Bullard back in Gainesville to wrestle

Florida Championship Wrestler Thaddeus Bullard, left, known as Titus O'Neal in the ring, interacts with student Deontre Bryant at Westwood Middle School during a motivational speech, Wednesday in Gainesville, Fla.

Erica Brough/Staff photographer
Published: Wednesday, October 27, 2010 at 5:12 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 27, 2010 at 5:12 p.m.

Former Florida defensive lineman Thaddeus Bullard is growing accustomed to his new career inside the ring.

Bullard, who wrestles under the name Titus O’Neal, returns to Gainesville in a Florida Championship Wrestling Event on Friday night at the Alachua County Fairgrounds Exhibition Hall.

“I think it will be exciting for fans, to see a wrestler that was a former Gator,” Bullard said. “If I were a Florida State guy, maybe it would be different. But to come back to a place where I played on a national title team (1996), it will be pretty exciting to see people where I had a positive experience.”

Bullard’s match will be one of eight on the card. The event also will feature a meet-and-greet with two-time WWE Champion Sheamus from 6-9 p.m.

Three wrestlers on the card — Bullard, Percy Watson and Richie Steamboat — spoke at area elementary schools to discuss the dangers of drugs and promote a drug-free life.

Bullard appeared on the WWE hybrid reality show NXT last June. But his dreams of landing a WWE contract were dealt a setback when he was one of the first wrestlers eliminated.

“It was a valuable experience,” Bullard said. “I was able to gain experience working in front of big crowds. It’s kind of like football, there is a whole different experience in practice than playing in front of 80,000 to 90,000 people in The Swamp.”

Since being eliminated from the reality show, Bullard has continued wrestling on the FCW Tour. The tour has served as a training ground for future WWE superstars. Dusty “The American Dream” Rhodes, The Briscoe Brothers and Gordon Solie all got their starts in FCW matches.

“It’s WWE developmental territory,” Bullard said. “All of the guys go through that system. It’s been a great breeding ground for future stars.”

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