Saturday, February 17, 2007

Kip James: That's a Shoot

Here our interview from last spring

The Full Monty
No Sapp, TNA's Kip James opens up on TNA, career, and the biz

By Jon Chattman

In the world of professional wrestling, Monty Sapp has gone by many names. He was a New Age Outlaw, Mr. Ass, "Bad Ass" and "The One" Billy Gunn. These days, the former WWE grappler goes by the name Kip James in TNA (Total Nonstop Action) Wrestling. While the names and attire have changed throughout the years, one thing's remained the same: the former "King of the Ring" succeeded on every level of the business. We recently spoke to James about his career and how life in TNA is going thus far. While he's enjoying his time in TNA and strongly believes in the product, James was a realist when it came to questions about the company's future. He also played ball with our quirky questions. With that, we take a page from his slogan, there's no futher introduction needed. Here's the interview.

JC: TNA seems to just keeps getting momentum and momentum. Do you think it's inevitable that the company will go head to head with WWE?
KJ: As long as they keep it in perspective and keep building on it...That's our goal to go head to head. I see that in everybody's eyes and in everybody's mind. It's a good product and they're going in the right direction, but I don't think head to head is coming for a long time. As much as I love TNA, I'm just being honest. It's nothing against the company. Head to head almost to me means the Superbowl. [It's] like taking a high school team and playing Pittsburgh. You have to understand Vince [McMahon] is it. He's been around since his dad was putting this together, and he knows what's going on and he knows this company. I know [WWE's] kind of like in a wishy-washy spot. It's in that downhill slope. They just don't have any storylines or anything that anyone really wants to see[TNA's] getting close, but it'll be little ways before they even get to that kind of a level. I only speak because I've been there and I know I've been there for 13 years, so I kind of know a little of what's going on in that company.

JC: Speaking of both companies, you've gone through a bunch of gimmicks over the years, and you never seem to mind no matter how crazy they are...

KJ: Yeah, and I loved that. That's the thing about what my perspective is on this business. When they come to us with a gimmick, even if I hate it, it's always a challenge to try and get it over. The Rockabilly thing, which almost killed me because of the circumstances and the way it all came about, wasn't good and there was no thought put into it. It was nothing. It was just something to do with no big gimmick, which is different with all the other gimmicks that I've done. Smoking Gun, I cared about. I cared about DX. I cared about the Chuck and Billy thing. They kind of were laughing at first and then all of a sudden, they got it. And, it got over big, but it was one of those things, like me and Brian (James of TNA), we never thought we're going to be as good as we were. We didn't even think that. We were just going to have fun with it. It was the same thing with me and Chuck. They were putting some thought into it, and they let us run with it and do what we wanted to do and it got huge publicity.

JC: Be honest, do you think the Billy and Chucky gimmick influenced "Brokeback Mountain?"
KJ: [Laughs] I don't know if they would've researched us. I don't think we had too much to do with that.. I [still] talk to Chuck about a couple of times a month whenever he's not in Japan. We kind of hookup, because I know he gets busy in Japan because he's doing really good over there. He'll call me or I'll call him and leave a message just to make sure and see what's going on with him.

JC: Getting back to TNA, 3 Live Cru is done now right? No more staple with Ron Killings, Konnan, right?
KJ: Everybody left. It's just me and Brian now. It's just the Dream Team now. Me and Brian are just getting back together and it's going to be fun. We could never top [what we did before], but can we at least try to keep it going and get one good little run out of it? Yeah, I think we can because of our personalities and just the way that we both are together. I'm having a blast. I'm having fun again and it's like being young again where I don't have all this pressure and stress of trying to worry about what's happening in NY and things likes that. I don't have any of those worries anymore.

JC: It must be nice traveling less in TNA as opposed to WWE....
KJ: Yeah, I missed a lot. I have two boys and I missed doing a lot of stuff with them, but now I think they want me to get my job back so I'll go away. [Laughs] I love spending time with them. I'll pick them up from school, go to practices and games, and it's fun for me. I love spending time with them now, because now I have a relationship with them.

JC: Okay, enough with all this serious stuff, I'm going to throw out a bunch of ideas for wrestling gimmicks and you tell me if they work. A guy wrestling in a monkey suit called "Monsoon Gorilla"?
KJ: No. No, that'll never work.

JC: What about a guy with a hairy chest who wears a mask and he's called The Masked Furchest?
KJ: If he was ugly enough and he was hairy enough... I think that's about as close as you can get with that one.

JC: Last one: What about a big guy named Joe who goes by the name The Big Joe?
KJ: That's a possibility. I think that could work. It depends on how big Joe really is.

JC: Good point. Hey, do people call you "Mr. Ass" whenever you walk into a bar?
KJ: Yeah, they laugh for a second. "Mr. Ass! Badass!" People are starting to get the TNA thing because I had people coming up to me and say "Kip." It kind of throws me off guard for a minute because I wasn't used to people calling me that.

JC: Was there ever a time when you were going to use your real name?
KJ: Well, Kip is my middle name. [And], we just threw in the James thing so we could get that angle a little bit with Brian like a volunteer brother kind of thing.

JC: Are you an ass man or breast man?
KJ: I'm a leg guy, actually.

JC: Are you in talks about a Mr. Ass ride at Disney World?
KJ: They approached me at one time and then figured "Dumbo's Ride" was as far as they would get with that.

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