On The Line with Paul London

Paul London is one of the most unique and exciting wrestlers, both in and out of the ring. He is a revered name in many wrestling companies out there such as Ring of Honor and Pro Wrestling Guerilla. He also had a five year run with WWE where he held the Cruiserweight Championship and was a three time Tag Team Champion. I had a great interview with Paul where we discussed tons of great experiences he has had throughout his life. We caught up on his time in WWE, his love for music, Hero of the Prophecy, and more. This is a fun read for all!

Alex Obert: I was at the very show where you made your debut on WWE Smackdown in Hartford in 2003. Did you arrive at the arena that day to have someone tell you, “Okay, you’ll be making your debut in a match against Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship tonight.”?

Paul London: Hartford is my hometown! No, it’s really not. I think they had the idea of something they wanted to do that night with Brock Lesnar and they needed some unsympathetic lamb to put this guy over they’re building. It was kind of neat, but it didn’t really go anywhere. The thing I remember the most about that, mind you this is before the dress code, not that I dressed like crap or anything, I don’t really remember what I was wearing, but all I remember is that Arn Anderson comes up to me and says, “You’re gonna be wearing that?” And I go, “What do you mean? I’m trying to get a tryout and I’m new here. Why would I have all these threads?” He goes, “Well, you’re gonna be in this scene with Vince, so I suggest you go across the street and buy some nice clothes.” So obviously, not wanting to ruffle any feathers, I went across the street and must’ve spent some stupid amount on clothes that I only wore for that one promo. (laughs) So dumb. I’d never wear that, it’s not me. But yeah, I watch that video back once in a blue moon and I go, “Who the hell is this guy?”

I didn’t know the match with Brock was going to go down until I got back from the department store. I remember Brock telling me that we were working together and he was cool about it. I was thinking of ways to highlight him in my own unique ability. Main event guys are always courteous and he was extra cool.

Alex Obert: How was it set up the year prior that you were a crowd plant for the Ric Flair and Undertaker feud going into Wrestlemania X8?

Paul London: I was just doing extra work, really. Local stuff. I had had a match with Perry Saturn on Jakked/Metal and it went really well. It was really well received and so that kind of put me on the radar. And then they’ll have you do the loop, you’ll go to RAW and then Smackdown. I don’t really know how it is now. But back in the day, you’d do RAW live and then Smackdown would be taped the next day to air on Thursday. But this particular week, I remember I did RAW on Monday and competed in a dark match on Jakked/Metal against Saturn. He did not beat me up and he was super thankful, he loved the match and I think that’s what put me over more. He was in that string of beating guys up and kind of being in a bad place. I remember coming back and guys were like, “Perry Saturn’s smiling? Wait, what the hell is going on? What happened?” Moving on, they actually did that show live on Thursday. So they said, “Well, your thing’s gonna air this weekend on Jakked/Metal, so we don’t want people to be confused. We’re not gonna have you in another match, but how about we put this Stone Cold shirt on you with his arms are turning into rattlesnakes and he’s doing his pose in the corner and we’ll put this Adidas hat on you so no one can tell it was you.” So I’m like, “Okay, cool.” They told me they’d put me in the front row and that they’d do this thing where they battle out here and Taker’s gonna duck and Flair’s basically gonna deck me. They’ll have security guards come and sweep me away. Sounds good enough. (laughs)

It’s so silly, it was in San Antonio and I remember banging on the barricade like I had some sort of disability. Then here comes the punch and everyone bought it around me. The security guard, Jimmy Noonan, sweeps me off to the back and he’s like, “You alright, kid?” “Yeah, it was great!” Then he said, “Okay, cool. You’ve gotta hurry up because you’re doing this live shot after commercial.” So I hurry upstairs and this is the stupidest thing, it makes no sense. I was told, “The cops are gonna be taking you away and you need to be yelling out that it was that guy, that man right there. And you point at Flair. You point him out directly and you say it was that man right there. So I go, “Okay, so I say hey it’s Flair!” And they go, “No no no, don’t say that. That man. That man right there.” You have a wrestling fan with a Stone Cold shirt who doesn’t know who the hell Ric Flair is? What? I should have been saying it was definitely Ric Flair! (laughs) I would definitely know it’s Ric Flair. I just thought the attention to detail was not that great. But it was a neat experience because now people look back on it and asked if I was this plant and also the plant for WCW Greed with Scott Steiner and if I was a security guard for the last Thunder getting beat up by Steiner again. The audience has better attention to detail than the guys with all the dough.

Alex Obert: How did you get contacted to make appearances as an enhancement talent prior to your debut? You faced John Cena and Matt Hardy on Velocity.

Paul London: Yeah, that’s really good for me because those were also local dates. I think the Matt Hardy one was in San Antonio again and then the Cena one was in Dallas. They were familiar with me at the time, they worked me out, and fortunately for me, I was able to be put in those positions. And I remember the Cena one was kind of funny because he wasn’t their tentpole quite yet. He was on his way, I think they were starting to realize that because he was starting to do the rapper thing with B2 aka Bull Buchanan. So we were going over some stuff and I mentioned a headshot head scissors. And Cena goes, “Cool, let me see it.” I had him go out this far and I went and kicked him right in the face, leveled right in the face. Kudos to him, he was up for anything. But I guess he got in trouble, they were mad that he gave me too much in the match. I understand, I wasn’t under contract. It gave him a black eye, it was that bad. That was pretty embarrassing.

The Matt one was really cool. Believe it or not, there was a time when we got along. I thought that match was really neat and it helped me a lot too because interestingly enough, he decided to give me his finisher twice at the end of that. So it just made me look stronger. I thought that was a neat thing for him to do. With those I’ve worked with, some have gone to bat for me. I remember when I was in OVW and Cena had come there for a workout and he remembered me. He mentioned something along the lines of, “What are you doing here? Why are you in OVW?” (laughs) What are you gonna do? I said something like, “Oh, just happy to be here!” (laughs)

Alex Obert: What was it like being a Velocity regular at one point before you got involved in the Cruiserweight and tag team divisions on Smackdown?

Paul London: I was left out to dry when Brian left in 2004. Not to sound selfish or egotistical, but Velocity was my show. You had key matches with me and Jimmy Yang being apart of the cruiserweight division. They were generally the main events and best match.

I remember being in a match that Jimmy Yang and I had on Velocity that went about sixteen minutes and we tore the place down. It took place in Japan and he’s experienced there. I had a little bit of experience there myself. We had a different style than most of the guys in the locker room. So we went out there and just tore it up. We went from a live sixteen minute match and just seven minutes were aired on TV. They chopped it all up to eight minutes. And they told us they wanted two segments with the match being sixteen minutes. Cool man, that’s time. Then they ended up cutting it up. That’s pretty sad because you watch it on TV and notice it’s a really bad cut. Kevin Dunn saw our match and said, “That’s not wrestling! That’s not wrestling! These guys aren’t doing wrestling!” And here’s a guy who doesn’t have an athletic bone in his body. Though I think he sweats when he eats. Bringing up a type of match like this to have on television, that was a real mistake on our part. Never again.

Alex Obert: Interestingly enough, I was also in attendance for the match you had on Velocity against Nunzio. What was significant about it was that it was the only title change in that show’s history. He beat you for the Cruiserweight Championship and I remember being shocked that it took place on that type of a show.

Paul London: Velocity was generally a joke to the bookers. The show was a proving ground, things like testing the cameras and mics, as well as giving the locals television time to see how they do in front of a WWE crowd. Notable wrestlers on the independents and on Impact Wrestling have competed as locals on those type of shows such as Samoa Joe, Frankie Kazarian, and Low Ki. I was trying to make it more of a competitive match as a local, since that’s what the fans would want to see, the best match possible. Isn’t that pretty cool though? It’s almost like winning a Razzie. There’s a lot of prestige in having that!

Alex Obert: What was going on with that short-lived angle for a couple weeks with a potential heel turn?

Paul London: There was no angle. That was the thing about Velocity. We really wanted there to be angles for those of us that were on there pretty much every weekend. It was so much to the point that I pitched for there to be a Velocity Presents pay per view and I wanted to call it Paulocity. I think they just turned and looked at the door and looked back at me and didn’t say anything. There wasn’t any angle behind that. The angle was, “Let’s teach this kid a lesson for coming in and speaking his mind to the boss who wasn’t in the mood to hear that.” So let’s really stick it to this kid and have a title switch on Velocity that no one will notice. At the time, it was a slap in the face. Now, especially since you mention it, it’s quite the honor. (laughs) No one will ever take that away from me! No one will ever duplicate it! Ever! The only one. So kudos to Nunzio.

Alex Obert: What matches would you have wanted to see at Paulocity?

Paul London: I definitely would have wanted myself and Akio in a Scaffold Match with a cage. Kendrick and Scotty Goldman would renew their feud, which was real epic. I would have Daniel Bryan rename himself Bryan Danielson for this Paulocity pay per view. I would have John Morrison do a parkour-in, as opposed to a run-in. He would then reclaim his Johnny Nitro name. And then it would be Bryan Danielson vs. Johnny Nitro and the loser of that match would have to stay with their new name. I don’t want to give away the whole card. (laughs) And I would also want Teddy Hart versus CM Punk where the loser lives in Nashville forever.

Alex Obert: Prior to that night, you defended the Cruiserweight Championship against Billy Kidman on Smackdown and it was the match where you got busted open pretty badly. What was going on there?

Paul London: I would have filed a lawsuit for their ring being in shit condition. There was a bolt exposed on the turnbuckle of their state of the art twenty or thirty thousand dollar ring. It was on the metal twist between the pole, the ropes, and the turnbuckle itself. So I got the ol’ trunks pulled into the turnbuckle and my head went right into that bolt. I needed eighteen staples in my head. That was pretty cool at the time. But it was really irritating to me also because I really wanted to run as far as we could with that because it was a natural accident. It was something that occurred that you couldn’t predict. It created this sympathy without the need to try selling, it was real. The blood was mine and it was very bloody. Everything became gray, I went colorblind. I went into this weird colorblind autopilot and I just finished the match. I just remember thinking this is gold because it’s real. Chavo and Kidman then double teamed me, it was in San Diego and they are booin’ the shit out of them. It was really genuine heat, probably the most I’ve ever been a part of.

And then I remember going to the back and they said they needed me to cut a promo. So there’s this room and I cut this promo up against the brick wall, just a white brick wall. I was so bloody, I looked like Patrick Bateman. It was pretty neat and it was a pretty intense promo. It was pretty much from the heart. Then I went and got stapled up. But then they went and put that promo online for literally twenty four hours. They did it in black and white, which pissed me off, and it was online. Not their television show. The only coverage they did of that match was maybe the week after saying something like, “This is what happened last week!” So it was just a video online in black and white for literally a day. Then it was never heard of or seen again or anything, it was just completely erased. That was a wake-up call to what I was in for.

Alex Obert: In modern day WWE, they strive to make sure that there is no longer blood in their matches. Getting into what led to that, what is your opinion on WWE becoming TV-PG programming?

Paul London: You can sense this struggle from the writers, they’re literally doing it the day of and it was very frustrating to be there witnessing it. I felt, and I’m sure Brian did too, that we’re pretty PG. If there’s any kind of audience we have, it’s the young kids and the teenagers. Just so many missed opportunities, really. It gets me frustrated. You look for other ways to entertain yourself.

Alex Obert: What are your thoughts on WWE’s major recent signings?

Paul London: I imagine you’re talking about Steen, I’m real happy for him. I hope he robs ’em blind. Kenta and Devitt too. Somebody pulled their underwear out of their ass and realized, “You know, there’s something here.” Kudos to them for getting in touch with that. But it’s pretty funny because I’m on Twitter, it’s the only social media that I do, and I noticed this photo of Devitt in a suit and Hunter looks like he’s about to give him a shoulder massage. I guess it’s supposed to be this press signing conference at NXT. And then below that photo is Steen wearing an NXT shirt and I know he’s excited to be there. I wonder how he can absorb all this because it happened pretty fast, as far as the transactions and everything. In this photo, Hunter’s demeanor is much different. He’s got some distance to him and he’s just kind of shaking his hand. He’s got this kind of look on his face like, “I’ll give this kid three months.” That’s funny. I look into this stuff too much. Maybe they heard me because I saw this other photo where it looked like he was giving Steen a shoulder massage as well. It was weird. But initially, there’s this photo where there’s at least two feet between ’em. (laughs)

Alex Obert: I learned recently that you didn’t like your entrance music in WWE.

Paul London: Can you call it that? It was more like theme muz-ak. What goes into that? I’m surprised somebody else doesn’t have it right now. It’s frustrating. I’m confident in my abilities and I’m more than capable. Imagine the most badass car you can imagine, no one can compete with this car. And it’s just garaged this whole time. Like why the hell did you buy it? Like honestly, why in the hell did you buy this car? Just to look at it or to tell people you own it? Maybe you’ll wash it once a year or something. But why the hell did you buy the car? You’re sure not driving it! I don’t get it. You have these Volkswagens and Rickshaws going into our entrance theme. It must be nice to have such great input on anything! I’m happy I didn’t give them everything. They can’t really claim me where I’d have some stupid name and like two first names. (laughs) I’m me and they couldn’t do anything about it. And I’m really happy about that. I can’t wait to see what Steen is called and what some of these guys unfortunately get named. It’s such a different time.

Alex Obert: Getting back into entrance music, I’ve always wondered, did you ever use London Calling by The Clash for a match?

Paul London: No, and it’s funny because Mike Tenay’s that coined that name for my shooting star press. I’m a huge fan of The Clash and I thought that was cool because that’s a badass song. Funny story, my brother was a concert promoter for really cool local punk bands all over, he ran benefit shows, and I’m like, “How do you know all these guys?” It’s crazy. So I befriended Reggie and the Full Effect and they wanted to do music for Brian and I. They sent us a few samples and we presented it to the office. And I kid you not, we asked this mega-genius, I mean just mega cool and suave genius, Kevin Dunn, about the entrance theme. We asked him if there was any news on the music and if they liked it and he replied, “The music industry’s closed for the holidays. We’ll do it next year.” This was sometime in November or something. The music industry’s closed for the holidays? All these music studios just shut down for Thanksgiving and Christmas? They’ll be back in business in 2015. It’s like, “Do I have shit on my face?” I just felt like a goddamn idiot. It’s just insulting.

Alex Obert: There’s been a hot topic discussed online recently. Matt Sydal recently talked about a backstage fight between The Great Khali and Big Show. Do you have any knowledge on that?

Paul London: I can only imagine there was food involved. I’m not sure what they had in catering that day. I don’t know about it though. I know that Big Show’s a giant and that’s about it. I know that Khali’s a really sweet guy in all my interactions with him, he’s humble and kind. I have more good memories about Khali then I do about Big Show. (laughs) If you want to know who I’d take wagers on, Khali, man. All the way. All it takes is one Punjabi tiger chop and Big Show’s no show.

Alex Obert: Do you know of any other fights that happened while you were on the roster?

Paul London: I know fights that I wanted to happen. But it’s so much hot air, it’s no more than the coolest fight from high school. There’s this sad misconception that they’re really tough and it’s just not the case. Here’s a fighting story for you, I remember we were at the end of a tour overseas somewhere, it might’ve been a South American tour. And I remember we were in catering at the hotel, it was at night, and it was a dinner catering. I just remember everyone had to be up real early the next morning because it was the end of the tour. And I got my meal, I went through the line, and I went and sat down at a table by myself. It was fairly early and I just needed some space. I wanted to detox for a little bit from everyone. It wasn’t me being rude or anything, I was just keeping to myself and being quiet. So I sit down with a full plate of food and a Coke. And I realized I forgot my silverware, so I go back, and it wasn’t really a line, guys were just filing in. I went in and got some silverware. Then I turn around and I remember Mark Henry’s sitting at my table helping himself to my plate and my Coke. The only thing I really remember after that was Regal kind of intercepting me, taking me outside, and said, “You have this look on your face like you’re gonna kill somebody. So if you do, start with me please. I beg you to start with me.” And he said, “Just calm down for a little bit.” I just thought about that. I went back in and I got food and went back up to my room. It doesn’t matter how big I am. But under the right circumstances or under the wrong circumstances, my animal comes out. Size isn’t really an issue. I could take on Triple H and if I did, I’d go for his nose. It’s like Killer Klowns from Outer Space, you hit them in the nose and they exploded into confetti. I think you have to hit his nose, and if you do, confetti will come out. Am I way off on that? The nose is the bullseye. Fortunately, my issue with Mark never really got to that point, but it was close. It was really just sad. A sad story, really.

Alex Obert: What are your thoughts on William Regal as a mentor?

Paul London: William Regal is awesome. There’s nobody you can learn from better than him, as far as pure wrestling. He’s seen everything and knows how to last in the business and survive. He has an invaluable resource of knowledge.

Alex Obert: You have a big project, Hero of the Prophecy. Can you fill in readers on how all that came about and what it’s about?

Paul London: I’m really excited about it. It’s really in the earliest stages of everything still. Art is always a process, it’s constantly evolving. It really stems from some promotional photos I took for wrestling where I went out into the caves in Los Angeles, a sci-fi novel kind of inspired theme. It was the Bronson Cave and lots of Star Trek episodes were filmed there. Some Scorpion King stuff was filmed there. The cave itself posed as the Batcave in the sixties show. I went to a costume shop in Hollywood and I bought a mask of an owl, a cyclops, and an alien. I’m really big on peace and the Merry Pranksters, a group of psychedelic conductors who drove around in this tye dye bus dishing out free Electric Kool Aid. (laughs) It’s a fantastic part, really amazing. They also refer to themselves and the Intrepid Travelers. With the masks, it all came together as the initial idea for Hero of the Prophecy. I thought this is exactly who I am. I’ve always had this fascination with astronauts. In my opinion, they’re the most courageous means on this planet. It’s an opportunity where the astronauts get to a planet and they’re not sure if they’re gonna make it back or not. It’s a positive symbol, there’s nothing violent about an astronaut.

For the photo shoot, we were trying to hang off of cliffs and those shots were stupid. I was trying to direct all these neat shows and ended up saying, “Those were not very good shots!” (laughs) My first 8×10 in WWE was really generic, I was just in there posing with tights on, pouring this gallon of oil all over my body and my hair’s wet and I have a boner or something like that. (laughs) Like who would want this on the wall? Who would want this boner guy on their wall? You’re gonna invite your friends over and they see that on your wall, then what?  People thought it was from a show and we kind of just put our heads together and my brother really went to town with it, writing out the treatment where he created this world with a funny story. And we kind of morphed this story together where it’s Galaxy Quest meets Three Amigos meets The Wrestler. Anything out there now pales in comparison to what we just shot. It’s fun, we’re just having fun. Wrestlers, they’re really such barbarians, you know? Such bohemeths. One of the ideas for the show is to have my wrestling friends appear on Gahh’rul. There will be fun faces that will be recognized.

Alex Obert: So what music do you listen to?

Paul London: I’m a Faith No More fan through and through. I go all over the place. It kind of depends on my mood, jazz, some gospel? But I can always listen to Faith No More. I like older bands too like Camel, they’re kinda in the same era as Pink Floyd. Pink Floyd got a lot of the attention, but Camel was a pretty awesome band as well. Psychedelic rock is my favorite genre.

Alex Obert: What was the first concert you ever attended?

Paul London: It was Creed, but it was free. I think the openers were Soul Asylum and Collective Soul, they were much better. (laughs)

Alex Obert: What’s the best concert you ever attended?

Paul London: I went to the Faith No More reunion show at the Hollywood Palladium. They pulled a kid out from the audience to play the drumset and they improvised to whatever ability they had. They played so amazing. The whole concert was badass. There was a girl who looked light blue or purple and paramedics were working on her behind. I think it was the only time I’ve seen someone dead before, there was no way she was alive. I’ve got lots of concert experiences here in Austin too, which is where I live. It’s the musical capitol of the world. I have a friend who’s in a band called The Boxing Lesson, just incredible. His name’s Paul Waclawsky, he’s the guitarist. And when he plays, his hand looks like a spider. Just crawling up the guitar. He’s awesome. Like what can’t he do? (laughs) So I’m always really amazed. I’ve been fortunate enough to see him play live. There’s also another band called Mighty Mountain and they’re a pretty spectacular show. Austin is to musicians what LA is to actors.

Alex Obert: Have you ever been in a band?

Paul London: Just in my head. (laughs) I’ve always loved music and I always will. I would rather be on an island with music than with movies. I appreciate what musicians do. A lot of musicianship is finding what fits for you and matches your strengths and personality. Good music is emotion and you want that to come out of you, not just exact notes. Emotion makes anything better, in my opinion.

Alex Obert: Seeing as though you live in Austin, have you ever been to SXSW?

Paul London: No. (laughs) I have not. I’m not super duper big on massive gatherings. I went to Fun Fun Fun Fest last year. That was really cool. Got to see Gojira, Gojira’s amazing. Got to see Chromatics. I’ve seen Tenacious D play at the The Mohawk, that was really awesome. And then I had a match actually in the event. The guy I was wrestling was ACH, he’s really athletic. I kind of wanted to do everything out of the ring because we were at this festival, we were using trees and brawled into the mosh pit, the referee stayed with us the time and the cameraman, it was awesome. Even diving off the stage during the Chromatics set, which I feel a little bad about, but they popped. It was pretty badass. The crowd was into it! That was before all the Twinkies.

Alex Obert: How did you discover Tenacious D?

Paul London: Like most people, through being a fan of Jack Black. I knew he was also musically talented and that led to me discovering Tenacious D. I love Nacho Libre, by the way, one of my favorite films ever.

Alex Obert: Which Tenacious D song would you pick to be your entrance theme?

Paul London: Definitely not Tribute. But I would definitely lead in with the sound byte of Cock Pushups and pick a song from the first album.

Alex Obert: How are Paul London and Brian Kendrick similar to Jack Black and Kyle Gass?

Paul London: Just two dudes with varying attitudes who like to enjoy the luscious fruits of life.

Alex Obert: Do you have any memories of Ozzy Osbourne being backstage at Smackdown in 2007?

Paul London: My attention was more on Ozzy’s drummer, Mike Bordin. This is because he was is from Faith No More. I introduced myself, he was super cool, but I didn’t want to be an annoying fanboy.

Alex Obert: Before we wrap up, I must ask you, what is the meaning of life?

Paul London: I will let you know when I find it. It wouldn’t be accurate for me to tell you because it’ll be different for you and it is for me.

Alex Obert: Will you find the meaning of life on Hero of the Prophecy?

Paul London: That can very well be a clue to run with, I wouldn’t say to bank on it, but it might be something to look for in Gahh’rul. If you can’t really find the meaning of life in Murrica, why not jump to Gahh’rul? I mean sure enough, I think I might try Peru again first. In the meantime, we’ll kind of insinuate it instead. (laughs) At least our version of it. But good luck to everyone in their quest because it’s exciting.

Alex Obert: In closing, do you have any websites or any wrestling dates coming up?

Paul London: The dates in the US are a little sparse at the moment. I’ll be going to Europe from October to December for a tour, I will be all over the place. I’ll be in areas such as England, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Scotland. I’ll be in PCW, ICW, PWH, BCW, and SOW. I’ve got at least twenty dates booked over the three months. In the meantime, I’m gonna try to not eat a lot of cheese because you’ll notice it when I take my shirt off. I’ll throw my balls out, but how dare you see a little flab on my stomach. I’m on Twitter and its @LondonFu. Be sure to check out my Twitter for my wrestling dates ahead.

Alex Obert: Awesome! I love to thank you so much for your time.

Paul London: No, thank you! I’m real happy to talk with you.

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