Professional wrestling is something J.R. Miller grew up loving to watch but interest waned over time.
The Troutman native rekindled his passion for body slams and suplexes in 2016 when childhood favorite tag team, The Dudley Boyz, returned to WWE.
“I got into it again,” Miller said. “And then I started thinking: I bet I could do this.”
He may not be Stone Cold Steve Austin or The Rock, but he has his foot in the door as a professional wrestler and hopes to continue building his brand.
The journey for the 2011 South Iredell High School graduate, who turned 28 on Tuesday, began in 2020.
Miller went on the Chris Jericho Cruise that January and managed to mingle with folks in the business.
“They said I should give (wrestling) a try, that I had a good look for it,” Miller recalled.
Last July, he applied to the Jacobs-Prichard Wrestling Academy (JPWA) and was accepted. In August, he moved to Knoxville, Tennessee. He was among less than two dozen to train with legendary WWE trainer Dr. Tom Prichard and WWE Hall of Famer, Kane, during a 12-week program that hammered home all of the basics.
In November, Miller graduated from JPWA—with honors. He was the only member of his class afforded a professional 1-on-1 match at graduation.
“It was really cool,” he said.
Following graduation, Miller began his pro career on the Carolina Wrestling Federation Mid-Atlantic, an independent professional wrestling promotion largely covering the Carolinas and Virginia.
He’s already gained recognition as one of the fastest rising stars on the circuit and a contender for rookie of the year.
Miller is the reigning Southern Pride Championship Wrestling VOS Champion for a promotion in La Follette, Tenn.
Next Friday, July 9, Miller is scheduled to wrestle Kerry Morton at the AML Pro Wrestling Center in Winston-Salem. Morton is the son of Ricky Morton, a member of the Hall of Fame wrestling tag team known as the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express.
Miller, who lives in Mooresville and bartends locally part-time to make extra cash, opted not for a ring name at this stage of his career. He said it was important to keep his last name.
“If anything, my character is similar to my personality,” Miller noted. “When that’s the case, it needs to be turned up to 10.”
He likened his gimmick, his look, to that of “Nature Boy” Ric Flair.
“Arrogant, decent looking guy, suit, jewelry,” Miller said. “And I have a gold fist cane that I found on eBay. It helped me in my promos. It looks powerful.”
For hairstyle, he chose a mullet.
Appearance is one thing. But it’s only part of “the show.”
The 6-foot1, 205-pound described himself as a technical submission wrestler.
“A lot of guys come right out and they’re off the ropes and moving fast,” Miller said. “I’m very old school: technical, meticulous, will break you down.”
He’s a fan of the DDT and likes the Crippler Crossface as a finishing move.
Miller has his eyes trained on future possibilities as he fine tunes his newfound craft.
“Hopefully I find myself working directly with a big promotion in the U.S., getting a big contract while maintaining my relationship with all my independents,” he said.