Nick Aldis is now the NWA world’s champion. Not just that, he’s a fighting champion: He defended his title 20 times recently. Sure, wrestling is scripted, but that still means Aldis has wrestled near the top of the card at 20 shows this year. Aldis is part of a wrestling family in the spotlight: His wife, Mickie James, has been feuding with Ronda Rousey this summer.

Before wrestling, Aldis was Oblivion on Gladiators, the UK version of the American Gladiators franchise. “Many of the Gladiator costumes were noticeably more revealing than in the original series,” Wikipedia notes, “with male Gladiators Atlas and Oblivion in particular wearing very little.” After the show ended, Aldis turned to another profession where looking good in revealing clothing can make you money: Pro wrestling.

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In the way that wrestling often winds up accidentally hazing people, Aldis was saddled with a silly first gimmick. When Total Nonstop Action wrestling introduced him in 2008, he was Brutus Magnus. He wore a silver helmet and “S&M gear”—his words, not mine. His gimmick, ostensibly, was that he was a literal gladiator from the Roman Empire, in the 21st century. The idea, Aldis eventually learned, came from longtime TNA owner Dixie Carter’s.

Of course it was the owner. Wrestling owners have promoted silly gimmicks like this for decades, maybe its whole history: Wrestling Elvises and Beatles and Spider-men and tax men and garbage men and time travelers and Frankensteins and the Yeti, who was actually a mummy for some reason. The Yeti was later dubbed “Super Ninja” and dressed like Scorpion from Mortal Kombat, then became Big Ron Studd and later achieved a high-water mark as Reese, a member of Raven’s Flock. Wikipedia also tells me he went by such names as Evil, Big Bomb Jones, Vanilla Gorilla, and SWAT. Even I didn’t remember that part.

So The Yeti, real name Ron Reis, never became a star. But the wrestler stuck trudging around as Brutus Magnus survived his first gimmick to become Magnus, British invader. Later he had memorable runs feuding with Samoa Joe and with the Main Event Mafia. Now wrestling under his real name, Aldis is NWA world’s champion. He’ll defend the title against Cody (Rhodes) at All In, the biggest indie show of all time.

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Aldis joined me to remember some WCW wrestling guys from the early 1990s. We talked his Brutus Magnus gimmick, Dutch Mantell, the Fabulous Freebirds, Lex Luger and Jim Ross.