Thursday, February 19, 2009
Chuck Palumbo Interview
Hit the Ropes Radio threw no punches with our exclusive interview with former WCW and WWE superstar Chuck Palumbo. And to our pleasant surprise, that was okay with Chuck because he didn't duck anything.
Hit the Ropes Radio: Chuck, Why don’t you gives a little run down of what you’ve been up to since we last saw you on TV.
Chuck Palumbo: Well right after my last match on TV I had surgery on my shoulder. And the day I got released from my rehabbing from my surgery, I got released from the WWE.
HTR: Now your last gimmick in the WWE was the biker gimmick. Now we’ve seen the surfer guy, the Bill and Chuck, the grease monkey. Out of all those gimmicks, which most represents you as a person?
CP: The bike thing was going okay at first, and then they had me doing this gimmick with Noble, which really wasn’t of any help to me. Then they had me beating on girls, which I didn’t dig. So I do what I’m told to do. It’s a job and I’ll do what you pay me to do.
HTR: Chuck, since you brought this up what would your perfect gimmick be if you were able to book your character?
CP: If I were to book my character, that’s a tough one man. I think any of the characters were okay if they could see my real personality. It probably on the face side. I’m an easy laid back kinda guy. Most of the guys in the back know that. But on TV they played me off to be a d*ck, possibly gay, to be a trouble maker. Nothing that was me.
So I’d say a babyface, someone who could put me in jeopardy. Someone big and who can actually get some heat on me. A real heel, you know? I don’t know if that answer your question guys?
HTR: Right, definitely. I want to talk about the Billy, er, Bill and Chuck situation. Who’s idea was that?
CP: I thing that was Sarge, Sarge Slaughter’s idea. Originally it was supposed to be a flamboyant tag team, something going back to the Hollywood Blondes. And then Vince jumped on the bandwagon knowing ratings week was coming up in the future, he wanted to do something crazy for ratings week. To the ratings for that Smackdown show, which he did, that was what that was for.
Now did they think it was going to get over like it did? I didn’t think so. But it started to get over and it was pretty good publicity for a while. But I played the part. Some people want to say it was a gay character or whatever, but I don’t have anything against gay people. That’s fine. I was just playing a character. Billy and I talk about it even now. It was a great time and we laugh our @sses off thinking about it.
HTR: Now that you’re off TV, do you still watch the show? If so, what brands do you watch?
CP: To be honest I don’t really watch. When my buddies are on I watch. When Rey’s on, or Chavo (Guerrero), Dave (Batista), Randy (Orton), Taker when those I guys are on I watch. Otherwise I don’t really watch it to tell you the truth.
HTR: Chuck you mention some of the guys you watch, I saw on your website (for bikes) that you built bikes for a couple of those guys, which of those have the biggest baddest bike? I saw Rey was on there, Batista was on there, who has the best bike?
CP: They’re all good bikes actually, but if you wanna go big, bad, aggressive I’d would have to say Dave’s. I try to build bikes that go along with their personality, so I’d have to say Dave’s is pretty aggressive. That’s the way Dave portrays himself in the ring. Outside the ring the guy’s laid back as heck. But I think it fits him.
HTR: Great. Now when you’re not building bikes or crossing the country in the name of the troops, are you wrestling? I know you said you had your injury, are you 100%?
CP: Yeah I’m a 100%. I’ve actually have my first Jiu Jitsu completion on the 28th in Westminster, California . I’ve been taking Jiu Jitsu just to keep my wind up, keep in ring shape, and I’m ready to go. I’ve been talking with TNA, trying to figure out in the creative department something. But as soon as that happens I’ll have more news for you. That’s all I can say now. We’re talking about the creative side of it right now.
I’d love to go down there right now because all the guys I started with are down there. All the guys that helped me from the beginning are there. Sting, Kevin Nash, Scott Steiner, Booker. All those guys are down there and it would be a nice to get a chance to work with those guys. It’ll be nice to work with the younger guys. They’ve got a lot of exciting talent who I think are underrated, you know?
HTR: That’s something we’ve all agreed on. TNA is chopped full of talent. So what do you think they need to do to get on that level where WCW was at to rival the WWE?
CP: Oh, gosh. Well number one they need time. They need time in that two hour time slot. Time will boost their publicity. As far as talent, they’ve got the talent. Talent is not an issue. They just need the marketing machine behind them. I think they’re on their way. If you look at from where they started, they started they had the one hour time slot. Now they’ve got the two, obviously that means they’ve got the bigger sponsors coming in. Which means more money for the boys. I think it’s just time now. They’re not lacking talent, they’re not lacking writers, they’re not lacking management. I think they’ve got everything, they just need a little time.
HTR: Who are you most looking forward to stepping into the ring with once this deal gets worked out?
CP: Gosh, that’s a real good question. I don’t know. I’d love to work with the older guys who are there because it brings back memories . Because I was green as grass when I was first there and I learned while I was on TV. So it would be great to go back and work with these guys now, but I’d love to work with these young guys. I’d love to help these young guys out. I may not have had the super push or gotten over like a lot of these guys but I’ve got the experience as far as working in the ring and I can really help put these young guys over, you know?
HTR: Now you said you went to wrestling straight after basketball, now have you always watched wrestling? Or are you one of those guys who were working out in the gym who some other big guy comes in and says. “you’re big, you should wrestle.”
CP: No, I watched wrestling. Not every week, but from time to time. In the early 80s I watched it a lot, with the Saturday morning deals with the WWF you know. I was crazy about it back then. But I watched it once and a while. But at that point I never even lifted a weight. I wasn’t into the weights.
I was actually watching WCW Nitro and they had an ad on TV. You remember that cat Lodi? They had him in the crowd, it was back when he was doing that sign thing. He had a sign that said “Want to Wrestle” and then it had a number with a 404 area code, and I didn’t even know what that was. I tried to write the number down, but I missed it. So I watched the next week and I taped it. So I called and the number was the WCW Power Plant. So I called them, and spoke with Jody Hamilton, the original Assassin. And he said “Hey kid. What do you look like? Are you an athlete?” and I was like yeah, yeah, yeah. So he said to get a physical and come down, and he gave me a tryout date.
So I took the physical, scrounged up $350 and went there with a plane ticket. I think my tryout cost me $250 and 30 of us tried out. By the third day I was the only one left, everyone else either quit or got hurt. Ask anyone about those WCW tryouts. Dave Batista tried out and he only lasted about an hour. I was there, you can ask him. He puked, they make him take his shirt off his back, and then he had to put the shirt back on and then kicked him in the @ss and out the door.
CP: I’m not saying that was cool, I’m just saying it was a weeding out process. They wanted guys to really want it. They didn’t teach you anything about wrestling in the beginning. They just beat you up and if you hung in after three days you’d get an opportunity to go to the camp.
So I got the opportunity to go to camp. So I went back to San Diego, sold my belongings, everything I had. Got my two year old daughter, drove cross country with her and show up at the Power Plant. I get to the Power Plant with a Uhaul on my truck and guys are laughing at me ‘cause no one ever made it out of the Power Plant. So my wife was working full time to support my training and that was it.
HTR: You made through the ranks pretty quick. What do you think attributed to that?
CP: JJ Dillion came down to the Power Plant and noticed there was a bunch of guys on there and said that they had to do something with these guys. It was starting to be sort of a scam down there, they were taking in a bunch of people off the street who were paying but not going on TV.
So Bischoff told JJ to take the guys you think are worth something and we’re going to start a new Power Plant. So they put Orndorf in charge and got rid of Hamilton and called Jimmy Hart, who’s a sweetheart by the way, down who was booking Saturday Night at the time. So he took a few of us and mixed us with the veterans and we were up and running. Then Vince Russo came in and put us on TV. And anyone who saw, saw I was green as grass. I didn’t get the opportunity to work the Indy ranks.
HTR: And that’s the issue with a lot of guys now. No experience, they’re thrown on TV, and we’re left saying what happened to so and so.
CP: Right. If you notice there was a period of time where OVW were stacked with people who can work. And the guys now, no knock on them, but they don’t have the time in front of people. The only problem is there’s nowhere for them to work. Now people are just trying to make a buck. Ex football players, WWE brings them in right away and they can’t carry a work. No knock on the WWE, the talent isn’t there because there are no territories for them to work.
HTR: Right, there’s Ring of Honor and Booker T’s PWA but that’s about it.
CP: And I’ve noticed the wrestlers are getting younger these days.
HTR: Yeah and speaking with Kurt Angle, they don’t quite know what they’re doing yet. They’re jumping out of the ring just to jump back into the ring. Things just don’t make sense.
CP: Yeah, but that will change. We all did that when we were young, trying to get the spots.
HTR: Well, you’ve been in the WWE and WCW, which one has the bigger power pull?
CP: The locker room’s not bad. The boys are all pretty cool with each other for the most part. Some people can blame the politics for some stuff but it’s not that bad. I know this though, when I first came over from WCW, JR said we all share the same locker room and there are no superstars or that b.s. That’s a bunch of horsesh*t. The WWE and WCW are no different.
HTR: We’re out of time, but thank you very much for stopping by.
CP: Thanks guys and I hoped I answered all your questions.