On Monday (Jan. 6), WWE will presenting an old school version of “RAW,” featuring many names from the company’s history, who will join forces with current stars for a unique show. The arena is given a retro look, the ring looks like it’s right out of the early ’90s, and it’s a night where everyone gets to have just a little bit more fun.
One of those taking part in the show is Brian James, better known to wrestling fans as Road Dogg, one half of the New Age Outlaws tag team. Zap2it had the chance to chat with Road Dogg about catching up with old friends in the wrestling business, what to expect from the show and who he thinks is going to go far in the “Royal Rumble,” among other topics.
Zap2it: The old school “WWE RAW” concept is almost becoming an annual event at this point. With all these old names coming back, is it like a family reunion atmosphere backstage?
Road Dogg: We actually talked about that on the drive over. We just arrived at the venue and we talked about how it would be really good to see some of the old faces around. We call it a “Brother, brother” meeting, like “Hey brother, how’ve you been? How’s your family?” It’s exactly like a family reunion because that’s what we are, a tight-knit family of knuckleheads.
You and Billy Gun are advertised to appear together as the New Age Outlaws. At this point, do you know what your role in the show is? Should fans be looking forward to seeing you in a match?
I do not know. You show up and suit up and do whatever you’re told. As I said, we just got to the venue. I’m not sure what we’re going to do, you know. But we’re bringing it back. The Outlaws will ride again. We’ll see what they’re going to have us do and then we’ll go out there and rock it.
It would be pretty strange if you two weren’t on the show because you’re part of some of the most memorable moments in “RAW’s” history. The one that immediately jumps to mind is D-Generation X invading “WCW Nitro,” which is one of the craziest things wrestling fans have seen play out on TV.
It was pretty crazy to us too, in the moment. It was one of those things, like today, where you suit up and show up and they say we’re going down the street to invade their arena. You never know, we may invade somewhere tonight.
Outside of that, are there any special “RAW” moments, whether you were involved in them or not, that stand out to you?
Truth be told, and I guess it’s egotistical of me, most of them I do remember had to do with Billy and myself. I remember where we had to push Cactus Jack [Mick Foley] and Terry Funk off of the stage in a dumpster. I remember that vividly because then all the boys had to come out and beat us up and John Bradshaw was punching me in the head.
I mean, how many episodes of “RAW” have there been and how many memorable moments have there been? It’s hard to pinpoint any special ones, but I guarantee you after tonight there will be one more.
You and Billy are definitely one of the top tag teams in WWE history, and you were there at a time when tag team wrestling was one of the main attractions of the show. However, there was a period of time after your run where it looked like the tag team division wasn’t going to be a featured part of WWE TV. Now there are several really strong teams that are making tag team wrestling something people are looking forward to again. Can that division play as important a role on the show as it used to?
I think we have seen new life in the tag division and I think it’s important to have that. As far back as you can remember, from the Four Horseman, the Rock and Roll Express, the Midnight Express … there have always been prominent tag teams in the wrestling business. I think it’s important and I think it was missed when we went away from that strong tag team division.
I’m glad that we’re back with tag team action again, and I’d like to think I played a little part in that because it’s my love. I love tag team wrestling. The tag division now is stronger than it’s been in a decade and that’s a cool thing for a guy like me to see.
These days you’ve moved into a position backstage, rather than as a full-time wrestler, right?
Yeah, I work behind-the-scenes. It’s a little easier on my lower back, that’s for sure, but it’s a little more difficult inside my head because I have to use my brain power, which is not something I’m used to doing. It’s really cool to still be able to add something to the product, no matter how little it is. I’m excited about my role and as you get older any way you can keep your foot in the water in professional wrestling is a cool thing, so I’m happy and blessed to be able to do it.
Since you’re on the road with WWE, you’d know better than most that 2013 was a big year for the introducing new talent and beginning to kick off what will become the next generation of wrestling in the company. Is there anyone that stands out to you and makes you think “This could be the guy” in the future?
A few guys really came through in 2013. Members of The Shield, [Antonio] Cesaro, [Jack] Swagger, some of those guys are really stepping up their game. And Goldust is back, he’s an oldie but a goody and man is he on fire. I think these guys we saw step up in 2013 are going to go up even further in 2014, but we’ve got more guys coming up from out developmental center in Orlando, NXT. There’s a ton of great talent down there and they’re all just champing at the bit to get on the national stage.
Speaking of Goldust, watching him come back has actually been very special. What seemed like it would be a one-off appearance is quickly becoming some of the best work of his entire career.
We all agree. Everybody on this side of the camera and the performers in the ring think Dustin [Runnels] is bringing something now that we don’t even know if he brought in his heyday. So to say yesteryear is his heyday is almost disingenuous, because he’s really rocking the boat and representing for all of us old guys. It’s old school “RAW” every week that he’s on.
Lastly, the “Royal Rumble” is coming up shortly. Do you have a favorite in mind that you think might go the distance?
I gotta’ be honest with you … Roman Reigns is a standout star. I’m not a betting man, but if I was I’d put my money on Roman Reigns.
All three of those guys in The Shield seem to be on fire.
Incredible. Dean Ambrose on the microphone and Seth Rollins with just his athletic execution of his stuff in the ring, it’s just incredible. The three of them, they’ve taken the wrestling world by storm and it couldn’t happen to three better guys either. They’re really good guys and and so talented, it’s just fun to watch them grow.