared for it. You never know what I have up my sleeve, I might not necessarily be alone. But at the same time, that’s something I’ve got to be looking out for because, I feel like I am a threat, I know I’m a threat and I know that he knows that too. So, if he gets to the point where he thinks the end might be near, he’s a little scared of losing his title, I wouldn’t put it past him to have some sneaky stuff up his sleeve.”

Outside of Fatu and the title scene is there anything else you want to achieve in MLW or say you win the title, who or what comes next?

“Any and everyone. If I win the title, I definitely think Hammerstone’s someone who is more than deserving of a title shot. He’s one of the best in the world and one of the best on the roster. I’d like to test myself against him. ACH as well. Really, there are so many people I haven’t got to lock horns with yet. I’d be willing to take it against anyone, not just people on the regular roster. As you know MLW has ties with other companies like AAA, I don’t just want the best in MLW, I want the best across the world.”

Speaking of MLW’s roster, has anyone resonated with you at the moment? There’s a lot of young guys, veterans. Has anyone really stepped up to make you feel at home?

“Definitely my Injustice guys. Myron (Reed), he’s like a brother to me. We’ve both been around each other since we both stepped into the business basically. We’ve travelled the roads for years. He’s definitely someone that came in and welcomed me. ACH is another one, another guy I look up to. I’d met him previously but coming into MLW during the shows, he’s one of the guys I gravitated to and talk. I’m really the new guy so I’m still feeling everyone out right now, y’know?”

Is there anyone you’d like to bring to the roster yourself? Anyone you’ve seen who you think would be the perfect fit for MLW?

“There are so many talented people on the indies man. Brayden Lee is a kid who is extremely talented. He’s young and still figuring it out but I’m telling you when he completely figures it out, the kid can achieve whatever he wants.”

I’ve seen some matches and clips and yeah, the things he does…

“He was a collegiate wrestler. People don’t realise that he’s not just a flippy guy, he’s got a ground game too and is an actual badass. Lee Moriarty is one of my favourite wrestlers. I believe he’s possibly the best wrestler in North America, especially when it comes to pure wrestling. Tre Lamar is another one, ridiculously athletic and he’s just got that swagger about him. There are so many guys that are ready to blow and ready for people to see them. I see all sorts of crazy-good dudes. I was in Texas and came across Mysterious Q. He’s a Luchador but I believe he’s 6”4 or 6”5 and 250lbs and he can do a Sasuke Special. So, he’s got that type of athleticism and explosiveness. I got to get in the ring with him and you could tell how good he was as soon as we locked up.

I imagine that seeing someone who’s 6”5 doing a Sasuke Special gets the same reaction people have when they see you do the Running Shooting Star press. One of those feats that betray belief.

“I was in the match, it was a triple threat with me, Mysterious Q and Gino Medina. I was in the ring; I wasn’t the one receiving the Sasuke Special and for a second my jaw dropped because I didn’t see it coming. I’d thrown Gino out of the ring and then he just ran behind me and did a Sasuke Special and I was like, okay. Alright, that’s what we’re doing over here.”

That reminds me of the first time I saw you in action. Now, look, MLW and a title shot. How did it feel learning you were going to get the Never Say Never title shot?

“Excitement. It’s one of those things where I was definitely happy about it but it’s like alright, we’re the main event that means step it up and be ready for the spotlight. We’re here, we’re glad we got this, we’re happy but now we’ve got to take it to the next level because I don’t want to ever get comfortable and become complacent.”

That wraps up my line of questions, any closing statements?

“Be ready, if you’ve never seen me before, you’re potentially going to see some things you’ve never seen before. It’s world title time, it’s main event time. It’s put up or shut up so I’ve got to put it all on the line and risk it for the biscuit so tune in, you don’t want to miss it, I’m telling you.”

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All images courtesy of MLW, Harry Aaron, video courtesy of MLW YouTube