By Chuck Carroll
Stand back. There’s a Hurricane coming through.
Hurricane Helms began churning up opponents in WWE in the early 2000s. His outlandish superhero character made him a hit with fans and a Category 5 force in the ring. During a nearly decade-long run, he captured six championships, including the Cruiserweight and Tag Team titles on two separate occasions. Although his name is etched in the history books, it is his cartoon persona that made him immortal among wrestling fans.
Now, he’s bringing his patented black and green cape and cowl to Ring of Honor, where his surprise debut was met with standing ovation in Texas not long ago. But it’s not the same superhero that first burst on the scene in 2001. The character has been constantly modified, tweaked, and kept fresh over the years. The evolution is important to Helms, who fears his alter-ego would otherwise become stale with audiences.
He’s set to return to ROH at a series of television tapings just outside of Washington, DC this weekend. The shows come less than 24 hours after the promotion holds its Best in the World pay-per-view event in Baltimore, where Helms is not advertised to appear.
Helms made a well-received though unexpected one-time return to WWE at this year’s Royal Rumble and says he’s open to rejoining the company if an accommodating schedule can be arranged. He feels as though he could breathe new life into the 205 Live brand on the WWE Network, but admits the company really doesn’t need help at the moment.
But to make clear, ROH is not second-fiddle for the wrestling veteran. Helms has a short-term deal in place that could be considered a trial run for both sides. For his part, the 43-year-old from North Carolina has been impressed by the locker room environment thus far and says fellow WWE veteran Cody Rhodes went out of his way to make him feel welcome backstage. He’s also thrilled with the fan reaction to his debut. Given both, Helms expects his future with the company will “progress nicely.”
During a recent interview, Helms discussed how he was recruited to join ROH, elaborated on his future there, working with John Cena at the Royal Rumble, and the difficulty of being involved in an eye-opening documentary about the trials and tribulations of his friends, Matt and Jeff Hardy.
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You’ve worked for so many companies before, why is now the time now to work for Ring of Honor? How did it come together?
I’ve always had an interest in Ring of Honor. I’ve always been a fan of the product. Ring of Honor style was pretty much what I was doing as Sugar Shane and even before Sugar Shane in Omega, and my Kid Vicious days, that really hybrid style. Not necessarily just one traditional style, but the combination of American, Lucha, Japanese, European. So I always had a great deal of respect for it, but the timing just never worked out before. I had contracts with other companies that would be issues. But this time… everything lined up, and so here we are.
Tell me a little bit about your deal. How long is it for and can we expect to see you at the next round of TV tapings, maybe even the pay-per-view Best In The World on Friday?
I’ll definitely be at the taping of Saturday, I know that. I’m not sure about Best In The World. We haven’t agreed to anything longterm. Kinda wanted to see how it goes. And it went really well in Texas. Had a lotta fun in the shows, obviously. If you’ve seen anything with the scenes, that Being The Elite stuff… fans have taken to my appearance in that pretty well. Everything went really well, so I think it’s gonna progress nicely.
What was it like for you to experience that energy working with The Young Bucks on Being The Elite and how the fans respond to them?
They’re busy little bees, man. They’re doing something all the time. And that’s pretty impressive. Especially since I was one of the first guys on social media to start utilizing it to his advantage. To see these guys just take it to other levels is pretty damn cool. It’s a good locker room, and everybody’s having fun. I didn’t detect any bad attitudes whatsoever. Everybody was really welcoming toward me. One time I went and had my gear in the corner, only because I was looking for a wall socket to plug in my phone. And Cody wanted to know why I was way over there. And I said, “it’s just for the phone charger.” He was concerned that I felt like maybe I didn’t fit in or something. … I just felt like that was really cool. I can’t say enough about that locker room.
You came up in the business with the Hardy Boyz and the Omega promotion. Their documentary [on WWE Network], did you get chance to see it?
Filming that was probably the toughest thing I ever did with WWE. I can’t say I enjoyed it, but they wanted me to be a part of it, so I did. [An] important story to get out, so that maybe other people will see. There’s probably some things you should just stay away from when people go out and are trying to have a good time. And I don’t like to be someone who tells people what to do, but the warnings are there and it’s up to you whether to heed them or not. This is a good warning. Don’t think that just because Matt and Jeff came out of it, that anybody can. There’s a lot of people who don’t. They don’t survive these type of things and don’t come back from these type of falls. Luckily they did. I was there to help ’em through it. I did several interventions with Matt, with Jeff as well, and it was tough. But when you care about somebody, you’re there for them when they’re down. And when I had my motorcycle accident and all of that, they were there for me, so I was gonna be there for them. That’s just what you do.
But as you said, they’ve made it through, and they’re back in WWE. Are you interested in coming back and doing another run? We saw you at the Royal Rumble earlier this year.
It would depend on the schedule for sure. If they could work with that, then I’m sure there’s stuff that we could talk about. Obviously, their 205 needs a boost. I could boost that for sure, but I could boost the main roster as well. I’ve got full confidence in what I bring to the table. But it’s not like WWE needs anybody… I’m also very happy where I am right now. So if something happens with them… awesome. If it doesn’t, then that final appearance at the Rumble was so damn hot, the crowd popped so loud for me. If that was my last time there, then I’m actually super okay with that too.
And you can’t go wrong with working with John Cena.
He had to agree with that spot, and he didn’t want to at first ’cause he’s the babyface, and I’m the super hero. He didn’t necessarily wanna try to throw me out. I had to talk him into it. He’s a super good guy, and when I explained to him, “I’m Hurricane, man. I gotta go after the top guy. I might be a little monkey, but I think I’m King Kong. And I’m going after Godzilla, and you’re Godzilla in there.” And that was almost word for word what I said, and he started laughing. And when I told him the idea, he popped for it, and it worked it out really well. So hats off to John and everybody for helping me keep it a secret. ‘Cause it was difficult in this day and age to even keep that secret. But we had fun with it.
Here and there you talk about the possibility of working for WWE again. You look at NXT, you look at the landscape of the business, and WWE in general. How would you see yourself fitting in right now? Is there anyone that you see yourself working with?
I think the easiest thing would be Cedric Alexander. But I would wanna do that as Gregory Helms. I’m not sure I would wanna do that as Hurricane. He has the Cruiserweight title right now. They’re eliminating all the records from before. So obviously that would be one of the next ones to try to eliminate. So if they’re gonna try to eliminate my record as longest Cruiserweight Champion, it probably would be pretty easy for me to just come in there and put a stop to it. Whether or not it works, that would be the story going forward. But that would be easy. And if I’m the Hurricane, I can work with anybody. The Hurricane character’s pretty flexible, as long as I have a good villain.
News & Notes
WWE stock surged this week after the company officially announced its new billion-dollar television rights deals. They’re currently trading well above $70 and are up 140% thus far this year.
In one of the more bizarre wrestling injuries in recent memory, Shinsuke Nakamura missed time this week after being bitten by a police dog. The incident apparently occurred backstage at a house show in Bakersfield, California on Monday. Authorities told The Wrestling Observer Nakamura was taken to the hospital after a bomb-sniffing dog bit him on the lower left leg. It’s unclear what caused the dog to attack.
Actor David Arquette is scheduled to wrestle his first match in seemingly forever on July 15 for Championship Wrestling From Hollywood. Arquette famously, and controversially, became the WCW World Heavyweight Champion in 2000 while the company was in a death-spiral. The fledgling promotion would be purchased by WWE the following year.
Chuck Carroll is a former pro wrestling announcer and referee turned sports media personality who now interviews the biggest names in wrestling. He once appeared on Monday Night RAW when he presented a WWE title belt in the Redskins locker room.
Follow him on Twitter @ChuckCarrollWLC.