Thursday, October 18, 2012

Kayfabe Q&A: Jimmy Noonan



You started out as an actor. How did you transfer from that into a job working for wwe?


When you were an actor in New York City, and you're not a working actor, you have to pay the rent somehow. For a lot of years while I was acting, I had a personal training business which I was very successful at, but I got a little bored with that, and I started to get a lot of work acting. But when you're not acting you have to do something else, I mean I have kids. So I started doing security work. I got very lucky early on. I started working for Charlton Heston in the late 80’s, then I started working for some minor celebrities, and then some big celebrities, and then I went to work in New York City one week for WWF New York. It was the new theme restaurant in Time Square. I worked with the talent and the supervisors well, people from Stamford constantly came down, and next thing you know, it was about a year and a half later that I was on the road with WWF. So it came through the restaurant, but make no mistake, me and Jimmy Tillis, or anyone else, wouldn't have been on the road if we weren’t top security guys.

Jimmy as Frank Galikanokus in Super Troopers
What were your day to day responsibilities while working there?

Everything. Soup to nuts. Absolutely everything. Me and Jimmy Tillis took care of the talents, we called the venues and reminded them that we were coming in a couple weeks, talked to them about their concerns before we got there, or extra needs in terms of security, in terms of the parking lot, before hand whether it was a house show or a big TV show like Raw or Smackdown. Then we'd be at the airport with the talent. I usually hung out with the top guys. If Brock Lesnar was the World Champion, I usually hung out with Brock. If Taker was the World Champion, then I stayed there with Taker. If it was Triple H, Batista, Cena, I usually tried to stay closest to those guys when we were on the road. I’d find out where they were staying, and be as close to them as possible.

We also handled had all of the executives. We handled Vince, we handled Stephanie, we handled the production trucks, made sure we had security in place, and then we did the events. The funny thing about the events was that a lot of times, the top people in the buildings that we had rented for the day to run Smackdown, they couldn't find the producer, or someone they needed. But they could always find Security. They knew security was always in the venue. They knew Security would always be in the stadium or the arena, and they knew where to find us. So they'd ask us all the questions about security protocol, the timing, or show questions. So we handled so much. I don't think there’s anyone at WWE to this day that knows exactly what we did, or how many hats we wore, and the magnitude of what we did for them. You know, when you're doing security for them, you don't get to go to WWE Security School, you make this stuff up on your own. You just do the most practical thing. The next, right thing. A lot of this stuff you just make up, and it’s just trial and error. When you’re a good security guy, your instincts are good. Our instincts were terrific.

What was it like working for Vince McMahon?

You know, Vince is a really likeable guy. He’s such a character. He’s kinda like Donald Trump. I did security for Season 2 of Celebrity Apprentice, so I got to spend some time with Donald Trump. And over the years in New York City, I have been in many, many red carpet events where I've done security and Donald Trump was there. He’s a really interesting man. He’s got this magnetic personality, you know? It’s almost as if he’s the male version of a supermodel. You can't take your eyes off him. And the same with Vince. Vince is such an interesting character. He was always good to me, he was very respectful to me. For years, people have been saying to me "well tell me about Vince.", almost expecting me to crap on Vince McMahon. Well here’s my stock answer: I saw the world on Vince McMahon’s dime. I went to South Africa, every inch of Europe, I went to New Zealand, I went to Australia, I went to Tokyo, I went to Sri Lanka, I went everywhere on Vince McMahon’s dime. And I went first class. How could I have a problem with this guy?

Vince McMahon was always respectful, Shane was always respectful, Stephanie was always good to me. And if anyone had a problem with me, Stephanie would usually be the one to say "Would you come to my office", or "Would you come see me? We need to talk about something." She'd talk to me very respectfully and very nicely, and we'd work out the problem. I would say that the short version would be that the McMahons were very respectful, and were very good to Jimmy Noonan.

Noonan in WWE Magazine
I'm sure you had many memorable moments while working security for WWE, can you tell us about some of your crazier experiences while working there?

WWE magazine in ’05 or ’06, they kinda broke kayfabe. They started doing stories on the doctors and trainers, agents, and they started doing stuff they never did before. Lo and behold, they approached security, and said "Would you mind doing an interview?" and I was like "Vince is gonna let this happen?" and sure enough they went to Vince and he said "Sure let’s go for it." They interviewed me and Jimmy Tillis, and because I’m the more loquacious one who's a storyteller, all the stories were about me, but there was a magazine where Edge and DX were on the cover, and the name of the article was 'WWE Security’s Greatest Hits'. So a lot of the stories are in there, and somebody could find them pretty readily.

There’s the stories about Jimmy Tillis getting off the bus with the talent in Birmingham and in the hotel there was a bunch of MMA fighters, and one of them said they wanted Triple H’s autograph. Tillis said no because everyone was so exhausted, you know they had been on the road for two weeks. So the guy got into some words with Tillis, and then all these MMA fighters came out, and Big Vis, Jericho, Tillis, and the rest just knocked the crap out of all these MMA guys. That’s always the one we hear about. There are so many stories about the boys and travelling, and the pranks they pulled on each other.

I remember one time I think it was in Lewiston, Maine. This kid was dressed as the Undertaker, he had the hat and the long leather coat, and was holding an urn. A tall skinny kid. I turned my back, and this kid climbed in the ring, and I collared this kid big time, man. I mean I took him down off the top rope, actually. And it turns out, and it’s not that funny, but this kid was learning disabled and apparently played the Undertaker in his local community play. So, stupid stuff like that.

There were some that were pretty bad, and some that were okay. I don't know if you remember, but Triple H was traded to Smackdown for one night. I think Eddie Guerrero was the WWE Champion, and it was Triple H vs. Eddie in the main event. It was in Detroit. We were on a commercial break, but the match was going on. Some idiot literally jumped over security and went into the ring. Of course Triple H and Eddie turned to him, and of course he jumped out into my arms, and he got collared pretty heavily, but it turns out we weren't on TV for that moment, but he thought he got his moment in the sun, his 15 seconds of fame. He didn't even do it on TV, but on a commercial break. There was never anything really that dangerous or riveting, just everyday stuff. I wasn't there that night in Edmonton, when the guy jumped in the ring and pushed down the ladder that Eddie was on, and then Eddie clocked him before security got him. Jimmy Tillis seemed to get more jumpers than I did. That’s what we called people who hit the ring, we called ‘em jumpers. He had maybe more of a problem. I think I grounded people more at ringside, and I think that they were a little more intimidated by me for some reason. I had a lot less jumpers than he did.

Last week CM Punk got into an altercation with a fan in the audience, and he struck the guy on live television. What did you think when you saw that, and was there anything that could have been done to avoid it?

I watched the video after seeing the news. It was on Facebook, it was all over the place that CM Punk had hit a fan. I am always interested in that, because that's where my job came in WWE. Protecting the talent, protecting the fans, protecting everybody. It was about security and safety at all costs. I was extremely disappointed to not see WWE security right next to Punk. It is about the fan's safety number one, It's about the talents safety number two, and security in general around the event.

You have to be near the talent, but be off camera at the same time. It is sometimes difficult but that's what you do when you are WWE security. And you have to constantly reassure the talent that you are there. You are either whispering to them or patting them on the ass, or shoulder if it's the female talent like Stacy Keibler, or Nidia, or Gail Kim. You put your hand on them and say "I'm right here, I'm right here" and they know your voice. And then you can speak calmly to them, you can do that kind of kayfabe talk that wrestlers and people in WWE use. But it was very disappointing to me. Wrestlers get hit all the time, and wrestlers hit people all of the time weather on purpose or not. It's a part of the experience, and it's part of WWE and the wrestler going into the stands. But he should have been more protected by WWE security, and I'm calling them out and saying that they need to do a better job.

Kurt Angle and Jimmy Noonan
How did your departure from WWE come about, and was there any hard feelings that came out of it?

I think there’s always hard feelings in those situations, because people tell stories that aren't true sometimes. In WWE, you don't have a lot to do on the road. You have the workout, tanning, eating, but you haven't been home in a couple weeks and you’re bored. Some guys spend some time with local women, but then there’s guys that gossip. That’s what we do on the road, we gossip about each other. I think some of the gossip about me leaving was just some stupid stuff. What happened, was I was miserable. I hadn't had a day off in a long time. Everybody in the company knew it.  I reported to John Laurinaitis on the road, and me and Johnny and me had a terrific thing. He liked me a lot, he respected me, and he took care of me. But there was this one guy in the office that had a beef with me. He had a beef with me because a lot of times I would call him and just say, you know, "I need time off.", and I would have an attitude sometimes, and I haven't been home in a long time, and I’m travelling all the world.

There was this one month – ONE MONTH where I travelled over the international date line three times. I never even got a thank you. I was the only guy in the company who did it, and I never got a thank you from anybody. And I would go to this guy and I'd say "I need some time off." And he wouldn't give it to me. What the WWE does is throw money at you. We're all independent contractors, so it’s easier for them to throw money at you. They give you money, and expect everybody to be happy. I just wasn't happy. I let my feelings be known, and I had some heat because I was tough on a lot of people in some buildings.

I remember I had some heat at The Allstate Arena in Chicago and a couple other places where we'd do smaller shows, because I wasn't shy about telling people exactly the way it was gonna be that day. WWE rented the facility for a lot of money that day, and that made me, security wise, the top dog in the building, and I wanna work with you too, but you gotta do the right thing. You gotta obey the security rider that I sent you 3 or 4 months ago, and there’s a lot of things that I need. We're a multi-billion dollar corporation that has a lot of needs. You need to do what we told you to do. What we're paying you to do. It’s easy to become very unpopular in a lot of these buildings when you’re telling people what the hell to do. So I think the long and the short of it is that I had some heat and I was miserable, so we decided together that I was gonna leave WWE. I got a letter one day in Campus City that my services were no longer going to be needed in 90 days. So in other words, if I got fired, it was the slowest firing in history. I say that we just couldn’t agree to terms, or I left, or we just basically decided that it was best for everybody that I leave. Whatever you wanna call it. Like I said, I think there’s always a little ill feelings. I don't feel welcome in WWE, I would never go back, and I would never go to an event ever again.

With his good friend Dave Batista
You made friends with several of the stars while you were there, do you still keep in contact with anyone?

Dave Batista was kinda my best friend in WWE. I travelled with Eddie Guerrero, we drove together. I drove with Eddie and Benoit every once in a while, Kurt Angle every now and then. Because I travelled with Batista, i’d spend some time with Randy Orton, Ric Flair and Triple H. Triple H was always a gentleman to me. He always talked to me like a brother and contemporary, and never treated me like I was just the security guy. He always treated me like one of the boys even though I was decidedly NOT one of the boys. Batista was kinda like the guy I was always closest to. I was very happy to see him win his first MMA fight the other night. I know how important this was to him, and I was so happy for him.

People asked me before the fight "How do you think he will he do?" and I said "Well, he’s gonna be in shape. Even though he’s 43 years old he’s gonna be in incredible shape. He’s doing triathlons right now, so he’s got that. I've seen him do bench press and he’s stronger than hell. He’s an incredible athlete and he’s worked very hard." He’s been working his way up the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu belt list. I don't know exactly where he is, but he’s very high up. He’s not a black belt yet, but in a couple more years he'll probably be a black belt. I thought he'd be fine, I thought he'd win. I was very happy for him. We haven't talked - I've taken a low profile these days in terms of my WWE acquaintances. It’s just a lot of work. I'll always love Dave, but I think I'll choose to have a relationship from afar unless he ever needs me, but I don't think I'm gonna pursue it anymore, just because he has a very busy life and I have a very busy life. But he’s a wonderful human being. You know, some guys are really good guys, and some guys are assholes.

Who is the biggest asshole you knew while working for WWE?

That’s tough, because it’s not in my nature to speak badly of people. Really, I mean how many times in the last 5 years, in all the radio and interviews I've done, have I said anything really bad about anybody? I think the most disappointing thing to me is when someone like Triple H treats me almost like one of the boys, treats me like a brother, shows me so much respect, and then somebody who’s further down or as big and at the same level as Triple H treats me badly. I got treated very badly, I'm not going to say he was an asshole, but I was treated badly by Booker T towards the end. I think there’s a lot of reasons. There was this perception when I was on the road, especially towards the end, that I was so unhappy, that I would rather spend more time with females on the road than do my job. Spend time with females in different cities we were going to. At least that was the word I heard. Booker was one of those people who'd talk about that.

One night an egg was thrown at him in Germany, from the 400 section WAY up top, and he cut a promo on me during the show. I think it was very unprofessional. It almost hit Sharmell, but still for him to cut a promo on me, and again after the show, he apologized a little, but things had changed. I think one of the reasons also was that I was Batista’s guy, I had so much respect for Batista, and I had Batista’s back, and he had so much animosity towards Dave Batista. So he treated me very badly, and he went to Mark Calloway, the Undertaker, and he talked crap about me. So Undertaker also decided that I wasn't "doing my job". Even Michelle McCool said something ugly to me one day as we came into the arena in Italy. So yeah, I knew it wasn't just Booker, it was Booker getting on Mark and then Mark forming an opinion. Telling me that this is a business, and I'm not doing my job. What? I did it for 8 years and now all of a sudden I’m not doing it? C'mon, Mark. Give me a break.

I also think John Cena should've been a little nicer to his co-workers, and the guys who worked with him and for him, than he was. You know what was one of the things I never understood about some people? WHY they would be nicer to their fans and their pets, than they would to their co-workers. I never understood that. Cena did it, he was nicer to his fans than he was to his co-workers, well not the boys, but everybody else. Lita was nicer to her dog, and her fans than she was to me. I didn't have a problem with Lita. But some of these people, I just don't get it. But I wouldn't call them assholes. There’s other guys too, a couple of bullies, and I never could stand bullies. There were a couple of them that were on the roster back then, too. They know who they are, I don't even have to say. The bullies know who the bullies are.

With Sean Waltman AKA X-Pac
You have said in the past that the stain of The Chris Benoit tragedy hampered your attempts to find work in acting after leaving WWE. Are you still feeling the effects of that to this day?

I’m not sure if I'm feeling the effects right now. I surely, absolutely felt the effects for at least a couple of years. You gotta realize that I left WWE in February or March of 2007. 3 months later, Chris Benoit goes home and kills his family. Very sad. Very, very sad. I cried so much when I heard that. It was so painful, I really had great admiration for Chris up to that point, and he was one of my WWE brothers.

I can remember all the conversations between me, him, Eddie and Chavo. Then Chavo Classic. And you know, it was really rough. About that time, I decided to look for work. I took some time off after WWE and now it’s time to get back to work. I remember going into Jules Coles’ office in NYC and they're looking at my resume. And somebody says to me "Oh! You’re head of security for those wrestlers! Those fake wrestlers!" and I was all "Well you know, it’s a sports entertainment company." And they go "Oh, those are the guys who take all the steroids, right?" and I said "Well, you know, that’s not everybody. It’s just one of those things…" and they'd say "Oh, and this is the company where that guy went home and killed his family one weekend." And I went Oh my God, this is what I'm up against?! I was up against such bad press. I was up against such a bias, such negativity toward WWE. Like, OK it’s fake wrestling, does that also mean you were a fake security guy? I mean I didn't know what to think after a while.

But timing was HORRIBLE. To think that all of a sudden I can't get hired by anybody, and to think that it didn't affect my work would be very na├»ve of me, and very wrong thinking. It was devastating, it really was. Does it affect me now? No, we're past that. It’s 5 years later. God, can you believe it’s 5 years already? That’s unbelievable, isn't it? It doesn't affect me now, but it absolutely positively affected me then, I'm sure of it.


You are now working on a book, can you tell us a little bit about it?

Yes! I just got goosebumps. My beautiful daughter… Sometimes when you're on the road, things happen. I met a young beautiful girl one day, I was actually travelling with Jonathan Coachman (Former WWE announcer, The Coach), and our waitress was this beautiful young girl from Detroit. About 3 or 4 months later, we had a one-night stand. And then 9 months later, we had a beautiful daughter. The problem is, if there is a problem, the problem is I am 47 years older than my daughter is. I'm 54, and she’s 7. And she may not get to know me. I don't know what God’s plan is for me. I don't know if I'm going to live to be 80, 90, or 55. So I want my daughter to know everything. My dad died about 10 years ago, and even though I was his only son, I didn't know everything about my dad, and I find myself wondering, and I ask my mom, my 86 year old mom, I ask her questions all the time about my dad. And I wanna know more.

So I wrote a book, it’s called “A Letter to Cecily: The Memoirs of a Nobody”, my daughter’s name is Cecily. It is about my life. I've led a very colorful life. I've been on Broadway, I've been in movies, I've been a personal trainer to the stars, I've been a security expert to the stars, I've worked with major corporations. I’m a recovering alcoholic and I just celebrated 25 years of recovery, and I do that on a daily basis. I grew up with 7 women, 6 sisters and my mother, my dad was gone all the time, so I've had this very, very colorful life and I want my daughter to know about it.

So I decided to write her a 400 page letter and the book will be done by the end of the year. I made that commitment to myself, and I'm way past three quarters done, but I've been working on it for 2 days and I wrote 10 pages today, which is terrific. If you've done any writing, you’ll know much 10 pages is, it’s a LOT of writing. But I’m very, very proud of it. I say in the book that she'll be so proud of me. She'll know so many good things about me. But I'm also gonna tell her a lot of bad things. I want her to know everything. So that she'll have no questions, like I have about my dad. There will be no questions about who Jimmy Noonan was.

Do you have a release date set for the book?

I think first thing I’m gonna do is get it done, which probably will be in the next 30-40 days. After that, it’s a game. I don't have a publisher yet, I don't have anything. I do know that it’s terrific stuff, and that a lot of people are interested in it. But there is no real release date. When you get done with a book, you get it out anywhere between 6-9 months. I might self publish it. There’s a lot of money in self publishing these days. You know, a lot of the book companies that used to be around aren't around anymore. So I might self publish it.


What was the overall experience of working for WWE, and if you could, would you do it again?

You know, of course I would do it again. I would probably never have gone to all those little cities that we went to. I did a show in all 50 states. North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, and EVERY medium sized city in Texas, and all the countries I went to. All the experiences I had, all the women I banged (HAHAHA!!). Of course I would do it again. In a minute!

But I will tell you, I don’t know if you know this, Jeremy, but I have a very famous writer sister, and her name is Peggy Noonan. Peggy used to write Ronald Reagan and George Bush’s speeches, and she works with Romney now, and she’s a very well-respected conservative republican pundit. Peggy said to me one day "What are you doin’?" I said "Well, I'm about to go on the road with WWF" and she said "Well, what’s that?" and I said "You know the wrestlers you see on TV?" and she goes "Why are you gonna do that?" and so I said "Well because the money’s real good, I'll be solvent for the first time in many years, and my first show is in Texas. And next week I'll be going to Japan, and then I'll be going to Australia in 3 or 4 months." And she goes "But Jimmy, you're an actor. Look at it; You just did Broadway, you just did a major TV show and Super Troopers, everything you touch turns to gold, every show or movie you’re in gets awards, so what are you doing?" and I said "Well I don't know! It just sounds like the right thing to do." And she goes "Well I disagree." So I look at that sometimes and I think Oh my god, maybe I made a mistake. But I would do it again. I had some great experiences, and it’s not a negative, it's a positive. I have to rate it a positive experience, and of course I'd do it again. I'd do it again in a minute. Although, I wouldn't do it again now. Let’s make that clear, I would never go back!

2 comments:

  1. Excellent interview & interviewee.
    A very likeable down to Earth person came across.

    ReplyDelete
  2. He talks sense. Punk was wrong to hit the fan, the other fans were wrong to be shoving him, but the security should have prevented it from even happening.

    ReplyDelete