Wrestler goes to mat for kids

Given the eloquent way Austin Watson discusses his work, it's not surprising to find out he was a dual philosophy and psychology major in college.

It is surprising to learn he's a professional wrestler.

"People think we are a bunch of big, dumb jocks," Watson, 22, of Marietta, protested politely. "A lot of the guys have gone to college and have degrees."

But did a lot of the guys also work part time as a child care aide to pay for lessons in administering high-flying slams? And how many of them want to get a master's in clinical psychology with an eye toward working with autistic youngsters?

Those are among the intriguing tidbits Watson has tucked beneath his star-spangled vest as "Consequences Creed," one of the youngest stars of "TNA iMPACT," which airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on Spike TV. The Sprayberry High and Furman University graduate is on the road some 20 days a month now. We talked to the budding TV star, who was in Kentucky, by phone.

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Q: Was being a high school wrestler (he also played football and ran track) how you got the idea of doing it professionally?

A: You know when you're in first grade and the teacher goes around the room and asks 'What do you want to be?' The other kids all said fireman or policeman or doctor. I said pro wrestler, and everybody laughed at me. It just seemed like the best job ever, because you got to go out in front of people and do what you love on a daily basis."

Q: But do you also ache on a daily basis?

A: We are a different breed of people. We don't want to get hurt, but we are drawn to the painful side of the business. Now if I don't wrestle for a couple of days, my body starts to ache!

Q: How'd you end up studying bodyslams and teaching little kids the summer after high school?

A: My parents said if [wrestling school] is something you want to do, you have to pay for it. So I started working at La Petite Academy [in Cobb County]. I just love working with kids. I feel like they have so much to say, but very few people will listen to them. In college, I transferred to a La Petite Academy nearer [Furman.] I worked there for four years, maybe 20 hours a week.

Q: How'd you react as a college senior when TNA [Total Nonstop Action Wrestling] called you about competing on a tag team in the huge "Bound for Glory" event at the Gwinnett Center?

A: I thought, this is like one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me. This is going to be seen across the world and in front of thousands in the arena. I could either do well and maybe get a [TNA] contract or not do well and not ever wrestle again."

Q: And?

A: I ended up getting my face rammed into the concrete. I had to get a couple of shots of Novocain and stitches. It turned out pretty well. A week or two later, I got a contract.

Q: Why "Consequences Creed?"

A: In wrestling school, they gave three of us boxes at random [that] had gear that people used to wear in the '80s. Mine happened to be a red, white and blue cape and trunks, and when I put it on, they were all like, 'You're Apollo Creed!" "Consequences" is something they came up with when I came in to do "Bound for Glory." The other guy in the tag team was known as "The Truth . . . "

Q: Truth and Consequences. Got it. But why not a more academic persona?

A: That's what all my teachers said! 'Why not be "The Professor?" '

Q: You said the most interesting thing about studying philosophy was ethics. Pardon the cheap shot, but how does that jibe with pro wrestling?

A: If you ever watch, we're beating the tar out of each other, but at the end, we're hugging and shaking hands.

I don't think it's an unethical thing to go out and have fun [competing] with your friends. We're putting on a show for people who've paid their hard-earned money to be entertained, and that's all we want to do.

Q: You hope to start graduate school next year while continuing to wrestle. But you're already blending your two passions, right?

A: I get to talk to a lot of autistic kids when we're on the road. We also get a lot of parents coming up to us, so we're pushing autism awareness and getting the word out about what help is out there. ...

One of the ways autistic kids deal with overstimulation is by screaming or rocking, but at a pro wrestling event that's what everyone does. They can have fun. Tons of them attend our events.

Q: Any perks to being on TV?

A: At Universal Studios [in Florida] where we film, they let us go to the front of the line in the rides.

Q: Is it impossible for Consequences Creed to be scared by a ride?

A: [Laughs] It is not impossible to scare me. I can't do the roller coasters that drop straight down. If [another wrestler] could drop me from 90 feet, they'd have me.

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