Mon. Jan 17th, 2022


During his interview on Renee Paquette’s “Oral Sessions” podcast, Shawne Merriman said he was considering wrestling for WWE after his NFL career:

“Growing up and being a fan of it, I don’t know anybody that was around my age that didn’t watch WWE. I started talking to Paul, Triple H, before I retired, probably in 2011. We were talking about it at an event. We started going back and forth at an event in L.A. I believe it was. I think I came out to One Night Stand, or some PPV I did in San Diego, and I was a part of the show. I got really good feedback and we started to keep in conversation. I told Paul, ‘I’m going to retire here in the next whatever.’ The plan was to work with the NFL Network and then have time enough to train in Orlando at The Performance Center. I want everybody to know that the workout was brutal. I think they wanted to see if they could take me to the ringer, but it was a straight hour non-stop. I try to tell people that those ropes, there’s metal under those ropes. When I got done with this workout, I was all bruised up.  Billy Gunn was my in-ring coach, and then Regal did the grappling side and some other stuff. After we were done, we did the weekly promo cut with Dusty. I got done with my workout and everybody is there for about two hours doing their promos. Everybody who is on the main stage now was down there. I was sitting in the back. Two hours go by and I tap my publicist and say, ‘Let’s get ready to get out of here.’

Right as I’m getting ready to get up and leave, Dusty said, ‘56, I bet you didn’t know I was going to do this, but bring your a** on down.’ No practice, no nothing. I hadn’t gone over anything. I got 20 seconds to figure out what the hell I was going to say when I went up there. First of all, it’s Dusty Rhodes.  I’m not telling him no. If Dusty tells you to get your a** up there, you’re going. I was sweating bullets. I got up there and did what I knew best without having anything put together or practicing. I started ripping on certain people who I already saw do their promos because I was watching the whole time, so I just started ripping on certain people. When I got done, JBL pulled me over to the side and said, ‘Listen. That’s one of the best promos I’ve ever seen out of anybody who hasn’t had any practice ever.’ Everything was good. I told my publicist, ‘Go back to the hotel, I’m staying.’ Me and Dusty sat in this little office and we talked football for three hours, and it was one of the best conversations that I had. I left and went back to NFL Network. Now I’m trying to work out schedules and now I’m talking about contracts. One of the biggest holdups I think too was this whole Lights Out thing. We go back to me owning Lights Out and the name rights. That kind of ruffled some feathers too. But all in all, they were launching the Network around that time, there were a bunch of layoffs, and there was a lot going on around that time. I think they laid off 10% of all employees in WWE.”

Renee asked, ‘They wanted to have the name Lights Out if you were going to work there?”

Merriman said, ‘It was like, ‘Come in as Shawne Merriman and then we can figure everything else out.’ I said, ‘Guys look, I’ve already built this name, and more importantly, you want to have this there.’ I worked with everybody in every license department, everybody in every division, and I knew everybody there within the company. Everybody who was somebody, I knew them and talked to them on a daily basis. So I knew exactly what they wanted and what they needed for me to do. I told them, ‘Lights Out is what you want, so let’s figure this out first.’ It kind of fizzled out after that. I did some stuff on the Network by hosting WrestleMania and Monday Night RAW. I believe I did a SmackDown or something like that too. I still talk to a lot of people there, still to this day, so who knows?”

If you use any portion of the quotes from this article please credit “Oral Sessions with Renée Paquette “ with a h/t to WrestlingNews.co for the transcription.

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