Monty Kip Sopp (November 11, 1963) is an American professional wrestler. He is best known under the ring name Billy Gunn and for his eleven year long tenure in the World Wrestling Federation / Entertainment. He has also worked for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling under the ring name Kip James. In WWE, Sopp was a one time Intercontinental Champion, a two time Hardcore Champion, and the 1999 King of the Ring, but found his greatest success as a tag team wrestler, becoming an eleven-time World Tag Team Champion. WWE wrote, "Billy Gunn had it all. The 6-foot-3, 260-pound phenomenon from Austin, Texas, was a natural athlete who could bust out a dropkick with textbook precision and hoist an opponent over his head with animal-like strength. He was charismatic, too."
As of 2019, Sopp is currently signed with All Elite Wrestling, under his most famous ring name Billy Gunn. He also works in AEW as a booking agent.
Professional wrestling career
World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment (1993–2004)
The Smoking Gunns (1993–1996)
When Sopp first arrived in the World Wrestling Federation, he used the name Billy Gunn and teamed with his on-screen brother, Bart Gunn, as The Smoking Gunns. In early 1995, they won their first Tag Team Championship by defeating the makeshift team of Bob Holly and The Imposter Haiti Kid. They held the titles until WrestleMania XI when they were defeated by the team of Owen Hart and Yokozuna. They won the titles again in September 1995.
On February 15, 1996, the Gunns vacated the title because Billy was in need of neck surgery. After Billy returned from hiatus, The Smoking Gunns won the Tag Title for the third time by defeating The Godwinns in May. After the match, The Godwinns' manager Sunny turned on her team in favor of the Gunns. On September 22 at In Your House: Mind Games, the Gunns lost the Tag Team Title to Owen Hart and The British Bulldog. After the match, Sunny abandoned The Gunns, saying that she would only manage title holders. Billy, frustrated with losing both the championship and Sunny, walked out on Bart, breaking up The Smoking Gunns.
The New Age Outlaws and D-Generation X (1997–1998)
Main articles: New Age Outlaws and D-Generation X
After briefly feuding with his brother, Gunn adopted a new gimmick, Rockabilly, and became the protégé of The Honky Tonk Man. During this time, he had a short lived feud with "The Real Double J" Jesse James. On Shotgun Saturday Night, James realized both of their careers were going nowhere and suggested that they became a tag team. Gunn agreed and smashed a guitar over the Honky Tonk Man's head to solidify their new alliance. Although initially a heel tag team, Gunn turning on the Honky Tonk Man actually got a cheer from the live crowd.
James and Rockabilly were quickly rebranded as "The Road Dogg" Jesse James and "Bad Ass" Billy Gunn, respectively, and their tag team formed was soon named the New Age Outlaws. This new team was in the spirit of the new Attitude Era: brash, vulgar, egotistical, and loud-mouthed. They quickly rose to the top of the tag team ranks and won the Tag Team Championship from the Legion of Doom on November 24. They also defeated the LOD in a rematch at In Your House: D-Generation X.
The Outlaws slowly began to align themselves with D-Generation X, who were impressed with their new attitude. At the Royal Rumble, the New Age Outlaws interfered in a Casket match to help Shawn Michaels defeat The Undertaker. At No Way Out Of Texas, the Outlaws teamed up with Triple H and Savio Vega (who replaced the injured Shawn Michaels) to face Chainsaw Charlie, Cactus Jack, Owen Hart, and Steve Austin. They were, however, defeated. On February 2, The Outlaws locked Cactus and Chainsaw in a dumpster and pushed it off the stage. This led to a Dumpster match at WrestleMania XIV where Cactus and Chainsaw defeated the Outlaws for the Tag Titles. The next night on Raw, the New Age Outlaws won the Tag Team Championship for a second time by defeating Chainsaw and Cactus in a Steel cage match, but only after interference from Triple H, Chyna, and X-Pac. After the match, the Outlaws officially became members of D-Generation X (DX). Upon becoming an official member of DX, Gunn picked up the tendency of mooning opponents (a trait used by the original incarnation of DX, as well as its 2006 revival), a precursor to the later "Mr. Ass" gimmick.
After joining DX, the Outlaws successfully defended their Tag Team Title against the Legion of Doom 2000 at Unforgiven. DX began to feud with Owen Hart, and his new stablemates, The Nation. At Over The Edge, the Outlaws and Triple H were defeated by Nation members Owen, Kama Mustafa, and D'Lo Brown in a Six Man Tag Match. The Outlaws would also successfully defend their titles against The New Midnight Express (Bombastic Bob and Bodacious Bart) at King of the Ring.
During this time, the Outlaws began a feud with Kane and Mankind. Although Kane and Mankind won the Tag Team championship, they could not get along. At SummerSlam, Mankind faced the Outlaws in a Handicap match after Kane no-showed the title defense. The Outlaws defeated Mankind to win the titles for the third time. The Outlaws then helped X-Pac in his feud with Jeff Jarrett and Southern Justice. In December, the Outlaws lost their title to The Big Boss Man and Ken Shamrock from The Corporation.
Singles competition and "Mr. Ass" (1999)
The Outlaws then began to focus more on singles competition. The Road Dogg won the Hardcore Championship in December 1998, and Gunn set his sights on the Intercontinental Championship. At the 1999 Royal Rumble, Gunn unsuccessfully challenged Ken Shamrock for the Intercontinental Title. The next month at St. Valentine's Day Massacre, Gunn was the special guest referee for the Intercontinental Championship match between Val Venis and champion Ken Shamrock, where Gunn made a fast count and declared Venis the new champion before attacking both men.
In March, Gunn won the Hardcore Championship from Hardcore Holly. At WrestleMania XV, Gunn lost the title to Holly in a Triple Threat match which also included Al Snow. The New Age Outlaws then reunited to defeat Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart at Backlash. After Backlash, Gunn left D-Generation X and aligned himself with Triple H and Chyna.
Upon leaving DX, Gunn tweaked his gimmick and expanded on his past tendencies of mooning opponents by adopting the nickname "Mr. Ass", almost always mooning the crowd as well as opponents. While Road Dogg kept the New Age Outlaws entrance music for his own, Gunn adopted the song "Ass Man" as part of the gimmick, and for a time even changed his ring tights to be see-through, wearing only a thong underneath his tights, although he would eventually revert to the DX-era tights with the lips.
Gunn defeated his former partner, Road Dogg, in a match at Over the Edge. Gunn then won the King of the Ring Tournament by defeating Ken Shamrock, Kane, and his former ally, X-Pac. After King of the Ring, Gunn, Triple H, and Chyna went on to feud with X-Pac and Road Dogg over the rights to the D-Generation X name. This feud culminated at Fully Loaded when X-Pac and Road Dogg defeated Gunn and Chyna.
Gunn then began a feud with The Rock. At SummerSlam, The Rock defeated Gunn in a Kiss My Ass Match.
Reformation of the Outlaws and D-X (1999–2000)
Gunn then briefly feuded with Jeff Jarrett for the Intercontinental Title before reuniting with Road Dogg to reform The New Age Outlaws. The Outlaws won their fourth tag team championship by defeating The Rock 'n' Sock Connection in September 1999. After defeating teams such as Edge and Christian, Hardcore Holly and Crash Holly, and The Acolytes, the Outlaws reunited with X-Pac and Triple H to reform D-Generation X. The group then feuded with the likes of Steve Austin, The Rock, Kane, Mankind, Shane McMahon, and Vince McMahon. During this time, The Outlaws won their fifth and final Tag Team Championship after defeating Mankind and Al Snow.
At the 2000 Royal Rumble, The New Age Outlaws retained their title against The Acolytes after interference from X-Pac. The Outlaws then had a heated feud with The Dudley Boyz, who won the Tag Team Championship from The Outlaws at No Way Out. After suffering a torn rotator cuff in the match with The Dudley Boyz, Gunn was kicked out of D-Generation X for "losing his cool". He then took time off to tend to his arm injury, before returning later in the year.
"The One" Billy Gunn (2000–2001)
Gunn made his return in October and immediately teamed with Chyna to feud with Right to Censor, who wanted to "censor" his Mr. Ass gimmick. At No Mercy, Right to Censor members Steven Richards and Val Venis defeated Chyna and Sopp. Due to a stipulation, Gunn could no longer use the Mr. Ass gimmick, so he renamed himself Billy G. for a few weeks before settling on "The One" Billy Gunn. Gunn then feuded with Eddie Guerrero and the rest of The Radicalz. At Survivor Series, Gunn teamed with Road Dogg, Chyna, and K-Kwik in a losing effort against The Radicalz. A few weeks later on SmackDown!, Gunn won the Intercontinental Championship from Guerrero. However, the title reign was short lived, as Chris Benoit defeated him for the title two weeks later at Armageddon.
After feuding with Benoit, Gunn interfered in the Hardcore Championship Match at No Way Out, and taking advantage of the 24/7 Rule, pinned Raven for the title. The reign was short lived, as Raven won it back a few minutes later. Gunn competed in the Hardcore Division until June, when he turned heel and had a short feud with the 2001 King of the Ring, Edge. After the feud, Gunn quietly turned face again and formed a short lived tag team with Big Show. At Show's request, the team was called "The Show Gunns", a pun on the word shogun. At InVasion, The Show Gunns and Albert lost to the team of Shawn Stasiak, Hugh Morrus, and Chris Kanyon. The Show Gunns quietly disbanded and Sopp feuded with The Alliance midcarders.
Billy and Chuck (2001–2002)
Main article: Billy and Chuck
In a 2001 match on Sunday Night Heat, Gunn was defeated by Chuck Palumbo, who recently left The Alliance to join the WWF. After the match, Gunn suggested that they form a tag team. Palumbo agreed and Billy and Chuck quickly rose to the top of the tag team division. Initially they were a generic face tandem but soon turned heel when they were given a gimmick where they grew increasingly affectionate toward each other, showing evidence of a storyline homosexual relationship.
In February 2002, Billy and Chuck defeated Spike Dudley and Tazz to win the Tag Team Championship for the first time as a team. After winning the titles, Billy and Chuck found a "Personal Stylist" in the ambiguously flamboyant Rico. After defeating The APA, The Dudley Boyz, and The Hardy Boyz in a Four Corners Elimination Match at WrestleMania X8, and Al Snow and Maven at Backlash, Billy and Chuck feuded with Rikishi. At Judgment Day, Rikishi and Rico (Rikishi's mystery partner of Mr. McMahon's choosing) defeated Billy and Chuck for the Tag Titles after Rico accidentally hit Chuck with a roundhouse kick. Billy and Chuck quickly won the titles back two weeks later on SmackDown! with Rico's help. They held the championship for about a month before losing it to the team of Edge and Hulk Hogan.
Later that summer, after Gunn lost a match to Rey Mysterio, Chuck proposed to Billy, asking him to be his "partner for life" and gave him a wedding ring. Gunn agreed, and on the September 12 episode of SmackDown!, Billy and Chuck had their wedding ceremony. However, just before they tied the knot, they revealed that the entire ordeal was a publicity stunt and disavowed their on-screen homosexuality, admitting that they were just friends. The "preacher" revealed himself to be Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff (who was wearing a skin mask), who then summoned 3-Minute Warning to beat up Billy and Chuck. Rico, furious that Billy and Chuck gave up their gimmick, became the manager of Three Minute Warning and defected to Raw, effectively turning Billy and Chuck face in the process. At Unforgiven, Three Minute Warning defeated Billy Gunn and Chuck Palumbo. Their final match together occurred on SmackDown! in the first round of a tournament for the newly created WWE Tag Team Championship. They lost the match to the team of Ron Simmons and Reverend D-Von. Afterwards, Sopp took a few months off because of a shoulder injury and the team of Billy and Chuck quietly disbanded.
Return to singles competition and departure (2003–2004)
After returning in the summer of 2003, Gunn reverted to the "Mr. Ass" gimmick and Torrie Wilson became his new manager. He started a feud with Jamie Noble which led to an "Indecent Proposal" Match at Vengeance, which Noble won and due to a stipulation, won a night with Torrie. On SmackDown!, it looked as if Torrie was going to have a Ménage à trois with Noble and Nidia until Sopp broke into the hotel room ready to brawl with Noble. Sopp then started a short lived tag team with Noble before taking time off again due to a shoulder injury.
Gunn returned to action at the 2004 Royal Rumble, but was eliminated by Goldberg. He also competed in a battle royal for a WWE Championship match at No Way Out, but was eliminated by Eddie Guerrero, who went on to win the match. Afterward, he wrestled mainly on Velocity forming a tag team with Hardcore Holly. At Judgment Day, they unsuccessfully challenged Charlie Haas and Rico for the Tag Team Championship. Sopp then had a short feud with Kenzo Suzuki before beginning a pursuit for the United States Championship.
On November 1, 2004, Sopp was released from his WWE contract. At the time of his release, he was one of the most tenured wrestlers with the company, behind only The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels. In June 2005, Sopp gave an interview in which he was heavily critical of WWE and the events that led to his release. Many of the negative comments were directed towards Triple H, who Sopp claimed "runs the show up there".
Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2005–2009)
On February 13, 2005, Sopp debuted in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling without a name (as Billy Gunn is a WWE trademark even though announcers recognized him as Billy Gunn) at Against All Odds with the same gimmick, helping Jeff Jarrett retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in a match with Kevin Nash. Sopp, using the name The New Age Outlaw, then formed a stable with Jarrett and Monty Brown known as Planet Jarrett. However, WWE threatened TNA with legal action if Sopp continued the use of the name "The New Age Outlaw", so he shortened his name to The Outlaw. Due to the legal issues with WWE, all TNA DVD releases featuring footage with Sopp as "The Outlaw" (and presumably also as "The New Age Outlaw") have had the name on on-screen graphics blurred, the name silenced out of the audio, and match commentary completely replaced to reflect a retroactive name change to "Kip James". One such DVD is the pay-per-view Lockdown 2005, included in the "TNA Anthology: The Epic Set" box set, in which the silencing of the name during a segment where Dusty Rhodes picks his name from a lottery leaves DVD viewers in the dark as to who just got picked (unless they could read Dusty's lips).
The Outlaw began a campaign to make former ally B.G. James leave the 3Live Kru and defect to Planet Jarrett, reforming the old tag team with Outlaw. At No Surrender, he renamed himself Kip James and was announced as "wrestling out of Marietta, Georgia" (the family seat of the Armstrong family) as a psychological ploy. As a result of his campaign, Kip attracted the ire of 3Live Kru members Ron Killings and Konnan, leading to a series of tag team matches pitting Kip and Monty Brown against Killings and Konnan, with a conflicted James unwilling to take sides. Kip's efforts ultimately proved futile; James, the guest referee in a final match between Brown and Kip versus Konnan and Killings at Sacrifice, attacked Kip enabling a 3Live Kru victory.
In September at Unbreakable, Kip teamed with Brown to defeat the team of Apolo and Lance Hoyt. There was clear tension between the partners because Brown was unhappy at the series of losses at the hands of the 3Live Kru, and Kip was irked by Brown's decision to leave Planet Jarrett. Despite the victory, the partners argued after the match. On the October 8, 2005 episode of Impact!, Kip rekindled his feud with the 3Live Kru, running to the ring after a bout between the 3LK and Team Canada in order to prevent Team Canada captain Petey Williams from beating down B.G. James. He saved James, and then engaged in a staredown with Konnan and Killings. Kip saved James from Team Canada once again at Bound for Glory. Though Killings showed signs of gratitude, Konnan remained skeptical as to his true intentions. Later that night, Kip took part in an over-the-top-rope gauntlet match for the number one contendership to the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. After he was eliminated, he tried in vain to prevent Killings from being eliminated as well, before being sent away from ringside by the referees.
The James Gang (2006)
On the November 26 episode of Impact!, B.G. brought Kip and the 3Live Kru to ringside and asked Killings and Konnan whether Kip could join the stable. Following a heated argument between Konnan and B.G., both Killings and Konnan gave their approval, and the 4Live Kru was born. However, at Turning Point, Konnan attacked both B.G. and Kip, costing them their match against Team Canada and initiating a feud between himself and the remainder of the Kru. Shortly thereafter, B.G. James's father, Bob Armstrong, attempted to reconcile the group, but was instead attacked by Konnan and his new stablemates, Apolo and Homicide. Killings later stated that he had severed his ties with the Kru. With Konnan and Killings no longer members of the Kru, Kip and B.G. began referring to themselves as The James Gang and continued to feud with the Konnan-managed Latin American Exchange, whose third man position as Homicide's partner would switch from Apolo to Machete, and then from him to Hernandez, who finally stuck, during the course of this feud.
By November 2006, Kip and B.G. began to show displeasure in TNA and threatened to go find work elsewhere if they did not receive gold soon. They began performing the crotch chop, a reference to the WWE's DX. On the November 2 edition of Impact!, Kip and B.G. threatened to quit. Kip grabbed the mic and tried to say something to the TNA administration and Spike TV, but each time his mic was cut off. Kip then tried to use the announcer's headset, but it was cut off as well. Frustrated, he started yelling loudly to the crowd, but he was cut off again as the show went to a commercial break. When the show returned, the announcers speculated that they may have been frustrated due to the influx of new talent entering TNA. It was reported that the segment was a worked shoot that Vince Russo had written in order to renew interest upon their eventual return. Kip and BG appeared in an internet video on TNA's website where they addressed the owner of WWE Vince McMahon.
The Voodoo Kin Mafia (2006–2008)
A few weeks later on Impact!, The James Gang reemerged under a new name Voodoo Kin Mafia; the group name 'Voodoo Kin Mafia' share the same initials as WWE chairman Vincent Kennedy McMahon. They mentioned their new right of 'creative control', meaning they could do whatever they wanted. They also declared 'war' on Paul Levesque, Michael Hickenbottom, and Vincent K. McMahon (Triple H, Shawn Michaels, and Vince McMahon, respectively). Kip then declared that 'Triple Hollywood' and 'Shawn Kiss-my-bottom' were failing as the group they (Kip and BG) used to be a part of: D-Generation X. After the initial shock value of this incident wore off, VKM began a feud with Christy Hemme. Hemme then searched for a tag team to square-off against VKM. The final tag team was Damaja and Basham, who appeared on an episode of Impact! and beat down VKM. They also held up Kip James so Hemme could slap him. However, they beat Hemme's team at Slammiversary. After the match, VKM were betrayed by their associate Lance Hoyt. At Victory Road, they introduced their new manager, the Voodoo Queen, Roxxi Laveaux, to embarrass Christy Hemme. On the October 25 edition of Impact!, VKM teamed with A.J. Styles and Tomko in a losing effort to the Latin American Xchange and the Steiner Brothers. At Genesis, B.G. James was present along with Kip James in the corner of Roxxi Laveaux at ringside for the Fatal Four Way knockout match for the TNA Women's Championship in which Gail Kim retained the title. On February 21, 2008 he turned on B.G. James and B.G's dad "Bullet" Bob Armstrong by hitting them both with a crutch.
The Beautiful People and departure (2008–2009)
Main article: The Beautiful People (professional wrestling)
On April 13, 2008, he faced former partner B.G. James at Lockdown and lost. After the match, he appeared to want to make amends as he raised B.G.'s hand after the match, only to clothesline him down to the mat and taunt him with a DX crotch chop. Kip went on to declare himself "The Megastar", an arrogant gimmick similar to "The One" gimmick from his WWF tenure. Kip later stopped making appearances on Impact! until April 24 when he was attacked backstage by Matt Morgan for no reason. The next week on Impact!, Kip got back at Morgan by attacking him backstage in Jim Cornette's office. On May 8, 2008, Cornette forced Morgan into being Kip's tag team partner for the Deuces Wild tournament at Sacrifice, though both were unable to win. Kip went on another brief disappearance from television until the June 5 edition of Impact!, where he partnered with Lance Hoyt and James Storm in a losing effort against Morgan and The Latin American Xchange.
On the August 14 episode of Impact!, Kip was revealed to be the new image consultant and member of The Beautiful People, dubbed Cute Kip, after they brought him out during their interview on Karen Angle's show Karen's Angle. At Genesis 2009, Kip became the one-night-only replacement for the injured Kevin Nash in the Main Event Mafia.
As of March 19, 2009, Sopp was taken off of TNA Impact! along with Jacqueline Moore to become road agents. Sopp returned as Cute Kip and lost to Awesome Kong in an intergender stretcher match on May 14, 2009. On the May 28 edition of Impact!, Kip was fired by The Beautiful People. On the June 18 edition of Impact!, Mick Foley hired him as his handyman, turning Kip into a face.
Sopp's profile was removed from the TNA website on December 29, 2009, confirming his departure from the promotion.
Independent circuit (2010–2012)
After leaving TNA, Sopp reunited with B.G. James to reform the New Age Outlaws, with both men resuming their Billy Gunn and Road Dogg ring names. After joining TWA Powerhouse in 2010, the Outlaws defeated Canadian Extreme to win the promotion's Tag Team Championship on July 25. They later lost the title back to Canadian Extreme on June 5, 2011.
On July 30, 2011, Sopp, working under the ring name Kip Gunn, made his debut for Lucha Libre USA as a member of the heel stable The Right. Later that night, Gunn lost in his debut match against Marco Corleone.
Return to WWE (2012-2015)
On July 23, Sopp, under his Billy Gunn ring name, made his first WWE appearance in nearly eight years as he reunited with Road Dogg, X-Pac, Triple H, and Shawn Michaels to reform D-Generation X for one night only on the 1000th episode of Raw.
In December 2012, he was hired by WWE as a trainer to the NXT Wrestling territory in Tampa, Florida. On the December 17 episode of Raw, Gunn and Road Dogg reformed the New Age Outlaws as they presented the Slammy Award for Comeback of the Year to Jerry Lawler. The New Age Outlaws appeared at WWE live events working with Team Rhodes Scholars on December 26 at Joe Louis Arena, December 27 at Madison Square Garden and on December 28 at the Nassau Coliseum.
On March 4, 2013, Billy Gunn and Road Dogg made a return at Old School Raw, defeating Primo and Epico. On March 11, 2013, they accepted a challenge from Team Rhodes Scholars and faced them in a match, which was interrupted by Brock Lesnar, who hit both Outlaws with an F-5 as part of his ongoing feud with Triple H. At a NXT show Gunn refereed an NXT Championship match between Bo Dallas and Sami Zayn and allowed Bo Dallas to win and retain the NXT Championship. He later explained what he did by saying Triple H asked him to do it and it was what's best for business. NXT GM JBL later showed his support for what Gunn did.
He then appeared alongside Road Dogg to help CM Punk clear out The Shield in aid of Roddy Piper on Old School Raw on January 6, 2014. On the January 11 episode of SmackDown, the Outlaws teamed with CM Punk in a six-man tag match against The Shield in a losing effort. On the January 13 episode of Raw, the Outlaws again teamed with Punk in a rematch against The Shield, only to abandon Punk and lose the match, thus turning heel in the process. On January 26 during the Royal Rumble Kickoff Show, Gunn and Road Dogg as the New Age Outlaws beat Cody Rhodes and Goldust to win the WWE Tag Team Championship. This marks Gunn's 11th tag team championship reign in WWE. The next night on Raw the New Age Outlaws retained the championship against Rhodes and Goldust via disqualification when Brock Lesnar attacked the brothers. The next week on Raw the New Age Outlaws retained the championship against Rhodes and Goldust in a steel cage match. On March 3, the Outlaws lost the Tag Team Championship to The Usos. Gunn sustained hemoptysis after he and his New Age Outlaws partner, Road Dogg, suffered a double-Triple Powerbomb by The Shield at WrestleMania XXX.
Gunn returned to Raw with Road Dogg in January 2015, attacking The Ascension along with the nWo and the APA. At Royal Rumble, the Outlaws faced The Ascension in a losing effort. At WrestleMania 31, Gunn, with Road Dogg, Sean Waltman and Shawn Michaels, reunited as D-Generation X to help Triple H in his match against Sting. In May, Gunn was announced as a coach along with WWE Hall of Famers Booker T and Lita for the sixth season of Tough Enough.
On November 13, 2015 Sopp was fired due to testing positive for elevated levels of testosterone in a powerlifting meet on July 25.
All Elite Wrestling (2019-present)
Gunn signed with the recently formed All Elite Wrestling promotion in 2019, serving as an in-ring performer as well as a booking agent. He made his in-ring debut during AEW's inaugural broadcast event The Buy In, during which he competed in a 21-Man Casino Battle Royale, won by Adam Page.