Jesse Ventura has discussed a meeting he had with Vladimir Putin, saying he seemed like a different man to the Putin we see today.
Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura is best known to wrestling fans for his time in the then-WWF, where he was both a wrestler and later a colour commentator. The star was partnered with Vince McMahon in the commentary booth and was one of the first to play heel on the headset, something McMahon took a liking to.
Following his release and a short stay in WCW, Ventura entered the world of politics. The 2004 Hall of Fame had a successful time in the political arena, first serving as the Mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota for four years before being elected as the Governor of Minnesota in 1999 and remaining in office until 2003.
‘The Body’ went on to host his own political television show, ‘The World According To Jesse’, on RT America – the US branch of the Russian Government funded RT Network. The channel ceased operations following the outbreak of war in Ukraine in February 2022.
During a recent appearance on Chris Jericho’s podcast, Talk Is Jericho, Jesse Ventura has discussed an encounter he had with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Ventura explained that the Vladimir Putin he met that night seemed very different to the Putin he sees today.
“I’ll admit this, I met Vladimir Putin before I signed. They flew me and my wife to Russia for the 10-year anniversary of RT. Putin was the keynote speaker. I met [Mikhail] Gorbachev that night too. The Putin I met that night, I’m having a hard time identifying today, because the Putin I met that night walked across the room to me, I didn’t go to him.
“He came to me, held his hand out, said ‘Thank you, Governor.’ Called me by my title. And he said, ‘I want to assure you, you have total creative control and there will never be any interference in your show.’ And I said, ‘Thank you, Mr President.’ And Chris, I have to tell the truth. For four years, they never interfered in my show at all. He was a man of his word, so I can only judge him by my relationship with him, and I’m trying to figure out who this guy is today.”
Ventura went on to question what happened to Putin and whether he “worked him like hell” that night.
“What in the hell happened to him, because I got the feeling when I met him, he truly wanted to be our friend. That was the vibes I got from him, and you know me Chris, I’m not too far off with my vibes, but this guy, whoever Putin is now, either he worked me like hell, and working a wrestler is tough to do.”
‘The World According To Jesse’ ended at the same time as RT America earlier this year. Jesse Ventura has condemned the invasion of Ukraine, saying on the show that he doesn’t support the actions of Vladimir Putin.
Ventura last appeared on WWE TV when he guest hosted the November 23rd, 2009 edition of Raw, where he provided commentary alongside Vince McMahon for the first time in almost two decades.
H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the above transcription.