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The Art of Wrestling with Colt Cabana
Episode 323– Billy Gunn
October 13, 2016
Report by Chris Davidson, PWTorch.com / PWPodcast.com contributor
-Billy Gunn talks early career, drug addiction, and recent WWE exit
-Colt Cabana announces the release of “Wrestling Road Diaries 3”
KEY TIME STAMP GUIDE
0:00 – Introduction
7:19 – Song of the week
10:56 – Billy Gunn interview
15:38 – Billy Gunn talks studying wrestling and coaching
20:16 – Billy Gunn talks growing up
27:35 – Billy Gunn talks getting into wrestling
38:47 – Billy Gunn talks going to WWE
50:32 – Billy Gunn talks about his struggles with addiction
59:40 – Billy Gunn talks latest WWE run
1:05:18 – Billy Gunn talks coaching
1:11:11 – Colt wraps up the show
1:14:45 – Easter Egg
HIGHLIGHTS OF SHOW
0:00 – Introduction: Colt excitedly opened the show calling himself “Chicago Hollywood” due to his upcoming release of “The Wrestling Road Diaries 3”, which is available for pre-order. Colt called his interview with Billy Gunn an example of what he wants the podcast to be. Colt lamented that he wasn’t able to ask Gunn about his Ass Man gimmick and entrance music. Colt thanked his fans for supporting him after being somewhat depressed last week, and said he was just feeling a little down but hopefully his spirits will raise. Colt recapped his recent show in Austin for Wrestle Circus near a homeless shelter, applauding the promoter for putting together a great show. Colt plugged an article he wrote for Sports Illustrated about independent wrestling, and mentioned wrestlers who have been on his show then later found success in WWE.
7:19 – Song of the week: The song of the week this week is “The Macho Man” by Duderus.
10:56 – Billy Gunn interview: Colt opened the interview noting that they were in Texas, and joking that Billy Gunn debuted in WWE as a member of The Smoking Gunns , so he must have been huge in Texas. Gunn talked about Vince McMahon’s idea for the Smoking Gunns gimmick. Gunn said that most people think the cowboy character is an act, but he was an actual cowboy and went to college on a rodeo scholarship. Gunn talked about his time right after he left WWE, when he did a lot of shoot interviews to vent his frustrations. Gunn is happy that podcasts now exist and joked about how shoots were designed more to sell DVDs at independent shows.
15:38 – Billy Gunn talks studying wrestling and coaching: Colt asked if Gunn was studious about wrestling. Gunn, not growing up a fan of wrestling, has never been studious because he is able to easily pick things up in the ring. Aside from ring psychology, moves came easily to Gunn, and he only really watched wrestling when Jamie Noble made him watch Pride wrestling. Gunn called himself “high strung”, and said that he doesn’t have the patience to watch tape and learn wrestling. Gunn has started watching live wrestling more because he is coaching, but he wants the wrestlers to get his attention quickly. Gunn had trained with Eddy Mansfield, who filmed at Universal Studios prior to TNA.
20:16 – Billy Gunn talks growing up: Billy Gunn grew up in Florida, where his father owned some horses and taught him to ride them. After a while, Gunn started riding bulls and was on his high school rodeo team, eventually going pro. Gunn talked about the Florida High School Rodeo Association, which greatly intrigued Colt. Colt asked if Gunn grew up with money because he had horses, but Gunn quickly established that he did not come from money at all. Gunn grew up in a single wide trailer with his father, and as soon as he went to college his dad built a nice house for himself. Gunn is close to his mother, and told a funny story about recently rescuing dogs and taking them to “puppy school” with her. Gunn wasn’t into wrestling at all, because he considered himself a “real athlete” because of his sports background and natural athletic ability. Gunn called himself an “attention getter” as a child, which he credited to often being bigger than other people.
27:35 – Billy Gunn talks getting into wrestling: Gunn realized college wasn’t for him, so he left college to be a professional bull rider and build houses with his uncle. Gunn lost his love of rodeo and moved back to Florida, where he ran into Ron and Don Harris while working at a gym. Gunn laughed when he found out they were wrestlers, but as he kept running into them they eventually convinced him to try wrestling. The first time Gunn got into the ring, the Harris brother beat him up as much as they could. When Gunn realized wrestling was very physical, something clicked and he knew he wanted to wrestle. Gunn couldn’t see the similarity in what the Harris brothers did and what he saw on TV, and they worked with him to help him get started. Gunn went to Eddy Mansfield’s school, not knowing that Mansfield was blackballed for exposing wrestling’s secrets on TV. Gunn met Bart Gunn at his school, and they formed a tag team.
38:47 – Billy Gunn talks going to WWE: Gunn talked a bit more about Mansfield’s promotion, IWF, and some of the obscure names who went through there. Blackjack Mulligan eventually saw Gunn and got him a tryout for Vince McMahon. Gunn didn’t really know anything about McMahon or how big of a deal WWF was. When Gunn was offered a job, he asked McMahon he would have to keep his day job and wrestle on the weekends. Gunn said that they were liked, even though they were very green and needed to have their hands held to become successful. Gunn talked about being a young wrestler and mostly staying out of the way of the veterans. When Gunn started, he and Bart were under the tutelage of the Headshrinkers, and they allowed to basically run around and do what they knew how to do well. After a few months, the Headshrinkers started working to help them develop better in the ring and develop psychology. Gunn realized that if he slowed down, things could make more sense to the fans. Colt asked about the Rockabilly gimmick. Gunn said that the Smoking Gunns had run its course, and the team was split up. Gunn said that the gimmick was thrown together without much planning, which is why it didn’t work.
50:32 – Billy Gunn talks about his struggles with addiction: Colt asked about Gunn being in a “bad place” due to drugs. Gunn said he never took pills or smoked marijuana before wrestling, and he credited his father with keeping him away from drugs, even though his father wasn’t strict and it may have been in his head. Gunn started taking pills to get rid of pain and help him sleep, right as the Attitude Era happened and he started doing a lot more leading to an increased need for drugs. Gunn called himself an addict, and talked about the mindset behind getting into drugs. When the New Age Outlaws took off, the fame went to his head and Gunn started abusing drugs heavily. Gunn has went through rehab twice, and has found success in now managing his addiction. Gunn listed the types of pills he was taking, as well as how he obtained them. When Gunn was fired from WWE, he blasted many people in WWE because he felt he was too good to be fired.
59:40 – Billy Gunn talks latest WWE run: Gunn contacted WWE to go to rehab for the second time, and was able to start turning his life around. Gunn made amends with some of the people he had been angry towards, and started working daily to be better. Gunn said that he cries often now because he is being more open emotionally to avoid turning back to pills. Gunn said he is living an awesome life now, but he has let some people down with his recent firing. Gunn singled out the relationships he made in the Performance Center, and how he felt like he let some of those people down. Gunn said he should have never taken performance enhancing drugs, but since he did he had to accept getting fired.
1:05:18 – Billy Gunn talks coaching: Colt asked if his recent WWE run was his first time coaching. Gunn and Road Dogg appeared on WWE television, and he inquired about doing guest coaching at the performance center. Eventually, he was offered a full time job which he really enjoyed. Since his firing, Gunn has done seminars and is willing to give his opinion on matches to people who ask. Gunn discussed his coaching style, which focuses on what people do well while also letting them knew what they did poorly. Colt said he wished there was someone like Gunn when Colt was in developmental, and they discussed the changes in the developmental system that focuses on positive reinforcement. Gunn plugged his social media and Colt ended the interview.
1:11:11 – Colt wraps up the show: Colt once again applauded Billy Gunn for being in a good place. Colt plugged his upcoming events, thanked his fans, Billy Gunn, his tech help and sponsors. Colt plugged “Wrestling Road Diaries 3” and encouraged fans to check out the first two films before signing off.
1:14:45 – Easter Egg – Gunn said that he has a clip of Colt joking with Jimmy Wang Yang.
REVIEW OF EPISODE
Score: 8.8: Billy Gunn gave an in-depth look at his life and early career, but this interview felt like it barely scratched the surface. Colt mentioned up front that there was a lot he wanted to ask Gunn, and he may get to it on a future live show, but Gunn was still very entertaining to listen to and he gave a compelling interview. Gunn is known for being open, and this episode of the Art of Wrestling really showed how open and honest he was willing to be.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S “ART OF WRESTLING” PODCAST RECAP: Colt Cabana’s “Art of Wrestling” w/Adam Rose discussing his hardships, WWE career, and reaction to being released