The Respectful Side of Wrestling: Unexpected Friendships

Going Beyond The Broadcast

Photo Credit: WWE.

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

Photo Credit: Pro Wrestling Stories.

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.

"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.

Edge’s Endorsement

Photo Credit: WWE.

Tommy continues…

“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

Photo Credit: WWE.

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.

"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.

Stepping Into the Big Time

Photo Credit: WWE.

Sami continues…

"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

Photo Credit: Pro Wrestling Stories.

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.

"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

Photo Credit: WWE.

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, ***** the business. He always talks about the business. Sometimes it’s like, ‘Okay, let’s talk about something else!’

"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 **** storm, and sometimes you’ve gotta be the giver. He knows when it’s his turn."

5 – Eric Young on Jeremy Borash

Photo Credit: WWE.

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.”

Eric Young Speaks Highly of Jeremy Borash

Photo Credit: Pro Wrestling Stories.

“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.

"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

Photo Credit: WWE.

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.

RVD Pays Respect To NXT Training

Photo Credit: WWE.

"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 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."

Greg Valentine’s Defiant Act Behind The WWE Intercontinental Championship Belt

Greg Valentine on His Career and the Tragic Fate of His Destroyed IC Title
Photo Credit: WWE.

When Greg Valentine and Tito Santana met on July 6, 1985, in a steel cage in Baltimore, Maryland, Santana got the victory to reclaim the title. Valentine responded by retrieving the championship and destroying the belt, beating it repeatedly against the cage and tearing the gold away from the leather.

"I had to give the belt back to Tito after that angle," Valentine said. "And one day, when I saw him a few years ago, I asked whatever became of that belt, because Tito kept it after that angle. What he responded with broke my heart.”

Read: Greg Valentine on His Career and the Tragic Fate of His Destroyed IC Title

Owen Hart’s Death: What Really Happened, From Those There

RIP Owen Hart (1965-1999).

VINCE McMAHON: “Earlier that day, I was shocked and surprised by what Owen said.”

On May 23rd, 1999, the wrestling world mourned the loss of Owen Hart. People behind the scenes on this unthinkable day reflect on the tragedy, answering the all-important questions.

Learn more in Owen Hart’s Death: What Really Happened, From Those There

Mr Perfect Curt Hennig – A Great Life with an Unfortunate End

On camera, Curt Hennig was arrogant, and he backed up his Mr. Perfect persona brilliantly. However, outside of the ring, it was a different story. Here is the story of an extraordinary life with an unfortunate end.

On camera, Curt Hennig was arrogant, and he backed up his Mr. Perfect persona brilliantly. However, outside of the ring, it was a different story.

Learn the story of an extraordinary life with an unfortunate end.

Katie Vick – Behind WWE’s Most Shameful TV Segment

The Legend of Katie Vick, featuring Kane and Triple H.
Photo Credit: WWE.

Bruce Prichard: "Vince McMahon was like, ‘I love it! That’s perfect!’ I lost a couple of crew members because of this shoot that were highly offended at the subject matter."

In 2002, Katie Vick was introduced to the WWE audience. Many consider what followed one of the most tasteless segments in television history!

Learn more: Katie Vick: Behind WWE’s Most Shameful Storyline

The Andre the Giant Fight That Turned REAL in Japan!

When Andre the Giant and Akira Maeda met in the ring in May of '86, things did not go to plan!
When Andre the Giant and Akira Maeda met in the ring in May of ’86, things did not go to plan!

Andre the Giant showed up at the Japanese venue more inebriated than usual in May ’86. He was to face Akira Maeda, a wrestler building a reputation as someone hard to do business with. Together, there was a possibility for volatility, and much like a forest fire, it only took a spark!

Read: Andre the Giant and Akira Maeda Fight That Turned REAL in Japan

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