Billy Gunn: Facts Only Hardcore Fans Know About The Wrestling Legend

Billy Gunn is arguably one of the more underrated wrestlers of his generation, able to reinvent himself over and over again as he has jumped between wrestling companies. Gunn got his start in WWE in 1993 and found himself with a range of different gimmicks, some much better than others. Regardless of the gimmick that Gunn was saddled with, he always gave it his all and tried to make it work. Gunn is of course most widely known for his time in the New Age Outlaws and D-Generation X in the late '90s, during which he made a name for himself as "Mr. Ass."

After departing WWE, Gunn found himself in promotions such as TNA and NJPW, most recently landing in AEW in 2019 alongside his two sons, Austin and Colten. In 2022, Gunn stumbled into a career resurgence of sorts when he became the unlikely mentor of AEW tag team The Acclaimed. Decades ago, Gunn found himself telling audiences around the world to "Suck It," and now finds himself "scissoring" audiences around the globe in AEW. For a man who has managed to play many different roles in the wrestling business, there is a lot to unpack in the career of "Daddy Ass."

He has a professional bull riding background

Before wrestling audiences had ever heard of Billy Gunn, he was a part of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Under his real name, Monty Kip Sopp, Gunn found himself some success as a professional bull rider for a short stint. Gunn would travel to various rodeos as a young man and put his bull-riding talents on display. In his early 20's, Gunn decided this was not the career path he wanted to take permanently. Gunn decided to try tangling with professional wrestlers instead of bulls.

This led to his debut in WCW as enhancement talent in 1989 and eventually his WWE debut in 1993. Although being part of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association was a small part of Gunn's career, some undertones of his characters have pulled from this experience. Most notably, his tag team with Bart Gunn, The Smoking Gunns, but also as Rockabilly and as a New Age Outlaw.

What Billy Gunn asked after being offered his first WWE Contract

Billy Gunn, alongside his future tag team partner, Bart Gunn, both received tryouts from WWE in 1993. After a few attempts, the company hired both men. On Road Dogg's "Oh...You Didn't Know" podcast, Billy admitted to being shocked by the signing. He says that both him and Bart were "still green as grass." Prior to the signing, Billy and Bart had met JJ Dillion and Vince McMahon in McMahon's office to receive their contracts. Gunn remembers this moment as, "he [Vince] looks at us and he goes, 'Hey, nice to meet you, I'm Vince McMahon.' I went, 'Cool,' I don't have any idea who you are."

Upon receiving the contract, Billy had no idea what the terms were. He had so far only been working weekend shows on the independent scene, so when McMahon handed him the contract he asked, "Well, I have a job. Do I do this on the weekend? Is this a weekend thing?" McMahon assured Billy he would be alright without that other job and little did the future "Daddy Ass" know, this contract was about to launch his 30-plus-year career in the wrestling business.

Bart Gunn was not Billy's actual brother

Pulling from his prior cowboy experience, Billy Gunn's first successful gimmick in WWE was alongside his kayfabe brother Bart in the tag team The Smoking Gunns. Dressed as two stereotypical cowboys, the two "brothers" would come to the ring with six-shooters and lassos as they attempted to "wow" the WWE audience before the bell rang. Although Bart and Billy weren't actually brothers, they had a genuine bond because they tried out and came into WWE in a similar fashion.

Even after the two entered the business together, they continued to get along outside the ring. Bart mentioned in an interview with WWE that both men had their respective jobs on the road, which Bart described as, "We'd meet up in Orlando and fly to all the events. He'd be in charge of getting cars and I'd be in charge of getting the rooms. We both like the same foods, sleeping, and training. Our personalities clicked and there wasn't any conflict, which was cool." Despite the two not really being brothers, the chemistry Billy and Bart shared off-camera translated to the chemistry fans saw when The Smoking Gunns were on TV.

He thinks WWE was trying to make him quit with the Rockabilly character

The Smoking Gunns were a successful team to get Billy Gunn's young career started. However, not everything he was assigned worked out that well. After The Smoking Gunns broke up in 1997, Gunn was repackaged as "Rockabilly." Alongside the Honky Tonk Man, Rockabilly had a very forgettable "musical feud" with "The Real Double J," Jesse James. Ironically enough, these two would form the red hot New Age Outlaws not too long after. The Rockabilly character was so puzzling because Gunn had proven that he was a talented star from 1993 to 1997 in the tag team division. Why strap him with an awful gimmick to get his singles career started?

Gunn believes that WWE was trying to get him to quit so they didn't have to fire him. Gunn himself is still puzzled by the whole concept. At a virtual signing for Captain's Corner he joked that the bedazzled jacket his character wore one time was thrown together in an hour. Gunn went into more detail about why he thought the gimmick was created in the first place, "Legitimately think they were trying to get rid of me. Think that's what I thought. I said, you don't have to do this to me as much as just to say I'm fired. I'll be okay with that."

He believes the first ever Dumpster Match propelled his career

By 1998, Billy Gunn had fully shaken the Rockabilly character off and was teaming with Jesse James as The New Age Outlaws. At the time, WWE was experimenting with edgier characters and match types, which benefited Gunn and the Outlaws greatly. At WrestleMania 14, the Outlaws took on Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie (Terry Funk) in the first ever "Dumpster Match." The only way to win this match was to put your opponent in a dumpster and close the lid, and was inspired by the Outlaws having previously rolled a dumpster off the "WWE Raw" stage with their opponents still in it. While the Outlaws lost this battle, they won the war, regaining their WWE Tag Team Championship the next night.

In an interview with 411 Mania, Gunn mentioned that he believes the Dumpster Match put The New Age Outlaws on the map. Gunn feels that after their showdown with the hardcore legends, the people "went goo-goo" over the team. The Dumpster Match was certainly not one of technical in-ring finesse. Gunn thinks this actually aided the team in getting over by saying, "For me and Brian, it was never really the wrestling. It was about how involved or how interactive can we be with the people." Gunn mentions how much fun they were having at that time and when their music hit, the crowd knew they were about to have a fun time too.

One Billy and Chuck segment made him extremely uncomfortable

After the New Age Outlaws storylines had run their course, Billy Gunn was once again in position for a rebranding. This time, Gunn was about to take on what was considered a "controversial" tag team gimmick by 2001 standards. With the Invasion angle over, Gunn teamed up with Chuck Palumbo. As time went on, the two men seemed to get closer and closer to each other. WWE started out with subtle "gay undertones" with the team, and then began to lean into the gimmick over time. Eventually it led to a commitment ceremony between the pair in September 2002.

It was revealed during the segment that both men were straight and the whole thing was a publicity stunt, which received a lot of scrutiny from the LBGTQ community. On an episode of "The Sessions with Renee Paquette," Gunn said that the success of the characters was due in part to how committed both he and Palumbo were to the gimmick. However, Gunn admitted to Renee that a segment where he and Palumbo had to do sexual poses along with the divas made him uneasy. He describes this as, "I will not lie, it was so uncomfortable. That was one of the things that we went, 'Hey, this is a sink or swim." Say what you will about the handling of their storylines, but Gunn and Palumbo went all in to make it work.

He was fired from WWE for elevated testosterone levels

Heading into the 2010s, Billy Gunn's primary job in WWE was now to be a trainer. He also made some appearances on "WWE NXT," "Tough Enough," "Breaking Ground," and had a nostalgia run alongside Jesse James as the New Age Outlaws, but he was primarily working behind the scenes during this time. In 2015, WWE got notified that Gunn had tested positive for elevated testosterone levels at a powerlifting competition on July 25. Gunn's test showed a 37-1 testosterone to epitestosterone levels. This is well above the 4-1 ratio limit. Due to failing this test, Gunn was suspended from powerlifting for four years.

WWE was unaware that Gunn was competing in powerlifting competitions, so the news of the failed test got to them late. Once they learned that Gunn was suspended from powerlifting due to elevated testosterone levels, WWE fired him. This firing didn't burn any bridges, as Gunn returned for WWE appearances years later, but it also setup an opportunity for him to go to NJPW and eventually AEW.

He was upset with Triple H's comments at the Hall of Fame

Shortly after Billy Gunn signed a contract with AEW, WWE was set to induct D-Generation X and its members into the Hall of Fame. While the main members of DX stood on stage, Triple H took to the podium to give a speech about his time with the group. During the speech, Triple H took a jab at Gunn signing with AEW and joked that Vince McMahon would, "buy that pissant company, just to fire you again." At the time, the jab seemed to be in good fun, but Gunn was vocal about how much it offended him after the Hall of Fame ceremony.

During an interview with the "For The Love of Wrestling" podcast, Gunn said that the comment made him want to punch Triple H. He went on to mention that his wife calmed him down and prevented any further issues after the event. Gunn explained what he thought was going through Triple H's head at the time, "When everybody starts chanting AEW at the Hall of Fame, he's got to try and shut it down somehow and whatever goes through his head, goes through his head ... It is what it is. I'm gonna bypass that." [H/T The Overtimer]. This eventually smoothed itself out, but one wonders what would have happened if Gunn's wife didn't help defuse the situation.

His kids get annoyed by his constant in-ring coaching

Billy Gunn has the privilege of working alongside his two sons, Austin and Colten, in AEW, where he can watch them evolve and help them grow. Austin and Colten, known as the Gunn Club, were managed by their father at first. Once the Gunn Club started a feud with The Acclaimed, Gunn jumped ship and the "scissoring" craze began. Regardless of what side Gunn takes onscreen, he is still a father and trainer at heart when it comes to his sons.

On an episode of "The Sessions With Renee Paquette," Gunn mentioned that he is always coaching his sons at ringside during their matches. He admits that if you were to ask Colten and Austin what they think about it, they would probably say they get annoyed. However, what parent doesn't annoy their kid from time to time? Gunn went on to explain how much fun he has watching and coaching his sons in the ring, "Sometimes they just want to kind of go through the motions and I'm really out there and they're going, 'Dad, stop for one second' ... It's so much fun."

His secret to keeping his physique

It is easy for fans to forget that Billy Gunn was born in 1963 when he appears on AEW television. Gunn has done an incredible job keeping himself "ring ready" over the years. Some may even argue that Gunn is in the best shape of his whole career in AEW. This is not an accident, as Gunn works hard to maintain his ring shape. In an interview with "Men's Health," Gunn spilled some of the secrets behind keeping his body in top shape despite his age. Gunn admits that genetics and metabolism has helped him a lot, when he was younger he could "eat and eat and eat" without gaining any "bad weight." 

Gunn revealed that his main fitness secret is tied to his nutrition. He explains what he brings with him on the road in the food category as, "I have a big bag for my food; I have a meal-prep lady who puts together all my meals; I take egg whites with me; I take my oatmeal with me; I take everything with me." In addition, Gunn says he learned about nutrition when he was in the bodybuilding world. He has a passion for nutrition health and mentions that he has loved passing down this knowledge to his sons as well.

WWE wanted Billy Gunn to be a part of the 25th Anniversary of Raw

WWE loves to bring back old factions for special episodes of their weekly programming, both for nostalgia and ratings reasons. The problem with this is that sometimes not all the members can be present because they have passed away or are in a different company. The October 10, 2022 episode of "WWE Raw" celebrated its 25th anniversary. D-Generation X was a huge part of the successful "Raw" years in the late '90s, so WWE brought them back for a reunion appearance. X-Pac, Road Dogg, Shawn Michaels, and Triple H came out in the main event spot of this episode of "Raw." However, notably missing was "Mr. Ass" Billy Gunn, who Corey Graves jabbed at on commentary by saying he was off "doing something with office equipment."

After the reunion, it was reported that AEW boss Tony Khan had offered to let Gunn appear on the show, as long as WWE mentioned he was from AEW or mentioned AEW in general. This trade off wasn't out of the question, as WWE had a similar deal with Impact Wrestling and Mickie James earlier in 2022 at the Royal Rumble. WWE stalled on giving an answer, and eventually no deal was made. This left everyone wondering what the live crowd would have chanted if "Daddy Ass" himself was able to appear.

His battle with addiction and going to rehab

When Chyna passed away from a drug overdose in 2016, it hit Billy Gunn hard, as he had also been in the thick of drug addiction in the past. He recalls that for a long time the people around him kept saying, "Hey you have a problem," but he would always brush them off. The drugs and alcohol had a strong hold on Gunn, who believed he had his life completely under control. It wasn't until he woke up on the floor one day that he realized he was as close to rock bottom as one can get without actually dying. 

On an episode of "The Sessions With Renee Paquette," Gunn recalled this time as, "But when I finally woke up on the floor, I had like some kind of cans around me that had so much alcohol in it because I couldn't find the drugs that I was wanting and I was miserable." After this moment, everyone in Gunn's life was gone and he knew he needed to make a lifestyle change. He recalls picking up the phone and within two hours, WWE sent a driver to pick him up and bring him to rehab. Starting March 11, 2011, Gunn followed the rehab process strictly. He has been sober since and is so grateful he finally opened himself up to advice, "... this time I took it and I did it, and look what I have today."

He didn't appreciate the Assman theme song until a comedian broke down the lyrics

In the late '90s, Billy Gunn's "Mr. Ass" gimmick was firing on all cylinders. "Mr. Ass" had a notorious theme song that he would enter the arena to, aptly named, "I'm an Ass Man." In an interview with Chris Van Vliet, Gunn mentioned that he did not think much about the song when he came out to the ring weekly with it. He mostly cared whether the song got him moving and pumped him up to wrestle, and Gunn felt the song did that.

It wasn't until years later when Gunn really appreciated the lyrical masterpiece that was "I'm An Ass Man." In 2015, a comedian by the name of Justin R. Young, did a "lecture" which broke the song down lyric by lyric. Using his comedic timing and energy, he spoke to a crowd of non-wrestling fans, explaining why he thought this was the most iconic song in WWE history. He analyzed the lyrics deeply and made comparisons to why "2015 culture" is all about "ass men" and "ass women." Not only did Gunn love this presentation, but Young received a standing ovation from the crowd at his show as "I'm An Ass Man" rang out over the auditorium speakers.