The Art of Wrestling with Colt Cabana
Release Date: June 29, 2017
Guest: Kevin Thorn
Recap by: Josh Coulson
- Kevin met Sid Vicious while working at Gold’s Gym. It was Sid who got him his break in pro wrestling.
- His first ever match was a tag team bout with Sid as his partner. For that match his ring name was Kid Vicious.
- Kevin wrestled on the same training camp as A.J. Styles, and was told by Paul Bearer at the time that he looked like a young Undertaker.
- Vince loved the Mordecai gimmick so much that during Kevin’s first session in the promo room he went and got The Undertaker so that he could watch.
- Kevin believes he was earmarked to face Undertaker in the future. That is until he was arrested for headbutting a guy on a night out who wound up suing him.
- After Undertaker’s match at WrestleMania 33, Kevin messaged him and they discussed how the two of them could have possibly put on something special.
Subjects covered (with timestamps)
0:00- Start of show
4:33- Song of the week
8:50- Interview begins
26:17- Travelling with Sid and training camp
59:33- End of interview/close of show
Colt forgoes the normal plugs that come before the opening of the show this week in order to pay tribute and dedicate this edition of Art Of Wrestling to the late Chris ‘Chandler Biggins’ Bryan. Chris was a promoter for AIW in Cleveland and passed away a couple of weeks ago. Colt explains how you can make donations to help with Chris’ funeral costs.
Colt is back in his studio apartment this week following his tour of Australia with Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore promotion.
Colt recommends watching Netflix show GLOW. He lists some of the wrestlers who appear in it then tells a story about doing a voiceover for an Adidas soccer advert. He then reveals his guest this week will be Kevin Thorn, more commonly known as Mordecai.
Colt introduces song of the week, “Always A Horowitz Never A Hogan” by Afraid Of The Dark.
Memphis and Sid Vicious
Colt and Kevin start the interview by trying to figure out who has had more gimmicks: Kevin or Festus.
Kevin started wrestling at the age of 21, but it wasn’t necessarily his dream as a child. Colt asks that at the time did he think he would have one name and persona throughout his whole career? Thorn says no. Even in high school he had nicknames linked to his liking of football at the time.
Kevin reveals he was born and raised in Memphis, and that everybody liked wrestling there back then. His dad didn’t like him watching it, though, as he was extremely religious and disliked the violence involved in it. Kevin would have to sneak out to go watch it at a friend’s house. He thinks maybe the reason he didn’t love wrestling as a child is because his dad simply wouldn’t allow him to.
Thorn had the opportunity to play football for the University of Memphis, but at the time he was working at Gold’s Gym and had begun to make friendships with wrestlers. This made him pass up the chance to play football.
Thorn went to private school but explains his parents weren’t rich, they just made sacrifices so he could have the best chance in life possible.
He liked lifting weights and began to get sucked in to the bodybuilding world when working at Gold’s Gym. It’s there that he would befriend and workout with Sid Vicious. Sid was the first wrestler he remembers seeing there and used to come to the gym every day at 5:30.
Thorn remembers hearing about these rumors that Sid would be playing in local softball games, but never actually recalls seeing him play.
At the time of them becoming friends, Sid was recovering from a broken neck. Eventually, Sid invited Kevin to be his tag partner at a show despite having never wrestled before. He had two weeks to prepare for the match.
He trained for the match in Buddy Wayne’s backyard in a very crudely put together ring. He remembers unrolling the padding and about six dead rats falling out. In that two week period, all Kevin remembers being taught is how to lock up, do a headlock, and shoot off tackle.
There were around 2,500 people in the crowd for his first match and it was the main event. Kevin had none of his own gear so he wore Sid’s. His ring name for the night was Kid Vicious. He remembers a wrestler on the opposing team being called Dirtbike.
Kane, Road Dogg, and Billy Gunn were all on the same show. Colt explains how odd it was back then that WWE would let their wrestlers go and perform at indy shows.
Kevin remembers Sid getting angry when he couldn’t get enough film for Polaroids when going to shows in order to take pictures. They talk about how back then it was all about Polaroids and 8x10s when it came to making money at shows.
Travelling with Sid and training camp
Following that, Sid continued to get Kevin booked, and if Vicious was on a show then he would be too. He would go back and forth between Memphis and USWA as well as doing developmental stuff.
Eventually it all got moved to Louisville and Cincinnati. At the time, Kevin didn’t know what to do. He says he was oblivious to the politics of that move.
While travelling between Memphis and USWA, Tommy Rogers would also ride with Kevin and Sid. Tommy didn’t like that Sid wasn’t treating Kevin like a young boy and make him carry his bags.
Thorn recalls a story of going on a trip to New York for a show run by Mike O’Brien. Sid stopped off to see Paul Heyman to pick up money he was owed. He recalls meeting Steve Austin and Debra in a hotel while on the trip.
After the show they went to collect their money. Kevin remembers agreeing to fight if need be because he didn’t know any better. He says he bowled up behind Sid, and the others didn’t really know what was going on or why he was there.
Colt asks if he would walk around like he was the man. Kevin says no, he didn’t know what he was doing and he would tell people that. He thinks that’s how Tommy got into Sid’s head, because it was clear Kevin didn’t know any better.
Kevin explains he would use his friendship with Sid to try and get in with other wrestlers, not knowing that Sid had a poor relationship with most of them.
Kevin used to wear a lot of black when he wrestled, and Paul Bearer actually said he looked like a young Undertaker.
Eventually he was invited to a training camp in Cincinnati. Other wrestlers on the same camp included A.J. Styles and Matt Morgan. He says he was smart enough to keep getting in the ring with Styles because he always made him look like a million dollars.
The camp came shortly after the film Seven came out, so in his promos Kevin would play on a seven deadly sins gimmick. Jim Cornette loved it and is the one who signed him. His first contract made him $750 a week, which was actually a lot less than he had been earning in his regular job.
Kevin remembers not really understanding what other people had been through to get where he was. This is because of the unconventional way he got into the business. He didn’t have to pay his dues as much as others did because of Sid opening doors.
The two of them then compare what other people were earning when they were in WWE. Colt recalls how much Vladimir Kozlov was getting compared to him when he was at the company.
The pair of them briefly discuss being gay in wrestling. They don’t understand the prejudice that people perceived as being in the business 15 to 20 years ago. They agree it’s the same when it comes to race and that people can just be ignorant.
Colt then asks how the character Mordecai came about. Kevin once again explains the seven deadly sins stuff he was doing and that it came soon after WrestleMania XX. He remembers being there for the main event and watching Chris Benoit win the World Championship with Chris’ son David.
The week after that, Vince McMahon brought Kevin into his office. Kevin explained the Mordecai character to him. It was a combination of Catholicism and Southern Baptist, as that’s what he grew up knowing. He recited some verses he knew. He also explained to Vince that he envisioned himself as being completely white, and if he got as much as a smudge on him in a match he would lose it. Vince had an evil genius type smile on his face. He clearly loved the idea.
The next day Kevin had to come up with a promo with the help of the Brooklyn Brawler. When Vince heard it, he loved it. He even went and got The Undertaker so he could hear it too. He was told the promo was good and when he saw Undertaker a couple of hours later he told him that he did good.
About a week later, Paul Bearer told him he was really setting himself up and to keep doing what he was doing. Kevin says it really felt like they had a vision for him to be an opponent for The Undertaker.
Then after finishing up a show at OVW, he went out for drinks with some wrestlers for someone’s birthday. At this point he had already dyed his hair blonde and had been talking with Undertaker about where the Mordecai character was going.
On that night out there was a guy who was getting wound up by the other wrestlers taking all the girls there. Kevin ended up headbutting him and going outside to tell police what he had done. They knew him as always being helpful so they let him go home. A couple of days later he was arrested. The guy he headbutted almost died because they took a long time to stop the bleeding.
Kevin then has to explain to Vince that he screwed up. He bumps into Undertaker who tells him he’s a dumbass, but WWE will sort it out. Vince tells him they’ve got lawyers in place and they’ll figure it out, but he’ll have to pay them back.
After Mordecai appeared at Judgement Day, the people suing him claimed Kevin was a bigger deal than WWE had let on so wanted more money. Initially, a million dollars was the asking price. Then as soon as they saw him on the PPV it went up to five million. Vince obviously wasn’t willing to pay it so he had to fire Kevin. Thorn had to borrow money in order to pay the courts, otherwise he would have gone to jail. All the money he was earning after that went straight to the guy he had headbutted. It’s all paid off now though.
Kevin says Undertaker was the only guy he ever wanted to wrestle and he screwed that up. He also hates it when fans claim Mordecai disappeared because the character sucked, as that simply wasn’t the case.
Thorn was actually supposed to face Undertaker again when he returned, but Vince didn’t trust him anymore so it didn’t happen. He had been brought back when WWE had a TV deal with SyFy.
As recently as this past WrestleMania, Kevin messaged Undertaker. Taker replied that he thought they could have done something special but it wasn’t to be.
Colt rounds off the interview in the usual way by asking Kevin where he’s at on the internet. It then throws back to Colt in his studio apartment for some plugs and upcoming events.
For any wrestling fans that were left wondering exactly what happened to Mordecai, this episode of Art Of Wrestling is a fascinating listen. As Kevin points out, most fans, myself included, thought the character was simply scrapped because it didn’t work, but that was simply not the case. To hear that the master plan was to have him face off against The Undertaker is a fascinating one, and something Thorn is clearly still kicking himself for screwing up years later. As is clear from this interview, it wasn’t exactly all bad for Thorn in the years that followed, but it really could have been so different.
About the writer
Josh Coulson is a journalism graduate from Bristol, England. He has been a pro wrestling fan since the age of 10 and truly fell in love with the business during the build to WrestleMania X-Seven, citing the rivalry between Austin and The Rock as what really got him hooked. Other than wrestling he is a keen soccer fan and a long suffering supporter of his local team Bristol City. You can find him @BristolBeadz on Twitter.
For more, check out last week’s episode of The Art of Wrestling with Trevor Lee.