What a difference a year makes, twelve months ago when SLAM! Wrestling first talked with Lance Storm he was just starting to emerge as a superstar with Extreme Championship Wrestling, after a few years of impressing almost all who saw him. Fast forward to today and Lance Storm is a bonafide main eventer. The Impact Players, with Storm and Justin Credible, are the company’s top tag-team and heels. His abilities have continued to increase, along with his charisma and mic skills, all the while gaining more knowledge of the wrestling game and climbing to the upper echelons of ECW. SLAM! Wrestling recently had a chance to talk with Lance and pose both questions from the fans and staff. Once again, special thanks to Lance Storm and Jeff Marek from The LAW.

Q: Where and when did Lance meet Dawn Marie? How did he get hooked up with Justin Credible? (Chris Perkovic, Edmonton — dramatic pause — Alberta, Canada)

Lance Storm.

A: “The first night in the arena that she [Dawn Marie] worked, that was the first time I had ever met her. She was brought in as a foil for Tammy [Lynn Sytch], because she [Tammy] had just jumped from New York [WWF] to us, so she [Dawn Maire] was just more or less brought in for a one time deal. I thought we gelled well together and I enjoyed working with her. I went to Paul [Heyman] and said that if you’d like to keep her around I think that would be cool, he agreed and now it’s a year and a half later. Justin I actually trained in Calgary, he came through the Hart camp in ’92, I was an instructor there at the time, I trained him then never really crossed paths with him again ’til we ended up together in ECW. Both he and I begged Paul to let us work [together] and he never did, then we had a chance to do a three-way-dance with [Tommy] Dreamer at the [ECW] arena and I think Paul saw something in us and he ended up putting us together.”

Q: Do you enjoy being in another tag-team situation? Because the last time we talked you had just broken out on your own after partnering with Chris Candido. (Gramlich)

A: “Yeah, I think I had just finished up with Candido at the time; I don’t know what it is but I just keep gravitating to tag-teams — I’m having a lot of fun with it. I’ve always enjoyed tag wrestling, it’s just another chance to do it with someone else, and PJ [Credible] and I seem to gel pretty good together, so it’s a lot of fun.”

Q: Is Lance Storm worried about the long-term effects of these high-risk spots at every PPV and TV taping? (Pascal Trepanier)

A: “I’m not worried about it as far as myself, because I don’t do anything that I consider too dangerous or high-risk, I’m pretty careful with what I do. However, I think it sets a really bad standard when you see guys that really raise the bar with danger, ala Cactus Jack or a New Jack, when they start jumping off higher and higher stuff. I’m concerned for their health and the fact that the fans will start expecting someone to jump from thirty feet and it sure as hell won’t be me.”

Q: Is it kind of like when back in the day when the Piledriver was the ultimate finishing move… (Gramlich)

A: “I remember back in the day when the abdominal stretch was a finish.” [Laughter]

Q: Exactly, it’s kind of like a continuing escalation, just taken to different levels. (Gramlich)

A: “Yeah, it’s just getting really, really dangerous, it’s like how far do you have to fall? It’s like Balls Mahoney the one time — with the flaming table and thumbtacks. It gets to the point where you’re getting powerbombed through a flaming table with thumbtacks, and I remember one spot at a show where they [the Dudleys] didn’t light it on fire and just powerbombed him through it with the thumbtacks and he [Balls] didn’t think it was enough. It’s like they [the fans] are not going to believe that? Just getting driven through a table with thumbtacks, I mean come on, give me a break.”

Q: Do you think it will let up before someone gets seriously injured. (Gramlich)

A: “I don’t think it will, I don’t think it’ll let up before someone dies, personally. Guys get seriously injured all the time, unfortunately it is usually with the small stuff that they get hurt, not necessarily the big things, but I don’t think it’ll let up before someone dies.”

Q: Today being Hardcore Thursday, with the Acclaim/ECW Hardcore Revolution video game being released, what are your thoughts on the game. (Gramlich)

A: “I haven’t actually played it, I’ve seen a lot of the promotional package, which had some QuickTime stuff that I could watch on my computer, it looks incredibly detailed and really, really cool. I’m hoping that the buggers at Acclaim will send me a free copy at least relatively soon so I can check it out. It is going to be a big thing for the company, I hope. Giving us additional advertising, in addition to gaining new fans. I think our relationship with Acclaim is a huge step, it’s either going to benefit both of us tremendously, or do nothing for either of us [laughter], so we will see, hopefully the game will sell well.”

Q: You’ve been very critical of TNN’s support of ECW on your website, what do you think some of the biggest problems are with TNN and ECW, in terms of TNN really getting behind ECW. (Gramlich)

A: “I think the problem is our original deal was cut with CBS cable, not TNN. I don’t think anyone at TNN actually ever wanted us. I think CBS cable wanted us, they put us on TNN and the people we had to deal with originally were TNN people and they didn’t want us, because if we succeeded it made them look bad for sinking a pile of money into RollerJam, which isn’t succeeding. But now we’re the number one program on their network, we’re drawing the numbers they want, but it still makes them [TNN] look bad. Especially if our numbers go right through the roof, in that they sunk all this money into RollerJam and it didn’t pull any numbers, now they’ve got this thing that is pulling numbers, it’s like why didn’t they just get us in the first place? I think the TNN people and execs that made the call on RollerJam didn’t want the people at CBS who made the call on us to look better than them.”

Q: Do you think that is why it has taken TNN so long to show you support, even after you’ve proved you’re the number one show on their network? (Gramlich)

A: “I think partly, and partly because I think they spent their advertising budget plugging the crap out of RollerJam for the last year. I don’t think until this new year that they had any advertising budget left for us, it’s improved a little bit but we still have a ways to go. I’ve heard that they’ve actually advertised on Heat and Thunder in some markets, not nationally, which would be nice. I think unfortunately, though, in a Friday night slot we’re not going to grow too much. I thought at first we could, but about a week ago I read an article that said we are practically the highest rated show, period. Friday nights, nation-wide, on any network, as far as male audience, seventeen to thirty-four, we are the highest rated show, it’s just their isn’t too many people that watch TV on Friday nights, they have lives.”

Q: Has there been any talk of switching to another night, or time slot? (Gramlich)

A: “I don’t think so, we were pretty much hired to salvage RollerJam and that’s when RollerJam is. Unfortunately, we’re probably going to be stuck with Friday nights, and it’s hard to get people to want to stay home and watch TV Friday nights.”

Q: Is ECW planning on coming to Canada anytime soon? (Igor “the Polish Crippler” Horniatko)

A: “Yes, most definitely. Our beloved Greg “bag of donuts,” as I call him, our promoter guy, actually talked to me last weekend about who he would have to contact about immigration and so forth to get us across the border. He said he wants to run both Toronto and Montreal this year. It’s kind of funny, he told me that the Dome contacted him, I said ‘SkyDome,’ he said ‘yeah,’ I said ‘that’s probably a little optimistic Greg.’ I’m all for going to Toronto, but lets find a smaller building, so he is looking into it and hopefully by the end of the year we will be in Toronto and Montreal.”

Q: Considering how you and Justin Credible are head and shoulders above the tag-team pack in ECW these days, when will either one of you make a run for one of the singles titles. Especially considering the up-in-the-air situation concerning the TV title with Rob Van Dam’s injury? (J. Pereiraiv)

A: “Can we just put in ‘Ask Paul Heyman?’ [Laughter] I don’t think anytime soon. I think with the tag straps and everything else we have close to a year tied up in us, providing I don’t leave at the end of this year [laughter]. My contract is up at the end of this year, so we’ll have to see what happens after that, but I don’t see us doing singles for awhile.”

Q: When your contract is up would you like to return? (Gramlich)

A: “I’d be quite happy to stay, if an offer came from somewhere else that was head and shoulders above anything ECW could offer me then I would consider it, but I would like to stay put, I’m quite happy. ECW is growing all the time and there is the potential for it to really bust through, so there is certainly interest in staying. I have a lot of fun here, but I’m certainly not going to close all doors and ignore other offers.”

Q: Last time we talked you said that learning how to be a “ring general” was more important to you than learning a triple-jump-moonsault. How far have you come in attaining that knowledge in the last year? (Gramlich)

A: “I think I’ve come along quite well, I thought I was quite decent at it last year. I’m certainly improving at it; more chances as a heel gives you more of an opportunity to do that — dictate the tempo of the match and really run things [in ring]. I think now that I’ve been in ECW longer, the majority of the locker room respects my work ethic and rate. For the most part, most of the guys I work with will listen to me and let me dictate pace. It’s coming really well, you never stop learning, though, I imagine I could do this for another fifty years and still have improving to do.”

Q: By the same token, what has been the biggest improvement you’ve made in any aspect of wrestling in the past year? (Gramlich)

A: “I think my promos are really coming together, unfortunately with the tag promos I don’t get to talk as much as I would like, you sort of have to split it up the time with Justin and myself. I don’t know what aspect has come the furthest? I’m starting to be able to work as my character more, originally the bell would ring and I’d get so tied up in working that I wouldn’t have the character as well while I work. I’m improving on that, which is probably the thing I’ve gained the most ground with. A lot of the time you do your promos as Lance Storm, but once the bell rings you slide into just wrestling and you’re no longer Lance Storm the heel, you’re the athlete.”

Q: What I was wondering is if you could drop a few names of the better Pro-Wrestling trainers in Canada. As I’m looking to get into the business. (Mike Dove)

A: “I don’t know all that many. I know Don Callis [Cyrus] runs a training school in Winnipeg. I would say he would do a good job training. I don’t know what the Harts are doing, check out www.Stampedewrestling.com to see what they’re doing. I think there is Sully’s Gym in Toronto that has a decent rep for getting guys development deals with New York [WWF]. That would be a good route. Callis would be a good route and I really don’t know what the Harts are doing now.”

Q: Again, last time we talked I mentioned something about the Sandman and you stated that you weren’t a big fan of the Sandman or his work, and that you didn’t think you could actually have a match with him. Since then he’s come back and you’ve had a couple of good tag matches with him, what are your feelings on his return and some of the other returns to ECW? (Gramlich)

A: “Actually, it’s funny with the Sandman, I don’t know if he’s changed a lot or if I misjudged him the first time, but in the locker room I get along better with him than I ever thought I could. I still don’t see us having any great wrestling matches together, we can get by with a match and we see eye to eye quite a bit as far as what we do in the ring, he’s actually quite professional. He’s still loud and abrasive, don’t get me wrong, but I get along with him better than I ever thought I could.”

Q: When he first came back, were you concerned with how he would effect ECW? (Gramlich)

A: “No, I knew that he would be good from a business standpoint as far as getting a big pop and the crowd being happy and Paul knew that too, so I thought that it was good that he would come back. I thought he would be more of a pain in the butt in the locker room than he turned out to be, but I wasn’t concerned about it.”

Q: What does your diet consist of and what kind of workout do you employ? (Blong411@aol.com)

A: “Refer to website, www.Stormwrestling.com workout theory. I just posted it recently. It is relatively lengthy and would take a lot of time to explain here.”

Q: Do you still keep in contact with Chris Jericho, and how well do you think he is doing in the WWF so far? (Contributor unknown)

A: “I do still keep in touch, more via email than anything else because our days on and off don’t coincide very well. I think he has the greatest ring entrance in the business right now, and I think he has got a little bit of the politics of New York behind him and I think he’s doing really well. He’s IC champ and is pretty much featured on every show; gets over really well.”

Q: Come along ways from the Smokey Mountain Wrestling days? (Gramlich)

A: “Oh yeah, I imagine his paycheque has too. [Laughter]”

Q: Along the same vein, are you still close with the Franchise Shane Douglas? (Gramlich)

A: “Not really close, Shane and I didn’t talk outside of the business all that much, we talked on the phone occasionally. In the locker room we both saw eye to eye and really respected each other a lot. I still have a lot of respect for his ability and his work. I think he is a great guy and a talented guy. With wrestling, a lot of times it is just once you go your separate ways you go your separate ways, because with family and travel it’s just too hard to keep in touch with many guys. We exchanged Christmas cards at Christmas and I hear rumours that he may be back so I may get to see him again.”

Q: Are you for him returning? (Gramlich)

A: “I think it would be good for business and I’d love to work with the guy. If he and Paul can’t get along then I’m not for it because it’s a strain on the company, but if they can put their differences aside I think he would be an asset. You can’t burn a bridge in this business, and if you do they’ll send a boat for you, get you across one way or another.”

Q: What is the morale in ECW now, considering the number of injuries that are plaguing your company, and the affect that’s had on long-term angles? (Contributor unknown)

A: “I don’t think it has hurt morale all that much, I think a lot of guys are figuring that this is a chance that they can get noticed a little bit more. I think the only people who would be down about it are the guys that are injured, because they are missing out and perhaps [Mike] Awesome who had a really hot angle that just disappeared. Especially since he’s been champ for a while now and this was his first chance to have an angle that people were really going to care about him for. He was big and worked hard, but he had never had an angle where people were going to get behind him. Here’s this hot angle that was getting a big reaction and half the people are gone and we’re going to do something else now, so he could be upset about it. I think we will overcome it, we just need to focus.”

Q: In the Impact Players you have Dawn Marie, Jason, you and Justin Credible. Do you find things to be confusing at times, having to rehearse things with so many people. (Digby, the Wonder Monkey)

A: “I don’t find it confusing, or need to rehearse. Pretty much when I’m out there I can run things and get things organised if they need to be. You’ve got Justin and myself and our opponents and everything else, you get used to working with that amount of people, and you can usually run things and direct traffic not too badly.”

Q: Please tell me why Jason still collects a paycheque? (Digby, the Wonder Monkey)

A: “[Laughter] I don’t know why! Actually, he’s done a lot of things in his career, he’s one of those guys who stuck with Paul through a lot of hard times, and Paul likes him. He’s got his place. Sometimes I find that he is really on and does a good job and other times he’s not as reliable. I get along great with the guy, and I like him and I enjoy working with him. He’s pulled his weight when the time came, when you need him for a spot he’s there and willing to do it, people just get on him. Anytime you have a wrestler that doesn’t wrestle anymore people just see him as dead weight, but if he was a female doing as much as he does they’d think, ‘boy this person really does a lot.’ He does a lot as a manager, but since he’s male and not actually having matches people think he’s dead weight. I think he gets a bad rep and stiffed in that regard.”

Q: Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve heard you’ve been getting more and more input behind the scenes. (Gramlich)

A: “I have for quite awhile now, actually. Lately, Paul has been so busy that I haven’t been able to get to him, but I’ve had a relatively decent amount of input for about the last year and a half. I love doing it; I’ve always wanted to. I think the first time Paul realized that I had input of value was when Tammy came back for the first time, where we did the thing at the arena with Dawn Marie. We were sitting in the back trying to put the finish of that thing together, and that was the night that she pinned me at the arena, and it was my idea. As soon as I said it Paul’s eyes just lit up, ‘that’s perfect,’ he knew that I understood that as a heel this could work, not only to get her over, but to get me heat as well. Whereas a lot of guys are just concerned that they cannot do a job, let alone to a girl. I understood the business aspect of it and knew that it would be a good move, it is what really made me as a heel and put me over the top. I think Paul realised then that I saw the big picture and I wasn’t in it just for myself, and I think from that point on he started valuing my opinion a lot more.”

Q: ECW has come very far, especially in the last year. Where do you think its going in the near future and what do you think the keys are to achieving it? (Gramlich)

A: “I think the key is that we’re going to need to expand the TV market, either by moving the day or by moving networks. I think the video game is going to take us one step further. I think we’re are going to prove that we are a very marketable commodity and perhaps a TV network would really jump behind us and we’d have the chance to jump into the number two spot. I think we are on that verge where we are just waiting and teetering, we could slide back a bit or you could just bust over the top. I think the Acclaim thing will really help and show people that we can be successful in the mainstream.”

Q: Finally, I hate to ask this, but what’s the deal with Sabu? (Gramlich)

A: “As far as I know he has contract to 2003, he had a provision where if anything was missed, late, or there was any kind of screw up on Paul’s end, Paul has a time period that he can correct it. Sabu also has a time period where he can say ‘you screwed up,’ I want out, and if he does so in writing I believe he could get out. I believe something did happen, Sabu didn’t put anything in writing, didn’t say anything to Paul, just went to WCW, said ‘I got an out’ and tried to get a contract with them. Since he didn’t put anything in writing his contract [with ECW] is still valid, and he made a big mistake, and he is still contractually bound to us, and I think WCW has now washed their hands of him.”

Q: Would ECW take him back, in terms of harsh feelings, he did try to leave? (Gramlich)

A: “You pretty much have to, because if you don’t you fire him and then he’s pretty much free to go to WCW, so I think you pretty much have to take him back. There are harsh feelings, but if you fire him and he leaves you pretty much open the door to anybody, it’s like if you’re under contract and you do something in bad faith we’ll just fire you for it and you get what you want anyway. I think we can use Sabu, he’s such an ECW name brand type person. I don’t have any hundred percent facts on that, it’s just my take on what I’ve heard from a billion different people, I certainly think you try to keep him, it’ll be a tense situation if and when if he does come back. They said the Sandman would never come back and he’s back, I’ve heard that the Franchise is coming back, we brought back Raven, just bring everybody back, all is forgiven. Bring Satan back, all he did was make her eat an apple, what’s the big deal?” [Much laughter]