John Hennigan’s career is hotter than ever.
The former World Wrestling Entertainment superstar not only still wrestles a nearly full-time schedule, but he also finds time for his growing acting career and to maintain one of the best physiques in the business.
Fittingly, over the phone during a workout, Hennigan, who is perhaps best known for his wrestling alter-ego John Morrison, is eager to talk about his hectic life and career.
Besides starring as Hercules in Hercules Reborn, and roles in American Justice and a soon-to-be starring role in Diablo Steel, Morrison is also adding to his reputation as a bonafide wrestling star with various promotions.
On July 18 in Toronto, Hennigan returns to his friend and mentor Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore for his second appearance. He’s also very proud of the work he’s been doing for the upstart Lucha Underground promotion.
“It’s awesome,” Hennigan said. “I feel like it’s some of the best wrestling I’ve done is with Lucha Underground. Technically, some more difficult and crazy moves than I did even with WWE.”
Since his WWE departure in 2011, besides growing his acting career, Hennigan launched his own fitness line (www.outofyourmindfitness.com) and continued to do what he loves most, wrestle.
The changing wrestling landscape offers a lot of opportunity for its performers today, Hennigan said.
“It’s kind of cool that there are more options as far as independent places to wrestle, promotions that have some TV time that are gaining momentum,” he said. House of Hardcore, for instance, can now be seen on Fight Network across Canada and worldwide on Roku devices. “As far as being a pro wrestler in today’s climate, so to speak, for me, two weeks ago I worked for AAA in Mexico City, last weekend I was in Halifax for Wrestle Centre, this weekend I’m going to Monterrey again for AAA. It’s cool because everything’s so different. I’m a top heel right now in Mexico, I’ve got a feud with Alberto Del Rio on Lucha Underground. I’m a face in Canada because you guys don’t see Lucha Underground. It’s different.” Morrison is the latest veteran to liken the current state of wrestling to the old days.
“It’s starting to feel maybe a little bit more of how the territories were back in the day,” he said. There are more places to wrestle. And it’s cool for me to see vastly different styles. People in the Maritimes wrestle differently than they do in Mexico City, wrestle differently than they do in Philadelphia. It’s cool, man. For me, it’s awesome.” When Dreamer called him about coming to Toronto, it was, Hennigan said, a no-brainer, as House of Hardcore has one of the best reputations in the business.
“I’d say House of Hardcore is Tommy Dreamer,” Hennigan said. “The people who are wrestling for House of Hardcore are largely doing it because of Tommy. He was a mentor to me in the business and almost all of my peers that I came up with at the time. He is a genius for the business and it’s cool to see him putting all of the knowledge that he has personally into a promotion.”
That makes House of Hardcore unique, Hennigan said.
“It feels like House of Hardcore is a promotion made by a pro wrestler for pro wrestlers for fans of pro wrestling,” he said. “It’s cool to have that feel to it. Seeing the success that he’s had since the first time I was there, it’s cool. There’s nothing cooler than watching your friend succeed. I’d call Tommy a close friend of mine. It’s cool to watch him do his thing. He’s good at it.”
Dreamer, Hennigan said, is not only loved but respected, which is rare in wrestling and that makes the House of Hardcore experience unlike any other.
“The nice thing about a lot of independent wrestling shows is they’re super relaxed and there’s no pressure,” he said. “I think that’s good to a certain point. Sometimes it’s good to have a little bit of pressure put on people. It’s good to have a ring general, so to speak, and I’m saying that pertaining to the overall structure of a wrestling show, and a wrestling card, because I think the fans get a better show if the whole card is thought of at the show instead of just letting the inmates run the asylum, so to speak. People go to business for themselves and you end up with a four-hour show.
“I think Tommy has a good blend of letting the inmates run the asylum but commanding enough respect from everyone that if he says, ’15 minutes,’ if he says what he’s looking for, people are going to give that to him out of respect, which is nice.”
Canada, in many ways, is like a second home for Hennigan, who said he makes several appearances north of the border each year. But none, he recalled, quite like his first trip to Canada.
“The first time I was on the road in Canada was with MNM (with Joey Mercury) and we were riding with Matt Morgan,” Hennigan recalled. “To make a long story short, we somehow ended up with a diesel pickup truck — I think it was just out of necessity. We were in Calgary and we were doing our loop and the truck started slowly not working. It was rumbling. It shut off once. We pulled over. We had just filled it up, it still had like three quarters of a tank (of gas).”
Oh, it had gas alright, Hennigan said.
“What happened was I had filled the truck up with regular gasoline instead of diesel,” he admitted with a laugh. “We went to the next gas station and filled it up with diesel and it made it. It rumbled and shook and made it. It took us through the whole loop. We kept putting more and more diesel in. I think it was a Calgary-Red Deer-Medicine Hat loop so it was a super long drive. We just took the truck back and dropped it off at the airport and we’re like, ‘The truck was great. No problem.’”
While his first experience in Canada may have been of the forgettable variety, the countless trips north since have made Canadian wrestling fans among Hennigan’s favourites.
“I think wrestling fans in Canada are very educated and are fans of the business and appreciate the intricacies of pro wrestling,” he said. “I’m looking forward to wrestling in that environment, especially for House of Hardcore because I know Tommy is going to do a good job promoting and putting the show together and I’m expecting a big turnout. Toronto has been one of my favourite cities to wrestle in. I’m expecting to do what I do every night: leave everything out in the ring and let the fans decide how much they liked it. For Toronto, I have got a lot of good … It’s going to be cool to be back.”
Follow Hennigan on twitter at twitter.com/TheRealMorrison and check out his fitness products at www.outofyourmindfitness.com.
For tickets to House of Hardcore 9, go to www.houseofhardcore.net.
House of Hardcore 9
What: Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore 9 makes its international debut.
When: July 18, 6 p.m. meet and greet, 7:30 bell time.
Where: Ted Reeve Community Arena, 175 Main St., Toronto, Ontario.
Card: Tommy Dreamer, The Young Bucks, John Hennigan, Team 3D, Rhino, Traci Brooks and more.
Photographs by Slam Wrestling, Joe Ferrara, Scott Finkelstein