Wrestler John Morrison competed in WWE from 2002 to his departure from the company in 2011. After spending time working promotions like Lucha Underground, AAA, and Impact, Morrison returned to WWE in 2019, reteaming with his former tag team partner The Miz. Now, the duo is taking on Braun Strowman for the Universal Championship at Backlash.
The WWE PPV is taking place on Sunday, June 14 at the Performance Center, and the interesting caveat is that it’s a handicap match for the championship, meaning Miz and Morrison (Hey hey, ho ho) will be facing the champ as a team. But how does that work? Who becomes champion if they can defeat the Monster Among Men, Braun Strowman?
“We’ve talked about it both ways,” Morrison told GameSpot. “Co-champions would be nice. We could cut the belt in half and make some sort of a Universal Championship pendant. Sell that as merchandise, and probably get a really nice royalty check for that. Or the other way we were thinking it is whoever gets the fall would win. If I win–if I beat Braun–then Miz would get the first shot at me. Or if Miz pins Braun, then I would get the first shot at him.”
While the aftermath of a possible win is an interesting one to think about, Morrison went on to explain that the duo is more focussed on the actual match. And the lead up to that has been the numerous pranks the tag team duo have played on the champ, which led to Strowman flipping over a surveillance van they were in on the June 5 episode of Smackdown.
While Morrison was the Smackdown Tag Team Champion since his return–along with Miz–this is the highest-profile match he’s been in since his return to WWE. “One of the reasons I was excited about Backlash–one of the reasons I came back to WWE–because I never got that big win,” Morrison said. “I was, at the end, a multiple-time tag team champion, but never the World Champion, never the Universal Champion.
“That is one of the things that I want to achieve. In addition to that, there’s a lot of guys on the roster that I have not yet taken [on]. Guys like Roman Reigns, [Seth] Rollins, Kevin Owens, Aleister Black, Ricochet, which is funny that I say that because I wrestled Prince Puma [Ricochet’s ring name in Lucha Underground] plenty of times, but Ricochet not much. There’s a lot of unfinished business that I feel like I have, which to me is exciting. The other reason I came back was to have fun. I feel like I missed that a little bit on the first run. And now my mentality is everything I do should be fun.”
While discussing the current roster at WWE, Morrison brought up his infamous quote, made on The World According To Wrestling podcast years back, about Roman Reigns. “Someone asked me if I wanted to wrestle [Reigns],” said Morrison. “I said, ‘Yeah, I’d love to wrestle that guy. Maybe in 10 years once he learns how to wrestle.’ And they screen capped that with a really jerky picture of me smiling. And I stand by that then, but I’ve been in the ring with him once now, right down to seeing the caliber of matches that he’s capable of now. That’s another example of a guy who has really come into his own.”
Although Morrison spent some time away from WWE, he feels his journey through other promotions made him an overall better wrestler. “I’m a complete wrestler now that I wasn’t before,” he explained. “I won Tough Enough. I’ve trained at OVW. And everyone probably says this about themselves, because you’re always the hero of your own story, but I sell myself as the hardest working guy at OVW on the road. I was always in the gym. I was always watching tapes. And when I left it’s like my world expanded.
“I went to Mexico. I was the first ever Triple Crown Champion of AAA. Champion of Lucha Underground, Champion of Impact wrestling, Champion of Five Star Wrestling in the UK. And each one of these organizations is a different style. A different group of people. And just that experience, for me, over the past nine years has leveled up my thought process about the business, my strategy, my in-ring ability. My skillset is more diverse than ever, more diverse than anyone on the roster.”
More importantly, Morrison found what he loved about wrestling during this time. “When I was here before, I put so much pressure on myself that a lot of times I forgot to have fun,” said Morrison. “And that’s one of the things that I have been trying really hard to make sure I do every time I’m in the ring. Wrestling is supposed to be fun.
“I had fun when I was watching when I was a kid, and I want to have fun every time I’m in the ring. And that doesn’t mean don’t work hard. That doesn’t mean don’t take it seriously. That just means enjoy it. So that, for me, has unlocked what I feel was kind of blocked from me before, which was the personality, and how I was on the mic. That one thing is the most important thing, and there’s a lot more to it than that, but I feel like I’ve leveled up that aspect of my pro wrestling game to just who I am.”
You can see Morrison and his teammate The Miz take on Braun Strowman for the Universal Championship at WWE Backlash on Sunday, June 14.
If you want to dive deeper into the weird world of wrestling, check out GameSpot’s weekly podcast Wrestle Buddies. Each week, Mat Elfring and Chris E. Hayner talk about the fun side of wrestling, from silly gimmicks to their favorite PPVs. Also, they occasionally interview wrestlers. New episodes arrive every Thursday, and you can check it out on Spotify, Stitcher, and Apple Podcasts.