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Today The Two Man Power Trip of Wrestling is joined by TNA Impact Wrestling’s colorful color commentator and former WWE Superstar, The Pope Elijah Burke. Discussing his seemingly effortless transition from the ring to the microphone “The Pope” has carved out a niche for himself as a standout amongst the ranks of other commentators in current day professional wrestling. John and Chad also get deep into the Pope’s wrestling career, his boxing background and find out exactly what was going through his head when Vince McMahon personally selected him as the “new face of ECW” and being handpicked as a member of the Spirit Squad.
Full Episode Download Link:
Elijah Burke Addresses The Rumor Of Being Booked As A Member Of The Spirit Squad:
The transition from wrestling to commentating for TNA IMPACT:
I think a lot of people know that when you are a wrestler and you’ve been doing it for twelve years as an active performer and then all of a sudden things kind of take a shift and the stars align and someone recognizes that your gift can be used in a different aspect. It’s been interesting and it’s been fun. It’s a different type of getting over with the audience. My job right now is to get over a lot of the guys that I’ve wrestled against and I’ve wrestled beside and the transition has been believe it or not, quite easy. It hasn’t been as hard of a transition as many people probably think it would be because the gift of gab is something that I always had.
How his role plays such a pivotal part during an IMPACT show and being a natural behind the microphone:
The night before WrestleMania 23 at Ford Field “Pope” was at an ESPN boxing presentation and was calling the fight alongside Thomas “Hitman” Hearns and once that was over with he looked at me and said how long have you been doing this? When it comes from an analytic stand point it’s not hard at all. What’s hard is the time provided to do so. That is sometimes rough because there is so much that is going on and obviously IMPACT is a fast paced show and often times my partner Josh Mathews who is a jack of all trades and doesn’t get a lot of credit for it but he has so much that he has to cover and so much that he has to get done and you may notice this but throughout the contest when Josh is talking this or that, the Pope has made it my job to bring the action and the focal point back to the two or four people that are in the middle of that ring because that is what wrestling fans want and what wrestling fans are watching so therefore I try to do the boys and the girls credit while they are in that six sided ring.
Calling matches through the eyes of the viewer and not knowing finishes:
That’s the way “Pope” prefers it. I prefer not to know anything. Therefore, if I am seeing it and looking at it from a fan’s perspective then I can respond and react and say what you are thinking as a casual or regular viewer of the product. That’s what I love to do as a commentator for IMPACT Wrestling, I love to give the focal analysis that the viewer at home is watching as well. I want to translate as my Daddy would say “let me break this down in English so that a child could understand it”. For me it’s always easier and comes across natural, if you know that often times you can tell if something is forced or when a reaction is not a legit or real reaction. Everything that you get from “Pope” is not planned and is real and I’m watching it as if I’m sitting at home on my couch with a good friend of mine and we are back in 1996 watching WCW Nitro and Monday Night RAW.
Any plans on competing full time again for TNA and rumors of being retired:
I think in due time that “Pope” will have that opportunity. It’s not something right now and don’t think for a second that I don’t miss it, because I do. At the same time I’ve recognized that my job and my role are and I know what it is and that is to be an asset from a commentator standpoint. So I am not focused on anything except bettering my game at the table. I am not worried about anything else but becoming a better and as my partner would say the most “entertaining color commentator” in the business today and that’s what “Pope” wants to be and that’s what I’m setting out to accomplish. Now there will be times in the future and you can take “Pope’s” word for this. There will be times in the future when “Pope” will do a casual appearance inside the ring, I am not retired. Let’s get it out there right now “Pope” is not retired by a long shot I’ve got years left under my belt. I just recognize my role right now and have no problems committing to it and fulfilling it to the best of my abilities.
Samoa Joe’s move to NXT and their TNA feud being thrown together:
“Pope’s” feud with Samoa Joe did not receive nor get the type of attention that it should have and I am talking about from a in/out standpoint not from a viewer standpoint. I was openly and to a certain extent let my displeasure be known about it because you have to remember during that time “Pope” had just come off of a feud with Abyss and Immortal and Sting had just left and Kevin Nash walked out so “Pope” was the last guy standing fighting this big fight and I get put in a casket and then all of a sudden “Pope” gets put in a feud with Samoa Joe for no reason at all. However, myself and Samoa Joe made the best of it and had fun with it and that took us to our Lockdown match-up in St. Louis. I had fun with Samoa Joe, it was always great working Samoa Joe and he brought out the best in “Pope” and we definitely did a lot of innovative things. I’ve got to go on record and say how happy I am for Samoa Joe and for him to experience what he is experiencing right now and I wish him nothing but the best of love for him and his family’s sake.
Long standing rumors of his involvement in the Original Spirit Squad in 2005:
It’s funny that after all these years, over a decade and only this year I believe I’m answering questions about the Spirit Squad. It’s very true. They wanted me to go up and be in my opinion the “afro-haired chosen black guy” during that time in the group and trust me it was a great opportunity. We sat there and we talked to Vince McMahon himself and Vince said “I want you guys to understand that this is my idea and we are going to make a lot of money”. He said if you are uncomfortable we will send you back down to OVW and we will wait until we get something else for you. I went to Vince and Johnny Ace and said I appreciated the opportunity but with all due respect I don’t feel like I should do anything that I could not live up to in your standards and I don’t want to be a failure and I don’t believe this spot is for me. I was a little worried that I was about to tell the boss that I didn’t want to do it. Either he was going to respect me for it or he was going to punish me for it. A lot of guys took it to heart that I said no which I never understood because they weren’t in my position or in my shoes and the guys that were going out there were very, very talented and thus when I said no they added Mike Mondo and they added Johnny Jeter and instead of it being four like it was originally going to be it turned out to be five. There was no way that this “big black guy” and 225-230 pounds at the time was going to be running down a ramp, jumping on a trampoline and flipping over the top rope. It was just not going to happen without me screwing up and looking like a fool. I didn’t want to take that chance, I didn’t want to risk that chance and I am happy that I did and kudos to Dolph Ziggler. Just look at him. In my eyes the guy is just a premier performer.
The Pope also talks becoming the “face of ECW”, being OVW Champion, teaming with Sylvester Turkay, The New Breed, WrestleMania 23, His first run with TNA and his boxing background.
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