The Respectful Side of Wrestling: Unexpected Friendships

Respect in wrestling goes way deeper than storytelling, athleticism, and showmanship. There’s a special exchange of respect in that ring and behind that curtain when it becomes warranted. Through earning one’s stripes, giving back to the industry, and delivering that once-in-a-lifetime performance, there comes a relationship where respect is the foundation.

When certain names were brought up during my interviews for Journey of a Frontman, I got to witness the elation as these athletes shared stories and fond memories of their comrades. Their eyes lit up when they had the platform to talk about how much these individuals meant to them.

These stories of respect and friendship in wrestling go much beyond what is shown on TV.

1. Tommy Dreamer on Edge

Tommy Dreamer: "Having Edge at my show was important to me because he’s one of my closest friends, and it was his first event after leaving WWE. And what impressed me the most was him watching the show, helping guys, and talking to them.

Respect in Wrestling TOMMY DREAMER and EDGE dressed in street clothes. Tommy's holding a piece of bamboo over Edge's chest
Tommy Dreamer with Edge

"He got so swept up in how good the show was. He wanted to go out there and talk about the show, as well as myself.

“He wanted to go out there and just cut a little promo for the fans, which he’s never done outside WWE. He really put over the Young Bucks and Paul London and Brian Kendrick for tag team wrestling. He put me over for really, really caring about the business.

"Him endorsing the product gives you a nice stamp of approval and validation."

2. Sami Zayn on Cesaro/Claudio Castagnoli

Sami Zayn: "I think it’s very admirable on his part [that Cesaro/Claudio Castagnoli wrestled in both NXT and on the main roster]. It sends a message, and it was actually a smart thing to do in the end.

Sami Zayn and Cesaro/Claudio Castagnoli embrace after their match at NXT Arrival, February 27, 2014.
Sami Zayn and Cesaro/Claudio Castagnoli embrace after their match at NXT Arrival, February 27, 2014.

"I think it opened some eyes because, to be honest, around the time before we had the first 2 out of 3 falls match, I don’t think the powers that be in the WWE really saw what kind of intensity this guy can bring or just how good he actually is.

“In a way, wanting to come and compete in NXT shows his desire to compete and be great because he is great.

"It also enabled him to get a bigger opportunity in a smaller setting, he was given more time and freedom, and he was given a bigger spotlight.

“Yes, it was on a much smaller scale, but he gave him a bigger platform to do his thing. He did his thing, and it opened a lot of eyes.

"Obviously, that match was huge for me and opening a lot of eyes to me, but I like to think it also did a lot for him.

“Triple H was watching that match, and I know for a fact that he pulled him aside afterward, and he also said, ‘That’s the guy I wanna see on Monday nights. That’s the guy. That was awesome. I want more of that.’

"They were way more aware of what his capabilities were after that, which is great. I think it did quite a bit for him. I hope it did a lot for him. It certainly did a lot for me."

3. Kevin Owens on Juice Robinson

Kevin Owens and Juice Robinson take a selfie on an airplane
Kevin Owens with Juice Robinson

Kevin Owens: "[Juice Robinson] is probably the best guy we [had] here that [wasn’t] prominently featured on NXT, for whatever reason.

“He’s one of those kinds of people that no matter where they are or what they’re doing, they’re gonna find a way to make it work and shine. Eventually, he’ll have his time.

YouTube video

"Our match was ten minutes or so, and he made the best of it. He broke my nose two minutes in.

“A lot of people had a lot of things to say about him breaking my nose, but in a way, he made a huge statement.

“I think [Juice Robinson] is a big part of the future. He’s as good as anybody I’ve ever been in the ring with, in all honesty."

4. Ken Anderson on Drake Maverick

Ken Anderson: "[Drake Maverick] is one of my favorite guys right now. He’s so passionate about the business.

“The guy knows more about the business than just about anybody I know except for Tommy Dreamer; that’s a shoot. He still lives, breathes, eats, shits the business. He always talks about the business. Sometimes it’s like, ‘Okay, let’s talk about something else!’

Ken Anderson and Drake Maverick (then known as Rockstar Spud) in the ring.
Ken Anderson and Drake Maverick (then known as Rockstar Spud) in the ring.

"And he gets it. He gets the fact that we’re telling the story of good versus evil. Sometimes you’ve gotta be the receiver of the shitstorm, and sometimes you’ve gotta be the giver. He knows when it’s his turn."

5. Eric Young on Jeremy Borash

Eric Young: "Jeremy Borash is probably one of the most talented people I’ve ever met. He can be an in-ring announcer. He’s just as good as Michael Buffer or any of those guys. He could be a commentator if he wanted.

“His knowledge of wrestling is vast. He’s been a wrestling fan since he was twelve. He’s watched everything. You name it; he’s watched it. He knows it, and he remembers all of it.

Eric Young being interviewed by Jeremy Borash.
Eric Young and Jeremy Borash

"Back in the early days when we were at the fairgrounds in Nashville, he would do the interviews and in-ring announcing. Then we’d all head to the bars, he’d go home and open up his laptop and taught himself how to edit. A lot of the early packages, the early stuff that you saw on pay-per-view and stuff- that was him. He did it all."

6. Rob Van Dam on NXT

RVD: "It was a good experience to see WWE’s farming territory. There was a lot of talent there, a lot of students. I was impressed with how many students they have, and I was impressed with the production down there in Orlando for NXT.

“They have so many Divas, so many up-and-coming wrestlers, and they’re all at a level where they need to learn and get the experience. And they all have hopes of wrestling in WWE. And I also knew that most of the wrestlers in WWE have come through NXT.

Rob Van Dam in a Tshirt showing off his muscles with thumbs pointing to himself
RVD shares praise for WWE NXT.

"It’s a good thing, these guys are wrestling four years, and it comes across like they’ve been wrestling for ten years. It must be a combination of things, one of them being that NXT must be a damn good training center.

"Also, a lot of the wrestlers are second-generation wrestlers. They grew up in the business. And when I say a lot, I mean a lot.

“I counted seventeen families off the top of my head, and I used to work with their parents. That has a lot to do with what makes the caliber of a good wrestler. It’s come such a long way from my first run in WWE years ago."

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Alex is a contributor for Pro Wrestling Stories as well as a writer, interviewer, and podcaster for