The SmarK Rant For RF Video’s Shoot Interview With Raven – Part Deux

The SmarK Rant for RF Video’s Shoot Interview with Raven, Part Deux.

– I’ve been feeling kinda guilty lately because RF Video sends me buttloads of stuff and I never seem to get a chance to sit down and watch any of it, and since I specifically asked for this tape, I figure I should step up and review it. If you’re reading this, that means I’ve succeeded.

– This is the second part of the shoot interview, as the first one covered everything from his debut to ECW in 1997, and we start right away with the end of his ECW run

– He didn’t want to leave for WCW, but they just threw too much money at him. Poor bastard. Heyman claimed that Scotty was playing WCW against him, but he says their influence was waning anyway and he wanted out. Plus there was no one left to work with.

– He’s always refused to wrestle Sabu because he thinks it should be a pretty big deal the first time they do it. Thinks that Sabu got some bad business advice, which prevented him from ever breaking out.

– There was never any thought of going to the WWF, because they had no interest, and he was friends with DDP anyway. He doesn’t remember any promises because it was part of the “lost years” (ie, he was REALLY drunk most of the time). He was successful because he was able to play mindgames with the booking committee on the fly, before they had a chance to change their minds later. His description here is really funny. They (Terry Taylor & Kevin Sullivan) used to try to talk him into doing jobs for random people, just to see if he would. One time they finally talked him into putting Horace over with promises of using Horace in a big program later, and of course it went nowhere.

– He always got along with Taylor and Sullivan was a big influence on him, but they were never on the same page. He does his Sullivan impersonation here, and moves on to the Flock bitching about jobbing all the time, so they put Horace in the Flock, which lead to a running gag backstage where Raven denied knowing he was related to Hulk Hogan.

– He hates seeing guys getting repackaged week after week instead of letting them sit and building up anticipation with the fans again. Back to the Flock, as Saturn was the only guy who was allowed to get any heat, so he started choreographing the Flock run-ins to play to their strengths.

– He talks about the messed up politics of Kevin Sullivan, and how he wouldn’t let guys get over because it would hurt the “godlike” stature of people like Hogan and Nash. On the other hand, he thinks maybe Sullivan was just doing it to f*ck with him.

– He doesn’t remember much about the locker room attitude, due to drinking ridiculously excessive amounts of alcohol. Pancreatitis ended his drinking for good and put him in the hospital for weeks. And once he had to stop drinking, he switched to pills, and thus his memory is fried. WCW had no clue this stuff was going on. He mentions that HHH, Edge, Christian and Lance Storm don’t touch drugs or alcohol.

– He thought sitting in the front row and drinking for weeks on end was the best gig he ever had. It was Bischoff’s idea.

– He didn’t want Stevie, because they were on the outs at that point, but Disco talked Terry Taylor into signing him and putting him with Raven. Raven thinks Stevie had a lot of baggage coming in, and it hurt him.

– Raven’s Rules was Terry Taylor’s idea, because Raven himself is a great believer of doing stuff behind the ref’s back and he didn’t want that gimmick. He admits he stole the drop toehold spot from Shane Douglas.

– He thought the Dead Pool would be a cool name, but he doesn’t really remember what happened with it. He goes off on a tangent about how brilliant the original Doink character was. Can’t argue there. The name itself was kind of an inside rib, because the boys were betting on when people like Tammy & Chris were gonna drop dead.

– He talks about balancing his narcotics and being able to handle them.

– His favorite stuff was the match with Saturn at Fall Brawl ’98 (he can’t remember it, but I do, and it was quite the finish, the only high point of a bad PPV), and his least favorite was the shit from Raven’s “house” where he was talking to the camera and Kanyon was doing flips into the pool. He talks about the introduction of Chastity (original name: Chastity Slutworth) and how it was supposed to be the new version of Beulah.

– He talks about the cult of ECW and how it got much bigger long after it was dead, and Raven thought that the skits from his fake home would kill the mystique off.

– Onto the Gold Club in Atlanta – it was the hottest women in the city, and you could have sex right there in the club. Everything was comped for him, except for the hookers, which pissed him off, but he still had a 25% sex-per-visit rate for him. This leads to a story about bumping into a friend-of-a-friend years later, and the embarrassing revelation that she had blown him in the Gold Club years earlier. Onto a story about getting a blowjob and having a booking meeting with Disco at the same time. Funny stuff.

– Moving onto DDP, as they’d always argue about saving cool ideas for later (DDP) rather than using them right away (Raven). He really hated being fed to Goldberg 24 hours after beating DDP for the belt. He also hated Benoit getting treated like shit by management and jobbed out to Raven & DDP. They were trying to bring Benoit up to their level, but WCW killed him immediately afterwards with Scott Norton kicking out of his finish and squashing him. He thinks the fans saw through Benoit’s misuse and cheered him anyway. The feud with Benoit going through the Flock was done because Raven had the pancreatitis and couldn’t be on TV. Benoit didn’t like him, so Raven was worried Benoit would shoot on him when they finally wrestled. It worked out fine, though. Raven thinks Sullivan screwed Benoit over big-time. He hated being chopped, but Benoit didn’t care if you ripped into him.

– When he won the US title in 1998, no one told him he was dropping it to Goldberg the next night. He compares the US title situation to the Smoking Gunns, and how their was no one else to put the WWF tag titles on at the time. He does think his match with Goldberg was one of Goldberg’s only good matches. He was crushed when they told him they were taking it off him the next night, because there was no reason to and it was a vote of no-confidence in him. He tried to teach Goldberg how to sell, but he wouldn’t listen.

– He stops to take a call from Disco. Disco and Gabe cut mock promos on each other through Raven.

– Back to WCW, as he enjoyed the program with Saturn because he didn’t have to do any of the work. He was always taught a “less is more” philosophy in Portland, which carried through to the future and made him lazy. Well, at least he’s honest. He thinks that it saved his career, and the alcohol preserved his body by pickling it.

– He talks about the feud with Benoit & Malenko and what awesome heels they were. He became really good friends with Saturn, and their sense of humor matches. He relates a story about trying to get a cop to feed them a straight line for a Henny Youngman comedy routine.

– Onto the end of his WCW run, as he started a program with Roddy Piper that was supposed to elevate him into a top spot, with the blessing of Piper, but WCW wouldn’t let them, so Raven said “f*ck it” and quit. He thinks that Konnan and Jericho could have hung on top, too. Have to disagree with half of that claim.

– He talks about the big meeting with Bischoff, which came after a night of drugs and no sleep. He relates the whole story about going out with Disco and getting wasted on X and picking up a hooker and then going to the meeting in no mood for bullshit and smelling like someone had just died. So the first thing Bischoff says is “Raven, if you’re unhappy with the company, there’s the door”, and out he goes. Bischoff says the same thing to Konnan, and Raven turns around to comment, but no one is following him. Whoops. So he tells Bischoff that he’s going to the WWF, but Eric gets his attorney to sandbag him and prevent him from going after telling him that he could leave. Eric tried pitching an idea about working a program with Gene Simmons and possessing people’s souls and stuff, but it would turn out that Dustin Rhodes (as Se7en) would be pulling all the strings. And off to ECW he went. The moral: Don’t do Ecstacy all night with an Entertainment Weekly in your pocket and get no sleep before making a big business move.

– So he calls Paul E, who offers him a contract on the spot, and that was that. There wasn’t really any bad blood when he came back, but then he thinks he gets away with a lot of shit because people are used to his bullshit. However, he didn’t realize that Paul was creatively tapped out at that point and regrets going in retrospect. When Paul stopped caring, so did he, and Raven thinks that Paul thinks that Raven stopped caring first. Okay then.

– He talks about the angle where he returned for the first TNN show. It was Paul’s idea to team with Dreamer, and he and Tommy would always be on opposite pages during booking meetings.

– The memory is REALLY shaky of the whole ECW stay, as he was close to being dead in a gutter every day because of being a junkie. He finally stopped and added up the quantity of drugs he did every day (including drugs that were the equivalent of 240 Percocet EVERY DAY – Holy FUCK) and scared himself into quitting. So he told everyone he was quitting in six weeks and gave everyone a countdown, which no one believed, and then he did, to everyone’s shock. The people at the clinic didn’t even believe it was humanly possible to do that much and thought he was lying about it. He talks about going through withdrawal and how it was the most painful experience of his life. He blames the doctor. He fought through it, and now he’s okay.

– He jokes that the drug test in ECW was to see who WASN’T on drugs. Sandman and Fonzie helped him out when he was quitting, and he doesn’t want to tell any drug stories for fear of incriminating anyone.

– He stops to rib Feinstein about his affair with a porn star, which was funny to him because everyone thought that RF was gay.

– All he remembers from ECW in 2000 was putting over Riggs and finally quitting and going to the WWF. He cuts a promo on Paul because he said Raven treated ECW like a paid vacation between WCW and the WWF. He talks about how Paul claimed he was going to LA to find investors but made Rollerball, and that Dreamer could have brought in his rich investor friends and saved the company, but Paul didn’t want anyone else to have his toy.

– Talks about not liking the ramp in the latter days of the company, and how he jobbed to the ring 3 or 4 times as a result of it. He was in his “Jim Morrison phase” at that point and had trouble with leather pants. More funny stuff.

– He talks about Tommy Dreamer and how the business has made him jaded and cynical through the years, and ruined their relationship as a result.

– Onto Mike Awesome, who didn’t have the “X factor” (ie, charisma) that made people want to pay money to see him. He thinks Jericho has it.

– In retrospect, he wishes he hadn’t gone back to ECW. It made his drug problems worse and ruined his relationship with Paul. He thinks Paul was using his problems with TNN as a crutch and wouldn’t pass the torch creatively to anyone else.

– He talks about the evolution of the snot rag gimmick, which I’m kinda surprised never made it into the WWF run. This leads into a discussion about knowing your audience and how it wasn’t the right time.

– Russo tried to sign him for WCW, but he had to make it in the WWF just to prove to himself that he could. No one wanted to hire him, but he talked to JR and offered to work for free if necessary, so JR offered him $75,000 a year as a downside just because they were scared about the same thing happening to Raven as happened to Regal. Heyman owed him $78,000 when he left, FYI.

– He immediately had heat with Vince, who asked “Who the f*ck hired Raven?” when he showed up at a booking meeting the first week. No one backstage really had any idea about his problems.

– Unfortunately for him, he showed up just as the business was about to take the biggest tumble in the company’s history. Raven doesn’t think Russo is entirely to blame for the woes of the business. He stuck around long enough to make his downside, and then got jobbed out because Vince hates him.

– Talks about bad ideas he got stuck with, like JT Southern in WCW and Tori the Ninja in the WWF. Oh man, forgot about that one. That was Tori’s idea, by the way – she wanted to be a ninja. Not Torrie Wilson, by the way, for those who doesn’t remember her. He calls her a very bad word and talks about her f*cking up at least one spot per match, which led to Tori bitching to the office about Raven’s yelling at her.

– Onto Perry Saturn and Moppy and the general shittiness of the WWF’s treatment of his ideas. He stands by Rhyno v. Raven as the greatest hardcore match there’s ever been. He discusses the absurdity of having to write his own storyline for the writers. It was a major downer to find out that the run he’d been looking for all his life was just a sad and depressing joke.

– He talks about the end of the hardcore division and how it was getting watered down anyway. He was totally cool with getting thrown through a plate glass window at Wrestlemania, but he f*cked up the golf cart spot (and came within an inch of cutting off the power for the entire show and thus killing Wrestlemania). He relates another story about planning a firehose spot with Al Snow at MSG that would have gotten them kicked out of the Garden on the spot and probably ended his career as a result. He pretty much had 100% control of his shit during his hardcore run and he thinks it was the only fun part of the run.

– He thinks the Alliance was “f*cking horseshit” and Vince’s ego got in the way of millions of dollars of easy money. He was getting depressed and alienating his friends at that point because things were getting so bad for the undercard guys who weren’t allowed to get anywhere. They offered him a commentator spot (which he was awesome at) but he didn’t want to do that. He thinks it’s cool that Tazz has found his niche as a commentator. So he pitched the famous Se7en storyline to Vince, which impressed him so much that he offered Raven a spot on the writing team, but it ended up watered down. He stops to call Brian Gerwirtz an idiot who f*cked him over. Anyway, he talks about his character wanting to cause psychological damage to his opponents as opposed to just simple physical damage, vis-à-vis using the seven deadly sins to hurt them. He relates the big finish using Matt & Lita as an example, and it’s REALLY cool stuff. Stephanie shot it down because there was nowhere else to go, and that was that. He also came up with a program to turn Hurricane heel, and Hurricane would in turn, turn on Raven, leaving him in limbo and free to leave the company. However, Brian shot him down because Hurricane was his creation and he didn’t want to ruin it. Then, Brian came up with a lame storyline where Hurricane would turn heel after getting rejected by Trish, which Raven dissects for us on the spot.

– He thinks Brian is a great yes-man who says what Vince wants to hear, and thus he keeps his spot, and the writers all look down on the talent because they consider them to be beneath them. He ran his Hurricane idea past Vince, and two days later he was fired.

– Vince told him to refuse to put Lawler over in Memphis (the angle where Raven quit Heat), which Lawler interpreted as Raven refusing to job. Raven doesn’t think Vince actually knows Raven was in WCW as a feature player and might think he was in ECW for seven years or something. He stops to point out that Ed Koskey (who he calls “Ed the writer”) was the only writer actually on his side, but he wasn’t able to go over Brian & Stephanie’s head and pull the trigger on the big storyline.

– Had he known indies paid as well as they do, he would have quit long before he did. He loves the storyline aspect of TNA, but the money on the indies and teaching the young guys to work is great as well.

– Talks about putting CM Punk over for ROH because he needed the rub and fans wouldn’t expect it. He hates when the internet and sheets ruin surprises because deep down we want to be surprised. He didn’t have a 90-day clause with the WWE, but he can’t really talk about that whole situation.

– He likes the TNA product, but hated it when he first started, specifically the Dupp Cup. He thinks the X division lacks psychology, outside of AJ Styles. He thinks that Chris Daniels isn’t as great as the internet claims, ditto Ron Killings, because they’re not fully-formed as workers yet. This leads to a discussion about how restholds are making a comeback because of the turnover of the wrestling audience. This leads into a discussion of psychology in general and the stuff he’s learned over the years.

– Final words: “Go f*ck yourself, Gabe!” He also tries hypnotizing the viewer and wants to do a character based on Henry Winkler on The One and Only.

The Bottom Line:

Another slam-bang 2.5 hours from Raven, as he’s definitely not afraid to share his thoughts on anything and anyone involved in wrestling. It’s also kind of a sad and scary story about a guy who destroyed his body for years dreaming of making it in the WWE, only to clean up his act and find out that it was the same shithole that the other promotions were.

Just like the first volume, this one is highly recommended, and you can pick it up at www.rfvideo.com.