This was filmed in 2009
The interview was conducted by Rob Feinstein
Disc One runs at one hour and fifty-eight minutes long. Disc Two will be recapped tomorrow.
The interview starts with Ken being asked if he was a fan of wrestling as a child. He watched wrestling on Sunday mornings and sometimes watched “Saturday Night’s Main Event” as a kid. He called the Junkyard Dog is favorite due to his entrance music and the fact he wore chains. He stopped watching and did not come a fan again until about 1996.
He went to college but only lasted for a semester as Ken said he was more focused on drinking and smoking pot with his friends. He was going for theater but was turned off by the “thespian attitude” the students and professors displayed.
Ken got into wrestling again when he went over his friends house one night. His friend told him to give it a shot and he might like this character, which was Steve Austin. Ken said he hated the show until Austin came out, driving a truck with a six-pack with him and thought he was cool. Ken said that he grew up in a redneck community and Austin’s character was someone they could all relate with. After that, he was hooked.
He started to do some backyard wrestling with his friend and one night at a party, a friend suggested he go to a wrestling school because he loved to entertain. Ken found the North American Wrestling Federation, who called him up and after that he began to train. Ken said he caught on quickly and ended up paying $1,200.
On working the independent scene, Ken talked about how its who you know with regards to getting booked. He said that everyone sends tapes, that end up stacked in a pile on a promoter’s desk.
Ken first got work as enhancement talent in the WWF due to Kevin Kelly. He was sending tapes to everyone, including WCW and ECW, but someone he met on an Independent show told him he was not ready yet for that opportunity. However, Ken thought that maybe you can send a tape and the next time send another one and show improvement as that would help your chances. Kelly called him back and he went to the RAW and Smackdown taping but was never used. Ken said that he sat there and soaked everything up and called it a great learning experience. After that, the WWF was in Cleveland and he ended up working against Essa Rios in a match taped for Jakked. Ken said the match was awful but those like Jonathan Coachman and Lita came up and said it was good. Later on, he worked a match against William Regal and said he was great to him. Ken said that Regal told him he had a job here already so he could get in some offense in their match.
He even did some work for TNA when they first started out. Ken said he worked for Bert Prentice before and does a funny impression of him as Prentice was fucking around with him until he got booked. He was there with ODB, his girlfriend at the time, and Daivari. They flew in on the same plane as Curt Hennig. He also talked to Jeff Jarrett, who told him about an idea of a faction of “hitmen” and to call him back. Ken called Jarrett, who said he would call him back and never did.
When he first got there, Jim Cornette was running things. Ken said he was awesome and would come in after TV tapings then analyze that and give them all pointers. He does a really good Cornette impression and in fact, he is a solid impressionist. Ken said his firing was something that got blown way out of proportion and believes there was someone out to get him as Cornette was “stooged off” by someone who called Vince.
Heyman took over after Cornette was fired. Ken talks about how once a month, Heyman came down for promos. He said that Heyman wanted them to come up with a promo against one of the main stars on the main roster. Ken said that one day, Heyman called him in the office and shut the door. Heyman told Ken that he saw the same in him that he saw in Steve Austin and the Rock. Heyman put over his work and said that he is going to do so much stuff with him in OVW that the WWE will be forced to call him up to the main roster. He ended up getting promo time on the show and after that, Heyman put him in a lot of segments and as Ken put it, let him be himself.
One day, Heyman told him to cut off the ring announcer right before he headed out to the ring. Heyman told him to tell the announcer he is better than him as Ken talked about doing announcing at basketball games in high school, where he said guys names twice, and it got over. After that, Dreamer called and the WWE wanted him on the main roster.
He arrived to the Smackdown taping as Ken said he was supposed to get rolled up by Funaki and lose. When arriving to the building, he was then told by Steve Lombardi to cut a promo on what made him feel like he could be the next big thing. Ken cut the promo and Lombardi told him he was going to tell Vince as he was impressed. As Ken was stretching out, Dave Lagana walked up and said they were changing the finish as he was going to go over. After they wrestled, he walked backstage as Vince and Johnny Ace congratulated him and he was on the main roster after that. Ken was told by others how Vince was putting him over on the headset during the match, wondering where he had been all this time.
They backtrack to talk about the guys he worked with in OVW. Ken said he could not stand CM Punk when he met him on the Independent scene as he had a big head and was always sarcastic. He tells a story of working against Austin Aries in IWA and had a good match but received a copy of the tape as Punk and Ace Steel did commentary and buried them. Later on, Ken approached him about that as Punk said he had a bad day and apologized. However, in OVW, Ken said that Punk had a great attitude and had really matured. Ken thought Daniel Puder was a good-hearted guy but did not think he was a wrestling fan and does not think you can make it in the business unless you are a fan. Ken said Puder always fell asleep during classes. Ken tells a story that Dreamer told him as Puder fell asleep in the bleachers while Bubba Dudley was talking so Dreamer ended up throwing an empty water bottle at him so he would wake up and not get buried by Bubba. Ken then talks about him getting heat for winning Tough Enough and how that is not fair at all because no one would ever refuse that opportunity and he won the contest fair and square. He said Matt Cappotelli was a great guy and very spiritual.
While he first got to the roster, Ken said Vince wanted him to change his name, which was Ken Anderson. He met with him in his office, that also included John Laurinaitis, Stephanie McMahon, and Kevin Dunn. Ken said that he had a “KK” logo as he wrestled as “Kamikaze Ken” on the Independent scene and wanted to pick something with those initials. Before that, he called up Heyman, who thought he should pick something close to Vince’s heart and suggested “Ruckus” or “Rumpus” as they were the name of Vince’s dogs. Heyman then suggested Kennedy, as it was Vince’s middle name. Ken said he would think about that and when he sat down for his meeting, he told Vince his character lived by the phrase “Nice guys always finish last, thanked god I’m an asshole.” So, Laurinaitis suggested the name “Adam Hole,” so he could say “Thank god I’m an A-Hole.” After that, Vince asked Ken what he thought as Ken said he liked it but thought it was too gimmicky and he’d be out the door in a year. He then told Vince about the Ken Kennedy name and he liked that. Ken then told Vince he wanted to keep Anderson as a name but will change it if he was hellbent against it as Vince thought he would be associated with the other Andersons and for that reason wanted it changed as he felt Ken was good enough to be his own separate entity. Ken told Vince it was his show and he could call him “Dick Head” if he wanted to so Vince turned to Dunn and said make sure his Titantron reads “Kennedy” tonight.
When asked, Ken said that Vince was very approachable at this time. Vince even asked him to hang around him as he wanted to get to know Ken. Vince said that people might think you are kissing ass but Ken said it felt awkward and he passed on the opportunity as it did not feel right. Ken ponders what would happen if he did and would he be main eventing and on his plane but feels like he made the right decision.
Ken said when he first arrived to the main roster, he traveled with Bobby Lashley, Daivari, and Simon Dean. However, one day Batista approached him and said he should be riding in a car with a veteran instead of them as Ken approached Chris Benoit and rode with him and Eddie Guerrero. Ken said he learned a lot from both but he always drove, which he said was part of paying his dues. Ken stresses how you have to hang with them in the bar and even if you do not drink, just get a soda or two and listen to them. Five weeks later, Eddie passed away as Ken said Benoit mostly hung with his core group at that time. Ken said that Matt Hardy approached him after this and he started to hang out with him and Gregory Helms. One day, Tatanka approached the three of them and jokingly referred to them as the “New Kliq” as they ran with that for a bit, saying they were the “Click Click Boom.”
He talks about JBL and how he was one of the funniest guys he knows and a good businessman. He also puts over his promos. Ken tells a story of how during a house show in a border town in Texas, JBL came to the ring wearing a sombrero and had jumper cables and Mexican flag over his shouders while holding a tequila bottle and bringing a donkey to the ring as JBL told Ken if someone jumps the rail, they would put their backs to each other and take out the first guy. JBL cut a promo how the guardrail was shorter than a fence and that the security in the building sucked. One point in the match, JBL accidentally stepped on the flag and when they went backstage, Eddie Guerrero was pissed, stating that in Mexico, someone would try to kill him for that. Ken talks about how JBL came from the old school where guys pulled ribs on each other all the time and took them in stride. JBL told Ken that while he was on the Oakland Raiders, he pissed off Lyle Alzado and it ended up that a bunch of guys took turns pissing in JBL’s shoes until they were filled. So, JBL dumped out the piss and wore the shoes for three weeks and that got him over with the rest of the locker room until they begged him to burn the shoes as they smelled so bad. (JBL was a teenager when Alzado stopped playing for Oakland so I have no idea what he was talking about).
He is asked about a few other guys he worked with at the beginning of his WWE run. Ken liked working with Rey, saying it was easy and that Rey was so innovative and open to all ideas. Ken talks about walking up to Bob Holly as they were paired up on a house show loop and asked what he wanted to do as Holly told him that they will “fucking call it in the ring because he was workers here.” Ken talks about Holly testing you by chopping in the corner. Ken asked him once during the match to chop him ten times in the corner then Ken returned the favor and that Holly respected him after that. Ken then said that during their 2005 No Mercy match, the rib injury to Holly was all part of the match and not a legitimate injury. Ken said that Batista was awesome to work with and that Batista was really supportive of Ken and would even go as far as to make sure Ken was elevated during their matches. He talked about originally supposed to go into a feud with Matt Hardy where they were competitive with each other but that ended up going to MVP and Matt Hardy as Mark Henry got injured and Ken took his place as Batista’s opponent. Henry was supposed to get his ass kicked by Batista, who he put out of action, and Vince chose Ken as the replacement for the 2006 Great American Bash. Ken talks about that match and how the blood was hardway and not supposed to happen and that the guys backstage put him over for continuing as he talks about how it was his job and notes how Maven finished a match on a broken leg once and that HHH tore his quad and finished his match.
Final Thoughts: So far, this has been a solid interview. Ken is a talker and sometimes takes a bit to get to the point but overall, he is an engaging personality. It was interesting to hear how quickly the WWE pushed along the Kennedy character. They instantly went with that. Ken had some decent stories here and it seems like we will get into a lot more of his WWE run in Disc Two. So far, this has been a good interview.
And, be sure to come back tomorrow as I recap Disc Two.