Down A Dark Road

Wrestling Digest,  Oct, 2001  by Bill Apter

"Road Dogg" Brian James came out of nowhere to become a WWF superstar. Now he's just trying to answer the question, "Where am I?"

TO PAY JUSTICE TO BRIAN James' life (known to wrestling fans as "Road Dogg" Jesse James), one needs more than a magazine interview can convey. James, a deep thinker, is trying to get his personal and professional lives back together after being cut from the WWF roster last December. He admits he doesn't know how either reclamation project is going to fare.

The following interview takes you through the darkest days of James' wrestling career. In this probing question-and-answer forum, James discusses his drug problem and his visions of the future, which he hopes will not be as bleak as his recent past.


WRESTLING DIGEST: Your partnership with K-Kwik didn't last very long. What happened?


BRIAN JAMES: That was a fault of my own.


WD: How so?


BJ: I've got demons. I'm a drug addict. But let me explain, it's not like I'm a guy shooting up heroin. It's not like that. What I mean is that some people are alcoholics and some are hooked to drugs. It's like a cancer or something that's genetically passed down through your family. It was in there from somebody's grandfather to someone else, and down the line someone could have been an alcoholic or something. This can happen to any family anywhere. I have been to rehab enough times through this to learn that I have an addictive personality, and that if you start doing something, you just wind up doing it more and more.


WD: When did the addiction start? Was it when you were in the Marines?


BJ: No. You couldn't do any drugs there. I did some in high school--just smoked pot or whatever. It was no big deal.


WD: When did you first start taking the heavier stuff?.


BJ: It depends what you mean by the heavier stuff.

WD: Pain killers?


BJ: It was all through DX, all through that time. It didn't interfere with my performance until the night before my suspension that led to my release. I went out there messed up. It was me and K-Kwik against D'Lo Brown and Chaz from the Headbangers. I just felt like if you knew me and you watched my work, I felt that you would have known I was messed up. I felt like I let K-Kwik down. He was new and trying hard, and I could have hurt somebody and I could have gotten hurt myself. It was the first time I had gone out there and done that. I asked the office to please not air the match. I was also going through my divorce that had already gotten started. Some friends were very supportive and knew what I was doing and what I was going through and tried to help the best they could, but how do you protect a man from himself?.


WD: What happened from there?


BJ: That night I went to Vince McMahon and said to him, "I was messed up. I'm sorry, my head's not on right now. I'm just not right." So they took me out of it. The coach pulled me, and it's understandable. They went ahead and aired the match, and I went ahead and watched it, and I couldn't tell I was messed up. I couldn't tell at all.


WD: What did you do to get help?


BJ: I had to go back to rehab. I'd been there a few times before. It's almost like I've got it down pat, but the lion is still out there waiting. Unless you lock me up for the rest of my life, that lion is always waiting to jump right on me again.

WD: What was the WWF's stance?


BJ: They told me to take time off first, then suspended me [the suspension took place on December 19, 2000]. I don't know if they had further talks about it or what, but Jim Ross called me a little while later and told me, "We've decided to let you go. We hope the best for you." [The WWF announced his firing on January 26, 2001.] That was it.


WD: Your business and personal lives have fallen apart. Do you have a salary to support you?


BJ: It's gone. Completely gone. I'm doing some independent shows just to pay my power bills. I was going pretty smart with the money until the divorce, and then it's just a race to get the money out of the bank.


WD: Do you feel you'll be able to get your life back on the right track?


BJ: I feel like that, but I don't know where I stand in the eyes of the WWF. I don't know if they can trust me, and that's understandable. I totally understand that because like I said, it's always out there and I'm a risk. I'm going through some heavy stuff right now about visitation of my children that's really making me re-evaluate some stuff in my life. I know if the WWF doesn't flat-out hate my guts ... I just turned 32 on May 20. I just think I'm a young man and I have a lot of years to offer. I met with Shane McMahon the night they took over WCW in Panama City, Fla., [on March 26], and I told him when I get done with all this, settled with my life, and I get my head straightened, I'll come back to work for you, and I'll pay for my own urinalyses every week. I so believe in my heart that there are not a whole lot of people out there who can do what I do out there, and I don't mean that to sound cocky.


WD: What about your family life? Can you get that back together, too?


BJ: For me and my wife, I think it's too late. We've already done too many hateful and spiteful things. It's sickening this has happened, because now I don't get to see my kids all the time and they really are my whole life. They're everything to me.


WD: What about your father and brothers? Are they being supportive?


BJ: Yes. We have always been a close-knit family. They do everything they can for me. They have to bring my kids over to their house for me to see them, because I'm not allowed contact. It's bad on the weekend when I'm allowed, because on the weekends are the independent shows that keep the money corning in to pay my bills right now.


WD: If you could sum up everything you have learned as a life lesson to give to someone reading this, what would that be?


BJ: This is going to sound corny, but an important lesson I learned, but it's too late for me because I've already started, is: Don't do drugs! They make you not be yourself, and if you're not yourself, then who the hell are you?


With the support of his friends and family, "Road Dogg" Brian James is hopefully on his way to a fresh start in life. He is working in independent federations around the country and is also starting a wrestling school in Milton, Fla., connected to the Armstrong family's Southeast Championship Wrestling federation. For complete details, you can telephone James' friend Chris Page at 850-723-6770. James, along with his brother, Steve, hope they can teach people the fundamentals that will take them to a healthy and profitable career in pro wrestling.



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