Father James Mitchell talks Return to Impact, Rise of Women’s Wrestling, ECW versus WCW, more

Sep 6, 2019 - by James Walsh

Show: Wrestling Epicenter
Guest: Father James Mitchell
Date: 09/04/19
Your Host: James Walsh

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages! Today, we celebrate a special number of episode here at the Wrestling Epicenter. As we began in November of 2002 and have never stopped producing brand new exclusive interview content since that time, we have compiled a list of broadcasts that, to this day, total 665 broadcasts. And, on this day, we present to you #666! Who better to celebrate our devilish milestone with than the “Sinister Minister” himself, “Father” James Mitchell joins the Wrestling Epicenter for an exclusive sit down interview here in 2019 joining us for the first time since 2004!

“Woe to You Oh Earth and Sea
For the Devil sends the beast with wrath
Because he knows the time is short
Let him who hath understanding
Reckon the number of the beast
For it is a human number
Its number is six hundred and sixty six.”

“Father” James joins founder James (Walsh) for an exclusive interview to discuss his current role at Impact Wrestling, the departure of Abyss, his “wrestling coma” where he left the business for the better part of a decade, the liniage of ECW, and even why the Mortal Kombat style feud of Blood Runs Cold in WCW was “dead before it started.” Lots of gems here for the modern AND classic wrestling fan!

Impact Wrestling will be taping TV from Sin City in Las Vegas, NV this week. For tickets, visit www.ImpactWrestling.com.


On his time away from wrestling:
“I disappeared from wrestling in 2008. I went home. I figured they would call me – They usually did. I was usually never gone for more than 9 months to a year, tops. I just, frankly, got burned out and aggravated. I quit watching wrestling for the longest time and I didn’t pursue it. In the summer of 2016… I suffer from what Roddy Piper used to call the “Sickness.” (laughs) I realized I needed to start putting my toe back in the water. I started doing some indy shows down here in Florida and a promoter called me and wanted to know if I wanted to work with Abyss at an event in Cocoa Beach, Florida. I said, “If he’s OK with it then I am.” I hadn’t spken to Abyss in years at that point. So, it is funny, I was scrolling through my numbers to find which one of the 2 Abyss numbers I had was still working. I was just about to put my finger on it to dial it and he called me and asked if I wanted to come to Slammiversary. Because I wasn’t happy with the way my career suddenly disappeared and I was dropped from history… You know, I figured it was going to be my last hoorah. You know, give a propper send off and say goodbye. So, we did that crazy match! (laughs) You know, with Jeremy Borash, Josh Mathews, Shark Boy, and all that. I had been gone so long I wondered if anyone would even remember me. But, as I recall, I probably got the biggest pop of the night for my cameo. I figured I had put a bow on it and I was done.”

On returning for the Kongo Kong/Abyss match:
“About six months later or so, I got the call and they wanted me to come back and do the thing with Kongo Kong and Jimmy Jacobs and Abyss. I figured that was a matter of me coming in to pass the torch to the new manager and the new monster. I figured THAT was going to be the end of it… Did that, put it to bed… Then, I don’t know, six months after that? I got another call and I came back with the girls. That has been a lot of fun!”

On working with Su Young, Rosemary, Havok, & the Knockouts:
“Women’s wrestling has changed a lot in the last 10 years while I was gone. It has been exciting to see the changes and to see how much women have really picked their game up from just being a pretty attraction to actually getting in there and kicking ass… And, it also gives me my own little corner of the universe to work in.”

On if Abyss’ departure left a “black hole” in Impact:
“Any time you have someone that is integral to a product… You know, he cast a very long shadow. He had a lot friends there and he did a lot of positive things. His presence is felt to this day. But, you know, the company is slowly but surely reorganizing. The new management came in and picked up the pieces and started at ground zero. I was concerned, at first, that he would leave a spot that couldn’t be filled. I don’t just mean him personally but I mean someone that had so much experience and so much imput creatively over the years. But, they seem to be doing really well with the new management with Ed Nordholm, Don Callis, and Scott D’Amore. And, Abyss is getting to spend his golden years in the wrestling business getting that nice WWE producers money and all the road expenses paid for. It has worked out for everybody all around! It would be great for him to come back somewhere down the road. But, I think both sides are doing great right now.”

On Sinister Minister in ECW being remembered more than james Vandenberg in WCW:
“Sinister Minister should be remembered more than James Vandenberg is! (laughs) James Vandenberg was the manager for a gimmick, Blood Runs Cold, that was doomed from the start. The day Eric Bischoff hired me, he said, “This gimmick is dead from the start but we’re contractually obligated on paper.” And he said, “I’m going to be the guy to get rid of managers and tag teams.” Which he essentially did. There was only so much I could do in WCW. But, had I not been there, I would never have been able to go on and done the other things I did. I will always be grateful to Eric Bischoff for the opportunity he gave me.”

On working for ECW:
“That was the first time I was able to step out and spread my wings. It was the Fester version or the prototype of what I would become. But, I was given a lot of freedom. It is funny… Some of the fans remember that stuff a lot more fonldy than i do. (laughs) Some of it, I really liked! Some of it, I want to crawl into a fetal position and hide when I see it. That is the nature of working for ECW. When you’re waiting around until 4, 5 O’clock in the morning to do promos, sometimes me and Mikey would hit the sauce a little bit. Some of the stuff that we thought was brilliant wasn’t exactly brilliant in hindsight. (laughs)”

On Paul Heyman:
“That’s the legacy of Paul Heyman. Paul changed the landscape. That is the reason that WCW and WWE were stealing all of his talent. They were the little team that could and the people got to learn under Paul Heyman’s tree, generally, became shinning pieces of talent. A lot of people from ECW went on to make a much bigger mark in the business. If you remember, after Eric Bischoff fired Steve Austin, Paul brought Steve in to give him a place to get his self esteem and his mojo back in place and then he went on to WWE and went on to become one of the biggest stars they ever had at that point.”

On getting to work with the Knockouts:
“I do now but if you had asked me that 10 or 12 years ago… If I wanted to get involved with women’s wrestling, I would have said no. When I first started in the business 30 years ago, women’s wrestling was very different. It was the Fabulous Moolah era. I managed Judy Martin who was a Glamour Girl in the WWF with Leilani Kai. Women wrestlers, the generation of Madusa and Sherri, those women disappeared. And then, women’s wrestlers… It almost became that they were just grabbing pretty girls. They would do maybe 4 spots that they had rehearsed. And, everybody kind of did the same things. They were prettier to look at but the level of athletics was not the same. So, when I came out of my wrestling coma, it was almost like Rip Van Winkle waking up under a tree 10 years later… The entire world had changed! But, one of the things I was glad to see was the women were out there. They’ve got their promos together which was not there before. They’re out there toe to toe with the men! They are out there doing it instead of just tits and ass cat fights. It really is awesome!”

On the talent he’s enjoying right now:
“I’ve been involved with Su Young… Havok! And, they’ve been involved with Rosemary and Taya Valkyrie who are two of the most incredible female talents, or talents period. You’ve got Tessa Blanchard who is just amazing. It is an exciting time to be there!”

On if we’re at the cusp of another wrestling boom period:
“I would hope! In fact, it was just announced that Ken Shamrock is coming back to Impact Wrestling. It has really been an interesting time. Independent wrestling, for years, was what you did to learn the ropes or what you did when it was time for your career to go in the toilet. Now, you can make a full time career on the independent circuit if you have talent. The houses are no longer 50 people at a National Guard Armory. We’re on the cusp of another big change in wrestling. But, where exactly it is going to lead, I don’t know.”

On his place in wrestling:
“In some ways, I feel like the aging old gun fighter in those westerns who comes back for one last gun fight like Unforgiven with Clint Eastwood. It is funny, like 15 years ago at Impact, I would see guys like Bob Backlund or Larry Zbyszko walk in and think, “Man, what on earth are these guys doing here? Why would they want anything to do with these kids!” I find myself, now, as that guy! I enjoy being to give wisdom to those who ask for it. I told Abyss that I felt like a kid who just transfered schools in the 6th grade. I looked at the locker room and I was like, “I don’t know anybody here and they’re all in their 20’s!” It was awkward for a little while. He said, “Look, these kids grew up watching you! So, when you’re standing in the locker room, they’re not like “Who is that asshole! I don’t want to talk to him!” They want to talk to you!” So, once I jumped that hurdle, I was able to realize my place in the food chain.”

On if he misses his long hair:
“Yes, I do. Unfortunately, I was fighting a losing battle with mother nature. I could have either looked like Benjamin Franklin or the guy in an aging rock and roll cover band – The fat guy who still wants to be Eddie Van Halen and doesn’t have the hair for it. (laughs) Or, I coudl reinvent myself. I kept the eyebrows and the beard, I refined the beard a little bit. And, freshened myself up for a new generation!”

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