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March 8, 2022

D'Lo Brown Says He's The Forrest Gump Of Pro Wrestling... And He's Absolutely Right

D'Lo Brown Says He's The Forrest Gump Of Pro Wrestling... And He's Absolutely Right


D'Lo Brown (@dlobrown75) is a professional wrestler known for his time in WWE and IMPACT Wrestling. He also works as the Head of Talent Relations for IMPACT Wrestling. He sits down with Chris Van Vliet at the Blue Wire Studios at Wynn Las Vegas to talk about his legendary career in WWE as part of the Attitude Era, being a member of the Nation of Domination with The Rock, Kama Mustafa (The Godfather) and Faarooq, why he considers himself the "Forrest Gump" of wrestling, his trademark headshake, working for IMPACT Wrestling, what he looks for when they sign new talent, how "the forbidden door" has changed wrestling and much more!

 

For more information on IMPACT Wrestling visit: http://impactwrestling.com

 

So what is your official title at IMPACT Wrestling?

“I am the head of talent relations.”

But if that’s your job, commentator is your job too? How many hats do you wear?

“Enough to keep me employed [laughs].”

So what is a show day like for you?

“I wake up, get to the building, sit in a production meeting and go through an agents meeting. I then break off and meet with talent about their match. If I get time, I break out the computer and see if there are any payroll issues that I need to deal with or anything out there that needs to be addressed. I then go back to talent and see if anyone else needs anything, then it’s showtime. So I put on a suit and scream at the top of my lungs for 2 hours.”

You and Tom Hannifan.

“Yeah Tom is such a great guy. He came in and injected an element of comfort. No disrespect to anyone else, but there is something about his voice that is so comforting and draws you in. He is so knowledgeable about wrestling and such a pro. I was so impressed from the moment he first sat down next to me.”

For those who don’t know this is the former Tom Phillips in WWE. That was a huge pickup for IMPACT.

“I was so happy when I heard that he was coming on board.”

Are you the guy that is out there seeking new talent?

“I am always looking. My emails, I get 100 a day from talent all over the country. Some are good and some are bad. But I get them and it is all consuming. Last night I was up until 4:30 watching videos of people trying to be that next person.” 

So if I want to get D’Lo’s attention, what do I need to do?

“Show me something that I have not seen before. Entertain me in a way where I can say yeah that translates to the masses. Give me something that I can sell to those above me and I can’t walk away from. That is a tall order. For example, we already have one Moose, we don’t need another. You as the person who is trying to get a job, what makes you stand out and what makes you special? You’ve then got 2 minutes to show us why you need a second look or a deeper evaluation.”

Is this about making a name for yourself on the indies?

“It’s not about making buzz , it's just about being good at what you do. Your presentation, in-ring work, talking, your body, the way you are dressed… Billy Kidman is the only guy who has made money in a wife beater and shorts. Yet there are 100 guys wrestling in that look. If only one guy did it, I’m staying away from that.”

The wrestling landscape has changed over the last year, especially with IMPACT Wrestling and the forbidden door.

“IMPACT Wrestling is the backbone of the forbidden door. When you think about who is working with who, IMPACT Wrestling is always connected to somebody. [Whether it’s] New Japan, AEW, AAA, WWE, ROH, you name it and we are connected in some way, shape or form. We are the framework of the forbidden door.”

When Mickie James was announced for the Royal Rumble it was like wait, WWE is on this too!

“The second that the IMPACT Knockouts Championship came out to the ring on Mickie’s waist, that’s an acknowledgement that someone else exists from WWE. That was a huge get, huge for us and huge for Mickie.”

Do you think the door could now go both ways?

“Well never say never. That is the beautiful thing about wrestling, you can never say never.”

What was your first time doing something different?

“I think it was when the head shake first happened. The first time that I did the head shake, I knew I found something that was different from everyone else in the roster. When you are in such a tekent laden locker room, you have to find something that makes you stand out. If not, you are just another guy in spandex and baby oil. Hell, you are in the biggest company, you have to elevate up the card. If it wasn’t for the head shake, even in The Nation I had a certain amount of protection, but I was still just the 4th or 5th guy. Finally when the head shake happened, that was when things started and a focus was put on me.”

You had some great in-ring moves too.

“Those were the starting moments, but at the end of the day it is just a move. Only one guy has gotten over with a move, that’s Petey Williams with the Canadian Destroyer. Other than that, everyone does the same 12 moves of doom.”

The first time I saw that move, I was like how is this possible?

“Yeah I rewound that so many times. I believe Petey named it after one of the greats from Ontario Canada that was called The Canadian Destroyer.”

With The Nation and with The Rock, did you feel like there was something special with him?

“No not at first and even Rock would tell you. He had the failed Rocky Maivia gimmick, coming off an injury and had the pineapple hair. He was trying to find himself following the failed babyface run. Also he had some protection being in The Nation and he could make mistakes and have great minds around that would help him cultivate. The one thing I did learn about Rock was that he was willing to do the work and he would out work anybody. What I mean by that is there were times where we were all in the car and you could see him thinking. We would listen to the radio, he would hear a catchphrase in a song and 2 weeks later it would be in a promo. Because of that hard work, you could see this brother is putting the time in and working. If you go back you can see the evolution of his promom style. It took about 6 months, but the first time that he walked out in that black vest and called himself The Rock, well you know the rest.”

We now look back at the segment of DX making fun of The Nation in a really different way. Was there any trepidation at that time?

“No, and there have been a lot of stories out there. I can tell you that none of us had any real concerns about it. In retrospect, we could have done that segment without the black face, and I wish we had. It would have been just as good. Obviously I wished we changed that and we didn’t. Looking back on it in 2022, I’m not a fan of it. But in 1997/1998, it was a way to get us to go to war. Both the factions were over enough and connected to the fans enough that we can go out there and draw money, build houses and put up ratings on TV. We looked at the potential matches, and that peaked our curiosity. I think people look past the obvious elephant in the room.”           

I think even a few years later when WWE became a public company.

“You wouldn’t pitch that 3 years later. You would get laughed out the building if you pitched it a few years later.”

I mean with great respect, but IMPACT is back on the rise. What do you attribute that to?

“Consistency with storytelling, finding under utilized talent and giving them the opportunity to go out there and grow. Look at how different Moose is from his Ring of Honor days to now. Our locker room wants to be the best. Our Knockouts division wants to be and knows that they are the best women’s division out there. That is what separates IMPACT Wrestling, creative storylines, consistency and talent.”

How long before The Nation gets inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame?

“I don’t know. It would be an honor if it does happen but…”

Or does D’Lo go in first?

“I don’t think I have done enough in the business to warrant a Hall of Fame induction in my opinion. [In just WWE?] I mean it’s their Hall of Fame. I've spent more of my career in IMPACT than I have in WWE, twice as long. We are talking 12 years compared to 6 years.”

I end every interview talking about gratitude. What are 3 things in your life that you are grateful for?

“My family, opportunities and this crazy world of professional wrestling.”