This week, we had the pleasure of speaking to "The Masterpiece" Chris Masters. Widely known and respected for his time in WWE he is now a king of the independent scene the world over. He's currently in the UK for a series of shows for PCW, FPW and others, tickets for which can be purchased here and here. Serious booking inquiries only can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Here's what he had to say:
It's an honour to speak to you, the Preston City Wrestling champion! You know the UK scene well, what in your view are its strengths, how has it changed and are you watching TNA's British Boot Camp?
I can't really speak to how much it's changed necessarily but I can say that there's a lot of great talent in the UK. Wrestler for wrestler there's probably more talent than anywhere else in the world, including the US. Whilst there are more US wrestlers, from what I've seen there's more talent from top to bottom on most of the cards that I've worked for in the UK. The British wrestling fans are really awesome too because they appreciate all of it and don't get tired of seeing good wrestling. I haven't been following British Boot Camp but I know some of the participants. There are some quality guys that I knew were possibly entering like my friend Rampage Brown, Dave Mastiff, Kris Travis.. so I know that there's definitely some great talent in there, who's going to win? I have no idea!
You performed in Ring Ka King for TNA and there's Jeff Jarrett's GFW - will we see you in either promotion or are you a WWE/Indies guy for life?
I don't know for sure. I did dabble in the Ring Ka King, which was very challenging but a lot of fun. I don't really know a lot about GFW other than that Jarrett has been promoting it. I'm open to anything really, I'm staying busy doing what I'm doing and I'm enjoying it.
What is the best rib that was played on you?
One that really stands out is when I was teaming with Triple H against the Big Show and Shawn Michaels at a house show. We had been working tag matches for weeks - so it was nothing out of the ordinary but Show was persistently telling me that he had a spot planned where I would attempt to slam him and it wouldn't work. It was so basic that I couldn't understand why he kept repeating it. So during the match I go to slam him and he falls on top me and into a pinfall for a 2 count. Hunter is calling for the tag, so I tagged him in. He just comes up and slams the Big Show with the utmost ease and then flexes for the crowd. Everybody was laughing at me and I was left standing there, not knowing what to do with myself. There were echoes of an Owen Hart rib when he'd be stiff for Lex Luger and fly around for the Bulldog.
You're obviously a key part of WWE network - are you subscribing?
Unfortunately I'm not, although I think it's a brilliant move by WWE for everybody. They have so many hours of footage. This is basically the next step in technology and how we view entertainment - and WWE is ahead of the game. It's probably vital for diehard fans and makes financial sense in the long run for the casual fans. If I was still just a fan and not in the bubble I'm sure I'd subscribe and probably watch wrestling all day!
People were upset to see you leave WWE - the same could be said for Drew McIntyre. Why do you think he was released and what advice would you give him and others on leaving WWE?
I always praise Drew as one of the greatest guys I've worked with. He's methodical, he's physical, he paces matches just beautifully, I mean he's just a great worker, man. It's easy if you're just relying on your talent alone to get lost in the market. There's just so many guys and not enough room for opportunity and so lots of them are getting the wave, like Chris Hero and Drew Mcintyre and you know, even myself in my time. I think there's various reasons. Whilst TNA are opposition, it's not like WWF vs WCW days when you had two rival organisations and WCW was able to even beat WWE for a while. Or when ECW was a force and there were 3 different markets. That really opened things up. If you had that, you'd probably have guys like myself, Mcintyre, Hero and Travis in that alternative promotion. I think Drew will be fine, sometimes you need to disappear for a while and then you pop back up and Vince won't even realise that you got fired and he'll be like "why did we ever let him go". For guys like Mason Ryan and Drew Mcintyre - I don't think they can truly say its all over. I even told Drew to ride it out and have fun because he built a name, can work all over the world and hone his craft. WWE can be a great job and what we all dream and aspire to but it's also a marriage and it's a constant weight on your shoulders. That place becomes your family, your friends.. I didn't have a personal life when I was there at all.
Cena has reportedly said you're legitimately the strongest person he faced. What's your view of him?
You know, I think he was probably just flattering me with that statement - to be honest he might actually be the strongest guy I've ever met. Hes one of the guys I consider a mutant. There's big guys and then there are guys that are ridiculous. If you look at Cena's wrists and his hands, they're huge. Cena and I were never best of friends. Coincidentally, we started our wrestling training on the first day, together. I was 16 and I think he was maybe in his early 20s. He went forward and I ended up getting injured and came in later. He's got a tremendous work ethic and he's definitely a guy you can count on. I can see why you would want him as the face of your company because he's going to go above and beyond. He takes time being the locker room leader and all that. I don't think it was much of a big surprise -even when I was around in the early years, people expected him to do well in professional wrestling. That was the consensus but I don't think we could have envisaged him as the closest thing to this day and age's Hulk Hogan back then. He had all the ingredients, between the look and the ability to display his charisma and then obviously the work ethic. You need that though because if the pressure on a regular WWE guy is high, imagine what its like for the champ! You're expected to be everywhere and do everything!
You still use the Master Lock - how would you describe it?
Basic yet effective. I never thought it was the coolest finisher and it wasn't necessarily my idea but with the time they gave it, you know it generates a reaction to this day. If you think in terms of legitimacy, which we try to as much as we can, the full nelson really is an effective hold. I've made people pass out on it, so I can vouch for it. I think it's an effective move, its basic and I think the wrestling purists out there would love it and have no problem with it
How would you sum up Chris Masters?
I think I fall under the category of those lost in the market even though I'm obviously still working. I see things from two perspectives. I accomplished my dream and did what I set out to do. If there's another chance, great and if there isn't then I'll be able to apply myself and make my way through life, I'll be fine. My legacy in wrestling obviously does matter to me just because I love it so much, so I would like to make right by that and I would have loved to have had a better run. If people haven't paid attention to my work in the last few years, they wouldn't realise the progress I've made and how much work I've put in so that I'm not just a 'guy with a body' but someone who's going to work his ass off and give everything he has every night and has the talent and the ability to do so. In the end whilst I was released, I think I silenced a lot of the critics - those that were passive about me and thought I couldn't go in the ring - which is what I was setting out to do. Wrestling was never just a walk in the park for me, it was a long journey of ups and downs of trials and tribulations. I got cut from tough enough, I got injured in my first couple of months of wrestling training at 16 and I got it together at 19 and I got signed. I've had 10 years now on the road wrestling and a lot of memories.