RF Video Shoot Interview with Simon Gotch

This was filmed on June 9th, 2017

The host is Rob Feinstein

It runs at three hours and eight minutes long


Gotch says he was a big wrestling fan as a kid. He remembers watching WrestleMania III on PPV as a kid and grew up in Santa Rosa, CA. He talks about growing up poor as his dad was a drug addict and his mom was a school teacher. He stopped watching a bit as a kid then came back in 1997 when Steve Austin became popular.


He went to the ECW Heatwave 2000 PPV then soon after that enrolled in the APW training center, run by Roland Alexander. When asked about Roland, Gotch says he is your friend until you get signed then he asks for money. Gotch said he left APW after getting screwed over by Roland as Gotch was paying his monthly dues then after 18 months, he was told he missed one payment and despite never being told about this at the time, Roland charged him interest and claimed it was close to $900 owed.


He talks about Great Khali training in APW and how he was a complete slob who left raw chicken out in his apartment and would go into the shower to urinate instead of the toilet. Gotch was not there when Brian Ong died during training with Khali.


Gotch talks about how wrestlers have to market their characters to sell merchandise and if you are one-dimensional, like WWE guys from 2003-06 who were all jacked, tall, and wore trunks with tribal tattoos, then people are going to get bored quick. He even adds that fans today cannot tell him apart from partner Aiden English despite the fact they have completely different looks.


He talks about his “Psycho Seth” character that he used and how he hated it so much, saying it was the shittiest name he ever heard and went as far as to think his career would be over. Gabe Ramirez, current booker of Revolution Pro Wrestling in San Jose, gave him the name. Gotch also said he had a really bad temper as a kid and was a bit sensitive to the name.


Gotch switched to the “Ryan Drago” character when he switched from APW to Pro Wrestling Iron as Mike Modest wanted him to come up with a name based off of his heritage and to create a new hometown as he did not want the whole promotion to be from California. He came up with the Hoboken, NJ hometown and people today really think he is from New Jersey.


He talks about working against Misawa in a tag match for Pro Wrestling Iron in 2004 and how intimidated he was but said that Misawa worked really light in the ring as Gotch was in awe the entire time.


In 2005, he had a dark match for Ring of Honor against Oliver John. This was after he healed from surgery after a torn ACL. Gabe Sapolksy was booking at the time and said he liked Gotch but did not want to fly him in all of the time from California. After that, he talks about working in FIP and talks about his match then says he might have the record for most appearances in a “Botchamania” video without actually making a mistake.


He worked a match with Modest & Donovan, who got him the chance, against The LAX in TNA back in 2006. Gotch said it was just a one-shot deal. Gotch also talks about working the King of Trios in 2009 and was told he would get $100 via Paypal as a payment. Two days later, the payment was no longer available but Gotch said he did not care then talks about Al Snow being there and looking completely miserable the entire time.


On getting his WWE tryout, Gotch said he had been working for Harley Race for a while and got some security spots on TV. He talks about Pro Wrestling NOAH passing on him five years in a row at Harley’s Camp. His friend, former WWE Developmental Talent Brandon Traven, was signed and told him to talk to William Regal. On February 1st 2012, Gotch approached Regal, who told him to go to RoH or somewhere else to work on things then after a little bit was told by Regal to grow a mustache and look like an old-timey strongman. Gotch took his advice and made a tape and after some difficulties editing the video he was able to send it in for a look.


Gotch said that he ordered a old-time bathing suit costume and was told to come in when RAW came to town for the 1,000th episode for a tryout. Gotch said the costume made him look like a “limp dick” and saw CM Punk backstage, who asked Gotch if he was being forced to wear that or if it was by his own choice. He went to the extra talent room and saw Undertaker taking to Ron Simmons as Undertaker was in shock over the look as Gotch was apparently was talked about all night long. Referee Ron Zapata told him to go in the ring where he was supposed to wrestle Ricardo Rodriguez, who was held up in traffic, so he got to wrestle Xavier Woods instead. They went to the ring and all of the agents were around. Gotch said Xavier grabbed and hold and said to hit him as hard as he could during his comeback. Gotch did and found out later that Xavier told the agents backstage that Gotch worked light. After that, Triple H apparently liked Gotch being able to show personality in the ring and told them to send Gotch into the “promo room” and for the tapes to be sent to him afterwards. He was put in their with Damien Sandow and Gotch said they came up with stuff off of the top of his head.


In October, Gotch had another tryout at FCW. He said it was run by Bill DeMott and Joey Mercury and it was brutal. He was one of the 20 or so invites as the rest had to pay $1,000 to attend. He said that Buddy Murphy was the one of the guys that paid who ended up getting signed. Gotch tells a story of some guy who told him Batista recommended he came and started shitting on guest coach Robbie Brookside so DeMott kicked him out as Gotch applauded DeMott for that. Regarding DeMott, Gotch said he just wanted to watch you “sweat” and try to “poke you.”


On Dusty Rhodes, Gotch said sometimes he would start off promo class with a three hour story then proceeds to do a really damn good Dusty impression of a story he told as Gotch talks about Dusty never letting the truth getting in the way of a good story but that he was big on sticking with what works. Gotch talks up Norman Smiley as a great trainer then says that Terry Taylor means well but is too stuck in the past and that he was never specific about what he wanted from a match.


The Simon Gotch idea came about by Ryan Ward based off of the character Regal wanted. He then talks about guys coming up and saying he stole their gimmick including Tyler Bate. Gotch said he met Bate, who was apologetic, as Bate used his gimmick six months after Gotch had been in Developmental.


He talks about the acting classes at the Performance Center for a bit and says that the coach, Howard Fine, is big on emotional recall. Gotch recalls a story Alexa Bliss told when she was getting teased in high school and smashed a girl’s face with her textbook after a few girls beat her up the day prior. Other stories included Angelo Dawkins tackling his father through a China cabinet, Sami Callihan throwing his bike at a kid, and Kevin Owens throwing some kid off of a balcony as Gotch was in awe as he was passive and never attacked anyone before.


Initially, he did not get along with Aiden English but they bonded the longer they stayed in NXT. Gotch chalks it up as English coming from FCW where guys were constantly mind-fucked and told on a daily basis that they were going to get fired, which bred paranoia.


Before getting into some of the teams he worked with in NXT, Gotch talks about his incident with Sin Cara backstage at the day of the draft. He was at catering sitting opposite of Sin Cara and said they had some running joke were they talked about shoot wrestling before a show. Gotch said Bray Wyatt always told him not to fuck with Sin Cara but Gotch said he was a nice guy and continued to play along with him. Gotch said he thought what he told Sin Cara was “benign” compared to what they usually said then next thing he knows his face hurts and his vision is blurred. He then smelled diet coke and saw Sin Cara run around the table trying to tackle him but he grabbed a headlock and held him close and yelled what was going on until it was broken up. He got stitches then Mark Carrano, Senior Director of Talent Relations, asked what happened but Gotch told him he fell down the stairs. Carrano then demanded to know the real story or else he’d fire Gotch. He said there was a rumor he said something racial and was asked that by Carrano but it was false. After that, Gotch saw Sin Cara, who felt awful, and they hugged it out. Gotch said he then went to Triple H and did not want Sin Cara to get punished and both guys got fined about $1,000. Gotch then shows us the photo before he got stitches on his phone and it looks absolutely brutal as his face is completely swollen and there was blood all over his face.


Gotch is asked about Randy Orton and said he gets a lot of shit but is a really nice guy and the type of guy that doesn’t give a fuck and says stuff just to get a “pop.” He then credits John Cena for supporting him and said he would always tell bad jokes to Cena as part of a running gag. He once told Cena after the Kendo Stick match between Carmella and Nikki Bella where Carmella hit Bella with the stick in the crotch. Gotch, despite being warned again by Wyatt not to say the joke, told Cena he thought hitting Nikki in the crotch with two feet of wood was his job then told Cena he could not get mad at that because he put him over as Cena said “good job.” Gotch said that Nikki is a cool person too.


When they beat Blake & Murphy at Takeover Brooklyn for the Tag Titles, Gotch said it was great then said that was the pinnacle of his WWE run as after that they started to lose their luster and began to get stale then later on said they were just transitional champions so they can transfer the belts over to The Revival.


Gotch said he heard NXT Takeover: Brooklyn came about because the company rented out the Barclays Center for three nights for the price of just one. He adds it was nice to see the talent being appreciated that night though.


Feinstein asks him about several NXT talents. Gotch said that Samoa Joe is a cool guy. He calls Tye Dillinger one of the most reliable workers you can find. He thinks American Alpha is great and that Chad Gable is incredibly talented and hilarious. He calls Cass a solid dude while Enzo is a “fucking abortion.”


Gotch is asked to go into why he dislikes Enzo as Feinstein mentions he heard from others that he is not well-liked. Gotch first says he credits Enzo for having confidence and believing his own “Bullshit” even to the detriment of himself and others. He talks about Enzo not knowing a single thing about wrestling and that he is a walking gimmick and just a scummy guy in general. Gotch says he not only prides himself on stuff that others would be embarrassed about but he even makes up other embarrassing stories.


The first story about Enzo was when they were in a promo class in NXT. A bunch of them were shooting the shit and telling different funny wrestling stories. Gotch told a story someone told him about Manny Fernandez working a “B” Town show in the NWA during the 1980’s. Manny asked some “mark” car dealer to loan a car out to a guy and used the guy’s wrestling name. Manny then drove off and never paid for or returned the car since the loan was under a false name. After hearing this, Enzo asked why Kalisto (real name Manny Rodriguez) would steal a car and the whole room went silent and Enzo tried to play it off like he new the entire time but Gotch said that Enzo doesnt know a single thing about wrestling.


Enzo story #2 is when Gotch told Enzo about a spot in a match. Gotch was going to get tossed on the apron but snap Enzo’s neck off of the rope and if he ended up landing on the floor instead, Gotch told Enzo to move towards him so he could pull him outside. Enzo then kept asking Gotch if he was going to land on the apron or the floor to the point where Gotch said he just gave up and told Enzo he’d go to the floor and trip him instead.


Gotch also says that Enzo broke his leg countering a wrist lock and that’s why he was in a wheelchair on NXT. Gotch adds that Enzo blamed it first on a loose canvas then tried to blame it on his opponent (Kalisto), who immediately called out Enzo for breaking his leg due to the fact he has no idea how to wrestle.


We get a third Enzo story. Gotch prefaces this by saying Enzo has a habit of “editing” his stories. He talks of Enzo telling everyone how he saw two girls in Tampa drive by in their car. He yelled for them to show their tits and they replied for him to show his dick. Well, Enzo asked them to show him their bedroom and he went back and fucked them both but Gotch says Enzo leaves out the fact they were both about 300 lbs apiece and lived in his building and word got around that the maintenance man started to make fun of Enzo for it, saying they were gross and their apartment smelled awful.


And #4 is when Gotch asked Enzo if he could take an inside-out bump. Enzo did not sound confident when saying yes so Gotch said it was fine and not to do it but Enzo insisted. They set up the spot and Enzo ended up headbutting Gotch’s chest and DDT’ing himself. Gotch said he got heat backstage from Terry Taylor for not taking care of Enzo, who lied about being able to do things in a ring.


Gotch did not sense that he got heat backstage for when Enzo knocked himself out running the ropes at Payback as he is regarded as a “klutz.” He also heard that Enzo felt he did nothing wrong when wrestling Cesaro on RAW and messing up a spot where he was supposed to go skin-the-cat and ended up completely screwing up the spot. Back to the match at Payback, Gotch said that Enzo has done that spot numerous times and gave him 3/4 of the ring so there was plenty of room for Enzo to safely perform the move. Gotch said he went outside afterwards and gently lifted him up then saw the ref throw up the “X” symbol. Gotch watched it the spot back on tape and said what happened was Enzo slid late because he was running too fast. He did say he sent Enzo a text afterwards to see how he was doing but there was no response.


Back to thoughts on more talents. Gotch says that Sasha Banks is cool and that Charlotte is genuinely kind and giving and probably the nicest person in the company. He says The Ascension are also cool but its sad that they do not get any respect and are used poorly.


Gotch said he was almost ready to quit before he got called up to the main roster. After WrestleMania 32 he was told to not go back on the group flight to Florida as he would be going to the main roster. He said that Baron Corbin and Enzo & Cass were told they would be getting called up on “Breaking Ground” and they were also going to tell Apollo Crews too but no plans for them to get told on the show.


When asked whether or not the main roster understood the Vaudevillains gimmick, Gotch says he don’t think they cared as they had a bigger job than watching out for them. He recalls a story of being told to cut a promo about wearing fedora’s and being hipsters, which has nothing to do with their characters as Gotch says this is what happens when someone has to write a ton of segments at once and you are not a priority.


He talks about going to Smackdown and how there were plans to reintroduce the team to the audience but it never ended up happening. Gotch then said Smackdown is the “B” show as you make less money as RAW runs the “A” cities and work an extra night per week.


Gotch says the company is very passive-aggressive. He tells a story of Leva Bates being an extra and one of the producers was upset her pantylines were showing but did not say anything so Gotch said he told Leva and she fixed the problem.


He talks about the company being more concerned with the finish of a story rather than how you get there.


Gotch tells us that he was told by Wyatt never to talk to Vince. Wyatt said that Vince would hate his personality and probably fire him as Gotch says he spoke with Vince once and was fired one month later. He went to pitch a feud against Breezango and mentioned that Regal wanted the Vaudevillains to have a pet monkey. Gotch’s idea was that the monkey would always be off camera and you would never see it but could see the havoc it wreaks. Vince immediately laughed when Gotch said they would have a monkey butler and eventually have a big reveal where he cage would be empty and they would search for it backstage and they would hear a shriek from Tyler Breeze who would have brown stuff on his face like the monkey threw shit at him and that would be how the feud started. Vince liked it and the others seemed on board but it never happened as soon afterwards he was fired.


On the day he was fired, Gotch said he got home after the Smackdown that followed WrestleMania 33 and had a voicemail from Carrano. He called back and was told Vince felt the gimmick ran its course and the company would be using its termination clause. Gotch did say he felt relieved and was not happy there and everyone knew that because he talks about being a guy who wears his emotions on his sleeve.


He went backstage to an Ring of Honor show and talked to some people but cannot make any deals until his 90 day clause expires.


Gotch talks about Sin Cara and how he recently got into a fight with Chris Jericho and even before fighting Sheamus in Developmental tried to fight Wyatt, who laid on him until he gave up.


On today’s Independent scene, Gotch says its much better than when he started out in the early 2000’s and says some guys today can make six-figure salaries without even being under a contract.


Gotch talks about how the company wants to sign people who are interesting and encourages talent to market themselves because they can find a wrestler whenever they want. Gotch puts over Mojo Rawley for being able to speak Arabic, Becky Lynch for being part of the Peace Corps and going to clown college, and Mustafa Ali  as a former Chicago Police officer. He takes it further and says most wrestling fans, and people in general, want to cheer someone who looks similar to them and do not look at it as Davey Richards being a better at wrestling than Enzo Amore.


Final Thoughts: As far as shoot interviews with recently released WWE talent, this is one of the best. Gotch was a straight shooter and did not hold any grudges. The only people he seemed to dislike were Roland Alexander and Enzo Amore, someone who has been reportedly disliked by many backstage in the WWE. The Enzo stories shined some light as to why he is not popular with the rest of the locker room. You can also see how Gotch’s rep of irritating people backstage happened as he speaks his mind at all times.

This interview ended with Feinstein talking about a potential second volume and another roundtable with other guys who were part of the first Performance Center class. I would be interested in both of those.

Overall, I recommend this interview. Gotch is a good interview subject and showed a lot of insight into what the WWE is looking for in a wrestler.

You can view the interview on DVD for $20 or on Digital Download for $15.99


Next week, I will review the 1990 WCW Timeline with Jim Cornette from Kayfabe Commentaries


Here is my schedule for the next several days:

Friday: WWF Saturday Night’s Main Event 4/28/90

Saturday: Mid-South Wrestling 12/16/82

Sunday: WWF Wrestling Challenge 4/29/90

Monday: WWF Madison Square Garden 4/30/90

Tuesday: WWF Superstars of Wrestling 5/5/90

Wednesday: EVOLVE 91 8/12/17

Thursday: Kayfabe Commentaries Timeline Series: 1990 WCW as told by Jim Cornette