Robbie E on going from the ring to The Titan Games, new wrestling character and The Rock

Robert Strauss has made it to network television.

Now 18 years into his wrestling career, Strauss, best known in wrestling circles as Robbie E, was recently announced as one of the 64 participants on the NBC competition show The Titan Games — hosted by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson — beginning on Jan. 3.

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Strauss is no stranger to reality competition shows, having taken part in the season 25 of The Amazing Race back in 2014.

All told, there were nearly 80,000 applicants for The Titan Games, including more that 10,000 “insanely athletic people” (those are The Rock’s words). So, it wasn’t an easy feat to get on the show. That’s even before the incredible endurance-based mental and physical challenges that the competitors will go through every week on The Titan Games over 10 episodes.

The stage is set for #TitanGames.

Who will rise to the top of Mount Olympus? ?

Luckily for Strauss, he stays in good shape for his wrestling career and his “Dad Bod Destroyer” videos for Muscle and Fitness also have him keeping up with his workouts, while caring for his twin baby boys.

Recently, Sporting News spoke with Strauss about being cast on The Titan Games, what to expect on the show, his new wrestling persona and his recent WWE tryout.

Sporting News: How did you end up being on Titan Games?

Robert Strauss: The show was already announced and I guess The Rock put a thing out for people to apply and it ended up being one of the most tried out for reality shows in history. Obviously, anything The Rock touches is gold and that’s always gonna happen, but I didn’t even know of the show’s existence. I randomly got a Facebook message one day from someone in casting for the show that saw my “Dad Bod Destroyer” Muscle and Fitness videos I was doing — which were fitness videos with my kids and they loved it and they got a kick out of it. So, they asked for my number and they called me. Then, the next thing I knew, I was on a plane to LA for a final interview. It was pretty crazy.

What was the time between the final interview and when the physical trials actually began?

Well, a final interview was also a physical tryout. That was all at the same time. It was like a combine that they invited a certain amount of people to, so they can watch you work out and talk to you. And then from there, it was about a month before I found out that I was officially cast on the show.

What kind of physical things did you expect when you got there and what did you end up doing?

It’s from the makers of American Ninja Warrior, so you knew it was going to be some hardcore stuff. I would basically explain the show up like American Gladiators on steroids. It’s on another level and the set is so unbelievable. It’s kind of like from the movie “300” and it’s like old rustic-looking challenges and stuff. So, it’s really cool. Everything that’s involved in the show is so different, so there’s not really a way to describe it. You just have to watch it.

Did you feel good about your chances of making it on the show despite knowing that there were so many people that applied for this?

You never know what a reality show is looking for and what’s going to fit them. So, there’s no real rhyme or reason. I couldn’t say I’m definitely in because if they only want one 180-pound, brown hair, short guy, and they have another, then I’m out. You know what I mean? And then, also the fact that I was a wrestler, they were either gonna love that or they were not because of The Rock. So, maybe they said, ‘Ah, let’s stay away from wrestling because we don’t want to focus on that because The Rock or maybe we do want a wrestler.’ I knew that would play into it, but they were really big into the fact that I’m a twin dad and because I travel on the weekends and during the week, I’m spending a lot of time with my twins because my wife works. So, they love the fact that like, I’m almost like a daddy daycare during the week. They got a kick out of that. So, that’s part of my story.

Since you’ve been on a reality show before, did going through that experience help you in making your way onto The Titan Games?

I wasn’t nervous at all. Like for the first time on The Amazing Race, I was so nervous. Like, ‘What’s this?’ This time, I kind of knew the lay of the land because all reality shows kind of work the same at least in the casting process. I was pretty much thinking whatever’s gonna happen is gonna happen and I think that helped me because you’re there for a lot of days in LA. There’s a lot of downtime, but I was comfortable chilling and not stressing too much. And then, when the actual filming of the show happened, I certainly had an advantage because we’re in front of live audiences and I’m obviously used to wrestling in front of an audience and being under pressure. That didn’t faze me at all as well. A lot of the athletes that aren’t used to performing in front of big audiences were probably s—— their pants, you know?

Is there any trash talk or mind games?

No, not in this. It doesn’t really do anything. Maybe behind each other’s back in the interviews. I’m sure there is there, but as far as to each other’s faces, no.

Over 10,000 insanely athletic people applied for our @nbctitangames. I only chose 64. That’s it. 64. I wanted to create a platform for everyday men and women with passion and athleticism to shine and become TITANS. Here’s my 64 TITAN hopeful for our inaugural season 1 of TITAN GAMES. JANUARY 3RD ON @NBC. #DJs64 ??

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You do a show like this and you don’t know what anybody else has said behind closed doors. You think somebody is your friend and then you watch the show, see these behind -the-scenes interviews and what somebody might have said about you. How do you deal with that?

On The Amazing Race, we were kind of the bad guys. We were the ones talking s— behind everyone’s back. I mean, it is what it is. I love The Bachelor and me and my wife are obsessed with the show. We watched and think about that all the time. Like, he’s saying that and I wonder how the other cast members feel three months later when they’re watching this. And he said that. So, I think by the time it passes and it’s all filmed already, you kind of know people are just saying it for the show. I guess it depends on the situation.

Considering your background in wrestling, was there any expectation or even thought by yourself to ramp up the character a little bit or even be the bad guy?

Yeah, I think a little bit, but again, they had me cut a promo on The Rock and that kind of stuff, which they showed them. But I think all in all, the main focus of me is that I was a dad, so I also didn’t want to get too nasty because I am representing my family. I didn’t want to look like a douchebag wrestler, while being this great dad to twins which I am.

Without giving away too much, what was your promo on The Rock like?

I don’t think that’ll be on TV or anything. They just kind of had me do that for s— and giggles at some point to show them. I did my new character that I’m doing for House of Hardcore, the Robert Strauss brand, where I’m a motivational guy. So, basically, I told him that he was a good kid and you know, he’s got a bright future ahead of him, but I could help him along the way and become a bigger star.

How much interaction is there with The Rock on the show?

You know, he’s the host of the show. So, you have an entrance that is like one in wrestling. So, you’re waiting to go through the curtain — just it’s you, your opponent and The Rock. There’s a lot of downtime with only a few people. Obviously he’s super busy, but he was in great spirits and approachable.

What was it like talking to him in those little moments you had where he was available?

He has some acquaintances that are my acquaintances, some wrestlers and stuff. I dropped a few names. He laughed, you know. We talked about them for a little bit and that was pretty much the extent of it. It was mainly wrestling talk.

Going back to your new Robert Strauss character in wrestling, you’ve been in wrestling for a while, but you are still finding various ways to evolve both as a wrestler and as a persona. What has that been like for you to come up with something new even at this stage of your career?

When I left TNA (Wrestling), I said Jersey Shore is played out. I need something new. I gotta try something different to offer here to reinvent myself, while I’m still kind of at an age where I could do this. So, I came up with this character because everyone in the world thinks they’re this big motivational person when secretly they’re just scumbags or they’re just morons. Everyone on Instagram and Twitter are just reading quotes and this and that and they think they’re so positive. I figured, ‘Why not turn that into a character?’ And it’s similar to basically like a Gary Vee or Tony Robbins, who are these motivational guys, and it’s like … ‘Is this really them or not?’ And that’s kind of what the Robert Strauss brand is. I’m telling you all these great things, but I really just want your money. I thought Jersey Shore was played out and then, of course, go figure, Jersey Shore comes back on and it’s a big hit again. But I’m still happy with my decision to move away from Robbie E.

The Robert Strauss Brand… #imnotjustaguy

You were at the WWE Performance Center back in June for a tryout. What was the experience like there?

It was amazing. The facilities are great. The staff is great. I kind of found a new side of myself because I trained to be a wrestler 18 years ago, but when you go through a tryout, you’re kind of going through running the ropes and the bumps and all this stuff again. It’s these basic things that you haven’t really went over in years, so I had to teach myself and push myself and it’s very physical. I was proud of myself at 35-years-old for the shape I’m in. I was the smallest and I believe the oldest person amongst the group and I kept up with everyone.

Are you going to sign with WWE/NXT?

That would be great. I hope I start with them at some point. I haven’t signed a contract with WWE. Everyone’s dream is to be a part of WWE and I left TNA and hope to connect with WWE. Time will tell what happens in the future, but I will say I did great at my tryout. They were happy. I was proud of myself. But, you know, nothing is set in stone,

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What should fans watching The Titan Games expect to see?

It really is a great reality show. It’s a cool concept. The Rock is hosting it, so you know, it’s going to be cool. That in itself is worth watching. I’m going to be a little funny in my interviews. I’m going to put the show on a little bit on my edge. I’m going to try as hard as I can to make it exciting for you guys to watch.

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