Former ECW star Mikey Whipwreck talks training, preparation and life after wrestling

1
Images courtesy of alchetron.com

ECW original Mikey Whipwreck has had a long-standing involvement in professional wrestling that dates back over twenty years. The laid-back Whipwreck was fun and jovial during our chat about all things pro wrestling. He also goes on to discuss the pride he takes in what he has done, not necessarily for himself, but to help develop others. The former ECW champion and sentimental favorite of the Philadelphia faithful is modest about his achievements. He was highly regarded for his work ethic and commitment, which was undeniable for those that saw him. His notable matches against Justin Credible, Lance Storm, and Jerry Lynn, along with his rivalry with The Sandman, helped define his career early on.

Today, Whipwreck looks back on those that he trained and focused on one particular area of development that is essential in being successful in the ring today. Whipwreck discusses how certain feuds and matches came about, his initial championship win in Eastern Championship Wrestling, and how his name was given. He also shares about the comparisons between the Stone Cold Stunner and the Whipper Snapper, and much more. His relaxed nature is founded on his awareness of what the business can do, and what it has done for him.

Fans can communicate with Mikey Whipwreck on social media such as Twitter, where he can be reached at @mikeywhipwreck_

How did the name Mikey Whipwreck come about?

It came from Dennis Whipwreck, who was a promoter in, I think, Maryland. What Paul (Heyman) was doing in ECW at the time was, he was taking some of the job guys, taking a name and twisting it around a little bit. We had a guy named Joe Hardgood which was a takeoff of Joe Goodhard, and Mikey Whipwreck was a takeoff of Dennis Whipwreck. So that’s how that all came about. I guess Paul was taking little jabs at the local promoters. I don’t know if Mikey Whiplash was done at out respect to me, I don’t think so. It would be nice, but it’s just nice having another Whip and getting involved with the Whip brethren.

Describe your first championship win with Eastern Championship Wrestling. How did it come about, and how did the decision come about from the planning of that match?

It was just one of those things that happened that night, really. I didn’t know until that day, or that night rather. I really had no idea. It was just one of those matches where you are getting beat up and you must sell. Know what I mean? They just told me to sell. I think it was Taz that came out and distracted Pitbull. He made his way to the top rope or something like that and he would be working on me. My arm would be going over him, and I could do it that way. It was very, I don’t want to say anticlimactic, but there really wasn’t anything to it because the whole time I was being beaten up. It was definitely a really cool moment. It was like ‘Oh, crap I’m actually the champion after this thing’. It was just really cool.

images courtesy of networkplaylists.com

I was just part of the business and being beaten up. There isn’t much different about it. I was still new in the business and I didn’t really know much. It was kind of one of those they mainly got a gimmick out of it. So, I didn’t really think that it would go anywhere. I thought, ‘Okay I’ll have it like a show or two and then just drop it again.’ He kept me going longer than I thought he would. It is definitely a cool moment though. Winning your first championship was definitely cool.

The saying never put the cart before the horse tends to ring out in some instances. It was reported that you initially were hired as part of the ring crew but were later trained. How did that all come about? Take us through the process from ring crew to performer for you.

My friend Stormin’ Norman was training with Sonny Blaze to be a wrestler, he went to the school and was training. I was 5′ ft, 8 or 9 inches tall, and 155 lbs, maybe, back then in 1992-93. There really was no chance in hell of someone my size doing anything in the business. He was charging me to wrestle if I cleaned the gym and things like that. So, I was training. I helped my friend with his training and helped him do stuff just for the fun of it. ECW wanted to rent Sonny’s ring, and I was pretty much the guy, so I went and we’d set up. As soon as the ring was up, he and I would do high spots to test the ring that the ropes are good, the boards are good, and there weren’t any bumps anywhere or overlapping pads, things like that. I guess Joey Styles and Paul E happened to see me and asked me ‘Do you want to wrestle?’ I am like, okay. So, it was really not something planned. I had no gear, I borrowed a pair of red shorts from Donnie Allen, I had a pair of tennis shoes. I had that dragon shirt, I think in my bag that someone got for me for Christmas. It was very much a spur of the moment.

As part of ECW, you were part of memorable moments and matches. What was it do you think made fans take to you so much each time you stepped into the ring?

I don’t know because it’s still kind of weird. That crowd in Philly would like the guys that can work, the heels. They were the bloodthirsty hardcore fans. And then there is me who was not hardcore. I was not a good wrestler back in the day. I was the anti-Philadelphia guy. I just think it was the work ethic and the beating I would take. I think they could kind of relate a little bit. It was just being an average everyday kid, I think that was it. I didn’t go out there and try to be a great worker. I went out there to mainly get beat up. I think that may have been it. They just saw me as one of them. I wasn’t this larger than life type person. Which, I guess, part of it worked for me, and part of it worked against me.

images courtesy of gcwe.ca

When you finally get to the point when you are on TV, and transition to the WWE or WCW, the characters back then were larger than life. They had to have that it factor for the most part. A lot of guys went to them (WWE) because they were groomed for it little by little. I went from ECW, knowing absolutely nothing, right to WCW. I took with me a little bit of what I knew from here and there. I didn’t have that polish and seasoning behind me. I think, for me, if I had a few more years under my belt. With a little more experience on a little bit bigger stage, I think it would have worked out better for me.

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So, to that how would you say the Whippersnapper was unlike the Stone Cold Stunner and has that conversation happened between yourself and Steve Austin?

I had it with him briefly. Whatever anyone thinks, whether he stole it from me everyone thinks that I stole it from him. The funny part is I got it from Gorgeous Jimmy Garvin when he came back on a WCW pay per view in 1995 or 96 maybe. He came back with a haircut and wrestled Johnny B Badd just in some random match. He did the move with no kick to the gut, he just grabbed Johnny B Badd and just did it. He called it the 911. So, I got it from Jimmy Garvin. Steve got if from Michael Hayes, who I guess got it from Johnny Ace. So, it was just kind of funny that we both got the move from a (Fabulous) Freebird, but a different Freebird. Neither one deliberately took the move from the other. Mine was off the middle rope which at the time seemed like a good idea. But on the back? Not so good. It was a little rough on the a**, rough on the back, and a little rough on the neck. Steve did it from the mat which originally was how I was doing it. I should have used the middle rope version for a special occasion.

During your time in ECW, you faced the company’s elite. How would you say your rivalries with the likes of Justin Credible and Taz differed from one another?

The rivalry with Taz wasn’t really a rivalry, it was pretty much a glorified squash. For me working with Taz was easy. The T-bone suplexes that he would give me, the head and arm one was a bit rough, especially on the head. But everything else was pretty much easy, all the other throws were nice and easy. I had been working with Taz for 6 or 7 days a week. So, if anything it was really a night off for the most part.

Then you graduate a little bit, and there was my deal with the Sandman. Hak brought me along, he pretty much gave me credibility and let me do more things. That one was not as nice and easy as it was with Taz. (laughs) That one was a bit rougher. He was always drunk. He wasn’t exactly smooth. Then, you get the stick involved, and you never knew where it was going to hit. It was interesting; many times the stick would hit me in the back of the head or right at the front of my head. It hit my opposite ear. So, it was always interesting.

Then I progressed to the deal with Justin Credible, Jerry Lynn, and Lance Storm, where it was more competitive stuff back and forth. Those 3 guys, we called ourselves the fake Kliq. You had the real Kliq and then you had the fake Kliq. By fake I mean, punches were fake, kicks were fake, and it was really nice and easy. So that was the four of us, we had the fake Kliq. With those three guys, it was always easy and always fun. It was just an overall progression. From your beginnings, where you’re pretty much a job guy and you progress to where you get better and better until you get with people like PJ (Justin Credible), Jerry and Lance, you are going to get better automatically. It was definitely good times.

Having been part of both ECW and WCW, things were very different from one place to another. What was it about ECW that drew you to come back there, and how did that past experience shape your decision to return?

I didn’t like the corporate feel of WCW, the seeming continuous confusion about what was going on, down there. There was just a lot of weird things they did for like no reason. When I put my notice in, I probably could have gone to WWF because I have a lot of friends up there. I probably could have gotten in if I really pushed and asked. But I went to WCW, I didn’t really change my character much at all. I came in as a babyface, and then I was a heel, and then I was a babyface again, and then I was kind of like a heel again. I never got a push. It was kind of like being in purgatory. Then I had this idea of, I would be this crazy character, to try and change it up a bit, which I kind of wanted to do in WCW. Perry Saturn said ‘Don’t bother because they aren’t going to get the point. You’ll just change your look and your character, and get the same results.’

So, I went back to ECW. I could go there and take what I had already, I had the history there and I can kind of tweak it a little bit and make myself go nuts. I would dye my hair red and start to go crazy, just to get a new character across. And in case it ever turned out that I got a call from WWE or anything like that, it was just a different look. It stood out more and was better on TV. Then, we did the thing with Tajiri and we progressed even further. I just didn’t like the whole corporate confusion of WCW anyway, I liked ECW better. It was home to me and you could be yourself. You could pretty much do whatever in the ring, and very rarely did Paul ever say no. It was a good idea to go back and reinvent myself a little bit.

Images courtesy of 411mania.com

The character that was me, later on, was a tweaked version of what I had in WCW. It was a mix of Randy Savage, Mick Foley, and Chris Farley. It progressed, although I didn’t know where I wanted to go with it or exactly what I had in mind. I didn’t have the devil thing going on in my head, but he paired me with Jim Mitchell. He started doing a takeoff of the Raven thing where he brainwashes Raven and had him under his spell. It was like this guy Dr. Eugene Landy and Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, it was the same type of thing. So, when Scotty (Raven) left it had nothing to do with the devil. The devil started wearing a red suit, and I got with Tajiri and I started playing with fire, and we became the devil clique. (laughs) It just kind of came together. It started off as a gag, if the devil can play with fire, then I could start playing with fire. It wasn’t as if I wanted to start playing with fire every night, fire is pretty unpredictable. It pretty much took off from there, and our promos people were starting to comment. To be amped up on beer at 4 o’clock in the morning, it worked out pretty well and people started to like it.

Towards ECW’s end, they started to gain notoriety outside the US due to being on Spike TV. It was there where fans were witness to the Unholy Alliance with you, Taiji and James Mitchell. Describe how that all came about and what the working relationship with these two men was like throughout the faction’s existence.

It was great, really. Jim and I have the same sense of humor and we have the same sense of ‘Whatever is going to work, let’s do it.’ No matter how ridiculous it was. We always said if we go out there and do it like we believe it. Even if we know it’s completely ridiculous and absolutely insane, if we play it like we buy it and we go with it 100%, the people will get behind it. It just worked, even if we did ridiculous stuff. What happens a lot of times is when you do something that you are uncomfortable with it. When you do something and you pull back a bit, the people can kind of feel it, they won’t really get it. But with the devil and I, we took our real personalities and amped them up. I know you hear that all the time. The devil and I would be out at Denny’s, he would be drinking beer and I would be sitting there, and I was just acting dumb. I would start squeezing ketchup packets and putting ketchup on my face and acting like a nut. So, people are sitting there thinking these two guys are really nuts, they probably thought we were legitimately crazy. So if they see me out at Denny’s being nuts and doing stupid things, and then they see me in the ring, they are going to believe it. It was because we presented ourselves as being a little off. It lent it some credibility, a little bit. I am legitimately a little crazy.

It’s, how much are people going to believe your characters? It’s, how far are you going to take your characters? It was a case of me saying ‘I am going to push 100% with this and not hold back with it.’ Does that work for everybody? No, but there it is better to be chasing and pushing and believing that to be intimidated by it or feel stupid about it. You just have to go out and you have to do it.

Images courtesy of YouTube.com

I would travel with Spike and Justin Credible for a while. If I would act like I would act on TV after they saw me with PJ (Justin Credible) and saw us wrestle each other…it was ok, I wasn’t a good guy, and I wasn’t a bad guy either. But if they see me acting crazy and getting beat up, it’s one part of the character, you can act up and they’ll believe ‘Yeah, he’s really crazy. It’s still all fake with the good guy, bad guy thing, it’s still a work. But Mikey is really a little nuts.’

It is about taking your personality and amping it up. Don’t be afraid and don’t be intimidated and go out there, full tilt. Even if you think the character is the stupidest thing in the world, go out there, embrace it, and do it. It might get over and it might not, but you have a better chance of having it get over if you believe in it than if you don’t. For instance, Perry Saturn and the dress or the mop. It didn’t get over huge, but he believed in it. He kept getting over with it. It’s just how dedicated you are to doing it and making it work, then you have a better chance of it working.

One of the most notable promoters in Canada is Scott D’Amore. How did the decision to have the Mikey Whipwreck Retirement bash all come about?

He asked. It was the Canadian version of my retirement. I don’t think I have been back since. That is one retirement that actually stuck. So, I retired in Canada, I kept my promise to the people of Windsor. I would say I was pretty beat up and I just couldn’t do it anymore. I said I want to retire, and he said let’s have the Canadian version. That was it. I don’t remember much from the night, but I do remember a lot of beer. I think I wrestled Guido. Did I wrestle Guido? I think so, maybe. It’s bad I don’t remember, but I do remember it being a good time and a lot of beer. A lot of Molson going on.

After coming out of retirement, you competed in promising promotions such as TNA and Ring of Honor. What was it about competing for them, as opposed to competing for WWE, that appealed to you? Could you have imagined the success both companies have had since their inception?

They weren’t running all time at that point. TNA, I only did once. I kept saying no, they asked me every week for like a month. I think they were doing the weekly thing at the time. They were doing something where Hak would bring in a different opponent every week, like Julio Dinero and (CM) Punk, I think. But they’d call me, and Bob Ryder would ask, and I would say no. Then, they called me a week later and offered me more money, and I would say no. Then, they would call me again and I would say no. Then, finally, they called me and said we would fly you out early in the morning and you would be in the building at about 1 pm. I was no, the hell with that. F*** that. (laughs)

So, I got the latest flight that I could get, and I got to the building at 8 pm and Hak already had my spot figured out. I really just went there for the money. I didn’t really want to go, and I didn’t want to work there full time. I remember Jeff Jarrett saying to me, ‘Hey maybe we could bring you back.’ I said, ‘Nah, it’s okay.’ (laughs) Then he just looked at me like ‘I can’t believe he just said that.’ I said ‘Well, I am not going to lie, I don’t plan on coming back.’ Hak was like, ‘Yo, that was great!’. (laughs) Everybody can work there and say that’s great. But I went back home to New York.

For Ring of Honor, I think Gabe (Sapolsky) asked me to come in. I think they did a thing in Queens, (New York) where they wanted me to come in. They weren’t running all the time. I said, ‘Sure I could come in here and there and do a show, nothing crazy.’ It was fun. A lot of young guys. (Bryan) Danielson, Low Ki, was in there and I think Eddie Guerrero was in there when I came in. They were using my guys, Amazing Red, SAT (Spanish Announce Team) and Clash Storm. So, it was a good time, and we got to watch the young kids go crazy. Watch a young Bryan Danielson or Low Ki or Xavier or Chris Daniels all beat the sh** out of each other. Make me feel glad I am back here.

I am surprised TNA lasted as long as it did. When I was there they had a very WCW feel to me. That’s my take on it. As for Ring of Honor, I thought they were a local promotion that they’ll run Philly, they’ll run New York. But they’ve definitely done well for themselves, I will tell you that much. How long have they been going now? 16 years? They’ve done okay (laughs). They’ve done better than most, how about that?

As important as it is to be over and achieve success in the ring, it is often said that it is important to give back. Talk about those that have trained under you, such as Jay Lethal, Trent Beretta, Curt Hawkins and Tony Nese. What was working with each one like and how would you say your training helped contribute to their success?

All the guys you mentioned, they were naturals at it, which made the physical training very easy. They picked up very quickly. They made my job easy. My training was more mental for them, I will mindf*** you no end. For instance, we could be doing cardio and I would say ‘Okay, guys are we doing cardio tonight?’ They would go ‘Yeah, yeah, we have to do cardio.’ I would say ‘Oh, we have to do cardio after class; so, what you are saying is I didn’t work you hard enough during class and you have all this extra f****ing energy to do cardio, that’s great!’ I would give them 45 minutes to an hour of cardio. The next week I would say ‘Okay, guys are we doing cardio tonight or not?’ They would say, ‘No we worked really hard during class.’ I would say ‘Oh, so you’re f***ing lazy?’ Things like that.

Images courtesy of networkplaylists.com

I would tell them all the time that once they got past all of that sh** they would be full-fledged workers. I would say ‘I didn’t mindf*** to be a d***, and I didn’t get off on it.’ But this business will constantly, constantly, f*** with you. You will second guess yourself and you will have to deal with the online razzing. ‘This guy is bad, this guy sucks.’ He’s ugly, he can’t work, all this stuff. Then you have to deal with promoters, and they’ll want to mess with you. Then, if you go to WWE it’s a whole other level of mindf***ers. So if you guys want to make it past the point of just training, and potentially have a future in this, well if I have you to the point where you have a great style in the ring. That you can protect yourself in the ring and can take an opponent in the ring and have a little bit of psychology behind you, then and you are mentally stable as far as people trying to f*** with you and I have done my job.

Zack Ryder has been in the WWE for over 10 years now, and they f*** with him all the time. (laughs) The push, the no-push, the start, the stop, and he’s still there. Ten years later and for someone at his level that isn’t pushed as the top guy, that’s a pretty decent run. Curt Hawkins was there, and he got released and they brought him back. Beretta just didn’t really dig it, so when they got rid of him it was a bit of relief because he is pretty quirky. He is a very odd young man, as you can probably tell by some of the shirts he has and some of the deals he has. He goes to Japan. He does his thing and he’s good with it. Clash Storm, he never wanted to wrestle in the United States, so he went to Japan. One day he just picked up and left and he hasn’t been back.

I am very happy for all my guys, they all had very different goals and I am proud of all of them. There is more satisfaction for me watching them on TV. Going to WrestleMania, only two kids were in the Battle Royal this year, but to see them at WrestleMania, I would say ‘Hey, those are my kids. They are going to WrestleMania.’ It’s really cool.

Now that we enter the midway point of the year, what does the balance of 2018 and beyond have in store for Mikey Whipwreck?

I have no idea. I started the year thinking I would do nothing. Like most years in the past, I just have an appearance here and an appearance there. But I did a couple of events in Philly, and then I did the WrestleCon in New Orleans this year. Then, I made the mistake of doing Joey Janela’s show and took a Frankenstein during the match called the clusterf***, I don’t know what I was thinking. I am almost 45 years old and haven’t done it in 4 years. I was in jeans and boots, and fat. So, I don’t know what the hell I was thinking doing this Frankenstein. But it worked pretty well. The Twitter feed blew up a little bit about it.

Then the next thing you know, my booker would come say ‘Hey, do you want to come do this, do you want to come to do that or do that?’ Where normally I would say no, I have booked myself every weekend now to the end of June. (laughs) It has picked up. I am not actually working matches, but seminars, appearances, guest ref, things like that. It’s cool to get back out there again because I had taken myself out of the picture. I pop my head up, I get to see the guys and get a pretty decent reaction from the people, as though they are happy to see me. It’s been nice; it’s shocking but nice.

I am shocked because I haven’t been on TV since 2000-2001, so it’s been 17 years now. So, for people to come out there who are happy to see me, it’s cool. You have some of these kids who are 15, 16, 17 years old, I know they were in diapers the last time I was on TV, but with the availability on the WWE Network of ECW, it’s a whole new generation that can see what ECW was. It’s cool.

To explore other interviews in our archive please click here.

1 COMMENT

Comments are closed.