?Reported by Adam Martin of WrestleView.com
On Wednesday, May 18, 2005 at 3:03 AM EST
Jimmy Van of JimmyVan.com sent in the following recap...
I recently spoke with former WWE superstar Matt "A-Train" Bloom. Matt spoke candidly and honestly for an entire hour about a variety of WWE topics including a near-gimmick patterned after a WWE legend, working with Jerry Lawler in Memphis, Darren Drozdov's accident, getting heat off his body hair, his WWE release and much more.
Part one of the interview (which is 29 minutes in length) is now online at JimmyVan.com in Windows Media and Real Audio formats. You can also listen to a five-minute preview clip of the interview in Real Audio format at this link:
Here is a text transcript from this portion of the interview.
You were a football player. You'd never know it since you're such a small guy...
"Yeah no doubt. I was definitely gifted with size," Matt said.
You played at the University of Pittsburgh...
Matt said it was a memorable time in his life, he had a lot of fun, met some good people and played some good football.
What position were you?
"I was offensive tackle, and then my last two years I went to offensive guard."
You played in the NFL with the Chargers...
"Yeah that was a real short time. It was a fun time, I thought I'd give it a shot but it didn't work out for me. I moved on, and started teaching actually."
You were a school teacher before you got into wrestling.
"Yeah definitely, it's a different path than most people take, but I had to use college for something, and I decided to use it for an education."
You taught kids with behavioral problems.
Matt said he did, and he had deaf children in the class too as sign language was his minor in college. "It was definitely a memorable time, a good time," Matt said.
JV joked that the principal brought him in to teach kids with behavioral problems because if anybody is going to make the kids behave, it's a guy 6'7" and 300 pounds.
"A few principals actually turned away, they didn't want anything to do with me," Matt said. He said one in Massachusetts eventually gave him a shot. "I definitely turned that whole school around," he said.
You think you might go back to teaching?
"Maybe you never know...someday," he said.
You could coach football maybe.
"I would love to do that, I coached as well when I was teaching, after school I coached a high school football team. You never know what's gonna happen, I'm just worried about today."
It's pretty obvious that you're pretty big into the piercings.
"Oh yeah I love piercings, it's an addiction," Matt said.
How did that get started?
"You know that's just something... when I was in high school I pierced my ears. I don't know maybe I like the anxiety of that build-up of that short burst of pain. I don't know what it is to be honest with you. And then one led to another and another and I thought, let's try getting this pierced, and this pierced. I just went crazy."
Are there certain ones that hurt more than others?
"Oh there are definitely certain ones that hurt more than others. Some that put a few tears in my eyes."
I heard that you started making metal detectors go off at the airport.
"I can't go through them when I travel still," Matt said. "I can take everything off, and I still go off. So now I just go to the airport, put my bags through, and they'll tell me, 'Take your sneakers off,' and I'm like, I don't need to take my sneakers off, it'll go off anyway."
Have you ever been detained?
"I've been detained before... I had a Prince Albert, and it kept on going off, and they said, 'What's down there?' and I said, well I can show you right here!" Matt joked. "So they detained me in a room."
It wasn't like a movie where they made you strip down and put the rubber gloves on...
"No I didn't have to do that thank goodness. I wouldn't have went into the country!"
You were a fan of wrestling growing up.
"I was a huge fan of wrestling."
Guys always say they liked Hogan and Flair growing up, but with you it was World Class.
"World Class Championship Wrestling... that's because you know... we got WWF but it was squash matches. Not to knock them because they were a great... like Baron Mikel Scicluna vs. someone else. And it was just squashes all the time. World Class Championship Wrestling had quality matches with the Von Erichs, Iceman Parsons, Fabulous Freebirds, it was good matches, I really got into that. I made an effort to make sure I could always watch that and if not I taped it."
How about The Freebirds.
"The Freebirds were great, they were ahead of their time."
Years later Michael Hayes was working backstage in WWE...
"I actually got to work him in Memphis when WWE sent me down there to work for a few years, or two years. I got to work him right before I got called up. That was definitely a privilege, it was the first time I really, besides George "The Animal" Steele, I got to work with a WWE superstar, or at least someone who has made it in the wrestling business."
Did he live up to his rep? I've always heard that the whole "party man" thing wasn't just a gimmick.
"He liked to party," Matt said laughing.
You started training with Killer Kowalski. How'd you get hooked up with him?
Matt said he was teaching, and he made a deal with the kids in his class that the three kids who did the best in the class would get to go to a wrestling show in the area. He took the three kids, and they got there early and he saw Kowalski and introduced himself to him. He said he was interested in wrestling and asked how he could get involved. Kowalski said he had a school close to Matt's home, so he went down there and rolled around in the ring a little, then cut a deal with Kowalski on the price and ended up training four days a week.
I heard that your dad was upset at first that you decided to try wrestling because you had the college degree.
"Yeah my mother and father weren't really pleased with me," Matt said. He said his parents knew he liked to watch wrestling but weren't, "very smart to the business," as Matt puts it. He said he put a lot of effort into college and his parents felt that he was throwing it away. "You never regret what you do, you regret what you don't do," Matt said. "I figured if I fall on my face, it's not the first time I've fallen on my face, just gotta get up and get back into teaching."
So when you signed with WWE, your dad must have been one of the first people you told.
"He's been my biggest fan since day one," Matt said. "When I made it to WWE, he was ecstatic."
One of your first indy gimmicks was The Mongolian.
"Oh you had to go there JV," Matt said laughing. He said the gimmick was given to him by Freddy Sparta (former referee). "They said, 'We're gonna call you The Mongolian,' and I didn't really care what they called me," he said. "It was funny because I put this big fur rug over my head, and I'd get in the ring and I'd take it off, and I had my hairy back and chest and it's like, why even wear the rug?"
When you were with Kowalski you met George "The Animal" Steele.
Matt said that "The Animal" gimmick was one of the first ideas that was given to him. When he did his first independent show, George was there. They were introduced and both had hairy backs, so George talked to him about doing a similar gimmick. "Steele got me a nice little rub," Matt said. "He drew up a nice little proposal, he went down and met Vince down at headquarters, and that was the way we thought we were gonna go but things didn't pan out that way."
So would you have been the "wild man" with the green tongue and the whole deal?
"What George actually drew out in his proposal, it didn't have me going that far," Matt said. "But I would have some of his characteristics."
You got signed and before you went to Memphis, you did the Funkin' Dojo camps. How was it working with Dory Funk and the other wrestlers in the camp?
"Working with Dory was great," said Matt. "Even better was... I was the big fish in a small pond in Massachusetts. The independent scene had a lot of quality workers, but not a lot of big guys. And then I get to meet all these guys like Val and Test and Edge and Kurt Angle and so many... there were so many good names. It was like, 'Wow, this is where I am,' I'm with the best of the best now. So it was a real attention getter."
You went to Memphis working with Jerry Lawler under the name Baldo. Is that where the Baldo Bomb came from?
"That's where the Baldo Bomb came from," said Matt. He said he liked the Baldo name and it stuck with him, and his friends started calling him that. "That was some of my best times wrestling, was in Memphis," he said.
What was it like working with Jerry Lawler?
Matt said he worked with Lawler towards the end of his time down there because Lawler did a long gimmick with Shawn Stasiak and Stacy Carter. He had four or five matches with Jerry but was on his way out (up to WWE).
JV tells Matt about Jerry Lawler's book and the story he told about Matt putting him over at a SmackDown! taping in Tupelo, Mississippi, and how Lawler appreciated it and remembered it.
"I had no idea!" Matt said. "I did not know that."
What was it like working with Lawler in a WWE ring?
"Jerry Lawler is over. When you get down south, he is over. He is like the President. I mean, I did not have to do anything, I just punch him or kick him and they hated me. When he took that strap off, they went nuts. A hell of a worker, I don't even know his age... I'm not gonna guess it because I don't want to get any heat... I'm sure he's a little older but he still moves in the ring well. He's good at what he does."
You were brought up from Memphis and WWE put you with Darren Drozdov, and you two became friends.
Matt said they became friends in the Dojo. He met Droz in college playing football. "Funny story, I'm getting down in my stance, and he puked literally, and he puked all over me. That's something that he always did was puke." Matt said they remembered each other when they got to the Dojo, and they became good friends, and Droz introduced Matt to sushi. Matt said he was so happy when they got tagged up. "It's cool to work with someone that you have a bond with," he said.
Were you there when Droz had that match with D'Lo?
"I was actually on the outside of the ring," Matt said. "I walked down the ramp with him. Yeah I saw it all happen. I was... as soon as it happened, I mean, before the bell... I stood in that ring as soon as it happened because I knew there was something wrong, I mean he really got spiked. That was a sad day that I'll never forget. And it really put things in perspective for me to realize that you know, we as wrestlers get in the ring and we take for granted that we're gonna walk out without any bumps and bruises a lot, and it can end for you like that."
How's he doing now?
"He writes the column there for WWF... WWE, pardon me," Matt said. "One thing about Darren, he's always got high spirits. He's a fighter. You've gotta feel bad for him though in the sense that, his life has changed drastically. But he won't let it stop him, he still goes on."
Has he made any improvement?
"No not really," Matt said.
After the injury, did it affect anything as far as your own performances? Did it make you second guess if you had a big spot coming up in a match?
"Oh yeah. Oh yeah," Matt said. "I really started praying a lot more before I went out. Asking the good Lord to keep an eye on me and hopefully protect me from that happening... it's kind of like if you fall off a horse, you've gotta get back on, if you don't you're gonna be afraid to do it. I had to go out there and just do it and not really worry about it and just hope that it never happened."
They put you with Test and this newcomer Trish Stratus as T&A. Did you have any idea that Trish would become what she's become now?
"Trish? Absolutely. She is... when you've got a beautiful woman with intelligence.. she's smart, she knows how to work the crowd, she knows how to manipulate. And that's not a bad thing, manipulate sounds like such a bad word but she does it in the correct way. She knows how to get what she needs. I knew she'd do well because she's a hard worker as well."
JV tells Matt that he talked to Andrew Martin the day before this interview...
"Ya I got your e-mail," Matt said laughing.
He wanted me to tell you, "Tell Matt to shave his back."
"It's all shaved!" Matt says.
Test said working with Matt was one of the most fun times he had in WWE.
"We had a blast, inside the ring and outside the ring," Matt said.
They didn't keep you together for too long...
"No they sure didn't."
What'd you think when they told you you'd be put with him since you were friends before you were a team.
"We were real good friends. He's one of the closest guys I met through the Dojo. I was excited because I really thought we'd be a good tag team. I feel like they broke us apart way too quick, but they do that with a lot of teams. I just thought that we really could have had a good run. But it was fun, we definitely had a good time doing it."
Do you think WWE thought that you had more potential as singles guys?
"To even venture to think what they think, it's ludicrous because I couldn't tell you what they think half the time," Matt said. "I don't know how that whole group thinks. Why break up Too Cool? They're so over and they're selling everything, why break them up?"
You moved on after T&A and they put you with Sean Waltman and Justin Credible as X-Factor. What was it like with those guys?
"You know Pac, I've got the utmost respect for him," Matt said. "People see him on television shows, it gives you a bad rep but he's a great worker. He's a great worker. He's very boisterous and that at times may have got him in trouble but he'll always speak his mind. He spoke his mind with me, he would tell me when I sucked in the ring, and he'd tell me when I did a good job. He was the first guy that was really ever honest with me saying, 'Hey this is how you're gonna work, this is what you gotta do, this is what you can't do,' and he was always right there to tell me and not just blow smoke up my ass. I mean, if it was bad, it was bad and he would rip me a new ass. And if it was good, he would pat me on the back and say 'Good job, this is what you gotta keep working like,'" Matt said that gave him more confidence and Waltman was one of the first guys to really help him out.
What'd you think of Waltman's video with Joanie Laurer?
Matt started laughing. "What do you say? I chuckled," Matt said.
JV asked if Matt has seen it.
"I have seen it," Matt says laughing. "Have you seen it?
JV says he's seen it.
"What did you think? Let's interview you for a second," Matt said.
JV said he felt worse for Joanie and he thinks she did it because she needed the money. JV also said that doing that video probably hurt Waltman's chances of getting back to WWE, so you wonder why he did it while Joanie burned her bridges a long time ago.
"Career move wise, I don't think it helped one bit," Matt said. "But if you wanna get yourself a little popularity... a lot of people watched it," Matt said.
JV agrees, saying it was probably the biggest newsmaker for Waltman in five years.
The complete text transcript, as well as the audio version of part 1 of our interview with Matt Bloom - in which he also talks about WWE?s purchase of the WCW brand, the ?Hip Hop Hippo? gimmick with Scotty 2 Hotty, being told by WWE to wear trunks, getting ?body hair heat? and more - is online now at JimmyVan.com.
Part 2 of our audio interview with Matt Bloom is online now!
To contact Matt Bloom about personal appearances or wrestling bookings, you can e-mail him at Pierceit73@aol.com. Serious inquiries only.