I recently had the chance to speak with Robbie E after the official announcement that he is a cast member of The Rock’s new NBC show The Titan Games. Robbie talks about being cast on the show, building his brand through wrestling and other media, and much more:
Robbie on his Titan Games announcement, how he got the opportunity:
The thing about me is—in 2018 there are so many people trying to do big things—it is hard to stay relevant if you’re not a top guy in one of these few promotions. It’s hard to keep your name out there, and I feel like I’ve always done a good job of it and feeling connected to things, whether it’s Muscle & Fitness, The Amazing Race, and now I’m connected to this huge show in The Titan Games with The Rock.
I’m excited, I’m proud of myself for keeping the ‘Robbie E / Robert Strauss’ name alive. Anything The Rock touches turns to gold, so this show is going to be big; it’s one of the most tried out for in history, so that tells you how many people want to be a part of something The Rock’s involved with. Oddly enough, I didn’t tryout for the show. I didn’t even know what the show was. I got contacted by casting through the Muscle & Fitness videos I was doing, the Dad Bod Destroyer workouts I was doing with my twins. Someone saw the videos, they thought they were hilarious and they reached out to me, we had a phone call and the next thing I knew I was on a phone call to LA for an interview and the rest is history. I’ve known for a few months, but now the fact that I can share that January 3rd it’s debuting and I’m officially a part of it, I’m super excited.
What The Rock was like on set, did they get to talk wrestling at all?
When you’re there, you’re filming for days at a time, so you’re going to have conversations. Is The Rock a super-busy guy no matter what he’s doing? Yeah. Did I sit down and talk to him for three hours and have a heart-to-heart? No, but I’m a pro wrestler on the show, he knows I’m a pro wrestler, we talked about pro wrestling for a bit at times, so it was cool to interact with him in that way. He has a few acquaintances or friends that are some of my acquaintances or friends from all of his years in wrestling, so we talked about that for a little bit. For as busy as he is and the fact that he’s really the biggest frickin’ star in the world, he’s super approachable and it’s nice to be around him. He’s always smiling and in a good mood.
Are there any other shows in TV that could be comparable to The Titan Games?
It’s from the makers of American Ninja Warrior, so right there you know how hardcore it’s going to be. As far as the actual show, the way the rules are, I’d say it’s like American Gladiators, but on steroids. The obstacles are much bigger and the set is bigger, where it’s almost like [the movie 300 in terms of scale and theme], the show feels like an arena and it’s an unbelievable set. Just that alone I think it’s going to attract so many people to watch; it just looks awesome.
Anything can happen at any time. Shows like this—people crack under pressure. The one advantage I have as far as going into it, is I’m used to being in front of audiences, and I’m used to being under pressure, so a lot of people don’t have a lifestyle like I do where I’m regularly in front of cameras. That might have made them nervous where they could crack, but it’s not just physical, it’s mental. Everything’s involved, so anything can happen.
How much more challenging was The Titan Games compared to his previous reality show appearance on CBS’ The Amazing Race?
These are quick little challenges, but the challenges are—whether they last for one minute or three minutes—the hardest one or three minutes of your life. These challenges, you’re putting every ounce of strength into it to try and win, whereas Amazing Race was over time. I wouldn’t even try and compare them, they are two completely different things, and there were so many factors that played into Amazing Race as far as winning. The one thing I’ll say is with this, I’m alone, and I don’t have a partner holding me down like I did on Amazing Race.
Do you get requests to be ‘Jersey Shore’ Robbie now that the MTV show is back on the air with the Family Vacation continuation?
It’s crazy because when I left IMPACT Wrestling a little over a year ago, I told myself I was going to create a new character. It was time, ‘Jersey Shore’ was played out, so I created the whole Robert Strauss Brand thing that I’m doing now, which is like a motivational guy. I debuted that on House Of Hardcore, and right as that was happening, [the MTV show] came back and it’s getting these huge numbers, so it’s like ‘go figure’. [laughs] Either way, on most shows I will use the name Robbie E because a lot of fans know me as that, if they want pictures or autographs they want me like that. I’m slowly feeling out and doing a cross between the two; some places I’m still Robbie E and some places I’m doing my new character. I haven’t gotten specIfic requests about the show; I have gotten people that want ‘Robbie E’, but I don’t necessarily think it’s because the show is back.
What is the ‘mission statement’ of The Robert Strauss brand?
Everything in 2018 and going into 2019 is motivation. You go on social media on Twitter, on Instagram, on Facebook—everyone thinks they’re a motivational speaker. Everyone puts on this front to encourage everyone and thinks they’re positive, and behind it all they really aren’t. They are saying that they are happy, but they’re not. They’re saying that they are doing these really great things in life, but they are really a scumbag. It’s not everyone, but a lot of people, and I just felt like let’s take this character—and no one is really doing anything like it, and it’s never really been done—it’s similar to Gary V [Gary Vaynerchuk].
I originally thought about it like he’s ‘Gary V’ and I’m ‘Robbie E’, so I thought that would work out. I’d have the little microphone on when I come out and just hype people up, but meanwhile all I want to do is get myself over, get some money out of you and scam you. I want to be the winner and I’m a scumbag, even though I’m saying I’m a really great guy. It’s untouched and I think it works for me, and it’s completely different than what I was doing. I thought it was a good idea to go away from ‘Robbie E’ and switch it up to Robert Strauss.
— Robert Strauss (@RobertStoneWWE) October 16, 2018
With as much control as wrestlers have with their personal brands today, does he see the ‘brand influencer’ gimmick also working as a babyface down the line?
One thousand percent. I think every character, no matter who or what you are, can be a heel or a face if done right. The same way I’m a scumbag and cheating people out of money, I could be cheating heels out of things as a babyface would. Every character could go both ways, so I’m confident that there’s a lot to the Robert Strauss Brand where it could be anything.
Robbie E comments on his upcoming appearances for House Of Hardcore over the next two weeks:
There’s a huge House Of Hardcore [HOH 52 – “Indie Darlings”] show coming up in Philly, where it’s me and Tyrus teaming up against RJ City and David Arquette. I’m looking forward to that weird mix of people involved in one match. I think it’s going to be really cool, and then next week is House Of Hardcore from Woodbridge, New Jersey, at Woodbridge High School where I used to be a phys-ed and health teacher. It’s my return there, and I’m teaming with Tommy Dreamer, so it’s going to be like a homecoming for me. The next two weeks are pretty big for me, so I’m excited about it.
[House Of Hardcore For Charity] is a charity show for the [Woodbridge High School] athletics department. It’s where I used to teach and I’m still close to the school; I go back there and I speak all of the time. I think the kids are going to like it and the talent is going to like it. It’s my first time wrestling at that school and even in that area in years, probably ten years.
Robbie E can also be heard each week on the ‘Why It Ended’ podcast with co-host Matt Koon. This week, Robbie welcomed Chris Masters to the show. Recent archives include Tony Schiavone, MVP, The Headbangers, Rico Constantino and many more; the full archive is available on AudioBoom here.
Get your tickets for our House of Hardcore Charity show Dec. 15th!
Join us as we raise money for Woodbridge High School in Woodbridge, NJ
Come see @THETOMMYDREAMER, @RobertStrauss, @Sugarmask and more!!
For tickets and more info, go to https://t.co/bTmn7myKPf pic.twitter.com/PPibeoZrgv
— House of Hardcore (@HouseofHardcore) December 7, 2018