Rodney Mack Speaks On WWE's Backstage Politics, XCW & More

Andy Steven: Firstly I would like to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview for www.RingsideMAYHEM.com.

How did you break into the wrestling business and what have you been up to recently and since your WWE departure?

Redd Dogg: I broke into the industry back in 1996. I was playing football at the University of Arkansas, when the legendary Junk Yard Dog came into town for an autograph signing. I was always a HUGE wrestling fan as a kid and JYD was one of my heroes, so I was thrilled to have an opportunity to meet the legendary Dog! A short while later, I was on my way to Wal-Mart to pick up some groceries and ran into JYD once again. He said I had the build and look of a professional wrestler and recommended that I learn more about the industry, to see if it would be a good fit for me. JYD was extremely generous with his time and I learned so much from him. Later on, I went to a wrestling school in Louisiana, and the rest is history.

Since being released from the WWE, I first began working with the independent promotions. I worked with an NWA territory for a while, but more than anything, I wanted to play an active role in a management capacity with an emerging promotion who shared my vision on what this sport should be. You see, I m a fan of WRESTLING not sports entertainment and sought an opportunity to follow my vision by incorporating the old school-style of wrestling in front of today s fans. This eventually led me to XCW, whose style I dearly love. In sports entertainment the matches are only a few minutes long and cute little skits and silly promos are relied upon to advance storylines. In XCW, the wrestlers are talented enough to tell a riveting story inside the ring, with brutal contests that feature mat-grappling, death-defying aerial assaults, and long matches that truly test the skills of our superstars. Basically, we beat the hell out of each other, tell a compelling story, and cater to true wrestling fans. Being based in Texas, people sometimes make comparisons between us and the glory days of World Class and the Von Erichs, which I consider a great compliment.

You know, I d really love for wrestling to go back about 10 years and return to that style& it s something that fans truly crave, but aren t getting from the WWE anymore. And if you feel the way I do, please check us out at www.xcwonline.net!

Andy Steven: You were previously known as Rodney Mack in WWE, how did that character and name come about and how did you get in the WWE?

Redd Dogg: Well, I got into the WWE after sending them tapes of me in the ring, and was first signed on as Redd Dogg. That was my first WWE character name. They gave me a tryout, liked what I could do, and gave me an opportunity to join their company. I was later told by the WWE that Redd Dogg reminded them too much of the Junk Yard Dog, so they opted for the name and character of Rodney Mack, who was supposed to be a street fighter. I tried to stay true to that character by altering my wrestling style to suit a violent street thug, which significantly limited my in-ring repertoire.

Andy Steven: What was the reason behind your WWE departure?

Redd Dogg: Jazz, who s a former WWE women s champion as well as my real-life wife, and I both left the WWE because the writers didn t know what to do with me or my style of wrestling. I was told they didn t have anything for me storyline-wise, which is something I personally don t agree with. But they couldn t come up with anything constructive for the Rodney Mack character to do and wouldn t green-light any of the ideas we recommended, so we left.

Andy Steven: Did you enjoy your time in WWE, what were some of your best times?

Redd Dogg: I enjoyed being in the WWE very, very much it was an opportunity of a lifetime and a dream come true. You need to remember that I was a wrestling fan before I became a professional wrestler, so having an opportunity to meet and work with some of the greatest talents in the history of the sport guys like Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and HHH was an incredible experience! Just meeting them was an amazing thrill.

When you re with the WWE, you re able to travel all over the world. I got to travel to Africa and Italy, and the moment I stepped off of the plane, there were large crowds of fans who already knew my name! It was amazing! And it game me an opportunity to spend time with kids, which meant so much to me as well. Inside the ring, I had matches with Booker T and the always-great Chris Benoit, which was an honor.

Andy Steven: What were your worst times in WWE?

Redd Dogg: The worst moment inside the ring was when I got injured while wrestling in Virginia during a match with the Hurricane. But the biggest letdown was when I was released from the WWE because it wasn t anything I could control. It was a decision made by the WWE, and what really hurt was that I didn t feel like I had an opportunity to standout. I never had an opportunity to showcase my wrestling skills to the utmost of my ability.

Andy Steven: What was the atmosphere backstage in the WWE locker room?

Redd Dogg: When you ve been around as much as I have and I ve been involved with the NWA, ECW, WWE, and now XCW you learn that there are different atmospheres in each and every promotion. The WWE is very structured and orderly, with management holding your hand and telling you exactly what to do. Personality-wise, I had a close relationship with just about all the other wrestlers and in-ring performers which isn t always the norm. I guess it s no secret that there are multiple cliques backstage, and some groups of wrestlers will only socialize with others in their group, but I got along with everyone.

If you re a new guy in the WWE, it can be very intimidating, because you can feel some of the negativity in the air. Many new wrestlers are afraid to talk openly and candidly because you never know who ll be spreading gossip and innuendo. What you say in confidence to one person will somehow find a way to reach another person. The number one rule in wrestling politics is that the walls have ears!

Andy Steven: There s a lot of backstage politics in the WWE. HHH is commonly mentioned when talking about wrestlers using their position to help themselves. What is your opinion on HHH and the power he uses, and can you give us any examples of when he has used his power to his advantage or to disadvantage others that you experienced?

Redd Dogg: I ll be quite honest with you. HHH is a guy who people say negative stuff about all the time, but every single experience I ever had with him was extremely positive. He was a good mentor to me and Jazz. I never saw any evidence of him being manipulative, or using his influence to punish people. Don t get me wrong maybe he has but I can only go by what me and Jazz both experienced, and everything involving HHH was positive. Instead of being cold and aloof, he d go out of his way to help us with various in-ring techniques. I guess he saw something in us that he liked. I respect the man for all he did to help me and all the other wrestlers backstage.

Andy Steven: Who do you feel was most instrumental in the cancellation of your push? Did you submit any ideas to the creative team with the hopes of keeping your spot?

Redd Dogg: Jazz and I both came up with numerous storylines, but unfortunately, our ideas were never what they were looking for. Johnny Ace was the guy in charge of hiring and firing the talent, so his opinion was probably most instrumental in us leaving the WWE. And I m just stating this as a fact; you won t hear me bashing Johnny Ace because he was always a good guy to us, but firing talent was something that fell on his shoulders.

Andy Steven: Any talk with you and TNA Wrestling? What is your opinion on them and would you sign with them with you wife Jazz?

Redd Dogg: There was some talk between us and TNA, but being honest with you, we re not too interested in them. I m with XCW now, and we don t want to leave. XCW is our passion. I love what I m doing; in addition to performing for the fans with my old school style, I m also involved in management and talent acquisition, which is just an incredible experience. I get to follow my own vision and offer the fans an in-ring product that they just won t find in other promotions.

You can never say never in pro wrestling, but I prefer what I m doing right now. By the way, in addition to XCW, I m also involved in Downsouth Championship Wrestling.

Andy Steven: Is it true that Shawn Michaels used backstage politics in the past, and that he was a jerk? What is his reputation currently in the backstage locker room? Has he changed?

Redd Dogg: I heard all those stories about the bad Shawn Michaels, too, but just like with HHH, I can only report on my own experiences. In all honesty, all the stories I grew up hearing about the old Shawn Michaels, compared to the guy I actually met, it was literally like night and day.

The truth is, sports entertainment can really change a person, and all of us evolve over time. The Shawn Michaels I met and had the honor of wrestling was a superb mentor. Shawn goes around coaching backstage, and he s all about the betterment of the show. He ll teach you what he knows and is a great guy to be around. I never saw any evidence whatsoever that he d stab someone in the back. He was all about helping people, and was loved and respected by everyone backstage.

Andy Steven: How much of a difference is Indy work from working with WWE, better? Worse?

Redd Dogg: One of the key differences goes to professionalism. In the WWE, there are big stars legendary wrestlers who ve already traveled the world and know exactly what s expected of them. That s not always the case with the independents. In the indies, you don t have the same backstage pressure placed on you, and of course, far fewer bosses. You can do your own thing with your character and in the ring.

But the biggest difference, to me at least, is the relationship with the fans. The indie fans love to be entertained through WRESTLING, compared to the WWE, where the fans have become socialized to respond to sports entertainment. WWE fans have become accustomed to four minute matches, but with the independents you get to cater to the wrestling-loving fans. There s a stronger, more appreciative relationship. Your match is designed solely to entertain men and women who love professional wrestling, as opposed to pleasing the bosses in the back.

Andy Steven: Who is the biggest a$$hole that you have ever worked with or was with you in a locker room?

Redd Dogg: Bubba Ray Dudley & Big Vito and you can put that in big, black writing! One day I d like to meet those two in a ring or even better, in an alley where we don t have any rules. I m serious, too.

Here s the deal: It all started in ECW when Jazz and I were first getting our start. Originally, Bubba Ray and Big Vito treated Jazz well, but after I joined the promotion, they viewed me as a threat and tried to burry me. They were playa-haters, and deliberately tried to hold me back. It s something I m still pissed about.

Andy Steven: Did you feel you were miss-used in WWE and if you would ever consider a return to the company?

Redd Dogg: Yes, I know I was misused by the WWE. I wish I could tell you why, but there really isn t a good reason for it. I just didn t fit into their sports entertainment vision, I suppose. I still think it could ve worked out, had I been afforded an opportunity to showcase my wrestling skills and develop my character.

I know in my heart of hearts that I wouldn t want to return to the WWE right now. I m doing much better now, mentally and financially. I m following my wrestling dreams and doing what I love to do in front of passionate, dedicated fans. I m blessed to be working on the ground level with a visionary promotion like XCW, and I m determined to bring this style of wrestling back to the masses. The WWE is great at sports entertainment but I absolutely believe there s an untapped market for people who love and desire classic, old school WRESTLING. I was out of place in the WWE; with XCW, I m finally home.

Andy Steven: What is your opinion on WWE and TNA? Also if there are reasons behind your thoughts, what are they?

Redd Dogg: First, let me speak about TNA. In my eyes, TNA is trying to be another WWE. They shouldn t try to compete with the WWE but be their own separate and distinct product. In a way, I acknowledge that they re trying to carve their own identity, but I don t think they ve gone far enough. They seem like just another version of the WWE to me, but with a different ring and different personalities.

As for the WWE, they ve clearly moved away from wrestling and become strictly sports entertainment. They really don t care about wrestling anymore, and stopped catering to wrestling fans. It s a family production that the owners are having fun with.

Andy Steven: Is there anyone you didn t get along with in the WWE and do you think people held you back?

Redd Dogg: No, I got along with everyone, other than Bubba Ray and my conflict with Bubba preceded my WWE tenure. The boys in the back didn t hold me down whatsoever. What limited how much I could contribute to the promotion wasn t the wrestlers themselves, but the positioning of the company. I still feel bad about it because I know that I could ve offered them a dimension that they currently lack. The good thing is, I m able to provide this dimension to XCW.

Andy Steven: Who were some of your best friends in the WWE and do you still speak with them?

Redd Dogg: Oh yes, guys like Teddy Long and Mark Henry Jazz and I were friends with just about everyone! And Teddy Long wasn t just my on-screen manager, but a true old school manager as well; he d book my flights, my hotel rooms, and so forth. Teddy Long is a great guy who s been in this industry for over 30 years. Some of my other friends include Hurricane, Rey Rey, Randy Orton, Shelton Benjamin, the amazing Chris Benoit we were all great friends. I still enjoy speaking with them.

Andy Steven: You are currently the number one contender for the XCW world championship, talk to us a bit about your time in XCW and what you want to achieve their?

Redd Dogg: My whole career started in Texas, and with XCW being a Texas-based promotion, it s a perfect fit. Here s how I look at it: I m a fan of WRESTLING. To me, nothing is more exhilarating and exciting than watching two talented, hungry, seasoned WRESTLERS enter that ring, put on a great match, tell a compelling story with their bodies, emotion, and energy and have the audience feeling EXACTLY what they re feeling. That s what WRESTLING is all about! Sadly, the WWE moved away from this form of art and entered the world of sports entertainment, which is more soap opera than wrestling. With XCW leading the way, we hope to bring WRESTLING back. I can t tell you how many times I ll speak with to fans while traveling through the airports, hearing them tell me how much they miss the exciting, gritty wrestling action of yesteryear.

What do I want to achieve? Well, when I eventually retire as an in-ring performer, I want to be known as one of the baddest, most technically gifted wrestlers in the history of this business! I m not in this sport to gain a foothold in Hollywood or to perform silly skits; I m a wrestler who truly loves professional wrestling. XCW is a company that gives me an opportunity to show everyone the kind of talent I have while showcasing the style of wrestling that made me such a rabid fan in the first place. Please visit www.xcwonline.net, where you can learn more about the promotion, watch podcasts, and familiarize yourself with our product. Also, please visit www.tvn.com to learn how you can order our Pay-Per-View spectaculars! We offer FAR more wrestling action than what you ll find with TNA or WWE and we re less expensive, too. Just order one Pay-Per-View and you ll be a fan for life! Our April 7 Battle Box Pay-Per-View will feature amazing action and incredible in-ring performers who are light years superior to TNA or WWE!

Andy Steven: Have you got any scary/funny road trip stories in your time with WWE?

Redd Dogg: No, not really. The majority of the time I was on the plane, off the plane, in the gym, out of the gym, in the arena, out of the arena, and sleeping! Mostly it was just Jazz and me traveling together. When you travel with your wife, it kind of cuts back on your extracurricular activities, shall we say! But this was deliberate decision we made together. I always wanted to keep my nose clean and conduct myself like a professional. This is my job, not an excuse to be reckless and out of control.

Andy Steven: Do you think WWE are lacking at the moment? What do you think they need to improve?

Redd Dogg: The WWE is lacking writing talent right now. They re lacking people who actually know storylines and have experience in professional wrestling. The other thing is talent. I m being straight honest with you guys, not trying to be rude& but the young talent in the WWE simply SUCKS. They can t wrestle. They don t understand psychology. Most of the young guys just don t have enough experience in the independents to understand ring psychology. They can do all the moves, but they can t tell a decent story.

Andy Steven: Any one or anything you want to shoot on?

Redd Dogg: What do I want to shoot on? No one person in particular, but everyone in general who s a wannabe wrestler and wanna promoter! Look: people like Jazz and me bleed, sweat, and cry wrestling. I m protective of this sport like it s my baby. Anyone out there who wants to be a promoter or wrestler, you need to take the time to learn the craft and honor the legacy of our wrestling forefathers. Some of these new guys have outlandishly large egos, and it s embarrassing how little they know about the history or craftsmanship of professional wrestling.

Andy Steven: Are you currently accepting Indy bookings? If you are how can we contact you?

Redd Dogg: Yes, you can contact me at 337-684-1134.

Andy Steven: I would like to thank you very much once again for taking this time to take part in this interview for www.RingsideMAYHEM.com, I wish you the best of luck in the future and do you have any messages to say to your fans?

Redd Dogg: Thank you for everything, Andy! I really appreciate you providing me with an opportunity to speak to my fellow wrestling fans because even though I m a wrestling professional, I m still a fan at heart! I give you my word of honor that no matter where I go, wherever I perform, or whomever I m in the ring with, I will ALWAYS give you absolutely everything I have, to the very best of my ability. Anything less would be a slap in the face to those who blazed a path in this sport before me. It s an honor to be a professional wrestler, and I m eternally humbled and grateful to the passionate, dedicated fans who provide me with an opportunity to do what I truly love. Once again, please visit www.xcwonline.net, and God bless!

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