SmackDown’s John Morrison gets a chance to become Universal champion when he and tag partner The Miz face champ Braun Strowman in a handicap match at Backlash on Sunday (7 pm., WWE Network). Before stepping in the ring, Morrison took time for some Q&A with The Post’s Joseph Staszewski.
(Edited for length and clarity)
Q: Have you and The Miz talked about what happens if you win your handicap match against Braun Strowman? Will you be the first co-Universal champions?
A: We’ve discussed two things, we’re maybe going to be co-champions and cut the belt in half and just put it together. That way we can make some cool merch out if it, like wristwatches of half Universal championships. The other thing we’re tossing around is whoever gets the fall is Universal champion. If I win, for example, Miz gets the first shot. If he wins, I get the first shot. We haven’t decided yet. We are really just focused on getting in Braun’s head.
Q: Speaking of getting in his head, you had a pretty entertaining episode of SmackDown last week with all the pranks you and Miz played on Braun. How fun was that and were there some pranks that didn’t make air that might have been fun?
A: We had all kinds of ideas from shooting suction-cup arrows at Braun’s big forehead. (Laugh). Putting ex-lax in his protein shake and then saran wrap on the locker room bathroom door so now’s he’s got to poop and he runs into the saran wrap. I talked to Miz about what we should do is pee in a pan and freeze it and then put it in Braun’s bag frozen and then it will melt over the course of the show. The ones that we did do though really nailed him. Getting Braun mad is not that hard, so mission accomplished.
Q: What was your motivation for wanting to come back to WWE?
A: John Morrison is a WWE guy. The nine years that I was gonna, I went to Mexico, traveled around the world. I learned a lot of different styles. I was the first-ever triple crown champion of AAA in Mexico, Lucha Underground champion, Impact champion, 5 Star champion in the UK, champion of a lot of smaller promotions.
Wrestling all these places and mastering all these different styles made me want to come back to the most competitive place, the dominant and best company in the history of the wrestling business, World Wrestling Entertainment, and apply everything that I’ve learned to compete with the best in the business.
Q: You talked about the championships you’ve won elsewhere. Do you view not being a world champion in WWE as something that’s missing from the resume?
A: That’s a big reason I came back, yeah. But I’ve also learned that the wrestling business is also a business of restraint and patience. And the stuff that I’m doing with The Miz right now is so fun and I think some of the most fun that I’ve had in my career.
Q: Was it your guys’ idea or WWE’s to put you right back together?
A: The Miz and I really wanted to come back as Miz and Morison and I’m happy the way that ended up.
Q: How did the idea for the Miz and Morrison chant come about?
A: “Hey hey, ho ho?”
A: This one particular car ride, Mike said he was watching SmackDown and he was doing this really weird chant for (his daughter) Monroe. And it was just, ‘Miz and Morrison, hey hey, ho ho.’ And now he’s trying to get her to dance. He did it for like a half-hour in the car. For awhile I was like, ‘This is the dumbest, most annoying thing.’ When we got to the hotel that night I was like, ‘that’s so dumb. I don’t want to hurt his feelings.’ Then I’m in my room and I start doing the chant in my head and I was like, wait a minute, I can’t get this out of my head. Maybe he’s on to something. Goddammit, sometimes that’s how genius strikes.
Q: What do you remember about the first time you met Miz?
A: When I first met Miz I thought a couple of things, one I remembered him from the ‘Real World’ and I remembered him always saying that he wanted to be a pro wrestler. And I remember always thinking like, ‘Well why aren’t you wrestling? Why are you doing all these challenge shows?’ And then when I saw him, this was probably “Tough Enough 4” when he was competing for “Tough Enough,” like cool, this guy finally put his money where his mouth is.
Second, when I first met him (what I felt) was, this guy’s really loud and kind of annoying. You know, that hasn’t changed. He’s still loud and he’s still abrasive, but he’s one of the most loyal and good-hearted people and he’s just kind of a loud, opinionated guy and when you get to know him there are some really cool things about him.
Q: How would you describe your friendship with him?
A: One of the things I like about him is we talk about ideas. There are levels of conversation. People talk about places. Some people talk about people. And ideas to me is kind of the highest form of conversation and because we are on the same wavelength regarding a lot of creative stuff. The A-Lister has been dabbling in quite a bit of Hollywood stuff.
That was one of the reasons I stepped away (from WWE), to get involved with filmmaking, storytelling outside the ring because I didn’t feel I had time to invest the way I wanted to. We’d talk a lot about wrestling obviously, but also show business, ideas for short films, ideas for longer projects.
Aside from that, you saw the ‘Hey Hey, Ho Ho’ rap video. We’re working on some other projects. We’ve got another thing in the pipe we are gonna try to debut on SmackDown on Friday. It’s another version of ‘Hey Hey, Ho Ho’ this one’s got a rock vibe and pretty stoked about it.
Q: This is the remix coming?
A: Oh no, this is much more than a remix. This is a rock song. This is not a remix. This is a completely different song. It’s gonna be the best thing you’ve ever seen.
Q: You came back to a strange WrestleMania considering all the circumstances. Things changed quickly for you. How much time did you, Kofi and Jimmy Uso have to put your ladder match together?
A: Not a lot. Stuff was changing, you know the landscape right then was right toward the beginning of the pandemic and things were always in motion. That match, we found out the night before and didn’t have much time at all to prepare.
Q: How did you guys prepare: texts, calls? How did that work?
A: We just got there and all prepared that day. We literally didn’t find out until it was pretty late the night before.
Q: How proud are you of it? It was talked about as one of the better matches at WrestleMania 36.
A: I’ve heard some people call it the best match. (Laughs). Those are your words, not mine.
I was pretty proud of what we did in what changes strategically from a tag team ladder match to a singles ladder match very quickly. That match the three of us put on was one of my favorites that I had in my career.
Q: You were close with Shad Gaspard. Do you have a story that best describes what it means to be his friend?
A: One year at Comic Con I was trying to acquire the rights to an Image Comics property and he was there networking and hustling. He had a couple of things he was trying to get funded. We bump into each other on the floor and, of course, I get a sleeper hold put on my when I’m signing an autograph for somebody and they’re freaked out for a split second and I turn around and it’s Shad of course. I hug him. Then we decided to go to a party that night where the Image guy is gonna be
So I go, I talk to the guy and kind of have an awkward, standard: ‘Really big fan of your comic. I’d love to expand it, make it a short and then see if we can get it made into a series.’ Standard stuff. I left. I go to the bar. Shad’s there. He’s got two ladies. I’m like, ‘Dude, what are you doing?’ He’s like, ‘No, no there not for me. They’re for your boy.’
We sit down at the table. Now all of a sudden it’s changed. The executive types are more excited because now Shad’s there being goofy. He’s got these two girls sitting down, everyone’s laughing. This goes on for like an hour and the guy leaves with the two girls and I was like holy s–t.
Then the next day he (the executive) texted me: ‘Best night ever. Oh my God. Call me anytime. Let’s set a meeting.’ That’s what I call Shad magic. He was a mood enhancer. He was just so positive. It’s almost like it was fun for him to try to think of a weird way to help me even though he there doing his own stuff.
First of all, it wasn’t about just kissing up to some people. Everyone at that table had a legit good time. Second of all, he was helping his friend, me. That’s just him. If you were his friend, he just had your back and he was a ball of charisma and positive energy. Yeah man, I’m gonna miss him.
Q: What do you want to accomplish in this second stint in WWE?
A: One of the things that I’ve really kind of concluded after thinking a lot about what the business of pro wrestling is, what it should mean, is it’s supposed to be fun. I had fun watching it while I was a kid. That’s what hooked me. Sometimes during my previous run, I put so much pressure on myself that I forgot to have fun. When I watch myself in the ring not having fun, it’s not as fun to watch.
Balancing that ambition, with hey let me be in the moment, let me enjoy these moments, let me have fun with the people that I’m working with. Let me have fun with these matches. I’ve done so much work with regard to leveling up my physical skills even further than I thought was going to be possible. I thought my physical peak was passed, but I basically learned from training intelligently there is a lot of balance, stability, coordination that you can continue to improve just by teaching yourself a series of increasingly difficult skills. So, having fun, leveling up myself physically and leveling up myself in the microphone.
Q: When you do really pick up or start the parkour training?
A: So I started really training hard then (between 2008-11) and when I was making (the movie) “Boone: The Bounty Hunter”, the movie I wrote, produced, starred. Probably the best movie about bounty hunting ever to come out in 2017. Part of the objective with this movie was to integrate pro wrestling and parkour into a movie, so I was training pretty hard.
I really attribute me unlocking a lot of new abilities to that time because then when I started at Lucha Underground I suddenly had this whole new skillset. I could walk the ropes, I could gainer, I could modify cork. I could do a lot of things I could never (think of doing before).
When you start working full-time you don’t level up your skills any further because you’re just doing what you mastered and constantly working. That’s what I felt like happened to me when I was on the road during my first (WWE) run.
Q: You have a lot of people closes to you working all over the wrestling landscape? What’s it been like having your wife Taya Valkyrie in Impact and your friend Luchasaurus in AEW?
A: I’m a fan of wrestling in general. So it’s been pretty cool because it’s given me a reason to watch what people are doing outside of my own bubble and I didn’t have that much and I think a lot of people in WWE don’t have that as much. I’m fortunate to have that.
Q: How much fun would it be creatively to be a dual Universal champion with The Miz?
A: Oh my God. It would be awesome for me. It would be awesome for Mike, even for the fans of SmackDown and Fox. It would be good for the brand of SmackDowna and wrestling fans worldwide.
It’s one of the reasons I came back. It’s on my career bucket list, so to speak, to win that thing. That’s why we’ve been thinking so hard about ways to beat Braun. I like our chances. I know we’re going to have fun at Backlash. Maybe Braun will. But it’s never fun to lose, so we’ll see.