Ring Rust Radio had WCW and WWE Buff Bagwell on the show this week, and it was a great episode with plenty of exclusive content. Here is a transcript:
Ring Rust Radio: There’s always been a lot of speculation and rumors out there regarding your brief stint with WWE, and you said recently on “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s podcast that you believe Jim Ross was responsible for your release from the company. He responded and said he didn’t make the decision. What do you make of his response, and what do you think JR or WWE’s motivation was to get rid of you so quickly?
Buff Bagwell: First of all, I actually did read his response. The way Jim responded, which I can respect, I think he didn’t want to watch what I had to say. Therefore he was responding to something that he really didn’t know what he was responding to. I wasn’t saying that Jim’s job didn’t require him to let people go. What I’m saying is I think he is strictly looking at it from WWE terms. Everyone knows that many years ago on the round table special, and I thought Jim and I were always great, but go back and watch that round table special which I encourage everyone to do. Everyone was talking about heat seekers in the business. During that time, Jim kept trying to get his story out. Someone else would always cut him off, though. It wasn’t to protect me, but they felt like they had something to get out. So at the very end of it, Jim sits down and proceeds to bury me and tells a story about how my mother called in and cancelled me on some house shows. I think first of all I was put out there because I had some heat from coming into the business from WCW. Zero heat with WWE, but the perception was I could be a pain in the ass. Remember, they are the one company now. So I’m shaking hands and kissing babies and walking on egg shells. Even though I knew I had a job, there were some things that happened with me and Shane Helms when I first got there, and I felt that I really had to watch my P’s and Q’s. I felt that me and Booker were kind of set up with Booker and the whole invasion angle and us main eventing with a kind of horrible match. I look back and realize it was not as bad as it felt that day. It just felt like there was going to be a setup and a fall guy. I never claimed that I was a big main event star, but Sting and I are the only two guys that did the entire run in WCW. Evidentially, I was worth using and added some value to the product, but came into WWE feeling like I had to re-earn my spot. In fact, I came in and gave Vince back money to show him I was a team player.
Fast forward to Jim Ross, I’m gone and still trying to make a living on the scene. Let’s be honest here, if someone tells that your mama called you off of work, what’s that say about a man? That’s just burying somebody. Truth is it never happened. That’s not my opinion or Jim Ross’ opinion. Between Jim, myself and God, all know that didn’t happen. I even had my manager come to me and say what if she called and you didn’t know about it, what if that was the case? My mother was involved with WCW television, but she never made a dime from it. Everything you saw her do that everyone gives her crap about, she did it for free and to help the product. She did enjoy her time there and she was just having a good time. Just like if your mother was asked to do the same thing, I’d imagine she would more than likely. My mama was out there taking Diamond Cutters at 50 something years old and not making a dime for it. Even if she had done something like that, she would have called me and said that she spoke to Jim and they didn’t need me for those house shows. She would have been working both ends of the spectrum if she did something like that. She was up in the stands the night they did fire me and she had no clue. I don’t know where Jim gets off saying my mother called me in, but those were prime shows for Buff Bagwell. I think they were Columbus, Georgia and Birmingham. Those were both prime shots for me, and I think we had Philips Arena coming up for Monday Night Raw at the time which was right in Ted Turner’s backyard. Booker and I felt we could have gone into there and blow it up. I think they wanted the reaction from the fans to be negative because they were still in that Monday Night War mentality. WCW was the bad guys, but here we are forced to play in their backyard. So you go to Philips Arena and that’s the home of WCW, I don’t care if it’s a Monday Night Raw crowd or not, those were WCW people. Booker and I would have gotten a pop, but it never got a chance to happen. Even the Tacoma show, I was walking out from the back with my music playing, and Shane McMahon comes up and tells me not to look at the cameras. You guys know, that’s 80 percent of my job! I go out there, look at the cameras, pose, boom boom boom, flex; that was my gimmick. When someone tells you don’t look at the camera, that’s like telling Austin not to kick, punch, or shoot birds. That’s why Booker and I felt like there was something strange about that Tacoma show. I still feel like Jim was trying to bury me while I was trying to make a living. Of course my story had never been told, so I never got a chance to answer that. So at the end of the show when Jim said my mama called me off, and that Missy Hyatt brought me into the business. They said, “Oh well that explains it all.” Well what does that explain? Missy helped out a lot of guys in the business and she was at a time the first lady of wrestling.
Ring Rust Radio: You have worked for WCW, WWE and even TNA, so you know the value in competition within the wrestling industry. Do you feel the business will ever reach the level it did during the Monday Night War?
Buff Bagwell: To be honest with you, I think that everyone can have their opinion, but if WWE would have kept that tight lipped and made it look like Shane was running it and kept it as two separate entities, I think wrestling would have stayed hot for a lot longer. Maybe Shane should have actually bought it. There is more wrestling and talent out there than there ever has been right now, but there are limited places to work. I think that it can be again and everything does have its peaks and valleys. Will it ever be that hot again? I really don’t know. It would have to be put at a real competitive level for that to happen. Competition creates business. In the back of Vince’s mind, he is so far ahead of TNA right now they aren’t even a thought to him. If the right people and minds get in there and get the right programming, we could see a lot of things change. With TV open to more of a free market and including the internet, people are going to have more selections and choices. That may saturate the business, but it could captivate the business at a cheaper rate. If you weren’t on a major station on a prime time night, you were kind of screwed. I do think the business itself can go back there again, but I don’t know if the right people are in place to make that happen right now.
Ring Rust Radio: I really enjoyed your run as a single competitor, but you were also part of several entertaining tag teams. Was there one partner you enjoyed tagging with the most and any story that comes to mind from your run with him?
Buff Bagwell: I really enjoyed with Two Cold when I broke in. It was fresh and new; we did a lot of cool things, WCW tag team of the year, and led to my first belt. Everyone I ever worked with added something to my career which helped me develop my character over time. Scott Norton, Vicious and Delicious, that was a lot of fun. That might be on the backburner in a lot of people’s minds, but I had a really good time working with Scott. Even working along with Dale Wilkes, the Patriot and all these guys I worked with I had a blast with. There were a lot of stories of Scott and I working over in Japan for example. I can tell you one time, I had a few beers in me, and Scott Orton was a pretty tough dude. We had our wives with us on a trip one night and Scott’s wife at the time, though I love her to death, there was an annoyance going on. For some reason, I was going to threaten to slap Scott’s wife. This was after drinking and having a good time, but at that moment I thought I was going to die. He made the hot tag with me and came in as my partner and defused the situation. I really did have a good time with everybody. Something that blew my mind, before we did the interview section for the Good, the Bad, and the Buff, my manager had found some footage of shoot interview with Too Cold Scorpio. Mind you, I just saw him a few weeks before this and we had tagged together as an anniversary, reemergence, reunion type thing together. I hugged him and everything was good, I even gave him a couple DVDs of our best matches together. After watching his shoot interview, I will say it blew my mind. He called me a cock sucker, every name in the book, and that he poked my wife in the face on an airplane over a seat I told him to get out of. Brother, one thing about me is I always try to treat people with respect. I never was a guy to push his chest around. He said we were all traveling together on some flight overseas, I told him to get out of the seat, and he told me who was I, poked my wife in the nose and told her if she wanted to fuck a real man he would show her why they called him Too Cold. I don’t give a shit if you are the biggest pussy in the world, but if a man is poking your wife in the face with a plane full of wrestlers on an international flight and some guy is standing up telling some guy’s wife he can fuck her better than you can? Don’t you think you would have heard about that story? We would have made a world press release because he and I would have gone out the fucking exit door on that plane. So when I heard this, I thought what the fuck is he talking about or what is he on? They literally show this to me live during filming, and then go right back live with my response. I never saw it before and I did know it was out there, but they waited to show me live to get my rebuttal. You want to see some real deal situations? It’s on the film. I promise you, you have never seen anything more real than this in your life.
Ring Rust Radio: If you could pick anyone to wrestle against for a retirement match, who would it be and why?
Buff Bagwell: So many people to pick from. Steve Austin. He would be the majority of the draw, but that’s not the reason why I would work with him. Steve and I had a lot of tag matches together with Brian Pillman and Too Cold Scorpio, and we worked a lot of matches with those guys. We were always friends and respected each other so of course it would be a good match and a good draw. Before the film, I never saw Vince in there with the thumb up, thumb down deal. I had never seen that because I was in Panama City Beach, Florida, when that happened. When he goes through that whole list of guys, Buff Bagwell got a pretty good pop. When he asked the crowd there about Bagwell, I was really proud of that. It meant that I meant something to those people and that pop made me feel really good. We’re all human and love to get over with the crowd.
Ring Rust Radio: A lot of fans look back and wonder how you would’ve fit in WWE and how they would’ve used you had your stay not been short. Were you ever given any indication of what storylines or feuds you might have been involved with, or is there anything you would’ve liked to have done in that respect?
Buff Bagwell: Well of course everybody wants to see how Buff Bagwell could have evolved in WWE. It was more of at the time, “Hey you guys are the invasion, play off the enemy thing, put you and Booker out there, and just roll with it.” As time changed, they were very good at connecting to an audience and be able to change. I think I was pretty good at it. If you look at Marcus Alexander Bagwell who broke into the business, to Mark Bagwell the tag team guy, to the evolution of Buff, I think I could have very well fit in there to make those changes as generations of fans change. I think I would have been perfect for that. I was always open minded, not afraid to make an ass out of myself, wasn’t scared to be a jester and I didn’t need to be the man, I just wanted to be part of the team. It would be very hard today to go out and wrestle wearing a top hat to the ring. I got a top hat over brother. You know how many people would book me and then ask, “Do you have the top hat with you?” It’s got its own case and flies with me on Delta.
Ring Rust Radio: I enjoyed your run with Lex Luger as Totally Buffed. It made perfect sense given your physiques and you two were part of the reason I started to go to work out when I was a teenager. Is there one moment or match that stands out to you the most from you career?
Buff Bagwell: I was still working singles matches, and something that really gave me an opportunity for a major push was working a lot of singles matches with Chris Benoit. All of a sudden when I was working with Chris, who was a very technical wrestler, they got to see Mark Bagwell do the up-and-overs, fish out of water, the reversals, the pin and the boom boom boom. I go to the back and they never knew I could do any of that. Chris Benoit gave me the opportunity when I worked with him to show that I could go with someone like him. Vader was in the back and came up with the idea of putting me with Scorpio thinking it was a good idea. So a match that I did with Chris to show I could do the aerial moves, led to me and Scorpio doing tag team moves that people like the Hardy’s ended up doing after us. That gave me my break into my tag team run. Before then I was getting beat up by the Dangerous Alliance and then getting saved by Sting. The match that sticks out the most in my career would be the tag match when I broke my neck with Scott Steiner. It brought a lot of attention on me, but I felt WCW really dropped the ball with it. They really could have took it and made it a reality driven type of wrestling angle. I was telling them to follow me to surgery and film these things. It wasn’t about getting myself over, but WCW taking advantage of me breaking my neck on live TV. Take advantage of doing that even they want me to flip on the people afterwards, but put some investment into it. To break my neck on live TV then make a comeback and they really didn’t even focus on that as well as they could have. I would of said the same thing had it been anybody that broke their neck on TV, it just happened to be me that it happened to.