During All Elite Wrestling's official launch rally in Jacksonville, the fledgling promotion announced its roster of performers in addition to the behind-the-scenes crew. One of those members is Billy Gunn who was hired as the company's first producer.
Gunn has experience as a road agent from his time in Impact Wrestling, but this will be his first producer role. He talked about this new era that AEW will be ushering in and also why he didn't talk as much when a part of the New Age Outlaws.
"It's because Brian [Road Dogg] always talked better than I did," Gunn said on WINCLY. "I was always the guy that did all the action stuff. He's good at what he's good at and I'm good at what I'm good at. I'm good at being physical and beating people up and he's good at talking his way out of it."
Road Dogg is in a similar position as Gunn is in as he is the head writer of SmackDown Live. Gunn discussed how it's cool that he and his former partner ended up in similar positions in the wrestling industry.
"I'd like to say that he's in a little bit higher position than I am because he's running a whole division… But it's cool how our paths crossed similarly but in different companies," stated Gunn.
Whether as a performer, an agent or a trainer, Gunn has been in the wrestling business for over 30 years. Much of that has been as a tag team wrestler, but he says his overall experience is why he was hired for this position.
"I think it's my all-around experience. I've been in the business a lot and I don't claim to know everything, but I know some stuff," Gunn said before adding that AEW will put a focus on tag teams, unlike WWE.
"AEW is going to put just as much focus on the tag division as they do the singles. I think tag is a lost art and The Young Bucks are good at what they do.
Tags are really exciting and they haven't gotten the chance to shine until me and Brian were up in WWE. They don't really care about the tag division there, but we will. That's the difference between us…
"If we put a focus on it, and put some mainstream to it, then everybody will take it as a mainstream and not a sideshow."
AEW plans on giving lots of freedom to its wrestlers which will also make it different than WWE which takes the freedom away from the talent.
"I don't think they'll do that," Gunn said of WWE giving their Superstars the same freedoms they once had. "I don't think they'll relinquish stuff like that…They are a little bit more controlling with their talent and what they can and can't do."
Many are comparing AEW's rise to WCW's rise in the 90s which led to the Monday Night Wars and the Attitude Era. But Gunn says that the AEW era will resemble more of the Attitude Era and can be just as good.
"I think it's gonna be just as good," said Gunn. "At this stage of my career…it's super neat to see a company like this come along that I get to be a part of. It's gonna be so new and fresh and fun. You can't really compare anything to the Attitude Era, I don't think. Wrestling goes in phases – you had the 80s then the 90s. You had the Attitude Era now you have the undisputed/PG era.
"We're not in that element – we're in our own realm. It's gonna be exciting, fun and refreshing. People are gonna dig it and love everything about it."
Despite Gunn stating that AEW can be as good as WWE during the Attitude Era, he doesn't like to look in the past and is only focused on what AEW can do in the present and future.
"I don't wanna say that cause I don't wanna say we're going backwards," Gunn said about AEW being viewed as an Attitude Era throwback. "I wanna say we're going forward... We're bringing everything to light and we're gonna let these kids do what they do. We're not gonna hold them back. We're not gonna stop them from doing what they do. That's the reason they have a name.
"The key word will be freedom. You have freedom to do what you do. That's what we had back in the day. I didn't have people writing stuff for me. I didn't have people telling me what I can and cannot do. Telling me which moves I can and cannot do.
"There's a circle you've got to stay in a little bit of. It's thinking outside the box, but staying inside the box."
Gunn will dip a bit into his past when he hosts a party the Friday before WrestleMania. Many of his former Impact Wrestling cohorts will also be on hand and he talked more about it.
"We're doing a party. Bully Ray, the girls – Angelina [Love] and Velvet [Sky] are gonna be there. So it's like a reunion of The Beautiful People," said Gunn. "...It's gonna be a lot of fun. That Legends Bar is really cool. If nothing else, come hang out there. I don't drink or nothing, but I'll watch you drink. I've got no problem with that.
"But it's gonna be fun. Take some pictures. We've got all kinds of stuff. Q&A stuff going on most of the night…or until my old ass has to go to sleep."
Billy Gunn's "Badd A$$ Mania Party" in NYC goes down on Friday April 5th at Legend's Bar in Manhattan. Guests already announced to attend include Bully Ray, The Beautiful People (Velvet Sky and Angelina Love), "Cowboy" James Storm, former NXT Superstar Bull Dempsey and Austin Gunn.
Tickets go on sale immediately following WWE Elimination Chamber and can purchased here.
You can listen to Billy's full WINCLY interview in the embedded audio player below. In it he also discusses Goldberg or Batista possibly joining AEW, how he's blending in with AEW management, the different paths he and Road Dogg are on, focusing on young talent, Double or Nothing and more.