Zach Gowen on his WWE run, facing Vince McMahon in the ring, a scrapped spot involving Brock Lesnar and the Smackdown stage fist


By Jason Powell, Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

Insight With Chris Van Vliet with guest Zach Gowen
Host: Chris Van Vliet
Podcast available via

On his time in WWE: “You have to think about this. I had less than 20 matches before I had that match with The Big Show, which was my first official WWE match. I have one leg. I’m 20 years old, less than 20 matches before I have my first official WWE match. So what you’re watching is a live experiment of like, can we make this work? Do we have enough WWE magic? Is Zach enough? And can we come together like peanut butter and jelly to make this thing work? And so it was a wild time. I wrestled Vince one-on-one on PPV. A 53-year-old non-wrestler, okay, versus a 20-year-old kid with one leg who has been in the business about a year at this point. And Vince is catching Asai moonsaults to the outside, you know, in the match, and he’s bleeding all over the place. And it’s, it’s something that you will never ever, ever, ever see again. Because now they have a system.

“Right now they have the NXT in Florida and you come up and you learn. You learn how to work, you learn how to work the cameras, you learn what production, there’s a lot that goes on when you’re a wrestler on TV, right for AEW or WWE. You have to think about the lights, you have to think about the crowd, you have to think about your time cues, you have to think about where the cameras are, you have to think about what commentary is saying about you. You have to you have to do something that you have gone over before in the production meeting. And you have to allow commentary to talk about it, allow it to breathe, while not getting the live crowd bored. You have to do all of this. And so they have a great system now with NXT right? You do the exact same thing you’re gonna do on Raw you have the same cameras, you have the same commentators the same setup.

“I did not have any of them. They said go out. And like the clip you just posted they said cut your forehead with a razor blade and have Brock Lesnar F5 you in front of your mom twice, Like and figure it out live, you know, and so there was no coaching. There was no like, hey, why don’t you do this for six months or a year, whatever. We did it live and all of that considered, it’s kind of hard to look back and watch those matches, because I’m like, man, it would have been so much better if we did this, this that and the other hindsight, you know, but considering all of those variables, I think we did a very, very good job. And I’m very proud of myself. And I thank WWE to this day.”

On facing Vince McMahon on pay-per-view: “Vince did not carry me through that match at all. Listen, I’m not going to speak ill of the man because I love Vince McMahon. And he saved my life literally. And, he put me in that position and gave me that platform, which launched me into the rest of my life, you know. But we did that. And it might have been one of the first ones to do that style of match. It’s the way that Logan Paul does his matches now. So it’s move for move figured out 2, 3, 4 weeks beforehand. They fly me to New York. I’m in a warehouse with the ring. It’s me it’s Vince.

“And this is like three weeks before a match in the agents. So you got Bruce Prichard there and you got Pat Patterson’s there and they were all this huddled around Mike Chioda, is there the referee? And we just talked about Alright, well what can we do? You know? What can you do Vince. Zach, what can you do here? Well, I can do that. Okay cool and then we piece it together move for move for move for move. The day before the pay-per-view they fly me to Denver early. They rent a local community college gymnasium. They set up a ring, me and Vince again go over it the day before move for move with the agents there and in the referee.”

On a scrapped spot with Brock Lesnar: “So the wheelchair spot that wasn’t a wheelchair spot to begin with. The original idea. I don’t know if we’ve talked about this. The original idea was for Brock Lesnar to F5 me off of the Smackdown fist through the stage. That was the original idea. Do you remember the Smackdown fist? So we were going to be on top of this Smackdown fist, Brock Lesnar was going to toss me off this bad boy and I was gonna go through the stage, and that was the plan for like two or three weeks, we had to a pivot to the wheelchair spot down the stairs because creative, we couldn’t figure out a plausible way for me and Brock Lesnar to be, a reason for us to be on top of the fist. Like how do we get up there? Did he drag me up there? Did he climb up? Is there a secret ladder like we couldn’t figure that part out? I was really excited about that. Because you remember back in the day dude Shane McMahon falling off the set Jeff Hardy doing all this crazy stuff and I’m like, Man, I can’t wait to you know, to me like that doing that stunt was exciting.”


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