I recently spoke with former WWE star Matt Striker. In the second and final part of the interview below, Striker discussed commentating, if Vince would yell at him on commentary, being replaced by Booker T, Vince as a boss, “Macho Man” Randy Savage not being in the WWE Hall of Fame, his WWE departure, TNA and much more.
You can check out the first part of the interview here, where Striker discussed being a wrestling fan growing up, wrestling while teaching and getting outed, signing with WWE, how he became a commentator, competing at Wrestlemania 23, ECW and much more.
Also, you can check out Striker in action this weekend as he faces WWE Hall of Famer Jerry “The King” Lawler at this Saturday’s Wrestling Under the Stars II at Dutchess Stadium in Fishkill, NY. Bell time is 7 p.m. You can also follow him on Twitter @Matt_Striker_.
Wrestling INC: After the ECW brand folded and you were on Smackdown, you were getting more and more commentary gigs and your roles were increasing. Were you getting much feedback backstage about how things were going?
Striker: The feedback is when your name is on the sheet the next week, you know you did a good job. I’m not one of those guys, and I’ve watched a lot of guys, you’d be surprised, a lot of guys that you see on TV now that walk around confident, like top, top talent. They’ll come back through the curtain and they’ll just be looking with puppy dog eyes for Vince to give them a thumbs up. I always found that so sad. You got to know how good you are. You know if it was good or not out there, because if you don’t then you’re not a pro. So I would know when my broadcasts were good and it would inspire me to try to be better, and I’d know when they were bad. I didn’t need to go and get a lot of feedback. When they want you to know something, they’ll come get you and say, hey listen, this is how it’s going to be now. Okay.
Wrestling INC: I know a lot of talent have talked about how difficult it can be having Vince McMahon yelling through the headset while they’re on commentary.
Striker: I think that is a myth that the Internet has helped perpetuate and I’m sure guys like Mick and Taz have different relationships with Vince. Everyone likes to think that they know what goes on in those headsets. I will say to you right now, Vince never screamed in my ear. Ever. He gave me passionate instruction, but that man never shouted at me, talked down to me, treated me poorly. So, I just feel a responsibility that people should know that the Vince that they read about in a lot of the interviews, that’s not the Vince I experienced. Maybe because I wasn’t close enough with him as Mick or Tazz were, but I never had Vince screaming at me. I don’t know what it was. Maybe he felt bad for me or maybe he was afraid of me because he knows I’d come and punch him in his face [joke]. But I doubt that.
Wrestling INC: So how was Vince as a boss?
Striker: He’s the most benevolent, generous man I’ve ever met in my entire life and he has enough money to do whatever he wants, but all he cares about is the product. He’s more like you and I and the fans than people give him credit for. He’s a fan! Think about it. He has to be the ultimate fan if he puts all of his money into this product, to making these movies, to making these video games, these action figures. He’s the biggest fan of them all. He’s a great boss to work for.
Wrestling INC: Now during that time, you also hosted the Randy Savage DVD with Maria Kanellis, which I thought you guys did an excellent job on. But it was also the first, I think that’s the only time they’ve ever done that for a DVD. They didn’t interview any other superstars or Savage, who was alive at that time. Did they ever give you any reason for why they were doing it that way? I know there were lots of rumors, but I don’t know if you ever heard anything directly.
Striker: I don’t ask, “why, why are you doing this?” I say put the camera on, what would you like me to do? It wasn’t my job to ask why. It was my job to say how can I be the best that I can be for you, for the WWE. I never asked why. Just do your job.
Wrestling INC: What are your thoughts on Macho Man not being in the Hall of Fame?
Striker: On my Twitter account, every so often I will post a list of about a dozen guys that are not in the Hall of Fame. You’d be surprised, surprised. I think off the top of my head Larry Zbyszko, Wahoo McDaniel, Stan Hansen, I think Haystack Calhoun, I mean there’s a lot of guys that aren’t in it. But so Randy Savage not being in it, it’s something to look forward to. Do I subscribe to all the rumors and why? That’s none of my business. I don’t care. All I care about is that there’s something to look forward to.
Wrestling INC: After hosting the DVD, did you ever manage to have a conversation with Randy?
Striker: I never got to meet Randy Savage. I meet and speak with Lanny Poffo often, but never ever had the experience to talk with Randy Macho Man Savage. I would talk to him about his days in the St. Louis Cardinals minor league team more than anything else probably.
Wrestling INC: So what were you told when you were replaced on the Smackdown announce team? Did it seem like it was going to be a temporary thing or that they were just shifting things around?
Striker: The way that it was put to me by the executive producer was that Booker T was coming back and Tough Enough was airing, and it just makes sense to have Booker’s presence on Smackdown to drive viewers towards Tough Enough. I understood that, that was good business. Then I sat back and I said you know something, look. Booker T has credentials that I will never have. JBL has credentials that I would never have. While I may be good at what I do, I’ll never be able to provide the analysis that they can. I won’t be able to analyze the way they can. So, from a business standpoint, from a fan standpoint, I said good move, WWE. I wasn’t bitter. They didn’t give me a time frame. They just told me look, Booker’s coming back. Tough Enough needs this push. Thank you very much. Okay cool.
Wrestling INC: Did Booker ever talk to you about it?
Striker: Booker and I always got along very, very well, but once again. What’s he supposed to do? Come over to me and say I’m sorry I took your spot? No. Not at all. It’s because of the things Booker T has done in his career that a guy like me actually had a spot. So there was no reason for Book to come to me and try and address those things.
Wrestling INC: Do you know at all kind of what led to WWE not renewing your contract?
Striker: The way it was put to me was that the contract was expiring. They were hiring new announcers. They wanted to try and go in a different direction. Was there a part of me that wanted to grab the guy that told me by his head and DDT him on the desk several times? Yes. But, from a black and red, from a business stand point, not an nWo Wolfpac standpoint, I mean, I really wasn’t doing anything. There was talk about me maybe managing someone or going back into wrestling, but nothing was really happening. If they could free up the money and move in a different direction with their announcers, I’m all for it. Would I have liked for someone from the wrestling side of the company to step up and say hang on, we can use Striker for something else. We can put him down in developmental. We can use him to help younger talent. We can use him for a million things, let’s just keep him. Yes, that would have been nice. But, that wasn’t how it worked.
Wrestling INC: Now, you did a lot of different things during that time. You managed, you wrestled, commentary and hosting the DVDs. What would you say are some of your favorite memories during the last stint?
Striker: That’s interesting. I had almost three lives at WWE. The wrestling memories were fantastic. Wrestling Kurt Angle, wrestling Undertaker, wrestling Triple H. That was awesome. Traveling, being around the boys, being a part of it. Great memories, every single one of them. From Wrestlemania to a Heat match I had in Des Moines, Iowa, they were all awesome. Commentary I had a lot of fun because I got to call Tommy Dreamer winning the ECW title. I got to call Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker. I got to call a lot of Edge’s matches. Do some DVD extra work with Chris Jericho and Ricky Steamboat. I enjoyed that. As far as interviewing guys, I always liked when I got punched in the face or choke slammed or stuff like that because people seemed to like me getting my ass kicked. I have no idea why.
Wrestling INC: During your time with WWE, was it difficult being able to keep up with other organizations like ROH or TNA? Were you able to keep up with them?
Striker: No. I still kept up with baseball and hockey while I worked for WWE, so why not keep up with other things? You’d get your information differently. I wouldn’t have time to sit and watch programs, maybe I’d read something on the Internet or verify it with a magazine, actually talk to some guys, watch a few matches on the computer. But, I was able to keep up with the things that I was interested in. It wasn’t a question of you watch TNA? You work for WWE! That wasn’t the case at all.
Wrestling INC: What are you thoughts of TNA?
Striker: I think it’s great. I think it gives an opportunity to guys and there are some guys that are doing TNA since their beginning that have made a viable mark for themselves in our industry. It’s nice to have an alternative. It’s nice for there to be something that fans can watch other than the main thing. I like it. It’s different. A lot of my friends are there. And again, I love wrestling so anything that’s good for wrestling is good in my mind and TNA is good for wrestling.
Wrestling INC: How do you compare today’s product to the stuff we grew up with?
Striker: You can’t. Apples and oranges, my friend. What we grew up with will always live in the past and there’ll be some things and aspects of it that will live forever. Psychology will never change. That will always be the same. But, as far as WWE goes, they’re not a wrestling company. People need to realize that. They’re an entertainment company. It’s a big difference. If done right, wrestling can be very entertaining and I think there’s the main, main difference. All sports, all mediums of entertainment change. Movies aren’t the same anymore. Baseball isn’t the same anymore and it never will be. Same thing with wrestling. You cannot compare the two.
Wrestling INC: What do you see yourself doing next? Would you like to stay with the business? Is teaching something you’d like to get back to? What do you think, ideally, would be next?
Striker: Again, want to hear God laugh? Tell him your plan. In the interim, yes, staying involved in the business is something that is near and dear to my heart. Passing along everything I’ve learned and learning more things is definitely something I want to do. I’ve been doing some stunt work and some acting and some voice overs and I really enjoy that, enjoy the creativity and the ability to improvise. Teaching is near and dear to my heart and listen, there’s worse things I can do than 9 to 3, go teach some high school kids about social studies and make a mark. So yes, these are all things I see myself doing. Or I could totally just pack it all up, get a surfboard shop on Venice Beach and live the high life until I die.
Wrestling INC: That sounds fun too. Thanks again, Matt for taking the time to speak with us. Do you have any upcoming appearances or anything that you’d like to plug?
Striker: Yeah. Thank God I’m actually pretty booked every single weekend. I’ll be doing some seminars and trying to head over seas to England. If anyone out in Europe could use me, I’d be more than happy to. But, on my Twitter account is my email address, feel free to hit me up. Every weekend I’m going to be in a different city, so maybe I’m in your city. Come and say hi.
You can check out the first part of the interview here, where Striker discussed being a wrestling fan growing up, wrestling while teaching and getting outed, signing with WWE, how he became a commentator, competing at Wrestlemania 23, ECW and much more. You can also follow him on Twitter @Matt_Striker_.