Rhino gambled on himself, and valued creative freedom over money.
After spending time in ECW, TNA, and multiple runs in WWE, Rhino passed up a doubling of his downside guarantee last year by WWE to strike out on his own. Since he's left, his former tag team partner Heath Slater has barely been used, seemingly validating his decision.
Rhino doesn't regret it thus far.
"It’s always good when you have a sense of your creativity can flow into the ring and in what you do and stuff like that. Whatever you’re in, when it comes to the entertainment business. Obviously the more creative control you have over your own abilities, it’s a great feeling," Rhino told Fightful of his choice.
With a bright light shining in his face, Rhino gritted through the interview, suggesting a more gritty, dimly lit version, since we were sitting at a table of ECW veterans.
Now, he's working alongside several ECW veterans as a part of the IMPACT roster. His return to the company last year saw him walk through a rabid crowd after weeks of teases.
"Yeah, it was fun," Rhino said of his appearance, spearing Michael Elgin. "Whenever you go into a new company, you always want to make an impact, and that’s what I did. The fans really enjoyed that I’m back with IMPACT! and it’s been great. It just felt natural. When something feels so natural and right, you just go with it."
Being back in the ring with Rob Van Dam has been both rewarding and punishing for a guy who worked with him 20 years ago, with Rhino saying "Stiff. Real stiff. Those kicks, they land. They connect with their mark."
In the late 90s, Rhino took an established move in the Spear, and made it his own with the Gore. Variations of the move would see him carry his adversary across the ring, or hit a shorter version for higher impact. It's all dependent on the situation.
"It all depends if I was getting my ass kicked. If I’m getting my ass kicked a few minutes before I’m not gonna be picking anybody up and running them across the ring through a table. It all depends on the match and stuff like that," said Rhino.
With one of the most impressive variations of the spear, there are still plenty that impress him. Another one of his classic finishing moves is making a resurgence as well
"Goldberg. Edge. Roman Reigns. A lot of people. I always tell people, if I hit someone with the Gore and they kick out—that was a spear," Rhino joked. "Nobody’s ever kicked out of the Gore. If we kick it way back, I’ll be piledriving you through a table. A lot of fans like that. It’s great with the WWE Network, a lot of fans when they were watching and they were young adults or they have kids, they can show their kids a lot of the stuff that they watched. So, I have ten year old kids coming up to me going “Oh, I loved it when you piledrove Sandman’s wife through a table” and all that stuff. So, sometimes younger kids would want to see that in person."
You can see our full interview with Rhino above, and catch him each Tuesday on Impact Wrestling on AXS TV.