Rene Dupree had a strange old career in WWE. He came in as a 19-year-old kid, arguably before he was really ready, and made one of the featured acts on Raw. WWE clearly had big plans for Rene, who comes from a wrestling family, and took him out of the La Resistance trio with a view to making him a singles star.
He was drafted over to Smackdown and instantly feuded with an up-and-coming star called John Cena over the United States Championship. He never won the belt, instead being moved back into the tag team scene, this time with the clueless Kenzo Suzuki as his partner. They had a quick run with the belts, Kenzo was released and Dupree sort of just…floundered.
Back on Raw, Dupree enjoyed a brief winning streak before suffering an almost career-ending hernia. He was off TV for almost a year and when he came back he was dumped on the ECW brand. His career never really recovered and he requested his release in July 2007.
Since that time Dupree has been mainly wrestling in Japan. He has also openly discussed his struggles with addiction and been given one or two controversial interviews, too. This week, Dupree made headlines again when he appeared on the Two Man Power Trip Of Wrestling Podcast and made his feelings known about everything from concussion problems, WWE veterans and his former partners.
Here are seven big revelations from that shoot interview/podcast.
7. He Doesn’t Like Sylvain Grenier But Is Close With Kenzo Suzuki
La Resistance were thrown straight in at the deep end when they debuted on Raw in April 2003. They immediately began feuding with Scott Steiner & Test and then just a month and a half later they won the World Tag Team Titles from RVD and Kane, making Dupree the youngest WWE champion in history at just 19-years-old.
He and Sylvain were clearly green as grass, but the act drew natural heat. Despite their success, it doesn’t seem like Dupree enjoyed teaming with Sylvain one bit, however, saying:
As far as Sly, no I didn’t like the guy. Does that answer your question? We don’t like each other, we haven’t talked to each other and probably never will.
That’s pretty cut-and-dry, then (Dupree has run down Sly in other shoots as well).
As for his next regular tag partner in WWE, Kenzo Suzuki, Dupree says that he really enjoyed working with him, saying that he was great and how when he moved to Japan he would go travelling with him and his wife (remember Hiroko?).
6. The Big Differences Between Working In Japan And The U.S.
After leaving WWE in July 2007, Dupree kept himself very busy by getting booked on several international tours. He quickly established himself in the nutty HUSTLE promotion, before landing a regular gig with the prestigious All Japan Pro-Wrestling.
Speaking about the differences between the American and Japanese audiences, and how he had to adapt to work there, Dupree opined:
If you are good, you can get anybody off their ass. It took time but I learned how to get them off their ass and that’s why I stayed there so long. I learned how to get over with that crowd. There it’s different, for example if it’s an opening match they are going to treat it as an opening match but if it’s a match with significance, like a title match that has importance and has been built up right they will get more involved and into it and more into the false finishes and be just as loud as an American crowd.
The master of the French Tickler also took a shot at the current WWE TV product:
Now with WWE, they do everything on TV. Nobody gives a s**t if it’s a title match or not. You don’t even know the rules or know what the hell is going on. Who gives a s**t if it’s a title match, they switch the belt every other week, as far as tag titles or Intercontinental. I couldn’t tell you who the tag champs are or who the Intercontinental Champion is now, I don’t know.
He makes a valid point, especially with regards to the proliferation of title matches on TV.
5. He’s On The Brink Of Reitrement Due To Concussion Issues
It’s no secret that the life of a wrestler takes its toll on the body. Injuries are part and parcel of the business and, after a while, the wear and tear really starts to slow you down. This seems to be the case with Dupree who, at 31-years-old, is considering retirement due to the amount of injuries he has sustained over his career:
I’m pretty much done with the whole wrestling game. I’d like to do the convention circuit so I don’t have to take any bumps because my brains are so scrambled from throughout the years that it’s starting to affect me and starting to affect my daily life.
Dupree lists concussions, specifically those that were undiagnosed, as the primary reason for his current troubles, sighting memory problems. Dupree estimates that he suffered twenty five concussions while in WWE:
Now that I am getting older, it started when I was around 27, I started forgetting stuff, I had twenty-five concussions just within WWE. You think about well I have so many, not really when you work a full time schedule and I was there for 5 1/2 years and when you wrestle what, 150- 250 matches a year, to have four or five concussions a year do you think that’s highly unlikely? No, that’s normal.
Those are scary numbers and paint a vivid picture of WWE at the time. These days, in a post-Benoit world, WWE arevery careful when it comes to concussions and take thorough steps to insure that all talent are medically cleared and safe to compete.
Just look at Daniel Bryan – he’s been out for months now because of past issues with concussions and WWE’s medical personnel won’t clear until they’re certain that he isn’t at-risk.
4. Claims WWE Negligence Regarding Concussions And Injuries
Dupree was asked about the recent spate of ex-WWE talent suing the company for negligence in relation to injuries suffered during their time in the career. While Dupree says he doesn’t know a lot about it, he definitely feels as though WWE has been negligent in the past and are currently trying to ‘cover their tracks’.
On whether or not he ever received proper medical treatment for injuries and concussions, Dupree said:
They definitely didn’t. I personally got knocked out one night. I was wrestling Rob Van Dam and he hit me with a spin kick and I was out for five hours. I was out on my feet for five and half hour! I didn’t get no concussions tests. I didn’t even go to a doctor. After a concussion you are not supposed to go to sleep, well I woke up in my bed and Sylvan called me up and said you got kicked in the head and don’t worry about it. You know how long I waited until I got back in the ring? I was back in the next night.
While this would obviously never happen in today’s WWE, it is a pretty damning indictment of the company’s supposedly cavalier attitude at the time. Dupree probably could become one of those ex-stars who takes the company to task over their treatment of him but he said he has no intention of doing so as he wants to ‘stay the hell away from that place’.
3. Says Bubba Dudley Took Liberties On La Resistance In The Ring
If you’ve listened to any shoots from guys who had to work with Bubba Dudley in the early-to-mid 2000s in WWE, odds are that the interviewee will have called him an a**hole or a bully. This seems to be a common feeling among undercard guys who were paired up with the veteran around that time.
Paul London called Bubba a bully and said that Bubba one time warned him that it would be the ‘worst day of his (London’s) life’ before a match. Bubba then took off his belt during the match and began unloading on London, viciously whipping him with some extra-stiff shots.
This was a pretty common occurrence back then, it seems, as Dupree has also claimed that Bubba stiffed him and Sylvain when the two worked with the Dudleys in 2003. The hosts asked Dupree point blank if Bubba is a bully and stiffed him and Sly, to which Dupree replied:
Does a bear s**t in the woods? Oh my God. I’ve had so many concussions from Bubba Ray Dudley it’s not even funny. You know Chris Nowinski had to retire because of Bubba Ray giving him concussions right? Devon, it’s universal everyone likes Devon because he’s a pro, but Bubba can be difficult to work with.
Nowinski did have to retire due to post-concussion syndrome (he’s now leading research into sports-related concussions with the Sports Legacy Institute, which he founded) and while there’s no way of knowing if Bubba was the source, giving his history it’s entirely plausible.
Dupree also brought up an incident where Bubba punched Sylvain in the face during a match (after the Frenchman screwed up a spot), busting him open. When the two were backstage Sylvain asked Bubba why he did it, Bubba went and popped him in the face once again.
Dupree speculates that this might be the reason the Dudleys were let go not too long afterwards, since Sylvain was close with Pat Patterson.
2. Talks Bob Holly Incident And Claims John Laurinaitis Knew About It And Let It Happen
Dupree was asked about Hardcore Holly, his ex-travel partner. Holly famously shot on Dupree during a late November 2004 house show in Syracuse, New York, because Dupree had failed to pay for a speeding ticket he got while driving a car registered in Holly’s name. Holly then had to go to court and get the issue straightened out, and it cost him money and time to do so.
According to Dupree, he offered to pay Holly double of whatever it was that he owed him but that wasn’t good enough (in his autobiography Holly claims that Dupree never offered to pay or even apologised for getting the ticket). Holly then threatened to kill Dupree. The Frenchman’s opinion of Holly:
The guy is a psychopath. I am a firm believer because I was about twenty and he was forty-one and I believe he was suffering from dementia to be honest with you…I got kicked about fifth-teen or twenty times in the f*cking head with a wrestling boot. You know how hard the sole of a wrestling boot is? It’s like a steel-toed boot.
However, that was not the end of Dupree’s claims. He said that then Vice President of Talent Relations John Laurinaitis not only knew about what was going to happen and actively encouraged it:
John Laurinaitis is behind it all too because he is the one who booked me in a f***ing match with him and they knew exactly what they were doing. They knew exactly what was going to happen and they were laughing at it, the whole place is f***ing corrupt.
Although Dupree managed to break free from Holly (who gave him a full-on chair shot to the head as well) and flee backstage, Holly caught up to him and continued the beating in the back, before Fit Finlay broke it up. Was Laurinaitis in on it? Who knows. But he was the man in charge of talent at the time, and the impending Holly/Dupree showdown was common knowledge in the locker room.
Like Hardcore Holly, JBL was a locker room leader on Smackdown in the mid-2000s, a veteran who would essentially police the boys, play ribs and, if rumours are to be believed, haze younger and/or new talent. There have been countless accusations of improper behaviour levelled against JBL over the years.
Add Dupree to the list of people who has an issue with him. When asked about JBL, Dupree said:
He’s a piece of s**t. He’s a racist. He used this term ‘f***ot’ every time I walked into the locker room…
At that point, the audio cut out and it appears as though Dupree’s added thoughts on JBL have been wiped from the record. Considering what did make the cut, one must wonder just how much Dupree must have said about the current colour commentator.
Will these uncensored comments ever surface? That is up to Rene Dupree, it seems. One thing’s for sure, next time he decides to do a podcast or a shoot interview, it’s all but guaranteed to be must-listen stuff.