Ken "Mr." Anderson, or as he was known in the late aughts as a rising star in WWE, Mr. Kennedy (Kennedy), is a bit of a divisive figure for wrestling fans. His brash character gets him over and helps him to stand out, but it also rubs a lot of fans - and allegedly fellow professionals - the wrong way.
Now going on five years with TNA, Anderson sat down with Alex Obert over at Journey of a Frontman to talk about his career. The hot take that lead to the headline of this post, came up when the former Money in the Bank winner was asked about that experience. The then Mr. Kennedy won the briefcase for a shot at either the WWE or World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 23, but a misdiagnosed upper arm injury lead to his losing the briefcase to Edge in a challenge match.
Anderson's take on that situation does not paint WWE in a favorable light, in terms of the call the medical staff made or management's response to it:
What happens is when you're injured, you're punished for being injured. You get injured because your job is dangerous and they run you five days a week. I was never injured because of stupid things that I did, it was usually at the hands of somebody else. Once I got a bruise on my triceps that was misdiagnosed as a torn triceps. It's almost like you're punished for getting injured. When you come back, you're sort of depushed and somebody else has taken that slot. That's understandable to a degree, but they can say "Here we go, off to the races again" and they choose not to.
He was also joined voices like Stone Cold Steve Austin in being critical of the tightly controlled atmosphere on Raw, both in terms of in-ring work and character presentation. Since he says that Smackdown (this was during the brand split era) wasn't like that, he's clearly talking about Vince McMahon without naming him:
Another one of the things that frustrated me was everything that brought me to the dance in the first place, I was told to stop doing all that stuff. "Do it this way, don't do it that way. What you're doing is wrong." I did it on Smackdown for a couple years. Taker, Batista, Rey Mysterio, Bob Holly, Chris Benoit, Kane, Booker T, all those guys loved working with me and had no problems working with me. I went over to RAW and suddenly I don't know how to work or wrestle or do my thing. I was told don't do it this way, do it that way.
Just be serious and stop being so funny, which to a degree, I agree with, but there is a time and place for it. It's the way you present yourself. Look, Rock is funny all the time, but he's still believable. I still believe that he can kick somebody's ass and I still believe that he's pissed at John Cena when he's pissed at John Cena. I think there's a time and place for it and I was told don't do any of it, that's it, done. Done with it. The stuff that got you here and got you recognized and noticed, stop doing all of it.
The person who had the book at Smackdown while Anderson was there was Paul Heyman. And in talking about how things are different in TNA, he still gives credit to Heyman as a mentor:
They were telling me just the opposite. They said they would put bullet points down on my promos to let me know where they were going with the main story, they told me however I decided to get there was up to me. A lot of times, I would call Paul Heyman and ask him what he would do in this situation. I told him what they had for me and we would talk almost every week. Paul Heyman was responsible for helping me with a lot of the stuff that was coming out of my mouth in the early days at TNA.
Which is interesting, because it sounds like he didn't like being scripted by Vince even though he was happy to deliver someone else's material. It makes you wonder if McMahon couldn't get talent to say pretty much what he wants them to, and have the chance to catch lightning in a bottle while keeping his performers more engaged if he would coach them through bullet points instead of handing them a full page of dialogue.
We'll probably never know.
The self-proclaimed Asshole and two-time TNA World Champ also talks about his friendship with Goldberg, who he doesn't think will ever wrestle again, and Samoa Joe, who he thinks will land in WWE at some point, in the interview. Click on over to JoaF and give the whole thing a read.
What do you think about his statements concerning WWE's treatment of injured workers? Does that factor into their treatment of guys like Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler?