Stevie Richards may be one of the most underrated wrestlers of all time. I mean, the guy has been everywhere. Literally everywhere.
Having wrestled in WWE, ECW, WCW, IMPACT Wrestling, Ring of Honor and many others, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the former Blue World Order man has decided to quietly slip away and enjoy retirement - but you'd be wrong.
In fact, Richards still occasionally gets in the ring, but he also runs his own virtual personal training programme Stevie Richards Fitness, as well as his own YouTube channel about all things technology, wrestling and conspiracy theories - with the latter being a subject he further delves into on The Conspiracy Horsemen podcast.
You can watch the entire interview below, or just keep scrolling to read it in its entirety.
SK: Hello, everyone, and welcome to Dropkick DiSKussions. Today, I'm joined by a man who it's hard to give an introduction to, purely because he's been absolutely everywhere, so I'm just going to say WWE and ECW legend Stevie Richards!
How are you today, Stevie?
SR: Everything is great, thank you. I appreciate the fact that you don't want to put any labels on me. It's a pleasure to be here. I keep trying to break the labels of a wrestler, or nerd, or fitness guy, or all three at the same time. I'm sure we'll cover all that confusing stuff today.
SK: The reason I avoided a specific label is because you're either a 21 or 22-time Hardcore Champion in WWE - how many titles did you win? With that many reigns and wins, this may be tricky - do you have any favourite memories of the title?
SR: I'll tell you a funny story connected to that. The reason there's so much confusion over the reigns - I've technically held it 22 times. Raven had held it 21 times. Raven went to the website, magazine, whatever media people there were and had that flipped. He would relentlessly bother them until it was changed. At the end of the interview, as good as a guy he is, [they would say] just give him what he wants and tell him to shut up. That has been a friendly point of contention between ourselves - but I have had it 22 times, he's had it 21.
In this day and age with the 24/7 title, it doesn't even matter because it's completely morphed into something else, but the best memory of the entire thing is what it was supposed to be designed for and what they're trying to design it to do, but I don't think they're doing it as well as it was done back then, and that's really use and incorporate everybody they haven't been using to their fullest potential in the most entertaining way.
Now it seems like a Keystone Cops thing, tonnes and tonnes of schoolboys, nothing interesting.
NEXT: Stevie discusses the WWE 24/7 Championship
COMING UP: Stevie Night Heat!
SK: It really does feel like they're trying to slightly reincarnate the Hardcore Championship recently. Do you think it has any sort of potential to reach the same heights if they use it the right way?
SR: I think taking out the headshots, which we took plenty of back then, is a big deal. Taking out a lot of the danger, because we weren't thinking much about that, taking bumps on a floor, on the back concrete, in the locker room or loading dock area but there could be a happy medium - they can't just have everybody schoolboying everybody, and it's so safe. Who's going to not kick out on the lightest [roll-up]?
I'm not blaming them because I don't want someone to bang my head on the concrete on a schoolboy backstage but there should be creative ways to do it - someone falling asleep at the airport and getting pinned... Just interesting things. The best thing they've done so far was the FOX Founder's Day with the host - that's interesting, getting more mainstream people involved. That might help it out.
SK: That brings me onto a side note about WWE transcending wrestling - you were around while during the first incarnation of the XFL. Do you think it can succeed this time around?
SR: I'll tell you another little fun fact. Gene Snitsky and myself... You know Gene Snitsky, the one that kicked the baby? He and myself were considering trying out for XFL teams. He was a former lineman, a lineman or a linebacker, one of the big trench guys. I was going to try out for field goal kicker because, back in high school, I was a field goal kicker, so I felt like it may be a cool thing to try out for. There was no team locally here for me to try out for so I didn't end up doing it.
I think they were a year or two late because, last year, NFL were wavering in their popularity and XFL didn't really capitalise on calling them out for the Kaepernick stuff, or the pass interference play. They didn't really try to get on the NFL radar. In fact, I think they were trying to be a feeder league for the NFL, which has not been successful.
The AAF, the Alliance of American Football, tried to do that - they're done. The XFL will survive, I believe, maybe one season and that's about it, because the NFL has it locked down.
It's pretty much like everybody else with WWE. WWE, for whatever criticism you have of their product, they are the ones that you always equate with professional wrestling, and I don't think that's going to change any time soon.
SK: Well, competition is needed! Now, you're one of the few wrestlers who can claim to have worked in WWE, ECW and WCW - where do you feel you did your best work in?
SR: ECW - week in, week out - I was used to the full extent of my potential. I was young, didn't know but they accentuated my strengths and hid my many weaknesses, but...
You'll probably be surprised at this, people think it's Right To Censor, people think it's bWo, but I really think it's Stevie Night Heat because that's really where I was really truly allowed to do what I could do without being hindered, handcuffed.
I wasn't noticed either because they weren't paying attention either but Coach, myself, Al Snow, and then the people that were involved - we were all booking the show. They didn't care. That went on for about six or seven months until they found out. Then you hear the stories. Stephanie walking in, seeing me with a apron on, "Kiss the GM," chocolate pie on Victoria's face, Johnny Ace denying he knew anything about it - absolutely true.
NEXT: Stevie Night Heat
COMING UP: Wrestling Adam Cole
SK: My personal favorite is your Stevie Night Heat run. We saw the "losing streak" storyline happen again recently with Curt Hawkins, but I thought you actually made Heat must-see TV. Did the losing streak give you freedom or was it annoying?
SR: It wasn't so much the losing so many matches because the responsibility for me was, when new talent came in, to make them comfortable in the company and get them over - so it was a huge responsibility and a great spot. People didn't see it that way, but I'd already been on the road with a Batista or a Randy Orton for a couple of weeks on house shows to get them ready.
What it always came down to for me was getting booked, making money, hopefully having some merchandise or video game money and trying to save as much as I can because, when you're hired in wrestling, you're one day closer to being fired each day that you're there. It's the nature of the business.
It's not like the NFL or the XFL, or a competitive sport. My true ability can always be masked or hidden. When they say talent can always overcome, I'm not always in agreement with that because look at how many times I got myself over and they put me on Heat or sat me at home. They have a remedy to try to put themselves back in control.
I'm not saying it's hopeless because I still showed up in the best shape I could, I still had the best matches I could in the time they would give me, but I say today, Curt Hawkins - great example, great guy, same with Zack Ryder, other guys - it's unfortunate that your value and your sacrifices as a human being are always tempered as less important if you are lower on an imaginary, subjective card - which is really what it is.
Those guys and girls, no matter who they are, what they do, whether they work or not - they take the same flights,they get in the same rental cars, they have the same lack of sleep, they have to find gyms, they have to eat right - and then after all that sacrifice, to sit down and watch everyone get to play or perform.
You hear about football players who want to go to teams where they can start when they're making more money in a team where they're on the second string. That's how you understand it. You don't want to sit there and waste away, and that's kind of what I felt at times.
It's funny, because when I wasn't frustrated, they thought, "He doesn't care enough to want to get pushed," but when I complained, I had a bad attitude. It was a very, very thin line that, quite frankly, I'm so glad I'm out of it and doing my own thing because that's very mentally and emotionally taxing after nine and a half years in WWE. But it's cool, I chose to be there. I could have asked for my release at any time and I didn't, I stuck it out, so it's on me as much as it would be on them.
SK: Right To Censor were a hugely successful faction. Given the current controversy surrounding "free speech", "hate speech", "political correctness" and so on - do you feel like Right To Censor were maybe ahead of their time, and could they be a lot more successful now?
SR: They could always bring something like that back, you could rename it to match the labels of the people who try to control and censor people. The right would say the left is doing it, the left would say the right is doing it. Whatever your local government is, whatever two sides of what I call the same party anyway.
It's weird, with the nostalgia of WWE, if I came out at the Royal Rumble and people heard the sirens, the way the crowd has switched is it would probably get initially cheered because it's just something they remember and it's so backwards to cheer the censor guy that the fans would do it. It's weird.
I think I could still get heat. My friends have joked with me, friends in the business that I do podcasts with, Big Sal from ECW. Great guy. Papadon's another one and also Bin Hamin. We all do a podcast together, but they always joke, like, if I came out on the RAW Reunion and said, "We won," that would be it.
They wouldn't want that, it's never meant to be. People say about the right opportunity or the right payday, but I'm so far past that. There's so many things that we're going to talk about that supersede money now that if I went back to WWE or any other company - if they're paying me a full-time salary or a full-time guarantee, they deserve my full, all-in attention which would mean I need to sacrifice my fitness business, the podcasts and all my other ventures that I've invested my time in so, sorry, fans, it's over.
NEXT: Wrestling in ROH
COMING UP: Technology, fitness and conspiracy theories!
SK: Your last "run" in wrestling was in 2016 for ROH! You faced off against the likes of Adam Cole, Roderick Strong and Silas Young. What was it like going up against the likes of Adam Cole, particularly looking back on it now he's the NXT Champion?
SR: Well, guys like that and the guys I'm wrestling today in places like WildKat Sports, and other places, are literally the only reason I stay in the business at all - because I do have a responsibility to pass along positive information and reinforcement, and knowledge to them.
To myself, I've still got a little bit of that masculinity where I go, "Hey, can I still hang with his kid who's 20 years younger than me?" I still have a little bit of that in me. My wife asks me, "When's it going to be over? When will you get that out of your system?" I'm like, "I'm almost 50, maybe in another 10 years, who knows?"
The first match, before that, was the Proving Ground match against Jay Lethal, which we went for 20 minutes, in October of the year before. The only thing I didn't like about the match with Jay, they match with Adam, the match with Silas, the match with Roddy - which was the match for the TV Title - was that I didn't have a full-time wrestling schedule so I didn't get to really enjoy the matches because I was too busy struggling in the first leg of that match to catch my second wind - because there's no other conditioning that is close to actual wrestling.
But here's the thing, too, I spoke about this with the Goldberg vs Taker match. It's the popular thing to bury Goldberg and Taker, "You're too old, you don't have it, blah-blah." That match was designed to fail because it went way too long. Both guys were in incredible physical condition. Were they in wrestling shape, though? No, it's not possible because it's a double-edged sword.
Goldberg and Taker could train at a wrestling school, take bumps, run spots, but they're going to be feeling like s**t by the time they get to the end of a match because, just like UFC, most guys go into their fights not 100% because of all the training injuries.
Pro wrestling is the same way so I would rather get in the ring, blow up a little bit and be a little sore afterwards rather than be training for two weeks straight for a match and I'm already just dog-tired by the time I get in the ring.
It's something you have to temper, so just to let people know, when you want to get on guys for being in their 50s and they get put out there for a 15-minute match, and they've never worked together - that's tough. On a smaller scale, that's what I felt wrestling those guys in Ring of Honor - but it was also a cool thing to kind of do and pass along to them.
SK: So, you've kind of have closed the door on wrestling or having one big last run but we've touched on your love of technology, you have several podcasts - my favourite one is The Conspiracy Horsemen, and you have Stevie Richards Fitness as well.
Do you feel like this is something you've always wanted to do, but wrestling was the priority, or is this filling a void left by wrestling?
SR: That's pretty tough. It's probably a little bit of both. I mean, I've always had these interests. I always kept up with them because, I say this to anybody out there who has a job - whether it be in wrestling or a job you're not satisfied with, or even a job you like but you're not testing yourself and fulfilling yourself - do these things, especially in this day and age of YouTube.
If you're like, "I don't know how to do this," look it up on a YouTube video - hopefully you come across my stuff - but I always had a passion for it.
When I was in high school, I was always a nerdy kid, I liked tech, I liked video games. I liked fitness but I didn't have the knowledge or anybody to show me anything up until a certain age where I would pay my dues at a local gym. I'd be cleaning up the weights just to kind of be around to kind of get some knowledge, so I kind of had to pay my dues before I was in wrestling - even though I didn't know what paying my dues were.
It wasn't like I had a void from wrestling, but I did because I wasn't being creatively fulfilled - so that's why I started the tech channel, the tech podcast, trying to do it under my real name [Mike Manna] in 2007.
It's funny. You talk about ahead-of-the-curve type stuff, I was podcasting and had a YouTube channel before any of these guys. That doesn't make me like, "Oh, look at me, I'm so cool," because they've managed to market it and become more notable than me, so God bless them for that - but when YouTube, believe it or not, wasn't that popular or podcasting wasn't that known, it was maybe Adam Curry and a few other people, that's about it.
I've always had that love for that and then the fitness stuff, it went from a necessity because I knew I had to work out.
Every time I got hurt, it became more my mindset was, "Wow, I have to work out for physical therapy," then it became, with all these injuries, I can still be healthy and fit, now I get to work out every day. I get to be in shape, I get to get out of bed because every day I wrestle, my God, I'm testing fate, ain't I? I'm testing fate because it just takes one bad bump, and we've seen it, one little move to be botched and someone's in a wheelchair or something like that, knock on wood. There is a real possibility. So I'm always mindful of that.
NEXT: Stevie Richards Fitness
COMING UP: Stevie talks conspiracy theories!
SK: Wrestling to fitness seems like a natural progression, at least more so than technology. A lot of wrestlers do fitness programmes. I think it is amazing because it's great for former wrestlers, great for up-and-coming wrestlers and it's great for fans of the wrestlers.
Do you feel like you had to get that information out there and try to make everyone a bit healthier?
SR: That's a great question because the fitness programs came out of the necessity of obviously being on the road, not having access to a gym all the time, being in a hotel room, flights were delayed. On a more profound scale, injuries where I couldn't have a barbell or a dumbbell and the momentum on my joint injuries or I had to modify, I had to lessen the weight but I still needed some type of dynamic resistance with what I was doing.
The bands have been a big part of my work out even if they're just an accessory, I would go barbell, dumbbell, machine and then finish off like 100 reps of curls with the bands or something. I would just do burnouts. They would always be a part of it but, as I get older, body weight and bands, and things that are more rehab specific have become a big part of it.
The thing about fitness that I don't like, and that I had to get out of my head, I couldn't do it because of all the injuries, I will explain why. Most people that you see doing the fitness videos, most people you see that do, "Hey, here is my fitness programme," they are showing off almost impossible things, right? It can be inspiring but it's also intimidating.
With mine, I even hate even flexing my muscles. I don't like not wearing sleeves outside of the occasional podcast interview. [Stevie shows his lack of sleeves]
I don't care about selling to the guy that looks like John Cena who can deadlift 600lbs. Like you just said, I want the wrestling fan who has never worked out before. I want the person that's afraid to go to the gym and needs to be by themselves - but have somebody help them along. I want the mum that just had a baby and can't be at the gym, I want a kid like you that works in front of the computer all day, 12-16 hour days, weird hours so, at 2am, you can't go to the gym, a video's rendering so you can get a 15 minutes workout in.
It's 15 bucks for 12 weeks, 25 bucks for 16 weeks and the videos are around $12.99. Plus you get direct email support from me so you're essentially getting online personal training along with these. You're getting full support.
I get so much heat from my accountant because he's like, "You made these prohibitively affordable, not prohibitively expensive." I said, "I hope it'll make up in volume." It's been two years and he goes, "You're not getting the volume." I'm like, "Yeah, there's people out there, it will come along, don't worry."
I really don't like the fitness industry as a whole for a lot of reasons I don't like the wrestling industry and even the tech industry. It has a self-serving, "We're going to talk above your head, we're going to talk down to you," there's a condescending tone and it's more about the person creating the content than the people that are consuming it.
When you're selling a product or a service, we have to take the gravity in the fitness industry that these people have literally put their lives in our hands and also when someone buys my programme, they might have tried six other programs and are one step away from giving up on life. That's the gravity I take with that.
I may be overreacting but I'd rather that than they email me, and I go, "I'll get back to them in a couple of days," and then I find out, "Holy God, the person was really reaching out for help." I take that very, very seriously.
NEXT: Stevie talks conspiracy theories!
SK: For me, I think that message is truly inspirational as well. I have one final question, so we're going to go from inspiring to conspiring.
I have one controversial question for you, Stevie - what is the best conspiracy theory you've ever heard?
SR: What's funny is, when you go into this and you examine it every week, and you talk, you have two guys like Papadon and myself who are Christian, Sal and Bin are atheists.
You think, in this day and age, how can you guys do two years of podcasting? Because we respect each other's opinions, we can be wrong, we can say the other person's right, we can agree to disagree... We would never say, "That's too crazy," because, at one time, we were people that were saying, "That's crazy, of course it was Lee Harvey Oswald who killed JFK." Then, "That's crazy, 9/11 was exactly what they told us it was."
Being professional wrestlers, having promoters lie to us, having people lie to us about how much money we've made, about this, about that, being deceived all the time, we have a natural inclination to look out for what we called "the work".
Here's what I put to a lot of people. This puts it into perspective. Politicians exist everywhere. Unfortunately. Here's what I say. "Do you trust the government?" "Of course not." Who's going to say they trust the government?
"Do you trust the government with your tax dollars?" "Oh, God, no." "Do you think politicians lie?" "All the time." "Do you think they are doing stuff that they are keeping secret from us?" "Absolutely." "Well, you're a conspiracy theorist." "No, I'm not."
That's the basis for everything - we do not believe anything we are told. "Do you believe everything you see on TV?" "No, news lies. I watch Fox News, they have one spin, I watch CNN, they have the exact opposite of everything else." "Okay, well, the mainstream media lies to you." "No, they don't."
It's a strange disconnect. They call it "cognitive dissonance", which is also like a trigger word, like "conspiracy theorist". We talk like we are in the locker room so it is kind of fun and it's goofing off anyway, and your ribbing each other, doing whatever, but all people here are like Alex Jones or probably on your side of the pond, David Icke. David Icke is a little bit more reserved. You think of Alex Jones - crazy, screaming, shirtless, running around.
Besides telling people to listening to the stuff I put out, I put out the Stevie Richards Broadcast with my own interviews of people. I would listen to the old [Joe] Rogan shows, they're interesting.
My most fun conspiracy theory to go into a rabbit hole about is the moon landing. Let me make it a little bit more fun for anybody who just rolls their eyes. The moon landing slash secret space programme. Either you debunk the moon landing are you call it a moon landing hoax or whatever, or you sit there and you're like, "Man."
There's a guy, Deep Thoughts Radio on YouTube. I don't know the guy but he does interesting longform black and white video-slash-podcasts on YouTube and he's really, really cool to listen to. Very Coast to Coast AM style.
That's what I'm trying to bring. I'm actually looking for a radio station to do that kind of stuff.
Dude, it's interesting no matter what. When people say, "Oh, how can you talk to this person? How can you do this? Just listen to somebody. It doesn't mean, at the end of the hour, they're going to have you brainwashed into thinking that Earth is flat or any of the stuff. Listen to somebody and say, "That's cool, but I don't believe in that." If they're a real rational person who likes to talk to somebody with different opinions, "That's cool, well, if you change your mind and talk again, we can come back and talk." That's the problem.
As a parody, I thought of coming out with "flat earth, flat abs" for a workout.
Don't so much think, "That's conspiracy," just listen to somebody. Especially with wrestling. AEW versus WWE, we can finish on a wrestling note on that, "Who cares?" If it's good, it's good. If it's bad, it's bad. It's bad, don't watch it.
If it's bad, subscribe to the WWE Network. I'm not saying this because I get a royalty, God knows I need one and I deserve one because I'm all over it.
If you want to relive that era of wrestling that you enjoyed, 10 bucks a month. I only go to things that I enjoy.
I saw that and I was like, "I'd like to be in a show with these guys." There are some who I've seen and I've been like... They are kind of just grilling me about questions like the Howard Stern style questions - you're talking to the wrong dude. I went to bed at 10 o'clock at night. I wanted to play video games.
And you can catch our interview with Chris Van Vliet that impressed Stevie Richards below.