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  May 6, 2000



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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

The Maestro speaks out
By JOHN POWELL -- SLAM! Wrestling

 A wrestling traditionalist to his very core, Rob Kellum was shocked when he learned that David Arquette would be declared the new WCW World Heavyweight Champion. The decision to place the belt on a Hollywood actor with no in-ring experience went against everything Kellum had been taught about the business so he did the unthinkable, he asked for his release from the company and walked away from a good salary and a high profile job without a second thought.

"I felt it was the right thing to do because making a living is nice and good but you have got to have honour too," Kellum told SLAM! Wrestling in a telephone interview.

Trained by such traditionalists as Nelson Royal, Gene Anderson and Ivan Koloff, Arquette's push was the last straw for Kellum, who has had an unstable professional relationship with WCW during his stint there.

As one might expect, it wasn't an easy decision for Kellum to make. After a lot of soul searching he came to the conclusion that he didn't want to be a part of an organization that in his mind was "discrediting" what others had worked so hard to achieve in the past. People like his legendary Great Uncle, the original Gorgeous George. Kellum says he wasn't the only one in the locker room who felt that way either. Other wrestlers both inside and outside the promotion that he has stayed in contact with share his thoughts and feelings on the matter too.

"It wasn't just the fact that they (Bischoff and Russo) were ignoring me, it was that they were desecrating the business that I was brought up to respect. When I found out that David Arquette was our heavyweight champion, I freaked. Don't get me wrong. Entertainment is fine and good but they crossed the line," said the out-spoken Kellum. "Honour to me is everything and I have respect for every wrestler who gets in that ring and places his body on the line each and every night. I don't care how experienced you are or whatever, it takes a lot of guts to do what we do and to have a comedian, a guy who just made a movie about wrestling and never paid his dues or anything, become the world champion is disgraceful. That on top of the other reasons I was going through with the company, I just figured it was time to go."

Those other reasons, according to Kellum, include WCW tarnishing his family name. Five years ago he was flown in from Puerto Rico at the invitation of Randy "Macho Man" Savage. Savage wanted to take the "Gorgeous George" name - a moniker Kellum was wrestling under to pay tribute to his Great Uncle - and give it to his brother, Lanny Poffo. Kellum was tentative at first, not wanting his family name and the legacy left behind by his Great Uncle to be degraded in any way. Savage assured Kellum that his brother would treat the name with the esteem that it deserved. The deal itself fell through but Kellum was brought in to WCW on a limited schedule. His status with the company in limbo for a year and a half, Kellum got a unexpected phone call one day.

"The next thing I know, I get a call and I find out that a girl is using my name. It turns out Savage gave it to his girlfriend at the time but then WCW endorsed it! I was really freaking out! I was calling the office but no one returned my calls," says Kellum.

Eventually, he did get the meeting he wanted with Eric Bischoff. Through their conversations he came up with the Maestro gimmick which played on Kellum's extensive background in the arts. As fans know, Savage's valet and former girlfriend went onto a small-time career in the porno industry. After everything that's happened, Kellum surprisingly bears no ill will towards Randy Savage.

"I am willing to let bygones be bygones. I think he's suffered enough as it is with this girl splitting from him and her doing what she is doing now. So, what goes around comes around, right? I am not one to hold grudges. I wish him all the best wherever his endeavors lead him."

Notwithstanding how and why he left WCW, Kellum hopes the federation as a whole does well too.

"Even though I am leaving these guys, I still wish them all the best and I sure hope they can come up with a winning formula to get them back in the game. Competition is good for the wrestling industry as a whole."

At present, Kellum's future in the squared circle is uncertain. The ten-year veteran is fielding offers from various organizations and continues to keep in the best shape possible while exploring his options.

"I will definitely let my fans and everybody know which direction I will be going because I have a very good relationship with my fans and I do appreciate them very much. If it weren't for them, I wouldn't be where I am at today. It is the fans that kept me going through the hard times. They kept me motivated."

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