Q: How often do you get back to Canada? (He lives in Atlanta)
A: Where time permits, really. Occasionally I’ll get up there for three or four days. Say for instance we’re up in Denver. I’ll fly home for a few days and visit my parents and friends and that. And then fly back down to Atlanta. We’re pretty busy week after week so I gotta pick my spots. It gets hectic at times.
Q: You were born in Edmonton, right?
Q: Can you tell me a little about growing up there. Some of your memories of the city.
A: Well, just born in Edmonton. Raised and grew up in Edmonton. Started following Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling at a very young age. Just had dreams and aspirations to wrestle pretty well my whole life. So when the opportunity arose I jumped at it.
Q: Who were some of the stars of Stampede that you remember watching as a kid?
A: Ahhh. A lot of them. Junkyard Dog. Back then the Bushwackers went through there. Dynamite Kid. Davey Boy Smith. Watched Bret, all them.
Q: How did it come about that you went off to Stu Hart’s wrestling Dungeon?
A: I just followed wrestling pretty well all of my life. I went to cards that Stu Hart put on and started talking to the wrestlers and got to know them. I must have been like 13 or 14 when I started talking to them. I always wanted to do wrestling. They told me I’d better finish high school before they’d even consider me. I started training for wrestling at about 17, 17 1/2. Had my first match when I was 18 1/2.
Q: Do you remember who it was against, and did you win?
A: Yeah! It was me and Rick Patterson against Karl Moffat and Mike Hammer in Calgary.
Q: We got a lot of questions about the Hart Foundation and the current developments in the WWF. What are your thoughts on the reuniting of the Harts?
A: Well it’s good to see that. There’s a strong wrestling tradition there, having been trained by Stu Hart and gone through the Dungeon — I should say survived the Dungeon — I’m glad to see that they’re doing so well. To be honest with you, I don’t follow WWF very much because of my schedule and just trying to keep up with what’s happening in WCW. It’s hard to keep up with what’s going on in the WWF but I can imagine the team that they have just with that family alone. Must be incredible because there’s a lot of wrestling talent there.
Q: Of course this leads to the next question that a lot of people want to know too. They see you as a logical addition to the Hart Foundation. What are your thoughts on that?
A: To be a part of something like that … I mean it’s a great team of wrestlers put together. Right now I’m part of the Four Horsemen in WCW and that’s been a long-time dream come true. Right now I’m very focused on what I’m doing here. And I’ve got a lot of unanswered challenges and a lot of goals that I’ve yet to attain here in WCW. I don’t even think I can consider anything like that, really.
Q: What are some of the goals that you’re trying to accomplish in WCW?
A: Basically right now it’s to get through this thing with Kevin Sullivan, this feud that I’m in with Kevin Sullivan. After that my biggest goal is to establish myself in the United States. Stu Hart broke me in. I wrestled for about five months in Calgary then I went off to Japan and trained for a year. Came back to Calgary, wrestled a couple of years there, and I’ve been in Japan for the last eight, nine years of my career. So basically I want to establish a name for myself in the United States. I’ve only really had exposure here for the last two years. It takes quite a while to establish yourself in wrestling.
Q: Where do you see yourself fitting into the WCW title picture?
A: Right now I haven’t really considered going after a title. I’m very intense and focused in everything that I do. I try to have tunnel vision. When I have a goal I try to have tunnel vision to that goal. Right now basically I want to get Kevin Sullivan and prove something that I want to prove not only to the fans, but to myself. That I can beat him one on one, man to man.
Q: It seems that a lot of your fans were excited about the possibility of a young Horsemen group forming — rumors of it anyway. The Apocalypse. Where did you see that going and what happened to it.
A: Well, in pro wrestling, one thing about it is that there are a heck of a lot of rumors going around. I mean I’ve wrestled with Dean Malenko for six, seven years in Japan. I’ve known Steve Regal for about five years. Bunch of the younger wrestlers of my generation that were considering getting together to form a new group was just that. That was a rumor. We’ve got a lot of respect for each other. That’s mutual. We’re friends with each other outside the ring as well as inside the ring. But in terms of forming a new group, they were just unfounded rumors.
Q: Do you see it going towards more gang warfare in wrestling these days? You have the Horsemen, the NWO, the Hart Foundation, the Nation of Domination. Is that the way wrestling is headed?
A: It appears to be that way. I mean right here in WCW what really kicked it off was the coming of the NWO. Their attacks on the Horsemen, and the Dungeon and the whole WCW — there’s only one way to combat that and that’s being united. That’s where I’ve seen that come from. As far as the WWF, like I said, I really don’t get much opportunity to watch any of their shows or keep up with anything that’s really going on. I keep in touch with the odd wrestler up there through friendships and that. I really don’t follow what they’re doing.
Q: One of the questions we were sent in. What are some of the injuries that you’ve received over the years in wrestling? What are the worst ones, what are some of the minor nagging ones that just occur?
A: The worst one I ever had was I broke my foot in Calgary. That was a long time ago. I forget even what year that happened in. In terms of nagging injuries, I mean every time I step in the ring, every time you walk out of that ring you have an injury. It’s a tough sport. It’s a physical sport. It takes a lot of athletic ability as well as a lot of talent. A lot of people sit at home and they watch what we do and they say ‘God I could do that. That’s easy.’ It’s a different ballgame once you’re in there. It’s very physical. And usually there’s something that gets injured out of every match. Knock on wood, I’ve been fortunate enough not to receive any career-threatening or career-ending injuries.
Q: Do you think that’s partly you’re style? You’re not quite the high-flyer like some of the Mexicans coming in but yet your style is more risky than, say, Kevin Sullivan. Is that something that concerns you down the road — that you’re going to slow down a little bit?
A: Well I think it’s all due to how you take care of yourself outside of the ring. I try to get to a gym at least five days a week. Sometimes I’m in there seven days a week. I try to eat as good as I can. I take a lot of supplements. I really try to watch my health. A lot of it is preventive medicine and training.
Q: Is that the kind of advice you’d give anyone who wants to get started in pro wrestling?
A: Oh for sure. Definitely. When I first wanted to get into it, a lot of people told me ‘you’re too small’, ‘you can’t do it’. A lot of people put me down. I dreamed my dream. It came true. No matter what you do in life, there’s always people that’ll put you down. If you really want it bad enough, I believe that you can have anything and accomplish anything you want to.
Q: So what unfinished goals do you have?
A: When I first started wrestling … I’ve surpassed every dream that I had. I never really thought that I’d go this far when I first started. So right now it’s like, whew. My main goal is to establish myself in North America and I really haven’t had that opportunity because I’ve been over in Japan for the last eight years. I’ve only been in here for the last two years.
Q: Have you found there to be a little bit of culture shock actually coming back to North America after so much time in Japan and Mexico?
A: Wrestling-wise yeah because the styles are so different. I mean from the United States into Mexico into Japan, the styles are so different it’s unbelievable. Especially when you go down to Mexico. A lot of people have seen the Mexican contingent here in the WCW and what they do. It’s a real shock.
Q: Do you have a favorite style of the bunch?
A: Not really. I enjoy going to each country and getting into each style because it’s a real challenge. When I go over to Japan, it takes me about three or four days to change my mindset and get into that style. It’s almost as if have to shift gears. You can go down to Mexico, or even when you go over to Europe because the wrestling in Europe is so different also. It’s run by rounds, so you have five, three-minute rounds and you’ll be in the middle of something and the bell will ring and you’ll have to go back to your corner. It’s really different, it’s really challenging. That’s what I like about wrestling is everyone has a different style so that every time you go to the ring you’re faced with a different challenge. And I love new challenges. It’s really something you have to stay on top of and prepare yourself for.
Q: Speaking of new challenges, is there anyone out there in the wrestling world who you have not wrestled that you would like to wrestle?
A: I’d like to wrestle everyone. It’s very challenging. From one match you’re in there with Dean Malenko, you’re down on the mat trying to out-wrestle him. Next week you’re in there with Meng and it’s just a toe-to-toe, nose-to-nose brawl. It’s just so challenging. I welcome every opponent because it’s a new challenge and it’s almost as if you’re constantly shifting gears here in the States also.
Q: Do you have a favorite opponent, someone you feel your style meshes with perfectly?
A: It depends what kind of match. Sometimes I enjoy going into the ring and having technical matches where you just try to out-wrestle each other. I’ve had those kind of matches with Dean Malenko and with Steve Regal and at times with Eddie Guerrero. And there’s other times when I just want to go in there and brawl. I get that through Kevin Sullivan and most of the Dungeon of Doom. It depends on what you want to do. I like going back and forth. I like getting in there sometimes with some of the Mexican wrestlers and doing some high-flying stuff. It depends on what you’re looking for and what challenge you want to face.
Q: There was a time when you were with ECW. There’s a lot of ECW fans of yours on the web, both from then and now.
A: I’m an ECW fan.
Q: What do you remember from your time in ECW and what were the best parts?
A: The whole part of it was great. I’d been in Japan for quite a while, a few years, and that was my first taste of the American wrestling scene. It was incredible. It was a good experience. Good atmosphere. There’s some great talent there. I had a good time. I have good memories of ECW.
Q: What was your relationship like with Paul Heyman [Paul E. Dangerously]
A: Very good. I still talk to him from time to time.
Q: I’ve got a specific questions from a specific day in your life. >From Peter Ransom, he asks ‘you said after your Super J Cup win in 1994 that you “couldn’t go any higher than that and that was the greatest honor you’ve ever had.” Do you still feel that way?
A: Well at that time it was. At that time I felt that I couldn’t go any higher than that. At that time it was the greatest honor. Since then there’s been a lot of new doors opening up. I’ve paved a lot of roads since then. At that time it was though. At that time I felt that I had reached my peak.
Q: How exhausting was a one-night tournament like that?
A: Extremely. Extremely. There was a few tournaments that were very exhausting. I don’t know exactly which one he’s talking about. I mean there was one of them where I wrestled three times in one night and after that last match I came out of the ring and I just wanted to cry. I was just mentally and physically drained. I was totally exhausted.
Q: What’s your favorite finishing maneuver?
A: Right now the Crippler Crossface. I call it the CCF that I’m using in WCW. But I enjoy the Flying Headbutt and I enjoy the Dragon Suplex. I like to keep a lot of my maneuvers open. I really don’t want to stick to one maneuver. But right now I’m having a lot of success with that CCF.
Q: What did it feel like to be in the finishing hold there at Slamboree a couple of weeks ago against Meng?
A: Well once you know that you’re in it, you know you don’t have much time left. Meng is one of the toughest wrestlers both inside and outside the ring. If you ask any of the wrestlers in WCW or WWF or ECW, he’s got a reputation. He’s got the respect of a lot of people.
At this point my tape recorder stopped, having twisted the tape. Here are highlights from the rest, taken from my notes.
Q: Do you surf the Net?
A: No, I don’t really have the time. I’ve got hundreds of things going … Friends print things out for me.
Q: What is your relationship with Woman?
A: We’re very, very good friends.
Q: You’ve progressed in your interviews considerably from your days in Stampede.
A: I’m no master … or even close to where I can be
Q: I’m to understand you and your wife just had a baby. [Thanks to Jim Delray for that question!]
A: Yes … last Monday [May 26] … her name is Megan.
And finally with a little chit-chat, I ended my conversation with Chris Benoit.