Kidman: Pinning Hogan a career highlight
By GREG OLIVER -- SLAM! Wrestling
The change in Billy Kidman is pretty representative of the changes in WCW as
Kidman a while back as Cruiserweight champion.
It wasn't too long ago when he wanted out of his contract, and absolutely
hated going to work, especially the TV tapings where egos and politics made
life miserable. Wrestling was all that he ever wanted to do in his life, and
he wasn't enjoying life at all.
For Kidman, the turnaround from just a couple of weeks ago has been amazing.
"[It's] a complete turnaround because everybody loves going to work now,"
Kidman recently told SLAM! Wrestling. "It's not going to turn around
overnight, but the fact that they're making a change and they're trying to
do it is something that they weren't doing before. But now, everybody's
full-steam ahead to get back on top."
With Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo firmly entrenched as the creative team
behind the WCW franchise, there's a direction to the company. The two
rallied the troops with a speech before the April 10 Nitro. "They just
wanted to make sure that everybody's on the same page as far as getting the
old attitude out," said Kidman. Hulk Hogan followed Russo and Bischoff with
a short rah-rah speech of his own.
And now Kidman's involved in a New Blood vs Millionaire's Club angle with
none other than the Hulkster. It's a feud that couldn't have a happened
unless the entire roster was on the same page, wanting to turn WCW into a
ratings winner again.
On Nitro April 10, Kidman pinned Hogan 1-2-3 following a Bischoff chairshot.
"It was probably the highlight of my career so far," Kidman said of the
match. "I look forward to working with him. I was a little nervous. I wasn't
sure how he would feel about it. But he seems gung-ho. Everybody just wants
to turn this thing around."
Some fans have pointed out that Hogan could have really made Kidman's career
in the match, a passing of the torch ala Bret Hart vs Steve Austin at
WrestleMania XIV. That even when putting Kidman over, Hogan protected
himself and his image.
"It's kind of a difficult situation. They didn't want a match, they wanted a
fight," said Kidman. "So where I come from, in my standpoint size-wise, in
my matches I do certain moves to get back on top of a big guy. So they
wanted us to go back and forth in a fight. I basically said that I should
sucker Hulk, and once it's time to turn it around and he gets on top of me,
I shouldn't really ... I think that should be it. He should beat the crap
out of me until it's time for Eric to come down. I think that way is better
because, well, know I have to think with a different frame of mind because
I'm a heel now."
Hogan's obvious blade-job (replayed more than once on Nitro) has been
criticized, and perhaps made the angle look weaker. Kidman dismisses the
thought. "The fact that he bladed at all was surprising to me, because he
didn't need to do that."
Before the angle took place, Kidman was given more microphone time than ever
before to make his statement, to stand up for himself and indicate the
direction of his career. He blasted Hogan's comments over the past few
months, where the Hulkster said that Kidman couldn't draw a crowd even
headlining at a flea market. It was pretty strong stuff. But when the
comments led to the angle last Monday night, some believe that it was a
work, and the Hogan was just setting up a future feud.
Kidman doesn't see it that way. "Hulk claims it was a work the whole time. I
never knew about it, that we would do an angle until right before we did it,
I think a week before we did it. I think in a way, it was a shoot. Something
that he went on there and said. I think that's how he felt, which is fine,"
"So then when it came time, and they wanted to intertwine the established
guys with the younger guys, it was a given that that was an angle right
there that we needed to do just because of all the press and all the things
that's gone on before with Hulk saying whatever, and then me coming back and
saying things about him -- which was always a shoot right there. When I
found out that Hulk said that, I was on WCW Live, and I didn't even know. So
they told me about it, and so right there I had to fire back at him."
Now established as a heel, and right-hand goon to Eric Bischoff, Kidman is
looking forward to getting people mad at him. After Thunder went off the
air, he said that he revelled in the fans' hatred, and that they felt
compelled to throw things at him. Being a heel will also mean more interview
time, something that Kidman knows he needs to work on. "I'm pretty new at
the promo thing," he said. "I'll be more comfortable out there as a heel
than I would trying to get over as a babyface in a promo. Plus when it's
time to turn back babyface, I'll be more ready for that."
He's gotten lots of help backstage preparing for his interviews. "Ed Ferrera
has helped me out tremendously. He works with me, told me he'd work with me
as much as I want. I told him every night until I get better with them.
Dallas Page helps me out, and Terry Taylor."
A little over six years ago, a 19-year-old Pete Gruner gathered up enough money
to start training with at the Wild Samoan training centre in Pennsylvania.
From there, he befriended
Chris Kluesaritis, who would later be known as Mortis,
the Chris 'Champagne' Kanyon, the Innovator of Offence. Gruner travelled
with Kanyon to Memphis, and when Kanyon hooked up with WCW, he eventually
convinced him to send in a tryout tape. Eric Bischoff and Dusty Rhodes
brought him in to work in the cruiserweight division, which was new at the
time, and gave him the Billy Kidman name.
His mentor and friend Kanyon is one of the people the 25-year-old Kidman
would like to have a feud with. "I'd like throughout my career to be able to
wrestle everybody just to say that I did it. In WCW, I would really like to
get into a program with Kanyon. We worked together, I trained with him when
I was first starting out. We've never really even had a chance to have a
match on TV to show our stuff -- and we could pretty well."
As for a dream match, Kidman picked Shawn Michaels. "I grew up watching him
doing all his things. He's just a tremendous worker and it would be nice to
have a match against him."
Speaking of dreams, yes fans, it is true. Kidman is dating Torrie Wilson
off-camera, as well as on.
But the on-camera team will likely be changing over the next little while --
Kidman believes that the plan is to split the two up. Until that happens, he
thinks that Torrie will be more than just a bystander at ringside. "If we're
babyfaces, there's only so much she can do, and I look stupid. If she falls
down, I have to go check on her, you know? Whereas now that we're heels, she
can put my foot on the ropes if I'm going to be pinned, just little things
she couldn't do if I was a babyface. She likes to get in there. She likes to
do take bumps, get involved. So there's more she could do as a heel too,"
said Kidman, adding that he definitely thinks that Torrie is being
underutilzed at the moment.
So what's next for Billy Kidman in WCW? "This thing with Hulk will be great
for me right now. I don't know how long it's going to go," he said. "After
that, I'm definitely looking forward to working somebody where I can
actually get back and do the cruiserweight style -- not a cruiserweight,
just the cruiserweight style, to do the more high-flying things that I'm
used to. This is basically going to put me on the map now, so I'm looking
forward to this."