His feelings on being released from the WWE: “Yeah I mean it’s, it’s kind of like losing a family member. It’s kind of like breaking up with your best girl. It’s—it sucks. From what I understand, WWE is continually growing and wants to go in certain directions and invest in certain new directions and talents and for whatever the reasons were, I was not a part of that growth process. And I say this in all honesty; if the number one creative minds in the company that we all love says right now, you don’t fit in here. Even if I wanted to stomp my feet and cry and scream, I have to respect the fact that there’s a reason for everything. And if these minds are making this executive decision, who am I to counter that? I’m sure there is a reason for it. Maybe it’s something I’m not supposed to know. But either way, it’s the decision they made and I have no choice but to respect it.”
On what other possible growth did he need to do to remain with the company: “I think what, now in retrospect that I didn’t understand then was; an announcer’s role, an interviewer’s role is to just be vanilla. It’s like being a referee, we shouldn’t notice you. And I think that the difficult position I was in was try not to be noticed. And that’s difficult for me when passion just kind of oozes out of me. And for whatever the reason is, in the assignment I was given as an announcer or as a backstage interviewer, perhaps I stepped—just my shoulder too much into the spotlight. Or for whatever the reasons are, you know, that’s the case. And that’s it. I made a joke in another interview that in 6 months, I’m gonna get real fat, grow my hair out, grow a beard and go apply for a job in the WWE mailroom and see if anyone notices just so I can be around the product. Just kind of still hang out with the cool kids, so to speak.”
On if he knew or had a feeling he was going to be released: Well, looking back on it, yes and no. I think in my naivety and my ignorance I didn’t want to see the writing (on the wall). In the last month or six weeks, I wasn’t on any WWE programming at all. Whether it be the app or other than Superstars commentary. I was wondering if maybe there was something coming down the line, maybe they was a new idea to put me back as a manager or a competitor or whatever the case may be. But I just started to see that a lot of new faces were coming in and their marching orders were very different. And they towed that line and I always kind of seemed to, do my thing. You know I just couldn’t resist telling anyone about Nick Bockwinkel and Larry Zbyszko. And damn it no one cares.”
On the lack of history or knowledge of wrestling being integrated into the current product: Guys, you got to understand something. WWE is an entertainment company that uses wrestling as a vehicle, it’s not a wrestling company. And that’s something I had to learn. No one give’s a crap about Billy Robinson. No one cares about Mr. Saito and Mr. Fuji. All they care about is that John Cena has to take on Mark Henry and why. And I think that’s something that we all need to kind of understand.”
On whether there is a place for him in the WWE in the future: “I appreciate when people come up to me but the people who make that decision? The three main people don’t feel that way. Which also leads me to believe there has to be a reason. I may have done something that I don’t know about that has gotten back to the WWE and they are just trying to protect themselves and me by saying, you know what? Let’s cut ties with you for a little while. I don’t know. That’s the big thing but again when you’re a kid and your mom says you can’t go out and you say why and she says because I’m your mom and I say so. And that’s it.”
On his emotional ties to the WWE, how much he loves the company and if part of him wishes he was still there: “Oh yeah. I’m not gonna lie. (laughs) Are you kidding me? A little insight into the person that plays Matt Striker, I guess. I never had a lot of friends growing up. And I never really fit in anywhere. I have a lot of anxiety. And I’m antisocial. I’m aloof. And the only time I ever felt like I belonged anywhere was when I was amongst my brethren in the WWE because we’re all a little different. And a lot of people think well you’re Matt Striker, you should be the life of the party. I become frozen with anxiety in social situations cause I have nothing to say and I don’t fit in. So I think that is where the emotion comes. It’s the only place I really ever fit in was in WWE.
On why he hasn’t used social media to rip on the WWE: “I have no reason to. I don’t have a genuine gripe and again, I have to humble myself and take a step back. You gotta understand. I was a guest in their home. A short little kid from Bayside, Queens has no business being in the WWE for almost eight years. And I’m aware of that so I have nothing bad to say even if they all come out and say you were the worst and we hope you die! I still have nothing bad to say about them. I’m just thankful for the opportunity they gave me. And it’s not so that six months from now maybe they’ll call me back. If they never, ever call me back, I still will say that I am thankful for the opportunity they gave me because let’s be honest. Did anyone think I was gonna last this long?”
Some of his favorite colleagues, memories with the WWE: “You have to understand for me, coming into the WWE, I had all of these heroes in my mind. And you get to meet some of these guys, and you go wow. Not only are you a hero of mine nut you’re actually a decent person. And you go on to become a friend, and you go on to become a mentor. And I’m speaking of William Regal in this regard. William Regal is one of my top five all-time favorite wrestlers. Ever, ever, ever, ever. EVER! And then I got to meet him. And then I got to work with him. And I got to learn from him. And it’s almost like when you meet your favorite ball player and he is a jerk. And as a kid you’re like oh god. That stinks. I met Keith Hernandez and he was an idiot. Versus…. I don’t know why I picked Keith Hernandez. Versus Wow. William Regal. And on top of that, the man who plays William Regal actually is a decent guy who becomes a friend? I mean that’s just–that anchors you to the ground because everything I learned from William Regal, I now can pass on to someone else. And do for them what a guy like William Regal did for me. Guys like Edge. Edge became one of my best buddies. My riding partner. You’re Edge! You’re a Hall of Famer! You’re a multi-time world heavyweight champion! You can go anywhere. You can wipe the bottom of your shoe with a guy like me. And yet, you’re my buddy? That’s the closest I will ever get to the Hall of Fame is being mentioned in Adam’s speech. And we’re buddies. And we talk about hockey and we go to the movies together when we were around. And we developed–Adam and Matt became friends. Striker and Edge, something entirely different. So you know there are a lot of guys that I developed a good connection with. It goes back to the fact that I can’t connect with anybody. I mean, I lost my dad five years ago, he was my best friend. I have no meaningful relationships in my life. My girlfriend hates my guts because I just can’t emotionally connect. It’s a void in me, it’s broken. But I was able to connect with a lot of people up at WWE.
On his chemistry with Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler on commentary: “Well, at first I think the direction was for me to spike the drink. Get out there and do your thing. Take over damn it. And then slowly but surely it’s almost like the teenager that talks back to his parents after a while and then when he’s 30 he comes back home and says Mom, Dad; you were right. I tried too hard to be what I thought was good and cool. And I keep going back to this. Again. NO ONE CARES ABOUT KEN PATERA. And it has no bearing on what’s going on here. And guys like Jerry Lawler, who have been doing this for 20 years, would try to sit me down and teach me. Listen. Speak in shorter sentences. Speak in sound bytes. Tell me stories. Make these Superstars on television. Make them three-dimensional. Make people care about them. But always remember who our viewers are. I was talking to guys like you. And people that listen to your show (Busted Open). But they are talking to the little kid wearing the John Cena shirt. And that was my fault and my disconnect for not being able to reach that fan base. In my opinion.”
On if the WWE used him to his full potential: “I think that it’s not for us to say what the full potential was. If the creative forces at WWE saw me as an annoying teacher who at some point gets his head taken off with a John Cena clothesline and that’s gonna help sell tickets for people to see John Cena face Ryback next week, then I am being used to my full potential. Was anyone going to believe me as the guy that could beat John Cena? If you saw John and I at a bar, would you really think that I could beat up John Cena? No. But you say the same thing about a guy like CM Punk. But then Punk gets on a microphone and damn it if you don’t believe everything that Phil says. Everything he says, he believes.”
What’s next for him: Well, I’m thankful that I have a lot of offers. I’m definitely going to explore the commercial, voice-over, hosting world. I also would like to somehow maybe get involved in sports. Maybe do some stunt work for some films. That is something that I always wanted to get involved in. I have some contacts for that. And if nothing else, I go back to my dad, who told me just do me a favor and go get your teaching degree that way if you blow your knee out tomorrow, you can always work. September’s coming around. There are six major universities within 20 miles of where I live. So I can get a job at a college, try and get a job at a high school. I’m thankful the WWE for what they taught me and now it’s my turn to go out onto the Indys when it is appropriate. And hopefully teach the new young guys that are coming up because somebody once did that for me. And if I can see one of these Indy guys on the WWE program one day, maybe I’ve done my service and contributed to the business.