Posts Tagged ‘wwe’

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 Dean Ambrose on Hell in a Cell: ‘I’m Looking to Raise the Bar a Little Bit’

October 22, 2014

WWE Superstar Dean Ambrose (WWE)

Vengeance has always been a prominent motivation in sports entertainment. Hulk Hogan spent his career battling turncoats like Paul Orndorff, Andre the Giant, and “Macho Man” Randy Savage. The Undertaker squared off against his evil half-brother Kane on several occasions. And, Shawn Michaels went toe-to-toe with his former Dudes with Attitude partner Kevin Nash.

So, when Seth Rollins betrayed his Shield brothers, it was only natural for Dean Ambrose to want to get back at him.

The main difference? While Hogan, Taker, and Michaels used legdrops, chokeslams, and superkicks to gain a measure of revenge on their rivals, Ambrose has employed ketchup, mustard, and green slime.

To each his own.

I spoke with WWE’s “Lunatic Fringe” in the days before his Hell in a Cell brawl with Seth Rollins and had a chance to ask him about living up to the Cell’s legacy, his path to WWE stardom, and what it’s like to be cheered after growing up a bad guy…

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


 

Gordon Holmes: This Sunday you’re entering Hell in a Cell with Seth Rollins. This match has a legacy of amazing, brutal bouts. How are you going to stand out?
Dean Ambrose: Going into anything like this, you want to put your own stamp on it. You want to do something that’s never been done before. I hate a formula. I hate stepping in the footsteps of those that came before me.  And Seth has the same mindset. Even though we’re enemies and opponents, and are going to be trying to rip each other’s heads off in the Cell.
Holmes: You’ve got a straight-up comparison that night as John Cena and Randy Orton are going to be having their own Hell in a Cell match.
Ambrose: The kind of guys that we are and you go back to the competitive chips we have on our shoulder. You go back to the attitude that we came into this company with? We’re going to blow anything they put up out of the water. You know what I mean?
Holmes: I do, looking forward to it.
Ambrose: (Laughs) If you know anything about me, you know that I don’t have any trepidation. I’m not going to walk into there shaking in my boots. It’ll be my first time and Seth Rollins’ first time. I’m not afraid to take a risk. And Seth Rollins isn’t afraid to take a risk. I don’t see anything that Seth Rollins can do to me, or the Authority, or the Cell is anything worse than anything I’ve been through. I’m looking to raise the bar a little bit. And it’s hard because the Cell is a lot higher than it used to be.
Holmes: Yes, this isn’t the Cell Mick Foley was tossed off of.
Ambrose: I don’t think people realize. It’s like 20-foot higher! Well, I don’t know the exact height. It’s significantly higher than the one (Mick) Foley fell off of. I think that was done to prevent anybody from trying to jump off of it again. Now, it’s quite literally impossible to jump off of. It’s hard to do anything new inside that thing now. But fortunately I’ve got a big toolbox of ideas, man. This ain’t my first time at the rodeo even though it’s my first time in the Cell. I’ve got a nice cache of little ditties that I can bust out. I’m determined to do something that nobody has ever seen before in the Hell in a Cell.

Holmes: I was watching this Steve Austin special on the “Monday Night Wars” and I’m seeing some parallels between his rise to the top and your rise. He didn’t seem like the fan favorite type, but people started taking to him. An opportunity was opened for him when Triple H was punished for the Curtain Call and an opportunity has opened for you with Roman Reigns’ injury.
Ambrose: There’s no confusing me and Steve Austin. (Laughs) There will never be another Steve Austin. As far as taking an opportunity like that….the thing I like about Steve Austin is his tenacity, his work ethic, and his…”Screw you, you’re not taking food off of my plate” thing. I’ve starved and lived on the road. And I’m not letting anyone walk all over me. That intensity…a lot of people they get so caught up in the grind here, so it’s hard to bring that 100% intensity every night. Steve Austin, you watch his old stuff, he never took a breath. Working Steve Austin must’ve been exhausting.
Holmes: I believe the saying was, “You have to bring a lunch.”
Ambrose: I love that. We’re a little thin right now and somebody has to step up to the plate. I’ve never tried to be anybody’s hero or favorite. I don’t see myself as that kind of guy. I’m not trying to step into anyone else’s spot. I’m trying to create my own and be irreplaceable. But, that opportunity that launched Steve’s career, it took a while for everything to come together. That’s that work ethic, taking advantage of a tiny opportunity. They want to put me in two matches a night? Three matches a night? A triple-threat tag? Another promo? Another thing? Another backstage? And now a dark match? Now a street fight? I’m going to keep going as fast as I can. That’s what a guy like that would do. I’m never going to have anything handed to me, and if I stop for two seconds, it will go away quickly. And I’m sure there are a lot of people who would like to see it all go away quickly. And honestly, I haven’t done anything yet. I’ve just made a lot of posturing and pretended like I was going to do something. Let’s be real here.
Holmes: But Sunday’s your chance to do something. Do you guys know if you’re the main event?
Ambrose: If…we’re not the main event, then somebody’s making a mistake. They’re going to regret it.

Holmes:  Hell in a Cell tends to be a feud ender. What’s next for you after you finally put Rollins down?
Ambrose: I came to a realization not long ago; I’m very passionate about what I do. This is all I want to do. I obsess over little things and I look ten steps ahead. And if it was up to me things would be planned out long in advance. I’m constantly plotting ahead like that. The reality is the WWE is this crazy world that’s constantly changing. You can’t prepare for tomorrow. The Pay Per View match already changed on us. You’re wrestling John Cena at the Pay Per View. Then I walk in Monday and we’re wrestling tonight. Things change like the wind. You’ve just got to take it one day at a time. And I could get hit by a bus tomorrow.

Holmes: You mentioned that you’re not anybody’s favorite. But if you listen to the audience, it sounds like you’re becoming a lot of people’s favorite. Are you ready for Dean Ambrose: Mr. Popular?
Ambrose: If that happened? Cool, man. It’s cool when people dig what you’re doing. I’m the kind of guy that thrives on negativity. That’s the kind of thing that has fueled me for my entire career. From the basement, to the gutter, to where I am today it’s been like that. The hatred of everyone and everything just spewing out. I’m older now though, I’m a little bit of a grown up. In any case, I never had a vision of being liked by so many people in the WWE Universe…oh…I can’t believe I just said that.
Holmes: (Laughs)
Ambrose: (Laughs) It’s so big and it reaches so many people. You’re meeting people and they bought all your shirts and they say you’ve really made a positive change in their life. And I’m like, “What? I’m just wrestling, man.” But people use you for inspiration to get through sickness or to do whatever. To me, it’s really cool. It makes you feel like you’ve accomplished a lot more, which is a new thing for me to accept any kind of praise. It’s not bad to be so popular. It could go away at any moment.
Holmes: You could get hit by a bus tomorrow.

Holmes: For the first time in a long time, there isn’t a defending WWE Champion who’s appearing at all of the major events. Does Brock Lesnar having the title upset people?
Ambrose: Every show, and we run a lot of them, doesn’t have to have a world championship match on it. Every “Monday Night Raw” shouldn’t have a world championship match. But, the champion not appearing at all? To me, it’s not nearly as big of a thing…I equate it back to the traveling world champions of the 70s or previous eras. You’re not going to see a world title match every week. I honestly think we give away too much stuff. We give away a lot of wrestling on TV and there’s so much time to fill. In a three-hour show, Brock Lesnar could really be used. I’m making up my answers as I go along here.
Holmes: As you’re supposed to.
Ambrose: You’re not going to see him much. He took the belt back to his castle and he locked it up in the attic. You’ve got to go a long way to get a championship match with him.

Holmes: We’re seeing a lot of new faces with the integration of the developmental program NXT. What’s the process like where you go from being a guy signed into company to making the big show as a WWE Superstar?
Ambrose: For me, it was much different than the guys today. I’m not familiar with the NXT process now. I was never on NXT television. I was an FCW guy. A Doctor Tom (Pritchard) era guy. It’s great now, they’ve got the Full Sail TV. NXT is like the most amazing opportunity. We were in this warehouse in Florida. We were locked away like the ugly stepchildren of WWE. It really pissed us off. It gave us this chip on our shoulders. We were like alright, “We can put on a better product than the main roster can. Screw them all.” We were putting on matches in developmental that were on par with anything that was on WWE television. For us, we were down there just sitting, chilling, training, making towns, learning. We were waiting. It can be a frustrating process. Just the wait. But, if you’re smart you take that time to learn, to ask questions. Nobody is perfect and you can always learn something.
Holmes: Who were you learning from?
Ambrose: Joey Mercury is like Yoda to me. He’s a guy who can really pick something apart and give you five ways to make it better in two seconds. He’ll always have good ideas. I always have crazy ideas. I’ll bounce them by Joey first and he’ll instantly call me out on something stupid. He’ll rein me in a little bit.

Holmes: What’s this I’m hearing about Dean Ambrose: Movie Star?
Ambrose: Yeah, they came to me and were like, “WWE Studios, we’ve got an opportunity for you.” And I said, “You want me to be in a movie? Get outta here! Yeah, I’ll do that!” I thought I’d just be a background bit player. I’d get to rest my body and be an extra in a movie. Then I found out I was the lead character. And my exact words to the studio guy was, “You realize I’m completely unqualified for this, right? I don’t know if somebody lied to you or what, but I’ve never acted before. I don’t know how a movie set works. I’ve never been on the set for a freaking Dunkin’ Donuts commercial.” It’s called “Lockdown” and it was a cool learning experience.

Holmes: So, say someone’s on the fence about ordering Hell in a Cell. Talk them into it.
Ambrose: You’re going to see one of the most outrageous spectacles of hatred and intensity when Dean Ambrose and Seth Ambrose finally get at each other. I promise you’re going to see something you’ve never seen before.

WWE’s Paul Heyman Predicts Sports Entertainment’s Next Big Thing

August 15, 2013

Paul Heyman (WWE)

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been well over a decade since the original incarnation of ECW closed its doors. So, if your first memory of Paul Heyman is that of the color commentator for Wrestlemania X-Seven, or Brock Lesnar’s agent, or even CM Punk’s best friend, you’re excused.

But for the rest of this interview, it’s important to note that Paul Heyman is on a short list next to Vince McMahon of people who have truly revolutionized the pro wrestling industry.

I spoke to the former “Mad Scientist of Extreme” in the days leading up to “The Best vs. The Beast” match at SummerSlam and got his thoughts on sports entertainment’s next revolution, John Cena’s unique appeal, and the moment he hopes he’s remembered for…

Gordon Holmes (@gordonholmes): If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it’s probably safe to argue that nobody in the wrestling industry has been more flattered than you over the past few decades.
Paul Heyman (@HeymanHustle): (Laughs)
Holmes: ECW has been imitated and rehashed so often that there’s no way it can be the next big thing for the business. I guess what I’m getting at is; what will be the thing that sparks the next boom period?
Heyman: The next big thing as far as presenting professional wrestling will be star-driven. It will be a personality that changes the game. Whose approach in the ring and in interviews is unlike anyone else that is out there today. And therefore his matches would have to be wrestled in a manner that no one else has been doing, at least for the past few years. And when that personality catches on, the industry will go along with him. That has always been the history of WWE and of professional wrestling. When the (Bruno) Sammartino era was over and they put Bob Backlund in as champion, Bob Backlund needed all of that support from the undercard to carry the load. But when the Hulk Hogan era took off, the entire company was built around Hulk Hogan. When the Steve Austin era took off, he had great support, but Steve Austin’s name and box-office attraction, and merchandise sales alone would have made this a multi-multi-multi million dollar company. And it’s the same today. If a personality catches fire to such a degree that it becomes a one-man cottage industry.
Holmes: I’m trying to think of a really unique personality and I keep coming back to Dean Ambrose. Could he be the guy?
Heyman: I think all three members of The Shield have the opportunity to grab the top spot in WWE and carve an image for the next several years for this company.

Paul Heyman Breaks Down Sunday’s SummerSlam Card

Holmes: John Cena has one of the most interesting dynamics I’ve ever seen in that half of the audience loves him while the other half hates him. Is there any way to course correct to bring everybody on board?
Heyman:
With all due respect, I think you’re missing it. The dynamic of children loving Cena and adult males hating Cena with such a passion is what makes him so fascinating. When there are 40,000 people in MetLife Stadium screaming “Let’s go, Cena” and 40,000 people in the very same stadium at the very same time challenging that half of the crowd saying, “Cena sucks.” That’s 80,000 engaged fans that paid for the privilege of being there. It’s very simple mathematics to me. John Cena drew 80,000 people who wanted to react to him. And to me, that makes him the top guy.
Holmes:
The fans eventually turned on Hulk Hogan.  The fans have turned on The Rock several times. The fans never turned on Steve Austin. So ideally would you rather have someone who is universally loved like a Steve Austin or someone who gets this intense mixed reaction like a John Cena?
Heyman:
Do you prefer a ridiculously hot blonde or a sexy, sultry brunette?
Holmes:
(Laughs)
Heyman:
I’ll take them both. Steve Austin can draw 80,000 people to cheer him on. Brock Lesnar can draw 80,000 people to boo him into the next country. And John Cena can draw 80,000 people who will debate whether he should be cheered or booed. I just care that they pay to see you.
Holmes:
An excellent point.

Holmes: Your friend Brock Lesnar is back in the WWE, you’re having wars of words every night with CM Punk. Is this the happiest time in your career?
Heyman: I’ve been remarkably blessed by the fact that I’ve had many different careers in this industry. I can’t truly compare the difference of being the lead color commentator with Jim Ross with being the owner of the upstart company that breaks every rule, breaks every taboo and spearheads a movement that actually gets it on worldwide Pay Per View with ECW. I can’t compare that with being Brock Lesnar’s advocate, going into SummerSlam in this focal-point match against my former protégé CM Punk. These are different careers to the point that it feels like I’ve lived many different lives. And to compare them would force me to look back on what I used to do and I never look back, I’m always looking into the future. All eyes are on SummerSlam, and my wheels are always spinning to what we’re going to do at Survivor Series, into the Royal Rumble, and ultimately Wrestlemania.

Holmes: You don’t like to look back, but I’m going to ask this anyway. You tweeted a picture of your children outside of the old ECW Arena. And if years from now, if they ask what Dad did for a living and you could only show them one match or one moment, what would it be?
Heyman: I will confess to you that your question has caught me off guard. In all candor, I would hope that just simply based on the decade in the making of “The Best vs. The Beast” that what Brock Lesnar and CM Punk will pull off this Sunday at SummerSlam will be so epic, so compelling, so riveting, and of such premium quality that if one day my children want to show their children, “Here’s what the old man did for a living,” my children will show their children that match.

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 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 Randy Orton on ’12 Rounds: Reloaded’ and WWE: ‘Payback’

June 5, 2013

Randy Orton (WWE)

Normally the voices Randy Orton hears are in his head. They talk to him, they understand. They tell him to punish his opponents with RKOs, punts to the head, and whatever he calls that awesome ropes-assisted DDT thing he does.

However, in his new movie “12 Rounds: Reloaded,” the voice Randy hears is over the phone. It tells him he has to complete a series of twelve dangerous tasks or something terrible will happen to the woman he loves.

I spoke with “The Viper” the afternoon of the release of his new movie and had a chance to ask about the learning curve that comes with your own starring vehicle, the match he’s looking forward to at Payback, and which WWE Superstar looks like Sloth from “The Goonies”…

Gordon Holmes: Randy Orton…third-generation star…the Viper…the youngest WWE champion ever…and now the baddest EMT of all time.
Randy Orton: (Laughs) It’s very exciting for me. It’s been a long couple of months here, the editing process takes forever. But, we’re finally here. It’s my first time doing anything like this. I’m anxious for what the WWE Universe and action fans in general are going to think.

Watch “12 Rounds: Reloaded” on XFINITY On Demand.

Holmes: As a sports entertainer, you’re used to telling stories. But, they always say the best characters are you with the volume turned up. This time, you’re stepping into someone else’s shoes. You’re Nick, an ordinary EMT who’s thrown into an extraordinary situation. How different was this process for you?
Orton: There are a lot of similarities, there are also a lot of ways you can contrast. I’m used to being on camera. I’ve been on camera for 13 years now with the WWE. Live television is stressful, it’s tricky, you’ve got to hit your cues. The biggest difference is that level of stress is non-existent on a movie set. For me, it was a little nerve-wracking at first because I was new to that world. But, I felt at home real quick. The actors, everyone from make-up to wardrobe to the director, they were all great. And they knew that this was my first time doing this, so they were there to help.
Holmes: A lot of guys have been making the transition from the ring to the big screen. The Rock, John Cena, Ted DiBiase, The Miz…any of them offer any advice?
Orton: Yeah, I had my script, this was a couple of months before we started shooting, and there were questions I had. I talked to Cena because he’s done more movies than anyone I know. Some of the questions I had were to do with the script, and the sides, wanting to know what to expect. I thought I had to memorize the entire script. I didn’t know. I thought you had to be ready to do any scene at time. So Cena was able to point me in the right direction. They can shoot in any order. He warned me that they can shoot any scene at any time, so you have to remember your state of mind. You could shoot one scene, but the scene that follows it you won’t shoot for another couple of weeks. You have to remember what your motivation is, what your tone is. That continuity really matters.

 

Holmes: The Randy Orton we get to see on TV, he’s a bit of cold-blooded killer. He doesn’t joke around like a Cena or a Sheamus. But, Nick gets to tell a few jokes, he gets to say a few four-letter words. Was it nice to get to explore that space a little?
Orton: Yeah, I’m one of the guys in the locker room that misses the times when we used to be a little more risqué. So, making a rated-R movie was (Laughs) definitely something that appealed to me. There’s nudity, there’s a little bit of everything. Not to mention violence and profanity. It’s rated R, so that’s what you get.

Holmes: I was going over your bio before this and it blew my mind that you’ve been a major part of the WWE roster for over ten years now.
Orton: Yeah.
Holmes: You can’t wrestle forever. Is acting something you could see yourself transitioning into or are you WWE for life?
Orton: I wouldn’t say I’m WWE for life, I’d say my near future will consist of me primarily being in the ring. Wrestling is my first love. The movie was fun, but the schedule was grueling because I had to fly off on my off days to film. Eight weeks went by and I had three days off. If I do the movie thing, I’ll be sure that I’m only doing the movie so I can concentrate on it. (Laughs) I think I’d be more sane that way.

Holmes: Do you know what you’ll be doing for the next Pay Per View, Payback?
Orton: Well, I don’t know what I’ll be doing, but I can guarantee that I’ll be a part of it.
Holmes: I’d hope so, your face is all over the literature.
Orton: (Laughs) One thing’s for sure, it’s in Chicago and that Allstate Arena is one of the best places to have a fight in. That crowd is awesome. CM Punk being a Chicago native, he’s going against (Chris) Jericho. That should be interesting. That’s a rematch from a few Wrestlemanias ago. They had a good one then. So, that should probably be the marque match. But Payback will definitely be a good production you won’t want to miss.

Holmes: How’re you feeling about Cena vs. Ryback in the Three Stages of Hell match?
Orton: I’m impressed with Ryback, that’s for sure. Skip Sheffield of the days of old, he’s come a long way. It’s a cool story, there was a point a couple of years ago, he’d had such a bad injury that doctors told him he wouldn’t be able to wrestle again. Now he’s jacked and looks like Sloth from the “Goonies.”
Holmes: Great, now I won’t be able to unsee that. Thanks.
Orton: (Laughs) No problem.

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

Watch “12 Rounds: Reloaded” on XFINITY On Demand.

Watch “WWE: Payback” on Sunday, June 16, 2013 at 8pm ET on Pay Per View.


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