Interview: Rhyno

Rhyno has had an illustrious career spanning over 20-years and has wrestled for most of the major companies in North America including, ECW, WWE, TNA, ROH and NXT.

The 40-year-old from Detroit, Michigan is a two-time World Heavyweight champion having held the ECW World Heavyweight title and the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Rhyno is also a two-time ECW Television champion, a former WCW United States champion and three-time WWF Hardcore champion.

We caught up with ‘The Man Beast’ to talk about coming into the business with Edge and Christian, learning from the legends, wanting to win the NXT title and much more.


How did you first get into the sport of professional wrestling?

As a kid I watched wrestling then as I got older I played sports and wrestling was always something I loved and had a passion for so I did amateur wrestling. When I got out of high school I wanted to give professional wrestling a shot and I knew I would work hard at it so if I failed I knew I would have given it 110% and if I succeed I succeed.

I moved forward with a lot of hard work and dedication and along the way I did have a few failures, bumps in the road but that’s like any career there’s always going to be ups and downs. I just got up and dusted myself off and moved forward.

During your early days you travelled with Edge and Christian, what was that experience like?

I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan and right across the river is Windsor, Ontario, Canada. I went over there and I trained with Scott D’Amore and it was great working out in the ring and just being so close to Canada I met up with Edge, Christian and Joe E. Legend.

They told me about Winnipeg and that there wasn’t a lot of money in wrestling on the independent level when you’re first starting out. We went out to Winnipeg on the northern tours and that was a great learning experience – all three of those young men are very talented and they’ve proven it over the years.

I learned a lot and it helped me in my career. After that I went over to Germany to work in the tournaments over there for Otto Wanz’s Catch Wrestling Association.


What was your experience over in Germany like?

You know what it was a great learning experience. I had guys like Robbie Brookside to learn from, William Regal had already gone over to WCW by that point but he was over there for years. Fit Finlay was over there in 1997 and I learned so much from Fit, the list just goes on and on anybody and everybody went through that territory and it was just such a great experience. When you’re in that ring every single night for anywhere between 38-62 days how can you not learn especially with guys like that and think I was only 21-years-old at the time.

Your first big break in the United States was with ECW, what was that like and making your television debut?

It was fantastic, I began working there in 1999 and I was working with guys like Tommy Dreamer, Sabu, and Paul Heyman, I learned so much from all of those guys. Someone else I learned a lot from during my time in ECW was Raven, he was very helpful but you had to learn how to figure Raven out, he wouldn’t just offer information, you had to sit there strategically pick his brain and listen to him when he was giving advice. Once he warmed up to you he was very giving in terms of the knowledge he would pass on.

You were Television Champion and World Champion in ECW, what were some of your highlights from your time in the company?

There are so many highlights to choose from, obviously winning the Television title and then unifying it with the World title, I think I was the only person ever to do that in ECW and that is a big accomplishment. I’m very grateful that I got an opportunity there at a young age.

What was it like performing in the ECW Arena in Philadelphia?

It’s so hard to describe, as performers we just got this feeling and the fans in that arena could feel it as well. It was energy just like when you’re at Madison Square Garden and wrestling in front of a sold out crowd there’s that energy you can’t really explain. You feel it from the crowd and the crowd feel it too.

I’ve been very blessed to have wrestled in some very historic arenas all across North America and all across the world.

You were with ECW to the end, were you always confident you’ll get signed by WWE?

I didn’t know, I knew I had to stay the course, I knew I had to work hard, to be honest I didn’t think ECW was going to come to an end but it was one of those things where it did. I was very fortunate that my hard work did pay off and once I got an opportunity to work with WWE it was time to work even harder, not necessarily to earn a spot but to raise the bar.

What was it like when you went over to WWE?

I learnt a hell of a lot during my time in WWE, I was in the ring with the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Chris Jericho, Kane, Big Show…the list goes on and on. To be in the ring with guys like that and learn you really honed your craft when it comes to performing and I was getting the opportunity to work with guys that were drawing big numbers and can still draw big numbers.


You got the chance to work with two guys you started out Edge and Christian in WWE, what was that like?

They were of course in WWE before I arrived there and they were doing really well along with the Dudley Boyz and the Hardy Boyz in the tag team division which was red hot at the time. To come into WWE and get to work with Edge and Christian right off the bat was a lot of fun and it was a great learning experience to learn to work in front of crowds that size.

What were your thoughts on the original WWE version of the ECW One Night Stand PPV?

I really enjoyed it, you had that old school feel in the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York. The fans really enjoyed it and it was a good moment in time that the performers and the fans that were watching at home could share. It was a point in time that was priceless.

What was it like going to TNA and winning the NWA World Title?

That was a great experience, winning that championship puts my name alongside the likes of Ric Flair, Harley Race…the list goes on and on, some of the greatest wrestlers to ever step foot inside the ring.

It was a great experience because I got to contribute, wherever I gone I’ve always wanted to contribute, I’ve always wanted to work hard and even until this day I got out there and I have a great work ethic. When I was champion in TNA they were a new company they were only three-years-old and I was asked to do interviews at 11pm on my day off but I would get it done because I really wanted to help out.

TNA also attempted a reincarnation of ECW, what were your thoughts on that show?

I don’t necessarily think it was ECW, I think it was more the hardcore element and fans really enjoyed that moment. ECW was basically a group of men and women that were rejected and told they weren’t good enough and they were either let go from WCW/WWE or they couldn’t even get looked at by those two companies. ECW took in all the guys that were rejected and we all had something to prove and I think the fans could relate to it.

What was it like when you returned to TNA for their shows in New York last year?

It was great; everybody started chanting ‘You Sold Out’ at me because I teamed up with Ethan Carter. What that gave me the opportunity to do was show a different side of me where I could be entertaining and funny. I was basically a hired hand, you pay me and I would fight your battles. What was funny is I would go out there with the intension to make myself laugh inside and my buddies would watch the show and they would call me up and say there were laughing so hard.

If you can entertain yourself you can definitely entertain the live audience and the audience watching at home. I just had so much fun with that.

What were some of your highlights from your time in TNA?

Again I had a fantastic time in TNA, I got to share a locker room with legends of the industry, Ric Flair and Kevin Nash. I got to pick their brains, Kevin and I became really good friends, it was quite surreal to be standing there with Ric Flair and just picking his brains. After several months I asked Ric if he knew what I was doing and he said yeah you’re picking my brain and that’s how you learn in this industry.

I talked to Ric about the matches with him and Harley Race and how they worked and he was just so generous with the information, I was soaking it all in and trying to figure out how I could fit it into my work.

You spent time in ROH, what were your experiences there like?

Ring of Honor is more of a strong style of professional wrestling, they have definitely given an opportunity to a lot of talent out there that normally wouldn’t have had that opportunity. I really enjoyed my time in Ring Of Honor, they have a different product and they have a really good product.

I enjoy working on there shows with guys like Michael Elgin, The Briscoe Brothers, what a tag team, those guys are tough and they are so entertaining but that is what they’re really like.


What is it like being back with WWE on NXT and working with some of the talent there, Finn Balor, Samoa Joe, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn?

There are so many great performers in NXT from top to bottom, you see how hungry they are, you can see how they have something to prove, you see how they want to show the world. Seeing them all like that that fuels me and to be honest with you it’ll be great to add the NXT Championship to my credentials and that’s what I’m there for. To make a splash and to get in that ring and work with these guys.

The fans that are in attendance just watch what I can do and what they can do, I’ll bring the best out of them and they’ll bring the best out of me. Just like when they wrestle each other, when Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn step foot inside the ring they bring the best out of each other. You stick anyone on that roster with someone like Finn Balor and they’ll bring the best out of each other and that makes me want it even more.

The women in NXT are incredible as well, when I watch their matches I’m like ‘wow’ I need to up my game even more.


What is it like working in front of that crowd at Full Sail University?

When I went out there for the first time and my music hit the fans got up and started chanting, ‘holy shit’ and it threw me off guard which some people noticed because they saw me smirking. I’m very blessed because I always get a great reaction when I go out to the ring but I had never gotten anything like that.

They were so passionate and they are a part of the show. It’s a small and intimate crowd and passion is just flowing from them, their passion for the NXT product and the performers in the ring is unbelievable.

What has it been like working with Triple H in NXT?

All the leadership in NXT is spot on, they are leaders but they let the men and women grow. You can’t just tell people to do things, they have to learn on their own and sometimes you’ve got to learn to fail and make a mistake and then the leadership goes why did you make that mistake, go think about it, they’ll know why and they learn.

I’m not saying people are making mistakes but that’s how you learn in life as well. You have to understand what you did wrong to move forward, you’ve got to understand why you failed then get up dust yourself off and move forward. As a leader you need to encourage people to get together to move forward and march forward and bring the best out of them.

Everything I’ve seen down in NXT in terms of the leadership and the way it’s run is so spot on, it’s very refreshing.

Have you had a chance to use the Performance Center?

I’ve heard about it, I’ve read about it, I’ve heard it’s top notch, I’m afraid if I go in there they’ll keep me in there. I usually just fly in get some sleep, get up and work out then go to the show so I haven’t had a chance to go to the Performance centre yet but I will definitely pop in at some point because everyone I’ve spoken to has raved on about it.

That is something that’s not cheap to operate, but all of the products will benefit from that Performance Center.

Do you have aspirations to make it back up to the main roster on Raw and SmackDown?

I’m taking it one step at a time, I’m part of something special moving forward with NXT and you just feel so alive and that’s my main focus to become NXT Champion and that is the honest to God truth.

How would you describe your three bosses, Paul Heyman, Vince McMahon and Dixie Carter?

Paul Heyman would do the interviews after the matches and I remember one time he was telling me about Magnum T.A. and how he was such a great performer in that ring and how he was going to be the next champion and they were planning to have him hold the title for 10 years. I learnt so much from so many different conversations with Paul.

Dixie Carter I’ve seen how she came from nothing and she would sit there and watch the product and learn, learn, learn and learn. She didn’t watch it from a monitor she would watch it from the side with the audience.

I always tell people this if there was no Linda McMahon there would be no Vince McMahon, Linda McMahon is so crucial to that business. She is the office working every day, it’s a family business and they love what they’ve created.

I see the same commitment from Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. When I was working with Stephanie during the invasion angle she explained to me how she used to work in the mail room and different parts of the job when she was younger. It was the same with Shane McMahon they didn’t get it easy; they worked hard for what they’ve got.

For more information you can follow Rhyno on Twitter @Rhyno313


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