With the recent announcement of Randy Savage being inducted into to 2015 WWE HOF, and the recent inclusions of Bruno Sammartino and the Ultimate Warrior, the HOF seems to be more and more complete. However, there are still some glaring omissions. I’ve left out some of the more obvious ones (Sting, Undertaker, etc) and added some names people normally overlook.
Bill Apter Apter is someone that is never mentioned on any WWE HOF lists. Though never really an integral part of the WWE, Apter’s contribution to wrestling, more specifically wrestling journalism, cannot be overlooked. If you read a wrestling magazine in the mid 80’s to early 90’s, odds are Apter was reporting or photographing for it. Apter opted to protect the business, not letting people in on what happens backstage. If there is ever going to be a physical building for the HOF, Apter would be the perfect curator for it.
The Fabulous Freebirds The night Michael Hayes slammed the steel cage door on Kerry Von Erich’s skull is a moment that lives in infamy. It started one of the most heat rivalries in professional wrestling history. This feud was arguably some of the best wrestling of the 80’s. The Von Erich’s are synonymous with Texas wrestling, but they needed a heel factor, and that was the Freebirds. Though they didn’t spend a significant amount of time in the WWF/E, their time in World Class Championship Wrestling is hall of fame worth on its own.
Demolition Demolition is often overlooked for induction, as are many tag teams. Initially, and sometimes still considered to be Road Warrior “rip-offs”, Demolition carved a niche of their own. No team has had a single WWE tag team title reign longer than their record 478 days. During the 80’s, the WWF had larger than life characters. Demolition stood out amongst many of those characters with their S&M themed ring gear of leather and spikes. Definitely one of the most intimidating tag teams of all time.
Bam Bam Bigelow In many people’s eyes, Bam Bam Bigelow was the best “big man” in the business. Bigelow spent time in all 3 major use promotions (WWF, ECW, WCW) and had great success. His matches in ECW with Taz still hold up today. Bigelow even headlined WrestleMania XI with NFL great Lawrence Taylor
Vince McMahon Sure, this one may seem obvious. It probably will not happen for years, but Vince McMahon needs to be in the HOF. Lots can be said about him, but he took wrestling from the dimly lit VFW’s and armories to big arenas with his national expansion in the 80’s, survived the Monday Night Wars in the 90’s, and the WWE still stands today. Wrestling as we know it would not be the same without Vince McMahon. He has been against being inducted, let alone doesn’t appear on camera during induction ceremonies. So, it may be awhile before we see this come to fruition.
The nWo The New World Order is quite possibly the most influential group/storyline in the history of professional wrestling. Formed at a time when WWF had characters that were garbage men, hockey players, and a pig farmes; the n.W.o ushered in a more mature and adult product in wrestling. The angle gave wrestling a sense of realism that had never been felt, and never has been duplicated sense. Scott Hall and Kevin Nash were perceived to be invaders in WCW from the WWF, giving fans a glimpse of something they always wanted to see; WCW vs WWF. Hulk Hogan joining the Outsiders in 1996 is a Hall of Fame moment in itself. Fans in 96 and 97 were glued to their tv’s to see what was going to happen next. Would more people from the WWF join ? Who was going to defect from WCW? What would happen next? The n.W.o would eventually appear in the WWE in 2002, though never recapturing the magic of 1996.
Vince McMahon’s WWE is a company in a peril. Clinging for dear life to a John Cena shaped lifeboat and hoping to avoid drowning in the turgid sea of bad booking decisions and cringeworthy storylines which will lead to its inevitable demise, there’s little anyone -Triple H and his NXT crew included- can do to save it.
At least, not if the current general consensus among wrestling fans is anything to go by.
Scan through the message boards, plough through the tweets or browse through comments on your favourite online Raw recap, and you’ll find pretty much the same opinion: The WWE is in trouble, Vince McMahon is out of touch with his audience and, oh, did we mention how much better life would be if Cena would just turn heel already?
Yes folks, if popular opinion were all we had to go on, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to believe that one more failed Dolph Ziggler push will spell the end for McMahon’s sports entertainment empire.
Thankfully, that isn’t all we have to go on.
Indeed, whilst a large portion of fans are clamoring for the WWE’s downfall, the rest of us are busy dealing with a weird sense of déjà vu.
Haven’t we heard all of this before somewhere?
Indeed, as a wrestling fan for the best part of 25 years, the news that McMahon is out of touch with modern audiences certainly doesn’t come as much of a surprise to this writer. From the cartoon days early 90s to the Pirate Paul debacle and at every point in between -yes, including the beloved Attitude Era- it’s been well documented that the man in charge doesn’t exactly have his finger on the pulse of pop culture.
Despite this, he’s remained at the helm of a company which has weaved its way to the forefront of that very same pop culture on more than one occasion.
Sure, the mainstream has always fallen back out of love with pro wrestling eventually, though rather than bring about the end of WWE as a whole, it has instead ushered in something of a transitional period for the company, a bridging of the gap between boom periods where things weren’t always rosey.
Hell, you think things are bad now? Go back 20 years to 1995, a time when attendances figures plummeted, King Mabel reigned in the main event scene, and certified legend Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart was left stumbling through the midcard, doing battle against kleptomaniac pirates and demented dentists in the process. Whilst you’re there, watch another Big Daddy Cool vs. Psycho Sid main event and tell me that things weren’t far worse then than they are today.
Bare in mind too, that this was only three of four years after Hulkamania had finished running wild, and just two short years before the likes of Steve Austin and DX began to slowly usher in the Attitude Era.
Sandwiched somewhere halfway between two of the then-WWF’s most profitable and creatively-inspired periods was a company well and truly on its ass, spewing out more fodder for RD Reynolds and his Wrestlecrap chums than it has at perhaps any other time in history and making nowhere near the kind of money it does today.
Yet somehow, the company survived, and did so without the kind of financial reserves nor the kind of global reputation they have today.
If they survived 20 years ago, through possibly their biggest financial and creative drought to date, there’s no reason the WWE won’t survive well beyond 2015, a time when the company enjoys much financial stability in spite of whatever issues the launch of The Network may have caused.
Good news for McMahon & Co. then, though perhaps not so much for those fans clamoring the company’s demise.
Oh yeah! The Macho Man Randy Savage will finally get the honor he so rightfully has deserved from the WWE. According to several reports, Savage will be announced tonight as the first inductee to go into the 2015 WWE Hall of Fame.
TMZ.com and several other sources have reported on the news. The WWE Network is also promoting this, along with the fact that Savage will be inducted by Hulk Hogan. The induction by Hogan is interesting in that Hogan and Savage didn’t always see eye to eye and had several falling outs. However, according to Hogan the two mended fences shortly before Savage’s untimely death.
“Oooooh yeaaah … “Macho Man” Randy Savage is FINALLY going to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame … TMZ Sports has learned.”
Fans have been asking to see Savage in the Hall of Fame annually for about the last ten years. Savage is probably the last of the “blacklist” to get into the Hall of Fame. Bruno Sammartino was the first to unfreeze hell a couple of years ago. Last year it was the Ultimate Warrior who made peace with the WWE and now it appears that Savage will hop into those unfrozen waters. Unless I am missing someone I believe he remains the last of that list.
Savage’s name had been reportedly suggested to Vince McMahon for several years as a possible Hall of Fame inductee. Many former employees reported that Vince would sneer at the idea and it was well known that it was best to bring up Savage’s name. Whatever the origin of these feelings were, it was obvious that Vince still had them when Savage passed away as he received a nice but minor video tribute as compared to the Ultimate Warrior who had a lot of programming dedicated to him after he passed away.
The rift between Savage and Vince has turned into an urban legend. There is a rumor that Vince’s anger has something to do with an inappropriate incident between Savage and Stephanie McMahon. Nobody has confirmed that nor denied it. The WWE recently released a documentary on Savage and if it wasn’t true, that would have been the place to address it. It wasn’t addressed, although Dusty Rhodes did allude to it in the DVD.
Savage had his own personal issues with McMahon. It was documented in the documentary that Savage was irate at McMahon for the “Nacho Man” parody that the WWE produced when Savage left. Savage was irate at the balding jokes but even more upset about what he thought was a loose reference to Elizabeth leaving him for Hulk Hogan. After Triple H mocked Savage in a WWE magazine interview, Savage called him out on a website video. However, both sides cooled off as Savage appeared in the WWE All-Stars video game and promotional campaign on WWE television.
Lanny Poffo has said that Savage would never go into the Hall unless the whole Poffo family were inducted, similar to when the Von Erichs went in as a group. Lanny said the family would support Savage’s decision after he died, yet he has softened on it in recent months. He has said that the WWE could do whatever they want, but the Poffo family wouldn’t support it. Considering that Lanny and his mom appeared in the DVD, I would not be surprised to see them at the ceremony.
The big winners here are the fans who grew up with Savage or appreciated him years later through videos, YouTube, and now the WWE Network. There is no question that he belongs in the Hall of Fame. The only disappointment is that we can’t hear a classic speech from the icon when he finally takes his rightful spot.
Almost 30 years ago I was a boy screaming for Hulk Hogan to punch Paul Orndorff in the face at the Spectrum. Mr. Wonderful played me and 20,000 others like puppets. I just hoped the WWE Hall of Fame wrestler didn’t remember those death wishes when we sat down for an extended interview with Paul Orndorff.
One of the most memorable wrestling heels of the 80s was “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff. Orndorff had the physique, the talking, and the in ring skills that allowed him to contribute great things to the 80s WWF wrestling boom. “Mr. Wonderful” was truly ahead of his time.
In watching back videos of Orndorff 29 years later, his greatness becomes immediately evident. Orndorff was such a great heel, that he could get 20,000 fans on their feet by simply taking off his ring robe. As a wrestler, his grasp over the crowd would continue and whether he was in there with Hulk Hogan or S.D. Jones, Orndorff turned his opponent into the biggest hero of the night.
After watching some recent videos that reminded me of how great Mr. Wonderful was, I reached out to interview Paul Orndorff in 2008. I called Paul and he was resistant about doing interviews. I went on to tell him about how great I thought he was from watching the DVDs and how much I admired him as a heel. After a moment of silence Paul Orndorff he said, “I agree with everything you just said. Let’s do it!”
Ironically what I expected to be a brief yet fun wrestling interview turned into an hour long in depth conversation or what some may call an extended Shoot Interview. The WrestleMania 1 alumni was just as brilliant on the phone as he was 26 years ago when I made my dad take me to the Spectrum and watch him go toe to toe with Hulk Hogan.
Eric Gargiulo: Paul, it is truly an honor to speak with you. As I have said to you over the phone, I really do feel that you were one of the greatest if not the greatest heel of all-time and it is an honor to be speaking with you.
Paul Orndorff: I loved that introduction. Everything you said. Eric, see you’re a man that knows, and there are people out there that know the truth. There is no doubt about it, I should have been the world heavyweight champion of the WWF and you are exactly right.
Eric: You really should have been. I have been watching a lot of old tapes recently and watching your matches from a different perspective, a mechanics perspective, and a psychology perspective, I really think you may be the greatest heel of all time.
Paul: Well I appreciate that and people don’t know the energy, the work, the blood, that I put into it. I wasn’t an entertainer. I tried to go out there and do it as real as it could possibly be done, better than it could be done by anybody else, none of the showboating, no golden robes, all this stuff when you walk out and whoo this and whoo that. I didn’t work that way. I was a street fighter, always had been when I was growing up, played high school football, junior high football, college football scholarship, drafted by the New Orleans Saints, I was the real deal. It just goes to prove to you people out there and a lot of you other guys out there, you young people that just because you are the best at something you don’t always get what you want. That was very frustrating to me, to work so hard, to be in the gym, to be you know, have it all. Looks, I didn’t have to dye my hair. I wasn’t bald headed, I wasn’t fat I mean I should have had it. Yet, you have people, these promoters that do the opposite because somebody stands up for what they think are right or wrong, and that’s where I stood at. I’m too serious I guess.
Eric: You bring up an excellent point because when I watch your matches they do look as if you are in a fight. I want to bring up something one of your peers, Tito Santana said about you in an interview. Tito thinks that the problem with Hulk Hogan was the first time around, he didn’t draw money like Bruno (Sammartino) and (Bob) Backlund did on the rematches. However, when Hogan was wrestling Paul Orndorff, you guys drew so much money. You were the best drawing opponent for Hogan because you were the only one that had the credibility where people realized and knew you could beat him. What are your thought on what Tito had to say?
Paul: Well, I’ve said this many, many times about Tito Santana. Probably the best matches that I have ever had with anybody were with Tito. Tito was an ex-Kansas City, drafted by the Chiefs, Tito had the same attitude that I had in the ring, same attitude. I felt the very same about him and those comments, Tito’s a school teacher now, he’s a coach, Tito’s very intelligent. Back then Tito had a smart head on him you know, Tito knew how to play the game and I just wish I could have played the game like Tito did, and also keep his honor, and Tito did that, and to his people.
Eric: I remember back at the time you were hot, Tito was hot, and as a fan I always wanted to see you guys feud for the Intercontinental title. As a fan I would watch your matches and you were constantly go, go, go, and I would watch Tito’s matches which were also go, go, go, and it was a match I always wanted to see.
Paul: Well you know I wish they had but they didn’t. We did wrestle against each other but I would have loved to have done that. I think that probably it would have taken away from everything else because I wrestled Tito in a couple of places and one of them was in California, L.A., and I’m telling you when I picked Tito up they were throwing oranges, they were throwing eggs, I had a guy when I had him in the piledriver, had him picked up for the piledriver, a guy jumped, literally jumped in the ring, went by security, and jumped on my back. If it hadn’t been for that guy Tito Santana would have been piledrove. The police came and it just happened to be a mess. When the guy came in the ring, just as he was there I gave him a really good kick right in the mouth, that kind of laid him out there and they got him out. Still, it interrupted our match and we really didn’t get to finish it. That was the God’s truth, what I just told you wasn’t no lie, it was true, that really did happen. We were made for each other, Hogan too. I had good matches with him (Hogan) and it is no reflection of his talent or anything, he was chosen, he was the chosen, and he did it. No disrespect to him he drew money, he drew a lot of money, he drew money with everybody, but I also think that there was a time where that if they had it done (him beating Hogan for the WWF title) and done it the right way, he would have been on a different level, even higher than he was. Maybe he would have drawn the second time around with other people, who knows? It would have been better for everybody, but yet they didn’t.
Eric: I don’t have the numbers in front of me but I have to guess that if you take into account inflation, on the grand scale you and Hogan both times around had to draw more money together than just about anybody?
Paul: I think so too and that’s because we did it everywhere we went. We didn’t just do it the first time, the second time, we drew consistently and our matches got better. Really I made Hogan (laughs), that simple, I made him and he knows it. But then again he made me too in a way. It was good for wrestling. It was a lot better for Vince McMahon and Hogan than it was for me financially. That’s life. I like to do these interviews like this, that way I can express the way that I feel, and my attitudes with some things, and people. To have somebody Eric as knowledgeable as you are because I don’t do this to everybody, I’ll be honest with you. Just to feel your talk, the way you said, and the way you approach, if you’re pulling the wool over my eyes you did a good job. I kind of believe in the way you talk, and what you said, and that’s why I honor you with doing this.
Eric: I have such a great respect for you that it is truly an honor to hear that. I have been saying these things about you on my radio show before you agreed to the interview.
Paul: You know I hear this from a lot of people, a lot of people even to this day and you know people say all these good things about certain things. People that are really knowledgeable, you can tell some of them and I agree with them. I’m not going to say something like, “I didn’t this” or “I didn’t that” but you know I feel the same way. I worked too hard. I worked so hard for it that it was unreal. I went overboard.
Eric: The thing I notice most about your matches is that the second you walk through the curtain, you were entertaining the audience. Just by the way you looked at the crowd, by the way you moved, by the timing of the way you moved, and you were so great at not only getting the audience to hat you, but to cheer your opponent like crazy no matter who he was. Whether you were wrestling Hogan or Salvatore Bellomo, the fans just wanted them to beat you, and beat you. My question is can you credit anyone for mentoring you along the way as to how be a great heel?
Paul: What I did was this. Physically, the physical and the attitude, the viciousness, the meanness, and all these things, I had. Nobody gave that to me, that’s just God’s gift to me. I played football the same way. If I could knock your head off, I did, I would, and I felt good about it to tell you the truth. That’s the way I was. I can’t help that, it was just the mentality that I had. But what I did was I picked a little from this guy, a little from that guy, I listened to Bob Orton, Sr., Bobby’s father. He told me, “What you do is you get everybody to watch you. You want the focus to be on you when you get in the ring. So whatever you do you want everybody to be watching you, not the other guy.” That’s what I did, so I would do things and I knew that nobody had that type of endurance to go out there and to do this and to do that without I mean, just aggression, aggression. All of the time, aggression, and things that just made people mad. It came natural, ask my wife. My God I could do anything to make her mad, or anybody else mad. Just a little of this, a little of that, the way you move your body, and the little things that would just make the average person or anybody mad. I was good at it, too good at it.
Eric: In today’s wrestling do you find that to be a lost art? I recently spoke with Sid Vicious and he was telling me that he got so much out of his career by just being able to stand there and look at a crowd. He thinks that the young guys today go out and do so much that the fans don’t even get a chance to absorb a second of it. What do you think of those sentiments from Sid?
Paul: He’s absolutely right. Listen, I don’t care what generation it is, this or that, you could take Red Skelton or some of these older comedians, and you watch the timing that they had, and what they said and everything, and today they could do the same thing. You don’t have to say a bunch of cuss words, you don’t have to say this or say that to get the attention of the people. What you do is that you learn what you do, learn the art of what you are doing, and the people will get with it. What’s happened is that the promoters have let this go on because it’s easier. It’s not so much their fault, but I challenge anybody to go out, grab a hold, and work it. But I mean to work it viciously. I’m a big fan, a big fan of Mixed Martial Arts. I love that stuff, watch some of that stuff. Listen, Vince better not worry about somebody else getting into wrestling. He’s got to about UFC, that’s who he needs to worry about because they are just packing them, and that’s all that they are talking about. Because of all these off of the ceilings that they are doing now, through ladders, it’s just too much. You’ve taken the response out of the people and they sit there and watch them do a bunch of a moves, a bunch of aerial stuff, acrobatic stuff and you are doing nothing to get them into the match, to make them mad, to do this or to do that. Something that really gets them into the match, you have taken them out of the match and the only thing that they applaud on is if someone does an unreal move, it’s crazy.
Eric: I have spoken a few times with Bruno Sammartino about the period in the mid-eighties when he came out of retirement. He has consistently said that you were the only wrestler that he enjoyed wrestling during that time period, and went out of his way to say good things about you. What are your thoughts and memories of wrestling Bruno?
Paul: I’ve got a lot of respect for Bruno from the first day that I met him. He’s a man that says what he feels. He doesn’t back up to any of these guys, promoters and whomever else and he says what he thinks. You know if it’s wrong he will say, “Let’s try this, try that,” and hey I’m all for him. The guy drew nothing but money. Bruno Sammartino man, he’s up there with the old boxers, the old legends. His name is synonymous with anybody in the wrestling world. Madison Square Garden you think of Bruno Sammartino and I was in awe when I worked with him. We worked several shows and I could not believe it. Pittsburgh, we sold the place out. The people almost rioted, I had to have one of the agents come to the ring and get me out of the ring. Yeah, because it was getting bad because I beat Bruno’s son up and he still had it! I had so much respect for him I went in there and had a good match with him, that’s what I wanted to do, and that was the way I operated. I wanted to have good matches with anybody unless they were jerk, and then I didn’t.
Eric: Did you get into any trouble when you would make references to Hogan’s lack of hair in interviews?
Paul: Get in trouble? Who am I going to get in trouble with? I said what I thought. Hey, was it the truth? Case closed.
Eric: You made the news following the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony when you refused to shake Hulk Hogan’s hand. Why didn’t you shake his hand?
Paul: I never cared for him, you know? I don’t hate him. There are very few people that I hate. The older you get, you let that go you know? I may not like certain people, and we are all that way, we’re all different. If we were all the same we would all be living in each others houses but we’re not. He took care of himself. He was a BS’er like the rest of them and I told it like it was. Look at nowadays these interviews. You’ve got script writers that tell these guys what to say. Nobody told me what to say, I could say whatever I wanted to say. I did say what I want and if they didn’t like it, I still said it. What are they going to do, fire me? (Laughs) Turner and them would have jumped on me so quick it’s ridiculous. I would have made more money too.
Eric: Why do you think people aren’t tuning in to watch pro wrestling today like they did in your era in the WWF?
Paul: Talent! No Talent! Vince McMahon has no competition. Listen, competition is good. Whenever you have no competition, you can throw whatever at the people and if you don’t like it, so what? I’ve been telling people this and they have been telling me how bad the matches are and that they don’t even watch wrestling anymore. When you see a lot of people out there, supposedly a lot of people, they cut the arenas back to about ¼ of what they normally are, and you only see what they show you, and the tickets are free. We never gave away tickets! Good gracious. So, he’s got the people out there and no competition. I wish that Fox, Murdoch would get out there and start wrestling. Because if he did, with the older talent and the people out there that know about wrestling, they know how to get it back are out there. I don’t mean in the sense that they would have to wrestle but they know how to put on a wrestling show and to get the right people and it’s going to continue to be this way until these guys learn the art of the trade, and learn how to work these people. Hey, I could still go out there and make these people mad at me. It doesn’t make a difference if they know it’s phony or this or that, it’s how believable you make it look.
Eric Gargiulo: What have you been up to since WCW was sold?
Paul Orndorff: I have been loving on my grandbabies. I’ve been changing these poopie diapers. Listen, I have children, I have grandbabies, I’ve got great grandchildren I’m a great granddad now, I’m loving it. I love being at home, but I’m bored in a sense too. I’ve gotten hurt, all of these injuries are coming back, all in all thank God I’m okay and my family is doing great. I’m doing great.
Eric: I interviewed Bill Watts a few years ago and he said a lot of great things about you. He told a great story about you and Ted Dibiase worried about being booked to wrestle for one-hour. What do you remember about that night?
Paul: Oh yeah, Jackson, Mississippi, I’ll never forget it. Bill, I like Bill Watts. A lot of people didn’t like Bill Watts, a lot of people didn’t like Ole Anderson, but I liked them. They told it like it was. They treated you like you were an athlete and I liked them. I had words with both of them. No big deal, but at least they let me say what I thought and they didn’t fire me because of it, or didn’t knock me down, mess with my pay, or this or that, he (Bill Watts) didn’t do that. Bill, he put me and Dibiase together and we were two guys that just wanted to go at it man. I mean, it was me and it was him and we went at it for an hour straight. I’ll tell you what, with the amount of time that I had, the experience I had, because Ted was ahead of me. We didn’t think that we could do it and I’ll be darned if we didn’t do it, we did do it. Here again, I worked with Harley Race many times and he would go an hour. I went an hour and fifteen minutes with Harley. Just that experience to work with somebody like Harley, the experience he had, the knowledge he had, and then when you had to go out like me and Ted, you had two young bulls that went out and did it. That was how you learned, and I learned that, and I remembered that, and I remembered this and that, about that match. We just tore it up, we tore it up man, one of the best matches that I ever had. Thanks to Bill Watts. I love Bill Watts, he gave me such confidence, he let me grow, Ernie Ladd was there as his booker, first angle that I ever had was with Ernie Ladd. Ernie has passed away now and I really had a lot of respect for Ernie Ladd, I really did. That’s how you learn, I wasn’t different from anybody else, I just worked harder.
Eric: You were in the main-event of the very first WrestleMania. How surprised are you that WrestleMania has turned into the Super Bowl of professional wrestling?
Paul: Well you know Bill Watts had that same vision when he ran the Super Dome, and I was in the main-event of two of those and worked with Bruiser Brody and I can’t think of the other go. That’s got to mean something when you are in the first WrestleMania, out of all of the people there that they could have picked. I was one of them, and that’s who they wanted in it. Then well I don’t need to get into this thing you know, the belt. The belt, you know I should have had that belt. There’s no doubt about it.
Eric: I don’t think there is any doubt that there was a lot of money left on the table with you not getting a run with the WWF title.
Paul: Right, right. Exactly.
Eric: One thing you did that I want to ask you about is using your robe as part of your wrestling psychology. The way you slowly took the robe off, the way your opponents would grab the robe and put it on for heat, the way you touched the robe, it was just such a great tool and you were masterful with it.
Paul: Well yeah you’re right, I was a master. That’s because I watched everybody else and I wanted to be different. I wanted to be different in the ring, what I’ve done, what I said, and how I went about doing my job, and that’s it. If you did it the old, conventional way, I can tell you that I wasn’t going to, because I didn’t want to be like everybody else. I didn’t want to be like Gorgeous George. I wanted to be like him a little bit, but I didn’t want to be him the whole way because everybody had robes, and everybody had done this, and everybody had done that, you can’t help it if you weren’t born yet, but I did mine different because I had the whole deal. I had the body, I had the interview, I had the looks, I had it all, there was no where that I was weak, nowhere. That’s what made promoters mad because they couldn’t control me.
Eric: I heard a story that the WWF booked you in Japan for awhile when they first signed you. Is that true?
Paul: Well I was sent over there with them for about seven, eight months. At that time I was with Turner, Georgia Championship Wrestling. At this time this big feud was getting ready to happen with Vince taking over the world. The Grahams, Watts, all these places all over, all these, everywhere. The territories were having meetings, and this, and that, wanting to know what they were going to do, and they were pushing some of us to signing contracts. With Georgia, they wanted me to sign a contract but no guaranteed money or nothing, just to sign a contract. I went, “No! I aint signing no contract,” and then I get this call from Vince McMahon Senior, and we talked. I like gambles, I like to do something that’s different, the idea of Vince’s son taking over and having all of the big shows, all this and the visions they had, and to be a part of it. If it worked it’d be great, if it didn’t, hey listen, they’re going to hire you regardless if you are good. Of course I might have been blackballed, I don’t know but I know this. I would have still had a job up there in New York since Vince had such a strong hold up there and there was nobody going to take that territory away, he was just too strong politically and everything else. I thought it was a win, win but it was a gamble me leaving the South, but I did. And he said “I’ll send you over to Japan until we start up.” In an agreement he guaranteed me that I’d make more money than I had ever made, he guaranteed it, and I did it. That’s what happened, he kept his word.
Eric: Why do you think you weren’t given such a big push when you went to WCW in 1990?
Paul: Well I had gotten hurt you have to remember that I had gotten hurt. I still had to work, I still worked. I worked in the office, I did both, after getting hurt the way I was hurt it took a lot out of me. I never was the same after that to be honest. I don’t hold that against them or anything at all, although I could have been in a better position, I could have been, and I should have been. That’s okay, it’s no big deal, I have no qualms over it.
Eric: How did you get hurt?
Paul: It was one specific match, it was in Canada. I got kicked under the chin, out of a stupid mistake on somebody else’s part. I don’t know if it was out of stupidity or what, but it was really a stupid mistake that this person made.
Eric: What do you remember the fight you had with Vader in WCW?
Paul: The last thing I remember is that I was kicking him in the face with my flip-flops on and it hurt.
Eric: Is it true that Meng/Haku had to pull you off?
Paul: Yep. Well they had a lot of people there. It was one of those unfortunate things that happened. The only thing that I am thankful for is that if my body wasn’t hurt and I didn’t have all of that nerve damage on my right, God knows I might be in jail for killing him. I am not taking anything from anybody.
Eric: Paul, it seems like we just started this interview a minute ago. What a fast hour?
Paul: Well, we need to do it again Eric. Thank you, if it hadn’t been for the people I wouldn’t have been anything. I truly mean that. That’s why I worked so hard in the ring, so they got their money’s worth.
As a lifetime pro wrestling fan, the past 30 years have indeed been a rollercoaster of emotions (25 of which I can recall vividly). We have witnessed the highest of peaks and the lowest of valleys. The monopolization by the WWE, and their vision to eradicate pro wrestling while transitioning it to “sports entertainment” has indeed brought us to that deep dark valley of nausea. Luckily for us WRESTLING fans the days of our intelligence being insulted are vanishing, and fast. Buckle yourself in, this year is going to be an incredible ride. Here are my top 5 pro wrestling predictions for 2015.
1.) A NEW WWE ERA
Unlike most forums and blogs may have led you to believe, I see this year as a giant crossroad for the WWE, and one they will succeed at. Vince and company have always seemed to have this notion that they can put whatever product they want to serve out, and their loyal fans will always be there to feed on. Sure, to a degree that has been true as with any monopoly. However, 2014 gave the WWE a cold hard slap to their face when it came to loyalty and reality. The WWE Network subscription numbers were atrocious and the WWE clearly had no plan B. This reality check had to have been humbling for Vince McMahon. When the ego is as gigantic as his, it’s a very difficult circumstance to swallow.
It all culminated in a perfect storm. Between the subscription abomination, Vince calling out the roster, the emergence of NXT, lack of talent utilization, the uprising of new competition, paycheck cuts, and the dismal moral in the locker room, the WWE is headed for a new ERA. While Vinnie Mac may want to “shake things up again”, the truth is, they actually have no alternative. They must choose to give the fans what they want, otherwise, we will start to see the crumbling of the empire known as WWE. They have the talent, they have the $$$, they have every opportunity to succeed. I see this year as a significant marker for the company. When push comes to shove, Vince always comes through, and I for one believe in his creative skill sets.
2.) A REVOLUTION RISING
Do you feel it? There’s something spreading like a wildfire in the industry, and it’s not the WWE. The old school fans called it territories. The new school fans called it “the Indys”. But we’re seeing a revolution of something new and special. Now is the time to be a wrestling fan ladies and gentlemen. The WWE is no longer the only big fish in the USA pond. Sure, we’ve seen companies like ROH and TNA tread those waters for years, only to become minnows swallowed up by the great white shark known as the WWE. But while the WWE has become lazy in creative, the other fish are getting bigger and more ferocious by the day. These companies in my opinion have the best wrestlers in the world today.
Yes, I am a huge fan of stars like Dolph Ziggler, Bray Wyatt, Daniel Bryan, Brock Lesnar, Cesaro, Damien Sandow and Dean Ambrose. But then Sunday Jan 4th happened. NJPW’s Wrestle Kingdom 9 was perhaps the best PPV I’ve ever seen. (A MUST SEE IF YOU ARE A WRESTLING FAN) And I’ve seen plenty. With the call by Jim Ross and Matt Striker (Ross’s call of the main event gave me chills that I haven’t felt since the Attitude Era) it became clear as crystal, the best wrestlers on the planet are NOT in the WWE. These companies ALL have their own unique vibe, and also have seemed to no longer try to model their companies like the WWE. With the likes of NJPW (opening more to the U.S.A. audience), ROH, Lucha Underground, PWG, TNA (pushing the reset button), and the emergence of GFW…. WATCH OUT. These companies are hungry, with their wrestlers even hungrier. By this time next year don’t be surprised if the WWE has some serious threatening competition. Can’t wait!
3.) THE EMERGENCE OF THE NXT STARS
If you’re reading this, you probably are well aware of the talent the NXT has. Hand selected wrestlers from all around the world have landed in WWE’s developmental pool. I think HHH has realized they weren’t going to groom any talent anytime soon from scratch. Selecting some of these talented and already established individuals is PURE GOLD. Talents such as Finn Baylor, Adrian Neville, Sammy Zayn, Hideo Itami and of course Kevin Owens, are the future of the WWE. I just hope the company doesn’t try to “WWE mold them”. These dudes were the cream of the crop BEFORE coming to WWE. And lucky for us, most of them are entering the prime of their already stellar careers. These 5 stars will not only break out in 2015, but they will also be WWE main eventers and wearing gold around their waist by years end. In my opinion NXT is already a better show than RAW…. And the company knows it too.
4.) DOLPH ZIGGLER BECOMES WWE CHAMPION
Is there anyone on the current roster that is more deserving of the “strap”? Short and sweet answer….NO. His focus and passion is clearly higher than anyone else in the company right now. For whatever reason the powers that be have held him down long enough. His dues have been paid and he WILL be WWE champion in 2015…. Guaranteed and “here to show the world”
5.) WRESTLING PODCAST INFLUENCE
The podcast “explosion” took place in 2014, the influence and impact has been bigger than people may realize. From originals like Colt Cabanas, to the crew on MLW, to the Podcast One group, 2015 won’t disappoint… the beauty of these podcasts is that the wrestlers (former and current) have the opportunity to speak their minds. Lots of “internet” rumors surface and these stars have a chance to clear the air and speak from the heart. I think this is critical for not only to set the record straight, but also for their well beings. Seeing what happened to Bret Harts life after the Montreal Screwjob was very sad. He let things be built up inside him and it nearly killed him. If someone like him would have had a podcast and had guests like Shawn Michaels, or Vince, who knows what sort of emotional baggage all three could have erased.
Many pro wrestlers are indeed paranoid. By being a guest on the podcasts these wrestlers have the opportunity to squash any incorrect rumors as well as open their hearts to the millions of fans that listen. That creates a connection with fans that they may or may not be able to achieve on screen. No acting, no scripts just the real human speaking to all of the listeners. Hearing shows like the Ross Report and all the plethora of info that took Jim Ross 40 years to gain, and is thrown out for all of us to absorb is wonderful. Just look what it did for Ryback.
Without his Talk is Jericho podcast, we many never of gotten a chance to hear about his wonderful true story. Or what about Stone Colds Podcast that provided the infamous Vince McMahon “call out of the WWE roster”. And who could forget Colt Cabana’s podcast with CM Punk. It was the single most talked about podcast in the history of professional wrestling. I’m sure wrestling companies (like WWE) are also listening and gaining insight as well. Perhaps even being influenced as well. This can only help their product. 2015 will be the year of the podcasts.
2015 is sure to be one the greatest years in pro wrestling history. Are you ready? I am. What are your 2015 predictions? Would love to hear what YOU the people that make this business tick, have to say.
There is nothing more memorable in professional wrestling than a great rivalry. The WWE has produced some of the all-time best over the last several decades and I thought it would be fun to look back and countdown the ten best WWE feuds of all-time.
Wrestling fans will probably go through their lives watching a lot of wrestling. Yet it will be the memorable angle and great feud that resonates with them for generations. Those dramatic moments and intense matches will live on and be passed down through legend to future generations. Over the course of my lifetime, the WWE has produced some of the all-time best.
Keep in mind that I am not ranking this as a greatest feuds blog, I am specifically looking at feuds that happened within a WWE ring. While I grew up with classic feuds from territories all over the United States, only those within the WWE were readily available to be reviewed for this blog. Fortunately you can catch most of these great matches and/or moments on the Network or YouTube so even if you weren’t watching them live, you can still appreciate the chaos.
In no particular order here is the breakdown of what are in my opinion, the 10 greatest feuds in WWE history.
Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon - Let’s start with an easy one. Austin vs. McMahon is arguably the greatest feud in WWE history. If the criteria for this list was simply revenue, Austin vs. McMahon would probably top the list. Unfortunately the WWE has gone to the well so many times in recent years with heel authority figures that I don’t think we will ever see anything like this again. The timing was just right in 1997 with Vince coming off of the Montreal Screw Job, competition from WCW, the popularity of the n.W.o. bringing pro wrestling back into the mainstream, and the emergence of this biggest anti-authority hero you will ever see in a wrestling ring.
Hulk Hogan vs. Roddy Piper - Next to Austin vs. McMahon I may call this the greatest feud in WWE history. It was certainly the biggest of my lifetime as a fan up until Austin vs. McMahon. The legacy of this feud cannot be understated. These two guys were pivotal in taking pro wrestling and breaking it out into the mainstream in 1984 and 1985. Sure Hogan was a great babyface but there was no other villain in the company that could transcend popular culture like Piper. The timing was absolutely perfect for these two to take the country by storm and they did. The same can’t be said for their rivalry years later in WCW and again in the WWE unfortunately.
Bruno Sammartino vs. Larry Zbysko - This one was a bit ahead of my time but the legend of this rivalry has sustained several generations of pro wrestling fans. I can’t begin to explain why this one became so much bigger than others for Bruno because Bruno had plenty of allies turn on him throughout his WWE career. Yet for whatever reason, Zbysko’s defiance hit home with the fans. Zbysko breaking the chair over Bruno’s head has become iconic in its own right. The heat for their matches was ridiculous and while Hogan may take credit for it in his book, it was this match that drew a monster house to Shea Stadium in an era before pay-per-view.
CM Punk vs. John Cena - It’s funny because the best angle this feud had is arguably the least memorable, which was the night Punk got up from the commentary booth and turned on Cena. Their 2011 summer series remains the biggest feud/angle of modern day era of WWE. Punk’s pipe-bomb promo was believable and fans ate up the idea of Punk leaving the WWE as world champion. Their Money in the Bank match was rated five stars by Dave Meltzer which is incredibly high praise. Whether it has the sustainability of the others on this list remains to be seen, but on this date it was one of the all-time best.
Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage - The WrestleMania V rivalry remains an iconic feud from the 1980s era of pro wrestling. Fans today still talk about the great match and classic angle which saw Savage turn on Hogan on prime time television. The year-long build is patience that could pay off today if the WWE had a different mindset as opposed to the hot-shot angle and match. Hogan gets a lot of criticism for his work rate but all you need to do is check out their WrestleMania V match and others in the 80s to see Hogan and Savage for that matter at his best.
Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels - This is a feud that probably doesn’t get as much due as it should. The angles and series of matches throughout this lengthy rivalry remain some of the best from the last decade of WWE wrestling. Their Ladder Match in particular still sticks out as an all-time favorite. Between Jericho punching Michaels’ wife and almost blinding the Heartbreak Kid you won’t find many better heels in the last decade than Jericho was during this historic period.
Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart - Austin vs. Hart remains one of the greatest rivalries which produced arguably the greatest WrestleMania match in history (my favorite anyway). What made this one so good? I think it goes back to the Survivor Series 1996 hype and Austin telling the world that no matter what happens in New York City, the feud will never end…and it didn’t. The feud was intense, believable, dramatic, and the two just had such great chemistry that it wouldn’t have worked with anyone else. Both guys had chips on their shoulders with Bret obsessing over Shawn Michaels and Austin obsessed with proving WCW wrong after he was released. The hunger and desire out of both guys is evident in everything they did which is why it was all so great.
The Rock vs. Steve Austin - How can you go wrong with three WrestleMania main-events? While you would riot today if you saw Randy Orton vs. John Cena three times at Mania, every match was bigger and better. The timing and worlds aligned for these two to make beautiful wrestling music together. Unfortunately I don’t think this one paid off nearly as much as it should have with Austin leaving after their final match at WrestleMania 19 and never following through on his revenge. Yet there are plenty of great angles leading up to 15 and 17 readily accessible on the Network that will make you a believer if you have any doubts about how fun and memorable this feud was in its heyday.
Mankind vs. The Undertaker - One of quite possibly the most underrated feuds in WWE history would be The Undertaker vs. Mankind. Sure, this one will always be remembered for Hell in a Cell but there was so much more. For over two years these two guys waged one of the most brutal and bloody wars ever seen in a WWE ring. Mankind debuted and immediately jumped into a feud with Taker. Mankind wasted no time targeting the Dead Man as he picked a fight with Taker on his first night in the company. The next two years saw dozens of vignettes and matches showcasing the brutality of this deadly rivalry. Pick any match on the Network between these two and I can guarantee you that it will be just as exciting now as it was almost 20 years ago.
Triple H vs. Batista - It still amazes me that someone who was involved in a legendary rivalry like Batista was crapped on by the new generation of fans so badly when he returned last year. I think the WWE could have helped him out quite a bit if they went back and showed old footage of his rivalry with Hunter. What made this so good is that it had been brewing for months. Batista would shoot these subtle looks at Hunter for months prior to their match that let the fans know that it was coming. This allowed the rivalry to simmer for months before it finally boiled over into one of the greatest segments in RAW history (right up there with their contract signing). Batista won three straight matches and yet the fans couldn’t get enough of this rivalry. Again, this is another case in patience paying off at the box office for the WWE.
TNA Wrestling president Dixie Carter is aghast at recent comments made by Vince McMahon. Dixie couldn’t comprehend the idea that Vince feels that his roster has no ambition. According to Carter, that isn’t a problem in TNA Wrestling.
Dixie continues to give plenty of fodder to bloggers and critics with her media appearances. A seasoned public relations veteran, Dixie continues to paint herself as a disillusioned pro wrestling promoter that is either completely out of touch or afraid to come to terms with the reality of her company. A recent interview with the Mirror was no exception.
Carter gave the Mirror an incredibly lengthy interview. I’d recommend checking out the entire article because it is certainly more of a glimpse into her mentality than anything else you’ll get from her or a podcast. One of the highlights was when asked about recent comments Vince made about his roster lacking ambition on the Stone Cold podcast.
“I can’t even comprehend that statement. It doesn’t sit with our group.
“My own roster’s completely different than that. I don’t have a complaint about anybody on my roster.
“The young guys are just as hungry … the young guys from 10 years ago are now the Bobby Roodes, Samoa Joes, James Storms. My main eventers, who were brand new young talent from 10 to 12 years ago, I’m proud of how far they’ve come.
“This young group of talent we have right now, they’re the hardest working, most positive team players around.”
I will say this about Carter. I would probably prefer to work for an owner who comes out and publicly supports her roster as opposed to an owner who shows no faith publicly or privately in his own. I am sure the TNA roster was happy to read their fearless leader talk so proudly about her group.
Unfortunately Dixie had her usual disillusions during the interview. Carter was asked about the criticism by some that TNA continue to promote WWE cast-offs. Her answer is well, probably not that well thought out.
“For so many years, I’ve caught so much negative flack, people saying that all we do is hire WWE people. The truth of the matter is, if you look at the WWE roster of late, they’re full of TNA talent even if that means a Sting, Hulk Hogan or a Rob Van Dam, Ric Flair. That’s a passé complaint.
“When you only have two leagues there’s only so many talent that you can find that are on a worldwide level. I think the tide has turned and WWE is taking our talent of late, not the reverse of that. It’s just the way it’s been.”
What a dumb comment. For starters, none of those people mentioned are even wrestling in the WWE. Number two, none of these guys walked into the WWE and were immediately given main-event spots. As a matter of a fact, all of those names are simply bit players at this point. It’s a ridiculous comparison, especially considering that none of these talents originated in TNA.
Carter continues to insist that the move to Destination America is not only positive, but it was their call. That conflicts with numerous reports that indicated Spike TV felt that TNA had peaked and passed on the product. However, in the world of Dixie it was TNA who thought it was a better move to go to Friday nights on Destination America as opposed to staying on Spike TV.
“Any time there’s change, you get outside your comfort zone and I think that’s where TNA needs to be – outside its comfort zone,” she says confidently. “We needed to make changes and that’s what Kevin Kay at Spike and I talked about at the beginning of the year; I did not want status quo, I wanted change.
“When you see where we’re going today [with Destination America], we’ve already announced repeats and different versions of our show, that’s what we needed and that’s what I would not settle for less than in these negotiations.”
The idea that she drove this train is simply ridiculous. Reports indicate that the budget has been cut, plus TNA will be seen in less homes on a worse night. Dixie continues to insist that they will be a flagship program, yet no network has their flagship program on Friday nights. It is pure madness to believe anything else.
I’d recommend reading the whole interview to get more perspective from Dixie on her new television home as well as some interesting thoughts on the Knockouts division. Regardless of whether the B.S. meter is running high in the red.
Vince McMahon is something of an enigma in that you can’t get the true Vince experience without working with the man. Chris Jericho and Dean Ambrose are two guys have worked closely with Vince and they’ve got some interesting stories to tell about the Genetic Jackhammer.
Dean Ambrose was a guest on Chris Jericho’s podcast Talk is Jericho recently. The two-part interview was one of the best Jericho has done in his 101 shows. I found one segment in particular incredibly fascinating and that was when they both shared some off the cuff stories about working with Vince McMahon.
Ambrose’s story was interesting on a couple of levels. One, it reflects how close to the Mr. McMahon character Vince really can be off-camera. Two and most interesting, it discussed that awful mannequin segment Ambrose did on RAW a few months back. In my opinion, this was one of the worst segments of the year and almost killed the Ambrose-Rollins feud immediately. Yet according to Ambrose, Vince loved it and if he had it his way, would have gotten in the ring and massacred the mannequin himself.
“I think sometimes Vince (McMahon” with me, he is living vicariously or acting out certain impulses. (Imitating Vince) I want you to say “You’re going to rip his face off! You take this mannequin and chop his hand off! Yeah, yeah. What else can you do to this mannequin? Rip his hair out!” He’s really into it. I find that there’s some stuff that I am asked to do that Vince is really into.
Jericho responded, “You’re talking about when you brought the mannequin to the ring that was supposed to be Seth Rollins and then you’re tearing it apart and this is Vince’s instructions to you?”
“Yeah, he loved it. He was into it,” responded Ambrose. I was in Vince’s office with this mannequin with this bag of tools laid out on the floor. Vince is just looking at the tools and then looking at the mannequin and describing what he might do to the mannequin. It was like nobody else was in the room. It was like he was in there alone with the mannequin. He was in his own little world. (Imitating Vince again) “This mannequin, what could you do to it? You take this, chop his hand off! You like that mannequin?” I asked Vince in this same conversation, “If I was going to say that I was going to cut his balls off what is the word I’d use for balls?” He said, “Testicles!” with no hesitation. Well testicles is the word we use in wrestling when someone kicks you in the nuts.
Jericho had his own stories about working with Vince. None of which paint him as a man sympathetic to women nor is anything off limits when it comes to his own family.
“I had Stephanie (McMahon) one time with Hunter and something was said along the lines, “Stephanie is my precious little flower” and I said, “Stephanie lost her flower a long time ago”. I said (asking Vince), “Can I say that?” Vince goes, “Yes but just make sure you pause after to let the crowd cheer and react.” So it’s like, yeah you can call my daughter a slut, just make sure you let the crowd pop before you continue. That’s him.
“I did a thing once where I was doing something with Chyna and he wanted me to smash her thumb with a hammer because she wore gloves all of the time. (Imitating Vince) We’ll take the glove out, we’ll put a sausage in there and you’ll smash it with a hammer.” I asked, “Is that legal? Am I going to get arrested?” He’s like, “Creative license!”
I’ll tell you what. The WWE Network needs subscribers, stick a camera in Vince’s office during creative meetings, call it the Vince Cam, put it on the network and I think you’ll have one of the greatest reality television shows possible. A guy can dream right?
Vince McMahon was critical of roster on the Steve Austin podcast for not grabbing the brass ring like Austin’s peers in the Attitude Era did. Maybe it is time for Vince to take a hard look at himself for failing to give his roster the opportunity to grab those brass rings?
Vince made a lot of waves with remarks made during the Austin interview. One segment in particular came when he was asked about guys being afraid to step up in his locker room. Vince took this opportunity to blast his roster for failing to step up and grab opportunities like Austin and his buddies did in the Attitude Era.
“Well, don’t piss anybody off. … You have… this is a different group of guys and gals — it’s millennials. They’re not as ambitious, quite frankly. And they’re not trepidatious at all. I just don’t think they necessarily want to reach for that brass ring. The last person to really reach for that brass ring, in all likelihood was John Cena. There are others coming up now who definitely want to reach for it: (Dean) Ambrose is one of them, Seth Rollins is another one, Roman Reigns is another one, Bray (Wyatt) is another one. So I think you’ve got some people here chomping at the bit to make a difference but when you’re walking around backstage you don’t hear as much camaraderie perhaps and laughter as in your era. But then again there are some other things they do. … I would suggest (this locker room is not as ambitious as the one you were in), correct. It’s a different… Again, I said it’s millennials. It’s a different point of view. If you reach for that brass ring and you fall on your butt… no one wants to fail and there’s this feeling, this insecurity, that if you fail you’re exposed. I think that’s largely pretty much what it is. Because you give everybody the opportunities, you give everyone resources, which you never had. The things that we do now from a television production standpoint, social media. Oh my god, social media is huge. It helps talent in so many different ways. It gives them the tools that you did not have, and other people like you didn’t have. It’s the utilization of those tools that’s very important for talent to use. And they do use them but not in the way you did.”
The ironic part about this statement is that it is Vince who is the one stifling his locker room and failing to provide an environment in which talent can take chances and go for that proverbial brass ring. The fact is that no such brass ring exists today and nobody on today’s roster would be able to take advantage of it even if it did.
Let’s start with scripted promos. Austin 3:16 would never happen today because Stone Cold would be reading a script. Think about that one for a second. The biggest boom period in company history would have never happened if Austin was cutting that promo today. Not Austin 3:16, not any of The Rock’s clever promos, not any of Austin’s money promos, all of that magic would be contained in a bottle today. How in the world can anyone take risks and cut heartfelt promos in today’s WWE world? Maybe if the scripting was good it could work but even the scripting is terrible. The wrestlers aren’t believing it, fans aren’t buying it, and it just isn’t working. The legs are being cut off immediately with the lack of creativity.
What about these ridiculous names guys are getting out of developmental? Is it just a sheer coincidence that the guy who came the closest to grabbing that brass ring in recent years was CM Punk? Punk didn’t have to endure a name change and he was also given more freedom on promos than most are today. Steve Austin, The Rock, CM Punk, are names you’d never hear or see under today’s system.
The parity is pathetic. Nobody is given the chance to go on a win streak or elevate themselves as something special, separating him or herself from the pack. I have said it before and I’ll say it again. Perception is reality. Fans see guys losing for so long that they can’t wrap their heads around that guy or girl being a top star or champion. Look at guys like Dolph Ziggler, Dean Ambrose, and Daniel Bryan. Ziggler had momentum cut off immediately by jobbing him out. Ambrose lost on RAW to Randy Orton just as he was starting to catch fire. Somehow by a miracle Bryan survived as if you look back at when Bryan first started catching fire, he was being jobbed out. He won Money in the Bank and was immediately losing every match. This is a repeated pattern among the writers. Even CM Punk recently commented about how Triple H cut off his momentum in 2011 when he was at his hottest. How boring would sports be without elite athletes? Nobody is ever promoted as elite in this current environment, it’s even-Steven booking for everyone.
It’s easy for Vince to blame his roster for not getting over but there is only so much that his talent can go. Vince has created such a restricted environment that anyone with the hunger or desire to think out of the box generally winds up frustrated and exhausted by the restricted process. If Vince wants his guys to go for the brass ring, he needs to give them one that is within reach. Unfortunately you have a better chance of seeing the PG-13 rating come back.
It didn’t take CM Punk long to respond to Vince McMahon’s apology. If you expected Punk to have a change of heart after hearing the CEO say he is sorry, you better think again. Not only is Punk still irate, he is calling the apology “bullsh*!”
CM Punk returned for another interview on Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling podcast. This week’s podcast featured less pipe bombs but did address two highly anticipated topics. Punk addressed Vince’s apology and Vince’s feelings that Punk would be back in the WWE someday. Vince is sorry that Punk received his termination notice on his wedding day as he told Stone Cold Steve Austin.
“I would like to do this. I would like to apologize. Sometimes in a big corporation, the legal people don’t necessarily know what talent relations are doing and conversely. Punk got his severance papers moreover on the day he got married. That was coincidence. So I want to personally apologize for that.”
Vince also went on to say that he thinks they can work out with Punk as he did with Ultimate Warrior, Bruno Sammartino, Bret Hart, and Hulk Hogan. Now most immediately accused the Chairman of the Board of lying through his teeth. CM Punk is one of them. Punk isn’t buying it and wants to assure all of those fans chanting his name that he isn’t coming back and is closing the door on the WWE.
“Me? I’ll go work the fu*cking Young Bucks at PWG. I don’t give a fuck. See, the thing (is) if I say it’s not off the table you’re going to have these people that are holding on to hope that I’m coming back. I understand and it makes interesting conversation, right? I think there’s plenty of guys out there that think they know. Jericho, I think, is one of them. Jericho thinks that I feel exactly how he felt in 2005 and he left for two, two-and-a-half years or something like that. So from his perspective, he felt in 2005 that he was never going to come back. And now he sees me saying that and he’s probably like ‘ah, just wait three years, you’ll feel like it will come back.’ I can see his point of view but then in turn I go ‘motherfu*cker, they didn’t fire you on your wedding day. They didn’t purposely and maliciously try to ruin a day that is supposed to be special to everybody. It’s your wedding day.’ I don’t want to hear ‘oh, it was a coincidence. I don’t want to hear ‘oh, the lawyers didn’t talk to talent relations.’ I talked to Hunter on the 11th, on the 13th Fed Exed overnight I got a document that was dated the 12th. My wife asked for that time off so she could A) get married, B) go on her honeymoon. The weekend after her honeymoon she was back on TV. They knew. I don’t want to hear ‘oh, it was a coincidence.‘
“And you know what, I’ll address it: if the apology was sincere you wouldn’t use it as a publicity stunt on Austin’s podcast. You have my phone number, you have my address. You could text, you could call, you could show up when you’re a 10 minute fu*cking drive from my house and apologize to me like a man. That’s the fu*cking reality of it.”
“That’s the fu*cking timeline, ladies and gentlemen. I was sick and fu*cking hurt, and sick and tired, and I walked out. And I can do that because I’m an independent fu*cking contractor. And then I was suspended and then nobody contacted me after my suspension to be like ‘you’re unsuspended, we need you at Raw.’ I got those phone calls ‘we need you at TV’ a day after elbow surgery. I got that phone call a day after knee surgery. They weren’t afraid to do it then. So where the fuck was my phone call. Oh, I’m suspended, fine, great, I’m suspended. You know what? Maybe in the two months I’m feeling better and I’m going to come to my senses. But nobody ever found out because nobody ever reached out, you know what I mean?
He also wants to make it clear, he is never coming back.
“Every six months, we had a new head of talent relations, whether it was Jane Geddes, whether it was Sean Cleary. They were all these people who had no business being the head of talent relations. Every six months, somebody new. And you’re supposed to relate to the talent and nobody knew how to talk to these people. I’m a wrestler. I don’t know… The head of the HR department doesn’t know anything about taking bumps, he doesn’t know what a payday is. If I said ‘hey, I’m a blue eye’ he wouldn’t know what the fuck I’m talking about. So it’s hard to relate to these people, you know? I don’t want to hear it was a coincidence. I’m sorry. It was a publicity stunt. You’re sorry. Great. Be a man and call me. I’m sorry. It’s the fu*cking way it is, though, man. It’s the fu*cking reality. And if anybody out there thinks it was a coincidence, come on. Come on.”
“People are asking me like ‘do you accept Vince’s apology?’ And I’ll say I appreciate the sentiment but that was not a sincere apology and he knew about it since June. Why didn’t he apologize in June if he really felt bad about it? He just wanted to make sure a TV camera was on him so he could kind of damage control it and be like ‘oh, I’m really sorry.’ Well, if you were you would have apologized earlier, and if you were, if you really wanted to talk to me, you would have responded after I got a hold of everybody in the office. You would have said ‘you’re unsuspended.’ You would have said ‘we need you back on TV’ like you did when I was walking out of the hospital still anesthetized. … So, yeah, it’s done. We’re closing this chapter of my life.”
So one thing I continue to fail to understand here is why he was both mad and surprised. He walked out of the company, injured or not, and was not in any communications with the office. He does mention that he spoke with Triple H but curiously he fails to leave the details of that call out. I think those details are very important. Is it his fault or theirs? I think a bit of both and it surprises me that he can’t see that. What are they supposed to do?
Now as far as being terminated on his wedding day, that is certainly spiteful and intent to hurt. However, here is a guy that leaked weeks before this that he wasn’t coming back when his contract was up. Here is a guy that walked out of the company and wasn’t talking to anyone. It would appear to me, especially from all of the rumors you heard about him being disgruntled, that he wanted to leave. Again, I would think he’d see this as a gift! Let’s face it. The guy is reportedly set for life so it isn’t as if he is going to have to worry about paying his bills. I am not sure what Punk’s end game here was if he was that upset about being terminated, even if it was on his wedding day. From all indications he wanted to leave and they could have extended his contract indefinitely until he returned from injury. The other thing is, he could have had his job back the next day if he wanted it! Yes he was fired but if he was that upset about losing his job, he could have it back in a second. Sure it was caddy, but I just think there is a bit of a drama here that isn’t making sense.
Punk is clear and he isn’t coming back. I think it is time to stop the chants and leave the guy alone and let him move on with his life. Many will disagree but I still think that the door could reopen although that won’t happen for years. Who knows where he will be in his life in 2-5 years? I doubt it but it wouldn’t shock me at all to see him back, but not for several years.