Arn Anderson Shoot Interviewby Brandon Truitt
Dec 22, 2003, 19:00
This is a repost of an article first posted on Monday September 23, 2002.
Hey everyone... Sorry that this isn't a new interview but I got sick during the middle of the week and working on a new one just became a VERY low priority. (It was come home, do the minimum necessary to be ready for the next day, then hit the "capital 'N' small 'y' BIG FUCKING 'Q'" and going into the cough-syrup induced coma.) With any luck, I should be able to either finish the Jim Cornette Q+A session from 1993, the Crash Holly shoot, or the Vince Russo shoot by next week.
As for those requesting the Vince Russo shoot, direct all complaints about why it's not posted yet to RF Video because I finally got it in the mail today.
Because of my recent illness and the fact that we're coming up on both the Christmas and New Years holidays, I may end up doing a two-shoot week sometime in the future because of the time I'll hopefully have. No promises though.
Oh, BTW... anyone who liked the Stranglemania series of tapes should look into the Insane Clown Posse's DVD releases of Juggalo Championshit Wrestling volumes 1, 2, and 3. All of them have some funny crap going on but the Necro Butcher vs. Madman Pondo bloodbath from volume 3 was more than enough to turn my stomach. There's "hardcore wrestling" and then there's "Darwin's wrestling", where morons like the two aforementioned guys beat each other with flourescent light tubes and bleed all over the place. With any luck, I'll never see a Necro Butcher match ever again as I've at least seen Pondo do matches that weren't downright disgusting.
As Krusty the Clown would say about Unforgiven, "I could pull better booking out of my a... HEY KIDS!" RVD jobbing to HHH, Flair turning heel, a screwjob on the Chuckabilly-Island Boyz stips, and a fuckin' no-contest finish to the main event? I knew the show looked bad going in but the booking threatened to put it into a horse race with No Way Out and King of the Ring for the "Worst PPV of the Year" contest.
Thankfully, MOST of the wrestlers were able to put on good matches despite the horrible booking, and Angle-Benoit is the first real Match of the Year Candidate since June, when RVD-Eddy and Edge-Angle were on TV within 4 days of each other.
Unless Vince pulls his head out of his ass soon, he might as well rename the company WCW because he's making a LOT of the same dumb mistakes that they did.
As always, contact me here if you have any comments, suggestions, etc.
Arn Anderson Shoot Interview
How he got started- Arn (then wrestling under his real name, Marty Lunde) worked some TV matches on TBS for Georgia against Bullet Bob Armstrong and Brad Armstrong, Bob's son and Road Dogg's more talented brother. Bob liked him and, when he went back to Pensacola, invited Arn to work for him there. He worked for them for a few weeks in Southeastern Championship Wrestling, then he sent Arn to Bill Watts’ Mid-South territory when he was done with him.
He worked in curtain-jerkers for 5 months in Mid-South then, when Matt Borne (Doink the Clown) was leaving Mid-South for Georgia and needed a tag partner to come with him, Junkyard Dog thought about Arn because Arn looked like Ole Anderson and figured he could pass as an Anderson family member. Watts set up everything with the Georgia office and he headed out there.
Ole as a booker- Tyrant, loud, intimidating, VERY knowledgeable, very fair, had tunnel vision, and was the one guy he was the most afraid of in the business. Watts was the same way.
Teaming with Ole and Tommy Rich against the Road Warriors- Arn and Borne were being groomed for the National Tag Titles slot but Borne fucked up (which is a pattern of his from many accounts) and got released. The Road Warriors got their spot because Ole needed a hot team badly. Arn, Barry Darsow (Demolition Smash), Joe Lightfoot and others wrestled against the Road Warriors and Rick Rude for the Road Warriors' first 10-day tour in the company and it nearly killed them. No matter what he went through for the rest of his career, nothing was as bad those 10 days.
The Road Warriors- They were instantly over and everyone saw money with them immediately. Putting Paul Ellering with them was a stroke of genius.
Other people he worked with in Georgia- Tommy Rich, the greatest babyface of his time. Larry Zbysko was smart about the business. Paul “Mr. Wonderful” Orndorff gave him some of the best advice he ever got... “You’ve got potential. Stay in the gym, keep your body right, learn how to talk, and learn how to wrestle. They can’t deny you.”
Was he discouraged because of his body? Not discouraged because of it. He was more concerned with learning to wrestle than getting ripped and shredded.
His mentors back then- Tim Horner was his first teacher and taught him every night for five months. Ole, Borne, and Ted Dibiase.
Dibiase helped him a lot while Arn was a curtain jerker in Mid-South and Dibiase was a main eventer there. When it came time to leave for Georgia, Arn asked Dibiase how he could thank him and Dibiase told him “If you ever get as good as I think you will, do the same thing for another young guy”, which happened to be Bill Goldberg in Arn’s case.
Moving to Mid-Atlantic- Ole was doing nothing with him after his run against the Road Warriors was done, so he went to Pensacola and worked there for about a year and a half. He worked with all the Armstrongs, Jimmy Golden, Ron Fuller, Robert Fuller (Colonel Parker, Tennessee Lee), Jerry Stubbs, the Tonga Kid, and others. He worked on TV a lot and got to do plenty of interviews. Around that time, Ric Flair came down and made him an offer to bring him to Charlotte. He and Ric had been friends whenever Ric would come through Georgia and Arn would be his driver (driving the champion around was supposedly an honor back then).
Dusty Rhodes- Was a bit awestruck meeting him after he had watched him for years. Dusty said he’d give him the ball and, if he got some yardage, his position would go up. It did after his first series in Mid-Atlantic against Manny Fernandez.
Memories of beating Wahoo McDaniel in the TV tournament finals- It was his first major title and that winning the belt was about as important to him as wrestling Wahoo, who was a legend by that point.
Memories of working with Magnum TA- Some of the most intense and stiff matches he’s ever had. He wanted to be the best wrestler in the world and he’d let you know that in the ring, but it was all money. He would have been one of the greatest of all time if he hadn’t wrapped his Porsche around a tree in 1986.
Locker room reaction to Magnum’s accident- “It killed us all.” It was the biggest injury they’d seen at the time because the style was more conservative back then. The doctors had said they didn’t think he’d even make it through the night. There was a lot of closeness with everyone in the territory, even if they were rivals in the ring.
The Four Horsemen- Jim Crockett had an interview where Ole, Arn, Flair, and Tully Blanchard, who had all teamed together in various combinations before, were promoting three different matches (he thinks they were Tully vs. Dusty, Ric vs. Magnum, and Ole and Arn vs. the Road Warriors). It dawned on him during the interview that they were like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, so he used it to build up the matches. As soon as the interview ended, Tony Schivone came around and told them they had something special there, so they took off from there.
Ego problems within the Horsemen? There were always personal ego problems outside the business, but never during a match. They were always trying to outdo each other in the ring and steal the show if they were in different matches, but there was no real tension, ESPECIALLY if they were all in a match together like Wargames.
Teaming with Ole- “Greatest single learning experience I’ve ever had” because Ole and Gene Anderson were some of the best tag wrestlers ever. Unfortunately, a lot of the principles they used have been lost in time because tag wrestling has degenerated over the years.
Was it hard being heels because they were so over? It was easy in the ring but was hard to do anything outside of it because they were loved. It was when renegades were just starting to be cool all around, and they were supposedly one of the first heel groups to get over like that. “It wasn’t a low-class redneck thing, we carried out everything in style.”
Working with Ronnie Garvin- “I wished I’d have just found a building to jump off...” Ronnie Garvin and Buzz Sawyer were two guys who could beat the shit out of you. Garvin could stretch you with just his legs. However, Garvin didn’t have any problems with taking it in return.
Working with Dusty Rhodes- Most charismatic guy he’s ever wrestled. He could fans into the arena and then perform well. You saw Dusty’s charisma in the matches, not his substandard body. Dusty loved working with Tully because he could make Dusty look great.
Nikita Koloff- They didn’t get along at first. Nikita was smart enough to know what he wanted from the business, worked hard, then walked out of the business instead of hobbling out. He respects him for that. The main bone he had to pick with Nikita was that he’d be rough some of the underneath guys.
Was he disappointed he didn’t get to work with Flair then? No, because he loved working alongside him as his partner back then. Since Flair was responsible for getting him into that position, he didn’t complain.
Rock and Roll Express- The matches he and Ole had against them were the most fun he ever had. “Ricky Morton was the most over guy ever back then with the girls that I’d ever seen.” If you started pounding on him, people would start jumping the rails to get you.
Working with the Road Warriors in Mid-Atlantic- They were more polished, and having Ellering work with them did wonders. Road Warrior Hawk was a bit volatile, though, which could be scary in the ring sometimes.
Did Vince McMahon ever contact him? He was sent messages through wrestlers, but never anything official.
What was the locker room vibe for the UWF purchase/invasion- It was a huge misuse of resources. With their TBS show, they could have just gone into Watts’ territory and run him out of business instead of buying out his money-losing territory. He attributes the UWF purchase directly to Crockett’s financial troubles, which caused him to sell out to Ted Turner in 1988. Going out west to run shows and flying everyone all over the place didn’t help. Instead of running them separately or using the good talent that the UWF had when they bought them, Crockett instead used them to put over his guys for the most part. (Sting was the only UWF guy brought in who wasn’t completely jobbed that I know of.)
Jim Crockett as a promoter- Don’t know him well. He didn’t let a lot of people close to him emotionally.
Ole leaving the Horsemen- The other Horsemen figured that things were going to get worse eventually, and Ole deciding to go home was the first sign of trouble. Lex Luger was cosmetically a great fit but wasn’t the right choice to replace Ole. Nothing’s ever as good as the original anyway... the nWo, the Horsemen, the Midnight Express, etc.
Lex Luger- He had a great attitude back then, wanting to learn and willing to listen. Very business-savvy. One of the best self promoters ever. Lex parlayed his look into being a multi-millionaire. Nothing negative to say about him.
Did people complain about Dusty’s booking? Of course. If you aren’t wrestling the guy you want to wrestle or in the town you want to wrestle in, you were pissed. Being a booker is a “thankless, pain-in-the-ass job.”
Bunkhouse Stampede matches- Fun but brutal . A lot of people weren’t paying attention because there were 25 other people in the match, so there were broken ankles, blown out knees, stitches, and so forth. The first mass deal like that of its time.
Working with Barry Windham- Barry's a phenomenon. He could party all night then come in and work an hour or 90 minutes and never have to go to the gym. “All-around cowboy and sweetheart of a guy.” “If Barry had 5 grand, keys to a Porche, and a woman, he was content.” That was why he never put as much effort as he should have into the business. It would have been a shortcoming but things worked out for him... Barry married a VERY wealthy woman who Arn claims owns half of south Georgia. Wrestling Barry was a dream.
Did he prefer working singles matches or tags? Tags.
Memories of the first Crockett Cup- He thinks he and Tully didn’t do well and were put out early by the Fantastics but doesn‘t remember for sure. Great concept, great promotion, but going into a building like the Superdome was a mistake because they could have filled up a smaller building instead of filling about 1/4 of the Superdome. “If you’ve got 50 people not making any noise, bumps hurt 10 times as much.”
Wargames- He was the first guy in the first Wargames match and doesn’t think that match was ever topped by subsequent ones. It was a draining match because he was in there about 35 minutes and was taking bumps left and right. The only Wargames to even come close to the first one was the one at Wrestle War 92 with the Dangerous Alliance (Arn, Rick Rude, Bobby Eaton, Steve Austin, and Larry Zbysco) against Sting, Nikita Koloff, and three other guys I don't remember.
Were there any plans to break up the Horsemen around that time (mid-1987)? No.
Lugar getting kicked out of the Horsemen- There was a Bunkhouse Stampede battle royal in which JJ Dillon was supposed to win but Luger said “Screw that” and won it himself. They decided to bounce Lugar out of the Horsemen and bring Barry Windham in to take his place. From a wrestling standpoint, it was the best unit in Horsemen history.
Working with Luger every night- His knowledge wasn’t where it was supposed to be but he overcame it with just sheer power. He was in tremendous cardio shape, too, so he didn’t get blown up.
Were the Horsemen tight outside of the ring? Yes... it was just like their promo where they said they do everything together except share a room.
Do you keep in contact with Tully? He ran into him by pure accident when he went out to eat the week before. They haven’t kept in touch and have had past disagreements, but figures they’ll talk again in the future.
Midnight Express- He was really close to Bobby Eaton, about as close as he is to Flair. They’d travel together a lot. He says that the original version with Dennis Condrey, rather than the one with Stan Lane, was the best tag team they ever faced.
How did their negotiations with Vince McMahon come about? “There were some incidents in the front office” dealing with the Turner sale and Crockett’s finances. They were really hot and were working with the Midnight Express. Crockett had made promises contract-wise which didn’t come true, so they put out feelers to Vince. When they got a positive response from Vince, so when they had a bad experience on TV in Houston (which he refuses to go into) and Crockett didn’t handle it properly, they started making plans to jump.
Was Flair shocked? He didn’t believe it. He actually called up Tully and Arn the next night and asked them when they were getting to the building, then started crying when he realized they weren't coming.
How did Vince handle it? Vince sent them first-class tickets, had a limo take them to his house, and sat around his pool to put a deal together. That night, they flew back to Philadelphia, gave their notice to Crockett and Dusty, and lost the tag titles to the Midnight Express. (This situation has become a bit infamous over the years considering how hot the feud was and how hyped it was on TV for it to end at a house show with no notice.) Ric Flair was so shocked that he called them up the next day when they didn’t show up, asked them what was up, and cried when he realized they really were leaving.
He claims that the locker room was probably split over them leaving, because some loved working with them and drawing money against them while others wanted their spot. He says it was the end of the boom times for Crockett because the Horsemen carried the NWA to that point, which is debatable considering how the Dusty finishes involving the Horsemen helped kill off towns. He then goes on to justify it by saying that the Horsemen were typically in the top three matches for years, which is mostly true (it depends if the Midnight Express and the Rock and Roll Express were facing stiffs like the Russians that night).
Vince McMahon- Most intelligent, smoothest, most articulate man he’s ever met. He made you feel like you were walking on air. In the 14 months he was there, they treated him better than he’d ever been treated. The only reason he left was that he had a three year old son and was working 24 days a month, with none of those dates being near his home in Charlotte, and he couldn‘t take it anymore.
Difference in the locker rooms- The politics were completely different. There are stringent locker room rules, some are said and some are unsaid. There are cardinal rules you just don‘t break. (Hmm.... sounds familiar) He says the typical case with WWF guys is that they stay around until Vince McMahon has to run them off. People who have the lucrative runs with Hogan pulling down $500,000 a year tend to be WWF 4 Life. They tried to keep shady stuff out of the locker room because the grind was so bad that the locker room had to be a sanctuary and had to be very positive.
Why were they paired with Bobby Heenan? They were scared that Vince was going to change around their gimmick, but were relieved when Vince assigned Bobby as their manager and only changed their name instead of their gimmick. At that time, Heenan was only managing top guys like Andre the Giant, Haku, and Rick Rude. They didn’t need him to do the talking, but they weren’t going to turn down a guy as good as that.
What was Hulk Hogan like? He was all business. He never saw Terry Bollea... just Hulk Hogan. He pretty much stayed in his own locker room. He was nice and polite, but mostly stayed to himself.
Did they see potential in the Rockers? They were better than the Rock and Roll Express from a workrate perspective. “Shawn Michaels could do anything” while Marty Janetty was just great.
Demolition- Barry Darsow (Smash) is one of his best friends. Demolition whacked Tully around a bit because his reputation as an asshole preceded him, but he did just fine against them.
Different demands in ringwork between the WWF and WCW- The ring was harder for one. There were a lot of 30-minute draws. At the level they were at (upper-midcard), they had to work hard to stand out because guys like Curt Hennig and Bret Hart were very impressive in the ring and were at about their level. You’d have to go out and do your best against guys like the Bushwhackers, as well as against great teams like the Rockers.
Working big shows in the WWF vs. WCW- The WWF is as different as night and day to WCW. Everything down to the lighting grid and the video quality were difference.
Working with Strike Force- They only worked with them at Wrestlemania 5, but it was still great because Tito Santana and Rick Martel are good workers. They weren’t happy with how short the match was, though.
Dealing with the exposure in the WWF vs. WCW- After spending a year in the WWF, they were bigger stars than they ever were in WCW even though they’d been on top in WCW. It was all due to Vince’s choice timeslots for his syndicated shows and being in so many great markets.
Hart Foundation- They worked with them a lot. Bret was a great wrestler. Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart was similar to Road Warrior Animal.
Ultimate Warrior- Kept to himself, quiet, intense. Vince had decided to make him a star even though he wasn’t going to be a great wrestler and it worked.
What were their final days in the WWF like after giving notice? Vince told them they’d make more than the last year, but they weren’t given a total and they were already about $50,000 behind what they’d made in the previous year. Around this time, they cracked and decided they had to go back to the Carolinas. They told Vince about their situation and asked him to either catch them up on the $50,000 they were behind on or give them a release. They knew he was seriously considering what they’d said because he skipped his daily visit to the gym in order to think about it. (Vince’s schedule at that time was like clockwork, in that he’d handle business in the morning and go to the gym in the afternoon and he rarely put off his workouts). He waited until the next TV taping a few weeks later to give them a decision, which was that if they wanted to go they could give 90 days notice, which they took him up on. He didn’t mistreat them at that point in time, going as far as to put them on the Saturday Night’s Main Event, which was a large payday because they got paid by NBC and the WWF. They actually made more money on the way out than they had been making, but their minds were made up.
What was the WCW management like when they returned? Totally corporate. Jim Herd didn’t know crap about wrestling and was only a casual fan instead of a die-hard one. He says that the actual day-to-day operations can be performed by any executive coming in from another company, but that only someone who knew a lot about wrestling could make the right decisions about who to sign and for how much.
What was the locker room like? “Inmates running the asylum.” (That’s what EVERYONE says about WCW on these shoots.) He says that a certain core of guys ran things but at least they knew more than Jim Herd, who he calls an idiot. He says it’s worse than it is today (with today being late 2000 or early 2001).
Working with Flair against Buzz Sawyer and The Great Muta- “It was like a bar fight every night.” He doesn’t know if Buzz doesn’t like him or didn’t like everyone, but he was a badass and could do some serious damage. Muta was great, though. He didn’t enjoy the matches because he was cast in the wrong role (a face) for one thing.
The Horsemen turning on Sting- They were supposed to turn the company around by building up Sting to take over from Flair, but Sting blew his knee out and was out for six months.
His series with the Steiners- He’s wrestled them about 1000 times with 5 different partners and only remembers beating them once (with Bobby Eaton in 1992). “I don’t think I can beat Rick Steiner’s 8-year old kid. Something in the genetics.”
Sid Vicious as a Horseman- They recruited him because they needed a power guy and had success with Lex Luger in that role in the past. He was so intimidating that it worked for a while. Front office problems sent Sid to the WWF, though.
Ole Anderson leaving WCW- They weren’t paying him much and the business was starting to change so that his ideas weren’t meshing well with the young guys. He eventually said “Screw it” and decided to retire.
Working against Doom (Ron Simmons and Butch Reed)- Reed was hilarious, like The Cat (Ernest Miller), but was also a badass. Ron Simmons “is in a league of his own” and calls him a Steiner. The Steiners used to play ribs on people for just the fun of it. Arn asked Simmons once why the Steiners never taped him to a chair and Simmons just responded with a look that seemed to say “You’re shitting me, right?” Simmons never went to the gym often in the late 80’s / early 90’s but could still bench 500 pounds when he went. “He’s a genetic freak.“ Current WWE referee Teddy Long was a great addition to their team, although Woman (Nancy Sullivan, now married to Chris Benoit) was better to look at.
Matches with Bobby Eaton- It’s hard to tell how good he is until you’re in the ring with him. He isn’t a muscled guy but he’s great wrestler and it was a learning experience.
Ric Flair leaving for the WWF right before Great American Bash 91- The reaction in the locker room was similar to when he and Tully left in 1988, in that a lot of people were sad Flair left because they drew against him while others wanted his spot on top. Unfortunately, the balance of power shifted to Vince at that time. He wishes that Flair had come in with them in 1988, which had been discussed, although it never came about. “If Ric had come with us, we’d still be there.” He was glad to see him go to the WWF because Vince would treat him right, but it was a few years too late to have the impact he should have had. (According to some sources, Flair was supposed to be interviewed by Brother Love at Summerslam 88, but Jim Duggan got that spot since Flair didn’t make the jump.)
Being in the Dangerous Alliance and his relationship with Paul Heyman outside the ring- Paul E. was a bullshitter, but if you cut through all that he was a good guy. He sometimes wished something was some way so hard that he believed that it was that way. The Alliance was VERY talented, including himself, Paul E, Madusa, Steve Austin, Bobby Eaton, Larry Zbysco, and Rick Rude. He said that WCW wasn’t capable of promoting such a group at the time. Promoting their product was ALWAYS WCW’s shortcoming.
Memories of tagging with Eaton against Ricky Steamboat and Dustin Rhodes- Around the 56 minute mark of a match in the Omni, Dustin just lost it and started hallucinating and screaming. He figures that it was because Dustin was so blown up. “It was one of the strangest things I’ve ever encountered.” Dustin didn’t even remember it when asked about it the next day.
Ricky Steamboat- Probably the best babyface in the history of the business. Was a gentleman and everything about him was perfect for his role.
Locker room response to Bill Watts’ arrival- It was one of impending dread. When they found out what he WAS doing, they were scared shitless. Since Watts made his money off cutting costs (and salaries) instead of drawing more people, he pissed off a LOT of people quickly. Arn took his salary cut personally, but is thankful he was bright enough to talk himself into a program with Bill’s son Eric and to sit at home and get paid for six months. What pissed him off most was that Watts told him that his team with Eaton was the best in WCW, but that “you’ve been here too long.”
Were the boys upset about Eric Watts’ push? “It was worse than Dustin Rhodes’ push because at least Dustin was a good performer and was humble. Eric wasn’t.” They don’t blame Eric for it, though, because Bill put him in that position.
Working for Smokey Mountain Wrestling for a few shows- They weren’t doing anything with him, so Gary Juster booked him with Smokey Mountain right before he was going to come back to WCW. He puts over Jim Cornette for treating him right and says it was a lot of fun.
Reforming the Horsemen at Slamboree 93- He wasn’t particularly happy that they reformed the Horsemen again because it gets more watered down every time they do it, but the fans were making the Horsemen sign as soon as Flair came back. Tully was VERY close to coming back, but that his salary demands and the number of days he wanted to work each month was WAY out of line compared to what the rest of them were getting, so we ended up with Paul Roma instead.
Working with Flair against the Hollywood Blondes (Steve Austin and Brian Pillman)- They belonged together. He puts over Austin heavily and says he saw something in him back then. He suggested that the office just let him be what he is (which is the basis for Stone Cold Steve Austin), but they never did anything with it. Pillman’s “Loose Cannon” gimmick was one of the best performances of all time “and I’m not sure that all of that was really an act.”
Wrestling Cactus Jack (Mick Foley)- “I don’t remember working with him. I regret that I never did.”
Kip Frey as a boss- “He was tremendous to work for... in fact, we had a nice deal lined up right before he was fired, so I wish he’d stayed.”
Working with Paul Orndorff and Steven Regal (now William Regal in the WWE)- He was a big Orndorff fan and enjoyed working with him because their styles are similar. Regal was years ahead of his time and made him look foolish in the ring with that English style.
Working matches in New Japan against Steve Austin- It was the first day over after the flight, so jet lag screwed up what should have been a great match.
Initial impressions of Eric Bischoff as a boss- He seemed good when he started because he had vision and foresaw overtaking Vince. He didn’t think they could do it, but was happy that they were trying a new direction for the company.
Hogan coming into the company- Guys who knew a lot about the business were happy he came in because it meant 5000 more asses in seats each night.
His brief run with ECW- It came about because WCW booked him and Bobby Eaton out to them and put them on opposite sides of a tag match with Terry Funk and Sabu. “It was horrible to watch” because Terry and Sabu were taking care of themselves instead of putting on a great match. (Sabu and Funk brawled all over the building and pretty much set a mark that they couldn’t reach, so he put a headlock on Bobby and the place went silent)
How was Paul E different from the Dangerous Alliance days to the ECW booker days- He caught him before he bought out Tod Gordon, so it was great.
Joining Robert Fuller’s stable and working against Terry Funk and Dustin Rhodes- “Working with Terry outside of ECW is great.” He says that Bunkhouse Buck (Jimmy Golden) was a great wrestle who happened to be cast in a one-dimensional role. “The cowboy thing has been done to death”, so they should have had a new gimmick.
Honkytonk Man in WCW- HTM didn’t like what was laid out for him (jobbing to Johnny B. Badd at Starrcade 94), so he went home and Arn was put in his slot. His one regret in the business is that he was seen as an upper-midcard guy because “they never needed me until they needed me until they needed me, and then it was to fill ANY void and be taken for granted.” He wants to be remembered not for the best performance in wrestling history but, rather, that he never had a shitty one.
Jobbing to Renegade- He didn’t have a problem with it, but everyone else had a problem with it but the office guys who put it together. “It was another Van Hammer or PN News situation. The guy was very nice but was put out there way before he should have been and it cost him his life.”
Did the atmosphere change a lot when Hogan came in? No, because Hogan didn’t have as much of an affect in the locker room as much as the front office due to his creative control. Being able to take care of himself has kept Hogan on top for years, which is good for him but it means that he’s scrapped booking plans that affect everyone else.
Wrestling Ric Flair in late 1995- It was the only time he ever puked before a match (Fall Brawl 95). He never wanted to wrestle him because it was his best friend and that he doesn’t think anyone ever bought it. The one good thing is that he got to see up close how good Flair was. It was a personal victory for him not to get booed out of the building in the middle of Flair Country (Asheville, NC).
Memories of Brian Pillman around the Bookerman incident at Superbrawl 6- He didn’t know what was going on at the time and very few people did. He didn’t mind that Pillman and Sullivan were working him because he just wanted something to succeed at that time. (Pillman ended his "respect" match against Kevin Sullivan early by saying "I respect you BOOKERMAN!" on the mic. Arn and Flair came out to brawl with Sullivan to fill the remainder of the time alloted to the match.)
Working with Vader- “Oh, God... He almost killed Ric and I both in a handicap match in Daytona.” It was hard to do anything to him because he was 450 pounds and very wide.
What did they think about Nitro going head-to-head with RAW- He didn’t see the sense in it because they thought it would split the audience instead of increasing it. It hurt the business in the long run, though, because Nitro was better than the Pay Per Views. He said the match list for the average Nitro looked like a list of dream matches in a wrestling magazine.
Steve “Mongo” McMichael- He loves him to death but knew he was going to be limited as a wrestler. He said if Mongo had no money in the bank that he’d have had the enthusiasm to learn the business.
Injuring his arm- It’s a direct result of his neck injury. The first time he got injured was when Marty Janetty put him in a victory roll in a Madison Square Garden match. He cracked a vertebrae but had to work that night in Boston, too. Thankfully, it was a tag match so Tully covered for him a bit. When he wrestles the Steiners in the 90’s, his right arm went out on him after a powerslam and it was never the same. Right before Halloween Havoc 97, his neck was really bothering him as his neck was REALLY screwed up at that point. The night before the PPV, he started lifting weights and couldn’t close his hand anymore because a bone chip had shifted and cut off control to his hand. He wrestled Lugar on that PPV even without use of his left hand and worked another two months on a limited schedule. In January, his hand kept getting worse and both it and his arm started to atrophy. The doctor told him to stop, but he kept going. Eventually, he had trouble lacing up his boots, Bischoff noticed it and asked him about it and, when he found out about his hand, sent him to the doctor. Eventually, he was split open and all the bone chips were removed but it ended his in-ring career.
How did you feel about it? “I wanted to die. I’ve never felt anything like that and I’ve torn my groin muscle before.” He was on Percocets, Valium, and a morphine drip and he still was feeling everything. Eventually, it got tolerable. He started back in the gym after that and was fine until a guy slapped him on the back and asked him how he was doing, which caused his whole system to shut down again. It dawned on him then that he was about to retire.
The retirement speech- “The realist thing I’d ever done. If I’d been looking at Ric’s face, I wouldn’t have been able to go through with it.” It was hard on him trying to figure out how he was going to provide for a wife, a newborn, and an 11-year old kid. The company treated him right and he was already somewhat of a road agent anyway, so it worked out. He’s 80% pain free now, but there’s no protection left in his back.
Kevin Nash and Scott Hall coming over to WCW- He wasn’t sure what to think because they knew it was two of Vince’s top guys, but no one thought it would be nearly as successful as it was. The whole picture changed when they jumped.
The Curt Hennig feud- When Curt accepted the Horsemen position then jumped to the nWo, it died for a while. Eventually, a bunch of backstage arguments involving Mongo, Chris Benoit, and Dean Malenko brought the Horsemen unit back. He thinks that no version of the Horsemen after the Windham group were ever treated right, though. If it helped guys move up the card, he’s happy for them but it did nothing for him and Flair.
How’s life now? Fine. He’s happy with where he is.
Helping Goldberg with promos and other things- “I wrote Bill’s promos for him.” Sometimes it was easier for someone who knows his character to write for him than him to write his own stuff. Eventually, Bischoff came to him to coach Goldberg on his matches. He thinks that Goldberg being a quality guy makes him feel that much better about helping him.
Was it hard dealing with guys that had high guaranteed contracts? Sometimes. He’s still one of the guys even though he works in the office, so he can see the wrestler’s perspective. He thinks that making the wrestler feel good about what they’re doing makes things go much better than telling them what they’re going to do. He’s just a messenger. He also cleans up what’s given to him, and he thinks he does a good job of it.
Did Flair’s problems with Bischoff strain his relationship with Bischoff? Yes, because Flair is always his friend and he’s very close to him. He thought that WCW’s attempt to fire Flair in 1998 was bad for the business because Flair’s willing to give them what they ask and is always a very entertaining segment. “Flair’s a 14-time world champion and I think he’s only won those 14 matches.”
The mental hospital angle with Flair- Flair wasn’t happy with it, but did the best he could with it.
Was David Flair ready for the push they gave him? Yes, because it was only supposed to be a one-time deal on Pay Per View, but was received so well that David was given a contract he wasn’t ready for. He suggests taking him off TV and training him for 3 years before bringing him back, although he doesn’t have the necessary passion to be a great in the business.
Best worker in the business today- “Chris Benoit, no hesitation.”
Best match he’s ever had- “Ric, in Asheville, because of the reaction”, although he had some great ones with the Rock and Roll Express.
What was Eric Bischoff’s downfall? Bringing in guys like Master P and the KISS Demon who were leeching off of WCW’s fame and not giving them anything in return. They didn’t need anybody to draw the numbers they did, but they did stupid shit like putting Will Sasso of MAD TV on Nitro. Stuff like that cost them huge (Money-wise and in poor fan response).
Reactions to Vince Russo coming in- He had a whole different psychology. He was a great storyteller. If shaving Flair’s head was made into the biggest thing in WCW history, it would have been worth it. However, Russo never got the reactions of all the wrestlers on the situation and never had a payoff with the situation. Russo spread himself so thin that nothing meant anything. Putting himself on TV all the time was definitely a mistake.
Will Vince McMahon and Bischoff work together? I don’t see it happening, but they’ll do it if it’s necessary. They’re both motivated and intelligent, but Vince is very autonomous while Eric had limited total autonomy. Vince runs his own company while Eric runs someone else’s company. He would work for Vince again if the deal was right but doesn’t want to be on the road 24 days a month.
The Bash 2000 business with Hogan and Russo- “Every time I think it’s real, it isn’t. Everytime I think it isn’t, it’s real. I won’t comment either way.”
What does WCW need? They need a boss with the final say. They have a lot of guys plugging holes who aren’t responsible for it, so they’re getting screwed on the situation. Until there’s a direction, they’re just going to keep spinning their wheels.
Kevin Nash’s booking- He did a good job and doesn’t think he pushed himself and his friends too far. There will always be that point of view, but it’s always from people who aren’t getting the benefit.
What does he think about Vince possibly buying out WCW- It’s a little of everything... Vince would bring direction and total autonomy, but there would be no competition to watch out for and less room for the wrestlers to bargain with Vince. The best thing for everything is to have two thriving companies, and three is better, and there are a lot of people whose livelihood is riding on it.
His favorite angle he was ever involved in- Dusty in the parking lot was great, as well as he and Zbysco slamming Barry Windham’s hand in the car door at Halloween Havoc 91.
The most underutilized guy in the company- Booker T. In fact, in an in-house article where he was asked who the next three stars would be in 1999 or 2000, he said Booker, Scott Steiner, and Chris Benoit. He also thinks that Lance Storm and Elix Skipper can be great, but only if Skipper’s style doesn’t get him permanently injured.
At what point did he say “Wow! I’ve made it”- Probably when he wrestled Ronnie Garvin in a 30-minute match on Worldwide and lost 7 seconds left. Dusty later told the whole crew at a meeting that if he ever had to show people what wrestling should be, he’d show that match.
Best tag partner- Bobby Eaton from a business point of view, although Tully’s the best in-ring partner.
Best rib- The Steiners stripping Dallas Page naked in the middle of the ring during a battle royal. Page rolled out of the ring and Oliver Humperdink gave him his shirt to cover himself with and EVERYONE was more appalled at the shirtless Humperdink than the naked DDP.
Where does he see the business in 5 years? To be successful, they need to go back to basics. They need to put some iron in the officials from the commissioner down to the refs. That will allow heels to get heat by cheating again because they’re actually breaking rules again. They also need to cut out the chairs, wrenches, belt shots, etc. Longer matches and less time of people walking down the hall. More of the old-school NWA formula with one guys’ entrance, another guys’ entrance, a match, an interview before or after it, and announcers’ commentary about the whole situation before they move on. “Vince is doing this right now” (must be late 2000, when guys like Angle and Benoit were running wild). More wrestling and less T+A.
Who taught him how to do a promo- He wasn’t properly taught. It goes back to what Orndorff told him early in his career. “People will listen to you if you talk TO them instead of talking AT them. Give them an example of something they see every day so they can understand.”
Is there anything he wants to say to his fans? Yes, “The depression I’ve had, and that other people have had, is a direct result of losing the fans’ emotion and involvement, which was why I would leave my house on Christmas morning to go work a show instead of playing Santa for my kid. My success is your success.”
People watching this interview can see that Arn is a genuinely great guy and everyday person very honest in this interview. He’s very down to earth and doesn’t get what Bill Watts calls “melon head” after his years of success in the business. While not as entertaining as Jim Cornette’s 8-hour interview (the measuring stick for shoot interviews), it makes up for it in the emotional connection that Arn’s capable of making through the videotape. This tape reflects why Arn is known as one of the best interviews in wrestling history as well as why he‘s one of the most liked wrestlers in the business.
Highest possible recommendation.