Bill Watts Shoot Interviewby Brandon Truitt
Jul 14, 2003, 19:00
Short intro this week.
For those of you looking for an interesting thriller of a movie, considering picking up the woefully overlooked film Deterrence. It's about a president on the campaign trail who gets stuck in a remote location then finds out that Iraq has invaded Kuwait and is poised to attack Israel and Saudi Arabia. While it's a bit dated considering the previous year's developments in the Middle East, it's still worth watching.
There will be no shoot next week. The next shoot will probably be the Rick Steiner shoot and will be posted on the 28th. The week after that WILL be the Jim Cornette 8-hour shoot.
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.
Bill Watts shoot interview (2000)
We start out with some UWF footage involving Hot Stuff International (“Hot Stuff” Eddie Gilbert, Rick Steiner, Sting, and others) and the face side of “Dr. Death” Steve Williams, Ted Dibiase, and “Cowboy” Bill Watts slugging it out.
He starts out with his football background. He played for the University of Oklahoma under Bud Wilkinson in an era where they wanted smaller and quicker football players, so guys like him and teammate Wahoo McDaniel were forced to cut down to 185 pounds and 225 pounds, respectively. Watts then got in an accident and, while preparing to come back, hit the gym and became HUGE, as he describes himself as weighing 315 pounds and being “Superman”. This was in the days when weight training wasn’t really understood at the college level so there was no spot for him on the football team, although the wrestling coach wanted him to stay around. He went pro and played for the Houston Oilers before knocking out the head coach and having to move on.
Ending up in pro wrestling- Wahoo was in town one time cashing a check and Watts saw the amount on it. He asked him about it, heard it was for wrestling one match, and figured he could do well since he was capable of pinning Wahoo easily. He ended up training for wrestling while playing football for the Indianapolis Warriors. He hadn’t been a fan growing up because the wrestling in his part of the midwest was obviously phony, which is why he and some of his other friends used to ask Danny Hodge, a legendary shooter that they knew, why he was in such a phony business.
Who trained him? You learned by working out with a bunch of different guys such as Wahoo. Then, when you started working matches, your opponent would coach you about how to be a better wrestler.
What was the first full-time promotion he worked for? Jim Barnett and Balk Estis’s promotion. “At the time, Barnett was in Louisville chasing Rock Hudson”, which is how he knew of Hudson's preferences LONG before they became public knowledge, and Estis was doing a horrible job running the promotion. They eventually quit using him so he came back to Oklahoma and worked for Leroy McGuirk. After he broke his hand in a street fight, they started using him as a special referee. Some of the heels started seeing money in him so, when he healed up, he drew BIG money against them. The problem was that McGuirk was blind and only knew what was going on from what people told him and plenty of people were badmouthing Watts to make themselves look better.
After Oklahoma- He went to Los Angeles and “got into a bit of trouble, so I had to leave the country for a short time”, which is how he ended up in Vancouver. He wasn’t getting paid well up there, then the Kennedy assassination shut down the business for a while. The reason he was paid badly was because the promoter felt it was a big deal for Watts to work main events that early in his career and paid him less as a result. Watts suggested putting one of the guys that was paid more than him in his spot and seeing how they drew, which caused an argument that send him back to the US.
Texas- They wanted a big white guy to job to Sailor Art Thomas so he was sent down to Houston to wrestle for the Texas title. Sailor was a great guy but not too bright, so he kept forgetting spots. During the match, Watts reverted to his amateur background and Sailor didn’t know how to handle it, so he was told by the referee to just take the belt and get it over with. Cowboy Bob Ellis was then sent to the area and he remembered how Ellis had always treated him right in Indianapolis. The promoter decided that he wanted Ellis to win by Watts getting DQed and getting pinned in the second fall, which pissed off Watts because that was losing two straight falls. When the promoter insisted on it, Watts cussed him out and told him that Ellis better be ready to shoot that night. Ellis didn’t want to have to deal with that, but Watts told him “Bob, you always treated me great so I’ll put you over like a million bucks. I just don’t want the office to know about it.” He busted Ellis open, threw the referee out of the ring for the DQ, then told Ellis to immediately start his comeback after the DQ and beat him. He had gotten a call before the match that the Minnesota Vikings wanted him to try out so, when the office saw the reaction the match got and wanted to put him in a Texas Death Match against Ellis the next week, he told them “My ass is gone” and left.
The Vikings- They wanted him to stay but the general manager, Jim Finks, wanted him to quit wrestling in the off season. He decided he could make more wrestling so he went back to Oklahoma.
The WWWF- He ran into someone in Oklahoma who told Vince McMahon Sr. and Toots Mondt about him. They brought him out to Washington DC to wrestle right after that. He was on TV five times a week but he wasn’t being paid anything.
Bruno Sammartino- Great guy. They tagged for a year then he turned on Bruno and made big money. He left the territory afterwards because he wanted to leave on top.
San Francisco- He learned a lot working under Roy Shires but his problem was that he couldn’t delegate anything. It was also great working with Ray Stevens, Pat Patterson, Thunderbolt Patterson, and Joe Scarpa (Chief Jay Strongbow).
Leaving the business- He decided he wanted to make sure he could do something outside of the business if wrestling went into the toilet or if he got hurt.
The AWA- Verne Gagne was good at the big picture but was horrible at the details. He puts over Larry “The Axe” Hennig and Harley Race as a team. Verne was great at picking out someone’s strong points and emphasizing them.
Oklahoma as a promoter- McGuirk wanted him to come back because business was in the toilet, so Watts agreed to do so if he got a share of the territory. There were a lot of negotiations involving McGuirk, Watts, Verne Gagne and Fritz Von Erich which ended up with Watts getting 19% of the territory and the other promoters involved getting about 20% each. He learned a lot about promoting while working there but got tired of dealing with McGuirk’s crap.
Georgia- One of the partners in the territory had double-crossed his other partners then dropped dead of a heart attack. Then his wife and his booker decided to go on but all the talent deserted them except for Bullet Bob Armstrong. Eddie Graham brought Watts in as a part of the ensuing war in Georgia, giving him a piece of the Georgia territory and a spot working in Florida when the war was over. He learned a lot by promoting under Graham and working with black athletes by working with Thunderbolt Patterson. Jim Barnett then decided he wanted to come back to the US, so he was sold a part of Georgia and Watts went to Florida.
Florida- Dusty Rhodes became the American Dream under him although he had tried to fire him within two weeks of arriving in the territory. He had done so because he got tired of Dusty going behind his back to Graham about everything. Eventually, he made Dusty a face to capitalize on his self-promoting tendencies. He also puts over Gordon Solie for commentating while he was down there. He had a lot of great talent available to him down there such as Mike Graham, Dick Murdoch, and NWA champion Jack Brisco. It got to the point where he says they had eight main-event quality matches and that Eddie Graham had commented on the fact that there were guys in the second match they’d have loved to put in the main event a few months before that. Eddie later asked him why he was down there, being a college man, and Watts told him “I’m here to get my Ph.D.” One of the things he learned from Eddie was how to package a card so that the whole card drew more than any one wrestler because, if a wrestler has a stranglehold on the office, he can keep himself in the main event even if he doesn’t draw. (Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?)
Oklahoma again- He came back and got McGuirk to kick out Verne Gagne and Fritz Von Erich. He eventually got completely sick of McGuirk split with him. The good side of McGuirk’s crap was that he learned to plan things out well ahead of time so that he could fix any problems that McGuirk caused. Afterwards, McGuirk sued him for embezzlement. Watts called him up and told him “It looks like I’m going to get your ranch for free” because McGuirk had hired a moron for a lawyer and that Watts had never handled any of the money. McGuirk had already been caught with his hand in the till in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, so it was very stupid of him to even think of accusing Watts. McGuirk eventually dropped the lawsuit and retained Oklahoma and Arkansas while Watts got Louisiana and Mississippi. Watts later decided he wanted what was left of McGuirk’s territory and bought him out.
Talent that he built Mid-South around-
The Freebirds- He had always wanted Terry Gordy but Gordy wouldn’t come without Michael Hayes, even though Watts thought he was useless in the ring. In order to keep Hayes out of the ring, they paired them up with Buddy Roberts so that Hayes would only talk instead of wrestle.
Junkyard Dog- He saw him in Calgary and knew he’d be a star. They gave him his gimmick and his music and helped make him a star. He was a horrible worker, though, and got blown up easily. He was sorry that JYD left under bad circumstances and wishes he’d had a chance to tell him how much he meant to him.
Early goals of Mid-South Championship Wrestling- At first, it was to survive. He had the same idea as Vince McMahon Jr. back in the day and waned to go national. He discusses his booking philosophy by sating that the east coast was so populated that the promotions could put on a boring show and still draw while he had to excite his audience to get them to watch every week. He would put guys out there who were facing each other on the house show circuit because, if they gave you enough on TV, you’d want to see them again live.
Workers vs. tough guys- He loves tough guys because they’ll do something if they’re upset while workers will just whine about it. He talks about how Paul Orndorff was a tough guy but also a whiner. They wanted to hurt him in Florida when he broke into the business but Eddie Graham wouldn’t let them because Paul was a friend of Mike Graham. He then starts talking about how Ted Dibiase and Paul were scheduled in a babyface vs. babyface one hour broadway. They pissed and moaned about it so he told them “If you two pussies can’t do it, I’ll give you a finish but you can’t use it until 55 minutes into the match.” They went out and did an hour to spite him, which got him what he wanted to begin with.
Bruiser Brody- He was a great talent but his word was worthless. They’d promote him as being at a show then he’d hold up the promoter for more money at the last minute.
The Superdome shows- They partnered up with a TV station to work a show there and made $87,000 that day. He puts over “Big Cat” Ernie Ladd for drawing that kind of money against Ray Candy because he never thought that Candy could draw but Ladd insisted that he could pull it off. He then talks about a meeting after the show where Dick Murdoch and Ladd were allowed to sit in while McGuirk, Watts, and Grizzly Smith (Jake “The Snake” Roberts’ father) discussed the show. When asked about it, McGurik claimed that “I thought there were too many niggers on the card and too many in the audience.” Grizzly’s response was “I think it’s called ‘The money’s green’ and it’s the most green we’ve ever seen.” He then goes off on a rant about Mark Madden writing a letter to Hank Aaron about Watts being a racist because Watts feels that he let black people who had earned it have top spots in his company, such as Ladd, Ron Simmons, and Junkyard Dog as well as some of his office personnel.
Jim Cornette and the Midnight Express- Mid-South was in the toilet so he called Jerry Jarrett and Jerry Lawler to come down and tell him what was wrong with the territory. After Jarrett and Lawler saw his TV taping one week, they asked “Where’s all the blowjobs?” Watts said “Let the BOYS take care of the blowjobs, that’s not what I brought you here for.” They eventually explained that he was down to his hardcore fans because he didn’t have any young, cute babyfaces to bring in young girls. Bringing in young girls would bring in young guys and, thus, help his territory draw from a wider audience. Jarrett then offered to trade talent with him and Watts decided that he wanted to take manager Jim Cornette as well as Bobby Eaton and Dennis Condrey, who were working separate singles matches that night, and turn them into a tag team. Jarrett had no problems with giving any of them up because Jimmy Hart was his manager of choice so he had little use for Cornette and he had no plans for Condrey or Eaton. Watts also wanted the Fabulous Ones but Jarrett refused to let them go and gave him Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson instead. Watts took those five guys and booker Bill Dundee to drew the biggest year in the history of his territory. Jarrett took a young Rick Rude and some other guys in exchange.
Magnum TA- They brought him in and started packaging him for his later glory in Mid-Atlantic.
The Fabulous Ones- They came in later but didn’t do as well because it’s impossible to follow in Ricky Morton’s footsteps. He compares Morton to Ted Dibiase in that neither could draw on their own but by putting them in a match with someone who drew, you could draw even more money. “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, on the other hand, could draw but couldn’t wrestle. He also talks about how Duggan one took a bump where he hit a turnbuckle post so hard it split his skull open and got blood poisoning from it but didn’t miss a match until it got to the point where he couldn’t shut his eyes.
Fights with the public- If a wrestler got into a fight in public and lost, they were fired.
Mid-South becoming the UWF- In order to go nationwide, they had to change the name to seem less regional to the advertisers. They were doing well until the oil business went into the toilet, which destroyed the economy of all the states he was promoting such as Oklahoma, Texas, and Louisiana. He started losing $50,000 a week out of his pocket but kept going until he had to sell out in 1986.
Sting- He was a great talent but was partnered with Ultimate Warrior, who was “a real piece of shit.” When Sting and Warrior left, he sent someone to bring Sting back because he saw money in him.
Watts vs. Sting with Eddie Gilbert- If Watts wins, he gets five minutes with Eddie Gilbert. Watts beats the crap out of Sting and Gilbert before the Freebirds rush the ring, kick the crap out of Watts, and have Gordy use Oriental Spike on Watts for several minutes before the faces rush the ring. Watts is laid out and completely motionless afterwards.
Eddie Gilbert- Very talented but his timing was always wrong and he never knew when to shut up. He tried to bring him into WCW in 1992 but kept running his mouth.
Missy Hyatt- All she ever added to the territory was problems.
John Tatum- Watts got in a multi-million dollar lawsuit because Tatum got drunk and killed somebody in a car accident but that’s all he remembers about him.
“Wild Bill” Irwin- He liked his brother Scott Irwin a lot but doesn’t think Bill ever really found his niche.
The Von Erich brothers- It was tragic because Fritz never admitted to himself that they were drug addicts. They were very unreliable but that the business tolerated them because they drew. Watts eventually stopped working with Fritz over it.
Jim Ross- He was hired to be a referee at one point in Oklahoma before Watts left for Florida. He saw talent and determination in Ross so, when he returned, he found Ross working in radio and brought him back into the territory. They made him his commentator and Watts loved him to death because he understood exactly who he wanted to get over, in what way, and why, which is why Watts had started commentating to begin with. Ross used to be in charge of UWF’s syndication work.
Favorite angles in the UWF- The Cornette angle with the diaper, the Freebirds blinding Junkyard Dog, and the Duggan vs. Ted Dibiase “Best Dressed Man” competition top the list.
We get footage of Eddie Gilbert, Ivan Koloff, and two more Russians kicking the crap out of Watts and whipping him with a chain before laying a Soviet flag on him. Watts cuts a taped promo afterwards from his home with a bunch of anti-Soviet rhetoric and nationalistic fervor. At the end of it, he challenges the Russians and Gilbert to a street fight and makes an open call to friends of his such as Dusty Rhodes, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, Ted Dibiase, “Dr. Death” Steve Williams, and Terry Taylor to help out.
Using women and music videos to promote wrestling- He wasn’t the first to do it as Jerry Jarrett did it before him. He wished they’d worked together more often. Bill’s son, Joel Watts, was in charge of doing their videos.
Did he ever have trouble with the TV stations airing graphic footage? Maybe once they got bigger but Jim Ross would have been dealing with that. A few times, Watts did run a slide of a match and say “This was too graphic for us to show on television” because it took heat off of the TV station and it made everyone want to see it recreated at a live show.
Ending without finishes- It certainly didn’t hurt them because it made them realistic, as having at least one match that overran the allotted TV time protected the business better than having six matches every show that were shown in their entirety. The last matches were all “One fall or TV time remaining” but they told people the results at the beginning of the show the next week if the show ended before the match. This fits into his house show philosophy as he wants the fans to go home thinking that they got their money’s worth and then some.
The episode where every title changed hands- Before he gets into this, he talks about his brief WWF stint in 1995 where he was going to have the WWF title change hands at Madison Square Gardens. It was going to happen before several wrestlers got beaten up in a bar fight, which happened to be Shawn Michaels, the British Bulldog, and the 1-2-3 Kid (X-Pac). He said if he was running the company, there would have been three guys looking for work. He feels they were too drugged up to fight and that they were soft because his guys used to be able to take on the whole town instead of losing to nine guys.
What they thought would work but didn’t- You can plan things out to the best of your abilities but outside factors can always affect it, such as TV pre-emption, an ice storm, or a hurricane, or the fans just won’t like it. At least one Superdome show in New Orleans happened to fall on a week with a hurricane and he took a bath on it as a result. “If every angle worked, you’d never have cycles in your business.” He liked to have every angle follow through until a conclusion while guys like Dusty Rhodes would just get bored with something and drop it with no resolution.
Booking committee- He always had a booking committee in order to examine everything going on and adjust the business as a result. Ken Mantell was a decent booker but he found out later on Mantel was stealing from him. Ernie Ladd or Bill Dundee were probably the best booker for him. His problem was that he burned them out after a year and he had to change over to a new one so that the old booker’s act would be fresh in a year or so.
Vince McMahon Jr. stealing his talent- Vince Jr. could afford to pay the talent enough to go work for him. Vince Sr. had that money, too, but had an interesting way of handling it, such as giving a lot of advance warning about who he wanted and when then lending the promoter whose talent was being raided a huge draw like Andre the Giant for a few weeks. He feels that Vince Sr. used the other territories like a farm system and that Vince Jr. needs to do that today because it would help him keep his talent fresh. Vince Jr. has a serious problem with delegating authority and has a lot of yes-men around as a result. He gets back to the farm system by talking about his run in WCW where the young guys couldn’t learn in 5 minute TV matches, so he started booking them in small towns in their main area in the South and put them in 20 minute matches. Everyone was amazed how much those guys learned after that.
The UWF sale to Jim Crockett- They had negotiated with the WWF because Watts couldn’t survive the oil crunsh, as all of the states in his area were dead because of the bad economy. He tried to blackmail Vince into buying him out by threatening an anti-trust lawsuit filed in New Orleans, which was his territory and governed by Napoleanic Code. Vince called his bluff and told him to sell out and come work for him. Watts feels he could have won the case but it would have taken 2 years to go to trial and he was losing $50,000 a week. His next plan was for Jim Ross to call Jim Crockett, convince him that Vince McMahon was going to buy out the UWF but that they might be able to make a deal. He feels that Crockett ended up with enough talent to take on Vince but that he wasn’t capable of running such a large company and Dusty’s booking bankrupted him. Watts says that Dusty’s had a long history of fiscal problems when he’s booking because he doesn’t know how to meet a bottom line. Watts feels, conversely, that his territory always had the best net return of any of the major territories.
Was he offered a position in Jim Crockett Promotions? No, he just wanted to leave the business at that time and, on top of that, he wouldn’t have fit in with Crockett or Dusty’s egos.
Violence, sex and drugs- Part of why he got out of the business is that he had a religious epiphany and decided that he could no longer promote violence or sex. He says it’s worse today because they now promote drugs because they don’t drug test and they use people with known drug habits. He tried to institute an anti-drug policy in WCW but five guys came up positive and management wouldn’t sign the policy. He feels like the WWF is doing a better job of policing drug policies today than any other promotion.
Did he see the nWo drawing like it did? He learned early in his career that competition draws, as the promotion he worked for in Georgia and their opposition were selling out every night. When Ted Dibiase told him about the nWo, Watts knew it would send business through the roof. He feels that if Crockett had done a UWF vs. Jim Crockett Promotions feud, it would have drawn HUGE. He also talks about other general stupidity on Crockett’s part like buying a jet that could only seat five guys when he’s working in the wrestling business.
What did he do after he sold out? He worked a few different businesses but at least one of them was ill-fated as he was in aviation but it was one of the first things the oil companies cut back on when they started feeling the crunch. Eventually, the WCW job came up and he took it but ended up right back in the middle of everything he didn’t want to do anymore. He was supposed to be given autonomy but everyone had their own agenda and no one could be fired because they all had a protector somewhere else in the Turner corporate structure.
How did he get hired to run WCW? Ted Turner’s lawyer called him up about it. Turner had screwed him in the mid-80s by letting Crockett buy the old Georgia Championship Wrestling timeslot on TBS from the WWF when Turner had promised it to Watts. When he was brought in, he ended up having to communicate with Turner through Bill Shaw, who Watts felt was a worthless backstabber. He liked Bob Dhue, though, because he knew what he was doing when he was helping Watts run the company. Watts was asked to keep the losses under $8 million in a year when he was brought in and ended up bringing them down to about $400,000 or so. He describes the company as “just a clusterfuck.” He calls Turner’s legal staff a bunch of guys “who failed at private practice and couldn’t do anything else” because the contracts that the wrestlers had “looked like the wrestler and his agent wrote up the contract.” Watts wanted to start cycling contracts and having ways out instead of the wrestler having a guarantee no matter what they did or didn’t do. Some portions of the contracts pissed him off in particular, such as days off. He doesn’t mind days off but that the way the contracts were structured meant that you never knew who’d show up at any particular show. On top of everything else, he was constantly fighting with Turner executives who wanted to replace wrestling with movies despite the fact that wrestling was the only thing on TBS that drew a rating above the station average.
Was it hard getting the wrestlers to listen to them? It was hard dealing with certain people more than others, usually ones with big heads and inflated contracts or ones who were roid-raging and hurting other wrestlers. He mentions Scott Steiner in particular as being a problem although he loves Rick Steiner to death. Scott was a problem because he’d hurt and intimidate people and was horrible as a babyface, which is why he wanted to turn him heel.
Putting the WCW title on Ron Simmons- He was a great athlete with a legitimate background and, on top of that, wrestling was one of the only sports in which black athletes are not on top. He says it exposes the business because blacks dominate so many other sports. Ron had problems, though, because he was one of the guys testing positive in the drug tests and wasn’t capable of taking it to the next level.
Jake “The Snake” Roberts- “Gutless piece of shit. He’s aptly named.” No promotion will use him anymore because he’s unreliable. In a response to a quote by Jake in Diamond Dallas Page’s book about how he’d love to piss on Watts’ grave but there would be a long line, Watts agrees there’d be a line but says that Jake would “be too afraid I’d come back from the dead and rip his balls off if I could find them.”
Title changes at house shows- You have to do them because people still pay for house shows and, if you only do changes on pay per view, they’ll get trained that nothing happens at house shows. “John Wayne didn’t really kill Indians but he didn’t ride off into the sunset with his arm wrapped around then neither.” The fans like to be mystified and challenged.
His reputation of being hard to deal with- People blow things out of proportion because he’s open about what he wants and isn’t shy about the way he expresses it. He considers himself a Vince Lombardi or Mike Ditka. They didn’t have to like him as long as they respected why he was doing things. He contrasts that with WCW today where “it’s a clusterfuck because the inmates are running the asylum.”
Paul Heyman- Paul E was a very talented guy but they couldn’t make their working relationship happen because of everything else Watts was having to deal with. He thinks that Paul E has a different view on things now that he owns ECW rather than working for it. Watts wanted to fire him but thinks that Paul’s lawyer father still has it tied up in court today.
Pushing his son Eric Watts- Eric was talented and grew up in the business. “We didn’t have the same shit with Dustin Rhodes when he got pushed". He starts bitching about the wrestling sheets at this point as he claims that they make all kinds of recommendations then, when you do them, they find something else to bitch about so they can stay in business. (I look at it as “There’s always a way things can get better.”) He says that he would have brought anyone in with Eric’s credentials and given them the same kind of push.
Cactus Jack- “He’s great. That son of a bitch has no personal regard for his own body.” He used to ride with him just to see what’s in his head and wishes he’d spent more time with him. “All he ever tried to do was see how he could take it to the next level.” He loves people like that because they want to give to the business as opposed to Kevin Nash, who he talked into staying in the business and, now that he’s a star, thinks he’s invincible and the world’s greatest wrestler and manipulator. “He’s not the world’s toughest guy because no basketball player is. He’s damn sure not the world’s greatest wrestler and he couldn’t manipulate his way out of a paper bag or WCW wouldn’t be where it is today.” He’s got ability but he needs to tone down his ego. The opposite of this is Diamond Dallas Page, who wanted it so bad that he worked his ass off and made it happen. He never thought in a million years that DDP would make it as a wrestler but was proven wrong and likes him as a result.
Beating up wrestlers backstage- He disputes that although he did have his own way of showing them how to sell correctly, such as choking someone to get them to realize how to sell it right. “Who the shit can a 55-year old guy whip” though?
Working with the WCW committees- “Bullshit and wasted time.” They blew all kinds of money. “I should have just moved the booking committee meetings to the Talkback Live set so that everybody could be involved.” The first thing he was asked to do was to fire Dusty Rhodes but, instead, told Dusty that he was asked to fire him but wanted to know if he was interested in working with him.
Shawn Michaels- When he went to the WWF, Shawn Michaels saw him in the hall and screamed at him “YOU SON OF A BITCH! You fined me in my first two weeks in the business.” Watts’ response was “Did I do it again? If not, it must have worked.” Very talented guy.
Sid Vicious- Loved him to death because he’d try his heart out and do things the way Watts wanted to do it.
Kevin Nash- He used to do things the way that Watts wanted to, which is why he’d talked him into staying in the business. However, Nash refused to hire Eric Watts when he was booking WCW because he saw no worth to him. He doesn’t like Paul Orndorff either because he got Orndorff into WCW in 1992, where he stayed until the company folded, but he also berated Eric Watts’ abilities. He doesn’t care if his son was a jobber but just wanted him to get a chance, which Eric didn’t get because both guys hated Bill and took it out on Eric instead.
Why he left WCW- He got sick of getting backstabbed, especially by Bill Shaw. It was also impossible to fire anyone who was worthless in the front office, such as Shaw or the accountants. He finally decided that he didn’t need the job and quit. He disputes that he was fired for remarks that were construed as racist.
Those remarks that supposedly got him in trouble- He was asked in an interview about a restaurant owner who was told he had to serve black people and he chose to close down his business instead. Watts felt the guy stood up for what he believed in and acted accordingly. That interview had come up when he got hired in WCW but he had explained the situation to them, so it was no problem. A year later, Mark Madden sent the article to Hank Aaron then took credit for Watts getting fired. He laments that, these days, a guy like that can hide behind his newspaper’s lawyers when it used to be that you could walk over and slap the piss out of him for what he said. He had already resigned by the time that Aaron had gotten the letter and, when Bill Shaw asked him about the letter, Watts called him a chickenshit and told him they’d already been over it before he’d ever got hired and that he was leaving. Bob Dhue then confirmed to Shaw that Watts had already quit beforehand. He feels that Shaw was afraid he was going to get squeezed out when the Turner merger with Time-Warner finished and was trying to get Bob Dhue’s job because it was secure and Dhue was paid more because his pay was tied to the performance of the Omni.
Were things going right when he left? Yes, and he feels like they’re doing everything he’d wanted to do back then today. For example, he wanted the cameras to focus in on Ron Simmons as he was sitting in the stands at the World Series next to Ted Turner. In those days, they didn’t get any of that because wrestling was the redheaded stepchild of Turner’s company. He brings up the stupidity of how WCW was run such as commissioning a survey about what the fans wanted then proceeding to do the exact opposite of those results.
His big plans that he wasn’t allowed to do- He wanted to put the Clash of the Champions TBS specials up against Vince’s pay per views. He also wanted to run his pay per views head-up against Vince’s. He says they do that these days by putting Nitro head-up against RAW. He also told Vince while he was in the WWF that he better start documenting everything that Turner does because he has grounds for an anti-trust suit against them since Turner owns WCW, TBS, and many of the cable companies, although Vince STILL kicked their asses.
Sidenote- They were NEVER going to be allowed to do either of those things that Watts wanted to do. The cable companies had laid down the law on it in 1988 after a few incidents. Those incidents were Vince giving the cable companies an ultimatum not to show Starrcade 87 or Vince would withhold his PPVs from them, Vince promoting the Royal Rumble as a free special on USA up against the NWA’s Bunkhouse Stampede PPV, and the NWA holding the first free Clash of the Champions special up against Wrestlemania 4, which cost the cable companies millions. The cable companies only made one exception after that, which was the 1989 Clash 6 with Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat in a 2 of 3 Falls match. That was only because the cable companies had wanted the NWA to run a Pay Per View head-up against Wrestlemania 5 because of demands that Vince McMahon was making but, when Vince backed off on them, the NWA pay per view became a Clash on short notice.
His WWF run- He was there for three months in 1995 to see what Vince’s head was like but he just decided to leave the business again. His main intention was for Vince to delegate some authority to him so that he could concentrate fully on one problem, so Vince let him run TV that night while Vince handled all the backstage aspects of it. Vince thanked him for it afterwards because he said it was the smoothest-running TV they’d had in a long time.
Does he watch wrestling today? No, he doesn’t have to. Someone called him up at home recently bitching about WCW and Watts was able to rattle off a long list of what the problems were there. When he was asked if he was watching their TV show, he said that he wasn’t but that they had the same problems there when he ran it. He doesn’t plan on getting back into the business because he feels he doesn’t have the emotion to deal with it anymore.
Sex and blasphemy in the business today- He doesn’t feel it’s right to be pushing sex and the whole “Austin 3:16” thing to children because of what Austin 3:16 is a takeoff of. He talks about how hard it is for him to act the part of a Christian considering what he’s been for so long and, as an example, if he saw Jake Roberts today he’d spit in his face. He doesn’t feel his actions are what make him a Christian, though, but what Christ did for him that was important.
If he came back, what would WCW need to change? Someone would need autonomy and then back it up.
What does he think of the wrestlers running the business? Kevin Nash is okay but he needs to realize that the company needs a strong booker then listen to what he says or he needs to leave. On top of that, these guys need to realize that Vince McMahon won’t take them all.
Eric Bischoff- “He must have been a successful creature of the corporate world” because he thought he was a worthless announcer and hasn’t seen anything else to show he’s worth a crap. If Turner hadn’t already brought him back, he’d have sent Bisch home after he finished his contract in 1992.
Hulk Hogan- He hasn’t worked around him but he must be very sharp because he’s made a tremendous amount of money and he knows how to get himself over.
Where does he see the business in ten years? He doesn’t care.
What does he do today? He works in pharmaceuticals and we get a sales pitch for it. He talks about how he was calling up people from the business about it and got cussed out by George “The Animal” Steele because Steele thought Watts knew he had been given three months to live and was trying to exploit his illness. Steele ended up trying his products and his illness went into remission.
Wrestlers who take steroids- He’s glad that he never heard of them when he was weight-training because everything he’s ever heard about them have been negative. He’s also against the “size = money” mindset because the Rock and Roll Express were HUGE draws but they never would have been in the main event of the WWF. He’s against drugs in general because he’s seen what steroids and crack have done to too many wrestlers.
Roddy Piper in the main event these days- It’s pathetic. Same deal with Terry Funk because he’s WAY over the hill and looks like crap. He thinks that the next step for Funk will be wearing a bodysuit with muscles painted onto it.
Terry Funk vs. Cowboy Bill Watts- This is for the North American title. Watts wins with a powerslam.
Jack Brisco vs. Cowboy Bill Watts- This is for the Brisco’s NWA title. Watts gets disqualified because Gary Hart attempted to hit Watts but hit Brisco instead. Watts and Gerald Brisco start brawling after the match.
We then get the UWF episode that was referred to earlier, where there were three separate title changes.
General Scandor Akbar and Michael PS Hayes cut promos against each other about upcoming matches between the Freebirds and Akbar’s Army.
Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy, Michael PS Hayes, and Buddy Roberts vs. Terry Taylor, Ted Dibiase, and “Dr. Death” Steve Williams- This is a match that appears on QUITE a few shoots as Doc “breaks” Gordy’s arm off of a top-rope kneedrop.
Sting and Rick Steiner with Eddie Gilbert and Missy Hyatt vs. the Missing Link and Joe Savoldi with Dark Journey- The match becomes a DQ after Gilbert becomes involved and then Gilbert and company kick the crap out of Link before spraying a yellow streak down his back.
One Man Gang vs. Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy- Due to Gordy’s injury earlier on the card, Gordy is unable to defend the UWF title and Gang wins by forfeit.
Savannah Jack with Terry Taylor vs. Buddy Roberts with Michael PS Hayes- This is for the UWF TV title. Jack wins with a Superkick.
John Tatum and Jack Victory vs. “Wild Bill” Irwin and “Bad” Leroy Brown with General Skandor Akbar- This is for Tatum and Victory’s UWF Tag Team Titles. Irwin and Brown win when Irwin hits a backbreaker and Brown hits a backbreaker on Tatum for the win.
Chavo Guerrero Sr. vs. Buddy Landell- Landell wins when Jack Victory drops an elbow on Guerrero and Landell rolls over for the three.
One Man Gang vs. “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan- This is a cage match for the UWF title. Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy and Michael PS Hayes are at ringside since Gordy’s pissed about how he lost the belt. Hayes and Duggan get into a brawl at ringside before the match and the cage door shuts on Gordy’s “broken” arm. “Bad” Leroy Brown and “Wild Bill” Irwin assault Duggan at ringside before the match starts then throw him into the ring. The show ends with no finish to the match because TV time has expired.
Thoughts- Watts has a lot to say and he’s certainly not shy about it. This is an instant Highly Recommended if only for Watts’ booking knowledge but he also has a lot of stories about the wrestling wars of the 80s as well as his time in WCW in 1992. Get this one ASAP!