As a footballer, Tomlinson progressed from the Crewe Alexandra youth team to turn professional in 2003. He spent the next six years with the club, spending part of 2004 on loan at Stafford Rangers, and playing once on loan for Burton Albion in 2008. He spent the 2009–10 campaign at Conference club Barrow, where he shared goalkeeping responsibilities with Tim Deasy. He then signed with Port Vale, and was favored ahead of Chris Martin for the 2010–11 and 2011–12 campaigns, before choosing to leave the club in July 2012. He signed with Burton Albion in September 2012, but retired through injury in July 2013.
In December 2013, Tomlinson began training as a professional wrestler on a developmental contract with WWE, making his debut at a WWE NXT live event on November 8, 2014.
Pro wrestling career
In December 2013, Tomlinson traveled to the United States to be trained as a professional wrestler on a developmental contract by WWE. He was assigned to the WWE Performance Center, where he took the ring name Hugo Knox. He made his in-ring debut for WWE's developmental territory, NXT, at a live event on 8 November 2014. On September 30, 2016, it was reported that Tomlinson was released from his WWE contract.