The Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast
Release Date: December 1, 2017
Guest: James Storm
Recap by: Jason Darling
- James Storm was in WCW
- Before his run in WCW, James installed security systems for Brinks Home Security.
- James once cut the Undertakers lawn
- The belt EC3 used to whip James Storm was Jeff Jarrett’s
- James has seen A.J. Styles break about 20 controllers getting mad when he loses in Madden.
Wade considers James Storm a total throwback in his promo delivery, his character, and who he portrays on TV. Wade had planned on this interview taking place early afternoon Thursday, but James told Wade to push the interview back because him and his grandfather would be working on the farm. They talk about A.J. Styles, his rise to fame and the great matches they were able to have together. They also break down what is making A.J. so great that a standard fan might not be able to see.
James is super excited for his future and the current TNA shows are finishing up his run. He explains what is next for his him after TNA, and about some advice he got from Curt Hennig, the different eras of TNA and more. Wade thinks the interview today will really draw you in at about 10 minutes in.
Introductions and Upbringing:
Wade starts the interview talking about the story where James Storm delayed the interview a bit because he was working on the farm. His grandfather is 82 and James just delivered a calf a couple days earlier. Wade says that James’ grandfather has just a strong of a work ethic as Vince McMahon. Working on a farm is a completely different life than Wade knows of. They talk about how living in the past would be extremely hard for anyone today with how much we depend on technology.
Wade asks about James’ upbringing and what got him into pro wrestling. James grew up in a trailer park, where he learned to play basketball. It was rough and he lived near the projects and drug dealers. He said it was a hard upbringing because he had to work to help his mom pay the bills. He recalls being about 14 years old going to a USWA event. He remembers seeing his grandfather getting so worked up over the “bad guys.” It was pretty cool for him to see guys like Stone Cold and Undertaker because they came through Nashville where he was seeing these wrestling events.
Wade asks at what point in watching wrestling did James think that wrestling looked like something he wanted to do. James was always pretty athletic and did some amateur wrestling. When he became a junior and senior he started working to help his mom with the bills. James was actually supposed to go to college on a basketball scholarship. He remembers going to the college, talking with everyone, then coming home and seeing a commercial for becoming a pro wrestler. James thought they were talking right to him, he put money down for training. There was about 100 people there. He suspects that the school wanted the money and then they would sit there and shoot on people to get them to quit. He remembers a training regime in which they would get on all fours and got hit in the back four times with a steel chair.
Two months in, James broke his shoulder and was out for a year. After he came back he started training again and doing independent shows. He ended up meeting a recruiter for WCW developmental, which is where he met A.J. Styles and guys like him at the end of the WCW run. Every now and then he would be sent down to do a show as an extra on WCW. Wade asks if he felt ready for that moment in WCW. James said “hell no” he worked with various big stars from WCW and it was a completely different world than he was use to at the independent shows. He was trained that there was no predetermined spots, it was just called in the ring, opposite of what WCW was.
The locker room atmosphere was like a normal atmosphere except there was a Hogan and Nash-like elitist area and then everyone else. But it was cool to James because Hogan would still come by and say hi to him. Wade asks if during his time in WCW if it felt like where he was meant to be. James said it was, being on the road and just having fun with the boys. He remembers coming back after his first trip and instantly telling his boss at his full time job that he quit.
Wade asks where James’ wanted to go full-time, meaning was he interested in going heavily with WCW or WWF, or the flipside and just be an independent wrestler and make a schedule of shows and follow his own path. James said he was in it to make it and wanted to be in the big time. He says he was given the advice to have ring gear made and look like you are going all in. Now he sees independent shows where it looks like guys are just there as a weekend gig and his advice to them is to look like you want to be there. Back in the day for James, another big thing was the respect of the business, going up to and saying hi to everyone, shaking their hand, things like that. Wade says he does the same thing but sometimes he feels bad when they say they have already met before. James says he can use the excuse of “I bump my head a lot” which they both laugh about.
Locker room camaraderie is different in professional wrestling then a standard locker room, or just having co workers in general. In which Wade means that the smallest thing could be a major screw up to other wrestlers. James says one of the biggest things is protecting the business, that now more than ever you need to be respectful on social media. Also just being respectful to the other talent, veterans, or really anyone that is in the back. James has a motto, you should always treat people with respect because you never know who someone is or who someone will become.
When James was eleven years old he got a picture with Dutch Mantell and it cost him ten dollars. Wade says that kind of memorabilia is a good way to have credibility, showing that you’ve always been a fan and wanted to be in the business.
Humble TNA beginnings:
The topic moves to NWA/TNA in its original formation. James was working a match with Terry Taylor, who told him about NWA/TNA. It wasn’t much longer after he was contacted by Bob Ryder, who ultimately recruited him into the company. They had a Nashville office that Storm went to and they asked if he wanted to play a cowboy.
Wade asks if James was optimistic during the start of TNA. James was very optimistic and excited to perform in front of a lot of people. He was able to perform at the fairgrounds in Nashville, which was a huge success for him. If James had gotten his break anywhere else outside of Nashville or Tennessee in general it wouldn’t of had the same impact on him.
James spent 15 years at TNA, he got to work through just about every era they had and got to work with a lot of veterans. James said Mr. Perfect is the one who gave him the best advice. He grabbed James after a match and asked why he picked up his opponent to carry him to the corner. James and him had a back and forth about it and ultimately it came to the point of a wrestling match is to make your opponent submit or pin him, you shouldn’t be carrying him around in the match. It had never clicked with James before then. If you watch a Jeff Hardy match, it takes a dump truck to keep him down. When he’s the babyface and he dies in the ring, the crowd dies, Jeff just keeps moving.
James and Dusty Rhodes were working a match and there was a spot in which Dusty was suppose dto take his boot off and throw it for James to use on their opponent. Dusty looked at James before the match and told him that if he fell down trying to take his boot off he better make sure everyone else in the ring falls down with him. Wade asks if Dusty was at that point in his life where he was inspiring people as much as he did during his final years at NXT. James says he can’t speak to everyone but Dusty would treat James like his own son.
The Jarrett Era:
Working with Jeff and Jerry Jarrett, Wade asked what it was like working with those two and what it was like at the beginning. James said there was a lot more accountability then, if you messed up you would hear about it. There had been multiple times where a match would go over on time and Jerry would make sure you would hear about it and all the reasons why you need to stay on time. Wade asks if that is different now and why he would mention that about the Jarretts. James said once they left it became a lot more relaxed on timing and everything that goes along with it.
Jerry taught James all about timing and to make sure that he kept with the time they gave him. While they worked together, James would have a stopwatch backstage he would hit on his way out and when he got back. He could then see if he stayed in the time they agreed upon. The attention turned to Jeff Jarrett, Wade asked what he learned from him during his time in TNA. James saw how much time Jeff put into the company and knew this wasn’t just to bring attention to himself or just pull in a paycheck. James tells a story of Raven tying Jeff to a ring post and whipping him over thirty times with blood pouring down him, which was powerful to him that the owner would go out there and do something like that.
TNA tried to pull a lot of what happened during the Monday Night Wars into this new era by taking talent let go from WWE and making an impact on the internet. James said whenever a veteran came through they were actually kept pretty separate, or they would secretly sneak them into a show to do the thing they came in to do.
Wade asks about America Most Wanted and how his relationship with Chris Harris was. James remembers that they primarily were put together because the powers at be did not know what to do with the two of them at the time. James fought tooth and nail to get them to be called America’s Most Wanted. The two of them knew they had to make the most of this opportunity and put everything they had into making it the best tag team they could. James gets asked all the time how he has been able to work as long as he has and he says about 75% of his career has been in tag matches. He can still go hard because he only had to do half the work.
A.J. styles, other TNA hits and misses:
The end of 2009, there seems to be a good core group in TNA, Styles was in his prime and everything was going well. Eric Bischoff, Hulk Hogan and a huge influx of money came into the company and changed the course of everything. James felt like the core group was really starting to work well and that they just needed more exposure. With names like Hulk Hogan that came in it gave them global exposure. James remembers that Eric came in and said if you want your spot here you are going to earn it. Wade asks if during that time with a lot of big time names coming in, was there any kind of respect for the younger talent who built up the TNA name? James said there certainly was, all of the names he can think of were very respectful to everyone already in the company, there was never any disrespect. It was a shot in the arm to get TNA to the next level to have those big names come over. James said he never felt any of the business decisions made were bad, because it wasn’t his place to worry about it. He didn’t want to get caught in the drama of any of it.
A..J Styles has an aura about him that makes him incredible, it’s more than the moves. Wade wants to get James’ take on A.J. and seeing him rise to fame so rapidly in TNA and now WWE. When James was on Stone Cold’s podcast he told James when you are young, you learn and know how to wrestle, when you mature you learn how to work. To James, A.J. is one of the best with selling and timing. There are guys who can do every move in the book but not sell well or have the perfect timing. James agrees with Sean Waltman’s assessment of A.J. with facial expressions and what is happening with A.J. between the moves instead of the moves themselves. Wade asks if James would please say something bad about AJ.. because he has yet to find anyone that can. James says A.J. is a horrible loser at Madden.
Wade asks since James has been in the ring with a lot of wrestlers, including A.J., if there anyone on the same level as AJ. Wade says when you can bring somebody up to your level and have the best work with one specific wrestler it makes you truly great. James says Bobby Roode is a lot like that, he has a lot of the same timing as A.J. and his selling is unreal. It is hard to have a bad match with Bobby. He doesn’t need to do a bunch of flashy moves to make a great match. It’s all about being in the right place in the right time.
Wade asks if there was any young talent that came through and ultimately didn’t live up to the expectations he or others had for them. James names David Young, who not a lot of people will probably remember. He wasn’t a body guy, but he had good timing and could do just about any move there was. He just didn’t click with the crowd. Wade thinks of Magnus, Nick Aldis as he is now known. He has a great look, good height, confident, charisma, got pushed to the top and is now even working an NWA heavyweight feud. Wade asks what kept someone like him down because at this point he should have a bigger career. James says he is not entirely sure but it probably had a lot to do with politics and backstage drama. It only takes one person to not like you and it spreads like wildfire. Another thing to James is they flip flopped him too much during his TNA work from heel to face back and forth. There was a night that Beer Money was working against Magnus and a tag partner of his and they were in Magnus’ home country. The crowd got behind Beer Money, and even Magnus said you know there’s a problem when my own countrymen won’t cheer me. If they had just left him heel and let him run it would have been a lot better for him. They treated James the same way and that is one of the primary reasons he left, which will be covered more in depth next week on Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast – Interview Friday edition.
Really fun interview with lots of funny stories and serious discussions. James seems like a really great guy and loves the business. His respect for the business and its veterans is something I hope others can aspire to follow because I’m sure there isn’t a lot of that in professional wrestling right now. Can’t wait to hear the rest of the interview and hopefully they can touch on his short stay in NXT. Despite James not being in WWE, I will find myself doing a bit of researching and watching some of his matches on YouTube this week.
1:59 – Podcast Starts
11:35 – Interview Starts
17:31 – End Part 1
19:28 – Interview Part 2
39:15 – End Part 2
41:42 – Interview Part 3
63:29 – End Part 3
64:44 – Interview Part 4
72:51 – Interview End
77:55 – Show End
About the Author
Jason Darling is from Frederick, MD, where he has lived his entire life. His first vivid memory of wrestling was on his 15th birthday, the triumphant return of Triple H to WWF television. Since that day he has been a fan and hasn’t missed a Raw or Smackdown. Follow him on any social media platform with the username @Wheenus