Two generations of Gunns are smoking
By Mike Pankow
September 17, 2018
Former WWE superstar Billy Gunn was known for two words even though he never really said them.
Along with the Road Dogg (aka Brian James), Gunn was an integral part of two of the most popular acts of WWE’s “Attitude Era.” Road Dogg and Gunn were known as The New Age Outlaws, who were six-time WWE Tag Team Champions, and then later the Outlaws joined the D-Generation X faction with Triple H, Chyna and X-Pac (aka Sean Waltman).
Gunn’s star almost died before it even had a chance to get really bright. Both his and Road Dogg’s careers were floundering in mid-1997 when WWE creative decided to throw them together as a tag team. Gunn was portraying the Rockabilly character while being guided by the Honky Tonk Man while Road Dogg was previously the Roadie with Jeff Jarrett.
“Me and Road Dogg really weren’t doing anything with our careers and they were really going down the tube fast,” said Gunn during his appearance at Wizard World Chicago last month. “So they kind of just wanted to try something and put us together. It was magic. The rest, as they say is, history.”
In November 1997, the New Age Outlaws won their first tag team titles by defeating the legendary Road Warriors.
“They just threw us together to see if something sticks,” Gunn said. “Luckily for us, something stuck. … All credit to Legion of Doom, they’re the ones that put us on the map.”
They infamously pushed a dumpster with Mick Foley (Cactus Jack) and Terry Funk (Chainsaw Charlie) inside off the stage during an episode of Monday Night Raw, setting the stage for a WrestleMania tag team match.
The New Age Outlaws officially joined DX on the night after WrestleMania XIV in 1998 and things skyrocketed from there.
The Outlaws’ pre-match shtick, complete with their elaborate intro, would resonate throughout the entire arena thanks to echolalic fans reciting every word. Road Dogg would dominate the intro, only deferring to Gunn for the final portion.
Gunn would take the take the mic and yell, “If you’re not down with that, we’ve got to two words for you!” And the fans would respond with DX’s trademark catchphrase, “Suck it!”
Gunn’s son Austin, who accompanied him to appearances at Wizard World and Starrcast in the Chicago area, would tell his father, “I can’t tell you how many times you got me kicked out of school.”
Billy Gunn retorted, “That’s not me, I’m not the one saying it, you’re saying it. I just kinda coax it along. I never said it, but everybody else blames me.”
Gunn won 11 tag team titles with WWE, including three with his storyline brother, Bart Gunn, as The Smoking Gunns, and two reigns with Chuck Palumbo. He was also Intercontinental Champion and won the 1999 King of the Ring during his singles run.
He also worked for IMPACT Wresting, formerly known as TNA. His most memorable time in IMPACT was when he was called Cute Kip and was grouped with The Beautiful People, Velvet Sky and Angelina Love.
“The Beautiful People was the best thing TNA did in their entire lives,” Gunn proclaimed. “Me and the girls had some great chemistry. It was amazing. It was a lot of fun. We all trusted each other which made it even better.”
Gunn still occasionally wrestles and makes appearances at independent shows, but now is focused on helping Austin break into the business.
Austin is training at Team 3D Academy, run by Hall of Fame tag team The Dudley Boyz, in Kissimmee, Fla., where Billy also helps train future wrestlers.
“I’m still kind of in the learning process, soaking up as much knowledge as I can,” Austin said. “I’m doing a few shows here and there. Hopefully soon, we can get the wheels turning.”
Growing up around a professional wrestler really was no big deal for Austin. It was part of everyday life.
“To other people, it’s a very big deal, but to me, he’s my dad,” Austin said. “I’ve always grown up around the business. It’s a little different in the aspect of everybody knowing who he is when we go to Chick-fil-A or the mall or school. I would get dropped off and I would just get bombarded, ‘Oh, my gosh, I didn’t know that was your dad.’ ” That’s just what I grew up with.”
The father-son duo made a surprise appearance at a Zelo Pro show at Joe’s on Weed Street while they were in Chicago for Wizard World in late August.
Both Billy and Austin were entrants in the “Over Budget Battle Royal” at All In on Sept. 1. Austin was added to the match just days before the ballyhooed independent pay-per-view in the Chicago area, promoted by Cody and The Young Bucks. It was an opportunity for Austin to perform in front of 10,000 fans for the first time in his fledgling career.
In his nearly 25-year career, Billy Gunn’s legacy was secured with his time with Road Dogg as The New Age Outlaws as an influential part of wrestling’s biggest boom period.
“Me and Brian were just out to have fun,” he said. “We just wanted to have fun and that’s what this business is supposed to be about, having fun and entertaining people. Me and Brian did it to the highest level.”