Former WWE star Jimmy Wang Yang recently recalled the “crazy story” of how WWE CEO Vince McMahon rehired him after forgetting he fired him.
In an interview with Steve Fall’s “Ten Count” podcast on Wednesday, Yang, whose real name is James Carson Yun, said he ran across McMahon at WWE pay-per-view event “Backlash” in 2005 while Yun was on a date and trying to “get laid.”
Yun, 41, told Fall he had an exchange with McMahon, 77, after crossing paths with him while getting tickets for the event, saying, “… when I showed up, me and Vince crossed paths. He’s like, ‘Jimmy. Where the hell have you been?’ I was like, ‘You fired me.’ He said, ‘What? I did?’ It got busy. He said, ‘I will come back and talk to you …’”
Yun said he was later approached by people working with McMahon and was asked if he could demonstrate a move that would be used later for the match between The Spirit Squad and Shawn Michaels, also known as the Heartbreak Kid or HBK.
The move involved The Spirit Squad lifting Shawn Michaels, whose real name is Michael Shawn Hickenbottom, up into the air and slamming his body onto a table.
Wrestler Michael P.S. Hayes warned McMahon that Yun was not under contract at the time when they made the request, to which the WWE chairman said he should be. After agreeing to their request, Yun was escorted to the ring where the five-man group, Shawn Michaels, McMahon and Hayes were already present for the demonstration.
Some time after the demonstration, Yun was asked to return and do more shows, such as in Columbus for “Raw,” at “Sunday Heat” and then in Cincinnati for “SmackDown.”
“That was my hometown for a long time, so I said, ‘Yea, I’ll come down.’ When I walked in, they said, ‘Hey, come with me’, and they offered me my job back,” Yun told Fall of the events after accepting the Cincinnati offer.
On his day back in WWE in 2006, Yun recalled going to McMahon’s office to thank him. He then got the confirmation that the WWE chairman was unaware that he had already fired Yun, who was born to a German mother and a Korean American father who served in the U.S. Army.
McMahon then gave Yun his ring name Jimmy Wang Yang, which the CEO thought was funny because it rhymes. McMahon made the Yang character into an “Asian redneck,” a branding that stemmed from the wrestler’s use of the Southern vernacular “y’all,” Yun noted.
“He said, ‘I didn’t let you talk because you were this Korean dude with a southern accent. So this time we’re gonna make a negative out of a positive. I will make you the Asian redneck. That’s funny,’” Yun told Fall.
Recalling his response to what McMahon told him, Yun said, “I was like, ‘What? OK, whatever. I don’t care. You know, as long as the check clears every Monday I’m good to do whatever you want.’ He said, ‘Jimmy Wang Yang. That rhymes. That’s funny.’”
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