The offspring of some of the biggest names in entertainment are taken out of their big-city posh lifestyle for down and dirty rural living in E!’s new reality series Relatively Famous: Ranch Rules. They’ll spend a month rolling up their designer sleeves to help the Saddleback Ranch in Colorado reopen to the public and stay afloat. Think The Simple Life meets Hey Dude.
The new series features Hana Giraldo (daughter of Neil Giraldo and Pat Benatar), Taylor “Tay” Hasselhoff (daughter of David Hasselhoff), Jasmin Lawrence (daughter of Martin Lawrence and stepdaughter of Emmitt Smith), Myles O’Neal (son of Shaquille O’Neal), Redmond Parker (son of Ray Parker Jr.), Ebie (daughter of Easy-E) and Harry James Thornton (son of Billy Bob Thornton).
Rounding out the group of ranch hands is Austin Gunn, son of WWE Hall of Famer Billy Gunn. The All Elite Wrestling star is cut from a different celebrity cloth. Here, the 27-year-old reflects on his experience and why he could be considered the show’s ringer.
How did you become involved in the project? Did the show reach out to you?
Austin Gunn: They reached out to me directly. I didn’t know if it was real or not. As a wrestler, you have fans and others messaging you stuff about interviews or different opportunities. I saw this one, and I sent it to my manager, who thought it was a really cool opportunity. I jumped at it because I thought, “I get to go on a ranch, do some cool stuff and help this ranch get back on their feet.”
You’re not so far removed from this world considering your dad’s background—not to mention his first wrestling character was a cowboy-like rodeo star.
Going into this ranch, that is the first thing I thought of. I called my dad up and said, “You have no idea the opportunity I got. I get to relive what you actually grew up doing.” My dad got a scholarship from Sam Houston State in Texas for bull riding. Growing up, I worked with him and grandpa on their little ranch. When I went over to their house, I would ride horses with them. He would teach me a lot of things about saddling the horse. I remember as a kid loving being in that environment. I loved the cowboys. They’d show me old westerns like Tombstone and John Wayne. When I first heard about this opportunity to go on Relatively Famous I was like, “Sign me up.”
Not really coming from that Hollywood life, how was it acclimating in the group?
I can get along with anybody very easily. Everyone on the outside looking in will assume I have a hard time fitting in because they are from L.A. When I was dropped off, everyone embraced me with open arms. I just felt right at home. I don’t have a problem with anybody ever. I think in the wrestling business you always meet different characters, who play different characters on TV. My personality in general when it comes to real-life is getting along with everyone. Yes, there was a little voice in my head saying, “Are you going to fit in with these kids? How are they going to be? What is their personality?” I thought even if I can’t get along with them, at least I can show them how to saddle a horse.
You have a fun intro to Myles after you recently hit his dad Shaq with a steel chair during an AEW appearance.
Myles and I bonded right away. It’s a weird nice-to-meet-you: “Hey, I kind of hit your dad with a chair.” It’s funny after I hit him with the chair, it obviously didn’t phase him too much because he turned around and beat me up. That was a funny little joke we shared.
You’re used to having cameras on you as a performer. How was it in this setting?
The thing about this show is I’m playing myself. That can be scary at times, but I knew that going in—that I’m going to be myself. Usually, in wrestling, you can hide behind a character, but everything on the show is just Austin. I’m not playing a character. It’s an experience. It was overwhelming but very, very fun.
Did anyone in the cast surprise you in an unexpected way?
I think Harry, who is my best friend. When I first got there, Harry rolls up in his car and goes, “I’m afraid of airplanes.” I’m a get their hands dirty, get the job done no matter what guy; Harry has a lot of phobias. I thought, in the beginning, it would be like pulling teeth to connect and see him be successful there. As you’ll see in the season, he grows and it’s amazing. I can’t reveal too much, but you’ll see what I’m talking about.
We saw teasers about what’s to come. There is potential romance blossoming and even some confrontations. What can you tell us?
Whether it’s an opportunity to take someone out on a date or to attack a job or somebody having a problem with me, I don’t back down from it. There are a lot of things we tackle this season. You’re going to see me at my lowest, my highest. You’re going to see me riding horses. All sorts of stuff. I’m super excited.
Would you do this again if there is a Season 2?
There are so many doors this opportunity will open not only for myself but my other roommates. You’ll find out this season whatever is presented to me, I’ll do it. If there is a Season 2 or another opportunity, I’d love to take it.
You’ve decided to follow in your dad’s large footsteps, which isn’t easy. How is it getting a chance to work with him in the ring and on the road?
I think my dad was so successful in this wrestling career that it just doesn’t ever hurt to ride beside him. He found the Fountain of Youth but also is a fountain of knowledge. Yes, as much as me and [my brother] Colton want to break out and do our own thing in wrestling and try to find ourselves, we also want to enjoy this moment. As much as we want to branch out, we know it’s a patience game and will come in time. There are so many things happening in AEW, but the one constant is getting to wrestle with my dad. It’s a beautiful moment. He pushes me and critiques me. After this interview, I have to go work out with him. Not everyone in the wrestling world or in general gets what I have the chance to do: work with their dad and get to be as successful as we are right now.
Relatively Famous: Ranch Rules, Series Premiere, Wednesday, January 12, 9/8c, E!