Former ECW Heavyweight Champion Raven was recently a guest on Title Match Wrestling to discuss a number of topics regarding his career in WWE and ECW. Raven explained how he did not think too much of the Raven character, but it started to get over because he began to invest more time into it in order for it to look more genuine. Unfortunately, instead of art imitating life, life began to imitate art, and Raven started to head down a dark path because of embracing his character too much.
"I didn't realize how personal it was gonna become, and then the character became so personal, so art imitated life, but then life started to imitate art when I started to become a bigger, you know, getting worse in drugs and alcohol," said Raven. "Because, in some perverse way, I was trying to stay true to who I created, to Raven, even though Raven was based on me. So, art imitated life, but then life started to imitate art, and that's when things went downhill."
Raven feels that promotions creating a character for someone usually does not work well, with exceptions such as Big Boss Man and The Undertaker. It should be a part of who the person really is, because if the wrestler does not believe in his character, the fans will not. He added that wrestlers "are not casting agents."
"It's not like in Hollywood where they have people whose job it is to cast parts, but that is what happens. Like, they'll come up with an idea and say, 'we need a pirate. Let's make this guy a pirate because he has a glass eye or something.' And that's how roles are cast in the wrestling business, but in the old days [of] the business, you became who you wanted to become, and if it sold, it sold, and if it didn't sell, then you would go back to the drawing board, or you get out of the business, or went into construction or something."
During his time in ECW, Raven became one of the most popular names in the company history, and was one of the pioneers of creating the large following that ECW had during its run. However, the original plans were much different, as Raven explained.
"The original idea was I was gonna come in for three months to get [Tommy] Dreamer over," said Raven. "Paul E. [Heyman] didn't realize what I was doing with the character. He thought I was going to do like a misfit grungy [character], but still a comedy character, because that's all I've done before was chicken s**t heels. And that's what he thought it was gonna be.
"But when he saw it wasn't, that's when the wheels started turning, and I told Paul E. before we even moved forward [and] even realized that's what it was, I said look, if you want me to get him over quick, we need to have a back story. Because, if we have a back story, there's already an emotional investment tied in, we can skip three months of programming, we can just jump into the meat of the programming if there's a back story. So I came up with the back story when he gave me Stevie [Richards]."
Raven also explained that Heyman added to the story that Dreamer never beat him, and it got to the point of that being the focus of the storyline. Both Raven and Dreamer lobbied to Heyman for Dreamer not to beat him before Raven left, but Raven does understand that Heyman was reasonable in not fully trusting that Raven was going to return for them to continue their storyline.
"He couldn't know that I'd be back in two years, and he couldn't count on that," said Raven. "And he had to get his mileage out of me. I had to put Tommy over to finally give catharsis to the feud, but in hindsight, sure, we never should have done it. Me and Tommy both thought we never should have done it, but from Paul E.'s point of view, we absolutely had to do it. I totally see that."
Raven also discussed moving to WCW and WWE after his ECW run, his drug addition, CM Punk, and more, as shown in the video above.
If any portion of these quotes is used, please h/t Title Match Wrestling via Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.