Guest: Ken Anderson
Release Date: January 31st, 2018
Recap by: Sean McGraw
X-Pac is joined by Jimbo, Denise, and TK. This week’s guest will be Ken Anderson.
Let’s talk TakeOver:
Gargano vs. Almas was off the charts good. Pac says it was heartbreaking when Gargano didn’t win, but it was SO good. He says Gargano is the last of the “white meat” babyfaces. Pac doesn’t really see anyone else. Pac didn’t think that they could top the Black vs. Cole match, but for the whole show it seemed like every match came out and topped the one before it. It was a really well-paced show.
Almas has really stepped up since trying to introduce him as a babyface when he started. Pac says he’s bringing more intensity in the ring. He started off too Lucha. You have to bring it when you’re in WWE, you have to be more hard-hitting. X-Pac says that he actually recommended Almas to Hunter. When Alberto Del Rio left, WWE was saying that they need another Del Rio. They came to him and said they need somebody who’s under 30, speaks English, and doesn’t do drugs. X-Pac says it doesn’t really exist as he laughs. “I mean, they do, but good luck.”
Velveteen Dream vs. Kassius Ohno was good too. They love how he models his gear after his opponent a la Rick Rude. Ember Moon vs. Shayna Baszler was good. Shayna locking in the armbar and Ember not tapping out seemed a little too unrealistic. X-Pac liked the match. When you watch MMA and you see the quick knockouts and the quick submissions it takes you out of the element a bit when an established MMA star like Baszler has someone rolling around in an armbar for an extended period of time. X-Pac says , yeah that’s b******t. TakeOver was a GREAT show.
The Royal Rumble was great show too. Both Rumbles were well put together with their fair share of moments. The pancake spot was a funny spot. Rey Mysterio showing up was exciting. The “old guard” (Cena, Mysterio, Orton) vs. The “new guard” (Nakamura, Balor, Reigns) spot was special. X-Pac was extremely pleased that the WWE went with Nakamura.
The Women’s Rumble was great. It was awesome to see all of the returning women get a chance to participate, but at the same time it made the Rumble more “predictable” because you knew that the returning women were not going to win. When the women went on last it was apparent that Rhonda Rousey was showing up. TK brings up that Harvey (Levin of TMZ) was mad that she lied to them. X-Pac brings up that people don’t like to be worked anymore. They get hot because they want to be “in on it.” X-Pac says that they won’t just “give her everything” because she’s Rousey.
Pac also says that she didn’t steal anyone’s moment. It was done exactly as it was designed – to get people to talk and to complain. She’s doing just fine and she still has her drawing power despite her losses in MMA. X-Pac says signing Ronda is SUCH a big deal for the WWE for a lot of reasons – one of them being their TV deal coming up.
Vince McMahon brings back some old things
Vince McMahon announces that the XFL will come back in 2020. X-Pac knew it was going to happen when Vince sold his stock and started Alpha Entertainment. They’ve given themselves 2 years this time instead of 2 months. X-Pac says he wouldn’t bet against this not being successful. He says of course a bunch of people are going to say that it’s not going to work but we’ll just have to wait and see. He says that there’s a good chance of it being successful because there is an appetite for it right now.
Pac doesn’t know how they are going to pull off the players with “moral character” aspect. A lot of people make mistakes and to disqualify them and say that they are beyond redemption is a little disheartening. He also says that a lot of the crimes that end up on somebody’s record are disproportionate to the color of their skin. He says he doesn’t think it will be that easy to find players that fit such limiting criteria. X-Pac is also raising an eye brow that all of the teams will be owned by the league. It could open up the possibility of rigging games. X-Pac reiterates that he wouldn’t bet against this being a success.
We have some new entrants in to the WWE Hall of Fame
The Dudley Boyz have been added to the class of 2018 WWE Hall of Fame. It’s only going to be Bubba and D-Von not all of The Dudley’s from ECW. X-Pac says he’s sure that Spike will be brought up and he will probably make an appearance at some point. The Dudley’s are one of the greatest tag teams in the history of wrestling. They deserve it and they are a good addition to this class.
Interview with Ken Anderson
Anderson is running a school now in the Twin Cities along with Shawn Davari and Molly Holly. X-Pac brings this up because Pac recently went and conducted a seminar with Anderson’s students. Anderson brings up that the students still talk about the seminar because X-Pac was there for so long that Pac’s family had to practically drag him out of the facility.
X-Pac says that the time can really slip away from you while you’re teaching because it’s fun to contribute to the next generation and keep the wrestling tradition alive. Anderson agrees and says that he routinely stays later than he is scheduled for. He doesn’t consider it work and because of that you can’t put a time limit on it. X-Pac is happy that the school is professionally run with a curriculum and everything, not just in a garage or something. Anderson says they wanted to model it (on a much smaller scale) after the WWE Performance Center. X-Pac comments on the usefulness of having the Network (WWE) available to call up for reference when it comes to teaching.
Does Ken feel any pressure to continue the legacy of great talents coming from the Minnesota area? It’s not necessarily pressure as much as that’s the goal. It just needs to be done.
What’s the first thing that’s taught to students on day one at the school? Treat people well. The person that you step on will making it to the top is going to be the first person you run into on the way back down. Does Ken have any personal experience with this? Ken’s never really experienced people that have treated him poorly in the business. You always remember that treat you like garbage, and you always remember the people that treated you well. The people that treated him like garbage never made it past the independent level. X-Pac ran into a lot of knives in the back – not so much treating him like garbage to his face.
Has running the school helped him in his own career and with his own matches? Absolutely. He’s been in the business for nearly 20 years. He used to ride with Christopher Daniels for three years and they never really talked match psychology. When Daniels came in to teach a seminar, Ken found himself learning a lot as well saying he never really thought of things in that way before. He was sitting there like a sponge sitting there and enjoying it just as much as his students hopefully are.
How does Ken do things different than how he was brought up? Ken was fortunate to have good trainers that didn’t treat him like garbage. They were kind to the students. You have a lot of people in the business that come in all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds. Ken’s heard and seen examples the old mindset of basically torturing students to the point where the ones that survive are the ones that “really want it.” Ken’s mentality is to be kind to people and teach them things. The reality is that this business takes all kinds of people. If everybody was the same it would be a pretty boring business.
Ken tells the story of a student that wasn’t very good but was trying for a long time to get better. He eventually realized that he wasn’t cut out for wrestling but loved the business so much that he wanted to try refereeing and now he’s booked a ton. If he was beaten up at Ken’s school, that talent would never have been given the opportunity to develop into a referee. X-Pac say he believes in making the guys work, but the old-school mentality of taking guys money and then trying to run them off is B.S. It’s the shortsighted “con” way of doing things. Ken despises that mentality. He doesn’t understand it how exposing students to injuries makes them better performers. Developing better performers is Ken’s main aim. He wants to work his students hard, but wants them to do it safely. Ken’s school uses crash pads and headgear so that the students can become used to the bumps and physicality first. He doesn’t want to fill their “bump card” before they’re even out of school.
Ken does training “camps,” but the doors are always open 365 days of the year. They also do things like cookouts on the weekend and they watched the Royal Rumble on the big screen. Ken’s students popped big when Molly Holly (one of their coaches) came out and performed well in the Women’s Rumble. Ken says that the Women’s Rumble was the match of the night and that they absolutely crushed it. X-Pac agrees, and Molly Holly was his favorite part of the night.
When did Ken realize that he wanted to get into teaching? He knew he wanted to be a trainer when he first started. When he was in WWE and TNA he felt that he hadn’t done enough to open a school. He says he’s glad that waited. Ken was fortunate enough to have a lot of experiences and make mistakes in the business because it helps him with his teaching. He can point to something, analyze it and help people learn from it. X-Pac agrees that having experience is good but you don’t have to have 20 years of experience to be an amazing teacher. He knows guys that some people might consider as an all-time great that are terrible teachers.
How has Ken managed to stay healthy for as long as he has? Ken says he’s lucky. He’s had some injuries that he’s worked his way back from. Overall he eats healthy, maintains his workout regimen, he still cares. He says all of that helps.
Does Ken still take wrestling bookings? Yes. It’s going well, but over the past year he’s tried to cut back on his bookings. He has the school and he has two 4 year old twins that he’s not allowed to see much (Ken said it’s a messy situation). He wants to see them more and part of the reason that he isn’t allowed to see them a lot is because of being on the road.
What is the biggest challenge for his students to learn? Ken says it sounds like a generic answer but it’s different for everybody. One of the fun challenges of being a coach is working with people and trying to get them to understand information in unique ways.
How does Ken help the students find their characters? That’s an area that they try to specialize in. They don’t just teach moves. They hold classes on trying to figure out promos and character development. The students also have to get used to performing in front of people. They perform in front of each other which is usually harder to do than in front of a large crowd of people.
When did Ken find out he was good on the mic? He was into acting and forensics when he was in school. He has always been a confident public speaker. He was also given the opportunity by promoters to hone his skill in front of people. It’s hard for people to care about you when you aren’t given an opportunity to speak. They don’t get the chance to find out what you are all about.
What was Ken’s reaction to getting Vince McMahon’s middle name? It was kind of an honor. It was Paul Heyman’s idea. He was originally referred to as Anderson and they wanted to change it. Paul said they had to pick something near and dear to Vince’s heart. They came up with Kennedy. On the indies Ken was known as Kamikaze Ken and he wanted to keep that “KK” logo as an homage to his past. X-Pac jokingly asks if he wanted to be Kamikaze Ken Kennedy? Ken laughs and says NO! Although he says that that idea was actually pitched and Vince kind of like it – but Ken was going to win King of the Ring and be known as “King Ken Kennedy – KKK.” That may have been a death knell if that happened.
How did working with Paul Heyman come about? At tryouts one time Paul Heyman and Jim Ross were sitting in the stands and guys were getting in the ring and doing basic stuff but weren’t showing character. When Ken was in there he was getting heat on a guy and smack talking. Paul pulled him aside and they developed a relationship because Paul knew one of Ken’s trainers. When Ken was signed to OVW they did a lot of work – especially in promo class. Paul always had really good advice, like talking yourself up. When Paul took over at OVW he pulled Ken aside and said he was always a fan and that they were going to do so much with him that WWE would have to take Ken on the main roster. Five weeks later he was called up.
When Ken went to TNA he would often consult and collaborate with Paul on things that TNA had written for him. X-Pac says he wasn’t always a big fan of Paul and Paul wasn’t really a fan of him, but he’s a big fan now and was always a fan of Paul’s wrestling mind. Paul has helped Pac out a lot in his personal life over the last couple of years. He’s really a good dude.
How was working under Cornette vs. working under Paul? For Ken, Cornette never saw anything in him. Cornette wasn’t really there except for TV so he didn’t really see Ken’s work all that much. When Paul came in he ran things differently and he brought a lot of creativity. Before that it was a really cookie cutter format. Paul brought in new ideas and he involved EVERYBODY in some sort of spot. Your piece always meant something. It reminded him of watching wrestling when everybody was over. Paul also made it where everybody was going for the title all of the time. It made the title more important.
What was it like working with Kurt Angle in TNA? Ken says Kurt is one of his favorites to work with. He doesn’t rest, he’s always going. He’s also so giving. He knows that he will remain over no matter what happens, so he is willing to take all kinds of bumps for his opponent.
I really enjoyed listening to this episode. Maybe I was still riding the high of watching an EXCELLENT TakeOver show followed by a really good Rumble PPV. I loved hearing extended TakeOver talk. It’s probably my favorite weekly wrestling show that I watch and that match from Gargano and Almas was incredible. It was fun to hear everyone’s opinions on that show in particular. Also, Ken Anderson comes off as a really positive person, and the interview was very informative. The way that he and X-Pac talk about the school and teaching really excites me about wrestling in general because their love and passion for the business comes through in their conversation. I found that little tidbit about King Ken Kennedy to be hilarious and ridiculous at the same time. I’ve listened to enough Bruce Prichard’s podcasts now to realize that there is probably a lot of truth to that story – thank god it never happened though. I found it interesting to hear a little bit more about how Heyman can be innovative when booking a show. I think that Heyman’s greatest strength is highlighting a talent’s positives while also highlighting there flaws so it was cool to get a little bit of a taste of Ken’s perspective on that. Overall this was really good episode.
00:00 – 35:34 Intros and News Discussion
35:35 – 36:20 Ad Break
36:21 – 1:28:18 Interview with Ken Anderson
1:28:19 – 1:30:25 Show wrap up
Sean is a media professional from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Sean’s earliest memory of wrestling is seeing Kane on WWF television in 1998. Sean watched primarily WWF in the Attitude Era and dropped off just before the initial brand split. Seeing recap promos of the Undertaker building up to WrestleMania 20, he became hooked and has been an avid fan ever since. Sean’s wrestling preferences currently lean more towards NJPW/ROH/NXT but he remains a fan of it all. In his spare time Sean enjoys cooking, baking, and going to the gym. You can follow Sean via Twitter @stmcgraw and Instagram @stmcgraw09.