Johnny Rodz Interview Highlights: Thoughts on Vince McMahon, Roddy Piper, Working In Japan & More
By Mick Robson
Piers Austin spoke to Johnny Rodz, WWE Hall of Famer and notable trainer of many top stars, including Taz, Tommy Dreamer & The Dudleys, on Shooting The Shit Uncensored.
Interview Link: https://youtu.be/3vwRCS_FQ0k
Here are some highlights:
- Piers introduces Johnny in a very respectful manner, noting that he's excited to have him on the show.
-Johnny talks about moving to New York from Puerto Rico and not attending school until he was 12 years old. "It was like a different world altogether."
- He grew up poor- "we were like hillbillies".
- He did boxing, judo, jujitsu and wrestling before joining the pro ranks.
- Rodz recalls training SD Jones 59 years ago at Gleason's Gym. Jones was Rodz first student in his makeshift basement gym.
- His ring name came from shortening his real last name (Rodriguez) and the "Unpredictable" moniker came from Vince McMahon Jr during his announcing days.
-Rodz' experience in Japan- Vince McMahon Sr sent him there. It was a great place where he learnt great lessons, but missed his family. He made the trip 5 times in total.
- He talks about the travel and the sacrifices involved in wrestling- it makes anyone in the business tough, "no Mickey Mouse stuff".
- Health issues- Rodz says "I'm still here" after the hard road life, his generation weren't "babies". That said, he had a triple bypass and is set to get a pacemaker put in shortly.
-Rodz was always about combat sports over basketball, baseball etc (kindred spirit!)
-The SD (Special Delivery) Jones name came about when Gorilla Monsoon was stuck on a ring name and Johnny said, "I just brought him to you, special delivery."
- Passion and being a true fan of the business are more important tools to make it in wrestling over being 6'6"/6'7" and having the right "look".
-Working with Billy Robinson- they had a 15 minute match at the Garden where Billy went over. Vince wasn't a fan of the shoot style, it didn't get over with the audience so Robinson was sent home, not to be used again.
- Rodz isn't a shooter but could handle himself. He's there to perform for the fans, not to "play games".
-Johnny made the green WWF Championship belt that Hulk Hogan beat The Iron Sheik for. Rodz had a jewellery shop at the time and made it there.
-On his former student Vito wearing a dress in WWE. He says he would never do that, and he would take his boots off and go home. Vito went to Gleason's Gym in the dress and Johnny calls him a mark for it. Makes comparison to Gorgeous George and says Vito never got over in that gimmick.
-Vince Sr was "a gentleman and a scholar". Vince Jr "isn't the same character" and is more about the promotion and explosions etc. Says that Vince Jr "couldn't care less about the people in his territory.
- His influence- his impact will be felt for a long time to come, from his history as a wrestler to the new people coming out of Gleason's Gym to this day.
-We finish with a fun bit where Johnny guesses Aussie slang words. He does terribly but it's a good laugh.
Very interesting interview, and much longer than the typical Shooting The Shit video. Piers gives Johnny the respect to let him flesh out his answers in great details, and although he goes on some tangents, it gives great insight to his experience and history in the business. Johnny ends the interview by offering to come on for a second appearance, which is a great stamp of approval for Piers' interview style- he's a very friendly, affable personality.
For me personally, I found it very interesting to delve into history of a wrestling era I'm not very familar with- the pre-Titan Sports WWF/WWE is well before my fandom and well before I was even alive. Johnny Rodz gets across his old school values in this one, and while he's big on wrestlers being "The Real McCoy" as he says multiple times in this interview, ultimately it's about the love and respect of the business and entertaining the fans.
An interview well worth your time! Check out the full details in the above link, and support Piers Austin and Shooting The Shit Uncensored by liking, subscribing and sharing. The man is a machine with the amount of interviews he churns out with wrestling and MMA personalities, and they're always entertaining and informative.