Tag Archive | "WrestleMania"

WrestleMania XXX viewing party

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WrestleMania XXX viewing party

Posted on 31 March 2014 by Jonathan Williams

WrestleMania XXXWrestling with Pop Culture and Needless Things are proud to present a WrestleMania XXX viewing party at Club Famous! It all starts at 4 p.m. April 6 with WrestleMania trivia hosted by Monstrosity Championship Wrestling ring announcer Phantom Troublemaker featuring prizes such as Famous Pub bar tabs, Chocolate F/X confections, Wicked Training gift cards, Stardust Adult Stores gift cards, artwork from H.C. Warner‘s Munkeytown and more. Local wrestling legend (and former WWE seamster) “The Original Chosen One” Rick Michaels will be on hand with Wrestle Wear paraphernalia for all ages, with more attractions to be announced. The WrestleMania pre-show begins at 5 p.m., followed by WrestleMania XXX at 7 p.m. Best of all, it’s free!

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Triple H discusses the end of one era and beginning of another for WWE

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Triple H discusses the end of one era and beginning of another for WWE

Posted on 08 May 2012 by Jonathan Williams

WrestleMania XXVIII is out today on DVD and Blu-ray, and there’s no doubt that one of the matches people will be re-watching repeatedly is the End of an Era match between Triple H and the Undertaker. As Matt Hankins points out in his review of that match, the outcome definitely gives WWE‘s next generation a chance to usher in a new era in wrestling. And Triple H couldn’t agree more, not only as one of the guys passing the proverbial torch, but also as WWE’s Executive Vice President, Talent. Here he talks to Wrestling with Pop Culture about eras past, present and future, all of which are represented on the WrestleMania three-disc DVD set.

Courtesy WWE

This year’s WrestleMania was anchored by veterans of the industry. The End of an Era match in particular encapsulated that idea more than any of the others. What do you think that means moving forward after WrestleMania, especially for some of the younger guys that are now getting some exposure?

I think it’s a good time for them. Right now the business in primed for young guys to make an impact. That’s kind of what I do in my day job is try to find new guys and help them get to that position where hopefully they’re the guys in the big key matches at WrestleMania. Sometimes things just end up the way they do and that’s kind of where it ended up this year. But if I was a young guy looking at the business right now, I would be saying, “End of an era? Well, that means beginning of an era.” So jump on and make a name for yourself, guys. Don’t wait for anybody to do it for you. Everybody sits around thinking, “Oh, I’m going to wait for the office to get me there.” We don’t get anybody there. They get themselves there and we just follow for the ride.

The champions going into WrestleMania this year – CM Punk and Daniel Bryan – are perfect examples of that. They both developed personas for themselves after years in the indies and have made it to the top of WWE.

Right. And you look at Daniel Bryan, who was in the warmup match last year for WrestleMania, and a year later he was going in as the World Heavyweight Champion. Anybody that says there’s a glass ceiling in the business or there’s a cog in the system is ridiculous. The opportunity is there for everybody that wants to take that opportunity and run with it. It takes time for everybody. I think time creates stars. The overnight sensation ends up being the one that’s done pretty fast, too. Time, earned respect and all the things that come with that make big stars and that’s what these guys have to look forward to. Just spending the time and making it happen.

Are there any guys currently in developmental that you think have the potential to be the next stars?

We have a lot of guys right now. I’m asked all the time how I feel about the future. When I look at our developmental system I’m very happy. We have a very bright future coming and I think, to my point earlier, the end of an era means the beginning of an era. I would tune in going forward because I think you’re going to see a lot of new faces with a lot of new impact.

There was recently a rumor that Florida Championship Wrestling was closing…

Courtesy WWE

Yeah, it was a rumor. I heard about it in the morning and by mid-afternoon there was full-blown panic escalating amongst our developmental talent. But we assured them that not only was that untrue, but the exact opposite is happening. In the next few months you’ll see some major changes to our developmental. The quality of the product and the quality of the training they’re receiving will be second to none. We’re getting bigger and better every day.

The Four Horsemen, who were a big influence on you and who were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame the night before WrestleMania XXVIII, came up during an entirely different era where people like Lex Luger and Sting became stars because of their association with the more experienced members of that stable. Speaking of an end of an era, how do you think that era of wrestling compares to how WWE is developing new talent now?

I have this theory that the wrestling business is kind of like music; what you grow up with and what hits you as a teenager will always be your favorite, no matter what music is good today. For a lot of people that grew up in that time frame – I grew up with Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen – there will never be another era like it. You step out of that and you go to the Attitude Era, there will never be another Attitude Era. But we’ll come up with something better. Without the Four Horsemen there would have never been a DX, there would have never been an Evolution, there would have never been an NWO, there would never have been all those things. So it was a very important time. But it’s nothing we want to recreate. We want to create something that’s brand new and no one’s seen before and for the people watching today, create something they’ll never forget.

For more information, go to www.wwe.com.

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Triple H, the Undertaker and Shawn Michaels end an era on new WrestleMania XXVIII DVD

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Triple H, the Undertaker and Shawn Michaels end an era on new WrestleMania XXVIII DVD

Posted on 08 May 2012 by Matt Hankins

We didn’t want to see Triple H vs. the Undertaker for a third time at WrestleMania. We didn’t think it was necessary to make Shawn Michaels the guest referee. We didn’t know where they would put the cage, and the Undertaker didn’t even know the date of the show. How could the End of an Era Hell in a Cell match be anything more than notch number 20 in The Deadman’s belt or a possible bridge between a stellar match at last year’s WrestleMania and some future feature bout? As it turned out, we were dead wrong.

The match was a brutal masterpiece in the often forgotten art of storytelling. While the cell itself was not used in the traditional way, it provided the only believable canvas on which these three masters could paint. There are no expectations of technical wrestling inside Satan’s Structure. It was perfectly acceptable for Triple H to dole out some 21 chair shots to the Undertaker and then demand that a cringing Heartbreak Kid end the match; a demand that ultimately went unfulfilled despite an emotional Showstopper considering it. This demand was not made out of collusion or cowardice, but out of fear; fear of what would have to be done in order to end the Undertaker’s undefeated WrestleMania streak (a feat Triple H had been unable to do in two previous attempts, including last year’s WrestleMania). That fear was nearly realized as The Game stood over a prone Undertaker, raised a sledgehammer over his head and was set to end much more than an undefeated streak before he was stopped by a diving Michaels. This series of lasting images personified the multiple narratives that unfolded over the course of the match. The diving HBK had preserved both the streak and the humanity of his best friend. Throughout the match Michaels turned in a visceral performance without over inserting himself physically.

No strike, no hold, not even a single step was wasted during this battle. Each man delivered his attacks as if they were the last that he would ever deliver. After each blow was delivered it appeared that it would only take one more and always take one more to finish them. With every glimpse of The Game’s anguished face and The Phenom’s purple and burgundy back, the story became clear. There is no tomorrow, only today and yesterday. They would usher themselves into history, on their terms, carrying their shields and being carried only by one another.

The Undertaker and Triple H end an era at WrestleMania XXVIII (photo courtesy WWE)

If this was the send-off to an era – more specifically the Attitude Era – it is peculiar that it came on the same night when one that era’s brightest stars (The Rock) was victorious over the current face of the company (John Cena). That is the duality of things. While the term “Superstar” has been appropriately applied to the unlikely triumvirate of Triple H, HBK and the Undertaker, they are wrestlers at heart; a fact of which I hope they are proud. This is why it was their match that represented an era. These three men have collectively been part of four of the greatest matches in WrestleMania’s nearly 30 year history and they all turned in their best performances as the sun set on their careers.

In the figure eight-shaped world that is professional wrestling, it is never exactly clear if you are witnessing the beginning or the end. As the three battered, bruised and emotionally-and-physically spent combatants embraced at the top of the ramp, the story found its ending. There may be other shows to stop, games to be played, and souls to put to rest, but there will never be a duplication of any of the three men who shared a cell a WrestleMania XXVIII. The era may have ended, but the memory remains, and long may it do so.

For more information, go to www.wweshop.com.

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Daniel Bryan defends the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Sheamus in his first WrestleMania match

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Daniel Bryan defends the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Sheamus in his first WrestleMania match

Posted on 21 March 2012 by Jonathan Williams

Whether you like him for being an underdog champion or hate him for stooping to such tactics as putting his diminutive girlfriend AJ in harm’s way in order to keep his title, you have to respect the fact that Daniel Bryan has overcome a lot of obstacles on his way to his current World Heavyweight Championship reign in WWE. From wrestling around the world as a top indie contender to his tumultuous relationship with his NXT mentor The Miz to overcoming giants like Mark Henry and the Big Show to retain his title, Bryan has been a bit of an indie hero since entering WWE’s ranks. In a somewhat odd twist of fate, he finds himself in one of WrestleMania XXVIII‘s main events defending that title against Sheamus, the same man he faced in the WrestleMania XXVII dark match for the United States Championship last year. As the man previously known as Bryan Danielson gets closer and closer to the biggest match of his career to date, he talks to Wrestling with Pop Culture about his rise from indie wrestling obscurity to World Heavyweight Championship gold. If you’d rather listen to the interview, check out the March 21 edition of Ringside Rap.

Courtesy WWE

Last year at WrestleMania you were the United States Champion in what was basically a dark match against Sheamus that devolved into a battle royal. How does it feel to be going into this year’s WrestleMania holding the World Heavyweight Championship in one of the main events against the same opponent?

It feels really vindicating that both me and Sheamus for the past year have really stepped up our games to be at the point we’re at now, to be in a World Heavyweight Championship match at WrestleMania. Last year was such a bitter disappointment that we weren’t on the actual main show because I really felt that, if we had been given the opportunity, we really could have done something to steal the show. This year that’s what we intend on doing. I absolutely intend on, for my first WrestleMania match, to go out there and steal the show.

 

I didn’t even think about the fact that it will be your first WrestleMania match.

Yep.

I talked to you briefly last year at the WrestleMania Art Auction when you were still the U.S. Champion and I remember asking you if you thought holding that title was a stepping stone towards bigger opportunities in WWE. You’ve obviously had bigger opportunities since then and you’ve overcome some big obstacles as the World Heavyweight Champion. As you return to Atlanta for Raw less than week before WrestleMania, do you know what your role on that show will be?

You never know what’s going to happen at Raw. You literally never know. You show up having no idea what’s going to happen or what you’re going to do. But I can only assume it’s going to be a huge show and there will be big plans for everybody because that is the last Raw before we head into ‘Mania. That’s always one of the most exciting, unpredictable shows of the year.

Like I said, you’ve overcome some big obstacles as champion, but Sheamus is a little different opponent than the Big Show or Mark Henry. How are you preparing for him at WrestleMania?

I prepare for him the same way I prepare for everybody. I keep doing my grappling, my kickboxing and all that kind of stuff. The thing with Sheamus is he’s tough to keep down, he keeps coming at you and he hits very, very hard. But he’s also kind of an idiot. So if you can goad him into doing something stupid, he’s bound to do something like that if you can take advantage. I wrestled him on SmackDown six weeks ago and I goaded him into doing something stupid. You can just get away with things like that with people like Sheamus.

Courtesy WWE

A lot of people said last year’s WrestleMania was a changing of the guard because a lot of the matches featured veterans facing younger guys. But this year, your match included, WrestleMania is relying on the vets to carry the card. You’ve only been in WWE for a few years, but overall you have a lot more experience as a wrestler than a lot of the other people. How do you feel about this year’s card and your spot on the card?

It’s definitely an exciting card, but I’m ultimately a little disappointed that it isn’t trying to establish new stars more. Hell in the Cell is going to be awesome with Triple H and the Undertaker. Rock and Cena is going to be an amazing atmosphere. But come April 2, those guys aren’t going to be on the road full time. Those aren’t going to be going on the European tour with us. Those guys aren’t going to be doing all that kind of stuff. This is really the biggest WrestleMania of all time, so for them to be more highlighted than some of the younger guys who are going to be continuing on the wrestling tour, it’s kind of unfortunate. I would have liked to have seen Undertaker wrestle somebody from my generation. That would have been cool to see somebody from my generation to take on the Undertaker and potentially beat him. That said, this year’s WrestleMania card is stacked. It’s just going to be an awesome show, but from a performer’s standpoint I wish there were more younger guys getting opportunities.

On the same token, you and CM Punk have become these unlikely indie heroes as the two main champions in WWE over the past few months. A lot of people thought that you especially would not still be champion by the time WrestleMania came around. From that perspective, how do you feel about guys who aren’t necessarily new, but are still somewhat new to WWE, getting a bigger spot?

It’s interesting because CM Punk has been with WWE since 2005 and came up on TV in 2007. He’s been in some big matches and he’s been in some big WrestleMania matches. So this isn’t his first rodeo. He has earned his spot being in the WWE Championship match. For me, it’s honestly been a dream come true. I honestly did not think after WrestleMania last year that I would be anywhere near the position I’m in this year. It’s one of those things where it’s a real true blessing and I feel very fortunate to be in this spot. There are a lot of guys who haven’t gotten that opportunity, so it’s interesting. Me and CM Punk wrestled each other in front of about 35 people in a 45-minute match in 2005. The two current top WWE champions – the WWE Champion and the World Heavyweight Champion – seven years ago wrestled in front of 35 people against each other. To me that’s just incredible that now we’re going to be on the same show as the champions wrestling in front of close to 80,000 people.

Ring of Honor recently released a best-of DVD, Bryan Danielson: The American Dragon, that features a match between you and Punk, among a lot of other matches. What did you think about Ring of Honor showcasing your career prior to going to WWE?

I think that’s awesome. They actually sent me a link to it and the matches that are on there and everything and I thought, “Oh, OK. That would be kind of like the best matches I had in my Ring of Honor career.” It wasn’t. It was just the best matches I had up until 2005. So they must be planning on releasing another one, too. There’s another huge gap of matches that weren’t on there that should be on another one. I think it’s cool and I think it’s important that they capitalize on my success and CM Punk’s success because you need places like Ring of Honor to develop the new stars. Me and Punk are as good as we are because we honed our craft in Ring of Honor in front of those hardcore fans who wouldn’t accept anything less than our best efforts. You need a place like that for new stars to come from.

I look forward, when I watch the Ring of Honor shows, to see who’s going to be next to come up to WWE. Right now under developmental contract is Seth Rollins, who wrestled in Ring of Honor as Tyler Black. He did amazing last weekend. He came up to the live events and did a dark match on Monday and everybody was like, “Wow! This guy’s really good.” That’s something I knew from the beginning, but he needed that opportunity to showcase it.

Since you keep talking about giving younger guys a chance, assuming you’re still the champion after WrestleMania, and with the recent influx of Ring of Honor and other big indie guys in Florida Championship Wrestling, is there anyone on the current WWE roster or in FCW that you’d like to have a shot at your title?

It’s funny because I talked about giving younger guys an opportunity, but deep down there are still guys that I’m a fan of. These are the guys that when I was growing up I watched and thought were amazing. I would love to be in a program where I was wrestling Chris Jericho for the World Heavyweight Championship. That doesn’t seem likely, but that would be so much fun. I’d love to be able to wrestle the Undertaker. The Undertaker appeared on WWE TV when I was, like, ten years old. Being able to wrestle him for the World Heavyweight Championship would be awesome. Or guys like Triple H and all that kind of stuff. All of that would be amazing, but I would love for Seth Rollins, for Dean Ambrose, who wrestled in the indies as Jon Moxley, Antonio Cesaro, who was in Ring of Honor as Claudio Castagnoli, I would love for those guys to come up shortly after WrestleMania and give them opportunities for the World Heavyweight Championship for people to see what those guys can do. They’re really incredible.

Of course Chris Hero, now known as Kassius Ohno, seems to have made a nice debut in FCW recently.

I haven’t seen his debut, but I can’t wait to see it. I’m going to try to find it on YouTube.

For more information, go to www.wwe.com.

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Cody Rhodes readies himself for the Big Show at WrestleMania

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Cody Rhodes readies himself for the Big Show at WrestleMania

Posted on 21 March 2012 by Jonathan Williams

At WrestleMania XXVII, Cody Rhodes had one of the best matches of his career in front of his home-state audience against one of WWE‘s smallest competitors, Rey Mysterio. This year, Rhodes goes into WrestleMania XXVIII in Miami as the Intercontinental Champion to face a man billed as “The World’s Largest Athlete,” the Big Show. Friction has been building between Rhodes and the Big Show since Show eliminated Rhodes from the Royal Rumble in January. But over the past few weeks, Rhodes has been determined to embarrass Show by pointing out his lackluster showings in previous WrestleManias, while continuing his campaign to restore the Intercontinental title to the prestige it once held. Before he takes on the biggest challenge of his career, Rhodes talks to Wrestling with Pop Culture about the Big Show, Goldust and returning to Atlanta for the final Raw before WrestleMania. You can also hear the full interview on the March 19 edition of Georgia Wrestling Now.

Last year WrestleMania was in Atlanta, your proverbial back yard. This year it’s in Miami, but the last Raw before WrestleMania will be in Atlanta. What do you have planned for that show?

With WrestleMania on the horizon and a one-on-one contest with the Big Show – last year it was with the smallest guy, this time it’s with the biggest guy – I’m sure I’ll be doing my damnedest to get under the Big Show’s skin. I’m a firm believer in what I’ve said about him. The Big Show is one of WWE’s top performers, but his WrestleMania moments haven’t exactly been immortal moments.

I definitely think you’ve gotten the best of him so far by showing him at the WWE restaurant and all that kind of stuff.

That’s the best one. Yeah.

Courtesy WWE

I guess a big question for me is, why did you choose the Big Show? Your brother Goldust was doing a Twitter campaign to face you at WrestleMania for the Intercontinental title, so why did you choose to go after the Big Show?

I’d love to work with Goldust. I’d love to stand across the ring from him and find out more about my brother. But it just happened to be that the Intercontinental title is very much in need of its moment at WrestleMania. I set out to bring it back to where it was, and I don’t actually know if I’ve done that. But I know going against one of WWE’s top names perhaps of all time, the Big Show, puts it in a position for me to maybe do that. That’s why I shifted to myself and the Big Show. If I knock off one top guy after another, the Big Show is on that list.

I don’t recall the Big Show having ever held that title before, but I know Goldust has held it and is considered by some to be one of the best Intercontinental Champions of the past few decades.

That’s actually the one title Show has not held. When I heard that I was a bit in disbelief. As far as things are concerned with Goldust, I wouldn’t count out me and him ever competing against one another. Certainly I can see that down the road. He’s had some shoulder problems and safety is a number one concern. I’d love to remain the Intercontinental Champion after WrestleMania and I’d love to follow up on all these things he’s brought down on me on Twitter and get in the ring with him, certainly.

Like you said earlier, last year your WrestleMania opponent was one of the smallest guys (Mysterio) and this year it’s the biggest guy. You’re not necessarily one of the bigger guys on the roster, so what are you doing to prepare for a match with somebody the size of the Big Show?

Well honestly, I’m not one of the bigger guys on the roster, but if you really take a look at the roster, I’m actually pretty close to one of the bigger guys on the roster. I’m not as tall as Randy [Orton], but I weigh about the same. I actually will say that I was concerned with the Big Show. I’m looking at him and I think he’s 400 pounds. If I’m going to be in the ring with him, I want to be as big as I can be. One of the things I’ve started implementing is high volume workouts, which is lots of sets, lots of reps, high carb, high fat, high protein, low sugar. So I’ve actually got a nice little diet written out for this thing. I didn’t want to show up too small.

I’m trying to remember now, have you ever faced the Big Show one-on-one?

No. I have yet to compete one-on-one against the Big Show. I’ve had tag matches and fatal four-ways, and there was an incident where there was an Armani three-piece suit I had worn for a long time and he ripped it to shreds on one of the pay-per-views in 2011. So we’ve had a brief, brief history, but we’ve never actually mixed it up on a fair one-on-one scale.

Last time I talked to you, you pointed out that WrestleMania XXVII was a changing of the guard of sorts with a lot of the more established guys facing a lot of the younger guys. This year’s card seems to be relying heavily on the more established guys, and in your match in particular the Big Show has a lot more experience than you do. How do you think your match stacks up against the rest of the card?

I think you don’t really know until WrestleMania is said and done and in the books what matches really captivated you. There are matches that are positioned to really captivate you: The Rock/Cena, Triple H/the Undertaker. Those guys, a hundred percent of the time, deliver. But that’s the beauty of WrestleMania. I feel it stacks up very well and I feel that there’s a lot of people that for a long time wanted to see the Intercontinental title genuinely defended on WrestleMania. Prior to the WrestleMania in Orlando, which was, I think, a three-minute match with Rey Mysterio and JBL, the title had not been defended on a WrestleMania since X8. For me that’s one of the more important things, so I think it stacks up well.

Another thing we talked about a lot last year was your history in Georgia with your father, Dusty Rhodes. With the Four Horsemen and Ron Simmons being inducted into the Hall of Fame this year – especially the Four Horsemen with your father’s history with them – what is it like to be part of the WrestleMania where those guys are also being inducted into the Hall of Fame?

Every WWE superstar and diva has so many appearances, then WrestleMania is Sunday and the Hall of Fame runs deep into the night usually. Sometimes you look at it and say, “If they could do it on Friday…” But once you’re there, once you’re in the seats and watching the Four Horsemen being inducted into the Hall of Fame, Ron Simmons being inducted, Mil Mascaras being inducted into the Hall of Fame, that’s motivating, I don’t care how late it goes into the night, just to see those little clips that our team put together of the Four Horsemen. That’s the best thing that can happen at WrestleMania, and it’s extremely motivating.

For more information, go to www.wwe.com.

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Cody Rhodes returns to his home state for WrestleMania XXVII

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Cody Rhodes returns to his home state for WrestleMania XXVII

Posted on 01 April 2011 by Jonathan Williams

Photo courtesy WWE

In the interview WPC did with Cody Rhodes for Creative Loafing‘s wrestling guide, he talked about his WrestleMania XXVII match against Rey Mysterio and what it was like being he child of an Atlanta wrestling legend. Below is the link to that interview followed by a few more words about being the son of “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes.

http://clatl.com/atlanta/wwe-cody-rhodes-vows-to-unmask-rey-mysterio/Content?oid=3001733

Your father obviously has a lot of history in Atlanta, home of WrestleMania XXVII. What was it like growing up here where your dad has always been such a big star?

Photo courtesy WWE

I wouldn’t have been a Georgia boy and grown up near Atlanta had wrestling not been a massive part of Atlanta. When I moved here, my dad was the executive producer at World Championship Wrestling and before that Jim Crockett Promotions. That’s why so many veteran superstars and talents from the past still live in the area because of the fallout when such a massive company with such massive roots was here. For WrestleMania to be in Atlanta, formerly a place that was taboo for WWE to come to, it’s further proof that when they say World Wrestling Entertainment it truly is the world. On a personal note, it’s great to be in a city that my dad was such a prominent entertainer in and getting the chance to sing my own tune and be on the same marquee he was.

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Mini Bookk Scans03

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“The Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart returns to Atlanta for WrestleMania Axxess

Posted on 01 April 2011 by Jonathan Williams

Courtesy WWE

One of the most colorful personalities in wrestling history, “The Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart got his start in the territory system of the ’70s and early ’80s, establishing himself in Memphis and surrounding areas. He was involved in the infamous feud between Jerry “The King” Lawler and Andy Kaufman in 1982 and vocalist for the Gentrys (best known for the chart-topping hit “Keep on Dancing”) in the ’60s and ’70s. After joining the World Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment), Hart was an integral part of several early WrestleManias, managing the likes of Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart and the Honky Tonk Man in the ’80s and ’90s. With rumors that he might be involved in Lawler‘s match against Michael Cole at WrestleMania XXVII this Sunday, Hart is in Atlanta for appearances at WrestleMania Axxess this weekend.

Before we get started, I just have to mention that my roommate’s father, Billy Farmer, played bass for the Gentrys.

Oh my God, you’re kidding! Yes, Billy Farmer, oh my God! You know what? I [just got back from Memphis for] the premiere of Memphis Heat. It’s going to be on HBO this summer and it’s a story about Memphis wrestling. Jerry and I are featured through the whole thing and it’s about Sputnik Monroe and, you know, all the territories before WWE came along. We had Memphis, they had Texas with the Von Erichs, of course Atlanta had World Championship Wrestling. But that’s so funny that I [was just] there for the premiere of the movie and, oh my God, Billy Farmer was awesome. Thank you for bringing that up. What great memories.

You obviously played a big part in Memphis wrestling before you were in WWE, but you also spent some time in Atlanta as well in those early days.

I sure did. We stayed in that hotel, I believe it’s the CNN Center, five days a week and went home on the weekends. I was in WWF first, then we left after WrestleMania X and we did the WCW stint down there with those guys. Then, of course, I went back to New York and did the Hall of Fame and everything.

Were you ever part of the shows at the old City Auditorium and the Omni?

Yeah, the Omni and Center Stage were where WCW used to do shows. Before I went there, Jerry Jarrett was part of WCW. They had so many people coming in and running the old WCW stuff, and I want to say Ole Anderson was running the stuff down there at one time. But I’d drive from Memphis to Atlanta and it’d be me, Rick Rude, Lawler, “Handsome” Jimmy Valiant, Austin Idol – we’d all drive down there to do TV, then drive back to Memphis. We’d do all the little cities down there – Augusta, Columbus and everything. Tommy Rich was one of the biggest names down there at the time. He sure was.

A lot of managers at that time were former wrestlers. Did you ever actually wrestle?

Well, what happened was WWE called me when I was down in Memphis with Lawler and those guys and I thought it was a rib at first. There were no cell phones back then, so I’d be on the road up in Louisville or wherever and I’d call home from a pay phone every night. One night they said, “Vince McMahon called here.” And I said, “Come on. You’ve got to be kidding me.” I thought it was Austin Idol or “Handsome” Jimmy or somebody playing a trick on me, so I never called back. A week later George Scott, who was his booker at the time, called me and I still didn’t call back. Then Hillbilly Jim called me and said, “Jimmy, why aren’t you calling New York. Howard Finkel saw your tapes and they’ve got a big show starting called WrestleMania in two months and they’d like to see if you want to be part of that.” So I said, “Are you kidding me? Feet, don’t fail me now.” Vince called me and I was on the plane the next day going to New York and I stayed there for almost ten WrestleManias. I’ve managed 23 people up there, from King Kong Bundy at the first WrestleMania, to Greg Valentine, which was also on the first. Of course after that I had the Honky Tonk Man, Adrian Adonis, Dino Bravo, Terry Funk, Dory Funk, Earthquake, Typhoon, the Rougeau Brothers, Hulk, Brutus [Beefcake] and the list goes on and on. I’ve been so blessed and every day I look in the mirror, pinch myself and say, “Do I really get paid for doing this all these years?”
When I first went to New York and worked with Bobby Heenan, Lou Albano, Freddie Blassie and Mr. Fuji, all of them were ex-wrestlers turned managers. Myself and the Grand Wizard were probably the only two people at the time that never had wrestling experience. I was thrown into the ring a lot in Memphis because you had to do everything there – I almost had to set the ring up, referee, manage and wrestle, too. That’s when I did all the stuff for the late, great Andy Kaufman against Lawler back in the day.

What is your role in WrestleMania this year? Are you going to be involved in Lawler’s match at all?

I wish I could be. You never know what might happen. Everybody asks me, “Are you going to be part of the Jerry Lawler match? My gosh, you managed Lawler. Lawler inducted you into the Hall of Fame. You and Lawler have been friends for more than 30 years. He got you into the business. You went to high school together.” And I say, “You know what? Have megaphone, will travel, baby.” It would be great to be part of that, but right now I’m doing a lot of radio and TV while we’re down there, every day at fan Axxess, all the Hall of Fame meet-and-greets – Jimmy Hart’s going to do it rent a manager, baby.

You just mentioned all the other managers that were in WWE when you got involved, but there aren’t as many managers these days. It’s kind of a lost art, but do you think that will ever come back?

You never say never. That’s one thing about WWE. Box office-wise, crowd-wise, pay-per-view-wise, WWE is so far ahead of everybody else. They’re doing tremendous, but they always change everything. So you really never know what’s going to happen. But I still can bump and I still can do anything that anybody else can do, so I’m hoping I’ll someday get that call to step back in the ring and manage some of the younger stars.

I’ve got my colorful jackets and people always say, “Jimmy, why did you always dress so colorful?” Well, speaking of the Gentrys, I remember Dick Clark, on my first tour after high school with Sonny & Cher and the Beach Boys with the Gentrys, he pulled everybody together and said, “Look, when you’re on that stage you better give the people their money’s worth. Just remember, if you dress like the audience one day you’re going to wind up sitting in the audience.” That’s why I had the crazy jackets and the megaphone and everything else because I always wanted to give people their money’s worth. But the door’s always open for me. Like I said, rent a manager, Jimmy Hart.

How many WrestleManias have you actually been involved with?

I participated in the first nine. There were four others that I made appearances on and did publicity for. I’m like a pimple on prom night. They just can’t get rid of Jimmy Hart. I just keep coming back and I’ll do WrestleMania and that leads to something else like going on the USO tours for them and being in the video games. And you’ll always see Jimmy Hart action figures and the WWE Legends memorabilia and stuff they put out.

Like you mentioned earlier, Lawler inducted you into the Hall of Fame in 2005. This year some local legends with whom you are very familiar are being inducted.

What a great crew that was [in 2005]. You had “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, Hogan, Paul Orndorff, who lives in Atlanta, by the way, “Cowboy” Bob Orton, whose son Randy Orton is such a major star now with WWE. We had Nikolai Volkoff and the Iron Sheik, so what a great crew I was able to go in with, and they were people that I worked with during the nine years I was there.

Have you ever eaten at Abdullah the Butcher’s restaurant in Atlanta?

As a matter of fact I managed him a couple of times when I was in WCW. And in Puerto Rico I was with Abdullah the Butcher on several big matches with Carlos Colon, so I’m definitely familiar with him.

“Bullet” Bob Armstrong comes from a great wrestling background and I’m glad to see him get a chance, too. His son referees in WWE. And I’m so happy to see “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan go in this year. They always put a celebrity in each year and I’m really excited about Drew Carey.

But what I’m really excited about is Shawn Michaels because a lot of people don’t know that his theme song is a song that me and my partner wrote for him so many years ago. And he’s kept that theme music all this time and never changed over. We wrote that for Shawn and Shawn sang it. I was happy to be a part of that and with him being inducted that night I’m like a proud father.

WrestleMania Axxess. 6 p.m.-10 p.m. March 31-April 2, 8 a.m.-noon April 2-3, 1 p.m.-5 p.m. April 2, 12:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. April 3. $35-$96, free 3 and younger. Georgia World Congress Center, Building C, 285 Andrew Young International Blvd. N.W., Atlanta. 404-223-4000, www.wwe.com/shows/wrestlemania/wrestlemaniaaxxess/, www.gwcc.com.

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