By Brad Carroll
Over my years as a newspaper sports writer and editor, I've had the opportunity to interview some big names in the world of sports, and some of my most enjoyable and favorite interviews have come from the world of professional wrestling.
So, with WrestleMania 33 just days away, I thought it would be a good idea to look back on those interviews and let our loyal readers have a peak inside the world of professional wrestling from some of the biggest names ever. We're talking guys like Ric Flair, Roddy Piper, Kevin Nash, Kurt Angle, Jerry Lawler, Christian and Jimmy Hart.
We'll break it down into seven parts, each focusing on some interesting tidbits to come out of each interview subject, which for many was exclusives for the time.
Part I: Christian (Jay Resso)
Former WWE and TNA star and then-NWA champion Christian was the first pro wrestler I interviewed, about a decade ago, and actually did so twice, two years in a row. He was promoting a match for an independent wrestling company in the area, which presented a great opportunity to get some inside information on his career.
Here are some of the highlights from those two interviews and stories:
Christian was a big wrestling fan growing up and when he learned there was a wrestling school a short drive from where he was attending college in Toronto, he had his start.
"I always had a passion for wrestling," Christian said
After training there, his big break came when he got to wrestle in a dark match (taking part in an un-televised match that works almost as a tryout) for the WWE in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada.
"A couple of people saw me wrestle and I made enough of an impression that they invited me to the WWE's training camp," Christian said. "It never crossed my mind that I wouldn't make it."
He made it in the WWE, winning tag team and singles championships and becoming one of the more popular superstars on the roster. Recently, Christian joined upstart promotion TNA, which is nationally-televised on Spike TV, and quickly won the NWA World Heavyweight Title, the biggest prize in the promotion.
"Leaving the WWE presented a new challenge," he said. "TNA is building. It's fun, and it's up and coming. It is really exciting."
Christian would headline the most popular crowd in Northeast Wrestling history that night, and he returned again off that impressive debut. He talked about that, plus had some interesting thoughts on a then-growing TNA in an interview the following year.
"It is a great feeling," Christian said about his role in the record-setting numbers. "To know that people want to see you in person is great. It is one of the things that made me want to come back. It is going to be a big night."
Christian is at the top of his profession with TNA (Total Nonstop Action) and is happy with his place in the wrestling universe. Christian is the promotion's champion and is getting ready to wrestle Sting in the main event at the upcoming "Sacrifice" pay-per-view on May 13.
"I'm having a great time at TNA," he said. "The show is plugging away on Spike. The only thing I wish would be different is if they made the show two hours long. There is too much stuff to cram into one hour right now."
Plus, with the signing of Angle to TNA, Christian is more than happy to be part of a growing promotion that hopes to take a chomp out of the popularity of the WWE.
"Angle brings a lot of credibility to TNA," Christian said. "To have a former world champion says a lot. We have viable competition - people may be more exposed to that now."
He also helped the Indy promotion score its next big star attraction.
"I told [Kurt Angle] about the great shows Northeast Wrestling does, and he asked me about him possibly doing one," Christian said of the former Olympic gold medalist and one of wrestling's most popular stars. "I told him it was a great group and they do things the right way. Angle signed up from there."
That would lead to my exclusive interview with Angle, which can be read here.