In February 2007, NZPWI Editor-in-Chief Dion McCracken co-hosted a “WWE in New Zealand” TV special which featured on SKY Television. Thanks to SKY TV, NZPWI readers can now see the full, uncut interviews for the very first time!
It was just a few short weeks before Mr. Kennedy was to step in to Wrestlemania 23 and capture the Money in the Bank Ladder Match in Detroit.
Already a rising star in WWE, it was the first time Kennedy had toured New Zealand and this interview would prove to be one of the most entertaining moments of the 2007 tour.
SKY TV’s Dennis Katsanos sat down with Kennedy to talk about breaking in to the business, the upcoming Wrestlemania, Stone Cold Steve Austin and much, much more!
Dennis Katsanos: Well, here I am with Mr. Kennedy. Mr. Kennedy –
Mr. Kennedy: That’s all I get? That’s all I get, huh? Just that little “Here-I-am-with-Mr-Kennedy…”
Hah! Okay, um –
I don’t think it’s funny! Do you see me laughing?
No, I don’t see you laughing…
Not at all…
Try it again.
[starting to cringe] All right…
You’d better do it better. Put some bass into your voice! Say it like you mean it.
All right, I will… [deep breath] Here I am! With MISTER Kennedy! One of the biggest stars of SmackDown, on the planet.
THE biggest star!
THE biggest star of SmackDown on the planet.
Probably one of the biggest stars on the planet period.
Now I know, apparently you used to be a security guard at a nuclear power plant, before you were a wrestler. How did you go from that, to being THE biggest star?
[switching gears] Well you know, I worked that job… it was a dead end job, actually I had that job before I ever even dreamed about being a professional wrestler. And about two years in, I kind of fell in love with the business, I started training, had a couple of matches, and then I spent the next three years turning down weekend bookings because I had to work weekends, and it was just a miserable, dead end job. I would sit in a box for twelve hours a day, with a gun, and some pepper spray, hoping and praying to God that somebody would jump over the fence. But nobody ever did, obviously, and it was just a dead end job and I remember spending countless hours just sitting there wondering what I could possibly do to get out of here, so that I could have time to devote to wrestling. And after about three and a half more years of that, I finally just, I walked in one day and I said “tomorrow’s going to be my last day.” And I had secured a job as a personal trainer already, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and I went and I did that instead. And that allowed me to have my Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays open so that I could pursue independent bookings around the country, eventually to get better, to wind up where I’m at right now.
Sitting right here, on this STUPID chair, next to this STUPID guy [points to Dennis, who’s cringing].
[nervous laugh] Next question! WrestleMania in Detroit. Your first WrestleMania. Do you think it’ll be the biggest night of your career?
Oh, without a doubt. You know, last year I started out in this company, and I was on a huge roll, and I was in Italy, and I got a very devastating injury. I was out for six months, had to have surgery, and it really sucked for me to have to sit backstage at WrestleMania last year and watch everybody else go out there and do their thing. I remember just sitting back there and thinking, like, “next year, I’m gonna be back, I’m gonna be better than ever, and I’m gonna go out there and make an impact, make a statement.”
Tell me about Steve Austin.
Steve Austin. What do you want to know?
How do you feel about him? Because apparently he’s a guy you idolise…?
Yeah. I wouldn’t… well … idolise… I don’t really idolise anybody, I’ve never been like a person who got star-struck by anybody, but he was the guy that… I wasn’t into watching wrestling. I had fallen out of love with the business for a while. I watched it when I was a kid and then I kind of grew away from it. And I was at a buddy’s house one night and he forced me into watching wrestling. I remember sitting there watching, and I saw him – I heard this glass break, and he came driving into the arena in a black pick-up truck, he had a six-pack of beer on his lap, he had one in his hand, he had middle finger sticking out the window – “get the hell outta my way!” – and I just remember thinking like – this guy’s cool. And I just started watching, and right away he captivated my attention. And I started watching every week just to see what he would do, you know? And then I got sucked into all the other stuff, and I became such a huge fan of wrestling. And I remember, I was such a huge fan, I would – you know, he had, he called it a BMF walk, the way they walk to the ring – I would, as a security guard, we had to do patrol rounds, and they had cameras watching us, and the guys would sit in the little monitoring stations and watch on camera, and I would do the BMF walk while I was doing my little –
I want to ask you though, what it stands for? BMF?
Ah, bad mother-[gestures].
I thought so [laughs]. You’re more than welcome to say it, it’s no worries.
Oh OK, bad motherfucker.
I can say “bad motherfucker” on TV here?
I gotta move here. ‘Cause I like this place.
How did you come up with – ?
Although not really. But I like the fact that I can swear on TV. But anyway. Don’t cut me off!
[Dennis is practically coming out of his chair] All right…
I’m right in the middle of a good point here!
The point is that Steve Austin is the guy that got me involved in this business. And I’m not going to say that I pattern myself after him, but he is definitely… you know I’ve got countless tapes, hours and hours and hours of matches of “Stunning” Steve Austin, of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, of the Ringmaster, and I’ve watched all these tapes, and he was a workhorse. He was always moving, flying, moving around, entertaining the people, and he was the biggest star that this industry has ever seen, and someday I hope to live up to those standards, I’m gonna surpass “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Oh hell yeah!
Obviously my announcing need a bit of work…
Was that a question? Because you know how they say that there’s no such thing as a stupid question?
I was getting –
You just blew that out of the water!
[gibbering] I’m sorry Mr. Kennedy I’ll start that again.
Because that was a stupid question.
My announcing needs a little bit of work. How did you come up with announcing yourself?
[once again switching gears]I actually used to announce basketball games when I was in high school. And it was funny how it started, I was working in a mass media class, I had a mass media class at school, and we had to pick three mediums, and we had to pick, we had to make up a fictitious product, and market that product, and we could use whatever we wanted, poster, radio, television ads, and I picked those three mediums. And I did a radio ad, and I remember the teacher said “you’ve got a really good radio voice, you should maybe consider going into radio,” and then she said “we need somebody to announce the basketball games,” and she said she was going to ask the assistant principal at the time, who was the girls’ basketball coach – who I did impersonations of, all the time – if I could do the announcing, and so I started doing it, and somewhere along the line, somebody said “hey you should start saying the last name twice.” It was really funny, like “Coming to the arena, Jose Luis Garcia! …. Garcia”, and everybody thought oh, that’s great, that’s so funny, and I remember, I was down in OVW, with the WWE, and Paul Heyman was writing the television down there and he said, one night, he said “I want you to come out and I want you to announce yourself,” and I just, the light bulb went off and I was like “I used to announce basketball games in high school, I’m gonna do it like that tonight, and I’m not gonna tell anybody about it, I’m just gonna go out there and do it,” and I did it, and when I came back to the locker room, everyone was all “oh that was so great, you said your last name twice,” and I was like – that’s funny, I worked six and a half years, to get to the WWE, and it took me saying my last name twice, to really get recognised. You know? I was doing all the same things that I do now, my in-ring ability was the same, or moving towards that level, but it took me saying my last name twice, so… a combination of things, Paul Heyman, and my history of being a basketball announcer. NEXT QUESTION!!!
[jumping a mile] Is the Mr. Kennedy that we see on SmackDown an extension of your true persona?
Yes. I would have to say… not all the time. I consider myself to be a normal guy. I like to do normal things. But there are times… I guess in any situation where I’ve ever been confrontational, or needed to be confrontational, sometimes when I’ve gotten into a fight or an argument with people, I ususally go into Mr. Kennedy mode. And I remember, it was funny, because when I first started out in the business, and I was doing independents, and I was having a real hard time, like, what’s my character, who am I? Who is Kamikaze Ken Anderson, at the time, and I remember one night, one of my buddies pissed me off. I broke up with this girl and he started calling her all the time, going over to her house and stuff like that, and I remember I called him up, and I cut a 30 minute promo on him. My buddies were all sitting there, and just rolling around on the ground laughing, while I was cutting a promo on this guy, and I hung up the phone with this guy, and they just started laughing and they said “if you ever what your character is, that’s it right there. Anytime you’re ever cutting a promo, you’re talking to somebody, you’re talking to the camera, remember this moment, because that’s your character,” and it just kind of clicked from there.
And the other thing too is, I get to go out there, and say all the things that you want to say, that this goofy camera guy here probably wants to say, this lady holding a microphone right here, wants to say, wants to do, but I actually get to go out there and do it! And say it! And live it! Oh yeah. You people are jealous. NEXT QUESTION!!!
I had a feeling that was coming up…
You’ve defeated seven world champs in the last 12 months or so…
Which victory are you most proud of? Or which one stands out in your mind?
Well, you know, all of them. All of them really. I mean, seven! And you can’t take any one of those talents lightly. You know? I mean you’re looking at Rey Mysterio. You’re looking at Booker T, King Booker. Batista. Undertaker. Kane. Chris Benoit. And I’m missing somebody in there, who is it? See, I’ve beaten so many that I’m starting to forget. I lose track. But I mean, these are guys that I came up watching, and learning from, and to be able to go out there and pin their shoulders to the mat one-two-three, is a… I have to say thank you, to those people, for teaching me… for teaching me basically to whoop their asses.
You think it’s funny?
No, not at all. I think it’s brilliant…
Then why’d you laugh?
I laughed because –
Why’d you laugh?
You said “whoop their asses” and I thought that’s a cool phrase. I like the way you said it. It’s a compliment.
You haven’t won the world title though.
[With a look that would boil cheese, Kennedy swivels his chair around to face Dennis head on]What did you just say?
[bludgeoning ahead] I don’t think you’ve won the world title.
I haven’t won the world title. [leaning forward, in Dennis’s face] Have you been paying attention? To what’s been going on in the WWE since I’ve gotten to SmackDown? Huh? OK, with all these people that I’ve beaten? That I’ve practically destroyed in the ring? Teddy Long keeps screwing me over, keeps screwing me over again, and again, and again and again and again! Apparently, you didn’t see the match at the Royal Rumble when I had Batista’s pinned! I had him pinned! The crowd counted along with me, One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, all day!
[Dennis is looking for a way to flee]
You know what? I’m sick and tired of people like you. I’m sick and tired of people like you making stupid statements like that! You know what? I’ve been a nice guy, I’ve been a nice guy but you know what, I’m tired of being a nice guy, because nice guys always finish last! So you know what? Thank GOD!… I’m an asshole.
[with that, Kennedy leaves a stunned Dennis cowering in his chair and storms off].