Billy Gunn fired!
Former Smoking Gunn and New Age Outlaw Monty Kip Sopp, aka Billy Gunn, has been released from his contract with WWE after testing positive for elevated levels of testosterone.
Sopp was a part-time member of WWE’s roster since his return from TNA and the independent circuits in 2012, and also worked on as a trainer.
According to Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer, Sopp failed a wellness test at a powerlifting competition on July 25th and subsequently was banned from further competition for four years. WWE was apparently unaware of Sopp’s powerlifting endeavours, and released him upon learning of his suspension from the sport.
Meltzer reports that Sopp’s drug test showed a 37-1 testosterone/epitestosterone ratio, far above the allowable 4-1 ratio.
Monty Sopp began training as a professional wrestler after leaving professional bull riding in 1989, and joined WWF in 1993 as Billy Gunn, one half of The Smoking Gunns along with his “brother” Michael Polchlopek aka Bart Gunn. They won the WWF Tag Team Championships three times before breaking up in 1996.
After a singles run as Rockabilly, a protege of the Honky Tonk Man, Sopp formed a new unit with Brian Girard “BG” James, who began his career as The Roadie. Calling themselves “The Road Dogg” Jesse James and “The Bad Ass” respectively, The New Age Outlaws joined D-Generation X and enjoyed a successful run, both as a team and as singles competitors.
Sopp’s career went through a variety of alterations throughout the 2000s. As a singles competitor, he won the Intercontinental Championship, the Hardcore Championship, and became the 1999 King of the Ring. Aside from Bart Gunn and Road Dogg, Sopp also competed in teams with The Big Show, Chuck Palumbo, and Hardcore Holly.
(The “homsexual publicity stunt” storyline with Palumbo remains one of WWE’s most infamous angles.)
Sopp left WWE in November of 1994, and publicly aired grievances with both the company and Triple H. Later, he would explain and apologize for his comments.
After WWE, Sopp wrestled in TNA as “The Outlaw”, then as Kip James from 2005 until 2009, belonging to factions like Planet Jarrett and The Beautiful People.
From 2009 to 2012, Sopp reunited with BG James to reform the New Age Outlaws on the TWA Powerhouse roster. He also competed for Lucha Libre USA and won the APWA American Championship.
In July of 2012 on the 1000th Episode of Raw, Sopp returned for a one-off reunion with Degeneration X. Later that year, he was hired as a trainer at the NXT facility. He also reformed the Outlaws with BG James, who was also hired back as a producer the previous year. The semi-retired duo even captured the Tag Team Championships in 2014, before dropping them to The Usos.
Sopp’s most visible role over the past year has been as a trainer on season six of WWE Tough Enough, and the new documentary series WWE Breaking Ground.
Hours after being released from WWE, Sopp was apparently immediately contacted and signed by Preston City Wrestling to appear at the Road to Glory events in February of 2016. At 53, it appears Monty Sopp’s career in the business is still long from over.