Raven & Justin Credible Interview
Rick Scaia: Alright, since you mentioned it, you go way back with Brian [Pillman], back to your early 90’s WCW days, do you…..
Raven: [Interrupting] Me and Pillman were really good friends. To be honest with you, I would have loved to have done this show, but I was never asked to, and it seemed like I was always tied up with something else, anyway, so I never really got to do it. So I’m really glad they put me on. But it was really odd, cuz no one really told me I was doing it. I found out third hand…
Me and Pillman spent a lot of time together, me and him and Austin used to ride together all the time. Ah, he was a good guy. It’s a shame, it really is.
You guys were there at the start of one of the incarnations of WCW’s cruiserweight division…
RV: [Interrupting] Well, you know, the problem is, there was a cruiserweight division for years, but it was a joke. Then they decided to give it to Brian, give him his own division because they thought he was too small to work with the heavyweights, which is wrong. They wanted to give him something so he could some some level of status commensurate with his talent. They just kept giving him a bunch of Japanese opponents so he could have high flying matches, which he didn’t want to do. He wanted to have angles and stuff, so he was a big lobbyist for me to come in. He wanted to work with me so he could do programs and angles and stuff, instead of just him and Japanese guys flip-flop-and-flying. That was pretty cool of him.
But yeah, there was also a cruiserweight division for years. Hector Guerrero, Lazertron, even Denny Brown… but it was basically a glorified jobber thing. Even with Pillman, they didn’t utilize it. Until he started working with Austin, he really didn’t get used the way he should have been.
I know those high-flying matches really gave Brian his start, but especially after the leg injury, he was definitely going in a different direction and was gaining notariety for his creativity and his characterizations. Given the way the business has changed in the past few years, how do you think Brian would have fit in?
RV: Oh, I don’t see why he would have stopped being a success. I mean, what nobody seems to understand about his business is that it has nothing to do with wrestling. It’s entertainment. If you can wrestle, that’s just icing on the cake. Well, I mean, you DO have to be able to wrestle… but what I’m saying is it’s character driven — NOT gimmick driven — but character driven, and there’s a major difference. Brian was a character, he wasn’t a gimmick. So as long as you’re a character and you have a point of view and you’re interesting, people are gonna wanna watch it. So unquestionably he would stay over because he was such a fascinating individual… I mean, there are a lot of fascinating individuals, but that doesn’t always come across on television. Brian obviously did, so there’s no reason to ever think that that would have ceased.
As you guys come here tonight, are there any particular matches you’re looking forward to watching?
RV: I don’t even know what the card is. They didn’t tell me. I mean, I was given zero information from my company, I was told nothing. I wasn’t told the name of the building or where it was. I tried calling the company, but nobody would call me back. If I hadn’t had somebody from WCW on the flight, I wouldn’t even have been able to make it here. I’d still be at the airport, hoping to see somebody so that I could find out where I was wrestling at.
I don’t even have any idea who’s here… no idea at all.
How about you, Justin… you didn’t really cross paths with him, but do you have any memories of Brian Pillman, anything that drew you here tonight?
Justin Credible: Unfortunately, I didn’t really get to know Brian…
RV: [Interrupting…] You didn’t really get to know me, either, did you?
JC: [Laughing] Well, that’s another situation… [Raven chimes in that this was an “Inside joke.”] But I didn’t really get to know him well. When I was on my way out of the WWF, he was just coming in. I was a huge fan of Brian’s work. He was a tremendous guy from what I hear, but unfortunately, I didn’t really get to meet him or work with him. But I’m here, obviously representing ECW, and for a good cause. Brian Pillman was a true original in this business, and like Raven was saying, he did a lot for this industry. So we’re just giving back to the business and to his family. It’s a pretty cool deal.
While I was talking with Raven, I saw you step over there to have a few words with Shane Douglas… are there any other guys you’re hoping to see?
JC: Well, just everybody really… there’s a lot of guys here I’m hoping to meet that I haven’t met, yet. Guys like Ricky Steamboat….
RV: [Interrupting…] You actually know who’s here? I have NO idea who’s here.
JC: Well, the internet tells me everything… [chuckling] that’s where I get my directions and my bookings…
RV: Maybe if I even knew how to turn my computer on…. you know, I haven’t seen a booking sheet… I wouldn’t even know where we’re at tomorrow night if Les [Thatcher] hadn’t told me we were in Toledo. Nobody told me. [Laughs]
JC: [Trying to get back on track] But yeah, guys like Steamboat, Flair…..
RV: [Trying to stay off track] I’m not kidding, I’m serious. I haven’t seen a booking sheet in months.
JC: That’s true… but yeah, guys like Steamboat and Flair.
OK, I’ll try to talk around this a little bit, but given Raven’s situation and the fact that a lot of these fans probably know about it, what can we expect to see out of you guys tonight to keep them interested even if they think they know the outcome?
JC: Same thing we always do…
RV: Yeah, same thing we always do…
JC: The standard “ECW Style Classic.”
RV: Yes, yes, the standard Dog and Pony Show finish…
JC: Just with no dogs and no ponies…
Yeah, I don’t think you could put that on a family show, anyway…
RV: Maybe we’ll get some of the underneath guys to run interference and be the dogs and ponies…..
Switching gears a little bit, I’d like to hear from you, Justin, on your thoughts about your first month or so as ECW Champ… how do you think the fans are perceiving you? Has anything changed in that regard?
JC: Not really, it’s pretty much the same old thing, you know….
Then how do you see your reign progressing as time goes on? Have you got any specific goals or….
JC: [Jumping in….] I just want to keep doing what….
RV: [Interrupting] No, his plans are to sink like a rock. Straight to the bottom. That’s his goal. I don’t mean to be insulting, but this line of questioning, it seems rather “state the obvious.” I don’t mean to insult you, you might do phenomenal work — I just don’t get on the internet — but these questions seem ill-prepared. I mean, what are YOUR goals with this interview?
[Admittedly getting defensive] Well, you told me to stay away from controversial questions….
JC: If it’ll help, I guess you can be controversial with me…. [LAUGHS]
RV: Yeah, be controversial with him!
Alright, then let me rephrase my previous thought in a slightly more confrontational way: given the apparent revolving door talent policy in ECW and the company’s hesitation to use guys like Raven or the Sandman in the top spots, just who the hell do you see yourself able to sell pay-per-views with over the next few months, Justin? I think the talent pool at the top level is getting kind of shallow….
JC: Well, obviously there’s Rob Van Dam…
So you see a money feud with RVD down the line?
JC: Not for a while, but yeah, it’s there…
Because that really does seem like a major problem to me for you guys… I mean, some of the guys who COULD help you sell tickets [gesturing over to Raven] aren’t even being put in the position to help you do that. RVD is maybe the one major exception.
JC: Right now, we got a lot of things going against us. And not to get any heat upon myself, but there’s just a lot of stuff that we need to get straight, especially as far as TNN goes. [Trailing off…]
RV: [Addressing me directly….] See, that’s all I’m talking about… you can be interesting or controversial without…. your job as the reporter, once you find out there’s going to be ground rules, is to find a way to work around them. Loopholes. All you had to do was look for them.
I mean, you always have limitations. In the ring, I mean, if somebody hurt or the crowd’s not buying it or whatever, we have to work around that. I’m just saying, you’re given certain guidelines because of positions we’re in, but I would still make sure I had creative enough stuff to make for a fascinating interview. I’m just a big fan of anything interesting or clever, and I hate anything that isn’t. In fact, if it isn’t creative or clever, I don’t even want to be bothered, because it’s useless and a waste of time and/or energy.
I get asked questions all the time, just the most rote, mundane questions ever, and I’m like, “What do you expect me to say?”. I’s rather somebody ask me something probing or insightful. And it doesn’t even have to be controversial to be that. Everybody thinks it does, but you can have an intelligent discourse without going into anything that’s gonna get some guy heat with the office.
[Desperately trying to stumble upon an intelligent line of questioning…] Does that obsession with creativity, does that have anything to do with your aspirations in this business?
RV: Sure… if you watch my matches, you’ll see that my matches always build to a creative crescendo. And that’s designed that way. I don’t want the match to start at a certain level and then end at the same level, I want it to build to a peak. I mean, you go to a movie like “Gladiator,” and it starts out with all the action, but then it settles down, the guy gets everything taken away and then he fights his way back to the top and it builds to a sense of dramatic conclusion. I don’t think the violence was gratuitous, either. I think it fit the movie. That’s just a phenomenal example of storytelling, which is also what we do in this business. I think Ridley Scott outdid himself, from all aspects, whether its the music he chose or the locations or the special effects. But all those things factor in…
[Justin, who had been talking with other fans on the fringe of this conversation with Raven, turned to us and announced he was “tagging out.” Thanks to Justin for his participation….]
RV: [continuing] I mean, watch the WWF product. Their last show, the finish to the main event was just extraordinary. Michaels gets knocked out, misses the big run in from the heels. Then the babyface gets the helping hand — and even though it’s two-against-seven, they previal, and the place is going ballistic — and as Undertaker picks Hunter up, Shawn disqualifies the Rock as time runs out. It’s so phenomenal. Fans are like “son of a bitch,” you know what I mean? “It’s the bad guys who started this!” It was so damned clever.
I think that’s what this business needs, and that’s why I love watching the WWF, because it’s so damned clever and creative. If I go to a movie, and it isn’t that way, then I could really be occupying my time with much better pursuits.
Do you see any creative limitations in the genre of “sports entertainment”? I mean, the good guys usually have to be kinda dumb and trust the wrong guys, the bad guys always….
RV: [Jumping in] Don’t all stories break down breakdown to the same archetype? All things break down on that theme, things you can see in the Star Wars movies, or in Gladiator. There’s only so many themes, it’s how clever and creative you use them. And as long as you’re creative, you can use the same theme over and over. It’s like Shakespeare: boy-meets-girl, there’s that one. Then there’s the father one… I think it’s the Tempest… do you know Shakespeare?
Actually, I’m still pretty familiar with MacBeth and Henry V…. but I can’t help you out on the Tempest.
RV: Ah, well, it escapes me at the minute. But as I’m saying, there’s certain themes that are universal.
So the limitations on this genre are just the same as on any other form of drama or entertainment? Not even the wrestling-specific cliches like….
RV: Listen, you’re only limited by your imagination. That’s all.
I think there’s maybe more depth here to go into, but I will definitely agree with you that the finish to that Iron Man match was an outstanding example of creative and effective storytelling.
RV: Yeah, just extraordinary… see, this is what I’m talking about. You could ask me questions like this, and I’ll discuss this all day. It’s an intelligent discourse, and it didn’t have to be controversial. The problem is, people usually just ask me boring questions. It just bores me.
Well, I think part of the problem might be trying to live up to what the readers kind of expect, or even what you guys expect from us….
RV: Why would you expect that? I mean you see me on TV, I like to think I come across as an intelligent guy. Why would you want to ask me boring questions?
I’m not saying I want to bore you, and obviously now I know much better… but in other cases, it might just seem polite to ask softball questions and record the prepared answer.
RV: But if all I’m going to do is give you a prepared response, do you really want to print that? Do people want to read it?
I think to some extent, a canned line of questions is something that people would prefer to read. I mean, we started this off with some pretty standard stuff, but it’s material that will appeal to most wrestling fans even if it is obvious. Then we started to get into this more “interesting” stuff, and I can actually see people clicking to a different page because it’s not about… I don’t know, it’s just that if did a website the way I want and did all my interviews like this, instead of trying to temper my style, I don’t think I’d have very many readers.
RV: Well, how are you gonna know until you try?
I don’t know… I look it like this: I was sent here to do a job. “Get the good stuff,” I was told. That means falling back on a certain type of questioning, I think, although I wasn’t at liberty to really exercise that with you. I mean, I could do this type of conversation all day, too. I just don’t know if it conforms to what most fans think of as “the good stuff.” And I do know that what I WASN’T sent here to do was to schmooze and hang out…
RV: [Chuckling] Not to schmooze or hang out, eh? [At this point, Raven was being called away to do a photo shoot, and had to wrap it up.] Well, that still doesn’t mean you can’t be creative and clever. I just think this is so much more interesting….
I’ll definitely take that under consideration as I continue talking with guys today… I apologize if I bored you there for a while, but before you take off, I just want to thank you for your time. I’m sure our readers would do the same, if they actually make it all the way to the end of this interview!
RV: No problem….