Working the night shift leaves Tom Nelson’s days free to raise his two daughters and prepare for a score-settling showdown against arch-rival Travis Bagent on tonight’s Game of Arms, airing at 10/9c on AMC.
Q: You come from a family of wrestlers, but it was your shift supervisor at UPS who really got you interested. What happened?
A: My whole family, all we did was arm wrestle, but I wasn’t a professional. At UPS, I walked by my supervisor one day and he said, “You don’t want none, kid. I got trophies.” [Laughs] When I beat him, I was hooked. I started as an amateur in 1999.
Q: Out of everyone on the show, who comes closest to being your match?
A: Like who takes the most out of me to beat? Nick Zinna, for sure. We were just meant to arm wrestle each other. One match took so long that we actually took a break during it and just stood there talking. We should’ve walked away as a draw. We’re so evenly matched, neither one of us has ever competed afterwards and won a match. It ended both of our days every time.
Q: There’s a lot of energy and trash talk at these matches. Does that stay at the table, or does it remain heated afterward?
A: I would compare it to a fistfight in school. You’re probably gonna be friends afterwards. Everyone hates each other until they compete. But win or lose, you’re going to bring both of your levels up. I don’t consider myself having losses, just learning lessons. The best in the world have lost a ton. Arm wrestling is one of the most humbling things you will ever do.
Q: You had a bad ATV accident 10 years ago. How serious was it?
It’s difficult to imagine a room where Travis Bagent doesn’t make his presence known. Considered one of the best arm wrestlers of his generation, Bagent isn’t shy about his abilities. See if Bagent can back up his bravado on Tuesday’s Game of Arms, airing at 10/9c on AMC.
Q: You had what some might consider a rough upbringing in a trailer with no running water. How did that influence the person you are now?
A: I think it opened my eyes at an early age that I wanted something different. I wanted to try to get away from that environment as fast as possible. Two or three days of the week, I was looking for somewhere to spend the night to get away from it. A normal house seemed like paradise, with the basic amenities we take for granted. My mom was open to me having a hot shower every night if possible.
Q: You played three sports in high school. Was that your escape?
A: Well, we moved to some public housing when I was in ninth grade, and everything started getting better. I could bring my friends to my house — that was unheard of when I was younger. I met my wife at that time, too.
Q: Women tend to like guys who shower…
A: Exactly, right. [Laughs] I think building confidence is important, however you do it. For me it was athletics. I ended up getting a baseball scholarship to a B2 local school. I was a pitcher throwing 84 to 86 miles per hour, and for a left-hander, you can make a living if you’re getting up to 88 or 91. But my horsepower never showed up. With baseball over, I still wanted to compete, so I started arm wrestling a lot. I got to travel all over the world, wrestled in 40 different countries, went through a couple different passports, and made enough to call it a job.
Q: You’re heavily involved in CrossFit, both as a trainer and an announcer for the televised competitions. Do you think it helps your arm wrestling game?
• The Virginian-Pilot talks to Virginia Beach’s Mike Federali about his appearance, selling Hellboy‘s gun, on Comic Book Men.
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• Esquire talks up Game of Arms, commenting that “it’s easy to get sucked into watching a bunch of guys out-dude one another.”
• Arm wrestling finds its way to the Oscars as Paul Rudd and Adam Scott strike a pose at Vanity Fair‘s after-party, courtesy of a photo in TheWrap.
• The Erie (Pa.) Times-News interviews a member of an arm wrestling team that’s competing on Game of Arms. He reveals, “You win your battles in the gym, not the day of the contest.”
Continue reading “Esquire Checks Out Game of Arms; TheWrap Catches Paul Rudd, Adam Scott Arm Wrestling” »
AMC announced today it will premiere its upcoming new drama series Halt and Catch Fire on Sun., Jun. 1 at 10/9c. From AMC Studios, the series captures the rise of the PC era in the early 1980s, during which an unlikely trio – a visionary, an engineer and a prodigy – take personal and professional risks in the race to build a computer that will change the world as they know it. The 10-episode series is created by Chris Cantwell and Chris Rogers and executive produced by show runner Jonathan Lisco (Southland) and Gran Via Production’s Mark Johnson (Breaking Bad, Rectify, Diner, Rain Man) and Melissa Bernstein (Breaking Bad, Rectify). Filmed on location in Atlanta, the series stars Lee Pace (Lincoln, Pushing Daisies) as Joe MacMillan, Scoot McNairy (Argo) as Gordon Clark, Mackenzie Davis (Smashed) as Cameron Howe, Kerry Bishé (Argo, Red State) as Donna Clark and Toby Huss (Cowboys & Aliens) as John Bosworth.
In addition, Halt and Catch Fire will make its world debut this Sat., Mar. 8 at 11/10c during the Film portion of the SXSW Festival in Austin, TX. An early screening of the pilot, held at the AMC Theater at Violet Crown Cinemas, will be followed by a panel discussion featuring Lisco, Cantwell, Rogers and select cast members.
Halt and Catch Fire is set roughly one year after IBM all but corners the market with the release of its first major product – the IBM PC. It is also the same year people realize the IBM PC’s fatal flaw, which quickly makes personal computing anyone’s game. In this fictional drama, a former IBM executive, Joe McMillan (Lee Pace) plans to reverse engineer the flagship product of his former employer, forcing his current company, Cardiff Electric, into the personal computer race. McMillan enlists the help of Gordon Clark (Scoot McNairy), a once-great engineer who dreams of creating a revolutionary product while trying to manage his initially unsupportive wife Donna (Kerry Bishé), and Cameron Howe (Mackenzie Davis), a volatile prodigy who puts her future in jeopardy to join MacMillan’s rogue PC project. While charting the changing culture of Texas’s Silicon Prairie, tensions build within the group as they attempt to navigate the thin line between visionary and fraud, genius and delusion, while their drive to do something that matters runs up against their ability to truly innovate. Halt and Catch Fire thrives on the spirit of innovation and explores what it’s like to stand at the forefront of something truly great and world-changing and work towards it — no matter the risk.
Super-heavyweight Louisiana native Chop Bertrand talks shrimping and being a left-handed competitor going against right-handed legends prior to his Roughnecks meeting the Kansas City Rolling Thunder.
Q: You’re left-handed. How do you cope with having to go up against right-handers in the sport?
A: Well, I wrestle using both. I’ve finished as high as sixth in national competition with my right, but tournaments usually have left-handed divisions. My left is definitely stronger. I went three years undefeated on that side. In high school, even against guys five to six years older, I never came close to losing with my left.
Q: A lot of Louisiana wrestlers work highly physical jobs. It seems like that could be a problem if you’re trying to recover or prepare for a tournament and want to stay fresh.
A: It’s hard. Down south, we have so much raw power. Everyone has manual jobs. You get farm boys, offshore workers — I think I got my strength from oil work, but when you get back from a tournament and have to go in to your job, you wake up regretting life. Everything hurts. The muscle pains can stick with you for a long time. It takes me about a week to recover from wrestling.
Q: Do you do anything to speed it up?
No one in arm wrestling is more well-traveled than gourmet chef Andrew “Cobra” Rhodes, a 35-year veteran of the sport who’s been to six continents, appeared in Over the Top with Sylvester Stallone, and is notorious for winning David vs. Goliath matches at a compact 176 lb.
Q: Let’s get the obvious question out of the way. Why “Cobra”?
A: It came from guys I trained with when I was 14 years old. Before [Michael] Jordan was wagging his tongue, I did that in competition. It would just come out during a match. And then my buddy said to me, “You’re quick like a cobra.”
A: But now you wear a mouth guard, which is unusual for arm wrestlers.
A: I once read when your jaw is relaxed, you get better performance. When your bite is set properly, you get more speed, more power, more flexibility. I’m not a spring chicken, so I’m always looking for natural ways to do better. In this sport, there’s no wind that’s going to blow a field goal to the left of a goal post.
Q: You worked as a chef for years. How did you acquire those skills?
A: I’ve trained with the most talented chefs you’ve ever met, but there’s no degree on paper. I’ve been all over the world and to the good restaurants so I could spend time with the chefs there and take recipes back home. You go to Eastern Europe or Russia and get down with the Babushkas — the old ladies who do the real deal. I’ve got a cookbook waiting to be published. But I got out of it because the cooking business will kill you. It’s high stress, man. Banging out those hours was not healthy.
Q: You’ve wrestled on six continents. Any good stories?
Travolta and Cage won an MTV Movie Award for Best On-Screen Duo.
John Travolta has been nominated for two Oscars, for Saturday Night Fever (1977) and Pulp Fiction (1994). Face/Off was nominated for an Oscar for Best Sound Effects Editing.
John Woo won a Saturn Award (for sci-fi movies) for Best Director for Face/Off.
Face/Off‘s speedboat chase won an MTV Movie Award for Best Action Sequence.
Continue reading “Face/Off Story Notes” »
This week, AMC’s head honchos speak with TheWrap about Comic Book Men‘s fans, while a Kevin Smith biopic is getting the crowdsourcing treatment. Plus, Smith will be at the Sun Valley Film Festival. Read on for more:
• AMC’s Charlie Collier and Joel Stillerman chat with TheWrap about Comic Book Men as “a show that’s engendered a lot of passion” and has “touched a nerve with a lot of people out there, especially in the creative community.”
• According to /film, two Kevin Smith fans have turned to crowdsourcing to fund a biopic of the director, a project that Smith endorses.
Continue reading “AMC Bosses Appreciate Comic Book Men Fan Base; Kevin Smith Biopic Getting Crowdsourced” »
This week, Game of Arms distinguished itself as the highest-rated unscripted series premiere in AMC history, while The Daily Beast calls the reality show “fascinating.” Plus, The New York Times previewed Game of Arms ahead of its Feb. 25 airing. Read on for more:
• The Daily Beast reviews Game of Arms, calling it “completely ridiculous—and so very fascinating.”
• TheWrap reports that Game of Arms, which debuted Feb. 25, became the highest-rated unscripted series premiere ever on AMC — with one million total viewers, of which 626,000 were in the 18-49 year-old demographic.
• The New York Times highlights Game of Arms‘s Feb. 25 debut in its Television Week Ahead column.
Continue reading “Game of Arms AMC’s Highest-Rated Unscripted Series Premiere; Show Fascinates Daily Beast” »