Guest: Rikishi Talks Hell in a Cell Fall & WrestleFair X-Pac
Release Date: April 25th, 2018
Recap by: Sean McGraw
X-Pac is joined by Christy Olson, Jimbo, Denise, and Jonny Loquasto. This week’s guest will be WWE Hall of Famer Rikishi.
Details of Brock Lesnar’s new deal
Brock is earning $637,000 per fight in addition to $127,000 for every TV appearance he makes. It’s a short term deal that will allow WWE to pay him and use him for whenever they need him. It also includes an image rights deal that allows WWE to use his likeness for merchandising earning Brock another $637,000 annually. He also earns an additional 6 percent cut of merchandise sales on top of that. X-Pac says the deal wouldn’t have been made if it wasn’t a win-win for both parties. It’s good for the WWE and good for the wrestling world.
WWE is holding a show in Saudi Arabia
There is controversy because women are not allowed. X-Pac says he understands both sides of the issue. He says it may sound like fence walking but that’s how it is. It’s brought up that perhaps by being there they can help make progression in the culture in the future.
Denise also brings up that this is really a propaganda show for Saudi Arabia that just so happens to be on the network. X-Pac says that he understands both sides of the issue and mentions that there are insane amounts of money being thrown around. (Personally, I get it. I don’t agree with it, but I get it. That’s why I’m not too bothered by it. WWE’s #1 priority is money – they are a publicly traded corporate entity. Money is all that matters despite what they say in press releases about Women’s Revolutions, Make-a-Wish, GLAAD, Be A Star etc. No way do they turn down the type of money that Saudi Arabia is giving them. That’s the cost of business. I also don’t buy that it’s a propaganda show meant only for the Saudis because then they wouldn’t be promoting it SO heavily on every show they do.)
Harry Smith is wanted by police in New Orleans due to the incident with Jake the Snake Roberts
The Son of The British Bulldog, Harry Smith, is wanted in connection with an investigation of battery and a verbal argument that occurred in New Orleans. Smith could face up to six months in Jail or a fine of up to $1,000. X-Pac says that it’s sad when people in the industry are going after each other like this. There were some things said and Davey Boy isn’t here to defend himself. X-Pac says when you approach somebody like that in public, you need to give them room to save face because there is pride involved and egos and things. X-Pac says he’s surprised that Jake is pursuing it legally.
Tickets are going on sale for the July 7th New Japan show
Tickets range from $40 to more than $300. The event is being held in The Cow Palace in San Francisco. The building holds 13,000 people and is expected to be sold out. This will be one of the biggest non-WWE wrestling events in decades. X-Pac says he suggested that they run The Cow Palace to one of the people in the New Japan organization. X-Pac says that he is confident that they will sell the place out.
There is a battle going on for the rest of Chyna’s ashes
Chyna’s former lawyer set up a go fund me page to place what he says are the remaining 25 percent of Chyna’s ashes in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Chyna’s mother was critical of it saying that he doesn’t own the ashes and there aren’t supposed to be any ashes left. X-Pac says he had communication with the lawyer. Pac’s initial reaction was that there were no ashes left – he was there and helped dump the ashes into the ocean. X-Pac says that everyone involved in the situation is flawed. X-Pac says that the lawyer does have the ashes and he doesn’t have a problem if people want to donate, because that is something that Chyna really would have liked. X-Pac also says that Chyna’s mother no-showed a meeting that was set up between she and Chyna before Chyna died. They’ve always had issues. X-Pac says “Who the hell am I to say what anybody can or can’t do?” X-Pac says he can identify with Chyna’s mother because he says he’s a failed parent himself.
Interview with Rikishi
X-Pac starts off by joking that the Stink-faces didn’t really stink. He jokingly says he hopes he’s not killing the gimmick. X-Pac has had a few of them and he couldn’t really breathe, but they didn’t stink.
X-Pac says the first time he remembers seeing Rikishi was as part of the Samoan Swat Team in WCW. Pac says that they had innovative tag moves and they were the best in the business at the time. Rikishi says that they started out with The Von Erich’s and then moved over to NWA (WCW). They were hungry and being from the Anoai family, they were going to get their [butts] in there and they were going straight to the top.
X-Pac says when he saw the Samoan Swat Team in WCW he went, “Alright, Steiner Brothers.” Rikishi says those guys were right up the Swat Team’s alley. The Swat Team was young and hungry and they were put with Paul Heyman so they had it made. All they had to do was get in there and work.
Rikishi is the oldest of four brothers. Three of the four were in the business. Umaga, the Samoan Bulldozer and The Tonga Kid are the other two and they were all trained by their uncles, Afa and Sika – The Wild Samoans. Rikishi is asked if it was different coming up in the business with the family that he had. He says it was an easy transition. He was a fan of his Uncles and High Chief Peter Maivia. Rikishi says they put Samoa on the map. X-Pac agrees saying that he learned about Samoa through watching wrestling.
Rikishi says they were taught to respect the business and that respect is a big word in the Samoan culture. The “chain of command” is also important in the culture. X-Pac says that’s one thing he learned from the Samoans. Pac says when he was young in the business, the Samoans took him under their wing and he learned about respect and the chain of command aspect of their culture. Also, when somebody’s doing well they help out the others that aren’t doing so well. Rikishi says that X-Pac has been part of his family for a long time which is very important since trust is rare thing in the professional wrestling industry.
Rikishi talks about the importance of knowing your place on the card and how to work a match. He says that it’s important to work towards a build on your match but your place in the card matters as you want to keep building towards the Main Event.
Both Rikishi and X-Pac are asked what is more difficult to deal with – an opponent that is less skilled or someone who doesn’t want to listen. X-Pac says that he’ll take someone less skilled over someone who won’t listen any day of the week. Rikishi agrees with Pac.
X-Pac asks how Rikishi’s body is feeling – especially his knees. His body feels a lot better since he has more rest and less time on the road. He says his knees are doing ok. He has never had knee surgery. He did a lot of top-rope splash spots in his career. There was a memorable spot where he splashed from the top rope to the floor on TV. It was a memorable spot that kept getting replayed. It helped him stand apart. X-Pac says that helped Rikishi be “figured in.”
X-Pac asks Rikishi if there was every any time where he got hurt and thought that it might be the end. Pac then remembers a time where Mabel cracked Rikishi’s sternum. It was from a simple splash. Rikishi says he was out of position selling something. He says Mabel should have let him keep selling and let it marinate a little bit, but Mabel hit Rikishi with all of his weight while Rikishi was on his side. Rikishi says the show must go on though. Rikishi had to take a couple of months off after that.
Rikishi says the bump off the Hell in a Cell was probably the most dangerous bump he’s ever taken. He said it was a calculated risk with a goal of making it to the highlight reel. He says everyone remembers the Mick Foley bump, but there was never a bump for someone going backwards. In the heat of the moment Rikishi was fearful, not knowing if he’d be able to do it, but there was no turning back because that is what they do. X-Pac says the only thing scarier would be the sound of the people s****ing all over you if you backed out of doing it. Rikishi says right before the bump he told Undertaker, “Tell my family I love them.”
X-Pac wants to talk about what he said to Undertaker a little more. He says it’s kind of messed up that that’s the way wrestlers are. They will risk dying over something just to get the crowd reaction. It’s hardcore and it’s messed up, but that’s how much they love it. Rikishi says that right. It’s how much they love it, they’re dedicated. Rikishi says for him personally, if someone is coming and paying to specifically see him he has to go out and deliver no matter the cards that are dealt to him that night. “How can I get out there to do my best for that family there? That fan to remember.” X-Pac says that it’s messed up. Rikishi remembers having heat at home when he came back from that. His family wanted to know how he could risk that. He told them he knows what he’s doing.
Rikishi is asked if anyone in his family ever asked him or if he ever asked his sons, “Hey is this really what you want to do?” given the tough lifestyle. Yes he’s said that to his sons because he knows what it is. It wasn’t what he wanted for his kids, but it’s not about him, it’s about them. He wanted to be supportive of them. Rikishi knew that they would have an easy transition because of what they experienced with his own career. Rikishi says as far as Afa and Sika, they threw the hammer down on their family members saying “this is what it is.”
Rikishi talks about going to see his brother The Tonga Kid main event in Madison Square Garden before he got into the business himself. Rikishi says he was watching the people cheer for his brother. He also saw the payoff that his brother got from that night and Rikishi says he was hooked.
Rikishi says that people breaking into the business now have so much opportunity and they need to do their homework. Look up who the trainers at school are. What have they done in the business? If you want to go to college you want to go to the best college. X-Pac agrees and says that you don’t want to go with the “most affordable option.” Pac says a lot of times you get what you pay for.
X-Pac asks if Rikishi is comforted that the culture and the environment in the business is much safer than it was when they were wrestling given that the Uso’s are there. Rikishi feels safe that they’re there. He knows his boys and is confident in the choices that they make. He’s ok with the WWE vibe as well. They are in very good hands with all of the doctors, performance centers, rehab programs that WWE makes available to their talent.
Rikishi talks about the roster being a family and working as one. He says he hopes that the talents today remember the guys on the undercard because it’s like a wheel and some of those undercard guys will be at the top and those top guys will be on the undercard. It’s cyclical. He says that back in the day he would slip the guys that were put him over a few extra bucks as a thank you. X-Pac says he learned that from Mr. Perfect and did the same. Pac says it also helps because then guys want to work with you and make you look good.
Rikishi says that when he came back as Rikishi he was very hands on. He had learned after all of his time in the WWE prior that about the importance of speaking up (in this case he was referencing his music). “I’m the one doing it. So if I can’t feel that beat, if I can’t feel that music, there’s no way I can bring this imaginary character to life.” He says he brought the “Headshrinker talent” that he knew and he brought the entertainment part that he does and it meshed together. It was a good fit working with Too Cool. X-Pac says that it was a really cool package that helped Too Cool out a lot, while adding to Rikishi’s package.
X-Pac asks about working with Stone Cold. Rikishi was the guy that ran Stone Cold over with the car. Rikishi says that Steve was the man. Every time you got the opportunity to work with Steve you enjoyed the ride for as long as it lasts. Rikishi says he wanted it to be long and wanted to have the loop with Steve. Rikishi says one thing that he wanted was to become World Champion in WWE and that never happened but working guys with like Stone Cold and the Rock was great. X-Pac says Rikishi would have been a world champion in any other era, but the roster was SO stacked during the Attitude era. Rikishi says it was so crazy. He was thankful to be around in that era with a bunch of guys that “got it.” If you didn’t you didn’t last long.
0:00 – 17:44 Intros and News Discussion
18:28 – 1:15:32 Interview with Rikishi
1:15:33 – 1:16:42 Show Wrap up
I thought this was a very good episode. Rikishi has quite a unique perspective on the business given the family history that he is a part of. Both X-Pac and Rikishi share a deep respect and appreciation for the business and that came through in their conversation here. It was a very positive discussion that dealt a lot with the idea of family – both in the traditional sense and in the sense of the performers being family. X-Pac was even wearing a necklace that was given to him by the Anoa’i family.
The idea of the business and the card being circular is intriguing, because you don’t normally hear about that mindset when it comes to professional wrestling. Usually all you hear are guys fighting to stay at the top of the card by any means possible, so it was refreshing to hear a more positive outlook. The thing that I personally found the most shocking in the interview is when Rikishi revealed that he told Undertaker to tell his family that he loves them before taking the Hell in a Cell bump. That mindset that Rikishi and a lot of other wrestlers have – that they would be willing to die for the fans’ entertainment – says a lot about their love and respect of the business. It makes me appreciate what they do even more.
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.