FLIGHT OF RAVEN
By S. Connor
Raven returns to ECW and broods about life
RAVEN returned to EXTREME CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING on Aug. 26 and shook the foundation of the promotion. At the first TNN taping at the Elks Lodge in Queens, NY., he paired with longtime nemesis Tommy Dreamer and beat The Dudley Boyz to claim the ECW world tag team title.
In the following interview, Raven talks about his days in World Championship Wrestling, his childhood and his motivation for returning to ECW.
A CHILLING CHILDHOOD
Q. What kind of childhood did you have?
A. A miserable one. No one liked me. I was very unpopular and I was starved for attention because my dad never told me he loved me. I was extremely outgoing, loud and obnoxious just to get any kind of attention.
Q. Do you have any brothers or sisters?
A. I have an older sister but she had mental problems of her own. In fact, she has emotional problems that are bad enough that she gets disability from the government. She also has very poor health problems, but she's a great person.
Q. Was there anything you could have done to make your childhood better?
A. I probably could have stopped picking on her and abusing her. I was embarrassed by her problems and I took it out on her. It wasn't her fault she was that way, which left me with even more guilt for being cruel to her because I thought she was embarrassing me. It just snowballed.
Q. Do you blame these problems on your parents' lack of attention?
A. Yes, complete lack of attention. I also have a fragile brain chemistry to begin with. My sister is actually unipolar. She's just depressed. I'm bipolar. I'm manic/depressive. I needed more attention than your basic kid to begin with but I got less than your average person so it was a double whammy. My parents were so wrapped up in my sister's problems they didn't give me any attention. I had problems just as bad as her but apparently I hid behind an armor that was thick enough and it was such a good act that nobody saw through it. But they should have seen through it. They are my parents. My I.Q. was 143 and they should have realized how special I was. If not special, then I should have been treated like any normal person. I often envied kids that at least got beat by their parents. If they got beat, they knew that their parents cared. MIne were indifferent. Indifference is the greatest cruelty of all.
Q. How important are mic skills in wrestling?
A. The greatest interviews in the history of the business were Mankind's interviews as Cactus Jack in ECW. I don't think anyone will ever cut promos better. Like a Seinfeld episode, he went all over the place, but at the end the whole story came together in a neat little bundle. Cactus was always teaching you something. Austin is tremendous. In World Championship Wrestling, as far as charisma, Im a big fan of Konnan. He is one of the most charismatic guys ever. Rey Mysterio Jr. is one of the greatest pure athletes I've ever seen in my life. In ECW, Axl Rotten is absolutely remarkable. Rotten can actually wrestle scientifically as smoothly and as well as anybody. If he dropped 30 pounds and Paul Heyman [owner of ECW] gave him a chance to really prove himself, all of a sudden you'd have a new major star.
WCW STRIKES OUT
Q. What happened to your career in WCW?
A. I was never allowed in the "big 10" of WCW. I wasn't popular enough and i didn't get my shot. Anybody who truly has seen my work with an unjaded and uncynical eye would probably include me in the top 10. I haven't drawn money in the major territories because I've never been in the position.
Q. Some of your gimmicks: Scotty The Body, Johnny Polo, Scotty Flamingo. Were they really you?
A. Yes they were. I'm a manic depressive! Scotty the Body was a character I created. The WWF gave me Johnny Polo and Dusty Rhodes gave me Scotty Flamingo - offshoots of Scotty the Body, one of my original names. I wanted to be the most flamboyant, obnoxious, abrasive, loudmouth chickens--heel I could be because I knew it would give me the attention I craved. If I didn't get the attention at home, I wanted the adulation of strangers. I found along the way it's no substitute, but it does to an extent alleviate some of the anguish and pain. If you talk to the boys in the WCW locker room, konnan, Saturn, or Disco Inferno would say either I am the most moody prick on the planet or the most wise ass goofy bastard you ever met.
Q. What were your days like behink the scenes for WWF?
A. When i was working for VInce McMahon as associate producer of RAW, Vince made me put on a suit and tie. It was killing me. As soon as I was done producing, the s--- would come off and i would put on a pair of ripped jeans, a pair of boots, a T-shirt and a leather jacket. That's who I am. Me and Shane McMahon became really good friends. I was an original member of the Mean Street Posse, because me, Shane, Rodney, and Pete Gas used to hang out all the time. i think it's kind of amusing that Raven's actually a Mean Street Posse member and they all dress in their Ivy League clothes. Me and Shane are really close friends. I can't say anything bad about him. We used to hang out constantly. It was funny because all of the boys would say "You're just sucking upto Shane so you can get over with Vince" and its just the exact opposite. What would happen is I'd get total heat with Vince because I'd have shane out all the time, back when I used to drink. I quit drinking two years ago. I had Shane out every night of the week partying and Vince thought I was a horrendous influence on his son.
BACK ON THE COUCH
Q. Did you ever seek out help for your problems?
A. I've been to a couple of psychologists. I found one phenomenal one who really helped me through my baggage. My father's passing away recently - he was very ill so it was the best thing for him - took a lot of that baggage away. I don't by any means glorify his death, but it enabled me to turn my life around.
Q. Describe Raven now compared to the one who appeared Jan 8, 1995.
A. I came out in January 1995 as dark and as bleak and as miserable as one could possibly be. A lot of people say I let the character consume me, but what they don't understand is it was already consuming me to begin with. I just found the forum to play it out. It was cathartic, it gave me release. By the same token, a lot of the negatives that accentuated it had a detrimental effect on me. It took a long while to work through all of that as well. What you see now is probably the most stable and happy I've ever been. Raven now is cruel, hateful, and malicious. but not as brooding and not as sullen. Fans will see a more sarcastic edge. Raven is 75 percent of the brooding bastard and 25 percent of the glib, wise ass prick that Scotty the Body was.
FROM ECW TO WCW AND BACK AGAIN
Q. How did you come to the decision to leave ECW the first time?
A. I didn't want to leave and to be honest, I begged Paul. I said, "Please, I don't want to leave." Eric Bischoff offered me a lot of money to go to WCW. Of course, ECW's pay scale has jumped since then, but at the time it was a very hefty contract. I begged Paul to give me half of what Bischoff offered, but he couldn't. He just didn't have the money. I had to leave and it broke my heart. All the boys said, "You got to go." Now that ECW is on national TV with the TNN deal, I'm like: "Well, I can't let them go on national TV without me. I got to be there for it."
Q. But didn't Bischoff ask you to leave WCW on August 23?
A. I didnt really have a choice. Bischoff called a meeting and said, "Raven, start working through our attorney outside. You're not happy with the company so you can leave right now." I said, "bye" and walked out the door. Later, Eric said, "I think you should think this over, I think you should stay. What are you going to do, go to Paul E.?" I said, " No, I'm going to Vince." He said, "You are not going to Vince." I said, "You said I got a release. I would think that implies I could go wherever I want." Eric said, "I'll let you go to ECW but you can't go to Vince."
Q. How do you get along with Bischoff now?
A. I like Eric alot. I think he's a great guy. I know there's alot of horror stories of how badly he treats all the wrestlers, but he's always treated me with a lot of respect. He always made time for me.