Tony Mamaluke on his runs in WCW, ROH, ECW, and WWE, why he feels he and Sal Rinauro became ROH Tag Team Champions prematurely, being fired by WCW due to suffering multiple concussions, his friendship with Chris Kanyon

By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

The Two Man Power Trip of Wrestling Podcast with Tony Mamaluke
Host: JP John Poz
Twitter: @TwoManPowerTrip
Website: www.tmptempire.com
Interview available at Tmptow.podomatic.com

On being hired by WCW: “Like everything in my wrestling life, it was by accident and probably shouldn’t have happened. So at that particular time, Eric Bischoff was trying to create a show that was separate from his regular wrestling presentations and it was going to be something in the effect of wrestling meets the Power Rangers. So he had tasked Chris Kanyon with finding kind of like smaller, cruiserweight wrestlers that no one’s ever seen before. Over the course of that canvassing, he discovered AJ Styles, Jimmy Yang, Jamie Noble, and I happened to have been in the wrestling circuit of Florida at the time, and, you know, all these guys were sending their videotapes in. My roommate was, you know, told to send a videotape, sent a videotape, and we had wrestled each other a number of times, and I was on the tape and Chris Kanyon saw the tape and called up my roommate, Jeremy and said, Hey, let me get some contact information about one of the guys on your tape would happened to be me. At that point, we all got a try out match – we being Jeremy and a guy named Jet Jaguar, the guy that would later become Jamie Noble and we all had a tryout match in, I think it was Jacksonville, Florida at the Memorial Arena. I should probably remember this. It’s been a long time and, uh, they all, they hired all four of us on that, on that particular day.”

On Chris Kanyon: “Yeah. Yeah. Kanyon was a big part of my early career as far as just opportunity, and he was just a really good friend to me, and to all of us, really. It should be said, uh, he was really good to all the people that he helped out. He was always trying to be a good friend, even when, you know, he was busy with his own career and all the activities that were going on with it, et cetera, with the WCW closing, et cetera, and WWF at the time requiring you know, he was always trying to help people.”

On the Kanyon “Dark Side of the Ring” episode: “I did watch it. And I was there for all of that. The good and the bad over the course of the time that I knew him. I was aware of some of those, um, things that you saw in the video, but I, I will say this, I know a bit more about that situation that I’ve never discussed publicly, nor will I, in terms of, Kanyon and the way that he, he left us that is just left better unsaid and not talked about. I thought they, you know, it was pretty clear where he was, in his life. I think it’s misunderstood. It’s misunderstood the real tragedy of it all. I think it probably did a good, it did shine a light on how, you know, as you saw in that particular documentary, how he was a very helpful person, in spite of all the demons that he was battling. He’s just a good person.”

On the Tony Mamaluke character: “It’s all related to Vito La Grasso and his friendship with Vince Russo. And at that particular time, they were really firing a lot of the talent, especially in the power plant. It was a very dark period of time. Every day you’d go in there and there would be somebody or more than somebody walking out with their bag, not to return, you know, because the company was in transition and, and on its last stand in many respects. I don’t know if many of us knew how dire the situation was and the AOL time Warner acquisition, et cetera. And so, you know, when you got called into Paul Orndorff’s office, who was running the Power Plant at the time, that was kind of like your signal, that this was it. So I was seeing all my friends get fired. I saw, you know, the same people that got hired, where they were all getting fired. And then I was all alone, you know? And then one day Paul Orndorff, I was in the ring with someone training or whatever. He calls me into the office and I said, well, I guess it’s my turn. And then it turned on its head when he said, okay, on Monday, you’re going to be at Nitro. You gotta look like you are John Travolta and said, okay, now there you go. They’ll contact you with travel information. And I said, and I walked out of there, you know, almost kind of surreal feeling like I thought I was walking in here to get fired and you’re telling me I’m going to make my professional wrestling debut.”

On the Mamalukes and working with Chuck Zito: “Some of the stuff they were putting together, well, I first cannot confirm nor deny any affiliation with any of this said criminal enterprise. I don’t know if Vince Russo really ever understood the wrestling business or how it actually works. I think he probably felt like he was a TV writer, not a wrestling writer. So he just wrote television. The funny thing about Chuck, Chuck Zito. When you said was silly, you know, obviously Chuck Zito has affiliations with people who have questionable character, et cetera, and he was great in the role of being someone’s, uh, Italian father with ties to alleged criminal activity. It was so good that it was actually too good. That’s why it only lasted one week because everybody started thinking, wait, who’s this Chuck Zito. And who does he know? And what has he been a part of? Uh, we won’t bring him back, but he was great. It was fun to work with. I wish it could have lasted a lot more if it would have been a lot more interesting television, cause he’s obviously a professional actor he’s been on several major projects over his course of his career. I mean, he’s a legitimate, real talent, obviously. So he would have definitely lent a lot of credibility to me, but, uh, he was actually too good in the role.”

On getting fired from WCW: “Well, I got fired because I had several major concussions in a very short period of time because of the Power Plant. They didn’t like that, and they were going through budget cuts in early February, right after the turn of the century there in 2000. And James J Dillon called me up. I think it was like February. That’s about right. Said we can no longer keep you gainfully employed because of your head injury status. And the thing about them is what they would do is if you were injured, they would cut your pay in half. And then when you were released from the doctor, then you’d get your pay back to its normal rate. And so once the doctor cleared me, their neurologist, they cut ties to me. They weren’t going to fire me while I was injured, but they had to wait for me to get cleared. And then I was unceremoniously released from my contract in the earliest parts of 2000.”

On working for ROH: “Gabe (Sapolsky) was in ECW, so I knew him there. And Bill Behrens was instrumental in the early days of TNA, who I was working for when I was living in Georgia, which is where I lived during my entire ECW tenure, because of WCW. I moved there in the Atlanta area. And so I knew Bill from his independent scene or his independent shows. That worked out because of that. I didn’t really know Jeff Jarrett before that. I don’t think I, I might’ve known him a little bit. Nah, I don’t think we matched up too much in our time together in WCW. I was out the door in January, February of 2000. So yeah, it was Bill Behrens and Gabe knew me before that. And that’s how I got into those organizations and their beginnings, you know, I think I got into, I was on the fourth paper view of TNA when they were doing like the $10 shows. And then I saw one of the earlier shows of Ring of Honor, and I worked Jay Briscoe in my first Ring of Honor match.”

On his mini feud with Little Guido: “Guido just got hired from WWE or WWF, whatever it was at the time. So he had a job and he was just trying to give me the rub on the way out. So it was just to do that. And try to establish me as an independent talent, uh, from the FBI gimmick, but I was a tag team guy, so never really took off. I was always better in tag teams, just what I did better.”

On winning the ROH tag belts with Sal Rinauro: “That was not exactly a good idea from a booking perspective because we weren’t established, so the fans were immediately rejecting us. We would have been better off and better served if we would have built ourselves up, you know, from the bottom nor time week. That was the first couple of times we ever tagged together. We didn’t have any kind of chemistry yet. So it wasn’t a good idea. I wish we hadn’t done that. I would have been better. It would have been better for everybody if we didn’t get those belts. Yeah, that makes sense psychology wise. It does make sense. Like, cause I remember going to all the shows like, wow… they’re a team. Oh they, they won the tag titles already. Oh my God. Yeah. And not a good idea. I appreciate that, trying from Gabe’s perspective, I think he probably would have agreed that it would have been better not to do it so quickly because it took away from the belts. It took away from the belt. It took away. It took us any, any chance we had of being successful was, was not going to happen. So it was a bad idea.”

On ECW: “I became sort of friendly with Mikey (Whipwreck), and I only say sort of, because I didn’t see him very often, but whenever we did see each other, obviously he was somebody that I looked up to. He was a person that, you know, was in my kind of range of reasonable, kind of comparative, I guess. So I gravitated toward Mikey. I liked him when I was a fan of wrestling. I still am, but just before I got into the business, you know, I was like, I like this Mikey Whipwreck guy. I can relate to him. And then I was friends with Kanyon, who knew the Sinister Minister (James Mitchell), and Sinister Minister was coming up on his way through to wherever, if he was going to up to ECW, but he was driving, then he’d stopped by or if you just visit every once in a while, cause he lived in Orlando at the time, he still does, I guess. So I knew Vandy, or Minister. I still call him Vandy, and I knew Mikey and Vandy and Mikey knew each other, obviously. and so it just kind of worked out from there.

“So I went to meet everybody at this bar in Atlanta, before I was going to work at another bar in Atlanta, cause I was the bouncer at the time. And they said, well, why don’t you come to South Carolina the next day and, and bring Jeremy, who is the same guy that put the videotape together. You guys come over there, you have a tryout match in front of Tommy Dreamer, and then we’ll see if we can get you…. see what happens. We used to have these tryouts in ECW where people would come to the town. And it never really worked out too much of anything… I think, a few people that got hired from, from one of those, even after I did, but I, my memory is not all that great, but basically it wasn’t really much of a high probability, but me and Jeremy had a pretty decent match and that we knew each other, and they said, ‘Well, uh, thanks for having the match, but Tommy isn’t here. Can you have it again?’

“And so he had it again, and I said, okay, great. So stick around to the show. And this is the first time I really met Guido. He’s like, ‘Hey, you guys go ahead and change into your gear. You’ll be on the show.’ So we changed into our gear and, and waited to be put on, you know, on wherever we were going to be on the card. And he misunderstood that, but we hung around anyway, of course. And then the next week, me and Jeremy went to New Orleans and Pensacola and had a tryout match. We didn’t get on that show, but then we went to Toledo and finally, that’s when Tony Mamaluke was born. So they said, okay, you’re going to be, we’re going out there with Guido, because Guido is instrumental in the whole reason that I became part of his, his group, because he said to Tommy, I want to tag with that guy. And so when the opportunity presented itself, I wrestled Mikey in Toledo, and that’s when I had my infamous crash and burn into the guard rail, which is the only thing I’ve ever been remembered for. And then, uh, that’s when I debuted with the FBI and then the rest kind of played out over time.”

On WWE: “I got a short run in WWE with the new ECW, we all know how that turned out. it was never going to be successful because it was, it was kind of like when they tried to do Van Halen with the second guy that came in. It was like dating someone and then trying to find someone that looks and acts like that same person. It felt like round hole, square peg type of situation. Bad idea. Bad execution to a good idea, I should say. You saw what you saw and it’s kind of a blight on the wrestling business. Certainly that horrible pay-per-view we did… December to Dismember, whatever the hell was, that was horrible. One of the worst pay-per-views of all time.”

Other topics include WCW run, WWE run, ECW, Paul Heyman, ROH run, TNA run, Jeff Jarrett, the Mamalukes, the FBI, and more.

You can listen to other shows apart of the TMPT Empire including Shane Douglas’ Triple Threat Podcast, Taking You to School with Dr. Tom Prichard, Talking Tough with Rick Bassman, Taskmaster Talks with Kevin Sullivan, Pro Wrestling 101 with Justin Credible and the University of Dutch with Dutch Mantell.


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