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Revealing Sean Waltman interview

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Torch Talk with Sean Waltman, pt. 1

Originally Published: November 26, 2005

Torch Newsletter #888

 

The following is the first installment of a 90 minute Torch Talk with Sean "X-Pac" Waltman. This interview focuses on two subjects: memories of Eddie Guerrero and WWE's new drug testing policy in response to Guerrero's death. Waltman has been down many of the same roads as Guerrero. He also was around during the last time WWE drug tested wrestlers and talks about the pros and cons of testing and how he tried to beat it once. Part two will be published next week.

 

Wade Keller: Talk about how well you knew Eddie Guerrero and what memories stand out. A lot of times when people die there often is exaggerating the good and ignoring the bad. I don't think there's been a lot of that with Eddie. He could be moody and not always having a bright, cheerful day, but most of the time he was a favorite person to be around.

 

Sean Waltman: Even in his most melancholy moods, he was a warm-hearted, compassionate human being. He was everything people say he was. My first time ever meeting Eddie was in Japan in 1993. I had already done the thing with Scott Hall with the Razor Ramon-1-2-3 Kid angle. However, I had one prior commitment with New Japan, the Super Junior Tournament that year. Looking back, that is where I began getting to know Eddie. Chris Benoit started getting to know Eddie really well on that tour. That's quite a long tour when you're over there for the Super Junior tournament. I was with him day in, and day out. As opposed to over here in the States, over there it's a tour schedule and you're on the bus with them all the time. We spent every day together. We got to know each other really well. That wasn't long after Art Barr passed away, and he was Eddie's dearest friend. Of all the matches I had on that Super Junior tournament, mine with Eddie Guerrero had to be one of the greatest matches I ever had. He led me through that match, as a matter of fact. It had to be one of the greatest matches I've ever had. If anyone has a copy of that, it was tremendous. I'm not saying this because he is dead, it wouldn't have been that tremendous if it wasn't for Eddie. I had some disappointing matches on that tour. I wrestled Jushin Liger and choked so bad and screwed so many things up in that match, it was embarrassing.

 

I got to know Eddie Guerrero really well on that tour. I didn't see any real bad signs that I can remember of any drug use back then. If there were any good drugs going around back then, nobody shared them with me. [laughs] I don't mean to laugh at that, actually. I've known Eddie since 1993. I didn't see him again until I left Vince McMahon (the WWF) the first time and went to WCW when the NWO thing started. Then I spent a lot of time with Eddie there as well. Things had gotten, I think, a little bit out of control for Eddie back at that time. I remember the very infamous NWO Souled Out pay-per-view from Cedar Rapids, Iowa where Eddie and I had a ladder match. I remember coming prepared; the night before I had several tapes of all sorts of different ladder matches. One of my best friends in the world, Scott Hall, was kind of an innovator of that match. He was helping me out with trying to come up with a really good ladder match. Not that we (Eddie and I) didn't have one, Wade. This is where you kind of get into some of the negative things. I couldn't find Eddie. I couldn't track him down the night before to sit down and kind of study other people's ladder matches. It definitely, I think, hurt the quality of the match. Even though I think we had a really good one, there were so many things from a psychology standpoint about that match that were problems. I remember coming back from the match and at the time, because of the crowd reaction, because there were some pretty spectacular things in the match, I was pretty happy, but when I walked back through the curtain, instead of getting a pat on the back and a hug and telling me what a great match I had, I remember getting my ass chewed out by Scott Hall. There were so many obvious things that could have been better had we prepared a little better. So I was a little disappointed. I remember Eddie took that kind of hard. Scott wasn't friends enough with Eddie to go over and give him shit and jump his case because I don't think Scott thought it was his place to do so, but word had gotten back to Eddie. I know that bothered Eddie for a long time.

 

Keller: If he took it so personally that the match didn't go well, was that in part because he felt bad he wasn't there the night before to go over the tape?

 

Waltman: Maybe subconsciously. I think just the fact - kinda like me, I share a lot of Eddie's characteristics in terms of being real sensitive and getting my feelings hurt kind of easily. It was a combination of things, you know? He was so awesome in the ring and it was a pride thing, too, realizing that somebody that knew actually thought the match could have been way better. We were patted on the back and told how great a match we had by a lot of people in the company who were in powerful positions, but actually didn't know their ass from a hole in the ground. Some of them that you would just assume knew, but still said, "Great match." Kind of like, Arn Anderson. I don't know if you ever heard stories of Arn Anderson as an agent, and I may or may not get shit for this from Arn if I ever see him again if he reads this, but Arn was infamous for being an agent and sitting back playing cribbage or gin backstage and coming back from your match that he didn't even watch, he'd tell you what a great match you had.

 

Keller: Tell me what comes to mind as two or three moments that you'd like to have captured on videotape to show his daughters some day that you were either directly part of or eyewitnessed that really captures Eddie Guerrero as a person, a colleague, and a friend. What would show his kids what their dad was all about?

 

Waltman: There are so many things. It was just such an every day thing to experience Eddie displaying his compassion. It wasn't something you had to try to do, it was just the way he naturally was. If anybody was ever experiencing some kind of a problem, if he saw somebody - and they didn't have to be a dear friend of his, Wade - and I know I'm not giving you one particular example, this is more of a blanket statement - if he saw somebody else hurting, it was like he felt it was his duty as a human being to try to do something about that and take some of that hurt away. I just have a feeling, and not like trying to blow smoke up my own ass, I know when I see people who are hurting, you kind of feel some of their pain. And Eddie really, really exemplified that. You didn't have to be his friend.

 

Keller: We've heard that. Charlie Haas, Batista, and a couple of people on the roster now who told me off the record stories - and those aren't people known as good friends of Eddie. In the case of Haas, he was going through marital problems, and Eddie was there to help him through it. Batista said the same thing on the air about how Eddie read him Bible passages to help him through tough times. There are people who weren't his best friends who say they had great moments with him where they bonded. I don't know if that was really well-known about Eddie outside of the locker room until this last week.

 

Waltman: To give you one example, it's my last memory of Eddie. This is my last memory of Eddie Guerrero. When I was at about my lowest and going through my shit with Joanie Laurer and I finally got to the point - as a matter of fact, just a month or so earlier I sobered up enough to come down to the WWE pay-per-view. Eddie Guerrero vs. JBL was the main event. It was the match where Eddie lost tons of blood. I didn't get a chance to see Eddie that night because of him losing all that blood and being in that kind of shape. However, a month later I called Hunter on the phone and said, "Hunter, I need help and I want to come back to work." He said, "Where are you?" He sent a limousine to come pick me up from where I was at and put me up in a hotel downtown to get me away from her. To make a long story short, finally Hunter comes to town and gets me and before we get on the airplane, we have to stop by where they're shooting a commercial for Summerslam. So there are several of the guys there, including Eddie. He came up to me and gave me the biggest hug. I hadn't seen him since he started having his really bad problems and he lost his job and lost his family and everything. He saw me and gave me the biggest hug and said, "You know, I'll never forget." This was when Eddie himself was probably in a worse place emotionally and everything else than I was at this time. Eddie said, "Remember, I called you and you kept me on the phone for hours talking to me. That helped save my life. I'll never forget that. If there's anything I can ever, ever do for you to make that up, I'm here for you."

 

He gave me a book, kind of a devotional book with scriptures in it. It really meant a lot to me. It helped me in where I was going, which was really straight from there to rehab. [laughs] Although Hunter didn't tell me that as he was getting on the airplane, I kind of knew. That was the last time I saw or talked to Eddie. It was a nice way to remember him.

 

 

Keller: He went out of his way when you were at a low point and he hadn't forgotten what you had done for him.

 

Waltman: To me, I didn't do a damn thing for him other than just be a friend. He was my friend. We went through a lot together. We had a lot of fun and stuff together. And I also saw a real ugly side of him when he was drinking heavily. That was a side of Eddie I didn't want anybody to ever see again. Personally, when I would get f---ed up, I wouldn't get like that. I wouldn't get mean. I can't remember ever, ever being mean or getting into a fight because I was messed up. That may be because I can't remember, period. But, he was a very, very emotional guy and those emotions came out in the best ways and the worst ways when he was using. I remember a time in Germany - you're asking me to give accounts of things that his kids would be happy to know about, and this isn't one of them; this is one I just thought about. We were in Germany on this really lame tour for WCW and I don't even remember why he was doing the shows, but he was really drunk and he was going off on Disco Inferno for no reason. You know, Disco Inferno, I don't know anybody who's ever been mad at him for anything. He?s the most nice, passive guy in the world. He just kept open-handed smacking Disco.

 

Keller: In the ring?

 

Waltman: No, this was outside the hotel at night. I was like, oh my God! It was alarming. That was a side I saw of him, too. Thank God I didn't see that side often. Actually, that was the only time I had seen him get that really mean.

 

Keller: I think it plays to your honesty to mention low points in Eddie's life. When he has talked about the lows he experienced, I'm sure those are times he really does regret.

 

Waltman: He may or may not have even remembered that.

 

Keller: We'll talk more about Eddie as we venture into other subjects, but I want to talk about the effect that drugs and drinking have on people. You've done both to excess at various times. What is it that brings somebody from drinking recreationally or using pills for their prescribed purpose or recreationally to a point where you get a buzz out of it to the depths that you spoke out, that you've been through, that Eddie's been through? What is it that leads so many wrestlers down that pathway, and is there something unique about the wrestling business that fosters that path?

 

Waltman: What makes people cross that line into problem drinking or becoming a full blown alcoholic or drug addict? It's hard to really answer that with one blanket for all drug addicts or alcoholics because we're all different. I mean, so different. Everybody's alcoholism and drug addiction reacts to them differently, just like our fingerprints. I say "we" because I'm a drug addict. I don't like to say alcoholic because it wasn't my drug of choice. For lack of any other drug around, I would drink a ton of alcohol and it tastes like shit and it's probably one of the worst tastes I can think of, but in lieu of getting a buzz or getting completely obliterated, I'll drink it. That's like saying I'd drink a gallon of piss just to get a buzz or get drunk. That's pretty sad. That's the definition of being sick. There are some people who were born with genetics who are predisposed to be drug addicts. Eventually, if you're given an endless supply of something, if something's always there, if there's always pills there, it's bound to happen. If that person was because of their genetics predisposed to be that, it's going to happen and there's no two ways about it. That doesn't mean to say somebody with those genetics, if they're just exposed to it here and there, it's like rolling the dice. It's not necessarily going to happen if there's not an endless supply of these things. I know I'm veering off the subject here, but it's making me think of the drug testing policy that Vince is instituting again... I can almost imagine that this will probably be just as stringent as the testing I remember. Wow, that's a really giant step for Vince to take.

 

Keller: You were there, so historically speaking, you can talk about this. There was all of that media pressure to talk to WWE and Vince McMahon didn't want to do it at first, but when he did it and decided to do it, it seemed he put forth a genuine effort to clean up his company. Talk about what the reaction was to it at the time, whether it was taken seriously, and how it led to changes once it started taking place.

 

Waltman: This is the only thing I can't relate to. I can't relate to being part of a major wrestling company and going through years where pretty much anything went - you could do steroids, whatever you wanted to - and then having the rug pulled out from underneath you pretty much over night where all of a sudden you're not allowed to do these things anymore. When I came in there, I wasn't using steroids to begin with and I never really had at the time. I tried once or twice or something, but the truth is, I don't even know if I had real steroids back then. I never touched a steroid until I was 25 years old, until I left Vince McMahon. Before I went to the WWF, I had never really taken a pain killer or any pills. So it wasn't nearly as big of a deal for me, although the sad part about it is, because they were testing for some things - when you can have a prescription for Valium, Xenix, Percocet, Oxycontin, whatever you can get your doctor to prescribe for you. You can take these things and piss in a cup and these metabolites can show up in your urine and you're okay, and you're not allowed to test for alcohol - it doesn't really show up, anyhow. It's really hard to infringe on somebody's civil liberties when you tell then you can't drink alcohol in the first place. How do I put this? I walked into a company that was full of people who were taking tons of pills and drinking tons of alcohol on a nightly basis. I got caught up in that whirlwind really quick. We weren't allowed to smoke a joint. They were testing for illegal drugs, and marijuana was an illegal drug in most states. So that was the big thing. We weren't allowed to smoke a joint. If they had only allowed us to smoke pot, we wouldn't be taking all of these pills and getting f---ed up and getting drunk every night. The testing can't solve all of the problems. I know it's a big p.r. thing, but Vince does really care. For all of his flaws, the guy does care. He does not want to keep having to go through this.

 

Keller: When you were part of the stringent drug testing policy, describe how that worked in excruciating detail. How did you find out that you were about to be tested? How much notice did you receive? How often did it happen? What was the test like?

 

Waltman: Okay, we'd find out we were being tested by showing up to the arena and seeing a sign on the door that said, "Drug Test." That's when we knew. It could have been anytime. You never knew when it was coming. There was a doctor Mario DiPasquali. He was a very, very good match. He was very knowledgeable in all of these things. He was probably, in my opinion, one of the top two or three most knowledgeable people about performance-enhancing drugs and how to beat the tests, by the way. He ran Vince's drug testing policy. He was great at it. He really was. He was great at his job. He was very understanding to us because he was an athlete himself. He understood what we were going through. But at the same time, we could show up one day, take a test, and then think we would be okay for a couple of days, and bam, the next day he'd hit us with one. It wasn't just where you walk in, they give you a cup, you go into the bathroom, and you piss in a cup. The bathroom you go into to piss in, there's a guy standing there. We call him the cock-watcher. They watched the stream of urine leave your genetalia and go into the cup. I couldn't think of a way to beat the test. I mean, not very many drug testing policies require somebody to actually watch it come out of you. Even when I was in rehab, you could go and have some privacy while you were taking the test.

 

What happens is, there's ways to beat that, too. Nothing is unbeatable. Now they've come up with prosthetic penises that look like real penises that have a real heating system in them to heat the clean urine that you would put in there to body temperature. They'll test the temperature and the PH to be sure that you're not using some kind of a masking agent. I'm sure in Vince's test that there's a thing to detect that.

 

I'll tell you a quick story. We really liked to smoke our pot back then, Wade. It was a big deal because they wouldn't let us do that. I felt strongly about it. I don't know if marijuana is on his list of things he's testing for. If I were him, I wouldn 't test for it. It's a hell of a lot more benign than alcohol and we're not talking about a p.r. thing where we're worried about somebody getting caught with a dime bag of pot going through the airport or getting stopped on the road, this is a thing to save people's lives. This policy to save people's lives, it shouldn't be strictly for the p.r. of the company. I really don't think there is going to be any bad press on the company if one of Vince's WWE superstars gets caught with a bag of pot. And that's my opinion on it. It might be a biased opinion because I'm a legalization of marijuana advocate. And I do have, in the state of California, a medical marijuana permit. If I was working for Vince, I'm sure that would exempt me from being tested for marijuana anyhow. But not everybody lives in the state of California and not everybody's able to get a doctor's note, either. It's just not the thing I'd be testing for.

 

There was one time we beat the test. It was the Royal Rumble of 1995. It was in Tampa. We started figuring out in our drug addict minds that, okay, they test at house shows, but they don't test us at TVs because there's too much going on at TVs. Same for pay-per-views. And they don't test us in non-English-speaking countries, so if we go to Europe, we can get away with smoking a joint. We had all these things figured out in our heads, so we thought. So we went out the night before Royal Rumble to Ybor City in Tampa. By the way I remember Scott Hall and I leaning on each other walking down 7th St. in Ybor City and bumping into Lawrence Taylor of all people. He looked at Scott and me and was like, "God, aren't you guys wrestling tomorrow?" We were all pilled up and definitely in downer mode. If you want to make any assumption about Lawrence Taylor, he was probably exactly the opposite; he was probably zoomin'. So he's looking at us like we're crazy. Anyway, we get to the show the next day and that's when Lawrence Taylor did the angle with Bam Bam Bigelow at the end of my match leading to WrestleMania.

 

So we show up for the pay-per-view. Bam, they got us. There's signs up. "Drug testing." We're dirty because we smoked pot the night before. We're like, oh shit! So guys were going in and taking the test. I was avoiding it all day long. Finally Dave Hebner cornered me. He tricked me into going in. He said, "Somebody wants to talk to you." He had taken a sign down on a door. I walked through the door and, bam, there they were with the cups ready. So I'm telling the guy that's doing the test, "Uh, I can't really piss." He could tell I was nervous. I didn't want to get caught. Nobody wants to get caught because it costs you money and you get suspended. He goes, "Give me two hundred bucks and I'll piss for you." I'm telling you, two hundred dollars never left my wallet and went into somebody else's hands so quick in my life. I didn't even think that the guy could have been dirty himself if he was pissing into the cup. This guy actually couldn't piss for everybody, but I think he pretty much took a couple hundred bucks from several people in the company and ended up dumping their samples out. That was the only time that I could tell you that that test was beatable. It was because of a corrupt person who was administering the tests.

 

Keller: And that's not something that could be consistently done because different people conducted the tests each time?

 

Waltman: Different people all over.

 

Keller: So somebody with a major problem would not be able to get away with that even if the current testing used the same method.

 

Waltman: No, that was just a one time thing. I thought that was a pertinent story.

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