Paul Walter Hauser Joins MLW Wrestling, May Play Mick Foley On Screen

Paul Walter Hauser has become an in-demand actor, from his Golden Globe and Emmy-winning turn in “Black Bird” to playing other real-life figures in movies like “I, Tonya” and “Richard Jewell.” But he’s found a new passion to pursue in between his latest TV and movie appearances — professional wrestling.

He’s about to wrestle in his biggest match yet, literally: a 40-person battle royal for the MLW promotion at “Battle Riot VI” on Saturday, June 1 in Atlanta, with the winner getting a shot immediately after the match at the league’s world title.

Possible future project: Playing hardcore wrestling legend Mick Foley

He’s had several matches in the soap opera world of pro wrestling so far, largely including so-called “hardcore” bouts featuring the use of weapons and other death-defying stunts. He even put opponent Matt Cardona through a table that he’d lit on fire.

“The pain is worth the pleasure, man,” Hauser said.

When digging into that style of wrestling, Hauser revealed that he might just play a pro wrestler in a future project: WWE, WCW and ECW hardcore legend Mick Foley, also known as “Mankind” and “Cactus Jack.”

“I’m literally talking to Mick Foley right now about the potential of playing him in a movie or limited series,” Hauser shared. “I don’t know which and I don’t know how, but he and I have become friendly. And I think he knows that that could be a really great stroke of genius in casting me to play him.”

He’s been approached to play wrestlers before, but the actor wants to make sure he’s doing it for the right reasons.

“A couple of people have approached me to potentially play different wrestlers in different projects, and for me, I just have to make sure that there’s a real story there and I’m not just doing it because I’m a fan,” Hauser explained.

Hauser doesn’t have the body type of a stereotypical wrestler, but neither does Mick Foley.

“I’ve got to look enough like the guy. So, I don’t think I’ll be playing Steve Austin, but I could maybe play a Mick Foley or a Jim Neidhart,” Hauser opined.

His Golden Globe speech inside joke

Hauser considers himself a big fan of the Dudley Boyz tag team, which has led to an inside joke between him and his manager. He introduced the joke into several awards speeches by ending them with the group’s catchphrase, “Get the tables.” The phrase is deployed when they pull out a table and proceed to put someone through it, as Hauser did with the help of Bubba Ray Dudley above.

“They’re in my tag team Mount Rushmore, for sure,” Hauser said. “Probably along with the Road Warriors, FTR and the Young Bucks, or Harlem Heat.”

That fandom led to his manager using their catchphrase whenever Hauser booked a part.

“My manager was the one who, anytime something good in my career would happen, like I’d book a role — he’d text me, ‘Get the tables,'” Hauser explained. “That became like a slogan or a mantra. So, I thought it’d be funny to drop it in my speech at the end.”

Hauser was pleasantly surprised to see the wrestling reference get “a crazy good reaction.”

“Even people who didn’t get wrestling were like, ‘Get the tables. What does that mean? Are you going out to eat? Are you going to a club? Are you going gambling at a casino?'” Haser explained.

He added that the phrase had become, as they say in wrestling parlance for something that’s working with the fans, “over.”

“So, I kind of just want to win more acting awards so I can say, ‘Get the tables’ on television again,” Hauser added.

Training for a role — and in the ring

On “Black Bird,” Hauser used some of that pro wrestling knowledge of his, going to a wrestler-turned-fitness guru to get in shape: Diamond Dallas Page. He even went and lived at Page’s house.

“Dallas Page helped me lose 40 pounds in eight weeks for the role,” Hauser recalled. “I was also in a bad place mentally and emotionally at that time. And he was a bit of an uncle to me, a mentor figure at that time, and has been since.”

Hauser’s gone on to train at the wrestling school that World Wrestling Entertainment star Cody Rhodes cofounded with wrestler Q.T. Marshall, the Nightmare Factory. Since then, WWE alum Paul London has served as Hauser’s full-time coach and mentor as he’s dedicated himself to continuing to improve.

“I’ve really learned how to step out of my comfort zone,” Hauser shared. “I think a year from now, you won’t even recognize some of my matches that I started off.”

The performer has started to figure out what kind of wrestler he wants to grow to become.

“I would like to earn my reputation as a combination of brawler and technician,” Hauser shared. “So the guys that I’m studying and watching are a combination of Mick Foley and Dean Malenko. That’s kind of the blender that I put my inspiration into.”

He praised several AEW wrestlers whom he wants to emulate, including Eddie Kingston and Kyle O’Reilly.

“What I’m trying to hone in on and hopefully for the fans watching me, I can just as seamlessly be believed to do a Texas cloverleaf submission as I can hit people with a kendo stick,” Hauser said. “And like Eddie Kingston, who’s one of the greatest on the microphone ever, I hope to use my acting skills as well to get over in the world of professional wrestling.”

Paul Walter Hauser’s future pro wrestling plans

While pro wrestling may come off to some as a lark for Hauser, it appears he’s in sports entertainment for the long haul.

“After my first match with Matthew Palmer, I told my wife, ‘You know, I’ll probably do this three, four times a year — quarterly,'” Hauser began. “And then after the Matt Cardona match, I think I said to my wife, ‘You know, I’m probably going to do a half a dozen a year.'”

But after doing more matches with Sami Callahan, as well as a “War Chamber” match, his ambitions have grown.

“I would love to be able to wrestle on average, maybe 10 times a year or even once a month on average,” Hauser said. “If it’s more than that, I would just have to make sure that I’m having enough time with my family, I’m getting paid enough to justify that.”

He plans to continue to appear for MLW after his June 1 match, fitting in appearances around his shooting schedule. Hauser teased that he could see himself becoming more of a full-time wrestling star, a la a celebrity crossover star like YouTube star Logan Paul, who’s become a regular WWE performer.

“If TNA or AEW or MLW wanted to sign me, I would literally take that into consideration to be part of a contracted role somewhere,” Hauser said.

He harbors dreams of appearing with the world’s largest promotion, WWE, with synergy opportunities possible as the brand moves to Netflix next year.

“WrestleMania would definitely be an absolute dream come true and would be a great moment for me, a very emotional one,” Hauser said. “Even if it wasn’t a WrestleMania and it was something like SummerSlam or being a part of a Survivor Series team, I would love to do something with those guys at some point, if it ever made sense with them.”

Hauser also has his eyes on their biggest competitor, All Elite Wrestling, but isn’t sure if he’s where he’d want to be to perform with them just yet.

“It’s tough with AEW right now, because their slogan has become, ‘where the best wrestle.’ And while I think I’m a very good actor-turned-wrestler and I’m doing it for real, there’s no way I’m one of the best,” Hauser explained.

Hauser sees his role as an actor crossing over into wrestling to be shining a spotlight on whoever he works with.

“Because I think at the end of the day, it’s about being mutually beneficial,” Hauser said. “And as my star continues to rise with acting, maybe I can be reciprocal for a WWE or an AEW.”

MLW livestreams its shows every month and has programming available on TV worldwide. The 40-man battle royal featuring Hauser is set to stream June 1 on YouTube.

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