July 21, 2011
X-Pac still marks the spot in the wrestling world
By JAN MURPHY - Kingston Whig-Standard
He's one of the greatest small men in pro wrestling history, was part of arguably the greatest stable of all time, he recently revealed on Twitter that he was sexually abused as a child and his first pair of wrestling boots were from the late legend Macho Man Randy Savage, whom he calls a good friend.
Oh, and Kingston wrestling fans will have a rare opportunity to witness the legendary wrestler first hand thanks to Ontario Championship Wrestling.
He is Sean Waltman. To some, he's the 1-2-3 Kid. To many, he's X-Pac. And to anyone who followed pro wrestling in the last two decades, he's among the best of his generation.
Waltman is perhaps most remembered as one of the founding members of D-Generation X, a wildly popular faction that formed in WWE Inc. in the 1990s, during the company's most successful era. He also had a role in arguably the second greatest faction in wrestling history, World Championship Wrestling's nWo, or New World Order.
"To have been a major player in both of those groups, I am very fortunate, I can tell you that much," Waltman told the Whig- Standard in a recent interview. "I did my part. I carried the ball when they gave it to me, but a lot of that is being at the right place at the right time and just straight up good timing."
Good timing is one thing, but skill and ability have to coincide with the "right-place, right-time mentality." Waltman displayed those characters almost from the get-go.
Wrestlers of his stature -- he's billed as six feet tall and 212 pounds soaking wet, which is tiny by wrestling standards -- rarely find the kind of success Waltman did. Typically guys his size end up as jobbers, wrestling slang for guys who get beat up for a living.
Waltman's first career television victory, for all intents and purposes all that really matters in wrestling, came over a man who would become one of his best and closest friends, Scott Hall, a.k.a. Razor Ramon.
Waltman was asked if that victory, considered being put over in wrestling circles, was the beginning of their lasting and close bond.
"I guess," he said. "One part of it was that Curt Hennig had taken me under his wing," he said, referring to the fact that Hennig and Hall were close. "That kind of helped things. And Scott's always been one of those guys to take a young guy under his wing, you know. That's his nature. He taught me that I ate, slept and breathed wrestling."
In the years that followed, Hall and Waltman had their share of struggles with addiction, Hall much more than Waltman. Through all that, Waltman feels that Hall never got the credit he deserved for helping younger talent like himself.
"He'll never get enough credit for that because it's hard for people to give him credit because they weren't actually there to see him take these guys -- myself included -- under his wing and mentor people, in his own way. I mean sometimes it wasn't the most pleasant experience in the world but nonetheless it was an amazing learning experience."
"Scott Hall will never be properly recognized, I don't think, for the things he's given to wrestling."
Speaking of recognition, one could make a case that Waltman himself is due some credit. After all, his resume smacks of success. Not only was he a major part of DX and nWo, but he also is former WWE European champion (two times), a former WWE light heavyweight champion (two times), a former WWE tag team champion (four times), a former WWE/WCW cruiser-weight champion (three times) and a former WCW tag team champion.
Such success ordinarily wouldn't go unrecognized.
Asked how he would feel about a potential spot in the WWE Hall of Fame, a humble Waltman spoke passionately.
"I would be honoured," he said. "Anybody who says 'I don't care about that,' let me hear them say that if they are ever invited to be inducted. Seriously, regardless of anything, it's somebody validating your achievements in the industry. Most of the guys I know who are lifetime guys, they give their bodies and the vast majority of their time to the business. That's just one way of being thanked and recognized for it. I can't understand why anybody wouldn't be grateful."
It was suggested to Waltman that he may hold claim to being the first little megastar in wrestling, at least when it came to his legacy.
"I guess. I guess that would be a fair description," he said after a long pause. "There might be some people who would argue with the megastar part. I let the people decide and most people think that that's the case."
Speaking passionately about all things wrestling is first nature for Waltman, who doesn't shy from his past.
"I'm not afraid afraid to discuss my past, present or potential future," he said. "I don't like to keep things a secret. I don't like to have skeletons in my closet. There is nothing anybody can use against me. Nobody can try to bring out dirty laundry on me."
Waltman proved that recently on Twitter, where he revealed that he was a victim of sexual abuse as a child. His admittance came after fellow pro wrestler Mick Foley raised a significant amount of money for victims of sex abuse.
Waltman is one of the more visible pro wrestlers when it comes to social media. Turning to social media to deliver such a candid and powerful admission felt natural, he said.
"It wasn't difficult at all," Waltman said. "I guess maybe there are people who are waiting to pat me on the back (and say) 'Oh, how strong,' 'You know, it takes a lot of courage ...'
"Well this is something I've been dealing with for years, through therapy and things of that nature. I mean I've talked about this openly on the Cowhead (TV) show locally, so it wasn't a big stretch for me to just come out and say it more openly to the general public. It can't do anybody any good by me keeping it a secret."
Cowhead TV hosts an online show featuring Waltman interviewing his fellow wrestling stars and discussing all things wrestling.
"I'm fairly new to the whole Twitter thing. I mean already there are almost 40,000 people following me. There are guys with way more than that obviously, but the numbers grow every day. When you send a Tweet out, that's almost 40,000 potential people to see it. And then it's retweeted and whatnot. I think people should not underestimate the power of Twitter and Facebook."
His Cowhead TV show, his website and Facebook and Twitter accounts have helped Waltman keep in constant contact with his fanbase, which is important since he is not signed with any wrestling promotions. Instead he is doing independent shows such as the one next weekend at Kingston's Invista Centre.
"Facebook and Twitter ... they totally changed how we can connect with the fans and I'm very grateful for it," he said. "I wasn't on board at first. This Twitter and Facebook thing ... you can go to the people directly. You have a direct line of communication with your fanbase and the people who like you. Or people who hate you. With everybody really. I don't need to be with TNA-slash-Impact or WWE for people to still be able to see me, experience me, whatever."
On his Cowhead TV show, he's the interviewer, not the interviewee. No big deal, according to Waltman.
"It's not an adjustment at all," he said. "All I'm doing is having a conversation with my friends or people who are in my industry. As far as that part goes, it's just natural.
"Really some of the guys I've had on there, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Rikishi, Dallas Page -- even guys who aren't as mainstream like Colt Cabana, different guys like that. Really, honestly not alot of people actually see the show because it's basically a live show and there is no replay so if you missed a show you really miss it. I think that people miss a lot. They've missed a lot in some of these interviews because I come at the guys -- we're friends. These people I'm interviewing are my friends and contemporaries so there's a lot different slant on it than say you interviewing me right now."
Proving yet again that no subject is taboo, Waltman is asked about the recent Twitter spat between former megastars Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior. Warrior joined Twitter and immediately took aim at Hogan, criticizing him and his family. Waltman said he understands the Warrior's rationale, but thinks he's coming off as a hypocrite.
"Obviously he's got a book coming out, he said so," Waltman said, referring to the Warrior. "And that's fine and I understand that. But to come at this thing with the angle that he's speaking for these people who don't have a voice or whatnot, it's kind of hard for me to swallow, because he has no track record whatsoever to indicate he cares about the people in any way shape or form. I mean even when he was a big star -- in the main events and whatnot -- he was notorious for being sh--ty to fans. It's all just hearsay though."
On the subject of legends, Waltman called a late one -- Macho Man Randy Savage -- a dear friend. Savage was killed recently in a car crash.
"I knew him well," Waltman said. "I considered him a very good friend.
Asked if he still had the keepsakes, Waltman said he did not.
"I sold them years ago. I wish I didn't now."
When he's not Tweeting, blogging or hosting his Cowhead show, you'll find Waltman working the odd independent show. I say odd because he quickly confesses that he is very selective when it comes to which indy shows he appears at.
"I pick and choose very carefully," he says. "There are a lot of independent shows that aren't the greatest shows in the world. I don't want to be on shows that aren't done well."
Also, he says, he limits his appearances because he doesn't have a lot of miles left on his body. Injuries have piled up on the indy circuit.
"I've gotta be careful. I'm kind of limited to tag matches right at the moment," he says.
In recent months, he's suffered a serious chest injury, after which he Tweeted from the ambulance and in the emergency room.
"I was stabbed in the chest with a piece of metal from a guard rail," he revealed.
Another show saw another serious injury.
"I was kicked in the throat and damaged my larynx real bad. I've been getting banged up a lot lately.'
On thing is for sure, if Waltman's wrestling skills are anything like his interviewing skills, Kingston fans are in for a great show.
His tag-team partner for his Kingston match will be none other than former DX member Billy Gunn. Together they will face OCW's former tag-team champs Total Devastation.
"It doesn't matter who the opponents are as long as they're good," Waltman said.