Welcome to the second half of my exclusive interview with Larry Huntley, Fandango’s very first wrestling trainer. If you missed the first half of the interview, you can find it here.
KB – Do you have any clue why he [Curtis] was in developmental for so long.
LH – I don’t have a clue. For the most part it’s the right guy at the right time for the right gimmick, and he had to be doing what they wanted, he was training classes.
KB – He was what?
LH – He was the trainer!
KB – Really?
LH – He was doing some of the training.
KB – I didn’t know that.
Stacy – Maybe that’s why they wanted him down there.
LH – I know that for a fact Steve Bradley, when he was in developmental, they didn’t have a spot, they couldn’t find something that fit him with the big roster. He did a lot of the training, and he was the measuring stick for live shows, as to whether you were good enough to get to the next level. He was always that guy who was like in 4A baseball. He was too good for 3A, wasn’t quite good enough for there, but if you can get past that, you’re good enough for this. That’s what he was, the measuring stick for years, Bradley was.
KB – Okay.
LH – And I don’t know if that’s what they, I mean, that had to be a little bit of it, but they found something for him, and the best thing that ever happened to him was NXT.
KB – Do you have a clue what was it about his character that wasn’t working before? I mean now he’s Fandango, but before… I mean he was spilling milk.
LH – He didn’t have a character. That’s the one problem I have is there’s no characters, everyone’s just a guy. Trust me, I like characters!
KB – Gee, ya think? [We all laugh at that.]
LH – You know, I started out as a bouncer. I went to an enforcer. Everybody now, there’s there two names! Even if they don’t, some guys don’t even have nicknames. It’s like, you can change a nickname, you can change it anytime you want. They don’t even let them have nicknames.
KB – We have John Cena, Cody Rhodes.
LH – Even Zack Ryder, they don’t even announce him with a nickname. You know, he’s the internet guy, he’s the buzz guy. Daniel Bryan.
KB – There’s no characters.
LH – They’re all this size to this size. I’ve heard from Johnny Curtis, they’re not teaching them to work as characters. They’re teaching them to work, which is great, it’s better than the other way around. You could be Marc Mero who could be Johnny B Bad, and only knew how to wrestle as Johnny B Bad, but when he came to the WWE with Sable, he didn’t know how to work as Marc Mero.
KB – This is World Wrestling Entertainment, where are the characters?
LH – I agree with ya.
KB – And they say the best characters are the extension of the person. Do you see any Curtis in Fandango? [haha]
LH – Um. Um. Not the dancing!
KB – Maine Boy can’t dance?
LH – He can now!
KB – But he couldn’t then?
LH – I’m sure he’s had lots of, ah, training. Just the entrance is more than I can do on a dance floor. And I surely can’t jump over the top rope like that. He’s just like weee, and I’m just like awe man, I wish! Oh, man, do I wish! The thing for him, I really don’t see a lot in it, but he has it. When you start out, it doesn’t have to be you, you just have to believe it.
KB – And he seems to.
LH – If you can believe it, you can portray it.
KB – He really seems to.
LH – He’s done the whole deal at the bottom, everything he can. He’s been Heavyweight Champ, Tag Team Champ, many times, he’s done everything he can, to learn everything there he can, there’s nothing else for him there. Hopefully this works for him. They’re putting a million bucks behind him. I mean, the entrance with the tassels coming down.
KB – The thing above the ring with the flames.
LH – Yeah, they don’t make that for just anyone. The last guy who had it was, Batista had it, MVP had it, and when they put that kind of money behind you, they believe in you, or they wouldn’t do it. They don’t just do it to get you over, they have to believe they can get you over. They don’t just say, let’s put everything we can to see if we can get you over. We know he’s going to get over with this thing, so we’re going to go to the moon. We already know it’s going to get over. With MVP it was the tunnel he came through. The Jericho stuff. They do it because they already know they’re going to make money back.
KB – Right.
LH – They don’t do it so hopefully they can get this guy over by doing this. And if you, can I swear here?
KB – Go ahead.
LH – If you watched RAW this week, when he (Fandango) started to leave, what’s the one thing the crowd kept saying? “You’re an asshole! You’re an asshole!” It’s the greatest thing in the world!
KB – It’s reaction!
LH – It’s the cheer for a bad guy. I’ve been as mean and as nasty as anybody around here for a lot of years when I need to be. I’ve always had fun being the bad guy.
KB – You’re getting a reaction, that’s great. It’s when they’re dead quiet that you know you’re in trouble.
LH – That’s when you end the match. Hahahaha.
KB – I don’t know if I’m going to get an answer for this one…
LH – No! Hahahaha!
KB – What are his greatest strengths and weaknesses. I know you will give me strengths, but weaknesses?
LH – I haven’t really been around him enough lately to really give you anything but what I see. His timing is phenomenal. Whether it’s for the promos, the actual cutting of the promos, his interactions with people, he just, he’s natural. It’s not a forced, retried, what am I doing? What am I doing? It’s so instinctive for him right now. He flips a switch when he goes in. It’s on and off, but there’s no dimmer switch. It’s all on, or all off. He’s been that way since day one. At 16, I’m gonna do this! I’m gonna do this! I don’t think he ever thought he was going to the WWE when he first started. Everybody thinks they are, but they don’t really think they are.
KB – But he had that drive from day one?
LH – He busted his ass in training. He’s always had that drive. He was willing to sacrifice anything he had to to get there.
KB – You said he went down there on his own dime.
LH – His own dime. Drove down to Georgia to join Deep South, and the rest is history. He put in two years in Deep South before he had to move to Florida, and he was down there for what? Four years? So, the drive he has to succeed, I’ve never seen anybody like it myself. He was an indy guy, just an indy wrestler. An indy wrestler and a WWE wrestler are two different type of wrestlers. My stuff doesn’t work in the WWE.
KB – But they seem to be taking more indy wrestlers…
LH – But…
KB – But they change them up.
LH – They change them up. Everybody has to go to developmental.
KB – I thought there was someone who had pretty much skipped developmental, but I can’t remember who it was.
LH – Del Rio?
KB – No, he spent some time there.
LH – Sin Cara? [It was Sin Cara.]
KB – Not sure, but now he gets injured at every turn.
LH – No comment.
Sam – I don’t like Del Rio, he ran over Santa!
LH – He ran over Santa?
KB – Foley dressed as Santa. Even though Del Rio was turning face at that point, she still can’t get past it. So, you think they’re going to wait for WrestleMania to put Curtis in the ring?
LH – Oh, of course! Of course they are.
KB – There’s Curtis, there’s Big E, who’s also not wrestled, before that the only person we’ve found that debuted, for the first time in the ring, was Giant Gonzalez, against Taker.
LH – Wow, I hope he does better than that!
[We all laugh.]
KB – That is the only person we’ve been able to find who had their big TV debut match at WrestleMania. It’s not a great act to follow.
LH – But it’s only one guy. It’s not like it’s five guys.
KB – Yes, but it’s one guy and they’re doing two this year. I just find that interesting.
LH – But the thing is, how much of that match will be Big E Langston?
KB – He and his boobs will be on the sideline most of the time.
LH – He’s there to punch someone in the face.
KB – He’ll hit the 5 count [big end - changed Name at last NXT taping] and be done, and they’ll win the Tag Titles.
LH – Yeah, probably. I just hope he isn’t nervous, Curt.
KB – I don’t think he will be.
LH – I don’t think he will be either, but once again, when your first match is at WrestleMania…
KB – Against someone like Chris [Jericho].
LH – But Chris is such a pro, I wouldn’t worry about it.
KB – He is, but the one time I saw Jericho live, it was at a house show in Portland, and he was tagging with Scott Steiner, and Steiner had to tell Jericho to get his ass back in gear because he was goofing off, didn’t want to be there, was cussing out the fans. Either he had a bad day, or what, but he was…
LH – Don’t get me going on house shows. Waste of money. What I am proud of is all the New England boys and girls finally getting a shot!
KB – There was the guy who was on Tough Enough, from Lewiston.
LH – Luke Robinson. Then there’s Max Bauer, Sasha Banks, who’s Mercedes KV, she’s actually Snoop Dogg’s niece [cousin]. Who else has gone down there from, Aaron Stevens came from New England, excuse me, Damien Sandow.
KB – He did?
LH – Yeah, he was trained by Kowalski. He’s been around forever. He’s been around longer than I have!
KB – I love that lilt of Poffo in him.
LH – They take something old, give it a little tweak.
KB – Sandow has lost nine matches in a row.
LH – That means people will remember him.
KB – He’s memorable in his own right.
LH – People don’t give two craps [about the losses]. They don’t remember next Monday what happened last Monday! They never do. That’s part of the fun of entertaining.
KB – I disagree with that, because when they do something that’s a big change…
LH – I don’t mean the big changes, I’m talking about the little stuff, like who won a match.
KB – I’ll give you that.
LH – Cody Rhodes loses almost every Monday night, nobody cares.
KB – But he will be a star.
LH – He will be, it’s just like before, Vince is going to use them up and down. Using them for a little while down here, then find a reason to bring them back up. You’ve got to rotate people, you don’t rotate people it gets stale. The only difference is going to be Cena, and Cena ain’t changing nothing!
KB – Five moves of doom.
LH – Who cares? All that money he’s bringing to Vince, no way! As long as all the little boys and girls are chanting for him, that’s all that matters. When he wins at WrestleMania, he’s going to get booed out of that building!
This summer Larry Huntley will be running the North Atlantic Wrestling Training Camp. You can find out more information from Larry here on Facebook.