Posts Tagged ‘brock lesnar’

WWE’s Dolph Ziggler on WrestleMania: “This Could Be the Defining Match in my Career”

March 25, 2015

Dolph Ziggler (WWE)

When the WWE World Championship was dominated by big, bruising brawlers like Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, and Sgt. Slaughter, it was the Intercontinental Championship that often boasted the more exciting, fast-paced matches.

So, who better to help return the Intercontinental Title to its previous show-stealing prowess than the “Show Off” himself, Dolph Ziggler?

I spoke with the former host of “WWE Download” (man, I loved that show) in the days leading up to WrestleMania and asked him about his upcoming ladder match, Sting’s return, and Roman Reigns’ arrival…

Contact Gordon Holmes on Twitter: @gordonholmes

Gordon Holmes: The term “WrestleMania Moment” gets thrown around a lot. This ladder match seems like a golden opportunity to make one of those happen.
Dolph Ziggler: I’m really good at talking about how great I am, but let’s talk about everyone else in that match. It’s jam-packed…I have a reputation for stealing shows when I’m not supposed to. Going above and beyond to make myself stand out. And every single person in this match is a person who gives everything he can possibly give. We have these Superstars, some are up and coming, some have been around a while, they have to find a way to define themselves and have a WrestleMania moment. I don’t think I’ve had a WrestleMania moment. And so this could be it. This could be the defining match in my career that sends me to that upper echelon level, and there are a bunch of other guys that feel that way. That’s what’s so great about it. If this match doesn’t steal the show, then we didn’t do our jobs. We’re going to pull out all the stops.
Holmes: Looking at this list of guys; yourself, Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, Wade Barrett, Stardust, R Truth, and Luke Harper…in my notes I just wrote “Guys with a grudge.”
Ziggler: (Laughs)
Holmes: And by that I mean, in the past few years WrestleMania has featured top matches with a lot of part-time performers.
Ziggler: Sometimes other people come in for a couple of weeks and get the giant matches. But if I had a career like that, I wouldn’t want this as much as I do now. I know I have to take it. And that’s what everyone in this match feels like.

Holmes: You mentioned elevating the Intercontinental Championship. When I was a kid, that was the belt that the quicker, more technically sound wrestlers held. Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, Curt Hennig…and now it doesn’t seem to have that same prestige. Is this the first step toward returning that title to prominence?
Ziggler: The first step was a couple of months ago when I became champ and defended it not only with the Authority trying to take it off of me, but it almost felt like an old Saturday Night’s Main Event with it constantly being on the line and you thought this was the time I was going to lose it. This Smackdown I was going to lose it, this Raw I was going to lose it. I defended it twenty something times in thirty days or something like that. And I loved it because I knew every day I was making it mean a little more. I’m not going to pretend that it’s been this prestigious title. It’s been on the backburner a lot of the time with other storylines. But when I get an inch, I try to take it a mile. When I say, “I dare someone to try and pry this out of my hands,” I mean it. And now, all the sudden people are talking about the title. And that’s real. People are talking, and that’s the start.

Holmes: Were you a WCW fan back in the day?
Ziggler: Yeah, but I always felt a little disloyal because in my head since I was five I was WWE.  But I was such a wrestling fan that it didn’t matter. And luckily for me I didn’t sleep a lot. So, WCW would rerun right afterward so I could watch Raw, then when it was over I could turn to WCW.
Holmes: Was there ever an instance where a young Dolph Ziggler was running around in white and black face paint?
Ziggler: No, there never was. I wasn’t a face paint guy. I was a Stone Cold, Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair, Billy Gunn…well, I did enjoy watching Ric Flair vs. Sting ten thousand times. That was awesome. And I mean that in the most positive way. I was a big Goldberg fan. I’d watch him beat someone in ninety seconds then flip back to Raw.
Holmes: I was more of a surfer Sting kind of guy.
Ziggler: Oh yeah, I loved 80s Sting. I wasn’t one of the young teens who loved the Crow Sting. But, obviously he’s an icon and I loved Flair so much that I had love for both of those guys.
Holmes: So, the hot pink, Sgt. Pepper’s jacket…the Bart Simpson haircut…
Ziggler: Yeah! (Laughs) Big fan! I didn’t even mind the rat tail.
Holmes: Must’ve been nice to get to be a part of his WWE debut.
Ziggler: It’s unreal. As a fan, it blew my mind that his first-ever appearance helped me win a match. That blew my mind. Period. Survivor Series down three to one, scratching and clawing, Triple H trying every chance he could to knock me out. And then Sting’s first-ever appearance…it was goosebumps down my back as he threw me on top of Seth Rollins. I couldn’t believe it. As bitter and with a chip on my shoulder and grunting every day to get an inch in the WWE, there’s a small part of me that is a huge wrestling fan who lives for moments like that. And it doesn’t matter how that match goes, it’s gonna be great because Sting and Triple H are in it. It doesn’t matter how it goes. The spectacle will be unreal.
Holmes: That had to kill you that for his big appearance you were knocked out.
Ziggler: (Laughs) Yeah, luckily when I woke up he was in the back for about thirty more seconds and I said, “Hey kid, thanks for everything.”

Holmes: Our main event is going to be Roman Reigns taking on Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. I was in Philly for the Rumble, and the crowd wasn’t too kind to him.
Ziggler: Roman had a hell of a match with Daniel Bryan, so let’s give this guy a chance. He’s done nothing wrong but take advantage of every position he’s been in. I can’t be down on that for one second. And last year, I was one of the guys cheering for him to get rid of Batista out of the ring. Now they’re booing him because it’s cool to do. He has every possible ounce of respect from me. I want to see if he can prove himself because proving yourself at WrestleMania is one thing, doing it against Brock Lesnar? Nobody has been able to do that for the last two or three years now. My career has been built on being flashy, but I was the all-time winningest wrestler at Kent State. I can be a hard-nosed wrestler if I need to be. But nobody can do what Brock does.
Holmes: Seeing Lesnar in person is something else. It’s like if you were to create a perfect wrestler in a lab, it would be Brock Lesnar.
Ziggler: You can hit him with an object and I don’t know if he’d know it happened. There’s nobody like him. I saw him do that moonsault against Kurt Angle where anyone else’s neck would snap in half. He just kind of shook it off. They’re going to beat the hell out of each other and it’s going to be cool.
Holmes: It’s a shame that ladder match is going to steal the show.
Ziggler: It is absolutely not a shame. It’s exactly how it should be. Certain matches get the build, they get the time, they get the story, they get the creativity, you get everything. And then certain matches go out there with a chip on their shoulder and go, “This is the one we’re all talking about tomorrow.”

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WWE’s Paul Heyman: Punk vs. Lesnar Is ‘Worth the Price of Admission’

August 13, 2013

Paul Heyman (WWE)

I am the best wrester in the world. I’ve been the best ever since day one when I walked into this company. And I’ve been vilified and hated since that day because Paul Heyman saw something in me that nobody else wanted to admit. That’s right, I’m a Paul Heyman guy…you know who else was a Paul Heyman guy? Brock Lesnar.” CM Punk – June 27, 2011 – Monday Night Raw

This Sunday’s SummerSlam is being billed as “The Best vs. The Beast.” In one corner you have “The Best in the World” CM Punk and in the other you have “The Beast” Brock Lesnar. But it could have easily been called “The Battle of the Paul Heyman Guys.”

However, that isn’t nearly as catchy.

I spoke to the man in the middle of one of the most anticipated matches in SummerSlam history before Monday Night Raw and had a chance to ask him about his boys coming to blows, John Cena’s legacy,  Daniel Bryan’s future, and more…

Gordon Holmes (@gordonholmes): SummerSlam is a few short days away, we’ve got “The Best” vs. “The Beast.” What can we expect from this Sunday’s showdown?
Paul Heyman (@heymanhustle):  On Sunday, you can expect “The Beast” Brock Lesnar to prove that having Paul Heyman in his corner makes him “The Best in the World” over and above CM Punk’s claim to that accolade.
Holmes: But surely there was something you saw in CM Punk that made you want to partner with him.
Heyman: CM Punk and I together were the best in the world. We held the WWE Championship for 434 consecutive days, the longest WWE Title reign of the past 25 years. Think about that. Names like Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock, The Undertaker, all first-ballot Hall of Famers, and yet none of them could hold the championship as long CM Punk and I together. Obviously I saw in CM Punk a sports entertainer that I could mold into being part of a combination with me as the absolute best act on the planet. But without me? He’s only half the equation and I have “The Beast” Brock Lesnar with me.
Holmes: From a physical standpoint, it doesn’t look so good for Mr. Punk. But, Punk’s been overcoming those kinds of odds his entire career. Does that concern you?
Heyman: It doesn’t concern me, but it’s certainly part of the equation. I didn’t pick CM Punk out of obscurity and turn him into the top box office attraction for WWE because his skills were without merit. He is, in my opinion, the most serious threat to Brock Lesnar’s reign of dominance in WWE today. The only problem for CM Punk is that Brock Lesnar has made a career out of obliterating those threats.

Holmes: Wrestlemania had to have been very special for you. You had Brock in a main event against HHH, you had Punk in a main event against The Undertaker, and it all took place in your backyard at MetLife Stadium. Now that we’ve got two of the “Paul Heyman Guys” going toe-to-toe at SummerSlam, where does this one rank for you?
Heyman: It’s huge. Nothing short of it. And probably even bigger than that adjective. It’s exhilarating for me because you have the most unique, the most gifted athlete in the history of the WWE, or UFC, or college athletics in Brock Lesnar, going against a wrestler who probably has more heart, more determination, and the ability to overcome the odds better than anybody else that I’ve ever come across in my entire career in CM Punk. It’s a fascinating match-up. It won’t be over in 30 seconds. This is going to be an all-night affair. There’s an old expression in the professional wrestling business; “This match will be worth the price of admission.” I humbly suggest that Brock Lesnar vs. CM Punk is worth the price of admission alone.
Holmes: Last Monday, an angry Brock Lesnar turns to you and says, “Paul, say something stupid.” How do you keep a straight face?
Heyman: He wanted me to say something stupid! Brock Lesnar is a man who thinks in a far different way than your average beast walking down the street. This is a once-in-a-lifetime athlete. Brock made his point, he told the world, “I, Brock Lesnar, am better than CM Punk.” So, what else is there for us to say?

Holmes: The WWE Title match at SummerSlam will be John Cena squaring off against Daniel Bryan. Daniel Bryan seems to have “Paul Heyman Guy” written all over him.
Heyman: I’m not done recruiting Daniel Bryan. I think Daniel Bryan is a fascinating performer who has put on arguably the most consistent string of best matches of the past year. The striking thing about Daniel Bryan is the best is yet to come with him. Daniel Bryan still has more to offer. And having seen footage of him dating back to when he was wrestling in VFW halls and very small arenas and high school gymnasiums, he still has so much more that the WWE Universe hasn’t seen. I’m admittedly, and I will confess to this, a huge fan of Daniel Bryan.
Holmes: Now on the other side of the ring you have John Cena, who I feel is criminally underrated as an in-ring performer. Anyone can have a good match with Shawn Michaels, but Cena’s been delivering the goods with a wide variety of talent for a long time.
Heyman: I think there’s a streak going involving John Cena that both the WWE Universe and the media have failed to pick up on. The glory days of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin lasted two, maybe two-and-a-half years. That was the peak of his run. He came back as General Manager, but day-to-day, going to every city, main eventing every Pay Per View, the focal point of Monday Night Raw…Steve Austin’s peak was two-and-a-half years. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s peak was along the same lines. John Cena has been the focal point of WWE since 2005. For eight and now going on nine years, John Cena has not only main evented all the Pay Per Views, been the major attraction on Raw. John Cena has gone to every city, main events all the live events, and yet he still makes all these media appearances, he’s done more Make-A-Wish Foundation visits than anybody in history…and he’s a tireless workhorse. And he shows up last Monday with his elbow…looking grotesquely…is that a word? His elbow was so messed up and yet he says, “Wrap me up, I’m going out there to perform because the people are counting on me.” There is a work ethic to John Cena that is to behold.
Holmes: So it’s safe to say you’ll have a seat at the curtain for the WWE Title match at SummerSlam.
Heyman: Oh absolutely. How could I not? I have a vested interest in whoever emerges as champion.
Holmes: Alright, hold the phone…is Brock Lesnar painting a target on the victor’s back?
Heyman: I did not reveal to you that it is Brock Lesnar. I only suggested that it is a Paul Heyman Guy that has his eye on the prize.

Holmes: Sunday we’ll see Kane vs. Bray Wyatt in a “Ring of Fire” match. Bray Wyatt seems like another guy you would have had a field day with in the ECW days.
Heyman: I’m very interested in seeing how Bray Wyatt is going to survive the wrath of Kane.
Holmes: What do you think of the way Bray and his buddies have been presented to the WWE Universe?
Heyman: It’s an emotional presentation, and it sets him apart from everyone else which means that Bray Wyatt will stand out. Whether it’s in WWE or UFC or Major League Baseball or the NBA or the NFL or television or movies…any genre that is star-driven has the need for unique personalities. And Bray Wyatt is as unique as they come.

Holmes: Another interesting match is Damien Sandow against Cody Rhodes. Here we’ve got two young guys that seem like they just need a little something extra to help them move up the card.
Heyman: I think Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow need each other to get to that next level. They have a most interesting dynamic with each other and against each other. And here they have the spotlight of a featured match at SummerSlam. Think of the names that have not been announced in a featured match at SummerSlam so far. I don’t know who The Shield is fighting. I don’t know who The Big Show is fighting. I don’t know who Mark Henry is fighting. I don’t know who Rob Van Dam is fighting. I don’t know who Randy Orton is fighting. These are huge, top-line attractions. And yet, I don’t know who these performers are going to be wrestling against. But, I know that it’ll be Damien Sandow vs. Cody Rhodes. They have an extraordinary opportunity here. If they can put on a match that steals the show, they will both move up the ladder together.

Holmes: Speaking of Rob Van Dam, it’s good to see him back with the WWE. He seems very motivated.
Heyman: I think anyone that has watched Rob Van Dam’s matches since he’s been back with WWE can clearly tell that he is motivated and determined to put on the best matches of his career.
Holmes: Without getting into too much detail, it’s been like night and day.
Heyman: I don’t mind getting into detail. I think TNA squandered the opportunity of exploiting the talents of Rob Van Dam. And I don’t think that’s a mistake the WWE is going to repeat.

Check back Thursday for a look at Paul Heyman’s career, his thoughts on the sports entertainment industry, and more.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

Watch “WWE: SummerSlam,” Sunday, August 18, 2013 at 8 pm ET on Pay Per View.

WWE’s Dolph Ziggler on Concussion Costing Him the Title: ‘It Kills Me’

August 12, 2013

Dolph Ziggler (WWE)

Everyone’s always talking about “Wrestlemania Moments.” Dolph Ziggler did something a little bit different; he created one of the few “Night-After-Wrestlemania Moments.” In front of a raucous Monday Night Raw audience he cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase and took the World Heavyweight Championship from Alberto Del Rio. The crowd reaction was awesome. The moment was unforgettable.

The glory was sadly short-lived.

In an unfortunate twist of fate, Ziggler received a concussion in the days after his victory. His reign was put on hold and then promptly ended once he was able to return. From there he lost both his girlfriend AJ Lee and his muscle Big E. Langston. For someone who has been on the verge of super stardom for quite a while, it had to be deflating.

I spoke with the self-proclaimed “Show Off” at this year’s San Diego Comic Con and had a chance to ask him about his rough couple of months, the upcoming SummerSlam card, and his potential second career as a stand-up comedian…

Gordon Holmes (@gordonholmes): Alright, first thing’s first. What’s AJ’s deal?
Dolph Ziggler (@HEELZiggler): You’re telling me. I thought we were pretty tight, but it turns out that…I don’t know what her deal is. I thought I’d taken someone who was kinda cool, kinda into wrestling, kinda had my back and turns out you can’t take the crazy out of a chick no matter how long she can put it off for. And that’s happened to me many times in the past.
Holmes: That’s rough, because the crazy ones tend to be the most fun.
Ziggler: Exactly, you have to take the good with the bad.

Holmes: You cashed in your Money in the Bank briefcase the night after Wrestlemania and it looked like we were headed into this new era of Ziggler. Now here we are two months later, the title’s gone, AJ’s gone, Team Big-E and Zig-E is no more…
Ziggler: Again with that?
Holmes: Sorry. But to go from the heights of your title win, to so much change that seemed to be spurred by a freak occurrence like your concussion, it’s had to be like a rollercoaster.
Ziggler: It literally has. I’ve never heard a reaction in my entire life for anything like that cash in the Monday night after Wrestlemania. It blew my mind. And watching it back days and weeks later it put chills up my back. What a great crowd and what a perfect night to do it. And very soon after that I got kicked in the brain and taken out for a month and a half. It was actually a very scary time because after a couple of weeks I was starting to wonder if I’d ever come back. Luckily I passed all my tests, the headaches went away, and I came back into the title scene. But, thanks to my old teammates I am now out of the title scene.
Holmes: It seemed like you were being set up for a good long run. Have you come to terms with how quickly that was taken away?
Ziggler: No. I have not come to terms with that. I know the business and I love what I do. I go out there every night to not just steal the show but tell the best possible story I can, whether it’s in two minutes or twenty minutes. Sometimes I put it behind me that I once again had another title with absolutely zero defenses.  But, it kills me. And I know everybody works hard, all the Superstars want to be the best. And to be given these opportunities and to have some scenario play out…it’s part of the reason I don’t sleep at night, but it’s part of the reason that drives me to go out there.

Holmes: Now that you’re a fan favorite, for lack of a better term, will there be any tweaks to your act at all?
Ziggler: Honestly, you’ve got to be yourself, and you just tweak it a little. You change some psychological aspects of your character, but you’re still you. You still go out, you can still be cocky and have everybody cheer you because it’s a gray line these days. It’s reality based. I’m trying to be a version of myself out there. If I totally change and start smiling out there, and doing weird things that I normally wouldn’t do, the fans are going to see right through that.

Holmes: What are your thoughts on Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena at SummerSlam?
Ziggler: I hate Daniel Bryan and I hate John Cena.
Holmes: Equally?
Ziggler: Yes.
Holmes: Wow.
Ziggler: Well, I hate Cena more, but Daniel is just a genuinely nice guy and I hate that so much. But, in different ways as a student of a game and a fan, I see what John Cena brings and I see what Daniel Bryan brings. I’m curious to see if on the microphone if Daniel Bryan can hang with John Cena and if John Cena can roll around with Daniel Bryan. I’m actually really looking forward to the match even though I don’t like either of those guys.
Holmes: Who’s your winner?
Ziggler: Cena always wins, it seems. But in this case it might be such an emotional outcry from the fans that they could turn the tide. I’d like to see Daniel Bryan come out on top.

Holmes: What are your thoughts on CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar?
Ziggler: I’ve got to root for the smaller guy because that’s usually me. And we’ve seen Lesnar kill everybody, so I’ve got to say I want to see Punk beat him.

Holmes: You’re a funny guy. We talked about your old YouTube show, you said you were working on some stand-up material and were trying to do a few open mics. Any luck there?
Ziggler: Yeah, I got on two comedy shows in the last month and a half or so. Luckily enough, they went well. But they also made me focus on being VERY funny. It’s like wrestling, you have a match and whether everyone is applauding or not, you know what you have to do better next time. That’s what makes you better. I had very positive feedback. I love doing it. It was such a thrill going out there and I can’t wait to go back and rewrite and find the spots…it’s like telling a story in a promo or a match, you find the ups and downs, you find where to get them, and then you leave on a high note. You leave them wanting more.
Holmes: How many people were there?
Ziggler: The first one 60 or 70, the second one maybe 30-40.
Holmes: Now what’s scarier, wrestling in front of 80,000 or telling jokes in front of 80?
Ziggler: Depends on your timing. If you’re talking about this Wrestlemania it was the easiest thing, I had a blast. It was so fun feeding off of them. And my first stand-up in front of 70 people…I was shaking before going out there. (Laughs) Once I got out there and Andy Kindler was on the show there and I was midjoke and I saw him laughing and in my head I thought, “He’s laughing at something I just said, this is unreal!” I was very fortunate to have that start and I can’t wait to do more.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

Watch “WWE: Summerslam,” Sunday, August 18, 2013 at 8 pm ET on Pay Per View.

WWE Superstar The Miz Breaks Down SummerSlam’s Big Main Events

August 2, 2013

The Miz (WWE)

For the first time ever, WWE’s SummerSlam will have a host. And that host is…awesooooooome!

I spoke with the Miz at this year’s San Diego Comic Con. While there we discussed Summerslam’s two huge main events, we were interrupted by a WWE Hall of Famer, and we did our best to annoy Dolph Ziggler…

The Miz: (While holding a Miz Rumbler figure that was made especially for San Diego Comic Con) Look at this guy. Only ten thousand made. A limited edition.
Gordon Holmes: Uncanny. Is this your first Comic Con?
The Miz: No, I’ve been to Comic Con quite a bit. My favorite story from Comic Con is I was doing an autograph signing a couple of years ago and Transformers was huge that year. Everyone was dressed as Transformers. And I see this guy and I point him out to a kid and I say, “Oh look! It’s Optimus Prime!” And the kids says, “That’s not Optimus Prime, you idiot! That’s Voltron.” So, I was schooled by a five-year old.

Holmes: Comic Con is known for its extravagant cosplayers. Is there any particular character you’re hoping to see? Perhaps of the female persuasion?
The Miz: Oh man, I always liked Jessica Rabbit. I was a huge Roger Rabbit fan as a kid, and then growing up into a man I realized how lucky Roger Rabbit really was. I think a lot of people like Ariel as well.
Holmes: A bit of a Harley Quinn man myself.
Mick Foley: May I interject?
The Miz: Absolutely.
Foley:  This is Mick Foley, WWE Hall of Famer. Miz, I concur.
The Miz: Thank you!
Foley: After three rides of the Roger Rabbit ride at Disneyland I found that I had a very real crush on Jessica Rabbit. It happens.
The Miz: If only she was real.

Holmes: Speaking of life-like representations, we’re here at the Mattel booth, what’s it like the first time someone hands you an action figure that looks just like you?
The Miz: As a kid I had all the WWE action figures. You name it, I had it. I had a wrestling ring that I would fling them out of. And now that I have these amazing action figures that are so detailed and so great, it’s surreal. I have like 50 action figures, and I have each one of them. I show them off to my friends when they come to my house. Whenever they say something to me and I don’t have a comeback I say, “Do you have an action figure?”

Holmes: SummerSlam is shaping up to be a good one.
The Miz: SummerSlam is the biggest event of the summer. One thing’s for sure is people are going to be talking about the Miz. You’ve got Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena for the WWE Championship. That’s going to be something to remember.
Holmes: Who do you like in the Cena/Bryan match?
The Miz: I’ve been in the ring with both of them. I have trained Daniel Bryan, basically, to be the superstar he is today. If you watched NXT he was my rookie. I take full credit for all of his success. And John Cena I defeated at Wrestlemania 27 in the main event. One of my most memorable matches. I know that Cena doesn’t quit, he doesn’t tap out. One of Bryan’s main moves is a tap-out move. I’ve never seen Cena tap out of anything. So, I’ve got to lean toward the WWE Champion.
Holmes: That’s interesting as I’ve noticed you’ve made the switch to a tap-out hold in the figure-four leglock.
The Miz: All the superstars want to use that, but I’m the only one that can actually tap people out with it.

Note: At this point in the interview Dolph Ziggler wanders over to where we are speaking.

Holmes: I heard a rumor that Dolph Ziggler was interested in that hold.
The Miz: He wished that he could put on the figure-four leglock as good as I can and as fast as I can. It just so happens that nobody can. It’s just one of those things.
Foley: Miz, can I interject again?
The Miz: Absolutely.
Foley: This is 2013 WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley again, I believe I only tapped twice in my career, but if I could go back in time, I would’ve tapped almost instantly to Miz’s version of the figure-four leglock.
The Miz: Thank you very much, Mick! Not Dolph Ziggler, right? The Miz!
Foley: And without any shame whatsoever. There’s no shame in tapping to Miz’s figure four.
Holmes: Dolph Ziggler’s is like a scalpel. Yours is more like a chainsaw.
The Miz: Exactly! His is like a thumbnail and mine is like an axe.

Note: Having had enough of our antics, Dolph Ziggler stood and walked away.

Holmes: Who are you picking in the CM Punk/Lesnar match?
The Miz: I know how Punk is and Punk finds a way to win no matter how big a person is. He finds a way. He calls himself “The Best in the World.” Granted, every WWE Superstar will say that, but he believes that. Brock has something coming to him, but man, Brock is a beast. I’ve been in the ring with him and this guy has power like I’ve never seen before. He has been defeated before, so there’s a way. I think Punk can find that way.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

Watch “WWE: Summerslam,” Sunday, August 18, 2013 at 8 pm ET on Pay Per View.

WWE: Daniel Bryan’s Real-Life Love Life Could Effect SummerSlam Main Event

July 22, 2013

Daniel Bryan (WWE)

There are dozens of ways to determine a new number-one contender. Battle royales, tournaments, fatal four ways, you name it. But, the WWE recently went with an unorthodox method that produced one of the most heartwarming television segments they’ve put together in quite some time…

They let the fans decide.

With a sea of challengers to choose from, the WWE Universe let champ John Cena know that they wanted the coveted SummerSlam title match to go to unlikely hero Daniel Bryan. When Cena gave the nod to the bearded Bryan, the reaction was deafening.

I had a chance to talk to the master of the “Yes” lock a few days later at the 2013 San Diego Comic Con. While surrounded by Stormtroopers, zombies, and other costumed characters we talked about the upcoming SummerSlam main event, CM Punk’s date with Brock Lesnar, and whether or not his love life will be a factor in the biggest match of his career…

Gordon Holmes: A year ago you told me that your career aspiration is to be where John Cena is. Now twelve months later you’re slated to go toe-to-toe with Cena for the WWE Championship at one of the biggest shows of the year. How did we get here?
Daniel Bryan: (Laughs) I don’t know. It’s really surreal because I shouldn’t really be here. I was doing a comedy thing with Kane and then for some reason in the last several months…it’s changed. I don’t know if the fans changed, if I’ve changed.  I’ve been popular for the last year, but in the last several months it’s been crazy. I don’t understand how it happens.
Holmes: I feel like sometimes the company wants somebody to succeed and sometimes the fans decide who they want to succeed. This feels like a win for the fans.
Bryan: Yeah, and it’s strange because I don’t know how that connection was made, but there’s a definite connection between me and the fans. It makes me smile every time my music hits and you hear that reaction. I look out and see everyone “Yes-ing.” And even here at Comic Con, people say, “We feel such a connection with you.” I feel it too. It’s almost like I’m one of them. I’m just a big, giant fan who just happens to wear spandex.

Holmes: I think part of what put you over the top was this thing you’ve started to do where you’ll just turn on this mind-blowing wave of offense. It’s almost like you have another gear you shift into. Do you have a name for that?
Bryan: I don’t, I just want to make things exciting. Some writers say they don’t know where their inspiration comes from. Stephen King is someone who says he just writes and lets the process do it for him. For wrestling, that’s the thing. I do what hits me and that’s what happens. (Laughs) I don’t know how to describe it.

Holmes: It’s not an understatement to say that this match at SummerSlam is easily the biggest in your career to this point.
Bryan: Absolutely.
Holmes: For the WWE Championship against the biggest name of this generation in the main event of a major show…do you approach it differently? Are there nerves? Walk me through the process.
Bryan: I’m not nervous at all. I’m very prepared for this. I’ve been wrestling almost fourteen years now. There have been matches where I’ve felt the pressures of expectations, and I know there are a lot of expectations going into this match. But I have no doubt in my mind that I’ll be able to live up to that. I’m really excited.

Holmes: Nothing has been announced yet, but I’m hoping to see CM Punk and Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam. Any thoughts on that one?
Bryan: I think it’s going to be awesome. Those are the kinds of matches I wanted to see when Brock Lesnar came back. I want to see matches with Punk, I’d like to wrestle Brock Lesnar because I think it’d be a different kind of match. I’m excited for it, it’s hard to bet against Brock Lesnar. When he beat up Punk on Monday it was pretty intense. But, I’m always rooting for Punk. Me and him are cut from the same cloth.

(Editor’s Note: Daniel Bryan is currently dating WWE Diva Brie Bella. John Cena is currently dating her twin sister, WWE Diva Nikki Bella.)

Holmes: Now, not to jump into your personal life, but I heard a rumor that your girlfriend looks an awful lot like John Cena’s girlfriend.
Bryan: (Laughs) Yeah, yeah.
Holmes: Is that accurate?
Bryan: That is accurate. And it’s funny because “Total Divas” (the Bellas’ new reality show) starts on July 28th and people will be able to start to see that before SummerSlam. I’ll be interested to see if WWE tries to wrap that in somehow.
Holmes: Are you worried at all that this match could drive a wedge between two sisters who get along so well?
Bryan: (Laughs) Well, if you knew them you wouldn’t think that they got along so well. They’re twins! They get into it a little bit.
Holmes: Either way, one twin will have bragging rights when it’s all said and done.
Bryan: Yeah, potentially.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

Watch the premiere of “Total Divas,” Sunday, July 28, 2013 at 10 pm ET on E!

Watch “WWE: Summerslam,” Sunday, August 18, 2013 at 8 pm ET on Pay Per View.

WWE’s Shawn Michaels on Brock Lesnar: ‘I’m Not Afraid to Take a Cheap Shot’

April 6, 2013

Triple H and Shawn Michaels (WWE)

Quick Note: Wrestlemania season is heating up and XFINITY has you covered! We’re going to have interviews and insights from top WWE Superstars, on-location tidbits from Wrestlemania weekend, and more. Order Wrestlemania here. And be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute details.

When it comes to nicknames, the only person who can hold a candle to Rocky Balboa’s buddy Apollo Creed is WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels. “The Headliner,” “The Showstopper,” “The Main Event,” and “The Icon that Can Still Go” have all been tossed around over the years, but the most important one has to be one he earned by having the best matches on the industry’s biggest stage…“Mr. Wrestlemania.”

The now-retired Michaels finds himself taking center stage at Wrestlemania once again as he’s scheduled to have his buddy Triple H’s back as he seeks revenge against the monster Brock Lesnar.

I spoke to the “Heartbreak Kid” the day before Wrestlemania XXIX and asked about his role in the big show, his pick for the evening’s sleeper hit, and his place in the history of the Undertaker’s streak…

Gordon Holmes: So, I understand this is a pretty big weekend for you guys.
Shawn Michaels: I guess if they’re grossing $150 million, then that qualifies as a big event.
Holmes: That’s not too shabby.
Michaels: (Laughs) Not too bad at all.
Holmes: $150 million comes with quite a bit of pressure to deliver. What are you and Triple H doing to prepare?
Micheals: He and I, we were just talking last night to one o’clock in the morning, just talking and chatting. And one of the things that we’ve always done with each other is we’re able to keep each other loose. We’ll spend a little time talking some serious stuff, but when you’ve got a big, heavy burden on yourself like he does, I think the best thing I can do as his buddy is to try to keep it light. There are enough people around him that make him painfully aware of all of the big, heavy, dramatic things going on in his life. We give each other a welcome time away from all of the serious issues.

Holmes: I watched your Hall of Fame induction to prep for this, and Hunter was really giving it to you. It was almost like a roast. If you get to do the honors for him, there’s got to be some kind of payback coming, right?
Michaels: (Laughs) More than likely, but I’m not nearly as funny as he is. And I have to tell you, he’s been doing that for years, in the car, in the dressing room. That’s one of the reasons I’ve hung around with him for so long. He makes me laugh. I’ve got a 20-plus year relationship with Kevin Nash because the guy makes me laugh. I’ve been married to my wife for fourteen years because she makes me laugh. (Laughs) I have a tendency to gravitate to people with great senses of humor. And Hunter has a wonderful time at my expense. And I’d love to take offense to it, but it’s just so darn funny. If I’m fortunate enough to induct him, I’m sure there will be quite a bit of humor and some serious stuff…which he won’t like. He’s more reserved than I am, he doesn’t put his feelings out there. That’s how I’ll embarrass him by showing that there is that side of him.

Holmes: At Wrestlemania Hunter’s in a match with Brock Lesnar. As you’re well aware, Brock Lesnar is built like a house. Now, I’m no master strategist, but this is a No DQ match. Why doesn’t DX just reunite and take this guy out?
Michaels: (Laughs) That’s sort of always on reserve. That could be a game plan. If Brock’s still breathing, that’s not good for anyone. I’m not looking forward to him getting a hold of me. And Hunter is a prideful dude, I think there’s a part of him that it would bother him if he couldn’t run with the guy one-on-one. That being said, it doesn’t mean I’m not going to stick my nose in there. That’s what I’m there for. And to be perfectly honest, I’m not afraid to take a cheap shot.
Holmes: (Laughs) A cheap kick.
Michaels: Yeah. It’s Wrestlemania.
Holmes: And if Paul Heyman doesn’t mind his own business…
Michaels: Yeah, I can take him for sure.  (Laughs)

Holmes: Speaking of Paul Heyman, he did an impersonation of the recently deceased Paul Bearer this past Monday. I’d imagine you and Paul Bearer knew each other well as you were both a part of the WWE for so long. Some people take offense to Heyman’s impersonation; others say Bearer would’ve loved it. What’s your take?
Michaels: Well, I can only give my perspective of Paul and how much he loved and cared for the business. Whatever offends someone, that’s in the eye of the beholder. There are people who put pictures of Jesus in urine and that’s art. Obviously that’s offensive to me, but to other people it’s art. I don’t think Paul would’ve been offended, I think he’d be honored to do anything to further the business or a storyline. Certainly, the Paul Bearer that I knew had nothing but the utmost love and respect for the WWE. He’d be honored to know that after his passing that he was a big part of a Wrestlemania match.

Holmes: I’m a big believer that a title is only as important as the people who are chasing it. You had a big hand in making the Undertaker’s streak the major deal that it is now.
Michaels: Yeah, but I think the streak was really an entity of it’s own before I ran across him. It turned into something that became an event in and of itself. Almost on the same level as a championship. That was done by Wrestlemania, the WWE, and the Undertaker. I can’t take any credit. It was more important to me to go out there with a buddy of mine and do something that people will remember for a long time.

Holmes: The legends really seem to get behind CM Punk. They see some old-school traits in him. Is he someone you enjoy?
Michaels: Yeah, he’s also a young man I enjoy talking to. The term “old school” gets tossed around so much that it’s amusing. I think he’s a young man that has a ton of drive and an opinion. And because so many people are used to towing the line and the narrative of the day, that when someone gives their opinion honestly, that that’s some kind of awe-inspiring thing. (Laughs) So, for those of us that give our opinions on a regular basis, we appreciate it.
Holmes: As a member of the media who gets a lot of canned answers, I certainly appreciate it.

Holmes: We’ve got the Rock squaring off against John Cena in the main event for the WWE Championship. What’s your take on that match?
Michaels: I’m hoping they’re going to go wild and give a clinic. I look at this card and the Undertaker/Punk match, there’s a personal thing there. With Brock and Triple H you’re looking at a fight. So there’s two matches that can really be something special. But the Rock and John Cena, they really can do something more than just a marketing, merchandising, materialistic match. They can have a ton of substance. I’ll be honest, I have no clue what it is they’re doing. But I would love to see a phenomenal match. It doesn’t have to be technical, but I’d like it to be artistic. And I think those two can do that. The stage is set for these guys to rip the house down.

Holmes: We’ve got a stacked card on top. What’s your pick for an under card sleeper?
Michaels: I think the sleeper of the night is going to be Jericho and Fandango. That’s one I’m looking forward to seeing. I know Chris is a hustler, he’s a hard worker. I think when you put him in a situation like this where people have maybe forgotten about it, I think that’s when Chris is at his best. This Fandango kid coming in, his first match at Wrestlemania, they’re both going to work very hard.
Holmes: Fandango’s intensity on Monday was pretty impressive. That seems to be missing from a lot of today’s guys.
Michaels: Yeah, I have not seen a lot of him, I’ve heard a lot. But I’m going to sit down and watch that one. For Jericho, it’s what he’s used to doing. For Fandango, it’s a make-or-break sort of match. You can come in and really get a ton of focus on you in a good way or a bad way.

Holmes: We’ve got three really solid main events, but only two of the six talents are full-time WWE Superstars. I spoke with Dolph Ziggler and he expressed some frustration with this. I was reminded of Wrestlemania XI when you and Kevin Nash had to take a backseat to Laurence Taylor. What advice would you give to the younger guys who find themselves in situations like this?
Michaels: I went through it. We went through Wrestlemania IX and Wrestlemania XI. Maybe from a match standpoint we weren’t taking a backseat, but whatever their stories were got a lot more focus. It’s one of those things that does happen. You get angry at it, but at the end of the day Hogan helped. Laurence Taylor helped. All of those things added to the Pay Per View. There are probably seven guys on this Wrestlemania card that weren’t even a part of the company last year. So, the idea that they’re not integrating new guys? Those guys are new, they weren’t here. From that standpoint the other talent is getting a chance. And if Rock and Brock weren’t on the card, would you rather wrestle in front of 700,000 Pay Per View buys instead of 1.3 million?
Holmes: Good point.
Michaels: So, I understand their frustration because I went through it. When I was their age I thought it stunk too. I used to say, “Get those guys out of here.” When they get to be my age they’ll look back and think, “OK, I get it.” They ought to use it, which I’m sure they do, as motivation. And at the same time, do their best to take advantage. Fandango, The Shield, these guys can make an impression in front of 1.3 million Pay Per View buys. You have to transition from old to new, and it’s never a transition that goes fast enough for the younger guys. And I am very understanding and sympathetic. I was there, but it’s the reality of the way this business is…and honestly a lot of businesses are. If Michael Jordan wanted to come back right now, they’d be throwing money at him.
Holmes: And if Shawn Michaels wanted to come back right now?
Michaels: (Laughs) If Shawn Micheals wanted to come back right now they’d be throwing money at him. I can promise you. And they’d be right to. I could go out there tomorrow with Dolph Ziggler and give him the best match he ever had.
Holmes: I need to have a follow-up with Dolph when he comes back from his sitcom to work the main event of Wrestlemania 40.
Michaels: Dolph’s going to turn into one of those guys, CM Punk is going to be one of those guys. It’s not going to be a question of if they can draw money, they’ll just know that they do. And that’s growing. And they’re coming along. But like I said earlier, it’s not going to happen fast enough for them.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

Don’t miss WWE Wrestlemania, Sunday April 7, 2013 at 7 pm ET on Pay Per View.

WWE Superstar Dolph Ziggler Breaks Down Wrestlemania’s Top Matches

April 4, 2013

Dolph Ziggler (WWE)

Quick Note: Wrestlemania season is heating up and XFINITY has you covered! We’re going to have interviews and insights from top WWE Superstars, on-location tidbits from Wrestlemania weekend, and more. Order Wrestlemania here. And be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute details.

There isn’t a physical “Road to Wrestlemania.” But if there was, the next sign would read “This Exit: MetLife Stadium.”

With the industry’s biggest show just a few short days away, I had a chance to chat with Mr. Money in the Bank, Dolph Ziggler, to get his thoughts on the evening’s top matches…

Gordon Holmes: Alright, let’s start this off with the most important match; Zig-E and Big E vs. Team Hell No for the WWE Tag Team Titles…
Dolph Ziggler: You’re really trying to get that to catch on. (Laughs)
Holmes: I’m still trying to make “fetch” happen. Now, whenever I see one of my girlfriend’s ex-boyfriends, they tend to be smarter and better looking than me and I get depressed. Is it weird to face off against two of AJ’s exes in Kane and Daniel Bryan?
Ziggler: It’s only weird if you make it weird. But me, realizing that I’m pretty much the trophy that I am compared to a little garden gnome guy and a deranged monster, either way I think I have the upper hand here. Those guys are really good performers, but I’m known for being one of the best. And when it comes down to that Wrestlemania match, I won’t be thinking if it’s uncomfortable, I’m going to be thinking about doing whatever I can to steal the show and show off to AJ that she made the right choice.
Holmes: Have you had any conversations with Big E about the difference between Wrestlemania and smaller events? Any concerns about nerves?
Ziggler: Of course there is, and honestly even for me, I’ve been around and been at Wrestlemanias and been in front of 70,000 people, it’s not something you can prepare for. The last couple of weekends I’ve been sitting him down and having some good talks with him. This is a big deal just to be on this card. There are a lot of deserving Superstars who aren’t going to be on this Wrestlemania. I feel like I should always be in the main event, but I am excited and happy to be in a match. Just to be there is a big step. Now I have to get it into his head that you don’t want to freeze up, you don’t want to freak out. It all comes down to having me as a mentor for him, and he’s been listening.  I think he’s going to be great out there.

Holmes: What is your take on The Rock vs. John Cena for the WWE Championship?
Ziggler: I hope all the fans boo them out of the freaking building.
Holmes: (Laughs)
Ziggler: I don’t want the cheers and the boos. I hope it’s 90% boos letting them know that this “Once in a Lifetime” match is happening again and that I or someone else should be the main event. But, that’s the great thing about the WWE Universe. They get to voice their opinions, they get to show their signs. And whether they like something or hate it, you’re going to hear about it. I’m excited to hear it.
Holmes: So when the “We want Ziggler” chant breaks out, it’s not going to break your heart.
Ziggler: No, I’m used to it. Especially in New York.
Holmes: What’s your take on the new championship belt design?
Ziggler: I think it’s pretty cool. For a long time people wanted to get rid of that Cena-recognized belt. As a championship I think it looks pretty cool. Like I try to do myself, I think it mixes a little bit of old school with a little bit of shiny bling. It gives you the best of both worlds.
Holmes: Have you had any interactions with The Rock since he’s been back?
Ziggler: We’ve had a couple of quick talks here and there. He’s usually pretty busy just like all of us when he gets here. He’s been pretty cool about everything. And it was pretty neat, he told me he liked my work which is a pretty cool deal because you know he’s watching the shows when he’s traveling. Like I said, having him back, it makes me a little mad. But, I love the business sense of it, having him come back and getting the crowd behind him. When he’s promoting movies, we’re holding down the fort, waiting for him to come back.

Holmes: Triple H is putting his career on the line against Brock Lesnar in a career-ending match. Who do you like there?
Ziggler: I don’t know. Brock is a legitimate UFC guy who has beaten the crap out of some pretty tough fighters and I think Triple H was lucky to get out of it alive last time. But, Triple H is obviously motivated, his career is on the line and that’s a huge deal. But, he’s also an office guy, so he always has that as a backup. I don’t know if Brock has any other plans but to go out there and destroy opponents. I’m assuming Brock will come out on top of this one.

Holmes: Undertaker vs. CM Punk…does the streak continue or does Punk prove he’s the “best in the world”?
Ziggler: You know what? That streak is one of the biggest, majestic pieces of what makes Wrestlemania, Wrestlemania. Every year you start to question it, and as we get closer to the match you think maybe this new guy, this young kid, is he angry enough, is he going to be the one to break the streak? And you never know if it’s going to go to 30-0 or end at 20-1. That’s the awesome intrigue and that’s one of the matches I’m looking forward to watching. If CM Punk were to win, that’s bigger history than anything else that happens on that entire card.
Holmes: Is that how it’s viewed now? The streak is more important than the championships?
Ziggler: Yeah. Honestly, it’s such a staple of the Wrestlemania Pay Per View. It’s such a big deal that I wonder if you were to ask someone like me, “Do you want to face Cena for the title or take a crack at the streak?” I might lean toward the streak because Cena’s been champ a bunch of times, Punk held it for over a year, but that’s twenty one years there. It’s such a big deal that it’s bigger than the championship in some sense. To me it would be.

Holmes: This match might have your attention; Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger for the World Heavyweight Championship.
Ziggler: I could care less, I hope they beat the crap out of each other and whoever is left gets laid out by the other one. I’ll be walking down the aisle and stealing the show with my cash in.
Holmes: I thought that was going to be a big secret, I was going to try to get you to confess that that was your plan. They knock each other cold, then cue Ziggler’s music.
Ziggler: You know, I’ve seen it before where it wasn’t exactly quite how I wanted it yet, so I can’t guarantee that’s going to happen. Cause when I cash this in, I’m not cashing it in to maybe win. It’s going to happen. So, somebody has to be out pretty cold for me to get back in there.
Holmes: Clearly you’re leaving Wrestlemania with two belts. And some guys will wear one around their waist and have the other over their shoulder, or both over their shoulders. Have you given much thought as to how you’re going to do it?
Ziggler: I honestly haven’t. Sometimes I’m old-school tradition. I like when the champion wears the title around his waist, so maybe both around the waist. But, I’d really hate to cover up these abs for all the girls that watch the show for me.
Holmes: I don’t have that problem, so I never would’ve thought of that. What if you snapped them behind your neck and wore them draped over your shoulders like a boxer would?
Ziggler: Oh…that’s very interesting. How about one facing the front, one facing back, I do my entrance facing out. That might work too.
Holmes: The clock is ticking, you need to figure this out and fast.
Ziggler: It’s not on the top of my list, but I’ll give it some consideration.
Holmes: I don’t mean to stress you out.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

Don’t miss WWE Wrestlemania, Sunday April 7, 2013 at 7 pm ET on Pay Per View.

WWE’s Paul Heyman on Ryback: ‘Nobody Can Be Undefeated Forever’

October 25, 2012

Paul Heyman (THQ)

I don’t know if the Paul Heyman/CM Punk dynamic would work on screen. I don’t need a mouthpiece.” – CM Punk (August 17, 2012)

The Straight-Edge Superstar is right, he doesn’t need a mouthpiece. But he’s certainly benefiting from having a conniving advocate who lurks in the background.

I spoke with Paul Heyman, a man some consider to be the best creative writer in the wrestling business, in the days leading up to Punk’s big title defense at “Hell in a Cell.” During that chat we discussed how he’s enjoying his new on-air role, Brock Lesnar’s opinion of the wrestling business, and what’s best for Ryback’s career…

Order WWE: Hell in a Cell Today

Gordon Holmes: You’ve taken on a bit of a new role on TV in that you’re more of CM Punk’s advocate than his manager. Has that been challenging for you?
Paul Heyman: No, it’s just a different role to play. You know, with Brock Lesnar…Brock doesn’t like to speak so it’s natural for me to do the talking. And it’s very easy for me to advocate for Brock Lesnar because I’m a great believer in him. It’s not too much of a stretch to hype accolades about Brock Lesnar. With CM Punk, I don’t have to do a lot of talking for CM Punk. I would present the case that I’m more of a lobbyist for respect for CM Punk as being the best in the world. It’s a different role to play and  I love the challenge of it just because it’s not the same role I was playing with Brock. Like any other performer you don’t want to be pigeonholed everyday for the rest of your life.

Holmes: Speaking of Brock, I read his book that you collaborated on, “Death Clutch.” And it seems like his biggest problem with the wrestling industry is the travel. Now with the limited dates he’s working it doesn’t seem like that’s a big problem anymore. My question is; does he enjoy the business more? Because I really enjoy watching him wrestle. It seems like he was designed to do it. It’d be a shame if he wasn’t enjoying it.
Heyman: There’s an old expression in the professional wrestling industry; you spend 23 hours and 40 minutes of your day traveling and working out and eating properly and dealing with rental cars and hotel rooms and family situations and divorce lawyers. But, the 20 minutes a day you spend in the ring is not only the best part of the day but makes everything else worthwhile. I believe that is the case with Brock Lesnar. I believe that Brock loves to perform. And, I think Brock lives for the moments that he’s in the octagon or the ring. It’s getting to the octagon or the ring and all that it entails to get there and the time that he spends away from his family that he finds unbearable.

Holmes: CM Punk has a big title defense against Ryback this Sunday at Hell in the Cell. Anytime you have an undefeated character such as Ryback, it provides some unique storytelling challenges. If it was in your hands, how would you handle the Ryback character?
Heyman: I think Ryback is going to demonstrate to the audience on Monday exactly how he handles defeat. And, nobody can be undefeated forever, it doesn’t work that way in real life. And, it’s easy to look like the biggest tough guy in the world when you’re on such a winning streak. But, can you maintain that aura about you once you lose? Brock Lesnar did, and I don’t think that people look at Brock Lesnar today and think, “Oh yeah, I remember the night he lost to this guy.” I think Ryback will face the very same thing. Now, I know there are people out there who have presented the case that Ryback’s entire aura has been built on the fact that he’s undefeated. I think a stronger case can be made that once Ryback is defeated, he’ll be even a stronger character for WWE because you have gotten this out of the way.

Holmes: Probably my favorite thing you were involved with during your managing career was the Dangerous Alliance in WCW. You had Ravishing Rick Rude, some guy named Steve Austin, Bobby Eaton, Arn Anderson, Larry Zbyszko, Madusa…just an amazing line-up. If you were to recreate that stable in WWE, with CM Punk of course being the centerpiece, who would you pick?
Heyman: Wow…I find the fact that CM Punk and I are together…that makes us a Dangerous Alliance. I’d obviously never suggest that I should represent anyone else on television without first mentioning the name Brock Lesnar. As for rounding out the rest of the roster. I’d say we have the choice of cherry picking anyone. I’d certainly add Randy Orton to that group. And I’d take a young, hot, hungry tag team that is having an uphill battle with the system, someone like the Usos. I’d give them the stardom they deserve. And when it comes to the females. Since AJ doesn’t have the taste to accept my marriage proposal, I would probably grab someone like Nattie Neidhart who could probably tie everyone into a pretzel and make them tap out in 30 seconds of a legitimate fight.

Holmes: I understand you did some writing for the “WWE ‘13” video game. What did that entail?
Heyman: It entailed putting together the storylines for the Universe mode and for the Attitude Era. I have a viral marketing company called the Looking 4 Larry Agency and we were doing the viral marketing for this game anyway. And then THQ came to me about writing the actual storylines because I have a bit of product knowledge for that.
Holmes: A bit.
Heyman: Yeah. And so we were off to the races.
Holmes: As a writer, I feel like every time I branch out into a new format or genre I learn something new. Did you learn anything writing for the game? It must be much different than writing for a television show.
Heyman: The big difference between writing for WWE television and writing for the “WWE ‘13” video game is that once I wrote a storyline Vince McMahon didn’t yell at me about it.
Holmes: The guys at THQ didn’t chew you out?
Heyman: Who’s going to yell at me from THQ? I’m the guy they turn to to be the creative rabbi. Vince McMahon? He loves to yell at me.

Watch WWE: Hell in a Cell, Sunday, October 28, 2012 at 8 p.m. ET on Pay Per View.

The “WWE ‘13” Video Game will be available for XBox 360, PS3, and Nintendo Wii on Tuesday, October 30, 2012.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

WWE Champ CM Punk on SummerSlam, Why He Laid Out The Rock

August 17, 2012

WWE Champion C.M. Punk (WWE)

It’s been quite a year for CM Punk.

Since cutting the promo that changed his career, the straight-edge superstar has had classic matches, been proposed to, and most importantly enjoyed a WWE Championship reign that is one of the longest in recent memory.

So why would he let the Rock come in and steal his thunder?

I spoke to the Voice of the Voiceless in the days leading up to his SummerSlam title defense to find out why he put the People’s Champ on his back, what we can expect from his triple-threat match, and his take on Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H…

Gordon Holmes: At Raw 1000 you shocked the world when you made the Rock eat your knee. What inspired that sudden move?
CM Punk: I don’t think it was sudden at all. I’d been very vocal about the Rock coming back and cherry-picking the days he comes in. So, when he comes in I’m going to smack him in the face.
Holmes: And how did it feel to finally act out on that?
Punk: It felt very good. It felt like instead of talking that I was backing it up with action.
Holmes: For those who are unfamiliar with your complaints about the Rock, why exactly did you make that move?
Punk: I just think there are a lot of people who work their asses off here. I’m here 24/7, 365 days a year and he’s here like three days a year. So when he comes in here and tries to lay claim to our success and things people have worked hard to establish, it’s a little offensive.
Holmes: It has to be a big compliment career-wise to be the next guy in line to face this huge name. The guy’s had something like two matches in the last eight years.
Punk: We’ll I’m in line to face the huge name if I hold on till the Royal Rumble. The WWE’s like a minefield. Any guy can beat anyone on any given Sunday. So hopefully I’ll make it and I’ll prove to the Rock that you can’t just walk in and pick your days. There’s some tough bastards here.

Holmes: This past year has been pretty amazing for you. And all throughout this, I don’t want to say you were clean-cut, because you’re not, but you were clearly the good guy. Now there seems to be more shades of grey in your character. What is your goal with that?
Punk: I think the goal is to just be myself. Not try to play a character; I’m trying to be me. The best characters in wrestling and sports entertainment are just extensions of themselves. I think the Rock is a great character because that’s him. He’s larger than life. He dials himself up to eleven.
Holmes: But it does feel like there’s a bit of an edge after Raw 1000. Were you holding back before?
Punk: I wouldn’t say I was holding back. There are necessary evils to everything. And, it’s a television show. You can’t show all your cards. We need things to do on a weekly basis and this is a progression of the storyline.
Holmes: What kind of feedback have you been getting about the recent change?
Punk: It varies from extremely positive, like “Welcome back, Punk” to “You’ve turned your back on the WWE Universe.” I think it’s very interesting and dynamic because I really haven’t done anything bad.

Holmes: You’re the WWE Champion, yet John Cena’s matches always go on last at the Pay Per Views. You’ve taken the attitude that it doesn’t matter where you are on the card as long as people are talking about you when it’s over. Is that something that drives your character?
Punk: One hundred percent. I’m the kind of guy, you put me first? That’s the main event. Everyone else can follow me. You put me fifth? That’s the main event. There isn’t going to be anything else on the show that reaches the quality of what I do. You can put whoever you want on last. On the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday show? I’m going out last. That’s the way it is. If they want to put someone else last on television, that’s fine, but they have to follow me.

 

Holmes: This Sunday is SummerSlam. You’ll be defending the WWE Championship in a triple-threat match against John Cena and the Big Show. What can we look forward to in that bout?
Punk: I’m looking forward to it, first of all. I find it interesting because my last two SummerSlam opponents the previous years have been John Cena and the Big Show. There is a variable in there in a triple threat match where the champion doesn’t have an advantage. The Big Show could pin John Cena, John Cena could make the Big Show tap and I’d lose my title. I don’t have to be involved in the decision. I think that’s going to make me more aggressive. And you’re definitely going to look for the three of us to try to steal the show.
Holmes: The whole Voice of the Voiceless thing kind of kicked off with you against Cena. And Cena, people either they love him or they hate him. But it’s one thing to chant “Cena sucks” and another thing to chant “You can’t wrestle.” Does that get to him?
Punk: You know, I don’t think that gets to John. I think our audience; some of them can be pretty cruel. And they like to hang their hat on that “John Cena isn’t a good wrestler” thing. I haven’t seen that for years. The guy has been a top-level performer for almost a decade.

Holmes: Brock Lesnar is going to get back into the ring this Sunday against Triple H. What are your thoughts on that bout?
Punk: I’m very much looking for to it. Last time Brock Lesnar was in the ring it was a complete spectacle. The guy commands attention, you want to see him wrestle. It’s going to be interesting to see how he mixes with Triple H. He busted open John Cena. Could he do the same to Triple H? I don’t know. Triple H is no slouch himself. He’s a multiple-time WWE champion.
Holmes: My thing with Lesnar is; he’s so entertaining. He’s so fun to watch and seems like he was genetically engineered to be a sports entertainer. It’s a crime that he doesn’t seem to enjoy it.
Punk: Yeah, and that’s why a lot of people are going to want to see this match. I know they called John Cena and the Rock at Wrestlemania “Once in a lifetime,” but this thing is definitely once in a lifetime.
Holmes: Brock will of course have Paul Heyman in his corner. You have called yourself a “Paul Heyman guy” in the past. What’s your relationship like?
Punk: I’m happy to see him when he’s here. It’s great. Before I could only hang out with him when I did shows in the Northeast. I got to grab a bite to eat with him. Now, he’s not here as often as I’d like, but when he shows up on Mondays it makes my day easier. He’s a dear friend I can bounce ideas off of.
Holmes: He gives you advice?
Punk: Of course.
Holmes: Is he someone you’d want to work with in the future?
Punk: I’d love to. But he’s busy with Brock. And I don’t know if the Paul Heyman/CM Punk dynamic would work on screen. I don’t need a mouthpiece. And I think we’re two separate entities. But behind the scenes we get along famously.

Holmes: Last time we talked, I asked you if you could work in any territory, which would you choose. You went with the Crocketts in the ‘80s. I spoke to Arn Anderson a few weeks ago to get his thoughts on that.
Punk: Oh man.
Holmes: I asked him, would CM Punk be the fifth man on a Horsemen War Games team or would he be the guy the Horsemen stomp in the parking lot?
Punk: (Laughs) I’m so interested to find out what he said. This is awesome.
Holmes: What do you think he said?
Punk: I think he said I would have been on the team.
Holmes: No, he said you would’ve been selling tickets with Dusty Rhodes and the Rock and Roll Express.
Punk: Wow. (Laughs) I don’t know if that’s an honest answer cause he always calls me such a heel. It’s flattering either way.
Holmes: I think I agree with him because I have a hard time seeing CM Punk with the tattoos, the piercings, and the straight-edge lifestyle meshing with the limousine-riding, jet-flying playboys.
Punk: Maybe not in this lifetime, no.
Holmes: Another thing we touched on was how you wanted to work with Ricky Steamboat. My question for you now is; how does that feud work with you and your no drugs and your no alcohol in the era of “Just Say No” against someone who was ridiculously clean cut.
Punk: It’s how you spin. I think that’s the fascinating things about me is I can spin it any way I want depending on how I want the crowd to react. There’s a million ways you could do it.
Holmes: Let’s hear an example.
Punk: That’s way too easy, just pick on his family. Remember when I sang “Happy Birthday” to Aaliyah Mysterio?
Holmes: That’s fair…and creepy.
Punk: (Laughs) Thank you.
Holmes: So you serenade Ricky Jr. and boom, instant Clash of the Champions main event?
Punk: I wish. (Laughs) That would have been fun. I was born in a different era. For me, the most flattering compliments I get are from those old-school guys who say I should have been around 20 years earlier.

Holmes: I was reading about your appearance at Chicago Comic Con, and you spoke of a retirement looming in the future. Is that accurate?
Punk: Well, eventually. I’m not going to wrestle forever.
Holmes: Well, yeah.
Punk: (Laughs) I would definitely say I’ve passed the middle point of my career for sure.
Holmes: What goals remain for you?
Punk: Not many. I kind of want to make a few guys and girls. And I think I’ve done a little bit of that with AJ (Lee). I want to make sure there’s a future for the wrestling business when I leave. I want to make sure there are people that fill that void.
Holmes: Are you someone who could just stop, or do you have some Terry Funk in you and we’ll see you two weeks after your retirement?
Punk: I don’t know. I can’t really figure that out. I’ve never done nothing, I’ve never had a break. Maybe I’d miss it in a year.
Holmes: Chris Jericho seems to do it right. It’s almost like he’s got a territory thing going on where he can wrestle, then take a break to let the people miss him, then come back.
Punk: I think that’s a smart thing for anybody. Look at anybody in our industry who’s been injured for any period of time. Like Triple H for instance, he tore his quad and when he came back the response for him was overwhelming. That kind of put him on a new level.
Holmes: When you do call it quits, what’s next? Straight-edge husband? Straight-edge dad?
Punk: (Laughs) Oh boy, I don’t know. Maybe a dog owner first.
Holmes: It’s all baby steps.

Holmes: The one movie I was super psyched to see this year was “The Avengers.” Now that I’ve seen that, the next thing I’m psyched for is the CM Punk DVD I keep hearing about.
Punk: To me it’s not a wrestling DVD, it’s just a hell of a story. Obviously I’m biased because it’s me, but I don’t think we’ve put out a DVD that’s this honest and raw and touches on where somebody came from, all the way to the point where they are now. There’s a lot of real-life stuff in there, Family stuff, from the day I started to Wrestlemania. Some of it’s touching, some of it gets me mad when I watch it. It’s an emotional story. And I don’t think you can write something better than that. It’s real, it’s raw, and it’s me.
Holmes: Any word on which matches are going to be included on it?
Punk: The funny thing is when I heard we were doing the DVD, I immediately was like, “Well, I need to be hands-on with this project.” I thought I was going to be picking all these matches and be really nit-picky about what goes on there. But, the documentary is really where I focused all my energy and I really didn’t care which matches went on. The thing about WWE DVDs is a lot of matches get put on different DVD, I just wanted to make sure that the matches that I picked told the story. There’s a beginning, a middle, and an end. You see the progression of my career and how I got to where I am now.

Holmes: Now that “Monday Night Raw” has been extended an hour, who would you like to see featured more often?
Punk: There’s a crop of young, hungry talent in FCW who are hopefully going to get their shake. As far as the people you’ve seen on TV now, Antonio Cesaro is somebody who has a good future in this sport. I’d like to see guys like Tyson Kidd get more air time. And really a lot of the girls. Having an extra hour will give us more time to tell more stories with matches. Hopefully we’ll get to exploit a lot of the hidden gems that we have.

Holmes: You’re also the cover…guy. Wasn’t sure what to call you there, for the new “WWE ‘13” video game. Congratulations.
Punk: Thank you, thank you very much.
Holmes: Is there added pressure on you to be better at the game now that your face is on it?
Punk: (Laughs) No, that’s the one thing I haven’t been asked to do yet, is play it. I’m out promoting it. I’m shooting commercials for it, I’m talking about it. I really haven’t had time to play it, but it is awesome. I can’t wait for it to come out.
Holmes: If I’m Kofi Kingston, and I school you in the game that has your face on it, you’re going to hear about it.
Punk: Yeah. But to go back to my DVD, there’s a Blu-ray extra entitled “Kofi vs. CM Punk.” We throw down a video game challenge. I’m not going to tell you what happens; you’re going to have to see the DVD to see who is the true video game master.
Holmes: I think I know who wins with the way you’re building it up.
Punk: (Laughs) I don’t think I’d be talking about it otherwise.

Holmes: I heard you’re going to be a “Scooby Doo” character?
Punk: Am I?
Holmes: There’s some kind of “Scooby Doo” movie that takes place at Wrestlemania. (To the WWE representative) Is this accurate?
WWE Representative: There’s going to be a variety of voices, but I can’t check my email so I’m not sure. But I think Punk is going to be one of the voices.
Punk: That is awesome. You bring good tidings, my friend. I would love the chance to say, “And I would’ve gotten away with it if it wasn’t for those meddling kids and John Cena.”
Holmes: So you’re hoping when they pull the mask off of the ghost or whatever that the face underneath has slicked-back hair and a lip ring?
Punk: That would be nothing short of amazing. That’d be awesome.

Holmes: I have a theory about you.
Punk: (Laughs) A lot of people do. But I’m interested.
Holmes: Are you immune to peer pressure?
Punk: Yes, one hundred percent. I can’t put into words how I’ve never understood peer pressure. And I’ve seen people cave to do numerous amounts of things. The same people have tried to get me and they give up pretty quickly because they see I’m not interested.
Holmes: Is that the trick? You need to shut people down immediately and then they’ll learn not to even bother?
Punk: I think it has something to do with body language. Because if you dare someone to do something, you can see they’re nervous or scared about it and then you can kind of push their buttons and can goad them into doing something.

WWE Representative: Hold on one second, just to go back to the “Scooby Doo,” I just checked the press release and as of right now CM Punk is not a voice.
Holmes: Now I feel terrible.
Punk: (Laughs) Get me on this!
Holmes: C’mon, work some magic!
WWE Representative: We can do our own.

Holmes: Social media is changing the face of entertainment. When I was a kid, the WWE Superstars were these untouchable heroes, now you can jump online and have a conversation with them. Do you lose some of your…I don’t know…your aura by opening yourself up to the public?
Punk: No, I don’t think so. I think the appeal of my character is I’m just a regular guy. I’m one of the people. A kid who wants to tweet something to his hero John Cena? I think that’s awesome. Making us more accessible to the fans makes us larger than life. A lot of kids look up to us like we’re heroes, and tweeting a yes or no answer to his question can makes his day.

Holmes: You strike me as very much an “I’m not a role model,” kind of guy. And yet, straight edge, with the no drinking and no drugs, does seem to be a very positive message for kids.
Punk: I get a lot of moms and dads at autograph signings. Their kids will come up with “Drug free” written on their fingers in markers and they’ll be X’d up with their wrist tape. For me, it brings me down to Earth and makes me feel nice to hear moms say, “My kid wants to be like you. Thank you.” That’s humbling to me. I try not to be preachy about it, but if a mom thinks they can put their kid in front of a TV and say, “OK, you can watch this.” That’s very flattering.

Watch WWE: SummerSlam, Sunday, August 19, 2012 at 8 p.m. ET on Pay Per View.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

‘SummerSlam’ Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H: WWE Superstars Share Their Picks

August 14, 2012

Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H (WWE)

The Cerebral Assassin is all set to square off against the Next Big Thing in the main event of this Sunday’s Summerslam. We had a chance to touch base with some WWE Superstars to get their thoughts on this dream match-up…

Brodus Clay: It’s establishment against the rebel. Triple H is the heir apparent to the WWE crown and Brock Lesnar has done everything his entire career to not be a part of the establishment. He’s always done his own thing. One guy is a cerebral assassin; he’s mentally destroyed guys for two decades. And Brock has just destroyed everything in his path. Even in his match with Cena, Cena got the win, but did he really win that match? Brock was toying with him at points. It’ll be interesting.  A gun to my head? I like Brock.

Zack Ryder: It’s definitely going to be a fight. You’re not going to see headlocks and armdrags. And if I’ve got to pick a winner, I’m going to go with Brock Lesnar.

WWE Hall of Famer Arn Anderson: I never thought I’d say this about Triple H, but I’m a little bit afraid for him. John Cena is a Neanderthal and I wasn’t worried about John getting hurt. But John got beat up pretty good. Lesnar’s an animal. And if Triple H isn’t prepared for an animalistic-type fight, there’s a chance he could get hurt. We’ve already seen that Brock is dominant in several different arenas. If it’s under ten minutes, Brock Lesnar wins. If he can last more than ten minutes, I’ll go with Triple H.

Daniel Bryan: I think Brock’s kimura was awesome. I’d rather it be me and Brock, I think we could have a different match than any match in WWE history. But I’m going to have to go with Brock.

World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus: Ya know, If Cena didn’t have that chain at Extreme Rules, I don’t know if he could’ve beaten Brock. But Triple H is different, he has a lot more experience, he’s more of a street fighter than Cena. Brock’s more of a ground-and-pound guy. I honestly don’t know who’s going to walk out the winner, but I’ll tell you what; both of them are going to remember that fight for a long time. Their bodies are going to remind them. As for a winner, I’m going to go with Triple H, fella.

WWE Divas Champion Layla: That’s going to be a match that I don’t want to miss. It’s going to be exciting and fun. People are going to be glued to their sets. I’m going to go with Triple H. Even though Brock Lesnar is a butt kicker, Triple H is the business. He’s got all of the psychological tools. He knows what he’s doing

Watch WWE: Summerslam, Sunday, August 19, 2012 at 8 p.m. ET on Pay Per View.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes


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