“With Steve Corino what you see is what you get. You either love him or you hate him, there is no middle ground. I have never met a person who says ‘Yeah Steve is alright.’ It’s either ‘He is such a dick’ or ‘What a great guy’. Luckily for me we get along well. He’s helped me out to get bookings, which I appreciate. What you see in the ring is what you get, he’s the ‘King of Old School’ and he believes it. He’s been a fan of old school wrestling since day one, it made him a lot of money and now he is the number one gaijin in Zero-One. You can’t go wrong with that.”
On an ECCW show, Juggernaut had a classic ECW style brawl with current WWE star Tommy Dreamer. The “Innovator of Violence” was apologetic when they talked.
“He is partially responsible for killing the wrestling business. I am not saying that in a bad way, it is more of a joke. It had nothing to do with him, he was just doing what he had to do to get over. When I talked to him before the match, he apologized to me, and I asked what for. ‘Sorry for killing the wrestling business.’ He said ‘I was getting chokeslammed through 10 tables 10 years ago and every night we went out and did more and more and the crowd wanted more.’ So for the young guys coming up it is tough to get a huge response without going through 10 tables. Back in the day you could do a scaffold match, fall off the scaffold, land on your feet and roll and the crowd would go nuts. Now in a scaffold match you better come head first, bounce of your forehead, miss a few tables and bounce off of a turnbuckle like Vic Grimes did a few years ago. It’s not just Tommy, I mean Mick Foley would be guilty of it as well as a lot of guys in Japan.”
Juggernaut (real name Craig Renney) has nothing for respect for Dreamer.
“Tommy is like Corino, what you see is what you get, and he is also a nice guy. His back was very bad after ECW but he dropped a bunch of weight and I think that helped. When I wrestled him his back was fine from what he told me. We went out into the street, he jumped off of trash bins, I suplexed him through a couple of chairs. There wasn’t anything we didn’t do because of his back. He is a tough nut to crack. He is a different guy, which makes him cool because I don’t like normal people. He sacrificed everything for ECW. From what I know, it is a slap in the face what happened to him at the end of ECW.”
As for more recently, Juggernaut faced Sabu and Jerry Lynn for the first time in 2003.
“Sabu is a good guy behind the intimidating exterior, I hope at some point I can face him healthy because both times we wrestled he had his bicep to deal with. Jerry Lynn is interesting when he isn’t trying to hump your leg. I love AJ Styles too. Never mind his ring work, that speaks for itself. As a person, you can’t find a more sincere human being on earth.”
Dreamer and Corino are two of his favorite opponents, but overall, the designation of favorite goes to sometime tag partner, frequent foe Dr. Luther.
“We know each other really well, so our matches were always great. The first time I wrestled him I was lucky in that I had already been on tour in Japan with him so I knew what I was getting into. That helped a lot. If I had wrestled him before I had experience it would have been a different situation, and he may not have liked me. But knowing that style helped. We’ve been friends for five years because we both enjoy the same styles and ways to make people look like idiots.”
The first big star that Juggernaut wrestled was Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka. To this day he still gets goosebumps when he remembers the match.
“The match was at the Washington State Fair in Vancouver, Washington in 1999. There were 3,500 people there, and I went out first. I am standing in the ring and looking out and he is walking to the ring with his hands in the air. I stopped for about 10 seconds, and thought ‘Oh man, that’s Jimmy Snuka.’ Before snapping out of it because I had to wrestle him. The match was about eight minutes, I beat him up for most of it and then he came back with his side headbutt. I remember I was lying on the mat, and Jimmy climbed on the first rope and the crowd started to vibrate. They got louder at the second rope. He stepped onto the top, did the Snuka hand signal and the crowd lost it. He jumped off and hit the Superfly Splash and I thought my ribs broke, that is the stiffest thing I have taken in my life. That was the first time I experienced a really huge crowd pop.”
After facing that legend, it became easier for Juggernaut to wrestle famous veterans. Juggernaut has faced the likes of Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, Jim “The Anvil” Niedhart, The Bushwhackers, and the Honkytonk Man.
“Honky and I wrestled in front of 3,000 screaming people in Billings, Montana. He tore the crowd apart when he got out there and so the crowd popped for me because they hated him. Even so, the crowd lost it when he did the Shake Rattle ‘n’ Roll.”
He also had the experience of working for WCW when they toured British Columbia in August 2000. At the Kelowna Thunder taping, he, Ladies Choice, Michelle Starr and Rockford faced Kronic in a two-minute challenge.
“We got a call the night before. Of course when you wrestle the tag team they are pushing at the time you know what is going to happen. The pay was right so I was all for it. We got there, they said they were making it a two-minute time limit, so I asked “Same pay” and it was so I said sure. Back in the old days I probably would have worried about the effect of losing like that. It meant a lot more back then if you got your butt kicked on TV. Nowadays it doesn’t matter, everyone knows what wrestling is about. So when I go to the next show, nobody goes ‘Oh, you’re not as tough because you got beaten by these two guys.’ Because everyone knows what is going on.”
The match itself last 1:49 and saw all four guys get decimated and pinned.
“It was the easiest match I have ever done for the amount of money. I did a couple of moves and then was hit with the high time. There were a couple of things that Kronic forgot. I know people find it hard to believe that two stellar professional wrestlers like Bryan Adams and Brian Clark would forget something like that, but they did, and I looked like an arse wandering around the ring looking at the crowd, but I didn’t care.”
Clark and Adams went on record in some interviews that they hated the match and all of the guys in it sucked. This was coming from two men who a year later would have one of the worst matches ever at WWF Unforgiven with Undertaker and Kane.
“That was kind of like the pot calling the kettle black. There were a couple of things that went wrong, none of them had anything to do with me. For them to go and say ‘It’s all the hired help’s fault’ was wrong. The match wasn’t that bad for what it was for, it just wasn’t good. I basically booked the finish of that match. They were going to do the double-chokeslam on one of the smaller guys, and I went to the WCW booker, which may not have been the smartest thing to do, but I suggested that it would make more sense for them to hit the big finish on me since I was the biggest guy there. That and I was probably the most capable guy in the match of taking the move, since I had just worked Kurrgan every day for three months and took a chokeslam in every match.”
During ECCW tours, around the same time, the cards often featured the 6-foot-5, 380-pound Jugg wrestling the 7-foot tall former WWF star Kurrgan.
“He came on tour with ECCW at a time when ECCW was one of the top three touring companies in North America. We were doing 150 shows a year with them alone. Kurrgan is underrated, he is a lot better then people think he is. I just don’t think he was given the right chance in WWF. When he was doing the Truth Commission stuff with Don Callis where he was giving people the claw to the back, I thought that was a phenomenal gimmick and they could have ran with that. But they had to give him the Oddity gimmick and have him dance around like a buffoon and that killed him. Mick Foley is the only guy that did that and wasn’t killed off. I had a good time wrestling him. My face and shoulder felt great after taking his size 24 boot every night. His foot was too big for my head, so half went on my face and half on my shoulder. I had a huge bruise on my shoulder and a sole print on my face for months. As a human being he is phenomenal. One of the nicest guys out there, he is very sincere and very generous and funny.”
Reflecting back, Juggernaut recalls a moment where Kurrgan’s inner child came to light.
“One time in Vancouver we were off tour and were bored. So we went to Playdium in Burnaby, which is a three-story arcade. So I asked him if he liked video games and he turned into a 7-foot tall six year old. People were running in fear because he was running around like a little kid saying ‘I want to play this game’ in his real deep voice.”
Another outstanding memory that Juggernaut has involves losing his memory.
“In July of 2000, I had just gotten back from a tour of Japan and Leatherface and I had a match to crown a new NWA Pacific Northwest Champion. Kurrgan was champ at the time but he couldn’t be there so they vacated the belt and put us together. Of course, my brain, only functioning half the time, came up with the brilliant idea of having a two-out-of-three falls table match. It was something I hadn’t seen before, where the first guy to put their opponent through two tables won the match. It was a typical Leatherface ‘Hit you as hard as you can’ style match. At one point we were outside of the ring and he picked up a chair. I am not sure what happened after that, I’ve seen the tape, the camera angle has the chair hitting me so I have seen it. But what I remember was getting hit, everything going white, my arm shaking, and then hitting the ground and not being able to move for about ten or fifteen seconds. That was a little frightening. But I got up, and five minutes later we finished the match, because the show had to go on.”
It wasn’t until later that the real effects of the chairshot became evident.
“I started to notice in the next couple of days that people would tell me stuff that I didn’t remember. Important things in my life were missing. When I was a kid, and a bit smaller, I used to play goal in hockey and I went to a Winnipeg Jets practice and was on the ice with their star goalie Daniel Berthiaume. It was a key point in my life but I have no memory of it. I lost somewhere from three to six years of my memory from being hit that one time.”
Juggernaut has held 16 titles in his career. He was thrilled to win the first one, but the enthusiasm eventually wore off.
“The first couple of titles, when you are just starting out they are actually something you think is important. When a company feels that you can draw money for them it is great. But we are in a day and age where nobody can draw money in independent wrestling unless you are already a big name. Too many guys put way to much weight on wanting titles. If you can’t get yourself over with the crowd without having a title there is no need for you to be in the wrestling business.”
Juggernaut doesn’t watch the current WWE product very often, and to him wrestling for the company isn’t the be-all-and-end-all it is to some. He would wrestle for them, but some of what they show on TV doesn’t impress him.
“There are things I wouldn’t do, that necrophilia thing last year would have caused me to quit the company had I been working there. ”
As a Canadian wrestler who has worked for the Harts’ Stampede Wrestling promotion, Juggernaut is familiar with the infamous “Screwjob.”
“Bret Hart knows what he is getting into and how shady the business is. He should have known not to trust anything that someone says to you. He wasn’t a fresh face just walking in with his eyes closed, he should have known or suspected that something could happen. I don’t think he looked bad in that situation. But by the same token, when you put your trust in the boss and he promises you something and then stabs you in the back, that has to be a blow. Everybody in the dressing room was probably thinking ‘Hey that could happen to me too.'”
Another promotion Juggernaut worked for was “Piper’s Pit” wrestling in Idaho. He met Roddy Piper, but it was “Maniac” Matt Borne who was had a bigger impact during the show.
“[Piper] probably doesn’t remember meeting me,” said Juggernaut. “Booking for him was Matt Borne, who unfortunately most fans probably remember as the original Doink. He’s had some demons in his past but he is a good guy. He is a lunatic and tough as nails. I was scheduled to wrestle T. Rantula as the third to last match or something. Borne turned to Piper and said ‘Juggernaut’s main event. I’ve seen him wrestle, you want the fans to go home happy he’s it.’ That showed a lot of faith in me, and it is good that he had that confidence in me.”
On the flip side of the coin is Playboy Buddy Rose. Juggernaut originally thought he was a nice guy until an incident in Vancouver, Washington left a bitter taste in his mouth.
“I was at the merchandise table with Dr. Luther, Christopher Daniels and Nova. Buddy Rose comes with some merchandise and a Polaroid camera. We are all selling our stuff, and this woman came up to the table, and this woman was probably 80. She was pushing a wheelchair with a woman who had to have been 100, she had an oxygen tank and IV and everything. She talks to each of us and tells us that her 98-year-old mother is a big wrestling fan and she was so happy to be there. She gets down to Buddy, and the daughter said. ‘My Mom is a huge wrestling fan and has watched you since you started your career. You are her favorite wrestler, and her dream was to take a picture with you before she dies.’ It was really heartfelt. So the four of us are all on the verge of tears from this cockle-warming story. Buddy said ‘It would be an honor to take a picture with her… it will only cost you five bucks.'”
The four could only stare in shocked silence.
“Our jaws dropped. We couldn’t believe it. It wasn’t okay at all, but it was his camera and film, he would have been out a couple of bucks, so we were going to let it go. However, she had her own camera and he still charged her! So after seeing Buddy Rose charge a lady who was literally up to her chin in her grave five bucks for a picture with her own camera, that was when I decided he wouldn’t be welcome in my presence again.”
Fans are important to Juggernaut, who is genuinely flattered when someone asks for an autograph or a picture.
“A lot of wrestlers forget that the fans are the ones that make them. Any wrestler has to admit that as a kid they would have loved to have had a wrestler say hi to you. Even if you hated a guy, like say Big John Studd, a big heel, if he shook your hand you would have loved that. So for people to say ‘I am not going to sign for those brats.’ Is awful. I understand if you are busy or if there are 2,000 people there, you can’t get to everyone. But don’t forget where you came from. At the Ex I had a kid come up to me who had seen me wrestle. He had Down Syndrome and I talked to him for a bit, and I dug up a photo and signed it for him, and the look on his face, you would have thought he won a million dollars. He didn’t know who I was, he didn’t care. Someone he saw in the ring took time out of his day to give him a picture. I don’t do it to get people to like me, I do it because they are human beings and they deserve respect.”
In terms of a dream match, the one person that Juggernaut would love to wrestle, the answer will surprise people.
“I strive to see how good the best is. There is really no question that Hulk Hogan is the best of all time. His ability to talk and put on a show, no one can do that. Not anymore. People argue that Steve Austin was more popular, but I find that hard to believe. When Austin came back he didn’t get half the response that Hogan did. I want to see what he could do with me. He could get good heat with me.”
Hogan likely could, as he made a career out of battling larger than life giants like King Kong Bundy, John Studd, The Big Show (Known in WCW at “The Giant”) and his famous match with Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania III.
“The match would be so simple, but to witness the crowd response to it would be something to behold. Not skill wise, but that match itself would be fun. I would love to be in the ring with him.” He was in attendance at the Georgia Dome in 1998 when Bill Goldberg jackhammered and pinned Hogan to win the title. “That was a cool thing to see, the crowd noise was insane. That is what I would like to be a part of.”
Other vets also make his list.
“I would absolutely love to wrestle Ricky Steamboat. That won’t happen because he is in no condition to wrestle. He was an idol of mine growing up. I’d love to wrestle Dusty Rhodes as well. To be able to step into the ring with a guy like that would be amazing, even if he doesn’t do much. From a physical standpoint I would like to work with a guy like Eddie Guerrero, Kurt Angle or Chris Benoit, who is small but strong. Benoit could do the German’s to me and that would get a great crowd reaction.”
Meeting new people, seeing new places, that is the beauty of the wrestling business for Juggernaut. The thrill of going into a new area for the first time is his favorite part.
“There is nothing better than wrestling for the first time in front of a new crowd that has never seen you before. Maybe they read about you before but they have never seen you in action. That is the best thing about traveling. You can make money on the road but it’s just fun. Who doesn’t want to travel and see places? I travel for free and make money on top of it. I’ll travel for the rest of my life if I can.”