Charleston Post & Courier (5/96)

Interview conducted in late May of 1996 by Mike Mooneyham for the Charleston Post and Courier (reprinted in the July 1, 1996 issue of the Pro Wrestling Torch newsletter).

On his rise to the top of the WWF:
"I was a very angry young man for a long time. I've accomplished all the goals I set for myself. Now what I want is for the World Wrestling Federation to keep going and persevere... The business has changed quite a bit over the nine years I've been with the WWF. I think all the new rules and regulations are something that greatly affected my career. Now there is more emphasis on athleticism and performance and that's in my favor because I've always gone out and worked as hard as I possibly could to entertain the fans and give them good matches. There was never any doubt that I wanted to be a singles wrestler and the WWF Champion. There was a time when it looked very bleak. It didn't look like it was going to happen. That's when I became angry. I was angry about a lot of things. I was bucking the system. That same anger and bucking the system is what made me popular. It made people take notice and it drew a lot of attention. They started to realize this guy goes out every night and works his ass off. So now I think performance overrides everything."

On his reputation for speaking out:
"I do have a reputation for saying what's on my mind. Sometimes in our business the truth can be very difficult for some people. There are a lot of fragile egos in our business and I don't stroke those egos. The truth is something that needs to be told no matter how fragile it may be. I certainly have no problem hearing the truth. People have their opinions about me. I'm aware I bring a lot of that on myself and I wouldn't do it if I weren't prepared to deal with the circumstances... Sometimes guys in our business tend to go through it with blinders on. I've learned to take those blinders off. I've learned to look at my life and my life in the WWF with a much bigger perspective. I sometimes screw it up because I'm a very open and vocal guy. The reason for that is I kept things inside me for so long and I just thought if I expressed myself it would make things a lot easier for me."

On Bret Hart perhaps watching and waiting for him to fail as champion:
"If that were the problem, the heat would be with Bret Hart. I have nothing but the utmost respect for Bret Hart and what he's done with his career in the WWF. If Bret is falling into that frame of mind, as far as I'm concerned, with all due respect, that is something I don't think is good for us as a company. I don't think it's good that someone says outright that they're waiting for someone to fall flat on his face. I understand it. All I can do is the best job I can possibly do for the WWF and right now my job is to take the WWF into the future. Right now business is better than it has been in the past ten years and that is not a coincidence. That is due to the hard work of myself and all the superstars of the World Wrestling Federation. We have a great number of wonderful athletes, Bret Hart is among them. We are all working for a common goal. I'm just very lucky and fortunate to be at the forefront. If there are negative feelings toward me, then that's their business and I can't control them. For a lot of years I used to get hung up on that. Bret did a wonderful job as WWF Champion. He held the title with a great deal of dignity and honor at a time when the WWF was going through some troublesome times and he kept us afloat with his professionalism and his work in the ring. If Bret Hart is not proud of his accomplishments I certainly am and a number of other wrestlers are."

On everytually stepping down from his top position:
"When I was 19 years old I wanted to do the best work I possibly could. I'm 30 years old now and it still holds true and I'm lucky enough now to do it as WWF Champion. But if someone comes along who does a better job than me, it will be regrettable but I will graciously step down and support them."

On the Clique:
"That's a name that was given to us as a result of a number of bitter things. But the Clique is nothing but a bunch of buddies who hang around together. There is this imaginary thing that we have some kind of control in running the promotion. I guarantee you there is only one man who runs our promotion and that is Vince McMahon. If I have ideas or opinions, I give them. I don't take credit for a lot of stuff because I figure that will just get you more heat, but there are a number of guys who have no idea that Shawn Michaels has put a word in for them or Diesel has put in a good word for them or Razor's put in a word for them. And that's fine. The five of us are grown men and we're very mature men and we're realistic. We realize what this business has always been like. All our intentions were was to give the WWF what it had in the past and I think we've done that. In the future I'm going to continue to try to bring the WWF and the wrestling business in general out of the dark ages."

On Hall and Nash going to WCW:
"I think that's a decision they made with their families. It's a totally different situation than me. They're older than me, they're married and have families. They have a different agenda. I think the decisions they made were good for them. Each guy has to make decisions that are right for him and his family."

On possibly going to WCW also:
"I've been made offers (from WCW) but right now what is important to me is performing and you don't get a chance to do that there. I think WCW is something that needs to be there. Competition is good if for no other reason than for the wrestlers in this business. If one company were to get control it would be bad for us because they would have control and could do anything they wanted. But as far as WCW is concerned, I think that is something for guys who just want to make money and are not in it for performing anymore. Right now it's not just about money for me. It's about doing good work and I feel if I do the best work that I can and do well the money will take care of itself. And so far that's been the case. I certainly have no complaints whatsoever and WCW would have to come up with a whole heck of a lot more money to get me and right now that's just not something that's of interest to me."

On the Clique's current status:
"Whether the people like it or not the Clique is going to rule this business from both sides. They think we're splitting up and that's simply not the case. We're just expanding. I think the wrestling business in general had better be aware because we're on top in both places so they better be awful nice to us."

On his matches with Hall and Nash:
"Both Razor and I are very proud of the ladder match. Kevin and I both knew we had one in us and it was unfortunate we had only worked with each other probably five times in our entire career. The first time was at Wrestlemania and it's very hard to go out there the first time and hit a homerun. But we were fortunate enough to do that at the last In Your House. I'm very happy that probably two of the best matches I've had in my career have been with my best friends. It's very fulfilling and it makes you look at yourself in the mirror and say, 'That stuff has really worked.' I really had a blast and a good time and I got to do it with my friends."

On his legacy:
"I don't expect the world to stand still for Shawn Michaels. I want to progess in a fashion they did before me. There were people who were very tentative in helping me, but there were other guys who did. There are other guys who unfortunately probably didn't get the respect in this business they should have, but they helped me and I will continue to do the same for somebody else. I would like to be the one guy in the business who has no problem stepping aside and doesn't harbor ill feelings about the New Generation of superstars. This business will eventually go on without Shawn Michaels and I'm enough of a realist to know that. Every sport is like that. In every sport the athletes get better. It's like that in every walk of life. And that's a natural progression of things. Guys in our line of work need to realize that. It's a risky thing to say, but I think that I'm different. I've always spoken the truth. It's gotten me quite a lot of heat, but that's too bad. There is always going to be professional jealousy. It's something that I'm learning there is quite a bit of."

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