Following up on last year’s hit interview with Ken Anderson, I sat down with him after his match at the Revival Pro Wrestling event this past weekend to pick up where we left off. We covered everything from Impact Wrestling in 2015 to his new podcast to his time in WWE and so much more. I guarantee you, this is a must read!
Alex Obert: It’s been a big couple of months for Impact Wrestling. In the past couple of weeks, there’s been major things going on. First of all, what are your thoughts on Drew Galloway coming to the company?
Ken Anderson: I didn’t watch WWE after I left. And that’s when he really started to get a good push. So I didn’t know too much about him, I had heard people say good things about him though. As a performer, it’s hard to sometimes gauge how good a person is based on crowd reaction alone. I didn’t realize how good he actually was. I got a chance to see him perform over in the UK, sort of in his home country. He’s great on the mic, he’s great at storytelling and he’s really solid with everything he does in the ring. Nothing looks phoned in or bullshit, it looks like a real fight, which I prefer.
Alex Obert: I recall he had some matches on Heat while you were on the RAW roster. Did you run into him backstage?
Ken Anderson: Very briefly. He had just come up and I had been there for a while. You’re so busy when you’re backstage at a RAW or at a Smackdown. They’re always bringing up new talent and I always try to be nice to everybody. I try to talk to everybody as much as I can. But at the time, if memory serves me correctly, I was at the stage where I was just existing at that point. I was sort of bummed out by the way things had happened. You get frustrated and you just punch the clock. It sucks to say because this is my dream job, it just goes to show that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Another one of the things that frustrated me was everything that brought me to the dance in the first place, I was told to stop doing all that stuff. “Do it this way, don’t do it that way. What you’re doing is wrong.” I did it on Smackdown for a couple years. Taker, Batista, Rey Mysterio, Bob Holly, Chris Benoit, Kane, Booker T, all those guys loved working with me and had no problems working with me. I went over to RAW and suddenly I don’t know how to work or wrestle or do my thing. I was told don’t do it this way, do it that way. That to me was frustrating because all I wanted to do was entertain.
Alex Obert: I noticed that there was a change in your character going from what got you over in the first place to being more serious. Was that a result of telling you to tone it down?
Ken Anderson: Yeah. Just be serious and stop being so funny, which to a degree, I agree with, but there is a time and place for it. It’s the way you present yourself. Look, Rock is funny all the time, but he’s still believable. I still believe that he can kick somebody’s ass and I still believe that he’s pissed at John Cena when he’s pissed at John Cena. I think there’s a time and place for it and I was told don’t do any of it, that’s it, done. Done with it. The stuff that got you here and got you recognized and noticed, stop doing all of it. It was just so frustrating to me. In hindsight, I didn’t have the balls at the time to stand up and say no and let me sink or swim on my own, give me the opportunity. If I shit the bed and the crowd shits all over me, good, then you can fire me and I’ll go home. I wish I could go back and do that now.
Alex Obert: How did you pick yourself up after you got released from the WWE in 2009?
Ken Anderson: I had a conversation a few months earlier with a veteran, whom I had trusted and admired and respected deeply. They had suggested that I leave, quit and get out of my contract somehow, then go to TNA and make a name for myself there and let things cool off. There were certain people backstage that just didn’t like me and I had rubbed them the wrong way for whatever reason. He thought I should just go in, let things cool off and I could come back at some point. You’re making good money when you’re on the road, it’s really hard to pull that trigger. This is the job that I strived for for six and a half years on the independent scene. It’s really hard to say “You know what, I’m out. I’m gonna quit, I’m gonna go do something else.” Again in hindsight, I probably should have done that. But it is what it is. The initial phone call was punch in the guts and sort of hard to take. About three days later though, I felt like a giant weight had been lifted off my chest because I was so stressed out and bummed out for the last year of my contract there. I was sort of relieved, to be honest with you.
Alex Obert: When you arrived in TNA, what were the major differences you noticed right away? WWE was telling you to do it this way and not that way.
Ken Anderson: They were telling me just the opposite. They said they would put bullet points down on my promos to let me know where they were going with the main story, they told me however I decided to get there was up to me. A lot of times, I would call Paul Heyman and ask him what he would do in this situation. I told him what they had for me and we would talk almost every week. Paul Heyman was responsible for helping me with a lot of the stuff that was coming out of my mouth in the early days at TNA.
Alex Obert: There’s been more big news in TNA over the past couple of weeks. Samoa Joe has left the company, what are your thoughts on that?
Ken Anderson: I love Joe to death. I think that no matter what happens, he’s just a tremendous talent and he’ll be sought after. It’s always hard to take that step into the unknown, but he did it and I respect the fact that he had the balls to do it. He just said “You know what, I’m gonna leave and try some different things.” I think that even if he went around and did independents, he would be just as successful as Colt Cabana in that regard.
Alex Obert: But what about the other side of the spectrum with a potential shot in the WWE? You think you could happen?
Ken Anderson: I think so. I absolutely think it could happen. And I hope it does for him. I hope if it does, he’ll have a good experience there and I hope they’ll treat them well. Joe’s a guy that will stand up for himself too.
Alex Obert: You’re currently involved in a program with EC3. I remember you putting him over during our last interview and that was when he just arrived. What are your thoughts on working with him now?
Ken Anderson: It’s great. I can’t wait to get in there and actually have matches with him and tell stories. I think that he’s very talented. I think he’s one of the greatest guys that we have on the mic. He’s fantastic at storytelling. He can go out there and make me feel a multitude of emotions. A lot of wrestlers are just good at being mad and angry and frustrated and angry and mad. EC3 can take you on that roller coaster ride that we need to take our fans on. I’m really looking forward to it.
Alex Obert: Once you found out he was getting signed, did you take a look at videos of his run on NXT? He reminded me a lot of how you were when you debuted in the WWE with an over the top personality that quickly got him over.
Ken Anderson: No, I’ve never. I’ve talked about it with him briefly. I’ve never actually seen anything he did in the WWE. I know it was pretty short-lived.
Alex Obert: What are your thoughts on Samuel Shaw?
Ken Anderson: Samuel is awesome. He’s become a good friend of mine. He’s just a good guy. He’s hungry and always constantly learning. It’s fun being around him. It’s fun having him in the locker room. And I’m looking forward to the evolution of his character because at a certain level, there’s only so much you can do with being the creep. How many girls can you creep upon before the other one sort of take the hint and just shy away. So it’ll be interesting to see where he goes and how he evolves his character.
Alex Obert: The one wrestler that has captured my attention the most on Impact within the past year is Rockstar Spud. Another guy with the great mic skills and a plethora of emotions. How you feel about him?
Ken Anderson: He’s one of my favorite guys in the company right now. He’s so passionate about the business. The guy knows more about the business than just about anybody that I know except for Tommy Dreamer, that’s a shoot. He still just lives, breathes, eats, shits the business. He always talks about the business. Sometimes it’s like “Okay, let’s talk about something else!” And he gets it. He gets the fact that we’re telling the story of good versus evil. Sometimes you’ve gotta be the receiver of the shitstorm and sometimes you’ve gotta be the giver. He knows when it’s his turn.
Alex Obert: Before we get into Push the Button, I wanted to discuss your recent appearance on Goldberg’s podcast. How was that set up?
Ken Anderson: I met Goldberg a couple years ago at a convention in Philly and we just hit it off. As I said in the podcast, I didn’t know what to expect because I hadn’t really heard any stories about how he was behind the scenes. It seems like he was kind of a hardass and took himself too seriously. Not at all. I couldn’t be further from the truth. Just a down to earth super cool guy.
Alex Obert: While I was listening to your appearance, I had this vision in my mind of Goldberg being TNA’s Rock or Brock Lesnar as the Bound for Glory headliner with that one big match. He’s definitely a special attraction.
Ken Anderson: I think Bill is done wrestling. I don’t think he wants to wrestle anymore. I think he’s happy where he is at. I don’t want our company to copy what the other company is doing. I want us to stand on our own and do our own thing.
Alex Obert: There is a big youth movement going on in TNA right now. You have your five or six long time veterans and a good majority of the roster are making names for themselves. Far different from 2010.
Ken Anderson: Yes, definitely. And I don’t have a problem with that at all. I’ve always said that if you can take my spot, come take my spot from me. I feel confident that you won’t, but try. I think the way it is right now in TNA, if you’re a young talent, the sky is the limit. They literally are saying to do your thing and sink or swim on your own accord.
Alex Obert: When we spoke last, we had discussed the possibility of you starting a podcast. And now you have. How did it all come about?
Ken Anderson: So I went to a convention in Chicago and I ended up running into a guy, David, who has a podcast network. He was a wrestling fan and he recognized me when I approached him. I had been thinking of going over to talk to him, so I just went over and pitched him the idea. I told him I’d like to do a podcast and he looked at me like “Here we go, another wrestling podcast…” I told him that I don’t want to talk about wrestling. I told him that I wanted to talk about religion, politics, stuff like that. Stuff that you’re not supposed to talk about at the dinner table. People’s religions and things that happen in the political world are the most important things that happen in our lives to a large degree, but we’re not supposed to talk about them. I disagree. I think we can talk about them and be respectful towards each other. So that’s how it came about. When I pitched him the idea, he absolutely loved it and ended up cohosting the podcast with me. He had told me that he was kicking around the idea of doing that type of show himself for a long time and he said he would love to do it with me. Then I dragged my feet for maybe a month and I finally called him and we talked about it for an hour or so. I wanted to hold off on doing the first episode because I wanted to make sure that everything was perfect. Thankfully he’s had a lot of experience doing this stuff, so he said, “Look, let’s just start it and we’ll fix it as we go along.” That’s what’s happened and it’s been fantastic.
Alex Obert: What has the feedback and from friends and other wrestlers?
Ken Anderson: Those that have listened have enjoyed it. It’s led to some further conversation in the locker rooms and stuff like that. I haven’t heard any real negative feedback. We heard from one Christian a few weeks ago that David’s not a strong enough Christian and that he’s not doing it right. It was a criticism that he would just lay down and let me walk all over him. I don’t believe that’s accurate. He’s just got a very open mind and he’s very thoughtful about everything.
Alex Obert: How would you further describe Push the Button for readers that have yet to give it a listen?
Ken Anderson: It just turns out that he happens to be a Christian and I’m an atheist. We disagree, but we get along. We’ve never been mad at each other. I think that if you get so worked up about your beliefs or your opinions, it might be a sign that something’s bothering you about it. Don’t you shut down, think about it and talk about it. On Push the Button, we discuss all kinds of relevant issues. We talk about things like the Ten Commandments. And I say that the Ten Commandments that people are familiar with are not the actual Ten Commandments. I get into great detail about that. We talk about the stuff going on right now in the Middle East with ISIS and Israel. We’ve talked about the situation with the Michael Brown case and the other cases such as I Can’t Breathe in New York, those kinds of things. We talked about Edward Snowden in one episode and whether he’s a traitor or hero.
Alex Obert: Any plans to talk about Brian Williams?
Ken Anderson: Definitely could. We’re supposed to have three branches of government, we’ve got four now. We’ve got the Judicial, the Executive, the Legislative and the media branch of the government. It really seems like one hand is washing the other, whether it’s Fox News or CNN or MSNBC. I’ll give you access to me, as a senator, I’ll come on your show and be interviewed, but you have to paint me in a certain way. And I think that’s just bullshit.
Alex Obert: Tying into the theme of politics, Jon Stewart has been teasing a program with Seth Rollins. That’s interesting!
Ken Anderson: I just saw his little promo on the way over here today. I loved it. Any time that wrestling can get a little crossover and rub elbows with some mainstream guys, it’s great. And Jon Stewart is as mainstream as it gets. Most people get their news from Jon Stewart and Colbert. They don’t actually watch the news, they watch those two shows.
Alex Obert: Another wrestler that has broken out into another field of entertainment over the past year is Batista. How do you feel about that?
Ken Anderson: I couldn’t be happier for my friend. I was practically married to him for about a year in WWE. I took about a thousand spinebusters and Batista Bombs and chairshots and all kinds of other stuff from him. I’ve watched Guardians of the Galaxy three times now and I smile ear to ear because it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy, to a better guy. He deserves everything that he gets. And now he’s in the UK filming for the new James Bond movie. He’s just a great guy.
Alex Obert: Along with the podcast, have you considered getting into voice acting?
Ken Anderson: I have. I actually have a voice reel. My agency submits talents for voice work. It’s just a really hard field to break into. It’s a really, really tightknit community. Everybody wants to do it. I’ve been trying to work on my skills. A lot of times, I’ll read books out loud. I find that my podcast helps me with certain things. I’m just trying to continue to hone my skills. That’s definitely something that I’m interested in.
Alex Obert: Before we wrap up, I wanted to get your thoughts on this. What are the dos and don’ts when approaching a wrestler in public?
Ken Anderson: Just try to be as normal as possible. Try to be respectful. I think in general, most people are. I haven’t run into too many fans who were disrespectful. If they were disrespectful, I think it was unintentional. I think that a lot of times, people just don’t have certain social graces and haven’t been brought up a certain way. They may never have experienced being around a celebrity, so to speak. And so they just don’t know how to handle themselves. I tend to give them a little bit of leeway. However, there was one instance where I was in a Gamestop in Detroit for Wrestlemania weekend, this was several years ago. This woman came up to me, pointed at me and she said “You’re not going anywhere!” And then she turned around and walked away. My blood started to boil a little bit, I started to get a little hot. I was gonna dress her down when she came back to me. But then she went over and grabbed her five year old son. I remember thinking “Alright, I’m gonna let it go this time. I’m not gonna punish a five year old son because mom doesn’t know how to behave.” Situations like that, nobody owes anyone anything, that’s how I feel. We don’t have to sign anything. Yes, our fans pay our bills, so to speak, but we go out there and crush ourselves, injure our bodies and put our lives on the line. We also spend time away from our families and things like that. I don’t have a problem with giving back to the fans, I love giving back to the fans, but don’t expect anything. Never expect anything and you won’t be let down.
Alex Obert: In closing, what do you have to say to those that are tuning in to the new chapter of Impact Wrestling? Fans have been vocal about the company, but things are looking up.
Ken Anderson: I always say that I don’t understand the mentality that people have where it’s almost as if they clamor for the demise of the alternative product. I think that wrestling fans, in general, are never gonna be happy. Especially the internet wrestling fans, they’re just most vocal and they think they know everything about our business. They know a lot, a lot more than the average viewer, but they don’t know everything. They don’t know all the particulars about why it is and what we do. I always say that if you feel like you have the better formula, then start your own business. Start your own company. You’re free to do that, it’s America. The decisions that the company has made and Dixie Carter and those on her behalf have made, we did the best with the hand we dealt ourselves. Circumstances happen, but we’re still here. People have been calling for the end of TNA since it first started, they said it would only be around for a few months. They kept on saying and saying that it was almost done and that this or that was the final straw. We happen to be on a network right now that has a significantly smaller reach than Spike. But I think that’s a good thing. I always think companies do their best work when their back is in the corner. I always feel like I do my best work when my back is in the corner. When I came to TNA, I had an axe to grind. I was pissed off. I was bitter. And it helped me and my character. It helped me with things I was saying and doing on television. In that same regard, you’ll see the same thing with TNA on Destination America. If people don’t get the network, call your cable provider and ask them to start carrying it. If more people do that, they will eventually do it. There’s a little news network called TheBlaze that was started up by Glenn Beck and it was just an online thing. Now it’s on Dish Network and I believe it’s replacing Fox News on DIRECTV. And that’s because the viewers, the fans, kept calling their cable providers and saying they want this.
Alex Obert: I’d love to thank you so much for your time.
Ken Anderson: Yeah, absolutely. Good talking to you again.
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