In a special exclusive interview on WWE’s The Bump, Matt Camp sat down with WWE Hall of Famer William Shatner just after his space flight on Blue Origin. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos invited Shatner and three others to the mission, and the mission made Shatner, 90, the oldest human to ever to travel to space. Shatner reflected on the emotional journey.
“That’s the first time I’ve seen that footage,” Shatner admitted. “I left there right away to go back to Los Angeles to do this, actually, to do press, which I’ve been doing this morning, so I haven’t seen that footage. Wow, but even the camera, of course, can’t portray what it was I was seeing out that window. What I was seeing out that window was the line, not the Karman Line, but the line where the blue blanket on Earth ends and the blackness of space begins, and you see that line, it’s only 50 miles wide, apparently.
“The air surrounding the Earth is only 50 miles wide, and we were going 2500 miles an hour. So whatever the mathematics were, within a count of 1-2-3 and boom, and you’re through this little narrow life-giving air and you’re into the blackness. And it’s palpable blackness. It isn’t the blackness of galaxies and stars. It’s just the blackness you see when, or you don’t see, when you’re in a cave, and they close the door, to give you an idea of how black is black. That’s the blackness of space from what you see from the window.
“It is mind boggling, and it’s such a cliché, seeing death and then the choice of life and the ability of man to preserve that life as against what we’re doing is inching our way towards that blackness. I was overwhelmed. I was able to look down. I had a point of view that very few people ever have, a point of view looking down on her through the blue, seeing the line of the blue, and the demarcation of life and death. Life and death, that’s what I thought I saw, and when I came back to Earth and the warmth of Earth and the love of the people and the view of the mountains and the sustaining qualities of Earth, I was just overwhelmed.”
Shatner was inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame this year. He previously inducted Jerry “The King” Lawler into the WWE Hall of Fame, and Lawler joined the interview. Shatner recalled the night he inducted Lawler and his reaction to the WWE crowd.
“Ever since I threw you out of the ring, and you soared and you had an apogee and you landed — no, the truth of the matter is Jerry, he took care of me the whole time,” Shatner said. “He was he was marvelous, and then, in addition to that, at your Hall of Fame induction ceremony. I had an unreal experience. I don’t think I’ve ever told you this, Jerry. They said, ‘Here to help introduce his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame, William Shatner,’ and I come out.
“And we were in Detroit, and I stopped by Detroit to do this very thing and this enormous audience of passionate lovers of you, they don’t want to see Shatner and Hollywood. So they began to boo. I’m like, whoa! I’m getting booed, which every wrestler understands, but actors, it’s the nightmare. They’re booing me!
“I remember that well Bill,” Lawler stated. “I told you as soon as I came up on stage, ‘This is a tough crowd. Especially there in Detroit, they’re always that. WWE fans can sometimes can be a tough crowd.’ They booed me many, many times, but I just want to say, going back to our first meeting, other than me piledriving Andy Kaufman, getting the alien monkey flip from you, Bill, was one of the highlights of my career. I love that.
“I know, but in reality, I did it so poorly,” Shatner expressed. “The toss was so badly done.
“No, you did it perfectly,” Lawler assured.
Shatner is most well known for playing James T. Kirk on Star Trek: The Original Series. Lawler was asked his reaction to Shatner being chosen to for Blue Origin’s flight, and Shatner reflected more on his experience.
“I thought it was a natural. Who better to go into space, and in our business that we’re, you and I, Bill, in the entertainment business, the first thing I thought or maybe the second thing I thought was, what great publicity for Blue Origin? How could they do a better job of letting the world know about their what they’re doing than bringing in one of the biggest stars that has been associated with space his entire life? I didn’t say publicity stunt, but I sort of thought, what a great publicity stunt.
“But you’re absolutely right. It all started by us, Jason Ehrlich and I, especially Jason, had this concept. Two years ago, we went up to Seattle to to say, ‘Shatner should be going up into space. It seems like a great adventure,’ and I was sort of reluctant. ‘Nobody cares whether I go into space or not,’ and then when Bezos decided to go himself first, I thought, oh, great. He’s gonna choose me to go with him.
“He chooses his brother instead. I think, well, that’s it. I’m not going up into space, and then they invited me to come on the second ride and I thought, well the second ride’s like being vice president, but this thing hit wide. It was a huge story, and the story is we’ve got to clean up our act now. Otherwise, your children and your children’s children are not going to see the light of day.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit WWE’s The Bump with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.