Jonathan “The Coach” Coachman recently sat down for an interview with The Wrestling Chatter where he discussed what he’s been doing during the pandemic, and some of his favorite memories in the WWE. One of his favorite memories was working with The Rock, and he explained how The Rock planned out Coachman’s first interview segment in WWE.
“They said, ‘hey we got an idea,’ and this, to me, is a story that encapsulates what The Rock is all about,” Coachman noted. “Even though he has a huge ego, and who wouldn’t if you’re The Rock, but he also is trying to think how can he get everybody else over, because if you get everybody else over, you’re going to get yourself over.
“This was at the time where he was telling anybody in every interview, ‘it doesn’t matter what your name is, it doesn’t matter this, it doesn’t matter that’. And he says, ‘you’re brand new to the audience, so why don’t you start by asking me question as if we know each other’, and I’ll say, ‘wait a sec, who are you’? And then you don’t answer.”
Coachman went through the segment and the crowd reaction to The Rock using his “it doesn’t matter” catchphrase on him. He praised The Rock for getting his nickname over to the point that it got him in trouble at ESPN.
“Rock, my name is Jonathan Coachman but everybody calls me “The Coach”. And he proceeded to say, ‘The Coach of what? The coach of a little girl’s softball team, the coach of this, the coach of that?’ And he said my name like five, six, seven times, and then at the end of the interview, he just flipped it,” Coachman explained. “He said, ‘so why do they call you The Coach though?’ And now I’m comfortable, and I go, ‘well-‘, ‘IT DOESN’T MATTER WHY THEY CALL YOU THE COACH’. So people laugh, and we always had to do his interviews. Even though it was on SmackDown and it was taped, we had to do his live because of the interaction with the crowd.
“And so, we walked out of the building that night, and it’s still my favorite building in the world probably because of that night, the Allstate Arena in Chicago. And all the fans will go to the back and they wait to see you. Everybody is yelling, ‘Coach, Coach, Coach, Coach’, and he didn’t have to do that. He didn’t have to get my nickname over. And from that night on, every single show that I’ve ever been on, including SportsCenter – that got me in some trouble at ESPN.”
This year marked the 18-year anniversary of The Rock and Hulk Hogan’s WrestleMania X8 “Icon vs. Icon” match. Hogan has reminisced about the draw that WrestleMania was, and The Rock reflected on how he and Hogan could switch from heel to babyface in the beginning of the match. Coachman reflected on WrestleMania X8 on The Wrestling Chatter.
“I will say, to this day, [it] is the single greatest hour of pro wrestling and sports entertainment in the history of sports entertainment,” Coachman remarked. “And I know there has been a lot of great ones but it’s one of two or three times that I can remember, and the other one is Triple H’s return in Madison Square Garden. That I actually walked out onto the floor to watch it with my own two eyes.
“And to know the greatness of The Rock and Hogan had nothing to do with this – and I don’t mind Hogan, he’s just not my favorite person. I mean, we get along but we’ve never been friends. But to watch them work for a week and put this match together, these two mega powers in the sport of wrestling from two different generations, and then to watch the crowd turn and not do what we expected them to do. And then for having The Rock be smart enough to change it while they were standing in the ring, and people thought they were talking trash to each other. In reality, The Rock was changing it because there are certain things you can do as a babyface and you can’t do as a heel, and there are certain things you can do as a heel that you can’t do as a babyface.
“To watch the brilliance in that moment, that was not too big for him because a lot of people don’t understand when you’re on national worldwide television, you know the red light’s on, you know there’s 80,000 people there, and you know there’s millions watching at home, that can be overwhelming from an anxiety perspective, nerves. And only a few people can really handle it. For The Rock to be in the moment, to hear, and to understand, and to feel, and to be able to change it, was nothing short of remarkable. And the show should have ended right there.”
George Hermoza contributed to this article.