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The story of the Hurricane; faster than a speeding bullet? Nah. But Shane Helms' goofy superhero act is winning over WWF audiences - Interview

Wrestling Digest,  June, 2002  by Jim Varsallone

THERE MAY BE A WHIRLWIND of talent in the WWF, but no one can match the power, might, and force of the Hurricane, a true-life superhero dedicated to defending truth, justice, and the McMahon way.

The Hurricane, by day mild-mannered Shane Helms, was one of the many refugees who joined the WWF following the demise of WCW. Known as Sugar Shane in his WCW incarnation, Helms first made his mark in WCW by winning the cruiserweight title.

After signing with the WWF, Helms looked for a way to set himself apart from the pack and to avoid the federation's Ohio Valley and Heartland feeder groups. A real-life fan of the comic book hero the Green Lantern, Helms decided to bring his own brand of heroism to the WWF as the Hurricane.

"The creation of the Hurricane was a mutual thing between me and the WWF," Helms says. "I have a tattoo on my shoulder which is from a comic book character-type thing, and it evolved from there." Helms' tattoo, which reads WILL POWER, may refer to his hero the Green Lantern, but it also describes the Wendell, N.C., native.

Growing up, Helms was the smallest kid on his block. He overcame his lack of physical stature by becoming one of the hardest-working athletes at East Wake High School. He left everything he had on the wrestling mat and football field each and every time he competed. "I was the smallest kid on the wrestling team and football team in high school. When I decided to get a tattoo, it seemed appropriate to get that type of tattoo."

Helms broke into the wrestling business in his early teens. "When I was 13, I went to an indie show, the CCWA in North Carolina. I already knew I wanted to be a pro wrestler," he says. "I stayed after the show and told them I wanted to be trained one day. I started doing odd things for them, putting up the ring, being a ring boy, whatever I could to play in the ring."

A self-taught wrestler, Helms had his first pro match in 1991. He wrestled the indies for years before getting his big break with WCW.

"I never sent in a tape of my work to the big promotions. I didn't know who to send it to or who to contact. So I worked the indies a long time, and I went to Germany for a little bit," Helms says. "When I returned from Germany, I sent a tape to the right person, and WCW booked me for a tryout match."

After the tryout, WCW signed Helms. "I was kicking myself for not sending a tape earlier. I guess I thought they would just find me."

While Helms recalls his WCW stint fondly, he is ecstatic to now be in the WWF. "It's been great, more than I hoped for. Most of the input on the Hurricane is mine. One of our writers is a comic book fan, so he kind of knows what path to put me on as far as my promos and stuff. Basically, they want me to say something, and I say it as the Hurricane would."

Just as Batman has Robin and the Tick has Arthur, the Hurricane has his own sidekick, Mighty Molly. "Ifs fun for her," Helms says. "It was a learning experience at first because she has never been a heel, per se. She learns quickly. It's definitely always fun having someone out there with you."

Batman and Robin have the Batcycles, so the Hurricane and Mighty Molly had to have the Hurricycles, which they use to enter the arena.

"The WWF gets a new cycle for each show," Helms says. "I need one myself. I will probably end up buying one. I practice for a couple of hours every show because I'm not really that proficient on a motorcycle. It's really fun."

Helms has spent much of his career as a serious wrestler. But in WCW he was also a member of the three-man tag team 3 Count, a satirical boy band modeled after the Backstreet Boys and N*Sync, before breaking into singles success. He has mixed feelings now about playing another cartoonish character.

"People know I can wrestle and be a serious wrestler. Now I have a spot as the Hurricane where I can be entertaining at the same time. To be successful in the realm of sports entertainment, you need to be talented in the ring or entertaining. If you can be both, that doubles your chances of being successful."

In WCW, Helms was mentored by a variety of wrestlers from Kanyon to Jimmy Hart, but in the WWF he's been guided by an old friend. "[Fellow North Carolinian] Matt Hardy was a great friend of mine. We were friends on the independent scene. He kind of eased my transition into the WWF locker room. I didn't have to go prove to everybody I was a nice guy. I had a great friend saying I was OK."

Helms met Matt and his brother Jeff back when he was trying to break into the business. "Starting in 1991, I went to so many different indie wrestling organizations. I couldn't even count how many," Helms recalls. "I met Matt and Jeff. They started their own group called OMEGA. It was special. It just seemed like everybody there at OMEGA was just so talented.

"The thing about independent wrestling in North Carolina was anybody could do it," Helms says. "You would go to shows, and there would be people who were just terrible. They didn't belong anywhere near a ring. The OMEGA group was different. Everybody was good and everybody worked so hard. It was, by far, the best independent show I'd ever seen or ever been a part of. We were all close, too. Every show was a party for us."