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Repost: Kevin Sullivan Shoot Interview
Posted by Brandon Truitt on Mar 30, 2004, 19:32
This is a repost of an article originally posted on October 14, 2002
Sorry that there's no new shoot this week, as I had some computer problems in the last few days. With any luck, I'll be able to finish the Kenji Mutoh / Kaz Hayashi shoot interview I was working on for next week.
Well, the WWE is heading back towards a new low after this past week... Apparently someone convinced Vince McMahon that the ratings have bottomed out and that we'll watch no matter what shit he puts on TV. I think he needs to talk to Vince Russo about how that does NOT work, as you CAN alienate your hardcore fanbase by doing dumbass angles.
I WOULD say that the "Kane is a Murderer" storyline is one of the dumbest so far this year, but this IS the same year where a dog was the subject of the main event feud of Wrestlemania. In addition to that, a few months later we got Sherlock Helmsley, Consulting Detective, spending 2 hours intimidating all the heels on RAW to see who attacked Shawn Michaels before it was revealed that he had attacked Shawn.
I would ALSO say there's no way to pay the stupid angle off because the WWEff can't even make "can't miss" angles pay off anymore, but the Chuck and Billy wedding had what I feel was a better ending than ANYONE expected for such a reviled storyline.
*note* There WAS a piece on the rumored talent meeting here, but I've scrapped it since nothing has come of it as of the posting of this article*
And as an aside, there's a pretty damn funny comment about the RAW from two weeks ago in a Wrestling Observer issue I just got... "The UnAmericans get into an argument over which one of them has the most heat with management. I think Test wins..."
As for the shoot...
Due to some comments about how I was doing too many shoots with guys who made it big in the WWF, I'm doing one this week with a guy who made it big in the NWA and, to my knowledge, has never worked for the WWF. This was one of only about four that meet that qualification and I figured that it would be more interesting than ones with Baby Doll or Nikita Koloff...
As always, if you have comments, questions, suggestions, tapes to send me, drop me a line at this address.
Kevin Sullivan shoot interview
If this interview is a bit spotty, it's due to the poor condition of my tape.
The tape opens with a Kevin Sullivan promo from Florida, surrounded by his "family" which includes King Curtis Iaukea, a huge guy with as many blade-scars on his forehead as Abdullah the Butcher who was the a part of WCW's Dungeon of Doom. Sullivan's subject for the promo is Superstar Billy Graham, and he talks about cutting his head off and so forth. This is Sportz Entertainment WELL before Vince "invented" it.
Sullivan cuts another long rambling promo from Florida that sounds like a fundamentalist preacher's sermon, although I'll be damned if I can figure out what he's talking about.
He then cuts another one from Florida in an empty arena, talking about why, when he got "blinded", he reached out to his arch-enemies... the Windham family (Blackjack Mulligan, Barry Windham, Kendall Windham, and Blackjack's son-in-law Mike Rotundo). He talks about how Blackjack's gone down and now, he's not sure who took him out but intends to find out. I'm hoping this didn't end with with a security camera showing Kevin attacking Blackjack...
The interview actually starts now, with Sullivan looking like a cross between Superstar Billy Graham and Scott Steiner, with a crewcut that makes him look bald and a blonde beard.
Sullivan got started in the business because he was training as an amateur and someone convinced him to go pro.
He worked in Montreal, with Pat Gerard. Other guys who had worked the territory were the Garvins (Terry, Ron, and Jimmy) and Pat Patterson. Ken Lucas and Eddie Graham were among the guys who took him under their wing.
Another early territory he worked was Georgia, then he went to Mobile, Alabama, to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to Tennessee (which was a full area and not split into Memphis and Nashville).
Opinions of Memphis- Great wrestling area. Just about the only thing on TV around that time was wrestling.
Jerry Jarrett- Business man. VERY very smart about the business. Doesn't get along with him very well, but business is business between them. He was made booker, but his payoffs weren't good and he ended up quitting the territory. While in Memphis, he feuded with Jerry Lawler. The territory was on its ass, so he suggested that the formula for the matches be changed so that Lawler and Bill Dundee didn't send everyone home happy every night. The next week, Wayne Ferris (Honkytonk Man) beat Lawler and Sullivan beat Dundee and the house was up to $37,000 from $11,000 the week before. Other highlights include working with Jimmy Hart, who he describes as an energetic guy, and working with Lawler, who knew how to get over everywhere.
Georgia- He talks about how people don't like Ole Anderson, but that he didn't really like or dislike him. Ole was a good business because he didn't let anyone get too far out of line and he was financially successful in his time. He talks about how they had a huge amount of young talent like Tommy Rich, Rick Martel, Tony Atlas, etc. He learned from Ole not to run everyone in every night, because Ole did it so often that the fans would watch the locker room instead of the match. Highlights include working with Steve Kiern (a Fabulous One as well as Skinner in the WWF). He also worked with Tony Atlas, which was a good storyline because Sullivan had kept turning on people while Tony, his tag partner, kept justfying it. Eventually, he turned on Tony and they started feuding. Tony got him into bodybuilding.
Bodybuilding- He did a few shows, but they aren't anything like today's shows where the guys look like they have pumpkins surgically inserted into their biceps.
Terry Taylor- He was good, as he worked hard as a young face to learn his trade.
The Freebirds- He worked with them quite a bit and they were well ahead of their time. He claims that they'd fit in today, and talks about how revolutionary it was for them to alternate which two of them would defend the belts as well as them having entrance music, which few people had back then. I don't think they could have gotten over in the ring today because current WWEff road agent Michael Hayes sucked in the ring, but the late Terry Gordy and possibly Buddy "Jack" Roberts would be over.
Buzz Sawyer- Hated to work with him because he'd want to go 45 minutes if the office would tell them 20 minutes. He could have made money if he hadn't fucked himself up on drugs. He talks up the series of matches between Sawyer and Terry Gordy.
Who did he think had potential in the territory? Rick Martel, who he'd imported from Canada. Claims he knew he'd be a star the day he saw him. They talk up how he was a tag champ in the WWF in his first run there in about 1980 then was an AWA champion, but Martel's inability to give a good interview due to the language barrier (Martel's French-Canadian and had a thick accent. At least I never heard him say "The crowd will go banana!" like some OTHER French-Canadians...)
The highlight of his career in Georgia- Working with Austin Idol, because people really believed that they didn't get along.
Did he like being a heel or a face? Heel... he HATED working face.
Florida- He worked there a few times, and claims to have been a surrogate son to booker Eddie Graham. He said that Graham helped him determine the difference between good matches and drawing money. The guys at the beginning of the night would do the real wreslting match, then they'd do gimmick matches like first blood, Russian chain, and hangman's noose matches the rest of the night.
Dusty Rhodes as a booker- He disagrees with most people's negative viewpoints of Dusty's booking because Dusty's been successful and stayed over for a LONG time. "Dusty didn't mind stealing then putting his name on it [ideas]..." so at least he recognized good ideas and used them. He talks about how everyone wanted to come to Florida around that time. When Dusty went face and wasn't the booker, he sold out all the shows for three years. He figures that Dusty pushing himself to hard wasn't too bad until he started spreading himself too thin, but having to talk to guys about their matches while getting ready to go out and wrestle. "People get upset because Dusty Rhodes had a favorite talent... and it was Dusty Rhodes." (Truer words have never been spoken) He says everyone has their favorite guys but Dusty's being himself caused more of a backlash than other favortisim situations.
He and Dusty worked together well because Dusty could sell great and they cut a bunch of good promos on each other, which got them a lot of crowd heat.
How did the "devil worshipping" gimmick evolve? He talks about how it was all over music at that time, like Ozzy Osbourne, Metallica, Billy Idol, etc. and figured that he could get the redneck fans to believe he was really a devil worshipper. He said that if you can get the boys in the back to believe it, it's usually good enough to convince the fans. The only time they went too far was when Dusty hung him on TV. He said that the vignettes with this gimmick were well done and didn't go too far. He takes credit for most of the ideas but that the production was all Dusty.
Mark Lewin- He thinks that the vignette involving him was the first "wrestling video". He talks about how King Curtis was narrating the tape and puts over his ability on the mic. They were put together by Dusty. Mark was a huge guy who didn't talk much but, when he did, he definately got people's attention.
Luna Vachon- He thinks they couldn't do the angle that made her Luna today, as he slapped her to do it. He talks about how she insisted he lay it in when he did it, and he hit her so hard that she went "ass over teakettle", her dress went over her head, and the fans all rushed the ring to get at him. He talks about how it would be successful today because Undertaker did the same thing during his "Ministry of Darkness" phase in 1999.
He talks about how the gimmick was successful because people wanted to believe it was real and because he lived it.
Working in the business as such a small guy- He thinks it was the first guy of his stature to make it, even working with large guys like Dusty, Blackjack, and Andre the Giant. He thinks Vince McMahon Sr. would have died if he saw how Andre was selling so much for him.
Blackjack Mulligan- He could talk the people into the building. "One of the greatest talkers of all time" and one of the most unselfish babyfaces ever.
Favorite angles from Florida- Beating Dusty, Jake "the Snake" Roberts as a heel Santa Claus, etc. Jake was a great performer and a wonderful interview. He thinks that people could learn a lot by watching old videos of Jake. (Diamond Dallas Page certainly did, as he liberally borrowed from him and Randy Savage during his career)
Superstar Billy Graham- Great. Talks about how they did a promo with still pictures showing how they had Billy tied to the Tree of Woe.
King Curtis- Greatest talker of all time. He was the guy you'd use to get anything over that you wanted to get over. Talks about how once they were a minute short on their show, so Curtis counted down backwards from 60 and it ended up being the highest rated spot on the show.
He talks about how people don't like him because he insists on getting over every night, while hopefully getting the other guy over as well. He says he doesn't think he hurt anybody doing it, though. (I'd say this is up to interpretation if anyone takes a hard look at his WCW stuff in the mid-90's, as his last great match was with Benoit at Bash 96 and he was still around LONG after that).
Meeting his wife Nancy, aka Woman- He met her through a friend, and became invovled in the angle eventually because she was smart enough to understand it and someone insisted she be involved.
Working with the Road Warriors- He talks about how he first met them when Paul Ellering brought them in, and that they insisted on beating him and his partner. Blackjack had a problem with that, because he and his partner were going to beat Sulivan's team the week after. Sullivan took a hard look and Hawk and Animal and decided he could live with them pissed off for one night, since they were doing a one-shot in the territory, much more easily than a pissed off Blackjack. They were great to work with in the ring, though. He claims they almost turned his team babyface because they were huge heels at the time.
Midnight Rider angle- No one thought he was going to beat Dusty. Everyone thought that he didn't really know it was Dusty under the mask. (I doubt this seriously)
Barry Windham- "The greatest young babyface I've ever seen." Talked about how he was a tall, blonde pussy magnet and would probably be successful if just starting out today.
What did he learn as a booker from Eddie Graham and Dusty Rhodes? Eddie knew how to cultivate talent. He would make sure that no one would infringe on someone's look and would make sure that they weren't in a position where they'd be made to look bad. He also taught him that there probably is no such thing as "too much" heat on a heel.
Why didn't territories survive? There was no talent left. Everyone raped them, so there was nothing left. Amongst other raids, Dusty took the entire Windham family and Ron Bass with him to Mid-Atlantic, leaving Florida bare after decades of having so much talent.
How did he find out Jim Crockett bought the territory? Crockett called him up and told him. It wasn't too much of a shock. After Eddie Graham's death, someone said something to piss off Dusty, which got Dusty to go to Crockett to exact some measure of revenge. They bought the territory and were supposed to treat it like a feeder system, but instead pulled the plug on it.
Coming in to Jim Crockett Productions- They were spending WAY too much money. They were spending so much money on flying their airplane all over the country (and even from town to town in the Carolinas), they didn't have great syndication slots, etc. Crockett mismanaged the company, as he didn't know anything about the business and it was just handed to him by his father. Talks about how everyone wanted to beat Vince McMahon, but that no one could.
Was Dusty any different in JCP? "Yeah, he had more control."
Why wasn't he the same character he was in Florida? Crockett was a Baptist and didn't want to open that can of worms.
The Varsity Club- It was Dusty's idea but he and Rick Steiner had teamed before that. He says that it was like the Three Stooges... Rick was Curly, Rotundo was Larry, he was Moe, and "Dr. Death" Steve Williams was Curly Joe. (Yes, he really DID say this.) He talks about how the angle got Steiner was a HUGE babyface. He knew the idea was going to take off because people hated it too much. (They didn't like having two legitimate All-Americans like Steiner and Rotundo next to an evil midget in robes) By that rationale, it had the heat to be a good gimmick. It helped that Mike was the worker and Steiner was the comic relief. They were going to reform at one point but it got killed with no explanation. He said that Dusty should have been wrestling Rick Steiner, which would have resulted in good matches and helped Steiner's babyface turn.
Competition between the Four Horsemen and the Varsity Club- If there was, he jokes that he'd have Steiner whip the shit out of all the Horsemen. Competition was good, though, so they would have been forcing themselves to have better matches and draw more heat than the Horsemen.
What was it like when the UWF got absorbed into the company? It wasn't bad because "Bossman was one of the best big men I'd ever seen." The UWF guys complained about having their identity taken from them, and he personally thought it was handled "piss poor" because they'd go into the UWF territories like Louisiana and beat them all on a TV taping.
Guys who didn't get a handled right- Steiner got screwed over because they didn't give him a chance to get over on his own. They kept throwing him in tag situations with guys like Dusty and the Road Warriros, which elevated him somewhat by being around them but, since he wasn't dressed in spiked shoulderpads and coming to the ring to Iron Man, he didn't get the same response that they did.
Dr Death in the Varsity Club- Doc was the UWF champion at the time of the purchase, and he was getting screwed over at the time as a result. Sullivan figured that making him a part of the angle would give him something to do and that it would be realistic that he'd kick Rick Steiner's ass because Doc was considered THE badass before Bart Gunn knocked him out during the Brawl For All in 1999.
Ted Turner buying the company- The Turner execs thought it would be a cash cow, but it wasn't. He figured that Turner would bring in someone who knew the business, but they got putzes like Jim Herd instead. He said that the downfall of Jim Crockett Promotions was that there were no finishes, which falls on Dusty's shoulders. There were no finished because of the backstage politics and Dusty found that screwjob finishes were the best way to make the workers happy, but the fans got sick ot it.
He takes time to say that Vince McMahon will send a message out soon telling everyone that he's the only game in town. (Several of these happened, but this was kind of a 99.9999% guaranteed prophecy... Chyna not getting resigned due to excessive contract demands and Vince's treatment of the WCW talent during the Invasion are two occurances that meet this prediction.)
How does he, as a booker, deal with people who refuse to job? Fire them. They know coming in what they're probably going to do. "It's not like someone going over to The Rock and saying 'We're putting Mike Modest over you tonight.'" (I think that Steve Austin would disagree...) When a guy refuses, the booker has to decide how to handle it and his method is usually to fire them. He gives a bit of advice to new wrestlers... NEVER believe a booker who tells you "I'll give you something down the line." In my opinion, the Radicalz took this advice to heart when the WCW management promised them all big pushes if they'd stay with the company once Sullivan became the booker. They decided that they were going to be screwed in the long term, so they got their releases and went to the WWEff.
The interview takes a break as they show footage of a match in Florida with Sullivan beating a tall jobber with a mullet. This segues into a set of Sullivan interviews with his "family" in Florida, and one random attack in Smoky Mountain Wrestling that turns into an impromptu match. The scariest thing on here is a promo from Japan with Tazz (as the Tasmaniac) dressed up like a cross between Captain Caveman and one of the Insane Clown Posse. After that promo, footage of a garbage match from Japan is shown, and it's similar to the 1000 other hardcore brawls Sullivan booked in ECW and WCW over the years. There is then another promo and a few seconds of a different garbage match from Japan before the interview resumes.
Eddie Gilbert- "A real talent", and very talented as a young babyface because "he almost looked like a baby when he was young" and knew when and how to fight in the ring.
Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat- He booked some of the finishes to the famous series they had in 1989, including the one where Steamboat won at Chi-Town Rumble.
Who was his best teammate from the Varsity Club? Rick Steiner. He could watch Steiner bounce people around and laugh.
The series with the Garvins-They did an angle breaking Jimmy Garvin's leg with a cinderblock, and they'd worked well with them.
Scott Steiner- When he first came in, you knew he was going to be a star. He came into the company knowing how to wrestle and didn't need to be taught.
Terry Funk- Loved him to death. "He'd been beating the shit out of me ever since I was a kid." They went back all the way to Florida.
Buzz Sawyer in WCW- Buzz was always Buzz... he hadn't changed when he'd come back.
Norman the Lunatic- Hard worker although not a great wrestler. "If a guy works hard, you better find him a place."
Cactus Jack / Mick Foley- "The first time he came in, I said 'This guy's CRAZY.'" He knew he'd change the business, so he wanted to put him over big. He takes time to talk about how he (as a booker) beat Vince McMahon for about 96 weeks straight before the nWo ever came around (Uh yeah... right, Kevin.). He said that Foley jumping off the Cell at King of the Ring 1998 was the turning point in the wrestling business and rewrote history. He thinks that that was a huge turning point in the wrestling war because that was the first time that people could see that the "they don't get hurt" argument was full of shit. "He didn't do that fall onto padding... he did it because his balls are the size of basketballs." He thinks the real impressive thing is that Foley had a running start and didn't think "Holy SHIT, I can't do this!" and then stop before jumping off.
Did he see the star potential in Foley back in 1989? "Truthfully? No, not as big as he's gotten." He wasn't sure at first because Foley was "just coming in off the plains of Texas" and was a little starstruck by being there, but he knew he had it when he started talking a few months later. He talks about how people will claim that guys like Dusty, Blackjack, and even The Rock can't work, but no one ever says that about Foley. He said Foley never TRIED to work, he was always himself and it worked well. He starts listing off people who can work in the ring like Dory Funk Jr, Bret Hart, and Shawn Michaels, and says that while Foley isn't as good a worker as them, he considers him one of the top money draws.
Why did he leave the business in the early 90's? He had problems with Jim Herd (surprise, surprise... NO ONE got along with this asshole.) "I couldn't get along with a pizza guy who wanted Ric Flair to be Spartacus, he wanted a peg-legged wrestler, a hunchbacked wrestler, etc." As a joke, he told Herd that he'd wrestle the hunchback at an outdoor stadium, take him out of the ring, dig a hole, and stick his back in it so he could get the shoulders to the match. Herd's response was "GREAT, we'll do it at Turner Field!"and Sullivan was dumbfounded. "What the fuck was HE doing running a wrestling company?" Herd dug the company into a hole that it never really got itself out of. He said that stupidity was a trait of all the TV production units that worked for Turner, as Braves games on TV would have the camera focused on the third baseman when the ball gets hit to center field.
Memories working for Joel Goodhart and TWA- Liked him as a person and liked his concept of wrestling, as well as the Philadelphia crowd.
Working in Japan- While working for a garbage wrestling company (W*NGS, I believe...), he was asked to do an angle where he was the runner up to the company's Wrestler of the Year competition and would throw a glass case at the winner. He said that he, as a booker, would never ask someone do to that or be on the receiving end of it, but that they ended up talking into doing it and the guy who got hit came up and profusely thanked him afterwards.
Smokey Mountain Wrestling- He loves Jim Cornette as a person, a businessman, and a wrestling mind, and figures that he could have made it work if he'd expanded a bit more. Cornette spent too much time living off of Knoxville instead of working the loop of towns like Chattanooga, Lexington, Louisville, etc. When asked about the SMW angle shown on the tape earier in which he completely destroys a Japanese wrestler. He liked it in the sense that it got over, but was upset about the way it was done. The guy had a surgical blade and was cutting himself open pretty deep, so he just said "fuck it" and stuck the Golden Spike into the gashes this guy was leaving behind, which got the angle VERY over. Afterwards, this guy was thanking him profusely too, which Sullivan explains is just the mentality of the Japanese wrestlers.
Getting involved with ECW- He came in during the week of the transition between Eddie Gilbert and Paul Heyman. He had met Paul before Paul entered the business, and had asked him if he was interested in becoming a manager. To make sure that Paul had the determination to stay in the business, Kevin had Scott Hall (who was then about 300 pounds and probably was in his 70's Porn Star phase) knock Paul off the ropes every night and generally abuse him. After a month of that, he told Paul he had what it took to make it. Once Paul became booker in ECW, he was proud of him because he'd broken him into the business and he was successful. He thinks that it was amazing what Paul was able to do considering that no one was under contract so they had no need to do some of the crazy shit he asked them to do. He says that Todd Gordon talked to him about being the booker before Paul E, but that he was under contract to WCW and couldn't do it, and says that, looking back, there was no way he could have done what Paul did by making chicken salad out of chicken shit. "In a few years, the mystique around ECW will have everyone asking "Was it as good as ECW?"" when talking about other wrestling federations. He claims that Paul E. borrowed liberally from the old Florida territory to make ECW, though.
Teaming with Tazz- He was very good, but tried to convince him that less is more sometimes.
Taking guys under his wing- He would stretch guys a bit first to see if they were willing to do what it takes for the business. He insists that his whole philosophy was based on people believing that the business was real and that they were laying it in on each other. He talks about how he would even stiff Andre the Giant and Bruiser Brody. The one guy who he intentionally fucked around with was a guy who came in during the height of the Florida territory who had little to do with the business and was a bit of a dick, claiming that he'd carry Kevin and make him look good. He happened to be a teller at the bank where Kevin had his account, so he busted the guy open hardway with a chair to keep the guy from going "I carried this guy to a good match the other night" when he came in to cash his check.
WCW stealing ECW talent- He wanted Tazz, but wasn't going to screw over Paul E. However, he would get wind from WCW management who they were stealing from ECW and warn Paul about it. The only two guys he never tried to steal from Paul were Tazz and Tommy Dreamer, because the promotion was centered on them, but wishes he'd had them.
How did Paul take him going back to WCW- Paul knew it was happening eventually, and ECW couldn't really compete pay-wise once they did the loop outside of Philly.
Working with Dave Sullivan- Nice guy, but that it was hard to work the gimmick with him. "It wasn't the best angle I'd ever been in."
Tagging with Foley against the Nasty Boys- Their match in Philadelphia was the best one (at Slamboree 94), and one of the best matches ever. They were "beating the dogshit out of one another" during the match, but it never caused problems between them after the matches. He never thought that the Nasty Boys, Buzz Sawyer, or Tazz were stiff despite their reputations. He equates stiff with believable.
Was there ever an attempt to set up something between him and the WWF? Yes, but it fell through because he wanted too much money. The first time it was around when Terry Taylor went up there (I'm assuming in 1999 because it would have been as a backstage guy) as well as once when he was in Florida when they tried to bring him in to wrestle.
How different was WCW when he came back? He thinks that Eric Bischoff was a lucky guy and that at least he was better organized than Jim Herd was in 1989.
His relationship with Hulk Hogan- It's very good, as he used to know him back when he was living in a van on Pensacola beach.
Paul Orndorff- They go back a long ways and Paul was one of the stiffest guys he'd ever faced, but a very good wrestler.
Foley leaving WCW- He wished him well, hoping that Foley and Bischoff could patch up whatever tension there was between them so that he'd come back from ECW, but it never happened and Foley went on to the WWF. "He didn't see Cactus for the talent he was." He says it's a real compliment that he's the only guy in WCW who never got bashed in Foley's book, because Foley insists he wouldn't have made it in the business without him. He talks about how WCW made a lot of mistakes and that was one of them.
Ric Flair- He'd known him for a long time and liked him, but that Ric's done some things he hasn't agreed with over the year because Flair was looking at things as the champion as well as the booker. Unlike with Dusty, who'd push himself, Flair would push guys that he could go out and wrestle 30+ minutes against every night. He doesn't think Flair had the right mix between in-ring workers and people who could draw money. He talks about how hard it is to do a gimmick as well as work, which is what Foley did.
Dustin Rhodes- They got along fine because he'd known him since he was a kid, and thinks he's a good talent. He thinks that if it wasn't for the Goldust gimmick, he'd never gotten a break.
His wife Nancy (Woman) working for ECW while he was in WCW- The rumors of her being part of the pipeline bringing ECW guys to WCW are false because he'd tell Paul E himself who WCW was about to go after so he could job them out before they left.
Dungeon of Doom- The idea came about because WCW didn't know how to get The Giant (Big Show) over. He thought it was funny because it was different from what he did, but thinks it ended up being fine. He wish he'd had full control so that the fimmick would have been darker. The gimmick worked because it got The Giant over, at least temporarily.
Doing a one-shot in ECW against Foley- It was great to be back, it was a thank-you to Foley, and was a way to say "no hard feelings" to Paul E over the WCW talent raids of ECW.
Did he see potential in Steve Austin? Yeah, and he saw potential in Brian Pillman too. He knew they weren't cut out to be babyfaces (or, at least not TRADITIONAL babyfaces), but that they shouldn't be teamed together because they were TOO good and cancelled each other out.
Booking WCW- When George Scott was run out of WCW in 1990, Kevin was a part of the booking committee with Jim Cornette, Eddie Gilbert, etc. Difficult to deal with a lot of guys while you're in that position.
Working with The Giant- He thought Giant was the second coming of Andre. "Paul (Giant) was over at one point" but the office screwed it up.
Sabu- He came in after a contract dispute with Paul E. He wanted him for the first Nitro in the Fall of 1995, but they couldn't get the contracts sorted out in time.
Nitro- He always thought that running head to head with Vince was a good idea. He claims that their talent was better than Vince's at the time, which was mostly true... Vince's undercard guys blew but Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels were MUCH better than any talent in WCW.
Brian Pillman- The "crazy" angle came about because they were good friends and he had noticed how intent Brian was outside the ring. "He was not a bad guy, but was a heel at heart." They figured that if the locker room bought it, everyone in the crowd would buy it. The thing that really put it over the edge was that Eric Bischoff held a meeting detaling the do's and do not's for the wrestlers at Universal. Brian came in late to begin with, then yelled out "Does that go for the bookerman too?" when Bischoff was explaining the rules, and acted as if he was half-drunk. People came up to Kevin after the meeting talking about what a dick Brian was being and that he should kick his ass, so he knew the gimmick was working on the boys.
The Bobby Heenan incident in that angle- Bobby wasn't in on it and helped get it over by accidently saying the f-word on national TV when Pillman startled him from behind.
Does he regret working the boys? Yes, but the problem was that they had to work EVERYONE because certain members of the crew would make sure to find out the finished each night.
Did they have to work Bischoff as a part of the angle? Bischoff and Pillman were pretty close, so they didn't need to work him as a part of the gimmick, although Pillman DID work him to get a release from his contract... which he feels Brian did because he wanted to go to the WWF and get a fresh start. He wasn't sure if Kevin was going to be there much longer, so he wanted to work for Vince, who knew how to use people and was guaranteed to be in power for the forseeable future. "Brian was by FAR one of the most advanced thinkers in the business" and it was good for Brian to leave because the politics would have fucked him over when he came back. (People would have wanted "the rub" instead of just killing his gimmick outright) Brian came back for one night for Nitro because he THINKS Brian worked Eric into a bidding war.
How did the Pillman angle in ECW come about? Paul E. was in on it so that Brian could work there. At the time, he was still under contract to WCW and the plan was to bring him back... which never ended up happening.
Chris Benoit- He saw him as a talent right off the bat and, since he looks real, it would have worked. When asked if he'd respond to the "he held Benoit down" comments, he said "I made him World Champion... how the fuck could I hold him down?" and talks about the great matches they'd had together. He feels that when people think of great Benoit matches, they think of the one they had at Bash 96 instead of Benoit's series with Chris Jericho or Kurt Angle.
He made him the champion because he promised it to him and finally delivered on it. He feels that making Benoit the champion as well as making Sid tap out to him was more than keeping his word, as Sid NEVER taps out. He said that people don't realize how hard it is to get something like that done in the WCW atmosphere. It worked only because Sid is a real professional, despite many comments to the contrary. He also said that it wasn't a bullshit finish like Kevin Nash vs. Goldberg at Starrcade 98, which he claims he had nothing to do with. The problem was that Benoit and the other Radicalz fucked him the next night because Nitro was supposed to be centered on Benoit.
Whose idea was it to get Jacqueline involved? He'd seen her around before and thought she was a talent, and it worked out whenever he threw a guy to the floor and she went batshit all over him, which got a lot of heat. He thinks she's too talented to be sitting around training people, like on Tough Enough.
How long did it take him to figure out that Benoit was screwing his wife? He thinks he found out about it soon after it started. It wasn't hard to go to work after that, but it did take a toll on him personally. He feels the series they had together got the company get noticed again. He talks about how the conspiracy theorists are full of shit in claiming that this situation got Benoit held down, as he had pushed hard for Benoit to be champion while the other four guys in charge (Bill Busch, JJ Dillon, etc.) all wanted the belt on Sid until Goldberg came back from his injury (the time he put his fist through the windshield of a limo).
How did he feel about the cruiserweight division? He personally brought in Jericho, Benoit, Dean Malenko, Eddy Guerrero, Juventud Guerrera, Psicosis, Rey Misterio Jr, Damien, and a lot of the luchadors and Japanese guys. It was his decision to have Konnan beat Flair for the US belt, so now we know who to blame. The cruisers were pissed at him, though, because he went on the Florida principle of "Keep the good young workers at the bottom of the card, put the gimmicks in the middle of the card, and put the money people on top." He didn't think it was feasable for 130 pound cruisers at the top of the card, so that's why they were segregated. He said that Ric Flair had agreed to lose to Konnan because he'd asked him, but that everyone else gave him a lot of shit over it.
Working with Konnan- Konnan was always good to him, but was a little upset with him cutting an anti-ECW promo because he's close to Paul E.
Did Eric Bischoff ever get out of control? "FUCK yeah" He "went out of his fuckin' mind" because he had total control over the company. He did a good job for most of the time while he was there, though. He feels that Eric had gotten some bad advice along the way, but that people should have been looking at the people giving him the advice.
Hulk Hogan- He made Hogan stay at his house for a few days in order to convince him to turn heel, because he thought the second Hogan left people would convince him it was a dumb idea. He bitches about being the booker because everyone's paranoid about him fucking them over. Hogan had his doubts because he was scared of losing out on the money he was getting each year. He steps aside to talk about how it wasn't a coincidence that they got sued over the nWo angle, because they WERE treating them as if they were invaders from the WWF. He feels that the one thing you can promise to the man with everything is that you can be honest with him. Even if Hogan didn't go heel, the fans would have eventually turned him heel.
Kevin Nash and Scott Hall- Smart guys, great talent, real political. Scott was one of the best workers he'd ever seen. His job as a booker actually got easier when those two came in, as things began rolling again. The problem was that they didn't want to give back to the company after they'd invested so much time in getting those two over.
How did things change when WCW became #1? People thought Vince was going to go out of business. He felt that Vince had so much of the business in his blood that he'd never quit, though.
The Eric Bischoff- Ric Flair situation- Flair never got the respect he should have from Bischoff, and he never had NEAR the influence that people thought he had. Maybe at the beginning he did, but certainly not for long. He felt that Flair was no longer a political force by the time the nWo arrived.
He feels that he was possibly a pawn in political games before, but there wasn't anything concrete to support it. Until the end, few people would refuse to job. By the end, though, no one wanted to job because Bischoff had no control anymore, and that was because Bischoff started paying attention to everything BUT the wrestling part of the business.
The interview cuts to a match from Georgia between Sullivan and Buzz Sawyer. Typical old-school match that comes off as being rather boring today.
Back to the interview...
Goldberg- Amazing. He feels that he made the perfect choice by pitting him against Hugh Morrus because Hugh made Goldberg look like a million bucks and got the crowd into him right away. His hands got tied with Goldberg a lot, which got progressively worse by the time Starrcade 98 rolled around and Nash beat Goldberg. He asked every member of the committee why they'd beat Goldberg while he was selling out arenas left and right with people chanting his name, but no one seemed to have an answer. He'd wanted the match to end with Goldberg missing the spear and getting pinned if he HAD to be beat, but instead they went with the dumbass stun-gun routine. He talks about how the Jewish community went FAR with Goldberg and that he would have had as much crossover success as Hogan. He feels that people wanted to fuck around with Goldberg badly to improve their own standing in the company while they were negotiating new contracts *COUGHkevinnashCOUGH*. If management knew anything about the business, it wouldn't have happened.
When did he know WCW was going down? After Goldberg got beaten. The whole crap with Hogan having a match with Jay Leno was also ridiculous.
When was he pushed out as booker? Sometime between Goldberg winning the title in mid-1998 and him losing it at Starrcade 98. He takes time to say that Hogan wasn't behind Goldberg's loss because Hogan put him over but wasn't the guy to beat him.
He was indirectly involved with Vince Russo getting canned, because management asked him what he thought of the product and he told them it was shit. He also brings up that he never put the title on himself, unlike Russo and some other guys. He bashed Mark Madden while he's at it, before coming back to say that if Russo was worth a shit, Vince McMahon would never have let him go. Russo's booking was stupid in some ways because it brought heat on the company from special interest groups. He mentions something about an Italian guy being tied up and having meatballs poured all over him. "Imagine if they'd tied Goldberg up and poured matzo ball soup all over him..."
Bill Busch- He was the fall guy for the company because they knew that they were pulling the plug on the company.
How surprised was he that the Radicalz walked out the day after Souled Out 2000? He knew they were walking out. He intended to keep the belt on Benoit until Sid beat him, then Sid would transition the belt to Goldberg. The night they left, Benoit was supposed to go over someone and Saturn and Malenko were supposed to start getting a big tag push. He wasn't terribly broken up that the Radicalz left because they'd given management the ultimatum of him or them, so it worked out for him that they left. He figures Benoit thinks he has it in for him, but he's not sure why. He knew they were in trouble when the Radz left because Eddy, Malenko, and Benoit were the workhorses of the company. He doesn't see why they were upset with him because he was pushing Eddy as a US champ and a heel, giving Benoit that final push to make him a legitimate top guy, and pushing Malenko and Saturn as a tag team.
The vibe of the locker room was very negative at the time the Radz left, because a lot of the established WCW guys (Lex Luger, Sting, etc.) had gone to Bill Busch and said "Someone's got to be in charge. If you fire him, we walk." It was pretty much a choice between the past guys of WCW or the future, and management picked the past. According to him, the exact demand of the Radz was that he get fired "because he was going to fuck them" but that they couldn't dig up and ways that he'd fuck them over. He's not sure why they had such a hardon for him, because he'd pushed all of them pretty hard at different times as well as bring in Chavo Guerrero and trying to bring in one of Eddy's brothers.
How did he react when he heard Vince Russo was coming back? They called him and told him, then sent him home with 33 months to go on it.
How close was he with JJ Dillon? Close, business-wise. JJ will do the best he can for the business. If he has to choose between an individual and the business, he'd choose the business.
Scott Steiner cutting a shoot promo on Ric Flair- He wasn't happy Scott did it because Ric Flair deserved better than to be publically disparaged. It wasn't like they were building an angle since they were both heels. He said that no one would EVER get away with that in the WWF.
The WWF purchase of WCW- He heard about it over the phone and wonders how Vince picked it up for $2.5 million considering how much the tape library alone is worth. He said that someone should look at Brad Siegel's bank accounts to see if Vince slipped him something on the side to get such a sweetheart deal.
Does he think he'd have worked for a Bischoff-owned WCW? Possibly. He wouldn't probably have wanted to work for him, but he probably would have.
What would he have done differently as a booker? He kind of dances around this before saying that his work in 2000 did better ratings than everyone else did, and he only had Benoit, Jeff Jarrett, Sid, and Lugar as his top guys. He didn't have Bret Hart, Goldberg, DDP, Ric Flair, Hogan, etc. at that time.
His biggest success? Beating Vince for so long.
Biggest failure as a booker? Being involved in the Dave Sullivan angle for one, and not putting the belt on Booker T before Goldberg won it. (He wanted Booker T to win the belt as a heel.)
Does he think he could book a successful promotion today? Yeah, he could. He even got a call from Main Event Championship Wrestling, but blew them off.
If he was booking the WWF now, how would he do the Invasion? He thinks that they need a complete change, like bringing in a huge star such as Goldberg. He thought that the WWF would eventually make it work because they always did before, but that one sure didn't come to pass.
Best rib he's ever seen? Glen Rossi was a huge ribber and once, when they were wrestling at an armory with no doors on the toilet stalls, a guy came up to him and asked for his autograph while he was on the can. He said "Sure... could you hold this for me?" and handed him his used toilet paper.
What could he learn, as a booker, from watching the Japanese promotions? They don't have the storylines in the Sportz Entertainment sense, but rather telling the stories with their matches.
Barry Windham- Best babyface of his era.
Ric Flair- He is what you see him as on TV.
Dusty- Great character and great mind.
Terry Funk- Probably the most creative guy in the business. He should have booked a major company because his ideas are well before their time.
Bruiser Brody- He didn't bullshit you. It shocked him when he heard of Brody's death.
Steve Austin- He took a weak babyface character and turned it to the biggest thing in the business. He thinks Vince missed the boat on one thing... When Rock opened up the Republican convention by asking "Do you smell what The Rock is cooking?", he thinks Austin should have opened up the Democratic convention then had a big Republicans vs. Democrats feud. (No, really... I can't make this shit up)
Vince McMahon- Most brilliant guy in the wrestling business. Wrestling wouldn't be where it is today without him.
Hulk Hogan- Underrated as a person. Hulk is all business.
Bill Watts- Didn't work for him much. He broke the color barrier with guys like Ernie Ladd.
Shane Douglas- Great talent. Always thought he was going to be a great true heel, but it never really worked out for him.
Any personal regrets? No.
Anything he wants to say to his fans? He thanks them for supporting him over the years.
There are more matches on here, starting with a Brian Lee (Underfaker, Chainz of the Disciples Of Apocalypse) promo about a tombstone bearing his name that's displayed at ringside. This leads into a match the next week, which Lee wins against an unnamed talent with a guy in a dark cloak attempting to interfere. The guy in the cloak challenges Lee eventually, and he disrobes to reveal he's Kevin Sullivan. He looks like one of the evil cloaked midgets from Phantasm in this gimmick... He throws a fireball at Lee as the match starts, then starts stabbing him with the golden spike. LOTS of blood. Eventually, the face lockerroom clears out to save Lee from Sullivan and his disciples.
The next match is one of poor video quality as it's from Joel Goodhart's TWA, the forebearer to ECW, and is between Sullivan and Terry Funk. Typical match involving these two, as they brawl all over the arena, hit each other with chairs, put each other through tables, etc.
Next is a match from Thanksgiving Thunder (a Smoky Mountain show around 1993, I think) where he and the Mongolian Stomper brawl all over the arena. I swear... Sullivan's got only one match that he uses and the only times he's used it where it wasn't complete crap were the tag series with him and Foley against the Nasty Boys, as well as the Great American Bash 96 brawl with with Benoit.
There is another Smoky Mountain match here, as it's a rematch between Sullivan and Brian Lee that is a no holds barred brawl and we get the exact same match AGAIN. I'm surprised I haven't seen the variant of this where he ends up in the women's bathroom with a toilet seat around his neck on this tape...
Now it's a Sullivan and Abdullah the Butcher brawl, which follows the same formula... attack before the bell rings, chair, chair, brawl into the crowd, use of an "international object", etc.
I think I'll go ahead and recommend that anyone who purchases a Best of Kevin Sullivan matches tape should also buy a 9mm and some bullets because you'll kill yourself by the time the tape's done. Sullivan's promos are interesting but his matches just plain suck unless he's in there with a truely great worker like a Mick Foley or Chris Benoit.
I'm not really sure what to make of this. He's got a lot of interesting information, but he also says a lot of stuff that is questionable in its accuracy. It's not like Dusty or Shawn Michaels, both of whom lie outright though. I'm going to have to go for a Recommended rating because he has a lot on the fall of WCW which isn't covered very well in any shoot I've seen yet... although I've yet to see the ones with Buff Bagwell, Norman Smiley, and other guys around for the final days of the promotion.