Axl Rotten appeared on Busted Open with Dave Lagreca and Doug Morton earlier this week, you can check out highlights of the interview below:
On Flair and the direction TNA has taken:
First an foremost I was listening to the tail-end of the last call and I was in total agreement with everything that was said. For those of you who don’t know Axl Rotten, I’ve been all over the world, wrestled everywhere; ECW, WCW, WWE, I’ve been there done that. And i think that TNA was a great idea. I was excited when I first heard about it. Having the experience of being there a day or two, I was like, “Wow this could be fun if it was done the right way,” and man did they just take the total wrong direction.
And how sickening is it to see a guy like Ric Flair who myself and anyone who has ever laced up a pair of wrestling boots; if you don’t respect Ric flair you don’t belong in the wrestling business, and how terrible is it that Ric Flair, one of the greatest wrestlers of all time had to come and tarnish his name and his reputation the way he has in TNA. When he left the WWE with that sendoff, which was a king’s sendoff, which is what he deserved, to come back and do what he has done… has turned my stomach. As a wrestler, I know how hard it is to give it up. Any of us who has ever walked the aisle as he said a thousand times, who has ever laced up a pair of boots who has ever done it, we don’t want to quit. But when you’re given that sendoff and that kind of grand royalty kind that he deserves… and then to come back and tarnish it the way that he did, it’s my personal opinion, I think it was a disgrace for wrestling and for Ric Flair. The man was great without a doubt. One of the greatest of all times. And, TNA guys, I couldn’t agree with you more. I tweeted this the other day. I said, “Am I watching TNA right in 2011 and they’re doing a Sting vs Ric Flair angle?” What’s going on here? With all those guys; Robert Rude, AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, on and on and your angle is Sting vs Ric Flair? I agree with you. This right now is scary as a wrestler because there is nowhere to go. There’s nothing to do, there’s no jobs out there. And TNA, who we all thought was going to be the next life’s blood of our wrestling business, is dying a slow cancerous death right in front of the world to see.
On TNA’s problems:
I’ve been in and around this business for over 25 years. I started when I was 13 years old helping set up rings and stuff. I’m not a relic like a lot of these guys who have been wrestling forever. I just now am 40 and I believe in my mind that I physically have 5 more good years in me that I’d like to wrestle and I still may do that… The problem with TNA is multi-layered…it goes down several different directions and there are so many threads with the problem with TNA.
Is Hulk Hogan a problem? Yes. Is Hulk Hogan a good thing? Yes, that’s the problem. They don’t know how to take what’s a good thing and make it a good thing. Hulk Hogan should be used in a way of an ambassador, a way to get the name TNA out there and then let AJ styles grab the spotlight from him and show them why TNA is great. Hulk Hogan should be used as a way to open the door and then once the door is open, let him invite in Chris Daniels, Samoa Joe, Robert Rude. That’s why he should be doing. But instead of that, we’re hogging TV time with 55-60 year old men who i remember watching when I was a child and still believed it was real. Now I’m 40 years old. These guys should have stepped aside and I should be in their position and the next guy like a Raven.
Let me put this out there right now…Raven; who is without a doubt one of the greatest performers to ever lace up a pair of boots in this business, not just as a wrestler but as a creative mind, as an intelligent human being should be right now running the WWE or TNA or helping to write a TV Show somewhere. Without question, it’s our time now… it’s our generation. But the problem is the last generation hasn’t left yet. They’re still there. This is the biggest carry-over I’ve ever seen in my life. Bruno Sammartino and Barry Windom stepped aside… these guys did it. This last generation of people are not stepping aside. If you ever had to step aside as a performer, as being involved in this business cause you love it, I love it too and I don’t want to quit. But come on. These guys who are 15, 20, 30 years younger than us they deserve the time to shine now. I have no problem right now going on TNA laying down 1-2-3 for anybody if it’s going to make them. If they thought by Abyss beating Axl Rotten in a Taipei Death Match, which I’m world-famous for, would make him better, I’d let him do it. Because that’s my job. Pass the torch and show what this business is all about. Some respect for this business. What this business gave you, give back and then give it to the next guy. And these guys aren’t doing that.
Flair and Hogan being caricatures of themselves:
When you become a caricature of yourself; and that’s what Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair are. It almost like I’m watching Hulk Hogan PLAY Hulk Hogan and I’m watching Ric Flair PLAY Ric Flair. What they think the character is, they are now playing the character that they created. It’s a multi-level thing that’s very deep if you want to get into it intellectually. It has nothing to do with “heel/baby-faces,” “marks,” “good guy/bad guy”. This is a multi-cultural intelligence level thing that these guys are now playing characters that they created. It’s almost like they can’t separate reality from fantasy. It’s becoming a bit alarming on an intellectual level to watch that happen. Because unfortunately there comes a time where you got to let the next generation shine guys.
On Hardcore Justice and if he was “f’d up”:
I call TNA — like WCW Thunder was a bad version of Nitro — this is a bad version of Thunder. Who was in charge [of Hardcore Justice]? It was simple for me, it was Tommy Dreamer because he had control on that pay-per-view. That’s why it was fun.
Unfortunately there was a lot of rumors about me at that pay-per-view about how “Axl Rotten was all f’ed up!” I’m going to tell you what happened. I was in a car accident like a week or two before Hardcore Justice. My doctor told me to lay in bed. I was heavily medicated, I won’t lie about that. I also had a concussion, but I knew that if I didn’t show up or if I even told someone that, they would have pulled me off the show, they would have pulled Balls Mahoney off the show and I would have dropped the ball for all of us.
Now, I tell you this, Hardcore Justice wasn’t the greatest pay-per-view of all time, but I watch it back several times and I’ll tell you what, I did not drop the ball during my match. I watched it back several times and I’m the only guy in there that did hip-tosses, arm drags, wrestling moves in the entire match. I wasn’t fighting with Jedi Knight Sticks. I did wrestling moves during my wrestling match. I did WRESTLING moves during my WRESTLING match. And it’s no secret that that pay-per-view was the biggest bought TNA pay-per-view up until that point because that’s what the people still want to see. They still give a crap about us. And just to clear the page, Axl Rotten was not suppose to even be in the ring that night. I refused to tell anyone because I didn’t want to drop the ball for John Reckner, aka Balls Mahoney, who came out after the pay-per-view and blasted me telling the whole world how I was f’d up and that he’ll never team with me again. I’ll tell you what guys, if it wasn’t for me, he wouldn’t have had that tag team match on that pay-per-view because I didn’t tell anyone I was hurt. I laced my boots up like I was taught to when I was 16 years old in this business, didn’t cry a lick, taped it up, got in there and performed. I didn’t have to use Jedi mind tricks on nobody i didn’t use light-sabers, I was wrestling and that’s what I was doing.
Rumors about his financial state:
If you say something on the Internet it’s got to be true, right? I’m an open book. I don’t pull punches. Here’s the fact of the matter, I had a great career. I achieved every dream I ever wanted to. The word there is ACHIEVED. I didn’t sustain every dream I wanted to. Axl Rotten has been in the main event segment of Monday Night RAW, Axl Rotten has been in the main event segment of SmackDown, Axl Rotten has been in the main event segment of pay-per-views. Now I want every wrestler/fan out there that wants to heckle me to pull out their copy of their WWE Contract signed by John Laurinitis, that guarantees them money for a couple of years; couple hundred thousand dollars, break out the DVD of your appearance on the main event segment on Monday Night Raw … oh wait a minute, you don’t have one? That’s right because you didn’t achieve that.
I love all these people that talk crap about me and yet they have never been asked to enter a WWE ring, have never had the privilege of being on WCW Saturday night, have never been on SmackDown, have never been asked, who have never shook the hand of Vince McMahon. And yet they still want to heckle me. I find it amusing. I achieved everything I ever wanted in this business. There is an Axl Rotten wrestling figure. I can name 8,000 independent guys who have said crap about me, I haven’t seen theirs. I’ve seen mine. I’ve seen T-shirts with my picture on it that I didn’t make that someone else thought was worth selling, I don’t see theirs. So that’s my answer to that. Yeah guys, I’m doing great. But i will say this, have I been in trouble financially? Yes, I have. Have I been in trouble physically and emotionally? Yes, I have, but I’m man enough to say it. Have I had a drug problem? You KNOW I have, but I’m man enough to say it. And right now, sitting here today, I’m doing great.
On Matt Hardy:
I’m going to speak from my experience. I’m clean and sober now but let me tell you this. This is a disease of addiction. Its called a disease and anyone who doesn’t believe that it’s a clinical problem need to understand that it’s a disease. Its treatable. It’s harmful, it’s fatal, there’s no cure. People think that being an alcoholic or a drug addict is a choice — it’s not. What happens is once you’re pre-disposed to that “drug of choice” that your brain can’t turn off, you have a hard time to stop using that drug. It’s a pre-disposition for that addiction gene in your family and its by no surprise that those two are brothers. My brothers have that problem too. It’s a pre-disposition to that one thing. Once you get that one substance in your body that your brain can’t turn off, there’s a problem.
I’m not going to sit here and bash those guys, I tell the truth. Now if Matt and Jeff Hardy have the disease of addiction which they may or may not, it’s up to THEM to realize they have a problem. And until THEY do, until THEY seek treatment, unfortunately as much as anyone wants to step in and help, no one is going to be able to help anyone until they decide for themselves they want help. If they feel they don’t need help, who are we to make them go get it? My point is this… if Matt Hardy believes that Matt Hardy has a drug or alcohol problem, that’s up for Matt Hardy to decide.
Unfortunately, I know until i made the decision that, yes, Brian Knighton aka Axl Rotten, has the disease of addiction, and I have to forgive myself for having it, not be angry at myself and know I have to surrender to the fact that I can’t do that anymore, that’s up to me to do. That’s up for Matt and Jeff Hardy to do. I wish them well and if they do have that problem, I pray to God that they seek the help that they need. I just hope that from a clinical point of view that people realize this is nothing to laugh at, this is not something to make fun of. This is serious, and this is deadly. And wait… we’re talking about wrestlers … let’s not talk about the 800 pound gorilla in the room. I can’t tell you how many of my friends, people that I’ve sat in cars with, been in the ring with are no longer standing next to me right now because of this. Because of addiction, are dead! So let’s not act like it doesn’t exist. But if these guys have it, it’s up to them to help themselves.
Whether or not the wrestling business is to blame for it’s superstars addiction problems:
Well first and foremost, the wrestling business only has as much to blame as the performer themself has to blame ’cause we seek it out. It’s not Vince McMahon’s fault. I’ll tell you, Vince McMahon saved my life. If it wasn’t for WWE sending me to rehab, I wouldn’t be speaking to you right now. I don’t know if anyone else can say “they caused my problem” because they didn’t. I sought that problem out. I sought out being a professional wrestler, I sought out being on television, i sought out signing autographs. No one made me do it. No one has put a gun to my head and said “I want you to go out there and wrestle!” I chose to do it. And I think anyone else who’s done it has chose to do it. If they or I or anyone else couldn’t handle the limelight or the spotlight which is a whole other show and its really hard to do, then maybe you need to step back. But I don’t think professional wrestling as a business has the blame for anyone’s addiction problem. It may not have helped it or stifled it, but it’s not to blame.