Curt Hawkins Talks How It Was Working With Rock, WWE Release, Backstage Reaction To Zack Ryder
His WWE release:
"I was with the WWE for eight and a half years, and I saw so many guys get let go and just sit around and feel sorry for themselves, and I feel like nothing good comes of that. To me, wrestling is wrestling. It's what I love to do. If I was able to do it that weekend, why wouldn't I? I was thrilled at the idea that...you know, originally I would be sitting home as a WWE employee like I was doing, collecting a check but not really having any fun. So I was like, 'Woo! Alright, sweet.' Hit the ground running, you know?
"For one, it's been like a weight has been lifted. It was just going nowhere, and I sensed that, and I'm thrilled to be back being my own boss and actively wrestling every weekend, which is really just what I want to do. That's all I can ask for. I'm a desperate hopeless romantic for pro wrestling since I was five years old, I just love it. I'm happiest in the ring; I don't care whose ring it is or who owns it, I just want to be in there performing and I'm happy. And I know I'm a sucker in that sense, because it's a business, but that's what makes me happy and that's the truth. What really happened, in my opinion, is when I got hurt in late summer 2012 - I tore my PCL and meniscus, and that was the first time I had to actively stop. I had to have surgery. Ever since then, I never was put on a full road schedule again. It was almost a year and a half of just sitting home and they'd randomly call me for something. It was just bizarre, it never got going again. I think a lot of it was a cost-cutting thing to keep a lot of talent off the road because they weren't going to be used."
Locker room reaction to Zack Ryder's push:
"The worst part of that whole thing is that it really kind of broke the spirit of the locker room. For years, we were told in all these pep talks that there's a brass ring, you've gotta reach for it and it's there for the taking if you work hard enough and get yourself over. And he did it; he defied the odds and actually does it, and all the boys are rooting for him, like 'Oh wow, this is cool as sh*t. This has never been done before.' He got over without the office, without TV time. It was pretty mind-blowing. And then they did just crush it and take it all away from him.
"To me, I felt the example that set for the rest of the boys was pretty brutal, because then it's like it almost feels hopeless. It's like, you're not going to get pushed unless they pick you to get pushed, and that's kind of it. I thought, above all, that message they sent to the boys was the worst part. They crushed the spirits of a lot of people, like 'Okay, so my hard work here isn't going to pay off, huh?'"
Working with The Rock for his comeback matches:
"That started for his comeback match, the Survivor Series match in 2011. I got a call from John Laurinaitis one afternoon, and that's never a good thing, so I'm like 'Oh sh*t, what could this be about?' It was a conference call with me and Joe Hennig on the line, and he basically explained that Rock needs guy to train with to get ready for his matches, and he's not gonna be at every TV and whatnot. We were basically like his punching bags for whatever he wants to do, whenever he wants to do it.
"It wound up being incredible. Basically, I could be at home at any point and someone from the office would call me and say, 'Hey, Dwayne wants to train tomorrow in Miami, we'll send you the information' and WWE would basically set up a ring, they'd send a ring crew guy and a ref. They'd set up a ring in a warehouse near wherever he was filming. We did it in Miami, we did it in New Orleans. At the drop of a hat, my daily commute would be Miami and back in one day just to get a workout in with Dwayne. It was a blast. Honestly, he could not have been cooler. From jump street, he was the coolest guy."
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