Interview With Mike Mooneyham, Professional Wrestling Columnist & Pro Wrestling HOF Inductee
Updated: Aug 15, 2020
Welcome back wrestling fans to another brand new exclusive interview here on *Kayfabe Kickout. For this interview I had the tremendous honor to speak with Mike Mooneyham, Professional Wrestling Columnist for The Post and Courier and Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame Inductee. Mike has written for The Post and Courier since 1979 and has literally written a near infinite amount of articles and columns on the subject of pro wrestling. In addition to his in depth articles, Mike has interviewed the who's who of professional wrestling including; Eddie Guerrero, Jesse Ventura, Steve Austin, Linda McMahon and so many others. Mike's weekly columns have been in continuous publication longer than any other in the United States. In 2002 Mike co-wrote the New York Times bestseller Sex, Lies, and Headlocks: The Real Story of Vince McMahon and the World Wrestling Federation. Mike is a member of the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in Waterloo, Iowa, a winner of the 2009 James C. Melby Award for wrestling journalism, and was inducted into the S.C. Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2011, which are extremely impressive accolades to add to his already impressive resume. I spoke with Mike on various aspects of professional wrestling including the death of WCW, Ric Flair, Vince Russo and more. Richard: So right off the bat I would like to get your thoughts on the CM Punk - Paul Heyman "Heart Attack" Angle on WWE RAW, a lot of wrestling fans were outraged and felt the WWE went too far. Do you think the WWE crossed the line?
Mike: I think it was one of those rare instances when the wrestling business had a real "feel-good" moment, and they marred it with an angle that didn't further any storyline or result in any more PPV buys. I don't have anything against getting a little cheap heat, but this wasn't the time or the place. Richard: There is a lot of speculation in the professional wrestling world that Vince McMahon has lost touch with the product of the WWE, more specifically lost touch with the fans. What are your thoughts on Vince McMahon? Mike: The wrestling business is changing, and I think Vince realizes that and has turned a lot of his former duties over to his daughter Stephanie and son-in-law Triple H. He'll always have a major hand in it, although I'm sure he will be more open to suggestions and advice from those closer to today's product. You've got to give Vince credit, though, for what he's accomplished. Like him or hate him, he's transformed the business forever. Not many could have pulled that off. Richard: I assume that you have been following the Aces & Eights storyline in TNA, do you think this is TNA's attempt in recreating the nWo, or do you think TNA has another motive?
Mike: Professional wrestling is in the recycling business. Very little is original; most is a copy of something done successfully in the past. The Four Horsemen, the NWO. Aces & Eights is just another renegade group. What matters is the chemistry and the drawing power of those involved. Richard: What were your immediate thoughts upon hearing you were being inducted into the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame? Mike: I was, of course, elated and flattered. It's quite an honor to share hardware in an institution with names like Thesz, Hodge and Brisco. To be included in the writers' wing with folks I've known and admired for many years made it doubly rewarding. Richard: There is speculation on Ric Flair returning to the WWE after the lawsuit between it and TNA is settled, do you think it's the right move for the WWE to bring him back? Mike: Ric Flair is a legend, and it's a feather in the cap for WWE if they bring him in. There's no other like him, and the entire company will only be made stronger by his presence. Richard: There are many different opinions on what exactly killed WCW, in your own opinion what do you think was the one factor that caused its demise? Mike: WCW was destroyed from the inside. Jealousy, greed, lack of financial oversight and not producing new stars and entertaining story-lines in a period when WWE was doing just that. Ultimately it was a network decision that ended WCW. Richard: You have had the privilege of interviewing the who's who of professional wrestling, who was your favorite to interview and why? Mike: I can't even approximate the number of performers I've interviewed over the course of these many years. One of my favorites, though, is a wrestler who's been a good friend of mine for decades. I did a major front-page spread on Burrhead Jones (real name Melvin Nelson) about 10 years ago after Burrhead had retired from the business. The story is about a guy who grew up in the cotton fields of South Carolina, made his way to New York City, and through hard work and determination, achieved his lifelong dream of becoming a pro wrestler. He was a black man in the Deep South battling the odds in a business that mirrored a segregated society. Through the good times, bad times, and the enormous changes he’d seen, he remained remained steadfastly optimistic, seeing a life of joy and simple truths. Richard: In the age of social media and advanced communication technology, do you think writing has become a lost art? Mike: I believe great writing certainly has to an extent. But I also have to say there's some really good stuff going on in social media and some of the writing is surprisingly good. There's many more options today for a wrestling fan. I always enjoy reading a piece that's well-written and well-constructed. A story that "sings" is truly a joy to behold. Richard: A huge majority of wrestling fans do not have much respect for Vince Russo and what he has done for professional wrestling, what are your thoughts on Russo? Mike: Vince Russo is another one of those polarizing figures. He's a guy with a lot of successes but also a lot of failures. He was successful in WWE, but one of the major reasons is that he had others, namely Vince McMahon, filtering the good from the bad. He had no such backstops in WCW and later TNA. Richard: Do you think there will be another pro wrestling promotion that will give the WWE some real competition, much like WCW did during the 'Monday Night Wars'? Mike: I honestly don't see another Ted Turner on the horizon. TNA is doing a credible job, but they're not pretending to be viable competition for WWE. For the future of the business, though, I hope another Ted Turner comes along one day and makes a major investment in the wrestling business. Competition, as WCW proved, only makes the product better and stronger. Fans can follow Mike Mooneyham on Twitter @ByMikeMooneyham and fans can also check out Mike's articles and columns at The Post And Courier I want to personally thank Mike Mooneyham for taking the time to speak with me here at *Kayfabe Kickout.
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