I recently interviewed former WWE and WCW Superstar Sean "X-Pac" Waltman, whose podcast X-Pac 12360 drops every Wednesday on YouTube and iTunes. In part one of the interview below, Waltman talks about growing up a wrestling fan, getting his big break with the WWF, his infamous match with Razor Ramon on Monday Night RAW, Curt Hennig shaving his eyebrows, wrestling Bret Hart for the WWF Championship, if he felt that Bret was selfish, Chyna in the WWE Hall of Fame and more.
Make sure to check back next week for the second part of our interview with Waltman, where he discussed why he left WWE the first time, how he played a big part in Kevin Nash and Scott Hall leaving WWF for WCW and wrestling history being changed forever, Eric Bischoff releasing him, his podcast, problems with the WWE Cruiserweight division and more.
What are your thoughts, having been in the business so long, on kind of where wrestling is today?
"Wrestling… I sent a tweet out [recently]. This just popped in my head when I was thinking about what's going on in wrestling. It's an amazing time to be wrestling fan right now. There's so much amazing stuff out there. Okay, I mean, it's not all WWE production quality. Okay, there's only one WWE, but there's amazing stuff out there and it's all a click away. I mean, come on, FloSlam.com, WWE Network, New Japan Pro World. Come on, man. And, like, people are still just going to sit up and b---h about everything. I mean, if you don't like it… I mean, even within the WWE Universe, if you don't like what's on RAW, go watch NXT."
Yeah, it seems when ECW and WCW folded, you wouldn't expect there to be more wrestling on now than ever you can have access to, but that's how it is. I mean, the action is a lot better and you were kind of one of the pioneers of that in WWF because when you signed, you were probably the smallest guy on the main roster, if I'm not mistaken, right?
"Yeah, well, I mean, I don't remember anyone being as small as me, period, when I first broke in. Maybe the occasional guy, but no one really, and especially at my age. And I was a late bloomer, so my body, even though I worked hard and I trained hard, my body didn't develop into looking like a man, like a grown man, for a little longer than the average person. So, I mean, it was not just my actual stature, but it was how I just looked. I mean, there were guys that were smaller than me, but they just looked bigger."
Did that ever detract you from getting into the business at all or did you use that as motivation?
"Do you know what? Eric Bischoff [recently] asked me a similar question and I told him, 'it never dawned on me that I couldn't do this'. In spite of what pretty much everyone said. I mean, there were a few people who believed in me or at least who weren't going to try and s--t on my dreams. So I just… I was more… my mindset, when it came to wrestling, was more the reasons why I could, not the reasons why I couldn't, which is how you should look at, like, everything in life."
When you started, did you grow up a wrestling fan of American wrestling, because your style wasn't really being done on a big stage before you came in, at least in WWF and the NWA and AWA?
"Yeah, well, I grew up in Tampa, Florida, and St. Pete, Tampa, the Tampa Bay area, and that was the home of Championship Wrestling from Florida with Gordon Solie, Dusty Rhodes, and it was just… I mean, for storylines, and angles, and promos, it was second to none. But it wasn't really… I mean, you weren't going to see anything that ended up being a staple of my style. I mean, you weren't going to see a lot of that in Championship Wrestling from Florida. And I was a fan of southern wrestling with the brawling and all of that, but that wasn't… I couldn't compete with the big guys doing that. It just wasn't going to happen. And I also was a fan of, as I got exposed to more stuff, with the tape trading and all of that, was getting the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. That was the big deal, 'the kayfabe sheet' it was called, or, like, yeah, Angelo Poffo and Judy Poffo, Randy Savage's and Lanny's parents, they'd call it 'the scandal sheets', but, so getting that info, finding out what was going on everywhere else, was fascinating. Plus, I was into martial arts, Raj. I did a lot of tae kwon do and branched off into other stuff later on, but tae kwon do is great. It was my equalizer. That was how I was able to survive in the land of the giants. Thank God for that."
You made an impact really shortly after joining. Your angle with Razor, which, to this day, it's one of the most memorable matches on RAW in its history. Was that the plan all along as soon as you signed, because I remember some squash matches on RAW before that as the Lightning Kid and they were changing your name back and forth? Was that always the plan, for you to get destroyed for the first few weeks and then get the big win and kind of go off from there?
"All of it, that was the plan the whole time. I mean, it was all by design. The squash matches with Curtis Hughes and Matt Borne, Doink The Clown. All, I mean, when Vince laid the whole thing out to me, he actually laid out who the guys were that were going to squash me even and that was how detailed he laid the plan out.
"It was not the main goal, first and foremost, because I was still unproven. The main goal was to use this to turn Razor babyface and what a brilliant way to do that. What a different, unique, and brilliant way to do that. And then, also introduce me, and if I s--t the bed, I s--t the bed. At least you were still going to get the Razor turn. So they got two for the price of one and they both worked great."
Yeah, it's the two birds with one stone thing you always hear about. At that point were you close with Scott Hall and Shawn Michaels or did that develop later?
"No, I was close with Curt, Curt Hennig, just from being in Minneapolis and we went to the same gym and it was called The Gym and it was owned by Road Warriors and everybody, all the greats trained there, and so, of course, that's where I was going to go train and I ended up being around Curt a lot there because we would hang out at the gym upstairs and tell my wife, 'hey, I'm going to the gym' and I wouldn't be lying, Raj, but we'd get there and I'd immediately skip, go right passed the weights, upstairs to the little apartment and we'd hang out and have a good time and do whatever, so I would hang out with Curt up there sometimes. That's how I knew Curt originally and he saw me on Global and a lot of people did, a lot of people in WWE, I was getting… different people were putting in words for me that I didn't even realize."
You hear all the time about Curt being a master ribber. What was the greatest rib you've ever seen him pull?
"Well, the rib that he pulled up on me that I only recently on my show, X-Pac 1,2,360, on AfterBuzz TV, that's the first time I've ever plugged my show on somebody else's, on an interview. Anyways, it was the episode I had Billy Gunn on, and so, I don't know if you know the story about when I had my eyebrow shaved. It's a pretty famous story at this point. I told it on Austin's show and my doll, the packaging I had on my first doll had no eyebrows. That doll, in packages, is worth like $300.00 or more.
"So I had Billy on [my podcast] and I finally got him to admit it was Curt that shaved my eyebrows because the whole time I thought it was Billy and Bart and I actually superglued, well, I epoxy resined their cowboy hats to their head at the next night's house show. Thankfully, those guys didn't beat the s--t out of me. Actually, that was the least of the things I did to those guys, but that's for another story for another time.
"Billy admitted now that Curt has passed, Billy finally admitted that it was Curt that did it. He didn't want to be a stooge."
That is awesome. So wait, you epoxy glued their hats, so they couldn't remove them?
"Yeah, when they got in the ring, they couldn't get their hats off. Yeah. They got an epoxy, but I mean the lining of the hat was stuck to their hair. It looked like the yarmulke that Jewish folks wear. So yeah."
Your podcast, and I want to talk about that more in a little bit too, but Sean Waltman's X-Pac 1,2,360, you have a lot of guys you've known for so long. How often do you hear stuff that you never knew?
"Well, occasionally, here's the thing about the podcast and I didn't realize or I didn't think about until recently. There's a lot of conversations that people like myself or everyone that has one, that has a good podcast, when we do these with each other, we're having conversations, Raj, that we would never get to have otherwise and a lot of times, new info comes out and we learn things that we didn't know. And we tell somebody something that maybe they didn't know and just assumed they did. It's just, so it's really cool. That's the really cool part about the podcast boom that's going on right now with wrestling."
One match I really remember was you wrestling for the WWE Championship against Bret Hart. Up until that point, it was one of my favorite matches on RAW. What do you remember of that match with Bret and was it supposed to go as long as it did?
"Well, it went longer than you realize because they cut about 10 minutes of it that never showed on RAW, so that match was over half-an-hour long in its entirety. And they wanted us to go on at several points during the night and Bret just kept telling them, 'we're not ready yet' and that's something people don't know and Bret doesn't even talk about in his book. But what were they going to say to Bret at the time? He was the champ and they kind of let him have his way. And most of that match was working without a net, but there were certain things we had to put together just because they were talking about some dangerous things. But, we're also talking about a world title match on TV. So I don't believe in just going out there and completely working without a net. I like to have something structured, but that match was Bret's. I just listened to Bret. He let me do whatever I wanted, but he was calling when and where it was going to happen.
"I just remember how Bret often times is referred to as selfish and a lot of times, he has been. And I kind of really have a hard time blaming him with how hard it was and how much he had to claw and scratch to get where he was. But, I mean, once he wasn't in Calgary, being the promoter's son doesn't matter when you're not in your home territory. It doesn't do you any good.
"But he was anything but selfish. He actually went out on a limb and turned himself slightly heel in that match by really, really getting it. I wouldn't call it heel, but very aggressive and made me the babyface, and thengave me the endorsement afterwards, raised my hand. And, then the commentary by Jim Ross and Randy Savage, I mean, just put it in the next level because, Raj, I watched that match, the same match, when at one point they didn't want Randy's voice on anything and they had Gorilla Monsoon and Stan Lane do the voiceover and I was horrified. I thought it ruined it."
I did want to ask you really quick about Chyna and being in the Hall Of Fame. Do you think 2017, you think that's the right time to be doing it?
"I think it is. And I was talking to Austin about this the last time I was on Austin's show and both of us feel the same about it. Why not in 2017? Explain to me why. And you can say that other people are in line ahead or whatever, and they are, they are. But I just think sooner's better than later for sure. There's no doubt in my mind that she's going in, man."
Make sure to check back next week for the second part of our interview with Waltman, where he discussed why he left WWE the first time, how he played a big part in Kevin Nash and Scott Hall leaving WWF for WCW and wrestling history being changed forever, Eric Bischoff releasing him, his podcast, problems with the WWE Cruiserweight division and more. Also, check out new episodes of X-Pac 12360 every Wednesday on YouTube and iTunes.