Pro wrestling fans have been seeing Billy Gunn as an onscreen character ever since 1993 when he made his debut under that ring name on WWE television. In the years since, he’s worked as a tag team specialist, occasional singles star, and even as an enforcer type — not only in WWE, but also in Impact Wrestling, New Japan Pro-Wrestling, and, most recently, All Elite Wrestling.
Now in his late 50s and still looking shockingly jacked, Billy Gunn has been around for so long that it’s easy for long-time fans to take him for granted and for newer fans to be unaware of his history. Let’s take a look at the career of Billy Gunn and see what fans should know about him.
10 Bull Riding Background
It may surprise fans to find out that the future Billy Gunn didn’t initially venture into pro wrestling. Rather, Monty Kip Sopp started out as a bull rider in rodeos before opting for a career change. It was in WCW in 1989 that Billy Gunn — working under the name Kip Montana — had his first televised match, teaming with perennial jobber Mike Jackson in a losing effort against The Road Warriors that lasted less than two minutes. Hilariously, this bout was a challenge for the NWA World Tag Team Championship.
9 The Smoking Gunns
After signing to WWE in 1993, Billy Gunn was officially born, debuting in May of 1993 on Raw alongside his kayfabe brother, Bart Gunn. As the cowboy themed tag team Smoking Gunns, Billy and Bart Gunn were regulars in WWE’s tag team scene, where they captured the Tag Team Championship three times for a total of 331 days. By 1996, they’d gain a manager in Sunny, who abandoned the group as soon as they lost the tag team title, which in turn caused the Smoking Gunns to split up as well.
8 Repackaged As Rockabilly
Following the break-up of the Smoking Gunns, Billy Gunn would experience his first run in WWE as a singles star, albeit in somewhat regrettable form. When the Honky Tonk Man took an interest in Gunn, Honky not only became his manager, but a repackaging ensued as Billy Gunn became the Honky Tonk Man-esque Rockabilly.
Rockabilly would feud with the country music themed Jesse James, but after a while they decided to team up, so Rockabilly smashed a guitar over Honky Tonk Man’s head and formed a tag team instead.
7 The New Age Outlaws
In teaming up, Rockabilly became “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn while Jesse James adopted his “Road Dogg” moniker, and the duo became known as the New Age Outlaws and captured the WWE Tag Title five times during the Attitude Era. They also joined up with the faction D-Generation X and became a wildly popular act with their crude antics and shout-along entrance promo. The duo would break up and reform a few times, with Gunn embarking on solo runs, including one where he won the 1999 King of the Ring.
6 Billy & Chuck
In 2001, Billy Gunn embarked on the most controversial run of his career when he formed a tag team with former WCW wrestler Chuck Palumbo. Gradually their relationship grew more romantic, and soon became explicitly gay, with WWE making headlines for the storyline. With their stereotypical stylist Rico in tow, Palumbo eventually proposed to Gunn, leading an in-ring wedding where they finally revealed that they were only pretending to be gay for the attention. The reveal proved to be even more controversial than the concept, as the LGBTQ organization GLAAD had consulted on the storyline only for it to end as an elaborate gag.
5 Reunited With Road Dogg In Impact
After departing WWE in 2004, Billy Gunn resurfaced in Impact Wrestling in early 2005, working under legally tricky names like The New Age Outlaw before settling on Kip James. Before long, he’d attempt to reunite with his old partner Road Dogg (now known as BG James), causing tension in BG’s new faction, 3 Live Kru. Kip’s campaigning would pay off, as the two would reunite as The James Gang before evolving into the Voodoo Kin Mafia, who spent a lot of time baiting WWE in their promos.
4 Became A Fashion Consultant
After the inevitable breakup angle with BG James and embarking on a subsequent singles run, Kip James joined up with the Knockouts division faction The Beautiful People, becoming the group’s “image consultant” under the name Cute Kip.
In spring of 2009, Cute Kip disappeared from TV in order to work backstage, but returned to television a couple of months later and promptly lost his job with The Beautiful People. Kip spent the rest of the year doing comedic segments and performing on Impact’s minor show, xplosion before leaving the company at the end of the year.
3 Returned To WWE In 2012
Billy Gunn spent the early 2010s making sporadic appearances on WWE television, frst for a D-Generation X reunion segment on the 1,000th episode of Raw in 2012, and then in spring of 2013 for a match alongside Road Dogg on another nostalgic episode of Raw. In 2014, The New Age Outlaws became regulars on the show again, turning heel to join The Authority and capturing the Tag Team Title from Goldust and Cody Rhodes, bringing their reigns in WWE up to six, holding them for 36 days before dropping them to The Uses.
two NJPW Run
In 2016, following a neck injury at the hands of AJ Styles, former WWE star Yoshitatsu began to put together an opposition stable called Hunter Club, though he was only able to get one member other than himself — Billy Gunn. Together, they spent late 2016 competing in the World Tag League Tournament together, and Gunn appeared to move on from NJPW. However, months later, Billy Gunn returned to NJPW to unsuccessfully challenge company ace Hiroshi Tanahashi for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship in Long Beach, CA at G1 Special in USA.
1 The Gunn Club
When All Elite Wrestling started up in 2019, Billy Gunn scored a job with the company, working backstage as a coach and occasionally wrestling on screen. Soon enough his sons de él — billed as Colton and Austin Gunn — would begin performing for the company, and the three formed a trio called The Gunn Club, first as a subfaction of the babyface Nightmare Family and then as a standalone stable when they turned heel. While they often performed on AEW’s YouTube shows, The Gunn Club managed to become featured more on dynamite and rampage thanks to an entertaining alliance and subsequent feud with another tag team, The Acclaimed.