Category Archives: Wrestling

Interview: WWE’s Daniel Bryan Talks James Hetfield, Vince McMahon, Triple H & Brock Lesnar

Interview conducted by Mike Mazzarone and Brett Buchanan

WWE superstar Daniel Bryan returns to the ring on Thursday’s episode of Smackdown on Syfy against Kane, just over two weeks after announcing his intentions to wrestle at the Royal Rumble on January 25th.  Bryan was on top of the world at last year’s WrestleMania 30, winning the WWE World Heavyweight Title, but just a month later he was sidelined with an injury that kept him out of action for 8 months.

In this exclusive interview with AlternativeNation.net’s Sports section, Bryan discusses meeting James Hetfield, seeing Metallica in his hometown of Aberdeen (also the hometown of Kurt Cobain), how long he will continue to wrestle, if he will alter his wrestling style after his injury, Vince McMahon recently calling out the WWE roster to reach for the ‘brass ring’ in an interview with Steve Austin, WWE’s lack of competition, Triple H’s leadership in WWE, a potential match with Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 31, Sting’s WWE debut, Randy Savage’s WWE Hall of Fame induction, Batista’s 2014 WWE comeback, and the original plans for him at WrestleMania 30.

First off a music related question, what was it like meeting James Hetfield a few months ago? Are you a big Metallica fan, do you have any favorite albums?

Okay, so I’m not necessarily the biggest Metallica fan, it was actually really neat to meet him because I got to talk to him. I forget what year it was, but MTV ran this contest or lottery where you could enter, and Metallica would come do a concert at your house. Somebody from Aberdeen, Washington, which is where I grew up, actually won the contest. (Laughs) So Metallica did a show in Aberdeen, Washington in this guy’s backyard, and so when I met him and said that to him, he was like, ‘Oh my god that was this and this and this.’ He kind of told me the story of [how they got there], it was a neat and interesting conversation. So I don’t know any Metallica albums, but I know when I was in the high school weight room, they would play non stop all the time.

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Your first match back will be on Smackdown on Thursday, which surprised many fans who thought you wouldn’t be back until the Royal Rumble. Did you have any input on when your first match back would be?

Absolutely, I requested my first match back to be when Smackdown moved to Thursday nights. I think it’s a good time to change the branding of Smackdown, it’s a very important show for us, to get new viewers on a new night, and I wanted to be the guy to bring the new viewers to the new night. So once I got cleared, I actually asked for the spot. My vision of Smackdown is going to be [it changing] in 2015. I would like it to be the show that would actually be more fun to watch than Raw, and this is all part of the process, so I’m really looking forward to it.

Will you alter your in ring style after your injury?

I will, but not necessarily because of my injury. It’s something where your style has to constantly evolve. I like to look at wrestling as the most artsy of all the martial arts. It’s a very creative process, what we’re doing is artistic creative combat. So as such, it needs to evolve. Being able to sit at home for the last 8 months and watch the product, and I see things where there’s too much of this, or there’s not enough this, and here’s what I can bring to the table that’s different, and more exciting for the fans. So yes, my style will be changing. Will it be any easier on my neck? I have no idea (laughs). Yeah, my style will be changing, but it’s not necessarily going to be physically easier.

How long do you see yourself being able to continue to wrestle, and who would you like to wrestle before you retire?

Those are very difficult questions. I would like to wrestle as long as my body is physically capable of it. I love what I do, I used to do this for very little money (laughs). It’s one of those things where, I do this because it’s fun, being with WWE is the first time I ever made any real money doing it. It’s just a blast, it’s my passion. It’s like asking a musician how long do they want to play music for. It’s very difficult to grapple with the idea of not being able to wrestle any more, but you also have to come to the realization that this is a very physical business, and your body will only last you so long. So I would like to say that at some point I would have the mental intelligence, or maybe the mental support from my wife or somebody, to know, ‘Okay, it’s time for you to stop, because if you don’t, you’re going to have to replace your hips, your knees, all that kind of stuff.’ So I don’t know when that time will be, but I’d like to wrestle as long as I can, but at the end of it still be able to maintain a healthy lifestyle afterwards.

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What was your take on Vince McMahon’s interview a couple of months back on the WWE Network where he encouraged talent to reach for the brass ring?

(Laughs) You know it’s funny, because one of the things that he had mentioned was, he said something about the Millennials not having any ambition, right. It’s funny, because the WWE does this personality test with some of their more successful superstars, where they rank you on all of these scores, like your desire for power, and your personality, and all that kind of stuff. One of the things they ranked was ambition, and it’s funny, because in this personality assessment, I got the lowest score for ambition that the lady had ever seen. So they do it on a percentile basis, so from 0 to 100, I was in the bottom 1 percentile of ambition.

(Laughs) It’s funny because the lady was like, ‘How on earth are you so successful given that you seem to have no ambition?’ I said, ‘Well, that’s where there’s a flaw on the test. I have no ambition for what society says is important as far as things like money, and all that kind of stuff.’ What I am ambitious about is I want to be the best wrestler that I can possibly be, and I think there’s some sort of mistake in generations, as far as what he thinks as far as our generation lacking ambition. Our generation just wants different things than what his generation wants, and I think that’s a societal thing as well. There’s an older generation of people who say, ‘No, you guys should want this, you guys should want this, you guys should want this.’ Whereas our generation, a lot of us say, ‘No, we don’t want that, we want something different, and a lot of the things that you guys wanted, are the reason that the world is messed up. We need to change our value system.’ So that’s it, that’s a very different take on what’s going on.

But people do need to stand up and say, ‘No, this isn’t what I want, I want to do this. This is me, this is how I want to present myself on television. This is how I want to be within WWE, this is how I view professional wrestling, this is what I would like it to be.’ People have to have the courage to come up and say that. But the hard thing is, he was talking about the Attitude Era and how things were different, well things wouldn’t have been that much different if there wasn’t a WCW. Like guys could say, ‘Hey, I don’t want to do this. If you want to fire me fine, because I’m going to go to WCW and make just as much money.’ That doesn’t exist right now. It’s people who are okay with like, ‘Hey, my life without WWE, is as good as my life with the WWE.’ They have to be able to say, ‘Okay, if I’m going to say this is what I want to do, or else I’m taking my ball and going home.’ They have to have some sort of plan for when they take their ball and go home, they have something else to do, which is hard, especially when you have a family, and all that kind of stuff. So yeah, I have very interesting thoughts on that whole podcast. It’s a very interesting look into the mind of Vince McMahon, so it was fascinating.

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CM Punk recently mentioned that he thinks you could have a successful MMA career. Is that something you’d ever be interested in trying, and have you done any MMA training?

Yeah, I’ve actually done a lot of jiu-jitsu and kickboxing. The Yes Lock that I do, it was actually taught to me by Neal Melanson, the head grappling coach at Xtreme Couture. It’s a move I use regularly when I do jiu-jitsu, it’s a [type of] kind of face lock to keep the guy from rolling. So I love doing jiu-jitsu and kickboxing, I will probably never do and MMA fight, and here’s why: I am not competitive. So I love jiu-jitsu, I love going in, I love going on the mat, I love rolling the people, but I love doing it with my friends.

It’s like the way dogs play, dogs play like they’re fighting, but they’re not trying to hurt each other unless they’re actually really fighting. That’s what I’m like with my friends, like, ‘Hey, let’s spar a little bit with kickboxing, but I’m not going to punch you in the face as hard as I can. I’m just going to see if I can touch you, and by me touching you, we both acknowledge that I’ve done something good.’ Or likewise with grappling, when I can turn an armbar, and in no way shape or form am I trying to break your arm, and if you don’t tap out because you don’t think you’re in that much trouble, I’m not going to crank it just to prove to you that I do have this armbar, right (laughs). So I love martial arts, I love that sort of thing, but I’m also not competitive enough to go in and be like, ‘Oh, I’m going to break this guy’s leg.’ That’s just not my personality type.

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Triple H’s role in WWE management has been expanding in the last couple of years, especially with him spearheading NXT. What do you think about Triple H’s work with the NXT talent he’s selected, and have you talked to him about what his vision is for the future of wrestling?

I have never actually talked to him about his vision for the future of wrestling, and that is actually something I should talk to him about, because we think a lot alike in a lot of ways. I like what he’s done with NXT, I think NXT is an awesome show. That last special that they did was an awesome product. I think Hunter is very intelligent wrestling wise, like he knows wrestling, he knows what works wrestling wise. I’m not exactly sure what are his ideas, and what aren’t his ideas within the WWE, but I want to say two of the most successful current acts that happened in the last year, like The Shield and the Wyatts, I think those are Triple H ideas, but I’m not exactly sure, as far as their execution and that sort of thing. The only way I can really gauge him is by what happens on NXT, and NXT is a wonderful product, it might be the best wrestling product out there. I love watching that show, and I think they’ve chosen some pretty awesome guys to be the stars of that show: Sami Zayn is incredible, Adrian Neville is incredible, Finn Balor is incredible, Hideo Itami, who used to be KENTA, and I wrestled on the independents and Japan, he’s incredible. So they’ve got some incredible talent down there, and they’re doing some really good stories.

Many thought you would face Brock Lesnar last year at Summerslam before your injury, and you recently stated you’d like to face Brock at WrestleMania. Could you envision incorporating any Japanese or strong style elements in a match with him?

Oh absolutely. I truly believe that if I wrestled Brock Lesnar in the main event of WrestleMania 31, for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, it might be the most physical, realistic, style of pro wrestling match that has ever been seen in the United States. Whether it would be the most physical, realistic pro wrestling match that has ever happened, I don’t know, because there’s been a lot of awesome stuff like that in Japan. But it would just be something very, very different from what people are used to seeing now in WWE, and I think we need something like that, something that feels like a spectacle. I think it would be incredible.

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How was it working with Batista during his comeback run last year? Were you both surprised by the crowd reactions going into the WrestleMania match with Randy Orton?

(Laughs) So I was never supposed to be in that match, and the crowd reactions are what forced me to even be given that opportunity. I was surprised that the crowd was so vocal, because it was clear when Batista came back that he was supposed to be the returning hero. He was going on to main event WrestleMania against Randy Orton, and that was the big plan, but the fans changed that plan. That’s one of the amazing things about WWE that doesn’t happen in any other sport, or any other area of entertainment, is how much power the fans have. The fans literally changed the course of the biggest wrestling event of the year just through their actions, just through making their voices heard.

I wasn’t supposed to be anywhere near the top of the card. I think I was scheduled to wrestle Sheamus, and probably be 5th or 6th match from the top, and maybe get a 10 minute match if we were lucky, but because of fan support, all of the sudden now I’m doing 2 matches and I’m in the main event of WrestleMania. I kind of had thought that the fans might react the way that they did as far as booing him and cheering for me, but in no way shape or form did I expect it to be as vocal as it was. It turned into a transformative amount of cheering, you don’t get anything like that in any other form of entertainment or sports, so it was pretty incredible.

On Monday we found out Randy Savage was getting into the WWE Hall of Fame. Can you discuss how much influence he had on you as a sports entertainer?

I’m thrilled he’s being inducted, he’s clearly one of the greatest WWE superstars of all time. As a kid I had a Macho King wrestling buddy. I had bunk beds in my room, and I would jump off the top bunk bed and do an elbow drop onto the Macho King wrestling buddy. When you watched him, he was one of the best at mixing being an entertaining character, and flashy, and also being great in the ring. Like that match he and Ricky Steamboat had was awesome, the matches he had with Ric Flair were awesome, the matches he had with The Ultimate Warrior were awesome. He was a guy who was so good at blending entertainment and wrestling, and that’s something that a lot of wrestlers could learn from when you watch him.

How was it meeting Sting last year, and would you like to wrestle him in WWE?

Yeah, I’d love to wrestle Sting. Whether he would love to wrestle me, I have no idea (laughs). The first night I met him was at Comic Con last July in San Diego, and meeting him, he just seemed like such a nice man. He hasn’t changed into an egotistical person because of his success in wrestling. Obviously I didn’t know him before he was a big star in wrestling, but he just seemed like a very nice man, somebody who you’d love to hang out with, because he’s so cool.

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Interview: Jim Ross Talks UFC, Brock Lesnar, Muhammad Ali & AJ Styles In WWE

WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross will be making his return to pro wrestling announcing on January 4, 2015, as he will be calling Global Force Wrestling’s presentation of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Wrestle Kingdom 9 live on PPV. JR has kept busy since his 2013 WWE departure, launching his ‘Ross Report’ podcast, taking a one man show on tour, and announcing MMA and boxing fights. Ross told AlternativeNation.net’s Sports section that he is in good health after facing some tough challenges, as he is now working out with a personal trainer 3 times a week and quit smoking a year ago. JR used Ambien for 10 years, unaware of the damage it was doing to him or knowing that it was a short term solution for sleep problems. The Ambien use led to Ross suffering memory loss and being placed in the stroke unit of a hospital. JR also suffered from diverticulitis during his time in WWE, but after all of these issues, Good Ol’ JR is doing just fine now. Ross said, “I haven’t felt this good probably in 20 years.”

JR is excited to call Wrestle Kingdom 9 at the Tokyo Dome, “The presentation of New Japan is kind of a throwback in ways, but with a modern influence. They do a lot of things fundamentally more sound than their American counterparts are doing. I’m looking forward to doing that, and calling matches for a whole new set of guys. But the fundamental things of what they do are the things I cut my teeth on, and really missed doing my last couple of years in WWE.”

AJ Styles is one prominent talent well known by American ans who will be wrestling at the event, and JR thinks WWE are missing the boat by now signing him. “AJ Styles would fit into any structure, it’s just a matter of decision makers having an open mind and be willing to utilize him to his skills, and not stereotype him because he isn’t the biggest guy in the locker room. He’s as good a performer as anybody WWE has right now from bell to bell. He’s an amazing athlete, and he’s perfected his craft, he’s a lifelong fan, he doesn’t drink or have a drug problem, he’s a good family man, he’s everything you would want.”

“Even if he didn’t get the top push, he’s going to earn his way to near the top of the card, and everybody that he works with, especially the young guys, are going to be better performers having been able to work with the guy with his experience and abilities. He’s having a blast in New Japan, the first night he came in they put their top title on him, so that automatically established him as a star. Now he’s got this Bullet Club thing around him, like the nWo kind of.”

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Ross also wants to do more MMA broadcasting, but there aren’t many options available outside of UFC and Bellator. Ross may do a boxing event coming up, as there are more openings available in boxing. “A lot of the fighters are old wrestling fans. When they were kids, they were watching wrestling. So if they’re not long in the tooth, and they were watching wrestling, they were likely listening to me. So it breaks the ice when you go have fighters meetings, they’re more giving of their information, and their time, and they help you out. That’s why we had so much fun at that MMA fight we did. I told Chael, ‘You will tell the people about the man, the fighter. I will tell the people about the man, the every day guy. Kids, wife, and their previous career.’”

While Ross has been a longtime UFC fan, he enjoyed Bellator’s latest special featuring Tito Ortiz vs. Stephan Bonnar, “Primarily, I’ve always been a UFC guy. I’ve been with them since 1993 or 1994, so I’m a UFC guy at heart, but I enjoy sampling new MMA. So for me, Bellator’s most recent show was new, because they were doing something live, they were doing something for the first time with Scott Coker as their head guy on a big live extravaganza that was on the level of a PPV. The main event was just okay, it had a lot more sizzle than it did steak, but they built it up very nicely, much like a wrestling angle, so it captured my curiosity, but it wasn’t a great fight. It was an entertaining fight to get ready for, but by the end of the third round, you pretty well knew that both guys tanks are just about empty.

He added, “Because Bonnar’s pace was so sporadic in the 2nd, and especially the 3rd round, it allowed Tito to settle in at a very deliberate pace, and essentially just counter punch. But we don’t know how Tito would have fared if the fight had been at a faster pace, and Bonnar had more jet fuel in his tank, it just didn’t work out that way. But the bottom line is I enjoyed the build up to the fight, I enjoyed the rhetoric, I enjoyed the sizzle around the cage, I thought that Spike did a nice job.”

JR also gave his predictions on Anderson Silva vs. Nick Diaz, “Diaz is going to have a cult following, a lot of people like the bad boys, a lot of people like the villain wrestlers. A lot of people are just defiant, and like to go against tradition, or what is perceived to be good. Anderson Silva is a living legend in that game that is overcoming a very serious injury in his late 30’s to come back and try to regain his past glory. It’s just too good a story, and too easy a story to tell, so I think it’s going to be a real interesting dynamic. It should be a hell of a fight, I think depending on how much rust Silva has, and how healthy he’s become, it remains to be seen how the fight will go, although obviously Anderson is going to be a heavy favorite. But Diaz will make the fight interesting, entertaining, and compelling. I think if the announcers, which I’m sure they will, will tell the story of the legendary Anderson Silva and his career threatening injury, and he’s fighting a very unorthodox, unique, complex fighter in Nick Diaz. It’s an easy show to sell, but I do think Anderson will win it, but it should be really interesting.”

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Conor McGregor has recently made waves in the MMA world for his charismatic personality, and Jim Ross told an interesting story about Brock Lesnar and Muhammad Ali when it comes to fighters taking on the role of the perceived villain. “In the early days of Brock Lesnar in UFC, I would suggest that more people paid to see Brock get his ass whooped than paid to see him win. But once he won, and everybody saw what kind of beast he was, he was a legit beast, he wasn’t a fake wrestler, he was a former NCAA champion and All American, that’s the part of Brock Lesnar that they gravitated to.”

“But there’s always going to be a segment of the MMA community that is going to cheer for Lesnar to lose, if and when he comes back for another run after his diverticulitis issues, but that’s the beauty of it. Muhammad Ali told me one time, back in the 80’s, that he realized early in his career that he could make more money as a boxer, as a black man in a white man’s business as far as management and TV contracts, and distribution of PPV dollars, he said, ‘I realized my place as a fighter would be enhanced if I put myself in a position where the fans pay more money to see me lose than they would to see me win.’ It was at that point in his career where he became a Muslim, he refused to go into the military, etc., it was like a wrestling writer was writing his script because everything he did was going to guarantee him to be a villain. When he came back he was vilified for a long time until people started understanding him, and seeing his religion was legitimate, and he wasn’t anti-American, and he become this universally loved hero in the latter part of his career, when he was getting his brain scrambled.”

Ross added, “If [Connor McGregor] can fight as well he he can talk, he’s going to make himself a fortune.”

JR also predicted that Daniel Cormier will beat Jon Jones, and raved about Ronda Rousey. “She’s my favorite MMA fighter. She has legit star power and a great personality. She’s every promoter’s dream, whether it be pro wrestling, or Hollywood, or MMA, or whatever. She has looks, she has skill, she has intelligence. If I were WWE, if I could make this happen, she would definitely have a role at WrestleMania 31 to do something.”

Check out Jim Ross’ official website , Twitter, and WWEShop to buy his BBQ sauce.

Other recent interviews:

Adam ‘Edge’ Copeland, Kurt Angle, Kane, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Jeff Hardy, Eric Bischoff, and Hornswoggle.

Interview conducted by Mike Nagel

Article written by Brett Buchanan

Interview: Adam ‘Edge’ Copeland Talks Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, WWE Attitude Era & Haven

Adam Copeland ended his Hall of Fame wrestling career as Edge in WWE a few years ago, and since has transitioned into acting.  Copeland now stars on Haven, which is currently in its fifth season airing on Fridays at 7PM.  In this exclusive in-depth interview with AlternativeNation.net, Copeland discusses his love of alternative rock bands like Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, and The Smashing Pumpkins, compares working with WWE and Haven writers, reveals if he’ll ever return to WWE as an announcer or GM, his thoughts on WWE’s Attitude Era, concussions in pro wrestling, if John Cena’s character should ever become a villain, Christian’s future in WWE and appearance on Haven, the WWE Network, Batista, The Rock, the New Jersey Devils, and more.

Also check out our recent interviews with Kurt Angle, Kane, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Jeff Hardy, Eric Bischoff, and Hornswoggle.

What are some of your favorite Pearl Jam songs, and what made you become a fan?

It’s interesting, because I remember having the cassette of Ten. I worked at a horse track, and I worked in this little wooden shack, and I took money for parking from all of the people who went to the race track. I would just put that cassette on my walkman, I had a little oil lantern as my heat during Canadian winters, and I would just play that tape relentlessly, over and over, and I just wore it out. It was that time of my life where it just resonated with me, it just put me in a good place. Then Vs. came out and I was in college, and that was kind of my soundtrack for college. It just felt like I was kind of growing up with these guys, and they were saying things that I was going through at the time, because there’s about a 5-year age gap.

They’re one of those bands that connected with me, and their whole ethos of doing what they want to do. They didn’t release “Black” as a single, even though the record company wanted them to. They stopped making music videos, until “Do the Evolution,” which was genius. I just like that they do what they want to do. They don’t think of it in terms of what’s the hit, they think of it in terms of their career, and how the audience will know if they’re staying true to themselves or not. I think that’s why they have the fanbase they do now, for lack of a better example, they have a ravenous fanbase like the Grateful Dead. People travel all over the world to see them play, it’s going to have a different setlist, they’re going to give you 3 hours, they’re going to sweat and drink wine, and play their ass off.

Another artist from the 90’s, one that’s really into wrestling, is Billy Corgan. He’s mentioned you a few times on Twitter, and you almost appeared on one of his Resistance Pro shows a couple years ago. What is your relationship like with Billy, and what drew you to the Smashing Pumpkins?

The same thing, it was that era of music. I’m really thankful that I was 17, 18, 19, 20, as all of that was really just hitting, and there was a change of musical climate from Warrant and Poison, to bands that actually had more of a message than just going out and hanging out on the Sunset Strip, which is fine, you’ve got to have fun too. But I was at a point in my life where I connected with what guys like Billy, Kurt Cobain, and Eddie Vedder were saying.

When you hear “Today” for the first time, it’s layers and layers of guitar, and it sounds like Queen. It harkens back to some of the 70’s music I like too, like Cheap Trick, so it had a great pop sensibility, but it was heavy, and the lyrics were anything but pop, and I liked that combination. We just happened to meet at a wrestling show because Billy’s obviously a huge wrestling fan. We just started talking wrestling, music, life, and everything in between.

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I know Foo Fighters are one of your favorite bands, you met Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins. What are your thoughts on the new Foo Fighters songs and their HBO series?

I’m actually pretty bummed, because I haven’t been able to catch their HBO series. Where I am in Chester, Nova Scotia, we don’t have HBO. It’s not on iTunes, so I’ve missed all of it so far.

You need to torrent it on the internet.

(Laughs) I’m pretty clueless when it comes to computers too, so I probably have a way to access it, but I’m a bit of a caveman. I’ve missed the show, but I pre-ordered the album, so I’ve been getting every track as it’s released, and I love it. They’re one of those bands who hit the vein of something I can relate to on each album. I think that’s why bands become favorite bands, for whatever reason they always do. I used “Walk” for my Hall of Fame acceptance speech ceremony, because I really felt like I was walking out of what I did my entire adult life, and this was closing that chapter, and kind of walking on into the next one. So that really resonated with me, and when I heard “Something From Nothing,” once again, it was one of those songs where when I heard it I got goosebumps. I can relate to that, coming from what is perceived as nothing, so that was one that really clicked with me right away.

You mentioned “Walk” being your Hall of Fame theme song. WWE have also had a lot of other really powerful music pieces over the years, Jonny Cash’s version of Hurt being used for Eddie Guerrero’s tribute immediately jumps to mind, and the Austin/Rock WrestleMania 17 Limp Bizkit “My Way” video. What have been some of your favorite musical wrestling moments over the years, and what songs do you think would fit in the context of a wrestling show that hasn’t been used before?

“Say It Ain’t So” by Weezer I always thought would be a great montage of a career. Kind of the end of a career, and just showing the entire evolution of someone’s career, because it’s a pretty epic song that builds, then there’s this frenzy, I just picture flashes of someone’s career going by. So that’s kind of the first one that pops out, and I don’t think that would be one that people would think of off of the top of their head, but that was one where every time I heard it, that’s kind of how I pictured it. But there’s been a lot performances like Motley Crue, Ozzy Osbourne, and Motorhead. I don’t know, sometimes wrestling is very testosterone driven, so certain music just wouldn’t fit there. Where a Limp Bizkit could play there, I don’t know how well a Pearl Jam song would go over at WrestleMania, it just wouldn’t fit, and I think they would know that, it’s just not the same audience.

What other wrestlers and actors have you been able to bond with over hard rock music, maybe ones we wouldn’t know are into it?

There’s some obvious ones, guys like Chris Jericho. Eric Balfour on Haven, he and I have similar musical tastes, we have bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers and Faith No More, bands like that that we connect on. We’ll have ongoing conversations about music that can last all night. Matt Striker is a guy who has crazy musical knowledge, loves all types of music, but will sit there and dissect the virtues of Rush, then we can talk about Otis Redding or James Brown or something. Really diverse kind of musical tastes, but it all centers in rock and hard rock, that’s where it all kind of derives from, the blues, so you can go all the way back.

One guy who I actually talked to a few months ago who is into 90’s music like Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots is Jeff Hardy, who does his own music. Speaking of Jeff and Matt, they’ve been teaming up again recently, when was the last time you saw Jeff and Matt, and do you keep in touch with them?

Oh man, it’s been years. We’ll occasionally send texts and things like that. I mailed something to Jeff for him to sign to send back, I was giving it to a charity, and we compare baby names and things like that, but I haven’t really seen anybody from wrestling in a long time. I saw Jericho at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year, and I saw Christian because he did a part on Haven. But other than that, I’m out in Chester, Nova Scotia, an hour and a half out from Halifax, and I’ve basically been out here for 4 years for this show, so I don’t see anybody. We’re pretty much as far as you can get east, and not a lot of people get out this way.

You occasionally text or call, but one thing you quickly realize with the touring lifestyle, whether it be music or wrestling, you’ll be on the road and not realize you haven’t talked to someone for 2 years. You’ll be like, ‘Hey, so, how you been, it’s been a few months right?’ They’re like, ‘No, it’s been 2 years.’ (Laughs) Wow, okay. It’s just kind of the way it is, when you have to be in a different city every day, you’re just worried about the next rental car, the next meal, the next gym, the next town. You lose track, there’s a few I keep in touch with, but it’s just hard. You can’t take it personal, it’s just the way of the road.

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You mentioned Christian being on Haven. How was it working with him again, and do you see acting as something he could do, as his career is in an interesting position right now with injury issues and not having wrestled in awhile. But how was it seeing Christian, and what do you think about his future?

Well he’s my best friend, so I know what’s going on with him more than anybody else. But he’s at that kind of point where you sit back and look and go, okay I’m definitely closer to the end of my career than the beginning. After awhile your body just starts telling you, this is a difficult job to do. When you’re in your 20’s and you think you’re indestructible, you can bounce back, but it gets harder when you start climbing into your 40’s.

He came out here, the executive producers of Haven were like, ‘Hey, what’s Christian doing?’ ‘Right now he just had a baby girl, same as us, we’re just kind of talking about that, but he’s just being a Dad.’ They asked if he’d be interested in coming out, I floated it by him, and he said, ‘Yeah, that’d be great. It’d be fun to have the girls see us in a different kind of arena of entertainment than wearing tights and throwing each other around. It would be fun to show them us acting together someday.’ So he got out here, and we hadn’t seen each other in almost a year, so it was nice to be able to sit down and not just talk over the phone or over Facetime, but to actually just get caught up, more than anything else.

It was great working together, and my Mom was out here, but he finally got to meet my daughter, and we just hung out, which was the best part of the whole thing. I don’t know if it’s something that he’d want to do, I think he had a good experience, he had fun, but I don’t know if that would be something he’d actually want to make an occupation. It’s kind of starting over, that’s what I’m doing right now, starting over at this brand new thing, learning as I go. It’s hard when you’ve kind of made it to the pinnacle of one thing, to start over again at 40 years old. It can be kind of daunting, I just don’t know if that would be something he would be interested in.

Christian’s been doing some analyst work on WWE Network, and I know you’re full on into acting right now. But would you ever consider returning as an announcer or GM type of character in WWE, or even a company like TNA? Could you envision even doing that in 5 to 10 years down the line?

Probably not. I kind of closed that chapter when it got closed on me due to injury. Here’s the thing I’ve always said, is if I can’t get in the ring, I don’t want to be close to the ring and not get in, because that’s the fun part. For me, the performance was always the fun aspect of it. Sitting back and watching and talking about it, I just don’t know how fun that would be for me. It’s great for some people, I just don’t know if that’s for me. I mean who knows, but at this point in my life I don’t foresee it.

I don’t foresee going back on the road, and having to maintain leaving even once a week, especially with a brand new daughter. It’s like, no, I like where I am right now, shooting a TV series, sleeping in the same bed every night, and my entire family is here, I don’t have to get up and go to the airport and leave them. I did that for 20 years, sometimes people say my career got cut short, but it was 20 years long. Wrestling years are like dog years, so it was a long career, and a long time maintaining that schedule and that kind of pace, so it’s been nice not to. Even though I wouldn’t be doing the physical aspect, that’s the part that was fun, and made all the other crap like planes and rental cars enjoyable. If that’s not there, why would I want to do that?

Do you watch NXT at all, and who are some of your favorite young wrestlers in the business currently?

I haven’t watched a whole lot. They finally gave me the WWE Network. Once they asked me to do a show on it, they said, ‘Do you want it by the way?’ I said, ‘Yeah sure, why not?’ But for whatever reason, it doesn’t seem to want to work up here in Canada. Every time I try to watch something it just freezes, so I haven’t really watched a whole lot of stuff. Before it was on the Network, it was on Sports Central up here, and if I was home from set, I would try to watch it Thursday nights. Then it got taken off Sports Central, I got the Network, and the Network didn’t work, so it’s kind of been out of my hands, I haven’t been able to watch it.

But I know Sami Zayn, I’ve known him for a couple of years now, but I’ve always enjoyed what he’s done, when he was El Generico too. A buddy of mine got signed a little while ago and is working down there, Dash Wilder. A really good, solid, technical wrestler, he’s part of a tag team with Scott Dawson, they were calling them the Mechanics, but I don’t know what they’re calling them now. Kind of beyond that, I don’t really know a whole lot. It’s tough sometimes, because I’m on set from 5AM-9PM, when I get home, the last thing I’m doing is turning on a TV. I’m reading a script for tomorrow, getting my lines down, and I’m going to bed, or reading my daughter to bed, which is way more important.

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You were around for the the edgier, pun intended, period of WWE, and also the first few years of the current PG era, so you did see the shift. With WWE’s business down and Network numbers not hitting what they had projected, and also TNA facing an uncertain future, what do you see as the direction wrestling needs to take to find success? Do you think it’s a more physical style, or do you think it’s good that stuff like chair shots aren’t around as much any more? What do you think needs to be done?

Well, I think the chair shots being gone is definitely a good thing. Especially as we learn more and more about concussions thanks to guys like Chris Nowinski kind of spearheading it. There can’t be that any more, there just can’t. When you have football players shooting themselves in the chest, and the brain can be examined, because they’re acting erratically, and they know it’s because of CTE, you have to erase those things, whether people like it or not. If people complain about that, then they need to take one, because it just doesn’t make sense. So in that aspect, I don’t think you need to go back to that, because it’s just stupid, especially with the knowledge we have now.

I do think what’s been good, people are always talking about the Attitude Era, and all of this and all of that, but if you watch back, sometimes the matches weren’t that great because we had 2 minutes. It’s not possible to have a good wrestling match in 2 minutes, you can’t tell a story, you can tell a haiku. Since the PG era, I know when I was in matches, I had half an hour sometimes, 20 minutes, there I can tell a story. To me that’s the meat and potatoes of the whole thing, it all boils down to the wrestling at the end of the day. The Attitude Era was a lot about the hijinks backstage, and the matches kind of got forgotten about. It’s looked at with rose colored glasses because the ratings were good, and it was working for obvious reasons, but to me those obvious reasons were characters like Stone Cold, who would then get in and have a long match at a PPV. Characters like The Rock who would be entertaining, but still at the end of the day, they could go. I think now, you need a little bit of both.

I think some humor injected into the current product would be good, because anything I have seen has been ho hum, it’s been promos, but there’s no humor any more, there’s no fun. I did see The Rock come back in Brooklyn, and that was fun. I think that goes back to things just being so tightly scripted, and not letting guys just be themselves. It’s hard to find what works for your character when you’re just being kind of being told what to do, what to say, where to be, how to do it, there has to be some freedom in there in order for the audience to be able to tap into it, and for it to work.

In a wrestling match, you can do that, because you’re putting it together, you’re flying by the seat of your pants out there, and you’re listening to what the audience is doing, if you’re good. But when it comes to promos and things like that, I think sometimes the aspects of humor and entertainment in that have been lost. With that being said, I still think it’s more important to have great wrestling matches. So I don’t know, when it’s all said and done, it goes in cycles, no matter what product is being placed out there. I think if you tried to do the Attitude Era thing now, it wouldn’t necessarily fly, because people have seen MMA, and that’s become popular. I think that’s what the college guy, or the guy wearing his medium Affliction shirt is watching now as opposed to WWE. In 1999, those guys would be watching WWE, now they want to see a dude get knocked out in the UFC.

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Something that was more prevalent in wrestling back then was unpredictability. Speaking of that, you worked with John Cena and were arguably his greatest rival. At times you got more cheers than him despite being a villain at the time. At New Years Revolution 2006 you would have thought Stone Cold Steve Austin had just won the title when you beat Cena. What have you thought about Cena’s character remaining the ‘good guy’ over the years, do you think it ever should have been changed, or should be now?

I don’t really think much about it to be honest, but I would guess he’s probably moving a lot of merchandise, so why not stick with that? I think that’s probably a good gauge for popularity, you’ll have a lot of guys not like the character, but if 3/4 of a family is liking the character, and buying the merchandise, and 1/4 isn’t, you do the math.

You had a scene recently on Haven where you got really intense after Mara brought up your daughter, how have you learned to portray emotions like that now in acting compared to wrestling? Obviously it’s a very different presentation. Do you ever feel tempted to go back to old habits, and how have you learned to control that?

Initially that was the main challenge, the aspect of with wrestling everything being over the top, you have to translate your movements and emotions to someone who is possibly 80,000 people away. With this, the camera is so tight, it picks up every little tick and nuance, every little twitch that your face does, so I really had to learn about pulling back, and making things more subtle. What’s good is that wrestling gave me the ability to be able to tap into aggression, and anger for different scenes like that, because everything in wrestling was kind of driven by intensity.

But also wrestling helped me with humor too, because with Edge and Christian we built our whole career on humor at the beginning. It’s great training to get you prepared for acting, and kind of get you past some of the initial hiccups that people probably do, because at the end of the day, you’re still in front of a camera, you’re still portraying a character. It’s just really pulled back and toned down when it comes to acting as opposed to the theater of the absurd that wrestling is. I think it was kind of pulling back, and realizing that little things can be picked up much easier.

Having multiple takes is great, it was awesome performing live because it’s exciting, you’re flying by the seat of your pants, but it’s nice to be able to get home, study lines, and think of some choices you’re going to make, if they don’t work, you’re probably going to get another take to try more. They’re both great, it’s nice to try something different, because like I said, for 20 years, I did that other thing. Doing something different has been a fun new little challenge. Acting and wrestling are on the same tree, they’re just different branches.

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What is the atmosphere like working with the writers on Haven compared to in WWE? Are you going to the writers a lot talking about your character, or do you just put your full trust in them?

I put a lot of trust in them, but at the same time, they’re very open. We have a [conversation about] every episode, they’ll call me and we’ll run through each script, and kind of find some [things] that they think are important, and I’ll say how I felt when I initially read it, then we’ll go okay, and agree on some. It’s a good process, with wrestling, so much of it is last minute. So much of it is, we’re going live, and we’re changing the entire show (laughs). That can be cool, because it keeps you on your toes and it’s fun, but there’s definitely interactions with both sets of writers. I like to be hands on with my storylines, and if it was a storyline where I thought, ‘Eh, this isn’t that great,’ I still thought okay, I’ve got to try and make some lemonade out of this, and fully commit to it. That’s what I’ve learned in both, even if there’s something you don’t necessarily like, if you find a way to commit to it, you can make it work.

Batista has had huge success with Guardians of the Galaxy, obviously The Rock has had huge success as well, and you have had a consistent job on Haven for the last few years finding your own success, have you ever been able to talk to them about acting?

You know what, no. Since Dave left, then I left, and he came back, and I was gone. So occasional texts here and there, but Dave and I always got along great, so I’m super stoked for him, I think it’s awesome. I went and saw it, I thought he played the character amazing, really understated, subtle, completely ironic, he really did a great job, so I’m really happy for him. The Rock has always been a super dude too, he never changed, he just stayed the same guy even though he’s arguably the biggest movie star in the world. But we never really sat down and talked acting, we saw each other, it was always at WrestleMania. I was putting a match together, and he was guest hosting, so you don’t really get a chance. Everybody’s lives are going a million miles an hour, so you go, ‘You good?’ ‘Yeah, you good?’ ‘Awesome man, great job.’ Then you’re onto what’s next.

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You are a huge hockey fan, and a big Devils fan, what was it like attending the Stanley Cup between the Devils and Kings and what do you think the Devils need to do to make the playoffs this year?

(Sighs) Gosh, sometimes it’s just that dynamic that general managers luck into, but when you’ve got good role players, and when you’ve got a good fourth line, that’s what makes Boston the team that they are right now, their fourth line always contributes. They’re always in there looking, grinding, scoring goals, and pestering, and doing those things. That and a hot goaltender are always the piece, to me, in playoff hockey. Getting to the playoffs is a different ballgame. I really can’t answer it, I don’t know.

I think a lot of the upheaval with Brodeur and the goaltending situation makes it difficult for a team to concentrate. You lose Gionta, you lose so many great players. They always seem to manufacture great players too, but then at some point they just leave, because in that market there’s Long Island and New Jersey, but the Rangers are kind of the team that I would think most people want to play for. I don’t know how you change it, same thing with the lease, they keep trying these different things, and they just haven’t found the right ingredients yet, and I don’t know what it is.

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Rhode Island Comic Con Recap, Saturday: William Shatner, Star Wars, & WWE

AlternativeNation.net reporters Doug McCausland, Mike Mazzarone, Jesse Dunning, and Anthony Cariosocia just got back from the inaugural Saturday (following a Friday night Halloween launch party) of Rhode Island Comic Con 2014. Being in close proximity to the New York Comic Con, though not quite as expansive, RICC is a great alternative for those who missed out on NYCC tickets. The event has been expanding for the past few years, and a controversy broke out today when the event was reportedly oversold. Regardless of those events, read on for Doug, Mike, and Anthony’s experience at the con, with recaps of some key panels and photos of various cosplayers…

Star Wars

Chewie, bring me the hydrospanner!
Doug:  As far as Star Wars guests go, Ray Park (Darth Maul), Matthew Wood (General Grievous), and Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) were the biggest names. Also in attendance were Jabba’s dancer from Return of the Jedi, Shaak Ti, and several other cult favorite background players. The storied 501st Legion of charity cosplayers were customarily on the scene, wearing their trademark hand-built professional quality stormtrooper costumes. I got the chance to  (casually) chat with Matthew Wood, who reconfirmed the long standing rumor that Gary Oldman was going to voice General Grievous in Revenge of the Sith but pulled out last minute.


Mike: My highlight was during the first panel. The host asked no questions about Episode VII and what does Edward R. Murrow here do? Episode VII question.


Doug: I asked Peter Mayhew during his panel (the first, at 11 AM) when he got the call for Episode VII, pointing out George Lucas always denied wanting to make a sequel trilogy. He kind of gave me this terrifying stare and said “That is between me and Mr. Lucas“, then the host pointed out that no Star Wars VII questions were to be asked. I said that it wasn’t a plot related question before scurrying back to my seat all awkward.


Anthony: I kinda predicted that someone would mention the Star Wars Holiday Special. It actually happened: “What was it like working with Chewbacca’s family in the Holiday Special?”


Doug: I admit the PA system was muffled during the Wookiee panel and so I couldn’t hear much of his answer, at least from where I was sitting. This was rectified with the Shatner panel. I did hear Mayhew mentioning something about “thousands of VHS tapes” he’d “give away”.

Doctor Who

Mike and the 6th Doctor

Mike: I got to have a photo  op with the only representative of Doctor Who and one of the more underrated Doctors in show history, Colin Baker. Baker revealed to me that he has no current plans to be involved in the upcoming Doctor Who Christmas special, an update on his short with past Doctors entitled (the five Doctors reboot) saying that it all depends on if he and Paul McGann (8th Doctor) can come up with a script as good as the first five Doctors reboot – which, as Baker mentioned “doesn’t look like it”.  Baker also praised current Doctor Peter Calapdi, saying he enjoys the “classic touch” of Peter’s Doctor and wishes him the best.


I also got the chance to show off my Doctor Who cosplay. My first time pulling off any sort of cosplay, and I went as Doctor Who’s 9th Doctor. I got to meet a bunch of fellow cosplayers that complimented my “fantastic” getup. Including those dressed at 4, 6, 10 and 11.

Indiana Jones

Doug: The Raiders panel with Karen Allan and John Rhys-Davies was hilarious, because there was a time period where every single time Mr. Rhys-Davies tried speaking, he was interrupted by an announcement on the PA. It made for good unintentional comedy.


Anthony: They did a good job of making jokes at of the PA calls.


Doug: More audio issues here, but John and Karen were really classy. One person in the audience who was given the microphone commented that they were being really nice, unlike some people “downstairs” (in the show room). This gave way to applause. Personally I didn’t find anyone rude.

Star Trek

No photography/filming allowed in Shatner panel, so here’s Anthony getting a little too comfortable with Dr. Frank N’Furter.
Doug: The legendary William Shatner, the top-billed guest of the day, needed no host to ask him questions during his 4:30 panel. He had this bizarre sort of stand up/stream of consciousness routine.


Anthony: Shatner pretty much did a stand up routine on dog semen.


Doug: He started off with story about how he needed his dog fixed after a “fight” with a female dog. 


Anthony: Which he referred to as The Bitch over and over.


Doug:  Shatner and his wife opted to freeze the dog’s scrotum… he wanted to breed his dog later and so his family hoped to preserve the dog’s semen by freezing his scrotum. He must have used the word “semen” seventy five times as he’s describing running down the hall holding his dog’s nuts. This somehow led to an anecdote about how his kids wanted him to reenact his experience in  the classic Twilight Zone episode Nightmare At 20,000 Feet whenever they flew.


Anthony: The Q/A got bizzare too… I mean, some of his answers were pretty strange.


Mike: Strange is an understatement.


Anthony Carioscia: Like how he was explaining how sci-fi is great and sounded like he was having an orgasm. His face was literally red.


Doug: After this awkward/hilarious intro, he took audience questions. One girl asked how it is to act in a historical film vs a sci fi/fantasy program. So he starts ranting about how science fiction can become science fact, claiming that UFO abductions might be real based on some weird interpretation of quantum physics and the number of people who actually believe they were abducted means they “willed” the concept into reality.


Anthony: His face was literally turning red as he was speaking. I just wish i had time to ask him about his film Incubus.


Mike: I don’t think he knows who Brandon Boyd is.


Doug: Yeah, the panel seemed short. Unless his answers were so long and unbelievably over-the-top that it just took up all th etime.


Anthony: He did take forever on that sci-fi answer.


Doug: It was by far the most entertaining/bizarre thing I’ve seen in months.

WWE

AlternativeNation.net’s Jesse Dunning (CM Punk?) and the legendary Mick Foley.
Mike: I spent 80 dollars on wrestling photo ops… in hindsight, not the brightest moment in my life. That one 80 dollar payment could of went to a more socially acceptable Shatner or Takei.


Doug: Our resident WWE interviewer/photographer Jesse Dunning decided to wear a CM Punk costume to the con. All the wrestlers present reacted positively. Curt Hawkins took his picture and told Jesse he’d send the picture to the real CM Punk.


Mike:  The ironic thing with all of the wrestling stuff is that while I took pictures and had photo ops with a lot of past a present superstars (Booker T, JBL, Torrie Wilson…etc) I actually made a point to ask very little when it came down to actual “wrestling related questions”. I figured it would be best to come up with questions that these people haven’t been asked a hundred times in one day.


Mike: Since  JBL is a big football fan and a former football player himself, I asked who he thought was going to win the Super Bowl this year, to which he replied “Either the Eagles or the Broncos”. He proceeded to give a long winded, albeit, mumbled reasoning that I cannot recall due to it being sort of inaudible (even in person). I wanted to ask another question to him, something along the lines of “greatest rib (prank) that has ever been pulled on him”… but, alas,  I was pushed aside and some other fan had his turn.


Mike: For the record, since Torrie Wilson is dating baseball player Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez, I asked if he is a big wrestling fan and likes watching the shows. Torrie looked at me like I had three heads and said: “Well, he likes to watch me wrestle”. I rolled my eyes afterward.

Miscellaneous Guests: Exorcist, Pokemon

Veronica Taylor from Pokemon (Slayers?)

Anthony: I spent 20 bucks on a becoming vegan book (though I probably never will) just so I can get an autograph from The Exorcist‘s Linda Blair. But it was worth it. She really liked that I brought up her more obscure movie Hell Night and told me all about her wildlife campaign. Oh, and I spent 10 bucks to get a pic with Veronica Taylor, who voiced Amelia from Slayers.


Mike: You mean Ash Ketchum from Pokemon. No one knows what Slayers is.


Anthony: I think of her more from Slayers. It was pretty big in the 90’s.


Mike: You are the only one.


Doug: I told her Pokemon made up 90% of my childhood.


Mike: She offered voicemail recordings for 20 bucks. If I didnt have to deal with PR for a living, I would have jumped on that.


Doug: YOU HAVE REACHED THE VOICEMAIL OF MICHAEL MAZZARONE, HEAD REPORTER OF ALTERNATIVENATION.NET AND POKEMON MASTER!


Mike:…Yes. It’d probably be something like that.


Anthony: Sucks we didn’t get to meet Anthony Michael Hall. Such a long line.


Doug: That guy seems really cool Didn’t get the chance to speak with him but he was very, VERY social with everyone else.


Anthony: He’s more social than the characters he played in the 80’s, that’s for sure.

Comic Book Television

Anthony: Doug got to interview Katrina Law (Nyssa Al’ghul) from The CW’s Arrow.


Doug: She was really cool and personable. I think the entire Arrow cast is. I did an improvised mini-interview with her (bless my TMZ skills) but we should have a full on phoner with her later on. She’s a major player in Season 3. You can read my interview… thing… later this week.


Anthony: Never saw an episode of Arrow before, but she seemed really nice.


Doug: Also present was the badass J August Richards, Michael Petersen (AKA Deathlok) from Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. I didn’t get to do an interview, but I gave him a handshake and said “you’d better be coming back to the show soon” and he just smiled, nodded, and thanked me. Take that as you will. 


Anthony: Others in attendance included John Wesley Shipp, who played The Flash in the 90’s live action TV series.

View Askewniverse

Anthony wasn’t supposed to be there today.

Anthony: Brian O’Halloran was probably the coolest guest… free picture and I felt like he was just a regular guy.


Doug: He was really down to earth. I conducted an interview with him (alongside Scott Schiaffo, the Chewlies Gum salesman from the opening of Clerks) which you can read soon.


Anthony: I found it really epic that we got to see Brian O’Halloran casually talk to Joey Adams from Chasing Amy . It’s like we were in a Kevin Smith movie.


Doug: We have some exclusive updates on Clerks III! Stay tuned.

Merchandise/Vendors

Some cool guys working behind a collector’s stand. And this is why you bring a professional quality camera.

Doug: Well rounded merchandise vendors, including Anthony’s aformentioned obscure/out of print film vendors, loads of Star Wars and sci-fi collectibles, apparel, and this one delightfully messed up vendor that sold horror themed children’s toys.


Anthony: You know it’s a real horror vendor when even I have only heard of two of the films sold. I was given two free DVDs by one of the vendors for being knowledgeable on obscure movies!


Mike: One does not simply come to Rhode Island Comic Con with nothing to spend.

Closing Thoughts

MODOK (Mental Organism Designed Only For Killing)
Mike: Meeting my first Doctor Who doctor was pretty awesome. Even though Colin Baker isn’t as renowned as the 4th doctor and Tom Baker or David Tennant and 10 he is still pretty underrated and the experience was great. Not everyone’s cool with free photos like Brian O’Halloran… if you’re going next year, be prepared to spend some dough. But, regardless, lots of things were crossed off the bucket list today!


Anthony: I can’t believe this day happened. I met Brian O’Halloran, Peter Mayhew, Veronica Taylor, and Karen Allan, just to name a few of the many guests. And I heard William Shatner give a speech on dog semen. That alone is worth the price of admission.


Doug: This is my second RICC, and I must say I had much more fun this year than last year. The convention only has room for more growth and improvement. Keep up the solid guest lists, iron out audio issues (muffled microphone sound, PA interruptions during guest panels), and cut off ticket sales after capacity is full, and you’ve got yourself a solid competition to the neighboring NYCC in the next few years.


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Doug and the 501st Legion of charity cosplayers.
blackmanta
Black Manta?
Nightwing and Supergirl
odsttrooper
Halo ODST Trooper

Exclusive Update On TNA’s TV Deal Negotiations

In an exclusive update on TNA’s TV deal negotiations for Impact Wrestling, an anonymous TNA wrestler recently told AlternativeNation.net’s Sports section that TNA are not communicating well with talent regarding the company’s TV future.  The talent said, “They don’t tell us shit.”  They added that they hope TNA airs on a new network, and that the situation should be resolved soon so they can air in January, but they added, “Like I said, they tell us shit.  We are the last ones to know.”  TNA’s current contract extension with SpikeTV runs out at the end of the year.

Kurt Angle painted a more optimistic picture about TNA’s TV future when AlternativeNation.net’s Sports section spoke to him in late September, “Well at the TV’s we just did, Dixie Carter and ‘Big’ John Gaburick sat the talent down and eased their minds a little bit, because I think a lot of the talent were a little bit confused and nervous regarding what was going on. I had a private sit down with Dixie, she reassured me of what was going on, and what her plans were. It was a good meeting, it was a very positive meeting. She just knows that the next deal that they sign really has to help benefit TNA, in every regard.”

“When it comes down to it, it is about money, and it is also about how you can get promoted on that network. I won’t say that Spike did a bad job, but I will say that Spike could have done better. If it is going to be Spike, and I don’t know, because Dixie really wouldn’t say who it was, they’re going to have to do a better job. I know that that’s where TNA is right now. They’re in a period where they’re budgeting because they don’t have the money from the network to pay for the TV shows. I believe Panda Energy is funding the show right now, so yes, we’re going to have to do TV tapings in the same city 2 or 3 days at a time until we get to the point where we can go live again, and that will be when the TV deal is done.”

Interview: John Morrison Talks Joey Mercury, Eric Bischoff, TNA & The Doors

John Hennigan, formerly John Morrison in WWE, is making a comeback in the national wrestling spotlight with Lucha Underground on the El Rey Network on October 29th. Hennigan’s new ring name in the promotion is Johnny Mundo. In this exclusive interview with AlternativeNation.net’s Sports section, Hennigan discusses working with Eric Bischoff, Joey Mercury’s new ‘corporate’ on air role in WWE, Lucha Underground’s potential, his acting career, and more. Check out our recent interviews with Kurt Angle, Kane, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Jeff Hardy, Randy Couture, Eric Bischoff, and Hornswoggle in our Sports section.

Considering how you got into your WWE career with Tough Enough, what do you think of WWE’s new performance center and training faculties? Also what do you think of their developmental system with NXT?

One of the most frustrating things I’ve found with getting into wrestling is when you expend a big pile of effort and feel like you aren’t getting the best training, or you’re wasting your time. The performance center is ridonkulous! I’d love to train there now. The facilities are cutting edge, but more important, when it comes to pro wrestling, or really learning any skill from kung fu to basket weaving to medicine the people you learn from are your most powerful influences.

If you have ambition, dedication, and a knowledgeable trainer who isn’t bitter about their own career and believes in your potential, you can learn anywhere… but not everywhere has air conditioning like the performance center.

For the business side of WWE, NXT is great because it’s a way to monetize their developmental system (NXT guys! thanks for the rasslin’… sorry ‘bout the money) For Talent, it’s a good chance to see what it’s like to wrestle on TV tapings. Politics, pacing of matches, intensity, expectations, selling to cameras, etc…

When you first got on the WWE roster, you were doing a lot of skits with Eric Bischoff as his assistant. How did you like working with Bischoff and did he share any wisdom about some of the wrestling business?

The Bisch!

“… back then it was about booze and blow, now it’s about starting my TV days with a good bowl of oatmeal to keep my energy level up.”

~some RAW taping in 2004 the Bisch to Johnny Nitro & Jonathan Coachman

Eric was great to work with. Gave me some awesome insight into the business of Wrestling. At the time I was thinking in terms of what I wanted to accomplish in the business, Eric talked in business terms, what do people want to see, what will people pay for? Pro Wrestling is a business, what can you do that people will pay to see you do? I really didn’t appreciate the opportunity I had as ‘The Apprentice’ Johnny Nitro. All I wanted to do at the time was wrestle.

Why do you think Dolph Ziggler hasn’t been given a main event push and what do you think it will take for that to happen?

Ziggler should wear a suit to TV tapings, wait outside Vince’s office to shake his hand & talk about deadlifts, tell HHH that he should be the lead Viking on that Viking TV show that the kids are watching, maybe less selling in the ring, more crossfit at home, paint his face, get bigger, forget how to work completely then remember half of what he forgot … I dunno?… he could start with all that or just accept that success in wrestling is usually a combination of luck and skill.

What do you think of you former tag team partner, Joey Mercury’s new on-air role in WWE which is kind of similar to what Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco did in the late 90s?

Love it. Every time I see Joey on TV I get so happy! That dude has lived wrestling his entire life & is a genius in wrestling psychology. Working with him in MNM was like teaming with a non annoying agent- haha. I couldn’t be happier to see him back with WWE in a fun on air role & as an agent behind the scenes as well. Of course if our paths ever crossed on-air, I’d have to let ‘Corporate Joe’ know what a sell out he became and how badly Joey Matthews would’ve kicked the crap out of Corporate Joe

We remember what happened at Armageddon in 2006 when Joey Mercury was struck in the face with a ladder during a spot in the match. What was your first reaction to seeing Joey like that?

I didn’t see the extent of the damage til after the match. When I got backstage Joey’s entire head what already wrapped in gauze. Melina was standing next to him crying, I teared up. When the adrenaline wears off the reality of living with injury sets in.NitroMercury

Do you have any favorite Doors songs and how much did Jim Morrison influence your character?

Huge Doors fan, huge fan of Jim Morrison; dude is an icon. The John Morrison character is obviously an homage to the Lizard King. My original finish as John Morrison: the Moonlight Drive. I got so into the Morrison character I started writing Morrison-esque poems in 2007 and posting them on my MySpace page- this is one of my favorites:

“The Brightest Star”

Acetylene torches hide in the shade
with nuclear explosions drinking lemonade
as flashbulbs retire and angels conspire
to get close to brightest star god ever made.
Howls in the distance,
blind men drunk with the light:
All scream, “We see you, though we are without sight.”
And I am their pilot
And I am their sun.
They remember my work backwards
They count:
three,
two,
one.
And as their sun raises its arms in a V
I know that the world turns only for me
For I am the center
and I am its soul,
and everything distant from me is so cold.

Another poem I wrote was titled “Starship Pain.”

When you split from The Miz, you were featured in a lot of good matches; you won the Intercontinental Championship and started to end up in many different World and WWE Championship matches. Was there ever a plan to make you a World Champion at some point? Did you ever get that impression that in a few years you would be in that position?

My plan was always to become World Champion, I felt at times I was months away, and at times I was years away.

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You pitched a fitness book to WWE in 2009, they decided not to publish your book through the WWE machine, why not?

I wanted to write a book about functional fitness and get into some autobiographical stuff as well, but the literary guys at WWE said they’d published an earlier fitness book that hadn’t done very well. So… I pitched a series of DVDs which they passed on as well but then said I could do a fitness product on my own if I wanted to. So… it took a while, but I did.

In 2010 I met Jeff Carrier at a gym and started talking about ideas for a functional virtual personal training system. We spent 2 years programming, coming up with exercises then we started filming everything. That’s where the difference between having the backing of a billion dollar company and producing your own program out of pocket is the most evident. We had to shoot at night in friends gyms and set up lights and backdrops and hustle to get it done.

The product we came up with Out Of Your Mind Fitness (www.ooymfitness.com) is the most comprehensive functional training program on the market. We focus on exercises that improve the body’s ability to do what it was meant to do; MOVE, run, jump, push, pull, twist. If you want more info on OOYM Fitness check out the YouTube www.OOYMFitness.com @OOYMFitness and Facebook.

You have been doing more independent shows recently; do you think independent wrestling is in a good state right now?

Yes. Do you think independent wrestling is in a good state right now? Do you think I should stay with Lucha Underground? Go Back to WWE? Post more videos about OOYM Fitness? Make more movies and wrestle less? Buy the rights to Suburban Commando and reboot the franchise? Cut my hair? Change my name some more? Tweet me your questions @TheRealMorrison!

You left WWE in December of 2011, why did you decide to start acting?

I was a film major at UC Davis. I’ve been a lifelong fan of 2 things, wrestling and film. In college I was studying all aspects of film; acting and production, and specifically, stunts. Action acting, like the stuff that Jackie Chan does really interested me. I wrestled in high school, and in college, but didn’t consider a career as a pro wrestler until I saw Tough Enough. I’d been preparing for an action acting career, making kung fu movies with my roommates like ‘The Foot of DEATH’ … a flick about a man with a very dangerous foot, ‘Kung Food’, a fast food restaurant where kung fu fights happen frequently… Hahaha… training in martial arts and movement based skill sets like breakdancing and gymnastics… I was doing all that when I saw Tough Enough season 1, I was like dayum! Pro Wrestling is the perfect combination of everything I wanted to do my whole life. I’d dreamed of being in the WWF when I was a kid… but seeing Tough Enough on MTV is what made me think of my dreams as a kid as a tangible career path. Wrestling is entertainment, so are movies, so is theatre, so as far as what influenced me to get into acting?… I like telling stories. I like entertaining. Acting is necessary to share my stories with people. Check out IMDB.

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Hennigan in Hercules Reborn

Have you had talks with TNA or Global Force Wrestling and what are your thoughts on the two companies?

I’m booked to wrestle Jeff Jarrett on December 6th, might talk a little talk about Global Force. TNA & I have had talks, I live in LA, Florida is far. Wrestling is a business, the more promotions the better, more opportunities for wrestlers to work. Both of those companies could be fun to work with. Right now I’m signed with Lucha Underground and I’m happy with where I’m at. Backstage is great, no drama, great shows, great people involved, and in my hometown of Los Angeles.

How do you psychologically prepare for the ring? Do you have to get in the right frame of mind?

Warm up. Stretch. Breathe. FIRE UP! enter.

You signed with Lucha Underground last month, and you are going to be working as Johnny Mundo. That should be airing near the end of the month on October 29th. What sets Lucha Underground apart from other wrestling shows and do you think it could succeed long term?

Johnny Mundo is going to rock the world on October 29!

Lucha Libre itself has a rich tradition and deep roots in Mexican culture, it has a powerful built in following. The stuff we’re doing in Lucha underground is going to put the rest of the wrestling world on blast! Prince Puma (Ricochet) Fenix, Pentagon Jr, King Cuerno, Drago, these guys can do things you won’t see anywhere else. I’ve been pushing myself every week to try moves I’ve never done before. What’s happening at Lucha Underground is exciting to me both as a wrestler and a fan. This is a melting pot of ideas from the best wrestlers, writers, and film production people in the world; we are creating a show that is defining itself and rapidly evolving every week.

I describe lucha sometimes as extreme acrobatics… What sets Lucha Underground apart is the extreme acrobatics of Lucha Libre with the story telling psychology of WWE, the culture of Mexico, and also the style of Robert Rodriguez which I think will be especially evident in the backstage vignettes which look like scenes from gritty action films. Chavo Guerrero, Big Ryck (Ezekiel Jackson), Konnan, the luchadors I mentioned earlier this whole promotion is made up of people who have creative ideas and want to contribute to a show that is going to be more entertaining than any other wrestling show in the world (Mundo). So yes. This show definitely has the potential to succeed long term. Will it? Damn right it will!

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Interview: Kane Discusses Triple H, Sting, Undertaker, Daniel Bryan & See No Evil 2

Interview conducted by Brett Buchanan and Mike Mazzarone

Kane is most known for being one of WWE’s longest tenured superstars, working for the company for nearly 20 years, and being one of the last active WWE wrestlers from the Attitude Era.  His legendary career has been a diverse one, doing everything from wrestling The Undertaker at WrestleMania, to tombstoning Pete Rose and being one half of ‘Team Hell No’ with Daniel Bryan.  Kane starred in his first film, See No Evil, in 2006, and now 8 years later he is back to reprise his role as Jacob Goodnight in See No Evil 2, set for release on VOD tomorrow, and Blu ray/DVD on Tuesday.

In this interview, Kane discusses his favorite horror characters, the possibility of a Kane origins film, his thoughts on Triple H’s leadership abilities, Daniel Bryan’s injury, a potential match with Sting, and his long list of travel partners over the years.

Who are some of your favorite horror characters and horror films in general, and how have they influenced how you portray Jacob Goodnight?

My favorite movie of all time is Silence of the Lambs. Of course Hannibal Lector I think is the greatest movie monster ever, whereas the other serial killers are just running around killing people, Hannibal is smarter than the rest of us, and that’s what makes him particularly terrifying. Also the first Halloween I thought was really well done, John Carpenter is a brilliant director. I really enjoyed the Nightmare on Elm Street series, because Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger was different, because you have the wisecracking monster.

I don’t know if any of them influenced my character Jacob Goodnight, because Jacob’s a little bit different, he’s like a hybrid. On the one hand he’s the large imposing Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, type of guy, but on the other hand he’s driven by different motivations than they are. He’s more of a real human being that has emotions, and has internal conflicts, and that sort of stuff. He is a little bit of the Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees physically, but when it comes to the other stuff, I just had to rely on my own.

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How much influence has Vince McMahon had on the See No Evil films, and have you ever discussed movies with Vince, and his vision for WWE films?

Talking about the original See No Evil, because of course that was WWE Studios’ first movie, we talked about that one more than we did this one. Vince has hired Michael Luici, Michael is a veteran in the film industry, and Michael I think has a really great vision for WWE Studios. Basically we do 15 day shoots, and concentrate on the genres that we know we’re going to be successful in, Vince of course is part of that as well. I would say that’s sort of the overall vision of WWE Studios moving forward. We’ve had some really great hits with The Call, the first See No Evil of course was commercially successful, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they’re going to do in the future as well.

What would you envision happening in a Kane origins movie? What backstories that we’ve seen discussed on TV over the years do you think would be shown in a film like that?

That actually would be quite interesting, wouldn’t it? Because the thing that made Kane so unique, and such a great character in WWE, is that he does have a backstory that’s unique to him. He’s a character within sort of the WWE Universe, and he’s a clearly defined character. So yeah, that would be really cool, because you could get into the whole history of what happened with Kane and The Undertaker as kids, so that would be interesting.

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You’ve talked quite a bit about your Libertarian views, endorsing Ron Paul in the last two elections. It was reported a few months ago that you were pursued to run in the Republican Senate primary in Tennessee, do you think you will ever run for office like fellow wrestling personalities Linda McMahon and Jesse Ventura have before you?

I don’t know (laughs). Politics is a very dirty, and rough business, and I don’t know if I’m cut out for it, so I really don’t know. That whole deal was more other people trying to talk me into it, than me wanting to pursue it on my own. But nevertheless, I don’t know in the future what’s going to happen.

Who have you enjoyed working with the most backstage when it comes to developing your character over the years, especially when it’s come to major character changes like the introduction of Kane, to going half masked, going unmasked, Corporate Kane, and so on.

There’s been a lot of people, and that’s one of the great things about WWE, everything’s a collaboration, and everyone has really good ideas, I don’t know if I can pinpoint one person. I think one of the big breaks of course from where I’d been before, was doing the Team Hell No stuff with Daniel Bryan. I really enjoyed that, and really liked working with him for that reason. Then of course The Undertaker has been extremely influential on my career, and helped me out a lot. He’s given me a lot of advice, a lot of the things you see on screen are actually his influences. But really it all boiled down to Vince, Vince is the guy that has the ideas, and puts them into motion, and we’re tasked with carrying it out. But overall I’d have to say that it really is a team effort, everything is.

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As Triple H has taken more of a leadership role in WWE, what have you thought of some of his initiatives like NXT, and did you ever think when you met him nearly 20 years ago that he would someday lead WWE?

He’s done a tremendous job with the Performance Center in Orlando, and with NXT. They have a great product, the guys that are coming out of there are really great. I was just thinking about that the other day, you could always tell there was something special about him. Certainly he knows the wrestling business like no one else, he’s got a fabulous mind. When you’re talking about people I’ve worked with who have influenced me as far as character development, he’s one of them. I don’t know which is more surprising, the fact that he’s in the role that he’s in, or that I’m still here in WWE 20 years later.

What was your and Undertaker’s process when it came to putting your matches together? Kurt Angle recently told us that when he worked with some of his key rivals half of the match would be structured, with the other half being improvised. What are your memories of working with Undertaker?

A lot of it is improvised, because you’ve got two guys who go out there and do it like that. I think that’s the best match actually, because you can gauge the audience, understand what they want, and go forward from there. A lot of it depends on what the venue is, because if it’s TV product, it’s a little different. I’d say that the chemistry between Undertaker and I, we gelled really well, I’d say that’s the most important thing, the fact that we were on the same wavelength regardless of how we were doing a match together.

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Many fans have speculated about a possible Sting/Undertaker match, but how would you feel about having a match and feud with Sting?

(Laughs) That would be a dream come true, because Sting is one of the guy who I looked up to when I was a youngster. The dude was the face of WCW, and before that the NWA, one of the most popular wrestlers in history. That would be pretty awesome, and I think that a Sting vs. Undertaker story would be awesome as well, because you would see the faces of two different companies from the same generation collide.

You’ve been in the WWE for 19 years, can you recall who you have traveled with over the years, and who some of your favorites were?

(Laughs) Yeah I’ve traveled with a lot of different guys. When I first started, I traveled with Barry Horowitz, many folks may not know who Barry is, but at the time they were doing a storyline where Barry finally won a match after not winning one in years. Then I traveled with Zeb Colter for a long time, I owe a lot of my career to him. He got me a break in Puerto Rico when he was booking, and when he came to WWE as Uncle Zeb, we traveled together. Traveled with Al Snow for awhile, from our days in Smoky Mountain Wrestling together as tag team partners. Then for awhile we had this crew, it was myself, D’lo Brown, Mark Henry, and The Rock, in a minivan, or some variation of those 4 guys. I traveled with Mick Foley for awhile, and I’ve also traveled a lot with Goldust.

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You’ve had some unforgettable character moments in WWE history like setting JR on fire, tombstoning Pete Rose, the wedding with Lita and the miscarriage with Snitsky, the Dr. Shelby segment, and many more. Out of your more comedic moments, which ones have been your favorites, and been the most fun?

The anger management stuff with Daniel Bryan, and also the wedding with Lita, although it wasn’t necessarily comedic, it sort of was, I think it was one of those immortal moments.

What were some of your favorite memories from working with Daniel Bryan, and did you know he was having injury issues when you wrestled him at Extreme Rules?

As a tag team, what was great about Daniel was the fact that we had such a contrast, we could do the Yes and No stuff, we could always do different stuff, and it worked. It was just so unique because you had two guys that were polar opposites and we would win matches by actually stepping on each other and doing that sort of stuff. It was really awesome, just some of the non-televised events, we would just go out there and have fun, and it was great.

I didn’t know the extent of his injury going into Extreme Rules, because he had sort of being dealing with that for awhile. He had some less invasive procedures to try to deal with it. It was just unfortunate, because that was the worst possible time that it could have happened for him, and I can’t wait for him to get back and be at full strength again.

Check out our recent interviews with Kurt Angle, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Jeff Hardy, Randy Couture, Eric Bischoff, and Hornswoggle in our Sports section.

Also check out our interviews with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Brett Dalton, The Flash’s Rick Cosnett, Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Jonathan Frakes, and Arrow’s John Barrowman in our Film & TV section.

Interview: Eric Bischoff Talks Vince Russo, John Cena Heel Turn, GFW & Stephanie McMahon

Last week AlternativeNation.net brought you Part 1 of of our interview with Eric Bischoff, where he discussed the narrative in the WWE Network’s new Monday Night War series, his plans for WCW had his deal to buy the company gone through in 2001, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall’s WCW contracts, being in talks with a wealthy Las Vegas venture capitalist just before going to TNA about launching a wrestling promotion, WCW and WWE’s announce teams, and why he hired Johnny Ace during WCW’s dying days.

Today we bring you Part 2, where Eric discusses Vince Russo’s opinions on analyzing wrestling ratings, how a John Cena heel turn would compare to Hulk Hogan’s, Global Force Wrestling, if Randy Savage really burned his bridge with the WWE, the similarities between Vince & Stephanie McMahon, David Arquette’s WCW title win, Ready to Rumble, Triple H’s leadership abilities, and much more. You can read Part 2 transcribed in its entirety below, and you can also listen to audio.  Also check out our recent interviews with Kurt Angle, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Jeff Hardy, and Hornswoggle.

I’ve seen guys like Vince Russo and Glenn Gilbertti talk a lot about minute by minute ratings to wrestling shows, and they have said that the trends show that the talking segments draw better than the matches. Obviously that’s from them seeing it, I haven’t seen those numbers myself, outside of a few wrestling shows. Having at one time run the largest wrestling promotion in North America, how close did you follow the minute by minutes, and did you notice any trends when it came to matches and talking segments? Did it ever affect the push of a wrestler?

There’s a saying you may have heard many times before, it would be good to revisit it as we venture into this topic: numbers lie, and liars use numbers. I can look at ratings, whether they be minute by minute or quarter hour, and I can twist and turn them if I am talking to people who really don’t know what they’re doing, and who really can’t understand exactly what they’re hearing, or don’t really have access to the information, or don’t have the experience to counter argue it. I can take minute-by-minute numbers, and I can make them tell you any story I want you want to be told. It’s bullshit.

Now, you can look at quarter hour over an extended period of time, whether it’s a month, 3 months, or 6 months, and you can identify a trend. You can find some consistency, if everything else is consistent around it, and you can start to determine what might really be working, and what’s not working. You may be able to do that on a show to show basis, but anybody who takes the position that minute by minutes define a character, or define a format, or a define a story, either don’t know what the hell they’re talking about, or they have just enough knowledge to be dangerous, which is generally the case, or they’re full of shit, and they know it. It’s insane.  The other part of your question was, did it ever influence me? No. It was one single piece of information, that’s all it was, one single piece of information that may or not have relevance in the context of an analysis of what you’re doing. But anybody who would sit down and say, ‘Oh the minute by minutes say that Joe Blow is doing great, and the talking segments are better’ is full of crap.

I will also tell you that I’ve been involved in a number of research projects, where you watch focus groups that are very well identified, and chosen, and you have large cross sections of qualified audience. I’ve sat on the other side of a two way mirror where I can literally watch them watch a show, and I’ve done this a number of times with very sophisticated research companies by the way, that ever major network uses, and watched that wrestling audience turn a dial either to the right, or to the left, based on what they liked, and how they were told to react. ‘So if you like what you see turn it all the way to the right, if you love it. If you kind of like it, turn it about halfway up. If you hate it, turn it all the way to the left.’ You sit in front of a group of 50 people, who are real wrestling fans, not a bunch of guys who are a member of one particular website, who have one particular way of looking at things. But you have a cross section of people who are weekly viewers, who watch once a month, who watch a little of this, a little of that. Some have strong feelings one way or the other, you get a good sample audience, and you sit and watch them in a room, and you watch those dials all be filtered into one dial test. You can sit back and look at their reaction superimposed on the actual images in the video that they’re looking at. Every single time I’ve done that, long talking segments tanked, they freaking tanked. Now, is anybody out there, including Vince Russo or Glenn Gilbertti, or Eric Bischoff, smart enough to outsmart really sophisticated cross section research, done in real time with proprietary technology that allows you to see it in real time? My answer is no, it’s just not.

I’ve never seen research that has come back to suggest that talking segments outperform wrestling segments. They’re necessary, don’t get me wrong, they’re absolutely necessary, and sometimes I’ve done them, and they’ve run too long, but they don’t outperform wrestling segments when the action is good. If the action doesn’t have a story behind it, or the characters don’t have good characters, if there hasn’t been any build and there’s not a good format, if it’s not a three act structure to the show, if there’s no overextending arc that takes the viewers on a ride and makes them want to come along on the journey, then yeah, a wrestling segment can suck. But if you do everything else right, there’s no way a talking segment is going to outperform good wrestling, unless you don’t know how to produce good wrestling.

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You mentioned focus groups as being a big thing you focus on when it comes to gauging what’s working and what isn’t, but what about the crowd? To me that’s something that’s really interesting, because obviously WCW at times were running at Disney. WWE today deal with kind of an interesting thing, because the product has been so boring for so long that you’ve got certain fans who are just trying to get themselves over, then you’ve got internet fans, it’s kind of very fragmented now. How did you listen to crowd reactions, and how did that play a part for you?

It’s a big part of it, it is another very useful piece of information, very useful, much more than minute by minutes. (Eric pretends to gag), even after [talking about that] it makes me angry, it’s so stupid, but I’ll get off of that (laughs). It is a very, very important thing, it’s real time research, and it can be very difficult to analyze, because crowds are different. Let’s take the soundstage crowds and set them off to the side, because that’s a whole different conversation. Even at the peak of Nitro, and the Attitude Era, that followed Nitro, by the way, even at the peak of the time, 97, 98, 99 for the WWE. Chicago had a little different feel than Miami, LA was certainly a big difference from a New York City Madison Square Garden crowd, Philadelphia was different from Boston, Boston was different from Minneapolis. So the experience of having played in front of those crowds, and written and produced and performed for those audiences, and their unique kind of geographical preferences, would sometimes shape, to a small degree, how you presented the product. Because the crowd’s reaction to what you presented is such an integral part to the message that’s received by the viewer that home.

I always use this as an example, imagine Ali vs. Frazier, the Thrilla in Manilla. It was an unbelievable, spectacular event, but imagine if those two same guys fought in a local YMCA. (Laughs) It’s not the same thing, the spectacle is a part of the show, the audience is a part of the show. I think Elvis Presley said it best, the best part of any show is the audience, it’s not the guy on the stage, it’s the audience, and the way they react. That’s what validates what’s going on, on the stage, and in wrestling’s case, it’s what’s going on in the ring. Imagine the greatest wrestling match you’ve ever watched. I don’t know what that is for you, let’s just pick Hogan vs. Rock, the PPV that they did, and the phenomenal reaction that they got. Imagine those two guys wrestling in front of 300 people and half of them are drunk. The people sitting at home would go, ‘Huh? Why am I watching this? I feel like an idiot.’  Conversely, when you get a giant crowd that’s engaged, and emotional, you kind of feel like you’re at a party, with 15,000 of your friends, just having a blast, and whether it’s concisely or subconscienly, you’re sitting at home by yourself or with a friend drinking a beer saying, ‘Wow, I wish I was there.’ That’s the importance of a good crowd.

Where are we today? To be honest with you, I don’t watch a lot of WWE, I don’t watch a lot of television period, unless it’s something that my company is producing, or something I want to research, and see what’s working, I just don’t. I do check in from WWE from time to time, especially if I hear that something is going on with someone that I know personally, then I will. But it’s hard now, with the WWE audience, the ‘CM Punk’ crowd, and chanting his name. They want to be on the show, they want attention, and that does take away sometimes from the product. I feel bad for the talent when that happens, because the guys in the ring are the ones that suffer the most, I mean the business suffers the most, but the guys in the ring are the ones that are suffering on the front lines, and that makes me feel bad for them.

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You mentioned Hogan and Rock in particular, and talking about the crowds, with those two the fans were crazy, and the crowd was great, because of those guys. I think now, the wrestling product is just not drawing that crowd any more, so you’re really left with the people who will watch no matter what, and those people are miserable watching it (laughs), so unfortunately you’ve got what’s going on. Hopefully it changes though, and that’s something I want to ask you about. Obviously WWE still do fantastic when it comes to their big shows like WrestleMania, but in general the Raw audience has been down. What do you think it will take to make wrestling relevant again? Do you think it will just take making a more compelling show, and not really having to change the whole model of professional wrestling? Or do you think the whole format just completely have to change, in order for wrestling to go to its next boom period?

Look, if I had the answer to that, I’d be living in a really nice house on a beach in Maui somewhere. I’d be phoning it in, and making a lot of people really wealthy, so I don’t have an answer to that, but here’s the truth as I see it. Whether it’s wrestling, or Sons of Anarchy, or Game of Thrones, whatever it is, it is first and foremost great story. It’s great characters that people really relate to, and it’s a great presentation. So does wrestling have to completely change everything? No, you don’t completely change anything. It wasn’t long ago when everybody pounding what they thought was the final nail within the industry of scripted television. You couldn’t sell a sitcom, you couldn’t give the away, you couldn’t sell drama, not even an action series on scripted television, because reality was so popular, and that’s where the audience shifted. Everybody put their eggs in the reality basket, and guess what happened? Reality got saturated, and then all of a sudden great scripted dramas started to emerge, thanks to networks like HBO, Showtime, and shows like Breaking Bad.

15 years ago when scripted television was on its last legs, and writers in Hollywood were looking for buildings to jump off of, nobody would have thought that that ever would have ever happened. But what happened was out of necessity, and trying to carve out a niche and survive, somebody that was smart started creating really great story, with really compelling characters. And it wasn’t a new formula, that formula has existed since Shakespeare, but everyone got away from it, and everyone got away from it long enough that when it came back, all of a sudden it felt like it was new again. I think something like that will probably happen with wrestling. I don’t know when, where or how, I wish I did, but at its core wrestling has always been great story, great characters. You’ve got to put that in context, what Dick Van Dyke was back in the day is what’s different from what Modern Family is now. But within the context that we’re speaking right now, it’s been great story, great characters, and a great presentation, and wrestling will find its way again.

But it’s not until producers, and writers, and decision makers, and people who have the vision and ability to manifest their vision, commit to great story. You have to create anticipation within that story, if the element of anticipation is not there; it is not going to work. You have to get the audience to want to look forward to the outcome of that story. If they don’t look forward to the outcome of it, then you’re wasting your time. So you’ve got to check the story box, you’ve got to commit to the story; you’ve got to check the anticipation box. Any story has to be real enough, and believable enough, that whether you’re watching wrestling, or a feature film with a $200 million budget, or you’re watching a porn, it has to have enough of a story that the audience can suspend their disbelief and enjoy it. If you can’t engage the audience because what they’re seeing is kind of believable within the context of their expectations, they’re not going to buy it.

Imagine if you went to a $100 million budget action film, and right during the most intense scene of the entire movie, you saw a boom mic dropped down into the shot. You’d go fuck, he just took me out of the moment! That’s unfortunately what happens so much in wrestling today, not enough commitment is being made to make those stories believable, which enables suspension of disbelief. So you’ve got story, anticipation, reality, you need surprise. You need to keep the audience off balance. When the formula becomes so saturated within the viewer, that they know what’s going to happen, you lose them.

You have to keep the audience off balance, and you have to do that within the context of everything else. But you need surprise, from all of the research that I did right before Nitro, that’s when my perspective really crystallized for me, there was one common denominator in that research when it came to people who identified themselves as wrestling fans. The one thing common denominator was that they really enjoyed about wrestling over other programming, was that you never knew what was going to happen. That’s one of the things that really compelled me to do things that had never been done before when I launched Nitro: Lex Luger, giving finishes away, going live, going backstage, having action take place on the backstage lot. All of those things had never been done before, and by doing them I created that feeling, ‘Holy crap, I’ve got to watch that show to see what’s going to happen.’ Then the last one obviously is action. It’s a wrestling show, you’ve got to have great action. Nowhere in that 5 element formula, story, anticipation, reality, surprise, and action, is there talking segments. That’s just a thread that kind of ties all 5 of the other elements together, but when you make that the kind of format heavy element of your show, you’re way off the mark.

johncena

Speaking of unpredictability, you turned Hulk Hogan heel, at a time where he appeared to be getting a bit stale. Right now John Cena’s at a position where a lot of fans that are clamoring to see him turn heel. The reports that come out are that WWE are hesitant because they think it might hurt merchandise sales, and things like that. You turned Hogan heel, your top star, how did that affect merchandise sales? Like how were nWo shirt sales compared to Hulkamania shirt sales? I’m just curious from your perspective, with Hogan.

You’ve got to put everything in the proper context, there were no nWo shirts for sale before I turned Hulk Hogan heel. One disadvantage I had when I launched Nitro, compared to WWE, is that they had very sophisticated licensing and merchandise, WCW didn’t have any. This is one of the reasons I had to guarantee contracts, because if I didn’t guarantee how much money somebody was going to make, there was no chance in hell they were going to make enough to live off of if it was in part based on licensing and merchandising that didn’t exist. It is it is, and was what it was, based on what I inherited, when I inherited it. But it was also an advantage, because I didn’t have to risk the same type of financial impact that for example WWE might be analyzing, ‘Okay, what happens if John Cena merchandise goes away?’ I didn’t have that challenge, because I wasn’t making any anyways. I had nowhere to go but up.

How much involvement did you have in the development of Ready to Rumble? I actually love the movie, some people don’t, but I think the characters come from your home town in the movie, so how much involvement did you have?

Initially I sold the idea. Initially I was the person that [talked with Warner Brothers executives], there were a couple of writers I sat with and went through the script with, and developed it, in very early stages. I kind of put the deal together with Warner Brothers and Turner, Time Warner at the time. So I was pretty involved in the very beginning of it, and was in fact asked to play myself.

The Titus Sinclair character?

[Joe Pantoliano], he went onto become an actor on the Sopranos, and had a really great career. I was originally asked to play myself in that role, and had every intention of doing so, but that’s when the transition happened with me, and I left WCW and it obviously went in a different direction, but initially I had quite a bit of involvement, but that only lasted a couple of months.

arquettenew

Speaking of Ready to Rumble, I know you’ve talked about David Arquette winning the belt, but I’m not sure if you’ve touched on this. It’s been said that it was Tony Schiavone’s idea for Arquette to win the belt. Do you recall that at all, that it was Tony’s idea?

For Arquette to win the belt?

Yeah, for Arquette to win the belt.

No, this is the first time I’ve ever heard that.

That’s what Russo says, that Schiavone suggested the idea, then Russo ran with it.

Well, isn’t that interesting, that he doesn’t want to take responsibility for it (laughs), so he passes the heat to Schiavone. That’s just downright hilarious. That’s the first time I’ve ever heard that, that’s great.

Whose idea was it to bring in Elisabeth to WCW, and how did Randy Savage feel about it at the time?

I can’t tell you how Randy felt, I can try and remember Randy’s reaction from my point of view, and it was positive. I think Randy and Liz, if I recall correctly, had clearly gotten over their personal issues, and gotten on with their lives. But Randy still had a deep affection for her, in a close friend kind of way, so there was no jilted husband wife animosity resent or jealousy, there was none of that. If anything, Randy was probably even moreso protective of her, like a big brother would be, like a good friend would be. As far as whose idea it was, I believe it was Hulk’s, to be honest with you.

hogansavagewcw

Speaking of that, what was the Hogan and Savage friendship like during WCW? Was it a keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer type thing? Or had they mended fences at the time?

Yeah, it was Hulk who said man, you’ve got reach out to Randy, Randy’s really miserable, he doesn’t want to just be an announcer, he’s got this huge Slim Jim deal that will come with him. It was Hulk, and I remember taking the phone call, I was changing planes in Detroit.  Some things I just remember vividly, that was one of them. He called me and said you’ve got to talk to Randy, kind of laid out the situation, I got his phone number and the rest his history. Once Randy got there, they were pretty tight.

They had their issues in the past, quite clearly, but they would often joke about it. It wasn’t like it was simmering on the edge, getting ready to boil over at any moment, that was not the case whatsoever. Now Randy being Randy, and I loved working with Randy and I miss him dearly, but Randy was an intense, wound up, super tight kind of guy. He would look for the hidden meaning, or the underlying intention about anything. If you said good morning to him, he would wonder what you were really thinking. It was just the nature of who he was. So there were times that the competitiveness reemerged, but for the most part it was a pretty friendly relationship.

Did you get any indication from Randy that he had burned his bridge with the WWF? Especially with the Slim Jim deal that you mentioned, because obviously he never went back there. Were you privy to any information about this?

No, I think the general attitudes, and feelings – I don’t want to suggest I know Vince McMahon, because I don’t. I’ve met him, I’ve worked with him, I’ve had some good conversations with him. I have what I think is a pretty good perspective and read on him, but by no means do I really know him or understand him completely, but I think at his core, Vince is a very loyal person. He understands the nature of the business, and the mentality in it. There have been so many times where people who have left, or left under good circumstances, or in many cases have done things that were pretty shitty to him, he’s brought them back, and given them a soft place to land. But, you don’t know that, until you land there (laughs), you don’t know until you come back. For the most part, I think the feeling was that once you leave Vince, and go to the competitor, that you had burned a bridge. I think in retrospect that’s not true, clearly, but at the time I think Randy’s perception was that it was over, it was done, and Vince would never bring him back.

Speaking of Randy’s brother, Lanny Poffo, he talks a lot about WCW paying him six figures a year, not doing any matches, I’m sure you know the whole story. What’s your perspective on the Lanny Poffo contract, did Randy ask you to put him under contract?

Yes. Randy took less money in a renegotiation, and made sure that Lanny got it, and that’s the truth.

What are your memories of working with Kevin Dunn?

I didn’t really interface too much with Kevin Dunn when I came to work. Occasionally, if there was something was was complex that needed quite a bit of rehearsal, and discussion, in a preproduction kind of way, I would interface with him as part of a group. I had no one on one with him, really the only conversations we had beyond rehearsal or preproduction notes were at the end of the show when the talent and some of the key production people would get together at the bar, Kevin would be there.

ericsteph

What are your memories of the segment on Smackdown where you kissed Stephanie McMahon?

(Laughs) That one I kind of remember because people keep sending it to me and going, “Wow, what were you thinking!?” So it’s kind of hard to forget it. My sense was that it was very unplanned, that it was kind of a spontaneous idea. It was weird, no doubt about it. That was not really part of my character, being a womanizer to that extent, or someone that would do that. I was always kind of a manipulative, smarmy, scamming, scheming, power hungry Ken doll. I was never the guy that was out trying to get laid (laughs), as a character. So it was kind of weird from that perspective. It was even more weird to have Vince McMahon directing the scene (laughs), that really made me feel awkward.

I came to learn really early in working with Vince, that he would never ask you to do something that he wouldn’t do himself. I really believe that to this day, and I believed it early on, and it became very apparent to me. Having watched some of the shit that he did, positions he put himself in as a character, things he let people do to him, I knew going in going in that he was a guy who was willing to put his money where his mouth was, so to speak, and he would never ask you to do something he wouldn’t do himself. Once you realize that, then you kind of cut through all the nonsense, ‘He’s trying to make me look bad.’ That stuff never occurred to me, to very honest.

The thing with Stephanie was a little too close to home, it was awkward, but it probably should have been. But once we got through the scene, and we were in the backstage area, it was fed live to the crowd, and I could hear the reaction of the crowd. I said, ‘Damn, this could be awesome. There’s some meat on this bone, there’s some story here. We could have fun with this.’ Just as quickly as it happened, it got dropped, and that was the end of it. I thought, okay, but, it was odd.

Did you see qualities in Triple H and Stephanie that made you think they could lead WWE one day? Because Kurt Angle told me a couple of weeks ago that Vince told him that Triple H is in charge now, obviously a blanket statement though.

When I was there, clearly Triple H had Vince’s ear to a degree, and I would be careful even to this day to quantify just how much of Vince’s ear anybody has, at any given moment, because Vince is a very strong, opinionated, experienced person, who has a great feel for things. He has a long track record of success, and failure, all of which he’s learned from. So I think he’s willing to listen to key people around him, I’m sure Triple H is one of them, as is as Stephanie, and I know Kevin Dunn is, and there may be others that I don’t even know about.

My impression is, this is obviously remote, I haven’t been there in a long time, does Vince has confidence in Triple H? Clearly, we’ve seen manifestations of that in the last couple of years, and Triple H is living up to Vince’s expectations I’m sure in many regards. But when I was there, as far as being in on the inner circle, Triple H was more talent than he was Vince’s right hand man. Vince was very, and probably still is, demanding of Stephanie. I think there’s one thing that I saw in Stephanie that made me think that she probably at some point could be Mini Me (laughs), so to speak, and I don’t mean that derisively, but she has a lot of Vince’s same personality traits and characteristics.

She’s super intense, she has an incredible work ethic, she is very strong willed, and she knows what she wants, and what she likes. I saw that when I watched her produce segments, I saw that when I watched her produce my segments. I watched that when I had her rehearse me over and over and over again, until she heard an inflection exactly the way she wanted to hear that inflection. That part of her personality is very similar to Vince’s, it was very very particular, so I saw indications of that early on, but I didn’t have an occasion to see that same thing out of Triple H, because he was probably 75% talent, and 25% in the circle so to speak.

jeffjarrett

What are your thoughts on Global Force Wrestling, and the news coming out that they are going to air a New Japan Pro Wrestling show on PPV in January?

I wish [Jeff Jarrett] the best, and I say that honestly and supportively. I hope that it works, I think people that are in the wrestling industry now, and people who wish they could break into the wrestling industry, and a lot of people that are watching wrestling, all hope that there is something more out there. So from that perspective of course, I want it to succeed. But the truth is I don’t know enough about New Japan Pro Wrestling any more, the New Japan Pro Wrestling that I used to work with when we were putting 80,000 people in the Tokyo Dome, is an entirely different company than it is today. So I just don’t know, the wrestling business in Japan is completely different today than it was back when I was heavily involved. So I just don’t know enough about it quite frankly to have any feel on how successful, or not successful, it could possibly be, but I have my fingers crossed, and I’ll be cheering him on.

What’s coming up with Bischoff Hervey Entertainment, do you think you could do another wrestling themed show again, like the celebrity wrestling one you did with Hulk?  Also what other projects does Bischoff Hervey Entertainment have coming up?

Unfortunately the television industry often requires complete confidentiality when you’re in the middle of producing a show, because the network, the ones who write the check, they want to break the news, and the promotion, on their time frame, and certainly not on Eric Bischoff and Jason Hervey’s. We are currently working on a show right now for a major outlet that will probably start seeing in a couple of weeks, that we’re really, really excited about. We’ve had three seasons of Devil’s Ride with Discovery, it’s been very successful, and we’re looking forward hopefully to a 4th season on that. We’ve probably got 6 different shows right now in various stages of development, with various networks, so we’ve really got a lot going on, in regards to television.

Bischoff Hervey Entertainment also owns a significant portion of a company called MX Gaming. MX Gaming is a celebrity branded online waged, and social, slot machine, and gaming company, where we take established celebrity brands, for example we’ve got: David Hasselhoff, Hulk Hogan, Dennis Rodman, James Dean, Joe Frazier, Chuck Frazier, Missing In Action. We’ve got a brand new graphic novel project that we’ve acquired the right to called Hell Paso. All of those are being developed and distributed as waged casino style games over in Europe, around the world, outside of the United States where it’s not legal. We’re also converting the same titles to social gaming platforms, and we’ll be making that formal announcement really soon once the site is up and 1000% functional, and that’s a really big step for us. As far as doing another wrestling show, contractually neither Jason nor I can get involved in any wrestling related project, but that window is coming to a close in the next 4, 5, to 6 months. So once that contractual kind of limitation is no longer there, you never know, never say never.

Interview: Eric Bischoff Talks Ted Turner, WCW 2001, Nash and Hall’s Contracts & WWE Network

Eric Bischoff is one of the most controversial figures in the history of professional wrestling, and like his book title says, controversy creates cash. Bischoff found massive success as the President of World Championship Wrestling in the 1990’s, with WCW’s flagship show Nitro beating the then WWF’s Monday Night Raw in the ratings for 84 consecutive weeks before eventually tumbling in the ratings in 1999. After WCW’s sale to Vince McMahon in 2001, Bischoff later worked for WWE as an on air talent, and for TNA Wrestling as Impact Wrestling‘s executive producer from 2010 to 2013. In Part 1 of this exclusive AlternativeNation.net Sports and Wrestling section interview, Bischoff discusses a variety of topics that he hasn’t often discussed in previous interviews. He discusses his criticism of the narrative in the WWE Network’s new Monday Night War series, his plans for WCW had his deal to buy the company gone through in 2001, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall’s WCW contracts, being in talks with a wealthy Las Vegas venture capitalist just before going to TNA about launching a wrestling promotion, WCW and WWE’s announce teams, and why he hired Johnny Ace during WCW’s dying days.  Audio of the interview is available within the article.

CLICK HERE to read Part 2, which focuses on pro wrestling TV ratings, focus groups, Vince Russo, Randy Savage, and Eric’s thoughts on a possible John Cena heel turn and if its comparable to Hulk Hogan’s 1996 heel turn. Also check out our recent interviews with Kurt Angle, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Jeff Hardy, and Hornswoggle.

bischoffnashhall

First off I wanted to talk about the new Monday Night War series on the WWE Network. I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but in case you haven’t, I’ll give you a CliffNotes version of it. They’ve really been painting WCW as the big bad villains even moreso than the past, with the narrative being that guys like Nash and Hall had to leave their beloved WWF for big bad Eric Bischoff who offered them a lot of money. There was also a part that was interesting where Vince McMahon kind of responded to an old quote from you, and said that to him, his business is personal. What do you think about this narrative that WWE is increasingly pushing on this documentary series?

Well it’s really hard for me to honestly respond without having personally seen it, but based on what you just described to me, it’s consistent with the false narrative that WWE has been engaged in, as well as a lot of the peripheral media that covers professional wrestling and entertainment. There are certain things that are based in fact, that no matter how hard WWE can, and try to change some of those facts, because they do have the platform re-educate those who either weren’t around paying close attention, or don’t see the other side of the true story to make up their own opinions, or own minds.

But here are a couple of facts that kind of shape that false narrative to the foundation. Number 1: Hall and Nash weren’t forced to leave their beloved WWE for anything, they chose to. They chose to leave WWE and come to WCW, not for the money, because the truth and the facts are that I probably didn’t offer them any more money than they were already making. I couldn’t really speak to this, because I wasn’t doing their taxes at the time, but I’m pretty sure that they were probably making more money. But the real reason I remember, having firsthand discussions with both of them, they didn’t leave WWE for the money. They left WWE to come to WCW for the lifestyle, because we had a maximum of 180 days in their contracts.

The WWE was running them much more than that, then you add travel on top of the actual days they were performing, they were running 300 plus days a year. That’s a fairly well documented schedule that I think many people that were in WWE at the time, if not now, would support. WCW wasn’t running that heavy of a schedule. We hadn’t built up our international business model, or our arena revenue model, enough to support that kind of schedule. Did they get a guaranteed amount of money that was probably close to equivalent, possibly slightly more than they were making at WWE? Yeah. But the narrative that they were forced to leave because I was offering them this huge vast amount of money is complete and utter nonsense. It’s just not true.

You mentioned that you didn’t offer them that much more than they were making in the WWF at the time. I’ve seen Kevin or Scott mention that they had some sort of contract where their pay got increased based on if other guys came in and had bigger contracts than them. Is that true or not?

That’s not true. Their contracts were their contracts, they didn’t automatically get bumped up prior to the termination of the contract, and the renegotiation of a new one. There was no language in their contract that guaranteed that they would be in the top 3 or top 5, or number 2, position in terms of their fees. It’s just not true.

When was the last time you remember talking to Ted Turner, or the last few conversations you had? Do you recall what they were about, and how Ted felt about WCW in 2000 and 2001?

Well I didn’t talk to Ted during that period of time. My first, and really only meaningful conversation with Ted, outside of company meetings and occasional Christmas party, and a hello, or bumping into an elevator or that type of thing, but my only real meaningful conversation with Ted occurred the day that Nitro was born. It’s been well documented, I didn’t even know that was going to happen when it happened, it wasn’t the intention of the meeting I was in with him, it was just spontaneous. After that, the only conversations I really had with Ted, there were only a handful of them, were congratulatory calls from him, and occasionally Scott Sassa or Brad Siegel was on the phone, and sometimes they would call me on Tuesday afternoon when the ratings would came in. But they were very short, very high spirited, and congratulatory type conversations. They weren’t conversations about the status of WCW, or plans, or any of that kind of thing.

Did you know at all what Ted’s perception of wrestling was around then, or if he ever later considered getting back into the business later? Because I forget who it was, it was maybe Larry Zbyszko, or somebody else from that generation, saying that Ted had called up [Jim Barnett] asking for advice about if wrestling was worth getting back into, and he had said, ‘No, Vince owns it now.’ So had you ever heard about Ted’s perception of WCW at the time, and wrestling after WCW, or no?

No. So many people, and wrestlers by nature, or even if they’re not wrestlers, but they live on the periphery of the wrestling business because they have dirt sites or they’re former wrestlers who are somehow trying to remain relevant, concoct these stories. I don’t know if it’s to try and get themselves over, and make themselves feel relevant, because that happens a lot, almost daily, or if it’s because these people live in an alternative universe and really believe what they’re saying. But look, when AOL Time Warner pulled the rug out from under Ted Turner, by the way, this is well documented in multiple long form interviews that Ted Turner has done on PBS and CBS, and a number of other long form interviews that he’s done in the past, but once the AOL Time Warner merger revealed itself for what it really was around 2000 or 2001, Ted Turner was effectively forced out of his own company. He didn’t have a network, he was no longer involved with the television business.

At about that same time, he made the decision, based on the interviews I’ve seen him do, and the books that I’ve read, and conversations that I’ve had quite frankly with people that were close to Ted, and have spoken to Ted himself, Ted was fed up with it, he was done with it. He dedicated himself to his charitable efforts, creating a merging buffalo business, and all of the philanthropy he was involved in, and still is. So the idea that Ted Turner would reach out to anybody and investigate the possibility of getting into the wrestling business is so absurd and bullshit, that I can’t believe anybody with any kind of credibility would throw that out there. It’s ridiculous.

hoganbischoffnew

Speaking of kind of wild stories, this is something I was told a few years ago. You can discount it if none of it’s true, from your point of view. A few years ago I spoke to Jerry Jarrett, and he kind of told me a vague story about you trying to launch a wrestling promotion in 2008 or 2009, supposedly Hulk Hogan was going to be involved. There was an LA investor who owned a soundstage on the Palms Casino property, and he was considering investing the 8 million projected start up cost. Jerry then claimed that he heard about it, and attempted to negotiate a spot for himself to run the company, instead of you, keep in mind this was all very vague, and then the whole thing fell through. Do you have any recollection of this, or trying to get a promotion going around this time period?

(Chuckles) Jerry Jarrett, what you just described to me, did you say you had that conversation with Jerry Jarrett?

Yeah, this was on Facebook with Jerry about 4 years ago. I always thought it was interesting, so I thought I would bring it up to you.

That just characterized the conversation, and framed and contextualized, the conversation we just had, about people who say this stuff, making their own brains believe it, and then engaging people in it. This the most absurd thing I’ve, well, the second most absurd thing I’ve heard in a couple of days now (Brett laughs). Look, have Hulk and I been approached by people in the past about starting a wrestling company? Of course we have, not recently by the way. But back in 2008 or 2009, yeah we actually did have a conversation with someone. A very well known and respected man, he has since passed away unfortunately, his name was Paul Henry. Paul Henry was not in Los Angeles, but in Las Vegas, which should kind of give you some indication of the validity of Jerry Jarrett’s story.

Jerry did mention that he owned a hotel, or actually a soundstage at a hotel.

He did not own a hotel.

A sound stage at a hotel, not a hotel.

He didn’t own a soundstage.

Then that part isn’t true I guess (laughs).

He made his money in the stock market, he was a venture capitalist, and he was a highly placed senior person in the Democratic Party, and actually worked for Harry Reid for a period of time. So nothing Jerry Jarrett told you from the very beginning of his bullshit, was true. (Chuckles) It’s silly. But the conversation, and discussions, and there were multiple ones, we had multiple meetings, and they took place over a period of months. The Palms hotel was never a topic of conversation. We determined that it wasn’t something that Hulk and I, or the group of people we were talking to, none of us felt good about the prospects of the effort. So we decided that it was just something that was fun to restore, and interesting, but the opportunity just wasn’t worth the risk, at any level. Jerry Jarrett had nothing to do with it. This is actually the first I’ve ever heard of that.

Well then it’s good to get your side of the story then, rather than just Jerry’s.

My side of the story are the facts, and I gave you some specifics as far as who was involved, and what was involved, and you can do your own research. Like I said, Paul Henry has since passed away, he did a couple of years ago, at a very early age. But a little bit of research will show you that nothing Jerry told you was true.

wcwbigbang

I think the fact that you gave me a name means something, so yeah. But moving prior to that back to WCW around 2001, I know you touched on this a bit in your shoot interview, but back in 2001 when you thought you were getting WCW with Fusient, what was your 5 year vision for WCW? Where did you see it going long term, aesthetic wise with the product, and the top stars?

I don’t know if there was a 5 year aesthetic plan, but there was a 5 year business plan. Clearly as part of the deal with Fusient Entertainment, we had distribution for the product on TBS, so we knew where we were going to be. Aesthetically, my opinions of what a wrestling show should look like, really haven’t varied much (chuckles) since 1994. It’s an event, and to feel like a big event it needs to be a quality first class production, much like the WWE is now, and like TNT was during its hey day during Nitro. That’s about as much as I can speak to in terms of what I might have been thinking about the aesthetics of the show. I would have never considered turning it into something smaller, or Throwback Thursday type of 1960’s or 70’s TV studio show, that would have never been in my thoughts or plans.

In terms the business plan, we had our work cut out for us. We knew that the first year or two would be a lot of re-branding, that’s why the original intention was to shut it down, and make it go away, and have a relaunch, to give people time to forget all of the horrible crap, or at least hope they would forget, all of the horrible crap they had been watching since 1999. Because it was a very very different product in 1999, 2000, and 2001 than it was in 1997 and 1998, and we knew that. We had to rebrand it. So going to the theory or philosophy that absence makes the heart grow fonder, we wanted to make it go away. We wanted people to want it to come back, and to build anticipation for it, and relaunch it much like a new TV serious would. So the original plan was for it to go away, the original plan would have been to really retool the roster, because clearly by that time it had become bloated. It had become populated with a lot of people who really shouldn’t have been on the roster in the first place. That’s not a disparaging comment about the talent or their efforts, but it needed a laser focused restructuring to get us to where we needed to be. So those were all things that we were well aware of when we engaged in the initial efforts to buy WCW.

johnnyace

What were your thoughts on Johnny Ace [John Laurinaitis]’s booking in WCW during its last few months? Were there big plans for him in the continuation of WCW, and later what did you think about his work in WWE?

Well interestingly enough, and I don’t know that too many people have ever covered this really, but I’m the one who brought Johnny Ace in, when we were still somewhat in control. I brought Johnny in, I had never worked with him personally, but he had a very good reputation as a finish guy. I had always throughout the years admired the, what I call the ‘three act structure,’ or ‘three dimensional finishes,’ that you would see in WWE. Our finishes at WCW, just culturally because of the pool of talent we were working with, and their experiences, it’s not a derisive remark, but people are a product of their own experiences, and there were very few people on my creative team who ever had really had any great experience with what I call a three act structured finish: a beginning, a middle, and an end. So when you see a finish it’s, ‘Oh man, this is it, oh no it’s not the end! But this is the end.’ Then of course the end is something completely different than either of the two previous acts in that finish would have led you to believe. They were complex, but they were simple, they were part of an overall story.

I have always, and still do, respect WWE’s ability to create that kind of drama at the very end of a match, because I think that’s the key to great story telling. I had heard that Johnny, because of his experience in Japan, and working with the Japanese, and from my own previous experience, I knew that the Japanese were also very good at three act finished, and the structure of a good three act finish. I did some exploring and had some conversations with people, and Johnny’s name just kept coming up. So I originally brought Johnny over to take over that role in WCW, not to be the head booker, not to be a talent relations guy, none of that. I brought him in really to be, quite honestly, my Pat Patterson, because that’s really what Pat’s great at, and is phenomenal at, he’s one of the best I’ve ever been around. So knowing I wasn’t going to get Pat Patterson (laughs), I thought okay, I’m going to bring Johnny in. That’s why I brought him in.

As far as what he did after I left, and what he did when I wasn’t there, I don’t have an opinion of it, because I don’t have the context of his real involvement. But I’ve always liked Johnny, and still do, we still stay in remote contact. We don’t see each other, but we still reach out to each other, and say hello to each other via text occasionally, and keep threatening to get together and have a beer, but it never works out scheduling wise. But I consider Johnny a good friend, and a very talented guy, and he went to WWE like anybody else does. Especially in the role he was in, it’s a freaking meat grinder. I don’t know how anybody can do it quite honestly.

miketenayangry

WCW had numerous announcers over the years including Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay, Bobby Heenan, Mongo, you, Larry Zbyszko, and later Scott Hudson and Mark Madden. How did you choose how to mix and match the announcers, especially on Nitro and Thunder, and how much direction did you give the announcers during the shows?

It depends on the announcer; they all required a different amount of handling. I brought Mike Tenay into the business, quite possibly. He was a bookie from Las Vegas who just happened to be a big wrestling fan, he was an uber fan who researched and studied not only what was going on in the United States, but what was going on in Mexico. He was very current and up to date, and knowledgeable, about the product over in Japan as well. So when I started adding that international element, when I brought the Luchadores into WCW Nitro, which had been the first time it had ever been done on that grand of a platform, and that consistently throughout a broadcast year, and as often with as many of them as I did it, but I knew it would take somebody who really understood the culture, who understood Lucha, and knew the history firsthand, and didn’t have to sit down and memorize stuff off of a (chuckles) then version of Wikileaks, or Wiki page, or whatever the hell it’s called.

Big difference (laughs).

Yeah, big difference, but you know what I mean. I needed someone who was really immersed in that, and Mike was that guy, but Mike’s role was never to be play by play. His role was to be the third man on the team who could interject that type of factual information and context into what we were seeing, because he was the only one who could. He eventually merged into play-by-play, and quite frankly, never been a big fan of that, because I don’t think that’s his strength. My intent was to let him do what he was great at, and as far as direction that I gave him, I gave him none, because I couldn’t. Other than to make sure that he stayed in his lane, so to speak, with regard to being the third man in the booth.

Mongo, I read some of the reactions recently to an answer that I gave during the RFVideo shoot thing. I guess I was asked about, ‘What was I thinking, what was the thought process behind bringing in Mongo McMichael.’ I must not have answered that very well, because people have seemed to zero in on that. I’ll take the opportunity to do it here, and apologies to guys at RFVideo by the way (chuckles), but Steve McMichael is a big personality, and by the way, he had an NFL Championship ring. He was a fun guy, now was he a wrestling fan? Yes, he was a wrestling fan. Was he a knowledgeable wrestling broadcaster? No, he wasn’t. But he was a big personality, with a big footprint in one of the largest media markets in the United States. He had that kind of corky, funny, but could be intense when he needed to be, kind of personality that made him a good fit, in my opinion.

There’s a lot of reasons why I did it, but there was no master plan. It was just like, ‘Wow, what if we take this really loud, kind of funny, giant Chicago Bear Super Bowl champion ass kicking guy from Texas who carries a Chihuahua, and put him in the booth.’ And by the way, he has since gone on to do broadcasting and those types of things in the Chicago market, it’s not like it was a completely ridiculous idea, but that was his role. Again with Mongo, I didn’t prep him much, he learned quickly what his role was. He didn’t try to be a wrestling expert, he didn’t try to be Bobby Heenan, he didn’t try to be play-by-play, he didn’t try to be the star of the show. He knew what his role was, and he improvised really well, and we didn’t flow, and that’s it. Was it the best choice in the world? Maybe not. Or maybe it really was, because it was part of what was going on when Nitro was hugely successful.

mongodog

I’m not sure how much WWE you watch now, but what do you think of today’s announce team of Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, and JBL, and especially how heavily they talk about Twitter? I’m sure your able to look at how they announce from the perspective of being a former announcer and former President with WCW. Do you think announcers should be storytellers or salesmen, or a mix of both, especially when it comes to those three guys?

It’s all of the above, and always has been. By the way, I think Jim Ross is a living legacy in terms of wrestling broadcasting, so let’s start this conversation with my opinion that Jim Ross is a living legacy, and always will be. With that said, go back and watch, and really listen, not to the PPV’s or Clash of the Champions, but go back and listen to a WCW Saturday Night show, or any of the syndicated shows that were taking place in the early 90’s. What you’ll hear is Jim Ross selling the magazine, Jim Ross selling the 1-900 line, Jim Ross selling tickets for your upcoming local event, Jim Ross selling whatever it is that WCW was selling at the time. Jim would literally sit down in pre-production and make a list of all the things he had to sell, so it was no different then than it is now, it’s just a little bit more constant now.

Yes, Twitter is constantly pushed in our face, but guess what? It is everywhere else too, it’s the nature of our world now. It doesn’t matter what you’re watching, unless it’s a drama series, but if it’s a sporting event, or most events, Twitter is constantly being shoved down your throat, because it’s part of the business. I’m sure that JBL, and I don’t really know Michael Cole, and I know Jerry Lawler, but I’m sure they’d rather be doing more storytelling, and more engagement in terms of what’s going on inside of the ring, but guess what? They’ve got a job to do. The nature of the business, the machine that exists, requires that they do what they do. It’s something you just have to accept, it’s not a personal choice, they have to do that.

I get having a Twitter hashtag on the screen, I understand that, but I think the main criticism that people have is that you don’t see them stop during Saturday Night Live and say they’re trending on Twitter. But I definitely get how they have to be salesmen as well.

But it’s a different audience, the wrestling audience has evolved over time. A large portion of the wrestling audience is just as interested in the stuff that’s going on behind the scenes, and the personal opinions of the wrestlers. Other than NASCAR, and maybe Major League Baseball and the NFL, I’ve never seen such obsessively compulsed fans who want more than they’re getting on the screen. Which is why dirt sheets have always existed, and opinion pages and websites talking about wrestling, even though there isn’t really much to talk about because they don’t have access. There’s some really crappy garbage sites out there that are produced by people who claim to have all of this inside information, and break all of these great news stories. They’re so full of shit, they should be embarrassed, but they exist at 10 cents a click, or a penny a click, or whatever it is the amount of money they make, by creating this perception that they have inside information. People who just can’t get enough wrestling gravitate towards that, and they make livings doing that. But it’s because of the nature of the wrestling fans, or at least enough of a percentage of them, that a number of these sites, including yours to a certain extent, can make a living doing it.

bischofffinger

Part 2 will be released on Monday in our Sports and Wrestling sections, and it will focus on pro wrestling TV ratings, focus groups, Vince Russo, Randy Savage, and his thoughts on a possible John Cena heel turn and if its comparable to Hulk Hogan’s 1996 heel turn. Also check out our recent interviews with Kurt Angle, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Jeff Hardy, and Hornswoggle.

Interview: Kurt Angle Talks Vince McMahon, Triple H, Chris Benoit & Reveals Retirement Plans

All WWE photos are property of WWE, and all TNA Wrestling photos are property of TNA Wrestling

Kurt Angle’s contract with TNA Wrestling expired just days ago, and the wrestling legend’s career is at a crossroads, with many wondering what his next move will be.  In this exclusive interview with AlternativeNation.net, Angle hints at where his next contract might be, reveals when he will retire, discusses recently speaking with Vince McMahon, reveals Triple H’s real role in WWE, and describes a recent conversation he had with Dixie Carter about TNA’s future on television.  He also discusses Chris Benoit, Eric Bischoff, Vince Russo, Hulk Hogan, an MMA fight he almost had with Randy Couture, and Jeff Jarrett’s Global Force Wrestling. Also check out our recent interviews with Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Jeff Hardy, and Hornswoggle.

What’s next for you in your wrestling career?

I can’t really say who I’m going with yet or what company I’m going to sign with. I am going to sign, but I’m going to just sign for 1 year, and that’s that. I think I’m pretty much done, I’m just going to have the best year I can have. Hopefully it’ll be my best year, then I’m going to retire.

When do you forsee making an announcement? Because you said before you’d make an announcement sometime in late September.

Yeah, I don’t plan on doing anything until January, so pretty much my contract will expire, and the next one will start in January. My knee has a lot to do with it, with my rehabilitation I won’t be cleared to wrestle until January.

You had said before that your contract expired this month, and you said you don’t have an announcement regarding where you’re going to go. What do you think you’ll be doing for the remainder of the year? Will you appear at Bound For Glory and do more with TNA, or are you basically done with them at this point?

I did TV’s for the next 2 months, we just recorded them last week, so I will be doing more with TNA. My decision to go with the company I’m going to go with, we’re going to pretty much have a press release and set up a press conference, that will be in the next few weeks. The contract should be done, signed, and completed. Wherever I go, it is going to start in January, but I will be doing some stuff for TNA. I will not be at Bound For Glory due to contractual disputes. But the company I’m going to go with, I’m going to give them my best year. I’m going with the company that really wants to take care of me.

For your last year wrestling, what type of schedule do you envision doing? Will you be full time just going completely at it, or for select matches, part time? What time of schedule do you forsee doing for your final year in the business?

I went with the company that was going to really emphasize what I wanted, and that was a limited wrestling schedule. I would say no more than 40 dates a year, that’s what I wanted, that’s where I feel I am at in my career right now. That’s a lot of the reason, like I said, the company that I’m signing with is a company that really wanted to take care of me, both from a wrestling standpoint and a financial standpoint, and I’m very happy with it.

Now is this is a situation where you’ll be signing soon, but haven’t yet?

Yes, the agreement has been made; it’s just that our attorneys have to complete all of the bullcrap that goes with it. Both sides have agreed to it, we’re just waiting for the attorneys to dot the I’s, and cross the T’s.

kurtangletnalockdown

When it comes to TNA’s taping schedule, did you find the recent one kind of weird, with 2 months of TV being taped, even after Bound For Glory. Do you find it kind of weird that you may be on TV after your contact having expired with TNA?

I don’t find it weird, I think TNA is in a stage right now – there a lot of rumors on the internet and social media about TNA not having a TV deal domestically. I don’t think it’s an issue of a network not wanting them, I think it’s an issue of where they want to go, where they will be best promoted, where they can expand more worldwide and internationally, with a network that is domestic. I believe that they have a few different offers on the table, they are just trying to be very discreet about which one they want to go with that will be the best fit for them.

TNA signed a deal with UTA to be their representative, and I think it was a great move. Before they just did the deals by themselves, and they needed someone to show them that they had more value, and that they should be a little more choosy about what they do. Not that Spike is a bad decision, but I think the promotion for TNA could be better. We’ve had a great run with Spike, and whether we continue with them or not, it’s really about how the network can promote TNA, outside of just the TV show.

How has management been communicating with you guys regarding the TV deal? Because obviously there’s the extension until the end of December, but reports have come out that TNA will not be staying on Spike after that. Who has been communicating with the talent regarding the status of the TV deal, and letting talent know that negotiations are going on? Has it been Dixie Carter or John Gaburick?

Well at the TV’s we just did, Dixie Carter and ‘Big’ John Gaburick sat the talent down and eased their minds a little bit, because I think a lot of the talent were a little bit confused and nervous regarding what was going on. I had a private sit down with Dixie, she reassured me of what was going on, and what her plans were. It was a good meeting, it was a very positive meeting. She just knows that the next deal that they sign really has to help benefit TNA, in every regard.

When it comes down to it, it is about money, and it is also about how you can get promoted on that network. I won’t say that Spike did a bad job, but I will say that Spike could have done better. If it is going to be Spike, and I don’t know, because Dixie really wouldn’t say who it was, they’re going to have to do a better job. I know that that’s where TNA is right now. They’re in a period where they’re budgeting because they don’t have the money from the network to pay for the TV shows. I believe Panda Energy is funding the show right now, so yes, we’re going to have to do TV tapings in the same city 2 or 3 days at a time until we get to the point where we can go live again, and that will be when the TV deal is done.

kurtangledixiecarter

You mentioned that you think that Panda Energy now are funding a lot of the shows, to your knowledge, were Spike ever funding part of your contract?

No, Spike was never funding my contract. It was all done through TNA and Panda Energy. I know there are rumors that they were, obviously due to the amount that I was getting, but I don’t believe that Spike was funding anybody’s contract. I heard rumors that they were funding Hogan, Sting, and myself, but as far as I know from my perspective, I know where my paychecks came, and they didn’t come from Spike.

What are your thoughts on Jeff Jarrett’s Global Force Wrestling, and what it might do for the business?

I think Jeff knows what he’s doing, I think he has enough experience to start another promotion. I’ve never had a problem with Jeff from a business perspective, I think that he can do it. I think it’s going to be that much harder because you already have WWE and TNA, and they’re both obviously here to stay, at least for the next few years. I think that if anybody can do it, it’s Jeff Jarrett.

I know that he has some great people behind him; he has a lot of investors. I also know that he’s already been traveling all over the world, because he knows the best way to keep a company running is TV deals. I know that he’s been around the world and traveling trying to nail down some TV deals, just like TNA has. That is where most of your revenue comes from, you want to say live events help, but if you’re not drawing a certain amount of people, you’re not making money at live events. So when it comes down to it, I think that TV deals are the way you are going to make money.

kurtanglevince

Now without revealing how the conversations went with WWE, did you get to reconnect with anybody during this period of your contract coming up? Was there anybody you talked to there specifically about potentially returning?

The only person that I really spoke my piece with, that I had a lot to do with in the past, and the problems I had and the way I left the company, I was able to speak my piece with Vince, and I’m happy with that. As long as Vince and I don’t have any issues, I’m okay with that. What I found out is that Triple H is pretty much running the show now. I didn’t know that, I really believed that Vince would always run the show until the day he died, but now they’re in a position as a publicly traded company where you’re not only answering to Vince and Triple H, you’re also answering to the shareholders.

So there’s a lot of decisions they have to make not just for themselves, but for the people that are invested in the company. So it’s a publicly traded company, and there’s people they have to answer to, but I know when I was there, Vince McMahon never had to answer to anyone. He made the final decision regardless, even when they started as a public company. Now things are a little tougher for them to make chancy decisions. The most important thing is that I got to speak to Vince, and speak my piece with him, and I’m happy with that.

Even if you’re not going back to WWE, could you ever imagine going into the Hall of Fame there? Is that something you discussed with Vince, or no?

Yeah, like I said, I’m not going to say where I’m heading next, but the Hall of Fame would definitely be an option; I’m not going to count that out. It’s a big honor, it would be important to me. Is it the most important thing? No. Obviously being inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and International Wrestling Hall of Fame for Olympic style wrestling is the most important thing to me. But it is still important to me, because I’ve definitely made a legacy for myself in pro wrestling, and I take a lot of pride in it, I love the business. The Hall of Fame would be nice. Would it be the end of the world if I wasn’t inducted? No, but it would be an honor.

What were your thoughts on Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff in TNA? A lot of things happened during that era: TNA moved to Mondays during a brief time, they took Impact on the road. Obviously TNA did not grow significantly during that period, but what were your thoughts on what Hogan and Bischoff brought to the table in TNA?

I never had a problem personally with Bischoff and Hogan. I actually love Hulk Hogan, he’s a very good friend of mine, he always will be. With Bischoff, I didn’t have an issue with how he ran the show, I just had an issue with what he did with me personally. When you have a face of a company that is most likely getting paid a lot more than anybody else, and you reduce him to maybe a pretape a show, or one match that is really not significant, and you find out that your top guy in the company is just doing jobs every week. Not that I mind doing that, but there was really nothing behind me.  With that, I kind of gave it that ‘I don’t care’ attitude. I said, ‘They don’t want to do anything with me, then fine, I’ll just collect my paycheck,’ and I’m not that kind of person. So Bischoff, I thought he did a good job, but with me? No, he didn’t. He made me lose my passion, and that’s my fault.

When ‘Big’ John Gaburick came in, John knew the importance of me, and he made me care about it again. I think Dixie Carter made a great move in bringing ‘Big’ in. He knew I was the face of the company, he knew I was a guy he needed to keep, or make me happy. He really has done a great job, he does care about the talent, and he has a vision. Does he have experience in talent relations and creativity? No. But I think him getting everything thrown at him, he’s done a tremendous job. So I applaud Dixie Carter for bringing him in, I think he is the biggest positive step we’ve made in the past couple of years. I think with John Gaburick in charge, the company does have a future.

kurtanglehulkhogan

What were your thoughts on working with Vince Russo, and what did you think of his recent secret return to the company?

I love Vince Russo, that’s my personal opinion. Vince knew my value, he obviously made me the big topic of the show, he evolved everything around me. Not that I needed to have that all the time, I’m a team players so I’ll do whatever it takes to make the show better, but Vince and I were great. I got along with him as much as I got along with Brian Gerwitz, the writer in WWE. I always speak highly of Vince Russo, I can’t really speak about the issues he’s had with TNA, but my personal issues with him have been very positive and good.

kurtanglecowboy

Speaking of your character, what do you think about the humor from your character kind of going away the last few years?  Like the old tiny hat type bits, is that something you’d like to get back to?

I hope so, I would love to do that. I loved playing that character, but there was a time where Vince McMahon felt it was time for me to take a more serious approach. We kind of went away from that character, and I never really went back, and that was Vince’s call. I’m going to respect whatever he wants, he’s Vince McMahon. He wanted me to be more of an ass kicker, and more of a serious character, and I understood that.

But at the same time, you don’t really have to make an Olympic Gold Medalist, who is a legitimate bad ass, a serious character all of the time because you can do a lot of things with that character, because he really is a legitimate bad ass. Regardless of whether he is a goofball or not, he’s going to go out in the ring and get the job done. So although I agreed with Vince McMahon on making me more serious, there wasn’t any reason why I couldn’t go back to doing the funny stuff. I think wrestling is kind of missing that now, and I really enjoyed that stuff, I really did, especially with Austin.

kurtanglesharmell

Speaking of your comedy work, there was a lot of funny stuff near the end of your WWE run like the bestiality angle with Booker T and Sharmell, I always get a kick out of watching that hype video. Also making Jesus tap out, that promo in 2006 (Kurt laughs). For those types of promos, who was coming up with them, and what were your thoughts on doing them?

I absolutely loved it, it’s what really makes wrestling entertaining. Brian Gerwitz was the writer, he came up with all of my dialog. There was a point in WWE where I couldn’t wait to see what I was doing next; it was just so intriguing and exciting. I have to give a lot of credit to the writers, to Brian and the whole writing team up in WWE. They always came up with something new and fresh, and it was exciting to be able to do that, and it was challenging.

I was never really a goofball (laughs), I was never really a funny person in my life until I started in pro wrestling. For some reason, they thought that that was the direction they wanted to go with me, and I was fine with it. It really brought out a different person inside of me, and showed me that I could do comedy as well as I could do anything else. So I really am glad I did it, I would love to go back to it, I just don’t know if it’s ever going to happen.

kurtanglechrisbenoit

Some of your best work in wrestling, now with the WWE Network, it’s all out there for the fans to see. Some of your work that hasn’t been seen in a long time is your matches with Chris Benoit, they’re all on the Network now, classic matches like WrestleMania 17 and Royal Rumble 2003. What are your memories of working with Chris, and what was your process of putting some of those matches together? Would you wing a lot of it in the ring, or plan a lot of it out? What was your creative process with Chris?

Chris was a very quiet individual, he was an amazing professional. The reason I had so many great matches with Chris Benoit is because him and I mirrored each other. The aggression, and the ability, it was all there. I don’t think there are two wrestlers like him and myself; I don’t think there ever will be. But the reason we had such great chemistry was because of our abilities, but at the same time guys I worked with like Undertaker, Triple H, and Stone Cold really helped me.

At the beginning, I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know about psychology, I had a very small repertoire of moves, these guys really carried me through the matches at the beginning, and I listened. I was just a good student; I was a student of the game. The more they showed me, and the more I did in these matches, the more I learned and understood psychology. By the time I had programs with Chris, I was structuring the matches, and Chris allowed me to.

So I’d say 50% of it was structured, and the other 50% we improvised out there. But I pretty much put the structure together and Chris allowed me to, which I thought was great, that he had the faith in me even though I was just a year and a half into the business. A guy like Chris Benoit, who I consider to be one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, allowed me to do that. It gave me security, because I was making it up, which means the whole structure of the match was in my head all day, I didn’t have to go off the fly. Chris I think was a better wrestler to improvise, so the improvisation in the matches was him, and the structure of the matches were me. When you brought those together, you have an incredible product.

Now when it comes to MMA, obviously you said you’re retiring a year from now, so MMA may never happen for you now, but who would be some fantasy opponents for you in the MMA world, past and present?

The only ones- I wish I could say now, but there’s just no chance of me doing it now. But I’ve always wanted to fight Randy Couture, who was one of my teammates on the Olympic team. I was a big fan of Chuck Liddell, I would have loved to have fought Chuck. Anderson Silva would have been a great challenge; I thought he was pound for pound the best fighter in the world at his peak. Obviously I’d have to lose some weight to fight him, I would be willing to. There are so many great fighters, but I would say the old school guys from when the popularity really started to take off, like Tito Ortiz, Randy Couture, and Chuck Liddell.

It’s a shame that it never happened with Couture. I talked with him a month or so ago, and asked if he was interested in coming into wrestling, and he said no, and obviously you can’t do MMA now (Kurt laughs), so you missed each others paths unfortunately.

We had a fight signed, it just never happened. It was for a promotion out in California, Rico Chiapparelli was in charge of it. We both signed a non disclosure agreement for 3 months, and it just never came to fruition. Then I had Randy ask Dana White to see if there was a possibility of him and I fighting, and we didn’t get any interest from Dana.

anglebryan

I know this is kind of generic, but in a perfect world where you could be in any promotion, who would you like to wrestle before you retire?

I would say right now the wrestlers are MVP, EC3, Bray Wyatt, Roman Reigns, definitely Rusev is one of the top ones, and last but not least, I think we would probably have the greatest match of all time, and that would be Daniel Bryan.

They have Jack Swagger kind of doing your gimmick right now in WWE, so that might fit you to feud with him.

I would love to do a program with Jack, I just don’t know what they’re doing with him, and what direction they want to go with Jack. He’s talented, I just don’t know if he’s at the level that he could be.

Top 10 Wrestling Portrait Paintings

Rob Schamberger is widely regarded as the top wrestling portrait artist around today, and we have compiled a list of his Top 10 Wrestler Portraits, with commentary on each from Rob himself. For more on Rob, go to his website.

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10. Ultimate Warrior

I did portraits of all of the inductees into the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2014, and this was Warrior’s. His face paint gives me a lot to work with visually and his persona even more. This was largely a wet-on-wet piece, meaning I would put down water for the area I wanted a tone or color, and then I dropped in the ink or liquid acrylic paint and let it spider out into the water. The ink and paint stay within the water, giving a fun effect. I’m told this was a favorite at the WWE headquarters, and Warrior liked it a lot as well.

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9. Ultimate Warrior

This one was done for Warrior’s agent as a thank you for brokering the deal that gave me the honor of painting the jacket The Ultimate Warrior wore in his final appearance on Raw, and the painting is of him from that night. This was a really emotional one to do, naturally. I talked with Warrior quite a bit leading up to WrestleMania XXX and even got to watch the show from his private box. His passing hit me hard, but not nearly as hard as those who were truly close to him. The paint dripped on it was the same paint used to make the jacket.

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8. Roddy Piper

A pretty straight-forward ink and watercolor piece, but I think it shows how I try to not just make the portrait look like the subject, but FEEL like them, too. Piper is known for his loud, abrasive mouth, and I think this captured that nicely.

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7. Stone Cold Steve Austin

It just makes you want to throw your hands up and say, “OH HELL YEAH”, doesn’t it? Stone Cold’s actually really hard to paint, due to his bald head and naturally blonde hair, which makes it disappear in the light sometimes. What little is left I have to get exactly right or the likeness isn’t there. I did another portrait of him live at SummerSlam and he threatened to give me a Stunner if I screwed it up. Luckily I brought him some beer when I showed it to him, so I avoided that fate!

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6. Randy Savage

A lot of people really gravitated to this Macho Man piece, I think because it showed a different side to him. His over-the-top persona and costumes make him one of the most fun to paint, but this didn’t really have either of those and showed a Randy you didn’t really get to see when the cameras were on him. His brother Lanny told me this reminded him a lot of how he liked to remember Randy.

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5. Mick Foley

Mick Foley’s another favorite to paint. His various personas are all visually captivating, and I wanted to pull on my appreciation of comic book art and 1950’s magazine illustration to show the violence inherent in all of those personas. I limited it to black, white and red, making a really stark piece that jumps right into your face. It’s funny, because Mick is one of the most caring and warm people I’ve met, and he’s asked me to do a piece of him as Santa Claus which I’m looking forward to!

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4. Bret Hart

This Bret Hart piece was fun to do stylistically. It was a mix of the wet-on-wet stuff for the background with traditional watercolors for the figure, trying to show the energy that came off of this Hall-of-Famer. His niece Natalya got this from me and surprised him with it as a gift. He said it reminded him of the dreams he had as a younger man. This is a special one to me.

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3. Eddie Guerrero

Grown-ass men aren’t supposed to talk about this sort of thing, but when Eddie Guerrero tragically and suddenly passed away I cried. It was actually the last time I’ve ever cried, but it was a really visceral emotion that came out of me. When I had this penciled out on the canvas, it was sitting on the easel in front of me and I was kind of stuck on the approach I wanted to take with it. Behind my chair in my studio is a glass block window, and the way the refracted light came through it at that moment created a perfect halo around Eddie’s head on the canvas, and right then I knew exactly what to do with it. I used a mix of styles on it, vibing off of cholo graffiti and traditional portraiture. I think this is one of my very best I’ve done to date.

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2. CM Punk

I’ve done a lot of CM Punk paintings, and this one may be the last for a while. This was done not too long before he parted ways with WWE, and I knew I wanted to push myself in a big way on it as I felt I’d pretty much said everything about the CM Punk character up to that point. I did the figure all with grey tones, and then went over that with liquid acrylic for his many tattoos, creating a tattoo map of sorts. Black and white with spot color has been done to death, but it works for a reason when done right and I think I did it right with this portrait.

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1. Daniel Bryan

Daniel Bryan’s beard is so fun to do visually, but it can also distract from his facial features. To balance that out, I did some wet-on-wet watercolors in a horizontal swath going across his eyes and let it drip down a little too, then balanced it out with the blacks, which are sweeping vertically. It’s a fun composition. At WrestleMania XXX I was in the club set up for friends and family and saw an older lady and a three- or four-year-old girl trying to move a couch, so I jumped up and moved it for them, then went back to where I was seated. In the main event of the show after Bryan won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, he jumped down and gave his mom a hug – the same lady I had helped earlier that night! On the bus ride back after the show I was sitting next to her and it was clear how proud she was of her son. Wrestling’s awesome.

WWE Night of Champions 2014 GIF Review

Alex Riley On The Pre-Show:

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Booker T Not Saying “Tell Me, I Didn’t Just See That” After Goldust & Stardust Interview:

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Christian & Chris Jericho On The Peep Show:

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Randy Orton On The Peep Show:

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GoldenStarDust defeated The Usos To Win The Tag Team Titles:

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Sheamus defeated Cesaro To Retain The United States Title:

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When I Heard The World’s Biggest Country Star Was Coming Out:

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The Miz defeated Dolph Ziggler To Win The Intercontinental Title:

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The Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins Brawl:

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The Guy Who Will Finally Beat Rusev:

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Randy Orton defeated Chris Jericho:

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John Cena defeated Brock Lesnar via DQ in a WWE Championship Match, then Seth Rollins failed to cash in his briefcase:

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Wrestling’s Biggest Missed Opportunities

While professional wrestling has had its classic moments and legendary wrestlers over the years, many great talents have missed their opportunities, and many potentially great storylines have been blown. Below are some of them.

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ECW’s 2006 Revival

ECW’s 2006 revival was arguably one of the most anticipated events in wrestling post Attitude Era.  In the 5 years since ECW had closed, the company had gained a legion of fans due to WWE’s DVD release highlighting the company, and the ECW One Night Stand 2005 PPV.  The buzz around ECW’s comeback even pushed Raw’s ratings over a 4.0, and ECW’s debut episode on SciFi on June 13, 2006 scored a 2.9 rating, handily beating Smackdown’s 2.0 that week.  The new ECW though felt very watered down, and fans quickly abandoned the show and WWE finally killed ECW dead for good.

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Sean O’Haire

Sean O’Haire showed promise during WCW’s dying days, and his WWE ‘Devil’s Advocate’ character in 2003 seemed poised for stardom, but hey, I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.  He had the look, the charisma, and his vignettes/promos with the character were great, discussing hot button issues like religion, drugs, taxes, and patriotism.  O’Haire was paired with Roddy Piper when Piper returned to WWE, but after Piper’s run ended in summer 2003 O’Haire fell out of favor with the company.  O’Haire tragically committed suicide last week.

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Monty Brown

“The Alpha Male” Monty Brown was one of TNA’s standouts in the mid 2000’s, and seemed on his way to becoming TNA’s first real crossover star.  Brown’s NFL past, athleticism, and dynamic character pushed him into a world title match at TNA Final Resolution 2005 after defeating DDP and Kevin Nash, but Brown lost the title match to Jeff Jarrett and turned heel a couple months later to be his sidekick.  Brown never came close to the world title again, leaving TNA in 2006 and then going to WWE for a short run under the name Marcus Cor Von.

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Hulk Hogan’s TNA Run

For a variety of reasons, the Hogan/Bischoff era flopped for TNA.  The big problem with Hogan’s TNA run (character wise) was that they used him every week as an authority figure/GM, killing his mystique and drawing power.  Hogan also only had two matches in TNA, and if his health was so poor that he couldn’t actually wrestle, then why did they sign him in the first place?  A better use of Hogan in TNA would have been to appear every couple of months to build to tag team/six man tag matches where he could get the hot tag and never bump, while adding his name value to a match to help the numbers and give the rub to the other wrestlers in the match.

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The nWo’s Run in WWE

The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan was a magical match, one of the most memorable in the history of professional wrestling, but ultimately the original nWo’s comeback in 2002 only lasted one month before Hogan was out.  One can only imagine what the nWo could have added to the Invasion storyline if they had come in several months earlier.

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The 2001 Invasion Storyline

While in hindsight, the WWF in 2001/the Invasion storyline was far better than anything seen on wrestling television in the last decade, it easily could have been the greatest storyline in the history of professional wrestling if the right talent had been present.  DDP and Booker T were the only top level WCW guys who were apart of the storyline, with the likes of Goldberg, Kevin Nash, Hulk Hogan, Sting, Ric Flair, and many others sitting out their AOL Time Warner deals.  Even by bringing in just Goldberg out of that group, WWF could have done huge business with Austin/Goldberg alone and even having him leading Team WCW would have given the storyline more credibility.

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Not Doing Hogan vs. Austin In 2002/2003

Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin only crossed paths as active wrestlers (outside of Austin’s WCW midcard run in the early to mid 90’s) from February 2002 – June 2002, and February 2003 – March 2003.  Even despite this limited window, you would think that after missing the boat in 2002 after Austin’s hiatus from the company, they would have done the match at No Way Out 2003 or WrestleMania XIX.

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WWE Not Bringing Back Brock Lesnar In 2005

One moment that fans often forget is that Brock Lesnar almost came back to the WWE in July 2005.  Lesnar’s attempt at an NFL career had failed, and after lawsuits with WWE surrounding his 6 year no compete clause he was seemingly ready to swallow his pride and return to the company.  Lesnar met with Vince McMahon and Johnny Ace, and McMahon lowballed Lesnar with a contract worth far less money than he had made previously.  Lesnar balked at the offer as disrespectful, and ended up transitioning into MMA and becoming UFC’s top star.  Lesnar later returned to WWE in 2012 and is their current World Champion, but he now works a very part time schedule.  If WWE had made Lesnar a fair offer in 2005, the UFC never would have gotten Lesnar’s drawing power and the WWE could have had Lesnar as a full time wrestler for several more years.

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Nexus

When NXT was still just a competition and not a whole brand, the contestants of the first season ended up debuting on WWE TV as the Nexus. As soon as they got there, they (literally) tore up the ring and destroyed John Cena. They made a great impact, and then as just as fast as they made this impact, they didn’t matter anymore. Their loss to team WWE and John Cena killed their momentum quickly. Nexus still had a few minor good spots, but they never got back the same power they had when they first debuted ever again.

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Muhammad Hussan

One of wrestling’s hottest heels in the mid 2000’s was Muhammad Hussan, along with his manager Daivari.  While WWE now have a one dimensional and dated ‘anti-American’ villain in Rusev, Hussan felt very contemporary and like a fresh take on an anti-American character.  Hussan discussed having grown up in America loving the country, but being persecuted after 9/11 with racism, which made him turn against the country.  It was a complex character who had logical reasoning to have his own beliefs, and he pushed boundaries with his storylines.

Unfortunately Hussan was taken off TV in summer 2005 after an Undertaker kidnapping angle aired the same day as a bombing in the U.K., which angered UPN.  In hindsight it’s ridiculous that a network could order a character like that off of a scripted television show, and why wrestling is held to a double standard.  Did any terrorist attacks ever cause FOX to order 24 to write off terrorist characters?  No, because 24, like professional wrestling, is a scripted form of entertainment.

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Colt Cobana

Colt Cabana briefly had a WWE run as Scotty Goldman in the late 2000’s, but he was never given a real shot at success.  I mean come on: Scotty Goldman?  Colt has never received a true shot at success on wrestling television in the United States, but hopefully with Lucha Underground getting television and Global Force Wrestling, Colt may get his shot.

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Matt Morgan

Matt Morgan was on the cusp of being a TNA main eventer in 2009 when he feuded with Kurt Angle, but TNA never fully pulled the trigger on him, despite Morgan being wrestling’s most charismatic big man since Kevin Nash.

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Edge’s First WWE Championship Reign Only Lasting 3 Weeks

Edge’s first WWE Championship reign in January 2006, which lasted only 3 weeks, was the highest drawing period of WWE television post Attitude Era, with the ratings ranging from 4.3-4.5 during this brief period.  Raw generally averages a 2.8-3.0 in 2014, and they have not hit a 4.5 rating since January 2006.  Edge’s brief initial title reign created for unpredictable television, with his live sex celebration with Lita drawing a huge 5.2 quarter hour rating.  John Cena won the title back though at the Royal Rumble 2006, and while Edge later won the title back several months later, WWE were never able to regain the same momentum they had during his first reign in the ratings.

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John Cena Not Turning Heel At WrestleMania 29

After losing to The Rock at WrestleMania 28, John Cena discussed in promos how he had to beat The Rock at WrestleMania 29 ‘no matter what.’  The motif would have been clear for a Cena heel turn, he hated The Rock for coming back and stealing his thunder, and had to beat him no matter what.  It could have been an iconic moment in wrestling, but Cena won and shook hands with The Rock at the end of the show, and it was back to business as usual (2.8-3.0 ratings).  And before people say heels can’t sell merchandise, I have three letters for you: nWo.

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Sting Not Beating Hogan Clean At WCW Starrcade 1997

One of the most anticipated matches in wrestling history was Sting vs. Hogan at Starrcade 1997 for the World Heavyweight Championship.  The buildup had been going for over a year, and fans were ready to see Sting finally win.  I usually don’t have a problem with screwy finishes in wrestling as long as they fit the storyline, but the ‘fast count’ that wasn’t fast just put a damper on what should have been WCW’s greatest moment.  WCW made several high profile mistakes during its run, but this was a missed opportunity.

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TNA Not Putting Paul Heyman In Charge In 2010

In 2010 Paul Heyman reportedly wanted a minority stake in TNA and to fire a majority of the older roster to come in. While Heyman easily could have failed, at the very least his talent strategy would have lost TNA less money and TNA could have had some more entertaining television and hell, maybe even turned the corner business wise!

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Teddy Hart

Teddy had his chances with WWE and TNA, but due to reported ‘attitude problems’ he never made it with either organization.  Teddy was one of the most talented performers in independent wrestling in the 2000’s, putting on great matches and cutting edgy promos.  Even just going beyond his death defying moves, Teddy had something most wrestlers lack today: attitude.  Even if the stories were true and he was an asshole, wasn’t Shawn Michaels too?  Wrestling has too many ‘nice guys’ today, and not enough unpredictable personalities.

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Human Tornado

Human Tornado was a standout star of the mid 2000’s independent wrestling scene in Southern California.  He carried himself like a star and had great charisma, frequently interacting with the crowd.  Tornado was on MTV’s short lived Wrestling Society X in 2007 and had some stints in ROH, but he never got a shot with WWE or TNA.  It’s shocking to me that TNA never brought in Tornado for the X-Division.

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Ultimate Warrior’s 1996 and 1998 Comebacks

The Ultimate Warrior’s 1996 and 1998 comebacks were shortlived, and Warrior never got the chance to have potential dream matches with the likes of Goldberg and Kevin Nash/Diesel due to the length of these runs.

Daniels & Kazarian’s History of TNA Creative Teams

Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian were two of TNA’s longest tenures wrestlers, working in the company through multiple eras. Daniels had been with TNA since 2002 (outside of 2010-2011), and Kazarian since 2003 (outside 2005-2006). The pair had success in the X-Division, in tag teams (AJ Styles/Daniels, Michael Shane/Kazarian), and as World Title contenders. A couple years back, the two teamed up to form Bad Influence, adding another chapter to their TNA career. Both exited TNA earlier this year and jumped to ROH. I recently had the chance to sit down with the tag team formerly knowing as Bad Influence (separately) for interviews regarding their TNA runs, below is Daniels & Kazarian’s History of TNA’s Creative Teams. Upcoming Daniels/Kazarian pieces also include an article on the hard rock albums wrestlers listen to on the road and a piece on the evolution of TNA’s X-Division. Also remember to check out our recent interviews with Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Jeff Hardy, Hornswoggle, and Billy Corgan. Mike Mazzarone transcribed this.

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Jerry Jarrett (2002-2005, booked in 2002)

Daniels: I had a great relationship with Jerry. I felt he respected the stuff that I did and certainly appreciated a lot of the work that we did. The main stuff [I remember] with him was the feud between Triple X and AMW, he gave us that opportunity to tell that story and we went out there and did what we did. Jerry was very supportive to the four of us and I felt he put a lot of effort behind that story.

Kazarian: Yeah he was still in charge when I got there. Jerry was there until [2005]. I never remember him specifically telling me anything [to do] but I know he was in charge, and he was “the guy.” I don’t know if he was “writing” or what specifically he was doing, but he was in charge. That’s pretty much what can I remember. Jerry was in charge. Jeff was running the show but it was Jerry’s thing.

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Jeff Jarrett & Vince Russo (2002-2003)

Kazarian: I mean, this was my first time working for the inside of a [major] company, so I was just happy to do whatever they told me to do. I was just another X-Division guy, they would give me some direction and I would listen to it. I was all ears and would keep my mouth shut. They obviously had bigger fish to fry, talking about the main event picture, bigger stars like Raven at the time who was a bigger draw than I was. But yeah, I was all ears and kept my nose to the grindstone. The whole “creative” thing never was an issue back then and it didn’t seem like TNA had this rap for “bad creative” or whatever that means. Really all it was, was here are the guys in charge, they’re telling me what to do, and that’s cool.

Daniels: Well I actually met Vince for a short time during my stay with WCW when I was working there. He had people that he had clear ideas on and I never felt I was in that group in WCW and you could sort of say the same thing in TNA. I don’t think he ever latched onto something inside of me and put forth any effort towards my character for me.

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Jeff Jarrett & Dutch Mantel (2003-2004)

Daniels: I felt Dutch tried to put a lot of logic into the wrestling stuff and a lot of common sense into the way we looked at things. I felt that was one of the strong suits that Dutch brought was try to make sense of the things were doing, creatively and character wise, as well as clearing up the stories for the fans so you could tell what our motivations were.

Kazarian: I remember when we first got to Florida; Dutch was on the writing team and was very helpful, very bright guy, smart about the business and knew what worked and what didn’t. Dutch was a guy that when I first realized, being early on in my TNA career, realizing that he had all of this knowledge to share with me. Dutch was the first guy that I said to myself: “I should really be picking this guy’s brain, and chat about what I should and shouldn’t do.” The same goes with Terry Taylor. Dutch, I always liked his philosophy. Dutch was a purest and had a very old school philosophy about the business, which I do as well. Personally for me he was very helpful at just making sense in a simple way.

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Dusty Rhodes (2004-2005)

Daniels: Dusty was the first guy to let me go out there on my own and do singles and he was the one that booked angles between myself and AJ [Styles] in the very beginning. I know there are a lot of people that feel that Dusty’s run wasn’t that positive for TNA, but for me, it did a lot to break me out as a singles competitor and put me and AJ on the TNA radar, so to speak. He put us together and let us work a lengthy feud, and if it wasn’t for Dusty I don’t know if that would have ever happened.

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Scott D’amore’s Booking Committee (2005-2006)

Kazarian: Yeah, Scott was in charge, albeit not very long when I got back [in 2006]. Scott was still there, but I don’t think he was still the main guy. When I came back I wasn’t really doing anything honestly so I didn’t have to worry about dealing with anybody. I was rarely being used and when I was it was me and Matt Bentley getting thrown to somebody. So yeah, I didn’t have to worry about working with a specific writer and being told this or that but yeah, that creative team was still in place when I got back to TNA.

Daniels: You know, I had a great relationship with Scott. I could always talk to him about stuff, I felt he was also one of those kind of guys that would just make sense of stuff and would make our motivations clear to the fans as well. Scott was somebody that tried to make it simple for the fans to understand where everybody was going.

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Jeff Jarrett, Vince Russo & Dutch Mantel (2006-2009)

Daniels: The Fallen Angel thing, the beard and tattoo, that was all Vince’s idea. Once it came to the end of that I was the one that offered and suggested the idea of Curry Man, which was a Jeff decision I believe. Once the Curry Man thing sort of ended, the Suicide thing just happened by accident. Frankie was originally supposed to be the character, but then he got injured and Frankie put so much effort into the character that they didn’t want take Suicide off of television after all the preparation and introduction that they’d done. So, while Frankie was recovering from his injuries they had me do the character just temporary until Frankie came back. It was all circumstances in terms of the Suicide character but those were the people that I talked to in regards to the character changes.

Kazarian: From a creative standpoint, Vince a lot of times would try to give me direction based on what he thought my character was and at the time my character was a [babyface], but he was trying to push me in directions, but I wouldn’t feel it, and he would still try it. He would then give me comments like: “I need to get something out of you.” Basically saying, “You don’t have a personality, and we need to get a personality out of you.” I’m thinking “Well, can I try and be me? Can I talk like this?” And then he would go, “No, no a babyface wouldn’t talk like that.” So it was difficult, I never really clicked with Vince and that’s not being negative on Vince or on me. It’s just that personality or philosophy wise we never clicked. Dutch however, was tremendously helpful.

Daniels: Jim [Cornette, who worked backstage] was very outspoken and I had a very good relationship with Jim. I could talk to him a lot about different things. I felt like he was one of those guys that was trying to put, as I mentioned, logic and common sense into the stuff we were doing. He would always say how something doesn’t make sense or going backwards or whatever. Jim was very outspoken about stuff that he saw and what he felt would or wouldn’t work.

Kazarian: With Dutch, I remember working matches with Angle and Christian and that really put me on the map as far as showing everyone that I could hang with those guys. Dutch was in charge of those matches and doing a great job with my confidence and was the agent that I worked closest with at the time.

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Vince Russo, Ed Ferrara & Matt Conway (2009)

Daniels: Well, I feel like they knew there was going to be a regime change in January so I remember after Bound For Glory that year they decided to go with myself, AJ and Joe again. The promos went so well during that November thing that they decided to extend it for another month for me and AJ. I think the feeling was though that it didn’t matter because once Hogan got there they were gonna change everything anyway. They got some good stuff out of it but by January it was all sort of left behind and forgotten.

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Eric Bischoff, Vince Russo, Matt Conway & Hulk Hogan (2010-2011)

Daniels: Well, I felt like Hogan and Bischoff didn’t really have much in mind for me. I just felt like once they got there, whatever the reasoning was, whether it was them or the people writing with or for them I got cycled out around that time and was let go. So I don’t really have a lot of memories of that period in time.

Kazarian: You know, I don’t think Hulk Hogan was actually sitting down and booking the show. He would throw ideas around and Eric was in charge of creative, but I don’t think he was writing stories. I think it was Vince and Matt Conway but when Hogan and Bischoff first got there I didn’t have much communication with them, but when I came back as myself in the X-Division I started to a little bit but over the next couple years it developed a really, really good relationship with both of those guys and I have nothing bad to say about either of them personally. People will say what they will but they gave me a lot of creative freedom, they helped me out a lot, they were very encouraging and were really fun for me to work with.

Daniels: When I first came back they had the angle with AJ getting injured, and me coming back [with Fortune], I felt fortunate to be part of that. Once we went through Lockdown they sort of had different ideas on what they wanted to do with me. They went to Destination X with me and AJ and it started to be the idea where I was gonna turn heel but it was a really slow burn. There was a lot of other stuff going on and me turning heel on AJ was sort of a secondary story for a long time until it became the main thing.

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Bruce Prichard, Eric Bischoff, Dave Lagana, Matt Conway & Hulk Hogan (2011-2013)

Daniels: I really didn’t get to talk about character to Eric until after I turned heel and right when they were gonna do the angle with me and Frankie and AJ. It wasn’t until then that I spoke to him about what I wanted for my character and what Frankie wanted. I felt like Eric gave us a lot of time, put a lot of stock into our opinions, and we had a good back and forth relationship, being able to express ideas, and what we thought versus what he thought. I felt Bischoff, along with Jason Hervey, really respected what he thought, and I thought there was a good report between the four of us talking about where to go, what we can do next and how we could make each segment work.

Kazarian: I think Bruce was in charge of creative but I don’t remember him. I’m sure he had his ideas and what he wanted to accomplish with things but at that time I remember Dave and Matt.

Daniels: We only really talked to Bruce in terms of overall arcs and stuff, and a match by match thing. When promos came up we would talk to Dave Lagana about stuff, and Eric and Jason Hervey. It was very collaborative for all of us.

Kazarian: The most I ever collaborated with that creative team was myself and Chris Daniels, specifically with Eric Bischoff. I became very comfortable and friendly with him, but Eric, Matt and Dave for the length of 2012, if I went to them with ideas they would listen, and vice versa. I wasn’t afraid to be told “no” and spoke my mind and it was really cool creative collaboration for a while as far as that is concerned.

Daniels: Jason [Hervey] did a lot when it came to segments and what we could get out of each segment. One of the things Jason was very much an advocate for was reality. Not having anything scripted and just bringing a camera and getting real emotion and real feeling out of a guy that whether he’s coming to the ring or coming from the ring. Jason didn’t put much thought into scripting out what he was going to have someone say, he wanted to get that spontaneous emotion and reaction from the things that you were doing.

Daniels: I liked [the new backstage interview format] with us. I was happy with the things we did and it gave me and Frankie to show a different side to us. I think that was the reason our team got to be so popular and entertaining, because they would give us the opportunity to just run and do different things. We felt like we took advantage of that and we were one of the highlights of the show at that period of time.

Daniels: I never had a problem working with Dixie Carter. Especially the stuff when she was in front of the camera and she would work real hard to train and get a character together. I didn’t really work a lot with her once she turned heel but like the stuff with us and the Clare Lynch angle she worked really hard to make work too. As far as what the issues were creatively or whatnot, I don’t know man. I know she puts a lot of stock into other people’s thoughts and sort of the revolving door that was talent relations. When there are new guys coming in they are going to try and use their ideas and try and get stuff going so that’s just the way it was.

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John Gaburick, Dave Lagana, Matt Conway & Vince Russo (2013-2014)

Kazarian: I don’t know if we fell out of favor, we were still getting great reactions, cutting great promos and doing very entertaining segments and nobody cared to tell me any different. However, we were just spinning our wheels and going nowhere. We were both pitching ideas, pitching ideas, pitching ideas and they just fell on deaf ears. We would also get the line: “You’re untouchable, bulletproof, it doesn’t matter what you do, you’re gonna get over,” and I’m thinking, “Exactly. Now, just imagine how over we’d get if you got behind us a little bit.” It just seemed like we never got any answers. I’m not blaming any specific person but it sure as hell wasn’t our fault because we were still at the top of our game and we still are.

Daniels: They had the people they wanted to work with and it seemed like myself and Frankie weren’t those people. We did what we could and what we were given but after a while it seemed like they wanted to focus on different people so that’s what led to us leaving.

Kazarian: Well you saw the last year of what Chris and I were doing, that will probably [show you] what I thought of that creative team, and I could of told you Vince was working with those guys for a long time. Vince, just knowing his style of writing, and what was happening with the company, it all screamed of Russo. I don’t know what that says about the company, that they were so ashamed to announce that he was with the company, and that they knew it would them even more of a black eye, that they would be shunned publicly. If the guy’s working with you, just say that he’s working with you. I just don’t get why they couldn’t say that he was working for TNA. I don’t know why they didn’t but I don’t care and it’s not any of my business.

Daniels: I mean, I heard scuzzlebutt but there was never any proof or anything that made me go, “Oh that had to be Vince Russo,” because a lot of it really, like any of those guys could of written that. I don’t think Vince was writing any specific stuff. I think it was just a collaborate effort and if he was one of the cooks in the kitchen, and nothing was so obviously him that it made me go, “Oh, it must be him.”

Kazarian: I had a very good relationship with Dave [Lagana] and Matt [Conway]. John [Gaburick] however, I honestly never talked to outside of a few e-mails in which I don’t think I ever heard back and I never developed any sort of relationship with him whatsoever and my last few weeks there, seeing where the stories were going , being told that they were going in a different direction I was like “OK, well if you’re going in that direction then I guess you are going in a different one. This isn’t for me.” That’s why I’m not there anymore and that’s perfectly fine and I say that with no malice or anything like that. It’s just what it is.

10 Things You Always See If You Attend WWE Raw Live

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Kane

It’s hard to imagine WWE without Kane nowadays. He’s there pretty much all the time. Lately even more so. Every live event I went to, Kane was there. One of the RAW’s I went to was the Dark Wedding between Kane and Lita. Yes I know that sometimes, Kane wont be there, but when he’s there, you notice. His pyro is intense, even from the top of the arena you can feel it’s heat. Kane is pretty much always there, and whenever he is, it’s good.

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These Fans

Look at these fans. Kids, adults, it doesn’t matter. They are all here and they all cheer on John Cena, and all the other babyfaces. These specific fans are what WWE’s life blood is. They cheer for the faces, the boo the heels, and they love everything about the show. These fans LOVE John Cena, Roman Reigns, and many others that are the heroes of the WWE.

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These Other Fans

These guys are different. They tend to cheer the bad guys. They hate John Cena, HATE HIM. They want him to turn heel, or just disappear completely. They usually are in less numbers than the normal fan, but sometimes in several different cities around the globe, the whole arena can be filled with them. When I was in Anaheim about a year ago, there weren’t many of them in the crowd, but recently when I went back, it was close to half of the arena. Luckily, their frustration is directed at the wrestlers, and they don’t fight with the other fans (most of the time).

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Chants

Every arena has it’s chants. Some are more prevalent than others. The more obvious choices are of course Daniel Bryan’s “Yes!” Chants. Stone Cold’s “What?” chants are still heard through the arena. Usually, before the show starts, even when Ric Flair isn’t in attendance we always here “Wooooo” before the show. There are some gems as well. Last Anaheim RAW we got “Slator Gator” for the new tag team of Heath Slater and Titus O’Neal. It was also quite interesting for the LA area when Alberto Del Rio use to be around, as they’ve chanted a few things in spanish before. Not that I’d be able to translate, but it’s a sign that around the world it probably

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Superstars/Main Event/Velocity/Jakked/C Show Matches

If you ever see RAW or Smackdown in person, you may realize your tickets may say 4:30 and not 5:00 when RAW starts (on the west coast). Reason being is that they tape their lesser shows before the big show. Recently when I went to RAW, we saw the taping of two Superstar matches. They tend to do these first and warm up the crowd for RAW. Sometimes they even show other dark matches they don’t show on either show, although recently we haven’t seen those as much as we used to.

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WWE Sign Guy

If you’ve been to a few WWE shows, odds are you’ve seen him there with his witty signs!

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Brock Lesnar Guy

He may not be at every show, but whenever we see the ‘1’ in ’21-1,’ we are thinking of Brock Lesnar Guy.

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After Show Entertainment

If you watch one of the major shows, you will also usually be treated to an after show. Usually it will be an extra match that no one will see on TV, and back during the days of The Rock and Stone Cold, sometimes they would go on for almost an extra half hour, making fun of each other with legendary promos.

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Celebrities

I put celebrities on here for two reasons. One is because of the obvious. In LA especially, you’ll see some celebrities from time to time watching the event, and nowadays, they are usually also hosting the show, or being there as a participant in the show. Recent guests like Hugh Jackman, Flo Rida, and of course Arnold Schwarzenegger have made some impact. Actors like David Arquette can even go from being a fan, to WCW World Champion, to sitting in the crowd at Summerslam.

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Michael Cole

He’s the voice of WWE, and calls every episode of Raw and Smackdown, so show him some respect when he walks down to the announce booth before the show #VintageAnnouncingLegend

Exclusive: Billy Corgan Discusses Shooting His New AMC Wrestling Reality Show

Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan sat down for an exclusive interview with AlternativeNation.net yesterday, and during the interview I was able to get an exclusive piece for our Wrestling section. Corgan discussed shooting his upcoming AMC reality show for his independent wrestling promotion Resistance Pro, and how he hopes it will truly be based on the reality of what goes on behind the scenes in professional wrestling.

“Right now we’re sort of in the frame of revealing how the company works, and the daily toils and troubles that come with trying to be part of an independent wrestling company, which on the whole is not too dissimilar from trying to get a band from the club to the dome. It’s a similar path, albeit very, very different language. So I don’t know, I haven’t seen any of the edits, I’ve only been a part of the shooting, but I’m very encouraged by what I’ve seen and discussed with the producers. I am a producer, so I am sort of in that formulation part of it.”

He added, “But a lot, as anybody knows who has watched unscripted television a lot, a lot really comes down to how it’s edited. You can take any story and portray people in any way depending on where you make the cuts. I trust who we’re working with, and I’m curious to see how they are going to portray these stories. The hope is, and the intention seems to be, that it is going to be as close to what is really going on as possible. I think in the case of wrestling, truth is stranger than fiction.”

Huge Wrestling Matches That Were Cancelled

Many matches have been planned and cancelled for a variety of reasons: The Rock vs. Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania XXX (due to Rock’s injury at WrestleMania 29), CM Punk vs. Triple H at WrestleMania XXX (due to Punk reportedly quitting WWE), Brock Lesnar vs. Daniel Bryan at SummerSlam 2014 (due to Daniel Bryan’s injury), but none of these matches had been advertised to fans, and they were all cancelled before too many people even knew they were in the works. Below is a list of matches involving legendary wrestlers that were cancelled with little to no notice, with some of the cases just being flat out false advertising.

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Hulk Hogan, Sting & Bully Ray vs. Devon, D.O.C. & Mr. Anderson
TNA Impact Wrestling – February 21, 2013

Hey look, another Hulk Hogan TNA match!  Hogan cancelled more TNA matches than he wrestled.  On TNA’s 2013 U.K. tour, they opened the show with a segment that announced that Hogan would wrestle his first match in a year and a half in the main event, teaming with Sting against the Aces & 8’s.  They advertised the match throughout the whole show, before doing the bait and switch and pulling the ‘he was beat up backstage and can’t compete’ card.  The irony is Hogan ended up wrestling a six man tag match on this same tour….at an untelevised house show, one of his 3 TNA matches.

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The Undertaker vs. Bret Hart
WWE Monday Night Raw – August 30, 2010

WWE hyped up The Undertaker vs. Bret Hart for the 900th episode of Raw on August 30, 2010.  Hart’s few matches he’d had in 2010 were full of interference (against Vince McMahon and The Miz), and this match ended up being cancelled after Taker and Hart entered the ring.

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Hulk Hogan, Jeff Jarrett & Samoa Joe vs. Sting, Kevin Nash & The Pope
TNA Bound For Glory 2010 (October 10, 2010)

Hulk Hogan was scheduled to team with Jeff Jarrett and Samoa Joe to take on Sting, Kevin Nash, and The Pope at Bound For Glory 2010.  Due to a back surgery though, Hogan had to pull out of the match, turning it into a handicap match.  Hogan still appeared on the show though, coming out in crutches during the main event to turn heel and help Jeff Hardy win the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.  Hogan did finally end up wrestling at a Bound For Glory though in 2011, losing to Sting.

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Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Brock Lesnar
WWE Monday Night Raw – June 10, 2002

You all know the story, Austin didn’t want to lose to Lesnar, he ‘took his ball and went home,’ and the match never happened.

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Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Jonathan Coachman
WWE Taboo Tuesday 2005 (November 1, 2005)

Everybody has been clamoring for Steve Austin to return to the ring since his final match at WrestleMania XIX in 2003, and he almost did in 2005 against….Jonathan Coachman.  Austin returned to Raw in October 2005 for the Raw ‘Homecoming’ to USA Network show, and began a feud with Jonathan Coachman and the McMahons.  Jim Ross had recently been fired as Raw’s announcer, and Austin wanted to get JR’s job back.  This led to a match between Austin and Coachman being scheduled for Taboo Tuesday, where if Austin won JR got his job back.  Like all Taboo Tuesday matches, fans got to vote on the stipulation: street fight, verbal debate, or arm wrestling contest.  Street Fight was the landslide winner, so Austin was primed to step back in the ring.  Austin was told the plan was for Coachman to defeat him, possibly with interference.  Austin did not like the finish, and claimed a back injury, pulling out of the match, and Batista ended up replacing him.  Funny to think that if they had just decided to have Austin win, his final match could have been against the Coach.

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Hulk Hogan vs. Jeff Jarrett
TNA Bound For Glory 2003 (November 30, 2003)

Jeff Jarrett smashed Hulk Hogan’s head with a guitar in Japan, and TNA had a main event title match set for their first ever 3 hour PPV: Bound For Glory.  The show was originally scheduled for November 30, 2003, with Hogan filming promos for TNA while in Japan and Jimmy Hart appearing to help build the feud.  Hogan claimed he was injured though and backed out, and the entire PPV was cancelled.  They tried rescheduling it for February 29, 2004 at a military base in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, but Hogan again backed out.

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ECW Championship: CM Punk vs. Chris Benoit
WWE Vengeance 2007 (June 24, 2007)

Chris Benoit called in and claimed his family was sick, and we obviously know the tragic events that ended up taking place.

Has The WWE Network Reached Its Peak?

A little while back we did an editorial on the top ten ways the WWE Network can grow as a network. This week fellow AlternativeNation reporters Mike Mazzarone, Anthony Falco and contributor Joseph R. Cooper delve into the WWE Network months into launch as we ask – has the WWE Network reached it’s peak in this new roundtable discussion. We invite readers to post their thoughts in the comments section.

Mike Mazzarone: Alright. First off, I want to say so we don’t get things twisted that I love the WWE Network. However the subscriber reports have been disappointing to say the least. The Network needs 1,000,000 to break even and they are around, I believe at the 7-800,000 mark. There have been no significant gains recently in subscriber numbers. Is it safe to say the WWE Network subscription base has plateaued?

Anthony Falco: I’m not sure we can say that just yet. I feel that in the coming months, we’ll probably see a decent enough gain here in the United States before it finally plateaus, however it’s not going to be fast by any means.

Mike Mazzarone: You can argue that things will take time, yes. Netflix only had 400,000 subscribers in 2001 and were just starting out. However, WWE clearly expected more than a million. They didn’t expect this to be a slow building thing and it’s not there. We won’t know if expanding into other countries will exceed the one million mark, although it should. But what is stopping fans from investing in what is undoubtedly a big steal in terms of pure content?

Joseph R. Cooper: First off as a Canadian, I am getting hosed and hosed bad by this Rogers deal, I don’t have cable nor do I have any intention of getting cable, I cut the cord a long time ago and then moved into a building that has no cable, so even if I wanted it, I can’t have it, so my initial reaction of “shut up and take my money” was replaced with “Are you [redacted] kidding me?” Rogers launched The Network at 12.99 that has even less content and more problems than the United States did at launch but it really doesn’t hurt that the WWE has MLB helping them in the States while here in Canada we have call centres in Quebec and India, but they’re working on releasing an app that will no doubt require you to be a Rogers subscriber to use and I couldn’t give them my money if I wanted to as I’m serviced by a different cable provider and as mentioned previous, my building doesn’t have cable connections, this is 2014 and the WWE which looked like they were going to be leading the future of the business by moving to the Internet and now just 6 months later are going to be making deals with the Cable companies abroad to provide the same experience I am having here, hello United Kingdom, I’m talking to you.

Anthony Falco: They have a few issues. One of the issues is that the casual fans don’t need to see all the old Pay Per Views, they could probably care less and only want to see what is going on right now. Sure their are exceptions to that rule, but mostly it’s the more die hard fans, the more hardcore fans, who want the network.

Joseph R. Cooper: Back to the question though, what’s stopping most wrestling fans from investing in The Network is the price, at 9.99 its not much at all, I’ve had subs from Subway that cost 15 bucks without a drink, but even if they offered it at 99 cents a month wrestling fans would still find a reason to bitch about it, in this world of streaming sites like VIPBox and First Row Sports alongside wrestling centric sites like WatchWrestling.net and Xtreme Wrestling Torrents, almost everything you can find on the Network can be found online, for free. Although 9.99 a month is nothing in comparison to 60 bucks a month for a PPV, plus all the other content on top of it, for example I pay 3.99 a month for a YouTube channel, Drive+, which is a car magazine channel started by YouTube and JF Musial during YouTube’s New Content Initiative thing they were funding until 1/1 of this year and had to switch to subscription service last month after exhausting all of their YouTube Money to keep the expected content, I’ve bought Porn Mags for 4 times that, I spend 4-5 times that a month on my Steam account for stuff to just collect dust, yes I get it, you’re a millennial, you’re used to getting everything handed to you for next to nothing, if not free but if you want to call yourself a wrestling fan and you don’t have The Network, I have something to say to you, “You are not a wrestling fan, you’re just a cheapskate.” Get The Network, it pays for itself in the 2nd month even if you only watch it once a month.

Mike Mazzarone: In my opinion I don’t know if causal if the vast library and archived content is as big of a draw as we think. It’s nice but there was a reason why WWE 24/7 had pretty low subscriber numbers. I don’t believe your casual, every day fan will be interested in past events and stuff that happened in the 80s mid 90s. A lot of diehards most likely own these events either on DVD, Blu-Ray or even VHS so why pay money to view content you already have.

Joseph R. Cooper: WWE 24/7 was also the drizzling shits, Mike. WWE on Netflix is better by comparison. I’m pretty sure everybody involved would like to forget about it existed anyways, it was a good in theory but poorly priced and the content wasn’t up to date in practice. Kinda like how The Network is in Canada right now.

Anthony Falco: Another problem is their aggressive advertising. As much as it works for the casual fans who are on the edge, it just drives the die hard fan base away since they find it annoying and over saturated. We know they are going to advertise, and even more so now since it’s numbers are doing as well, but it comes off bad especially to the hardcore fans.

Mike Mazzarone: It’s something I agree on. It helps that their C shows are exclusive to the network – Main Event, NXT. But again, does that really cater to the CASUAL fan? The casual fan watches for RAW and sometimes Smackdown. WWE should’ve found a way to air RAW or at least SD exclusively on the network. This NBC deal is going to cripple them. Also, the infomercial-like advertising could potentially backfire in my opinion. I think one of the reasons I have yet to download the WWE app is because I have Michael Cole telling weekly to download the thing.

Joseph R. Cooper: I just deleted the app last week, because I was missing RAW live often enough that I was getting spoilers that I thought were texts because of the notification it used, you’d only see 20 or so characters on the screen before dismissing it, but that was usually enough to let me know what was about to happen. You can chalk it up to being lazy and not messing with the settings myself, but some vagueness on the notifications during a live show would be nice, the app in general is good for what it does, promotes lesser talent, has a cool commercial feed so you don’t miss on the action, but you really need a tablet to get the full function of the app, as I feel a phones screen just isn’t catered for that and it shows that the WWE is moving towards a digital content, but with nobody buying in they still have to make deals with the cable companies to keep the Network afloat, see Canada, see United Kingdom.

Mike Mazzarone: But think about the whole pay per view aspect of the Network as well. Their major selling point, asides from the back catalog is the fact that each PPV is basically 9.99 a month instead of 60 dollars a month. This is a good thing, yes. I’m not denying that. However, how many PPVs is one actually going to watch? Out of the 12 PPVs that WWE produces. How many are actually important? Summerslam, Wrestlemania, Royal Rumble and MAYBE Survivor Series. The rest feel like bloated RAWs. Why would I, even at that price choose to watch Payback or TLC over Football on Sundays or the NBA? Or a show like Game Of Thrones.

Joseph R. Cooper: I am going to watch them all, the WWE is really starting to stack the PPV cards with enough action to make you think the 9.99 is a steal, which it is, but people aren’t understanding what kind of deal they’re getting and as such the subscriber rates are less than expected hence the whole “9.99” edict that went through recently to push The Network as a bargain, which after how good Summerslam just was, will hopefully drive the point home.

Anthony Falco: I always thought when the Network was being developed that they were going to show RAW and Smackdown on it as well as the other shows. Once I found out they weren’t, even though I could still watch it on a TV, i felt the value of the service dropped.

Joseph R. Cooper: It would be nice to have RAW and Smackdown up within 24 hours of airing, hell it would stop me from using WatchWrestling as much as I do, but with current television deals in place, they have to wait 30 days for it to be up on The Network which doesn’t really make sense when the PPV’s are up pretty much as they air, sure they own all the content because its on The Network but it would be nice to be able to watch the week of the PPV before the PPV is up, just in case you missed something or need to get your friend up to date before the show, but as it stands right now you can’t do that and it is one of the glaring downsides of The Network.

Mike Mazzarone: Same. My ex-friend bought the network thinking RAW and SD was going to be on it. Perhaps it was unrealistic to air RAW on the Network right during launch but it would of helped numbers. It could’ve been doable when it comes to SD which airs on Syfy of all places. Let’s face facts. Besides from the CW Smackdown has never really been on an established network.

Anthony Falco: Exactly, that is a big issue as well. Pay Per Views are great to rewatch, sure, but how many times do I really need to re-watch Summerslam 2002, or Wrestlemania 17. Not to mention the vast amount of PPV’s I have no real desire to re-watch.

Mike Mazzarone: The WWE need to stick with the Network. They cannot claim failure. Currently with this model HHH and Co. are losing 20 dollars per PPV. I strongly believe the Network is one of the main reasons all the budget cuts are being made. You also have five hours of programing per week (three coming in on one day. The casual fan has their WWE fix and can follow without watching PPVs or some random 90s PPV. There needs to be an overhaul on the marketing. They need to make this a better draw. Like I said, the NBC deal is going to hinder them. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want this to seem like I’m against the WWE network. I LOVE everything the WWE offers but then again I’m a diehard. I’m in the camp that can’t wait for the WCW content to come out. This is just to examine the flaws within the Network and it’s appeal (or lack there of) to casual fans.

Joseph R. Cooper: I’m with you there Mike, I need more WCW content, all of the Clash of the Champions and PPV’s are nice and everything, but they keep holding me off on the Monday Night War, Thunder and would it kill them to start posting some WCW Saturday Nights? SATURDAY 6:05! ONLY ON THE SUPERSTATION! That was a staple of my childhood, I want some JCP, I want the entirety of WCW 1993 where Vader kills everybody with Harley Race doing most of the talking, I want Rick Rude as the World Champion, I want to see classic Heyman promos when he was the leader of The Dangerous Alliance, if only for those to show up in a supercut compilation of his best work on YouTube, hell put the 2011 season of RAW on The Network and I will binge watch from 11 til now just to see how quickly the product changed to what it is now and of course for all the awesome Punk promos, I love The Network, I’ve watched almost all of the Legend’s Roundtables, most of the Original Specials, I need to catch up on NXT because I’ve been busy the last couple months and thats been on the burner, but that’s what weekends are for.

Anthony Falco: See, I am also a big fan of the WWE network. I love the service, but I see why so many people are turned off about it. The network could be so much more than it is though. Imagine the network doing brand new content that you want to see. I honestly want to see what the reruns of Total Divas and Slam City do on the network, because I don’t ever have a desire to watch those.

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Mike Mazzarone: Right. The original content is something I have issue with. Especially Slam City which is an excellent premise. However, when you cannot get your own employees, the superstars of your own company to do the voices then it’s a bit suspect. Legends House was fantastic but I would love to see more original programing and reality shows.

Anthony Falco: Legends house was good, but I feel it lacked in some areas. Slam City would be greatly helped by the wrestlers actually doing their parts. I understand that’s hard for some of them to do, like John Cena, who has a heck of a schedule. Still, it would help a lot to get that show going in the right direction.

Mike Mazzarone: There is no reason someone like Sheamus can’t do his voice. Also it’s not like Slam City is a 30 minute show. It’s like 5-8 minutes if that.

Joseph R. Cooper: You won’t find a complaint about that from me, but I haven’t watched any of the Original Series like Legends House or Total Divas, reality TV isn’t my thing and Slam City isn’t Archer, but I can see their appeal and yes Slam City should have the characters being voiced by the talent.

Anthony Falco: I just imagine that one day, the WWE Network will finally be what we want it to be. All old RAWs and Smackdowns, not just some. Half of wanting to see the old PPV’s is wanting to see the old shows. I don’t just want to see Vince McMahon get his ass kicked by Stone Cold on a PPV, I want to see it for the several weeks it happened on TV before that as well. Imagine if they got one on one interviews on the network as well. What better ways to showcase your talent then on your own network. How about once a day, you have some in a interview, or a promo, or something. Have them go off, do it the right way, give them the mic and let them go and showcase it on the network. What better way to gauge who has the Stone Cold or The Rock factor then letting them do it. If they do a promo, and it sucks, oh well, move on, down the line we will try again. The Network could help in this area though. It’s a place where it’s lower risk if people see a bad promo, but it’s great place to test these types of things.

Mike Mazzarone: I see the Network as a potential cornerstone for the WWE. However, this is a growing period. That needs to be realized by most. Right now the Don West infomercial style shills come off as cheesy. But if WWE stays course, tones down the weekly ads and changes its focus on the casual demographic as well as your die hard fan and in turn finding that balance then they would really have something. I hope it happens.

Anthony Falco: I hope it does too, because the Network is a great thing already, and if they just put in that extra effort and do it right, there is no telling where it will be in a few years.

Joseph R. Cooper: Good things come to those who wait, some wrestling fans can’t grasp that sometimes, but a year or so from now when The Network is in full swing and is properly worldwide on the internet, we’ll find another thing to complain about it, because we’re wrestling fans, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Hornswoggle Talks Confronting The Rock Backstage, Traveling With Great Khali & Leprechaun Film With AlternativeNation.net

Hornswoggle has been a fixture on WWE television for over 8 years, and he is now diving into acting with his new film Leprechaun: Origins. In this exclusive interview with AlternativeNation.net, Hornswoggle discusses his new film, acting, working with Vince McMahon, being the final Cruiserweight Champion, and why Finlay is like a father to him in real life. He also recounts a hilarious backstage encounter he had with The Rock in 2012, word for word, and tells hilarious stories about traveling with The Great Khali.

Can you compare acting in film and wrestling, were you able to get shots in less takes with you live performance experience?

It is so completely different, I say it in a lot of interviews. The main difference for me is when you’re in the ring you get that automatic reaction. You gett that automatic cheer or boo when you punch somebody in the face. In film you do your scene, wait until it’s over, then you hear cut, and okay let’s do it again. Okay, well was that good? Was that bad? You don’t get that automatic reaction you get that automatic reaction you do when you’re in the ring. It’s [very] different. Was I better off because I’m used to the live performance? I don’t know, I guess we’ll have to judge for ourselves when we see the film.

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Have you been checking the early feedback to Leprechaun: Origins on Twitter and some of the reviews like IGN, what is your message to some of cult fans of the originals, who might be having emotional responses, one way or the other.

Twitter brings out the best in the keyboard bullies. Much like WWE, when they think they know what’s going to happen, and we don’t give them that as a company, they get angry, fans get angry. With the movie people were expecting the original, and this movie is nothing like the original, I will [even] say it’s better. The old films had a cult following, they had their place in history for what they were, and they were great for what they were. But this one is so different from the originals, it’s much more of a horror film and I don’t think people are expecting that, they’re expecting the old films. We didn’t give them that, and like I said with fans in general, and critics, they want to think they know everything going into it. When you don’t give them that, usually they’re just like, ‘Oh man, they fooled me. Oh I’m not looking to look like the idiot, they just did it wrong, because it’s not what I wanted.’ I think that’s what’s happened a few times. I’ve seen a lot of good reviews as well, a lot of people from the horror side of it, who really view it as a great horror film.

What have been your thoughts on some of your character changes this year? You turned heel, joined 3MB, feuded with Los Matadores, then Jinder and Drew were released, and now you’ve joined Los Matadores as both La Vaquita and La Vaca. What has been your reaction to all of these turns with your character this year?

I don’t know what you’re talking about with La Vaquita and La Vaca – I’m totally kidding. That was against my will, I was tricked into that. I’ve never been his friend, I’ve never been his buddy or partner, I got tricked into that. That’s all I will say about me dressing in a cow costume. When it comes to me playing the villainous role, I love it. It’s much more fun to make people hate you, than to make people like you. To make people like you, you shake hands and kiss babies. Making people be against you is much more challenging at times, especially for a person of my stature who is usually jovial, happy go lucky, and this kid friendly character. It’s much more of a challenge for me, and I like challenges. It makes work and your job more enjoyable.

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Yeah I thought the 3 Man Band stuff was pretty cool, because I hadn’t watched for a couple of weeks, and I was like, wait a minute, Hornswoggle’s heel now?

It was leading up to WeeLC, then our second hair vs. mask match, the WeeLC had been the biggest match of my career, easily by far. I say it in every interview I do, we stole that show. They put it on the pre show as sort of a, ‘Shut them up, give them this match.’ On Twitter, in the locker room, in the meetings, no match on that card was talked about more. It gets me heat for saying it, but it’s true. Look at Twitter activity that night, nobody talked more about any other match, including the titles matches and the big six man, nobody talked about any match more than our match because we gave these people a show. We took them on a ride that they weren’t expecting, and for once, they weren’t expecting something, and they enjoyed it. It was easily the match of my career.

I talked to Dean Ambrose last month and he mentioned Joey Mercury being an agent who has really helped him. For your types of segments and matches, who generally produces you, and gives you advice?

My old buddy, my ‘Dad’ Dave Finlay. He’s still working backstage as an agent and producer, and he has helped me more than anybody else in this company. He has gone to bat for me more times that he probably wanted to, and that’s because he literally cares about me as a son. I have always been his son, in and out of the ring. He’s really helped me, him and I as the Matadores put that WeeLC matches together and made it what it was. I have him to thank pretty much for every stage of my career.

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You’ve done a lot of memorable skits with Vince McMahon, including the reveal as his son and later the JR parody, do you have any interesting stories from working with Vince, and what kind of direction he’s given you?

I did that for about 3 months, where I was his son, maybe longer, and there were days in the beginning where I would go, ‘Oh my god, I’m working with the most powerful man in wrestling.’ Then I realized that he’s joking around, he’s playing ribs on guys more than I am. You just realize that he is this billionaire, but still just loves this business. When it comes to wrestling, I use that word instead of sports entertainment, I use wrestling all the time, because I am a wrestling fan. CM Punk once said this is still wrestling to us, this isn’t sports entertainment to us, because we grew up on wrestling.

To see someone who is a billionaire, who still runs and owns this company, still be as much of a fan as I am, who loves it and has as much of a heart for it as I do, is always good to see. Because those days that you think, ‘Oh he’s worried about the stock, or the buy rates,’ but he just loves the product. He wants to make it the best product he can. It was just amazing working with him every week, 2 or 3 times a week, it was one of the coolest experiences I’ve had in my life.

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The most successful crossover actor/wrestler is obviously The Rock and he –

Who?

The Rock.

Do we still consider him a wrestler? David Arquette probably had more matches lately, like in the last 20 years.

Arquette was at SummerSlam, I saw him there (Laughs).

I think in the last few years Arquette probably had more matches than Dwayne.

(Laughs) My question though is about something from Twitter a couple years ago, an issue you had with The Rock, and you claimed you talked it out.

Oh yeah. He called me out about this. What was the tweet? It was the scripted lines right?

I think the wrist [notes] bit that was going on [Editor’s note: It may have actually been a promo, and not The Rock Concert III].

Oh yeah, I called him out on having his notes on his wrist tape. His song that night, he had it on his wrist tape, and Cena went out there and free styled, and I called [Rock] out. I will fully admit, I went out on a limb, and probably said something I shouldn’t have, when going into WrestleMania Rock vs. Cena was the biggest match we’d had in a long time. Maybe I shouldn’t have tweeted that, but I meant it. I have been known a lot to keep my mouth shut, but there are certain things that I really take heart to, and that’s one of them. If you were to come out here and say you are free styling and you sing this song when you have everything written down, then you’re going to try to punk out one of my friends, John Cena, who is free styling and still killing you. Then he approached me about it about 2 weeks later.  First off, I don’t think this story has ever gotten out there, so you’ve got an exclusive:

The Rock: Why you got to call me out like that?

Hornswoggle:  The first time I met you, you thought I was a Make a Wish kid.

The Rock: What!?

Hornswoggle: Yeah, I met you backstage the night you came back in [Anaheim], when you were revealed as the guest host for WrestleMania, and you thought I was a Make a Wish kid. You tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘Did you have a good time tonight buddy?’ Then you walked off and you realized it, then you said to Big Show, ‘Hornswoggle thinks I thought he was a Make a Wish kid, and I did think he was.’

Hornswoggle: So I don’t pull any punches now when I say things about you. Because you are so out of the loop, I’ve been on TV for 8 years now, and you thought I was a visitor?

The Rock: Yeah, yeah I did. Not gonna lie.

But we hashed everything out, and everything’s good now.

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That’s hilarious. Kind of a random question, but do you still have physical possession of the Cruiserweight Title since you were the last champion, or did you have to give it back?

(Sighs) That saddens me to have to even have to answer, I had to give it back, they gave me a replica. I still want to make a visit to the warehouse, and something might be missing after I make a visit, so I think that’s why they never let me visit there, because they know that title will be gone (Laughs). Especially with the new logo, with all of that, I would love to have the actual title. I’ve asked them for it 3 to 4 times. Maybe someday, like a 10 year anniversary gift I’ll get the actual title, knock on wood.

That’s lame, because guys like Ric Flair have kept their title belts.

Well, I’m not saying I’m on Ric Flair’s level.

A lot of guys get to keep belts though.

But, I didn’t see Ric Flair doing two movies in one year, I’m just saying.

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Hornswoggle, Daivari, The Great Khali, and Mark Henry

I heard something somewhere about you traveling with The Great Khali and a few other guys.

Let me tell you, I got hired in 2006. A young, 20 year old, Dylan ‘Hornswoggle’ Postl, living his dream getting hired by WWE. My first traveling car was The Great Khali, Daivari, and Mark Henry. Picture this car, I can say this because I am, you have: a midget, the world’s strongest man, a guy that probably gets kicked off of every airplane he gets on in Daivari, and you have The Great Khali. Traveling down the road, go into waffle houses – actually no, going in IHOPS, because that’s all Khali will eat. Man, we were a traveling circus, every week we laughed, this lasted about 6 months.

We just laughed about it, because it was just the craziest mix of guys. I love traveling with Khali, but the only thing I don’t like is he doesn’t wait in lines. I don’t yell at him, and I’m the biggest bully when it comes to him. Everyone laughs about it, because I would bully him til the cows come home. And he’d bully me right back, [it’s crazy to see] a little guy bully this 8 foot tall giant, and just giving him the run around. He doesn’t wait in line, and I don’t know why, I’ve called him out on this many times:

Hornswoggle: Khali, there’s a line.

The Great Khali: No brother, no.

Hornswoggle: You got to wait!

The Great Khali: No man, no, maybe I go in the front.

Hornswoggle: You can’t just go in the front, that’s not how lines work Khali.

The Great Khali: Mmmm no, maybe I do this time.

Hornswoggle: Okay whatever.

I’m not going to pull him to the back of the line, physically. But yeah, I’ve traveled with Khali, I’ve done it a few times, it’s always a sight to see, I’ll tell you that.

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Exclusive: Rockstar Spud Talks ‘Dirty Sheets’ TNA TV Rumors, Meeting Vince Russo & Rips ‘This Is Awesome’ Chants

Rockstar Spud made his debut as a regular character on TNA television in late 2013, and he has quickly become wrestling’s funniest villain. Spud will do anything to rile up fans, even correcting their spelling on Twitter, and wearing colorful suits every Wednesday on SpikeTV’s Impact Wrestling. In this in-depth interview, Spud discusses his friendship with ‘best friend’ Ethan Carter III, Dixie Carter’s recovery from her table spot, meeting Vince Russo, Jeff Jarrett, AJ Styles, Bully Ray’s rumored TNA exit, ‘This is awesome’ chants, and comments on the ‘dirty sheets’ rumors about TNA’s fate on SpikeTV.  Check out our recent interviews with Jeff Hardy, Dean Ambrose, Ethan Carter III, and Seth Rollins in our Wrestling section.

How is Madam Dixie doing? Have you and Ethan been helping her with the recovery process?

Well how do you think she is? She’s got a broken bloody back. God bless her, but she’s doing okay. She is back up and walking around the office. I heard she’s giving Serg a hard time, while me and Mr. Carter are at the shows. That’s to be expected, she’s a pretty demanding woman. I’m pretty sure that she’s going to recover from it, and be back better than ever.

You talk about ‘no girls allowed’ on Twitter, what exactly do you mean by that? Does this include Madam Dixie?

(Laughs) This doesn’t include Madam Dixie, she’s a special kind of woman. But yeah, no girls allowed, because girls just annoy, and they smell. Girls just really annoy me, really annoy me.

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When you came on TV full time, were you apprehensive at all about being more of an on air personality, a Bobby Heenan type, than full time wrestler? Do you see your role changing at all with more matches, maybe in the X-Division? Are you okay with your current role?

I was perfectly happy jumping into the role, have no problems with the position I’m at right now. It was never an issue being an on air personality, I feel that my strength is my personality. So in regards to being put into more matches, that’s great, but I honestly feel that my strength is not being in the X-Division, I actually think that would be [kind of a] detriment to my character. What’s great about Rockstar Spud, is he’s constantly in the land of the giants, he’s constantly against the odds. If you put Rockstar Spud in there with the same height as you, then you’ve lost what’s unique about Rockstar Spud. I don’t believe – it would be a detriment for the character to be in the X-Division. I honestly think he should be a little guy, the little engine that could, and will, and he’s in the land of the giants. Because the visual of me standing against a Bully Ray, or Rob Terry, or Knux, or any of these giant monsters that we have on the Impact Wrestling roster, I think there’s the visual, and there’s the entertainment. I don’t think there’s much mileage in Rockstar Spud being in the X-Division personally.

What were your first impressions of Ethan when you met him, and how has your friendship with him grown? He told me had to keep track of your potty mouth, to make sure you don’t swear around children and old ladies.

Yeah, I’m not exactly the prince of tact. If I’ve got something to say, I’m going to say it. Usually I’ll be oblivious to my surroundings, I’ll be talking to my friends, and when I’m talking to them I don’t expect anybody else to hear my conversation, or listen in, as that’s quite rude as my mother taught me. I am quite loud, I am quite boisterous, and usually when I’m letting out the odd curse word, all of a sudden an old lady will appear out of nowhere, or a small child. It could be at a restaurant, and the parents will look over at me in disgust, so [Ethan] does have to keep tabs on me.

[Ethan]’s a wonderful human being, he’s a great friend, in and out of the ring. I couldn’t ask for a better person to share moments on screen with, we just have those kinds of personalities. We hadn’t met each other before, and as soon as we did, we clicked. He have the same brain in regards to pro wrestling, we think the same way, we know our role, we know our place. We both have big aspirations, we both want to become successful, we both want to be the World Heavyweight Champion, we both want to be the guy. The thing is, everyone will look at Ethan and think, that could be a plausible claim, he could be the guy. What he respects about me, is that even though I don’t have the physique, the look that he does, that I also have aspirations like him of being World Heavyweight Champion. It’s just one of those things, we both clicked straight off the bat, and we’ve been friends ever since. He’s one of my closest friends, he’s someone I’ll always go to for guidance, or to blow off some steam. I can’t believe another company just completely missed the boat with him, because he’s the most entertaining thing I’ve seen on pro wrestling television in the last 12 months.

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What are your memories of your Impact appearances in the first half of 2013, after winning British Boot Camp? How much did you get to talk to guys like Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff?

I mean I said my hellos and pleasantries, but you’re not exactly in a place where you can dictate your future, so to speak. To be honest I look back at my sporadic appearances I had on Impact after winning British Boot Camp, and I would have let me go. I really would have, because there was no depth, I wasn’t projecting through the television, and that’s an important thing, I knew that every time I performed. When I was given the role of Chief of Staff, it was a blessing because everything I’d learned in OVW from Al Snow, Rip Rogers, and Danny Davis had all sunk into me. But I just needed a fresh [start] to project it all, and when they said we want you to be Dixie’s Chief of Staff, I was like, ‘Yes! Thank you, and I’m going to knock this out of the park for you.’ They were like okay, we’ll see, and I was like, ‘No, you’ll see.’ It was just perfect timing, right place, right time, right opportunity, and I’m very happy with how it’s gone.

Ethan told me that John Gaburick was the guy who helped him formulate his character in TNA, did John also decide to bring you on?

John was the man that called me, yes. I believe that there were some thoughts on what to do with me, and they decided to go with me as the Chief of Staff over someone else. I personally can’t see anyone else being Dixie’s nephew than Ethan Carter, I can’t obviously see anyone else being Samuel Shaw, other than the man Samuel Shaw, and I can’t obviously see anyone else being a Bro Man like Jesse and Robbie E., and I can’t see anyone else being the Chief of Staff other than Rockstar Spud. It just shows that you once embellish in a character, you can’t see anyone else playing it, that’s them. That’s what’s so rewarding when you have a writing team like we have, that just gives us the opportunity and let’s us run with them, it’s a blessing.

Have you considered dropping ‘Rockstar’ from your name in TNA, with that character kind of being dropped? Have you thought about just going by Spud again?

Absolutely not, absolutely not. Every so often I’ll get someone going, ‘Why do you call yourself a rock star? It’s so annoying, you’re not even a rock star.’ [My response is], ‘Is it pissing you off? Okay, then it stays.’ My job isn’t for you to like me (chuckles), you can ask me til the cows come home, ‘Why do you wear this stupid bowtie? Why do you wear this stupid suit?’ If you’re asking the question, you’re obviously not that smart.

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(Laughs) Now with some current events in TNA. TNA’s TV contract has been extended through December with the move to Wednesdays, but obviously you’ve seen the reports that Spike will not keep Impact on beyond that, with rumors of Discovery’s Velocity channel. What kind of communication has management had with you guys regarding the deal? Have there been meetings about it? How have you been talking to management, and getting updates on the deal?

Well, a lot of the time I hear about meetings that have taken place with the talent, that have not actually even taken place. (Chuckles) So I’m always amazed you read the dirty sheets, and what information they seem to have. But management is great at communicating to us what is going on, where we’re at with negotiations, and it’s awesome because we have that kind of report with the offices here in TNA. With the move back to Wednesday, which I think is fantastic, because Spike has been a tremendous partner for TNA, and always has been the whole tenure with them. They gave us another day to build our audience, again, and we can get new fans on a Wednesday, we’ve got the fans from Thursday, once the word gets out we can attract the fans who have their TV schedules freed up on a Wednesday. I firmly believe that wherever Spike put us on their channel, no matter what day or the time, we would make it a success, because that’s the type of fans we have. They follow us everywhere, and they want to watch our product. So wherever Spike would have put us, it would have been a success, and they’ve been a great partner, so I hope it continues.

Ethan told me that Bully Ray did actually hold somewhat of a meeting with the locker room, just to tell you guys about the status of his contract, but that it might have been blown out of proportion. But what do you think about Bully Ray possibly leaving TNA?

Well I wasn’t personally there, because I was in England filming British Boot Camp 2, and helping out with that process. If someone like Bully Ray has to depart from the company, that really does suck, because he brings a tremendous amount to the company, in a backstage role and an on screen role. I’ve said this in interviews before, if Hulk Hogan was around in the 80’s and so was Bully Ray, there wouldn’t be a Hulk Hogan because Bully Ray would have knocked him out of the park. Because Bubba has that connection with the audience, whether you love or hate him, he can connect, and get inside your soul (chuckles), you know what I mean? It would be a tremendous loss if Bully Ray had to depart from TNA, but let’s see who is going to step up and take that place. This is the wrestling business, when one opportunity falls away, it’s another opportunity for somebody else. So it would be good to see who steps up from there, but if he leaves the company, would I be disappointed? Absolutely, but like I said, it would be interesting to see who stepped into that role.

How was it filming those skits at AJ Styles’ house, and working with AJ near the end of his TNA run?

Wonderful, I mean I’ve known AJ from the independents all of the times he would come over to England. That was fun, they did more for the Rockstar Spud character, they did some great writing for me, they’ve always done great writing for me. No matter what they’ve given me, when you originally read it, I’m sure a lot of people who are very serious about their character and everything, I take my character serious, but when I see something like the [AJ thing] written with me breaking into his house, going to a bar, driving across America, or be kidnapped by Willow, I embrace that sort of stuff. Let’s make this entertaining TV, and I think the writers are doing a tremendous job, and they’ve been brilliant to me. I just hope they know that whatever they put Rockstar Spud in, Rockstar Spud is going to make it successful and entertaining.

How was it hanging out with Vince Russo when he came by Nashville, and what did you think about him leaving TNA?

I didn’t actually know that Vince was with TNA, up until fairly recently obviously. He was a nice gentleman, it was just a couple of dudes talking about pro wrestling really, and that was it. I mean, I’m pretty sure it was blown out of proportion more than it was, it was just a couple of dudes that met up and spoke about professional wrestling. It’s sad when anyone leaves the company, but as I said, that’s the wrestling business, sadly.

Did you get to work with Jeff Jarrett a lot last year when he was around?

Very briefly, at the last couple of tapings [in 2013] he was there. I came in mid November, and Jeff was there until the end of the year. My brief dealings with Double J have always been good, he’s a really entertaining man, and he’s got a good mind, I wish him the best of luck in whatever he’s going to do.

Have you ever considered acting, or doing standup comedy? Whenever I watch the show I think you’re one of the guys who could cross over into that.

It’s something I’ve always thought of, and would love to venture into. Whether it’s acting, comedy, or standup comedy. Jeremy Borash is very successful with stand up comedy, he’s been on some of Mick Foleys tours. I’d love to jump in two feet on that, because I’ve heard it’s a very humbling experience, but also a very good experience to kick you in check. It would be a nice art form to learn, I’ve always been interesting in acting, and any form of entertainment really. Theater I think is amazing, sitcoms I’ve always been thoroughly interested in. I’m open to any sort of opportunity with any form of entertainment, but those are some of my favorites. I love standup comedy, I think it’s a very amazing art form. Film, television, I’m a very big movie buff as well. Hopefully if somebody sees me on Impact Wrestling on Wednesdays doing my thing, they’ll go: ‘Oh there’s someone there.’ You never know.

Eric Young’s done well with reality TV.

How fabulous is he doing? He literally just crossed over from pro wrestling into another mainstream market. I was sitting on an airplane, on the way to an event, and I’m in the middle of these two gentlemen having this discussion, ‘Hey that’s that guy, that Eric Young guy.’ They’re going on about his fishing show, and really just marking out over the fact that Eric Young is on the flight, ‘Yeah, he’s that wrestler as well, I wouldn’t mess with him.’ (Laughs) It was just so weird, sitting in the middle and not saying anything, like, ‘Yeah, that’s my friend, I know him.’

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TNA have 3 or 4 tapings in Bethlehem coming up at the end of September, just 2 or 3 weeks before Bound For Glory. Are you guys going to be taping shows that are going to air after Bound For Glory, and what’s that mean for Bound For Glory? Do you have any ideas about that schedule?

I have absolutely no idea sir. We’ll find out in Bethlehem obviously what we’re taping. Bound For Glory’s going to be really exciting, a massive event for the company, because we’re going to be taping in Tokyo, Japan. Looking forward to going back to Japan, I was there earlier this year with Ethan Carter III for Wrestle 1. It’s a great partnership that we have with them, they’re tremendous. So on that front, really don’t know, but looking forward to finding out just like you are.

What do you think of the tendency of heels today, especially in WWE, still wanting to come off as cool as heels? You see it with guys like, no disrespect towards him, Bray Wyatt, and some other guys. There’s a lack of cheating as well. What do you think of the art form of the heel, disappearing a bit in some of professional wrestling?

I think you can’t draw money without love and hate. It’s the same as a movie, where if there’s nothing for, let’s call it the babyface, to overcome, then how are we supposed to care? I don’t understand how you wouldn’t want to be someone who is this badass character and not cheating, you just want to be him because he’s beating people fair and square. It happened in horror films, Freddy Krueger became the babyface, that’s what happened. With that love and hate, I love this person enough because I want to see him win, so I’m going to get off my couch and pay money to see him win. I want to see who I love, beat the hell out of this guy, because I hate him, I’m going to pay money to see this guy lose and throw it in his face live. You see these matches that everybody is chanting, ‘This is awesome! This is awesome!’ It’s kind of like, (disinterested) oh, having a great spectacle, but are you going to pay to see it again?  Nah, I’ve seen it man.  And that’s what really bugs me about it, my job is to get you pay money to see me get my ass kicked.  It’s not for me to turn up and have a 5 star match.  My job is to have you come and pay money to see me get beat up, and that’s it.  People misconstrue that, I think some companies directions, they say are going away from the fundamentals of what this business is, which is good vs. evil.  But they’re actually still doing it (chuckles), but they’re just saying it’s their way.  It just doesn’t make sense to me.

How is British Boot Camp Season 2 coming along, how it going to be different format wise from the first one?

It’s going to be very different in regards to the audition process, because instead of them just selecting 4 people, they’re going to be selecting a number of people, out of a number of people who apply in the United Kingdom.  Then they’ll go onto a big show in the capital of London, then they’re going to find 6 people to take, so it’s going to be bigger and better, because it’s obviously Series 2.  It’s such a good concept, everybody loved the first series, it was such a success, it’s really cool to see people get the opportunity that I had.  I’m having the best time of my life, making some of the best friends, having all these great opportunities.  I hope someone else gets to share what I’ve shared.