The following are highlights of the second part of a two-part Slam! Wrestling interview with Michael Hayes:
Can what worked in the territorial era work today? “There’s a couple things there. One would be — just going back to your last question about kids and what they should do — the kids today, their athleticism far surpasses anything that most of us ever did. We had a few that were in that high echelon that could probably keep up with the kids of today, but the moveset is just not to be believed. With that said, what they don’t do in my opinion is they don’t learn how to captivate an audience. Some of them are almost scared to try to captivate and audience and they are somewhat scared of the audience. And it can’t be that way.
Because, see, I’m a tell ya, you can go all the way back in time and it takes you back to the territorial days, but you can have a great wrestler and if he or she was a mediocre talker, I’m going to tell you what’s going to happen. They’re just going to make mediocre money. But you can find a mediocre wrestler who is a great talker and he or she will make great money. And that never changed and it still won’t today.
And that’s why I don’t understand why kids don’t try to go out and perfect promos and talk that talk, and walk that walk, because everybody wants to be entertained. As fans, your lives are so hard working so you can to feed your kids, feed your wives, or whatever, and you want to escape and you don’t want to pay to see Bob the next door neighbour. And when everybody else is able to do these triple moonsaults then it’s not that special. But if everybody else can’t talk for three minutes and captivate people, and piss them off or make them happy, or get some emotion out of them, well then I don’t understand why so many kids don’t see that that’s the avenue to the pay window. And in the territorial days that’s what made it happen.”
Does he see himself as an artist? “I do, in a different way. I’m a classic artist. Fortunately for me, I’ve never followed the rules. I pay attention to them, and I know where you can bend them and where not to break them, and I think that’s pretty much what most successful people do. You know when to push and when not to push, and that’s the fun of it, and then life evolves and life changes.
And part of that too is, and I don’t like to elaborate on this much, but working with Vince [McMahon] and all this young talent, I look back at that and I get a lot of enjoyment off of that. Like our last pay-per-view, Payback, when you see a pay-per-view like that and you see these kids put everything out there and it paying off, you feel good that you’re a part of that, a big part of it. Helping orchestrate it and getting it to work and calling a play. But those plays are only as good as the people running them, and at Payback the kids ran great plays and everybody wins. The fans win and the kids win because they feel great about themselves, when you make an achievement like that there’s no feeling like, there’s no high like that.
And I found another high in my life too, which is really cool, because I’ve had a lot of highs (laughs). This thing has been around forever, and I hadn’t tried it ’til recently and it’s called sleep. God darn, why didn’t someone tell me about that years ago. And it’s free! Wow. Getting a good night’s sleep and waking up, I mean, wow this is different.”
Participating in WWE’s Legends of Wrestling roundtables: “It’s fun. I dig doing that. I watch it back sometimes and think, wow, I’m really an asshole. And you’re good at it too! That’s kind of my job on the show. We had Kevin Nash on the show one time and he was fantastic, the stories he told about WCW, during the (Monday Night) war, and we were just about to wrap up and I go, “Whoah whoah whoah, what about the Arn Anderson parody?” And he looked at me, and he goes, “I thought I was going to get away without having to address that.” But somebody’s got to be Simon Cowell and God put me in that role.”
Check out the complete interview at Slam.Canoe.ca.
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