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'The Pope' Preaching His Ways Heading Into TNA No Surrender

Sep 3, 2010 – 12:55 PM
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Brian Fritz

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When it comes to all of wrestling, you probably won't find a more confident, self-assured personality than D'Angelo Dinero. He bills himself as 'The Pope' and his fans are his congregation. And as 'The Pope' will tell you, he's just pimpin' right now in TNA Wrestling.

He's now been with the company for just over a year but 2010 has been especially good to 'The Pope' with TNA giving him more time to talk letting him do his thing and preach to the people. No one can doubt that the man has the gift for gab.

Dinero did have a scare back in April when he suffered ligament damage in his shoulder which was the first major injury of his wrestling career. But after being sidelined for three months following surgery, 'The Pope' is back on track to the top of TNA.

This Sunday at the "No Surrender" pay-per-view, 'The Pope' will square off against Mr. Anderson in the semi-finals of the TNA World Title tournament. Earlier this week on my "Between The Ropes" radio show, I caught up with 'The Pope' on his way to the gym and he talked about his recent injury, future plans, new talent possibly joining him in TNA, how the company its utilizing its roster and more.

Brian Fritz: How many times do you work out a day, once or twice?

D'Angelo Dinero: Oh daddy, that's just once a day. But we're talking about four, five times a week.

Well, TNA has a different schedule and some guys will want – if they feel they need to – more of an opportunity to work out more than once a day. Some guys are just addicted to it.

That's some guys. You gotta understand, Pope is still in college man. Pope has four classes going on right now. Pope is trying to manage and run different business projects right now.

So where are you going to school at?

Florida State daddy! It's still going on. Pope got six more classes and once I finish that hopefully – if all goes according to plan – just finishing out that whole criminal justice thing, y'all know the background. Just finishing that out and if all goes according to plan man, Pope will be marching in March.

Do you plan on doing something with that degree?

Nah! Man, I'm gonna be like (Ric) Flair man! You understand what I'm saying'? I'll never retire! I'll be doing this until I can't do it no more, until they kick me out.

I can see you trying to become a lawyer. I could see you in front of the jury swaying everybody ...

Hold on daddy, you're going in the wrong direction. You're supposed to be saying you can see Pope on the big screen. Even when that happens, Pope will still be a part of this business one way or another. That's where Pope wanna go daddy. Hollywood is the only suitable destination for a Pope of my caliber.

Why haven't you done a movie yet?

You know what daddy? That question is as good as mine but then I look up north (WWE) and I say gee whiz, how come no one of Pope's background if you get my drift, how come ain't none of them done a movie either? Their chance is probably more good or better than mine at this time being that they got a whole production film thing going on. I look at the guys like, that was Cryme Tyme and some of my friends up there, Kofi (Kingston) and I'm like why aren't those guys in movies? My time will come so I'm not worried about that. Pope's time will come. Everything happens in due time but right now, first things first, is Pope's gotta get that gold to have as big of bling around his waist. You're talking about the TNA World Heavyweight Title daddy.

You mentioned some of your buddies up there. Do you think they're getting a fair shake?

(laughs) In this day and age, if you're up there, shake what ya got. Shake what ya daddy or momma gave ya. They're getting something. I can't speak on their behalf because I don't know what a fair shake to them would be. But Pope can count his blessings and I'll make that known right now that I am happy, I am elated, I am ecstatic to be a part of TNA Wrestling. That's for sure.

You've been with TNA for a while now. Are you at where you expected to be at this point of your tenure with the company?

Ooh, that's a good question. I will say I couldn't be in a more happier and suited spot than I am in right now. Everything's going well, everything's going to plan. I can say yes, I can say no but then you'd have to attribute some of that to Pope's recent injury. So for me to come back off an injury, you know, three months ago when I went down with that injury and come back and be in the main event spot with (Mr.) Anderson and Kurt (Angle) and Jeff Hardy right now double main-eventing "No Surrender", I can't ask for more.

Was that a scary injury for you when you hurt your shoulder?

Absolutely man because Pope never went down with a serious injury. Out of seven years that Pope's been doing this, that was my first serious injury where it was hey, you gotta go under the knife. And it's like 'whoa, hold on a minute daddy' before y'all start talking about cutting on Pope, let's see if there's any other type of way that we can get this thing back together without cutting on me. It was very scary and especially because it was at the height – seemingly at the height – of the Pope riding that D'Angelo Dinero express all the way top so it was very scary.

While you were out, were you stressing about will I get my spot back? Was that going through your mind?

No. That never ever crossed my mind at one time because Pope ... You know, TNA is a place of opportunity. TNA is a place that recognizes talent. They recognize raw talent and they want their talent to shine. That never crossed my mind. What was killing Pope was being stuck up in one place at one time, home at the crib. I mean, you can only play Xbox 360 for so long. When you can only play Madden, you can only watch a movie for so long. I couldn't do anything. Pope couldn't even shower by himself. And trust me, while it was fun getting washed from head to toe everything now and then, it got old after a while as well.

Dixie Carter recently threw it out there that TNA is going to be signing somebody. You've had an opportunity to work with a lot of different people. I don't know who that person is going to be but who would you like to see added to the TNA roster?

Oh, you know, oh Dixie Carter always makes sure that she keeps the wrestling world on their toes. She's always making sure that she keeps you guys out there guessing. Yesterday, I actually tweeted and I had no idea ...

Yeah, I was going to get to that.

(laughs) Pope had no idea that Dixie had ... I don't know if she had tweeted or Facebook. I just have to drop in every now and then to let me congregation know that hey, I ain't forgot about you. Like I said, I'm in the midst of four different classes so I just dropped a little tweet 'cause I heard some good news for Pope. So I chose to say "that's cool". I don't know man. This place has ... when Pope says this is cool on Twitter, all of a sudden everyone started coming at me like, like an animal!

Are you surprised at how quickly something like that spreads? You're putting that out there and then, within an hour, you had to put something else on there because everybody ran with it because he said "that's cool".

Right. (laughs) I don't wanna ... Either way, it's entertaining for our fans, whether they diss it, whether they try to hate it on the forefront or whether they start putting it over. It's just entertaining because you gotta realize that so many people are sitting back and they're waiting on the next move of both major companies or any company at that. And anything that's newsworthy, everyone wants to be a part of it man. It's almost like that thing they do on CNN, "The Eye Report", you know what I'm saying. Everybody got their phone out. Right now, somebody is staring over here, sitting in their car with their phone up to the window because Pope's standing out here with his tank top on. Yeah, I see ya over there looking at me. Pope's got his scrubs on, about to go into the gym and they're sitting over there in the car videoing me.

But is it good for people to throw it out there like "big announcement coming, something special is going to happen", to have these teases out there so often and ...

I get where you're going. You don't even have to go any further. I'm Pope, I know that type of stuff. That's why I'm your Pope, their Pope and everybody's Pope. I'll say this: it's good when the situation calls for it. You understand what I'm saying? This thing has been overplayed if we can say that. It's been done so often dating all the way back to the mid-90's when the Internet community became something big involved in professional wrestling. You know, some people question Dixie Carter's fan-friendly approach but this is a woman who tries to let the fans know that I'm different from every other boss that runs an organization that is wrestling. My fans come first. I want you to know that I hear you. I want you to know that I listen to you. And what's wrong with that? Barack Obama got up there and did the same thing. He's doing it now. I mean, he does the same thing so how can we blame oh, sweet sexy Dixie Carter for standing up with her fans? It's just the way it is. You don't hear anyone jumping down ... what's the guy's name with UFC, Joe Rogan? You don't see anyone jumping down his throat. He's just as involved with his people as anyone else, with his fan base that is.

Yeah, Dana White.

Dana White, that's who I'm talking about.

When it comes to the TNA roster right now, there's obviously a lot of young guys, a lot of guys getting an opportunity now but there's also guys who have been in the wrestling business for a while. Where do you think TNA stands with that right now because there have been a lot of fans, especially lately, that are like we appreciate what these guys have done but maybe TNA should be more focused towards a youth movement.

Hold on. You're doing the interview with Pope and you the reporter, you are the news media if you will and you're out here trying to beat around the bush instead of just ... You trying to let Pope be the one to come out and say what you trying to say? Man, just say what you want to say, mean what you say when you say it and say it and let's do it.

OK. Do you think that guys like Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair, for everything they've done but obviously they are up there in years, should be a major focus on TNA right now?

Thank you.

You're welcome.

Did I say that Dixie Carter is sexy by the way?

Yes she is.

I tell you what, hoo, you talkin' about cougars daddy!

Are you deflecting the question?

No daddy. Here's what Pope is gonna say about that. Everybody, everybody can be used and have a spot in the entertainment aspect of any wrestling program. It's not where or who it is, it's how it's being done. And as you mentioned, focal point. Well, I don't think they are the focal point. I mean, I don't see Flair or Hogan headlining No Surrender. I didn't see Flair or Hogan headlining Victory Road. They're no focal points. They're there to add credibility to the product. Their name value obviously is more than some of us younger guys so you have to give them that credit. They're not focal points and I think TNA knows that. Hogan knows that. Hogan has said that. Flair knows that. Flair said that. You know, Flair didn't go out there and put himself over with AJ Styles. Flair went out there every "Impact" and did his absolute honest best to say this guy, AJ Styles is not only the best wrestler in this company but in the world. Flair was being the same Flair that he was with Triple H in the year 2001 and so forth. So, those guys are not focal points.

Let me ask you this then. The focal point of bringing back guys that made their name in ECW ...

You talking about the bingo hallers!

Yeah and at "Hardcore Justice" there were no TNA guys on there. It was all former ECW guys on there.

Well daddy, that was a TNA management call obviously and I'll tell you what, whether the Pope agreed or disagreed or stayed in the middle or whether that was right or wrong, I'll tell you this: Pope wasn't in the Impact Zone. How about that daddy?

I know you weren't. I was there and I did not see you that night.


Last thing before I let you go, who is the better talker right now you or Ric Flair?

Oh daddy, Pope will eat Ric Flair up! Don't try to pull Pope on the ... Flair is the absolute all-time greatest when it comes to it. But right now, in this day and age, daddy you put Pope and Ric Flair face-to-face with a microphone I guarantee you things are gonna get turned upside down. And that's not no threat to Flair or anybody else, that's just a promise man. You put a mic in my hand and you already know the deal.

I think the two of you standing in the ring for 15-20 minutes, that money to me.

Not only is that money daddy but we got a pay-per-view coming up called "No Surrender" – Pope vs. Mr. Anderson. I don't know, I'm not in the creative process if you will, but for whatever reason Pope and Anderson have not come face-to-face with a microphone to build any type ... Maybe in the future. Maybe it's by design but that's something I look forward to as well.

Brian Fritz hosts the Between The Ropes radio show which can be heard Tuesday nights from 6-8 p.m. ET on ESPN Radio 1080 in Orlando, Fla.
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