The Latest Episodes of INSIGHT with Chris Van Vliet
March 18, 2022

Mark Jindrak On Being An Original Member of Evolution, WCW Getting Purchased By WWE, His Return To Wrestling

Mark Jindrak On Being An Original Member of Evolution, WCW Getting Purchased By WWE, His Return To Wrestling


Mark Jindrak (@jindrak1) is an actor and professional wrestler known for his time in WCW and WWE. He chats with Chris Van Vliet about the crazy story that lead to him becoming a wrestler, training at the famous WCW Power Plant, being a member of "The Natural Born Thrillers" in WCW, WCW getting bought by Vince McMahon, what the reaction was like for Shane McMahone backstage at the final Nitro, being an original member of Evolution with Triple H, Ric Flair and Randy Orton and why he was replaced by Dave Bautista, finding success as a wrestler in Mexico under the name Marco Corleone, his current job grading sports cards and more!

 

You recently posted that you were back in the ring for the first time in 4 years. Was that in Mexico?

“It was almost in Mexico. It was in Loredo on the first night and the next night in El Paso. It was 4 years, but I have gotten into the ring a bit here in Knoxville. Kane and Dr. Tom Prichard have a school here, so for a couple of nights I did some drills and stuff. At my age, the bumps are limited. I ran a few miles everyday, made sure that everything was good. But I wrestled and everything was good, I missed the ring. But it’s crazy, it’s been 4 years but I didn’t feel like I had skipped a beat. It’s weird, time goes on but things don’t really change.”

Your physique doesn’t appear to have changed. You are just as jacked as you were in WCW!

“I felt like I looked the part, and that was important to me. As long as you look the part, age is just a number. I aim to improve my body another 25% for my future dates too. If you are training not to wrestle for a few years, you workout but not to an extreme level for the ring. For 3 years I just trained to maintain a halfway decent body. Once I trained to get back into the ring, I knew a lot of things would change. The diet, stretching, I would always stretch all day, people thought I was weird. But stretching is very vital.” 

What did you weigh in your body guy peak?

“Around 250 - 255 with not much body fat. I think I could have held 290 and still looked halfway normal, if that makes sense.”

If we take this way back, what did you want to be when you grew up?

“It was always geared towards sports. Growing up in New York, big Yankee country. I loved Reggie Jackson, but I was also into basketball and football. It was all about sports, sports, sports, always. I was division 3 basketball and went to college in Rochester. It was good competition and I blossomed into a more elite athlete in college. Once I started getting more of a man body, that was when the wrestling came about. I didn’t peak until my late 20s.”

You trained at the WCW Power Plant. What was that like?

“It was alright. It was tough but I was definitely ready. The try-out itself favored an athlete that was more well-rounded. I could run efficiently and had good endurance, agility and speed. I was big, but I was well proportioned. At 240 lbs I could move like I was 220. But as I got bigger, I looked more like I was 280. It was just the way I wore it.”

So what do you think the big break was for you in WCW?

“I think it was Vince Russo in the fall of WCW. Ratings were diving and all the ex-WWF guys were draining the payroll, they were not producing anymore. So because of that, all of us young guys got a chance. So basically that was our break, the new blood came in. Breaking out on TV was kind of easy, imagine starting a new day of school with 7 friends. We probably got some heat because we were too cliquey and stuck together, no one messed with us. When you are solo, some guys will help you and some won’t. But nobody really messed with us, we held our own.”

How did you all find out that WCW was being bought by Vince?

“There were always rumblings backstage. Then it was at the Panama city show where Shane came. There were rumours and we heard about it before, but there was uncertainty on whether it would actually happen. I wasn’t on the show, but I did a dark match before we went to TV. I remember coming backstage and seeing those guys there and I’m like wow this is crazy! The crowd was sweet as I had the first match there so I got a pretty good pop. I felt like I had a good chance, great body, young and not a lot of overhead. Guys like Luger and Kevin Nash were on bigger contracts.”

Do you remember the reaction to people seeing Shane backstage at Nitro?

“Yeah it was kind of a mixture depending on which wrestler you were. I was a fan of his and I thought it was cool, he seemed like a pretty cool dude. Shane was exactly the guy I thought he was. Some guys were marking out a bit and wanted to start the butt kissing right away, others had the big guaranteed contract with WCW so didn’t really care.”

I felt that it was unfortunate that a lot of the guys that were on Nitro, such as yourself, were not getting a lot of airtime.

“Yeah, I think it was because a lot of us were green. But again, when you are 6 foot 6, and WWE was still the land of the giants. It wasn’t until about 2003 when Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit started winning the championships [that it changed].”

Was it you being friends with Randy Orton that lead to you originally being a part of Evolution? 

“I don’t know. That I don’t know. We were just becoming friends in Louisville. I had flown up to Stamford with Orlando Jordan, they told me what he was going to be doing and that I would be in Evolution. Randy was joining Evolution as well, and that was when we started to become friends. We started going to the gym together and we continued our friendship on TV, which turned into a brotherhood. He and I became good friends and started travelling together, which was fun. But I think eventually it got to be too much fun so I got kicked out of Evolution, but it was great times. In my opinion he is easy top 5 of all time wrestlers in WWE.”

So how long was it from pitching to you being in Evolution to it being decided that they were going to go with someone else?

“I’m not sure of the timeline. I always envision the timeline of we became friends and then they set us up on TV. I think I was doing Heat matches, I don’t really remember. But even though I was part of the group, I was getting scared about it. They would do these polls on Raw, and I remember Jerry “The King” Lawler being like ‘Who is the next member of Evolution?!’ Then there was this poll of Test, Kevin Nash, Jericho, big stars, I can’t remember the names. I’m like I’m the next guy, but they are having these polls and hyping it up. I was not that known, I felt that they were hyping it up real big. Also I never really connected with Triple H. I always felt that we had the relationship where he was the older brother and I was the annoying younger brother. Orton and I together were 2 immature guys who loved having fun. We always rented cars and guys would zoom out the arenas to get to the next city. I remember Bob Holly going ‘We can make it in 2 hours 45.’ But me and Orton would took our time, stop at a WalMart, get a Slush Puppy, something stupid, but those times were fun."

"When it became time to get this group together, Triple H would get us together on the house show loop and it went from me and Orton having a great old time to car rides with Triple H and Ric Flair, which was cool. But our young bunch, it was cramping our style. Flair wasn’t though, Flair was cool. Triple H said in the documentary Ruthless Aggression that he wanted to kick me out of the car, throw me over a bridge or something. But it makes sense, we were young kids like ‘Are we there yet?’ Flair is still a kid in the heart of himself. The car rides were meant to be talking about the Xs and Os of the group, but it was immature hour for me and Orton. The only thing missing was Triple H being like ‘I’m going to pull this car over!’ Ric Flair would ask us about the girls we met.”

I’m sure Ric wanted to meet the girls too.

“Yeah but that wasn’t the direction that triple H wanted to go. It was more supposed to be talking about business and stuff. After a couple of loops and car rides, he like many who rode with me, wanted to kick us out or something.”

So was it Triple H who said ‘Sorry Mark.’ Or Vince?

“Well you see in the documentary too, for me it was a relief to hear. Triple H said to Vince ‘He is not for the group.’ And Vince said ‘Yeah he is.’ Triple H also included Ric in that, but Ric never had a problem with me. Triple H was the one who put the axe to it. We had those vignettes where we were in the suits, and they filmed it. I guess he knew that I wasn’t going to be in it, so it sucked. I was so immature I didn’t really know what was going on. When you are young you feel like you can create anything you want.”

You have to look back now in hindsight at that missed opportunity.

“Oh absolutely. Every time I now see Batista in a commercial or movie I think about that, but we are different kinds of wrestlers. He might have fit the enforcer type better than me. Looking back now you can always say what if? But then I went to Mexico.”

You’re a huge star in Mexico.

“Yeah I flew under the radar for a bit due to a name change, I was Marco Corleone. The one thing in that documentary that they express, and they have to do it, is that if I wasn’t in Evolution then I was roadkill, but it wasn’t that way. I got released, but shortly after that I got into Mexico.”

What brought you back to America?

“I was on a Mexican soap opera. On the network we were on, WWE came on the same channel and we would get pushed to the side. The syndicate we were on got way less ratings. In 2017, I relaized I am getting older and nearing 40. My son was 1 year old at the time and Mexico was getting more unsafe and the value of the Peso was going down in value. I almost made the same as when I first got there, it sucked. So I decided to make the move right before the pandemic, so it all worked out, it was time.” 

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

“My family, peace of mind and faith.”