– Sonny Onoo appeared on VOC Nation’s In the Room and discussed the influx of Japanese talent into American wrestling, his recent health scare and more. Some highlights are below, plus the full audio:
On his recent health scare: I had the heart attack while I was on a plane for 16 hours. I didnt even know I was having a heart attack.
On the evolution of professional wrestling: I think wrestling as an artform has evolved; (there are) a lot of young guys who are very athletic. One of the things that I (think) they are missing is experience. New Japan used to send their young (talent) to WCW for years just to get seasoned, and vice versa. (Japan) will broadcast their shows, but theyre broadcasting a live wrestling event not a wrestling show designed for television. Its different. The matches are a lot longer in many casesyou better be in shape when you go over there. There is an amazing amount of great talent right now. Because of the Internet, television, and exposure, wrestling as it stands is pretty bright. The only thing I would recommend (talent to do) is to get seasoned.
On the availability of Japanese wrestling in the United States on TV: Its amazing considering the fact that only New Japan has English commentary. There are (many) Japanese promotions that you dont get to see that have amazing talent. Take Kenny Omega, who came out of DDT: He spent six years in Japan honing his craft; then went to New Japan and got pushed to stardom with the Tokyo Dome show and ended up being in AEW. Theres (a lot) of talent over there yet to be discovered.
On Japanese talent getting opportunities to work in the US: One of the issues they have is (the lack) of an advocate being able to speak for them. If wrestling fans have to (guess what they are saying) then you lose the whole dynamic of what youre trying to do. I was fortunate enough to be able to manage all of those great wrestlers like Masa Saito to Jushin Thunder Lager, Bull Nakano, Muta, Ultimo Dragothese are great wrestlers; WCW was way ahead of their time, brining them to the United States and giving them great exposure. That was the tip of the iceberg that started New Japan. I would encourage fans to go on the Internet and look for those other (Japanese) companies to see what is out there.
On his thoughts about Asuka and Nakamura: Asuka is without a doubt a main eventer. There is so much more they can do with her. Nakamura as well.
On what hes most remembered for: Im kinda known as the innovator of selfies. Im the first guy who actually did that on national television. Not to say that I invented the selfiebut its one of those things that now I am known for.
On his friendship with Eric Bischoff: Eric and I are dear friends and we have been (for many years). We just had dinner in Baltimore at Starrcast. I have many, many, many amazing Eric Bischoff stories that I cant say. We go back to our early 20s. If you ever get Eric on your show, ask him about when he scared a pizza delivery guy at my house wearing my wifes fur coat.
On Erics release from WWE: Eric is a very smart business guy so Im sure that he has some kind of parachute, and Im sure that he did OK. At the end of the day, its Vince McMahons company. Its his company, its his vision. Im sure Eric had his plans. I didnt discuss it with him, but Im sure hes OKHes known throughout the world; I understand hes going to be heading to Qatar and Australiahes got enough on his plate to keep him going.
On working the WCW North Korea show: Scott Norton was trying to explain to his wife Tammy what a horrible time (it was). All of the sudden the phone went dead and there were armed guards at his door and they took him downstairs. They took him to the basement of the hotel and interrogated him. There were a couple of scary moments, but Im glad I did it and Im glad I got to come back alive.