Exclusive: Sean Mooney on his "Prime Time" & "Upside Of 40" podcasts and post-WWE life
If you were a fan of the WWE -- then the WWF -- in the late 1980s and/or early 1990s, then you ought to be very familiar with Sean Mooney. Mooney not only anchored the "Event Center" for WWF, but also did play-by-play announcing, conducted backstage interviews with wrestlers and hosted a variety of Coliseum Video releases.
While Mooney left WWE as a full-time employee in 1993, he has often been brought back by WWE over the years for special televised appearances. But in the 26 years since leaving WWE, Mooney has also been working non-stop as an anchor, commentator and/or host for a variety of TV networks and sporting events.
However, a little over two years ago in June 2017, Mooney made a proper return to wrestling world as a podcaster. As the host of Prime Time With Sean Mooney on the MLW Radio Network -- which he briefly co-hosted alongside "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan -- Mooney has spoken with a variety of wrestling greats, including WWE Hall Of Famers like Sid Vicious, Diamond Dallas Page and Jake "The Snake" Roberts.
Mooney has enjoyed hosting Prime Time With Sean Mooney so much that he recently launched a second (non-wrestling-related) podcast titled Upside Of 40 With Sean Mooney. On the Upside Of 40, Mooney interviews experts -- authors, influencers and entrepreneurs included -- who are there to help you live the best life possible.
I had the pleasure -- and I do say pleasure, as he is pleasant and patient yet quick-witted interview subject -- of speaking with Sean Mooney himself by phone in July 2019. Some highlights from our interview are below, while the full chat will go live in September via the Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz podcast, as co-produced with PureGrainAudio. More on all things Mooney can be found by following him on Twitter via @SeanMooneyWho.
On when he first learned about podcasts:
Sean Mooney: About a couple of years ago, Court Bauer, who is with MLW, he had a podcast with his [MLW Radio] network while he was also organizing his wrestling organization. He DM'ed me. I had been on a show somebody had me on as a guest or something and he heard it. So he DM'ed and said, "Would you ever be interested in doing something like this?" At the time I think I was like, "Who the hell wants to hear from me? It's been a long time since I really had been involved in wrestling."
But with some coaxing... you see that people are really interested in that era that I happened to be involved in. So he wanted to get a host with me and I said, "Well I'm the guy that hosts, that's all I've done really my whole life. So why don't I get somebody to do it with me?"
That's when I bugged the crap out of Hacksaw [Jim Duggan]. I just kept calling him until he finally gave in, at least returning my call. And then that takes a lot of convincing. And then he did a pilot with me.
On sadly parting ways with Hacksaw:
Sean Mooney: So I just did the pilot with Jim and they really liked it and we went from there and did about 20 episodes and it just got me back into it. So you know it's still very busy and if you know about podcasts, which I know you do, you don't make a lot of money initially. It was always, "90 days, then 90 days from there."
They determined whether or not you were a legit podcast and then the advertisers might come. So he was in business to make money, and he was really busy. It was tough for us to schedule things. Finally he just said, "You know I love doing it but I just don't have time."
I had to make the choice of either stopping that big podcast or continuing on, and I originally had the idea to call it The Event Center and have different guests on every week. But I'd been out of it for so long I was thinking, "How the hell am I going to get people to come on with me?"
But at that point people had heard about the podcast and it had gotten a little bit of a buzz out there. So I was able to start getting guests but I went week to week.
On booking podcast guests you don't often hear on other wrestling podcasts:
Sean Mooney: I wanted to do that from the beginning, but I realized that in order to get people to listen, initially I had to get big names that were very recognizable. So fortunately I was able to get a lot of people to come on.
The shoot interviews are out there and a lot of these guys have done dozens of them, and after a while they're telling the same stories. It's not their fault that they tell their best stories and people hear them and want to hear them tell it again.
So I love having conversations with people that haven't really been out there and shared a lot of their history. That's what I wanted to do originally. So now I get to do that because I think at this point people trust that when I get a guest, I really think about who I want to come on and who I think would be really interesting. We've had some really great guests and I've been surprised many times, because I know they have great stories but I don't know what kind of guests they are going to be.
I just think, off the top of my head, people like Danny Davis were just awesome. His story is so great and so many others that I've had on that are really inspirational stories... most of them come from humble beginnings. They had a dream and they just refused to quit. You don't make it in this business unless you are absolutely willing to get knocked down 100 times and have people tell you you're terrible and they just won't go away.
Then they start finding some success and they have tremendous success and then there's always something that happens, it seems, along the way that knocks them down big time and they come back. They find a way to get through it and benefit by it. So that's what's really been wonderful for me... I just love the stories that we've been able to tell.
On also finding a loyal audience with his non-wrestling podcast Upside Of 40:
Sean Mooney: I was hoping for kind of a crossover because when I started it, I realized that a lot of the people that were listening to the podcast were between 10 maybe and 16, 18 when they were watching the WWF and they watched me. At this point they're in their 40s and I have always wanted to do a show like this where I can help people over 40 and beyond with all the stuff that we deal with. I mean, I'm 60 now and I'm hoping that if I can save them a few steps along the way -- because I was an idiot and stumbled -- that would be great...
It's just this broad range of everything that affects our lives, men's lives after 40 and beyond. But getting back to your original question... I expected some crossover and we have had some of it but not anywhere what I expected. We really have lifted this thing just from the ground up and it's been a slow build.
But every week we get more and more people coming on. It's a challenge but I just love doing this one too. As crazy as that sounds, because you know doing a podcast every week is tough but also having a full-time job; I host a morning show where I live. This is something that really I dreamed of doing and it's something that I think I could do for the next 20 years... There is an endless number of topics.
On whether he had "any last words for the kids":
Sean Mooney: Well I want to thank everybody. Getting back into this, it's just been incredible, and especially for the wrestling fans, that audience, they are the most loyal fans out there. It's just amazing to me. I left the WWE in '93, even during that time I was completely out of the professional wrestling world, I still would get a couple letters. I don't know how they tracked me down; they'd send it to the station or I had a production company...
So it's just amazing because now there's thousands of them that follow the podcast and that has just really been awesome. I have a Patreon with it to actually get to interact with them, we have Q&A's and that really has been a wonderful experience. So I mean, overall, just to say thanks to people for being so awesome to me over the years.