Billy Gunn

Billy Gunn
Billy Gunn Profile

Gunn was born Monty Kip Sopp on November 11, 1963 out of Orlando, Florida. He started out his career in an unusual fashion: he was a professional bull rider in his teens and early 20’s until deciding to embark on a career in the squared circle.
Following his in-ring training, he started off in 1985 playing the independents for a few years before being fortunate enough to get signed by the WWF in 1993.

He made his WWF debut as a face tag team partner with his (kayfabe) brother Bart Gunn collectively called the “Smoking Gunns”. Portrayed as smiling moustached cowboys, the two captured the WWF Tag Team Championship shortly after their debut from Bob ‘Hardcore” Holly and the 1-2-3 Kid (Sean “X-Pac” Waltman). They would end up dropping and regaining the belts the same year to the team of Yokozuna and the late Owen Hart.

Bart had to take some time off to tend to injuries, thus the title was vacated. After Bart’s return several months later, they captured the titles for the third time, besting Henry (Mark Canterbury) and Phineas (Dennis Knight) Godwinn, acquiring the services of popular valet Sunny (Tammy Stych) in the process.

Sunny would soon drop the Gunns like a hot potato after they lost the belts a third time and Billy, frustrated at the loss, left Bart and the team dissolved.

In 1997, Gunn would hook up with Honky Tonk Man (Wayne Ferris) as his sidekick “Rockabilly” in his battles against Jeff Jarrett and the Roadie (Jesse James). Rockabilly and Roadie would soon betray their mentors to seek out their own fortunes.

Now called the “New Age Outlaws”, the two changed their in-ring names to “Badd Ass” Billy Gunn and “Road Dogg” Jesse James. Their new characters perfectly enveloped the Attitude Era of wrestling, adopting unorthodox ring styles, chopping their crotches and generally wrecking havoc. The Outlaws went on to defeat the popular Legion of Doom (Hawk and Animal) to snag the tag team gold, making Gunn a 4-time holder of the title.

The Outlaws would attract the attention of Triple H and Degeneration X, slowly becoming morphed into the faction. They would assist various DX members to cheat in their bouts and DX would return the favour.

The Outlaws lost the titles very briefly to the outlandish team of Mick “Cactus Jack” Foley and hardcore legend Terry “Chainsaw Charlie” Funk, only to regain them the next night on Raw.

DX and the Outlaws would feud with Faaroq (Ron Simmon’s) faction “The Nation of Domination” as well as with the volatile team of Kane and Foley once again, this time as his “Mankind” persona. Foley and Kane would win the belts briefly, but would eventually drop them back to the Outlaws when Foley had to defend the belts himself when Kane no-showed.

The Outlaws then started to embark on solo pursuits, with Gunn actively pursuing the WWF Intercontinental Championship. After failed attempts to wrest the crown, he was successful at acquiring the WWF Hardcode title from old rival Bob Holly. He would later drop the strap in a triple threat match against Holly and the wily veteran Al “Leif Cassidy” Snow.

The Outlaws would eventually dissolve altogether with Gunn retaining his relationship with DX. He re-invented himself by calling himself “Mr. Ass”, a derriere obsessed egomaniac that would wear see-through tights to reveal a thong that he would proudly thrust in front of the booing crowd.
Gunn would defeat former partner James and would go on town the “King of the Ring” tournament in 1999, defeating old friend/rival X-Pac in the final round.
After a failed feud against Dwayne ”The Rock” Johnson and failed attempt to win the IC crown from Jarrett, Mr. Ass decided he had better fortune on the tag team circuit so the New Age Outlaws reunited.

The Outlaws had tremendous success, plowing through the likes of Edge and Christian and the Acolytes (JBL and Faaroq) and would again capture the WWF Tag Team titles for a remarkable 5th time defeating old rivals Foley and Snow.
The Outlaws would drop the belts to the Dudley Boys (Devon and Bubba Ray) and then Gunn would leave the wrestling spotlight for a period to tend to a recurring shoulder injury.

Returning in 2000, Gunn would form a combination with DX mate Chyna (the late Joanie Lauer) and do battle with Steven Richards’ faction “Right to Censor”, a moral rights group opposed to his “Mr. Ass” gimmick. Gunn would change his name to “The One” Billy Gunn as a result.
He would briefly capture the IC title from the late Edie Guerrero but then shortly thereafter lose it to the late Chris Benoit at the “Armageddon” Pay-Per-View event.

Gunn would capture the WWF Hardcore title for the second time, but would drop it mere minutes later owing to the silly 24/7 rules of title defense stipulated at the time.

Gunn would have a face turn teaming up with the Big Show (Paul Wight) calling themselves “Show Gunn”. After an unremarkable run, the two disbanded and Gunn went to re-invent himself yet again.

In a controversial gimmick, Gunn was paired with former WCW “invader” Chuck Palumbo. Now known as “Billy and Chuck”, the two adopted a homosexual couple gimmick and dressed in matching pink outfits and hiring a “personal stylist”, Rico.

The duo would win the Tag Team titles from the unlikely team of Tazz and Spike Dudley. They would drop the belts at the “Judgement Day” Pay-Per-View event against Rikishi and Rico but shortly thereafter would reclaim them. Billy and Chuck’s most memorable match together was dropping the straps to Edge (Adam Copeland) and his childhood idol, Hulk Hogan (Terry Bollea).

The two lovers decided to tie the knot and so the first ever gay WWE wedding gimmick was born. Before the nuptials were complete, Gunn and Palumbo revealed that it was all a hoax and that they really were not gay at all. This prompted an attack from Eric Bischoff’s goons 3 Minute Warning (Rosie and Jamal portrayed by the late giants Eddie Fatu and Matt Anoa’i), turning Palumbo and Gunn face.

Shortly after the attack, Palumbo and Gunn’s working and personal relationships would dissolve and Gunn would need time off to rehabilitate his shoulder again.

From 2003 – 2004, Gunn was essentially reneged to the mid-card, losing far more than winning. Gunn did the job for Guerrero, Booker T and Brock Lesnar amongst others. He also had unsuccessful attempts to capture the Tag Titles once again with partner Bob Holly and also for the WWE US Championship. He was released from his WWE contract at this point.

In 2005, he debuted in Jeff Jarrett’s Total Nonstop Action (TNA) under the name ‘The New Age Outlaw”. Due to legal pressures from the WWE who owned the rights to that name, it was shortened to “The Outlaw”.

He was originally part of a faction known as “Planet Jarrett” along with cohorts Jarrett and Monty Brown. As it turns out, his old partner Road Dogg (now known as “B.G. James” also for WWE legal issues) was in TNA and Gunn encouraged his old running mate to leave his faction called the 3Live Kru alongside
Konnan and Ron Killings (R-Truth).

James would be torn between loyalties to the two groups, and ultimately decided to stay with the Kru, betraying Outlaw Gunn who was now calling himself “Kip James”. Kip James would later recruit Planet Jarrett member Brown in a feud against the other members of the Kru. Things changed when Kip James saved old friend B.G. James from a beat down from Team Canada led by Petey Williams.

Kip James was eventually welcomed to the Kru and hence they became known as the 4Live Kru. The group eventually dissolved largely due to a disgruntled Konnan, leaving B.G. and Kip as the sole surviving members of the faction.

Now calling themselves “The James Gang”, they started to feud with Konnan’s protégé’s “The Latin-American Exchange”. Kip James would try to stir up controversy in a worked shoot whereby he would openly express dissatisfaction with TNA and its management, only to be cut off from his various attempts at communication.

The James Gang was rebranded the “Voodoo Kin Mafia”, presumably as a mockery of WWE head honcho Vincent Kennedy McMahon’s initials. The Mafia declared war on WWE’s Degeneration X in another attempt to recreate an “invasion” angle of one promotion attacking another. When this angle did not generate nearly as much heat as the nWo’s attempt did with WCW, it was quickly trashed.

The Mafia acquired the services of valet Christy Hemme and later Roxxi Laveaux and Kip would support Laveaux in her Knockout matches against the female TNA division.

From 2008 – 2009, he once again floundered in the mid-card, being pushed randomly into feuds against the likes of Matt Morgan and reproducing his “The One” and “Mr. Ass” gimmicks as a manager of the female faction ‘The Beautiful People”.

He would leave TNA and appear in the independents, winning some regional titles including the American Pro Wrestling Alliance American Championship, the TWA Powerhouse Tag Team Championship (with partner Road Dogg) and won the BBWF (Bad Boys Wrestling Federation) Aruba Championship.
From 2012 – 2015, Gunn entered the twilight of his career abut nonetheless was given an offer to return to the WWE. He reprised the New Age Outlaws with Road Dogg and joined the reunited Degeneration X just like old times. He was also hired as a trainer for the upcoming talent on NXT.
The Outlaws would fight against current WWE tag teams like Primo and Epico and the Shield (Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins). With new found popularity, the Outlaws would defeat Cody Rhodes and Goldust to become WWE Tag Team Champions yet again, making this Gunn’s 11th tag team title held in the WWE. At just over a one month run, the Outlaws would drop the straps to the younger Usos.

He and Dogg would feud with the Ascension (Konnor and Viktor) to losing efforts. Gunn then became a coach for the 6th season of the WWE reality series “Tough Enough”, but was released in mid 2015 for failing the WWE’s Wellness Policy testing.
From 2015 to present day, Gunn is active on the independent scene, appearing in promotions such as Chikara, Preston City Wrestling (PCW) and in Japan with New Japan Pro Wrestling.

Gunn is a journeyman wrestler who has seen it all. He has had a remarkable career spanning more than 30 years and the now 53 year old is showing no signs of retiring. He has had remarkable success on the tag team circuit and will always be known and respected as a tough guy who really valued the ‘business” of pro wrestling.

Special thanks to Dr. Stephen Balsky for contributing the above wrestler profile.

Dr. Stephen Balsky is a chiropractor currently in practice in his native Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He has been a wrestling fan since age 13 and is very passionate about the product, especially the “old-school” 80’s – 90’s era. He completed his Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree in 2015 and currently is also working part-time as a professor in both business and healthcare.

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Gunn

http://www.wwe.com/superstars/billy-gunn