In 2011 WWE revived Tough Enough and had Stone Cold Steve Austin as the show's host. One of the contestants was Matt Cross who was eliminated in the second week but has since gone onto a lengthy career on the independents.
Cross talked about that Tough Enough experience and becoming friends with Austin when Wrestling Inc.'s Andy Malnoske caught up with him.
"It was amazing. The biggest, most surprising takeaway is that I'm half friends with Stone Cold Steve Austin," said Cross. "So he called me after the show, which I didn't expect and I'm sure he wasn't contractually obligated to do, and was very encouraging. He offered his help and we're sort of in touch to this day. Anytime I've called him he's answered and I've had this open platform to pick his brain."
Cross added that he was at first intimidated by Austin but it was refreshing to see how nice and helpful he is. Apart from Tough Enough, Cross also has experience on another competition show as he was on American Ninja Warrior and he talked about the reach that show has had in his personal life.
"I just had a high school reunion the other day and everyone was like, 'Hey, we saw you on TV!' … I assumed it was from a wrestling thing, but everybody was talking about Ninja Warrior which I did once," stated Cross. "I'd love to do it again, it was a lot of fun because I think a giant, adult obstacle course is the coolest thing ever. If you could do it and it wasn't televised, I'd be all over it. But you have to do it on the show, so whatever."
Cross said that he thought with his experience being on TV with wrestling, that he would excel on ANW. But competing in something different than a ring was quite an adjustment.
"As I line up, I'm like, 'What am I doing? I should be home asleep; I'm an idiot,'" said Cross before adding that he wanted to represent all of the other pro wrestlers on the show.
"I didn't leave one of the most competitive sports to take it easy in wrestling. The guys who have done well in pro wrestling are guys like Kurt Angle whose an Olympic gold medalist. That's the mentality I wanna carry forward at all times. So taking that into Ninja Warrior, I had the weight of an industry on my back. If I fail, then we all look bad. I wanted to do well so that people would say, 'Oh, maybe these hokey wrestlers have something to them.'"
Cross said he put undue pressure on himself with that mentality, but he enjoyed competing on Ninja Warrior and would be willing to do it again.
Matt Cross' full interview with Wrestling Inc aired as part of a recent episode of our WINCLY podcast. It can be heard via the embedded audio player at the bottom of this post, or via the video player at the top.