Florida [US], June 7 (ANI): Professional wrestling legend Billy Gunn, who is currently working with All Elite Wrestling (AEW) as an on-screen personality and coach, talked about the promotion's new programme, AEW Collision, saying that the show will help fans catch some more stars on their TV sets, including wrestling legend CM Punk.
In an exclusive interview with ANI, Gunn, whose real name is Kip Sopp, touched on AEW as a promotional vehicle, his sons Colten and Austin, who work as a team named The Gunn Club, the competitive nature of the professional wrestling industry, managing his faction -- The Acclaimed (consisting of Max Caster and Anthony Bowens), his friend and former colleague Triple H (real name Paul Michael Levesque) as a creative in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) among other things.
Gunn rose to prominence in the 1990s in WWE, formerly known as the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), as a part of the tag team The New Age Outlaws (with Road Dogg) and legendary stable D-Generation-X (along with Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Chyna and X-Pac). He was an integral part of promotion's television programming, notably 'Raw' and 'Smackdown' shows when the company was in competition with World Championship Wrestling (WCW) for TV ratings from 1995 to 2001 -- a phase known as the 'Monday Night Wars'.
He has held WWE Tag Team Championship once, WWE World Tag Team Championship 10 times, WWE Hardcore Championship (two times) and WWE Intercontinental Championship once. He also won the 'King of the Ring' tournament back in 1999.
In 2019, he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as a part of D-Generation-X. He also made a return to the company in the 2010s.
Gunn also had a stint with Impact Wrestling, formerly known as Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling from 2005-09. He worked in various independent wrestling promotions from 2015-20 and started working for AEW in 2019.
Talking about the promotion's new programme AEW Collision, which is the promotion's second main program next to AEW Dynamite and third program next to AEW Rampage, Gunn told ANI, "We are excited. Obviously, we are doing something right as we are getting another show of 2 hours. It is going to be amazing. It is a good way to bring other guys on TV. With Dynamite and Rampage, we have only three hours of broadcast. We have a pretty big roster and we cannot put everyone on TV every week. Fans want to see more guys. Now we are gonna get two hours of broadcast and we will give fans more superstars in action. We will be able to divide the roster now. It will highlight more talents, get more stories, will have a huge star in CM Punk."On AEW's partnerships with promotions like New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), DDT Pro Wrestling, Impact Wrestling etc, Gunn said such partnerships are good for everyone.
"It is good for everybody. You have AEW willing to do stuff with everyone. WWE is not doing this, because they are them! (laughs). I think it is a great fan experience. If you see two wrestlers from different promotions fight each other, is not that amazing? It is very fan-friendly. I do not really know about business since I am a coach. But as far as fan experience is concerned, it is amazing that our very best talent gets to work with the top talents from other promotions. I love NJPW. I love every aspect of wrestling," said Gunn.
Gunn said with the inter-promotional partnerships and events increasing, professional wrestling will never see something like the Monday Night Wars ever again.
"Doing all these inter-promotional events, nothing is going back to the Monday Night Wars days. Everything has changed. Wrestling has changed, the product has changed. We are not in a desperate mood. We are not trying to put WWE business, neither are they trying to do that to us. Everyone is focusing on their product and putting on the best show as possible for fans. We are focusing on what we can control. Wrestling has changed," said the wrestler.
Gunn said his friend Triple H is extremely creative and "will do fine" if given freedom while creating the product.
"He (Triple H) is very creative. I am not really watching a lot of wrestling since I have to worry about my show. As a creative, Hunter has been great since the start. If he is creative, he got to be a great businessman too. I have heard that their product, it is doing great right now and they have some big storylines going on. If he is given freedom and let him to do what he does, he will do fine."Vince McMahon stepped down as WWE's chairman and CEO after The Wall Street Journal reported in June last year that multimillion-dollar hush-money payments were made to women, who alleged sexual relationships with the wrestling industry's mainstay. Since then, Triple H, the current chief content officer (CFO) in the company, has gained control over the creative writing and direction of the company, which allows him to call the shots about the TV programming and other creative aspects of the company. Triple H still has creative control even though Vince returned as the Chairman next year. Nick Khan is the current CEO of WWE.
On why he joined AEW, Gunn said he was offered a job as a producer and coach by the company.
"Because I did not have a job and they offered me one (laughs). I was doing some independent stuff by myself. They approached me to join as a producer and a coach. They were just starting out. I and Austin did the first 'All In' show, which was their first big show. I was one of the first people to be hired there," said Gunn.
Gunn said that AEW is making a difference to the professional wrestling industry with the amount of young talent they have.
"It is just younger talent. There are a lot of youngsters on our roster. They have never been on a big promotion, never been on such a huge platform on TV like this. It is lot of fun, challenge for them. It is good for us as coaches to help them navigate the waters of TV and to present themselves in a fashion in which people gravitate towards them. It is about backing them," said the ace wrestler.
Talking about his sons Colten and Austin, who are working as a team known as The Gunn Club, of which Billy himself was a part once, Gunn said his sons have worked hard for everything they have achieved and he is extremely proud of them as a father.
"My sons are amazing. They work super hard and a lot of people do not realise how hard they work. If you look at it from an outside perspective, they got a shot at this industry because of me. But the ones who really know me, know that I am not that guy. I worked hard to get to where I am at. I am not the guy who will do everything for their kids to help them get into the industry. They did everything by themselves. They did their own tryouts. They talked to Tony. As a dad, it is good seeing what they are doing. They have not even came close to reaching their fullest potential. They are still trying to find themselves. They are willing to try everything so that they find out what works for them. They deserve everything they get, but by no means, I have given anything to them," said Gunn.
Talking about a storyline where he is managing 'The Acclaimed' stable, which is feuding with The Gunn Club, Billy said it has been "extremely fun" working in the storyline, especially when his sons are involved in it.
"The Acclaimed have a great future ahead of them, they are good on their own. But the plan was to use me to push them along. We found something really amazing. We have a great chemistry. I do not lead them. I let them make their own decisions. They are just like my boys, they ask me all sorts of things. I give them suggestions as well," he added.
On the AEW stars, who will rule the industry in future, Gunn said, "MJF has something. You have to put him there. My boys too. There are names like Darby Allin, and Jungle Boy. Also, The Acclaimed has to be there. All of them bring something special to the show, have their own special personalities."Indian fans can catch AEW Dynamite LIVE on Eurosport and Eurosport HD on Thursday, 8th June, 2023 from 5:30 am onwards. (ANI)