Maven: “I definitely think they could have done more with me”

Aug 5, 2021 - by Steve Gerweck

Chris Van Vliet passed along:

Just wanted to send a quick message to let you know about the interview that I did with Maven on my podcast Insight with Chris Van Vliet. He opened up about a lot of things including his addiction to painkillers, going to rehab, deciding to use steroids as well as his time on Tough Enough, his spot with The Undertaker in the 2002 Royal Rumble and how he never liked his theme song.

He chose Tough Enough over a spot on MTV’s The Real World:

“The show came out pre 9/11. So it was like 2001 when we started filming. This was the early days of reality television, back before you could make a career out of being a reality star. Literally going into it we were promised one thing and that was a chance to get into the WWE. I’ll tell you a secret too that I haven’t told very many because I kind of feel stupid. When I was interviewing to go on Tough Enough, the MTV people pulled me aside. They asked me ‘Do you want to be a wrestler, or do you want to be on TV?’ They offered me a spot on the upcoming Real World or Road Rules. But I was a wrestling fan I grew up watching wrestling, that’s what I wanted to do.”

Who he thought his main competition was on the show:

“Chris Nowinski. For the mere fact that he had wrestled before and he was good. He was a big kid and in wrestling Vince likes big guys. Chris was a good 2 inches taller than I was, probably 30 pounds bigger, Harvard educated, actually f*ck that [laughs]. Josh Matthews was the best in-ring technical wrestler. But with Chris, you know how your mind plays tricks on you? You see a girl and you think she won’t like me for this, this and this. That was what my mind was doing to me, WWE doesn’t want me for this, this and this. Of course I thought they are going to want someone like Nowinski. Someone who has got experience, is not going to make them look stupid. Technically, he was good enough and had the look. But I was all in. I quit my job, sold my car and pretty much when I knew it was over, if I didn’t win I was moving back home with my mom.”

He was told in advance that he was going to win Tough Enough:

“I knew I was winning going into it. [They told me] In so many words. My mom was sick at the time. My mom was battling cancer and I had to leave the show probably at week 7 of the 9 week show. 13 people started Tough Enough and 8 people quit. I couldn’t get it. Is it easy? No, it’s going to hurt, it’s going to suck. But I wasn’t going to quit. The only thing that was going to make me quit was my mom. I sat Al Snow down and said ‘Listen, I don’t want to leave, but my sister literally just sent me a message saying “Your mom is in the hospital. They don’t know if she is going to make it through the weekend.” I got to go. I don’t want to but I have to. I’ll pick up training on my own when I figure out what is up with her.’ They said to me ‘Listen. We’ll stop the show, fly you home and figure it out.’ Without the cameras there they pretty much said ‘You are the front runner right now. Get home then get back here, just don’t be a f*ck up and it’s pretty much yours.”

What he is up to now:

“Crazily enough I work in the weirdest industry you can work in right now. I work in finance at Wall Street. I travel in and I work for a company that is right there on Wall Street. I have never worked in this industry before. I found out that a lot of people in finance are really into music. Everyone I work with has a CD coming out or a video coming out. I live in New Jersey and I commute.”

On his addiction to painkillers and being arrested for doctor shopping:

“It started in wrestling but wrestling didn’t do it. I wouldn’t even take Tylenol for a headache back then. The pill I ever took I was like yeah I am onto something here. I was in pain at the time, I just had hand surgery. But that’s life man. One pill turns into two, turns into thirty. When that happened, I was taking forty to fifty a day. But here’s what’s crazy, I could function on them. I could do them and then do two hours on HSN [Home Shopping Network] and sell the hell out of some football merchandise. I knew this ends bad, just not today. Next day, this ends bad, but not today. Then you are three years later and it’s still the same thing.”

WWE helped get him into rehab:

“They reached out to me. It hit the news on TMZ and they reached out to me a day or two later. Johnny Ace and D-Von Dudley reached out to me on the day. No one knew I had a problem. I could maintain and I could hide it. I said it wasn’t a problem for me, but yeah it wasn’t sustainable. I needed that. It also hit me financially pretty difficult, but that’s just life. You are going to get kicked down, but it is about falling forward.”

Being told he was going to eliminate The Undertaker from the 2002 Royal Rumble:

“I dare to say that it was the spot. If you ask anyone to mention anything from the 2002 Royal Rumble, what are they going to say? I honestly have no clue who won that match. So at the time I was finally training and I was in HWA in Cincinnati. They flew to be to Atlanta and they said ‘You’re probably going to have a spot in the Rumble.’ I’m like OK maybe I will get to come out. But I had wrestled Taz a couple of times and I had also wrestled Booker T on SmackDown. I had a little bit more TV experience by this time. I get to the arena and I am walking to the ring. Shane [McMahon] and Taker come up and see me. They say ‘Mave, we want to tell you what we’ve got going on tonight.’ Already, Shane, why does he care? And why is Taker here? I thought it would be one of the agents coming up to me telling me ‘Hey you are coming in 17th and going out 18th.’ The they tell me. They are like ‘Taker is going to sh*t can everyone out. The Hardys, Lita, then you are going to come out. It’s going to be you and him. You’re going to hit him with that drop kick and eliminate him.’ I’m like ‘What?’ Taker, no lie, turns, looks down at Shane and says ‘Are you f*cking kidding me?’ I didn’t know. I thought he was being told this information at the time too. I’m like Jesus I’m dead. Please just die right now. Then he just turns and winks at me. That just shows what a professional he was. He was willing to put me over and to do that favor. It wasn’t just for me, it was for the wrestling business. I will spend the rest of my life answering questions about that for the rest of my life. He gave me a career.”

Maven says he never liked his theme song:

“I don’t love it. It’s the saddest thing because if people bring up The Undertaker thing first, they bring up my music second. That’s no joke. Everyone loves it but me. I feel bad because the band is great, it’s a good song. But here’s what it is, it’s just not the song I would have picked for me to come out to. When I was growing up and thinking late at night about the theme I would come out to, that isn’t it. What would I have picked? At the time I was probably into a bit more hip hop music. Or, to this day, if I need something to bump to, then Kickstart My Heart [by Mötley Crüe], old Metallica, stuff like that. Stranglehold by Ted Nugent. To me that’s the best opening music ever. But I love the song because of how much the fans love it.”

On missed opportunities:

“I could have been a lot better on the mic than a lot of the guys that they had. I definitely think they could have done more with me. They could have exposed more of my personality. Trust me, when I left and started doing stuff with TNA, I am a hell of a heel. I’m a damn good bad guy.”

Who is the most successful Tough Enough contestant?

“I think is between The Miz and John Morrison. You got 2 guys that are amazing in-ring. The Miz is a former WWE Champion and has had success outside the ring. They used to bring us in when they did the future Tough Enough. I remember seeing John Morrison with his short hair, you could definitely see something in him. These guys followed in my footsteps, it’s crazy to think.”

On deciding to use steroids:

“I was told, I won’t say by who, that I was 205 and we need you to get a little bit bigger. I listened to that advice, but I would have sought that out regardless. Just to look good. If you look at me when I started compared to two years later, it’s night and day. But looking like that, that’s the addictive part of it. You just feel great, you feel that hardness and it feels good. It’s not a euphoric feeling, you just feel it when you look good. It also gives you a psychological edge. I would go to the gym and I was like I am here so I’ve got to get my money’s worth. I had a doctor that was telling me how much of each to take. I was getting good stuff from good pharmacies that was shipped to my house completely legal, because it was prescribed. I have bought vehicles that were harder to get.”

The advice he received from The Rock before WrestleMania 18:

“So it’s WrestleMania 18 in Toronto. I went in the Hardcore Champion and left the Hardcore Champion. I’m backstage and I am scared to death, there’s 70 something thousand people out there. The Rock sees this and he says ‘Mave, come here.’ So I go up to him and I think I’m going to get words of advice from the best. He goes ‘Hey, no one is really expecting much out of you. So just do the best you can.’ He turns around and walks away I’m like what the f*ck was that? He then turns and winks at me. That calmed me down. That one little joke, then it was like f*ck it lets have some fun.”

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