Charlie Haas 'Free at Last' From WWE
The bottom line was he wanted to work. He wanted to be in the ring and wrestle, something he has done for most of his life either as an amateur or then in professional wrestling.
He had a good run with WWE for over three years which came to an abrupt ending in 2005 when the company was making cuts. Less than a year later, Haas was back with the company although it never seemed to find a solid spot for him.
So much so that he spent several months getting paid to sit at home before the call came in late February that he was being wished the best in his future endeavors.
Recently, FanHouse spoke with Haas about his time with WWE and why things didn't work out there, his future plans in wrestling, preparing for life outside of the ring and more.
Brian Fritz: Well it wasn't too long ago that WWE made a few cuts to the roster, and it's always bad news at this time of year for a few people unfortunately, and one of them is Charlie Haas. Charlie, thanks for your time, how's everything going?
Charlie Haas: Good, but I have to correct you. It's really not a bad time of year because I am free, I am free at last! [laughter] Thank God I am free, I am free at last.
You know about this whole process, I mean it's the second time you've been released by the company.
The second time, and I've been down this road, so I know how to handle it. I'm not really upset about it. Good things are ahead of me, and I just should've learned my lesson after the first time. I shouldn't have gone back. It was just way too soon and it was a mistake going towards my career. But what can you do man, you live and learn. I look at it this way, I got released [Feb. 28] and my hair's already starting to grow back. I mean, getting fired from WWE is better than Rogaine.
Wow. So when you got the call, what was the excuse they gave you for why you were being released?
It's the same old b.s., man. Creative has nothing for you ... they just don't know what to do with you. I've heard personally that the writers hated writing for me, that they said I was boring, that I wasn't an entertainer, that I'm a great wrestler and I could wrestle with anybody, but that's not what they need. They want Hollywood. Which is great, and that's a great formula for them because they're worth over, what, 2 1/2 billion dollars on Forbes. That formula works for them, you know, and I just don't fit into that formula. That's all I can say about that, man.
Is this something that you saw coming or did it catch you by surprise?
Nah man, I felt this thing coming. I asked for my release six months ago, I wanted out. They countered and gave me more money to stay, which was great, and I thank John Laurinaitis [Executive Vice President of Talent Relations] for that. But I was miserable, even the last six months I was miserable. I look at it this way. People were like, 'why didn't you leave?' Well, one, when you have a family, you basically eat crap to support your family, to put clothes on their back, food on their table, just to give them a better life than what you have, so you'll do anything for your family. So that meant that I had to stick around and be miserable for the last four years knowing that they weren't going to use me, except to basically job me out. But I have a third kid on the way, I had two daughters over that time, so that's what I had to do. Eventually you get sick and tired of eating crap and you just got to say enough's enough, I got to make something because I'm miserable, I'm bringing the misery home to my house, and I got to make that correction.
How surprised were you when you asked for your release six months ago and they said, not only do we want to keep you around but we're going to give you more money, and then on top of that they didn't even really use you.
It was cool, man, it was cool that they gave me more money. I was surprised. I had something else, I had a backup plan, and I was ready to go somewhere else. Now I'm regretting I didn't take it. You know, it is what it is. You live and learn, and I know I won't make that mistake again. I was just really frustrated for the last six months, because I'm like why would they give you more money to keep you around and they don't even use you, use you in any sense of the means, whether it's to help young guys on the house shows or live events, to help anybody on TV to get them over, they didn't do anything. But when you have a few people against you, like some of the creative guys who don't like writing for you, or you have like a Kevin Dunn [Executive Vice President of Television Production] that doesn't like you, there's really nothing you can do. Let's just say it's like shooting fish in a barrel when those guys are against you.
Do you take that as a little bit of a shot, from a standpoint that, hey it's great that I'm getting paid, I get to stay at home, I get to spend time with my family. But at the same time, you're sitting there going, well I'm under contract and they're paying me, so why aren't they using me?
Well I look at it this way, my whole life I've always succeeded in every sport I've played. I've always started, I've never rode the bench. Never. I went from winning state championships in Oklahoma, where everyone on our team got a Division I scholarship, from Edmond Memorial Bulldogs, and then going to start four years at Seton Hall, being the captain of the team, being a national qualifier and academic All-American, I'm sitting there going, how does one .... and you know, somebody on the writing team said, 'well you just don't have it, you don't have that it factor. Well I must've lost it, because how do you go to an individual sport like amateur wrestling and be such a success, and then go in as Team Angle and have that blow up and be such a success, and all of the sudden you lose the it factor? I just don't get it.
Where do you see yourself going now. With your unique skill set, where do you see yourself fitting in?
Bigger and better things, that's for sure. My phone's been ringing like crazy. I can definitely see myself fitting in with Ring of Honor. I would love to go there. I love that style. That's the style that I have and I've worked with Jim Cornette who's down there and Dave Lagana [Producer] in the past, so I have relationships with them where I definitely think I can help Ring of Honor. I know that Jimmy and them could help resurrect, or do whatever they can with my career to really showcase my talents. He's done it before in OVW [Ohio Valley Wrestling].
And then there's TNA. I would love to go there, because you've got Kurt Angle, and our relationship there. I've wrestled A.J. Styles, Samoa Joe, Brian Kendrick, I've wrestled all those guys from the indies all the way to WWE. So that's another choice, I would love to go there too, because I think there's more wrestling there. It's not so much about the Hollywood glitz and glamour, it's more wrestling, so either one would be a great fit for me. And then there's always Japan, and that stiff, strong style of wrestling. A lot of people have always said, especially in WWE, 'you're too intense, you need to turn it down, we gotta pull you back, you eat up our babyfaces, you don't make them look good enough.' It's not my fault that my intensity is so good or that's my skill set. If you can't find someone to match it, then that's your problem.
You mentioned before how you came close to leaving WWE last year and you had a backup plan. Was that backup plan going to TNA, because there were a lot of rumors about that at the time.
Yeah, there and Japan as well. I had a really good backup plan and a lot to do, and I really ... man I just screwed it up. I should've just stuck with what I had and I would have probably been better and happier down the road. But, things happen for a reason though, so who knows what's gonna happen. I'm just happy that I don't have that cloud over my head like in WWE. You know, everyone's like, 'well I just wish I had a run up there' and 'you're stupid for wanting to leave.' I'm like, man, I've been there twice ... until you've been there, where you're not utilized or you're in my position, it's not fun, it's miserable. But if you're on top and you're making money, it's great. When you're being used, that's awesome. But when you go from being used in Team Angle and being the World's Greatest Tag Team and used constantly, and all of the sudden, boom, to nothing, and you're still there, it sucks. It just plain-out sucks.
When you got released the first time, which I think was back in 2005, at that time were you entertaining offers to go to TNA?
We didn't even see that coming. They fired my wife Jackie and I the day we got back from our honeymoon. Not only did they take off our salaries, they cut out our legs from both of us. You go from making money, just getting back from your honeymoon, now you both are out of jobs, you've got a mortgage to pay, you're just starting a family. That's probably the coldest thing that's ever happened, to anybody.
I remember at the time there was some talk about you going to TNA and I think you were there at a couple of shows. Obviously, your wife caught on there not too long after all that. What happened where the decision was not to go there and instead go back to WWE?
Well, I didn't go to TNA and Jackie was there, but I did talk to them about going there. It was actually at Eddie Guerrero's funeral where I went to pay my respects and I saw a lot of the WWE office, and they're like, 'hold off on going to TNA, we want to talk to you in about a week.' So this was probably about eight or nine months after the firing, and they said 'look we'd like to bring you back, we can use you.' So I signed in December and I waited until they called me in April. They said they were going to bring me into an angle with Shelton [Benjamin] and I would cost him the Intercontinental title. They started it for the first two weeks and then they just killed it, just like that. It was another unfulfilled promise. If I would've known that was going to happen, I wouldn't have signed with them. But me being, 'Oh I come from the developmental plan, I'm loyal to them, I want to help' ... You think loyalty would amount to something. It doesn't. You can be their hardest worker, which I've been told, and get in the ring and bust your ass, you can help out, you can keep getting in the ring and trying to absorb everything, and that doesn't get you anywhere.
With your style, you can continue in wrestling for a long time to come, because you're not going to go out there and do anything too crazy that you see sometimes, because you are so sound, and that's the way you want to have the matches where there's nothing going on that's too dangerous.
Here's my style -- I'm almost way too big to be an aerialist, I'm 245 pounds. But I'm the type of wrestler where I'm in your face, smash-mouth, ground-and-pound, meat-and-potatoes. It's what I do and I do it very well. You name a body part, I can work it over. Leg, arm, neck, ribs, back, wrist, fingers, whatever you want. Arn Anderson, Fit Finlay, Dave Taylor, that's where I learned everything. They groomed me and that's what I do best, and that's what Shelton and I were so famous for doing. I still have that. Do I do the flash? Can I do the flips? No. Have I tried it? No. Could I do it? Sure I could, I'm a pretty damn good athlete, but why would you do something like that when you're a ground-and-pound, kick-ass wrestler.
Well it was a few years ago that you made a conscious effort to say, hey you know there's gonna be life after wrestling at some point. What went into the decision to start up your own nutrition store?
Two good things that could've come out of the runs that I had. The first one, with the whole Team Angle and Rico and Miss Jackie, the World's Greatest Tag Team, that was probably my best run with WWE. I met my wife and we have a beautiful family. The second best thing that came out of this last run is that JBL [John "Bradshaw" Layfield] and myself partnered to form NutritionMarket.com, and before Umaga passed away, we formed Custom Muscle, our nutrition store. Because we knew this wouldn't last forever, and even Umaga and I would talk, we hated the politics, we hated kissing ass, and we knew we had to start planning ahead. We said, let's use whatever status we have to form our own company, to bring asses into our store, to start making money. That's what Custom Muscle is for. That's in Frisco, Texas, that's the brick-and-mortar nutrition store.
JBL and I came together and said, why don't we merge CustomMuscle.com and Layfield Energy to form Nutrition Market, and that turned out to be the best business plan that you can have. Because I don't know any other business where you can have a positive cash flow with no overhead, sales coming through the Internet, and you're providing nutrition to all your customers. JBL, as business-savvy as he is, with him doing the marketing and the strategy, it's working out. If anyone's saying, well, it was fate or God pointed me to go back for that second reason, that's probably why, so both businesses could blow up and maybe I don't have to wrestle anymore.
Well Charlie, enjoy your freedom right now while it lasts.
I will. Believe me, I will. Everyone calls me and is like 'Charlie, are you OK?' I've never been happier, trust me. And I've got one thing to say: Shelton, your (WWE) contract is coming up -- don't sign! Please don't sign. You can go elsewhere. I'm telling you, there's life outside (WWE). We can go to TNA together. We can go to Ring of Honor together. Don't sign back. I'm going to get him more money that way.