It has been an interesting four years for Mr. Kennedy so far with the WWE, filled with plenty of highs and lows. Just last year, he won the Money in the Bank ladder match at WrestleMania 23 and seemed poised to become the WWE Champion, only to have that opportunity slip away after he injured his triceps muscle.
He has bounced back and forth between being a heel and a babyface and wrestling near the bottom of the card to feuding with top guys such as The Undertaker and Shawn MIchaels. Unfortunately for him, he has also been hit with three major injuries during his relatively short time with the WWE and is currently sidelined with a dislocated shoulder.
Recently, I caught up with Mr. Kennedy to discuss his time so far in the WWE as well as WrestleMania with tickets for WrestleMania 25 now on sale. You can purchase tickets for WrestleMania 25 on April 5, 2009 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas at Ticketmaster.com.
Letís start off with talking about WrestleMania. Youíve been a part of the last two of them and youíre a long-time wrestling fan. What is it like for you being on that stage?
It was pretty amazing. I have to say, for the first one I was a part of which was WrestleMania 23 where I won the Money in the Bank, I wrestled in front of 81,000 people. I remember being in the ring and looking out and it didnít really feel that there was 81,000 people there. But then I went upstairs to the Skyboxes afterwards and looked out at this incredible sea of people and this tiny little ring. It was then that it really kind of hit me and sunk in that I just wrestled in front of all those people. That was a pretty cool feeling and obviously something I had dreamed of for a long time. You know, I always knew in the back of my head that it was going to happen. It was just a matter of when it was going to happen. That was kind of a dream come true and a testament to the fact that you really can do anything in the United States as long as you work hard and you put your mind to something Ė itís true.
Letís go back to just after WrestleMania 23. Like you said, you won the Money in the Bank ladder match and it looked like there would be some huge things happening for you over that summer and things were really picking up for you. Then you had a triceps injury and a doctor said you would be out for 6-8 months but you later found out it wouldnít be that long and the injury wasnít that severe. How frustrating is it when things start going your way and an injury happens and then is diagnosed wrong?
Well, I donít think anything would have been different had he not misdiagnosed me because I was going to be out for two months regardless. And thatís about how long I was out for was two months. At the time, Undertaker was hurt and they really needed to go in a different direction. They needed to get the title off of him. Edge was the guy they chose to go with in lieu of me. I donít blame that doctor for misdiagnosingÖI donít think it affected anything. It didnít change the outcome. It was just an unfortunate set of circumstances that I did get injured at that particular time. I never felt like Iíve really gotten back on track. Thereís a couple of other things Ė the suspension and then the other injury now. Itís just been one thing after another. Hopefully, Iíve had my share of bad luck and hopefully things will start picking back up. Iíve always remained optimistic throughout all the stuff. I went through a heck of a lot worse times when I was doing the independents. I always feel that if you keep your chin up and you persevere and you work hard, good things will comeÖeventually.
The hardest part of the whole journey of trying to making it in the wrestling business is just making it to the WWE in the first place, isnít it?
It really is. I pounded on the door for six and a half years. I would send tapes every two months to the office and I wouldnít get a call back or I would attend the matches and do a tryout and wouldnít hear anything from anybody regarding the match. So it was really frustrating. There was a point of time in my career where I thought I just kept getting passed over and they kept hiring guys and I wasnít part of that crew. I remember finally going to a taping where Paul Heyman and Jim Ross both kind of noticed me at the same time and called me over and started asking questions. Paul Heyman sort of took an interest and then I think because of that some other people took interest. Tommy Dreamer Ė because Tommy was in charge of bringing in new talent at the time so he started booking me more regularly. Arn Anderson also got a chance to see me perform in the ring. I had a little tryout match with Shawn Daivari. Shawn and I were roommates and traveled Friday, Saturday and Sunday almost every weekend when I was working independents. So we had so many matches together and I got an opportunity to work with him in front of the agents, the producers, and had a good match. Arn pulled me aside and said the next time we have a hiring process and we hire a group of guys, Iím going to make sure to put your name in there. You hear a lot of stuff in the wrestling business. You hear people blowing smoke all the time and a lot of it never comes true but Arn kept true to his word. It was about six months later that I finally got the call.
So, when was the last time somebody called you Two Rivers Jack?
(laughs) Oh boy! Colt Cabana every once in a while calls me Two Rivers Jack because he was on the show thatÖIíve only been called that one time in an actual wrestling match and Cabana was on that show as well as (CM) Punk. That was probably the last time I was called that.
You mentioned injuries and the one you have right now which is a shoulder injury that has kept you sidelined since August. Youíve been with the WWE for about four years now. Before you got there, I donít think you ever had any major injuries. Since youíve been there, youíve had three. How difficult is that to not be a buzzkill and keep you down?
Well, the schedule got increasinglyÖIíve wrestled a lot more since Iíve gotten to the WWE. Our schedule is a lot tougher than the independent schedule since we wrestle anywhere from three to seven days a week. Seven days a week when we do our overseas tour and, so, itís just one of those things. The human body is not meant to be abused like that day in and day out. Things happen and I had some unfortunate set of circumstances happen two out of the three times. One time was just kind of a fluke injury and the other two times were kind of mistakes made in the ring. Hey, itís just part of the game.
With the injuries, was it just a simple thing because it seems that more often itís the simplest things in wrestling where guys seem to get hurt the most often?
The first time I was dropkicked off an apron and dropkicked very, very hard off an apron so I ended up flying through the air like the Matrix and I hit the concrete floor with my arm outstretched on my side and that just popped my lat right off the bone. With the second injury, it was one of those fluke things where Batista just gave me a clothesline and I took a back bump like Iíve taken a million times before and I just felt my tricep pop. It can be anything on any given day. You look at some of the tapes, you look at some of the previous injuries for some of the guys. Triple H went to plant his foot and tore his quadriceps right off the bone.
Evan Bourne recently got injured doing something he does all the time but his ankle got tucked under him and he injured his ankle.
And you know, thatís one thing about our business. We wrestled injured all the time. Thatís just part of the nature of our beast being that itís the entertainment business and thereís a million guys beating the down door to get in. The machine will keep going regardless if youíre there or if youíre not. So a lot of times, guys will just try to tough it out. Iíve seen guys wrestle with some pretty amazing injuries before and I would say that weíre always more injured that the average Joe walking down the street. We just kind of suck it up and drive on and get used to it after a while. Itís just that every once in a while, something happens and you just have to roll with it. If you let it get you down, then youíre dead in the water.
Since you are a long-time fan and youíre not able to wrestle right now, do you still watch the programs or is it tough for you to watch and you stay away from it right now?
I do try to watch it as much as I can. Iíve been pretty busy with other things Ė being a husband to my wife and things that I have a hard time doing when Iím on the road. But I do have this neat little invention called DVR that tapes all my wrestling and I tape all the shows. Itís one of those things where youíre a wrestling fan Ė and I do still consider myself to be a wrestling fan first and foremost Ė and I just happen to be such a big fan that I wanted to be part of the business. I donít foresee myself everÖeven when Iím out of the business, Iíll still probably be watching wrestling and still have a passion for it.
Donít do too much around the house or youíll spoil your wife and sheíll expect that even when you get back on the road.
(laughs) Well, sheís kind of gotten used to this where she knows that so far with the WWE Iíve been for an injury about every year. Hopefully, this will be the last of the bad luck. But she knows that eventually Iím going to have to go back on the road. Itís just one of those things you kind of get accustomed to being a part from each other and then when youíre together it makes the time that much more meaningful.
How is your rehab going and whatís the timetable for your return?
The rehab is going pretty good. Itís slow going Ė thereís not a whole lot I can do right now. Iím going to see Dr. Andrews and heís going to give me an update and tell me how he wants me to start progressing my rehabilitation. He initially had told the office that I would be looking at a February 28 return date if everything goes well. Iím going to cross my fingers and say a couple prayers, take my vitamins and drink my milk and hopefully Iíll be back by then, maybe a little sooner.
That would seem like a pretty good time. Thereís a pretty big show thatís only about a month or so after that.
(laughs) You bet! WrestleMania baby!
When youíre out and youíre looking at your spot on the card Ė it seemed like you were on the verge of being a main-event guy. Is it difficult when youíre on the sidelines to think that you hope you get your spot when you do come back or are you afraid of being the forgotten guy?
Yeah, itís one of those situations where because we run such a fast-paced environment and itís always go go go and thereís always a million things going on and thereís only so many people in the company to take care of all of those things. A lot of times when you go home, you donít hear a lot from the guys. Itís not because they donít care about you any more. Itís not that. Itís just that everybody is very, very busy and when youíre out of sight, you tend to be out of mind sometimes. They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, absence makes the heart grow yonder and you hope that itís the former of the two. As for this time, Iíve pretty much stayed away. I had an opportunity to go to the show in Green Bay and I just thought ĎIím going to stay away from this oneí. Let them forget about me for a little while. Sometimes thatís always good.
I remember - even as much as I loved watching Stone Cold Steve Austin - I remember there was a time right before he got injured and was gone for a year with his neck injury. Even seeing him, it was getting to beÖthey lost their creativity a little bit. It wasnít cool that he had to get injured and go away for that long but when he came back it was something else to see him back in the ring again.
You mentioned Austin Ė Iíve heard that youíre a big fan of his and have become pretty close with him. What kind of advice has he given you?
The nice thing about Steve is thatÖIíve had a couple opportunities to sit down and watch my match with him. He would show up at a TV and they always have a tape of the match of the previous week so we would sit down and watch the match. It was pretty neat because he picks apart minor details that mean so much that the normal viewer canít quite put their finger on but would mean so much more if that little piece of the puzzle was there. Thatís kind of the stuff that he helps me with Ė picking apart my matches and finding those little, minor details that make the match that much better.
I know that you plan on being a part of WrestleMania 25 which is coming up next year and for many more to come. Give me a dream scenario on who you would like to face in the main event.
Whoever is the World Heavyweight Champion or the WWE Champion at the time. How is that for a lofty goal? Iím an equal opportunity (expletive) kicker.
Thanks again for the time Mr. Kennedy.
Hey man, the pleasure has been all yours.