What We Learned From: Chris Masters On Insight With Chris Van Vliet

Chris Masters recently appeared on Chris Van Vliet’s podcast Insight. in the episode, the they discussed The Masterpiece’s time in WWE and if he has always been in great shape. They also discuss Bobby Lashley now using his old finisher and much more. The most notable points can be found below:

On working with NWA:

“It’s been a lot of fun. It’s been good to get back to work and it’s been good to work for a company like NWA. I’ve been watching them over the past few years, I love the whole idea of what they are doing. It’s got an old school feel to it, the studio wrestling feel. I’m a fan of the storytelling of that era and everything that it represented. I like what we are doing collectively in the mindset of NWA.”

On his appreciation for NWA:

“That’s the wrestling I grew up on. I know that wrestling has evolved over the years, but I think that there are some things that should still stay the same. You know the selling, the storytelling and all that stuff. It’s not to say I don’t love the new stuff too. These guys are doing stuff and high spots that we thought we would never see. When you watch NWA, the guys don’t look contemporary to me.”

On if he has always been in great physical shape:

“I was really skinny growing up. I was as thin as a rail. My mom would call me the number one, because I was so skinny. I started working out when I was like 15 years old. Once I decided I wanted to become a pro wrestler, it seemed like a logical step. So that was my start in to working out. I had a first period gym class in the 10th grade and I did nothing in it. It was a short time after that, with wrestling being my number 1 love, I decided I really wanted to pursue it. Working out became the next step and I started doing it obsessively. I’ve got to thank my mom and dad for those genetics. The genetics determine the potential what size and build you’re gonna have. I’ve always been a tall guy growing up, luckily I had broad shoulders too, which helps the look.”

On early fandom and early days in wrestling:

“It blows my mind. I was the biggest fan you could ever imagine. When I first got called up to WWE and I was sharing the locker room with all the guys I grew up watching, it was so intimidating. As a wrestling fan, I wanted to meet everybody. HBK was my favourite, but I respected everybody. I just thought the world of professional wrestling. Me and my buddy used to sneak backstage at WWE house shows. That was where I got most of my pictures from. We would try to be as inconspicuous as possible. We eventually smartened up and stopped wearing wrestling shirts, so they wouldn’t identify us right away. I joked with Dave Hebner about it all the time, because Dave would always find us and kick us out. When I eventually was employed with WWE and I saw Dave, I reminded him of it. We would do everything in our power to avoid him.”

On how Chris snuck into WWE shows:

“We bought tickets to the show and my buddy found a service elevator. The elevator would take you right to the backstage parking lot. At first we would just go backstage, and I would remember seeing Bret and Shawn within 5 feet of each other. I couldn’t believe it. I was sprinting to meet them, but in my head I thought these guys hate each other [in storyline]. We kept getting kicked out so instead we would hang around the parking lot. We met a ton of people. I think I have a picture with Vince McMahon somewhere.”

On comparisons to wrestling legends:

“I think especially at that time compared to now. I think I reminded Vince of Paul Orndorff. I reminded Vince a lot of Mr Wonderful. They had me watching a lot of him and working with Paul on the weekend of WrestleMania 21.”

On his dedication to his craft:

“I was doing the schedule of school from 8-3 then working from 4-9. I needed to make money for all this stuff because we didn’t have a lot of money. I would go to the gym from 10pm until midnight. I didn’t make time for homework and missing days, so school suffered. I was spread very thin. I was working in a smoothie shop, Hollywood Smoothies. I then went to Jamba Juice, where I got promoted. I eventually worked as a trainer and worked at Muscle Mag International. That was where I got signed as a pro wrestler.”

On injuries early on in his career:

“I started training at 16, but I fractured my ankle. So I just spent a couple of years focusing on maturing and weight training. I came back pretty much immediately. I came back in great shape. I was going to UPW in California, which is like the west coast territory for WWE [Chris mentions this was where John Cena was discovered]. I think Cena started the same day as me. We trained a few months and I ended up needing surgery on my ankle. When I came back Cena went onto OVW and then to WWE. I was just a couple of years behind him. I was 18 when I came back, started training and got signed by the time I was 19. It happened real quick.”

On achieving his dreams:

“Obviously I would have liked to do a lot more in the business. But it’s fun to hear people that I grew up with say to me ‘you did exactly what you said you were going to.’ It’s great, especially when it’s your dream. That’s the kind of stuff that inspired people.”

On having to go to rehab:

“I had to go to rehab in my first WWE run. When I came out of rehab, I was lighter. Everyone thought I was on steroids, but it wasn’t. I had a prescription pill issue, which a lot of people have had in the business. When I was in rehab, I would wake up every morning and I would go on this 2 mile run. But for someone like me to do something like that, it was for my sanity. By the time I left I had lost 15-20 lbs. I came back slimmer, and I hadn’t really thought about it [the weight loss]. Because I was in rehab I had much deeper issues. When I came back to WWE, I heard a little bit of chatter. Then I felt some pressure to put on 10lbs and eat a little more. The reaction was enough.”

On people thinking he had a steroid addiction:

“I can’t fault people for that. If I was a casual viewer who didn’t see these interviews, that’s what you would assume. You know go to rehab it’s for steroids and he comes back lighter.”

On what pills he was taking and why he needed them:

“Just opiates in general. You hear a lot about this because of Hollywood and pro wrestling. The beautiful thing is when you look at the business now, they really have done a good job of washing that part. We have turned the page on that. For me it was opiates and muscle relaxants. I got injured, my eardrum got ruptured, I remember I was in tremendous pain from it. I had to go into ER because my ear was ringing, I couldn’t sleep. The doctor wrote me a prescription for painkillers. Just various instances of injuries and you take them, it comes more of a dependency. I had unlimited access to it and I was making a lot of money. It spiralled and became a big issue to me. It happened over time, I have an addictive personality. It took control of me for a good time there. But I feel very lucky that I survived. I was taking numbers so astronomical that I shouldn’t be here.”

On when he realized he had a problem:

“It took a while, because WWE had an intervention with me. It wasn’t really until I got released. I remember being in Europe for an independent tour, I had this moment where I looked in the mirror looked at everything I had lost, where it got potentially derailed, I think that was my moment. This was after going to rehab. You can go into rehab as an addict, but you have to believe in yourself. Rehab doesn’t work for everyone, because people going in are forced to or they didn’t accept that they had a problem. Sometimes you got to lose to have that moment.”

On injuring Stevie Richards in his debut match:

“I think I realized right away, because it was a miscue big time. I was aiming for the top of the chest, and I hit him right in the face. It was just awful, and the only time I have ever injured anyone. Stevie was angry backstage, and rightfully so. I think I just knew right away that I probably hurt him. It was a tough day all around. I got food poisoning the day before. Not that it has anything to do with it, but it was a rough day. I couldn’t hold down a drop of water. On top of it I try to muster the energy for this big debut. I psych myself out and end up nailing him in the face with this Polish Hammer. It sucked, I apologise to him to this day. I hold it as a badge of honor that to this day, that’s been the only injury I’ve personally caused.”

On if he considered not competing that night:

“It’s your debut. Anybody who loves wrestling, just imagine. You just know you have to do it. All I could keep down was a little bit of ginger tea. Pro wrestling is not like other things. No matter what you’ve got to get yourself out there and do it. The vignettes had been running for weeks and WWE circled that day. There was no way around it.”

On possible missed title opportunities:

Image Credit: Instagram

“I think early on. I was considered for a lot of stuff. I was supposed to win the Intercontinental Title but then the intervention happened, so it didn’t happen. I was supposed to win the Tag Titles with Carlito on the WrestleMania where we worked Big Show and Kane. But that got switched the day of, because of a change of plans, which happens. That’s one thing you learn about wrestling, you don’t count your chickens before they hatch. Before something actually happens, you don’t count on it. There was a pre-taped shot with Vince and me where Vince alluded to me being the youngest WWE Champion of all time. This was even after Randy had won it. I know they were considering Cena and me for an angle. I think probably looking back, if anything I think Cena might have shot that down. I don’t think Cena was too happy working with me around that time. [Chris asks why] I could have good matches with HBK, but I felt Cena thought he had to lead me. It’s probably because I was new and stuff like that. It was just a little bit more difficult ring chemistry wise. I don’t even know that for sure. But I was working a lot with Shawn Michaels and I was working a lot with John Cena in the house shows. Shawn was an easier match, but how many years experience did he have. As over as John was, we both started at the same time. I think the lack of experience was the big thing.”

On his return to WWE not being as big of a deal as his first run:

“Absolutely. I came back and I was on RAW initially, but I spent a lot of time on Superstars. It’s a far different getting a push and not getting a push. That was the difference, but that motivated me to be the best in ring worker I could become.”

On a possible WWE Return:

“I’ve been out of the company since 2011. I’d love to come back for a Royal Rumble or something like that. [Chris asks if WWE have been in touch with him] No, I mean you never say never. I feel like they could potentially reach out again at some point. But I’m kind of at the point where at this point I feel like I have been exiled to a certain point. We’ve seen it happen in the past. Like I said, never say never, they could reach out to me for something. I’ve just kind of taken it off my list of goals at this point. I’m focusing on the NWA and my education. It would be an exciting thing, but when you haven’t been reached out to in that period of time, it feels like that’s it.”

On Bobby Lashley now using his old finisher:

“I’ve talked to MVP about this. It only makes sense. If anybody is going to use the full Nelson, the guy who broke it and a guy who is a physical force like Bobby Lashley. It only makes sense. It’s funny when he first started using it. All the mentions of people saying ‘That’s The Master Lock, not The Hurt Lock.’ I’d be lying if I didn’t say it didn’t create an opportunity, even if it was small. You know, whose got the best Full Nelson in professional wrestling. But it has been 10 years, and finishers are recycled in less time than that. But for no one to use the Full Nelson for 10 years. But yeah Master Lock vs. Hurt Lock, that makes sense.”

On what he is grateful for:

“My health, the opportunity of NWA and the drive I have to do all these various things.”

Featured Image Credit: WWE

Chris Masters can be found on Instagram here and Twitter here.

For more podcast recaps, click here.

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