Any wrestling fan will tell you that one of the highlights of the WWE’s flagship program Monday Night Raw in 2012 featured the return of many of the iconic and legendary performers from decades past, each stepping into the ring week after week this summer to compete for one night only. With each passing week surprises in the form of Vader, Rikishi, Sid, Doink the Clown, even Cyndi Lauper and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, each made their way back into the spotlight in front of a frenzied live audience. And each week the returning legends would be successful against a relative up and comer named Heath Slater.
Dubbed “The One Man Band,” the ginger haired, fair skinned performer broke through the proverbial glass ceiling with a faction called The Nexus, a group of young, hungry wrestling rookies, new to the glitz and glamour of the WWE, but determined to make an impact. And since June of 2010, Slater has been up with the company’s main roster, breaking away from Nexus, joining and leaving a subsequent group called The Corre, until finally finding his own voice as the OMB, antagonizing hostile crowds with his penchant for horrid singing and arrogant in ring antics. More recently, Slater has teamed with the likes of Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal, now dubbing themselves “The 3MB” or Three Man Band, which with Slater as the leader, will only open up more avenues for his own personal success.
With the holidays approaching, December in New York City is about as good a time as any to be a fan of Slater’s or the WWE for that matter, as the company has several big local shows coming up. First off, this Monday night, the WWE returns to the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey for a live taping of Monday Night Raw. Sunday, December 16th, the WWE makes their debut at the brand new Barclays Center in Brooklyn for their annual TLC (Tables, Ladders, and Chairs) event, live on pay-per-view at 8pm and Thursday, December 27th, the WWE returns to Madison Square Garden for the now annual Raw brand Holiday show. Tickets for each of these events are available now. And if you can’t make it out to any of the shows, make sure to turn into NBC on Wednesday night, December 19th for the WWE’s ‘Tribute to the Troops’ special where the company pays homage to our soldiers in a primetime televised special.
LocalBozo.com was fortunate to grab a few minutes with ‘The One Man Band’ himself, Heath Slater. Listen in to our exclusive interview as we discuss his biggest influences backstage, the start of the ‘One Man Band’ persona, his thoughts on Ryback, working in New York City, and so much more.
- Jane Van Arsdale
The audio has been transcribed for your reading pleasure below.
LocalBozo.com: Heath, thanks so much for giving us some time today man.
Heath Slater: Oh, no problem man. Anytime. What’s up?
LocalBozo.com: Heath, we’re nearing the end of 2012 which has really been sort of a breakout year for you. Let’s talk first about the One Man Band persona and where that derived from.
HS: Where’d it come from? It came from an interview. It came from them asking me ‘what in the world do my friends think about me?’ And I told them I said you know ‘I’m a walking concert- I’m like the ‘one man band.’ And pretty much, they ran with that- from me telling them that my friends think that I’m a walking concert, something like a one man band. So as soon as I opened my mouth and those words came out I became Heath Slater, the One Man Rock Band.
LocalBozo.com: You’ve been a part of two of the most prominent factions in wrestling in recent years, first with Nexus and then with The Corre, but how fulfilling is it for you to have finally gotten out there and be successful on your own?
HS: It was great man, you know. Me going out there and performing by myself. I’d rather have it that way sometimes anyway because you don’t have to rely on anyone but yourself. But it was actually great and it led me into a role to wrestle against some guys like the legends that I did leading up to Raw 1000 and to me that was basically a dream come true. I mean guys that I watched growing up and now I’m watching them walk down to the ring to get in the ring with me to perform. It was actually a wonderful feeling.
LocalBozo.com: I’m glad you brought that up Heath. This past summer, the highlight of Monday Night Raw week after week was when you stood toe to toe with so many different WWE legends from the past. It was really exciting for long time fans to see who would show up the following week. Can you reflect upon that experience for you- what it was like, what you learned from it, and who you were most excited to have mixed it up with?
HS: Oh man, I was excited to get in there with every one of them if you want me to be honest. I mean it was just like opening up a present each week wondering who I’m gonna get in the ring with. First it was Vader, and then you know from Vader it went on to Cyndi Lauper and Roddy Piper doing an in ring interview. And then it went from Sid and Rikishi and Doink and DDP- I mean it was just one of those things where it kept getting better and better, one of those feelings where I felt like a kid again for a moment until I was laying on my back looking at the lights, almost knocked out. But other than that, it was one of those things where I can honestly say I’m probably the only WWE Superstar now that has ever been in the ring with guys like that so it’s a good little chip on my shoulder I guess you could say.
LocalBozo.com: Yeah I think it speaks volumes about how the company views you as well.
HS: Yeah I mean, it was great just being used, and going up against them and everything. Like you were saying like with Nexus- that was a great run. I mean we had fun, terrorizing everyone, tearing up rings, wrecking limos, beating the crap out of literally everyone and anyone that got in our way. And then going to Corre with me and Justin (Gabriel) as the Tag Champions and Wade (Barrett) as the [Intercontinental] Champion and ruling Smackdown! for a little bit. And when that broke up, that’s what you were talking about, going with the One Man Band gimmick and everything. It had a good run and everything, but now it became like one of those things where my singles career wasn’t working out too much at the moment. So now I got two other band members with Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal and everything so 3MB is actually kicking off and it’s getting noticed and it’s actually a great time.
LocalBozo.com: You’ve been one of the rising stars in the company over the past year. At this point in your young career, who’s been the biggest influence on you backstage, just as far as bringing you along to this point and helping you reach your current level of success?
HS: Backstage? Honestly, there’s been numerous people. Big Show’s helped me out a lot- showing me the ins and outs. [John] Cena’s been- every time you messed up a little bit, he would always correct you and help you out. Chris Jericho would always help me out a lot. He was a very good influence on me and everything. Christian, Edge- both of them would always see something- ‘try it this way, try it that way.’ They would always lead me in the right direction. The agents- Double A Arn Arnderson, he’s one of the best guys for information for helping you put together matches and everything, he’s awesome. Dean Malenko, Fit Finlay- they’re great. Road Dogg with the entertainment side- it’s like they got a good crew up there. They got guys up there with older guys helping the younger guys out and they got agents basically telling you ‘what’s right, what’s wrong, try this, try that, this is what they like, don’t do that.’ It’s like there’s a good group of guys up there and all it is is that they’re trying to help everyone.
LocalBozo.com: On a more local note, talk about what it’s been like for you to work here in New York City and to have wrestled at Madison Square Garden where the company will once again be running their now annual Raw brand holiday show on Thursday, December 27th.
HS: Man, the Garden is amazing. That was like the very first time Wrestlemania’s ever been held was at the Garden. And usually almost every ten years we go back. Every time you just see your name on the card for The Garden, you’re just like ‘oh man, this is gonna be a great show’ because the crowd is amazing. They’re always loud, they’re always into it. Just the arena and the history that it has behind it- just knowing who’s all been in there and performed before you and everything. I’ve been there three times already and the great thing about it is one time I got to even wrestle Bret Hart. So that was amazing. And Bret Hart had, you know, five star matches in that building and then me being in the ring with him was just like ‘wow, this is really happening to me. This is awesome.’ But every time you see your name on one of the Garden shows it’s one of those things where ‘Heck yeah. I’m going back to the Garden. This is amazing. This is awesome.’ And then, I remember one time- I flew into Washington. I guess it was about two years ago there was a huge blizzard coming that way. So me and Dr. [Christopher] Amann, he’s the Raw doctor. We had to get a car because no flights were going out from Washington to New York. So we had to get a car and drive from Washington to New York in a blizzard to where we’re driving and the windshield is freezing up to where- you know how whenever the windshield wiper gets ice on it, you’d try to put your hand out and flip the windshield wiper to break the ice? Dr. Amann tried that and next thing you know, he pulls the windshield wiper off and we don’t have a windshield wiper on the driver’s side driving in a blizzard where we’re going literally maybe 35 miles per hour all the way to New York City. And by the time I made it to the Garden, it was literally snow up to my knees and me trying to pull my bags into the Garden and then when I finally got in, I even missed my match. So basically all that traveling in the biggest snowstorm I think I’ve ever been in in my life through the conditions that we were in with no windshield wiper or anything. It was just one of those stories about New York that I’ll have to tell to everyone and it’s actually pretty funny because there’s more to it but I don’t want to keep you longer.
LocalBozo.com: Whatever it takes to get there I guess right?
HS: That’s exactly how it is in this business. You gotta be at the shows. You gotta make it. You gotta be there- like you said, whatever it takes.
LocalBozo.com: Now the end of the year is always an exciting time for the WWE for its fans. You’ve got the yearly Tribute to the Troops special airing on NBC on Wednesday, December 19th at 9pm. But on a more local level the company makes their first trip to the brand new Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Sunday, December 16th for the TLC pay-per-view event- Tables, Ladders, and Chairs. The aforementioned show at the Garden of course. You’ve got Raw on Monday, December 10th at Newark. And of course January starts the road to Wrestlemania, which is also coming to the tri-state area which is just across the pond at Metlife Stadium on April 7th in New Jersey. What is this time of year like for guys working in the company?
HS: Honestly, it’s the busiest time of the year, if you want me to be honest. It’s stressful and everything but then again, you signed up for a job, you know what’s ahead of you- you just have to suck it up and go through it. Like you said, Tribute for the Troops is December 19th. It’s gonna be on [NBC] at 9pm. We love doing the shows for the troops. For everything that they’ve ever done for us and all that, like going over to Afghanistan and fighting for the country and everything, this is the least that we could do is go out there and perform while they sit back kick their feet up and just have a good time of being entertained. And then like you said, December 16th Brooklyn, New York, TLC, I mean, that’s one of the best pay-per-views that we got. Tables, Ladders, and Chairs. Who doesn’t want to go and see someone get hit by a table, get thrown off a ladder, and get put through a chair? I mean, everyone wants to see that, am I right? Even December 10th in Newark, New Jersey, there’s [Monday Night] Raw television, you know? So it’s busy and it’s gonna stay busy for a few months for us. But then again it’s like, we know what we signed up for and we know there’s a bunch of fans out there buying tickets that’s ready to see a good show and we’re gonna give it to them like we always do.
LocalBozo.com: Awesome Heath, before I let you go- the biggest story of the second half of 2012 has to be the emergence of Ryback as a top level superstar. Give us your thoughts if you can on his lightning fast ascension.
HS: Honestly his work speaks for itself. That’s all you can really say. Just one of those guys where there’s no one that can stop him. Period. As you can see he can take on more than just one guy- he can take on two, he can even take on three at once. But then again, you got a guy like C.M. Punk that’s been WWE Champion for over a year now and you have one of the top rising guys like Ryback right on his trails. To me, TLC is going to be a great pay-per-view to watch because you’ve got Ryback versus C.M. Punk and I don’t know if C.M. Punk’s gonna keep the WWE Title that much longer if you want me to be honest. [Editor's Note: Since we conducted our interview, C.M. Punk sufferred an injury and the main event has been changed] And Ryback’s just like a wrecking machine, he’s like a terminator. And I don’t know if he can really be stopped. So to me, it’s gonna be a great pay-per-view to watch, great pay-per-view to purchase, to see. And the only thing I can say is, you guys should just sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride because it’s probably gonna be one match you’d probably love to watch.
LocalBozo.com: Heath, you’ve been so gracious with your time today. Is there anything else you’d like to leave for the readers of LocalBozo.com?
HS: Just remember 3MB’s on the rise. You’re gonna love our music and what we do in the ring. (laughs)