It’s been a wild safari through the sometimes-treacherous jungle that is the WWF for Rhyno the past few months.
Ever since coming to the WWF earlier this year, the Detroit native has built on the reputation he earned while competing for his previous company, ECW. He’s collected two WWF Hardcore titles and is in the midst of his biggest push of his career, with three high profile wins over Chris Jericho.
On the eve of the 2001 King of the Ring pay-per-view, Rhyno finds himself in the semi-finals, scheduled to face Edge. There is even talk that he may be crowned as the 2001 King of the Ring winner.
To be crowned the King of the Ring would be the biggest achievement in a career that has mostly been spent toiling on the independent circuit. Whether he wins the tournament or not, Rhyno feels his career in the WWF is on the right track.
And he couldn’t be any more ecstatic.
“I’m extremely happy to be here. I think it’s everybody’s ultimate goal in wrestling to one day perform in the WWF,” Rhyno told SLAM! Wrestling in a one-on-one interview last Saturday prior to the WWF’s house show at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre.
Entering the King of the Ring pay-per-view with such a high profile match, Rhyno believes his career is on the right path.
“I think the ball’s rolling in the right direction. I’ve got the easy job: show up to work on time, train in the gym and go out there and work hard. But as far as the writers’ job, it’s a lot harder. A lot of it has to do with what they write for me. As far as where I’d like to see the character go, onward and upward. I’d been wrestling for six years before I came here and I’ve got to start all over again. Where I’d like to see it go is in a serious direction. I really don’t care too much for comedy.”
While Rhyno is living out his dream of competing in the WWF, he does admit he has mixed feelings about the way ECW died a slow, lingering death.
“It is sad because everybody who walked through the doors in ECW were part of something special. It was a renegade group that came from nothing. It’s sad that it’s not around for other wrestlers coming up.”
Rhyno looks back at his time spent in ECW with great fondness. One of the reasons he enjoyed his time in ECW so much was because of his former boss, Paul Heyman.
“He’s a hell of a guy. He helped create Rhyno. He knows Rhyno better than I do. When I went to ECW, all I had to do was wrestle aggressively. Paul helped me with promos because I’ve never had any experience in front of the TV camera. As far as here in the WWF, I know that everybody I’ve talked to really likes him because he’s just a hell of a motivator.”
Rhyno says one of the reasons why Heyman is so liked is because he has the unique ability to bring out the best in other people.
“He can motivate a locker room when they’re down. Look at ECW. Through thick and thin, his guys stuck with him. He can bring certain things out in guys that the guys can’t even bring out in themselves. He sees people’s strong points and their weak points and he can bring out the strong points. He’s helping everybody in the locker room here.”
Rhyno has risen to the challenge the WWF has issued him since joining the organization, having several outstanding matches against a lot of different talent.
“Everybody I’ve wrestled and worked with here, I’ve had so much fun with. I really liked wrestling Tazz. I wrestled him once in ECW. The first real match he’s had in a year and a half here in the WWF was against me and it was a lot of fun. When you don’t wrestle for a year and a half, you’re rusty but you don’t forget a lot of things because once you get to a certain level it’s like riding a bike. You never forget.”
As for wrestlers in the WWF he’d like to work more with, Rhyno isn’t limiting himself in his aspirations.
“There’s a list of guys who I haven’t worked with that I’d love to. I wouldn’t mind working a little program with Tazz. Kane, Jericho, Chris Benoit, the list goes on and on.”
Since coming to the WWF, Rhyno has seen his interview time cut drastically. One of the reasons for his lack of time on the microphone is because the WWF has their talent cut live promos. During his tenure in ECW, Rhyno taped his promos, making him inexperienced at the art of the live interview.
“I’ve done live promos but I hate doing them. It’s easier to do a second take if you mess up when you tape it beforehand. When you’re in front of a live crowd, you really have to cover up any mistake just like that because you can’t do a second take. Everything’s got to be on the money to get that point across.”