You can read part one of the interview here, and ask Wolfe your own questions in our live chat on Monday 4PM ET.
FanHouse: Can you talk about some of the hardships along the way. What were you doing employment-wise just to keep up with your extensive traveling and keep your dream alive?
Desmond Wolfe: In the early days actually I was pretty much just spending savings, I had saved up money before I had started in the wrestling business. You know, I had saved up a lump sum of money working two full-time jobs, 70 hours a week, sleeping on a friend's kitchen floor, just basically saving everything, and that got me through the first few years of training and working for $25 and stuff like that. And once that sort of all ran out, then I started with just the same sort of basic jobs that most people have, you know, working in a gym, doing room service, at a golf club, the sort of relatively low-wage jobs that will let you have Friday, Saturday and Sunday off, or let you have the odd week here or there off if you get a tour or something like that.
Sometimes I'm almost envious of people who lead normal lives, because yeah they work 40 or 50 hours a week, but the rest of the time is theirs. If they don't want to eat, they don't have to eat. Friday, Saturday, Sunday, if they want to go get wasted, then they can go and do that. (I laugh) And don't get me wrong, I can probably do that as well, but I'm kind of obsessive about keeping in the best shape I possibly can, because ultimately in this business that's what gets you ahead.
There were reports that you considered WWE at one point. What exactly happened there or what exactly nixed that idea?
It's a long, long story, I can't really get into it at this juncture, but suffice to say that TNA had made me a great offer that I was ecstatic about taking. I know that Dixie had been a fan of mine for a while there and they had interest in me in the past when I was Ring of Honor champion under contract, and they obviously couldn't do anything because of that. And then when my contract came up and the options were there, things didn't work out with WWE, just really more of a business decision on their side than anything else, I had the all-clear to go with TNA and so I jumped at the opportunity. They gave me a great opportunity with Kurt Angle, and a lot of people don't get the chance to wrestle with him even once, let alone to be put into a major feud with him, and pushed as strong as I was right off the bat. Certainly I'll always look back at it as one of the career heights in my life for sure.
You mention the feud with Kurt Angle, and you've also had a bit of a feud with D'Angelo Dinero. What was it like to work with both in the ring and how did those challenges differ?
Everyone always puts Angle over as one of the best wrestlers in the world, and I've always said it's not until you actually get in the ring with someone that you can truly appreciate that. You can watch their matches, and you can see how good they are, but until you're in there and you get that sense of timing -- it's almost intangible -- and I felt it with Bryan Danielson, I felt it with Austin Aries, with Samoa Joe, and certainly with Kurt Angle. He's every bit as good as people say he is. You know, a lot of times when you go out there and wrestle someone, when you don't have to worry about the other guy getting over, you don't have to worry about the other guy being there at the right time for you, then it makes your job that much easier. So that was really a fantastic experience for me to be there with someone the level of Angle, and obviously, not to take anything away from The Pope [D'Angelo Dinero] at all, but he's not on the level of Kurt Angle just yet. (laughs) But he's got fantastic charisma, I wrestled him once in a three-minute match in OVW actually [Ohio Valley Wrestling] many years ago. Five-star classic if you can find it on YouTube somewhere (coughs and laughs) ... I joke of course.
It takes a little while for you to adapt to different styles, you know, Pope grew up watching Dusty Rhodes and Ric Flair. I think you can see a lot of that sort of style when he goes out there, that sort of charisma, that ability to connect with the crowd. I don't think there's been many people I got in the ring with, who, from the time they walk out to the time they walk back, have that innate connection with the crowd, it's just been fantastic for me. Now, we've wrestled a few times and he's got more of an idea of my style, and you can probably tell I grew up watching Ultimate Warrior a lot as a child ...
(the joke totally goes over my head)
I'm joking again! You're not getting any of my sarcasm, are you? (mutual laughter) Duffed up by the Americans! (laughs).
(laughing) Oh right, because I did read that on Wikipedia, it said something like you had your Warrior face paint on at ... SummerSlam?
Yeah, yeah, SummerSlam '92, I went out there with the Ultimate Warrior face paint on, and ... yeah. Still don't understand why I never have much luck with the ladies.
Maybe you can figure it out.
Is there anyone in particular with TNA you'd really like to have the ongoing chance to work with in the ring?
There's a lot of guys, yeah. One of the reasons I was excited about coming to TNA, and not just about the possibility of working with Kurt Angle, was a lot of the guys when I started out in Ring of Honor and developing my style and cutting my teeth on the independents. It was guys like Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, it was those guys who were the upper-echelon guys in Ring of Honor that I was watching, and not idolizing, but trying to emulate their success in the business. So it's not that they were all there that made me very excited, but I could go there and have great matches with them. I already had a good chance to wrestle Chris on one occasion and AJ on a tour of the UK, and that was pretty good as well.
A lot of those guys who wrestle that style and develop that style through Ring of Honor, I was very excited about working with them. Pretty much most of the guys there have all got something to them, something that sets them apart and makes them earn their spot, whoever it happens to be. Pope, like I said, has fantastic charisma, he's got a wonderful ability to connect with the people, and I'd love to do some more stuff with him. The list goes on, all the guys, the X Division guys are just fantastic, and I could certainly grind them out for a good match.
Have you had a chance to watch Bryan Danielson now that he's on the WWE NXT program [as Daniel Bryan], and how successful do you think he'll be there in the transition?
I think he'll be tremendously successful. The thing with Bryan is that everybody says he's the best wrestler in the world, and you know I think I'd be hard-pressed to find someone who I'd say is better. It's difficult, isn't it? A lot of people with a lot of talent go in to WWE, and some of them for whatever reason get lost in the cracks and don't make it to the level of success that you think they would. But I think Dragon has always over-succeeded in his life, and by that I don't mean that he's not as good as people say he is. He's every bit as good as he says. But when you look at him, and a lot of people will say this, but when you look at him, you don't think he's ... you know, he's not predestined to be a fantastic professional wrestler. He doesn't necessarily have the look, he doesn't necessarily have the athletic ability, but he's worked so hard.
I said to him the other day when I saw him, if he was born with more of that sort of look that they expect from a professional wrestler, he'd probably be a lot further along than he is already. But I think he's going to be tremendously successful. He's certainly in that sort of mold as well that gives him a lot of opportunity, and I think he stands out by not trying to stand out, you know? I think WWE and a lot of the people in WWE are trying to go, 'Ooh I'm this, and I'm wild and crazy, and look at me, I'm shouting and screaming, and I'm this character,' and he's not. He's genuinely himself, and I think people understand that and appreciate that he's not trying to do it. And once they see him wrestle, once they understand the ability that he has in the ring, then it's just gonna set him apart even more, and Vince [McMahon] seems to like him from what I hear.
We've seen some stars like Generation Me [aka The Young Bucks] move back and forth between promotions like TNA and ROH. And the Motor City Machineguns are appearing on a show for ROH in May. Do you think we'll see more of these flexible contracts, where wrestlers can be seen competing at multiple major promotions?
I think possibly, yeah. I mean, I don't really understand a lot of political workings about what stopped a lot of the people going from TNA back to Ring of Honor and stuff like that, so I'm not sure whether it will continue or not. But it's certainly a good sign for business that there's cooperation between the two companies. It gives people a chance to go back there and work more of that styling, and it obviously gives people a chance in Ring of Honor to step up and get more of a national spotlight if they come to TNA, so I think it's good to have that working arrangement. I was always very happy in Ring of Honor and always want to see them succeed, so it's good that they can use some of the guys from TNA because there's so much talent there.
Finally, do you think wrestling fans can expect to see more surprises from TNA on Monday nights now that there's this whole head-to-head competition going on?
Yeah absolutely, I think everybody's aware that's what you need. If we're trying to sort of battle over wrestling fans, then people are gonna switch because they're gonna want to see something they don't expect, some surprises. And if you look at what happened on January 4th, with Jeff Hardy and everybody else coming in, there were a lot of surprises there, and I would pretty much guarantee there's gonna be a lot more surprises come this Monday. However, I am not privy to that information, so I can't give you any spoilers.
(laughing) Awww. Yeah, the last time TNA went head-to-head on Monday nights, a lot of people were searching for names they hadn't seen in a while, like Val Venis, Jeff Hardy, even Orlando Jordan, that whole sense of excitement, you know?
Yeah, there's a few more guys out there that people are talking about possibly coming in. I know Rob Van Dam has been talking to them back and forth for a little bit, so who knows who might show up or might not. But I just hope that, once you get the surprises and everything else that gets the eyes on the product, and then we got to push out a product which is better than WWE, and that's the bottom line. We got to put a show out there that people want to see more than theirs.
Like Dixie Carter says, why is it that when a lot of times when you ask people if they watch professional wrestling, if they're wrestling fans, they kind of sheepishly go, 'Yeah ... yeah, I am,' almost like they're embarrassed about it, you know? We've got to put a product out there where people can be proud to say, 'Yes, I'm a wrestling fan,' because ultimately this is nothing to be embarrassed about.
Be sure to check out the TNA Wrestling site for more on Desmond Wolfe, and come back Monday at 4PM ET for your chance to chat live with him before TNA Impact airs.