Lee Sanders of The RCWR Show recently interviewed Gunner. During the interview, Gunner discussed working with various tag team partners, TNA possibly phasing out big men in the company, thoughts on the WWE Network and how it will impact wrestling overall including TNA and more. you can check out the full interview at this link, here are some highlights:
Terry Taylor and D'Lo Brown helping him out early in his career:
Terry had come down to Anarchy a few times and a couple of other independent shows within the Carolinas and Georgia and he met me and really got my foot in the door with TNA. However, when it came to the actual dark matches,Terry Taylor was gone.
D'Lo had also helped me out before the TNA days. I did have a lot of extra stuff for WWE back in '08 and early '09 before I signed with TNA and D'Lo helped me there, too. He's still a good friend. He's still a guy I keep in touch with... I think D'Lo's missed, not only just by me, but by a lot of the guys. We all got along with him and traveled with him. He did a lot of the live event house shows with us and I still keep in touch with him. He's doing a lot of stuff in Japan. So, he's staying busy, but he's definitely greatly missed on my side.
I was listening to a podcast with Jericho on it the other day and he talked about when he got to WCW and he was in the locker room with all these guys he grew up watching like Flair and Steamboat and Sting and everybody. It kind of made me realize how I felt when I first started there and was that fan or that mark-up moment of, "Oh, my God, I'm in the ring with Hulk Hogan," and I was being managed by Ric Flair for a little while.
It was really cool, but then you have to set it to the side and I was like, "Okay, well, this is my job now," and it was very surreal. However, at the same time, they were my peers and it was me trying to impress them and keep my job and let them know that I'm a workhorse and what I wanted to do was be the best. I was getting a lot of advice from Flair. We did a lot of live events together where, at the time, I was feuding with Garett.
So Flair was at my side. To be able to have a man like Ric Flair who is arguably one of the greatest ever who was always there to give me input was just really cool. It was really cool to be around.
It was really cool to be around Hulk and just talk to him about the good old days, I guess you could say, and he was giving me ideas on character and just working the crowd and whatnot – the insides of the business that a lot of people don't know about or don't learn in this day and time, I should say. A lot of people don't take the time to teach the young guys like myself and it was a good opportunity for me.
If TNA is phasing out bigger guys:
No, you have me, Magnus, and Bobby Roode. Bobby Roode is considered a heavyweight. He's a big guy. I don't know, honestly. Obviously, TNA's always been really big about the X Division and different styles and different aspects of wrestling and I think that wrestling is totally different now than it was when I was growing up in the '80s and '90s. Everybody was big. You never saw the smaller guys.
I don't really think it puts any pressure on. It kind of definitely puts you in an elite category. You named Magnus and I there and yet you don't see the big guys after Crimson and Matt Morgan and those guys left. I don't really think that it puts any pressure on. I think you just go out there.
It gives me an opportunity, which I've always enjoyed even in the independents when I was at Anarchy, to wrestle with different styles of wrestlers. You have all have all scenarios of people who can do anything. I mean, he's great. You have Bobby Roode who wrestles in a different style. You have Chris Sabin and it gives us, as big guys, an opportunity to be very diverse in what we do and, I think, better ourselves. Learning different styles is something I've always tried to pride myself on, whether or not it's high-flying.
Of course, I'm not going to come off the top rope unless maybe it's with an elbow drop, but it's good to know those different styles are at work, like a Japanese style or a Lucha style or a Big Man style. The wrestling business is totally different now than it was, say, in the '90s when two big guys were just duking it out. I think it's really a good opportunity for all of us to just step up our game.
TNA pushing younger talent:
I think it's going to be a good change. You named guys like EC3 and the newer guys that may be coming in, but you still have the Kurt Angles and the Jeff Hardys and veterans that are in the position to help younger guys, like myself, out and not only learn more, but see if I can obviously handle the pressure of being in that main event spot.
I think it's a good change for Impact because TNA has always been that company since day one with the younger guys, like A.J. Styles and Chris Daniels and all these guys. TNA has always been about different, new, and young talent. For a while there, it kind of got away from that I feel. Dixie tweeted about it as you mentioned and I think that it's a good spot to be in.
I mean, I'm 32-years-old and, obviously, I want to be the next superstar of Impact Wrestling and I you can only do so much until they give you that platform to perform on. So, with that being said and 2014 being a new year, they are looking for the new face of the company. There have been a lot of changes, but I think the new face of the company is something different and new and something that the fans can latch on to.
The fans want to see different stuff. They don't want to see the same guys year in and year out doing the same stuff all the time. WWE always has new, fresh guys coming in and changing the product and I think that Dixie and the company in general are going to give us younger guys an opportunity to really stand out and see what we can do.
TNA going on the road for Impact and returning to Orlando:
Going on the road was a big jump for a younger company. I talked to Earl Hebner a lot about the early days in WWF when he started and the venues that they would run and events would run smaller places also. He didn't jump right into these big arenas unless he was running the big syndicated TV program or Big Event or something like that. I think that TNA, being 11 years old, is really a baby company right now, as far as that aspect goes.
I think that us running smaller venues is a good thing because we can fill these really small venues. By bringing the crowd into smaller venues, they seem like they want to be a part of the show. When we were on the road, the arenas were hit or miss and the Orlando thing was always wide open. The place was always usually packed.
We're doing spot TV's, I know, throughout the year of 2014 and on the road. So, some are going to be in Orlando and some are going to be on the road. That way it is saving money and not so much money is forked out. We're doing a series of TV tours in the U.K. which is always great because we're like rockstars over there. Who you are and what you do – they give it their all.
I think that 2014 is going to be a different year for us, as far as not being on the road as much goes, but I don't think we have to worry about the company going out of business or anything. There are a lot of changes being made right now for that and to make sure that Impact Wrestling stays afloat. We have the diehard fans and we have the SPIKE TV deal and we just signed a new U.K. TV deal. So, stuff like that is looking good for us.
If AJ Styles will ever return:
I think the fans will eventually see A.J. Styles back. I mean, he was with them from day one when the doors first opened and he really is, in my opinion, the poster child or the golden child of Impact Wrestling. He's a guy that I've been in the ring with and, honestly, he's probably one of my favorite guys to work with and he's a guy that, regardless of size, who you are, or how old you are, he can get in there and work around your weaknesses to make you look good. He's just a guy that, I think, really needs to be there for younger guys like me to help build future stars.
On another note, when one door closes, another one opens for someone else and, I mean, that's that professional wrestling business. The thing is that once that door closes on somebody, there's always that opportunity for that next person to step up. That's my goal.
Since I was five-years-old, this has been what I've wanted to do. I didn't want to do this to be rich. Obviously, I can pay my bills which is wonderful. I wanted to do this because I loved professional wrestling as a kid. I loved characters. I loved what they did and I still do to this day.
I've wanted to be the best ever since I was five. I didn't want to just do it or be a mid-card guy. I wanted to be a main event guy. I wanted to be a champion.
Once that door closes on someone, like I said, another one opens for someone else and I really think that no one's going to fill A.J. Styles' boots and I never say I'm going to try and fill A.J. Styles' boots, but I'm there to stand in my own and try to make my own legacy and the pressure's on. It's a good opportunity for a guy like me to be able to step up, if given the opportunity, and I think to shine.
Obviously, they're big shoes to fill, man, and I think A.J. will be back eventually. I don't know the timeframe, but he's very valuable. He's a very valuable individual and just well-respected in the locker room.
WWE Network and the future of pay-per-views:
Unfortunately, when I was growing up, pay-per-views were the huge thing. Every month, my father was paying money for me to watch both WWF and WCW. Now because of the internet and because of everything being given free half the time, it is a dying business, I guess, when it comes to professional wrestling pay-per-views. It's just like the music business where these musicians aren't making a lot of money on music sales anymore. They're making all their money on the road doing concerts because you can get on these pirate websites and everything is downloaded.
I think it's going to be a good thing and it's something that we started a little bit last year when we kind of cut our monthly pay-per-views down to just four big ones a year. Even Genesis was one of our big ones that was on pay-per-view and Dixie decided to do the televised pay-per-view. So, I think that, yes, it's going to open up a lot of doors to be something new for professional wrestling.
I really truly believe that the pay-per-view business is a dying thing and everyone's getting smarter and going, "Okay. Well, let's just start doing this on TV or let's do what WWE is doing with the network and charge a monthly fee," or whatever they're doing. I think that's a smart idea because people are going to pay that monthly fee and, on top of that, they're getting unlimited access to professional wrestling.
We have the TNA "on demand" kind of thing where, obviously, you can go back and watch old stuff from 2006 and on and on. So, it seems like everybody's doing that now. It's all about the packages instead of trying to do a monthly thing. It's really costing a lot of money. So, I think it's a good thing, in the end, for ratings and just for business.