Monday, 15 July 2013 14:28
Interview conducted: Saturday, July 13th, 2013.
Thanks very much for doing this this afternoon.
No problem man – I need all the publicity I can get! I’m trying to push my show, and all the stuff I’m doing for my comeback. It’s like when actors have a movie coming out – you have to get all the publicity!
You’re in Maine today for the IWE, isn’t that right?
Yea, that’s what I’m doing right now. What a horrible night it was, man (Friday, 12th). Me and a wrestling friend of mine, Giant Pharaoh – he’s a big seven footer, a really talented guy – and we’re both from Connecticut. It was like 6 ½, 7 hours in traffic. We didn’t get there until 10 o’clock and I barely made the main event. We wrestled each other, and when we go through the curtain there had to be no more than 15 or 20 people. Just heart breaking……I mean you travel all day, go through hell – brutal! But what you gonna do! (laughs) I got paid! But it’s not all about the money. You go that far and you want to have a good match, but whatever – that’s the business!
You are on a “comeback”. Could you let everyone know how you’re doing these days and how you’ve come from what was the “low” of last year when you put yourself voluntarily into rehab?
I’ll start from the beginning. I have struggled with addiction for many years, and in November 2012 I’d finally had enough. I called WWE and I asked for help. They put me through one of their sponsored rehabs and treatment centres, and that’s how it came about. They put me in a first class place where I got the proper care and I found out a lot about myself and what this disease does. Since that day, November 19th, and fast forward to today – July 19th will be 8 months sober. For the first time I’ll be drug free and alcohol free for nearly 20 years. It’s a big deal. They still have somebody over there that talks to me on a regular basis.
After doing that I started thinking about my career and a lot of the negative stuff that came with it; what happened with me at the Extreme Rising event, what had happened with other promotions – smaller promotions – but, still, I always had an integrity and my name was in very good standing in the pro wrestling community. So, I just decided I’m 39 years old, I have 20 years’ experience in the wrestling business and is this the way I want my career to be known for? Is this what I want? So I made a conscious decision to give this business one last shot. I feel that today – and with the help of DDP Yoga – I’m in the best shape of my life, I’m injury free and I feel fantastic. With the experience I have and the ability I have – I’m a young 39 – I think I can still do something in this business. Sometimes I limit myself and say “Hey – maybe I can teach kids or go to NXT and help” but you know what? No! Screw that – I still can be a player somewhere in this business. I don’t know where that would be yet and that’s kind of my mission right now, what I’m doing. That’s how I got to this place right now.
You talked about DDP Yoga. I’ve been talking to Dallas about starting it myself; I’m 37 and have some (leg) joint problems. How much has it helped you?
I’ve been very blessed in my career – I’ve never had a surgery, I’ve never broken a bone in the wrestling business, which is amazing in itself. I’ve had several concussions, but my knees, my back, my neck were always in fairly good shape. With the DDP Yoga it’s enabled me to be stronger than it’s ever been in those areas. I wrestled last night and I feel fantastic. Also what’s great about the (DDP) Yoga programme is it helps your body, you’re building muscle and it helps build those problem areas.
But with the diet that goes along with it really helps with keeping you healthy and strong and energetic. It’s an all-around diet and exercise thing that does wonders. I attribute a lot of that to that. And the mental thing to – mentally it keeps you amazing. I don’t have an endorsement thing with them or anything, but Diamond Page’s DDP Yoga helped put me where I am today, no doubt.
What inspired back in the day to get into the business?
Absolutely Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen. The 1985/86 NWA stuff – that was what I was very passionate about. I was the biggest (fan of) Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat – those kind of matches. Later on, when I started to get into the business myself, Shawn Michaels, what Shawn was doing. I was a huge fan of Shawn’s. Curt Hennig, Mr. Perfect – I was always into those kinds of wrestlers. Pat Patterson, Ray Stevens, those guys. Those were my influences and I think it shows in my work, especially in ECW with my heel work. Unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to showcase it because when you’re on the independent circuit you’re wrestling a colourful cast of characters who you don’t always have the best matches with. But definitely those were some of my big influences – and Scott Hall, of course. He’s a good friend of mine. A lot of his mannerisms; but his attitude I tried to be like.
You had the opportunity to train in the Hart Dungeon. How was that as an experience?
It’s funny. The business has changed so dramatically. Nowadays there seems to be a wrestling school every time you turn the corner, especially where I live in the North-East of America. Back then in 1992, which was when I went to the camp, it was hard to get into the business. The internet wasn’t around yet. One day one of those old Bill Apter magazines had an article, more of an advertisement I’d say, for the Hart brothers’ pro wrestling camp in Calgary. I was a fan if Brian Pillman – it had a picture of Pillman on it, and Keith Hart, Owen Hart, all the Hart brothers, and Bret. I was like “This could be my call! This could be my shot.” because I didn’t know anything or anybody. So I called and spoke to Keith Hart and went to my mother. I was 18 years old, I’d just graduated High School, and she helped co-sign a loan for me – the personal loan of$2,500 – and off I went that summer to Canada to train with the Harts.
I’ll tell you, to this day, it was very hard. I’d never been away from home for an extended period of time – I was up there for 2 months – but it was that best training. Ten of us started the camp that year and only 2 finished – and I was one of the 2! It was amazing. Lance Storm had been through that camp, and Chris Jericho, the year prior. They came through a year before me, so they were up there as well. Lance actually did a lot of my training with the Harts. It was a really great environment, being around great veterans – a lot of guys from the old Stampede era were there. It was amazing man! I learned to respect the business and I learned the fundamentals of the business, like no other place you could imagine, you know? (laughs)
You originally joined the WWF in 1994 as Aldo Montoya. You were still young and had only been a short time in the business. Did you have hopes for that gimmick or did you hope that it would be more of a learning curve that you could adapt further down the line?
Yea, of course! The reason I got the gimmick was…..it all happened very quickly. I’d been there since 1993 as an extra, a jobber. My debut match, which somebody just posted on YouTube, was me and Lex Luger, on March 1st, on Monday Night Raw, with me as PJ Walker. I had been doing jobs for them and how I got the Aldo job was when they did the fake Undertaker thing. I live in Connecticut very close to the office, so they asked me to go to Stamford and to work with Mark (Callaway) and Brian Lee – the fake ‘Taker. So Brian, Mark and myself stayed in Stamford all week long, Monday to Friday, kind of rehearsing what Brian would have to do, the mannerisms and so forth, to be the Undertaker. On the Friday, the last day – because the next weekend’s Monday would be the TV tapings and I’d be wrestling the fake Undertaker on TV – we rehearsed it and got it down. We had a dress rehearsal that Friday for Vince and Pat Patterson. It’s an intimate setting – it’s me, Vince McMahon, Pat Patterson, the Undertaker, like 4 or 5 of us doing this amazing thing, preparing this amazing reveal. I was right in the midst of something big, just dealing with those guys on a personal level like that.
After they ran through the match they did whatever, but Patterson had come up to me and started asking me questions, like “Where did you train?” I said “I trained with the Harts in Calgary.” He goes “Really? Hey, Vince, this guy trained with the Harts!” Ok, no big deal. Then he stated asking me “Hey, what nationality are you?” I said “I’m Portuguese.” He goes “really? You speak it?” I said “Yea!” and he said “Hey, Vince, we’ve got a Portuguese and he speaks it!” I was like, whatever, no big deal. I didn’t think it was a big deal. The whole time they had the Aldo Montoya character written up – they were just looking for a Portuguese guy to fill it. I was in the right place, at the right time, and there it went. When I got it, I’m 21 years old, I had the opportunity of a lifetime. I had a contract with the World Wrestling Federation and it was amazing. I had high hopes, but I approached it like a masked character, like no different from a Rey Jr. That’s how I approached it – like a superhero. I was so young and inexperienced, and the business was a little different, and I didn’t have the knowledge to really maximise it. If it was given to me a couple of years later I think I would have done a better job with it, but still the character itself had limitations.
I stayed there as long as I wanted to. Eventually, in 1997, I was the one who went to Vince to get my release. I was friends with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash and when they jumped to go to WCW I wanted to go with them, because Vince wasn’t doing anything with me. I said look, man, take me with you. They said “Sure, we’ll get you a deal.” But I went to Vince and Vince said no. We kept going back and forth and eventually I got a conditional release to go to ECW, and that’s when the thing blew up!
You were effectively reborn in ECW as Justin Credible. Where did the background for that come from? Was it you or was it a Paul E. move?
It was a combination of me and Paul. Basically just me being me – a lot of my attitude (was) in the Justin Credible character. The look was kind of what was in vogue at the time – unofficially the ECW uniform! (laughs) But it took it and ran with it and that character has made me $£1,000,000 so I have no regrets. Creatively, it was some of the best times of my career, and hopefully not the end of my wrestling career as well.
You teamed with your old training partner Lance Storm as the Impact Players, but in 2000 you had the opportunity, or you won, the ECW Title. How did it feel to have the promotion backing you like that?
It was amazing. Coming from a small kid from Connecticut, I never expected to be considered the top guy of a fairly hot promotion. We were the trend setters at that time. To be given the responsibility of closing the shows and main eventing Pay-Per-Views was a huge responsibility, but one I stepped up to and enjoyed and loved. I’m very proud of my title and the matches I had as ECW champion. It was an amazing feeling. I felt like my time had come. I was one of the top ten wrestlers in the world that year, as far as exposure and marketability. I thought only bigger things could come at that point: I was a 26 year old man, world heavyweight champion, nothing but up. But the wrestling business changed dramatically with the bankruptcy of ECW and the sale of WCW, so all my cards that I was holding……….I went to WWE for X-Factor and I thoroughly enjoyed working with X-Pac, but there were some creative issues between Pac and the office, and then I kind of withered away into obscurity.
That’s when my drug issues really came to play with Jeff Hardy. We were travelling a lot together and for involved in bad shit together, and quite frankly, that’s when I got fired in 2003. That was the start of the 10 year descent: a small stint in TNA, I went to All Japan Pro Wrestling, back to TNA, I did Ring Of Honor, everywhere – which brings us to today, full circle and what I’m trying to come back to.
You’ve been in TNA and One Night Stand for WWE in 2006, and those sorts of things, and you admit to having the issues at the time, but what do you see the future holding for you? Do you to hope to be in WWE or go to TNA?
That’s a great question – I don’t even know. For me right now it’s a work in progress. My goal, I literally have written goals in a journal, is to wrestle on a full time basis with a major company. That could be Ring Of Honor, that could be TNA, that could be WWE – I just want to be involved. I’m willing to work from the ground up. I feel I have a unique comeback story. What I have to do now is prove that I can still do it in the ring to the level that I did. It’s going to take some time and some convincing, and that’s my challenge today. Being out here in Maine for IWE, a very obscure wrestling promotion, where do I get the coverage, you know what I mean? Where do I get people to watch me? If I have a 4 star match tonight, who’s going to see it? The challenge now is to get that kind of exposure again to get noticed again by WWE or TNA, and I’m actively working on that.
What advice do you have for anyone trying to get into the business today? Obviously on your own site you have the “Pro Wrestling 101” videos, but what advice do you have for guys and girls getting in nowadays?
My advice right now would be……the thing I give to the young kids is to work hard at your craft. What I mean by that is if you’re getting into the pro wrestling business…..what I see is that indy guys are not in shape the way they should be. Get in shape, take it serious. Learn your fundamentals. The business that I learned from guys like Curt Hennig, Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair – those fundamentals are slowly being lost. Guys are doing moonsaults and all this other shit, but they can’t wrestle and all that stuff. So I say get the fundamentals down, work hard on that, because that’s what the Harts drilled into us.
After that, worry about character and stuff, but really hammer down your fundamentals and you can’t go wrong. Right now it’s challenging for me as a 20 year veteran – I can’t imagine how it is for young people coming up in the business. It’s very challenging, and the way the WWE is rolling with performance centres and stuff like that, it’s more of being hand-picked. The business is constantly evolving and you just have to roll with it.
How can everyone keep up with you and what you’re up to?
Right now I’m working on my YouTube show, “Pro Wrestling 101”. It’s a fun series. Basically, it’s what I do to help teach young kids that are coming in to the business. Some tips that I were given are very useful ones. And also to entertain fans! It’s not just for the pro wrestler wannabes, or the indy wrestlers, it’s for the fans. I always thought that since that veil of wrestling has come down, and the world of the smart mark, I thought that you know what, man – it always interests me, and I like watching documentaries about, how movies are made, and behind the scenes. It’s just a glimpse of what we do and how we think. It’s for the fans, it’s for wrestlers, and it’s a great series, “Pro Wrestling 101”.
All the links to my Twitter and Facebook are on www.thejustincredible.com, Twitter @PJPOLACO, Facebook believeinjustincredible and my YouTube channel, which is PolacoPeter73, but you have all the links on the website, and you can find out what I’m doing. I’m very proud to announce I’m writing a weekly blog for pwmania.com, posted every Monday. It’ll be the first time I’ve been doing a blog on a regular basis, so it’s gonna be fun. Like I always do, no holds barred, and it’s gonna be fun!