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411 Exclusive: Stu Bennett on an In-Ring Return, Wrestling During the Pandemic, His New Movie I Am Vengeance: Retaliation (Full Transcript)

June 20, 2020 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
I Am Vengeance Wade Barrett Stu Bennett

Stu Bennett has some good news. The former WWE Superstar, King of the Ring, and five-time Intercontinental champion recently spoke to 411mania for an exclusive interview to talk about his career and new action movie, I Am Vengeance: Retaliation. Bennett is doing well and in incredibly good spirits since his WWE departure back in 2016. While Bennett has largely put his days in the ring and delivering bad news as Bad News Barrett behind him, he’s still a part of the wrestling industry and does broadcast work with the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA). Bennett also has a burgeoning acting career, with the recent release of his new action movie I Am Vengeance: Retaliation. Bennett returns in his role as the ex-Special Forces soldier John Gold and is matched up in a deadly battle against Vinnie Jones of Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels fame.

In speaking to us, Bennett addressed a potential in-ring return as a pro wrestler, if he’d be willing to return in a full-time capacity, wrestling continuing during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and getting to act and have fight scenes opposite his childhood hero Vinnie Jones. Here’s the rundown of what the former champion and Nexus leader had to say:

Jeffrey Harris: How is it to be starring in your own action movie franchise?

Stu Bennett: I think you know my career better than I do. I’m impressed with that, Jeffrey. Thank you for the grand introduction. Much appreciated, and yeah, I’m very excited. I Am Vengeance: Retaliation out this Friday in the US, and on July 13 in the UK. And the rest of the world is going to follow shortly after, but it’s really an unexpected experience for me. Certainly, a few years ago, I never would’ve anticipated I would’ve had as much involvement with the acting world as I have been lucky to have since leaving WWE. So, I’m very excited for everyone to watch this movie.

Jeffrey Harris: How happy are you that we are getting to see different sides of your character John Gold and getting to see him in a different storyline that’s in no way a rehash of the original? It’s a brand-new setting, premise, and new characters for this story.

Stu Bennett: Yeah, completely. I think we — the first film, I am very proud of. It’s a very dark movie. I was very introspective as a character in it, and I didn’t really have too many opportunities to bounce off of other people in the film. The second one that’s coming out now is more of an ode to ’80s action films, and we had an increased budget, which meant we could have a bigger cast. And there’s some more opportunities for me as a performer to interact with people on different levels rather than being the one-track minded kind of machine like killer that I was in the first one. This time, I’m able to have a bit of fun with people, and there’s still that one-track minded killer moment. But there’s elements of the character I am able to expand upon. As a performer, all you can ever ask for in wrestling and the world of acting is opportunities to try different things and grow and develop and take interesting journeys and things like that, and I’ve definitely been given the opportunities to do that as John Gold in this franchise.

Jeffrey Harris: The first movie was more of a revenge thriller. This story is more of a men on a mission type of story, similar to The Expendables. So, how did you like the new dynamic and seeing John Gold in a team environment this time?

Stu Bennett: Yeah, that’s it. I was lucky I got to work with some great actors both on the side of the bad guys, like Vinnie Jones, etc. and the guys we were up against. And also in my team, there were some really talented actors that I got to work alongside like two of the females I got to work with, Katrina Durden and Phoebe Robinson-Galvin, who are great onscreen fighters too. Sam Benjmain is another one I really bonded with. Mark Griffin is another one, who was actually in the first film, so it was great to have him back. To be able to work with those actors and tell the story of my character, who going into the film is the lone wolf, and the last thing he wants to do is work with anybody else because he sees everybody else as a potential weakness. And seeing his growth and bonding with the team as the film progresses as they’re getting through these life and death experiences together, and to see how eventually he ends up real tight with them, caring about them. It was nice for me as an actor to portray that. You’re very fortunate when you get opportunities like that in the film world, and you have to take them.

Jeffrey Harris: You get to act opposite Vinnie Jones in this film, and he is a movie icon and a movie legend. Did you ever imagine in your life you’d get to be opposite Vinnie Jones in a cool action movie like this?

Stu Bennett: No, absolutely not. Now, just to put this in perspective, I remember vividly at age 7 watching a soccer game in the UK, which was a big cup final, was the FA Cup final for people who aren’t familiar with UK soccer, but it was the biggest game of the season. Vinnie Jones was playing for a team called Wimbledon, which were a very unfashionable, not very good side, a bunch of ragtag bunch of misfits. Somehow, they got to the final, and they played against the mighty Liverpool FC, who were the greatest team in the world at that point. And they went in there and they beat them. And I will always remember, seven years old, watching Vinnie Jones raising the FA cup.

So, there is a part of me that has always been a huge fan of his football success and the crazy story that he had. And of course, his films have been fantastic too, and I was of a generation that was 19-20 years old when films like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch came out. I remember having a Lock, Stock poster on my wall when I was at university, so I would never have predicted when I was younger that I would ever have the opportunity to work so closely with Vinnie and get to talk to him and work with him and just be a fanboy around him at times, which is what I was. So yeah, it was really cool that he was a great guy. He puts in an amazing performance. So, we were all lucky to have him on set because his level of experience and knowledge in the film world rubbed off on the entire cast and crew, and he had advice for everyone. He had perspective from the people he’s worked with, and we all learned from him. So, it was great to work with him.

Jeffrey Harris: That being said, he is the antagonist and he is the bad guy, so he did ever try to go method on you and potato you in some of those fight scenes?

Stu Bennett: *Laughs* We definitely got a little ragged with each other on occasion in the fight scenes, and I think you’ll all see that. But Vinnie’s a pro. I’m also 6’6″, 250 pounds. Vinnie’s a big guy himself, but I also kind of dwarf him a little, even though he’s pretty big. So, I think we were both a little weary of each other, and we knew that it was kind of mutually assured destruction if either one of us died from the other. I think both would’ve come out of it worse for wear. So, we were very good friends on set, and we managed to maintain a very positive relationship, even when there are a couple of loose shots that went astray in the fight scenes.

Jeffrey Harris: You get to share the screen with some really impressive women in this film, Katrina Durden and Phoebe Robinson-Galvin. I think what’s impressive about the fight choreography is that it doesn’t have to constantly cut and it stays in tight, and you see it’s really all them. How was it getting to work and interact with them, and was it intimidating realizing that they could probably take you head off with one well-placed strike?

Stu Bennett: Yeah, absolutely. I went into the movie being a little concerned because in my over 1,000 match wrestling career and all the fight scenes I’ve done in movies so far, I’ve never once had to do anything with a female performer. And concern going in was A) she’s going to look tiny next to me, and how’s this fight in any way going to be realistic? And B) I was concerned I didn’t want to hurt her accidentally. This is Katrina Durden, who I have a great fight scene with. But I learned my lesson very quickly that she can handle herself, and she kicked my ass to be honest with you. She’s fantastic. She’s as tough as they come. And never again will I have to be hesitant about the prospect of getting into a fight scene with a female after that because I know if I don’t have my wits about me, I’m going to get my teeth kicked out. She came very close on a couple of occasions, so I definitely got more than I gave in that one.

Jeffrey Harris: Does it light a fire under you or get you hot when you see that the Chosen One, Drew McIntyre, the guy who turned on you at the 2011 Elimination Chamber nine years ago, kicked a rope into your groin and tossed you into a chamber cell is the first ever British WWE World champion in history and not you?

Stu Bennett: Just to be clear, I’ve known Drew since I think 2005. I used to wrestle together with him in the UK. We both got hired by WWE on the same day. We still lived together in developmental. To this day, we’re very good friends. I congratulated him when he won the championship. We speak regularly. And yeah, still very tight with him. So, I’m thrilled for him, but let’s be honest, Drew McIntyre knows I would kick his ass. If I ever got back into a ring with him, I would kick his ass, and he knows that. It’s that simple.

Jeffrey Harris: Do you ever see yourself making an in-ring return to wrestling, full-time, part-time or otherwise? What is your feeling on that these days?

Stu Bennett: I mean, to be clear, I am still involved in the wrestling world. I’ve been doing a lot of commentary since I left WWE. I’m currently commentating with NWA. I think they’re doing outstanding stuff, especially on the budget they’re on. I’m very happy working there. I do see myself in some capacity being back in the ring at some point. I think I left the in-ring world of pro wrestling with a sour taste in my mouth, and I would hate for that to be my swan song, or my goodbye. So certainly, at some point, I see myself being back involved. Where or when that will be, that’s still to be decided.

I don’t currently foresee myself going back as a full-time professional wrestler ever again because I’ve done that. I was completely burned out by the time by the end of it, and I had no life balance. I had no time for family or relationships or outside interests or anything like that. I feel like my life is a lot more enriched since I left, and I have various things going on with myself, more time to spend with my girlfriend, more time to travel, and do all those kinds of things. But certainly, I’m not shutting the door on being back in the wrestling ring in any capacity.

Jeffrey Harris: Are you still keeping up with wrestling right now because wrestling is still one of the few things that’s on during this bizarre time in human history, and we still have WWE and AEW on a weekly basis?

Stu Bennett: Yeah, I absolutely am up on everything. I can’t say I watch religiously like I did when I was younger. But I think these days it’s very easy with Twitter and Instagram to kind of get a good feel for what’s going on and the big moments in the show very quickly. And of course, I’m still in touch with guys in the wrestling world. I’m still friends with a bunch of people who work for WWE, who work for AEW, guys I speak to regularly. I’m working with a bunch of guys at NWA, so I’m very much in the realm of professional wrestling constantly, and even if I’m not as conspicuous as I used to be, I will always keep tabs on it. It’s always going to be my first love, my first passion. But yeah, I can’t say I sit and watch 10 hours of professional wrestling like I used to.

Jeffrey Harris: If you were in a situation where you would be potentially wrestling during the pandemic right now, would it concern you to be doing that, or would you rather sit out at a time like this because the nature of wrestling is that it’s not really a profession where you can socially distance during a pandemic?

Stu Bennett: Yeah, ideal world scenario, everybody should be locked down, not traveling in planes, not being in close contact with each other. That is a ideal-world scenario, and I think the company that I’m working with in the wrestling world [NWA] were very quick to shut everything down and say, ‘Until it’s clear, until it’s safe, we’re having no fans gathering. We’re having no wrestlers traveling or getting together on any shows.’ It’s that simple. But you have to balance that with the fact that companies like AEW and WWE have these massive TV contracts they’d be in breach of if they don’t produce their content. So, I absolutely understand both sides of the argument.

As a human being, I am very happy that I have not been put on an airplane for the last four months. I’m very happy I don’t have to continue doing that, but I’m also in a privileged position where I have funds to tide me over through this period. There are people who don’t have that, and there are companies who are obligated to fulfill pre-existing agreements. So, it’s a really difficult situation. I’m not going to condemn that are carrying on running their shows. I hope every measure possible is being taken to limit the spread of this disease and limit the chance of getting it, but there is inherent risk to it. So, getting away from that, and that’s the nature of the beast unfortunately.

Jeffrey Harris: What are your thoughts on NXT UK? Has it helped the British wrestling scene, and what do you think of WWE bringing that brand over to the UK?

Stu Bennett: I wouldn’t say it’s helped the UK scene. I would say it’s helped the wrestlers who have been signed, but outside of that, I don’t think it’s been beneficial. You’d have to look at the affect it’s had on some of the companies or some of the independents, the independent companies, who were thriving prior that versus now. So, I don’t think it’s been beneficial to the scene at all. I understand why WWE have done it. They want to have a stake hold there. It was not coincidental that NXT UK was brought out at the same time that WOS [World of Sport], which at the same time, was seen as a threat to WWE over in the UK. It wasn’t coincidental, however, it’s been portrayed by them, and I think we all know the truth behind that. Again, that’s business. I understand why they did it. I’m not casting them for doing that, but to portray it as beneficial to the UK as something benevolent is ludicrous. And as good as the product might, it’s certainly not something that’s helped the UK independent scene.

Jeffrey Harris: How did you enjoy getting to hang out and work with CM Punk when you both did your broadcasting work for Netflix’s Ultimate Beastmaster?

Stu Bennett: Thank you. It was a lot of fun to shoot that. I hadn’t seen Punk in years at that point. We hadn’t communicated at all. But I remember seeing him, and I remember the first thing I said to him was that he looked 10 years younger. I know he was in a very tough position when I’d last seen him, he was being worked to the bone, and he was very unhappy, which is a position two years subsequent that I had gotten to myself. So, we had a good chat. When I saw him, it was nice to see him doing so well and so happy. We kind of had a post-WWE debrief together one night and spoke through a couple of issues I think we both had. But yeah, I was very happy to see him doing so well for himself. I know he’s got a very happy life at home now with his wife, AJ or April, and yeah, it was very good to see him in such a positive way after the last time I’d seen him was far from positive.

Thank you to Stu Bennett for taking the time to speak with us. His new movie, I Am Vengeance: Retaliation, is now available on digital and On Demand from Saban Films.

And if you’re enjoying all of our recent interviews with names like Jim Ross, Chris Jericho, Gail Kim, Dark Side of the Ring producer Evan Husney, the Von Erichs, Martha Hart, and Dominic Garrini and want to support us getting more interviews with big names in wrestling, please leave us a 5 star review on Apple Podcasts, it only takes a few seconds to do and really helps us out! Also, remember to please give us a like or comment on the YouTube version, and please subscribe to the 411mania YouTube channel.

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit the 411 Wrestling Interview Podcast on 411mania.com and please embed our podcast player or YouTube video.

0:00: Intro
1:52: On starring in his own action franchise in the I Am Vengeance series and being able to show off more of his character
3:55: On working with a bigger cast this time around and seeing his character in a team environment
5:20: On acting opposite Vinnie Jones and growing up a fan of Jones as an athlete and an actor, how their fight scenes went
8:02: On working with Phoebe Robinson-Galvin and Katrina Durden in action sequences
9:40: On Drew McIntyre being the first British WWE Champion
10:40: On if he ever sees himself making a return to wrestling full-time or part-time
12:01: On whether he still follows the current wrestling industry, WWE and AEW running shows during the pandemic
14:50: On NXT UK having a negative effect on the British wrestling scene as a whole
16:13: On working with CM Punk on Netflix’s Ultimate Beastmaster
18:19: Outro

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