AEW coach and producer Jerry Lynn was on a recent episode of the AEW Unrestricted podcast with Aubrey Edwards and Tony Schiavone. Lynn recalled his iconic ECW feud with RVD and discussed putting that together with RVD.
“For me as a wrestling fan growing up, I always hated watching two good guys wrestle. I wanted to see a good guy – bad guy, and so when I was working with Rob, I wanted to make it exciting, and something new and fresh for the fans to see two good guys go at it plus make it fun for me too,” Lynn explained. “So that was the challenge there, especially with that hardcore crowd.
“A lot of people say, ‘Oh, they did the same spot all the time.’ Well, if you really pay attention, every time we wrestled, that spot got longer and longer, and little nuances changed in the spot too because we were trying to tell the story that we were learning each other’s move set and it was a game of human chess.”
Schiavone also praised Lynn for a moment in his match against Steve Corino where Lynn took Corino’s blood and wrote “DIE” on his stomach. Lynn revealed how and why he came up with the idea.
“I came up with it just sitting with a buddy in a bar,” Lynn recalled. “My feud with Corino was just starting, so we didn’t have a lot of heat and not a lot of steam built behind the match or anything. It was what I like to call a ‘time-filler match.’ I use that very [facetiously] because every match is important, but every match cannot be the main or the semi-main. The show is supposed to go on an emotional rollercoaster ride just like a match is supposed to.
“Not every match is supposed to be a big blow off to a feud, so I called it a ‘time-filler match,’ but I always tried to challenge myself to, even in those matches, give the fans something to remember, and I’d always try and come up with something that had never been done in wrestling before. And I was thinking at the time, Steve was bleeding a lot. When it came time just for a little bit of fire, I thought, what can I do? And I thought well, I can take his blood and do like Braveheart and do the war paint. My buddy said, ‘This is ECW. This is hardcore. You got to do more than that,’ so I came up with the idea of writing ‘DIE’ with his blood on me. So I called up Steve. I think it was about two weeks before the pay-per-view, and I asked him, ‘Are you going to be bleeding his match?’ And he says, ‘No, Paul E. (Paul Heyman) just wants a straight match.’ I’m like, well, crap.’ And he says, ‘Why? What do you got?’ And I told Steve, and Steve loved the idea.
“He said, ‘I’ll call Paul E.’ So he calls me back and says Paul E. says go for it, and so it was one of the moments, like I said earlier, while I was doing it, you could feel the heat rise in the building a little bit, but once I turned and they saw I wrote ‘DIE’ on my stomach, people were jumping up, throwing their fists in the air [and] screaming. Then you could really feel the heat rise in the building, and I looked around. I’m like thinking, what a bunch of sick bastards, and then I realized, oh, who came up with the spot? It was just one of those things where I always challenged myself. Even if you think you’re just a so-called time-filler match, give them something to remember.”
Before going to ECW, Lynn was in WCW, and he recalled his reaction to watching ECW. He also spoke on how his ECW experience helped him learn a valuable lesson in pro wrestling.
“When I was in WCW, at 2:00 in the morning, I’d get together with my one of my buddies, who wasn’t in the business, and we’d watch ECW,” Lynn recalled. “And I swore up and down, ‘That’s one company I will never work for,’ because they were hitting each other in the head with frying pans, microwave ovens [and] whatever they handed over the rail, but when the opportunity came up, [Chris] Candido called me and said, ‘Yeah, Paul E. wants to know if you want to come in for a couple shots.’ And I said, alright.
“I said, here’s how much I want. And I said, one more thing. I don’t want some idiot hitting me in the head with a frying pan. He said, ‘No, no, no. We got our brawlers. We’ve got our wrestlers, but I learned quickly that the business is constantly changing and evolving, and if you want to survive in it, you have to be willing to change and evolve too. So I learned early on I was going to have to get hit with that kendo stick.
“I was going to have to go through tables [and] do a bunch of chair spots and stuff, which I actually enjoyed in some weird way. Not the kendo stick but there were certain things I would not change, and I would always stick and adhere to certain basic principles, which I’m not going to say because I still like to kayfabe. But there are certain things like basic fundamentals period. Everyone wants to make the highlight reel instead of doing basic fundamentals, and I think there are certain basic fundamentals that you should always stick to in pro wrestling.”
In WCW, Lynn wore a mask and a costume where he wrestled under the moniker “Mr. J.L.” Lynn revealed it was his idea to don a mask and outfit, and he revealed how much it cost and who came up with the name Mr. J.L.
“The mask idea was my idea because it had been seven and a half years since I broke in the business, and I asked Brad [Rheingans], ‘What do I got to do to get a break?’ He says, ‘Well, the business has changed. It’s all TV now, so it’s all about capturing the viewers attention so they don’t change the channel. It’s got to be something more visual,'” Lynn said. “And I’d been going to Japan quite a bit and saw a lot of cool mask gimmicks. And I thought no one in the states is doing a mask right now. I was working in a screen printing shop at the time, and I had a friend of mine in the art department help me come up with a design. And at the time, the Power Rangers were huge on TV.
“So I thought let’s come up with something that’s sort of like Power Rangers and sort of like alien, a crossover between those two. He came up with that outfit, and it cost me $1250 to get the outfit made because there wasn’t a lot of gear makers running around back then. So I found a company. I think they were called Satin Threads, and they did everything from choir gowns to wedding dresses. You name it. So the labor was very expensive. So they made the actual first outfit, and then I sent pictures and video footage of me in the outfit. And WCW said, that’s exactly what they’ve been looking for. So the first night, this is only probably a couple hours before going live, and I’ve talked to Kevin about this and I don’t blame him at all. It was Kevin Sullivan and a couple other people there.
“They’re saying, ‘So what do you want to be called?’ And I’m throwing out these names like The Phantasm. The Cyber Knight. Just throwing names out and they said, ‘Well, we don’t want to just slap a name on you without researching any copyright infringement.’ And this is two hours before the first show. Kevin Sullivan was booking at the time, and he says, ‘Eh, what the F, call him Mr. J.L.’ And I just thought inside my head, this is the beginning of the end. I thought $1250 down the drain. I even told Kevin years later. We talked about it. He apologized. I said, Kevin, it’s not your fault. I was just, I wouldn’t even say a fish in a big pond. I was like a guppy in the ocean because you had all the heavy hitters. You had the NWO, Sting, Macho Man [and] The Giant. I was just glad to be signed. I don’t blame Kevin. He had a lot on his plate, so that’s how it all came about.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit AEW Unrestricted with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.