The world renowned WWE Hall of Famer, D-Generation X’s own, formerly known as Road Dogg Jesse James himself, whose real name is Brian James, has a new, 10 month old podcast called, Oh You Didn’t Know? Brian is with us today to talk about the podcast, his wrestling career, new WWE administrative position and so much more. This is Part I of a Part II interview.
Yiorgo: Brian, thank you for being with us today. I can’t even imagine how busy your new schedule has become. Super congratulations on your recent new WWE position as the Vice President of Live Event Creative. How does it feel to get that position and how did it all fall in place?
Brian James: Thank you for having me here and thank you for the congratulations. It was all an incredible story with divine intervention for sure. I was released in January 2022 and I had nine months of severance pay because I was a full time employee for a decade. Literally the month the severance pay was due to end, Paul (Levesque, Chief Content Officer for WWE) or Hunter as most people know him, called me and asked me if I wanted to come back. It was incredible and that’s why I say it was divine intervention. I do believe it was God looking out for me even when I was worried and was not being faithful. At the same time, I was thinking, the right thing will happen. I was praying and believing. And it did happen, it was not what I was expecting.
Y: What does the job entail?
BJ: It’s very time consuming. It’s not a difficult job, it’s basically following creative on television and making sure the live events match that creative. I have to come up with some creative, like some angles for the live events, just putting together creative and the matches and coming up with the finish, so it’s all the creative of the live events. Every now and then I have to stray from the formula but it’s really just following what creative they are doing on television and making sure the live events replicate that.
Y: Do you have to be at all the live events?
BJ: No I don’t have to be at all the live events but I do go to the office every two weeks and I go to a live event or two a month. Like I could go to a RAW or SmackDown event. I kinda pick the ones I want to go to. Sometimes I’ll go in the seats real high and watch the show because also with the creative of the live event, I can also help the production. For example, I just shortened some promotional stuff and tried to make it more fan friendly. I can work on the production side and try to make a change too. It’s really a cool gig.
Y: Speaking of live events, as I’m sure you know, Monday Night Raw is emanating live this Monday, November 28th from the Norfolk Scope here in Norfolk, Virginia. Are you planning on being here that night?
BJ: I will be there. I will be coming to all RAWs and SmackDowns until the end of the year.
Y: Well there you go wrestling fans, an exclusive for those of you reading this interview. So if you have not bought your tickets yet, go to https://www.sevenvenues.com/events/detail/wwe-monday-night-raw-1 buy your tickets, come to the show and you may see the Road Dogg himself sitting up high in the seats taking it all in.
So Brian, speaking of the Norfolk Scope, let’s talk about the World Championship Wrestling (WCW) invasion angle that started there. That night, I was at the Hampton Coliseum for the then WWF show and all of a sudden they showed you guys on the Titantron and you were at the Scope. Everyone went crazy with excitement. Can you share several memories?
BJ: Of course. You of all people knew, holy mackerel, they are going down the road to the Scope. It was a gutsy maneuver. I don’t know whose idea it was. It was probably Vince Russo’s, a crazy new writer that changed things up and honed into the Attitude Era. Yea, we went there in a jeep/tank that had a canon on it. We drove on the street, talking smack and once we got to the underground parking ramp, we went down there. If they opened the door, I don’t know what would have happened. I knew my brothers were in there but I didn’t know on whose side they would fight on. It was really a cool opportunity for us. And the next week or the week after that, it was the first week that we started winning in the ratings war against WCW. It was a plethora of things such as Mick Foley winning the WWF World Title and WCW stooging it off on their channel and 500,000 people tuned in to see Mick win the title. So it started the wave of the WWF/WWE winning the ratings war.
Y: Can you talk about the logistics of it?
BJ: We all got into a big van and the guy with the jeep/tank was behind us. We drove from the Hampton Coliseum to the Norfolk Scope. We parked out on the street, got the jeep of the trailer and we said let’s go. We really didn’t know what we were going to do. The driving down the ramp and beating on the door, that was totally last minute. It was like, just go down there, just go down there, they’re closing the door. The door started closing. Of course we shot it a little later so it made it look like we were going down there so they closed the door on us. But the truth was they started closing the door, so we started driving down there. Perception is reality. Had that door open, I don’t know what would have happened. I knew they had Haku, the toughest wrestler around so I was going to run from him, but some of the others I knew I could take.
Y: Speaking about the guy with the jeep/tank, on this week’s episode 32, NXT Invades SmackDown from your podcast Oh You Didn’t Know? you talked about Colonel Willie who owned and drove the jeep/tank. Can you elaborate more about the jeep/tank and what you tried to do recently?
BJ: Well recently I was in Norfolk with Mick Foley for the filming of season two of A&E’s WWE’s Most Wanted Treasures because we tried to buy it from the family. Colonel Willie has passed on and he left it all to his son John Warren. We spent the day together and the amount of historic memorabilia, full uniforms from some of the first marine paratroopers, a Japanese machine gun, an incredible collection, just so much to look at. I actually could have stayed there all day. We tried to buy the jeep from him. He wanted $300,000 for it and we only had a budget of $35,000. Instead we agreed to pay him to bring him and the jeep in and use them on as a needed basis. We actually did that. That was the jeep/tank that we used recently for the Degeneration X 25th Anniversary segments on Monday Night Raw.
Y: That’s incredible. I can’t wait to see the episode when it airs. Thank you for sharing it with us here. Now back to your new position with the WWE. How did you hear about it? Did Hunter call you?
BJ: I think Hunter had my name in mind for that position when it became available. So I just appreciate it man. He has always been there for me. This time I’ve doubted it and I will feel bad for that eternally because I felt like we’ll still be friends but from a business standpoint we’re done. Then he called me out of nowhere. It was so shocking. I was a little bit hurt at myself, you know what I mean. I doubted him, yet he still came through. And when I say him, I mean Hunter, but I’m also talking about God. They are not the same person, I can assure you of that but I’m talking about that too, because there were times that I doubted, you know what I mean?
What’s going to happen? Will I have to sell my home that my beautiful wife Tracy loves? Do we have to downsize? You know what I mean? We would be able to live but not the way we are living now. I know that sounds egotistical but we are just happy with where we are at. This is our forever home. Tracy and I have property, we have goats, we have farm animals, you know what I mean? We love where we are at and I didn’t know if I was able to keep it. So thank God and good friends that we are able to keep it. “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” So it’s for me to lead my family. There was some doubt there and I felt bad for myself for not doing the job that I was born to do and that is to be a husband and father and lead this household.
Y: I love seeing the pictures that Tracy posts of the house and the farm animals. She is really very proud of it.
BJ: Yes we both are really very proud of it. Look, we’ve had bigger houses and more property, I’m not going to lie. There were times that we had it all but we didn’t appreciate it because I was living wrong. That’s just a part of my past, but it is in my past. You know what I mean? I just have to work everyday to stay sober, to stay clear minded and to keep my priorities straight. For a long time, I lived the wrong way and my priorities were wrong. Now I focus on keeping it right and keeping my feet on the ground.
Y: One of the many reasons that I love you and your podcast Oh You Didn’t Know? Is your love for our Lord and because you do put it all out there about your past drug addictions and allowing people to hear that part of your life. You don’t glorify it but you do present it in an entertaining way so people will learn from it. It is your testimony. You are now an inspiration for so many others. What prompted you to be so forthcoming with it? Did you discuss it with Tracy first that you were going to talk about it on the podcast?
BJ: I didn’t ask her permission per say but she knows that I am an open book, right, wrong or indifferent, it’s there for all to read. I wear my feelings on my sleeves. I don’t have a good poker face. I have to tell you what I feel and what I am thinking. That’s a curse and a blessing. It’s who I am. Especially when I got clean and sober, I wanted to scream it from the mountain top. What a better way to live then the way I was living for so long in active addiction.
Y: Let’s talk about your podcast. Why should fans listen to it? What will they get out of it that they will not get from other podcasts?
BJ: I know that now, podcasts are a dime a dozen, and I’d like to think that mine is a 50 cent piece. Mine not only gives you behind the scenes information but what I like to do is have a good time while delivering that information. On some episodes you will hear some serious talk but I like to joke around. It’s very light. With professional wrestling, it shouldn’t be too serious but something that everybody enjoys and loves. You are going to find some comedy, relief from everyday life and some up close and inside baseball type conversations about inside and backstage professional wrestling shows of the past 20 years that I have been involved with. You know what I mean? We go pretty deep into my career, but you also get to hear everyday stuff about relationships in the business. We like to have a good time, much more so than any other podcast I’ve ever heard. So tune in for fun, excitement and plenty of behind the scene stories you will only hear on this podcast about our crazy, wonderful wrestling business.
Next week, in Part II we cover Brian’s early life, his famous wrestling family, the podcast, wrestling stories, being in the DX, Ric Flair’s last match PPV and so much more.
Yiorgo is an arts, entertainment and sports writer. A stage, TV and movie actor, he is also a sports entertainer, educator, motivational speaker, writer, storyteller and columnist.