I spoke to former TNA Television and Tag Team Champion Robbie E recently about TNA Wrestling's huge move to Pop TV on January 5 with a live showing of Impact. Robbie also opened up about Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, The Amazing Race, and much more. You can also listen to the interview in the video player above, or the audio player below.
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"I just wanted to say that I was so excited to be on this show that I did my hair extra special for this show. How do you feel about that?"
I didn't know that your hair ever changed. I thought you just woke up like that.
"I gotta give it a rest. It uses a lot of energy to put it up in the morning. I used an extra can of hairspray this morning for your show."
I thought you just fed it N.O Xplode or Jack3d or something like that. A good pre-workout.
"Nah, I just feed myself that, and way too much of it."
You've been with TNA for five years now. Did you see yourself sticking around that long?
"I tell myself all the time. When I first started, we had these different trailers for dressing rooms back then. In mine there were probably maybe 15 guys. I looked back, and I'm the only one that's still here that changed in my locker room. It is crazy to see how many guys come and go. I'm confident in myself, but I think that a lot of people would look in that locker room and say 'How did Robbie E stick through all of that?' I'm still happy to be here. I don't think I'm going anywhere, and I don't want to go anywhere. Time flies when you're having fun.
People don't realize that you spent like a decade on the indy circuit before coming to TNA.
"I started wrestling when I was 16, and started with TNA when I was 26. Now I'm 32. I've been wrestling half my life, it's wild."
Was starting wrestling at 16 intimidating?
"I was a fan of wrestling my whole life, my brother watched it. When I was in middle school I was too cool for it. When I was a freshman in high school and like 110 pounds I was researching wrestling schools. There was a little promotion that ran by my house and they opened a school when I was 15, but you had to be 16 to join. I had my parents sign when I was 16 and started working out at a gym. Me and 3 of my friends joined. Two of them quit before the first match, and the other one I wrestled in my first match, then he quit. I stuck with it, and my first actual match was on my 17th birthday."
You got the call from TNA to do the Jersey Shore gimmick, now you're stuck around longer than Jersey Shore.
"When you're given something, you take it. I wanted to make it in wrestling so bad, you could have told me I was going to be a ballerina and I would have done it. Jersey Shore worked for me. I am from Jersey, when I was younger I did go to all of those clubs and live that lifestyle, and I liked the show. It was easy and natural for me. In 2015, it's hard for things to last, and I was able to get through it. When I left Cookie, I kind of dropped the Jersey Shore thing. I still represented it with the way I dressed and my hair, but I moved onto something different with the Bro Mans, and now I'm just becoming Robbie E."
You mentioned Cookie. What was like that for you? I've heard you all had problems in the past
"It is what it is. Am I allowed to do a 'no comment' on that? Does that answer that question? (laughs). Let's just say the proof is in the pudding. I'm here and she isn't."
I guess that's the way......the Cookie crumbles.
What was it like working under Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff? Many expected that era to push TNA to the next level, but it ended up doing the opposite.
"I came when they were already there, so I don't know the previous feelings between everything. For me, it was great. Hogan was super cool, approachable, knowledgable guy. I've never had an issue with him or anyone. I enjoyed my time there then, and I'm enjoying my time there now. It was two different feelings, but I enjoyed both. I think TNA has been top notch all along."
What was Hogan like backstage? Would he help out talents with their characters and things like that?
"He literally would hang out at the monitor and watch. You'd come back and he'd call you over, and give you feedback on something you could improve on, or say 'good job.' Or you could go up to him and say 'hey did you catch my match? Anything you see that could be different?' He was totally down for that. It wasn't like he was locked in his room all day and you didn't get to see him until he came out because he's this big star. He was fully around."
How about Eric Bischoff?
"Same. He was hands on, approachable. If he saw something and had an idea, he'd come right up to you. Sometimes it was something you might not want to hear, but he's straight with you and tells you how it is. He's a good dude. It's a pro wrestling. I don't want to hear the things I did right, I want to hear the things I did wrong so I can improve on them."
You got a lot of exposure from the Amazing Race. How did that come about?
"An agent that helped out with some bookings was tight with someone from the show. They were looking for pro wrestlers, that's it. Flew to LA for an interview, obviously they loved me, and the rest is history."
Did you have to get permission from TNA to do that?
"Yeah. Obviously the time off, because filming the show took over a month. TNA was all about it, because it's one of the biggest reality shows of all-time. It's exposure like no other. I definitely gained some fan base from that who tune into TNA. They were all about it and supportive of it."
I've found that a lot of casual fans know you and Jessie Godderz because of your reality show history. The reach of Amazing Race and Big Brother is insane.
"It is. I've been eating with Jessie Godderz, I've seen women shriek at him in public. It's kind of crazy. He's been on the show so many times and done so many seasons."
Would you say that's a different kind of shrieking than women do to EC3, who you have a social media feud with?
"I go back and forth with him on Instagram, Twitter, real life. I want to get into a real fistfight with him. I'm pretty sure he gets no shrieking like that. In fact, people shriek and run the other way because he's Satan himself."
Well, he's a Browns fan.
"That's true. Except for the season in Major League where the Cleveland Indians had Ricky Vaughn and Willie Mays Hayes, nothing good has ever come out of Cleveland."
Do you think The Amazing Race should have led to a bigger storyline with TNA?
"People are always going to have different opinions on things. I thought after the show, it catches reality. I think that's how the show portrayed me. My partner (Brooke Tessmacher) didn't look so good, she looked a little bit evil, which she has. I feel like coming back I could have been more of a fan favorite earlier like I am now. It still worked."
TNA has been in a state of flux for the past year. What's it been like backstage?
"TNA's so positive and always has been. Since it started in 2002, everyone's been saying it's going to close. They've had their ups and downs like everything in else in life. The important thing is that they've survived. Why be negative while it lasts? Enjoy it. Everyone in the locker room is super talented and talents. Everyone has been in a great mood, like they always are. Until something happens, it doesn't happen. Everyone said we weren't going to last after Spike TV and we got Destination America. After Destination America, everyone said we weren't going to last, now we're taking off fresh on Pop TV. There's no reason to not be positive."
Do you think TNA got enough support from Destination America? It seemed like they were in one week, out the next.
"Yeah I guess. I don't know how things work that much from that standpoint. I'm not behind the scenes. I don't know what's right or wrong. It did seem like that. They were in to it, then they weren't into it. I do agree they could have put more into it, which is why we're going to be on Pop TV, and they're going to want us a lot more, and push us a lot more."
This is a big prime time show for Pop TV. How did you find out about that deal?
"Yeah, we start January 5th live from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. I found out when the announcement was made like everybody else. We knew they were working on something. Dixie Carter is a great boss, she's not going to let TNA close. She loves it with all of her heart, and is going to do everything in her power to make it ever lasting. We knew we were going to a new network, it was just 'which network is it going to be?' So we heard the news when everyone else did. It was good news. Pop TV is in a lot more homes than Destination America, so the opportunity for more viewers and more ratings and more asses in the seats and more money for us. That's a great thing."
What has been the consensus among the wrestlers since the move to Pop TV?
"We felt Destination America was not really giving. Believe me, no one's going to miss being on that Network. We're all positive about moving to a new network to get a fresh start."
TNA has also had the World Title Series, which has been different. It was filmed unconventionally.
"Honestly, it's different and it's cool. People always find something to complain about. There's not enough wrestling, there's too much wrestling, there's always something to b---h about, and there's nothing here. You get wrestling every week. New matches that aren't rushed. People getting to showcase their talents. Personally, the tournament has been awesome. I got grouped with Matt Hardy, Eddie Edwards and Davey Richards and got to show a different side of myself. People forget that I actually can wrestle. Even though I haven't advanced into the final 16, I think it's been great for my career to have memorable matches with those three."
TNA will be moving to Tuesday nights for Pop TV, which puts new wrestling on every week. Do you think that's good for TNA and wrestling as a whole?
"Even if there wasn't a show on one of the nights, between Youtube, there's shows on that. There's so much competition out there. You just gotta do what you do and focus on your product and not think about other stuff. Growing up it would have been cool to have wrestling to watch every night. If you do get all of those channels, more power to you."
"It's their career, not mine. Samoa Joe's a great guy, James Storm's a great guy. Whatever they think is best for them, that works. If it's best for them or their family, more power to them."
What was your reaction to the rumors of DA cancelling TNA?
"Since 2002, eveyone's been saying TNA is going to close or fail. Until something happens, it doesn't happen. I don't pay any mind to stuff online or rumors or that crap. It doesn't faze me. I don't lose a second of sleep over it. It would have been pointless if I did, because look where we are now."
You also had the split with Jessie Godderz recently. How were you approached with that suggestion?
"It's hard for things to last, and we were lasting. It's hard to get a first time in wrestling, and it was the first time two reality stars teamed in wrestling. The fact that we had our own DJ, nobody has done that. Was there life still left in us? Yes. But sometimes when you have something really good, you wanna take it away, that way you can go back to it when you need to. Jessie and I had our differences, the Bro Mans are done for now, I think we're both going to go on to successful careers, as well as Xema. I think there will be a time and a place for us to reunite and the people will be happy about it. It was a good time to end us."
TNA was set to go to India, and it was cancelled. How did you feel? I know TNA is a huge part of Sony 6 over there.
"I was super excited to go to India. Obviously it was cancelled for reasons we can't talk about, but it was for a good reason, and it will happen in the new year. We have a great relationship with Sony 6, who is our partner over there. I was excited to go and still am. I love traveling the world and love going somewhere new. I actually haven't been to India before."
TNA starts on Pop TV in January. Do you think TNA will get a fresh start?
"I definitely think TNA will get a fresh start. It's a new network, so it's automatically a fresh start. Personally, for my singles career, I'm fresh off of this tournament. I got to showcase myself with Davey, Eddie and Matt. I'm excited for Robbie E moving forward. I think the fans are going to be happy and are happy to see what they're seeing out of this side of me."
Where can fans follow you on social media, and do you have any upcoming appearances?
"Instagram and Twitter you can follow me at RobbieEImpact, and my offical website is Robbie-E.com, and of course at ImpactWrestling.com. I'm a hustler, man. If something's not going on with TNA, I'm usually somewhere around the world wrestling. You can check out my schedule on his website."
Also, guys be sure to check out Robbie E's Pro Wrestling Tees page, and don't forget that TNA Wrestling debuts on Pop TV January 5 with a live episode of Impact!