Joey Styles loses his virginity...well sort of
Heading into WrestleMania it appeared as though RAW broadcaster Joey Styles would have to wait another year before he could make his WrestleMania debut. Styles was prepared to put his lifelong dream on hold, but just a few days before the Granddaddy of them all, Styles received the news that he would be calling a match at WrestleMania after all. And it's only fitting that it was the Hardcore Match between Mick Foley and Edge. WWE.com caught up with Styles to get his thoughts on WrestleMania, achieving his life-long dream, ECW One Night Stand and much more.
WWE.com: How did it feel to break your WrestleMania virginity (as you would say)?
Joey Styles: Losing my WrestleMania virginity was the culmination of my lifelong dream. And happily for me it lasted longer than when I lost my actual virginity. Most likely, the first ring introduction lasted longer than when I lost my actual virginity. But seriously, I do have to thank WWE for letting me call the Hardcore Match when I originally wasn't going to do anything at WrestleMania. It was also very special to me because for all intents and purposes it was an ECW-style match. And it made it even more special to me to have Jim Ross introduce me. It meant the world to me he said that I deserved to be there. I don't think there can be a higher compliment, because J.R. is the best.
WWE.com: Were you nervous?
Joey Styles: I wasn't nervous. At this point I don't get nervous, but I do get very excited. If you saw me before the match you'd think I was going to go wrestle. I was beside Mick Foley jumping up and down, getting warmed up. In fact, I went to the ring during the video package recapping the Edge vs. Foley rivalry. I had my head down and was charging to the ring. It must have looked like I was going to compete in the ring. It was the fastest 20 minutes of my life. It was a thrill I'll never forget. And it was also very interesting for me because I've never called just one match on a show before. It took a tremendous amount of pressure off of me. It gave me the opportunity to prep for only one match in the new WWE story-telling style I'm trying to master. I've gone back and watched the match probably three times now, and I think I was story-telling, and not doing play-by-play, which is what WWE wants from me. Overall I think it was the perfect way to make my WrestleMania debut. I think it was better for me to call just one match so I could put all of my focus into that match. And for the hardcore wrestling fans, and for the ECW fans, they probably felt it was the best match of the night.
WWE.com: How did it come about that you would call a WrestleMania match? The last time we talked to you, it was decided that J.R. would call ALL the RAW matches.
Joey Styles: I wasn't expecting to be a part of the show at all. A week before WrestleMania, at RAW, I had the opportunity to speak with the Powers That Be. Being desperate to stay on the show, because it was my dream, I just threw out the idea to call the Hardcore Match, because it was basically an ECW match. I was told it was an interesting idea, and that was the end of it. I thought it was just a polite way to end our meeting. I thought nothing of it and never expected they'd like the idea. I was only expecting to make autograph appearances WrestleMania weekend. Then, Wednesday night I got the call that I was going to call the Hardcore Match. I think it was very generous of them, and I truly appreciate that the decision was made to let me achieve my life-long dream of appearing at WrestleMania. I am very, very grateful. After that I wasn't able to sleep all night. I felt like a little kid approaching Christmas morning. And certainly, Saturday night before WrestleMania, I couldn't sleep at all.
WWE.com: You've said that calling WrestleMania was a lifelong dream of yours. Now that that's done, where do you go from here? Any future goals?
Joey Styles: My wife and I spoke the next morning, and jokingly we said I should retire from professional altogether because what else is there after WrestleMania? But since WWE has been kind enough to relocate me and my family back to Connecticut, that probably wouldn't be too nice. I think what I'm most excited about is being involved with all of the new media -- being involved with the video on your cell phones, the on-demand channel WWE 24/7, new programming on WWE.com -- I think I'm as excited as a marketer, which is what I am at heart, about the new media as I am about being on RAW.
WWE.com: Looking back, how do you think you did?
Joey Styles: I could not have been happier with the entire WrestleMania experience. And right now I'm also happy to be on my way back to Connecticut because I look forward to being in the studio working on projects for WWE.com.
WWE.com: Are you looking forward to the upcoming ECW pay-per-view?
Joey Styles: I'll be honest. The ECW pay-per-view, whether we only do it one more time or it becomes an annual pay-per-view, will always mean as much to me and everyone else that was involved in ECW as much as WrestleMania does. I know people who never worked for ECW can't understand that, but there's a very special bond between all of us who worked at ECW. To have that ECW pay-per-view, even just once a year is so special to us that it's like a second WrestleMania for us.
WWE.com: What did you think of last year's event?
Joey Styles: I thought last year's event was wonderful. I especially liked that I didn't know what to expect when I got to the Hammerstein Ballroom. I think Tommy Dreamer was responsible for a lot of it. ECW was completely replicate -- from the size of the ring, to the color of the banners, to the entrance, to our announce table -- everything was authentic. I felt like I was working for ECW with the exception being that we never had catering, and the catering at One Night Stand was exquisite. The only crime was that a cheese plate that good really screamed for a wine list, so maybe I'll bring my own this June.
WWE.com: Do you think this year will be able to be just as authentic as last year's One Night Stand?
Joey Styles: There was some fantastic ECW talent that was not utilized in the ring last year such as Dean Malenko and Al Snow. Also, I think we spent a lot of time last year on the WWE invasion angle. In terms of both the in-ring confrontation and in terms of the interviews that went on. Obviously there will be some WWE presence at One Night Stand because what the ECW fans want to see is the underdog ECW battling against WWE. So, if we're going to do it, let's just do it in the ring, and not waste time on an ECW pay-per-view talking. That's not what ECW was about. ECW was not about telling stories. ECW was about hardcore wrestling. And I don't necessarily mean weapons. The match you saw between Mick Foley and Edge at WrestleMania wasn't a hardcore match, it was an extreme match. Hardcore wrestling, to ECW fans, also meant Dean Malenko vs. the late Eddie Guerrero for 2 out of 3 falls. It meant the introduction of lucha libre in America featuring Rey Mysterio. The true definition of hardcore wrestling is no limits on what the performers can do in the ring and no time wasted talking. Whatever story there is to be told develops and unfolds in the ring. Or, in some cases, in the aisles, in the crowds, in the parking lot, in the streets surrounding the arena.
WWE.com: You mentioned ECW wasn't about talking. A lot of people think RVD's interview last year opened a lot of eyes as to what he may be capable of. Especially after winning Money in the Bank at WrestleMania 22, what do you think of the direction RVD's career is headed?
Joey Styles: I think it is one of the injustices in sports-entertainment that Rob Van Dam has never been the WWE or World Heavyweight Champion. I think he is the greatest athlete never to hold a World Championship in this great industry. And nothing would make Rob, myself and ECW fans all over the globe happier than to see Rob capture that championship. And as far as Rob Van Dam opening people's eyes at the first ECW pay-per-view with his promo, Rob is at his best when he is speaking from his heart. Fans are used to seeing wrestlers angry and threatening. Rob Van Dam is perfect living in southern California. He is very laid back. He is very nonchalant. It's not that he's not intense. But he believes deep down that no one can beat him because he's that athletically gifted. So, he is nonchalant because he believes that he can't lose. I think it's a different kind of interview-style that people aren't used to. But when he really hits on a subject that he feels strongly about, like last year at One Night Stand, he is able to express his beliefs very clearly, forcefully and passionately. And the bottom line is, when the bell rings, I don't think there's anyone more exciting to watch than Rob Van Dam because he can do things athletically that nobody else can do. It wouldn't' surprise me if he has even more things he can do that he's saving for a special occasion.