I recently interviewed former WWE and WCW Superstar Sean "X-Pac" Waltman, whose podcast X-Pac 12360 drops every Wednesday on YouTube and iTunes. In the second and final part of the interview below, Waltman discusses why he left WWE the first time, how he played a big part in Kevin Nash and Scott Hall leaving WWF for WCW and wrestling history being changed forever, Eric Bischoff releasing him, his podcast, problems with the WWE Cruiserweight division and more. You can listen to Waltman's comments about 205 Live and the problems with the show in the video above.
What caused you to leave WWF after the first run?
"Well, things were really tough in WWE at that time. Money was really, really bad. There were often times when we didn't draw at the arena. If we got $200 for expenses on the road, we wouldn't get anything on our paycheck, Raj. So when I was in LA, when I was out here in LA recuperating from an injury and training with some friends out here in Global Gym, I went and visited Barry Bloom about some movie roles. And Barry Bloom, Jesse Ventura's agent originally, that's where he told me Eric [Bischoff] was in charge of WCW and they were starting to throw a lot of money around. That set the whole ball rolling, that meeting. I got Scott [Hall] on the phone right there. That set all of that in motion. So when I'm hearing that I could make three-times, four-times, the money I was making and work half the dates, I mean, what would you do?"
If that call wasn't made, because Hall and [Kevin] Nash jumping led to Steve Austin winning King Of The Ring and cutting the 3:16 promo, the nWo starting, Hulk Hogan turning heel. Probably none of that would have happened if that phone call…
"Probably not, probably not, Raj. And it's funny, the official story that they, that they… the narrative that they push forward, they say that Dallas Page called Scott or Kev on the phone. That's not how it happened at all. At all!"
Do you ever think about how different wrestling would be today if you wouldn't have made that call? Who knows who would have made it? Who knows if WCW would have ever gotten big?
"That's exactly right. That one meeting with Barry Bloom. When I had Jesse Ventura on recently on X-Pac 1,2,360 on AfterBuzz TV, I actually told him, 'you have no idea, the actual, direct influence you had in the whole Monday Night Wars situation, the big wrestling boom and guaranteed money for the guys.' And it was because he, it was Jesse's agent, Barry Bloom, who became everybody else's. He was all of our agents, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, myself, Hunter, actually, Eric himself at one time. Eric told me he wouldn't piss on him if he saw him on fire now. Yeah, no, he does not like Barry now.
"Here's the thing he said and I understand Eric being upset. And I understand both sides of it. Apparently, Barry promised Eric that he would never play his clients, play WWF against WCW. But, here's the thing. He had no choice. Like, he has a fiduciary responsibility to his clients, not WCW. He can't possibly live up to that promise and honor his fiduciary responsibility."
With Eric, it's interesting the history you guys have had and now it seems like you guys are completely cool. I'm sure you guys have been for a while. But yeah, when business was business and when he let you go, that wasn't really on your doing, right? He was doing it to get at Hall and Nash?
"That was part of it. We talked about that [recently]. He has a completely different take on it and I understand where he's coming from too. The thing is, I never actually signed a contract with WCW. Ever. No, I worked the whole time on a deal memo, which is the same. I mean, it just says, it's just a general outline of the main terms of the agreement."
So WWF couldn't have come in and signed you while you were under this deal?
"No, right, the deal memo was binding, but there was a lot of the other stuff that I hadn't agreed to yet. I never actually did and I was trying to get more money because my stock had gone up tremendously from the time I arrived in WCW till the time I left. But then I got hurt and stuff with Kevin and Scott, stuff was really rough around them. I wasn't there. I'd been out for months. I mean, months and months. I don't believe Eric was ever really… when those guys approached Eric after he fired me, I'm pretty sure he was already figuring, 'oh, just have him give me a call'. Like, he was going to take me back the whole time.
"I haven't talked to him about this, and I'll bring it up the next time I talk to him, but I think it was just a… I still think it was a strategic move that kind of backfired. Kind of."
Yeah, if you didn't jump ship when you did, it seems like that was kind of the spark that lit DX when Shawn had to take a sabbatical.
"Yeah, yeah, and Paul was bound and determined not to just go back to WCW. He knew how important that was to the survival of DX."
What made you start the podcast? People have been podcasting for a little bit. What made you decide to get into it now?
"I did a show on Cowhead TV down in Florida when I was doing a radio show down there with Cowhead and it went well. There were a lot of reasons why I quit doing it at that point. But I was at WrestleMania this year and I do, obviously, I do, I have appeared on other people's shows, on radio shows and Maria Menounos and her fiancé, Keven Undergaro, they have AfterBuzz TV together and he approached me at 'Mania and he told me… This guy believes in me more than anybody I've ever met, let's just put it that way, Raj. And he laid all this out for me and he's given me this, kind of this… he knows the magic recipe when it comes to this s--t. And so, I'm listening to this guy and everything has gone fantastic because of it.
"I really feel like I'm pretty good at it. I just started. I think things are good. I have a great team around me. My co-host, Christy Olson, she's fantastic. She's beautiful. She does a great job. She's the one that spends hours after the show's done preparing those press releases to send out. Yeah, and my producer, Jim Bone and Mark who's in the booth and engineering. It's really cool to have these resources! And it's cool to have it, like, most people listen to it, but if you watch it, it's a pretty cool viewing experience and a lot of people are listening. It's pretty high up on the charts."
It's a fun podcast to listen to. I always hear new stories I've never heard before and I'm always fascinated by, not just wrestling, but just thoughts about the business today and just thoughts about everything else, so I think it's a fascinating listen.
"When you asked me about what story did I hear that I was surprised to hear. I can't remember how you worded the question, but that's actually a better one for you. What did you find out watching or listening to my show that you didn't know? Put you on the spot now!"
Well, I remember Bob Holly talking about The Kliq. I thought that was pretty interesting.
"Yeah, actually, there's a lot about Bob that I'm not shocked, but somewhat surprised about."
Do you get surprised when you hear now about the people that had heat with you guys? Do you even know about a lot of it?
"Oh yeah! Come on! We just really didn't care at the time. I mean, look, things were… it was really tough to survive. And, look, let me just put it this way: anybody else in the same situation, you don't think they would have done the same thing? Maybe not the exact same way, but come on.
"I mean, a lot of the perceived power, I don't believe it was necessarily there. Maybe it was. It didn't translate into a big, fat paycheck for me in that first run."
With Triple H, you guys are obviously very close and go way back. I'm guessing he was a big fan of your style back then because a lot of the changes we're seeing now with 205 Live, the cruiserweights, it seems like a lot of that is influenced by Paul.
"Yeah, yeah. Well, I think that when they gave me the ball in my initial run there, as The 1-2-3 Kid, I carried it pretty far. I did a pretty good job with it and I think it just, it opened the door, obviously, for, eventually, we had Rey Mysterio, who's much smaller than me, as the World Heavyweight Champion, Raj. Or just even any of the guys like Jericho or AJ. Different guys. I don't think that would have happened, well, I know it wouldn't have happened before that.
"Stephanie actually came up to me at one point in one of our conversations, and talked about, one day me being WWE/F Champion. I think it was still F at the time. And I never thought about it. I never thought about that. And I took myself out of the game before that ever happened."
Well, if you were there today, you'd actually be one of the… not necessarily bigger…
"Middle-sized. Not a small guy. Yeah. I'm 6'1", Raj. 6'1". You can get wider. You can't get taller unless Herman Munster's in your shoes."
Right. When people talk about smaller guys in the 90s, they'll say yourself, Bret, and Shawn, but you guys were a lot bigger than the guys today.
"Oh yeah. You were talking about the 205 Live and the cruiserweight stuff. I'm really happy. Mostly, I'm happy with what they're doing with it, but there's a few things I don't like. I don't like them taping the 205 Live after everything else is done in a half-empty arena where nobody gives a s--t. I think we're marginalizing these guys. I don't know, did we get them on RAW and SmackDown or are they still just on SmackDown or whatever?
Well, they're on RAW, but then they tape after SmackDown where it seems that before SmackDown seems like a natural because I remember WCW, they would always have the cruiserweights to start the show when the crowd is hot, those guys would just tear it up.
"Yep, and so, not cool. I don't like that. It makes them seem like they're still an afterthought, Raj."
Do you think it's a better idea to tape it before or just have separate tapings?
"Of course, of course. Whenever you put the heavy hitters out before the guys that are perceived to be lower on the card, it doesn't work. I mean, it did at one point, but I'll give you an exception. Back when they would take Hulk and somebody in the main event, or whoever, and put them on forth, before intermission, and then, put, like, Rockers versus The Hart Foundation on last. That would be something that was done a lot. But, come on, the cruiserweights are still trying to get established. We don't want to treat them like they're a special attraction like the midgets, we used to call them midgets, and what the ladies used to be back in the days, back in the Moolah, the Fabulous Moolah circuit days."
What do you think about them changing the ropes and all that? Do you think it's signifying to people, 'okay, now we can kind of go to the bathroom' just because they haven't established it yet.
"Yeah, I mean, why are we changing ropes? Well, I guess I understand why. But, like, yeah, it does signify it's time to go to the bathroom, or get some popcorn, or it's time to just leave. Right?"
Right, yeah. I loved the Cruiserweight Classic that they did. I really want to see this succeed and I love how WWE is bringing in these smaller talents and giving them a shot. But it seems like there is a little bit of an execution issue right now.
"There is and I'm sure without talking to anybody about it, I can guarantee you there's an internal struggle going on about these types of things. I guarantee you somebody feels the same way I do about it, so it's not like everyone there is just oblivious or doesn't get what I'm saying."
Click here for part one of the interview, where Waltman talks about growing up a wrestling fan, getting his big break with the WWF, his infamous match with Razor Ramon on Monday Night RAW, Curt Hennig shaving his eyebrows, wrestling Bret Hart for the WWF Championship, if he felt that Bret was selfish, Chyna in the WWE Hall of Fame and more. Also, check out new episodes of X-Pac 12360 every Wednesday on YouTube and iTunes.