By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Why did you ask for your release from WWE? “I missed being in the ring, and I never said that I was retired. I took the job as a coach in WWE at the Performance Center back in 2016, I had my last match in August 2016, and that was it. I never said that I was retired, but I also never really saw myself having another match again. But I was ok with that, I look back at some of that Attitude Era stuff, and it is crazier than I remember. Nobody can take that away from me, my career peaked at the peak of professional wrestling. It was such a cool time with cool energy and cool characters, so I feel like I did everything that I wanted to do. But I missed the traveling, NXT wasn’t doing any live events, all the tv was shot in house. I wasn’t traveling and I wasn’t having fun, and I saw people from AEW right down to the small independents having fun, the independents are on fire right now. So I started asking around things like “Well what can I make?” I was doing the numbers and thought to myself that I can go out there and kill it. There are very few guys from the Attitude Era that are still going, Al Snow, The Headbangers, Billy Gunn. Val Venis does a bit and The Godfather does a bit, but there are very few that are still going. I can still deliver, so I am excited.”
How much time and thought went into this? “It was over the last couple of months. Once the pandemic happened and all the releases started happening, I think the releases took a big toll on me. When I became a coach, I had no idea how much I would love that job, and those guys are then like your children. You create these relationships with people, and you see them get released, and you find out with everyone else when they come up on Twitter. My buddy in Nashville texted me ‘Oh the releases are happening again…’ So, then I jump on Twitter and I see somebody released that was in my class and I just saw three hours before. That’s how I am finding out, and dude, this is not cool.”
He’s not even sure if Vince McMahon knew he worked for WWE: “Don’t get me wrong, it was the last six months to a year that it started to get that way. It wasn’t like every day was this horrible thing, I don’t want that to be what people think when they think about me. I had an awesome career, thirty years from day one. From the first time I stepped into a WWF ring in 1991 to now, that’s thirty years, and I did some awesome things. You and I wouldn’t even be talking if I hadn’t gone there. They gave me a platform to make a name and to do what I am going to do now and I am thankful for that. I just don’t know if the thought was reciprocated, I don’t even know if Vince McMahon knew I worked there. I was on the contract for five years and they never did anything with me as far as the Scotty 2 Hotty character.”
When did he decide that The Worm was going to be a signature move? “It was once Too Cool started. I would lay the guy out by the ropes, hit the other ropes, stop, hit the brakes and worm across and drop an elbow or a headbutt. But I was getting a reaction from the crowd, so I was onto something. Once I started doing the Too Cool stuff, I started hopping around the ring, there weren’t four. But one night on Raw, Jerry Lawler started going ‘W O R M.’ Then I asked him if he would keep doing it, and a month later, the crowd was doing it along too. It’s crazy how Brian’s dad helped to get that over.”
His favorite memory of Brian Christopher: “We were never close. But after I was released in 2007, we did a weekend for Hermie Sadler in the Carolinas, and we did some Rock ‘n’ Roll Express tournament. Brian, it [the tournament] was three days long, and on the first night he showed up and he was in a bad place. I could smell it on his breath, he was a mess. By the time Sunday had rolled around, we had a big fight in the locker room, not a physical one, just a verbal one. I was like ‘Dude, I don’t need this.’ We were just different people, we didn’t speak for five years. Then on our first appearance back, he pulled me aside and apologized for everything, we both apologized. Over the next few years, I felt like we got closer than ever. There were a bunch of shows in the UK with me, Rikishi and Brian, and I bought my son, who was ten years old at the time. I have a picture of Brian showing my son Keegan how to use a payphone. It’s from behind of both of them, but it’s so cool.
“Brian was in a good place and cleaned himself up, but towards the end was when we got closer than ever. I also was taking everything with a grain of salt, if he said let’s meet up at the hotel at 1am and go to a show, I would be there at 1 o’clock and he wouldn’t be there. I go and knock on his door, he’s half asleep. But I don’t let it bother me as much as it once did. Towards the end it was getting worse and worse, he had a fight and got beat up, then was arrested again. That last mugshot I saw, I knew he was in a bad place. Brian always smiled when he got his mugshot taken, because he knew that it would be publicity. This was in Memphis, where his dad was king. But that last one was where he was in a bad place, and he ended up passing away in jail.”
Which of his students from the WWE PC is he most proud of? “That’s easy, Rhea Ripley and Raquel Gonzalez. Those are the two that I feel like I helped the most. Talk about a reward, Rhea will say I’m like a father figure to her, how much better can it get than that? She was a 20-year old kid when she came in, and I’ve seen both her and Raquel grow up over the years. My last show that I produced for WWE was the WrestleMania on sale, the last segment was Rhea and Raquel standing in the stadium together, it can’t be any better than that.”