Sid Vicious also known as Sid Justice and Sycho Sid was one of the most intimidating wrestlers of his generation.
The 53-year-old from West Memphis, Arkansas enjoyed a career lasting four decades, he’s won the WWF and WCW World Heavyweight titles on two occasions apiece as well as the USWA Unified World Heavyweight title a further two times.
Sid’s career was cut short in 2001 after suffering a horrific injury at the WCW Sin PPV. However, he did appear on WWE television in 2012 in the run-up to Raw 1000.
We caught up with Sid to talk about his time wrestling over in Japan, being part of the Four Horsemen, wrestling The Undertaker at WrestleMania, the Sex Pistols plus much more.
How did you first get into the sport of professional wrestling?
I was working out a the gym in Memphis and this is the time when Randy Savage, Hillbilly Jim and all these guys were working in the Memphis territory. I was actually getting ready to go to college, I had been given a scholarship, in the gym I got talking about wrestling and the next thing I know I’m in wrestling school and the rest, as they say, is history.
Were you a fan of wrestling growing up and if so who were some of the wrestlers you enjoyed watching?
Living here in Memphis before I actually got into wrestling I didn’t know there were other wrestling territories, I thought it was just Memphis Championship Wrestling, I didn’t know how it all worked.
When I was growing up Jackie Fargo was the big babyface and Jerry Lawler was the big heel, then I think the transition with Lawler turning babyface was a massive moment, but those are the guys I grew up watching.
What was it then like having your debut match against Nick Bockwinkel and Jerry Lawler in a tag match?
I was really lucky with that being my first match in the business, I was at wrestling school and I was replacing someone on the show at the Coliseum one night and I’m very fortunate that my debut match was me teaming with Austin Idol against Nick Bockwinkel and Jerry Lawler. I think Bockwinkel was World Champion at the time as well.
You spent time over in Japan with NJPW, what was that experience like?
That was something else, you’ve got to realise this is no exaggeration, I’m from Arkansas and I had never been out of the south. I didn’t really know how to get home when I was over there, I was really intimidated but they treated me really well.
They were bringing me in to replace Bruiser Brody and I was watching tapes of Bruiser Brody to see what he did, watch his style and I was over there in the dojo for three weeks before the tour started. I got to learn about the culture, I tried to get to grips with the language barrier, it was really cool seeing the big pots of food the guys cooked, lots of soups, it was a pretty cool experience.
The Sid Vicious name, does that come from the Sex Pistols?
It sort of does, when Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols was in his heyday of music I was a pretty young shy kid and I was coming back home from an overseas vacation. When I got home my friends had got me a shirt with Micky Mouse on it and it had Sid Vicious written on it. That was years before I ever thought about wrestling.
When I began working in the territories I was known as Lord Humongous in Continental Championship Wrestling, which was based out of Birmingham, Montgomery. When I went to Japan they didn’t like the Lord Humongous character so they ended up calling me the Vicious Warrior.
I got back to America and that is when I got my hair really short and put it back with Brylcreem to keep it really slicked back and at that time you didn’t really want to be yourself so that is when Sid Vicious took over.
In 1989 you signed for WCW and during that spell, you were part of the Four Horsemen working with Ric Flair, what was that experience like?
That is something I really have to consider myself being so lucky coming up in the business from riding with the bookers at my first territory and learning how the business really worked. Then signing with WCW and getting to work with and to be part of the Four Horsemen, during that first spell in WCW I got to work with some amazing names and workers.
What was it like making your debut in the WWF?
It doesn’t get any better than that, I truly enjoyed my runs with WCW but with the WWF you really got a chance to be put in a position to see what you could really do as an individual as far as selling tickets and merchandise. When you were in the WWF, it was like being at the top of the food chain, you were made to feel like a rockstar, the colours were so bright there, everything was so different.
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During your second spell with the WWF you became WWF Champion, what was that moment like?
That was a really cool time, the business had been down a little bit and I had taken a little bit of time off due to a neck injury. When I came back a few changes had been made, believe it or not, I think Jake Roberts had a lot to do with that, we were working with Vince (McMahon) a lot at the time.
Things got hot, got fun, and I got a chance to sort of be the first person to be heel and face at the same time, I would work as a heel one night and a babyface the next night. The fans especially the fans in the North-East are pretty educated and opinionated and it was a pretty good feeling hearing people cheering me as a heel.
You defended the WWF Title against The Undertaker at WrestleMania 13, at the time did you ever think he would go on a 21-0 streak?
I honestly think Vince and the guys think things like that up a long time beforehand, they probably would have had the streak planned way in advance. I never really thought about things like that, most of the time I didn’t even know who I was going to be working with until I arrived at the arena on the night, I didn’t care. I just wanted to have a good match and get out of there.
You returned to WCW in 1999, and suffered a horrific injury, did you think your career was over at that point?
That pretty much was the end of my career after suffering that injury. Those things happen, I wasn’t happy about it but over time I’ve gotten over it. I was planning on only wrestling for a year or two longer before retiring anyway. I just had this idea of doing something totally different on my way out of the business and that is the only downside for things ending the way they did for me and not getting to do something special on my way out.
Having worked for Vince McMahon and Eric Bischoff, how would you compare your two bosses?
I thought Eric was a pretty cool cat, working with Eric was very fun and the atmosphere was great whilst working for Vince it was all about the finer points of the business.
You’ve returned to WWE television leading into Raw’s 1000th episode in 2012, what was it like being back on TV?
For me that was a personal victory, after my injury, that isn’t the way I wanted people to remember me leaving the industry so it was nice coming back to WWE around Raw 1000 and working with Heath Slater.
Who are some of the guys you enjoy watching these days?
To be honest with you I never watch TNA, and in general, I don’t really watch a lot of wrestling anymore. Some of the guys I’ve enjoyed watching coming up a little bit are the Wyatt Family, and Bray Wyatt, Mike Rotunda’s kid. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this but Vince has tried getting that character to work on at least two other occasions.
Another guy I really like is Jack Swagger, I think he has got every tool there is. He has got such a great look and he seems to be one hell of a talent, but if he could just push out a little charisma then he could be a real star.