Posts Tagged ‘wwe’

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.

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.

Chris Jericho: ‘Robot Combat League’ Is ‘Real Steel’ Without any CGI

February 26, 2013

Chris Jericho (Syfy)

The Bad News? Robots are eventually going to take over the world and destroy humanity in a scene similar to the James Cameron classic “Terminator.”

The Good News? WWE Superstar/rock god Chris Jericho will be our guide as we witness this sure to be awesome apocalypse on Syfy’s new “Robot Combat League.”

[xfinity-record-button id=”7996936254621109112″ program_type=”series”]

I spoke to the man who can add “Host of Armageddon” to his lengthy list of accomplishments in the days leading up to the premiere. I had a chance to ask him about coming face-to-fender with these mechanical monsters and how he personally changed the face of the “Star Wars” franchise…

Watch the Premiere of “Robot Combat League”

Gordon Holmes: So, basically any kid who’s ever banged his Transformers figures together is going to love this show, right?
Chris Jericho: Yes. When I heard about it, it seemed like a cool idea, but how cool could it really be? I was expecting the robots to be really slow. I remember I even asked the producer, “What are these fights going to be like? Are they going to be any good?” And then I saw the robots and the first time I was in that battle pit and one of the robots came out walking towards me, if it hadn’t stopped in front of me I would have turned around and ran away.
Holmes: That’s not good for your image as a tough guy.
Jericho: It isn’t. It’s very intimidating. Eight-foot-tall very thick-based, very sturdily built.  It reminded me of the “Terminator” where the robots are walking over the skulls of the humans. That’s what these look like to me. And then the fights started and I couldn’t believe how fast they moved, how hard they punched, and how smooth it all was. You didn’t need to doctor it up at all. This was like the movie “Real Steel” without any CGI.

Watch the Premiere of “Robot Combat League”:

[iframe 580 476]

Holmes: As a kid I knew we’d have fighting robots someday. It’s nice that they’ve finally arrived.
Jericho: It was interesting to me that all of these things that were predicted in the ’60s, from cell phones to Skype, to talking computers. Now we have robots that punch so hard, and there’s 2000 PSIs per punch, these robots could actually kill you. So, now that we’ve invented robots that can kill humans, in fifteen years when they take over the world you’re going to know that you saw it on Syfy first.
Holmes: So, the upcoming robot apocalypse that we’ve all been dreading is going to be your fault?
Jericho: Yeah. I’m hoping when they do take over the planet that they’ll keep me in a cage as their little pet because I was nice to them from the start.
Holmes: It’s going to be the exact opposite. When the humans send someone to the past to take care of this, you’re going to be the person they target.
Jericho: Right? Even though I didn’t invent the robots, I’m the person…I’m like the pimp. I’m the robot pimp. So, if I didn’t exist, the show wouldn’t be as good as it was, people wouldn’t flock to it as much and the robots wouldn’t have a chance to take over.
Holmes: I hope you’re able to make peace with that responsibility. It’s going to be rough.
Jericho: It will be rough. But, you guys are on your own because I’m with the robots now.

Holmes: One of the cool parts about the show is they literally hook up an athlete with the controls, so when they’re punching, the robot is punching. I know you had to have hooked yourself up to a robot at some point, am I right?
Jericho: You are. And it was very interesting to me, it was a lot like if you were snowboarding or skating where at first it feels very alien of foreign, and then as you start to work with it it becomes one with you. It’s an extension of your body.

Holmes: Of the eight robots, do you have a favorite?
Jericho: I like Scorpio. That was my favorite because it has blades on its fists. Each robot has a different character, a different look, a different name. And this robot in particular got a reputation because it could cut you in two basically. And it did cut one of the robot commandos right in half with this sawblade punch to the midsection. It caused it to break in two. We never expected that. One of the robots got decapitated. You can’t plan for stuff like that. It was just a fight and whatever happened happened. And as the contestants learned the pros and cons of each fighters, the fights got more and more entertaining all the way to the final round.
Holmes: I liked that each robot had their own strengths and weaknesses. I found myself trying to figure out my own strategies on how to take them down instead of just being like, “Swing for the head.”
Jericho: They all had their own identities. I’m thinking you can make action figures, video games, I’ve got this whole thing planned out for the next ten years.  The first day I showed up George Lucas was on set because one of his daughters was one of the contestants. And I asked him, “Isn’t this cool for you? This idea that you came up with is now true? Moving robots that can fight and kill you?”
Holmes: Did Lucas give you any insight on the new “Star Wars” movies?
Jericho: I think he sold it three days later. So, he actually asked me if I thought he should sell it. I consulted with him on it.
Holmes: And you were all for it?
Jericho: Absolutely. I said, “George, it’s time to step back and enjoy your retirement. Take it easy. Hand the reigns over to somebody else.”
Holmes: You made that man a lot of money.
Jericho: I did. So not only did I start the robot rebellion that kills the human race, I also made George Lucas a lot of money. Put that on my epitaph.
Holmes: This show hasn’t even premiered yet and you’re already changing lives with it.
Jericho: Exactly.

Holmes: I do the “Survivor” coverage here for XFINITY TV, which is a personality-based reality show. I wasn’t expecting that from “Robot Combat League.” But here we are with the potential for relationships between these teams of people who are working together.
Jericho: On these teams we have very intelligent people who have experience in science and robotics, there’s literally a rocket scientist. They were the ones that controlled the movement of the robot, and when they got the crap kicked out of them, they were the ones who went down between rounds and would try to repair the issues with the robots. Then we have the robojocks, they were the athletes who would control the fighting movements. We had MMA fighters and Olympic athletes and personal trainers. We took these people and put them together. They’d never met before (with a few exceptions). And then they had to control these robots and get along personally. And you saw some personality clashes.  That’s the other side of the coin that’s very entertaining. It’s not just about the robots. It’s the perfect mix of machinery and humanity. To see how the teams would gel and bond was incredible.

Holmes: Here’s my pitch for the Robot Combat League commissioner.
Jericho: Alright.
Holmes: It’s the end of the tournament, we’ve crowned our Robot League champion. And who does the new champ have to square off against, but a robot piloted by Y2J himself, Chris Jericho.
Jericho: The funny thing is I’m actually a robot now. I’ve turned over to the dark side.
Holmes: I feel like I’ve learned a lot this morning.
Jericho: (Laughs)

Don’t miss “Robot Combat League,” Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 10 p.m. ET.

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

WWE Superstar Chris Jericho to Step Back into the Elimination Chamber

February 15, 2013

Chris Jericho (AP)

As the number one entrant into the 2013 Royal Rumble, Dolph Ziggler had to know the odds were against him. However, that didn’t stop the self-proclaimed show off from letting everyone know that he intended to go wire-to-wire and win a trip to Wrestlemania XXIX.

The unwritten rules of pro wrestling say that the man who drew number two had to be someone that Dolph had an issue with. You could see it before it happened; someone’s music would hit, Dolph’s face would go from a smug smile to a horrified frown, and then it would be on. But who would it be? Dolph had been feuding with John Cena. He’d had a ton of great matches with Randy Orton. And, he’d been giving Sheamus grief lately.

Much to the delight of the fans in attendance, it ended up being the man Dolph had gotten fired five months earlier, Chris Jericho. And the reaction he got was one of the biggest of his storied career.

I spoke with the “Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla” in the days leading up to the Elimination Chamber Pay Per View. We had a chance to talk about his ability to come and go from the WWE, his big match this Sunday, and what the guys on the undercard can do to get to the main event.

NOTE: This is the first part of a two-part interview. In the near future we’ll be talking to Jericho about his exciting new “Robot Combat League.” Follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute news and info.

Order WWE: Elimination Chamber

Gordon Holmes: You’re stepping back into the intimidating Elimination Chamber this weekend. But, this is nothing new to you, you were in the very first one in 2002. What was it like that first time at Madison Square Garden?
Chris Jericho: Well, it’s funny because when they first unveiled that, nobody had seen it before. We were trying to put on the best match we could in something that had never existed until that day. So, it’s very unforgiving. The floor is hard, the walls are hard, the pods are hard. If you’re in a ring there’s a little bit of give. The Elimination Chamber has no give. It’s almost like diving into a cold lake the first time you take a fall in there, it’s almost like “Oh my God, is it cold in there!” So, it’s a really strange contraption.  There’s a different kind of art to it.
Holmes: As the guy who’s been in more Elimination Chambers than anyone else in the history of the WWE do you have any advice for someone who’s stepping in for the first time?
Jericho: The only advice I have is that it hurts. (Laughs)

Holmes: What do you think we can expect from CM Punk vs. The Rock round two?
Jericho: It should be good. Punk’s at his peak. He’s the best performer in the company right now. It should be a fun match to watch.
Holmes: You’re someone who has taken some hiatuses from the business. Is ring rust a real issue someone like the Rock is going to have to deal with?
Jericho: Of course you have ring rust. Anyone that leaves and comes back for one match a year is going to have ring rust. That doesn’t mean you’re not going to perform at the highest level. But, that’s the same for anybody. You always have to get back into the groove again, but the Rock is more than capable of dealing with it. He’s one of the best ever.

Holmes: You kind of have a sweet deal going with the WWE. It used to be back when there was more competition, if you were burnt out with one audience, say with the WWE, you could move on to the NWA, the AWA, or World Class. That doesn’t really exist now. But, you’ve kind of created your own territory system where you can do your music with Fozzy or go do TV shows like “Robot Combat League.”
Jericho: I’ve been doing wrestling for 22 years. But, I’ve never considered myself to be a wrestler. I consider myself to be an entertainer. I’m in show business. I’ve always built my career this way. And in this day and age, you have to brand yourself. It’s not about being an actor, being a rapper, being a vodka salesman. It’s about doing a little of all of that. It’s about creating a brand and that’s what I wanted to do with Chris Jericho. I do love wrestling, and I do love Fozzy. I love the opportunities I’ve been getting with “Robot Combat League,” “Downfall,” “Dancing with the Stars”, and the movies I’ve done. I don’t want to do wrestling forever, but I do what to be entertaining forever.

Holmes: Your last biography “Undisputed” had a lot to do with your debut in the WWE and the problems you had climbing up to the main event level. Obviously, that story had a happy ending. We’re heading into Wrestlemania season and it looks like we’re going to see a show headlined by John Cena, The Rock, Brock Lesnar, hopefully yourself. My question here is; what do the midcard guys, the guys like Kofi Kingston who are popular and talented need to do to break through the glass ceiling?
Jericho: You’ve just got to take a chance, man. Do something different and change it up. I don’t know what a glass ceiling is. Some people get more chances than others, but you’ve got to make your opportunities. If I lived under the threat of the glass ceiling I wouldn’t be talking to you right now. When I felt like I was doing my best work I’d make a chance and do something different. Be a little radical. You can’t be the same person every week for 52 weeks a year and expect people to not get complacent.  So, I’d change it up. I’d completely reinvent myself.
Holmes: That’s a good point. You, Cena, the Undertaker, HHH, you’ve all gone through some pretty significant changes over your careers.
Jericho: I wanted to be the Madonna of wrestling. And what I mean by that is she always changed her image. She always looked different every record. Her sound always changed. It was still Madonna, but she’d put elements of flamenco guitars or dubstep or rap or whatever’s hot at the time. She’d weave that into her music. And I wanted to do that within my career. Always keep people never knowing what to expect. When they know that you’re always taking chances, that keeps them excited to continue following you. It’s like the Beatles, that’s why the Beatles are the best band of all time. They never did the same thing twice, but they always remained the Beatles. That’s what I want to be.
Holmes: Oh man, my girlfriend liked you. Then you said the Beatles are the best band of all time and now I’m pretty sure she loves you.
Jericho: (Laughs) She loves me yeah yeah yeah.

Don’t miss WWE: Elimination Chamber this Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET on Pay Per View.

Don’t miss the premiere of Chris Jericho’s “Robot Combat League,” Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 10 p.m. ET on Syfy.

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

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’s Ryback to The Rock: ‘I Am Not Someone You Should Overlook’

December 4, 2012

WWE Superstar Ryback (THQ)

The path from the bottom of the card to the main event is usually a long and arduous one. Everyone from “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Rock to John Cena and Randy Orton has had to put up with their share of setbacks on the way to the top.

Not our buddy Ryback. One minute he’s making local enhancement talent question their career choices, the next he’s facing CM Punk for the WWE Title on Pay Per View.

I spoke with the hungry one in the days leading up to his TLC title opportunity to get his take on his meteoric rise to the top, his sweet catchphrase, and those pesky Goldberg chants…

Don’t Miss WWE: TLC Live on Pay Per View – Sunday, December 16, 2012

Gordon Holmes: You have rocketed to the top of the card. Has that had a chance to sink in yet?
Ryback: I live my life one day at a time. I try to do my best each and every day. I don’t try to look too far ahead; I try not to dwell on what’s happened in the past. It’s been unbelievable to go from being in the ring with local athletes…fine local athletes might I add.
Holmes: Of course.
Ryback: Moving on up, essentially jumping to the main-event scene out of nowhere. It was like showing up one day and here we go. And I was prepared for it, thank God. But it’s been a tremendous opportunity. I feel I’ve done well. I feel very at home where I am now. I look forward to being in this position for a long time.
Holmes: Has anything about this new position surprised you at all?
Ryback: No, not at all. My goal is to become the WWE Champion and be the foundation of this company. It’s a great company, it’s a company I love and believe in. This is what I expected it to be. Every day is a challenge. I’ve got to work very hard outside of what you see in the ring. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s fun. That’s the most important part for me.

Holmes: You’re part of the downloadable content for the “WWE ‘13” video game. What’s it like to see a virtual you tearing up the competition?
Ryback: It’s unbelievable. I grew up playing all of the WWE games. To see myself in the game now with Attitude Era stars like Stone Cold and The Rock, Mankind, the Undertaker…it’s awesome. And it’s great that kids of this generation get a chance to play as Ryback and challenge whoever they want. Hopefully they’ll beat up CM Punk like I do in real life.
Holmes: Speaking of the Attitude Era, is there anyone from that time that you would’ve liked to have Shell Shocked?
Ryback: All of them, to be honest. I say “Feed Me More” because I’m all about competition. And more is never enough for me. I want people to give me more because I can handle it and I want to succeed. But, obviously “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was the top dog of that era; that would be the guy for me.

Holmes: You are a monster. You are a huge dude who just ripped through the competition. How do you differentiate Ryback from other guys who’ve cut a similar path?
Ryback: It takes time for people to see differences in Superstars. Our fan base is the most loyal in the world. They become loyal to someone. So, to be compared to someone from the past, it’s up to me to differentiate myself as time goes on. It just takes time. I’ve been compared to some great Superstars.
Holmes: You’re referring to the “Goldberg” chants?
Ryback: The Goldberg chants and whatnot, he was at the top of his game. He was at the forefront of WCW. He was the hottest thing going. To be compared to that right now is great. But, I’m different in many ways. I bring a lot to the table. As you see every week, I’m very intense. I look forward to speaking more as time goes on. It’s a slow build, we’re creating patience with people in a time when people aren’t very patient. It takes time, you know?
Holmes: Absolutely. And what happens if you ever step into the ring with Goldberg?
Ryback: You’re going to see a hell of match, that’s for sure. And it would end with Shell Shocked, one…two…three. You never say never in this business. If that’s presented to me I will welcome it with open arms. You’ll be hearing, “Feed me more.”

Holmes: Part of the challenge with your rapid rise has to be taking part in matches you’ve never had to deal with before. I’m thinking specifically of October’s Hell in a Cell and this month’s TLC match.
Ryback: Yeah. (Laughs)
Holmes: Are these things you have any kind of experience with?
Ryback: Coming up in developmental you’re not put into these matches on a regular basis. My big thing is film, watching past matches and the Superstars that were put in those situations. Just being a student of the game. Two weeks before Hell in a Cell, I got the DVDs and I watched them. I study what other guys do, I start and stop, what would I do in this situation? I prepare mentally because I feel like doing things in your head is pretty close to doing the real thing minus the physical pain and whatnot. So, that’s how I approach all of these things being thrown at me.
Holmes: Do you pop in the “WWE ‘13” video game and start smacking people with ladders?
Ryback: (Laughs) Yeah, that’s the cool thing about this game, you can do anything. It’s cool to see that the franchise has evolved.
Holmes: It’s a training tool.
Ryback: It is a training tool. You can come up with new moves just playing the game. I’m all about that.

Holmes: I think you’re very fortunate in that it seems like there is a world of talented guys behind the scenes who can give you advice and steer you in the right direction.
Ryback: Yes.
Holmes: Is there anyone in particular that you go to?
Ryback: I keep a very small circle of guys. Everyone offers advice, it’s up to me to take it and apply it. The guys that’ve really been instrumental to me so far are Arn Anderson, Triple H, William Regal, and Michael Hayes. Those are the guys that I have open ears for at all times.

Holmes: Guys that have had your kind of sudden burst into the spotlight…sometimes they get a big head as far as the business goes. Have you been taking steps to keep yourself in check?
Ryback: Yeah, definitely. You see that with guys, that’s not me. Anyone who’s known me since I’ve been with the WWE knows that I don’t get too high, I don’t get too low. I take things one day at a time. I’m very thankful for everything that I’ve gone through, whether it’s bad or good. I love WWE, I love being a part of the company. I want to be the foundation for WWE. I’ve always said; however much money you have, that doesn’t make you better than anybody. I’m just a guy that likes to work hard that wants to be my best and make a difference in the world eventually. As much as life has to offer, I want it. I want everything. But that would never go to my head. We’ve seen it before, but that’s not what Ryback is all about and it’s not what I’m about. I believe in helping others and giving and things of that nature.

Holmes: At TLC, you beat Punk, you take the title. What happens to The Rock at the Royal Rumble?
Ryback: Shell shocked. I was just saying, that’s cool that fans get to do that with the video game, they get to see that match beforehand. It would be a tremendous honor and I would be very thankful for the opportunity and that’s one of my goals. Punk and Rock are locked into the Royal Rumble thinking that’s the for-sure matchup. In this business anything can happen. Nobody expected me to be where I am now except for me. To be in the ring at the Royal Rumble and to hear The Rock’s music? I would not be shocked. I hope Dwayne takes notice because I am not someone you should overlook.

Watch WWE: TLC, Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 8 p.m. ET on Pay Per View.

Ryback is available as DLC for “WWE ‘13” on Tuesday, December 4, 2012.

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

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

October 25, 2012

Paul Heyman (THQ)

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

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

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

Order WWE: Hell in a Cell Today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WWE Champion CM Punk: The Rock Is ‘Completely Underestimating Me’

October 24, 2012

WWE Champion CM Punk (THQ)

The best wrestling moments tend to happen when you have no idea how a match is going to end. The Undertaker and Triple H at Wrestlemania 28, CM Punk vs. John Cena at Money in the Bank 2011, Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart at Survivor Series 1997…

And now, CM Punk vs. Ryback at Hell in a Cell.

In one corner you have the WWE Champion whose lengthy title reign seems destined for a date with The Rock at the Royal Rumble. In the other you have the undefeated newcomer whose “Feed Me More” chants have been erupting in arenas across the country.

I had a chance to talk to the “Best in the World” in the days leading up to his big title defense and asked him about the rise of Ryback, the return of the Rock, and the benefits to having your face plastered all over a video game store…

Order WWE: Hell in a Cell Today

Gordon Holmes: What you do on Twitter is your business, but if you could refrain from making fun of the St. Louis Cardinals during this interview, I’d appreciate it.
CM Punk: I cannot promise anything.
Holmes: And…we’re already off to a bad start.

Holmes: One of the most important parts of being a champion with a long title reign is being able to have entertaining matches with a wide variety of opponents. In the past year you’ve had to face big guys like Big Show and Kane, brawlers like John Cena and the Miz, and technical guys like Daniel Bryan and Chris Jericho. Your opponent this Sunday, Ryback, is very different from all of those guys. Does facing someone with such a power-based offense change your approach to the match?
Punk: It doesn’t change my approach to the match. I’m still confident in my own abilities, but I’m not going to get arrogant because Ryback is a hell of a specimen. There’s potential for a title change on Sunday. There’s a potential for a title change anytime I get in the ring, but I always find a way to win.
Holmes: Is that a feather in your cap to be able to work with so many different styles?
Punk: Absolutely. I think the fans, whether subconsciously or consciously, know that whether I’m wrestling Rey Mysterio or Big Show or Kane or Daniel Bryan it’s going to be a good match.
Holmes: Sunday is Ryback’s first main event. What do you think he’s going through mentally as he prepares to take that next step?
Punk: I think he’s trying to get his head right. I’m positive he has butterflies. If he doesn’t, then something is wrong with him. It’s just what he does with those butterflies.
Holmes: Last time we talked you said one of your goals was to make more people into stars.  Do you think Ryback has what it takes to break through and become one of those top guys?
Punk: Absolutely. But, it relies a lot on what he does in the position he’s put in. We need guys. Make no mistake about it; we need guys. Hopefully he’s one of them.

Holmes: The “WWE ‘13” video game is being released next Tuesday with a familiar face on the cover. Have you had a chance to sit down and try it out?
Punk: The game is excellent. The cover has never looked as good as it does this year. There’s tons of new features. You get to play as Attitude era characters, you can collapse the ring, you can collapse the guardrail. There’s tons of sweet new things.
Holmes: Is it better to have your face on a video game than it would be to have it on a commemorative cup?
Punk: Oh yeah. I can walk into any video game store and my face is plastered all over it. That’s pretty wild.
Holmes: Probably makes it easier to pick up girls.
Punk: (Laughs) God knows that’s what I do when I go into video game stores.
Holmes: Good point.

Holmes: You’re a very goal-oriented guy. I think I’m also quite goal-oriented. However, I always think I’ll be able to relax once something is achieved, but that’s never the case. You’ve talked about having very few goals left in the wrestling business. When those are all done, I can’t imagine you just kicking back and relaxing in Chicago. Is there a plan for your next chapter once you leave the ring?
Punk: Yeah, of course. I can’t exactly tell you what that is yet…(Laughs)…that’d spoil it. I am a very goal-oriented person and one of the goals is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. One of the goals is getting out of the wrestling business with my health intact. I think that’s a very important goal. And if you don’t have that goal you’re not being realistic, because this isn’t going to last forever. And, I don’t think you’re being fair to yourself. I don’t want to be one of those guys who’s forty-five, fifty and wrestling.

Holmes: How has your “Best in the World” DVD been received so far?
Punk: It’s funny, I’ve only heard a couple of negative things and it was from people who were obviously trying to get a rise out of me on Twitter. You know, “I saw your DVD and it sucked.” Well, then you obviously didn’t watch it. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. We worked really hard on that thing, and it was pulling teeth getting a lot of that stuff in there. But, I did it and I have zero regrets. I’m so proud of that, I think it’s the defining moment of my career.

Holmes: Whenever we talk, I like to bug you about how you’d fare in an old-school wrestling organization.
Punk: No, I love it. I appreciate it.
Holmes: I’m a big fan of ‘80s tag team wrestling. The British Bulldogs, the Hart Foundation, the Midnight Express…my question is…who’d be your ‘80s tag team partner?
Punk: Oh man…I don’t know… Paul Heyman always draws a lot of comparisons with Eddie Gilbert and myself. So, if it’s the ‘80s I’m tagging with Eddie Gilbert.

Holmes: If you make it to the Royal Rumble as the champion you’ll be facing a gentleman known as The Rock. Do you think it’s easier or tougher to get in the ring if you’re not working a full-time schedule?
Punk: He can lift a lot heavy weights and he’s got all those big muscles. But, all of those muscles need oxygen. And when you’re not in the ring every night like I am, you can’t keep up with the best in the world.
Holmes: He’ll have trouble keeping up with you?
Punk: Absolutely.
Holmes: One of the things…
Punk: 100%! I want to be very clear about that. I think he thought John Cena was going to be an easier target than he was. And I certainly think he’s completely underestimating me. He’s bitten off more than he can chew.

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

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

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

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