I’ve been catching up on some of the great shows on the WWE Network; namely Table for Three. I personally think this show is one of the best WWE does to show there’s great content available on the network outside of wrestling matches and PPVs. For those who haven’t watched this show, the premise is simple; invite three past or present wrestlers, managers or whoever to sit around a table and talk for twenty minutes or so. Some of the conversations are enlightening and give you a rarely-seen glimpse behind the curtain into who these people are, how far they’ve come and what their thoughts are on the business.
Most of the attendees are retired from active competition, so you’re treated to them reminiscing about their heyday and what they got up to back in the day. It also gives you an appreciation for how hard they worked and their support for the talent today. What strikes me is how the older generation, the veterans, now spend their time still involved in WWE or wrestling. Sometimes when we think of ‘veterans in wrestling’ we picture Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson, played by Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler. A tired man still plying his trade at bingo halls, busting his balls and putting his life on the line to show the meagre audience that he’s still a star.
Though there are undoubtedly veterans who still hit the indie scene, I think there’s been a shift, especially where WWE are concerned, that some of the older guys don’t need to prove themselves to anyone, nor do they need to. In part I suppose that’s down to two main factors; they’ve prepared for retirement and accepted it, and that WWE looks out for its own. There’s also the fact that many retirees have sought out new careers once they’ve hung up their boots and with some incredible success, although we not be too familiar with their impact on the current product.
When I think of Table for Three and the veterans, I can’t help but put Diamond Dallas Page near the top of the list of people who’ve gone on to succeed after retirement. His appearance with Scott Hall and Sean Waltman on a recent show really gives an insight into how modest and intelligent he is. DDP has made it his mission to help others (check out his Hall of Fame speech). Scott Hall and Jake Roberts both credit DDP with saving their lives. While I can’t say DDP has saved my life, I can say his DDP Yoga has helped me in mine. I took advantage of a discount (thanks, Talk is Jericho) and picked up the Max Pack. It has helped me incredibly and I’d recommend it to anyone.
Other veterans sought to help their wrestling brothers and sisters in other ways once they’d retired; by teaching the next generation. If you read any decent wrestling autobiography (I personally recommend; Bret Hart, William Regal and Chris Jericho’s books among others) and you’ll find that not only was wrestling tough to break into in years gone by, but the training was usually provided by one main guy. Now, especially if we look at NXT, we can see a who’s who of past stars all there to bring the next generation through.
Matt Bloom– The current head trainer in the WWE Performance Center, he’s a well-travelled veteran who now works to bring through the next generation. Highly spoken of by the younger wrestlers, he’s had a massive impact behind the scenes in WWE, taking a more involved role after the untimely passing of the great Dusty Rhodes.
William Regal – The aforementioned ‘Real Man’s Man’ has worked behind the curtain in WWE for a long time. Another well-traveled veteran, he too works in NXT and the Performance Center bringing through the next crop. If you haven’t read his book, I highly recommend you do. How he’s even alive is a miracle after the tribulations he went through in his younger years.
Robby Brookside – You may not be familiar with this name, but he works alongside Regal and Bloom in NXT. I’m giving him a shout out here as he’s from my neck of the woods in Liverpool and also supports my beloved Everton Football Club. I actually got to see him wrestle on WWE TV once when he appeared on a televised Raw from Manchester, UK. I think he fought Kane. I was in the arena and cheered the former Liverpool Lad. Aside from that, I’ve watched him on You Tube working in NXT; his loud, commanding voice and passion for what he does comes through the screen. A veteran of British Wrestling, he’s well-travelled and has some great road stories to tell (he did an interview on Talk is Jericho). He also tweets photographs of old wrestling posters from around the UK (@RobbyBrookside), as well as his love for Punk music. Wrestling runs in his family as his daughter, Xia Brookside, is on the UK and independent scene.
There are of course others who have transitioned from in front to behind the camera such as Jamie Noble, Joey Mercury and others who are trainers/bookers in WWE. The silver screen has also attracted some stars such as The Rock, Dave Bautista and even John Morrison has been getting some screen time. The media doesn’t end there, as we’re inundated with podcasts from Steve Austin, Chris Jericho and good ol’ JR Jim Ross.
Incidentally, The Godfather now owns a strip club in Las Vegas and D’Lo Brown works there too (not as a stripper, of course).
Perhaps it’s the nature of WWE to try and take care of its former stars, to give them support when they need it most. Maybe others take it upon themselves to help one another. They shared a bond, a brotherhood on the road and those bonds are tough to break. They looked after one another back in the day, so why not now? The veterans have a deep understanding of wrestling; the psychology, the drama and the work ethic. They want to help the younger generation succeed and prosper. I’m glad so many of them are active in their twilight years, but not as faded stars still reaching for the sky. I’m glad they don’t need or want that anymore and see themselves as an important cog in the machine. Long may it continue, and long may they find happiness in the paths they’ve chosen in helping others.
Thanks for reading.