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Old 10-26-2009, 01:46 AM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default Time to Play 'The Game'!

Tell our readers, fans or not, how grueling a schedule you guys have.

Sometimes people say, "It's so rough, it's so rough." It's not that bad. It used to be a lot worse. But I have two kids and I am home three days a week. But when you do go on the road, it's hectic. You're in a different city every day. You fly in to a new town, you do a show, you go to the next town, you sleep, you wake up and do it again. It's basically just a series of transportation, to the gym, to the arena, to the plane.

It's like being in a band, except you beat the hell out of each other.

It's funny because I'll watch those VH1 "Behind the Music" shows and I'll hear these bands say, "After four months on the road, we're ready to crack. We're at each other's throats." I'm thinking, "Four months?" We don't have time when we don't tour. That's the thing that's a bit daunting about what we do. You know, we have WrestleMania 25 coming up and it's our Super Bowl. Once that Super Bowl is over, there is a party, but if you are a top guy you really don't want to go to the party too long because you have to get up the next morning. You have a live TV show the next night, a live "RAW," and it starts all over again. It's a never-ending cycle.

You've been wrestling for 15 years. You've headlined several WrestleManias, but you are about to headline WrestleMania 25. Did you ever imagine it, as a kid watching wrestling in Connecticut, that you'd be doing this?

I didn't think I'd be in one WrestleMania. It's a huge thrill. I was just the same as the kids that'll read this. I was a young kid that loved wrestling and had a pipe dream. It's worked out for me, and there a lot of guys who it didn't work out for.

So, "RAW" recently celebrated its 15-year anniversary. "SmackDown" is celebrating its 500th episode. The shows own their time slots. What has kept this business thriving so long? What is it about wrestling that keeps people coming back?

Entertainment. Sometimes I watch TV and I think, "Who watches this crap?" It's OK, but it's not exciting, it's not entertaining -- and I'm not saying we're everyone's cup of tea. I think there's a large section of our population -- more than people want to believe -- that know what we are, want to be entertained. It's like live comic books. You've got good guys and bad guys, good looking women and good looking men, music and pyro and you live out your fantasies with it. There's this big anti-aggression sentiment, but when you're a kid, that's what you think about. You don't think about picking daisies when you're a 12-year-old boy; you think about being Batman or Spider-man, or John Cena or Triple H. From there, the story lines meld that all together and keep people involved and interested. Sometimes people look at the stories we do and say they are wacky, but it's no more wacky than "Desperate Housewives." I remember when that show first came on and hearing all about it. My wife was watching it and I sat down to watch a few minutes. I was like, "Are you kidding? This is the big rage? And they give us at hard time?"

I'm asked why I like wrestling. Now you do have a female demo, but for us guys, it's a male soap opera.

Sure.

Speaking of story lines, you recently revealed wrestling's worst kept secret and wove it perfectly into a story line leading to your match with Randy Orton at WrestleMania: You are, in real life, married to Stephanie McMahon. Were you apprehensive about the decision to reveal this?

For story lines and business, we try to keep that stuff separate. But people knew and we joked about it when I was in DX [comic wrestling tag team formed with fellow superstar Shawn Michaels]. The only reason I was apprehensive is where do we go on the flip side of it. Look at it like this: There is the real world and the WWE Universe. So the cat is now out of the bag in the WWE Universe and it now exists there. So anything that has to do with me story-line-wise, you have to be conscious of the fact that I am married into the McMahon family. That throws a different curve into it. So my only concern was it tainting future story lines.Say something happens, and it's like, "Well, why doesn't he get that change through his father-in-law?" [Laughs.] We have created a wrinkle in the fabric of the WWE Universe.

So it doesn't matter if you are a wrestler or in the painting business: Dude, what is it like working for your father-in-law?

[Laughs.] Well, the good thing is I had a really good relationship with him before I even met Steph. We had a great relationship not only from a talent standpoint, but I used to work a lot with Vince hand-in-hand to create story lines behind the scenes, not just for myself but other guys. But if you have ever met Vince, he's a complex man and it can be trying. There are times he wants to choke me and there are times when I want to choke him.

And you can weave that into an angle.

And we have! He hit me with a metal pipe ... But we are very careful to separate the two out. I can be in the office and we can have a big drag-out over something to the point where he wants to strangle me, but then two hours later we all go to dinner and it's like nothing ever happened. There is business and personal. If it was going to destroy my personal life, I would walk away from the business. My kids are going to grow up knowing their grandparents. No business or job is that important.

Again to the story lines: At this point in your career do you enjoy the backstage stuff more than the in-ring stuff?

Let me put it this way: When I come up with a good idea in the back, there's not 70,000 people standing up and cheering. [Laughter.] Usually when I have an idea in the back, it is dismissed and Vince will bring it up later and pretend it is his idea. There's nothing like it. And that is why you see guys like Ric Flair and the older guys and they are still doing it. I get it. Even if they don't need the money, I get it. There is something about going out there and entertaining people and having them go crazy. I don't think that's just our business. I think that is why the Stones still play or AC/DC puts out albums. You see these guys performing, very late in their lives and acting like kids. It's an addictive thing to be able to go out there and do what you do and have that many people express their appreciation for it. It's a trip. If you go to an event, or a WrestleMania, and you sit there and feel that energy and then imagine being on that stage and that energy being directed at you ... it's an amazing, addictive thing

Did you see "The Wrestler"?

Yes I have.

It doesn't matter whether he's in the ring or working behind a deli counter, he addicted to getting attention.

Right. The environment he was in happened to be wrestling. But he could have been a rock star, he could have been anything and ended up in that same exact position. It's a story about a guy who made bad choices, but the one thing he had was the fans and his job. Some people in our business didn't like the movie -- I thought it was OK, from a movie standpoint ... but I don't think it reflects the WWE at all; it represents a small section of our business. It's no different than if he was a rocker that was playing local bars vs. what Metallica does. There was a time in our business, when it was getting really big, that it was out of control. But I think that has been reined in. You can be in this business now and have a family. You can be happily married and raise your own kids ... You do not have to end up like that guy. There are financial advisers and people to offer help ... it's all in the choices you make.

Back to fun stuff: Let's talk about your entrance. Easily the most badass in the business. How did you come up with it? And what is up with spitting the water? Are you angry at water?

[Laughs.] Thank you. I can look back and see its evolution. So, my hair was real long and it was always bothering me. I didn't want to wear it up when I was in the ring and I didn't want to cut it. So I would wet it. Right before I'd go to the ring, I'd take a bottle of water and dump it on my head. So then I started taking a bottle of water out to the ring ... and I was a bad guy at the time, so I'd carry it up to the ring apron, put some in my mouth and spit it at the fans, a sort of "stick it up your butt" move. Then it evolved to become a spot that I did during my entrance. I stopped spitting it AT people and into the air and then posing. You know, things like that happen all the time in our business. I remember, years ago, the Rock and the People's Elbow, which is the most ridiculous move in the history of wrestling. He started doing it at live, non-televised events to make the rest of us laugh. And then people started going crazy for it and the next thing you know he's doing it on TV and that move is the biggest thing going.

Do you prefer playing a baby face or a heel?

Heh heh, I love being a heel.

You're a great heel, man. You can't carry a sledgehammer around as a baby face!

Exactly. If I had my way, I'd have been a heel my whole career. I compare it to Darth Vader by the second or third movie, when he came on, you started saying, "Yeah!" Even though he was trying to kill Luke Skywalker... he was just cool. There was a point in time with my character where I had been here a long time, I had a certain amount of respect [from the fans] and ... you know, I beat up a lot of people and caused mayhem, and to teenagers and kids, that is cool. It just became a cool character and we were struggling ... the worse things we thought I was doing, the louder the audience would cheer me for it. I was coming out and drilling a guy with a sledgehammer and people would go nuts. So I had no choice as people basically turned me. If I thought it would work, I'd turn back in a minute.

Ok, so finally: You are wrestling Randy Orton at WrestleMania. He assaulted your father-in-law, your brother-in-law, your wife. Last time you faced him, you broke his collarbone. You've recently promised to break his neck this time. You recently broke into his house and chased him a la Nicholson in "The Shining." Any words for Randy Orton?



Pain. I am like Mr. T in "Rocky III": Pain. It's now personal.

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