Hello and welcome to a very special edition of the Michael Morenstein Files. As many of you know from dirtsheet reports around the 'Net, Jericoholic Anonymous has been removed from all future bookings for both A1E and EPW following their most recent pay-per-view events. Rumors were swirling that the Anglo Luchador was retiring, but there has been no official word yet...
I recently sat down with the former A1E and EPW World Champion and got answers to some burning questions, as well as some other things that the wrestling world has been dying to know about one Jericoholic Hulkamaniac Anonymous.
MM: Hello, and welcome.
JA: Hello to you, and thanks for having me, Mike.
MM: Pleasure's mine. First thing's first, and this is a question that's been on the minds of everyone since your last appearance at WrestleVerse III, are you retired?
JA: nervous laughter You don't pull punches, do you, Mike?
MM: Heh, well, you could say that. But there have been a number of rumors on the Web, and no one, not even Dave Meltzer or the folks over at FW Dirtsheet have been able to get a straight answer.
JA: Well, Mike, I can't say I've talked to anyone except for Nate [Nathan Houston] and Lindz [Lindsay Troy] about this.
MM: And what did you tell them?
JA: Well, that I was taking some time off and that I wouldn't be signing any new contracts. I was coming to the end of my original EPW deal that I signed way back in 2004 anyway, a plum deal for them since my downside guarantee wasn't all that high and I didn't ask for many incentives.
MM: Of course, because of your accumulated wealth outside of the business.
JA: Yep. Basically, after I came back from my last hiatus, I was a self-made millionaire and I didn't actually need wrestling for the money so much as I needed it for myself, if that makes sense. So, Troy and [Dan] Ryan both were trying to get extensions put together for me for the last few months. I was receptive, but in the back of my mind, I figured it would have been time for another extended period off.
MM: So you've been planning this for awhile?
JA: Well, yes and no. Yes in that my body hasn't been in peak condition since before I suffered that back injury in A1E in 2002, back before I was programmed against Big Dog for the World Championship. The aches and pains pile up, even after having rested for the time that I rested. While EPW's television schedule isn't exactly rigorous, their house show schedule, combined with A1E's much more regular TV schedule plus their house shows can make things add up. Still, I was ready to continue until I suffered The Big One.
MM: The Big One?
JA: Yeah. I tried not to let on to anyone except Tamara [Lollipop] and the training staffs from both companies, but I pulled a muscle in my back against Trip [Sean Stevens] at Aggression 43.
MM: That doesn't sound all that bad.
JA: No, but I kept working on it, and again, the house shows, plus the TV matches against Wraith and the PPV matches against Trip and [Rocko] Daymon and against Ken Cloverleaf. It got aggravated somehow, and I kept putting off getting it scoped further. I was subsiding on codeine and cortisone shots for the last two months, Mike. Then, as it turns out, after WrestleVerse, I got it scoped and it turns out I tore a muscle back there.
JA: You can say that again. I had surgery on it last week, actually, and things are healing, albeit slowly. Before I went into surgery, I had told both Houston and Troy about what my plans were, and they were both agreeable to let me announce them on my own terms.
MM: You explained the terms of your EPW contract. What about A1E? It was reported that you signed a three-year extension last year.
JA: Well, me and Nate sat down and we came to an agreement that would let me out of my contract without any financial obligations on their end and without any penalty on my end. They were more than gracious.
MM: A 180 from the last time you left, eh?
JA: Heh, I guess you could say that, Mike. If I had to leave, I'm glad I'm not doing it crossing the bridge with a gascan in one hand and a flamethrower in the other. Seriously though, one of the biggest regrets that I had after leaving the first time was that I had left the only wrestling home that I had known for the three to four years prior on such bad terms. Now I feel like when I do heal and if I get the urge to wrestle again, I can go back to the locker room and not have to prove myself all over again.
MM: You said "if" you get the urge. Are you saying that injuries may not be the only factor on this?
JA: Well, not really. I mean, it's not entirely impossible for someone to love what they do and still get sick of it. Am I sick of wrestling? No, not in the least. Am I a bit tired of waking up in pain, living out of a rental car and not being able to settle down with my wife? Yeah, a little bit. Plus, there are a lot of other ways to be involved in wrestling without having to live the lifestyle.
MM: Thinking about stealing my gig?
JA: laughs Yeah, I could do that. Or I could announce, book, train... there are a ton of things to do. I was born to be in this business. If I come back in a year or so, and I think I'm ready to go again, I'll go. If not, then I'll find something else. I'll survive.
MM: So going back to the original question, I'd say that it's a "no"?
JA: Yeah, I'll be in this industry in some capacity. Now whether it's as an active competitor, we'll see.
MM: Until then, what are you planning on doing?
JA: Well, I'm gonna take some time off. Enjoy the finer things in life. I'll probably take in some games at Citizen's Bank Park, sleep in a bit, visit James [Irish] and Paul [Bennett - Big Dog] at the retirement home. laughs Who knows, maybe I'll try and start a family with Tam too.
MM: Hoping to get a fourth generation of Anonymous in wrestling, I take it?
JA: Haha, yeah, well, I'm not making any promises. I have taken more than a few nutshots in my day, and no matter how much you try to protect yourself down there, well, there's only a certain amount of trauma you can prevent. It's not the most "workable" move if you know what I mean.
MM: I think I do. I think I do. If or when you do come back, what do you think you have left to accomplish? You have won every singles Championship there is to win in A1E and EPW save the Challenge Championship in the former and Television in the latter. You've won a Pier Six and a Best of A1E. You've scored gold in the CSWA, and not many people can say that at all.
JA: Well, I would like to have more than one successful World Championship defense, Mike. I mean, not to knock Andy Gilkison, but I think he was the only guy I beat while I was World Champion. Winning the World Championship isn't enough, I'd like to be able to defend it a bit more.
I also don't think that winning something once really is accomplishing anything. I see guys quitting feds, retiring because they've done all they can do in their words. That's bullshit, Mike. Pure and utter bullshit. I mean take a look at Paul. He did what he did in his first run way back in 2002. He was dominant. But when he lost the World Championship, he didn't turn tail and run because he did it all. No, he kept going. When he did take breaks, it was because the aches and pains were getting to him. But he came back and years later, he won the World Championship again. He kept up excellence. You see Mike, it's one thing just to get to the top, but to stay there. Paul stayed there. Marcus [Westcott] stayed there in two companies. [Dan] Ryan did it in a million companies. They got over, they stayed over. They performed to a high level and when it came time to sustain it, to go out there and give a main event performance, to look good and put in an effort when putting the next guy over. So don't tell me there's nothing left to do. There's always something left to do, unless you're Ric Flair or Hornet or Joey Melton.
MM: Wow, tell me how you really feel.
JA: Oh man, you don't want me to get off on a real tangent. I mean one time, I chewed Wreck's ears off talking about taxes, and all he did was ask me who Ron Paul was.
MM: Wow, you're a Ron Paul supporter?
JA: Yeah, something about small government, lower taxes and having our boys at home safely instead of in Iraq appeals to me, but that's for a political blog, not a wrestling one.
MM: Alright, then, let's go back. Is there anything else you'd want to do if you came back full-time as a wrestler?
JA: Yeah, there's quite a bit. I think tops on the list would be to sort of finish off the longstanding feud with Marcus. There's a big story there that is okay right now if nothing else were to happen but would be fantastic if we had just one more six-to-twelve month run to work it.
MM: I'd assume then that the legit heat between you two has dissipated?
JA: Oh yeah, that went out the window a long time ago, Mike. I learned that grudges are never good to have, especially in this business, where there's only a limited amount of guys that you can work with, especially at the top. And me and Beast both are inalienable parts of both the A1E and EPW pantheons, so it's not like we'd be able to avoid each other unless I just up and started anew in another fed. But between you, me and all your readers, that wouldn't have a great chance of happening.
MM: So new territories would be out of the question if and when you came back?
JA: No, but if I went somewhere new, like NFW or somewhere in the PTC circuit, it would be in addition to A1E and/or EPW.
MM: A couple of months ago, you got married to your valet and longtime girlfriend Tamara "Lollipop" Boyd. Can you tell us about the ceremony?
JA: Well, the ceremony was at Mother of Divine Grace church in the Port Richmond section of Philly. A lot of people from the business there. Actually Lindz was in Tam's bridal party, and James was my best man. It caused some friction among my brothers, but they understood. And we honeymooned in Grand Cayman, which was sweet. All the Cuban cigars I could smoke, and just beautiful weather all around.
MM: How did you guys last this long when many wrestling relationships end badly?
JA: It's simple. We're really normal people. Neither one of us does hardcore drugs. We drink, but ask anyone, we're really mellow drunks. I don't beat her, she doesn't fuck behind my back. We have normal conversations, get into normal arguments - well as normal as you can get without having to live in a house for more than a week at a time. I've never done a steroid in my life, and she isn't into plastic surgery. We love each other for who we are, and yeah, they say you don't shit where you eat, but really, this isn't the kind of job where being together all the time is grating. Most of the time that I'm on the job, my focus is on the guy on the other side of the ring. She just has the best seat in the house.
MM: Okay, one last question. Say this is it and you don't ever wrestle a match ever again. Do you have any regrets?
JA: pause No Mike, I can't say I do. I had a good two-decade run from soup to nuts so far, with half of it being in the bigs. I've wrestled the best wrestlers in the world, performed in front of some of the greatest fans and I've turned in performances that I'm mostly satisfied with. Do I have a million World Championships? No, but I was respected enough by the companies that I worked for for them to toss me the ball and say, "Hey Tom, run with it", whether it was in the main event, the big tournament or even if it was just in a midcard match that they needed to fill out a card and make people remember the event. While in my heart I want to believe that this injury won't sap my spirit and that I will be back in a wrestling ring as a wrestler and not just a trainer, if I don't come back, well, que sera sera. I had a great run, and I'm out with a good portion of my life to enjoy in financial security.
MM: Alright, well, thank you very much, it was a pleasure.
JA: No prob, and thank you.