This week’s Borne the Battle features Marine Veteran Stephen Kupryk, also known as the WWE Smackdown superstar and Forgotten Sons member, Steve Cutler. In this episode, Kupryk talks about how his participation in high school athletics and the influence of 9/11 took him down a road which would ultimately land him in the country’s premier wrestling promotion.
As a Marine infantryman, Kupryk was assigned to the Second Battalion, Eighth Marine Regiment and deployed twice to Helmand province in Afghanistan. He talks about finding inspiration and thanking those who mentored him while serving from 2007 through 2011.
Kupryk spoke of using VA’s GI Bill benefits to attend Rowan University, where a chance encounter with a WWE contact at a local bar would set him upon a career of WWE superstardom, including the early days when he trained at the Monster Factory Wrestling School before being called up in 2013 to the WWE’s NXT division. He also talks about forming the The Forgotten Sons, which Kupryk says takes a nuanced approach by using military symbolism and his experiences to flesh out his character’s role and persona.
The team attained instant success and it helped Kupryk break into the SmackDown roster with a win over the then-Smackdown tag-team champions, The New Day.
Kupryk also shares his enthusiasm behind WWE’s collaboration with Hire Heroes USA, an organization which aims to help Veterans and their families secure lifelong careers.
CLICK HERE FOR BORNE THE BATTLE EP. 42 FEATURING MARINE VETERAN, UFC FIGHTER AND HIRE OUR HEROES CEO, BRIAN STANN
Currently, Kupryk maintains an active presence on his Instagram page and frequently posts photos of when he served with the Marine Corps. He wants everyone to know that he is willing and ready to listen to any Veteran who reaches out to him. Keep an eye out, he says. His return to the ring will happen soon.
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Calvin Wong and Guillermo Osorio contributed to this story. Both are podcast interns with VA’s Digital Media Engagement Team. Wong is an undergraduate at the University of California, Davis, studying History. Osorio is a graduate of the University of Maryland Global Campus with a B.A. in Communications Studies.