Rob Conway: “It’s Going to Make Me Happy to Make the People of Kingsport Eat Their Words”
“The Iron Man” takes on Nick Hammond at NWA Smoky Mountain on GFL.tv
By Randy Jean
Rob Conway is a man who has accomplished many feats in the sport of wrestling.
The former, two-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion was nothing short but incredibly insightful during our conversation. With years of experience and thorough knowledge of the business, Conway lent me some of his thoughts just days before his matchup with Nick Hammond at the latest installment of NWA Smoky Mountain action in Kingsport, Tenn. on Friday, June 12, on GFL.tv.
Randy Jean: You’ve almost spent about two decades in the ring, what is it that you do to prolong your career longevity?
Rob Conway: Well, before I started wrestling I was always into fitness, which then led me into professional wrestling. Over the years, I’d modify my training because I used to be a little bit bigger before I got into wrestling.
Before, my regimen would usually just include heavy weights but, once I got into wrestling, I started doing more cardio and lifted less heavy at the gym because you want to minimize the chances of you getting hurt in the ring, so you can wrestle longer.
RJ: As a child growing up, I remember watching you in the WWE as part of La Résistance. Is there anything you learned there that you still put into practice?
RC: I learned a lot when I was in Ohio Valley Wrestling, and then WWE. I was on RAW and I wasn’t the main event guy, but I would watch the main event guys like Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair and Triple H and watch how they would carry themselves.
I got to work with guys like The Rock, ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin and Mick Foley, all who are main event talent. You can’t learn to be a main event guy if you don’t watch the main event. In different independent promotions, some of the guys will leave as soon as their match is over and I believe that, if you’re not in the main event, you should watch so you know what to do when the time comes.
RJ: Do you think WWE was a catapult for your success at a young age?
RC: WWE is still one of the most watched out of all the wrestling promotions. Being exposed to 3-4 million people a week on RAW definitely gets your name out there. So if you leave a company like that, it gives you a great head start to go to every town in America where people already know who you are.
For me, people would be like ‘Oh, I know who he is,” but they wouldn’t say that guy was great or anything. So I had to go out and become a better wrestler.
Now when people come up to me, they let me know how much my ring work has improved and how I should be on television instead of these small promotions, (in response to) which I tell them I’m just happy to be here. It’s great to be a main eventer and get your shine with 4 or 500 people compared to if you were in a bigger promotion and you’re in the middle fighting for a spot.
Rj: Talking to you now, I feel like you definitely learned a lot during your tenure in WWE. Were there any guys that gave you veteran advice as you were coming up?
RC: I got a lot advice from many wrestlers. Most of it was how to perfect your in-ring work from guys like Arn Anderson, Dean Malenko, “The Hustler” Rick Rodgers and Danny Davis. Then when I got onto the main roster, guys like Shawn Michaels, Chris Beniot, Edge and, especially my agent Pat Patterson, all played a huge role during my growth.
RJ: Switching gears, I’m sure you’re aware of Jeff Jarrett upcoming promotion called Global Force Wrestling. Care to share your thoughts on it?
RC: Well to me, any new up and coming wrestling company is exciting. It creates more jobs, brings more professional wrestling awareness. I know a lot of guys who will be wrestling on there from the guys of New Japan to those of NWA. They don’t have an exclusive contract or anything like that, but I certainly want nothing but the best for them.
I want all the promotions like TNA, ROH and GFW to succeed. You don’t want only one big promotion; you want to be able to have a variety. If there’s only one pizza and burger place, you’re stuck with what they put on the menu.
RJ: Speaking of TNA, it was rumored that they have lost their distribution deal with Destination America. Ring Of Honor now has a deal with the channel. What’s your take on that?
RC: As of last week, ROH was on from I think 8-9 o’clock and then TNA was on from 9-11. There’s a whole bunch of rumors that go on that I feel hurt the wrestling business in general because they’re all negative rumors. It’s like people want to see bad things to happen to certain promotions. If they lost their television deal, that’s 2 hours of wrestling a week we lose on television and jobs that a lot of people won’t have. I would think that if you were a wrestling fan you would want to see all promotions succeed. If not, there are going to be guys who like to watch who will only appear when they come by your town once a year.
RJ: You have a point. I mean, the more promotions that get televised, essentially the more mouths that are getting fed.
RC: Yeah, I just don’t see how anything good can come from wishing anything bad on somebody else. Just hope that they make it and that you’ll make it too.
RJ: When we were talking about NWA AND New Japan it made me want to go back to the topic of Jeff Jarrett. He’s a man who’s left an imprint on everything he’s touched in the wrestling industry. Do you feel the same?
RC: Jeff Jarrett is a wrestling legend. He’s a guy that’s been in the business his entire life. He’s wrestled in WWE and WCW. He founded TNA and now GFW.
I grew up watching the USWA, which his father owned. I grew up watching guys like Jerry “The king” Lawler and “Macho Man” Randy Savage when they wrestled in the Louisville Garden so I have nothing but respect for what he’s trying to do from transitioning from the ring full time, to working behind the scenes. He’s been a guy who stays healthy and has a great head on his shoulders. I wish nothing but the best for him and I hope GFW reaches success.
RJ: Will we see you on GFW?
RC: I mean you never know but, as of right now, my loyalty lies with NWA and New Japan. My word means a lot but, with that being said, we’re all free agents, so I’m not forbidden to wrestle there. I just hope it does great because it’ll help the sport of wrestling a lot.
RJ: You have a match coming up on Friday. What’s your mindset heading into it?
RC: I love coming into Kingsport, Tenn. The last few times I came in there, I faced a guy by the name of Jason Kincaid. He had a few choice words to say about me. On top of that, he’s from that area so people love him down there.
I’ve been the face of NWA for the last couple years but, when I go down there, I have to admit they don’t appreciate me being there. Now, I’m going against Nick Hammond who’s from there and doesn’t wrestle anywhere else. He’s loyal to the guys in that area and they love him there.
So now come Friday on ippv, he’s going up against a 2- time NWA world heavyweight champion, a 3 time former world tag team champion for the WWE, a guy who’s wrestled in 49 states and 12 countries, came into Kingsport as an outsider and gets 100% of what “The Iron man” Rob Conway has.
It’s going to make me happy to make the people of Kingsport eat their words. I never turned my back on them, but they did towards me so I’ll get a little rough and could careless what they think.
RJ: Makes sense. People want to see a fight, so give them their moneys worth.
RC: I’ve been wrestling for a long time. Wrestling in Japan, I realized that once you leave the ring, it’s all about survival of the fittest. So I bring that mentality back to the States. It’s just the way it is. We’re not “sports entertainment” we’re an entertaining sport. He’s going to have to bring his ‘A’ game and I don’t think his ‘A’ game is as great as mine.
RJ: When it’s all said and done, will you ride into the sunset or do you see yourself remaining in the business in a different role?
RC: Wrestling is my passion. It’s what I wake up thinking about and, when I’m sleeping, I’m dreaming about matches. I can still run and jump and all of the other stuff as great as ever. So I don’t see myself slowing down anytime soon.