Posts Tagged ‘wrestlemania’

WWE Smackdown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair on Wrestlemania – “Asuka and I Are Stealing the Show”

April 3, 2018

Smackdown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair (WWE)

I spoke with WWE Superstar Charlotte Flair in the days leading up to her Wrestlemania 32 title defense against Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch. We discussed her upcoming Triple Threat match, the problems taking championship titles though airport security, and her goals for the Women’s Evolution…

• A cage match
• A submission match
• Main eventing a WWE pay-per-view event
• Mixed tag matches
• Updating a championship

Check…check…check…check…check…not bad for two years.

So, what’s next for WWE’s “Queen”? Oh…just a date with someone who hasn’t been pinned or submitted in over two and a half years at this Sunday’s Wrestlemania…

Gordon Holmes: First and foremost, I noticed you had to duck out of last week’s Mixed-Match Challenge match last week, is everything alright?
Charlotte Flair: Yeah, I’m good. I had dental surgery at the last minute and my mouth was too swollen so they kept me off of TV. But I am A-OK.
Holmes: Excellent. And you’re going to be going toe-to-toe with your Wrestlemania opponent Asuka in the Mixed-Match finals.
Flair: I know! Maybe I’ll end that streak on a Tuesday night. (Laughs)
Holmes: And this will be the first time you two have ever squared off in a ring, correct?
Flair: Yes.

Don’t Miss Wrestlemania – This Sunday, April 8, 2018 at 7p ET on Pay-Per-View

Holmes: I’ve been thinking about this, with the Women’s Evolution, there has been a lot of talk about firsts. The first Women’s Royal Rumble, the first Hell in a Cell. With this being Title vs. Streak…this is almost the first “big fight” feel…which, to me, is very rare.
Flair: Like you said, there have been so many firsts. But for me personally, I’ve had so many big matches. But how have we not crossed paths? So, when Asuka won the Women’s Royal Rumble and I was in the ring with her and Alexa Bliss and then Ronda Rousey came out, I was thinking, “I really want Asuka to pick me. That’s who I want at Wrestlemania.” Just the Empress vs. the Queen. Not to sound corny, but it just feels right. It’s the perfect storm. And she has so much respect worldwide and I have such respect for her and her style. She already has a story, with us not even having this long build, it just works. I have the title, she has the streak. Who’s supposed to beat who? It’s two bulls going head to head.
Holmes: Now when you break the streak, either during the Mixed-Match Challenge or at Wrestlemania, what’s the etiquette? Do you buy her a consolation fruit basket?
Flair: (Laughs) I’ll just shake her hand. Because everybody bows down to the queen.

Holmes: It seems like there are a lot of parallels between yourself and Ronda Rousey. You came in with the pressure of being Ric Flair’s daughter. Her coming in as one of the biggest names in MMA. Have you had a chance to talk to her or give her any advice?
Flair: I haven’t seen her since the Royal Rumble, but Ronda didn’t get where she is in UFC without working hard and dedication. I think the only thing that’s different in our industry is the level of entertainment that you have to put behind it. But, she’s already done movies. So, if she can excel at something like that, I know she can do the same here. Having Kurt Angle as a partner, I’m sure he’s given her loads of advice, being an Olympic athlete and making the transition to WWE. I have no doubt in my mind that she’s been in pressure situations. She probably does better under pressure. I hope I get to see her at Wrestlemania and tell her, “You know who you are.” That’s what my dad always says, “Just know who you are when you walk through that curtain because that’s all that matters.”

Holmes: This has kind of been downplayed, but there are four women’s matches at this year’s Wrestlemania. That has to be exciting.
Flair: It is! The Women’s Evolution is full steam ahead! It just shows how important the women are to the company now. Almost every female is on the card. And Alexa vs. Nia, me and Asuka, the mixed-tag match, the battle royal…every one has its own story. There isn’t a throwaway match.
Holmes: You’re one of the flag-bearers for this movement. Have you started mentoring any of the young talents who have come up to help them get to the next level?
Flair: I feel like I still need to get to the next level! (Laughs) Obviously with the Riott Squad I had the chance to face Ruby Riott at Fastlane. And, you want to make the most of every opportunity. And that was an opportunity. And helping talent understand what I didn’t understand when I first debuted was, what’s most important is; how do you make the audience feel? Whether it’s good or bad, whether you’re a good guy or a bad guy, you have to let them know your character. Worry about the match, but connect with the audience whether it’s bad or good. That’s what you’re here to do.

Holmes: Alright, word association time. Let’s start with Becky Lynch.
Flair: Friend…I would say best friend.
Holmes: Naomi?
Flair: Kind.
Holmes: Ruby Riott?
Flair: Potential.
Holmes: Sasha Banks?
Flair: Boss.
Holmes: Alexa Bliss?
Flair: (Laughs) “Blister” is what I called her in NXT. (Laughs) She was my little Blister.
Holmes: Nia Jax?
Flair: Strong.
Holmes: Ronda Rousey?
Flair: Tough.
Holmes: Bayley?
Flair: Awww…but that’s not a word. Sweet.
Holmes: Let’s finish with Asuka.
Flair: Mysterious.

Holmes: Oh…we didn’t talk about any of the gentlemen and their matches. Real quick, if you could only watch one of the men’s matches, which one would it be?
Flair: AJ and Shinsuke Nakamura. I’ve gotten to know them both really well on Smackdown and AJ is a mentor to me. Shinsuke I love to death and to see their careers come full circle. Knowing what they’re capable of and how good this match is and what it means to both of them…I’m really excited for this match. But, I’m still telling them that Asuka and I are stealing the show.
Holmes: Of course.
Flair: (Laughs)

Don’t Miss Wrestlemania – This Sunday, April 8, 2018 at 7p ET on Pay-Per-View

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WWE Divas Champ Charlotte Talks WrestleMania, Dream Match with Stephanie McMahon

March 31, 2016

WWE Divas Champion Charlotte (WWE)

In the evolution of professional wrestling, certain performers are credited with ushering in new movements. Hulk Hogan brought us “Rock and Wrestling,” “Stone Cold” Steve Austin is considered the father of the “The Attitude Era,” and WWE Divas Champion Charlotte (along with her WrestleMania competition Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch) are at the forefront of “The Divas Revolution.”

This revolution will take an important step forward this Sunday when three of the division’s most talented performers will square off in a Triple Threat match in front of one of the largest crowds in WWE history.

I spoke with the reigning Divas champ in the days leading up to her WrestleMania title defense and asked her about the upcoming match, the Four Horsewomen, and the difficulties of transporting a championship belt through airport security…

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

(A WWE Representative introduces Charlotte as the “WWE Divas Champion”)
Gordon Holmes: Oh man, I wish whenever someone introduced me they had to say I was the champion of something.
Charlotte: (Laughs) It’s not too bad.
Holmes: Although, I understand it’s a hassle to carry the championship through airport security.
Charlotte: I’m not going to lie, sometimes I like showing it off. (Laughs)
Holmes: In that case, I’d wear it all the time.
Charlotte: I just lift it up and I’m like, “Hey, guys!”
Holmes: Just the Divas champion of the world. No big deal.
Charlotte: That’s it. No big deal.

Holmes: You are a member of the Four Horsewomen. Being a Flair, I’d assume you’re the Ric Flair of this group. Who is the Arn Anderson?
Charlotte: Hmm…Becky Lynch is the Arn, although she has the capability to talk like Ric Flair.
Holmes: Who’s the Tully Blanchard?
Charlotte: Oh…hmm…
Holmes: There are no wrong answers here, Charlotte.
Charlotte: (Laughs) I know, but it’s stressful because we all…I don’t know…
Holmes: I was thinking Sasha Banks is kind of flashy.
Charlotte: Yeah, I guess she’s Tully, Becky is Arn, I’m Ric, and you’ve got Bayley.
Holmes: She’s the Barry Windham? She’s the Ole Anderson?
Charlotte: Barry.
Holmes: I had no idea Barry Windham was a hugger.
Charlotte: (Laughs)

Holmes: WrestleMania is right around the corner. Do you have any kind of special entrance or attire planned?
Charlotte: I have special attire, but you’ll just have to wait and see.
Holmes: You can’t give us a hint?
Charlotte: Umm…WrestleMania 24.
Holmes: OK…I remember someone’s retirement happening there. Are you going to break out the rarely-seen figure-twelve leg lock?
Charlotte: I’ll start working on that in my free time.

Holmes: Your unofficial WrestleMania debut was at WrestleMania 30 as one of Triple H’s escorts during his entrance. How does that tiny taste of the main stage compare to going in as part of a featured match?
Charlotte: I was so fresh, I’m still pretty young to the business, but I was two years under contract and I hadn’t even won the NXT Women’s Championship yet. So, just to be a part of Hunter’s entrance and be there representing NXT, it was completely different. I couldn’t envision myself walking out on the ramp as a competitor for WrestleMania. Not even as a champion. And to think that today I can picture myself on that stage as the Divas Champion and defending my title. I can envision that, then I couldn’t.

Holmes: Is this your first time wrestling in a stadium?
Charlotte: Yes.
Holmes: Has your father given you any advice on how that might be different?
Charlotte:  When you wrestle in smaller venues, you can actually make eye contact or see the audience. When it’s that big it’s like a sea of people. It all blends together. And the noise, there’s a delayed response. So, you have to wait a little bit. So, if there’s a big move, say you go to chop someone and they “Woo.” It’s not instant. There’s a ringing effect, the tempo is different. He said it’s a lot different and to not let that intimidate us.

Holmes: This Triple Threat feels like it would be your dream match. You’re defending your title against two of the most talented Divas on the roster. Two women you’re very close with. This one aside, are there any other dream matches you’re looking forward to?
Charlotte: Stephanie McMahon. (Laughs) But yeah, this is my dream match. We started together, we debuted together, we’ve had a lot of firsts together. To think that we weren’t even on the card last year and now we’re going to go out there and steal the show. It’s pretty exciting.
Holmes: The end of the Divas Championship at WrestleMania…you’ve made either Becky Lynch or Sasha Banks tap out to the Figure 8. What goals remain after that?
Charlotte: I really want to main event a pay per view on the main roster. And I want to bring back or update a championship.
Holmes: Does that mean a Divas Tag Team Championship or bringing back the Women’s Title?
Charlotte: You know, whether it’s the Women’s Championship or a Tag Title it means more storylines. It means more opportunity, debuting more girls. It makes our division stronger, with more depth.

Holmes: Roman Reigns will be facing Triple H for the WWE Championship. What are your thoughts on that one?
Charlotte: Huge opportunity for Roman. No one better that Triple H. And I think they’re going to surprise a lot of people. I think it’s going to be a great match.
Holmes: It seems like the relationship between Triple H and the NXT talent is really special. What has your experience been like?
Charlotte: How could it not be? I’m just going to speak for the women in terms of his relationship with us. If it hadn’t been for him believing in us, we wouldn’t have gotten more time, more storylines, more opportunities. And look at where we are today. It’s because we continue to deliver. He saw what an impact and how well we were doing in NXT from the get-go. And, over the last two and a half years he has believed in the NXT women and he’s given us the platform to show the world what we can do.

Holmes:  Any thoughts on Shane McMahon vs. The Undertaker?
Charlotte: I’m just glad Shane is back. Nobody knew that Monday that he was coming back. The talent is just as excited as the fans were.
Holmes: It took me a second to recognize his music, but as soon as I figured it out I became giddy. The audience reaction was amazing. What was going on behind the curtain?
Charlotte:  I just thought it was cool. But a lot of the talent were like kids again. They were like, “No way!” I think he’s a great addition and it’s going to add a lot to WrestleMania. And it’s been forever. Nobody expected it. He’s such a wild card. Usually you can expect what’s going to happen, like the big players coming back for Mania. But, it was great. And him with Undertaker is going to be awesome.

Holmes: They’re going to be in Hell in a Cell. We saw in Bayley and Sasha Banks in an Ironman Match in NXT. Are there any specialty matches that you’re hoping to participate in?
Charlotte: A submission match, maybe.
Holmes: That’s hardly fair, your finisher is a submission hold.
Charlotte: Yeah. (Laughs) A cage match would be awesome. Or even to bring back mixed tag.
Holmes: You want a cage match so you can do a moonsault off of the top?
Charlotte: Absolutely.
Holmes: You’re an insane person.
Charlotte: (Laughs) That’s the first thing I was thinking!
Holmes: That seems very dangerous, Charlotte.
Charlotte: Awww…it’ll be OK.

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.”

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 Dolph Ziggler Intends to Steal Wrestlemania from The Rock

March 29, 2013

Dolph Ziggler and AJ Lee (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.

It isn’t hard to figure out who the next breakout WWE Superstar is going to be. It’s usually whoever is carrying a bashed up Money in the Bank briefcase.

Right now, the man with the severely damaged luggage is the same guy who is consistently having the best matches on the show. His name is Dolph Ziggler…

Gordon Holmes: I have a theory about you.
Dolph Ziggler: (Laughs) OK.
Holmes: I’ve always heard that nobody had to teach Beethoven or Mozart how to play a piano, they just looked at it and it made sense. Now, I look at an announce table and I think, “Oh, there’s a place to put a computer, and this chair looks comfy.”
Ziggler: (Laughs) Right.
Holmes: When you look at it do you think, “I could bounce off that table and land in that chair on my head”?
Ziggler: No actually, not at all. Sometimes things just work out that way. (Laughs) I have no idea what’s going to happen. They work out that way and I’m happy and lucky to be safe after doing it.
Holmes: You get tossed and then gravity does its business.
Ziggler: Yes. The important part is at the end of the night it’s entertainment for the fans and any way that I can possibly do that…that’s my way of doing it.

 

Holmes: Right now you are Mr. Money in the Bank. I have never seen a piece of luggage go through such wear and tear. Does that thing still open?
Ziggler: There’s one at TV and one that I take with me at all times. And they’re both so smashed that the locks don’t even stay locked anymore. The one at TV, I don’t even know if I could open it if I had the jaws of life with me.
Holmes: I feel like that’s some kind of loophole. Say tonight you cash in on Alberto Del Rio, if you can’t get that contract out, how is that legally valid?
Ziggler: If you want to get into the legal aspects of it, the briefcase is an actual contract. So, even though there’s paperwork inside, I don’t need it. I just hand over the briefcase.
Holmes: It has to be in the mysterious WWE rulebook.
Ziggler: But don’t worry. If it can happen, it’s going to happen.

Holmes:There’s some confusion about your actual finisher. You’ve used the Zig Zag, you’ve used a super kick. Is there one you’re hoping to cement as your go-to finisher?
Ziggler: I’ve been using the Zig Zag for a long time. The super kick is great and I think I do it really well and it adds to my repertoire. It’s just not always readily available for me to use. Once it is…if it ever becomes fully available for just me to use, I would take it in a heartbeat.
Holmes: So it isn’t available yet. Is there a concern that you don’t have a clever name for it yet?
Ziggler: No, the announcers usually make up the moves. I just do the moves well, that’s my part.

Holmes: Which Superstars did you idolize when you were younger?
Ziggler: I was a big fan at a really young age of Ric Flair. I had an uncle who used to show me beta tapes. And even though kids my age mostly liked Hulk Hogan, I thought this guy was cool. But as I got older I realized that this guy was so good and he could be out there with anyone. That’s been my goal since day one.
Holmes: Does it bother you that he’s rubbing shoulders with the Miz?
Ziggler: I think it bothers everyone in the entire world that he’s rubbing shoulders with the Miz. I even had a match at old-school Raw with him in the Miz’s corner and I was taunting him saying, “You backed the wrong guy. It should be me with you in my corner.” I feel like he’s so good at what he does that we’d make a hell of a team. But apparently Miz needed him more. And I think when they were training (Flair) forgot to show him how to finish the figure four.
Holmes: Well, there are a couple steps to that move. But I think he has it down now.
Ziggler: Yeah…that’s good. Only took him a couple of months. That’s good.

Holmes: XFINITY Watchathon Week is going on until March 31st and we have roughly a jillion shows from HBO, Showtime and everywhere else that are free with XFINITY On Demand.
Ziggler: Wow.
Holmes: Right? If your schedule allowed for a week on the couch watching TV, which shows would you binge watch?
Ziggler: I’m a huge fan of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” “Curb” would be first. I’ve heard “Dexter” is awesome. A serial killer guy out there having fun? That sounds right up my alley.

Holmes: I really enjoyed your “WWE Download” show on YouTube and I noticed that you’d do a different kind of speech pattern on the show. It was lightning quick, it was hilarious, have you ever thought of bringing that onto the TV show?
Ziggler: Yeah, lots of different times. Backstage bosses and agents have complimented it. But when it comes to TV, I haven’t had the chance to do it. On that show, I was so comfortable, I got to write my own material, do my own jokes. And that’s not exactly the same leeway as you have on live TV.
Holmes: You were very funny on that show. Is there any worry that doing it on TV might make you more likable?
Ziggler: The thing was…if you listen to the crowd I think I’m a little popular anyways. So, as much as we can keep it so they still remember that I’m a bad guy, we’ve got to keep it that way. It’s a grey area, there’s not just bad guys and good guys. You get to pick who you like, who you don’t like. A bad guy doesn’t have to be bad at wrestling. Sometimes bad guys have to win the match and be better than the good guy. In some areas, in the Northeast, I’m cheered more than my opponents are.
Holmes: It’s a crime “Download” isn’t on anymore
Ziggler: Honestly, I loved the “Download” show. I loved writing the jokes for it. I loved performing it. And one of these days I’ll get to be myself and be that person that is me backstage in the ring.
Holmes: Oh, so we got a peek at the real you.
Ziggler: Well…keep it PG…borderline…make people think. I write jokes and material on my days off. It was so fun, I used to look forward to just writing the jokes for the show. And a lot of the lines I’d write that morning or while we were setting up the cameras. Other ones I’d just improv as we were doing the show. Something would pop in my head and I’d just throw it out there.
Holmes: Now that it’s over, do you have a different outlet for your comedy? Have you ever considered stand-up?
Ziggler: Absolutely, I’ve been writing for a little over a year now. I have a couple of minutes now that I’ll be sneaking into some open mics in the next two to three months.
Holmes: Live mics as in WWE shows or…
Ziggler: Absolutely not. As in LA at a small bar or twenty people in a coffee shop. Just because I’ve been writing for so long, friends of mine in comedy have given me a lot of compliments and said there’s some good stuff in there. I’ll give it a try.
Holmes: One of the good things about being a wrestler is if the audience doesn’t like those jokes, they’re less likely to heckle you.
Ziggler: Right. They can laugh or not, but if they heckle just let them know that I’ve been wrestling for twenty five years.

Holmes: You guys have a world of really talented guys backstage to help you out. You’ve got Arn Anderson, Ricky Steamboat…is there anyone in particular who helps you out?
Ziggler: Yeah, the first one you mentioned is pretty accurate. Arn Anderson is kind of an unsung hero in the business. He was one of the Horsemen, one of the best working wrestlers of all time. And backstage he’s such a helpful tool for all of us. And for some reason, even though we’re not the same kind of animal, he’s been very helpful, very influential. Him and Pat Patterson have been huge helps for me. Those guys didn’t settle for being good, they wanted to be the best, and I think they see that in my eyes. I try to do that every night and I get frustrated if I didn’t literally steal the show and have the best performance. Those guys appreciate that.

Holmes: Now you’ve got AJ on your arm and Big E. Langston has your back. Has there been a bit of an adjustment period having those two along?
Ziggler: Yeah, it’s been very interesting. I had Vickie by my side and I’ve been by myself. In a weird way I’m becoming one of the veterans of this locker room. Which is crazy.
Holmes: That doesn’t sound right.
Ziggler: I’m 32 years old. I’ve been here eight and a half years.
Holmes: Wow.
Ziggler: As the roster is changing and we have less guys from the late 90s, unless they’re on a light schedule, I’m good enough to be giving back to young up and comers. And it’s really cool to have someone like an AJ and a Big E. I really appreciate that they want the best, they want to know what’s going on, they want to know why I did things in a match. It helps that they were childhood fans. AJ’s dream as a child was to be a WWE Superstar. I was five-years-old and I wanted to be a Superstar. We have that bond. It makes it that much more rewarding. And we’re just getting started.  Once Wrestlemania comes and goes we’ll have more time to settle in and I think you’ll see a nice trio of great talent that could be the future of the business.
Holmes: Has anyone pitched the name Zig-E and Big E?
Ziggler: I’ve heard that, but we’ll figure it out when we need to.
Holmes: Oh man, I thought I came up with that myself.
Ziggler: (Laughs) Congratulations.
Holmes: Just lie and tell people it was me.

Holmes: You mentioned the people on the lighter schedules. We’re approaching a Wrestlemania where four of the six main eventers don’t wrestle that often. Does that annoy you, does it inspire you?
Ziggler: It’s both. It really pisses me off. But, it also is good business. Every year a part timer comes back, but there’s a reason that they’re back. Whether it’s the fans want to see them, if they’re a draw, if they’re a movie star, there’s a reason that they’re back. They’re not back just to do it. There’s business to be had. And it pisses me off and it motivates me a hundred percent. It makes me want to be that guy that they’re begging to come back. I appreciate it, it’s just good business. When people come to Wrestlemania to see the Rock and the Undertaker and they leave that Wrestlemania thinking, “Wow, that Dolph Ziggler stole the show. I can’t wait to tune in to ‘Raw’ to see what he does next.” That’s how I’ve lived my entire career.

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

WWE Superstar The Miz Is Ready to (Royal) Rumble This Sunday

January 24, 2013

The Miz (WWE)

Every teenager who puts on pancake makeup in their high school production of “Oklahoma” dreams of Broadway. Every youngster who hits a seeing-eye single in little league dreams of the World Series. And, every kid who plops a toy championship belt over their shoulder dreams of Wrestlemania.

There are two differences between those people and The Miz. The Miz did it in front of everyone on MTV’s “The Real World” and he made his Wrestlemania dreams a reality. And if the aaaaawesome one has his way, this Sunday’s Royal Rumble will be his ticket back to sports entertainment’s grandest stage.

I spoke with the WWE’s “Must-See” Superstar in the days leading up to the Royal Rumble and had a chance to learn about his new relationship with Ric Flair, his picks and strategies for this Sunday’s show, and how he went from underdog to top dog…

Order WWE: Royal Rumble Today

Gordon Holmes: Good morning, Miz. How’s it going?
The Miz: I’m in Los Angeles, California getting ready for the Royal Rumble.
Holmes: Los Angeles? I’m in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania freezing my butt off.
The Miz: It’s 75 and sunny here, so I’m feeling pretty great about myself. I might go take a swim in my pool.
Holmes: You are the worst human being in the whole world.
The Miz: (Laughs)  I am.
Holmes: Not only that, but I was on hold and I expected the WWE’s conference call system to have some kind of cool Superstar theme music. Instead it was a weird muzak.
The Miz: Really? When they put me on hold for you it’s always some kind of WWE entrance theme.
Holmes: That’s unfair.
The Miz: I had to sit through Alicia Fox’s entrance music.
Holmes: Well, this leads to an important question, I didn’t want to lead off with it, but do you have the best entrance music?
The Miz: I will say I have one of the best entrance themes in all of WWE. I won’t say the best of all time because my favorite is The Brood. They didn’t even have words, and they didn’t need words. They had the best entrance as well coming up through the fire was just awesome.
Holmes: Nobody’s using that right now, can you swipe that entrance for Wrestlemania?
The Miz: Nope, that’s theirs. I’ll let them keep it. I’ll keep my marshmallow blow-up “Awesome.”
Holmes: Don’t bash the “Awesome” bounce house. That was cool.
The Miz: My friends all made fun of me when I first got them. They said, “Everyone gets this cool pyro. The Undertaker has the lights go out and fog. Then you come out with these blow-up marshmallows. Congratulations, you’ve really made it.” I’m like, “Thanks, guys. Thanks, buddies.”
Holmes: The “Awesome” balloons aren’t free. Someone put some money and thought into it.
The Miz: Right? Kids love it.

Holmes: Alright, this Sunday at the Royal Rumble, correct me if I’m wrong, but this is what I assume is going to happen; The Miz defeats Antonio Cesaro for the WWE United States Championship in the Internet show, then goes on to win the 30-man Royal Rumble.
The Miz: That’s exactly what I’m going to do. This is what’s going to happen, the pre-show I’m going to take the United States Championship from Antonio Cesaro, making it the most-watched pre-show ever. Then I’m going to go on to the Royal Rumble, and it’s going to be the most talked about Royal Rumble in WWE history as well because I’m going to win as the United States Champion. Then I’m going to go on to main event Wrestlemania and it’s going to be the most-watched Wrestlemania, not because of the Rock, not because of whoever else, not CM Punk, not John Cena, but The Miz. I’m going to be a multi-champion. It’s going to be awesome.
Holmes: This isn’t your first Rumble. What kind of things do you do to prepare yourself?
The Miz: A lot of cardio. Running, jump rope, any kind of thing that gets your heart going really fast. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. I was in that ring for 45 minutes last year. I was the first entrant, which is the unluckiest number out of them all. Not only does it take cardio, but it takes luck, it takes ability, it takes strength. One unlucky thing, one slip and you’re done. The best thing you can do is stay under the radar and hope nobody comes after you. If you’re Ryback or John Cena and you’re the favorite to win, guess who everyone is targeting?

Holmes: As the Royal Rumble winner you get to choose which champion you face. Have you given thought as to who you’re going to target?
The Miz: At this point, you never know who’s going to be the champion at the time. You’ve got CM Punk going against the Rock at the Royal Rumble. And, if the Shield is involved in this match, CM Punk will get striped of the title. That’ll be interesting to watch on its own. Then you have the World Heavyweight Championship where it’s the Big Show versus Alberto Del Rio, nobody wants to go up against a seven-foot tall, 450-pound man at Wrestlemania in the main event. So, it all depends on who’s going to be the champion at the time.
Holmes: You’re one of only three guys that has had a recent match with the Rock and CM Punk. Who do you like in that bout?
The Miz: Here’s the way I look at it; if I win the Royal Rumble, CM Punk…
Holmes: Whoa…if you win the Rumble?
The Miz: When I win the Royal Rumble I will have the choice between the WWE Championship and the World Heavyweight Championship. So, you look at it and you go, CM Punk vs. the Rock. CM Punk has held the title for 400-something days. He’s a proven champion and he’ll do whatever it takes to win that title at all costs. Then you have the Rock coming back, hasn’t been in the ring in almost a year now. CM Punk has been defending the championship for the past year. He’s crisp, he’s in his prime. The Rock might have a little ring rust. But, I want the Rock to win. The Rock is the reason I wanted to become a WWE Superstar. I would like to face the Rock in the main event of Wrestlemania, beat him, then solidify myself as the most must-see WWE Superstar of all time.
Holmes: You wrestled the Rock in his first match back at the 2011 Survivor Series. Was there any ring rust? Has he missed a step?
The Miz: Not that day. You heard the sold-out Madison Square Garden chanting at him, “You’ve still got it.” He definitely still had it then, but remember, that was a year and a half ago. A lot of things happen in a year and a half.  Obviously, he’s training and getting ready, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens.

Holmes: Alright, true confession time. A lot of people, and I include myself in this, were rooting against you. By that I mean, here’s this kid who gets some fame from “The Real World.” He wants to be a WWE Superstar, but does he appreciate what it really takes to make it? A lot of people would use that modicum of notoriety to get their foot in the door, but then wouldn’t have the work ethic to do anything beyond that. So, add me to the list of people who were wrong about you.
The Miz: Oh! Are you one of the naysayers?
Holmes: Yes, I was one to say “nay.” Did we help drive you?
The Miz: My entire life it’s been like, “You can’t do this, you can’t do that.” And, those are the people that motivated me to be the person I am today.  When I was trying out for “The Real World” people told me I wouldn’t make it because there’s 40,000 people trying out. What makes me stand out? And once I started trying out and they saw me be successful, all my friends tried out the next year. And when I tried to be a WWE Superstar there was, “You’re not big enough. You’re not athletic enough. There’s no way.” And, I went in and said, “Yes I am.” And once I got to the WWE, people said, “You’re never going to be a success. You’ll be fired in three months.” Everyone wanted me gone. I was kicked out of the locker room, everyone hated me. But I kept a positive head on my shoulders and kept working hard. Harder than everyone else. Anytime there was media, interviews, I was on it. I wanted it more than everyone else. That’s my workman’s mentality and it worked in the end.
Holmes: The confession I just gave you, have you heard similar confessions from other people in the industry?
The Miz: I don’t think people like to confess that kind of thing. Most people like to be right.
Holmes: I like to be right too, but I can admit when I was wrong.
The Miz: I guess the only one that comes to mind was when I was on “The Real World,” I asked an executive producer, “Why did you pick me?” And he said, “I didn’t pick you. I was outvoted. I thought you were a buckethead. I couldn’t stand you.” He called me a buckethead!
Holmes: I was going to say, “What’s a buckethead?”
The Miz: He said I was a buckethead. But he said, “As the season progressed, not only did I like you, but you became my favorite. So, I was proven wrong.”

Holmes: You’re starting to be cheered now.
The Miz: It’s weird, isn’t it?
Holmes: It is weird. Have you had to make any tweaks in this new role?
The Miz: I’d say it’s the same exact role I’ve played my entire career. I’m still the cocky, arrogant, egotistical Superstar. Now, I’m just their cocky, egotistical Superstar. I’m the guy who calls it like it is. Have I changed at all? No. It’s just the people that are coming up to me now are the people that most people hate. I’ve always been a person that what you give to me, I will give you right back. So, if you boo me? Guess what? I’m going to make you boo me even more. If you cheer me I’m going to try to make you cheer for me even more.

Holmes: You’re starring in a movie, “The Marine 3: Homefront.” Now, you’re the Marine and some guys have got your niece?
The Miz: My sister.
Holmes: Gotcha. My question is; why do these guys keep messing with these Marines?!
The Miz: (Laughs) I don’t know.
Holmes: It never turns out well for them.
The Miz: You’d think these people would get it. Alright, this guy’s a Marine, I can’t mess with him. But, they keep doing it. You don’t want to mess with a Marine, that’s number one.
Holmes: The WWE does a lot for the military with the Tribute to the Troops shows. Has there been any feedback about the movie?
The Miz: They’re always incredible. This year I went to Bahrain. Myself, Vince McMahon, R Truth, Layla, and Eve all got to see what our Navy does. And let me tell you, these sailors are incredible. I asked one guy why he wanted to be in the Navy. And he told me, “The reason I wanted to be in the Navy was because I was working at Lids, you know, that hat place, and I was having a daughter, and I wanted her to be proud of me.” And the thing is, he doesn’t get to see her often, but he knows he’s paving the way for her to have a great life. And I thought that was amazing. These guys sacrifice so much for our freedom. And I hope that I make every Marine proud with “The Marine 3: Homefront.” And I think I will. I’ve seen the movie and I was like, “Wow, this is incredible.” And normally I’m very critical of everything I do. But, this is something I’m very proud of.

Holmes: If Must-See Miz could go back and give some advice to “Real World” Miz, what would it be?
The Miz: I would tell him to do exactly what you’re doing, because whatever it is, you’re doing it right.
Holmes: It’s like “Back to the Future” and you’re afraid too much information about the future will screw him up.
The Miz: If I change one little small thing, something might change. And right now I really love my life. I love the memories I’ve had since “The Real World.”
Holmes: What’s the best advice you received when you were coming up?
The Miz: Probably from Billy Kidman back when I wasn’t in the WWE. I was actually at a Playboy party and he was there for Torrie Wilson’s cover. His best advice was, “Stick with it.” And it sounds so simple, so stupid, but so many times people find excuses to not fulfill their dreams.

Holmes: As far as your proudest moments in the WWE, was it winning the WWE Title from Randy Orton or participating in a “Woo” off with Ric Flair?
The Miz: (Laughs) You know, you really can’t beat having a “Woo” off with the legend Ric Flair. Not only that, but to have Ric Flair allow me to apply the figure four, it’s almost like…I hate to say a passing of a torch, but I felt so honored. To sit there and talk to Ric Flair on Miz TV and not only strut like Ric and “Woo” like Ric, but to have the honor of putting on the figure four and now using the figure four is just an incredible feat.
Holmes: Did he give you any figure-four pointers?
The Miz: Well, if you watched Raw I had trouble putting it on Dolph Ziggler due to Beat the Clock. Now I’ve been watching tapes of Ric Flair to make sure I never have problems again.
Holmes: In your defense, Ric Flair has been using that moves for decades.
The Miz: I agree. He’s been doing it for thirty years, I’ve been doing it for two weeks. I’ll take my faults, but the Twitter universe was on me. Man, they were killing me.
Holmes: Whoa…hold the phone. You’re trying to tell me the Internet was negative about something?
The Miz: (Laughs) I know, right? You take it with a grain of salt, then perform as best you can the next time out.

Don’t miss WWE: Royal Rumble this Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET on Pay Per View.

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

WWE World Champ Sheamus on Daniel Bryan’s Popularity, Brock Lesnar’s Return

April 27, 2012

World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus Is Ready for Sunday's Extreme Rules (WWE)

You can’t watch a television commercial in eighteen seconds. You can’t make a bag of microwave popcorn in eighteen seconds. But at Wrestlemania 28, WWE Superstar Sheamus was able to win the World Heavyweight Championship from Daniel Bryan in eighteen seconds.

Understandably, Mr. Bryan would like a rematch.

I spoke with the Great White in the days leading up to his two-out-of-three-falls rematch at Extreme Rules and got his opinion on his opponent’s new-found popularity, the grudge match between John Cena and Brock Lesnar, and his work with the Be A STAR anti-bullying campaign…

Watch WWE: Extreme Rules, Sunday, April 29, 2012 at 8 p.m. ET on Pay Per View.

Gordon Holmes:  At Wrestlemania you defeated Daniel Bryan in only eighteen seconds. At Extreme Rules you’ll be facing him in a best-two-out-of-three-falls match. Is it your goal to end this match in thirty six seconds?
Sheamus: (Laughs) Absolutely. The first person to get two falls wins. Who knows what’s going to happen?
Holmes: I couldn’t tie my own shoe in eighteen seconds.
Sheamus: It wasn’t what I was expecting. Daniel Bryan beat Big Show, Mark Henry, Randy Orton…he went through a lot of guys. And he’d been using AJ or any means necessary to get himself disqualified to hold onto the World Heavyweight Championship. And the Monday before on Raw, it was me and Randy Orton taking on him and Kane and I was preparing to kick his head off when AJ figured into the match. It basically cost me the match. So, when I saw him kiss AJ (at Wrestlemania) I wasn’t sure if he would try to use AJ again, so when I saw the opportunity I kicked his head off because I wasn’t going to let him screw me out of the World Heavyweight Championship. He got too cocky and that’s what happened.
Holmes: Since then, Daniel Bryan has amassed a huge cult following with his “Yes” chants. Are you worried that you’re going to be facing a hostile, “Yes”-crazy crowd in Chicago at Extreme Rules?
Sheamus: I wouldn’t expect anything else other than a hostile crowd in Chicago. That’s what makes performing so fantastic. The crowd makes up their own minds, they’re as much a part of the show as we are.
Holmes: How does the Windy City usually react to you?
Sheamus: Chicago is a fantastic place to perform. The first time I ever got the crowd behind me was at Money in the Bank last year when I put Sin Cara through a ladder. The more unpredictable the crowd, the better. I’m expecting a hostile crowd. I’m expecting lots of “Yes” chants. I’m expecting it to be a great night, and me and Daniel Bryan are going to steal the show.

Holmes: The other big match this Sunday is of course John Cena squaring off against the returning Brock Lesnar. It seems like Cena’s had a rough run lately with a large portion of the fans turning against him and his Wrestlemania loss to the Rock. What’s your take on what he’s been going through lately?
Sheamus: You know, John raised his game in taking on the Rock. Cena’s done everything in about eight years in the WWE. He’s created an incredible foundation. People come to see him whether they want to boo or cheer him. And everybody has ups and down. But Cena always bounces back. I think he’s going to bring it Sunday against Lesnar, I think it’s going to be a great match. It’s exciting times for everybody.
Holmes: You’re excited to have Brock back in the fold?
Sheamus: I think it’s great, man. It creates a buzz around what we do. It brings attention from outside of the WWE Universe back in, like people who have strayed away, it brings them back. And I think that’s only a positive thing. People will tune in to see Brock Lesnar taking on John Cena, but guess what, there’s going to be a two-out-of-three-falls match between two of the most exciting superstars right now in the WWE, that’s Daniel Bryan and Sheamus. And we’re also two of the most hard-hitting superstars.
Holmes: John Cena had given the Rock some grief about being a part-time wrestler. The same could probably said for Brock Lesnar. When people like the Rock and Brock come back and don’t go on the big tours, is that something that bothers you at all?
Sheamus: It doesn’t me in the slightest, fella. These guys coming in are bringing attention to the WWE and attention to the product. I thought Rock coming back was great. As far as I know, I think it was the highest grossing Wrestlemania ever. How positive is that? That’s incredible. For me, it’s fine, it happens. People come and go.

Holmes: You’re in a fascinating business. You’re backstage and you’ve got people in crazy costumes and guys like the Big Show and guys like Hornswoggle. What’s been the most surreal moment for you?
Sheamus: It’s kind of funny, you see all these people and they’re kind of like family now. We see each other more than we do our families. But I remember when I first started, I came up to UK for a tryout and I remember walking back and seeing everyone from Triple H to Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair, Big Show…all the superstars there. It was unbelievable. It was very intimidating. You try not to say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing. It’s very important to make a good first impression. But now it’s business as usual. They’re a great bunch of guys and I’m happy to be working with them.

Holmes: You’ve been on the main roster for about three years now; you’ve held two WWE Championships, the World Championship, King of the Ring, Royal Rumble. All of this, and you’re still a young guy. Are you worried that there are less stories to tell or less places for you to go?
Sheamus: I don’t worry about that at all. I’ve had a lot of success early, which is fantastic. But there are a lot of superstars I haven’t really mixed it up with yet. Like Punk or Jericho really, a lot of superstars coming up from FCW like Claudio Castagnoli and Ryback. Lord Tensai has come in, Brock is back, Alberto Del Rio is back. I don’t see any shortage of stories. There will always be interesting stories. And that’s all that matters.
Holmes: Which superstars do you think have the potential to break through and be the next big thing?
Sheamus: It’s difficult to say, there are a lot of guys on the cusp. Alberto Del Rio, he’s got an incredible resume. I think you’ve got some tremendous talents like Dolph Ziggler, Cody Rhodes has a lot of promise as well. Wade Barrett is coming back. There’s potential in Drew McIntyre too. His work is incredible. Of course Claudio, Ryback, Lord Tensai…it literally could be any one of them. Whoever steps up. All of those guys could bring it.

Holmes: You’re a super huge guy. Like a big, walking muscle with pale skin and bright red hair. What’s something you could tell me about yourself that would shock me? Do you knit?
Sheamus: (Laughs) I’m a pretty laid-back fella. I know it sounds like a cliché, but when I get home I chill out and relax, I’ve got two dogs. I like reading Celtic mythology or chilling out to music. I literally am enjoying every moment of this job because I scraped so hard to get to it. It’s funny, and this might be going off topic, but when people talk about ROH (Ring of Honor, a popular independent wrestling organization) they talk about Claudio and they talk about Daniel Bryan and CM Punk, the indie darlings and stuff like that. But funnily enough, myself and Wade Barrett and Drew McIntyre, we were on the indies in the UK. Obviously we didn’t get the exposure that they did in ROH, but we worked for free and we paid for flights to the UK and Ireland. We worked as much as we possibly could to get experience. But now that we’re here we appreciate everything we do and we’re loving every minute of it.

Holmes: You do a lot of work with the Be A STAR anti-bullying campaign. What inspired you to get involved with that initiative?
Sheamus: It’s very important to me. I volunteered for that program because of my experiences as a kid being bullied.  I didn’t always look the way I look now. I was a small, chubby kid with red hair. I was an introvert so I was an easy target. I had a tough time. I can relate to a lot of the cases that are going on now. I see some tragic stories with kids taking their own lives. I’ve met some kids at the schools, I had one kid actually who had a stroke as a teenager. He was being bullied and was pushed down some stairs by three or four guys. Having a stroke as a teenager? How tragic is that? These things are happening to kids. We feel like we have the ears of these teenagers and we’re trying to bring a positive message. A lot of bullies don’t know what they’re doing because they’ve never been in these situations themselves. So, we’re trying to educate them and we’re trying to teach kids to stand up to bullies in a non-violent way. We’re trying to tell these kids not to be ashamed of themselves because they’re not the problem.

Holmes: You recently returned from an international tour of Europe. What was it like to compete in front of your hometown crowd?
Sheamus: That was unbelievable, man. It took a lot for me to hold back my emotions. It was an incredible feeling. I used to stand in that arena, the O2 Arena in Dublin, working security or whatever. And just to see the superstars up close was like a parallel world. And to go from that to working in front of a packed house as World Heavyweight Champion, that was just a really special thing for me. It was probably one of the highlights of my entire life.
Holmes: Are Irish fans any different than US fans?
Sheamus: They did those “Ole Ole Ole” chants that were made popular by the Irish football team, or soccer team as you call it. It was incredible. I can’t tell you how proud I was.
Holmes: You aren’t a tiny guy. Those international flights have got to be rough.
Sheamus: (Laughs) Yeah, but you kinda feel bad when you look around and see Khali and Big Show. I don’t know how those guys do it.
Holmes: Not to get too graphic on you, but can you guys even fit into those tiny lavatories?
Sheamus: It’s a struggle, fella. But, it can be done.

Watch WWE: Extreme Rules, Sunday, April 29, 2012 at 8 p.m. ET on Pay Per View.

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

How Do You Solve a Problem Like John Cena?

March 30, 2012

Hulk Hogan headlined his first Wrestlemania in 1985 when he was 32 years old. He went on to perform at the main event level until Wrestlemania 19 in 2003.

John Cena is 34.

Maybe the Hulkster is an extreme case, but it’s absolutely conceivable that the former Doctor of Thuganomics could be hustling, proving loyalty, and providing respect for another seventeen years. I’m sure Vince McMahon is cool with this as Cena has proven to be a reliable merchandise mover and squeaky clean front man for the company, but you have to wonder what’s next for him creatively.

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