Tetragrammaton with Rick Rubin - Paul Heyman

Episode Date: June 7, 2023

Paul Heyman is one of the most influential people in professional wrestling. He started as a ringside photographer and later became a manager for some of the biggest names in the industry. Heyman also... worked with WWE as a commentator and producer, and founded and led promotion for Extreme Championship Wrestling. ------- Thank you to the sponsors that fuel our podcast and our team: House of Macadamias https://www.houseofmacadamias.com/tetra Get a free box of Dry Roasted Namibian Sea Salt Macadamias + 20% off Your Order With Code TETRA Use code TETRA for 20% off at checkout  ------- Leisure Craft Saunas https://leisurecraft.com/

Discussion (0)
Starting point is 00:00:00 Tetragramaton. Are you good, mental? I mean, you just been through a lot. Are you in good mental? I mean, you've just been through a lot. Who's been a big few days now. But is it always for WrestleMania? Is it always as much pressure, the fact that you're on TV every week, or is WrestleMania particularly different?
Starting point is 00:00:41 Different. Sticks are higher. Although everything lives forever, as you know, especially on YouTube now. I mean, you know, you, you, you can play a high school gym in Peoria and something happens and it lives for, you know, becomes, but the concept of WrestleMania is that every moment is etched into history. It's relevant. It's historically significant. It's the platform on which you look for the moments. So yeah, would you say you spend the year building the story up to WrestleMania? Is that the...
Starting point is 00:01:20 Yeah, my big questions the past three weeks are all centered around what are we doing next year yeah because let's start telling that now yeah let's drop hints now that makes sense now I mean I'm not even talking about doing WrestleMania I'm talking about going into WrestleMania is there something that can be said that we play back a year from now and be and like oh yeah already God this is this is a dual WrestleMania you know and doesn't have to talk about Roman or Cody I mean it could be with anybody you know it can be what's the longest you can remember planting a seed for a story in advance me
Starting point is 00:02:03 personally yeah Taz and Sabo and Tommy Dreamer and Raven. And how long was that? How long was it? Multiple years. We were doing things in the very first... Well, when we brought Sabu back, the idea was to build to the first paper of your Sabu versus Taz. And it took years. Yeah, I wasn't going to, I wasn't giving a match away until we got on paper. Yeah, yeah, yeah. No matter how many years it took.
Starting point is 00:02:29 Yeah, yeah, yeah. And the idea for Tommy Dreamer versus Raven is that Tommy Dreamer would never be Raven. Ever. He would win every fight, he would win every war, he would win every chapter, but he'd never win a match. Yeah. The constantly redeemed babyface
Starting point is 00:02:43 who can get anything in the world except the thing he wants the most, which is the victory over the villain, over his rival, over the other part of the love triangle. This is just so much. And from the day we started it, the whole concept was Tommy Dreamer, Never Be Trayven. I wanted to hold it to our second pay-per-view so we could offer something on the second pay-per-view more than the first pay-per-view.
Starting point is 00:03:10 Yeah, something interesting about in other sports where there'll be a team that can beat everybody, but there's one team that might not be able to beat everyone else, but you know, sometimes it's the way the matchups happen allows someone to just be figured out. There's one like in boxing,
Starting point is 00:03:32 there could be one guy who could always beat this guy. But the guy who he beats can beat everybody else. John Jones for Daniel Cormia. It's the great yeah but. The yeah but. That guy's the best, no one could tell, yeah but, there's one thing. Yeah. You know, it's just that one flaw in your arsenal,
Starting point is 00:03:55 it's that one asterisk by your name. You know, nobody's record is truly unblemished. Yeah, have we seen that in a wrestling story where there's the but? Well, of course, that's the whole idea. That was the whole idea of Tommy Dreamman, Raven. That was the whole idea of Taz and Sabu. Sabu was so suicidal, homicidal, genocidal that he could eat through anybody. That his violence was at such a level that it broke every taboo.
Starting point is 00:04:27 No pun intended with the rhyming of the name Sabu. But taboo, Sabu would have been a good gimmick. But the one guy that had his number was Taz. The one guy that could counter him was Taz. The one guy that could survive him was Taz. And of course, Taz also would have his, yeah, butts in life. But, you know, it's just, I always found that that was the fascinating part of building a character
Starting point is 00:04:54 that could come off impervious to the offense of anybody else. But it always be that one guy that had his number. And they have to face that fear, that desperation, that knowledge that this one person is, is the antidote to you. And Sabu was related to the Sheik, yes. Oh, is there no fear, yes. Sabu's mother was the Sheik sister.
Starting point is 00:05:23 How much do you know about the Sheik? Do I? Yeah. Probably more than most and guaranteed not as much as I truly should. I mean, I also know of his body of work as a promoter and the way that he ran the Detroit territory. So, you know, I know a lot about that. And I know, as a human being, I know what I know through Sabu and Rob Van Dam, who was also trained by the Sheik. I didn't know Rob was trained by the Sheik.
Starting point is 00:05:55 Trained by the Sheik and Sabu. What do you think is special about pro wrestling? What makes pro wrestling pro wrestling? You know, it's funny. I just realized that we've actually started. I just thought we're sitting here bullshitting. It's, we're just gonna sit here in bullshitting. It's just so rich.
Starting point is 00:06:13 It's just so rich. It's just so rich rubin. It's like, hey, hey, how you doin'? Yeah, good. I'm just, you know, strumming on this guitar. Okay, that's a take. What? No, I was just, I was just tuning the guitar.
Starting point is 00:06:21 No, man, that was music. We're keeping it and we're releasing it. Magic, you know? It's just so rick rouxed. Just free form expression and I realize now I'm being recorded. Okay. The question was,
Starting point is 00:06:34 what makes Peressing so special? Why is it so unique? What's so special about it? Why do we love it? There's an old expression that a lot of parents lament over and that it's, you learn everything you need to know in life in the first three or four years of your life.
Starting point is 00:06:52 And by the time you put a teenager, you spend way too much of your life for a belling against that knowledge. You know, I'm a single parent of two kids, so I get it, you know, it's, you know, but when you're three years old, you know, clean up, clean up, let me, you know, let's go clean up. You make, you make it fun to clean up. And, you know, I, you got to wash your hands, you have to go to the bathroom. Don't forget to wash your hands, you know, and you got brush your teeth as many times a day and for this
Starting point is 00:07:16 long. And, and, you know, please, and thank you cost you nothing, but they get you, so they, they buy so much goodwill for you. So it's really a matter of you just learn so much what a time you're four years old and those are the basics in life. One of the things you learn when you're that old is to run out in a backyard or on the stoop or industry and and and let your imagination run wild. You know, kids of my generation went into the backyard and they either played Batman versus the Joker or whatever Batman villain it wasn't the time Or they played Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader Though those were the fantasies that kids of my generation lived out and you'd go into your backyard
Starting point is 00:08:01 Or again on the stoop or here in Malibu on the beach, you know, whatever it is. And you'd play out those fantasies, you know. Okay, I'm Batman, you know, no, no, I'm Batman, you're the Joker, you know, and those are the big arguments. And that's pro wrestling. You get to see a living, breathing fantasy play out in front of your very eyes, with characters that hopefully display a characteristic, a piece of their persona, that you as the audience member can relate to, that it resonates with you, that you identify with, that there's something in that one particular performer that hits your soul and your spirit, and you say, you know, I love being me, but if I could wake up in the morning as anybody else,
Starting point is 00:08:55 I'd want to be that person. I'd want to be John Cena. I'd want to be Brock Lesnar. I'd want to be Roman Reigns. I'd want to be Matt Riddle. I'd want to be Roman Raid. I'd want to be Matt Riddle. I'd want to be Becky Lynch. I want to be Ronda Rousey, Charlotte Flair. Whomever. That's who I want to be. That person hits me. That person makes me feel like they know me.
Starting point is 00:09:19 They're representing me when same thing has been when you're four or five years old and you're in the backyard and your cops and robbers, your Batman and the Joker. something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant to be something that's meant finding a character that people individually and mask and relate to. How much do the real life people play into the characters that they are as wrestlers? You know, it's funny. You asked me that in a setting where we're not on video. And yet I'm sitting here in Malapu. We're in a suit with a tie and a pocket square because I'm articulating on an industry of which rightfully or wrongfully, I'm accused of having some product knowledge. And so to do that, I have to step into the garb of the wise man. So you become the wise man? Are you the wise man before you put
Starting point is 00:10:36 suit on? Did the wise man get out of bed this morning? Yeah, you know, that's, you know, that's funny. That's a very interesting question to ask. And the reason why I say that is, it's one of the very first things I teach anybody when it comes to the art of stepping into the character. Just to use Roman Reigns by example, if I would call Roman Reigns, and this is one of those days
Starting point is 00:11:02 where we are discussing the depth and the heights of the persona that he inhabits. I'll say, hey, what do you have for breakfast today? And he'll answer, and my next question will be, and what did Roman reigns for breakfast today? What did tribal chief eat? And the answers may be different always. Of course they are. They'd have to be. They'd have to be. Some of us are blessed. I'm not one of them with born, great acting skills. Can cry on cue, can laugh maniacally when prompted, can be told to recite something in front of an audience,
Starting point is 00:11:47 and will memorize it like Latin American dictator, giving a four hour speech, the Miz is a tremendous actor. He really is. And you can see his process, and he rehearses his lines, and he finds the manner in which he wants to deliver them.
Starting point is 00:12:07 And if he were to fall down, God forbid, on the way to the ring, and again, God forbid Bumpus had got a concussion, the muscle memory of that script is so embedded into his head that even with an injury, he could recite it and not even realize that he's doing it. I'm not that good of an actor. I'm method. I'm method because that's the crutch I lean on because I'm not that in touch with my own emotions to summon them at will. I need something to
Starting point is 00:12:48 take me there. We did a thing a few years ago where Brock Lesnar turned on me and I'm begging Roman Reigns to take me in. And I show up on TV to review this circumstance, heading into WrestleMania with Renee Young, who's tremendous to play off. Oh my God, the fact that she's not broadcasting the seventh game of the Stanley Cup, or any other sport, or majorly soccer soccer is a crime to their viewers. She's great, love working with her.
Starting point is 00:13:31 And so I'm tasked with taking the story forward that Heyman's life has completely crumbled, that Brock Lesnar's children who are as Howard use reclusive as Brock Lesnar is are actually friends with my kids, that our families are intertwined, that our lives are together, that we envisioned riding off into the sunset from this industry together, you know, the conquerors, the massive freakish once in a lifetime athlete and his Jew. And of course, my heart's been ripped out. So I didn't shave for a week.
Starting point is 00:14:19 And I did the classic 1970s Al Pacino Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, you know, a story of I stayed up for like, like I deprived myself of sleep several days walking in and stayed up the night before, man. I walked into TV looking, you know, bloodshot eyes, just, you know, terrible. Oh, I, it looked like that was on, it was on a real band there. And Renee could see me, but I didn't want to go into the real shocker of it. So I had somebody sit in my chair for blocking purposes. I didn't want to sit in the chair yet. And I brought with me a suit, and it was the suit that I wore to my father's funeral.
Starting point is 00:15:10 And I had not worn the suit since. And I asked them two minutes before we do this, and I only one do one take. Tell me, and lay me alone. And the production guy came in, and he was was two minutes and I went, okay, cool. Keep Renee distracted until we're rolling and she says my name. And I put on the suit and it crushed me. Because all I could think about was my father's funeral and how desperately I
Starting point is 00:15:47 miss him and I loved him and still love him and God, what I would give to spend five minutes just talking with him. And I'm bawling, I'm weeping, I'm openly crying and I get into the chair and I keep my head down because I don't want And I'm bawling, I'm weeping, I'm openly crying. And I get into the chair and I keep my head down because I don't want her, if she happens to glance at my direction, I want us to be shocking to her. I want to capture that shock.
Starting point is 00:16:17 Three, two, one, she says, and I'm here with, and when she says my name, I look up at her. And I make direct eye contact with her. And she gasps. And she catches herself gasping. And you see her try to get through the lines. But you see, she's looking at me like, oh my God. He's a wreck.
Starting point is 00:16:42 It made the piece. All I had to do was just be upset. And my story would be told, you'd get it from my demeanor and my tone and my tenor and my emotions. But her look sold it. Her look sold it. Her look made it. Yes. Her reaction to my method is what I did it. I'm not that good of an actor.
Starting point is 00:17:19 Welcome to the House of Macadamias. Macadamias are a delicious superfood. Sustainably sourced directly from farmers. Macadamias, a rare source of Omega-7, linked to collagen regeneration, enhanced weight management, and better fat metabolism. Macadamias, art healthy and bring boosting fats.
Starting point is 00:17:49 Macadamias, failure friendly, cheeto and plant-based macadamias, no wheat, no dairy, no gluten, no GMOs, no preservatives, no palm oil, no added sugar,
Starting point is 00:18:07 a house of macadamias. I roosted with Namibian sea salt, cracked black pepper, and chocolate dipped. Snack bars come in chocolate, coconut white chocolate, and blueberry white chocolate. Coconut White Chocolate and Blueberry White Chocos. Visit houseofnacademias.com slash tetra. Tell me the whole story of your relationship with Brock from the beginning, all the way through to the Roman story. It's a great story. It's maybe the greatest story in wrestling.
Starting point is 00:18:52 Well, I first saw Brock Lesnar winning one of the NCAA division, one heavyweight championship in 2000. I was still the owner of ECW. And of course I'm looking at this specimen on television and I'm thinking, my God, this is, if I were to sit down next to God and the devil and say, okay, we're gonna build what everyone fantasizes is the quintessential ultimate absolute definition, declarative statement of what a professional wrestler is supposed to look like. This is the bug's bunny cartoon of the crush.
Starting point is 00:19:49 I mean, it's just, yeah, what's that? Oh, that's a professional. Man, I wouldn't mess with him, you know? It's just, that's it, that's the look. And then the ferocity with which he wrestled and the strength that he displayed, and the speed of a man that's size, nothing about him was human. Never saw anything like it before.
Starting point is 00:20:17 Nothing, nothing, nothing in no one. So WWE very wisely signs Brock Lesnar and they send him to Louisville to train. And he's a prodigy. He's never watched the industry. Ever. Didn't grow up a fan. Didn't grow up watching Verne Gagne's AWA. Didn't grow up watching WWE with Hulk Hogan. Hulk didn't care. Wasn't his thing. So with absolutely no experience in the industry, he walks in and he's a prodigy. He can do anything. It takes a while for people to learn how to navigate the ropes, how to understand the concept of center line from the middle of the ring. There's a lot of rudimentary fundamentals
Starting point is 00:21:13 that most people need eight to 12 weeks just to learn. And he's picking it up by the end of the afternoon. Within 10 weeks of just starting to train, he could put together a match. His learning curve was just that accelerated. It's like one of those child prodigies at five years old. They listen to Mozart, sit down at the piano, with one piano lesson, just learning which
Starting point is 00:21:46 key sounds like what and plays Mozart. There's no explanation for it, but he also had to mental aptitude for it. I've met some truly brilliant human beings that have no concept of the choreography and the psychology of this industry. And I've met some people whose IQ was in the thirties who are like rainman who literally if you say to them, what's 5 plus 5? It's going to be 5, 6, 7, 8, 10. It's 10. Really took you that long to figure out if I, you don't know, just the end. I'm not that bright, but they could put together a 45 minute wrestling match and it'll be a classic. That's just one of the beautiful
Starting point is 00:22:38 things about our art. And Brock is an artist. And those are the reports coming out of Louisville, and he's not getting called up to the main roster. And I couldn't understand what the delay was. And I'd seen them a couple times, you know, they had Jesse Ventura come out to the ring with them and Minneapolis. Why, why we not going with this? My God, he's 24 years old. Let's go 23 to time So they bring them to a TV they're starting them on dark matches because he had enough and he left Louisville And he went back to Minnesota and he said whenever you're ready for me call me There's nothing more for me to learn Louisville. I'm ready to go. You don't want to use me my contract's gonna run up I'm gonna go find something else to do with my life and
Starting point is 00:23:25 Finally, they decided to pull the trigger and they bring them for a couple of dark matches, which are the matches that happen before we go live on television or tape the actual show for broadcast. So we get a look. It's like, it's essentially a rehearsal for the talent before they go on TV. Yes. Yes. Or like in the music industry, when someone goes in and like in New York, they do it at the Mercury Lounge or the bit around the showcase. It's a showcase, right?
Starting point is 00:23:53 It's a showcase. Yeah, right there, the cameras are there. We can rewatch it, you know, the creative people are there, all the people there that need to get eyeballs on you. So Brock does a dark match. And the next day he's doing another dark match and all these old time producers, they're going, you should be a Russian. You should just stand in the middle of the ring and let people bounce off
Starting point is 00:24:17 you, which by the way, for someone who doesn't have the explosiveness of Brock Lesnar, the speed of Brock Lesnar, the agility of Brock Lesnar, the mobility of Brock Lesnar is a wonderful, wonderful piece of advice for someone that looks like him. What was going to separate Brock from everyone else that even had massive size and density to them is that Brock Lesnar could move like frickin' lightning. No one could move like him. No one. No, the explosiveness that he displayed from takeoff was just... It's terrifying.
Starting point is 00:24:57 I've seen it now for 21 years. It frightens me every... Yeah, it's frightening. If he's standing in the center of the ring, and he decides to launch himself and hit the ropes, he will hit that, those ropes with such velocity from the center of the ring. It's like zero to 60 and a second and a half.
Starting point is 00:25:17 It's just, there's no one of that explosiveness and that speed. Yes. No one. No one of that explosiveness and that speed. Yes. No one. Yes. No one. And I'll say in a lifetime of watching Peressling, I've never seen anyone when they come out to the ring when you're there create an energy that's so scary. Scary. It gets very real, very fast as soon as Brock makes his entrance always. I was standing in the ring this past Monday.
Starting point is 00:25:53 I don't know when this drops. Me either. Whenever this drops, we are taping this on the Wednesday after WrestleMania, which is two days after we were just at the crypto from Monday night raw. And I'm standing in the ring with Roman Reigns, who's an impressive individual, by the way. Let's just state that for the record. I mean, this is not a slouch standing there. This is someone that looks like a man, you know, and because he is one.
Starting point is 00:26:27 Standing in the ring and Brock Lesnar's music hits and Brock walks out, you know, and in his in his fight gear. Look at Roman. I went holy fuck, look at that, right? I don't, I mean, just completely, because after all these years, I'm still not used to being out there watching him come at us. I'm used to being on the other side of that. I'm used to walking out with them, looking at the face of people going, holy fuck, look at that, right?
Starting point is 00:27:01 And Roman looks at me and he says, yeah, yeah, now you know what we all saw, right? And Roman looks at me and he says, yeah, yeah. Now you know what we all saw. All right. And I just said, yeah, he is freaking huge. Holy shit. What? And so funny.
Starting point is 00:27:19 And of course, when I said that, I realized, you know, the camera's maybe picking us up and I just say, my tribal chief. And he just looks at me. I said that I realized, you know, the camera's maybe picking us up, but I just say my tribal chief. And he just looks at me and he just says, man, he goes, it just, it just never ceases to amaze me standing here, watching him. And when he circles you like a shark, he says, you realize I'm in for a physical evening. It's just man.
Starting point is 00:27:49 So all these old timers are giving him antiquated draconian advice that if he was an opponent for San Martino in 67, I get it, but he's not. It's a modern era and the business is changing and it's changing rapidly. And the demands and the expectations of the audience are far different than they were back in the day of Waldorf on Eric or Crusher Verdou. Or even Gorilla Monsoun, who has a 400 pounder,
Starting point is 00:28:21 could probably have moved better than any other 400 pounder even on a face of the planet in the day, but that's not what he did. He stood there, he looked massive, and he made Sam Martino bounce off of him until Sam Martino finally picked him up Slendom, gave him a couple boots, punches knocked him down and beat him. So, Taz brought him to me. So, Taz brought him to me because Taz drank the Kool-Aid back in the 1990s. He came to ECW completely insecure about his ability to speak, which is one of the most ironic things in the world because he was one of the most convincing orators of the 1990s once he found himself. It would be like you stepping into the studio
Starting point is 00:29:15 with system of a down and surge coming to you and saying, I'm just not confident in my singing voice. What? You're surge, man. Yeah. Are you kidding me? No, no. I think I should play the drums.
Starting point is 00:29:30 I don't think I should sing. No, you should sing and Taz should cut promos. And Taz came to ECW. He was barefoot wearing fur, jumping up and down. He was the Tasmaniac based on the bugs, again, we go back to Bugs Bunny. All roads lead to bugs. Oh, of course they do.
Starting point is 00:29:55 And well, they should. And he's the Tasmanian devil. And he would do promos. And his promos would be Uga Buga. Uga Buga. Uga Buga. Uga Buga. Uga Buga. His comedy and his wrestling was serious and I mean he could throw the suplexes but he didn't he was so insecure. He had no confidence in his speaking ability. And as we were kind of morphing out of Ugabuga Tasmaniac and trying to find a more realistic presentation, Tas was starting to stop with the fur and started to wear boots, were humanizing him. And in the middle of this process, he suffered a broken
Starting point is 00:30:44 neck and foot, Lord of Del process, he suffered a broken neck and fought low to Del Florida. It was a match against Dean Malanco and Tucho Scorpio and Tez was teaming with Eddie Guerrero because I was getting him into that grappler portion of our show. The girl Eddie and Dean Malanco and Chris Benwan, too, called Scorpio, you know. And he braced for a power bomb and ended up in a spike pile driver and he broke his neck. So he was off. And the decision was made when he came back. He was going to be a UFC style fighter.
Starting point is 00:31:23 And he was going to be the first wrestler that we weren't going for for I quit. We were going for tap outs. Has introduced the tap out to pro wrestling. That character and the key to this was he was going to have to talk on the mic. And we just found that that inner rage of his that that bitterness that he had about being five foot eight, 248 pounds in a big man's business. Well, if you're not over six three, if you don't, if you don't carry yourself like Barry Wyndham was carrying himself at the time, you're not even consideration. So, you know, Steve Austin, Brett Hart, Sean Michaels, these were smaller WWE champions at the time.
Starting point is 00:32:08 The typical WWE champion was Sid Kevin Nash. These were the guys with the size. And Taz, who had tremendous talent and did have tremendous speaking ability was so angry that a guy 5.8 would never be considered. So we use that to our advantage. He talked about being 5.8. I'm only 5.8 but I will choke you out. Brother, I got a little center of gravity. You're up there breathing oxygen. That's a lot thinner than than the one I'm breathing. I'm going to choke you out you out. It's gonna be easy for me to do it. And you're gonna look over and go, who choke me out? That five foot eight inch, two and a forty eight pound dude from the, from the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, New York, and people believed it. To the point where when Taz debuted in WWE, at the Royal Rumble in Madison Square Garden, which was the perfect setting for a debut.
Starting point is 00:33:06 And the highlight of his entire WWE career, because it was all downhill from there. That Vince McMahon called me. I was actually in the studio, we were editing, we were doing a Sunday edit on it for ECW. And Vince McMahon called me and he says, do you mind if I ask what the fuck you're feeding these guys? And I said, what does that mean? I don't know. And he goes, what the fuck you're putting in your fucking heads? I've heard of your fucking cool aid before,
Starting point is 00:33:32 but what the fuck? And I said, okay, what issue do we have here, Vince? Aren't you supposed to be running the rumble today? And he tells me the story that Kurt Angle. Now this is not Kurt Angle after fighting all the self-admitted addictions. This is not Kurt Angle with the gazillion injuries that he suffered putting on amazing performances as a pro wrestler, Sports Entertainer, WWSuperstar. This is Kurt Angle with the exception of the neck injury
Starting point is 00:34:06 that he had going into the Olympics in which is still for your time. I'm Kurt Angle. Oh man, healthy Kurt Angle. Yeah. Health, legitimate milk drinking Kurt Angle at the time, you know? This is. Kurt Angle, maybe there are only two people on the face
Starting point is 00:34:21 of the planet that could hold their own with him in a shoot fight. Yeah. You know? Yeah, maybe. And Kurt Angle went up to Vince in the garden and said, Vince, what do I do with this guy shoots on me? And Vince at first thought it was a political question, like, am I allowed to defend myself? Am I allowed to shoot back? Because I'm Kurt Angle and I'll tie him and his family and his friends and his neighborhood and all the Brooklyn up and knots all by myself while eating a sandwich and drinking a glass of milk.
Starting point is 00:34:54 Because I'm Kurt Angle. And then Vince realized, no, he's really asking like, what happens if Tash shoots on me? Because I'll be in trouble. Because that's Tass. And, and, and Kurt says, yeah, have you seen this guy in ACW? Ha, ha, ha, ha. Do you listen to him? That's unbelievable.
Starting point is 00:35:11 I didn't see what Kurt was like, and he's going, ah, ha, ha, ha, ha. Yeah, don't worry about everything's fine. And Kurt was like legitimately concerned. What would happen if Tass would shoot on him? Like, hey, I'm going to have to fight for my life out there with this guy. This guy's capable.
Starting point is 00:35:25 That's unbelievable. That was the presentation of Taz. We made him believe that he was that guy. Yes. When Taz cut those promos on Hulk Hogan and Rick Flair and Kurt Angle and Sid and the N.W.O. and anybody else and he cut those promos, he believed it. Steve Austin will tell you that when he stood face to face
Starting point is 00:35:47 with Mike Tyson in the ring, during that infamous moment, which to this day was the turnaround for me of the entire industry. And I mean, WWE already had the lead, but when that moment happened, there was never turning back. And Steve Austin will tell you that in his mind, when he came down that aisle, if Mike Tyson lost the plot and decided to get antsy with them, Steve Austin will tell you,
Starting point is 00:36:11 I don't whoop this ass. I don't whoop. I was standing there. You know, when he looked at me and he had to, he did that BDI's. I don't whoop. I what? I don't whoop Mike Tyson's ass. Now I think Steve will look back on this now and did his day and realize, no, he went out of what my Tyson's ass. But in that moment, he believed he could. And I filled Taz as a method actor and at that time for me, a method director. I made him believe he could whip all their asses.
Starting point is 00:36:43 And now when he said it on promos, he meant it when he said it. So full circle, long story even longer, Tas brings Brock Lesnar to me. And Tas says, they're going to screw this up. Here's what Tony Gourier is telling him. Here's what this guy's telling him. And you're doing ECW at this time. You're not a WWE. You're in W'd. Yeah, it is 2002. Okay. Yeah. Yeah doing ECW at this time. You're not a WWE. No, I'm not a WWE. You're in W. Yeah, it is 2002. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. ECW and I in the business January 2001, I came to WWE March 2001.
Starting point is 00:37:14 We did the whole Alliance thing, ECW and WCW versus WWE. Took myself off of television after Survivor Series, which was the blow off battle for that. Because when I came to, and here of course is one of those paradoxes in life, you know. I came to WWE and my first thing I said to Vince in coming in the door was, I don't want to be on television. I'm 35. I had my fun. I want to be behind the scenes only. And then the whole thing happened with the fire jury lawler's wife and jury lawyer quit. And I wasn't supposed to get in a WWE until WrestleMania because I was too busy dealing with with the ridiculous amount of
Starting point is 00:38:01 legalities of what was the pending ECW bankruptcy. So I'm going into a personal bankruptcy and a corporate bankruptcy. And we'll talk about the whole ECW story later too, because we have to talk about that. And I'm jumping into WWE, and I cut my deal to come in behind the scenes, and I get a call from Vince on a Tuesday
Starting point is 00:38:27 and he says, are you where the jury lawler quit last night? And I said, yeah, I heard the whole story. I'm sorry to hear that. And he says, I'm gonna need a little bit of a favor from you. And I said, well, I'm not really in a position to turn down a favor from you at this moment. My company's gone. I'm entering bankruptcy and you're offering me
Starting point is 00:38:46 a lifeline in life. So the answer to the favor is yes. Now please tell me what I'm doing. And he says, need you to start on commentary next Monday night. And I'm like, oh my God, I'm back on television. It's exactly what I don't want to be. And then of course I realize, well, I get to play with Jim Ross a little bit.
Starting point is 00:39:05 I always like being Jim Ross's color commentator. And, you know, if I'm gonna have to do anything in the public eye anymore, replacing Jerry Lawler on Monday Night Raw is not a bad way to debut. That's a pretty iconic position. That's what today we will refer to as relevant. Leisure craft.
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Starting point is 00:40:12 Hot or cold. You'll feel safe with leisure crafts, five-year warranty. An investment for generations to enjoy. Beautiful, timeless pieces. For better health and ultimate relaxation. Explore the entire collection at leisurecraft.com. One of the most interesting things about pro wrestling compared to other sports is the idea of the heel announcer and we'll get to that because it is for anyone who doesn't watch pro wrestling, they wouldn't even understand the idea that
Starting point is 00:41:05 there's a bad guy announcer. Yeah, because otherwise, what they found, and well, the first bad guy announcer wasn't Jesse Ventura. He perfected it with Vince, and you could tell that Vince wanted him to be a star, co-accomentator, because Vince would throw him lob balls. I mean, just, you know, there it is, you know, bang out of the park, bang out of the park. I mean, just, he'd set himself up for Jesse, didn't mind doing it.
Starting point is 00:41:38 Vince, back in those days, there was a, there was a weatherman in New York. His name was Lloyd Lindsay Young. And he was very famous because he would do shoutouts to municipalities. Hello, sarcoccas! I mean an ass out of himself as a weatherman and Vince used to love to refer to him. Did anybody that would listen? You know, it was you Lloyd Lindsay Young, God damn, I like him, you know Why not afraid to make an ass out of himself and he's branded himself and back then, you know in New York the weathermen were Frankfield and stormfield who to this day still do it in New York
Starting point is 00:42:18 We need these are these are iconic New York weathermen people that New Yorkers have learned to trust with the weather, you know, and Lloyd Lindsay Young became the most popular because he had to stick, he had to gimmick, he didn't mind making him, you know, hello, Piscat away! And Vince would love it. So Vince would make an ass out of himself, setting himself up for Jesse's insults.
Starting point is 00:42:43 But Jesse wasn't the first. Now I'm sure there were others before this, but the one that showed us all it could be done was Roddy Piper in 1981 from the TBS studios in Atlanta with Gordon Sully. And Roddy Piper was a great heel commentator because he was so effective in the role. He added so much entertainment, so much of a fun perspective to it, that the shield could never survive on their own again. It's a great action today, ladies and gentlemen, that you're watching in the wing with Mr. Babyface holding that headlock.
Starting point is 00:43:32 And as you can see, the 15 members of our studio audience are enthralled with the majestic build that our babyface is displaying against this heated villain, the masked Russian assassin number seven. And oh, it's a shoving. Oh, and it's a shoulder block. And there'll be shoulder blocks in Marietta, Georgia tomorrow night. Be there, you know, and okay, those days are over. Now you had Roddy Piper on there and Gordon, so we know in a bit of a beautiful, a beautiful move into a leg vine, which puts the pressure on the calf muscle,
Starting point is 00:44:07 and a little bit on the quadriceps, you know, right? You're not something on this guy grabs the leg. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, well, it's like, you know, you're never ripped a chicken apart, you know, with your own bare hands, man, you know? And you go, what the, what is he talking about?
Starting point is 00:44:22 This guy is crazy, and I like him him and he's interesting and he's making the broadcast for more flavorful. So I came in as the commentator and, and which man, and that was easy. Because number one, I'm an asshole. And I love being an asshole to Jim Ross because he's from Oklahoma.
Starting point is 00:44:43 I'm just, you know, a Jew boy from the Bronx, you know, then, and I could sit there for, you know, for minutes comparing someone in the ring to me having, you know, spiritual Nirvana by going to a deli in New York City to a in the morning eating a kinesh. And an oaky ain't gonna know what a kinesh is. He's gonna ask you put barbecue sauce on it. And I'm gonna lecture him that,
Starting point is 00:45:09 you know, as much about New York culinary experiences as you do about being a play an outser. You know, it's just, so it was easy because Jerry Lawler got along so well with JR on air, they were a duo. They was a bromance going were, they, they, they, they, they, they, they, they, there was a bromance going on. They liked each other, you know, and everything was so cute and funny with Jerry Law, you know, puppies and everything.
Starting point is 00:45:33 Oh boy, woohoo. You know, and I was coming in as just an asshole. I was going to give the show a completely different feel and I was going to take JR to the test because that's JR at his best when he's pushed. He had become so comfortable with Jerry Lawler. He could phone it in and still be 10 times better than anybody else in the world. So I got out of that at Survivor Series
Starting point is 00:45:56 when we wrapped up the Alliance storyline. And again, I was, okay, I'm behind the scenes. I don't wanna be on camera anymore. But by now, by Survivor Series, it's 2001, I'm 36. I'm like, I've had a good run as an on-air character. I'm just gonna be behind the scenes now. Well, by the time Russell Mania comes around, Vince has this idea of turning Chris Benoit heel.
Starting point is 00:46:22 And I'd lost a tunnel weight between Survivor Series and Mania time. One of my many journeys of weight loss and stress-related or... No, I'm an indulge, I like to indulge in life. And I like to eat. And since we're sitting here barefoot on a couch, I mean, this is like therapy for me.
Starting point is 00:46:43 I'm the son of a Holocaust survivor. My mother was in Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. So growing up, watching her it was something my mother couldn't do as a child. So, watching her child do it was revenge for her. She grew up watching, watched 13 of her cousins starve to death in the Lodge ghetto, watched two grandmothers die of starvation, and then of course in Auschwitz and Bergen-Belson, all she witnessed was famine and starvation. How did she make it out by the grace of God? Just, you know, when she was,
Starting point is 00:47:44 she was liberated in April 15, 1945 by the British Army and Burkhan Belsen and ended up in the displaced persons hospital in Berlin with Typhus and Typhoid. Near death was told she may not make it and made it, became a nurse there because there was no family to find and until an uncle because the men had left. The men left Poland, they escaped through Russia and the reason why was because in World War I the Germans were civil occupiers. World War I, the Germans were civil occupiers. They, they, they, they, there, there, there wasn't what happened.
Starting point is 00:48:30 They were civil. They, they occupied Poland and that, that's it. So the men left, because if the men stayed, they'd have to fight. And if they fight against that army, they were gonna die. But if they left and the Germans occupied, oh, what happened, World War War? Life, it went its over, it's over.
Starting point is 00:48:49 The thought that they would kill women and children was unfathomable. So there was an uncle, Zaelic Sharf, who at the time was living in Winnipeg, which had a big community of refugees from Eastern Europe. And every year, Zaelic would save up all of his money and go back to Poland and look for survivors of the family. And he couldn't find any.
Starting point is 00:49:19 And after a couple of years, almost giving up hope, he had heard the tale of the march from Auschwitz to Bergenbelsen when the Russians were coming in and coming through Poland and turning back the Nazis. And on a guess, then maybe one of the family members was in this march from Auschwitz to Bergenbelson, and maybe one of these family members survived. That maybe one of them ended up in Bergenbelson. He went to Berlin, and he went to the Displace Persons Hospital, and he's researching the family name,
Starting point is 00:50:02 and they say, well, we have a sulamita shawaf here. Oh my God, that's my niece. And he found her. Unable. And he brought her to Canada. And she went to Canada, you know, it was a nurse there, went through the licensing and everything.
Starting point is 00:50:19 And then through the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society, immigrated to the United States and got a job as a nurse in the Bronx, where she met my father. And this is your mom, not your grandmother. Yeah, this is my mother. This is my mother. I was born in 1965, the most significant event
Starting point is 00:50:38 of my childhood raising happened 20 years before I was born. Or actually 21, it was actually, to her, the moment that, I think the last thing my mother of a saw in her consciousness was the separation. That when they, when they liquidated the ghetto, the Ludge ghetto, Widge ghetto, you got on a train, the train took it out of Auschwitz. It came off the train in Auschwitz. Those who were deemed worthy of fit enough for slave labor went to one side, and those who were deemed and not fit enough for slave labor went to the other.
Starting point is 00:51:14 They were going to the gas chamber. Children, my mother's sister was seven. My mother was 14. Children were not fit for slave labor. They went to the gas chambers. If you sent a child to the gas chamber, the mother went with them. Because once you kill the child, the mother is emotionally so finished that they're not good enough for slave labor. She killed the mother with the child. When my mother got off of the train and then the SS officer pulled her to one side and separates them, separates her from her mother
Starting point is 00:51:56 with my mother's sister, the older Jews behind the fences are screaming to my mother. I can't even really call her my grandmother because that implies a personal connection for me to her. And it makes the gravity of the murder of my mother's mother less if I say my grandmother. Because I don't own the right to that personal connection.
Starting point is 00:52:23 My mother owns the right to that crime committed against her. And the older Jews are screaming to my mother's mother, give the child to an older Jew. Because they're going to, the older ones, the elderly going to the gas chambers anyway. Give the child to an older Jew, save yourself. And she wouldn't. And so she went to the gas chamber with my mother's sister. And that was the moment in her life that my mother never forgot. And I think everything that my mother viewed for her entire life was through that lens of the separation. I firmly believe that if your life flashes before your eyes or I before you die, the last thing my mother ever saw was August, 1944, the separation.
Starting point is 00:53:07 So my weight is a factor of celebration of her life. Yeah. Yeah. Well, as a kid, because I learned nothing about nutrition as a kid. I just didn't. I indulged and I had a metabolism as a kid to burn it off. And then as my metabolism slowed down in my 20s, I wasn't prepared. And then it's been a lifelong journey
Starting point is 00:53:31 of trying to understand nutrition that I never learned as a kid. So it's not my second nature, it's not my instinct. My instinct is to indulge. Yes. So I'd lost a bunch of weight going into WrestleMania 18 which was 2002 and I was gonna end up managing Chris Benoit and then the whole thing happened with Tas bringing Brock Lesnar to me and
Starting point is 00:53:58 When Tas said they're gonna screw this up and I realized man, that's we screw this up This is someone that he's a he's a life He's a lifetime and he's a life line for WWE and when Vince brought me in And he asked me he says what do you think will be the greatest contribution? You can offer our company Because he never would call it my company It's our company And if you sat there in a room with Vincent, you said,
Starting point is 00:54:27 you know, if it's got a great idea for your company, it's not my company. It's our company, you know? That was his mindset. Or at least his cool aid. A little bit of both maybe, but definitely his cool aid. So he said, what's the greatest contribution you could make to us? And I said to him from the beginning, finding, grooming, developing the next big thing.
Starting point is 00:54:54 You have lost in, you have the rock, you have triplet, you have the undertaker. I mean, what, what a crew there was back in 2001, but boy, what we don't have is the next big thing. Who's that next one with lightning in a bottle? Who's, who's the next one that's gonna set the world on fire? Who's the next guy we can hang our head on? Who's, who's the guy that's gonna be the poster boy for WWE that when we put him up on a screen, people go, whoa, that's that WWE guy, you know?
Starting point is 00:55:26 So I went into Vince and I said, you know, Taz brought me Brock Lesnar. Oh yeah, keep an eye on him. I don't know what you think of him. I'll tell you two things. Number one, I think he's the next big thing. And number two, we are screwing this up. How we screwing this up?
Starting point is 00:55:42 And I start telling him what the advice was. And he goes, God damn, Paul Paul get involved in this right now. I'm going to produce him. Yeah, you take over. He's yours. Okay. So I started lining up his matches and I started, and I know here's what I want you to do.
Starting point is 00:55:57 And this is, you know, and here's how I want you to display it. And I put together a couple of matches of his. Just, it wasn't even, it was to that week. And maybe, I think maybe too the next. And the opponents were the same. Spike Dudley and Funaki. Because I knew they would, they would make him look like what he needed to look like.
Starting point is 00:56:14 And the night before many events comes to me and he says, I'm not gonna put you with Benoit. I'm like, oh, thank God, I'm not on television. That's, I didn't want to go back on TV. I was like, okay, that's great. Thank you. All right, thank God, I'm not on television, that's, I didn't want to go back on TV. I was like, okay, that's great. Thank you. All right, I found peace in my ability to pull out of the public eye. He says, I'm going to put you with Brock Lesnar.
Starting point is 00:56:34 And I just said, bingo, okay, money. Oh my God, you just gave me a completely new life. Yeah. Because I knew, oh my God, you want me to talk for this guy? Okay, this is the easiest job in the world. Then there was a question of, do we debut on Mania? And the decision was made no.
Starting point is 00:56:56 Start him the day after Mania and let his first Mania be in the main event, a year later. Wow. And that was supposed to be for the title, but we fast tracked that. We got the title on and by summer slamming. It was just we were just moving. And Dwayne Johnson was going off to Hollywood. So just the timing was perfect for us. And Steve Austin had left. So it was, wow, we were going to avoid the next big thing. So the first promo that I did with him, I called Brock the next big thing and we're on the jet that night and then it's turned to me and he goes, what'd you call him? I said, hey, I called him the next big thing Brock listener and that's terrible. Why would you call him that? Well, I called him the next big thing, Brock Lesnar, and that's terrible.
Starting point is 00:57:48 Why would you call him that? Well, because it's the next big thing. It's terrible name. Why would you stick that on him? Oh, God, people are gonna vomit all over that. And thank God by the next week, there were signs in the crowd, the next big thing, the next, like it had caught on.
Starting point is 00:58:05 And people in the production, you know, saying, yeah, the next big thing, the next big thing, like it had caught on. And people in the production unit was saying, yeah, the next big thing, the next big thing. Prochlessers, the next big thing. And JR had written on his notes. Prochlessers, the next big thing, and Vince started to realize, oh, you know what? Okay, maybe this is catcher than I thought it was. So he said, I'm gonna give you one more chance
Starting point is 00:58:21 to get that thing over, you know, and don't screw this up, you know. Okay, I won't, and I built the whole to get that thing over, you know, and don't screw this up. You know, okay, I won't. And I built the whole promo about Brock Lesnar being the next big thing. They let me continue on with that. In the meantime, I'm starting to get to know this beast and he's a fascinating, fascinating human being. He's very much like Sam Walton.
Starting point is 00:58:44 He's a farm boy. And he's a farm boy from Piss Poor Webster South Dakota that would offer to go and milk the neighbor's cows or pick their corn pick their corn or whatever farm people do of which I am not well versed. Like, what's the point, it's a proc, call me up, you go, I'm combining. I go, wow, you must be in your element, that's wonderful. And I'm sitting there going,
Starting point is 00:59:16 what the fuck is combining, no idea what it is. No idea, it's like if I said to him, I'm dovening today. Oh, that's great. What's Paul doing? Some Jewish thing, I don't know, you know, I. No idea. It's like if I said to him, I'm dovin'ing today. Oh, that's great. What's Paul doing? Some Jewish thing. I don't know. You know, I had no idea. So he used to go to the neighbor's farm and do chores for lunch. Didn't want money because the place to buy food is way too far away. But to be fed lunch, he would do choice. This was not a wealthy farm guide. It's broke as broke could be with a lot of brothers and a sister and a
Starting point is 00:59:54 lot of mouths to feed in the Lezner household and all of the kids large, carnivores, eaters with appetites. So he didn't really excel as a student at the University of Minnesota. He was there because he was an athlete. But somehow, this farmed without much of a formal education is not only one of the most brilliant choreographers that you'll ever meet. It's one of the savviest, most instinctual, most ruthless businessmen, and I've known a lot of people like that, and I put him up against any one of them. He's amazing, his timing of when to strike, of when to leverage, of when to renegotiate, of how to pit companies against each other.
Starting point is 01:01:07 Is that of the best litigator, the most brilliant agents or managers I've ever been exposed to? Top notch. And I've seen them in a room negotiating with Vince McMahon, who's not bad at it, I might add. And he matches. He's great. He's a brilliant human being. And he speaks. And my father was this way.
Starting point is 01:01:43 My father was a fascinatingly eloquent man. And when he spoke to juries, he spoke so that every layman could understand every word he was saying. If you're a Harvard business grad, you'd understand them. If you're on the street, on a corner, and you're living in a box, you could understand them. My father could talk to a jury and every, and every member would understand them.
Starting point is 01:02:08 Brock Lesnar talks business and it's so simple. He gets to the core of the issue that in music terms, you understand the riff. You get, you get the message from, and it doesn't have to articulate it in these big, long words. Do you think it's based on confidence in himself? Is that where it comes from? You know, it's funny. I've, and all these years, I've never tried to understand where it comes from. That's a very intriguing question. Yes, his self-confidence is obviously there. I mean, you know, all you should do
Starting point is 01:02:52 is look in the mirror and realize, it makes sense, you know, we make sense. Yeah, yeah. It's also a very alpha male thing and of the alpha male species on our planet. He's, you know, the other thing he's super human while he's super alpha. Yeah.
Starting point is 01:03:11 So he's a wolf. He's just a different creature. So you get to talk to him and you realize, okay, I'm supposed to be the smart one here. I'm the guy with all the labels that apply to intelligence or creativity or everything else. I got a lot to learn from this guy. And I still do to this day.
Starting point is 01:03:35 I still learn from him every day that I talked to him. So when we first got put together, I was fascinated by him. You know, and he's asking me great questions about positioning, how he holds himself, when to make eye contact with the audience. Different psychological questions about the presentation larger than larger than larger
Starting point is 01:04:01 than life personas that appeal to the masses yet make it personal to every individual and the crowd. Just real probing questions about the art of it all. And one would hope, because even at 36, I was now a veteran. I don't my own company. I had made my reputation as a creative force. And you'd think that I'm the mentor, you know, I'm, you know, I'm, I'm the sensei, I'm the guide into our world, into our culture. And meanwhile, what nobody understood was I was learning more from him than he was learning from me, just being around him, just every day such a lesson. Those are the best collaborations. It really is collaborative.
Starting point is 01:04:42 Everyone involved plays a role in it being what it can be. And we all can, we each contribute whatever it is that we have to contribute. But you never know where it's going to come from. You never know. Right. Right. So we're on a plane to England. We're doing a British based pay per view. And we're sitting together and okay well we got a we got a long fight ahead of us let's get to know each other and I asked him what do you see yourself in five years when he sees often ten years and the answer from any young guy is always the same main eventing WrestleMania Millionaire. And his answer was, don't know where I'll be, but I will have what my parents farm and given them a much more comfortable life. And I'll figure out the rest from there.
Starting point is 01:05:39 And it blindsided me. The appreciation that he had for his parents. My parents didn't need me to buy them off of a property that was below poverty level. They did fine on their own, but I always wanted to do something for them. I always wanted to do something special for them. I always wanted them to know how much I loved them. I always wanted them to know how much I appreciated them. So to hear him say that, which was not the answer I was expecting at all. And then he reaches into his pocket and he shows me a picture of a sonogram and he says, and I'm about to be a father. My girlfriend is, I think she was eight and a half months pregnant, yeah, my girlfriend's, you know, we're a couple weeks away.
Starting point is 01:06:36 I'm going to have a baby girl. Don't tell anybody. I don't want them knowing how they can hurt me. tell anybody, I don't want them knowing how they can hurt me. I'm not telling anybody yet, I'll let them know when it's time. And the funny thing was my girlfriend at the time was pregnant with my first child who was my daughter, Azalea. And I didn't tell anybody because I didn't want them to know where they could hurt me. And I said, well, let me show you a picture. And there we both were months away from both being first-time fathers. Incredible. Both having baby girls. Incredible.
Starting point is 01:07:15 And both keeping it to ourselves. Because we understood, leverages, leverage, and oh well, he has to feed a child. We don't have to give him that much. He's dependent on us. Instead of, well, he's single feed a child. We don't have to give him that much. He's dependent on us. Instead of, well, he's single. He has no children. He can walk. He can stay home and not care. Big, big, leverage difference. So we bonded over that immediately. Love and appreciation of our parents and about to have our first child each. And he realized that as much as I'm a living breathing walking
Starting point is 01:07:52 gimmick, you know, I'm the stick come to life that I'm very rooted in family. And I'm very much about that. And I realized that this beast, this specimen, this super athlete that sits next to me, it's all about family. It's all about the legacy of his parents and providing for the future and passing it down. And I realized as different as we are and we couldn't be more different at the core, at the human level, you're the same. Our spirits were aligned that I understood him and that he understood me.
Starting point is 01:08:44 And from that day forward, I think I'm the only person for years outside of his brothers or his father. I think I'm the only man that Brock Lesnar felt comfortable saying in front of other people, I love you. As some an easy thing for Brock to say to anybody, and it's certainly not easy for him to say to a man, it's just, it's not his nature. But Brock Lesnar would say to me in front of other people, and I'd say back to him obviously,
Starting point is 01:09:20 because who would want to offend him? But so when did he go from the next big thing to the beast? Soon as you won the title. When he won the title, the concept was the next big thing has arrived. And that was within the first year you're saying. All within the first six months. Unbelievable. We debuted at the end of March,
Starting point is 01:09:44 at the beginning of April. I don't remember the date. It we debuted at the end of March, at the beginning of April, I don't remember the date, it was April, because I started in March, and we were five weeks away from Mania. So it was April. So I started in April, then there's May, June, July, August,
Starting point is 01:09:53 four months, four months into his 10 year in WWE. He beats the rock, clean, in the middle of the Nassau Colosseum at Summer's time for the title. So the next big thing had arrived, and now he's the beast incarnate, and displaying it, and going into Hell in a Sellegan's, the Undertaker. I mean, just the fast track on him was, wasn't, but the fast track on him was explosive because he was so explosive.
Starting point is 01:10:19 And again, we had just lost Austin. Yes. It was the conditions. Everything was set for this to happen. Yeah. Perfect story. Yeah. And was the conditions. Everything was set for this to happen. Yeah. Perfect storm. Yeah.
Starting point is 01:10:28 And then the rocks went off the Hollywood. We need a centerpiece. We need a star. We need the next big thing. And it was Brock Lesnar. And you know, since then, we were just bonded. You know, we've, even when we disagree, I understand his perspective. And even when he doesn't agree with mine, he sees where I'm coming from with it.
Starting point is 01:10:50 I've never once just, you respect each other. Oh, I respect him, I love him, I admire him. I have such admiration for him. I mean, just again, his hyper intelligence, his instincts, his instincts, his business instincts, his life instincts. He's just a fascinating human being, you know. So when he left WWE, you know, and why did he leave? Because he saw the cap. Because they came to him with a 10-year deal.
Starting point is 01:11:29 At more money than they ever offered anyone in the history of the company, with increases every year for 10 years. At the time, with the exception of the deal that they had offered Brett Hart that they had a poll because they were losing the Monday night war as this was the longest deal that was being offered in WWE and for by far the most money. And he's sitting there with a 10 year contract in front of him. And all these financial planners are saying, and of course we're going to invest in this and it's going to beat the market by six points
Starting point is 01:12:10 and you're going to put this in treasury bonds. And this country has bonds that are very secure and they're insured and they pay 20 percent. And at the end of this 10 years you can retire and your children don't never have to work and your grandchildren never have to work and this is how much you if you lived in 92 you can spend this much money per week and never touch the principal and he understood exactly how much he could make. He saw the cap, he saw the ceiling and And though for a poor farm boy, this was money that he never dreamed of in life. Once he's faced the reality of, I know exactly how much I'm going to make 10 years from now. And I'm envisioning more.
Starting point is 01:13:02 But they're not going to give me more because this is more than they give anybody else. So this is all I can make here. Here isn't enough for me. And he decided, I'm going to be worth a lot more to these people. If I leave, go out, If I leave, go out, become a bigger celebrity on the outside world and come back as that celebrity, then if I'm the homegrown product of Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory, you're only worth as much as the other guy will pay you. There were no other guys in this business. So he had to go outside the business. So the first move was football,
Starting point is 01:13:49 even though he never played a down in his life. And of course, on his way to trying out for the Minnesota Vikings, having never played college ball, never played high school ball, probably never even touched a football on the farm. That's just not what they did in rule Webster South Dakota.
Starting point is 01:14:15 He decides to go to the Minnesota Vikings training camp and try out. Before this happens, he flips a motorcycle in Minneapolis. Crax's pelvis, terraces groin, breaks his jaw. They want to wire his jaw shut, which means he can't eat, can't keep the nutrition going, can't keep the bulk gone to and shows up injured to the Minnesota Vikings training camp. They know he's injured. They know he has a broken pelvis and a torn groin. And God knows what else the injuries were at the time. We're displaced to whatever the injury was. I'm sure I've enbellished it over the years. But he was fucked up. He was really fucked up. And he runs the quarter mile and the 100 yard dash in Olympic qualifying time. Not just best of the team,
Starting point is 01:15:09 not just best recruit they've ever seen. If he were to try out for the Olympics in track and field at 295 pounds, he is injured. He's injured because he's so explosive. He's running these numbers's so explosive. He's running these these numbers in Olympic qualifying time, you know, like like the nine foot tall guy who's, you know, every stride is is 25 feet, you know, and that's why he's such a, you know, who's nine feet tall and you know, 112 pounds. Yeah. And he's the Olympic gold medal track star.
Starting point is 01:15:45 And those are the numbers that he's putting in at 6'3 to 95. And he's the last guy cut from the team. And they want him to go to European football, and he goes, nah, I'm not doing that. Now, I'll fight. I'm a, you know, I was a wrestler when I was five. I won the NCAA Division I Heavyweight championship. I'm pretty good at that. There's some disciplines I got to learn, but I'll put together my own training camp,
Starting point is 01:16:10 and I'll make it about me and I'll take my freakish super athleticism, and I'll take on the best. And so he did. And in his, was his fourth fight, he did the one K one fight, then it was Frank Meir, Heath Hearing, that Randy Couture, third UFC fight, fourth professional MMA fight. He beats the greatest heavyweight of all time, Randy Couture standing up, knocked him out, knocked him out. It wasn't a grappling hold, wasn't he took them down to the canvas and wrote them for three rounds where now it would be five. He knocked out Randy Cotor to become the UFC heavyweight champion. And he always kept his juke close to him. We were doing
Starting point is 01:16:57 digital. We were looking for projects. We wrote his book together. It was always close, you know. He, we're always there for each other. I was there from, you know, through all his battles with diverticulitis. He was there for me when my mother passed away, you know. We're just there, we're just very, very close. We just, there was just an understanding between the two of us, just a bond. And a bond happened on that airplane.
Starting point is 01:17:24 When we both realized the thing about each other that was so close and dear to ourselves. So now let's talk about the streak because that's a high point in the Brock Lesnar story. Tell me why the streak is such a big deal. Well, it's dictated by the audience, because the audience became fascinated by it, because the audience became obsessed with it. So, the championships get won and lost, but the streak goes on.
Starting point is 01:17:57 Oh, that was the Holy Grail victory. That was more important than any title. That was more important than any championship. That was more important than any championship. Because I think the general consensus would have been the undertaker was going to retire with the streak intact. I imagine everybody thought that. Yes, I think undertaker thought that. He was willing for it not to be.
Starting point is 01:18:20 Yeah. But I think there came a time where he started to believe, Hey, you know what? Why not? I'm going to be the exception that defines the rule Yes, those people forget who Vince McMahon is He is gonna want to return on that investment. It's just that simple Vince will phrase it as it comes a time you have to give back Okay, I buy that. I'm a subscriber to that theory. I also understand that Vince invested heavily into that streak.
Starting point is 01:18:54 So for 21 years... Well, more than 21 years, 21 WrestleMania matches. Because there was 21 WrestleMania matches over 25 years. I see. So in over 25 years, the Undertaker did not lose a match at WrestleMania, the Super Bowl of the Year undefeated. Undefeated? And not only did he not lose, he always won. Yeah.
Starting point is 01:19:19 And he took on all of the best. He took on every, every major player over those years. A murderers row of heavyweight Hall of Famers from Jake the Snake Roberts, to Superfly, Jimmy Snookka, to Rick Flair, to multiple matches with Triple H, to two legendary matches with Sean Michaels. Unbelievable. Victory number 21, which was CM Punk, which was a tremendous match. I was in Punk's corner for that at MetLife Stadium, which to me was the setup for Brock in hindsight.
Starting point is 01:20:03 But yeah, it was, what a murderer role. What a roster of greats that he went through and deservedly so. And considering the undertaker's place in the industry, the idea of him retiring with the streak intact is not an unrealistic idea. It actually seems like that's obviously what was going to happen. If this was anybody else's promotion, I would suggest Undertaker himself and anybody else observing would have a right to feel betrayed by the notion after a while that you would stop this, that you would end this, that you would take this away, that you would end the streak, that the streak would not be retired with the undertaker intact. But the fact that it's Vince McMahon and just the fact that it's Brock Lesnar. That's a big piece.
Starting point is 01:21:09 See, to me, that's always the argument. Yeah. If it wasn't Brock Lesnar, it couldn't have happened. No, correct. It had to be the right guy. I thought when we were going with punk versus Undertaker,
Starting point is 01:21:26 and we had done, and Paul Barer had just passed away, and we had done the way out of the box and way over the line story on television that we laid out the Undertaker, and then we poured the ashes of Paul Barer out of the undertakers or an on to the undertaker, which was just the heaviest thing we could think of doing. I was like, okay, if there's a guy that could be anointed as a top tier star, if there's someone that could become equal to Cena at this point in time, the Macho
Starting point is 01:22:08 man to Hogan, the rock to Steve Austin, a clear one and one A, that if we give punk dysvictory, we've established someone for the next 20 years as a star. And I thought the case could be made for that. CM Punk was ready to beat the undertaker. In Vince's mind and a lot of other people's minds, and most likely in Takers mind, Phil Brooks was not going to get that victory. CM Punk, yes, was not going to get that victory. CM Punk, yes, Phil Brooks, no. That was their decision, that was their judgment. But Brock Lesnar going against the streak, the moment Vince came to us and said,
Starting point is 01:22:57 hey, here's what I have in mind, Fomania. When he said Brock versus Undertaker, first thing in my mind was, oh my God, we're getting a streak. I didn't see it any other way. I couldn't fathom it any other way. Did Vince see it that way? No. Absolutely not.
Starting point is 01:23:15 No way. No. Why would he? You think up until the time that it was decided that Brock would take the streak, invents his mind, the undertaker would retire with the streak. No.
Starting point is 01:23:31 You don't think so? No. It's not Vince's major. Okay. It's just not. Okay. I'm going to get something out of this. Yes, yes.
Starting point is 01:23:39 I invited, I invested this much into it. Yes. And I want something out of it. Yes. He just never saw the time yet where he needed it. Yes. And that was something that was going to be pulled when he needed it. Would he have let the Undertaker retire at a summer slam
Starting point is 01:24:00 or a survivor series mid-year and right off into the sunset. Oh, yeah, beautiful. I'm going to keep you on retainer. We'll cut a merchandising deal with you. We'll keep you active in some way that you can make you can make a living and a handsome one at that. And we still have the benefit of the intellectual property and everything. But one of the reason all events would do that is, oh, this is a great WrestleMania. If you come out of retirement and defend the streak, and by the way, I found the person to beat you. I don't care if Undertaker was 85 years old at the time. If he's alive, if the dead man is alive, so to speak, then the streak is exploitable. And if it's exploitable, the promoter in Vince
Starting point is 01:24:47 McMahon wants to exploit it. That's what we do. When you're lying on the floor, listening for that magical moment in music, where it hits, and you don't need to be up at the board, you don't need to have the earphones on. Because you're lying on the floor like a kid who's listening at home for the first time that song, come on to radio and go, my God, I don't know what song it is or who doesn't, but I need to go buy that piece of music.
Starting point is 01:25:19 When you find that sweet spot, you know that it's there. And that is in that moment when you go, that's it, that's the moment. No more takes, don't think that's long again. Wait till it comes out, you'll be happy, because I'm happy. I heard it, it was there,
Starting point is 01:25:38 and it will resonate with kids across the world, or adults across whomever. The audience will buy into it. You are at that moment exploiting the art of the performer in the studio that hit the note, hit that music, hit the line, hit the vibe, hit the verse that you were seeking. We're exploiting each other's talents,
Starting point is 01:26:02 we're exploiting each other's artistry, we're exploiting each other's talents. We're exploiting each other's artistry. We're exploiting each other's gifts. And Vince will look to exploit that. And he would look to exploit the streak. So did I ever believe that streak was gonna remain intact? No. This is very interesting to hear you say this because we think of wrestling as a predetermined thing.
Starting point is 01:26:28 And I guess you are talking about it being predetermined, but a different predetermination than the powers that might assume is going to happen. My attitude with Brock Lesnar always was predetermined or unscripted. The finish of the match is always the same. The finish is what Brock is going to allow it to be. That Brock decides he's going to win. There's not a being on the face of this planet that's going to stop him from that victory. And I'm not just limiting it to human beings. I don't care what you say. So all of the normal rules of the game don't apply to Brock. None of them. He's Brock Lesnar. He doesn't fit in. Yes. And he's not supposed to
Starting point is 01:27:19 fit in. Yes. And that's why he's such a huge box office attraction. In anything that he does, this many decades into it, because he's not like everybody else. This boy is special. What year was the streak? 2014, okay. And it's WrestleMania 30, yes. And it's the first one on the WWE Network.
Starting point is 01:27:46 So there's every reason to do something truly historical. And here's the thing, Brock Lesnar's supposed to be the exception to every rule. When not supposed to be one of many, was supposed to defy convention. So is Brock Lesnar the zero and 22 and zero? Or is Brock Lesnar the one and 21 and one? And subsequently, once you give him, doesn't he become more important to beat any champion? Doesn't the victory over Lesnar become the Holy Grail? Isn't Lesnar defending the laurels the quote unquote title of 21 and 1, because isn't the new chase to become the one that beat the one in 21 and one. So essentially, Brock becomes the streak. Brock becomes the successor to the streak, becomes the holy grail,
Starting point is 01:29:16 becomes the victory no man can attain, and becomes the embodiment of the impossible mountain to climb, so that when someone climbs that mountain, when someone beats Brock Lesnar, they are instantly made in the same way that Brock Lesnar is instantly made. The moment the referees hand hits three at WrestleMania 30 signifying Brock had conquered the streak and we had someone in mind to be the next big thing, the company's next big star, the guy that would pull the wagon, the successor to John Cena, the person to become the one who beat the one in 21 and one. We had someone in mind at that time. Even at that time. Yes. That's unbelievable. Do you know who that person was? Who was that person? Roman Reigns. And it just so happens. That's what happened.
Starting point is 01:30:17 Yes. Well, at WrestleMania 31, it was Brock versus Roman Reins. When Brock had beaten John Cena in LA at what is now the crypto, then the staples. And shocking fashion. Yeah, brutal fashion. I don't think Cena got in one offensive move. He got in one, he got his whole, he got his finishing hold on Brock and Brock broke it powered out of it
Starting point is 01:30:41 and threw him around like a rag doll. 16 suplexes, suplexoll. Sixteen Suplexes. Suplex City. And I was at that and it was a shocking shock. The room was no one could believe what we were seeing. A thrashing of the top star in the industry. The idea was to be a shocking as conquering the streak. It worked.
Starting point is 01:31:09 Credit to Brock Lesnar and to John Cena. Wow. So now Brock's the unbeatable champion. Walking into WrestleMania were just the year before he attained the impossible victory over the undertaker. He's the one in 21 and one defending the title against the one guy who matches up against Brock Lesnar Roman Reigns from the shield. And just when you think Roman Reigns is about to win his former partner from the shield Seth
Starting point is 01:31:39 Rollins, cash is in money in the bank steals the match and the title from both Brock and Roman reign, which was also incredible. And I was there for that one. Unbelievable. Unbelievable. Yeah. Yeah. Unbelievable.
Starting point is 01:31:56 Which creates a whole bunch of new matchups. So the impossible victory for Roman reigns is delayed for another time with hopefully bigger box office and more proceeds and more of a boost to Roman when he finally can demonstrate his ability to conquer the conqueror. Let's talk about when Roman reigns becomes a Paul Heyman guy. I've kind of always looked at it like Paul Heyman became a Roman reigns guy. It's, we always flirted with it. Brock and I always flirted with it.
Starting point is 01:32:35 Roman and I always flirted with it. First of all, I have an enormous history with his family. The very first time Brock and I confronted Roman Reigns on television was the day after the blizzard in the Northeast that Monday Night Raw was snowed out and we had to do it from the studios in Stanford because the rumble had been in Hartford and Roman had won the rumble who's going to go against Brock for WrestleMania 31. And I went up to Roman with Brock at my side and I shook his hand and I said, I'm sure you know I've known your family longer than you've known your own family.
Starting point is 01:33:16 Because I've known his family since before he was born. When I was 15 years old, I would ride at times to Allentown and Hamburg, Pennsylvania, to what was Vincent James McMahon's WWF television tapings for superstars of wrestling and all-star wrestling, and I would ride with Alpha and Seika. Seika being Roman's father, Alpha being Roman's uncle, And at times they were breaking in off as oldest son, Big Sam, Samu, Sam Anawaii, and he was learning to business, and I'd ride with all three of them. And this is when they were all living in Hamden, Connecticut, which was the center of the entire territory. Whether you're going to
Starting point is 01:34:01 Maine, whether you're going to Preskile Maine, Portland Maine, Bangor Maine, New Hampshire, Boston, all the way down to Capitol Center, Washington, D.C. That was the breadth of the territory. Vincent James McMahon's territory, the WWF, then WWF. And this is Vincent's, Vince McMahon's dad. Yes, yes, Vince Sr. Then known as Vince Sr. His Vince doesn't like juniors. Hey, he hates, like Floyd Mayway, the other one we call junior, Vince doesn't want me to call junior.
Starting point is 01:34:32 Well, my father was Vincent James McMahon. I'm Vincent Kennedy McMahon. I'm not a junior. My mental name is different. Ray Mysterio was not allowed to be Ray Mysterio Jr. He's Ray Mysterio. not allowed to be Ray Mysterio Jr. Ray Mysterio. He doesn't like juniors. It makes you less than.
Starting point is 01:34:50 You are automatically second. I don't like that. Yes. I go first. I promote firsts. So I'd ride with off in Seika and I'd learn the business from off in Seika. And I'd been endorsed by a lot of members of the locker room, a lot of the older guys liked me
Starting point is 01:35:10 because I had such respect for the business. Because if they would test me, if they'd asked me a question, you know, about what I saw, my answer would always be, well, I can't do that. And even if I had the physical ability to do it, I don't know if I'd had the balls to do it every night, a hundred times, a night in a ring. I had such physical ability to do it, I don't know if I'd have the balls to do it every night, a hundred times, a night in the ring. I had such respect for what they did
Starting point is 01:35:29 and the tolls that it must take on their body. And I always articulated on that, even at 15 years old. A lot of the old-timers respected that. And this was a time when very difficult to break into the inner circles of the business, let alone at 15 years old. You know into the inner circles of the business, let alone at 15 years old. The old stories of Hulk Hogan tried to try out for the business in here, Matsuda, broke
Starting point is 01:35:50 his leg. Let's see if the kid comes back and see how bad he wants it. This is what they did. They would beat people up who wanted to get inside the business to see if you had the desire, the passion to come back, say, okay, thank you, sir, let's do that again. Maybe this time, let's not break my arm, my leg, rip out my eyeball, bite my nose, whatever, whatever the do you had to pay was.
Starting point is 01:36:13 And I had been endorsed by, you know, like, a couple of the old time, as, you know, Randy Orton's dad, Bob Orton liked me, and Greg Valentine, and Don Morocco, and of course, Louis Loughborough and Fred Blassie and the Grand Wizard, and then walking, you know, coming to some dressing rooms, you know, off and see, go, Hey, this is his kid over here with the camera.
Starting point is 01:36:29 He's all right. He's with us. Oh, shit. He's with off and see. And I know mess with the kid. He's with off and see. And I know. And not only nothing mess with the kid, but you know what?
Starting point is 01:36:37 If off and see. A like this kid, he has to, he has to be offering something. He has to be respectful of the business. Hey, he's with off and see. He's all right. So I had known Roman's family for so many years. And one could tell that this was a natural matchup for Brock Lesnar, this was Macho to Hogan.
Starting point is 01:36:57 This was rock to Austin. This was just the rivalry, the feud, the two that would go down in history intertwined and together, which is new. They just matched up so well. So Roman and I had talked about it because Roman always much like Brock, understanding the cap of his money in 2004, Roman understood the cap of the big dog as a personality. Roman understood that the presentation of the big dog Roman Reigns as much as he could make it his own was always going to be the corporate structure produced this talent,
Starting point is 01:37:50 this superstar in their vision of the top guy in WWE. And the audience was well aware of that. Could smell it from a mile away. Yeah. I'll even reference a piece of music that Rick Rubin didn't produce. George Michael Freedom 90. That's Roman Wains. The whole thing about George Michael singing they wanted my eyes this color.
Starting point is 01:38:24 They wanted me to sing this way. This is how the labels wanted me to present me because that was the marketing. That was the exploitation of my intellectual property. But as an artist, I want the freedom to to to soar or sink on my own. I want the freedom to to to soar or sink on my own with my own merits with my real colored eyes with the way that I really look And dress and present myself and approach my art in music Roman Reigns always had a vision of something past the big dog
Starting point is 01:39:07 But he was still too young and he had not been. How many years was it between the shield breaking up and how long was the big dog post-shield up until the Haman guy? Big dog single push came 2000 and and the third, the fourth, the fourth, the fourth, the fourth, the fourth, the fourth, the fourth, the fourth, the fourth, the fourth, the fourth, the fourth, the fourth, the fourth, the fourth, the fourth, the fourth, the fourth, the fourth, the fourth, the fourth, the fourth, the fourth, the fourth, the fourth, the fourth, the fourth, the fourth, the fourth, the fourth, matches with the big show and and bronze stroman and and all the others and WrestleMania main events against Brock Lesnar. But the perception was, well I'll tell you as a fan, I really enjoyed this shield and post-shield,
Starting point is 01:39:58 I was not into Roman during the big dog era. You could feel this inauthenticity. I don't think Roman Rangel would argue with you at all. That comes, I guarantee you he wouldn't. And the fact that it turned on a dime in one interview and has been full steam ahead ever since. It's a shocking thing to witness. Again, there's a common denominator with Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar. Roman Reigns is a fascinatingly intelligent human being. brilliant. I love the fact that even Rick Rubin who can look at a creative process in any genre and at least find something that you can say, okay, I understand this differently than the common person would understand this because you are who you are in the way that you're wired in the way that you
Starting point is 01:41:05 analyze or assess a creative situation. But even Rick Rubin will say, Roman Reigns, the Paul Aiman guy, I'm the wise man. And I am long false humility aside behind the scenes. I serve as wise man for Roman Reigns. For that human being, 100%. But I learn as much from him and every day as he will ever learn from me. I've learned so much being with him, speak. Even when I teach him something, I learn from him. He's brilliant. He is forward thinking, I got to keep up with him.
Starting point is 01:41:45 I'm challenged every day to keep up with the progressive approach that he takes to our industry. He looked at pandemic WWE with a digital audience in a manner that no one else did. Everybody else was bitching. Everybody, all were limited. All we don't have the crowd. All we can't feel who's resonating.
Starting point is 01:42:10 We can't feel these new baby faces. Are they over? I don't know. We don't know if the audience will click with them. We don't know what they make a connection with the audience. The audience is in there. And all he saw was opportunity. Oh my god, look at the things we can do with this. We can do, we can
Starting point is 01:42:26 do things in the ring without a microphone. And we can have the cameras in there with us because they're not blocking any of you. They're not on the hard camera view because we can, we can cut it. And we can have the cameras right there in our faces. We can whisper. You can't whisper. When there's 22,000 people, even into the microphone, you have to whisper like this. Show that the audience at home can hear you. When there's no audience, you can whisper and you can start doing movy scenes. We can bring a sophistication to this product. We can upgrade the product. We can elevate the product.
Starting point is 01:43:10 We can bring better acting to this product. We can do scenes instead of angles. We can play out story lines that in this soap opera of professional wrestling slash sports entertainment is so important. It's the story that's the hook. And we can literally draw an audience, attract a crowd to see the next chapter of the story play out and it doesn't even have to be a match anymore. We can completely tilt the axis of what is perceived to be sports entertainment and professional wrestling. Would this not have happened if not for the pandemic? No.
Starting point is 01:44:05 No way. Something else would have happened. Yes, of course. Something else would be that always happens. Something would be that disrupting the chaos. Something would be that disrupting the chaos. The specifics are because of this situation, now we're performing without an audience, it changed the game.
Starting point is 01:44:20 And there's a way to change the game where ruins the game and there's a way to change the game where it's the greatest you've ever seen in the game. And there's a way to change the game where ruins the game. And there's a way to change the game where it's the greatest you've ever seen the game. CD changed vinyl. Napster changed CD. Apple changed the Napster generation. Streaming became the way to go. There will be a new disruptor in the distribution of music that comes along, either based on natural revolution and evolution, or based on circumstances in this world, Elon Musk colonizes Mars. There's no streaming on Mars. Uh-oh, what do we do? We go back to vinyl. We're something. Something all happened. Whatever the optic wires and nerves, satellites can bring us.
Starting point is 01:45:13 Someone will say, oh, this is a distribution portal. Really? How do you see that? Oh, don't you see it? No. But the visionaries do. Roman Reigns sought. He just sought what he didn't have was the character to give it because everything that was being pitched to him was the big dog. We're going to bring back the big dog and this is your yard and you're going to bark and bite. And you know, you know, and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and And of those the five years that that he was the big dog, how many years was he out? Because he was out one one year about. Yeah, I don't know the exact amount of time. And at the time that he left, did we know he was coming back? Oh, nobody knew. Nobody knew how sick he was.
Starting point is 01:45:57 I mean, the day the thought was he has a handle on this. The thought was this is treatable. The thought was he'll be back. handle on this. The thought was this is treatable. The thought was he'll be back, but you're talking about a very unpredictable affliction that can take a wrong turn real fast. And the next thing you know the world and his family is suffering without them. So I mean, nobody knew how much did that change him. I'm sure it gave him a greater appreciation of life. I'm sure it gave him a greater appreciation of one's own mortality. I'm sure it gave him a greater appreciation of the blessings that he has over and above what many other people have. We, we, we, John Cena to me is a real life hero.
Starting point is 01:46:50 He's a superhero. When I become a grandparent one day, if I'm asked what my grandchildren should watch, it's not or read comic books or whatever, it will not be watch Superman or Batman or Spider-Man with incredible Hulk. Once you're superhero, go look at what John Cena did with his life outside of the ring. Batman's a superhero. I don't have the words to convey the admiration I have for John Cena as a human being. There had come a point in time where Vince had to sit down with John and say,
Starting point is 01:47:31 you need to let me go public with these make-a-wish visits. You have to. You know you're hurting make-a-wish by not allowing me to do that. Because if people understood how much of your time you give to make-a-wish and and to these kids they'll be inclined to contribute. They'll be inclined to get involved. You will help them if you allow this because Cena never wanted to exploit it. He never wanted publicity for it. He never wanted recognition for it.
Starting point is 01:48:01 He wanted to just do it. That's a hero. People who go through life and say, I'm going to do this because God will smile on me and it might take it into heaven. Well, then your motivation isn't really pure. Is it your motivation? Is I want something back for this? I want my VIP pass to heaven. I want God to like me because of this. That's not why John Cena did it. John Cena did it. John Cena did it because it was the right thing to do. I run into people and they say,
Starting point is 01:48:29 how you doing to me? And my answer is pretty much always the same. Now, nowadays, I'm a blessed man. And I believe that. I believe I'm an extraordinarily blessed man. And what it boils down to is, when I woke up this morning, I called both my kids and guess what they're healthy. I'm a blessed man. Everything else is relative.
Starting point is 01:48:50 Ah, the finish didn't go well. Okay, there'll be other finishes. Hey, you got fired from your job. Okay, you know what? I'll find another job. Hey, the stock market crashed. You broke. Okay, I'll make more money. Hey, your house burned down, your car blew up. Oh, you look through this, the house burning down. Your family's okay. It's just a house. Who can say shit? Family's okay. You're a blessed man. I've looked into the eyes of the parents, these make-o-wish kids. Kids accept their fate. Bravest souls you can never meet. The parents, hell on earth. Take me, not my kid. Please take me. Take me and hurt me along the way, but make this painless for my kid. Take me and torment me forever. Send me to hell, but let my kid have a life.
Starting point is 01:49:48 Don't trade anything, anything. Did not have this existence inflicted upon their child. Their fate is worth worse than a tormented death. And you look into the eyes of those parents and you walk away. And your kids are healthy. You're blessed. I'm a blessed man. Roman Reigns had an affliction. His children. Thank God. Thank God as of now.
Starting point is 01:50:20 Don't share that affliction. His children are healthy. What a blessed man. His mom still alive. And what a character she is. He's a blessed man. His father still alive. And a legend. What a blessed man. He has suffered loss in his family. His older brother, Maddie, passed away. So he knows what that's like. So I think what he went through, having lived, and he was on the road to 250 days a year at the time,
Starting point is 01:50:48 200, 250 days a year, he was on a full schedule, working every show. And then it stopped. Boom, now you're home. Boom, complete shock to the system in every conceivable way. Wow, you know what? I'm not on TV and the business went on without me. Hey, you know what? I'm not on TV and the business went on without me. Hey, you know something. I'm not in St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit,
Starting point is 01:51:12 Milwaukee, Los Angeles, New York, Buffalo, Syracuse, Tampa, Miami, Oklahoma City, Saudi Arabia. I'm not in Saudi Arabia. This happened going into a Saudi show. His recurrence happened heading into a Saudi show and it went on without him. The world goes on without me and I'm still here and I'm getting better every day and my children are healthy and my wife is with me and my dad's alive. My mom's alive. I'm alive. Now keep it going. Coming back. What a blessed man.
Starting point is 01:51:48 I think he really felt that this time, you know? Yeah. I think it gave him a chance to really appreciate life. Let's talk about the transition from you being the advocate for the beast to becoming the wise man? Well, the world changed as ambia apocalypse hit. I had become in 2019 the executive director of Monday Night Row.
Starting point is 01:52:15 This is while I'm still on camera with Brock. And as we are headed towards that WrestleMania, the number I don't remember, though I should because it's a very unique one. It's the only one with no audience. The pandemic hits. Now, Brock's an expensive meal ticket. He was right in 2004. Leave, become a much bigger star in the outside world. Come back, get paid outside world celebrity money and schedule. And so without being able to run live events and without Saudi and that enormous deal coming in, budgeting for Brock Lesnar in an empty arena several times a year doesn't make business sense. So when Brock's contract came due and we're in the middle of the pandemic, it doesn't
Starting point is 01:53:16 make any sense for WWE to do what they had done every year, which is, yeah, we know this was your final year. But if you'd consider consider we're going to throw more money at you Give us another year of this and this was a year Well, that wasn't going to happen because there was no way to get a return on the investment So Brock went back to Saskatchewan And in his mind that was the end He's done I'm still there as executive director. Roman Reigns has taken time off.
Starting point is 01:53:51 With his condition, he's not exposing himself to this pandemic that we don't have a grasp on how severe it can be, quite just yet. And at the same time, he's had enough of the creative. These things are running concurrently. The feud rivalry story with Baron Corbin over dog food and the infamous Sufferan Sakatash infamous suffer in succotash promo had weighed on him enough to where he said I've had enough I I've reached the cap. I can't go any further as the big dog. I've peaked and as an athlete I haven't peaked as a performer. I've barely scratched the surface. I have so much more to offer, and since I'm taking time off, I'm not coming back as the same person.
Starting point is 01:54:50 This is where I make my move. This is where I do for me what Lesnar did for himself when he conquered the streak. Something has to become my defining moment and then propel forward from there. The catalyst to something completely different. Four WrestleMania main events to his credit, a run on top since 2015 and one could even say always near the top from 2012 to 2015, but something has to be generational here. Something has to define him as Austin, Rock, Sam Martino, Hogan, a transformative personality that can then ultimately make the case, I, Roman Reigns, and the greatest of all time.
Starting point is 01:55:43 Which the big dog was not no way No, it's an authentic It's a portrayal and it's not real. So what happened next? so Vince removes me as executive director in June of 2020 and I Thought I had a bunch a bunch of months left on my contract and I was going to write it out and we'll see where we go from there There were limited options in my agreement as to whom WWE could put me with I when I had the leverage I
Starting point is 01:56:20 wrote that in because we had reached a point with the cachet of being Brock Lesnar's advocate that anybody else you put me with could either make them instantly a star or you're watering me down and ultimately hurting the other person because they don't belong with me. They don't measure up to where you're used to seeing my character bring someone down to the ring, which is either the main event of WrestleMania or close to it. One of the few names on this list was Roman Reigns.
Starting point is 01:56:57 Another was Brock Lesnar, obviously. Another was Ronda Rousey. Ronda Rousey was having a baby. Brock Lesnar wasn't coming back with Saudi being down. Kind of left Roman reigns in there. So Vince calls me in the middle of August, and he says, I'm gonna take it back into television. And I'm thinking,
Starting point is 01:57:17 oh, he's gonna make me a commentator. And Jim Ross isn't here. Who am I gonna work with? How is this gonna go? What is a commentator in 2020? How can I be disruptive? How can I be evolutionary in the process? How can I redefine this role? Because I don't just want to settle in and do what's been done already, even by me, I want to I want to do this differently. I said, okay, what do you got in mind? And he says, I'm gonna put you with somebody,
Starting point is 01:57:51 and I'm thinking, uh-oh, is he rid of my contract? And I said, well, you know, Vince, the options are kind of limited in that. And I just, and I'm trying to tiptoe into a delicate situation here where I'm about to butt heads with them. And I'm thinking to tip toe into a delicate situation here where I'm about to bite heads with them. And I'm thinking, Rondus pregnant.
Starting point is 01:58:08 Rondus is not coming back doing it with Saudi down. Certainly he's not putting me with Roman and he goes, I'm envisioning Roman reigns with Paul Heyman. And I'm thinking, oh my god, he's gonna pull the trigger on this. He would never pull it with Cena. He would never have allowed Cena to become to come to the dark side. Yeah. Yeah. Cena was going to be Anakin Skywalker his entire life. Yeah, he was never going to be Darth Vader. A heel of villain and antagonist. Talk about the villain in pro wrestling in general. That's the archetype for
Starting point is 01:58:49 anyone who doesn't study this stuff. The job of a villain in pro wrestling is not to be the bad guy. The job of a villain in pro wrestling slash sports entertainment is to make the other person the hero. And if you happen to become marketable yourself in the process of defining why I should like the baby face, more power to you. But that's not your primary responsibility. The primary responsibility of the villain is to define what's so likable about the hero. Present the antithesis, prevent the hero from doing the
Starting point is 01:59:33 things that make him a hero or her hero, and then be the victim of the avenging babyface who brings the comeuppance to you in front of a crowd that's willing to pay to see it. The heel is, the villain is, stereotypically, the one you pay to see get beat, beat up or both. And if they can keep some of that villainry attached to their aura after the avenging babyface gets his revenge, then they can still draw money and make yet another hero, another babyface. That's the role of the villain. Okay. When Roman Reigns and I finally talked in August of 2020, in a continuation of conversations that we had had for five years, four years about,
Starting point is 02:00:38 oh, if we ever got together, oh, you have Brock Lesnar's, ever switch sides and got behind this guy and promoted this guy and articulated for this guy. We'd set the business on fire. And we knew he couldn't be the big dog. Now anyone who knows this man understands he has a star's presence. First of all he looks like a Aquaman. I say this fully obsessed heterosexual man. He's the best-looking man. I don't remember which director it was. I think it was the director of the movie Troy.
Starting point is 02:01:28 And he said, he said, he was directing the movie and Brian Cox is doing this scene and Peter O. told me, what a cast in that movie, you know? And he said, and Brad Pitt walks on the set, he says, and he says, and I couldn't stop staring and I'm going, oh my God, how is it possible that someone's, you Roman reigns is that striking of a presence, of what an alpha male athlete is supposed to look like.
Starting point is 02:01:56 Two, he's incredibly gifted as an athlete. He's a D1 football player and was also coincidentally being picked up by the Minnesota Vikings when he got flagged with leukemia. That came out in his medical test. It's the Vikings wanted him, Waltines, which is the same team Brock tried out for. Thirty is again, his understanding of performance and his desire to be more and to do more and challenge himself to become more. His acting chops are there. They're really there.
Starting point is 02:02:37 He's a natural. He can tap into emotions that trained Shakespearean actors have a hard time finding and have to end up going method to find because they can't find it on command and he can. He's a magnificent actor. actor. I always looked at him and thought not in these words, but that's the tribal chief. And it's not just a play on the Polynesian islands or the Samoan tribal chief. I know a lot of people suspected at first that was me paying homage to Peter, my via, you know, the Paramount high Samoan chief. it's not. The idea was the tribe is the WWE universe. And he's the tribal chief of the entire WWE, not of the Samoan Islands. He's the tribal chief of the WWE universe. And he operates out of the island of relevancy. It's funny because we almost didn't go with islander relevancy. We
Starting point is 02:03:47 almost went with championship island. And somehow we realized, well, that limits a decade's long progression of the character, because if it's not about the championship, then why are we on championship island? Yeah, but island of relevancy is amazing. Yeah, we lucked into that. Interesting about things like the island of relevancy, and the tribal chief and the head of the table, and suplex city, that sometimes it's something that you actively write.
Starting point is 02:04:26 And sometimes it's an off-handed comment that you realize somebody just said some things like let's use that. Right, well, the tribal chief, I came up with tribal chief and Roman came up with special counsel for me and he tagged me the wise man. And that I remember when he said it the first time
Starting point is 02:04:45 and it seemed like an off-handed comment. It didn't seem like, at the time that I saw, it didn't seem written. No, there was no plan to it. In fact, I actually thought he was giving me a nod to Freddie Blassie and the Grand Wizard and Loalbano because for Vincent James McMahon, they were known as the three wise men of the east.
Starting point is 02:05:07 They had a lock on being managers in the San Martino Morales Bob Bakland Eras. There was no other managers in the WWF, in 1984 Roddy Piper was brought in as a manager. I didn't know that. Grand Wizard died in October 1983, and Roddy Piper came in originally as a manager. How did the Grand Wizard end up in wrestling, considering Fred Blassie and Lou Albanna were both wrestlers who became managers. Ernie Roth was a five foot four, five foot five inch fragile, small, unethnic Jewish man from Canton, Ohio that made his living on the radio as a televanjalist. Is that true?
Starting point is 02:06:10 That's amazing. Are there any recordings of his televanjalism? I'm sure, I would love to hear. I would love to hear them myself. One would think he would be the closest thing to Dr. Eugene Scott. I love him, my hero. But you and I, I love him.
Starting point is 02:06:30 Oh my God. I, Eugene Scott used to come on TV in New York on Channel 68, which was out of Union, New Jersey. They had a, they had a, of course, of the, of the Floyd and U Yeah. And they would also have wrestling programming on. They they had Bill Watts's TV on. They they had a world class on. They had crockets TV on. But
Starting point is 02:06:56 channel 68 for hours and hours a day. What air doctor Eugene Scott. And you know, the whole Jimmy Swagger scandal had happened, you know, and Eugene Scott, you know, it's on there, and you know, and he's smoking us a car, and he has the hats, and he's having his band play, the song, Kill a Pissant for Jesus. And he says, and he starts talking about, you know, I, well, my sins aren't the same sins as
Starting point is 02:07:26 Jimmy Swaggerts, but I have sinned in my lifetime, and I plan on sinning again. And if you're watching me at home, and you're trying to live a righteous lifestyle, and you're not sinning, well, you're doing Jesus in injustice, because Jesus died for your sins. And if you don't sin, there was no reason for the Son of God to have died. I remember when the Iraq war started. He said, nuke him in the name of Jesus. He was just so, so funny, so smart. Oh, brilliant.
Starting point is 02:08:00 I mean, and you know, he brought the church in LA that had Jesus saves on it. And then the government came after him for taxes. And he was all pissed off about it. And one day he's on there and he's just smoking a cigar and he's not saying a word. And he's going through the Bible like the old Evelyn Wood speed reading courses. And he's going through the Bible, like the old Evelyn Wood speed reading courses. And he's going through the Bible and he says, he goes, I've been sitting here for about 30 minutes, he's going through this book.
Starting point is 02:08:30 And I'm pretty well educated on pretty well versed, on the verses within this book. And I just want to say to the internal revenue service, there is no such word as audit in the Bible. Well, there's a defense for you, you know? And I, oh, I was such a fan of Eugene's, and I would imagine that Ernie Roth, Erwin Jacob Roth from Canton, Ohio, was a lot like Eugene Scott. Wow.
Starting point is 02:09:00 And the chic discovered him. Amazing. He had done some stuff in an around Ohio. He'd managed magnificent marise and handsome Johnny Barron, and then Johnny Barron and beautiful Bob Harmon, who he ended up living with for many, many years. That was his partner for, until Ernie's death and the
Starting point is 02:09:26 Sheik discovered him and brought him to Detroit as Abdul-Afarouk. So he went from being a small, frail Jewish man playing a televangelist, spreading the gospel of Jesus on the radio to make money, to becoming a wealthy Syrian businessman who backed the shake. And he always found it funny that the chic would allow himself to be billed as the chic when the name is actually chic. That chic is not actually appropriate in an Arabic culture, it's chic. And he goes, but theikh being as smart as he is would accept the terminology because it's easier to pronounce by the ticket to buying audience.
Starting point is 02:10:16 So Ernie and Al-Bano and Blassy were the three wise men of the East. So when Roman just offhandedly called me the wise man, I was just like, wow, he just threw me something man. He just bestowed upon me a sacred name in WWE, WWE, WWE, WWE, WWE culture. Wow, that, you know, in the way that his family and McMahon family dynasty, that's a sacred name. No, Bobby Heenan was not the wise man, Jimmy Hart was not the wise man. Slick was not the wise man. None of these people ever got bestowed upon them the title of wise man. So I just thought, wow, he just made his special counsel of wise man.
Starting point is 02:11:00 That I will remember this promo for the rest of my life. And then everyone started coming up and going, a wise man, could I ask you something? It just stuck even Vince would say, wise man may have a moment when I'm like, well, he even Vince is calling me wise man. What have you done? He just ran and made.
Starting point is 02:11:15 Amazing. It's amazing. It's just Roman. He stumbles on to things. Amazing. The acknowledged me was a stumble. That's the best. It's the best.
Starting point is 02:11:25 We were trying to figure out, you know, what does he really, because his first storyline as champion was with his cousin, Jay. Yes. And we were trying to figure out which was unbelievable. That story was unbelievable. Brutal story.
Starting point is 02:11:40 Yes. Head of the table grew up with these two, not as cousins, but as brothers. Yes, head of the table grew up with these two, not as cousins, but as brothers. Yes. But always was the biggest one in the room. In a culture where size does matter, because the biggest of the tribe goes out and slays the woolly mammoth to feed the nine children and cousins at the dinner table. The most capable feeds the family, and he was always the most capable. He was the big ooze. He was the big one of the family.
Starting point is 02:12:16 He was the one of the next generation. Yeah. And the twins were twins, a team, a unit, a combination, a collaboration that could think and act as one, but were two individuals that acted as a team. And altogether, we the ones. So we were trying to figure out the rules. How did we the ones come to your member? It was one of the usos that came up with it.
Starting point is 02:12:43 And I think just said it. I don't think it was a- Out of the blue. We with it. And I think just said it. I don't think it was a- Out of the blue. Yeah. We heard it. We went, that's it. That's it. That's our tag.
Starting point is 02:12:52 We got this one. And Roman had said, well, you know what I really want from Jay? I don't want his love. I have that. I don't want his admiration. I don't even want his obedience. I'll take that from him. You know what I need? I'm the head of the table. I am the tribal chief. I need him to acknowledge me. And the moment he said it, we all got chills because we knew this is bigger than this moment.
Starting point is 02:13:28 got chills because we knew this is bigger than this moment. Yeah. This is the declarative statement. This is the definition of the character. What does the character want? What does the tribal chief need? What does the head of the table seek? Acknowledgement. And it's emotional. It's an emotional. If you think of all of the popular catch phrases none of them are emotional. Can you smell what the rocket's cooking? That's not emotional. That's the bottom line because Stone Cold said so. Alpha male statement. You know why that's the bottom line? Because motherfucker I fucking said so. I fucking said so. I'm motherfucking said that's the bottom line. That's the bottom line and you will accept it cause it comes from me.
Starting point is 02:14:11 If you smell what the rock is cooking, same thing, very alpha male, very declarative, very boss, very dominant, dominant. You're all my submissive bitches. You will be subservient to my vision because that's what the rock is cooking. If you smell, it's a rhetorical question. It's not, hey, by the way, you kind of get what I'm saying. It's you get what I'm saying. Don't you? If you smell what the rock is cooking, it's imposing one's will on the other person. What you're gonna do when the Hulkster,
Starting point is 02:14:52 when Hulk Mania runs wild on you, in other words, you're hopeless, you're helpless. There's nothing you can do. What you're gonna do, nothing bitch, it's the prison scene. Hey, I really like your shoes. Oh yeah, thanks, you know what they're, they ask you a brand they were.
Starting point is 02:15:10 I told you I like your shoes. By this time, you should be taking them off and handing them to me. When I ask you what size your shoes are, your answer is your size, sir. That's the prison logic. These are prison declarative statements. You're in the yard. Rest in peace. That means you're dead. You're a dead motherfucker. You're
Starting point is 02:15:32 against the undertaker. You're going to die. Die at the hands of the dead man. You know, Romans catch phrases, needy. The most confident performer, the best-looking man, the guy that looks like a champion, the one guy that can handle Brock Lesnar, the D1 athlete, a second generation Samoan American wrestler. And he's needy. He's a tribal chief. He's the head of the table. He runs the family. He's the biggest
Starting point is 02:16:07 star. But he's needy. He needs you to acknowledge him. He needs you to acknowledge him. Please acknowledge me. I'm not here for your love. I'm not here for your affirmation. I'm not here for you to chant my name. I just I need you. It's unbelievable. It's unbelievable. It puts the power in the audience to react. Anyway, they want. Anyway, they want boomy, boomy. I acknowledge me. You want to cheer me, cheer me. I acknowledge me. Yeah. I acknowledge me. It's not learned to love it. No. No. No, no, no, no. There's no command. Yeah. It's not learned to love it. No! No, no, no, no, there's no command.
Starting point is 02:16:49 No. It's a plea. It's a plea. It's a plea. It's a plea. It's a plea. It's a plea. It's a plea.
Starting point is 02:16:57 It's a plea. It's a plea. From a man who doesn't beg, from a man who rules, from a man who commands the island of relevancy. Please acknowledge me. Please. Just acknowledge me. It's all I need. I don't just want it. I need it from you.
Starting point is 02:17:05 And when you do it, do it authentically. Going back to George Michael in Freedom 90, going back to the big dog being manufactured by the corporate structure and the branding and the marketing and the global push of the machine of WWE, we are encouraging the audience's reaction to be genuine. Do not respond to us as villains or heels or bad guys or antagonists. Don't respond to us as heroes or baby faces or good guys or fan favorites.
Starting point is 02:17:41 You know what you do? Respond to us anyway you want, but respond to us. Acknowledge us. Please acknowledge us in any way that you want as long as you do. Yes, the most dominant force in WWE. And it's a plea. It's a bag. It's an it's so beautiful when he does it and the reactions are always incredible. Yeah, because it empowers the audience to be real. It empowers the audience to be themselves. It empowers the audience to be their own tribal chief and say or do anything they want. do anything they want and the most powerful performer in the industry in decades is asking you, pleading with you, begging you, needing you as an audience member to do something. Please do this.
Starting point is 02:18:42 It's amazing. Yeah, it's amazing. What a psychological twist that this dominant figure. Well, it makes him vulnerable. It makes him human. It makes him. We want to see how it's going to go because he's not a machine. He's not Brock Lesnar. He's not a beast. Brock Lesnar, he's not a beast. He's an emotional human being. Yes. Vulnerable. Yeah. Exposing his own vulnerabilities, which is why when he gets angry, which is why when he cries,
Starting point is 02:19:16 which is why when he questions the loyalty of his own family members, you feel those emotions in him. to your of his own family members. You feel those emotions in him. You feel them coming out of him and you believe them, you buy into them. You need to live with him, not just vicariously through him. He's not limited by the label of a villain
Starting point is 02:19:40 or a heel or a bad guy. He's so much more. He's a compelling, complex, sophisticated, layered character. This is what David Chase wanted to do with Tony soprano. Got a mob guy that kills people with his parents, orders the death of many men. And yet, at home, his kids bitch Adam, one's flunking out of school, the other daughters coming into the peak of puberty
Starting point is 02:20:13 and discovering boys, the Tony soprano doesn't want banging his daughter and all these different things. And he's on a psychiatrist couch and he has his having nerves break down. And he has issues about his about his own father, the gangster. So this is a layered character that you you you you love to hate or hate to love and you feel all these different emotions about Walter White and Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul.
Starting point is 02:20:37 You know Mike Mike and both shows, you know, these are compelling characters that are not black and white, You know, these are compelling characters that are not black and white, much dashed, twirling, Salvador Dali, Simon Barcinister, I am the Eve. This is not 1980s, Hulkomania, enemies. These are sophisticated contemporary characters that I can buy into, that I either love to hate or hate to love and sometimes both within a very same five seconds that I'm willing to pay to see the next chapter of that these are situated as a villain but not limited by the label. And that's the tribal chief. And he's able to play it and pull it off and find new dimensions and new layers and new emotions even. When just when I thought like, man, I've seen every emotion someone can play, but to display multiple emotions within the same scene at the same time, where you know
Starting point is 02:21:43 what he's doing, but you know what he's doing but you know what he means. And you know so much about the character now that when he does something, you know the true meaning behind his actions and his words. He is the most transformative character in this industry in generations. When the Sammie Z in character entered the story, did you have any idea what it would become? No, but I rode the wave because the audience born into it.
Starting point is 02:22:13 I just did the audience because I've seen people come along that should have been as famous, as wealthy, as important, as relevant, as Steve Austin, the rock, the undertaker, Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns, and never click with the audience. And I've seen people come along that had no business making a dollar in this business, let alone surviving a day in the business, let alone drawing any money or being on top
Starting point is 02:22:44 and have long, healthy, wonderful careers. And I don't know how many years ago it was, I was literally just breaking in as a performer and I was asked the secret sauce of pro wrestling and my answer was, a very simple. What works works, what doesn't, doesn't. And that saying has become tied to my theory of this industry when people ask, what's your theory of the industry, that's it. What works works what doesn't, doesn't. There are things that should work
Starting point is 02:23:20 that check every single solitary box. And it doesn't work, it doesn't work. You've experienced it. Absolutely. Here's the greatest part of our control. That's out of our control. All we can do is do our best in the moment, throw everything we have at something to be the best that could possibly be.
Starting point is 02:23:41 But beyond that, it's out of our hands. And you can sleep well, even when it doesn't work, when you know, I've done everything I can do. I know it's my best. It's fine. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. It's magic. It is magic. It's incredible that it ever works. That's how magical it is And that's the thing what works works what doesn't doesn't the Sammy thing worked Who am I to question the audience did I think it would work? I thought It'd be a nice short term thing, you know the example I gave was a two weeks three weeks I had to get to cameo
Starting point is 02:24:20 That ends up doing such a Magnificent performance that we invite them back the next week the next thing you know he is starring in the show. The Sammy story was the story of acceptance. And I've given this before, so I apologize, it's not unique. But the application of this explanation still applies. Anybody that's been past seventh or eighth grade can relate to this. You're in high school. You're sitting at a this. You're in high school, you're sitting at a table, you look at another table and you say, I want to sit with
Starting point is 02:24:54 those guys. The cool kids. The cool kids. And your friends will say, yeah, but they're assholes. Yeah, I know they're assholes, but I want to sit with them. Why their assholes? Because everybody notices them. Because they're the center of attention. Because in this high school, now let's use the word island, they are relevant. They live on the island of relevancy.
Starting point is 02:25:21 And that's where I want to reside. And somehow you get your way into that circle. You're in that click. You're in that elite group that no one else can get into. You're in a closed door society. You're relevant. And you look around and you say, wow, these guys are assholes. How do I get away from them? And how do I get my revenge for the way that they're treating me like the asshole that I'm not?
Starting point is 02:25:57 I'm pissed off. It's dangling the carrot in front of the horse, and the horse finally gets the carrot and realizes the carrot is sour. From the day this story started, it was obvious where it was going to go. It was obvious, Sammy was going to get close. It was obvious, Sammy was going to get close. It was obvious Sammy was going to get in. It was obvious he was going to be sitting at our table living on the island of relevancy and it was obvious. He was going to get bullied and battered and beaten and subjected to our asshole dumb to such a degree that at some point he's
Starting point is 02:26:46 going to say, I don't want to be here anymore. I want out this ain't for me. You're not who I thought you were. I don't like you guys anymore. And it was obvious that for that he was going to pay a price. And yet people wanted to see it play out. They knew the story that was gonna be told and they wanted to see how it would take on that age old tale. And Sammy was magnificent. He's just so endearing. He does more with a hush puppy sad face than we could do playing to the people in the cheap seats.
Starting point is 02:27:27 You know, the old expression in our businesses, you never look down, you look up. Number one, it's more cinematic, it's more operatic. But if you look down, the people up top can't see you. If you look up with your pain, your expressions, then everyone can see you and it's majestic, and it's larger theater. And Sammy can do more just with that hush puppy face on a close-up of him looking sad,
Starting point is 02:27:52 than any of us can do reaching out for the 5,10, 50, 100,000 people in a arena, NBA arena, club, building, or stadium that we play. He was just wonderful. And he couldn't look less like someone who belonged in the bloodline. Like it's so funny to see him with them. Couldn't fit worse. See, we're having a freeform creative expression here So I will tell you something that I always wanted to say to Sammy on television Yeah, because I will never be able to say it on television. Yeah, because it's so inappropriate. Yeah I'm a big fan of the scenes in the movie true romance Like a lot of people can't stand the entire movie just too long
Starting point is 02:28:44 But boy you bring it down seen by scene one of the greatest movies ever made Love Gary Oldman is Drexel in the movie Christian Slater comes into Drexel's club and catches a beating from Drexel and Drexel turns to his bodyguard Marty and he goes He must have thought it was white boy day In a white boy day is it and Marty was now, man in a white boy day. In a white boy day, is it? Marty was not, man. In a white boy day. I always wanted to do this thing with Sammy, with saying, you know, the problem is Sammy,
Starting point is 02:29:13 you thought it was white boy day. And take it from the one white boy on the island, the relevancy, on the island, the relevancy, in a never white boy day. And of course, there's no way to let me say that on television. It's not about the racial overtones to it, or the skin color of a Polynesian, and it's pale white Sammy from Montreal Quebec. It's about a mentality, because Sammy is as Caucasian as a Caucasian can be.
Starting point is 02:29:44 He does not fit in on the island of relevancy. He just doesn't. I do because I'm the wise man. I'm the exception. I'm Tom Hagen. I'm the non-courtly-owned and the courtly-owned family. I'm the adopted one. I was taken in. I'm I'm I'm you're still afraid of course Of course the one wrong step with the tribal chief and you know, I'm I'm I'm I'm I'm culture stew for dinner It's one of the funniest things is that when you stand next to Brock Lesnar an actual monster You're the most confident Fearless person in the world and when you stand next to Roman Reigns,
Starting point is 02:30:27 the needy emotional tribal chief, you're terrified. It's amazing to watch. I'm the beast tamer. I'm the one that the lion loves. I can put my head in the lion's mouth with no problem, and by the way, just in case someone wants to fuck with me, it's my lion. And he loves me. And if you fuck with me, I'm going to look at my lion and go, sick him. And he's going to tear you apart. My client, Brock Lesnar, client. We are tied in that manner. He comes to me. He hires me.
Starting point is 02:31:12 He respects me. He laughs at my jokes. He listens to my guidance. He pays me. First promo I did with Roman Reigns, I said, just when you, the audience thought I was out, he pulled me back in. Don't point your fingers at me and blame me
Starting point is 02:31:38 for corrupting Roman Reigns. Point your fingers at Roman Reigns and blame him for corrupting me. He's not my client, he's my tribal chief. I answer to him, he can order my extermination on a whim because someone else pisses him off and I didn't see it coming in advance. I better be the wise man. I better see all angles. I better see the future with more clear, clear, buoyancy than no Stradamus because if
Starting point is 02:32:19 I'm not five steps ahead in a business where the top is three steps ahead, then I'm two steps behind, and that's death on the island of relevancy. I'm Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now. I'm, yes, advocating to use the Brock Lesnar character, the character I played for Brock Lesnar. I'm advocating his greatness, but I'm terrified in the process. Because he ain't my lion. I don't stick my head in that lion's mouth.
Starting point is 02:32:55 He's the lion that killed the lion that looked at me and said, I don't play those pussy games. Holy shit. That's a pussy game to you. Yeah, I'm a tribal chief, man. Look at my culture. Understand where I come from. The whole story of the love triangle between you, Roman and Brock was a fascinating, it was far too short. It was a far too short story because it really we we never knew what was going to happen. We it was such a great because of the history with
Starting point is 02:33:27 Brock and the current excitement with Roman it really could have gone either way every moment and still can yeah. Well we got a nod to that the other day when did you know Brock was going to be here. Yeah well we'll always reference it and it'll always be that suspicion and everybody can relate to it. Everyone has an X that they have a soft spot for. Everyone has an X that they're defined by. I don't care how many marriages Madonna has. You still think of Madonna and Sean Penn as being together.
Starting point is 02:34:06 Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. They're just people that you identify with as couples, and they can all go their separate ways, and they can all have wonderful lives with other people and multiple children, and truly find the love of their life with somebody else, but you remember them. Oh yeah, that's when it was the best.
Starting point is 02:34:25 You know, and there's an interesting dynamic amongst the three of us. Always has been my guidance in playing it was a 1939 movie by a director named Michael Curtis. a director named Michael Curtis, great Hungarian Jew director, far under appreciated by history as one of the greatest to me. I mean, director Casablanca. What's the film? Angels with 30 faces. James Cagney as Rocky Sullivan. And it's an easy story to think about. James Cagney is Rocky Sullivan and he's a kid, and his best friend is a kid named Jerry, and they grew up on a lower East Side of New York City. And a cargo train, is it cargo train?
Starting point is 02:35:15 Whatever, a train with a lot of goods on it is there, and they're stealing from the train, and some cop comes by, and Rocky Sullivan, James Cagney, and Patel Brian Jerry run towards the fence and Patel Brian clears the fence and James Cagney does not. And he goes to Juve Hall and he starts a life in Juve Hall and Jails and Prisons and comes out as a world famous gangster in 1930s New York, Rocky Sullivan. And he's the toughest, most heartless, most ruthless, most uninhibited, bloodthirsty gangster that they had ever portrayed
Starting point is 02:35:55 on film at this time. Far more than any of Bogart's characters in the roaring 20s, George Raff and Roger Robinson. This was the villain of all villains, the ultimate bad guy gangster. And also in the movie, our bunch of Hunts Hall and Leo Gorsi, the Bowery boys, at the time known as the Dead End Kids. And these are the kids that now, Patel Bryan, And these are the kids that now, Patel Brian, who got over the fence and became a priest. And a lot of people, it's funny, but there's a lot of people, if you watch it today, will say, oh, this is the story of the Giganti brothers in New York. Vincent the Chin Giganti, a Godfather,
Starting point is 02:36:40 one of the heads of the five families, and his brother, Louis Giganti, who was a priest in the South Bronx, that ended up rebuilding Fort Apache in the 1970s to wear with Sebko housing in New York. That area of New York, Fort Apache became known as Little House on the Prairie because he built an actual neighborhood once for the patchy burnt down well, this was way before the Giganti brothers and Paddle Brian Jerry becomes a priest and the dead end kids are on his you know in his boxing league and his basketball
Starting point is 02:37:17 You know midnight basketball games because he's trying to keep them off the streets He doesn't want these kids to grow up to become a gangster like Rocky Sullivan, his childhood best friend. And of course Rocky Sullivan comes back to town after spending a stint in prison. And there's Anne Sheridan, you know, as always playing the unattainable girlfriend who wants him to go straight.
Starting point is 02:37:38 And Rocky gets mixed up with a bunch of gangsters, one of them being home free Bogart, a crooked lawyer. And of course he rocky start shooting people. And now he's going to the electric chair. And he's not afraid. In fact, he knows he's going to hell. And as expression goes, he's looking forward to getting close to the flames. And Pat O'Brien comes to him in the jail cell and he says, I want you to do something for
Starting point is 02:38:02 me. And I'll never be able to repay you. See, these kids are paying attention and you're gonna walk to that electric chair and you're gonna go in there on a parade. And Kegney says, yeah, I'm gonna, I'm gonna spit in their eye. When that guy comes from me, Jerry,
Starting point is 02:38:21 I'm gonna spit in his eye. I'm gonna punch him in the face. I'm gonna walk down, I'm gonna walk down there like a man. That's what I got. That's all I got and I'm taking it with me. And Jerry says, I want you to have courage. He goes, I have courage. I'm not afraid at all. He goes, no, that's not the courage I mean. It's a different kind of courage, to God-like courage. I want you to turn yellow. I want you to beg and plead. I want you to be a coward. I want you to go kicking and screaming to that chair.
Starting point is 02:38:50 I want you to be everything they don't want to be. I want them to despise your memory. I want them to be betrayed by you because I don't want these kids ending up in the electric chair like you. And Kegney looks at how many goes, can't do it. No way. And they go, it's time, Rocky, you know, and he they open the cell door and he goes, get away from me mugger, I'll split you eye again. And the cop gets too close and he punches the cop in
Starting point is 02:39:20 the face. And he spits in the eye of the other one. And they're walking down to get, you know, towards towards the electric chair and you hear the other prisoners, you'll get them, Rocky, you show them, Rocky, don't blink it out, don't blink, don't, don't sweat, you get them, you go, you go to that chair like a man, Rocky. And Jerry's hearing this and you can see the panic that this is going to be the voices of Hunts Hall and Leo Gorsi and the dead and kids. They're all going to end up on death row. They're all going to be the voices of Hunts Hall and Leo Gorshin, the dead and kids, they're all going to end up on death row.
Starting point is 02:39:47 They're all going to go to the chair like their hero Rocky Solomon who went to the chair like a man. And he looks at him and he's holding the Bible and he looks at his best friend from childhood and he goes, Rocky, please. And Rocky looks at him with the coldest James Kagney eyes. Do you ever see any of this? No. And Rocky looks at him with the coldest James Kagney eyes. Do you ever see any of us? No.
Starting point is 02:40:07 And you see the resolution and Jerry's eyes. All I can do is pray for his soul. And you see him start to pray. And he's not looking at Kagney. And from that moment on, you see Kagney is walking there like a man but there's something in his mind. And you don't know what it is. And then he gets to the chair and he turns to Patel Brian and he goes,
Starting point is 02:40:34 you know, so long, kid, you know, and Patel Brian says, you know, so long, like you made God of mercy on your soul. And you see Kagney mutter and you don't really pick up what he says, but it's something along the lines of, I don't need God's mercy and I don't have a soul. And he walks into the camera, like the close up they did of Daenerer and Cape Fear, which is where they stole it from. Just walked through the camera. And the next scene you see is the silhouette of Cagney. You never saw him play the scene. You only saw the shadow and he starts to beg.
Starting point is 02:41:11 And he's crying and he goes completely, oh man, I got chills. I'm covered in goosebumps right now thinking about it. And he, please don't do this. Please don't do this. No, please don't do this to me. And you see the grab I'm grab I'm grab I'm and it's over. And the camera's zoom's in on battle. Brian and he has a tear going down his eye. And the next scene you see the dead end kids and they have
Starting point is 02:41:40 they have the the newspaper and and and it says you know Killer rocky turns yellow at the end And Patel Brian comes down that dead-end kids say don't they go is it true? Did he turn yellow? See that Was he a coward at the end? Is that how he really was? So what's a Brian gonna say now? Yeah, yeah, My best friend did this holy thing and I got to talk shit about him. I got to talk him and get to piece of
Starting point is 02:42:11 shit. Or is he going to say, that's right, kids. So that he leads these kids to a better life. He never answered him. He said, come on, fellas, let's go say a prayer for a kid that couldn't run as fast as I could. And Kagney wrote a book called Kagney by Kagney, which by the way, ladies and gentlemen, is not nearly as good as Rick Rubin's book, which you should buy right now. And he saved it towards the end of the book. And he says, you know, people asked me to this day. What was really going through Rocky's heart? How did you play that scene? In your mind, did Rocky do it for Jerry?
Starting point is 02:42:53 Or was he really a coward at the end? And Kagney says, here we are all these decades later and no one really knows the answer but me. So why would I stop the conversation and tell you now? I played every scene regarding Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns without it in mind. I never wanted you to know. I didn't want to know. I wanted to be able to look back on it and say, oh man, you know what? I'm leaning towards Roman and look back at that very same scene a year later, depending on what I'm going through in my life or what I'm seeing in my life
Starting point is 02:43:25 or what the circumstances or situations are and say, oh no, no, no, I was reading to a bracket that moment. I wanted to make it so compelling that you could make the case for either at every moment that even I looking back on it would change my mind as to how I was playing it. Amazing, ambiguous and beautiful. And remember, you threw the belt in the ring at one point
Starting point is 02:43:47 as a weapon and it was not clear who was cool, it was meant to grab it. It was unbelievable. Right in the middle. Unbelievable. It made me, you know, and of course, you know, I'm not an athlete. So my aim and my accuracy will be off.
Starting point is 02:44:04 Did I throw it to Roman and it was errant? Did I throw it to Brock and it was errant? Or did I throw it in the middle and say, whoever gets it, that's going to be the winner and I'm with him. What was the meaning behind that? It could go either way, both neither or either. Either way, both neither or either. Yeah. All options, all conspiracy theories, all with merit. It's cag me going to the chair in angels with dirty faces. I can make the case for either one.
Starting point is 02:44:34 And one is more compelling than the other and the other is more compelling than the one. Would you say the most ideas for stories come from movies, television, something that came before, or something that came before in the history of wrestling, or none of the above. Most of our ideas come from basic human emotion, the Sammy story of acceptance, the Cody story of an impossible situation of a good person having non-pure emotions like jealousy and envy. The Cody story is about the fact that when you lose a parent, one of the hardest things to come to grips with is the fact that your bubble will ultimately
Starting point is 02:45:29 be burst with the overwhelming influx of knowledge that your relationship with your parent was an exclusive, because we all fool ourselves into that. I'm the closest thing to my dad anybody could ever be. I'm the closest thing to my mom anybody could ever be. And then, you know, soon after a parent's passing, you're at the grocery store or at a convenience store, a pumping gas or something, and somebody's up to him goes, hey, I'm Jim. Oh, hi, Jim, hey, doing. I was friends with your old man. Oh, really? Yeah, I was on his bowling team on Friday. Oh, yeah, my father loved bowling on Friday night.
Starting point is 02:46:10 Yeah. Hey, you know, he always talked about how when you were seven years old, you drew that picture and you wrote, I love you, daddy, and how we kept that in his wallet to the day that he died and he wanted to be buried with it. And you sit there and instead of saying, wow, wow, that's wonderful. That my father shared that about me with this person. You look at the person like they're your enemy and you feel betrayed and you say,
Starting point is 02:46:35 my dad shared that with you. I thought that was my memory with my dad. And all of a sudden, you're faced with jealousy and envy, with my dad and all of a sudden you're faced with jealousy and envy which are not, you know, heroic emotions to have. It's to your discredit allegedly to have them and no matter how good of a human being, how great of a man you are, you're faced with it. And here's Cody who not only had to grow up understanding, he had to share his father with the world, because his father was world famous, he had to share his father with people in the same industry that he was going into, which makes it even harder. And he's lived in the shadow of his father,
Starting point is 02:47:17 his entire life. That's the Jane Fundal line that I stole during that promo with Cody. The opening line in Jane Fonda's book is, I grew up in the shadow of a national monument. Cody Rhodes grew up in the shadow of a national monument, and he had a share access to that monument with everybody, and even more personally, with people in his own industry. It's one thing if your spouse leaves you, it's another thing you spouse leaves you for someone in the same business that you're in. It's one thing if your spouse leaves you, it's another thing you spouse leaves you for someone in the same business that you're in. It's one thing for your father to have loved other people
Starting point is 02:47:51 as if they were his own kids. It's another thing that it's, these are your contemporaries, your peers in your own business. It's impossible to shake that emotional baggage and here's what makes it worse. The parent isn't there for you to talk to about. Dusty isn't here.
Starting point is 02:48:10 Cody can't talk to him about it. So we are laying this truthful, emotional baggage on Cody that he can do nothing about. He can't escape. He's boxed in. That's where I came up with the line on television. The truth shall not set you free. It's going to imprison your soul. Wow.
Starting point is 02:48:28 Great line. Thank you, sir. Great line. Thank you. That's the story. Now, that's just real life human emotion. So that's what we seek. Now, because I am so obsessed with cinema
Starting point is 02:48:44 and moments of great television series and especially gangster threads. Once we choose the story that we're telling, I find scenes that have played out, not to redo the scenes line by line. Just for inspiration, we're inspired by them. The dynamic of the relationship, the relationship between the two people in the scene, the message that's being conveyed, the theme of what they're doing here. Michael Corleone sitting in the restaurant in Louis restaurant in the Bronx, having been told by Clemenza to drop it, to come out of the bathroom blasting and he
Starting point is 02:49:38 doesn't come out of the bathroom blasting. He sits back down. And now Salatso is talking and he's talking in Italian. So to the audience who doesn't speak Italian, it's just noise. And you're sitting there going, oh my God, I don't know what he's saying, but whatever it is, it's heavy. And he's laying it on and he's talking faster and harsher and angrier. And now the train's coming in and you hear that noise and the camera's shaking, yeah, it's so slightly. And Pacino's eyes are going left and right because he's saying, do I pull the trigger?
Starting point is 02:50:13 Do I not pull the trigger? But I don't pull the trigger. Is he gonna kill me? If I pull the trigger, my whole life has changed. I'm a gangster. I'm no longer just a soldier. I'm not a hero. This is a war hero.
Starting point is 02:50:22 He's a war hero this kid. And he didn't want to get mixed up in the family and his father doesn't want him in the family business. But if he doesn't pull the trigger right now, this guy across the table and the dirty cop to his left who broke his jaw are gonna kill his father. He has no choice. He better pull the trigger.
Starting point is 02:50:38 But can he pull the trigger? He's not a gangster. He's there in his some people. They're not threatening his very life at this very moment. What does he do? What does he do? And his eyes are and you and you and you read his emotions because he's not sure what to do, but he knows whatever he does. This is the defining moment of his life and nothing will ever be the same after this because either they're going to go kill his father or he's going to go kill them. And either way nothing is going to be the same.
Starting point is 02:51:06 And then he gets up and he shoots them both. But it's the moment before that matters. It's the emotions that are displayed. Now, we're not doing anything where we're sitting in a Louis restaurant in the Bronx where there's a crooked cop and there's a Turkish heroine dealer sitting in front of us. But that conflict is a scene that I love and look for situations within our story. I'll refer back. Let's look at this.
Starting point is 02:51:33 And you can play out the tension, where are the moments of tension, where's the suspense, where's the drama, and what are the possible releases, you know, the yes? The scenario itself becomes a character in your play. Yeah And that's what I look for and I will there's a great scene in the movie The Town by Ben Affleck with a I I do this actor a disservice and I apologize to his fans and family that maybe listening. As everyone should to the Rick Rubin podcast by the way. And he played Kobayashi in the usual suspects. And he plays this gangster that owns a flower shop in Southean Boston and Ben Affleck is in
Starting point is 02:52:29 debt to him and he comes to see him and the gangster says, you're gonna do this for me and Ben Affleck says, I'm not doing this, I'm out, he was naive and out out, I'm gonna dung it due to you what I did to your father and it's a terrifying scene because in it Ben Affleck says something long to lines of, you don't like what I'm saying to you? I live at, and I, this is not the address that he gave. I'm just gonna make up the address. And I live at one five, five, moberry street.
Starting point is 02:52:55 Come and find me anytime. At the end of the speech by this gangster, the guy who played Kobayashi in the usual suspects, he says to Benathlick, he says, I hear you have a nice new, pretty girlfriend. I don't want to send her funeral arrangements to your house, but I will if I have to. Now that I know where to find you,
Starting point is 02:53:22 he took the hero's Benathlick, is the hero in the movie, took the hero's Ben Affleck, his hero in the movie, took the hero's lines and he shoved it up his ass, and he shoved it up his ass, was uncomfortable, and as hard and as mean a threat with his comma voice as you could possibly have. The audience felt threatened. The audience in the movie theater gasped when he said it, The audience and the movie theater gasped when he said it because he said it so cold so menacing and in wrestling You know menacing is Rick Rubin. I'm coming to your house. I'm gonna I'm gonna beat up your wife I'm gonna kick your children. He's not gonna murder your dog and then
Starting point is 02:53:58 You know, and then you get that Greg and all the then then Rick Rubin. It's just you and me and you're going down That's wrestling and that's not where Roman Vains is. So that's not where when the bloodline and I get together and we start studying movie scenes or you know, that's one of the scenes that we study. How do you deliver a threat? So cold yet so menacing and keep the audience engaged so that when you say it, they gasp. They say, oh, I just, we just had a thing Monday night with me and the Usos. And the original concept of it was, we don't want Roman and a scene with the Usos right now,
Starting point is 02:54:41 because we don't want you to know yet. Roman's reaction to the Usos losing the tag team titles. We have that as a hook as we head towards the next pay-per-view premium live event that Roman reigns or main event. Why would we give that away right now? Make you wait for it. And set it up so that we have consecutive weeks on television to play that story out. So we had to keep the usos away from Roman. And the idea was the usos knock on Roman's door, and I say, hey, the tribal chief says, take the night off, don't worry about everything's wonderful, you know. Okay, thanks.
Starting point is 02:55:20 How does it progress the story? How does it give me a conspiracy theory? How does it become a topic of conversation? What about this makes me wonder, where are they gonna go with this? So we changed it with moments to spare because we went live with it to where I come out and Jimmy says to me, you know,
Starting point is 02:55:43 I had to see the tribal chief, oh, he's not in the room. And I'm blocking the door. And by my body language, you see, I'm not letting them come into the room. Oh, yeah, he took solo out for a walk because we have a big match tonight and I'm now promoting the main event.
Starting point is 02:55:57 Promoting Cody Rhodes and Brock Lesnar against Roman Reigns and solo. So I'm justifying my existence in this promo in promoting the main event of the evening, keeping people hooked to the TV show. But the tribal chief, what a great weekend, and of course, in a nod to them losing, I say, for all of us, not for all of us, but nothing we can't get over, but the tribal chief is so appreciative of your contributions over the weekend, which means they main event at night one, which means they had the interfered in the main event, trying to help him beat Cody Rhodes and ended up taking solo to do that, but they tried
Starting point is 02:56:35 their contributions, their efforts. Thank you for your efforts. You want you to go to the jet. We have seafood ready for you. We're going to solo and Roman could take care of this light work of Cody Rose and Brock Lesnar Promoned to me and a Ben again We'll meet you on the jet. Oh, it's good. Thank you so much Talofa we the ones and they go, okay, thanks a lot. Yeah, yeah, two babies on the new egg on the room
Starting point is 02:56:59 Yeah, I will see you in the jet. Yeah, see you in the jet. All right wise man. Okay. Thanks who says we love you Greatest thank you, my boy time. And I'm smiling as they walk away. And then you see me lose their smile when I open the door. And I say, I took care of it, my tribal chief. And the audience went, ooh, he lied. The tribal chief was in there. He didn't want to see the Usos. Is he mad?
Starting point is 02:57:25 Is he busy? Is he just getting, we don't know. Getting together was solo and planning a battle plan, which you're going to need against Cody Rhodes and Brock Lesnar. Is he meditating? Is he making other decisions and he can't deal with the Usos at the moment? Or is he pissed at the Usos? Oh no, there's a lot of variables going into that.
Starting point is 02:57:46 I know Hayman lied. Did he lie to cover for the tribal chief? Or did he lie to delay this process as the tribal chief lines up one enemy at a time and he'll get to the Usos at his own good time? You don't know, could be one of many things. But that little variable at the end, that little moment, that little twist
Starting point is 02:58:08 leaves us so many different ways to go. That's what we search for. And in that case, do you have a tentative plan of where you'll go that may change? Or is it just this leaves doors open and let's see which door feels right next time. All of the above, it's a free form creative process. It's Rick Rubin laying on the floor, listening to music, trying to find that one moment where the singer hits a note,
Starting point is 02:58:37 or the strumming of the guitar is like nothing you've ever heard, or the beat of the drum defines drumming for the next ten years. It's a note by Johnny Cash. It's a chorus by System of a Down. It's in a long-gated word by Tom Petty. It's rage against the machine doing their take on older songs. It's you, you're lying there and you know, wow, this wasn't what I was expecting, but it's what I'm keeping. Past three weeks before WrestleMania, my biggest question was never,
Starting point is 02:59:18 what are we doing at WrestleMania? My big question has been, what are we doing at WrestleMania 40 next year? Great. So has there been an occasion where you see the next year playing out in a way that's really exciting and it's a great potential vision and then a week later something changes and it everything switches. All the time.
Starting point is 02:59:41 That's why even if we came up with a game plan for WrestleMania 40 and indeed even WrestleMania 41, it could all change this week. Circumstances, catalysts in the real world, stumbling on to something that we didn't expect. A moment in time time that does anyone have to be in our program, you know, that we see on WWE and we're like, oh my God, can we capitalize on this? Man, we can tie into that right now. The beautiful thing about open creativity. That seems like one of the things that's most exciting about professional wrestling versus anything else is that fluid, ongoing, the stories never over. It continues to change.
Starting point is 03:00:36 We continue to be surprised by it and be prepared for the unexpected every time. It's a jam session and we're winging it. With a plan. Yeah. With a plan. But you also have to wing it considering there's, you know, how many hours of television
Starting point is 03:00:53 is it every week? Oh my God, I know. Every week. Okay, there's three hours to raw. There's two hours of NXT. There's two hours of Smackdown. There's a whole bunch of other things and, you know, they live on the web
Starting point is 03:01:05 And then once a month you have a pay-per-view or at least once a month if not more. Yeah, so there's so much content Always being generated and when when we were young a storyline would play out over several months now more seems to happen week to week than might have happened every six months when we were kids. Yes. So Roman has the theory of consistency, consistently great, consistently consistent. If the narrative constantly and consistently progresses and moves forward. Then wherever you take it,
Starting point is 03:01:49 you're still progressing and moving forward. Here's something without giving away the secret sauce. We don't let the Roman Reigns character recap. He doesn't talk about what's happened. He brings the stories forward. He talks about what's going to happen. He talks about the emotions that are on the table at the moment. I recap. I say I told you so. I brag about the victories.
Starting point is 03:02:18 This past Sunday night at WrestleMania, the tribal chief, your tribal chief Roman reigns smash Cody Rhodes. Last year at Summer Slam, your tribal chief Roman Reigns smashed Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Egent Daniel Bryan, Big E, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, whomever it is, I recap. I bring you up to date. Roman Reigns does not. There's no nostalgia in the tribal chief. There's no looking back when you're the tribal chief.
Starting point is 03:02:54 He's a shark. He swims forward or he dies. Can he pivot left and right? Yes. But in pivoting, he's still going forward. He's not going backwards. The tribal chief goes forward. That's something we decided very early and we have never violated it and never will. And if we do and it becomes the exception, the
Starting point is 03:03:22 natural story in and of itself. And there'll be a reason. Oh, man, he doesn't talk about things that happened. He doesn't refer back to last Thursday, last Wednesday. I'm like, this is something's going on with the tribal chief. It'd be the same as if he came out on television and he'd say, and you go, he caberieros, a key la betele, yo, yo, Chandaco, la idea, and you go,
Starting point is 03:03:46 he doesn't speak Spanish. There's a seismic shift happening here. Same thing. When he violates the code of the character, that's a story in and of itself. So it's a constantly shifting narrative because the world is constantly shifting or something happens that resonates, that changes the way people see it or see the business or see our presentation,
Starting point is 03:04:16 and we have to address it. Or there's an emotion that's revealed in the audience that we can expose or tap into or go after or make people relate to, they can resonate with them. So we're always looking for that, always trying to feel that out, is there something out there that was, or is there something about to happen that we can be one step ahead of so that when that emotion becomes prevalent, we're already into it. Where do you think wrestling can go that it's never gone? Besides the first WrestleMania from the Elon Musk colonized Mars, I don't mean a place.
Starting point is 03:04:59 No, that was just my smart ass answer. Buying myself time to figure out a proper answer. I um... The safe answer to sound pseudo-intelligent is inclusive storylines. A transgender hero. lines, a transgender hero, a female that competes at the same level with the same marketing behind her as any of the male competitors that's not Rhonda Rousey from the outside world coming in as a celebrity, but a homegrown, re-arriply, or Bianca Belair, or Charlotte Flair, or Becky Lynch, or Bailey, or Nadi, or any of these fantastic performers performers that we have on the roster, that get a platform as lucrative and as that carries as much opportunity on a global basis as any of their male counterparts.
Starting point is 03:06:17 That's a very safe thing for me to say. And I wouldn't be wrong in saying that's a place we should go, could go, will go. The unsafe answer, the one that I will preface, I pitch things, I'm not all that sure about sometimes, and I say, well, let me just reserve the right to be really stupid in one of them about to suggest. The other answer is an amplified aura of theater without theatrics. The transformative, the revolutionary, the evolutionary disruptor in this industry towards that theory is Roman Reigns. We do movie scenes in the locker room
Starting point is 03:07:18 to further tell the story. Three, four, five minute movie scenes, showing vulnerability of his character, angst of his character, worry of his character, sensitivities of his character, idiosyncrasies, nuances of his character, with his cousins, by his cousins, with the spotlight on his cousins at times, sometimes on me, sometimes in my sickle-fantic nature of appeasing the tribal chief while at the same time, also appeasing him based on the fear that he can behead me at any time. A couple of years ago, if I said to you, we're going to do these locker room scenes in our movie scenes. And this villain champion for a thousand days, unbeatable by anybody, is
Starting point is 03:08:16 going to call it. Is that a spoiler, a thousand days? I don't think we have another title defense before we had a thousand. Amazing. So congratulations. Well, I thank you and your tribal chief thanks you as well. And he's going to cry. Or he's going to pivot because he's exposing his own fears, his jealousy, his envy, his
Starting point is 03:08:40 rage. If I were to tell you this, it's not a stout do do back stage. We stand there on a set, sometimes in a locker room to give just a different, ooh, they've peeled back the curtain, they're in a locker room now, you know, ladies and gentlemen, I'm standing here with the tribal chief Roman Reigns, a title this this coming Sunday and in the main event of WrestleMania against Cody Rhodes or this
Starting point is 03:09:01 summer slam against Mr. X through, you know, and in Saudi Arabia against Mr. Y and you or, you know, and then Saudi Arabia against Mr. Y. And, you know, the tribal chief, you know, some would say tribal chief, this is your greatest opponent to date. Well, let me tell you, he's bringing everything he can, but he's not really up to the measure of the tribal chief. That's a lot of room in view.
Starting point is 03:09:19 It's sometimes every now and then you bring that fourth wall into play and there's this one scene, these two people meeting in the hallway, you know, hey, how you doing? Yeah, I didn't like you before. I don't like you now. Yeah, your mother was combat boots. All right, we're going to fight. But you've never seen just scenes play out like the way that we're doing it now. And ones that completely propel the storyline into its next chapter.
Starting point is 03:09:55 That was the secret of the Sammy story, is what we were doing backstage with Sammy, so that when we took these stories out to the ring and the story of his desire for acceptance, and our refusal to give it to him, and J being the strongest minded in not giving it to him, which pissed off the tribal chief for Jay to make the decision and not for Roman to make the decision. So to spite Jay and to show Jay who was the boss that Roman would accept Sammy a little more every week, just to piss off Jay. The jealousy in the envy within one's own family. Spite.
Starting point is 03:10:41 Well, don't was spiteful people. And it's not a pleasant personality trait. So the tribal chief is a villain. We'll display spite. So these are all things that came to life in the ring based on the backstage drama that we were displaying. Not caring that the camera is right in front of us. Never pretending that it's not there. We're playing out scenes. Now, this is a
Starting point is 03:11:09 moment in time where it's being done so well by Roman Reigns and the Usos and Sammy and all those around him. That it's accepted and people get into the story. The same way when I opened the door when the Usos left on Monday I said, took care of it, my tribal chief, I went, oh, gasped. If anybody else tried this, it would have bombed. Because Roman Reigns has an actor who's better than anybody else in WWE, and he pulled it off. So we tailored this to his strengths, and now it's become an accepted part of the business.
Starting point is 03:11:43 Do you think other people come along with the skill set to be able to do this? I think it's now part of the expectation of a top star to be able to act in that way. I think he's added a dimension to a top star that we didn't have before. Do you think we could ever get to the point where the ring becomes obsolete,
Starting point is 03:12:05 or maybe just at the pay-per-view, that the whole TV show is all the drama, and the ring becomes less and less part of what happens. The main event on most television shows, I mean, you see, the, Monday on Raw was the exception that defines the rule. We teased Roman Reigns in a match. But that was the setup for Brock Lesnar and Cody Rhodes.
Starting point is 03:12:32 And to get as many eyeballs on that as possible, and to set that entire scenario up, you needed to get to Brock Lesnar and Cody Rhodes versus Roman Reigns and Solo. So that's the exception, but we don't advertise, we don't promote, we don't tease Roman Reigns in a match on television anymore. When Roman Reigns is on television, the main event segment of that TV show is something playing out in the ring at the end of the night.
Starting point is 03:13:02 In the old days, the television show was a promotion for the live show. Now the television business seems bigger than the live business. Is that correct? Yes, of course. The business model flipped when we got paid for programming. So is it possible that all of this is leading away from the wrestling of it? At the very same time, the answer is yes, and at the very same time, the answer is no. Because ultimately, how do these stories get settled? How do they progress in the operatic theatrical presentation of professional wrestling slash sports
Starting point is 03:13:52 entertainment? They progress within the story that is told in the physical conflict that plays out in front of your eyes that is labeled a professional wrestling slash sports entertainment match. Ultimately, it has to lead to something. It leads to a car chase, then I'm not watching wrestling anymore. So a much larger part of the dynamic of the platform has become the play itself. But ultimately, it pays off with a
Starting point is 03:14:33 story that is told not with oratory skills but with physical skills in the ring. A spoken word concert may not be musical per se, but the designation of it is a story to be told by a person who's the storyteller and the stories that are presented within the context of the verbiage that he presents. Same thing. The stories will always conclude with a match. That's how we get you to pay to see it. But more stories are being told outside of the confines of a match, which ultimately make the matches mean more. Seems like it's getting the point where the play is meaning more than the match, though. Well the match is now a major component of the story, instead of being the end all be all, we don't just drive you to the match.
Starting point is 03:15:51 Everything used to be an infomercial for the match itself. Now the match is just a major component of the story. Another wrinkle, another twist, another turn, another method by which we tell the story. Is that the biggest change in wrestling that you've seen over the course of your life? Creatively yes. The business itself is so different. The world wrestling entertainment is being valued at $9.3 billion. When Vince first started, he was paying television stations
Starting point is 03:16:30 to air his programming, giving the television station a percentage of the live gate when he came to that city. And now the merger, through Ende endeavor with UFC is based on the fact of how many billions of dollars the programming is worth on the open market to be licensed. Vince is not paying to be on television anymore. He's being paid to be on television. That was the seismic shift. That was the game changer.
Starting point is 03:17:07 That made this a well-funded industry, instead of just a mom and pop business that created a few millionaires in the old school promoters room. But creatively, yeah, that's the biggest difference. Is the manner in which we tell stories and the platforms that we use in order to tell the stories. And what we, we as the marketers and promoters and presenters, the content creators as, as the kids say today, what we expect the audience to pay for. That's the big change. Well, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom. I love hearing you wax poetic. It's truly an honor to sit here with you. And again, I could do this for another 10 hours, so we'll do this another time if you're up for it,
Starting point is 03:18:05 because we barely scratch the surface. It would be my honor, I assure you. So nice to talk to you. Pleasure's all my surprise. Thank you. you

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