Stevie Richards: Wrestler by Day, Gadget Guru by Night
Professional wrestler Stevie Richards looks like the kind of guy who eats geeks for breakfast -- until you realize he's actually a geek.
In the ring, Richards, whose real name is Michael Manna, struts around with spray tan, six-pack abs and flowing curly hair. And when women aren't throwing themselves at him, he's throwing himself off turnbuckles, slamming opponents first and taking names later.
While he's no longer young, by wrestling standards, he's a completely different guy out of the ring. As his LinkedIn says, he's just a "technology expert who likes to lift weights." Even champs need to leave the ring one day, and tech is helping this one move into a second career.
In the Ring
Sports had always come naturally to Richards, and when pro-wrestling scouts came calling, he did what any red-blooded American kid would do -- he signed up. At the time, wresting topped Nielsen's ratings, luring millions of viewers and generating globs of cash and fame for its stars. Still, while he trained hard and wrestled through the circuits, he kept up with technology, and prided himself on keeping atop all the latest gadgets.
If you've ever watched wrestling on TV, you've likely seen him -- you just didn't notice. That's because Richards hasn't always been Stevie -- he's wrestled under other creative personas, such as the tie-dye wearing "Dude Love," through his 20-plus year career.
Unfortunately, he never rose to celebrity stardom, like Hulk Hogan and Stone Cold Steve Austin, but that doesn't mean he hasn't taken home his share of belts -- he's won 41 of them to be exact, including the WWE's Hardcore Championship 21 times, ECW's World Tag Team Championship twice and NWA's National Heavyweight Championship once. He's also suffered his share of injuries, and has several scars to prove it -- surgeries to repair damage to his neck from one fight, on his throat in another and a collapsed lung while undergoing a biopsy for an infection.
Wrestling, often based on storylines that make soap operas seem uncomplicated, is hazardous, and injuries are common for a career in the ring. But while Richards no longer appears on television, he still competes in other leagues, and took home yet another championship belt just this year.
Still, through it all, he hasn't forgotten his first love: technology, which he's obsessed about since he was a boy growing up in the Philadelphia-neighborhood where "Rocky" was filmed.
Going for the Win
Since 2007, he's been recording an online podcast, dubbed the "T4Show," where he reviews smartphones and other gadgets. Fans who know Richards are usually surprised to see an all-muscles guy with a soft spot for gadgets. But the brawny wrestler, it turns out, has a brain for tech, and he's just as sharp with a gadget as he is throwing a flying elbow in the ring.
In the ring or out, Richards is proving to be a champion. And as technology grows and the bright arena lights dim, he's becoming an even bigger star among geeks than wrestling fans, offering a trusted and entertaining voice to help consumers understand everyday gadgets.
And he's shared that knowledge on Fox and Friends, when viewers nationwide tuned in on Black Friday to watch the muscular, ponytailed geek in a sweater extolling the virtues of Nano watchbands, iPhone chargers and other gifts for the holidays.
If you don't watch wrestling, you'd never guess a wrestler was giving you gadget tips. And the show never refers to him as the champ, but rather its "guru." And as Richards expands his career in tech, and veers away from wrestling, recognition for his expertise is increasing, largely due to an entertaining style honed in the ring, and most of all, informative advice out of it.
The T4Show, short for "Tech Today, Tech Tomorrow," is no different. Richards and his co-host keep the show funny, relevant and infused with rock music -- and his reviews are so detailed, for example, that a review of the Galaxy Note 2 has not one, but five, videos.
He doesn't often mention his wrestling career on his shows -- but that's because it's all about tech on T4Show. He isn't just the star of a podcast, in 2008, he also worked as an adviser -- blogging, recording videos and handling tech support for PhoneFusion, a visual voicemail provider for Android devices.
As his knowledge of tech, and his audience, grows, suits are gradually replacing the wrestling tights. He's completed the transition to a tech expert who can combine the entertainment and persona of a ringside career with his first love in tech.
Of course, if that doesn't work, he can always spice up his videos with a steel chair or a well-placed body slam. ♦
Categories: Secret Geeks