Thanks to Larry Coznka for this report:
The call started at 3:03PM ET
We are welcomed to the call, Spike TV president Kevin Kay joins us and is thrilled to be here with Bjorn Rebney from Bellator and Dixie from TNA. They are joining forces with an MMA fighter and movie star, Rampage Jackson. They play this up as a homecoming for Jackson, and hype his Ultimate Fighter season and fight with Henderson as huge successes for Spike TV. He calls this a “game changing” deal.
Rampage will participate in action for Bellator, in TNA and in a four part special hyping his arrival. They are also working on movie deals with him.
Dixie Carter joins the call, and calls Rampage a “global star,” and hopes he can impact TNA like he did MMA. She plays up his huge personality, and she is also confident that he is a perfect fit for TNA. He is committed to working for TNA and she is excited. They will support Rampage in all of his efforts as an effort to build the Rampage brand.
Rampage will debut on Impact tomorrow night live.
Bjorn Rebney now joins the call. He discusses building Bellator and how much he sacrificed to do so. Four years later, he is here with Spike, with Dixie and with Rampage Jackson. He puts over Rampage’s accomplishments, and is thrilled that they made the deal.
Rampage joins the call and is so excited to be a part of this family. He has worked hard, and Spike gets this, they are a family. As a fighter, he puts his life on the line, and in the past, he feels he was not appreciated. He always wanted to be a pro wrestler, and now the dream comes true. He says he is a big kid, and is just so excited about the deal.
For Bjorn, he is asked about Rampage fighting in tournaments and why he brought him in. Bjorn says that this is a partnership; they have worked hard to create this. They will sit down and decide when it is right for him to fight, and will let us know. He spent months making the deal, and all the pieces came together.
Rampage says he has been criticized about leaving the UFC, but he feels fans do not understand. Spike TV set him up for the future, and he thinks other fighters will follow due to his deal and the competition will get better. He will fight anyone when he gets 100% with his knees. He explains his losses, noting injuries and that he only fought to get out of his contract. He knew there was something better out there. He says that Bellator helps with outside opportunities, and doesn’t hold fighters back. He now feels that he is being treated right.
Rampage says the UFC doesn’t care about the fighters, but now feels he has five more years because of how he will be treated. He is rehabbing his knee for a return and he has the love back. He is considering moving to heavyweight due to his age. Rampage wants to entertain the fans, and that is his goal going forward. He then praises TNA and feels he is a natural pro wrestler. He used to play with his friends and wrestle around, and with Sting and Hogan in TNA, he will put on great shows.
Rampage says that he went to Bellator, and he is interested in the tournaments. He says most fights today are boring because guys fight not to lose. Spike is behind Bellator, and Spike made the UFC what it is, and Bellator will follow and be that new thing.
Rampage is asked about the free agency period, and says everyone came after him and he considered doing boxing. He had an eye on Bellator, and he watched it and he wanted to go there. He again says he expects more free agents to come to Bellator. He wants to entertain, but doesn’t want to go broke like other fighters have. He says you cannot fight forever, but he can wrestle as he gets older like Hogan and Sting and do movies like Stallone.
His knee is getting better and will be able to start running soon. Before running was very bad and hurting him, but he has been feeling much better. As far as the move to heavyweight, he may do it now, but if a good 205 fight comes up, he has time to train, cut weight and take that fight. He walks around big, and won’t have to cut as a heavyweight, and will fight anyone.
Bjorn is asked about Mo and Rampage signing due to the TNA thing, and is asked about others wanting to do it, and he says that other fighters have shown interest in doing stuff for TNA. He wants to see Mo and Rampage together in TNA. He also says that the fighters make the brand, and not the other way around.
Dixie mentions that her talent appear on Bellator as well to promote both brands, and they have a great business relationship.
Rampage says that Pride was so big because of the pro wrestling relationship, and if it worked then it can work now.
Bjorn is asked about signing former UFC fighters, when they initially stayed away from that. He says he saw others do it and how they made mistakes by doing so. They have a brand now, and this evolution allows for former UFC guys to come in.
Rampage says that the A-Team movie caused drama between he and the company. He cannot really give details for legal reasons. But it cost him to lose his love, and he even tried to retire then due to that, but is glad he didn’t.
When asked when he may fight, Rampage says it all depends on his knee, but he could go in three or four months. He has gone to Mexico to do some work and is training everything now. He is really excited about fighting again.
Bjorn is asked about Cheick Kongo signing with Bellator, and Bjorn says his signing is not confirmed. He says more talent from Rampage’s gym will be coming in, and that will be announced later in the month.
When asked about TNA moving times, when will Bellator air live in the next season. At this time, they do not know and will evaluate things as they go forward. It maybe announced shortly.
Dixie is asked about Rampage’s debut, Dixie says you’ll have to watch what happens tomorrow. She then says she had to either develop talent get them from WWE or sign someone like Rampage. But he also has a lot of training to do and he says he is taking it seriously.
Rampage says he came to the UFC as an outsider, and was never fully embraced by their fans. He is a fan friendly guy, but the UFC changed that for him. He is passionate about the sport, but when you get the negativity, I take a toll on you.
He loves his fans, but not all MMA fans. He wants to close his career with Bellator. When asked about wrestling training, he says he will do both and says you have a camp and you do your time, and during his down time, he can train wrestling. It will keep him in shape as he trains continuously.
Rampage is asked about how he was excited to go to the UFC, but them left disappointed. He says that it is true, he was excited, but he felt mistreated. At the beginning, it was great but like any relationship, it can go bad. He says after the A-Team movie, the UFC acted like he cheated on them. He says Bjorn gets it, and he is excited to work with him. He says that the UFC thinks they are the shit and can put on any fight, but Bjorn and Bellator do not act that way.
He is asked about losing focus while doing so many different projects (TNA, movies and such) and he says that says he knows what to do, and he may not win all of his fights, but he will have damn entertaining fights. He has never played it safe, and sometimes you win and other times you lose, but he is always entertaining.
Dixie is asked about the lack of interaction from Mo, and what Rampage’s timeline will be as far as working with TNA. Dixie says that Mo’s injuries took him longer to get back, but he is healthy and that he has been training. She has received great reports, and Rampage will start right away and his training will begin sooner rather than later.
Rampage is asked about wrestling memories, and brings up Memphis wrestling. He and his brother always watched, and his brother wrote to channel 5 to get free tickets and that is how they went to shows. He discusses the Undertaker in Memphis before he was Taker, and also watching Jarrett and Lawler. He also dressed as the Ultimate Warrior two years in a row on Halloween. He cannot wait to get into wrestling because he can be a kid all year long.
Rampage is asked about talking with Mo, and he says they have talked about the deal. They are considering tag teaming in TNA. They used to not get along, but Mo is a cool guy, but he only takes him in small doses. When asked about a fight with Mo in Bellator, he says it is possible, he fought friends before like Dan Henderson. It is a job, you fight friends sometimes and you do what you do to prove you’re the Alpha Male. He then says that Bellator will change the game going forward.
He wrote an MMA movie that he is talking with Paramount to make. It is something that needs to be made and is more real than anything because it comes from a fighter.
Dixie feels he is a gifted athlete and will transition well to pro wrestling. It will take time to learn how to wrestle, even Kurt Angle took time, but Rampage is committed and wants to do this.
Dixie is asked about the positives of bringing in an MMA fighter to the company, and she says that Rampage brings a lot to the table, legitimacy, entertainment; he has it all. She also says it brings them exposure, and working with Spike and Bellator makes it all work easily together.
Bjorn is asked about the new Bellator fighters beating established stars, and if he fears for Rampage’s debut because people will want to make a name off of him. Rampage says there is nothing wrong with losing if you have a great and entertaining fight. He doesn’t feel pressure to win. He will try to slam people and KO people, but if he loses, he just hopes it was entertaining.
He simply feels at this stage that it is not all about winning and losing, he wants to win, but he also wants to have entertaining fights.
Rampage is asked about a fighters union, and says it has been talked about for a long time. MMA is evolving, and wishes the fighters get what they deserve, but they need something for when they are done fighting. But boxers don’t have a pension either.
Bjorn is asked about Rampage not being allowed to do certain things, and he says that fighters should be who they are and say what they think. He encourages people to be themselves, and doesn’t pretend to be their king. He hopes they use common sense, but people are who they are.
The call ended at 4:10PM ET.