Cliff Compton on whether he got a fair shake from WWE, why he didn't end up in Aces & 8's, how the WWE Performance Center is a positive or a negative for the indy scene
Busted Open satellite radio show with Cliff Compton
Host: Dave Lagreca, Doug Mortman, and Mike Riker
Airs Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays on Sirius 92 and XM 92 from 2-4 ET
On what makes The Monster Factory have such a great legacy and keeps it going: "Well, originally it was Larry Sharpe’s Monster Factory. He opened it with Buddy Rogers. If that’s not enough to get you to go to a school, I don’t know what is. You know, 'Nature Boy' Buddy Rogers. And there was kind of three. There was the Kowalski’s and then Johnny Rodz. So you kind of had three to choose from then in the Northeast. But I think that’s what’s kept them going this whole time is--it’s no joke there. A lot of these schools, they’ll take your money, train you for a couple of months and then that’s it. The Monster Factory, it’s legitimate. It’s not one of those schools that just kind of pops up, disappears. It’s been around for 30 years and it’s not going anywhere. And now they’re bringing in guys like Colt Cabana, myself, and it’s a good place to be. For the kids who train there, it’s no better experience in the Northeast, I don’t think."
With the WWE Performance Center opening, how important is The Monster Factory in 2014: "It’s important because it’s a name that everybody knows if you’re in the wrestling business. Especially the guys in the WWE. For example if you said to Triple H, have you ever heard of The Monster Factory?, He’s gonna say of course I have. He went to Killer Kowalski’s school way back. But Larry’s name and The Monster Factory have a good reputation as opposed to someone just walking around saying I trained with some random guy out in the middle of no where who just took his money and showed him a few moves. Unfortunately that’s what happens. The Monster Factory has a great reputation. So if you drop that name and you train there, they know you’re legit. I know Brisco (Jerry) was just there looking at some of the talent and he brought some guys down to the Performance Center. I just come in for the shows and cause trouble so. It’s a great place. It is what it is. I can’t say enough positive things about it. When I started there, the training was hard. It wasn’t easy, I won’t lie. But I stuck through it and I gradually moved on. It was a great place to come from. Cause whenever anyone asks where did you start, you said The Monster Factory and they always said, 'Oh, really?' That’s good to have."
On if the WWE Performance Center is a positive or negative thing for the Indy scene: "I don’t know. I say it’s kind of a double-edged sword. I think if you’re a young guy and you’re just starting your career--I mean everyone’s goal is to go to the WWE. And when I was starting out, it was Ohio Valley Wrestling was what you would call the developmental center or I guess it would have been the performance center back then. It’s nothing like the place they have in Orlando. -I don’t care what any wrestler says, that’s where they want to go. And yeah they’ll look at anyone. You said they looked at Davey (Richards) and Eddie (Edwards) and I guess they passed on them. And you mentioned--I just saw Chris Hero Saturday night in Nashville. And he’s a tremendous talent. There’s guys there and they make the decisions. And not everyone is going to agree with those decisions. The wrestling business--it’s a hard business. It’s not a soft business. So some people might think certain guys are the next big thing and then the people who actually are going to make those decisions, who give those people checks; they might think differently. So it is what it is. I don’t know if it’s good or bad but if you want to get to the WWE, you’re going to have to go through there at some time."
How was his experience with the WWE: "I can’t complain. I don’t think the WWE is a bad place at all. I think people who talk bad about it and stuff like that are just people who maybe didn’t have the best experience. And, like I said, that happens sometimes. It’s unfortunate. Some guys get a bad break. Some guys get a better break. I had a good time there. You get to travel the world and you make really good money. You get toys of yourself and what not. You can’t really explain wrestling, the business to anything else. You can’t really relate it to anything else. It’s a live weekly show. It’s go-go-go. Numbers here, numbers there. So I enjoyed my time there. I don’t think it’s a bad place. Some people will tell ya oh it’s all 'everyone’s out to get you' and this and that. But I don’t really subscribe to that theory. I think that everyone’s going to have their own opinion. There were certain things I didn’t like but for the most part I thought it was a great place. I mean it was what I wanted to do. It’s a very high goal to set for yourself and I set it. And I was going to do whatever it took to get there. But not everyone makes it. So that’s what sucks. (Laughs)."
On if he and Jimmy Reiher (Deuce) got a fair shake in the WWE as Deuce and Domino: "Yeah, I mean we did our act together for almost two years in OVW, signed into developmental. We really had it the way we wanted it and when we got to the WWE, they tweaked it a little. They changed it to the way they wanted it. Vince had always seen it as eventually a babyface gimmick, but then we were promised certain things and then certain things didn’t happen. And it just kind of faded away. I wasn’t really happy with the way it ended but looking back, I had no choice. It wasn’t in my control. Certain things were happening behind the scenes and what not. It is what it is. I’ll always be proud of it for what it was. There’s still Deuce and Domino fans. There’s still some detractors. But whatever. For what it was it was successful. They were behind it and they liked it. So for what it was, I can’t complain."
His thoughts on TNA and what ever happened to him being in Aces and Eights: "I was working a lot on the Indies and a lot in OVW. And I was on an Indy show with Al Snow, who was at the time, I guess an agent down there but he had moved up to the talent department. And he said long story short that they were looking to make a group of ex-WWE guys to come in and do something. So I went down there and did a dark match with Crimson and it went fine. And then I went back and it turned out they were having severe budget issues. And they were going to have these guys come out in masks that were going to lead to Aces and Eights. And they said why fly you into Louisville when we can just use a local guy and put him under a mask? So I just said okay, whatever. (Laughs) That’s what they did do for the first couple of months then I didn’t really follow what happened. It went on forever and it might still be going on. I don’t know. And then I was gonna do something else. I didn’t really have much interest in going there not because I didn’t like it or anything. I just was happy to do my own thing. It seemed like there was more talk of what was going to go on with the actual company than--there was a lot of drama it seemed like. Especially now with people saying it’s for sale and all that."
On what the chatter is about TNA on the Indy scene: "Well, every wrestler out there, their goal is to go to the WWE. And anyone who says differently is lying. If TNA offered them a job, I’m not saying don’t take it. I’m just saying with what’s been going on lately. From what I heard it was for sale and then it wasn’t for sale. And then there was severe financial problems; they’re off the road and back in Orlando. It just seems like there was a lot of commotion behind the scenes. And that can’t be good for the show. I haven’t seen the show; I don’t even really know who’s on the show. A lot of my friends work there but I don’t know. AJ Styles was there for what how long? Ten years? And he decided not to go back. Yeah, he was at the ROH show the other night! And he decided not to go back. So obviously something must be a little weird. If a guy like that who’s been almost their poster boy for 11 years doesn’t go back; something must be up. I don’t know. You hear so many different things; that this guy is going to buy it or this guy is going to buy it. But who knows? I just think with WWE that’s where everybody wants to go. It’s not going anywhere. I think WWE will always be around; whether it’s really popular or maybe dips down a little like it does sometimes. It’s a huge business and with the PG stuff they have been able to get a lot of big time corporate sponsors lately. So that’s where the money is. And they’re smart. They cater a little more to kids now which some of the die-hard wrestling fans might not like but it’s a business. People forget that wrestling is a business and they have to do what they have to do to make money otherwise there won’t be a WWE. And you can see in the past; companies that were around, aren’t around anymore. They weren’t the best business savvy people."
On if in the current culture of Pro Wrestling could there be a legit competitor with the WWE: "Of course! And I think TNA had a great chance of being a competitor. But I thought there biggest problem was they were just trying to be the WWE. And they were coming off as a bad version of the WWE. I think they should’ve done--I think in 2005ish they were doing really good. Because they were basically an alternative to WWE. Kind of like what ECW was in the late ‘90’s; mid-to-late ‘90’s. They were a totally different alternative to WWE. Cause I wasn’t even wrestling yet and I said man, this stuff is awesome. I still watched the WWE at the time. But that is what I thought TNA should’ve done is become a completely different product. And they tried a little with the six-sided ring and all that. But I thought when Raven was there and stuff; I thought it was definitely a little different style than WWE. But as of late, the last couple of years, it seems like they just been trying to do the same stuff as the WWE. You know with General Managers and it’s just not as good. You’re never going to be able to beat Vince (McMahon). You’re not. So why not try something different to attract. To say, oh I gotta check out TNA; it’s different. That’s just my opinion. They have all the talent in the world. They have tremendous talent.
On how he feels about the Indy scene at large, is it as strong as it’s been in a long time: "I think it’s better than it was say two or three years ago. I think Ring Of Honor has picked up a lot. The tapings the other night were unbelievable in Nashville at the fairgrounds. It was a complete sell out. And those fans--Ring Of Honor is smart cause they’re offering a different type of product. It’s more wrestling. It’s a little more edgy. Granted, it’s nowhere near on a scale of a WWE or even a TNA but it’s an alternative. You know what I mean? It’s an alternative so if you’re a die-hard wrestling fan and you’re just not happy with the WWE and you don’t like some of their gimmicks and the divas and all that. And you just want to watch some crazy wrestling. I think ROH is kind of like what ECW was a little in the late ‘90’s. Not as violent. But TNA still manages to get a million viewers a week. Which is pretty impressive. So imagine what they could do if they really you know--I don’t know what it’s going to take for them. Maybe they need to bring in somebody who’s gonna just revamp the place behind the scenes in booking sense. I don’t know. That’s what always seems to be the problem is behind the scenes type stuff there, I don’t know."
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