Former WWE & TNA star Joe E. Legend recently spoke with WrestleShark about his early days in wrestling, the Just Joe gimmick, his opinion of TNA and much more. Check it out in the iTunes store by searching “WrestleShark” or by clicking here. Some of the highlights are below.
On signing with WWE:
“Well initially Terry Taylor, some people think he’s got a bad rep but I have no problems with him, I think he’s a great guy, he was another person who was very straight with me. He was another one that said ‘look I dunno what to promise you other than you get paid, work hard and we’ll try to do something with you and I’ll use whatever voice I have to try and help ya”. At the time I was like yes! But in hindsight he was the guy who couldn’t get past Chicken Man, so how much of a voice could he really have had? As much as I love Terry he just didn’t have that kind of stroke… They flew me in to meet with Vince…I had some ideas, I pitched four and he shot all four down, and then altered one of them into the god awful gimmick I got. The four that I shot him: all went on other guys.”
Could you give some details on that?
“I told him I’d like to do a cult leader thing, I found cults scary, I’m saying I’m not god, I’m just a messenger. They were very faction oriented at the time and I thought this could be a neat little faction…but Vince said “Aw you know we don’t like going the religious route,because we’re not partisan. All I could think was Ministry of Darkness, Brother Love, later on Brother Devon. Then a couple of years later they did the Mordecai thing…you know the vignettes ‘sinners must repent’ etc etc, it was very very similar to how I had drawn the character.
“So I said well, I’d love to cut off my hair real short…grunge was still a big deal at the time…and that was the wrestling fan-base, so I thought great I can get some heat with them. So I wanted to tell America to straighten, get a real job up and fly right, go with the moral majority. Of course we would get shot down by the Godfather and stuff like that, and you know the real moral majority are always leaning on wrestling saying how a-moral it is, so I thought this would be a good way to kind of take the mick out of them and their obsessiveness. And Vince was like no, no I don’t like that…then he has Stevie Richards cut off his hair and start the right to censor. So stuff like that kind of got on my nerves a bit…I spoke to Al Snow about it and he was like ‘yeah I’ve pitched like a thousand ideas and I’m still running around with a manikin head.
“And then you know they gave me the terrible gimmick that I had, and I tried to get it changed and the writers just kept kind of brushing me off…the money was great, the travel was great, I got to hang with some friends, some fellow students, you know like Edge and Christian, Kurt Angle is a wonderful guy, I don’t care what the media says about him, I think he is one of the most inspirational people ever: not to mention one of the best ever inside the ring, but my time there was miserable. “
Who came up with Just Joe:
“…I kept coming back to the cult leader thing as I really thought it had some legs, so I kept trying to re-sell it to them. I was like ‘I’m not trying to say that I’m god, I think you’re misunderstanding me, I’m not saying I’m god. I’m saying I’m a messenger, but I’m clearly manipulating people, you know just like any of these faith healers you see on Sunday morning tv…I’m only saying I’m representing a higher power, but of course I’m being a selfish jerk.’ He suddenly goes ‘ooh, so don’t blame me, I’m just the messenger…’ and he kind of stares off into space and holds his chin. He starts talking to Bruce Pritchard, and was like ‘have legal look into the whole messenger thing.’ The way we discussed it was that I would have insider knowledge of all the talent, I wanted it to look as if I had raided the medical records. Then you would bump into Crash Holly and he would be like ‘Oh I got Tazz tonight’ and he’s gonna beat me etc and I would be like ‘well if you wanna beat Tazz then I can tell you how to do it’ he would pay me, then I would be like ‘Tazz tore his bicep, go after his arm’ and then he would win. So then I become the guy people come to for strategy, and eventually I would stop selling the information and start using the information…and that was the original thing”.
The full half hour interview is available on iTunes and covers much more including:
– How he upset his writer
– How he helped get the Kurt Angle/HHH feud off the ground
– Why he has absolutely no time for TNA following his run with the company
– Working the European scene
– An in depth discussion of should wrestling be regulated or unionised
– An insight into his time as a trainer on the ill-fated Celebrity Wrestling series in the UK
– His plans for the future including movies and more.
* Picture of AJ LEE & Her Boyfriend