Former WWE/TNA star Billy Gunn recently spoke with Justin Barrasso of SI.com about his career and more.
On joining NJPW:
“After I was let go by the Performance Center, I was out working indies. After everything I’ve accomplished, I have a pretty good name and I’m easy to work with. As long as you’re cool with me, I’m cool with you. I liked doing some indie stuff for a year, then Lance Hoyt called me and said that the New Japan office was looking for me to go over to Japan and do this tag tournament. If it’s a tag tournament and you have room, why not have me? My partner was Yoshi and he’s trying to do this Hunter Club thing, so they figured I could help him a little bit. That’s something I’ve always wanted to do, so I jumped on it. I love what I do. I feel like I can still keep up with mostly everybody. That’s not being egotistical, that’s just being me. I’ve always been like that, and I’ve said as long as I can do this, as long as I can have fun, and as long as I don’t slither around like a slug out there and make myself look bad, then I’ll do this. When I get to do the Billy Gunn character, it’s always the same – you’re going to get the energy and the craziness and silliness that I bring. That has nothing to do with my wrestling ability, it has to do with how people have enjoyed what I’ve done. It took a while to get to the point I’m at, but now I feel people are just into seeing somebody they enjoyed in the Attitude Era.”
On possible WWE return:
“Of course I would. I loved coaching. That is my thing – I love teaching people that want to learn this business. I would go back in a minute if asked. Coaching was such a different avenue for me, and I didn’t think that I had it in me. When Paul [Levesque] hired me, he goes, ‘You can’t be one the boys, and we’ve got to trial run to see if you’ll be a good coach. Just because you’re good in the ring doesn’t mean you’ll be a good coach.’ There are different personalities who you have to coach, and you’ve got to be able to adjust. For me, a big part of coaching is having a trust for the students that are in your class. If they trust you, and you don’t talk beneath them, you can create an even playing field. Yes, what I say goes, but there has to be an open discussion. As long as they trust me, then they’re going to listen to me and then they’ll learn. If they don’t trust me, then what I say goes on deaf ears and they go out there and do whatever. As a coach, I had to have a relationship with every one of my students. I would love to go back.
When Brian [Road Dogg] and I came back as the New Age Outlaws in 2014, everybody misunderstood what it was. The Road Warriors did the same thing for me and Brian. If you’ve had an awesome career and there are guys they want to do stuff with, then you can look back at the Road Warriors. They were one of the most popular tag teams ever. They were big, scary, and nasty, but they were loved by everybody. When me and Brian were coming up and they wanted to put a little something behind us, they put us against the Road Warriors and let us beat them. It’s taking you on a ride and a story, and now people take notice. So now, the coolest thing is the New Age Outlaws. And you have kids in the crowd and you have their parents with them. So there’s nothing cooler than people saying, ‘Your return was awesome because I got to watch you guys with my son and I was able to tell him that you were the ones who I watched growing up.’ So now, when the New Age Outlaws come out and Brian does his thing – and everybody in the arena, including the staff and the janitors – say the whole thing, people pay attention. When we worked with The Uso’s, who are great talent in their own right, we were just helping them so people would pay a little more attention. Our run was to siphon in some old with the new, have some of the parents get into this because this is who they watched growing up, and help move up the talent so they can hopefully, one day, do the same thing for somebody else. We kind of ran our course. People always want to see DX, but they don’t want to see us for very long. It’s a nostalgic kind of thing. People will say, ‘This is awesome,’ but if you see us for a long time, it gets stale in a way. We aren’t able to do the things the real DX, back in the ‘Attitude Era,’ could do. People were used to seeing DX do some of the most off-the-wall, craziest stuff they’d ever seen in their life. So when you come back to the PG era, when you can’t do too much of that stuff, people go, ‘Well, you’re really not DX anymore because you’re not doing anything crazy.’ We are still DX, but we have to put the brakes on what we do.”