Billy Gunn has a plethora of wrestling experience under his belt. Spanning over 25 years, his story of why he chose wrestling is not your typical one of idolizing a wrestler or watching it on television. “I didn’t have anything else to do,” Gunn said. “When I got into this business, I was the worst skeptic of all time. I didn’t grow up wanting to do it. I wasn’t born, and then saw Hulk Hogan or Bruno Sammartino on the TV and went ‘Oh my God! That’s what I want to do with my life!’ I just never did that. It’s just something I fell into, and the more I got into it, I am so passionate about this business.”
Fortunately, for Gunn, it did not take him being in the business long at all for him to be noticed and receive a push in the WWE. After being an enhancement talent for WCW, he was hired by WWE. His partnership with Bart Gunn stemmed from being gym partners and students of the Harris Brothers. Blackjack Mulligan called Dave Hebner to give them a tryout, and his first stint with WWE began. “Luckily for us, they put us with the Headshrinkers for almost a year, because [Vince] knew how green and not very good we were,” Gunn explained. “They literally took us by the hand and taught us so much.”
This tutelage led to a significant improvement in their in-ring work. So much, that the Smoking Gunns became tag team champions just two years after debuting with the company. Gunn would eventually turn heel on Bart, and start a singles run as Rockabilly while being managed by the Honky Tonk Man. Billy stated that “[WWE] thought that they could get a little bit more out of me. It was a point where they were looking for more singles guys. It was nothing against Bart, but they just wanted to do a bit more with me.” Although he did break away to become a singles heel, his alliance with Honky Tonk Man was not a good as expected. “I think Honky was a little sour on the business, and just kinda wanted to get a paycheck. I don’t want to speak for him, but I just didn’t feel like me and him gelled too much together.”
Gunn went back to tag team action for what would become the best direction in his pro wrestling career, teaming up with Road Dogg and becoming the New Age Outlaws. He credits his feuds with LOD and Cactus Jack & Chainsaw Charlie as rivalries that really put the duo on the map as a top team. The positive reception landed the New Age Outlaws a spot in the Degeneration-X faction. “It was kind of like we were running a little bit parallel [with Shawn and Hunter], so the only natural thing is to let’s see how we all work together. I don’t think it was so much what we were doing, it was that the people were digging us so much and when we were about to join, Shawn was about to back out and take care of whatever he needed to take care of, that Hunter wanted to stay the course.” When asked how he felt when Shawn left and Triple H took the leadership role, he said that there were “no worries at all,” and “everybody knew their role” while Hunter was “leading them to the promise land; and he did.”
could have done was to open the door and let us in. He’s got both companies on his TV show! We weren’t looking for fights, we weren’t looking for trouble. We just went down there to go down there, because at the time, that’s what DX did."
WWE then decided to break up the New Age Outlaws and highlight them at singles competitors. “Sometimes you think that things have run its course,” Gunn explained. “I’ve been in tag [teams] the whole entire time pretty much. So they were like, ‘Hey, we’re gonna try this.’ At first you don’t want to do it because our tag was so good, and it was so much fun, and I got to rely on other people. Now I have to rely and hope that I know what I’m doing out there by myself.” He adds, “You want to go and try something different.” Despite having a sizable push and feuding with names such as The Rock, Mick Foley, and Eddie Guerrero, Gunn stated that his overall evaluation of his single’s run was that it was just okay, and that he did not feel as if he was totally committed to it.
This led to one of the most controversial tag teams in WWE history–Billy and Chuck. “They had me off TV for a little while because they didn’t know what they were gonna do. They had Chuck not doing anything. So when I re-signed, and Chuck was there, they came up to us and was like, ‘Hey we want to do this thing were you guys are like male strippers and you want everything that the Divas want.’ It went from that, to what it became. When you look back, it was awesome. They needed ratings, and they needed something big to happen on that show, me and Chuck delivered. And it turned into us wanting a calendar, we want everything that the girls have, and it just slowly turned into we’re gonna be life partners and do the edgy kind of gay thing.“ He also explained that the biggest job for him was to play the character so well that it would be convincing to the audience, and “you always want to reach and play something that you think is a little bit out of your bounds, that you don’t think you could do, to challenge yourself a little bit more.” When asked who came up with the idea, he acknowledged Vince and Stephanie McMahon.
Billy Gunn explained that his first release was due to WWE Creative having nothing for him, which led to his debut in TNA a little over three months later. Overall, he was not satisfied with his experience with TNA, stating that “it was just too many chiefs”, and “too many people you had to go through to get stuff done. The top people who are there are worried about them. I’m used to there is only one chief in WWE, and that’s Vince McMahon. And that’s all you have to worry about. As long as you do your job, and everything’s cool, then you’re alright.” He added that when he arrived in TNA, everything was in chaos to him. Gunn described it as “a mess.” The only part of his tenure that he enjoyed was his “Cute Kip” gimmick, managing the Beautiful People, because each of them respected him as a mentor, and took what he said to strengthen their characters. On why TNA has never been considered a viable competitor with WWE, Gunn replied, “You don’t have one person in that office up there that can just make decisions and be okay with it. Vince would make a decision, whether it’s a good one or a bad one, he sticks with it up until it dies, or until it goes through the roof.”
DX reunited on the 1000th episode of Raw. As a result, Gunn was hired back in WWE as one of the lead trainers at the WWE Performance Center, and had a main role on the Tough Enough series. The creative staff even decided to give the New Age Outlaw another tag team title, making it Gunn’s eleventh reign. “I happened to be in town when they were in town. I was just letting them know that I was sorry for what I have done. It wasn’t to get hired or anything, it was just to clear the air. So when we came to the 1000th episode, we were all clean, we were all good, it was awesome. It was just so good.” Regarding winning the title for the 11th time, “It was to reignite the tag division, and also to help the Usos kick them back into gear. Just like what LOD did for us, we’re gonna come in and do for the Usos.”
Gunn made an appearance at WrestleMania 31 along with other DX and nWo members during the match between Sting and Triple H. On the backstage plans of this interference, Gunn explained that it was the plan from the very beginning for both factions to appear at WrestleMania in opposing corners. “You’re really looking for moments. It is a Sting moment, because it’s the first WrestleMania he’s ever been in and he’s wrestling Hunter. But then again, from a company standpoint, how do we get the most out of this because our fanbase is not really a Sting fanbase? Sting being there is a big moment, but when you have DX and nWo behind that, it makes a little bigger in the majority of the people’s eyes. I’m not meaning to downplay Sting in any moment, but the way I look at it, it was just a bigger moment at a WrestleMania, rather than just that single moment.” When asked if he thought Triple H beating Sting was a good or bad idea, he responded, “I don’t know if I have an opinion either way. It could have went either way. I’m just up in the air about that. They all know a lot more than I do, so I just leave it up to them.”
On November 13, 2015, Billy Gunn was released from WWE from reportedly using performance enhancing drugs and not notifying WWE of powerlifting meets he was scheduled to compete at. To clear the air of what really happened, Gunn explained, “The first thing I want to make clear is the powerlifting meet that I went to. I wasn’t on it to win that powerlifting contest because it was me against me anyway. I popped on their test, because I was over their test limit. Let’s face it: I’m 52 years old. I have my [prescription] from the doctor, but it was the way it all came out is what they had to do. I don’t blame them at all, and I’m going to take every single bit of it because it wasn’t fair to NXT for what Hunter had done for the company. What he’s done with that brand is amazing. [WWE] had to do what they had to do. They did it, and I’m perfectly fine with it, and hopefully one day they’ll hire me back because I feel I was a pretty good coach. It’s just the way it all came out. It wasn’t anything that WWE did; they [had] to do what they did, and I feel like I let the NXT kids down. I never, ever wanted to do that. Ever. So I’ll take that."