Former WWE wrestler Zach Gowen explains why he doesn't feel he has a future as a full-time wrestler, recalls working against Vince McMahon, admits he made mistakes and rubbed colleagues the wrong way
v2 Wrestling Podcast interview with Zach Gowen
Interview available at v2wrestling.podomatic.com/entry/2013-07-22T13_42_42-07_00
On falling in love with wrestling: "One of the greatest memories I've ever had was three weeks removed from the surgery (and) having my leg amputated, sitting in a hospital bed pumped full of chemotherapy and radiation, my body ravaged with pain. I watched Ric Flair win the 1992 Royal Rumble, and for those three hours I wasn't in any pain. And for me that is what professional wrestling is all about. That is the reason I fell in love with this sport."
On signing with WWE: "(WWE) signed me eight months after I had my first match, and I was nineteen years old, so I was just a kid, I wasn't ready physically or mentally to receive that gift....I don't think that I had the proper capabilities to handle that responsibility."
On his attitude at the time, and how he was received in the WWE locker room: "In wrestling there's about 6,000 unwritten rules...I definitely rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. And I don't blame anybody, I'm not mad at anybody, because if somebody came into the locker room acting the way I acted, I probably wouldn't like them either. But there's no use crying over spilt milk."
On his match with Vince McMahon at Vengeance 2003: "Vince himself, during the match, asked me to give him some stiff shots. Basically i was just giving him some wrestling punches and he yelled at me in the middle of the match. He goes 'Zach, f---ing hit me for real'. And then I got scared because I didn't want to punch Vince in the head, but I realised that he's not a wrestler, and he can't really sell or register what I'm doing if I'm not connecting with him. so I took that as a very cool opportunity. I got carte blanche to punch Vince McMahon as hard as I could in the face and I did that repeatedly! To me that felt really good. But that came from Vince himself, that's what he wanted because it was best for business...that was surreal and Vince is a maniac and I love him to death, and I'll love him for as long as I live, and he saved my life. But he's a maniac."
On regrets: "What I found out is that being bitter or having regrets ultimately is destructive to me, and so I have to practice the principle of acceptance...do i think i could have a stronger run later on in my career? Sure, but it serves no point to look at what ifs...I really think I'm the best I've ever been, and that's such a cool feeling but it's the opposite of what happened in my career, because now I'm the best I've ever been but I have very limited exposure to wrestling fans. When I wasn't very good, that's when I had all the exposure, so it's kind of funny in a tragic sort of way! All i can do is kind of accept it and smile and do the best I can do, and quite frankly I've never been happier in terms of personal and professional life."
On aspirations to return to WWE/TNA/ROH: "I am super content for the first time in my life. I get to be my own boss and take my own bookings, and I wrestle who I want to and how I want to, and there's such personal freedom and to me that equals happiness. To me, money and fame don't equal happiness. and my goal in life is to be happy. I love wrestling more than ever and for the past 10 years I couldn't say that, it wouldn't be true, because I was in WWE and that was absolutely amazing, but then I got fired from WWE and I became very bitter and angry and I spent a good 5, 6, 7, 8 years bring miserable because I wasn't happy where I was doing these indies, because i wanted to be back in WWE, or i wanted to be in TNA or Japan. I could never find any peace, serenity or happiness being where I was. and now with age and maturity I'm completely happy being where I am, because there is no pressure. I've had talks with WWE, and they've increased over the past few years. The thing about me is I have to be presented in a very specific manner for my story to work, and I have to be happy with what I commit to."
On dream opponents: "I've never met The Rock. I'd love to share a locker room with The Rock, because it'll be a pretty big production! But there's one wrestler I've never wrestled and I grew up watching and he was my hero for a long time, and that's Sabu. Which is pretty strange because we've travelled together and we've probably been on four hundred of the same shows together but nobody's ever put us together (in a match) and I'd love to wrestle Sabu. he was my inspiration to become a wrestler. I wanted to be the one-legged Sabu, basically!"
On his future: "I don't see my future as an active professional wrestler. I see my future in public speaking because of the generally great response and connection that I get with these kids. During the week I go from school to school and talk to kids, and i share my story with them, and to me it's so spiritually fulfilling to be able to give some of these kids some hope. And lets be honest, wrestling is a very niche market, but with speaking and getting the book out and some motivational DVDs I can hit a much broader, wider market, and ultimately positively affect more lives, kind of like Dallas (Page) is doing with his yoga. He's on Good Morning America and in USA Today spreading the word about health and nutrition, and he's affecting more people now than he ever did wrestling. And I see that as an inspiration, and that's the direction I want to follow."
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