Billy Gunn was born Monty Sopp on November 1, 1963, in Orlando, Florida.
Career Before Wrestling
While many wrestlers who have cowboy characters were only portraying a character, Billy Gunn came to the character a bit more honestly. A professional Bull Rider in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, he rode professionally in the 1980s before leaving that career to pursue professional wrestling.
Billy Gunn began his career in 1985, largely working on the independent circuit. Though most of his work was in smaller territories, he did have a brief stint in WCW before he made his mark elsewhere.
While he may have started wrestling in the 1980s, he’s perhaps best known for his career in the 1990s. Trained by Jerry Grey, his career took off after signing to the WWE in 1993. It was there that he’d take the name Billy Gunn as part of the Smoking Gunns and begin an incredibly storied tag-team wrestling career. In fact, Gunn would be a three-time tag team title holder by 1996. Even if his career had stopped with the Smoking Gunns, he would have gone down as one of the few tag-team wrestlers to hold the title multiple times.
For most, though, Gunn’s legacy wouldn’t be cemented until he left the Smoking Gunns. After a brief run as “Rockabilly”, he’d team up with the then “Real Double J” Jesse James to form a new team – the New Age Outlaws. It would be as part of the New Age Outlaws that Gunn would take on the name “Badd Ass” Billy Gunn and eventually become one of the members of the incredibly popular Degeneration X. During this run he would not only get a few more Tag Team Title reigns, but he’d also hold the Intercontinental Title and the Hardcore Title.
After the New Age Outlaws, Gunn continued to work as both a singles wrestler and as part of the duo of “Billy and Chuck”. Though these runs wouldn’t bring him quite as many titles as when he was a member of the New Age Outlaws, he would still be a featured performer on some of the WWE’s biggest shows.
Billy Gunn has also had a very successful career outside of the WWE. As a wrestler in TNA, he was part of groups like Planet Jarrett, The James Gang, and the Voodoo Kin Mafia, and the Beautiful People. He’d be a participant in some of the company’s most memorable storylines and matches over his years in the promotion despite not holding gold there. It would also be in TNA that he’d begin to be known as much for his experience backstage as an agent as he would be for being in front of the camera. After leaving TNA, though, he’d go back to being a successful wrestler and even have another run in the WWE.
All in all, Billy Gunn has left a legacy as one of the greatest tag team wrestlers of all time. He held the WWF/E tag title belts a total of 11 times in his career, putting him in second place for all-time tag titles won in the company. His role in the Attitude Era also places him squarely in the middle of some of the most beloved matches and segments of all time.
Given the length of his career and the number of characters that he has portrayed, it should come as no real surprise that Gunn has had a number of different signature moves. These include, but are not limited to:
– The Fame-asser/Famouser (a legdrop bulldog)
– Gunnslinger (swing side slam)
– Shake, Rattle, and Roll (punches)
– One and Only (Cobra Clutch Slam)
– Elevated DDT
Gunn is also known for using a fairly large variety of different types of slams and suplexes. His repertoire has largely consisted of power moves, though he has been known to adapt some of his signature moves to be used from the top rope.
Billy Gunn has had a few appearances in other forms of media, though many of them are still wrestling related. He has, for example, been featured in many of the WWF/E video games that were released both during and after his tenure with the company.
In addition to his video game roles, he has appeared on both the big and small screens. His largest film role was in the 2012 film Double Fury as Wincott. He also portrayed the character Xavier “The Avenger” Prescott in a 2000 episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
Billy Gunn has been married twice and has two children, one of whom is also a professional wrestler. He also attended Sam Houston State University.