Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura has recalled a meeting with Vladimir Putin, admitting that the Russian President was keen to be friends.
Wrestling fans will remember Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura for his work in the then-World Wrestling Federation, particularly for his stint as colour commentator. Traditionally partnered with Vince McMahon, Ventura was one of the first to play heel while on the headset, something McMahon was keen on.
Following his release and subsequently failed tenure in rival World Championship Wrestling, Ventura turned his hand to politics. This was vastly more successful than his wrestling career, with the 2004 Hall of Fame inductee serving as the Mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota for four years.
His career in politics led ‘The Body’ to host his own political television show, The World According To Jesse, which aired on RT America – a Russian television branch. Naturally, this was pulled from all outlets following the outbreak of war in Ukraine this past February.
Jesse Ventura has since recalled a meeting he had with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Speaking with Chris Jericho on the latest Talk Is Jericho podcast, Ventura explained how the Putin he met measured up to the Putin of today:
“I’ll admit this, I met Vladimir Putin before I signed. They flew me and my wife to Russia for the 10-year anniversary of RT. Putin was the keynote speaker. I met [Mikhail] Gorbachev that night too. The Putin I met that night, I’m having a hard time identifying today, because the Putin I met that night walked across the room to me, I didn’t go to him.
“He came to me, held his hand out, said ‘Thank you, Governor.’ Called me by my title. And he said, ‘I want to assure you, you have total creative control and there will never be any interference in your show.’ And I said, ‘Thank you, Mr President.’ And Chris, I have to tell the truth. For four years, they never interfered in my show at all. He was a man of his word, so I can only judge him by my relationship with him, and I’m trying to figure out who this guy is today.
What in the hell happened to him, because I got the feeling when I met him, he truly wanted to be our friend. That was the vibes I got from him, and you know me Chris, I’m not too far off with my vibes, but this guy, whoever Putin is now, either he worked me like hell, and working a wrestler is tough to do.”
The World According To Jesse ceased operations, as did RT America, earlier this year. Jesse Ventura has condemned the invasion of Ukraine, stating on the show that he doesn’t support the actions of Vladimir Putin.
Jesse last appeared for WWE as the guest host of the 23 November 2009 broadcast of Monday Night Raw, where he provided commentary alongside Vince McMahon for the first time in almost two decades.