February 13, 2007 - When you see someone like Chris Masters on TV slugging it out in the middle of the ring with the likes of John Cena and Shawn Michaels, sure, the 24 year old "Masterpiece" looks big, but I never realized just how massive the kid was until the walking brick wall stood next to me and reached out his hand for a pound (and luckily for me, not a pounding).
Dude is a legit 6-4, 275 of chiseled muscle, and he had just finished working out in Venice Beach (hangin' and bangin') before hopping on a plane and heading to the Bay Area for the Wrestlemania Fan Axxess tour when I had a chance to kick back with one of the building blocks of wrestling's future.
Funny thing is, when I told Masters how much bigger he is than I expected, he said sometimes he actually gets the opposite reaction.
"I've had people come up and tell me in public that I look bigger on TV and I never know how to take that. Is that supposed to be a compliment or should I be mad right now," Masters laughs. "I always trip out on people's reactions, some say I'm huge, some say I'm not as big as they expected."
And after seeing the man in front of me, straight from the Warrior/Hercules/Hogan mold of wrestling bodies, I can't even imagine thinking he looks bigger on TV (maybe my screen is just too small).
But after a quick bite of a Subway sandwich, Masters was ready to hit the mall and sign autographs for the long line of fans who had been playing videogames, talking to Hillbilly Jim (the tour's host), and even testing their strength at a mechanical arm wrestling machine.
"When it comes down to it, these are the people who pay the bills," Masters said before hopping in his limo and heading off to the event. "Wrestlemania is coming up, it's the biggest event for us all year, and there's no better way to do it than to come to every big city we possibly can and give a treat to our fans that are so loyal. When I was a kid, I would've jumped on an opportunity to go to something like this, so it's awesome to be able to be a part of this experience and to help give back to our fans."
You could hear the crowd pop from the parking lot as Masters made his way into the ring they had setup inside the mall.
The man might play a bad guy on TV, but when it comes to giving back to the fans, on this day, there wasn't a more popular guy in the house.
But before Masters strained his hand by signing every picture, poster, and action figure fans brought his direction, he took time out to answer some questions about his career, his muscles, and Wrestlemania.
Here's what The Masterpiece had to say…
IGN Sports: How did you make the transition from bodybuilder to wrestler?
Chris Masters: I actually started bodybuilding for wrestling. I decided that would be my first step. I knew I wanted to be a wrestler when I was 16 and logically, the first step to me, I saw all of these guys like Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior with these extraordinary bodies, so I figured I wouldn't get signed to a contract right now, so why not build up my body first. I was always fascinated with built men…wait, that always sounds weird so I just want to clarify, not in that way (not that there's anything wrong with that), but bodybuilding became a hobby of mine and it's still one of the things I enjoy the most. I think I'll work out the rest of my life.