D’Angelo Dinero aka “The Pope” was previously known as Elijah Burke and is one half of TNA Impact Wrestling’s commentary team. He recently took some time out of his busy schedule to participate in an interview with me. His career has seen him compete with both the WWE and TNA for a number of years. Check out excerpts of the interview below and the interview in its entirety here.
Transition from Boxing to wrestling:
The transition from an amateur boxing background to wrestling was not that difficult, as far as showmanship and the entertainment aspect of it. It wasn’t hard at all because that my main reasoning for boxing was just to entertain. Of course, I trained and did as much as I could to be a good boxer so I could hold my own in the ring. I was more of a tough guy, more of a brawler, a slugger. I grew up fighting, so the boxing part wasn’t hard but my main concern was the fulfillment of that burning desire in me to entertain the masses. However, the only part that was indeed a challenge was restricting myself from throwing actual punches. When I would throw my punches or what not, I would have a hard time pulling it back a bit. So that was the main thing that I actually had to work on, which I did countless times by punching a dummy. I actually learned to throw my first actual wrestling punch from Jim Cornette. One of the ways that I learned to throw fake punches in the wrestling ring, without having legit force that would injure my opponent in the ring, was I would use a light bulb that would hang in the distance and I would do my best to hit that light bulb without damaging it, breaking it or moving it. So if I could throw a good enough punch to a light bulb without causing it to shatter, I think that’s pretty good. I think that as time went on, I felt more comfortable with it and I was able to incorporate my actual boxing strikes in the ring and be safe with it.
Training and Development with OVW:
Jim Cornette and Danny Davis. Danny Davis is the grandfather, the wizard, of OVW. Those two were very instrumental in helping me develop my character. Jim Cornette said just be you, just do what you do, the people love you. That was basically what it was. On the microphone? On the mic? The gift to gab if you will, that came along with the whole package with Elijah. That’s something that I’ve always done. That’s something that I hadn’t needed to really develop. If there is someone that I would attribute my ability to gab to, I would say my Pastor, Willie May Goodness, from down home southern Jacksonville, Florida. Where I grew up, in church, is where all that came from, The gift of gab and being able to talk on the mic and be comfortable with it.
If there was anyone that showed me how to convey emotion and allow it to manifest into something more for the viewing audience, then of course that goes to ‘The American Dream’ Dusty Rhodes, who I had the privilege and the honor to work with. He was my childhood idol during my time in OVW, prior to my time in ECW. Definitely, it was Dusty who was supportive. Dusty saw me and I went and introduced myself and he stopped me. He said, ‘I already know about you, daddy. You and I we going to have some fun’. I would do my promos and it would be awesome. They would have scripts but he believed in me so much that he would take the script or anything they wanted me to say and he would turn it down. He would say, ‘just do what you going to do, daddy. You let me deal with Stephanie and Vince. You just say what you’re going to say’. That was just so awesome because he believed in me so much. He knew that I could take what they wanted me to do and put it in my own words and hit a home run with it. That’s what we would do all the time.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter