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" The Gravel Pit "
Jimmy Hart Shoot Interview
Posted by Brandon Truitt on Jun 16, 2003, 19:30
Man I'm glad I decided to watch Once Upon A Time In America instead of Bad Blood last night. Jennifer Connaly ALWAYS looks great. Too bad Mulholland Falls hasn't made it's way to DVD yet... it may be a subpar movie but it has two of my favorite actors, Nick Nolte and John Malkovich, and Connaly spends most of her screen time wearing only a smile.
On the plus side for Bad Blood, I was able to make up a decent amount of ground in the Smartmarks' PPV Gambling Pool because I bet heavily on Goldberg, Triple H, Steiner, and La Resistance. The only match I lost on was HBK-Flair because, honestly, who expected HBK to job?
I'm going to be taking next week off but I'll be coming back with another shoot on June 30. It's most likely to be either Virgil or Bill Watts, depending on which one I can find when I sit down with my laptop tomorrow.
On the plus side, though, I've already got plans for how I want to celebrate my first year with the site. On Monday, August 4, I'll post the shoot interview I consider to be the best of all time. While I'm a bit biased because I'm a HUGE mark for the guy, almost anyone who's ever seen it agrees it is one of the best ever. I'm referring to none other than the two tape interview with Jim Cornette.
Hear Cornette talk about booking matches, working in Memphis, Mid-South, World Class, Georgia, Jim Crockett Promotions, WCW, Smokey Mountain Wrestling, the WWF, and OVW, working backstage at the WWF, pissing and moaning about the stupidity of Jim Herd and Vince Russo, and calling Eric Bischoff "a latent homosexual who spends entirely too much time around Kevin Nash to just be friends." All this and more in just a few short weeks.
As always, you can feel free to Drop me an e-mail, read the archives, buy me stuff, or buy yourself stuff at Highspots.com.
Jimmy Hart Shoot Interview (9-6-2001)
We start with some Memphis footage from the early 80s, as Hart is interviewed about his interference in the Zambouie Express’s match the previous week. He receives a package which contains a cassette player and a tape containing a message from JJ Dillon telling Hart to stay out of the matches involving Dillon’s talent such as the Zambouie Express. Hart then introduces Rick Rude and his valet Angel.
The interview starts with questions about his musical career. He was going to high school in Memphis, he and a group of his friends put together a band called the Gentries as a dodge to get out of last-hour study hall and to possibly win a record deal. They had started off as the Gents but were told that the name didn’t have star quality so they came up with the new name on the way to a show one night when they stopped at a gas station. They went to the bathroom and noticed a condom machine labeled “Gentries” and decided to use that as the new name of the band. They were a part of the Ted Max Originals contest, as they won the first round in Miami, the second round in New York, and were disqualified from the third round because they’d already signed a record deal with MGM.
Was he a wrestling fan growing up? Yes, he used to go to the matches as a child in Jackson, Mississippi, where he was born. He’d watch the shows on Saturday whenever he was in Memphis between Gentries tours.
How did he get into the wrestling business? He and Jerry Lawler had gone to the same high school. One day, when he was cutting a record in the studio, a friend of his asked him if he wanted to cut a track with Lawler. While they didn’t really know each other in high school, they immediately clicked because Hart was a big wrestling fan, Lawler loved the Gentries, and neither of them drinked, smoked, or did drugs, all of which were passed around by the other musicians in the studio that day. Lawler ended up doing a retirement match with “Boogie Woogie Man” Jimmy Valiant and lost, which killed the crowds. Lawler and Jerry Jarrett then came up with an idea to bring Hart in by having Lawler act like he was going to join the Gentries. Lawler and the band were about to play when Valiant smacked the band around and broke a guitar over Lawler’s head, which gave him an immediate reason to un-retire.
Working for Memphis- A few months after that, Jarrett asked him to do promotion for the towns and do some ring announcing when he wasn’t touring. He did that until Lawler told him that they were going to do a concert one night instead of working a show in Arkansas and Jarrett fired him over it. He didn’t know it at the time but it was a part of the on-again off-again relationship between Jarrett and Lawler. What Jarrett didn’t remember was that he had told Hart the week before to do a song and a video for Jimmy Valiant, which Hart still had when he was fired. There ended up being a fight over the video because Jarrett hadn’t told Lawler about it then lied to him about authorizing it. Lawler and Jarrett then made up and insisted that they get the tape from Hart, who refused to do so due to him getting fired for something he was told to do then being asked by Jarrett to lie to Lawler about the video. Lawler then told him he was about to turn heel again and offered to bring him in as his manager. He didn’t want to do it at first but Lawler talked him into it.
Getting more involved in the business- He thinks he was being set up from the beginning so they could fire him once they got the tape back. His first night, he was involved in a Lawler vs. Bill Dundee match where his one spot was to give Lawler a chain to knock Dundee out. They hadn’t told him how they wanted him to do it in a way that the crowd could see it, so he lucked out by throwing it to Lawler so that it wrapped around the ring ropes before he hit Dundee. On the next TV show, Dundee produced a jobbed and told Hart that even the worst wrestler could beat a musician, so Hart ended up wrestling the jobber while wearing Lawler’s extra ring gear, which was too large for him. When Jarrett saw the tape the next day, he said “Jimmy Hart looked like the one who had been wrestling for two years.” Hart feels that being a lifelong fan helped him know ring psychology to the point where he could get into the ring for the first time and have a good idea of what to do when and why.
What was he taught before he entered the business and what did he learn afterwards? He was thrown out there with no training because his original role was to be Lawler’s yes-man. His role expanded when the promotion had a football game and Lawler broke his leg, which was breaking news on the local TV stations. The promoters decided to make Hart the hottest heel in the territory to help business while Lawler was out, which Hart found amazing considering his inexperience in the business. They spent a lot of time working on interviews and taping promos to get him over, which had Hart extremely nervous for that first week. The whole program was going to be built around Hart having a tournament to crown the new King of Wrestling, which would be one of his clients such as Ali Hassan, Precious Paul Ellering, the Nightmares, and Jimmy Valiant. When interviewed about Lawler on the air, Hart cut a promo where he said “What do you do when a horse breaks his leg? You shoot him.” That started a huge program which saw them bring in stars such as Hulk Hogan and King Kong Bundy while Lawler was trying to get revenge on Hart.
Jerry Lawler back in the day- One of the greatest minds in the business. Great ring psychology and a good mind for angles. He was such a good talker that he could have convinced someone to jump off of a bridge to help the promotion.
Austin Idol- Idol worked for them off and on and was known for doing strange things. One night, he convinced Lawler to swing by the Nashville airport on the way to a show in Louisville so he could change a ticket for a flight the next morning. Lawler waited outside the airport for almost an hour before he send a porter in, who came back and told him Idol had gotten on a plane to Pensacola, Florida.
Joe La Duc- When Jarrett and Lawler were too busy doing other things, Hart was allowed to bring the finishes to the spot shows outside of Memphis. When Hart did that, he’d end up talking the winners of the match into letting the losers have most of the offense and letting them throw their fit after the match, which made everyone happy. Things were running too smoothly for Jarrett, who figured there was something bad going on when he wasn’t hearing about locker room fights, and Dutch Mantel was allowed to handle the finishes at the house shows. In Hendersonville, Tennessee, Mantel did the finishes and Joe La Duc and a few of the other wrestlers kicked Mantel’s ass.
Jimmy Valiant- Very disappointing outside the ring because he was the complete opposite of his ring persona. Where he was very flamboyant and showy on TV, he was quiet and unassuming out of kayfabe. When Lawler bought a new Corvette, they ran a promotion one time where Lawler was going to “win” it from Jimmy Valiant so Jimmy drove it from the town where Lawler bought it to the show. On the way, Valiant stopped at a drive-thru and got sesame seeds all over the seats. They stashed the car at Hart’s house to keep it out of sight before the show and Lawler asked him to clean it up. Soon afterwards, Hart called Lawler and told him that the car was full of were marijuana seeds and that there were so many of them that Valiant was probably dealing. When Lawler looked at the bag of them, they realized that they were sesame seeds instead.
Jim Cornette- Cornette used to be a ring photographer. Cornette’s mom used to work with Christine Jarrett, Jerry Jarrett’s mother, who promoted Louisville. When they decided to bring him in as the rich kid manager, Hart made sure he had all the pads he needed and gave general advice, such as NOT to back up when one of the wrestlers comes towards you because you get too close to the railings and the fans can get you. They always got along great.
The boys hitting him in the ring- He got his jaw broken by Lawler in the feud that resulted from the aforementioned promo about shooting a horse. Outside of that, no one really did much to him. He DID get shot in the rear with a homemade dart by a fan because of all the heat he had.
Who taught him the most those days? He learned by being there. He would listen to Lawler’s interviews and try to be colorful. These days, when he and Lawler put together the Memphis Classics show, he can’t believe how many outfits he had on the money he made in the territory.
His favorite and least favorite people to manage in Memphis- Lawler was his favorite and he thinks his least favorite was probably Man Mountain Link because he’d eat chickens, which Hart had to buy, and it made a mess.
Memories of the angle where he got diarrhea- He thinks he tried to REALLY get diarrhea to avoid having to eat dog food due to the stipulations of another match. In that match, there were swerves ‘o plenty as Lawler and company brought in dog food cans with chili wrappers on them for Hart and Bobby Eaton to eat while Hart and Eaton brought in chili cans with dog food wrappers around them. Lawler and company thought that they really ate dog food while Hart and Eaton swerved everybody and were eating chili.
Andy Kaufman- He was at Lawler’s house right after Lawler got the news from Bill Apter that Andy Kaufman was interested in doing an angle with them because Vince McMahon turned him down. Kaufman loved wrestling and Elvis and all the boys loved him. He thinks Kaufman never tried to work them because he was scared of what might happen if the wrestlers started shooting on him. Hart’s main role in the whole thing was to make sure that Kaufman didn’t spend too much time mugging on the floor because they only had so much time for their show. Kaufman was good at performing in front of the crowds but would panic a bit in the back whenever the layout of the match was explained to him, as Hart had to explain what to do and why several times. The highlight of the whole angle was when Man On The Moon was made and E! did a big story about the whole angle. He also tells a story about how they did the piledriver angle in Louisville after they’d already done it in Memphis and Andy wanted to leave in an ambulance because he thought he was hurt. Lawler got pissed and relayed a message through Hart saying “If you don’t get up, I’m going to piledrive you again and you’ll NEVER get out of the hospital.”, at which point Andy shook it off and got right up.
Would that angle work again today? It’s doubtful because they tried it with David Arquette in WCW and attendance dropped. He puts over Arquette as a great guy but blames Eric Bischoff for the whole thing for asking every member of the booking committee about what to do and they told him exactly what he wanted to hear.
Tommy “Wildfire” Rich- He remembers driving back from a show one night in Rich’s Corvette with Highway To Hell blaring on the stereo. Rich didn’t work out as a heel because he still got all the cheers from the women and it was counterproductive.
The Fabulous Ones- Steve Kiern was once asked to break Chick Donovan’s leg and didn’t do it, which made Hart respect him. Stan Lane was the big showman of the team.
Was he ever sent to another territory? Jarrett, in an effort to keep him from going elsewhere, pitched him the idea of having a hair match with Lawler and losing then going up to New York to get measured for a KISS outfit. The plan was for him to get lowered from the roof every night while he was managing a new team that would be brought in especially for him. Hart pitched a counteroffer in which Lawler would lose a hair match the first week and then Hart would lose his hair in the return match the next week. Jarrett relayed the idea to Lawler, who then called up Hart and said “You smart little son of a bitch, you knew if Jarrett asked me to lose my hair I wouldn’t, so now you don’t have to lose your hair.”
Going to the WWF- He was in a hotel room in Nashville with Eddie Gilbert and another wrestler when he called home and got a message that Vince McMahon had called, which he thought was a rib by Austin Idol because Idol used to call up pretending to be Jim Barnett and telling people they could get a good spot in Georgia. He ignored the message and then he got a message a week later from George Scott, the booker of the WWF, and the same number was given so he ignored it again. The next day’s show got snowed out so he was at home and Hillbilly Jim, who was Harley Davidson in Memphis, called him up. They started talking and Hart found out that Howard Finkel had been getting a lot of Memphis tapes and that Vince McMahon saw a lot of potential in him as a manager in the WWF. Hillbilly made a few calls on Hart’s behalf and then called him back to say “Vince McMahon is going to call you in a few minutes.” Vince then called, pitched him the idea of coming to the WWF, and put him in touch with their travel agent so they could fly him to New York the next day. When he talked to the travel agent, they told him they worked with all the major airlines and asked which ones he preferred. He kept telling them “Whatever you’d like”, which they thought was him being easy to get along with rather than him being an infrequent flyer and not wanting to reveal that fact. Hart lucked out that week because Lawler was in Japan and Jarrett was off hunting, so it was easy for him to disappear to New York to talk with Vince. Vince asked him to start immediately but Hart begged off temporarily because he was in charge of running TV that week on Saturday since Lawler and Jarrett were unavailable. McMahon agreed to let him do it and started paying him $1000 a week until he started touring with the company a few weeks later. Hart then started trying to find ways to explain his departure to the WWF and decided to powder Lance Russell under the pretense of showing him how the stipulation of a match would work, which would allow Jarrett and Lawler to “suspend” him. When Lawler got in touch with him the next day, he’d heard that Hart was leaving, which Hart confirmed and told him it was because he’d signed with the WWF instead of his cover story about wanting to go back to the music business. Lawler consulted with Jarrett, who got pissed off and threatened to sue Hart. Hart got pissed off and threatened to sue Jarrett for impersonation of a wrestling promoter after the way the wrestlers had been treated over the past few months. He finally agreed to a loser-leaves-town match, which he reneged on because he figured they’d try to break his leg since they all saw the WWF as a huge threat to them.
Initial impressions of Vince- Unbelievable. He was very impressed by the professionalism and appearance of Vince and his office as opposed to Jarrett and his office in Nashville.
How was he treated by the boys? Great. King Kong Bundy, Hulk Hogan, Greg Valentine, and other people he had managed were all in the territory. His first job in the company was in the office working with Bob Costas getting tapes of the shows since he had joined the company a few weeks before the first Wrestlemania. The first guys he managed there were Valentine and Bundy, who were just beaten up from Vince’s brutal road schedule. When Hart first walked into the locker room, Valentine was asleep on the floor because of it.
Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart- He traded Bundy for Adrian Adonis then he got Jim Neidhart. After that, Bret joined and then Bret and Neidhart became the Hart Foundation. The name came from a sign someone had in the crowd one night. One night in a match against the Fabulous Rougeaus, they did a spot in which the referee got hit to build crowd heat. The only problem was that the referee was wearing a toupee and Neidhart had screwed up while taping his arm and had part of the adhesive side exposed towards the elbow. As a result, when Neidhart pulled his arm back in after the punch, he had the toupee on his elbow. Bret and Ray Rougeau nearly died laughing and Neidhart had no clue what was going on at first. Once he noticed the referee was missing the toupee, he started looking around for it but didn’t realize it was stuck to his arm. When the referee put the toupee back on, it went on sideways.
Matches that stand out- There was one match with the Killer Bees (B Brian Blair and "Jumping" Jim Brunzell) that stood out because the Bees sucked so bad. Blair had busted Neidhart open with a punch, which caused everyone to clear the ring when Neidhart got ultra-pissed. Hart had to calm Neidhart down before the match could continue.
Getting paired with the Honkytonk Man- He thinks Hogan had seen Honky doing his gimmick in Canada and thought that Hart’s Southern background meshed well with him. The office was going to give Mr. Fuji to Honky as a manager until Hogan suggested Hart instead. He had already managed Honky in Memphis so that was no problem for either of them. As for Honky’s long Intercontinental title reign, it lasted as long as it did because Jake "The Snake" Roberts “developed problems” after Honky smashed him over the head with a guitar and every time Jake was about to be put over the top for the belt, he’d fail a test and Honky would keep the belt a while longer.
Honky not doing the job for Randy Savage- He goes into a story about getting Savage into the WWF first. Booker George Scott had seen tapes of Savage and wanted him so, when Hart went home one day, he called up Randy under the cover that he wanted to ask about the Amway products Randy was selling. He did that so that word wouldn’t get around that Hart was poaching talent from the Memphis territory. He told Randy that the WWF wanted him and gave him contact information for Scott. The problem was, during one of the matches, Honky made a gesture in front of Elizabeth that made Randy go ballistic. They didn’t work well as a result. His position wasn’t compromised due to the situation because he was always himself and he’s still friends with Savage to this day.
Managing Terry Funk and Dory Funk- It was a dream assignment because they were both legends in the business and were great workers. Dory was the better worker and Terry was the better showman. He’d already managed them in Memphis so there were no problems there.
The British Bulldogs- Pranksters. Everyone was scared of what they could do. He was managing the Rougeaus when the big fight broke out between them. Jacques was in tight with Vince’s right hand man, Pat Patterson, and had blamed the Bulldogs for a recent prank. Soon afterwards, Dynamite Kid came into a room where they were playing cards and slapped Jacques upside the head and badmouthed him. Jacques swore revenge. Two weeks later, everyone was at the building one night for a meeting but the Rougeaus refused to come in. They told Hart how much they had appreciated his work as a manager but refused to say if they were leaving the territory. When Hart went to the meeting, it was Vince telling people to cut out the ribs because it was pissing people off and generally making the locker room very unfriendly. They then heard a commotion out in the hall and found out that Jacques had been waiting on Dynamite and had busted his mouth open badly. There was a sitdown after that between the Bulldogs, the Rougeaus, and WWF management and Vince even made them work against each other at the Survivor Series that year.
Sidenote- Hart doesn’t go into it but Jacques smashed up Dynamite’s teeth with a roll of quarters and management pretty much let them get away with it by only making them pay to repair the damage. The Survivor Series was the last night in the company for the Bulldogs and, as a result, the Rougeaus were eliminated early in the 20-man tag mach that nightand left the building long before the Bulldogs were eliminated from the match. That’s Dynamite’s version in his book Pure Dynamite, at least.
Jimmy Hart and Jim Cornette vs. Bobby Eaton- This is the famous match in which Mrs. Cornette put up a money prize should Eaton win and, after the match, Eaton threw the contents of the money box into the crowd which included about $20 in one dollar bills and a bunch of phony money. Hart and Cornette win but we don’t get the money-throwing or the riot that ensued.
Junkyard Dog- Nice guy. Couldn’t believe how over he was in New York even as limited as he was in the ring.
His relationship with Hulk Hogan- He worked with him in Memphis. When he was just a hanger-on back in his music days, he remembers seeing Hogan wrestle one night and Lawler telling a story about how Hogan had offered him a personal service contract for 15% of his earnings for 5 years, which Lawler turned down because he thought Hogan would never make a dime in the business. Hart says Lawler denies to this day that it ever happened. He worked a lot with him in New York because his guys would challenge Hogan a lot and Hart would bump for him. Years later, when Bobby Heenan was managing Ric Flair and refused to travel much, Hogan got Vince to use Hart as Flair’s manager because Hogan knew Hart and Flair would bump for him. After that, Hogan decided that Hart was one of his guys and came up with the angle in 1993 to switch him babyface from managing Money Inc. (Ted Dibiase and Irwin R. Shyster (Mike Rotundo)) to managing Hogan and Brutus Beefcake. Vince told him he could do whatever he wanted to do and Hart went along with Hogan’s idea.
Greg Valentine- Best wrestler in the world the first time he managed him. Great human being. Good talker.
Brutus Beefcake- He had a lot of heat because he was Hulk’s buddy. He isn’t singling Beefcake out but says if you give someone a job for reasons other than being most qualified, make sure they don’t cause headaches by being late or so forth. Brutus got a lot of chances as a result and he blew a lot of them.
Wrestlemania- It was awesome and he was thrilled just to be there. It was his one of his first shows with the company as well. He got heat with the other managers because he went to ringside with King Kong Bundy that night as most managers like Captain Lou Albano or the late Classy Freddy Blassie would just cut interviews and not go to ringside unless something important was going to happen.
Vince changing as the company grew- He never really saw a lot of change in him in the ten years he was there, although he was there for the infamous Nailz incident in which Nailz and Vince got into an argument over pay, Nailz attacked Vince, and as he was being dragged away by security, Nailz accused Vince of grabbing his balls and wanting to screw him. Hart had to call Phil Mushnik and Dave Meltzer about what really happened, which was Nailz attacking Vince and then accusing him instead of Vince grabbing Nailz.
Hulk after leaving the WWF- Hulk called him up and asked what he made the previous year so that he could hire him to work on projects like Mr. Nanny and Thunder in Paradise. Hart told him the amount because both had gotten burned out on the WWF because they’d been there so long and, the next day, Hart received a cashier’s check for the same amount.
Roddy Piper- Piper’s “different.” He can be talking to him and you don’t know if he’s working you or it’s a shoot. One of the best interviews in the business. He goes into a story about how Vince gave him the money to make the set for The Flower Shop, Adrian Adonis’s interview segment, which he made and decorated. He then asked Adrian if he could be in the Ed McMahon role in the bit.
The live Piper’s Pit- They did several, one of which was when Piper strapped him in a chair.
Road schedule- You’d go about 40 days before making it home. Hart wore a lot of black because you could never clean your clothes. He goes into the specifics of it, which I’m not going into, and it sounds really bad. He saw a lot of people cracking due to family issues resulting from the schedule, although his wife never complained because they came from an area where families lived hand to mouth and she appreciated the extra money that Vince paid.
The Steiner Brothers- He mostly knew them in WCW and not the WWF. Rick Steiner’s great but Scott Steiner was a bit bipolar. He was a nice guy but could get very pissed over some things.
Money Inc- He was glad working with them because they were great workers. He wasn’t as close to them as some of his teams in the past, though.
Why was he phased out towards the end of the WWF run? Most of his guys had left the territory and, besides that, Vince noticed that the managers had been getting more over than the wrestlers and was trying to change that by using the managers less often.
Why was he put with Hogan? He’s not sure if it was Vince’s idea or Hogan’s idea. Vince gave him an out if he wanted it, though.
The rumor about Vince wanting Hogan to lose the belt to Bret Hart and Hogan refusing- All he knows is that Bret kicked the door in one night pissed off that Hogan wasn’t going to lose the belt to him like Vince said he would. Hogan said he never told Vince that he was going to do it, which got Bret pissed and he stormed off. The next day when they went to the building, Bret was hanging out with Shawn Michaels when Hogan pulled him into Vince’s office and everyone talked the whole situation out. Hogan got Vince to admit that Hogan never agreed to drop the belt to Vince, so the whole thing was written off as Bret dreaming about beating Hogan for the belt so much that he thought Hogan had agreed to do it. He’s not sure if Vince was playing them off each other although, with Montreal in hindsight, he could see it. It’s also hard to tell what really happened through hearsay.
Vince and Hulk’s relationship- The steroid trial was probably the big thing because everyone was so tense over the situation. He says Vince never forced the guys to do anything so he’s not sure why it ever went to trial.
The sex scandals- There were a lot of jokes about it but nothing else happened. Hillbilly Jim made the mistake of saying something about the whole situation to Vince, which got him, Hart, Honkytonk Man, and others involved in 6-man mixed tag matches with midgets such as Little Beaver in the last match of the night for a while. After that, everyone just told Hillbilly to keep his mouth shut.
Favorite guys to work with- Honkytonk Man was one because his character was so over. The Hart Foundation was also great. Hogan was good, too, because you made more money whenever you worked with him.
Working for Hogan on Thunder in Paradise- It was boring having to sit in makeup all day starting at 6:00 AM just to have one line like “The plane, the plane!”
When did he realize Hogan was going to sign with WCW? They’d been approached by HBO to put together a show with a $2 million budget. Bischoff, meanwhile, was filming WCW’s TV shows at Disney and had visited the Thunder in Paradise set to tell Hogan that he was interested in bringing him into WCW if they could ever work something out. The HBO thing fell apart almost immediately because they’d called Ultimate Warrior, who wanted $1 million and a sizable amount of the merchandising to be a part of it. Ric Flair ended up talking Bischoff into signing Hogan immediately, so they got the money from Ted Turner to bring him in. Hogan then started calling in favors in Hollywood to help promote WCW, contacting such people as Mr. T and Shaquille O’Neal.
Working in Japan- One night, Inoki tried to get Hogan to put together some ideas so that he could put together a wrestling promotion in New York. Hogan didn't want any part of it because it would cause hard feelings with Vince McMahon and, besides that, would take more work than he was willing to put into it.
Eric Bischoff- Bischoff brought them in and was great but, over time, became jealous. He also had a habit of being really nice then becoming upset at a moment’s notice. When Hart was given control of WCW Saturday Night, his hands were still tied even though no one else wanted the job. He appreciated what he made there but didn’t like that he was either off TV or made to wear all black and “be Paul Bearer #2” instead of being himself.
How was he treated? He thinks that his close relationship with Hulk hurt him because people were jealous. Bischoff came up to him talking about how much he envied his relationship with Hulk, calling him Hulk’s best friend. Hart told him he figured Brutus Beefcake was Hulk’s best friend but Bischoff explained that, whenever Hulk wanted honest advice on something, he’d come to Hart. Most other people would just tell Hulk what he wanted to hear.
Hulk as a worker- There’s two ways to look at that. Hulk wasn’t a great shooter or in-ring technician but was a great interview and could draw money.
Did Vince try to bring them back? There was talk about bringing them in for Wrestlemania X-7 but nothing ever became of it. Hart told Hogan that he felt they wouldn’t be wanted there because the only people still with the company who’d been there since they’d left were Vince and the Undertaker. They did know a lot of the guys who’d come over from WCW though.
Differences between the WWF and WCW- Both were fun at first. WCW was more lenient on what they expected while the WWF had more of a taskmaster mentality. Hart came up with the idea of putting merchandise around ringside so that things would look more professional at WCW shows. There was no soundproof interview room in WCW while Vince had about 5 of them in the WWF.
What were his office duties in WCW? At first, he did the music because they were mainly licensing music from established artists instead of making their own. He joined the booking committee later, mainly sitting in on Ric Flair’s meetings to help bring in more of a New York theme.
Bischoff changing over time- He thinks Bischoff starting trying to do too much and it wore him thin. Once he got in front of the camera in addition to work backstage, it ramped up the pressure on him and caused him to make stupid decisions. For example, Bischoff was usually using the companies recommended by his friend Jason Hervey, which lead to a contract with a record company that Hart thinks is still in litigation and a contract with a video production company that did things in a halfassed way, such as doing a video promoting the wrestler Disco Inferno under the name Disco Fever instead.
Hogan and Bischoff’s relationship over time- It got tighter and tighter, although it caused problems for the booking committee because the people who had influence over Bischoff or creative control written into their contracts would overrule a lot of the original plans.
Kevin Nash causing problems with Hogan and Bischoff- He’s never heard that. Nash and Scott Hall gave the company a boost by being fresh faces in the company.
Was Hulk committed to WCW for a long time? Yes, he had no plans on going back to the WWF for the longest time. He did get disgusted towards the end, especially when Russo came in.
Ultimate Warrior- Warrior popped ratings when he came in but had his shoulder operated on to begin with and probably had a weird contract which got him a certain amount per show, bonuses based on increases in TV ratings, and a cut of either live gates or PPV shows he appeared on.
Big Show- They’d heard of Paul Wight before they joined WCW in 1994 through Wight’s agent. They kept him in mind as a prospect should they ever get back into the business. After Hogan signed with WCW, they were in Chicago, where Wight lived, and Wight came to meet them. They got Bischoff to enroll him in the Power Plant and the rest is history.
Was Hogan’s retirement a political move or was it sincere? He thinks that Bischoff wanted Hogan off TV for a while because he was overexposed.
Hogan as a booker- Everyone always promotes themselves well. A lot of the talk about how Hogan wasn’t pushing the younger wrestlers was blown out of proportion because Hogan didn’t have control over them.
Public outbursts by Billy Kidman and Perry Saturn against Hogan- They did some stuff with Bubba the Love Sponge and Hulk became friends with Bubba. The deal with Hogan knocking Billy Kidman on the air was supposed to be part of a work where Hogan would return to the company as a heel. It pissed off Kidman, Dean Malenko, Saturn, Chris Kanyon, and a lot of other people immediately. Hart found it stupid that the company spent so much time putting Kidman over Hogan for Russo to turn around and put him in a Viagra On A Pole match against Shane Douglas as his next match. He figured they’d have done something to solidify Kidman as a contender instead.
Bill Goldberg- He did short matches on WCW Saturday Night at first because he was limited coming out of the Power Plant. That’s where the angle based on his won-loss record came from, as they made a big deal about him being 1-0, 2-0, 25-0, etc. At one show in New Orleans, Goldberg was so hung over that in his match against Hart and Meng (Haku), he dropped Hart on Haku and nearly killed the both of them.
The Fingerpoke of Doom- He thought there were things that hurt the company way before that, such as Hogan laying down for Sting on one Pay Per View. He feels it’s bullshit to have a non-ending on a PPV main event, feeling that you should at least have a run-in if you’re going to do that.
What’s hurt the business? Letting people know it’s entertainment is okay unless you tell them that every five minutes. The “That was a work but THIS IS A SHOOT” philosophy sucks. He thinks there’s too much backstage stuff these days because buying a ticket is almost like going to a closed-circuit show instead of a live event.
What went wrong with Goldberg’s push? Making him lose his badass persona hurt. The cancer routine with Hacksaw Jim Duggan hurt too. The windshield bit where he cut his arm up was bad as well.
Bret Hart coming into the company- He has never heard any problems that Hogan had with Bret in WCW. He said the company’s first mistake, though, was trying to make Bret a heel. Hart says that everyone knows it was one of the stupidest ideas for them to do because Hart’s a natural face and the death of Owen Hart made it that much harder for people to hate him.
Vince Russo- When he first came in, Hart wanted to be excited. Things were laid out in a big meeting the first day he came in. Russo never lied to them, as he said coming in that “They way you’ve seen wrestling done down here? You’re never going to see it again.” and that in the WWF “we did so much crazy stuff that sometimes we did it just to entertain ourselves.” He was pushing stories and T+A, which was a watered-down version of the WWF show at that time, which Hart didn’t like but put up with because Russo was the booker.
Russo’s public comments against him and Hogan- Russo was bitter towards Hulk for some reason and didn’t like managers because he’d rather have the women in their positions instead. The kicker was that Russo’s big dream was that he always wanted to be champion and booked himself to win it, although in a screwy way. He says that the whole deal with Russo was that he didn’t have respect for the business because he never paid any dues such as having to blade himself or cram four people into a car and work a show for $50 to feed his family. As a result, he came up with a lot of bullshit angles and now WCW’s out of business.
The Hogan-Russo business at Bash at the Beach 2000- He thought the whole thing was a work at first because, when Hulk came out of the trailer after talking with Russo, he talked about how far out the angle was. Then, right before the match, Russo came up to Hart and asked him if they had any other championship belts, to which Hart replied that there were two more in the truck. He figured the belt was going to be a part of the finish. Hogan went to the ring and then Hart noticed Russo and Jarrett talking intently in the corner and Hart figured it was them going over spots. Then he watched the match and saw Jarrett laying down and Russo throwing Hogan a belt. Everyone in the back was thinking “This is a weird angle… how the Hell is this supposed to make money?” Everyone thought it was a work until Hart called Hogan and found out it was, in fact, NOT a work.
Vince Russo and Hogan’s relationship- Russo had a hard-on to purge all the old stars and wanted to create new ones because he loved to take credit for creating all of the new stars in the WWF.
The Fuscient deal to buy WCW- They knew it was going to fall apart fast when they were at the Power Plant and heard loud noises and someone saying “MAN, these ropes are hard!” They turned around and saw some of the Fuscient executives taking bumps in the ring.
Brad Siegel’s intentions- He figures Siegel always intended to sell WCW to the WWF because he turned down a $50 million offer to sell the company for $2.5 million to the WWF where, coincidentally, one of his good friends was a top executive. Hart says the tape archives alone are worth more than $2.5 million so there should probably be a legitimate investigation of the sale.
The atmosphere when the sale was announced- Everyone was prepared for it because they knew it was all coming. He feels it was avoidable, though, because they could have slashed their budget to get rid of luxury spending like putting 70 wrestlers and 80 crew members up at the Embassy Suites at $150 a night and giving them all rental cars and a $35 a day per diem. They also had quit doing stupid shit like Russo buying up a school bus for $10,000 and painting it up for an angle that drew nothing.
Will Hogan ever go back to the WWF? Hogan will probably go back although Hart’s trying to make a new federation. His deal is that Survivor, in fourteen weeks, had made over a dozen people household names and he wanted to try and make the young wrestlers who work with him as well known just as fast. He feels that even a low-rent show could pull in a 2.2 or 2.3 because there are enough wrestling fans out there and TV shows suck these days.
The reduced role of managers in the business- It’s just the way it is because there’s no platform to reintroduce them as of now. He figures it’ll take someone realizing that they don’t want girls with big tits at ringside for all 14 matches but, instead, having a few managers to get beat up and take bumps for a few of those matches instead.
Advice for people trying to get into the business as a manager today- The only people who are in that role these days are the McMahons and Paul Heyman, who’s also a commentator. If you want to do it, just do it on the local level and have fun because you probably won’t make a living out of it. That’s not limited to guys, either, as Vince will only take so many girls with big tits into the WWF.
If he had advised Hogan the night before Bash At The Beach 1996 whether to stay a face or become a heel, what would he have done? Hogan turning heel was a major shock and the company needed something of that magnitude. Hogan had wanted to turn heel even before that but they just wanted to do it in the right way. Hart knew they’d been getting more and more boos every night which indicated the fans didn’t like Hogan but Bischoff, instead, figured that Hart’s long career as a heel manager was what was causing the boos and turned him heel. Hart knows, instead, that Hogan was pushed WAY too hard and that people resented him as a result. He figures that the same thing will happen to some of the WWF’s top stars soon. (We’re definitely seeing THAT prophecy come to pass now…)
Was he shocked that Memphis closed down? No, he was more shocked that he and Lawler have been putting together the Memphis Classics shows for so long because everyone figured they’d be done after 4 weeks of it and now they’re on their 18th week.
Randy Hales- Hales had called him about WCW possibly helping him keep Memphis in business, although Bischoff shot it down at first. Once Bischoff was gone, they tried again but Hales lost his timeslot because Channel 5 in Memphis because the station didn’t feel that it was cost-efficient to continue. They would have had to bring the show up to code, which would have been $30,000 just for getting fireproof curtains to replace the current set and Hales didn’t have that kind of money. The executive in charge of the situation also didn’t want wrestling on his station, so that just added to the problems. In order to keep the timeslot in case they could ever put on a wrestling show again, they decided to put on Memphis Classics by cutting together matches from the master tapes of the territory. They asked Hales if he wanted in but he refused because Corey Macklin was involved.
The biggest misconception about Hulk Hogan- Not wanting to push the young talent. Hart relays the story of how he saw a tape labeled “Lionheart” in the WCW offices that was of Chris Jericho’s work in Japan. At the time no one knew who he was but he immediately reminded Hart of Shawn Michaels. When Hart showed the tape to Hogan and Kevin Sullivan, they just thought he was okay but nothing special. Bischoff said they had no interest in him at the time. Hart took the tape back to Bischoff a week later and referred to Jericho by his name instead of Lionheart, at which point Bischoff decided he wanted to sign him. He also saw tapes of Chyna when she was still Joanie Laurer but WCW management didn’t want her. He admits that she probably wouldn’t have been a star in WCW anyway.
The highlight of his career- “Living this long and being here.” He never thought he’d go from being one of Lawler’s buddies in Memphis to being one of the first big Memphis stars to jump to the WWF, stay about 10 years, manage Hogan and the Funks, do everyone’s music, and still being a part of the business today.
The greatest rib he’s seen- One of the most infamous was someone taking a shit in Jerry Lawler’s crown. One of the Nasty Boys got the blame for it but Hart thinks it was Steve Kiern instead. (Bobby Heenan’s book says that Steve Kiern and The Undertaker were two of the three people to do that because of their treatment or pay in Memphis. He didn’t name the third wrestler.) The Iron Sheik also ended up in Albany, Georgia when he was supposed to be wrestling in Albany, New York once.
People he’s managed- He feels bad that so many people he’s managed have died. Eddie Gilbert, Dino Bravo, Adrian Adonis, Plowboy Frasier, Rick Rude, and the Renegade have all died under various circumstances. (Heart attack which may have been drug related, Canadian mob hit, car wreck, heart attack(?), drug-related heart attack, and suicide by gunshot, respectively, for those who are curious.)
Sting- Great creative character. The blond-haired Sting and the Crow Sting were both over.
Ricky Steamboat- He was a quiet guy who had great matches. Very easy to deal with. Honkytonk Man only won the Intercontinental Title because Steamboat’s wife had a baby shortly after he won the belt at Wrestlemania 3 and he wanted three months off. (Stories vary on this. Most sources say three weeks instead.)
Don "The Rock" Muraco- He was so massive it was scary at times. He was a great guy though.
Lex Luger- One of the biggest ribbers in the business. He’d do things to get Buff Bagwell and others riled up so he didn’t have to do his own dirty work.
Miss Elizabeth- “She really is the first lady of professional wrestling.”
Kevin Nash- He puts over Nash for getting Shane Helms and Shannon Moore a chance. Hart put together Three Count as a Backstreet Boys gimmick at a time when Evan Karagias was the only member of the group under contract and the company was releasing a lot of wrestlers. Hart wrote the song and came up with the concept, then got Nash to green-light a video to go with it. Nash was bumped out of his booker position shortly thereafter for Vince Russo, who also loved it although he didn’t do much with it. He says it would never have gotten off of the ground without Nash.
Diamond Dallas Page- Hard worker, sometimes he overworked himself. A lot of people rolled over for DDP because he was tight with Bischoff, but it was usually for the good of the company.
Gene Okerlund- “The best ticket-seller in the business.”
Eddie Gilbert- He managed him in Memphis at the beginning of his career. “A good kid.”
The “Land of 1000 Dances” video- He was thrilled to be a part of it.
Anything he wants to say to his fans? He’s flattered he has fans. He’ll always sign pictures for someone, even if they want him to sign ten of them, just because he’s so appreciative. He is a little disappointed that everyone thinks he only got to the WWF because of Hogan and hopes that everyone will realize it after watching this video. He says they only became tight in the last year of their WWF run. He just hopes the business can stick around because “when there’s only one game in town, that game won’t be there for very long.” And as a closing comment, he says “Never trust a midget.”
Andy Kaufman and Jimmy Hart cut a promo on the hospitalized Jerry Lawler. Footage is shown of Hart’s team, the Masked Assassins, attacking Lawler.
Terry Funk vs. Lawler- Terry only looks about 30 here so this must be a VERY old match. The match goes to a countout win for Lawler after he destroys Funk at ringside with a chair then beats the count back into the ring.
Hart cuts a promo about JJ Dillon and watches a pre-taped promo by Dillon building towards their taped fist match.
Rick Rude vs. Austin Idol- If anyone has ever wondered if Hogan ever came up with his own gimmick, watch an Austin Idol match because he’s got the entire look down and was known for cutting promos about Idolmania. This goes to a quick DQ.
Lawler cuts a promo on Jimmy Hart to introduce the Lawler vs. Eddie Gilbert Loser Leaves Town match where, if Lawler wins, Hart has to leave the territory instead of Gilbert.
Lawler vs. Gilbert- This is clipped in several places. The finish comes when Gilbert attempts an arrogant pin where he lays backwards on Lawler, only to get put into a hold by Lawler and rolled over for the pin.
Hart cuts a promo swearing revenge on Lawler for knocking him out and causing him to lose to JJ Dillon. This sets up a title vs. title match between Lawler and Randy Savage where Lawler or Hart will get ten lashes depending on the finish.
Austin Idol vs. Rick Rude- This is a Belt on a Pole match. This goes to a no-contest then Hart and Rude take turns whipping Idol before the big comeback.
The Pretty Young Things (Norville Austin and Koko B. Ware), dressed like Michael Jackson complete with a red jacket, sunglasses, and rhinestone glove, cut a promo on Tommy Rich and Eddie Gilbert while Thriller plays in the background. No, I’m not kidding either.
Lawler vs. Randy Savage- This looks like crap. Lawler wins and Hart takes 10 lashes with a belt.
Hart and Savage cut a promo about “Jerry ‘The Queen’ Lawler” and the Fabulous Ones because Dream Machine got hurt and Savage had to replace him as Porkchop Cash’s tag team partner.
Thoughts- Hart has a lot to say and is honest but I’ve seen better. Maybe I’m just feeling worn out at the moment but this is just a vanilla interview. Recommended.