POST NEWS UPDATE: Mike Mansury reflects on 'magical' time in NXT, producing Talking Smack, Jerry Lawler

Originally published at https://www.postwrestling.com/2022/12/22/post-news-update-mike-mansury-reflects-on-magical-time-in-nxt-producing-talking-smack-jerry-lawler/

If any of the quotes from the following podcasts or video interviews are used, please credit those sources and provide an H/T and link back to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.

** The newest edition of The Sessions with Renee Paquette featured Michael Mansury, AEW’s new co-Executive Producer and Senior Production Executive. Prior to discussing how he ended up joining AEW, he went over his time with WWE. Mansury looked back at the time he spent in NXT and said that is probably the most ‘magical’ time in his career.

To this day, probably the most magical in my career [Mansury said about his time working on NXT] and as cheesy as it sounds to use a word… you [Renee Paquette] were there, you were a part of it, you know… While still under the WWE umbrella, we were kind of all together creating the anti-WWE product. It was a combination of just good old-fashioned sports entertainment from the late 80s where we’re creating all these characters but also leaning into what wrestling had become in the early 2010s. You’re hearing all the buzz about Ring of Honor, PWG, all these promotions have, right? And in essence, a lot of the very best of the best from the indie scene found themselves at NXT but a nice litany of folks had converted over from being — you know, guys like Baron Corbin who were in the NFL, etcetera. So there was this nice collection of talent down there and there was a collection of talent behind the scenes that were all hungry and looking to establish themselves and I don’t know that anything in my career is gonna replicate what those first few years of NXT were like because it really was just an unbelievably special moment and it just felt like a movement, you know what I mean?

One of the shows Mansury produced was Talking Smack. He commented on The Miz and Bryan Danielson segment but added that people seem to forget the promo Miz cut beforehand which led to him coming back to Talking Smack for the confrontation with Danielson.

Mansury told Paquette through her earpiece to wrap the show, but Miz was unaware. He was talking about being misused, disrespected and as he was doing that, the show faded out. Mansury did that because he felt it was the next step to get Miz to come back to the show. Continuing the topic, he said they were able to enhance characters and create moments without ‘adult supervision’ until that supervision came along.

It’s funny, you always hear people talk about The Miz and Bryan’s interaction [on Talking Smack]. The one episode where Bryan got hot and walked off. What people forget is the setup that we had done, I think it was a week or two prior. I think Mike was left off the show… Yeah, he was left off the show and he is cutting this impassioned promo to the camera and I remember going to you, ‘Renee, take me off the air’ and I didn’t even tell Miz we were gonna do this. I just said, ‘Renee, take me off the air. If Mike is talking about how he’s underutilized, abused by the system, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, let’s amplify it.’ So, you didn’t even wrap him up. You literally just did your sign-in to the camera and we faded out and he’s still on his harangue about being misused and wanting to bring glory back to the Intercontinental Championship and being disrespected, etcetera, and it was just that next step that was needed to get him to come back and to have that epic confrontation with Bryan [Danielson].

You could argue that a lot of Mike’s frustrations at the time were legitimately coming out on the air and he had every right to be, right? And to be able to give him that outlet and then, look at what we did, right? We had started creating moments and enhancing characters on the show without any adult supervision… Then the adults came in and they said, ‘Hey, you guys are doing something here. We’re gonna start putting a couple of writers on this’ and slowly but surely… Not taking anything away from the writers. They’re an unbelievably talented group of folks, they bust their ass off but, there was just something so organic about Talking Smack.

Mansury opened up about his recount of the night Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler suffered a heart attack live on Monday Night Raw. Mansury admitted that he feels it was the night he earned his break in the company because it showed how he operated under pressure.

My first real big break and this is gonna sound so strange but I think something that kind of showed — not kind of — something that I do believe showed them I can handle the highest of all high-pressured situations was the night Jerry Lawler had his heart attack in Montreal.

So it was wild. Jerry had worked a match earlier in the night. I believe he was teaming with Randy [Orton] and I think they wrestled Dolph [Ziggler] and CM Punk. Jerry comes back from the match, he gets back to ringside, I towel him off to get all the sweat off of him and I get him his trademark Diet Coke while he’s working the table. Later in the night, The Prime Time Players, Darren Young and Titus O’Neil are working with Kane and Daniel Bryan/Bryan Danielson… At commentary is Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler… I’m sitting next to Jerry. Michael Cole is on the other side. Cole would always sign to me or we would make jokes while we were working and at one point during the match, Jerry’s got his head — his head is rested on his fist, and you start hearing snoring noises. So Cole leans back and he’s looking at me and he starts laughing… He thought that Jerry was kind of taking on, you know — Michael, during the first iteration of NXT where there was the competition-based sort of deal, used to do that on-air. He would like, ‘This is boring’ and go to sleep, etcetera. So we’re laughing because we think Jerry’s joking. Michael sits back up and Jerry’s continuing to do it but it sounds like less of a snore — well actually, a snore is like you’re struggling to breathe, right? So it’s just kind of [Mansury makes sound] and I’m hearing this in my headset because I have the commentators in my headset at ringside and they can talk to me during commercial breaks in case they needed anything and Jerry’s still got the head on his hand and then all of a sudden, his arm just shot out and his head just slams on the commentary table. We were all pretty startled. Michael Cole, he’s leaning back and he’s yelling for Doc Mike Sampson who’s the AEW ringside physician now. Doc’s sitting next to me, I immediately get on headset and start alerting the truck to kill Jerry’s mic, that there’s something wrong with him. Doc comes over, he’s giving Jerry sort of a sternum massage, he’s trying to help him. We’re trying to figure out what’s going on. Doc Sampson’s a big guy, I’m a 200-plus pounder myself and we’ve got Jerry in our hands and he just falls, thud, right to the floor. Right away, we let everyone know what’s going on. At that point, we didn’t know it was a heart attack. No one really knew what was up. We pick Jerry up, we walk him along the hard camera side which is where our whole tech row is; lighting, you know, pyro, etcetera. The way that the building was laid out in Montreal was not the easiest for the EMTs to get to where we were. So, we’re carrying Jerry, we’re bringing him back. I remember TMZ or something had posted a photo and it shows us as we’re carrying Jerry alongside the tech area and I’ve got Jerry’s arms and his head is right here and if you’ve never seen anyone get chest compressions before in your life, it is the scariest thing in the world and you’ve got Doc Sampson who’s all of 6’1, probably a solid 240, literally on the gurney, mounted on Jerry and giving him chest compressions and man, it was wild. I remember Randy Orton at one point running back to see the scene and when Randy saw them working on Jerry, I just remember Randy putting his hands into his face and going against the wall and he just kind of slumped down because he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He literally, maybe a half hour removed from working a match with that guy. But, during that whole time, I’m just in communication with the truck, letting them know what’s going on. It was a pretty tense scene because they were working on him backstage for a good 15 minutes before they got him to the ambulance and took him to the hospital where thank God, he came to and didn’t remember a thing.

Mansury would state that in WWE, his confidence in his skill set may have been taken as arrogance which delayed his development early. He described it as his own worst enemy.

I started off as a P.A. and I fell head over heels for the job. The job is very demanding. But I’ll speak honestly, there were times when I was my own worst enemy through my ascension… So, 24, 25 years old, you’re living this rockstar life, in and out of hotels, on tour buses, etcetera. You kind of buy into the hype, right? It’s pretty hard not to and when you’re successful at it and you start to get noticed by the right people, you develop a bit of a chip on your shoulder… It could be subjective but I know that I was on the wrong side of it. People can mistake confidence for cockiness and I think a lot of the times, that got in my way to the point that even if there were underperforming members on our team or whatever, we all kind of policed ourselves but I always took it upon myself to kind of be the standard bearer and it was much to my detriment. Just a lot of dumb, young kid moves where the intentions were right. It’s just the manner of execution wasn’t so that actually delayed my development a little bit at the beginning of my career because even through ‘attitude problems’ if you wanna call it that, right? The work, the drive was always there.

Circling back to producing shows without the aforementioned ‘adult supervision’, Mansury said when he produced WWE Kickoff shows, he liked the panel to be free flowing. He added that he had no issue telling a writer off if necessary.

Even when we would do our Kickoff shows [at WWE], I never liked to tell you guys what to say. I would make sure that you guys were setting each other up well, what are the points that we should hit, etcetera. But then at a certain point, those Kickoff shows, they started to get writers on and they’d come and be like, ‘Hey Mike, just so you know, Renee has a line to hit here.’ I know I’m not the easiest person to work with but I had no problem, a time or two, telling a writer to f*ck off when they were trying to get involved in what we were doing.

** Joining Renee Paquette for a recording of The Sessions podcast was Brian Myers. Looking back at the end of his Raw Tag Title run with Matt Cardona in 2019, Myers feels that Paul Heyman was not big on them as a team and did not view them as people he wanted to showcase. The announcement of Heyman becoming Executive Director of Raw came several weeks before Myers and Cardona dropped the titles.

So then the Paul Heyman regime came in and I do not think he was a fan of Hawkins and Ryder [Myers smiled] … He did not see us as guys he wanted to showcase, I guess is the nice way of putting it.

Myers recalled getting a call from Brian ‘Road Dogg’ James to come back to WWE in 2016. He was told there were big plans in place for him but those did not come to fruition and he does not know why.

They [WWE] brought me back in 2016. I’ll never forget, Road Dogg called me and was like, ‘I personally want you on the SmackDown roster’ and he had big plans for me and then it just like, absolutely never happened for whatever reason. I still don’t know to this day. I think I beat Apollo Crews once and then I just never won again, and I had been in WWE already so I knew how the place worked and I go out there and do whatever’s asked of me to the best of my ability… It’s not real. I don’t take it personally that I’m putting someone over or whatever. Would I like to win? Of course, we all would but I’m just gonna do my job to the best of my abilities.

There was a conversation held about the entitlement that exists in today’s wrestling landscape. Myers brought up an instance when he and Cardona were called up to WWE’s main roster and had to change with the extra talents for several months before getting into the main locker room. They had to ask Chris Benoit for permission to join. Myers does not feel things need to be that extreme, but there should be a ‘happy medium’ as far as earning those proverbial stripes.

The entitlement that people have in the business nowadays is wild. The stories — I don’t know if it ages well but, when we [Myers & Matt Cardona] first got called up [to WWE’s main roster], you’re not even allowed in the locker room. So Matt and I are main roster talents but we changed with extras in every building for at least the first three months and then, we had to go up to Chris Benoit as the locker room leader and be like, ‘Sir, we’ve been on the main roster for the last couple of months now. We’d like to know if it’s okay if we could change with the boys?’ And got his blessing… Yeah [it was a big moment for us]. That’s why I remember it so clear. But I don’t know if needs to be that extreme, but you do need to have some kind of respect where now, somebody new starts and they throw their sh*t all around the locker room, it’s like they own it, you know? It’s a big difference. Let’s find a happy medium, that’s all I’m saying.

** Back in early 2021, Kip Sabian and Penelope Ford had their on-screen wedding ceremony. The official for the segment was Father James Mitchell. K & S WrestleFest brought Mitchell in for a virtual signing and he reflected on that and said it was a pleasant experience.

I worked for Tony [Khan] one night. That was a pleasant experience [officiating Kip Sabian & Penelope Ford’s on-screen wedding]. I have no complaints.

Mitchell previously detailed pitches that were suggested for him to come into WWE. He recalled telling a representative of the company to stop calling him about ideas because he would get his hopes up just for things to fall through.

I was called one more time about something else [by WWE] and [the] Jack Swagger [pitch] may have been the last one. But I told the guy who called me, I said, ‘Okay, next time, don’t tell me you have anything in mind until you’re ready to FedEx me a contract and a pen,’ you know? To look at it and I wasn’t angry or anything but I’d get my hopes up because they’d be like, ‘Ah, I gotcha, I gotcha. You’re coming in, don’t worry. Just hold your horses’ and I’d go out and buy a round of drinks for everybody for a weekend and then, nothing would happen. So that was when I kind of gave up on worrying about WWE.

** One name that Rich Swann would love to see in a major company so said individual can receive his flowers is 2 Cold Scorpio. Swann told Chris Van Vliet that he’d love to wrestle Scorpio in IMPACT Wrestling or see him head over to either WWE or AEW.

It wasn’t at IMPACT. It was actually a couple of days ago at the ECW Arena against 2 Cold Scorpio and that’s one person that I would love to see at IMPACT Wrestling or to see anywhere, to see at WWE, to see at AEW, anywhere to get his flowers because let me tell you something about 2 Cold Scorpio, that guy has inspired so many of the high-flyers of today that it’s not even funny and so many people have, ‘Oh, who’s one of your favorites?’ ‘2 Cold, 2 Cold,’ you know what I’m saying? That’s one guy that deserves his flowers and that deserves to be put in a position, Hall of Fame somewhere. He definitely deserves it and I’d love to wrestle him for years to come, 2023, 2024, 2025 [Swann laughed]. That’s my guy.

On the IMPACT front, Swann credited Scott D’Amore, D’Lo Brown, Don Callis and Tommy Dreamer for helping him succeed and providing him with sound advice.

You know, there’s a couple people like Don Callis, Scott D’Amore, D’Lo Brown, Tommy Dreamer [who have given me the advice to succeed in IMPACT Wrestling]. Those four for me were definitely the guys — and it’s well known about, you know, what happened with me and everything like that. But, once those guys helped me pull my head out of my ass and showed me the way, I’ll never forget that and those guys, they know this business in and out and they helped me tremendously.

** Joey Karni of The Angle Podcast pushed out his chat with Eddie Edwards. The question of how would Edwards approach new programs with either Bully Ray or Tommy Dreamer was asked and here’s what Edwards had to say:

For me and Tommy [Dreamer], we are friends outside of wrestling as well and he is like the crazy uncle type of character and he’s really done a lot for me in my career so I think that the story of sensei, you know, teacher type of thing, teacher versus student would always be a story that me and Tommy could do and also, me and Bully [Ray], when me and Davey [Richards] came into IMPACT, into TNA, we were wrestling Team 3D so we have a lot of history there where we won the tag titles in matches with Team 3D and The Hardys so I think that story also kind of writes itself. The great thing about wrestling is you can find a story anywhere you look if you just look hard enough and I think it’d be easier to find a story between me and Tommy and me and Bully as well.

** Ahead of his UWF rules match versus Tom Lawlor at the Antonio Inoki Memorial show, Katsuyori Shibata trained with Catch Wrestling instructor Yuko Miyato.

** The IMPACT Wrestling storyline between Tommy Dreamer and Bully Ray carried over to Busted Open Radio. 

We had a walk-off from @bullyray5150 with @THETOMMYDREAMER this morning on @BustedOpenRadio 👀👀👀🤯🤯🤯

Catch the FULL argument later on The Busted Open Podcast! pic.twitter.com/ggGc2FpWeg

— SiriusXM Busted Open (@BustedOpenRadio) December 22, 2022

** The following names have been confirmed for NJPW’s bodybuilding competition. The winners of the ‘Concurso’ will earn a year’s worth of the company’s new protein drink.

– Hiroshi Tanahashi
– Satoshi Kojima
– Tomoaki Honma
– Ryusuke Taguchi
– Master Wato
– Guerrillas of Destiny (Members TBA)
– Ryouhei Oiwa
– Kosei Fujita
– Yuto Nakajima
– YOH
– DOUKI
– El Lindaman

** OTEKOMACHI published Hiroshi Tanahashi’s newest advice column.

** Jamie Noble’s in-ring return was documented by WWE.

** Hell in a Cell edition of the Battle of the Brands series: 

** NJPW Road to Tokyo Dome Results (12/22/22) Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan
– Francesco Akira def. Kosei Fujita
– Aaron Henare def. Yuto Nakashima
– Great-O-Khan def. Ryohei Oiwa
– Jeff Cobb def. Tomoaki Honma
– Los Ingobernables de Japon (SANADA, Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito) def. Satoshi Kojima, Shota Umino & Togi Makabe
– Dangerous Tekkers (Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr.) def. Jado & Ren Narita
Four Way Tag Team Match: El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru def. BUSHI & Hiromu Takahashi and Master Wato & Ryusuke Taguchi and Gedo & Taiji Ishimori
– Kazuchika Okada, YOH & Hiroshi Tanahashi def. Suzuki-gun (DOUKI, Lance Archer & Minoru Suzuki)

** K & S WrestleFest hosted a virtual signing with Alundra Blayze/Madusa.

** NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 17 attendees will receive special gifts at the event.

** Pro Wrestling NOAH’s Masa Kitamiya is going to be challenging Masato Tanaka for the ZERO1 World Heavyweight Championship. NOAH has an interview with Kitamiya on their site to promote the bout.

** AEW’s Nyla Rose and Serpentico guest appeared on the Wrestle Buddies podcast.

If any of the quotes from the following podcasts or video interviews are used, please credit those sources and provide an H/T and link back to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.