August 17, 2011
@GaryMehaffy on Twitter
An interview with Chris Masters
I watched the “Masterpiece Theatre” at WWE Axxess over the weekend. Out of interest, I’d seen that you had tweeted that you had tickets for SummerSlam and wondered did you actually go last night?
No, I didn’t actually go to SummerSlam; I kind of opted out of that at the last minute. I figured that maybe the Axxess crash was probably enough! I really wanna start this show of “Masterpiece Theatre” and I felt like we got some good teasers and clips, and anybody who hasn’t checked it out should – it’s pretty funny!
What got you interested in pro wrestling?
I always loved it as a kid. I loved it forever – I probably got into it when I was about 6 or 7 years old. I really got into the Ultimate Warrior when I started watching it and after he had disappeared a couple of times I started appreciating Shawn Michaels, Mr. Perfect, Bret Hart, a lot of those guys. I started seeing the work that they put in when they got in there. I was hooked from there on. I may have gotten out of it for maybe a couple of years but then I got sucked right back in.
Who trained you or got you into the business?
I started out in Ultimate Pro Wrestling, which is over here in California. The trainers there at the time were guys called Ron Howard and ‘Mad Dog’ Mike Bell. I started out there and was training there for about a year and I got signed to World Wrestling Entertainment and went down to Louisville and trained under Lance Storm, Rip Rogers, Bill DeMott and other various people.
You mention the developmental deal you got at the age of 20; how did you at such a young age getting that?
It was cool. It was like college for me. I went down there, we had a lot of camaraderie, everyone down there was real cool. We were all like one group when we went out and everything. I look on back on that as so much fun. Yea, I was really young – I think I got signed at 19 and I think I was down in Louisville by the time I was 20. It was incredible.
Relatively speaking, you weren’t in OVW all that long. Do you think in hindsight that you were brought up too quickly to the main roster?
For a number of reasons, not just because of my wrestling. I was so young – when I was on TV I was 21 – and you get thrown this huge opportunity and you make all this money………I was too young to responsibly handle all that at the time. I made a lot of mistakes. Yea, I might have been brought up early but it wasn’t just from an in ring standpoint. I just had maturing to do as a person altogether.
I have to say looking back on it now – and it seems like something that they (WWE) have gone away from – that your vignettes and subsequent masterlock challenges really got you over. It seems that WWE have tended to veer away from this style of introduction.
You mean they steer away from that with current wrestlers today?
Yea, with current wrestlers. When you were brought up at first the vignettes really helped you but at the moment with the exception of Sin Cara and Johnny Curtis they have shied away from it for some reason.
Yea, I dunno why they do that. It’s always a good way to introduce somebody when you have those little vignettes, it creates build up, and it’s like Arn Anderson used to say: every time they air one of those it’s like a victory for you every week, it’s like winning a match. But it’s not done as much anymore.
Whose idea was the masterpiece nickname?
I always give Matt Morgan credit for that one. We were in Louisville hanging out and I was going by (the name of) Chris Masters at the time and just in casual conversation he dropped in ‘The Masterpiece’. A light bulb went off and everybody said “That’s it, that’s it, that’s the name!”
When you were on the main roster, after around 6 months or so, you got a run against Shawn Michaels. It might be a silly question, but I assume you must have enjoyed that experience?
Oh yea, definitely. It’s wrestling your childhood hero, how many people get to do that? It’s one of those special things I’ll never forget, because I know how lucky I was to be able to compete against a guy that I’d put on such a pedestal. I’m really happy that I was able to break into the business before he retired – and a lot of the other guys I got to work with that I respect so much.
At the end of 2005/early 2006 you were regularly working around the top of the card. Did you hope for a run at the WWE title or were you promised anything like that?
They put a lot of juice behind me first time around. I had a good push going, the sky could have been the limit, but the fact is that I was in such a bad place there too. I started messing up and I got hooked on prescription pills. I was in my early 20’s and I was experiencing life but not being………I had this great opportunity in front of me but I wasn’t a mature enough human being to handle it as professionally as possible.
You mentioned the stuff with the painkillers. When you came back after that (rehab) and you had cut up and lost weight I remember shaking my head when I saw HHH and HBK almost mocking this on TV. I thought this was asinine. What did you think about that?
I had lost a lot of weight and DX would make jokes about things that were hot off the press. I had come back much lighter and I wasn’t able to train in rehab as much as I’d like, and I was running miles every morning. I ended up losing a lot of weight and it was drastic, because you went from seeing me one minute then I’m gone for three months, so it wasn’t a gradual weight loss or anything like that. It (the DX mocking) was definitely a cheap shot, but at the same time it was just something that was thrown out there at the time and I didn’t really necessarily make a big deal out of it. I mean Hunter didn’t look that great at the time himself! (laughs)
You had the masterlock which, as a hold, remained unbreakable for so long and then eventually Bobby Lashley was the one who broke it. Do you think they should have kept the hold unbeaten or was the thought that if Bobby Lashley had broken this then you might get a run with him at the ECW belt?
I’ll say this – looking back at it now he wasn’t the right guy, because he didn’t stick around with the company. If he had stuck around and it was used for something, or as a vital launching point for him, it might have been one of those things, you’d have to suck it up. But he’s not there anymore………..At the time it felt like ok, if anybody’s going to break it then it might as well be this guy because he needs the push. I didn’t realise at the time what a big, or not such a big, deal it was. I figured this should probably be the guy. Looking back on it now, he probably shouldn’t have been the guy! (laughs)
In 2007 you were moved to over to the SmackDown roster. You dislocated your elbow shortly after that, and then were released. How did you feel about that with all of these things happening at once?
It was a hard time for sure. From a personal standpoint I wasn’t at the best point of my life right about then, but I also accepted the fact that I had made mistakes. It’s very different from this time around. I was able to come to come to grips with the fact that I’d messed up. I felt in the back of my mind that I’d be able to come back if I could get my stuff together, and eventually I did. Eventually I was able to look myself in the face and say hey, what are you doing? You completely derailed yourself! I got my act together and eventually got hired back.
In between your release and getting hired back had you had any contact with TNA?
I think I emailed Terry Taylor one time, but I got booked up so quick with so many independent bookings. I guess I did feel like in the back of my mind that I’d probably end up back in WWE before TNA. It wasn’t an aggressive pursuit by any means – not at that point.
You re-signed with WWE in 2009, but between then and now they didn’t do anything major with you, despite that fact that you were working hard and constantly improving in the ring and all aspects of the business. How disappointed were you that they didn’t really give you that big push?
I was under the impression that something was going to happen this year. Hunter had pulled me aside on a few occasions acknowledging my progress and telling me that Vince felt they just had to figure out what to do with me, whether it would be repackaging or a fresh coat of paint. It was disappointing, because that was maybe 3 or 4 months ago, so I figured we could collaborate on some ideas and figure out how to make me relevant again. In the meantime I would try to have the best match I could every time I went out there. And that’s what made it surprising. When I got the phone call I didn’t see it coming, after those conversations and how well I was doing, I felt like I wasn’t somebody who was expendable at that point. It surprised me and I felt like they were making a mistake.
Were you told it was one of the famous ‘creative has nothing’ decisions or was it……….
‘Company restructuring’ was what they told me it was. I don’t know exactly what that means, but I do know they have 80 guys in developmental that they’re trying to figure out what to do with and give people a shot. It could have just come down to them not having an idea of exactly what to do with me. Still don’t know for sure though! I guess that’s a question I’ll be pondering for a long time. There are a lot of guys that should have been cut on the roster before me, especially with the potential I was showing that I could have had there with the support of the company behind me.
I’ve spoken to a few guys after they’ve been released and from my own point of view I always think it’s strange that it’s always the wrestlers who are punished when creative seem to have nothing for them. The wrestlers are doing what they can in the ring, but yet creative constantly seems to not be helping them either.
It’s not all creative’s responsibility. You gotta take initiative and throw ideas and give them something to work with. Maybe on my hand I could have taken more initiative and thrown out ideas, but then again it’s tough. They have to put the machine behind you and they have to want to push you. Like I said, either there was a reluctancy or they didn’t know what to do with me. I could have also taken some initiative. When it comes down to it, when you watch any match I’ve had within the last year I felt like I was become one of their better, if not one of their best, in ring guys in the company, for all around - for my size, height and weight. I’m at a perfect weight, I still look good. My mind was starting to look at the business in a different way. I was stating to really understand the art of ‘sports entertainment’ and pro wrestling, getting emotionally invested in your match – what I feel now constituted a great worker. I was in the process, I was on the path of that, I felt like I could have put on some amazing matches and really just done some great things with a lot of guys who are up there right now, like Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre and some of the other young guys.
Even CM Punk referenced that very point on Raw last week (August 8th).
Yes he did!
And unfortunately there’ll not be a matchup now for the Internet Championship against Zack Ryder!
(laughs) Oh yea, that hasn’t worked out for the whole IWC, but you are going to see ‘Masterpiece Theatre’ going head up against ‘Z! True Long Island Story’ every week, so everybody look forward to that. I’m gonna try to put some entertaining stuff out there.
What’s next for you after the release? I know it’s only been ten days or so.
The difference this time as opposed to the first time is that I’m not going to leave anything off the table. I feel some vindication in the fact that I’m confident this time around that it wasn’t me who necessarily messed up. I worked my ass off, so I can hold my head up high and keep moving forward. I’m not gonna leave anything off the table, whether that be sports entertainment, or anything for that manner. Whether it be going back to WWE, pursuing TNA, working internationally…….there’s a whole world out here. I’m 28 years old, my best years are ahead of me. I’m gonna continue to do what I do and open my mind up to things outside of wrestling too. There’s no doubt that there’s no greater outlet or release for me, and nothing else that I have a passion for, moreso than this business. Anything I can possibly to do to better myself and keep doing that, keep performing for people in front of crowds doing what I love to do, I’m gonna do. I don’t think it’s a bad time in my life, also, to become a more well rounded human being and take a couple of college classes in something else in my free time. Also, you know, get an agent as I live out here in L.A. and see what’s out there. Maybe they need someone for Spartacus! (laughs)
Do you have any words for your fans?
My words to the fans are, follow me on twitter @wwemasterp and I’ll be keeping you updated. ‘Masterpiece Theatre’ is coming pretty soon at the end of this week or next week. For bookings or anything like that you can reach my booking manager Vesela, at firstname.lastname@example.org.