Ezekiel Jackson Talks WWE Release, Retirement Rumors, Triple H, His School, TNA, LU, Vince McMahon

I spoke to former WWE Intercontinental Champion Ezekiel Jackson recently, who also performed for Lucha Underground under Big Ryck. In this text-only interview, Ezekiel talks about his time with WWE, his release, retirement rumors, and much more.

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There were some rumors of you retiring last recently. What happened with that? Was that true?

"Not true. What happened was that I had a match with WXW in Germany. I said it might be my last match. I already had a few bookings for places that I've never been. That's my focus now — wrestling people I've never wrestled. There are a few people on my list, and places I've never been. I want to go to India, Australia, Japan. In December I'm looking to go wrestle in my home country of Guyana. I text them afterwards and they said they mentioned it to their tech guy and he just ran with it, so it was just one of those things. Hopefully it created a buzz for them and they benefitted from it."

You also had a great run with Lucha Underground. We were told that you weren't coming back for season 2. Why is that?

"Not one thing on my end or their end. It's a transition for me and them. I no longer live in LA, and I didn't want to be a traveling wrestler. I have to be away from my kids and my family, and they're the most important thing in my life right now. I just don't want to be a traveling wrestler anymore. It just wasn't working for me and my family. I enjoyed it. Most people think a move from LA to the Bay is a one hour trip, but that one hour trip turned into three days for me. I have two kids I want to see grow and a wife I want to sleep in the same bed with."

Could you ever see yourself working with them in the future?

"I never say never when it comes to wrestling. We didn't end on a bad note. Nobody pissed me off, hopefully I didn't piss anybody off. For me I'm just concentrating on a lot of things I have going on."


You showed your acting ability in the series. Have you been involved in acting before, and would you now?

"Before I started wrestling, I was acting. I've done a ton of national commercials and tv and stuff. I've had small parts in movies. The fact that they trusted me to do what I did was cool. They just wanted me to have fun with it. I would tell Chris that I would never say this, this or this. We would do two or three takes and we were done. He really motivated me. I really got to slip into the character."

I understand you'll be opening a wrestling school soon. Tell me about that.

"I don't consider myself an indy guy. I do some shows and I love it. I don't do a ton of stuff. I'm a character driven persona. When I go to these shows and see the same match for 3-4 hours straight with everyone just trying to do their cool stuff, I think it would be good to have someone tell a story. You can knock WWE, but from beginning to the end, there's a build going to the main event. I'd love to give my take on it. I've worked out with Triple H and Big Show, I've traveled with Mark Henry, I've spent hours picking the brains of Arn Anderson, William Regal and others. Undertaker got in the ring with me when I first started to work on my movement. Edge gave me a lot of tips on how to make the Ezekiel Jackson character work. I want to help people. I'm taking my shot at it. I have a space at the gym I work at, I have storage for a ring. I want to put my stamp on things and make a difference. I think difference is a good thing. I have an open house the second week of January, and I'm looking to launch by February. It's based out of Redwood City, California. I'm excited. I've had a few people contact me about it already."

You were actually brought into TNA for a storyline last year. How were you approached about that?

"I got a message on Facebook that they were trying to contact me, so I gave them my number. They said they were trying to do something, but didn't give me full information on what I was doing. I said sure. I wasn't on Lucha Underground yet. It was an opportunity that opened up with the possibility of more opportunities. I'd never performed in Manhattan or anything like that. It was fun for the couple of days it lasted."

What were your feelings about the storyline they made of it?

"To a fan of the original ECW, I may not even exist. To me, I'm the last ECW Champion, WWE deems me as that. It's a very subjective idea, WWE owns it. To bring me in as the face of a version they didn't like, it didn't matter to me, I just had fun with it. I got to work with Bubba Ray and Tommy Dreamer and D-Von and Al Snow. As a fan, I just enjoyed the ride."

Would you work with TNA again, and were you welcomed backstage?

"I was welcomed. Like I said, I'm not looking to be a traveling wrestler (laughs). Something may change, I don't know."

You were the last ECW Champion. At what point do you find out you'll win that title? Who tells you that?

"It's kind of funny. I found out in Kansas City before the show. The agent told me I'm going over, and I'm just like "Oh! Thanks!." It's not as big of a deal as people make it. I could be the longest or shortest reigning champion ever depending on if you're an optimist or a pessimist, either way I'm still a one-time world champion. I can't complain about that."


What was the pairing with Bryan Kendrick like?

"He chose me out of a ton of dudes to come up and be his advisor. I thankfully had a lot of say in the character. He asked me if I wanted to do the Diesel thing, and at the time Bam Neely was up there doing a thing with Chavo and Vickie. I liked the Suge Knight character, so decided to run with that. It was great, and I was condfident. We wanted it to be different than any bodyguard that was on the scene before, and I really enjoyed it."


What was the reason you all were given for the split?

"(laughs) We weren't. I just got a call that said 'Bryan's going to Raw, you're going to ECW.' I thought there was so much that could have been done with the characters. We had been feuding with Carlito and Primo. I was like 'Okay, lets go back to singles' even. Give Kendrick a run at one of the champions, even if it's the IC title. I think it had a lot of footing that could have taken it a long way before I went into singles. We don't control that aspect. We just show up and do what we're told. They had been there, done that before, so I guess they used the drafts to make it different. Then they paired me up with Kozlov and Regal and I got the opportunity to learn from someone else, so it was all good. To try to think about things that could have happened, I'd be going gray and bald (laughs)."

How were you informed of your release?

"I still haven't received a phone call saying that they weren't re-signing me (laughs). I knew my contract was going to expire the same day as WrestleMania. I asked if I was being brought in for WrestleMania for anything and was told no. I asked if I could look for bookings the day after and was told yes, and that's basically how we parted ways. Never got a phone call, an e-mail, a text message, not a 'hey dude, we're not bringing you back.' I had been off TV for almost 8 months before that. My last match was a Superstars match. I was wrestling with torn rotator cuffs for about six months. I figured they weren't doing anything with me after taking the IC title off of me, so I figured I'd check out that shoulder. I tore the rotator cuff completely and almost couldn't wrestle or lift ever again, so I caught it in time and saved my body."

Have you had any contact with them since then?

"No."

How are the shoulders now?

"I'm as big and strong and as athletic as I've ever been. I'm enjoying the transition. I still love to wrestle. I just went out to NWE in Switzerland. Had an awesome match with their champ. Had an ok match with WXW's champ (laughs), one of those. Had an awesome triple threat match Awesome Andy and another guy. We had a three-way that was so much fun, that's why I said I'd be okay if that was my last match. I was on the apron laughing for half that match because of the characters. I'm in shape. You're even cutting into my cardio time right now (laughs)."

You had a match at WrestleCade with a ton of guys. It was You, & Bully Ray & Colt Cabana & Devon & Matt Sydal & Tommy Dreamer vs. Abyss, Brian Myers, Chris Hero, Drew Gulak, James Storm and Tommaso Ciampa. So there were guys who have competed for WWE, NXT, TNA, ROH, Lucha Underground, GFW, House of Hardcore, PWG, NJPW this year all in one match. How do you approach a match like that with so many moving parts?

"Bubba and Tommy have been leaders. You sit down, shut up and follow, and that's what I did. I had fun in the match. I was on a team that got an "ECW" chant, and I've never got one of those. Even if it's because of them, I'm taking it (laughs). It was cool. It was one of those matches, and you just have fun. You have talent that you just sit back and enjoy and find where you fit in. I got the chance to go up against Abyss, who is awesome."


What's it like working for Vince McMahon, and how much interaction did you have with him?

"For me, it was a boss relationship. He has the utmost respect for everyone, you can't take that away from him. You pick his brain if you can, but the guy is always so busy. From the time he gets to the building and making sure the empire continues. Do you really want to be the guy that tries to have a deep conversation with someone who has so much on their plate? I got a big hug from him after my dad died and I came back after being gone for a week. I tore my quad and got a phone call from him and Stephanie. We talked a little bit about rehab. I wasn't going to sit in his office and talk in the office. We'd see each other in the hall, hug and handhake and tell each other to have a nice day."

What was it like working out with Triple H?

"I was brought up and he was the champion on Smackdown, and it was just one of those things like 'Hey Zeke, what are you working today, back? Okay, let's go then.' He was a funny guy. It was just one of those hang and work out type of things. I wasn't trying to get in to get over. We would be in the gym for about an hour and a half. I learned a lot of things from him, because he got to work with some of the best trainers in the world."

You mentioned you had children. Would you want them into wrestling?

"Hell no! You ask my son what would happen if he asked me to get into wrestling, he'd probably tell you I'd want to punch him in the face (laughs). For me, my own story was an 8-year old kid in a poor country, and I saw wrestling for the first time through somebody's window. I came to this country and became a fan, and my brother hated wrestling. The more I fell in love with it, he tried to prove it was horrible and fake. The more he pushed me away from it, the more I loved it. I had a chance to live a dream with a lot of people trying to deter it. People in high school saying 'you like that crap?' Yeah, I love it. I've been through it and experienced it, but he can make a decision when he's older. The kid is 10 years old, 5'2 and 120 pound, solid. He's going to be bigger than me, which is impossible to think of. He's super smart, every class he's ever had, he's elevated. I chose wrestling over law school. I would love for him to use his brain and become a lawyer or a doctor or something like that. If he gets older and chooses it, I'm not going to be that father who disowns him for making a choice. I'll try to influence him away, though."

Tell the fans where they can follow you on social media.

"My website is Rycklon.com. It's more of a fitness based website. I do 1 on 1 phyiscal and athletic assessments and other things. I have a mass training program, too. Each program is personalized for each person. My Instagram page is Rycklon. My Twitter is Rycklon. I have a facebook page where I actually talk to people. Sometimes people put some pretty weird comments on there."

What's the weirdest one you've had?

"People actually were happy I lost my contract with WWE. It's weird as a human being that someone is out of work. A lot of them posted lists of people they thought should lose their jobs. People are living their dreams and making money. I learned it most from Ronda Rousey losing, people look forward to seeing people falling down so they can gloat. I think she got egotistical, but when you back up what you're saying, you can do it. There's a bunch of racist crap and stupid stuff. I've ran into people who said horrible things to me asking for an autograph, because I have one of those memories. I'm like, really? Other than that, I'm excited for my school. I have a name, but I have to trademark it first."

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