An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Lackland training instructor trains to make it to WWE

  • Published
  • By Jose T. Garza III
  • JBSA-Lackland Public Affairs
For some aspiring wrestlers on the independent wrestling scene, their goal is to get experience wrestling in front of various small crowds around the country in hopes of one day performing on the World Wrestling Entertainment stage.

Individuals need more than wrestling skills to make it to the WWE. Size, charisma and other traits are evaluated to determine whether a wrestler can make it.

Staff Sgt. Greg Gauntt, a 324th Training Squadron military training instructor who wrestles for local River City Wrestling as Ryan Oshun, is well aware of that. After making an appearance on WWE Raw in March as a hired henchman for on-air authority figure Triple H, Gauntt continues to work his way up the ranks in RCW and trains diligently at the gym to make it as a full time wrestler.

In this question and answer session, the military training instructor shares his training and nutrition regimen, what he has learned about wrestlers' training style since breaking into the business, and the hardest part about staying in shape for wrestling.

Q: How has fitness changed for you since you became a wrestler?

A: Before wrestling, I did semi-pro football, so there was a lot of running, conditioning and, of course, weight lifting for size. I was a lineman so I was trying to be as big as I could and eat as much as I could. After football, I was trying to get into bodybuilding, but I realized that I am too tall and my limbs are too long. I was not doing cardio at the time.

With wrestling, there is a difference between running three miles and keeping up in the ring. There is in-ring cardio, which comes from doing squats, running the ropes, and practicing the matches. Now when I train, I use weights every day. I don't take any days off unless I have to. I don't train on show days or the day after because I'm sore.

I do high interval training where I speed or decrease my heart rate to mimic wrestling a match. The training works best on an elliptical, and I will go as fast as I can for 30 seconds then take a minute and work at a normal speed.

Q: What is your normal training schedule?

A: During work, I don't take a lunch break like everybody does. I go to the gym during that time. If I can't, I go in the evening after my wife gets home. I find a way to go to the gym whether it is in the morning or the evening.

Q: What kind of training do you incorporate to stay in shape for wrestling and the Air Force?

A: Obviously for the Air Force, running a mile and a half for the physical training test is a little difficult because of my weight. Pushups and situps come naturally to me due to my weight training. The cardio that I do basically keeps me in shape for running.

As far as other training and nutrition, I do more bodybuilding style workouts. I usually switch it up every couple of weeks where I might do arms one day, chest the next, back on its own day, etc, but lately I have been doing chest and triceps one day, back and biceps another day, and a day for legs and shoulders.

The main thing I learned from bodybuilders is to rest training major muscle groups like chest and back for at least three days. For small muscle groups like arms, 48 hours of rest is advised. If there is a day where I miss a workout, I don't just get right back on schedule; I take the workout that I missed and I will incorporate it into the workout schedule for that next day. If I miss back and biceps and the next day is chest and triceps then not only am I doing chest and triceps exercises that day, but I am also doing half of a back and half of a bicep workout as well. It still keeps the days in track because I don't want to miss a day or two then purposefully push other exercises back.

Q: What is your eating regimen?

A: I don't really follow any kind of regimen. I'm a big guy and in decent shape but I'm not cut like a bodybuilder. I see so many people post on Facebook about their meal preparations and how many meals they eat a day; I look at every single one of them and they don't look like bodybuilders.

I am 6 feet 4 inches tall and weigh 240 pounds year round, but I only eat maybe three to four meals a day and have protein shakes in between. I know personally of bodybuilders who have won national qualifying competitions and International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness pro cards, and only eat three full meals and shakes in between.

Nutrition for me is having a good breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I will try to fit in a fourth meal and maybe a fifth if I do a lot of wrestling that day. I try to eat a lot of protein and minimal carbohydrates. Sometimes when I have chicken, I like to put it in bread and make a chicken sandwich. About 70 percent of the time I like to put steak or chicken in a flour tortilla and put a little cheese on it for taste. I also may put a little salsa on it because it has multivitamins in them.

The big thing for me with nutrition is to eat more protein and less carbs. I don't even watch my fat intake because if you eat healthy you shouldn't worry about it.

Q: What are some other things you have to do to look the part of a wrestler that no one thinks about?

A: Since I wear wrestling trunks when I wrestle, I need to get even color all over. So I spray tan to look my best. As a wrestler, you look better when you're tanned. It is sad that a lot of independent wrestlers don't tan. It seems more of a WWE mentality. I tan because I want to make it to WWE. People have told me that if there is one wrestler from River City Wrestling or on the independent scene who looks like they could make it there, it would be me.

Q: What are some misconceptions that you have learned about how wrestlers train?

A: When I was younger, I would see guys like the (legendary tag team) Road Warriors, Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior, and I would think all they did was bodybuilding. I realized that some of the bigger wrestlers are not doing just bodybuilding workouts, but they are incorporating cardio exercises. I know of some who do bodybuilding and CrossFit exercises.

Every wrestler does his or her own thing. Everyone's body is different and they have their own way of working out to get in the shape they need to be in. There is no cookie cutter gym workout that you need to follow to be a wrestler.

Q: Since you grew up admiring Hulk Hogan and other notable wrestlers, was there someone whose body type you looked at and said 'I would like to have the same body type as that guy?'

A: Bill Goldberg because he is a little bit taller than me. He is thick and doesn't have abs like I do. He has hair on his chest like I do. He also has big trapezoids, and I started working on my traps because of him. He still has the shoulder size advantage still, but if my shoulders grew a little bigger than I would almost have a Goldberg-like appearance where I am not fat but not skinny.

His arms weren't huge, but he had big shoulders and traps. With my height, that body type would be perfect for me. There was no other wrestler that I said I wanted to look like other than Goldberg.

Q: What is the hardest part about staying in shape for wrestling?

A: Injuries. I'll give you a prime example: I was doing a match during training, and I speared (a move where you run toward an opponent full force and tackle them with your arms and shoulders) someone - a good spear at that. I landed on my shoulder and tweaked it a little bit. I was not able to bench press for four months because of the weight and pressure at a certain angle when I was laying down on a flat bench. I felt like I was getting stabbed in the shoulder.

I am not a believer in going to the doctor if it is not an emergency. I don't like to waste people's time. If I know the injury can heal over time and I can take some Motrin for it then I don't like to waste a doctor's time when someone else could use their time. The shoulder pain never felt like anything I needed to see a doctor for, even though it lasted for so long.

I have been working out steadily since 2006, and there are times when my weight has fluctuated. These past couple of years I have been at my most consistent when it comes to exercise. As a wrestler, you have to learn to work through injuries.

Q: You made an appearance on WWE Raw in March. Did you seek any wrestlers advice on training and nutrition?

A: I talked to William Regal because I worked primarily with him and didn't want to bother anybody else. He talked about basic exercises like squats. However, he was very keen on new school exercises. One of the things he told me he hates is when older wrestlers start off conversations with 'back in my day' or 'back when I was coming up' because everything evolves.

The one piece of advice I took from him was that he told me to wrestle as many matches and opponents as I can in front of people. He told me to wrestle as many nights as I can because nothing would get me better at wrestling than actually doing it. He said I can train and go over spots to perform all I want, but if I'm not physically and mentally performing matches then I am not going to get better. Repetition would get me comfortable, let my character develop in front of audiences and be comfortable in the ring.