I just fell into it one day. I grew up watching it since I think I was six years old. I never thought about doing it because it was always a big man's sport. Then one day I met a wrestler and went to go watch him wrestle at some small indie show and after seeing some of the other matches, I thought my brother and I could beat each other up better in our yard. I found out about training camps and a friend of mine I was working with at the time and I decided to go up to camp together and that's how it started.
You're lighter in weight I guess than most wrestlers. Is it more difficult to pick some of these people up and slam their asses down if you're a little bit lighter or is there a way to do that if they're a little bit heavier?
Well, if I'm wrestling a guy who is pretty big, I try and come up with ways of knocking him down without having to pick him up. I try to make it as easy as possible on myself.
I was reading through your bio and it was talking about all these feuds you had with people. What are these feuds about? Is that just part of the show?
I always explain it as the male soap opera. There are obviously not as many women who are into wrestling as there are guys. I've always called it the male soap opera. Just to make things a little more interesting, if there is someone you mix it up good in the ring with, you get a little feud started and try to have a story behind it so it makes sense instead of just running around beating each other up for no reason.
Yeah, I guess that might help. I don't know. Maybe that would hold people's interest. I understand you wrestled in a wrestling federation that was based here in Dallas, TX.
Oh, years ago. Yeah. Back in I think it was 1991, it was called the Global Wrestling Federation or GWF.
After that you joined the TNA thing.
Well, after that TNA wasn't around yet. After that I just wrestled in indies for a while and then finally I got a break with WCW. There I wore a hood and I sort of looked like a purple Power Ranger. They brought me in at the last minute and they asked me what I wanted to be called so I'm throwing out all these names like The Phantasm and stuff like that. They said "well, we didn't want to just slap a name on you before researching any copyright infringement". They came up with a brilliant idea of must calling me Mr. J.L. My initials. I just shook my head and went with it. Then shortly after that run in WCW, I spent a few years in ECW. Extreme Championship Wrestling. That's where I think I got noticed the most because I had a big feud with Rob Van Dam and then after that company went out of business, I went on a year run with WWF.
The World Wrestling Federation.
Yeah, so I've been everywhere.
Sounds like it. What makes TNA wrestling a little bit different from the other wrestling organizations you've been in?
Besides the fact that we have a six sided ring, we also have what's called the X Division which a lot of people try to say that it's a weight division but it's not. It's a lot of smaller guys and what it is, I like to compare it to the wrestling version of the X Games. Everyone is trying to push the envelope and they're coming up with more and more dangerous moves all the time.
People have gotten killed doing that.
Oh yeah, it happens every once in a while. You'll hear about someone either getting killed or becoming a quadriplegic so itĎs very dangerous. Youíve got to know what youíre doing.
And there I used to think it was all fake until someone gets hurt.
Well, I like to tell other people that itís fixed but itís not fake. If you let me just pick you up and slam you on the ground, it would hurt. People donít realize what we put our bodies through. Every time we hit that mat, itís like weíre in a car crash. Our internal organs are being hammered around and every time we hit that mat, our brains are being pounded to the inside of our skulls. Weíre actually putting ourselves through a lot of abuse.
I hope you get paid well for that sort of thing.
Starting out, no. Youíve got to pay your dues and keep on plugging away until you get a break.
Youíre a road agent of some sort now with TNA.
Yeah, with TNA Iím a road agent and I havenít been wrestling for a while. I had to get shoulder surgery and when I needed that surgery, they gave me a road agent position which is that Iím sort of like a coach. I help out the guys. I lay out their matches the right way or I try and teach them how to do things the right way. Iím like a coach who sends in a play and then itís up to them to execute it.
Somebody wanted me to ask you if youíve ever thought about wrestling again.
Oh yeah, I wrestle every weekend. I havenít given that up. I canít give it up. Once it gets in your blood youíre screwed.
He wanted me to ask you what you thought about the whole Luger Mania phenomenon surrounding it. Itís something to do with a crying wrestling fan named Dennis Stamp. What the hell is that?
I think it was at a fan fest. I was having a Q&A or something. I remember I saw a clip that was floating around on the Internet. This one fan just got very emotional and was in tears. He was thanking the wrestlers for everything theyíve done over the years. He was crying and saying ďI still think itís real, damn it.Ē What I think about that is, I think itís great. Those types of fans are the kind of fans that we need. Theyíre the ones that are really into it and are still loving it. Theyíre the ones putting the food on the table for us.
Absolutely. That brings up the next thing which is something that Iím really into and that got involved with TNA. That would be NASCAR. I understand that some of the NASCAR drivers participated in a wrestling match and I was just wondering if you knew anything about that.
Yeah, I was there. We had Jeff Hammond who has been in a couple of six or eight man tag team matches and Hermie Sadler also. Then just recently in Martinsville, VA they had whatís called a Lumberjack match where they had I think it was an eight man take. On one team it was Hermie and Jeff Hammond with I think it was the Dudley boys against Dale Jarrett and his team. They had a bunch of other NASCAR drivers around the ring including Darrell Waltrip. What happens is, anyone who gets thrown out of the ring or runs out of the ring, all the lumberjacks meaning all the drivers outside the ring would grab them and throw them back in so they couldnít go anywhere. It made for a real interesting match.
I bet it did. Iím a huge NASCAR fan. Have been for years and I thought it was interesting that they got involved in that. What did you think about all that?
I thought it was great. I always grew up watching a little bit of NASCAR but I never understood it. My dad would just watch it and Iím going to age myself. That was when Kale Yarborough and Richard Petty were still driving. Then when I was in WCW they started sponsoring a Busch series car that Steve Grissom was driving. The race team took a bunch of us wrestlers out to Concord Motor Speedway and he took us for laps around the track in the race car and it was a rush. It wasnít as big of a track where you could hit 180 but anytime you hit a turn it felt like the wheels were about to give out and youíre going to go flying into the wall. I loved it. Then we got to drive the smaller Legends cars on the smaller quarter mile track and that was a blast. It was a great time and I learned a lot that day about racing and I appreciate it a lot more.
I live about 20 minutes away from the Texas Motor Speedway and we had the race here a couple of weekends ago. When that green flag drops and those engines start roaring, thereís nothing else like it in the world.
I know. Every time that they hit the replay I always have this habit of going ďgreen, green, green.Ē I canít help it. Iíve got to do it.
You watch it so much on TV and theyíre saying it. Bringing music into it, I understand youíre somewhat of a metalhead.
Iím the biggest metalhead in wrestling.
How do you feel about the use of popular music in professional wrestling?
I think it helps a lot. Obviously for the wrestling fans you canít use the real heavy, heavy stuff. Youíve got to be a little more radio friendly with them. Having ring music helps a lot. It just helps set the mood and it gets you fired up. It gets people fired up and gets me fired up before I go to the ring too.
Were there any particular theme songs that you used yourself?
Years ago but this was when hair metal was popular. This was when I first started and I used Motley Crueís ďKick Start My HeartĒ.
Thatís a cool song.
As my musical tastes changed throughout the years and it got a little heavier when I hit the ECW, I picked Fear Factoryís ďScapegoatĒ from their Soul Of A New Machine. The funny thing is my boss thought it was too heavy and I thought ďwell, weíre supposed to be an extreme wrestling company for extreme fans. How can it be too heavy?Ē I just kept it and stuck with it. I always got a lot of questions from the fans. ďWho is that? Who is that?Ē Then I got to know Dino in Fear Factory. I got the band to come out to the Pay-Per-View when we were in L.A. When they went on tour again and came through Minneapolis when I was living in Minneapolis, he called me up and asked me to introduce him on stage. That was pretty cool.
I think itís a cool way to open people up to different types of music. How do you that music and wrestling go hand in hand? Or even NASCAR and heavy music?
I donít know if the music generally all goes in hand in hand with all three forms of entertainment. I just think in general all three go hand in hand just because of the lifestyle. Because of being on the road and youíre in a different city every week or a few different cities every week. You have to deal with promoters and stuff. I just think that the businesses go hand in hand.
Do you think with NASCAR having gotten involved in the TNA wrestling thing, I guess it was on April 1st, is there any talk of them doing more of that in the future?
Well, Hermie Sadler started his own wrestling promotion UFW. TNA came to an agreement with them and theyíre using a lot of training films as TNA house shows now to take our product on the road. Theyíll be doing a lot more coming up.
Cool deal. You were talking about how some of your musical tastes have changed. What kind of bands are you into right now?
Well since I always recycle a pile of CDs in and out of the car, right now Iím trying to think of what CDs I have in the car. Iíve been listening to some old Suffocation, Amon Amarth, Kreator of course, Centinex. One of my favorite death metal bands is Sinister, Diabolical Summoning. Iíve been listening to that. Cannibal Corpse, The Bleeding. Iíve been listening to the new Bleeding Through and My Darkest Hate. The Dusk Fall. I mostly listen to stuff that youíll never hear on the radio because I cannot stand radio anymore.
A lot of people tell me the more older you get the more mellow your musical tastes get. With me and apparently with you, the older we get the more heavier it gets.
Oh, definitely. Itís getting heavier all the time.
My favorite band at the moment is Children Of Bodom out of Finland.
Oh, theyíre awesome.
Iíve seen them four times now. They just did a headlining tour and I think they just kick ass.
Iíve never gotten to see them live but Iíve got a few of their CDs.
You have to see them live. Theyíll be on the Slayer tour.
The hard thing is I live in Nashville and not a lot of metal comes through Nashville.
Thatís strange because I know a lot of rock guys like Poison and Cinderella live in Nashville. Thatís kind of weird.
It is. Nashville is the music capital of the blues. Youíd think everything would come through but thereís just a lot of politics and stuff.
That always has to get involved, doesnít it? You were saying that once you get wrestling in your blood youíre basically fucked and you never get out of it. Whatís kept you interested in being in that for so long?
Because you never stop getting better. You never stop learning. You can always get better. For me thatís what keeps me going. To me itís a lost art form and I want to do what I can to keep it alive.
It was interesting because you said being a wrestler, you put your body through a lot of shit. Itís kind of funny because Hermie Sadler pretty much said the same thing. That he doesnít think that wrestlers or NASCAR drivers get enough credit for how difficult their sports are and all the rigorous stuff they have to go through whether theyíre in the ring or in a car for four hours. NASCAR has gone to great lengths to get a wider and wider audience. More and more people are getting into it right now and enjoying it more. How could TNA or any other wrestling company get more and more people interested in it? Maybe like somebody like me who never paid any attention to that stuff?
Itís just about promoting and letting people know we exist and that weíre out there. For the longest time I think we were on the Fox Sports Network and they really didnít help us out any as far as promoting and advertising. Now theyíve got this Spike deal. Spikeís really opened up a lot of doors for us now and theyíre really trying for us. Itís just all in promotion and letting people know youíre out there. Hopefully now that weíre on Thursday nights on Spike TV following UFC, a lot more people know about us now and will take a look. Wrestling always goes on an up and down rollercoaster as far as popularity. Itís been on a down stroke for the longest time and I think thatís mainly because WWE has put such a bad taste in everyoneís mouths as far as wrestling because they just insult the fansí intelligence.
Does it have something to do with their storylines?
Oh, yeah. That too. Itís just gotten ridiculous. I canít even really call it a wrestling show. They donít even call their wrestlers ďwrestlersď. They call them ďsports entertainersĒ. Itís more or less a caricature of a wrestling show. You canít even take any of it serious.
Itís more of a male soap opera than it is an actual sport.
Hopefully with you guys being on Spike TV and having a better slot and NASCAR getting involved, that will get peopleís attention.
Yeah, definitely. I think it will.
Any other thoughts or comments?
Do what you can to keep the underground metal alive.