With us today is World Wrestling Entertainment’s (WWE) “Road Dogg” Jesse James whose real name is Brian James. He is a world renowned WWE Hall of Famer and a member of the famous D-Generation X on WWE. Brian was just featured in season two, episode two on A&E’s WWE’s Most Wanted Treasures looking for DX’s wrestling memorabilia. Brian also recently celebrated a year anniversary of his podcast called, Oh You Didn’t Know? Brian also has a relatively new WWE administrative position as the Senior Vice President of Live Events Creative. Today we will talk all about that and so much more.
Yiorgo: Brian, thank you for coming back and being with us today. WWE’s Most Wanted Treasures episode just aired and it was incredible. One of the memorabilias was the Jeep/tank that was used here at the Norfolk Scope, about the World Championship Wrestling (WCW) invasion angle. 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?
Brian James: It was definitely a gutsy maneuver. 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: Can you tell us about filming the segment for WWE’s Most Wanted Treasures in Hickory, North Carolina when you and Mick Foley saw the jeep/tank used in the WCW invasion angle?
BJ: Yes it was Mick and I and the production team of course that went down there. It was actually at the guy’s house. The funny story was that I got to his house two hours early. I was supposed to be dropped off at the hotel, but I was dropped off at his house, which had the military memorabilia and the jeep. So I got to hang out on the guy’s front porch and take a nap until the people got there. We had a really good time and the family that owns the jeep have been working with the WWE for a long time and we will be working with them in the future with that same jeep. We used the jeep in the WWE RAW DX 25th Reunion episode in Brooklyn. I took Shawn Michaels and Kid (X-Pac Sean Whitman) to see the jeep there and they used that footage in this episode.
Y: How did everyone react when you and they saw it for the first time after all these years?
BJ: When I first saw it, it was really awesome to see it. It’s in better shape now than it was back then. Coming from my military background, it was really cool for me to see it. We actually got to fire the cannon at the house. Both Kid and Shawn loved seeing it. You know Shawn (Michaels) was not there when we filmed the invasion in Norfolk. But It was really cool for me to show it to both of them. Shawn comes from a military family and is an avid hunter and outdoorsman. It was cool for us to talk about the military aspect of it. I remember thinking when I saw it, where and how were we sitting on this thing. Now we are older and bigger and I don’t know how we negotiated and sat on it.
As you saw on the episode, 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 $50,000. Instead we agreed to pay him to bring him, his family and the jeep in and use them on as a needed basis.
Y: For me, it was really cool seeing your New Age Outlaws Championship Belt in your showcase. What’s your favorite moment with that belt?
BJ: That’s the title that the fans love, the old school tag-title, all the way from the 80’s into the Attitude Area. It’s the actual title that the Hart Foundation, the Legion of Doom, all those guys and I were blessed to have custody of that title for a brief time. It’s that big, beautiful WWF at that time tag team title. I had it here at my house and they came to get it. Truth be told, they took it from my house and I don’t think I’m getting it back.
The truth of it is, I also got it by nefarious means too. A friend of mine absconded with it from the WWE warehouse. He is a WWE employee and was with the Archivist Ben Brown when it happened, so I don’t think we “stole” it, but it was in my office at Stanford, Connecticut. When I got fired, I brought it home with me and had it on display here. Look, it was easy come, easy go. I enjoyed shooting the thing with Mick Foley.
Y: It was nice to see the segment about looking for China’s gear. What are some fond memories working with being around China?
BJ: She was a kindred spirit. She was tortured inside like me, but we weren’t old enough to realize what was going on at the time. She was all about having a good time and having fun. She was like one of the boys in the sense of being right there with us, laughing and joking, having fun and being fun to have around.
Y: Let’s change gear. Super congratulations on your recent WWE position as the Senior Vice President of Live Events Creative. How does it feel to get that position and how did it all fall in place?
BJames: 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.
I have a small team and we write or book the live events that are not on television. Now that the RAW and SmackDown Drafts are done, I can jump in and write these live events like the WWE SuperShow coming up at the Hampton Coliseum on May 21st and we have many others coming up in May, June and we have another overseas tour in the UK coming up and we just had a really successful one there. Business is booming and I love the business. I am working a lot in putting together these live events, but I’m at home doing it. I have a balance in my personal and work life. It’s a blessing to have this opportunity. Hunter called me when the time was right and asked me if i could do this job and I said, yea I’d love to. He has always looked out for me and I’ll always look out for him. And that’s the way it is.
Like I said, the business is booming right now and I credit it to the three T’s: Time, Talent and Team. Time is the time that we are in now, the culture, the way the world is going. The people want to be entertained. They are back now after the pandemic. The Talent is all that talent that is out there. Roman Reigns is on top of the world, the Bloodline, Sammy Zane, Kevin Owens, The Usos, all the Bobby Lasley’s and Austin Theory’s of the world, all the new stars that came up from NXT. And Team is the team or leadership that has been put in place to create and produce our amazing product that is WWE.
Y: You mentioned the WWE SuperShow Sizzler May 21st at the Hampton Coliseum, where the actual WCW invasion was launched 25 years ago, on April 27th, 1998. Tickets are now on sale and for a limited time to those reading this, if you use the special code “CODY” as in Cody Rhodes, you get a buy one and get one for free. Go to, https://www.ticketmaster.com/wwe-sunday-stunner-hampton-virginia-05-21-2023/event/01005E6246D6A84C
So Brian, why should people come to a live show? What will they see and experience that they will not get from watching RAW or SmackDown on TV?
BJ: It is literally the best of both brands all in one night. You get the best of the best facing each other with clean finishes and a clean show. I like to keep it around seven matches and at around 2 hours and 45 minutes. There is nothing like sitting in the arena and feeling the palpable energy that is the fans and that the fans get from the athletes. When you witness it live, you become a part of the WWE universe and you feel the energy that they exude. This to me is this generation’s Barnum and Bailey. It’s an entertainment show, a variety show, you get wrestling, reality, comedy, brutality, we give you our all. Since I’m asking you to bring your family and spend your hard earned money, I’m going to write the best show I can and try to leave you wanting more. It will definitely be worth it when you come see the show.
That SuperShow at the Hampton Coliseum on May 21st and all the other live event SuperShows that we put on, means we have combined RAW talent and SmackDown talent. On this day, those two brands come together, it is top notch, it is the top athletes in WWE today and you really get your bang for your buck when you come to a combined live event show. It is also a time when you may see a RAW superstar wrestle a Smackdown superstar. Those types of matches are not as rare as you think because I actually like the opportunity to do that. It gives it an extra advantage to go to a live event because you may see things that you may never see on television. Omos is an attraction, and he is going to wrestle on every show. I guarantee you that he will be there. It was kinda like an edict that came down. He is literally a Nigerian Giant.
Y: I am a huge fan of your podcast Oh You Didn’t Know? and you just completed episode 56. How does it feel to already have a year under your belt and what have been some of your highlights from doing your podcast?
BJ: To have done a year already with our podcast does not seem real to me. When Ryan Katz and I were both released from WWE, we started this podcast. My wife Tracy and I spoke about it and I am going to do another year of it. The highlights are that the podcast is very therapeutic for me. It’s a lot of laughs for me personally. It’s great for me and brings me joy and laughter and I hope the same with our listening audience. I love the relationship that I have with both the first host Ryan Katz who now is working back with WWE and now with the second host, The Casio Kid. He is Conrad Thompson’s friend and a morning disk jockey in Huntsville, Alabama, does stand up comedy too. Casio is a great guy and so are the Deangelo brothers Tom and Markus who have been producers and handle social media for the podcast. I have a small team there and a small team at my WWE job and forging those relationships has been a big part of this year for me.
Y: Let’s talk about some important people in your life. Let’s do a word association with a little explanation. What does Jeff Jarrett mean to you?
BJ: Best friend. Brother. I’ve always revered Jeff. I’ve always looked up to Jeff as a smarter big brother and a smarter businessman.
Y: Billy Gunn.
BJ: Brother. I feel like me and Billy grew up together. Like Jeff was our older brother and Billy and I were the young ones that were screwed up longer then Jeff did. I do feel the same way about both, I respect them both, but I’ve always looked up to Jeff as a smarter, bigger brother.
Billy is really a big baby with a really soft heart. I get goosebumps just talking about him. He’s a Texan and a bull rider and a big bad dude. He’s 6’ 6” and 285 Lbs of solid muscle and when he looks and browsers down at you you want to step away. He has changed a lot. He is so much in a different head space now and fun to interact with. There was one time that we had a moment where I was like, dude, you keep talking to me this way and I’m going to fight you. You may beat me up because you’re big and athletic but I’m going to punch you in the face. It was a changing point but he also let me know right then, “Oh man, I don’t mean nothing by that, that’s how I talk.”
Y: Hunter/Paul Levesque.
BJ: Faithful or loyal. When I was released from the WWE, in those nine months when I didn’t hear from him, I didn’t talk to him and I was unemployed. I didn’t know where we stood and I feel horrible for that now because he stood at the same place the whole time. It was me that veered away from him. He never had in mind to not bring me back. He waited for the right position to do so. Things had to happen and I didn’t need to know about them until I needed to know about them. In that period of time of me not knowing, I doubted him and what he was willing to do for me. I should not have doubted either because when he was able, he proved he was willing and here I am, back with the company. So loyal and faithful and I wish I could say the same about me.
Y: Shawn Michaels.
BJ: Transformation. And I say that because man, what a transformation he has made in his life from 20 years ago, to today. He is somebody that I look up to, I respect his spiritual walk, his commitment to living right now. It is so impressive to me because I know where he’s been because I have been there with him. And now to be where he’s at, I guess I can only keep trying.
Y: Not only are you trying, you are succeeding.
BJ: I am spiritually blessed. I am succeeding and I am doing alright. And you know what’s really crazy? Three of the guys from DX are now helping to run the company. Shawn is Senior Vice President of Talent Development Creative, I am Senior Vice President of Live Events Creative and Hunter is the boss as WWE’s Chief Content Officer.
Y: X-Pac/Kid/Sean Waltman.
BJ: Eternal friend. Here’s a great example. We have not seen each other in over two years. We are going to Brooklyn for the Degeneration X 25th Anniversary, I’m checking in at the hotel, I look and I see Kid sitting at the bar in the hotel lobby. I go there, we hug, he’s drinking a Diet Coke, I put my bags in my room then we had dinner together, talking for over two hours. Me and X-Pac are so similar to each other in just about everything. So from Jeff to Billy, to Kid, Shawn and Hunter, we are all peas in a pod. I love having them in my life.
Y: What are you most proud of in your wrestling career?
BJ: I’ve made a bit of a transformation of my own. My favorite picture that I have on my wall and it’s behind me when I do my podcast is of a match with Big Boss Man I think on RAW for the Hardcore Title. It was just a match and I cut a promo that talked him into putting the title on the line. We had the match, Mick Foley got involved, cheated and I won the match and the Hardcore Title. In the match, I had a noose around my neck, blood coming out of my mouth, I just beat Big Boss Man who I watched growing up, we became friends and of course now he is no longer with us, so it’s my favorite picture, of me holding that Hardcore Title, with the noose around my neck and blood coming out of my mouth. It looks like I’ve been through a war and I came out on top.
It was also a time when I was doubting myself. Billy and I had just broken up as a team and I had to stand on my own two feet. I was also in active addiction, a narcissist who had an inferiority complex. Imagine that dichotomy. I want to rule the world but I want none of the responsibility. Now I was scared because I had to try to succeed on my own. All that to say, that was a moment in my career that means a lot to me personally.
Y: Can you share a pinch me, wow moments or two?
BJ: Beating the Road Warriors for the WWF at the time tag team championships. It was a big deal to me that those two guys did that for us. Ours is a very respect driven game and you gotta give it to get it. These guys showing us that respect, doing the honors for us, putting that title on us, the rocket on us basically, I’ll never forget that.
I grew up watching them hitting the ring on Georgia Championship Wrestling beating the crap out of everybody, they were the baddest dudes in the world and here I am, beating them on a Pay-Per-View for the WWF Titles, yes a definite pinch me moment. There was a pinch me year, that happened all around that and the fact that we are talking about it 25 years later is a testament to how impactful all that was.
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.
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