Marvez: Bill DeMott having 'The Last Laugh'

Jun 16 2011 - 5:19pm

"The Last Laugh" isn't just the title of Bill DeMott's new autobiography.

It's also what DeMott is enjoying after his WWE return.

DeMott joined Trish Stratus, Booker T and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin as trainers on the recently completed series "Tough Enough," which is a reality show for aspiring pro wrestlers trying to become WWE stars.

The rehiring served as vindication. Four years earlier, DeMott was fired from the same role at a WWE developmental territory (Deep South Wrestling) for what he describes in the book as wrestler complaints "about how they were being treated badly and not taught anything."

"When I got the call from (WWE) about 'Tough Enough,' I told my wife how funny it is that the guy who got chastised for what he does and how he does it is going back to TV," DeMott said Monday in a telephone interview. "I guess in some people's mind I make a good TV character, even though I don't see myself that way. When I was offered the job, I didn't think twice about taking it."

DeMott, 46, began making the transition from performer to trainer almost a decade ago. He demands the same passion and work ethic from his students that was instilled in him by his own acclaimed mentor, "Unpredictable" Johnny Rodz.

"I'm in-your-face and honest -- sometimes brutally honest -- and I'm louder than most (trainers)," said DeMott, who made his own pro debut in 1988. "In the WWE, you're getting paid to be around some of the best entertainers in the world. A lot is expected. If you can't stand the way I deal with you, what makes you think you can stand in front of anyone who matters in WWE (management)? I always say, 'Once you get through me, the rest should be easy.' "

"Easy" is not a word that can be used to describe DeMott's path. Despite his standout athleticism, DeMott was mired in a mid-card role for his six years with World Championship Wrestling working under the names Hugh Morrus and General Rection.

After WWE purchased WCW in 2001, DeMott struggled to find his niche before shifting to a trainer's role. Upon his firing from Deep South Wrestling, DeMott took a package-handling job with Federal Express while starting his own New Energy Wrestling training school in McDonough, Ga. (www.newenergywrestling-llc.com).

DeMott also was forced to deal with injuries, substance-abuse issues and domestic difficulties. Those travails are documented in "The Last Laugh," which was co-written with esteemed pro-wrestling historian Scott Teal.

"I was awful," a laughing DeMott said about his own in-ring career. "I came to that conclusion because I always did things the way they were told to me even though I am not a politically correct guy. I never played the game and tried to use leverage or self-promotion to put myself in a higher position. Even though I had all these things to offer as a big man, I became a 'punch-and-kick' guy.

"The funny thing is, if I had to go back and do it all again, I probably wouldn't listen to myself. I enjoyed my job."

DeMott tries to impress upon his students that they aren't "playing" the role of a wrestler like an actor or reality-television star because WWE demands are so great and require round-the-clock dedication. DeMott said that was a problem with the latest 14-member "Tough Enough" cast compared to the one from the show's last run in 2004, which featured current WWE headliner Mike "The Miz" Mizanin.

"The premise this season is that everyone had experience from the independent (wrestling) scene," DeMott said. "That shows you how the business has changed. Anybody who has bought a pair of boots from the Internet or been on an indy show is now a 'professional.'

"I don't think these kids were as hungry as they were seven years ago. The contestants were more laid-back. Some were just interested in being a reality-TV star. I tell them that they will get their 15 minutes of fame, but they won't do a thing when that's over."

One youngster who did impress DeMott was "Tough Enough" winner Andy Leavine.

"He's 23 years old, he's a monster (at 6-feet-5 and 270 pounds) and you can see he's coachable," DeMott said. "But this is not a place for someone weak. I've seen great athletes stop doing this because they couldn't take the travel or handle themselves in the locker room. Andy's wife just had a second newborn. He's going to have to man up and really prove he's worthy of the chance he was given.

"Everyone who wins 'Tough Enough' isn't necessarily WWE material. I'm going to go out of my way to make him understand what he did was nothing compared to what he's going to have to do now. It will be interesting to see if he continues to grow and run with the opportunity or fall short."

DeMott may be getting his own opportunity for a WWE grappling comeback. He created waves on the Internet last week with a Twitter post teasing an in-ring return.

"I don't plan to make any debuts, but this is WWE," said DeMott, who continues to train the company's developmental talent in Tampa, Fla. "You never know when they're gonna say, 'Hey, do you want to do this?' "

For more information on "The Last Laugh" ($19.95; Crowbar Press) and other wrestling autobiographies from greats like Tony Atlas, Ivan Koloff, J.J. Dillon and Lou Thesz, visit www.crowbarpress.com.

X...X...X

The excellent autobiography of the late Gary Hart was recently rereleased. "My Life in Wrestling ... With a Little Help From My Friends" (Gean Publishing; $30) chronicles the life of one of pro wrestling's most influential managers and matchmakers in the 1970s and '80s. For more information, visit www.playboygaryhart.net.

(Alex Marvez writes a syndicated pro-wrestling column for Scripps Howard News Service. Contact him at alex1marv@aol.com or follow him via Twitter at http://twitter.com/alexmarvez.)

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