Saturday, 02 March 2013 15:16
By Gary Mehaffy
Interview conducted February 26th, 2013.
You were trained at the Monster Factory by Larry Sharpe. What led you to him as a trainer?
I was always into athletics at school growing up. I wrestled four years at High School and I played football from the time I was 7 years old. It felt natural to do it. I wasn’t a big wrestling fan or as they like to say today a big ‘mark’, but I was intrigued by it. It always fascinated me. I was always curious about it. After I graduated High School I was sent out postcards (which were given) to all graduating
seniors in athletics, so I got a free tryout to the Monster Factory. After graduating I was 175/180lb. So I was like “Oh my god! There’s no way I’m gonna make a living out of this!” Back then, those guys were huge. You had Andre the Giant, Big John Studd, Hogan – just enormous! I had a computer degree and I was working nine at night to seven o’clock in the morning, and absolutely freaking hated it! So I said “You know what, let’s try this!” I went down there and I walked in – there’s lights,
cameras and everything else all over the place and they were doing a special about the wrestling school and Australian TV was there. That just blew me away then and there, all the cameras and stuff – I was kind of star struck. I got in there and did the tryout. I went into the office and said to Larry “Look, let me gain some weight, get over 200lb and put on some size before I come down here to do this.” He looked at me and said “Kid, it’s going to be a lot easier teaching you how to do this at
180lb than it will be at 220lb.” (laughs) That made more sense to me than every single thing in wrestling! That following Monday I brought my deposit, signed up and six months later I was in Japan wrestling with Abdullah the Butcher and Stan Hansen. It was awesome!
How long were you there before you met Chaz/Mosh?
After I’d done some stuff on my own. I’d started in 1990/91, so after I’d done some stuff of my own for a while I became the head trainer at the Monster Factory where I was training guys and giving tryouts. Chaz came in and we always knew of each other. He went to a neighbouring town in our area, kind of sister High Schools. And we both wrestled. So, we knew of each other but didn’t really know each other. He came in and we hit it off real well. I’d found my brother from another mother!
(laughs) Since then we’ve been together – I’d say since 1994. It’s my longest running relationship! (laughs)
At that point did you want to be singles guys or were you happy to tag?
It was weird, because I’d tried it for so long on my own, doing it by myself – I’d made all the connections with Jerry Lawler and Jim Cornette. They had their own little territories – USWA and Smoky Mountain – and they always offered my (the chance) to come down there. They’d said “Come down here if you wanna work.” I’d always got along with them. But going into an area like that – leaving home, leaving everything that you know – by yourself at 22/23 years old, it scared the shit
out of me! I always wanted to do it, and then we though “You know what? Let’s try to be a tag team.” At least I’d have somebody with me, through all the misery! (laughs) We started teaming – we were initially called ‘The Spiders’. We were under hoods. We went down to Smoky Mountain – we’d done the USWA first, we’d done some stuff in Arkansas – and when we got done doing all that we contacted Jim Cornette. He goes “I would love to bring you guys in! The Gangstas are just finishing up, let me just see what I can come up with.” He hated the masks! Absolutely, Jim could not stand the hoods! So what he did, he came up and said “I saw this band called Danzig. They’re crazy! They have tattoos all over the place, they have piercings all over the place, their spitting on each other – I thought of you guys right away.” We had the tattoos, the piercings, everything! We always listened to metal – we were big metal heads. We listened to Marilyn Manson, Slipknot, Green Day –
we were always……we are headbangers! He came up with the names. At first it was Mosh and Slasher. Then we were like “Slasher?" Is that not a guy in a band? Let’s not use Slasher.” So (Jim said) “Alright, Thrasher.” And damn it to hell, Chaz got the nice, little four letter word name and I got the name that’s long! He came up with everything. He wanted us to be badass heels, and be arrogant and nasty. He wanted us to be so nasty that if we saw a dead animal we would pick it up so we could
drag it to the ring! (laughs) That’s how much he wanted us to be over the top! Needless to say we didn’t do that! We started off wearing cargo shorts, and it didn’t really………there was PG-13 there at the time and it didn’t feel right. We’re watching MTV when they showed music videos – which shows how long ago this was! – and we saw Axl Rose on stage, and he was wearing a kilt. We both looked at each other and went “Oh my God! These southern, redneck people will absolutely hate two guys wearing a skirt!” So the next day we went down to the Salvation Army (laughs) and we tried on skirts! Needless to say heads were turned when they looked in the women’s department and saw us slipping on skirts! That’s how it all came to be. And, absolutely, I’d rather wrestle in a skirt, right now, than anything these guys have to wrestle in today! (laughs) I’m more comfortable in my skirt! (laughs)
How did the move from going from SMW to WWF come about?
It was weird, because Smoky Mountain was closing down. We all knew it. Jim Cornette was real good – he was in with Vince. At that time, he (Vince) was trying to get away from Saturday morning squash guys/job guys, and he wanted to have more competitive matches on TV. What they were doing is they were offering a part-time contract – it was a TV only contract. There were characters – you had Salvatore Sincere, Freddy Joe Floyd, TL Hopper, The Goon. These guys all came in and we were part of that group. We tried out – as The Headbangers – and Vince, Shane and everybody else absolutely loved it. A lot of people won’t know this, but in Shane’s office we found Marilyn Manson’s autobiography. So Shane was a little of a headbanger – he liked the heavy metal music! We had our part-time contracts. It covered all the TV’s and we got paid really well for it. All of our travel expenses were covered at the time, but the only thing that we didn’t have in our contract was
merchandise. As soon as The Headbangers got over with the fans – or as soon as the fans embraced The Headbangers, and they did – which I appreciate! – they came up with action figures and t-shirts. That wasn’t in our contracts. We said to them “Hey, can you rearrange our part-time contracts so we can get a part of the merchandising?” That’s when we got our first full-time contract. We were the first guys from that group, I believe, who had the part-time contracts to get full-time contracts.
My first memory of you both – and I apologise for saying it – was as the Flying Nuns on Shotgun Saturday Night. I’m assuming that was a Vince call?
(laughs) Yes! Everybody thinks we came in as “The Flying Nuns” but we came in as “The Headbangers”.
Yea, that’s right.
Vince came up with the idea, and if Vince comes up with the idea you’re going to take it! 1) It’s going to get some television time and 2) it’s going to get over as good, bad, sucks or whatever, but it’s going to get a push! If Vince wants me to wear a big, giant nun hat – bring it on! (laughs) What he was going to do was tie “The Flying Nuns” into The Headbangers thing by saying “Look at these guys!
They’re out of control, they’re nuts! They don’t care what they wear, they just want to beat somebody up!” We were going to tie them in together, but it caught wind with the Catholic church and didn’t go over too well and got kyboshed. The Flying Nuns had two or three Shotgun Saturday Night’s and they were done!
Who influenced you both in your style in the ring?
It’s funny because when me and Chaz first got together as a tag team we watched a lot of the Rock’n’Roll Express, The Midnight Express, The Rockers – people that were a ‘tag team’. We watched their philosophy and things like that. We were very into watching video tapes and learning as much as we could about how to cut off the ring, the psychology of a tag team. To me it’s a lost art. If you look at it today – and everybody will say it – it’s not like it used to be. Back then when we were there
(WWE) you had The Godwinns, you had us, you had L.O.D., you had DX, you had Billy and Bryan (New Age Outlaws), you had Owen and Davey, you had Doug Furnas and Phil LaFon. Oh my goodness – The Blackjacks! You had a ton of established tag teams. Even though you had Barry Windham and Bradshaw, they still fitted together – they looked like each other! In today’s day and age you have Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes. They don’t dress alike – they look like two singles wrestlers thrown together! To me, a tag team is togetherness. It’s almost like if they’ve two mid-level or top-level guys that they’ve no program for they go “I know! We’ll put them in a tag team.”
You know why that is? Vince is already paying them, so why not use them for something?
That’s the theory behind it. I don’t blame him. Why would you pay two guys from the outside? As an example, why would you bring The Headbangers back into the WWE right now when you can put two guys together and make your own Headbangers? He’s got Billy and Road Dogg right there! Jesse (Road Dogg) is an agent and Billy is down in Tampa. You have The New Age Outlaws right there, but they’re not being used. I understand why Vince does that. He is an extremely smart businessman. You will never hear me dispute that at all. He knows what he’s doing. It’s worked for him over the years. If you don’t like what he’s doing, then don’t watch it! But it’s not going to happen because there’s nothing else to watch. TNA – I think in the next couple of years I think will rival WWE. I firmly believe that. I watch more TNA now than I watch WWE. I watched it (Raw) last night because I though the Deadman was coming back, and I was all psyched myself for it, but the only thing I got was a letdown!
But I saw the tag team champs – Team Hell No – they wrestled the Primetime Players….Blindfolded and with one arm behind their back! I feel so bad for the Primetime Players. They’re an up and coming group those two. You’ve them, the
Usos and Epico/Primo. Those three should be getting more airtime than any other tag teams. The Primetime Players have come so far – they could make money! But they can’t now because they lost to the tag team champs blindfolded and with one arm behind their back. How do you revalue them? You can’t! None of the fans can get behind them and give a shit now. That’s what’s different now than before. Before, in the ‘Attitude’ time, fans could invest emotions and feelings into the characters. They could get behind the Godfather, or Nation of Domination – they could get behind
all these different characters. They could get behind Steve Austin because nobody likes their freaking boss! You can get behind these guys. I don’t believe they have those guys now. Everybody wants to be an ass-kicker. Well, it takes two guys to do that – you have to have the ass-kicker and the guy who’s taking the ass-kicking. If you don’t have both of them, it’s not going to work!
Speaking of tag team title reigns, you were tag team champions for a month or so. Do you feel that during your run with the WWF that they dropped the ball with The Headbangers so to speak, or that they could have done more with you?
It’s funny because I look at our time there and I see the same thing happening – and I know people are going to agree with me – with Zach Ryder. Zach Ryder got himself over all by himself. All by himself! The Headbangers, when we went out there and did what we did, the fans got us over all by ourselves. It didn’t matter who we wrestled, the people bought into us and got behind us. They got behind Zach Ryder and bought into him – they are emotionally attached to Zach Ryder. Vince can do
absolutely whatever he wants to Zach Ryder and the fans will still be there for him. Same thing for us. Vince could do anything he wanted to and know the fans were still going to be there cheering us. So, do I think they dropped the ball? I think we could have done a whole lot more. We could have made a bigger difference, but it’s not our say. We were there and did what we were told. Do I wish we would have said no a little bit more? Yea, I wish we would have. We were always the guys who
when nobody else wanted to go (on a promotional trip) said “We’ll go, we’ll do it! You need somebody to go to Vancouver for a week to do promotion? We’re not on the road, we’ll do it.”
That’s just the way we were. We knew we weren’t main event wrestlers – there weren’t very many tag teams that were main event. The Legion of Doom/Road Warriors – they were a main event tag team. But we didn’t have that. We didn’t have The Godwinns on a main event. It was different. We could have been a lot more. I still think we have a lot to offer – either TNA or WWE – even right now.
I always tell people that when we first started we always had somebody helping us and teaching us as we were going, and I feel that we could do that now and maybe re-establish the tag team division for WWE or help improve TNA’s tag team division. They (TNA) do have a tag division and I think that we could help both of them (WWE/TNA). I think we could help WWE bring it back if he wants to – that’s the thing! – or help TNA. When I left WWF back in, I think it was 2001, I didn’t wrestle until about a year and a half ago. I stopped altogether. I didn’t do anything. I’m now what they call a ‘gym rat’! I’m always at the gym, twice a day, every day, five days a week. I never did that before, I was never concerned about it before. I got older – yes – but wiser? Yes! (laughs) I’m in physically better shape now than I was before, and I don’t have the 10/12 years bumping in the ring that some of these guys do today. I may be in my early 40’s but I feel like I’m in my early 30’s. You’re in the UK,
We’re coming! We’re coming to the UK at the end of May – May 28th to June 7th. The Headbangers will be in the UK for EWA Wrestling.
I was going to ask later about WWE/TNA, but I’ll ask it now that you’ve brought it up. There was talk – and almost an underground campaign – to get you both back into WWE. Have there been any feelers sent out from Stamford or from TNA?
The last time WWE was in Miami – because we both live 40 minutes from it and we only live 10 minutes apart from each other……(laughs) We’re a real tag team! His kid sleeps over at my house more than my kid sleeps at my house! We’re a tag team and the best of friends. We went to SmackDown when it was in Miami – we showed face is what we did. Would I like to go back and do something with them? Of course I would. Do I think it’s going to happen? Eh, there’s a small chance. You never say never, so I’ll never say there’s never a chance you’ll see us in a WWE ring again, but I won’t say that. We did the same thing with TNA. There’s more of a chance you’ll see us in a TNA before you’ll see us in a TNA ring, let’s say! I fell it’s a better fit for us in TNA. I love their storylines and where they’re going – it’s more old-school wrestling that I’m more into. Their creative department is more……..the Aces and Eights thing, the stuff with Bubba and everything else. We were actually there for the wedding – we were backstage. I just believe that we fit in better there.
Around 2001, as you said, you retired – or took a step back – from wrestling. But about ten years or so later you both got back together on the indy scene. What led it?
We got back together about a year and a half, two years ago. Ten years ago when I got out of it, I got out of it. Chaz lived down in Florida and I lived in south Jersey, and up until….it’ll be two years in May that we actually reconnected with each other. From that point (2001) you kind of lose touch and everything else. I took my family down to Florida for a vacation and he had a surprise birthday party. So I went to the surprise party and at the time to say I was a little out of shape might be an understatement! (laughs) I was 310lb two years ago in May. We got talking and he said “Listen, I still think that we have more to offer.” I packed up my family, I moved to south Florida and got in the gym big time. I’ve lost 90lb+ in that time and we’re ready to get back!
What led to you turning up in Ring of Honor? I assume that was a Jim Cornette call?
It’s so funny because last year’s WrestleMania was in Miami, so we were doing shows in Fort Lauderdale, and Jim Cornette was backstage for the show. The last time Jim saw me my head had to be this big (mimes a bloated head) and he saw us and he came over and he was like (double take) “Oh my God! It looks like 1997 all over again!” We started talking to him and he said “Let me watch you guys in the ring.” Our ring work is no different than it used to be. To people that have seen it –
without the hoods on! – will pretty much tell you that we haven’t lost a step/ if I felt like we did, then I wouldn’t be as heartfelt or be contributing anymore to it. Jim said “Let me get some things together; I’m going to bring you guys into Ring of Honor.” Ring of Honor fans are a lot different than the TNA fans or WWE fans or the ordinary independent fans. They like to shit on ex-WWF/E talent. So he (Jim Cornette) said “Let me put you guys under a hood.” We were like “Wait a second, don’t you just hate masks?” (laughs) So, he puts us under the hoods and everything else. It was so un-Headbangers. We’d wrestled in t-shirts, skirts, boxers and so on and the feel of putting all that spandex on was just unbelievable. (laughs) The Headbangers is our personality, it’s us, it’s not an act. The crazy things that we’ve done and said – that’s just how we are. We’re still like that now. My kids walk around like this (covering their faces) because they don’t know what’s coming next! It was so
hard trying to be the “Guardians of Truth” when for 15 or 18 years we’ve been The Headbangers. So when we finally tool the hoods off we got a huge reaction. We took them off in Baltimore, and we’ve done a lot of work in Baltimore – on the independents and everything else. We were only with ROH per appearance and that’s where we’re at now.
Why do you think you got a different reaction? At times when Matt Hardy was there he got terrible abuse from the fans for being ex-WWE.
That’s because he came in as Matt Hardy. If we’d come in as The Headbangers they would have shit on us to. But it was the build-up – we had the hoods on, they saw us work and they knew we could still do what we said we could do. Then when we took the hoods off it was like “Thank God they finally took it off! Now they don’t have to be the stupid Guardians of Truth.” I think it made sense that way. If we’d come in right off the jump as The Headbangers we would have got the same kind of
reaction Matt did.
Probably, even as you said, with the like of going to TNA – the fact that you had the break in between means you don’t have the miles on the clock, so to speak. Your body would still be able to take it.
Yea. I’m excited for the future. I can see stuff happening and I’m really excited about coming over there (UK) in May. We always had so much fun when we came over to the UK. That was one of our title defences – in the UK at One Night Only. We have a soft spot for the UK people. We’re excited, I can’t wait.
You have trained some guys before when you were at the Monster Factory, is that something you can see yourself getting into?
It’s so hard to have a training school, because there’s so many people nowadays who put up a ring in their backyard and they imitate what they see on TV and the call themselves a wrestler. It’s a little bit harder now to have a successful wrestling school. You used to never, ever imagine getting into a wrestling ring without being properly trained. Nowadays it’s like “Hey, watch this! I can set myself on fire and jump off the top rope – I’m a wrestler!” No you’re not! You’re crazy! I will always when we go to shows take the time to pull somebody aside and say “Hey, don’t do that again! Or try to do this…” That’s something that will always be with me. I always think I’ll give my advice to people (laughs) but training at an actual school? I don’t see that happening.
Do you think it’s a detriment to the WWE system that back in the day when you were coming in you had the likes of the USWA and SMW, Japan and so on, but nowadays guys are going straight from Florida to the main roster?
Oh yea, it’s a big problem. Back then you had a chance to fine tune your craft. There was the USWA, there were federations in Texas – the old Sportatorium. Been there, done that! South Florida used to be a hotbed. There’s no place for these guys to go to improve. You literally have to be hired off the independent scene – and independent guys wrestle maybe 3 or 4 times a month – and get moved
right into the training centre in Tampa, with Billy. You work your way up from there. It’s a lot different than it used to be. I remember working in the USWA for $40 a night, and just getting by every week. Not having enough money to get gas or put food on the table – you had to do one or the other. I’d to put gas in the car to get to the next town – I’ll worry about food later! It makes you appreciate what you do get by signing the big contract and all that. I think it’s a little lost today. The
guys – if you have that look that they’re looking for – get pretty much moved up. There’s no ‘dues’ as we used to say. Some people say “Oh no, we paid dues like everyone else.” No. you’re not wrestling 6 days a week making $40 a night. And putting 1500 miles a week on your car. You’re not doing that, that’s not how it is now! That’s how it was back then and when we did sign our contract we appreciated it. It was never where we came from ,who trained us and everything else. It’s different now! Do I think it will ever go back to the way it was? No. it’s a different time and age. You have to learn to adapt and adjust to it.
You said that during your WWF run you wish you’d said no to more things. Do you have any major regrets about your time in the business so far?
No. like I said I wish I would have made different personal choices. With some of the things the guys were into back then – let’s leave it at that! (laughs) I wish that I could go back there to 1997 how I am right now – the way I train, the things I eat and everything else. It wouldn’t have fazed me back then to go to McDonald’s and have two double cheeseburgers, fries and everything else. Now, I can’t tell you the last time I had a double cheeseburger! But I can tell you the last time I had grilled
chicken! (laughs) Some of the things I wish I could change are the personal choices I made – whether it be the over-drinking, the muscle relaxers, the stuff like that. When you’re on the road 270/280 days a year everybody had their outlet where they’d blow off steam. Do I wish I’d made better choices? Absolutely.
You said earlier on that you were thankful for the fans, but do you have any words for the fans/how can they keep up to date with what you guys are up to?
They can follow me on Twitter - @GRthrasher – I follow back! You can follow Chaz - @ChazMosh –and we have two Facebook pages. One is chazwarrington.headbangermosh. My two are glenn.ruth.1
and headbanger.thrasher and I try to message everyone back and answer all my Tweets –sometimes I get a little behind! BE sure to check out the website/Facebook page for EWA Wrestling.