Raj Giri of WrestlingINC.com recently spoke with former WWE / ECW / TNA Superstar Stevie Richards about this Saturday's Extreme Rising iPPV from the Pennsylvania National Guard Armory in Philadelphia, PA on Saturday, December 29th. You can purchase tickets for the event or get more information at ExtremeRising.com.
Fans worldwide can watch the event -- which features a fully loaded card, title tournament finals, a title match to crown the first ever champion, as well as a cage match -- by ordering the iPPV VOD now at HighSpots.com by clicking here.
In the second part of our interview below, Richards discusses calling TNA an indy promotion with TV, scripted promos, Extreme Rising and more. Click here for the first part of our interview, where Richards talked about his time with ECW and WWE, his favorite moment in WWE, if WWE's ECW could have worked, his WWE departure and more.
WrestlingINC: How would you describe your two-year stint with TNA (February 2009 to January 2011)?
Richards: I thought it would be great for quality of life because I wasn't working as much. You're working on Universal Studios so in you're off time, you're going to the park and you're having a good time. It's in Florida, which has great weather. Then, when I moved to Florida, it was great driving to and from work every two weeks
It was great from a quality-of-life stand point. From a financial stand point, I'm sure others have told you that yo don't make a lot of money unless you're one of the top two or three guys. So, it has it's ups and downs.
WrestlingINC: You were there as part of their Hardcore Justice pay-per-view. What was the atmosphere there and how does that compare to the first ECW One Night Stand (produced by WWE) pay-per-view?
Richards: In Hardcore Justice, I had a match. So, there was a little bit more contribution on my part so it felt like I was a little bit more involved. But, nothing recreated what the first One Night Stand did in the Hammerstein Ballroom. That's a high standard to try and live up to.
WrestlingINC: They kind of bounced you around in different angles and stuff in TNA. What lead to your eventual departure from the company?
Richards: Money, just money. I wasn't getting enough work and I wasn't getting the money. I didn't get the things I was promised for the two times that I moved to Florida for the company. So, it wasn't even strike three, it was strike two. [Laughs.] OK, that's it. So, I just walked in to the office at Universal Studios -- and I don't think many people in wrestling have quit in person. I just road up and thanked everybody for their time and I just quit.
It was funny how after not using me for so many months, they were shocked. Everybody but Terry Taylor who I talked to very often. So, he was familiar with what I was planning to do. It was kind of funny that you just expect me to hang around and not be allowed to contribute or make money. It's like if you had a regular job. You wouldn't just keep showing up if they weren't going to pay you. You'd find another job.
WrestlingINC: During an interview, you had called TNA an independent promotion with TV. Where did that remark come from?
Richards: It came from when I was asked if anybody could ever compete with WWE, on their level. They asked me and I said 'No way.' Nobody can ever compete with WWE and TNA is the most distant second you could imagine.
The reason I say that is there is a great amount of talent, so much great talent there, and there's a lot of these people that are not making living wages. I equate independent wrestling to being a part-time job where you have to go out and find other work that does not pay a living wage.
The last interview, where I said 'If you don't believe me, look at my pay checks, look at many other guys' pay checks.' Or look at how some guys just leave the company. It's always about money. So, I said that before. If I'm not making a living wage at TNA, I will leave. And I did.
Most people got very offended but I was just telling the truth and I was just saying it because I feel like a lot of the wrestlers there are not getting their just wage. They put their bodies on the line, they kill themselves. They drop themselves on their heads, all sorts of high risk maneuvers and they don't get compensated for it? I don't think that's fair. Do you?
WrestlingINC: I don't. Do you think part of the problem are the big contracts that some of the wrestlers do have that aren't making much of a dent in the ratings?
Richards: Well, that's a business decision made by Dixie Carter and the people in charge of TNA and Panda Energy if they're still a part of it. I'm not sure. That's not for me to say or not say. I just know what I was paid and what certain people were paid and they deserve to get paid a lot more than they do.
One quick thing: I don't blame Hulk Hogan and Bischoff for getting the money that they can get from the company. This is America, I'm not saying they should feel bad about the money they are getting. I'm just talking about the people that I feel personally should be getting more or at least a living wage so they don't have to go apply for a job at Walmart or Target or Kmart after the pay-per-view and two TV tapings. [Laughs.]
WrestlingINC: When you heard of the Extreme Reunion concept when they did their first show earlier this year -- it's now Extreme Rising -- what were your thoughts on that? Did you think it was just going to be another ECW reunion show or did you think it was going to be something a little more long term?
Richards: I think just like I think about any show, to be fair to any independent show or any show that I've ever worked or will work, it's just another show where I'll be hopefully in the best shape that I can be in and have the best match of the show. I don't think beyond that.
Independent promotions always says they have their WrestleMania where they're going to talk about this big angle. Just tell me when the show is, how much and I'll be ready. That's the way I treat everything including Extreme Reunion.
WrestlingINC: You're wrestling Luke Hawx at the next Extreme Rising. I know you guys wrestled this Summer. What can fans expect this time around?
Richards: You can both of us to be ready to go, be in top shape and really have a hard-hitting match. It's funny. Luke, I've seen some video of Luke training, doing some striking with probably one of the toughest guys I've ever seen named JJ who is a professional stunt man as well and an MMA fighter.
I'm going the other way. I usually do a lot of body resistance training, I usually do a lot of stuff to stay lean. But, I'm trying to put on a bit more size and trying to make it more of a submission-style match. Which is different for me, usually I like to have different types of matches. So, we'll have something a little bit different.
But, no matter what, we're going ot both do our best and hopefully have the best match on the show. Probably have the best match on the show if I don't sound to cocky saying that. [Laughs.]
WrestlingINC: You said you've been training for a lot of submission wrestling, is that right?
Richards: I've been doing some submission wrestling. More hitting the weights and training in a different way for my body to be ready for the match. But, I'm trumping up my submissions with the Koji Clutch which somebody renamed it something strange on the pay-per-view. But, it's the Koji Clutch and I call it the I'll Tap You which is kind of a funny little name for it.
But, I always want to do something different. I don't want to have the same exact match every time. So, I think that it'll be a good story. I won my match by submission and Luke won his match by submission. So, it could technically be called a submission match unofficially.
WrestlingINC: I know Kurt Angle and Samoa Joe tried incorporating submissions and working an MMA-style in the past, but do you see that becoming more and more the evolution of working a wrestling match? Incorporating more submissions and ground and pound?
Richards: Yeah, as long as you don't hurt anybody. If you're going to hurt somebody, go to MMA for real. [Laughs.] That's the difference. Can you do it in their style where it's entertaining/psychology and you don't kill your opponent. We're all trying to make a living. I mean, if somebody is going to hit me like that, I might as well go down to America's Top Team and train because I'm getting hit anyway.
WrestlingINC: You've been in the business for 22 years now. The business was kind of on the downside when you started, then exploded immensely and now it's kind of on another down turn. What are your thoughts on the business today?
Richards: It's a money-making business. I mean, Vince is making a lot of money. They could shut down WWE tomorrow and just run everything OnDemand with all the difficult historical stuff and it's a cashcow. It'll make money no matter what.
I wish that the characters or the people that are on TV would be allowed to do what we did in ECW and experiment and really broaden our horizons with who we are in the ring and be special. I don't think that they're are enough people that are out there on TV that are special. It seems very much more cookie-cutter than I've ever seen before.
WrestlingINC: Do you think that's one of the problems and why it's declining in popularity? It's still making a lot of money as you said. But, wrestlers today seem more cookie-cutter and are given scripted promos. So, their real, individual personalities don't seem to come out as much.
Richards: Yeah, I suffered from that. I've seen it from where I was able to just go out and hit bullet points and be myself, to the scripted stuff. If you'd look at some of the stuff I've done, you'd go 'Wow, that's totally scripted.' I'm just not used to that, I never got used to that. You couldn't really argue with the writers unless you were one of the top guys like Steve Austin or something, I would never say something because the writers are the writers.
I'm sure they're under the pressure of that creative strains as well and I feel bad for the guys. There are a lot of guys that I know that outside do have great personalities and probably could get over more as themselves. Unfortunately, they have to make a living and get their check every week. It becomes a job.
WrestlingINC: Yeah. You were there when they made that switch from doing the bullet points for your promos to pure scripted. What was the feeling backstage? I know you couldn't speak out about it or complain about it upstairs. What was the backstage feeling? Did some people like it or was it pretty negative down the line?
Richards: Well, you have the people that come from my era that were fortunate enough to learn from not as much territories as people in the '80's or people that had more experience than me, but I worked a lot of independents and different places. I learned from guys from WWF at the time and NWA and all the different guys used to be on the independents coming up. So, I learned how to work and learned different things.
Then, ECW was a great mix of different people coming in. And just trial and error, Paul E. telling me 'Yeah, just go out there and try it. If it fails, then it fails.' That's how the bWo happened. 'Let's try it, let's see what happens.' We did a thing where we did the Jackson 5, that bombed. [Laughs.] You know what I mean? But we had the ability to try, to succeed or fail on our own.
Unfortunately, that's not what I started to see in WWE and I hated. I'm sure a lot of other guys hated it. But, the newer guys are trained, I think, to be cookie-cutter and scripted actors. So, maybe there's not as much of a dislike among the new guys as much as the old guys.
WrestlingINC: I also had to ask you about this: is it true that you pitched the perfect game on MLB 2011 but missed the million dollar contest that they had?
Richards: Yeah. It was March 8th that the game was released. I got it, of course, the first day, brought it back and pitched the perfect game with everything on default if you look on the video. People say I did it on rookie, but I got the achievement on pro mode. So, I did everything on default with the Phillies and the Phillies had Halladay obviously. It was the first game against the Astros and I just pitched the perfect game. They just kept biting on sinkers and change-ups and stuff. So, I recorded the last inning and a half on my Youtube channel and it's up there. But, it was a little too early.
Now, I never asked for money from 2k Sports but I think it was a little stupid on there part. I was actually wrestling on TV. I can't remember what I was on. I think I was on TNA or lucha libre but I had some exposure. I wanted to do some social media stuff with them but they never got back to me.
They did release a patch, they did release a huge patch so no one strikes. [Laughs.] I tried to do that again maybe two months later just for fun and to see if I could do it. And right off the bat, every inning, they must have known. They were bunting down the third base line every inning on me with the lead off batter. They should name the patch after me. [Laughs.]
WrestlingINC: Thanks again for the interview, Stevie. Do you have any final thoughts or plugs for the readers of our site?
Richards: Yeah, I'd love them to check out my technology site T4Show.com. It's getting pretty popular. I was fortunate enough to be on FOX and Friends first on black Friday and I'm getting more and more exposure as the tech expert -- which I hate that word because it puts a lot of pressure on me. I like enthusiast better. That gives me more room to make mistakes. And the wrestling fans aren't that forgiving, I've known that over the past 22 years.
But, they can go to T4Show.com and it's a hub for my Youtube channel, my podcast and all sorts of cool stuff.
Click here for the first part of our interview, where Richards talked about his time with ECW and WWE, his favorite moment in WWE, if WWE's ECW could have worked, his WWE departure and more. You can follow Richards on Twitter at @MichaelManna. You can also visit Richards' tech website, T4Show.com by clicking here.
To get more information or to purchase tickets for Extreme Rising from the Pennsylvania National Guard Armory in Philadelphia, PA this Saturday, December 29th, visit ExtremeRising.com. You can order the iPPV VOD now at HighSpots.com by clicking here.