The good ol’ shoot interview. In wrestling terms, it’s an interview or promo that is “legit.” In other words, it goes off script or contains personal feelings and behind the scenes secrets. While they rarely happen on television anymore (other than the occasional “worked shoot”), many former wrestlers are quick to jump onto YouTube after their contracts expire and start dishing out dirt on their former bosses and co-workers.
The following 10 wrestling personalities appear unconcerned about burning down bridges, as they openly shoot on all the problems with backstage wrestling politics.
It should be noted that almost every single one of these interviews contains at least some (and often A LOT) of NSFW language.
10. Vince Russo
At one point, Vince Russo was praised as one of the best minds in the wrestling business. As one of the lead writers, he was credited for pushing the WWF towards a more edgy brand of entertainment that become known as a Attitude Era. Later, he would jump to WCW and continue to drive what has been called “crash TV” — a style of programming that focuses more on drama and less on actual wrestling.
In this interview, defends his choices to focus on storyline driven wrestling, saying that most of the guys on the WCW roster couldn’t even wrestle, including the over-the-hill main eventers like Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair. He also calls wrestling fans idiots, which basically sums up why he’s currently unemployed.
9. Rob Van Dam
Mr. Monday Night was one of the most popular wrestlers in his prime, taking his run as a lovable stoner in ECW and turning it into a successful run in the WWF. Along the way, though, there was some friction about having to adhere to the wrestling style required by his new employer. In 2016, RVD offered his thoughts in this shoot interview about being forced to do things “their way.”
He offered advice to the incoming A.J. Styles, saying that the Phenomenal One would have to make “compromises” and “wouldn’t like it.” Van Dam doesn’t sound as bitter as some of the other shoots on this list, but he definitely sounds bummed about not appearing at WrestleMania 32.
8. Scott Hall
Scott Hall aka Razor Ramon has a long history of backstage politics in the wrestling business. He was part of The Kliq, a group of wrestlers who basically controlled the WWE in the 90s. Later, he would wield backstage similar power as part of the NWO in WCW, literally the hottest gimmick in the history of pro wrestling.
Unfortunately, Hall is also well known for his very real battle with drug and alcohol addiction. He’s lost more than one job as a result of his hard partying ways, although he appears to be clean and sober now (thanks to Diamond Dallas Page and DDP Yoga, of all things). In this shoot interview, Hall talks about everything from Shinsuke Nakamura finally coming to the WWE to the Hulk Hogan vs. Gawker lawsuit. There’s not a ton of bitter comments in this shoot (unlike some of the ones coming up later on this list), but there is some great insight from the Bad Guy himself.
7. Honky Tonk Man Swears at Everybody
The Honky Tonk Man was one of the greatest Intercontinental Champions of all-time. But now that his wrestling days are behind him, he doesn’t hesitate to share his feelings on — well, almost everything. And they aren’t favorable. In these interviews, he blasts Bret Hart for being “one dimensional,” talks openly about wrestling groupies, craps on the WWE Hall of Fame, and absolutely scorches Shawn Michaels for “losing his smile.”
Honky Tonk Man last appeared in the WWE in 2013 and even turned down a spot in their Hall of Fame in 2010. Despite being one of the biggest stars of the 70s and 80s, it seems that Honky Tonk is now just a bitter old man who hates everything.
6. Bret Hart Bashes Triple H
Bret Hart has never been shy about sharing his thoughts, especially after leaving both the WWF and WCW on bitter notes (the Montreal Screwjob and being given a concussion by Goldberg, respectively). In this interview, the former WWF champion doesn’t hold back on how he feels about Triple H, who played politics perfectly to put himself in line to takeover the company when Vince McMahon eventually passes away or gives up control.
Hart famously calls Triple H a “four out of ten” and “overrated.” He also criticizes The Game for not being very innovative in the ring, simply using using the same few moves over and over again. He then claims to have predicted Triple H’s WrestleMania 28 match with The Undertaker move-for-move and generally craps all over the 14-time World Champ.
5. X-Pac on the Plane Ride From Hell
For anyone who doesn’t know, the Plane Ride From Hell was a now-infamous flight that happened in 2002, when a number of WWE employees were flying back to the U.S. after a European tour. The boys, who had all had a little too much to drink, got a little rowdy. Curt “Mr. Perfect” Hennig and Brock Lesnar had an amateur wrestling match the aisle. Dustin “Goldust” Runnels harassed his ex-wife Terri. Ric Flair may (or may not) have gotten buck naked. Michael “PS” Hayes got into it with John Bradshaw Layfield and punched the big Texan in the face. Later, Sean “X-Pac” Waltman would cut off Hayes’ mullet in his sleep as punishment.
In this shoot interview, X-Pac talks all about the flight, saying that a large majority of the wrestlers were pumped full of steroids (and various other substances). Then he gives a very graphic play-by-play of everything he remembers from the trip. It’s a ridiculously interesting (and terrible) story.
4. C.M. Punk – Pipebomb 1 & 2
A lot has been made of C.M. Punk’s original “Pipebomb” promo on an episode of Raw, where he trashes the company and talks about walking out when his contract expires. And while elements of that interview definitely crossed the line between scripted and legit, the WWE is generally okay with its contents.
In a second shoot interview on Colt Cabana’s podcast (although Punk begins by saying he doesn’t want it to be considered a “shoot interview”), the former WWE champion spills the beans on his exit from the WWE. He talks about backstage meetings with Vince McMahon, the double-standard with Brock Lesnar being allowed to have personal sponsors, being forced to work hurt, and multiple disagreements with Triple H and John Cena. This one is quite lengthy, but it’s a great listen if you have the time, because Punk basically doesn’t hold back on anyone.
3. Bam Bam Bigelow Blasts The Kliq
The late Bam Bam Bigelow isn’t the only former wrestler to blast The Kliq, but for the sake of variety, we’ve included his shoot. For anyone unaware, the Kliq was a group of wrestlers led by Shawn Michaels that basically controlled the WWF in the 90s. They had Vince McMahon’s ear in almost everything, until Kevin Nash and Scott Hall eventually bolted for WCW.
In this interview, Bam Bam shoots on how bad it was for business to allow a small posse of wrestlers to essentially bully their way around the locker room. The Kliq were notorious for being practical jokers and bullies, often taking things way over the line. He also talks about how HBK’s open flirtations towards Tammy “Sunny” Sytch caused serious mental health problems for her then-real-life-boyfriend Chris Candido.
2. Paul Heyman vs. Vince McMahon
It’s hard to think of anyone in wrestling history who is better on the mic than ECW founder Paul Heyman. His way with words was on full display in this scathing attack of Vince McMahon on an episode of SmackDown. Much like C.M. Punk’s Pipebomb, this was done on official WWE television, so it was at least partially approved by the boss. However, most people think that Heyman took huge liberties and sprinkled in a ton of internal hate and personal attacks.
Specifically, he accuses Vince McMahon of taking everything that made ECW great and blatantly stealing it to become the Attitude Era:
“…while Doink the Clown had green hair and a rubber nose, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was drinking his first beer in ECW, damn you. While Bobby Heenan and Gene Okerlund were dancing around singing “Tutti Fruitti”, ECW was producing the edgy TV that you named “attitude.” ‘Oh, we’ve got attitude!’You’ve got nothing, man! What you’ve got is my ideas and you stole my life, my money, my legacy!”
It’s rare that a wrestling promo gives us chills, but the guttural screams of Heyman transform this from just another wrestling promo into one of the most emotional and honest shoot interviews ever seen.
1. Jim Cornette – Everything
If you ever want to kill an entire afternoon (or a whole weekend), just Google “Jim Cornette shoot interview.” The man has been in the wrestling business for more than three decades and has an opinion on just about everyone. Cornette, still considered one of the greatest managers in the business, has become an unfiltered mouthpiece on the internet. He’ll take shots at Triple H, Eric Bischoff, or Dave Batista. Not even the Insane Clown Posse are safe from his ranting and raving.
In the video we included below, Cornette throws verbal haymakers at ECW for being way too violent and then blasts the critically acclaimed movie The Wrestler for its depiction of retired wrestlers trying to hang in the indies.