Repost: "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff Shoot Interview
By Brandon Truitt
Apr 19, 2004, 21:00
This article was originally published on January 20, 2003.
Due to a mess of circumstances in the past week, I was unable to finish a new shoot. With any luck, I can do a new one for next week, possibly the newest Terry Funk shoot or newest Steve Corino shoot.
In the meantime, here's the shoot that probably got me the most hate mail of any of them that I did... as well as the most positive responses I'd gotten up until recently.
I think most of what CAN be said about the Royal Rumble has already been said, so I'll stick to the biggest sore spot on the card.
Triple H vs. Scott Steiner reached lows for a Pay Per View match that we haven't seen since Kronik vs. Undertaker and Kane in late 2001. Just like in the Kronik situation, the NEW guy will take most of the blame instead of the veteran in the ring taking his share of blame as well.
In the Kronik match, NO ONE was selling... Not Brian Adams, not Brian Clarke, not Kane, and SURE AS HELL not the Undertaker. Who got the blame? Adams and Clarke, because they were back in the WWF for the first time since 1997 and about 1995 respectively, as opposed to WWF loyalists like Taker and Kane. Considering that Kronik were severely ring-rusted and based their entire gimmick off of no-selling their opponents offense, you have to wonder what the bookers were expecting by putting them against two other guys who built their gimmick around no-selling.
In the Trips-Steiner match, someone made the horrible booking decision that the match needed to go 20 minutes and that Steiner needed to have about 90% of the offense. Considering that Steiner was getting blown up in 5 minute matches on the house show circuit and Trips had been only in tag matches for the past month due to injuries sustained in December, neither guy should have been in that ring a fraction as long as they were there.
On top of that, giving the ring-rusted and broken down Steiner all of that offense with no chance to rest was a recipe for disaster.
The big questions coming out of this are what will happen now. Since Steiner was Trips' big opponent for at LEAST the next month, they may continue the feud or they may blow it off on RAW. If they blow it off and chase Steiner off of TV, that leaves few people for him to feud against because he's destroyed Kane, Booker T, and RVD over the past few months and his long-term nemesis/prag (prison bitch) Jericho is currently a heel.
Unless they want to build a guy up out of the blue or turn Jericho with no notice, they're short on opponents for him. Some people have suggested moving the red-hot Benoit over to feud with Trips, but I don't see that happening.
And the answer? I'm not sure there are any answers. If there are, the crack WWE booking squad sure won't find them. These ARE the people who think that a six month Dawn-Torrie feud based around Dawn marrying Torrie's dad and screwing him to death on their honeymoon would be a great storyline.
Interested in knowing more about shoots? Drop me an e-mail, read the archives, buy me stuff, or
buy yourself stuff at the Wrestling Observer Store at Highspots.com.
“Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff shoot interview (2/19/02)
Was he a wrestling fan growing up? No, but after he went to college and got drafted by the New Orleans Saints he lost his heart for football and happened to catch Florida Championship Wrestling on his TV at home in Tampa. Since he was a big name in Florida as an athlete (high school All American, college player, etc.), Eddie Graham gave him a tryout and the rest is history.
Bodybuilding- He didn’t bodybuild as much as doing lifting for football and getting very into it. He claims that he had the best (natural) body in the business. (If his body was natural in 1985, my ass is a banjo) He feels the thing that made him big was having the great body as well as having the ability in the ring. He claims that the Mr. Wonderful gimmick wasn’t a gimmick, it was his real personality as he was a true asshole.
Who mentored him in Florida- Hiro Matsuda, and Hiro taught him everything. He calls Florida at that time the Harvard of professional wrestling when it came to producing new talent. The training was hellish, even worse than doing four-a-days (As you’d guess, four separate practices in one day) with the Saints at their training camp in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, when the temperature was somewhere near 100 degrees. It was a lot tougher than he expected, even though he’d heard how hard it would be beforehand. He feels that the business today suffers because people don’t pay their dues anymore and, as a result, really care about the business.
What was the Florida territory like? He only worked about a day each week because he had a day job. His first full-time territory was Memphis and he stayed there for about nine months. About a week in, Eddie Marlin pulled him aside and said he needed to step it up or he would be gone, so he gave about 200% and started doing stuff he’d never done before in the ring. Amongst the other guys there at the time were Junkyard Dog, Jerry Lawler, Robert Fuller (Tennessee Lee, Colonel Parker), Ron Fuller, Dennis McCord, etc.
Working for Bill Watts- Eddie Graham told Bill about him and, since Bill liked true athletes, he brought him in. He worked in Mid-South for about 5 years and it was a true experience. He talks about the hellish road schedule and says he eventually left for Mid-Atlantic by way of St. Louis. He was brought in to be Superfly Jimmy Snuka’s partner in Mid-Atlanic before leaving a year later for Pensacola.
Working with Ernie Ladd and the other Mid-South stars- Ernie was the guy who gave him his first break and he puts him over tremendously as a result, naming him along with Bill Watts and Eddie Graham as some of the biggest influences on his career. He didn’t really spend a lot of time around Dusty Rhodes back then.
Did he used to beat up a lot of guys? Yeah, he and B. Brian Blair were the “hitmen” for the Mid-South, as anyone who wanted to break into the business would have to come through them first.
What was it like to work in the Superdome as a new guy? It was exciting for him, but he’d played in there before as a Saint so it wasn’t a totally new experience.
Were any veterans upset that he made it big so early? Some of them were probably upset but he never really heard about it.
Andre the Giant- They were good friends, and Andre was much smarter than most people gave him credit for. “If he didn’t like you, you’d know it.” He and Andre went to Club 54 once.
Stan Hansen- “A machine.” Stan never gets tired in the ring and can just keep going. He’s one of the biggest money draws in the history of Japan.
Did he leave Mid-South on good terms? No, whoever the t-shirt guy was down there wasn’t giving him a cut of his merchandise. An argument resulted and Watts fired him the next day, but he told Watts he would have been leaving anyway.
What was Jimmy Snuka like outside of the ring- “We were like husband and wife outside of the ring” as they’d do everything together, and he learned a lot from Superfly.
Matches with Greg Valentine- Another good worker, very old-school as you could be stiff with him and he’d be stiff right back, etc. Good to work with.
Mid-South vs. Mid-Atlantic - Mid-Atlantic had more stars like Ric Flair, Dusty, Arn Anderson, Ole Anderson, and Ricky Steamboat while Mid-South had a few “fixtures” and a lot of young guys.
Did he and Snuka defend their NWA tag titles in any territories besides Mid-Atlantic? Yes, they’d defend them in St. Louis and Atlanta, amongst other areas.
Ric Flair- Excellent worker, and he knew he’d be as big as he ended up being. He says no matter how talented you are, you can only become a star if “you’ve got the pencil” and that Flair had a guardian angel that put him on top of the NWA. “You’ll only be as good as they want you to be and that’s just the way it is in the business.”
Mid-South take 2- He quit Mid-Atlantic after he got sick of being there and ended up back in Mid-South before Vince McMahon brought him to the WWF. Watts treated him different that time along, which was a part of their love-hate relationship.
“Dr. D” David Shulz- Cocky, big, a good worker, but he “forced the issue” in the WWF by trying to put himself over guys who were getting more over than him and finally went over the edge by slapping around John Stossel of 20/20. He feels that Vince didn’t put Dr. D up to slapping Stossel around unlike what most people think (Many say that no one would be dumb enough to do that without someone like Vince telling them to do it). He feels that Dr. D was trying to jump from the bottom of the pile of top heels to being #1 by doing it. (The top heels around that time, by the way, were Orndorff, Rowdy Roddy Piper, and Big John Studd.)
Did he and Rowdy Roddy Piper ever butt heads over being the top heel? Yes, but he feels he didn’t really need to do that because his work spoke for itself.
Dick Slater and Angelo Mosca- Mosca was on his way out of Mid-South at the time. Slater used to play against him in high school and he was one of his good friends. He always wanted to be like Dick Slater and Bob Orton Jr.
Bob Orton Jr.- He stuttered a lot. He also taught him very well. He feels that the reason people are making a million dollars a year are because of guys like Eddie Graham, Bill Watts, Bob Orton Jr., Dick Slater, Hiro Matsuda, etc. because they made the guys like Hulk Hogan who made the business what it is today.
Hulk Hogan- For the longest time, he just knew him as just a blonde guitar player who was never an athlete. He met him for the first time when they were both in the WWF and found out how charismatic and smart he was.
Working against Ted Dibiase- They had great matches together. The first time they ever wrestled was in Jackson, Mississippi, and they went an hour broadway (draw) which ended up being a great match. He didn’t think it would work but Watts thought it did and Watts was right. (Watts tells this story on his shoot and mentions how Dibiase and Orndorff both pissed and moaned about going broadway. He finally told them “Okay, if you two pussies can’t go an hour broadway, I’ll give you a finish… but you can’t use it until 55 minutes in.” They then went out and did an hour to spite Watts, giving him exactly what he wanted.)
Jake “The Snake” Roberts- “He is just that, a snake.” Good worker but didn’t care for him personally. He doesn’t hate Jake, though. He feels that Jake tried to turn everything into what was best for him instead of what was best for everyone involved.
Junkyard Dog- Their first sellout against each other was also in Jackson, Mississippi. In Greenville, Mississippi, a guy pulled a gun on him “and I’m glad I had mine.” Mid-South fans were nuts and you got HUGE heat if you turned on Junkyard Dog. He says he preferred working as a face. JYD was limited but knew his gimmick and worked really hard.
Ricky Steamboat- “Too good.” Great hand, very ahead of his time, and the fans loved him to death. One of the best workers of all time.
Georgia- Ole was the man up there along with Jim Barnett. The good thing about that territory was that you’d be at home a week then go tour in Ohio the next week.
Ole as a boss- He always got along with him. You knew where you stood with him. Smart guy. Ole’s core guys like Buzz Sawyer, Tommy Rich, etc. helped make Channel 17 (TBS) what it was and that’s why Ted Turner was as loyal to wrestling as he was. Being on TBS made you a huge star across the US because everyone had cable and, if you came in after being on TV there, you were automatically over. He feels that Ole and Watts were two of a kind although Ole was more likeable than Watts.
Were there any complications between him and Tony Atlas- OH yeah… He, Tony, and B. Brian Blair were all driving back from some town one night when Tony and Orndorff kept getting on each other’s nerves. Eventually Orndorff got Brian to pull the car over and he whipped Tony’s ass, putting him in the hospital. He’s not sure what happened because he and Tony had always gotten along fine before that.
Buzz Sawyer- He was a maniac but could work in the ring. He was like Ole “but with more get-up-and-go.” Their styles meshed very well in the ring. It’s sad that he died because he was a good hand, but he was his own worst enemy.
Masked Superstar (Bill Eadie, Demolition Ax)- He had some good matches with him.
Ric Flair- They worked a little bit in Georgia. Good psychology.
Harley Race- “They didn’t get any better than Harley” with psychology and so forth. Both Flair and Harley were great NWA champions.
Larry Zbyzko- He never really worked with him. He was a good hand, though, because he could talk. If his body was better he could have been more successful. “Your body is your business… at least that’s what I think about it.”
New Japan- He worked against Antonio Inoki there. He wishes the US promotions would go by the philosophy the Japanese promotions used. His first partner while over there was Hogan. He’d heard how tough Japanese wrestling was supposed to be so he trained heavily before he came over and says he was told a few days into the tour to tone it down in the ring because the boys were getting hurt. His match against Fujinami sticks out in his mind, although he also had one of Great Muta’s early TV matches over there. He liked the Japanese people but hated the trip over there and some of the accomidations during the tour.
Coming to the WWF- Ernie Ladd had called him up and saying that Vince McMahon Sr. wanted to talk to him, and this was about two years after he’d turned down an opportunity to go to the WWF that he wished he’d taken. In response, Georgia tried to get him to sign a contract but there was no mention of his pay in it, so he told them to screw off and went to the WWF. Since Vince McMahon Jr. was the one who really wanted to use him and was not about to take over for another few months, he spent the first six months of his WWF contract in New Japan.
Starting in the WWF- They had recruited him, Hogan, Piper, and Dr. D all around the same time. He loved Vince Jr. to death because all of the guys above plus Bob Orton Jr. were there since the beginning and that they helped build the company and they all made a lot of money. He wasn’t sure if Vince’s expansion plan was going to work but knew that the New York territory was one of the biggest in the country and that they had only seen limited wrestlers for the longest time. “They hadn’t really seen athletes up there.” (He talks about how they’d had “Superstar” Billy Graham and “Polish Power” Ivan Putski in the territory but I think this is a bigger slap at the McMahon family’s big man fetish. No matter how untalented a guy was, he could draw money in the WWF because of who he was put against and how he was pushed.)
Whose idea was it to put him, Dr. D, and Piper together? It was the office’s idea . He didn’t like tag matches much because he preferred to be on his own. He says he had a plan for what he wanted to do. “I was told I was going to make money and when Vince McMahon says you’re going to make money, you’re going to make money.” He says he took a huge gamble by going to the WWF since Vince’s expansion plans would have kept him from returning to the NWA if it had failed.
Who did he travel with? Tito Santana and Rick McGraw, although he mostly traveled by himself. He didn’t want to get caught up in all the bullshit and gossip because “everyone wanted my job.”
The explosion of the WWF- It was for the good. He says that some of the people who made wrestling go national were so good, like Hogan and Flair, that today’s talent pool now looks pretty thin because they don’t know psychology and are taught to do balcony bumps instead. Competition makes everybody better.
(Pardon me…. coughASSHOLEcough. The talent pool is better today than it was in the 1985 WWF from a workrate standpoint. It’s not as good by a drawing standpoint because Vince McMahon has almost continually screwed up in making new stars since about late 1999, coincidentally when Triple H was turned into a main eventer through the sheer force of McMahon’s will. For every Brock Lesnar or Kurt Angle he makes today, he screws up five can’t miss prospects that fall into his lap like Eddy Guerrero, Rob Van Dam, Booker T, Chris Benoit or Chris Jericho. In addition to that, he also attempts to shove five more unover and untalented choads like A-Train, Big Show, Bradshaw, Bill DeMott, and Test down people’s throats.)
Working with Hogan during their first title matches- Money. He loved working with Hogan because it made both of them a lot of money “and it made me the hottest heel in the business and it made him the hottest face in the business.” (I debate that… Hogan was ALREADY the hottest face in the business. He just needed an equally hot heel in order to draw money or else people wouldn’t buy tickets for the show.) Hulk hasn’t changed due to success because “he’s good people”. He describes himself as being like the Energizer Bunny in the ring while Hogan was getting blown up about 10-15 minutes into their matches.
Jimmy Snuka in the WWF- He was different in that his body started breaking down due to the phyiscal abuse he’d taken over the years. “I think Jimmy had some other problems and it appears he was damaged a bit.”
How did Vince change over time? He actually hasn’t seen a lot of changes in Vince over time. The last time he got hurt, Steve Austin had given Vince his number and Vince had called up to ask how he was doing. The difference in class is how someone treats you when you’re hurt compared to when you’re well and Vince McMahon is class.
Memories of Captain Lou Albano- “Loading him on the airplane.” When they’d fly across the country, Lou would run his mouth the entire flight. He was really out there and was also a lot of fun.
Jesse Ventura- “Probably ahead of his time.” He was shocked that Jesse won the governorship of Minnesota. “There must be LSD in the water or something. He probably couldn’t be worse than who was in there before or they wouldn’t have voted him out.”
How did the boys here about the John Stossel incident and should Dr. D have been fired? A huge guy like Dr. D shouldn’t have slapped around such a small guy like John Stossel. Stuff like that is what gives wrestling a bad name. He absolutely should have been fired.
The old TNT show- He had no problems doing it. He saw it as a vehicle to taking the product further as wrestling could only go so far. “It was very smart and he [Vince] did it so well.”
Working with Rocky Johnson- He kind of worked with him, but Rocky was on his way out while he was on his way up. “All show, no action.”
Chief Jay Strongbow- Doesn’t like him very much to this day. He feels Strongbow didn’t treat him with respect.
Bruno Sammartino- Loved him, good guy. One of the biggest names ever but still a humble guy. When he worked with him in the mid-80s, they would still sell out Pittsburg (Bruno’s hometown). Wished he’d worked with Bruno in his prime.
MTV- Using guys like Muhammed Ali and Liberace to sell the product on cable TV got everyone talking and helped make them big. He never wrestled any differently when he was on MTV.
What did he think about wrestling Mr. T at Wrestlemania 1- He didn’t like the idea of it. He and Piper had put their heads together and if Mr. T got cute, they were going to mess him up. He never heard anything about the rumored Bruiser Brody run-in to take out Mr. T. (Many people say that this rumor was started due to promoters making small talk about ways to wreck Wrestlemania but never had any solid plans in place.)
The WWF schedule- He would work about 300+ days a year and Vince would even track him down on his days off and offer him extra money to get back on the row. He says he had the opportunity to be in a Rambo movie and to appear on Miami Vice, but Vince shot it down. Criss-crossing the country on airplanes just burned them out.
Drugs in the locker room- Just like anything else, you need to know where to look for it. He didn’t use, though, because he took his job too seriously and knew he couldn’t do 300+ days a year on his schedule while doing stuff on the side.
Did Mr. T take the Wrestlemania match seriously? “Oh yeah, he was scared to death.” He was all right to work with and actually brought stuff to the table because of his celebrity. They could have made him look bad but they didn’t because he could help them out. He doesn’t know who trained Mr. T but “whoever trained him didn’t do a good job.”
They cut to match footage from Georgia, as it’s a tag match with Ted Dibiase and Paul Orndorff vs. Bulldog Bob Brown and Harley Race. This appears to have been during Race’s first title run as they make a big deal about how he won the title in 1978 by beating Terry Funk. Joined in progress. Eventually, Dibiase does a back suplex and bridges it into a pin, getting the three on Harley Race.
Was there fear that the WWF would go under if Wrestlemania tanked? Yes, Vince had a lot tied up in it so there was concern, but they were going to blaze forward as if there was no way they could fail.
Initial thoughts of turning babyface- He didn’t like it. He thought that he should have won the belt off of Hogan during their feud in 1986, but the office didn’t see it that way. He knows they still have attendance records set by that feud, though. He didn’t enjoy working as a face.
The Hogan-Orndorff vs. Piper-Orton matches- They were good.
Working with Piper and Orton- He didn’t like working with Piper because he was limited in the ring despite being a good talker.
Was Hogan difficult to deal with as a partner? No, he was a businessman.
Working with Big John Studd- He was a great guy and he makes sure to tell Studd’s son, also named John, that if he’s watching this his dad was a great guy. He and Brian Blair used to pull a lot of ribs on Studd.
Was there a lot of politics? “There wasn’t just one great white shark out there, there were a bunch of them” and he wasn’t a good enough politician to play the game. All you had was a handshake deal with Vince instead of a contract, so there was no guarantee of what you’d make. Piper and others would get in good with the office by playing the game while he’d just let his work talk for itself.
Was it hard being a face knowing you couldn’t pass Hogan on the totem pole? No, because Hogan was making money for all of them and drawing huge crowds.
Did Dynamite Kid’s ribs ever go over the line? “He’s a lot like Chris Benoit.” He’s a good guy but he did go over the line occasionally. He doesn’t see the point in doing ribs that hurt someone or destroy stuff, but a lot of the stuff they did was pretty funny.
Terry Funk in the WWF- Way ahead of his time and very intelligent. He’s just beaten himself up so bad that he feels sorry for him, and he’s STILL going. Terry will always find a way to get something done.
Did it bother him to go from the main event of Wrestlemania 1 to wrestling Don Muraco at Wrestlemania 2? A little bit. His style didn’t mesh well with Muraco’s. He realizes that he had to be “cooled down” occasionally to keep the fans interested.
Wrestling Adrian Adonis- He didn’t want to do it because of the “Adorable Adrian” gimmick that Adonis had been given as a punishment for his weight gain. Looking back now, he probably should have done it but he didn’t. He probably got heat from the office over it but he was rich enough that he didn’t care.
Turning on Hogan and feuding with him again- That was the point at which they really started doing something and it worked because they drew big money AND put on great matches. Putting on the great matches was what allowed them to make the feud go on as long as it did.
Was he ever promised a title? He was so over that he didn’t need a belt. “If you win it, you’ve got to lose it.”
The Big Event in Toronto- There wasn’t a bunch of angles going in besides his feud with Hogan, and they still drew about 68,000. He’d never seen as much money at one time before as when he cashed his check from that show.
Bobby Heenan- They’d always get lost driving around.
Did a lot of guys crack due to the road schedule? Oh yeah… Guys used to work twice on Sundays. One night, he and Hogan worked in Nassau County, New York and flew to Chicago later than night and sold out both arenas.
Teaming with Harley Race- It was great to work with Harley.
Was there a lot of pressure to keep up his physique? Not external pressure as much as pressure he put on himself to be a bodybuilder after his wrestling days were over. He used to not eat on some days because he refused to eat airplane food and if he couldn’t eat a good balanced meal, he wouldn’t eat.
Steroids- He’s taken them, but only under a doctor’s prescription. He never overdid it.
How did Vince react to the Iron Sheik and Jim Duggan getting busted together in a car while they were feuding? He was pissed because it was a stupid thing for them to do. It hurts the image of the business. Some of the guys used to get thrown out of hotels or get into fights at bars and it hurt all of them as a result, and not just because “90% of these guys couldn’t fight their way out of a closet.”
Did he get buried when he turned babyface again? Yes, but that was when he was getting too burnt out anyway and he was about ready to quit.
Working with a young Bret Hart- He knew he had “it” at the time. The reason that Bret made it, though, was because he had no competition because “all of us were gone”. He doesn’t think he was a superstar, though. (Man, what a bitter old fuck. Unless someone was a big guy while he was there, they were just some nobody that made it because he left.)
The angle where he fired Bobby Heenan- They did that in Baltimore and it was good. It probably wasn’t going to draw money but it was still good.
His series with Rick Rude- He was hurt bad around that time and he kept going on until he couldn’t go anymore. He feels bad that he couldn’t give Rick his all in the ring as he was one of his best friends and was even a pallbearer at Rick’s funeral. Rick loved the business too much and it killed him.
Why did he leave after Survivor Series 1987- It was time to go and he didn’t leave on good terms with Vince. He says he was buried. He’s not sure he left on BAD terms, but he thinks that people told Vince that he wasn’t really hurt despite the fact that his whole right arm was screwed up. (This arm is now smaller than the other one due to nerve damage, so that’s where the “one-armed man” jokes come from with Orndorff.)
Was he prepared to retire financially? Yes.
What’s the deal with the obituary on him? Someone sent something in about how he’d died on steroids but he obviously didn’t die.
Coming back for Joel Goodhart’s TWA to wrestle Kerry Von Erich- He doesn’t remember much about it.
Getting into WCW- “I could have gone with them when they were giving out all these big contracts” as some lawyer (future WCW VP Kip Frey, perhaps?) wanted to sign him for a lot of money. He thinks he should have but he was running his bowling alley in Georgia at the time and didn’t want to deal with it, although he wishes he had in hindsight. When he finally got there a few years later, the locker room couldn’t really compare and he calls it “second rate.”
How was he treated by the new generation of stars- He liked Sid Vicious and the Steiner Brothers, but he didn’t like Lex Luger very much. He feels that it was a disgrace for the business to push Luger as hard he was when he was crap in the ring. He feels decisions like that are why the business is where it is today. He feels at one time Sting was okay but doesn’t know him personally.
Did he think that those guys were going to be big names? He didn’t know much about them coming in, although he saw a lot of potential in Sid. “Just because you’re a freak doesn’t mean you’re going to be something, though.” He feels too many people try to get by on a look and no substance and that the people will crap on it because they’re smarter than they’re given credit for.
Does he think that the “smartness” of the fans is hurting the product? Yeah, it is because the business has made wide shifts from overly serious stuff to gimmicky crap like Adorable Adrian Adonis. He feels that the highspot-oriented nature of the business today is turning off fans because they see people jumping off of balconies then getting up and continuing the match.
Arn Anderson- He was good, a lot like Ole. Good psychology and he liked the business.
El Gigante- “……. Need I say any more?”
Leaving WCW in 1991- He was too beaten up and banged up to continue.
Herb Abrams’ UWF- Herb was okay. He loved wrestling and wishes more people loved it as much as he did.
Getting involved with Jim Cornette’s Smokey Mountain Wrestling- Someone called him up and he ended up working there for a while. He worked with “Prime Time” Brian Lee at first trying to teach him how to work.
Ron Garvin- Very old-school but very solid in the ring and had a big name in the south. If he said he was going to do something, he’d do it.
Brian Armstrong (Road Dogg)- He was small but he could work. He puts over the whole Armstrong clan as workers, especially Brian and Brad Armstrong.
Going back to WCW under Bill Watts- They were able to get along. The WCW front office never really had a leader, though. Non-wrestling people were running the office into the ground because they didn’t know squat about wrestling.
Cactus Jack- He knew he was going to be a big star because he was intelligent. He had no respect for his body, though, and that’s why he isn’t still wrestling today. They had some great matches together. Nice guy.
Who did he travel with? Rick Rude, mainly.
Teaming with Vader- “He tried to be like a Mexican” by doing top-rope moonsaults and so forth. He feels that Vader should have been the hottest heel in the country but something didn’t work out right, which he feels was his attitude.
Did people have a problem with Eric Watts getting a push- He shouldn’t have been pushed because he wasn’t ready, but it wasn’t THAT big of a push. It didn’t bother him because he was at a whole different level and he actually tried to teach Eric to work better.
Did Bill Watts change? If they’d left Bill there, he could have turned the product around. However, you had to be politically correct at Turner and there were a lot of non-wrestling people running things that didn’t agree with his visions and there were people under contract that he couldn’t do anything to. He feels that Vince would never get into a situation like that.
Too Cold Scorpio- “I thought he was okay. I thought he could have been something. He was a black fella but he could have been something”
Dustin Rhodes- “That gimmick, I hated it.” Dustin could work, though. He hated the Goldust gimmick.
Ricky Steamboat- “A true pro.”
Besides Scott Steiner, did anyone else threaten to walk out on Bill Watts? He doesn’t remember but figures that other people probably wanted to.
How did things change once Watts left and JJ Dillon took over briefly? He only knew JJ as a promo guy and never personally.
Eric Bischoff- “If you can’t say something good about someone, don’t say something.”
How did you become more involved with the WCW front office? He was asked by management about how to do things, Bischoff included, because Bisch valued his opinion. He says Bisch’s mistake was aiming to beat Vince rather than to do good each week on TV.
What was the downfall of WCW because Bischoff let the boys influence booking? “What do you think?”
Steve Austin- “I knew Steve had talent” and he got to be good friends with him. Steve made the right move by jumping to the WWF because the WCW office was trying to bury him.
Paul Roma- We (Pretty Wonderful) made a great tag team.
Matches with the Nasty Boys- “Them boys are crazy, and I like them.” They did their gimmick very well and worked hard and, as a result, he respected them.
Hogan coming into WCW- “Hogan was a big help to WCW” and talks about how Hulk turning to join the nWo helped make the company. “He did it at the wrong place, he should have done it in New York.”
Randy Savage- Hard worker. Never hung around him outside the ring, though.
Who came up with the Gary Spivey psychic angle? Jimmy Hart, who he puts over has having a great mind for the business and says he’s very underrated. He remembers everything and doesn’t let things fall through the crack but as never given a chance to show his talents.
What happened between you and Vader? Dave Penzer asked Vader to do some interviews and he refused. People kept asking him to do it until Kevin Sullivan finally got him to talk to Vader. He confronted Vader over his attitude and one thing led to another and Vader sucker-punched him. “I was with the office. If I had sold the first punch, I’d have been fired.” He kept hitting and hitting back at Vader hoping something would work and Vader ended up sprawled out, at which point he kicked Vader in the face a lot. He claims he would have killed him if he’d had something to hit him with.
What was the vibe in the locker room? “They loved it. It helped me to stay there another five years.”
Thoughts on the Nitro concept- “It was the beginning of the end.” They should have had it on a different day because, in the long run, you’re not going to beat Vince. Once Vince created new talent to replace all the guys who jumped to WCW, he blew them out of the water.
Thoughts on ECW- “I thought it was terrible.” What’s sad about it is that the people controlled the match and not the other way around, which is how it used to work. He says that all people need to know now is how to bump because it’s all about showbiz. He wishes they could keep the business steady instead of having peaks and valleys. (Considering what business was like in the early 1990s, I wouldn’t WANT to keep it steady instead of tying to raise the bad. That doesn’t even go into the fact that the products on both sides sucked for the most part.)
Retirement- The office kept wanting him to get back into the ring so he would, except he got hurt the last time he did it. When he was trying to piledrive Mark Jindrak but Jindrak’s legs wouldn’t stay straight up, so they hit the ring at a weird angle and got permanently screwed up as a result. “Basically, I broke my neck again.”
They then cut to a match from Japan with Paul Orndorff and Hulk Hogan (with a nWo-style beard and the yellow moustache about 13 years before the nWo) and Classy Freddie Blassie at ringside vs. Antonio Inoki and Riki Choshu (At least I think it’s Choshu) This is the tour Orndorff and Hogan were on right before they entered the WWF in 1983-84. This appears to be a 2 of 3 falls match. Hogan and company get DQed for the first fall because Blassie and Orndorff pulled Choshu, the legal man, out of the ring and began pummeling him despite the referee’s warning. Orndorff is pinned by Inoki to end the match after he’s accidentally elbow-dropped by Hogan and takes two top-rope kneedrops from Inoki.
How did Bischoff change as WCW got more powerful? He got continually misled by the boys. He gives the usual description of WCW, “The inmates were running the asylum.”
How did things change when Kevin Nash and Scott Hall came in? They stirred up a lot of shit. “They’re not my kind of guys” because of it. Lots of politics.
Ric Flair and Eric Bischoff’s problems with each other- “You had an egomaniac over here and a spoiled brat over there.” He thinks the best solution would have been to fire them both.
Why did WCW succeed at that time? Hogan had a lot to do with it and the nWo was a great idea anyway. “I don’t know whose idea it was but it was a good one.”
Is he shocked that Hogan is still on top? Yes, he’s not sure that people will buy him as a top guy. “He’s been damaged.” If more older guys like Orton, Piper, etc. were still there, people might buy it. People still like those guys but who knows how they’ll react to anything.
Did he think that Hogan’s refusal to put people over helped kill the company? “They’d have had to fire me before I put over that beanpole [Billy Kidman]. That whole thing killed him.” He’s not sure why Hogan ever agreed to it and didn’t see a point to it because he feels that Billy Kidman will never draw a dime in the business.
Sidenote- I’d say the whole thing was a bad situation… Kidman was suffering from, and still does to this day, Dean Malenko syndrome (no personality and an average look) and was not put in a position to be taken seriously before being pitted against Hogan. Hogan didn’t help matters with his “Kidman couldn’t headline a flea market” bullshit. I’ll have to agree with his statement about Kidman’s drawing power though. Kidman’s a good hand in the ring but no one gives a shit about him.
Bill Goldberg- “Bill probably got over faster than anyone I’ve ever seen. He got over too fast. He didn’t pay enough dues and wasn’t in the business long enough.” It was good for him but horrible for the business. He feels that Goldberg didn’t know how to protect himself. If he was Goldberg, he wouldn’t have “done it”, although he doesn’t say what “it” was. He feels that Goldberg could have made more than his $3 million guarantee if he’d gone to the WWF to face Austin.
Did he get proper respect from the young guys? Yes, about 95% of them. He starts bagging on Kidman again (although not by name this time) for various things, such as copping an attitude, coming to the airport in shorts and looking like a slob.
Did he ever have any contact with Vince about going to the WWF? No, although he feels that he could have been a trainer for them if they’d made an offer. He talks up how he trained guys including Chuck Palumbo, Shawn O’Haire, etc. (basically the Natural Born Thrillers).
The Power Plant- He was asked to help out the young guys and he just did what he was asked to do. He says he turned it into the finest place in the world to train guys and feels that some of the talents he’s mentioned before are going to be big stars if they’re serious about it. (He starts pissing me off here by talking about how he can see talent within 5 minutes of meeting them and how Chuck Palumbo and Johnny Stamboli, aka Johnny The Bull, are going to be stars if they keep up the good work. I can see Shawn O’Haire being a star if he works hard in the ring and turns his new gimmick into SOMETHING that will make the fans give a shit about him, but Chuck Palumbo was only worth a shit as Billy Gunn’s “lifemate” and Johnny The Bull has been a waste of space ever since he showed up on RAW about six months ago.
What about he allegations that only WCW’s chosen recruits make it in the federation? Not every guy off of the street can cut it because they may not have the talent. They also wouldn’t follow procedure, as they’d just show up with no warning and expect to get trained. He also talks about how bad most of the tapes that were sent to him were. “I’d get big huge boxes each week” full of tapes and he’d mainly be checking their look and their athletic background.
Explain the theory of blowing a guy up cardio-wise and beating the crap out of him before kicking him out of the school- It’s a weeding-out process, as they go four days a week for about four to six weeks. He apparently believes in the Japan Dojo theory of training guys, as he says that he considered “being in shape” the ability to do 500 free squats, 1500 pushups, and all kinds of other unreal calisthenics on a daily basis. He apparently takes out old frustrations on them of how hard his tryout was, as he starts talking about how he was thrown in the ring against Bob Backlund, Hiro Matsuda, Jack Brisco, and Bob Roop without any rest for five minutes each. He puts over how Mike Graham, Dusty Rhodes, Greg Valentine, Bob Orton, etc. were all able to do that. “They sent Hogan to the hospital in his first tryout.” (Why do I doubt that Dusty Rhodes’ big fat ass could do that? Maybe he was actually in shape about 40 years ago…)
Who were his favorite and least favorite students? Johnny The Bull, Palumbo, O’Haire, etc. were his favorites, pretty much all the guys that the WWF kept.
(Sidenote- Orndorff is probably the last person I’d want training wrestlers. I don’t fault him pushing some of his ideas about in-ring style onto his trainees because they need to know how to work a match in addition to doing high spots. What I DON’T care for is him arbitrarily declaring that only guys of a certain look, mainly 6’4” musclebound guys who could have been making $20,000 a week on the house show circuit against Hulk Hogan in 1985, should be in wrestling today. It’s bad enough that Vince McMahon has that view on who should be his top guys, but morons like this running the training schools would push away legitimate talents who don’t fit certain specifications. Of all the people who are currently a hair away from being main eventers, guys like Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Eddy Guerrero, Rob Van Dam, Rey Misterio Jr., and possibly Kurt Angle wouldn’t make the cut because they are too small and not muscular enough. Only Angle’s legitimate wrestling background would allow him to slip through the cracks.)
How involved was Bischoff involved in the Power Plant? Not much, really.
Les Thatcher and the Power Plant- He pretty much accuses Thatcher of being an ambulance chaser and telling everyone on 20/20 how easy it is to be a wrestler.
Paul Wight (Big Show)- “I said in the beginning he’d never be anything because he has no heart. All he is is a fat basketball player. He’s no Andre The Giant, I’ll tell you that.”
Vince Russo taking control in late 1999- He wasn’t thrilled with Attitude to begin with and feels that trying to do Shock TV on a family station is part of why WCW isn’t on TV anymore. He seriously doubts that Russo was the WWF’s savior.
Compare Russo and Bischoff- “I don’t know how to tell you that because I don’t have a lot to say about either one.”
Where were his responsibilities in the company- Mainly in the power plant, although he used to be involved in the booking.
Whose idea was it to work the angle with Terry Funk and Larry Zbyzko? He doesn’t know whose idea it was but he didn’t like it. He still got a big response in some of the towns he used to run back in his WWF heyday, though.
How was he affected at the Power Plant when the booking powers got passed around? He feels that Russo did recognize the talents of some of the Power Plant guys. Some of them did a good job for how little time they’d put in before going on TV though.
If Vince didn’t buy the company, would he still be running the Power Plant? Yeah, Bischoff wouldn’t have had any power over him because the Power Plant was a separate entity from WCW.
What ruined WCW? Everything, although Vince McMahon pretty much killed them. They were worried too much about the competition instead of their own product. They had all of the resources to be successful but they were too distracted to do it right.
Did you watch the Invasion angle? “I haven’t been able to sit down and watch the how for about 8 years. Just can’t stand it.”
What about the nWo coming in? I’d be very surprised if it works.
Favorite and least favorite guys to work with? He liked to work with good athletes and hated to work with people that were just there for a paycheck or were too old to keep going.
Best match he’s been involved in- Ones with Andre The Giant, Hulk Hogan, Harley Race, Tito Santana, etc. He tried to have a decent match with everyone and the ability to be spontaneous in the ring.
How would he change the business- “Go back to basics and let it cool off.” He suggests that they start recruiting college wrestlers and scaling back the Sportz Entertainment.
Did he ever refuse to do a job? Yeah, but he always ended up doing them anyway. He’d just end up making himself look so good that no one believed it.
How would he rate himself on a scale of 1 to 10- He feels that he’s up there with any other wrestler, so I assume he’s giving himself a 10.
Does he think he could still be a draw today? Not as a wrestler, but maybe in some other way. He says he still gets good reactions when he goes places today even looking as different as he does now (he looks like the gym teacher from Beavis and Butthead now because of his flattop.)
Advice for young wrestlers- Learn how to work and go somewhere where they have the opportunity to do so. He offers to train them if they’ll work at it.
Rehabbing himself due to his injuries- He blew his back out in his last set of injuries and says he’ll have to have his back fused. Between that and his neck, about 75% of his spine will be fused and that isn’t good for his mobility. He has trouble sleeping at night due to the pain. He feels that people shouldn’t get into the business unless they can make a ton of money in case they need to be laid up and to recover.
He also starts bitching about how hard they have to work to get over now as opposed to “back in the day” when someone could have the right look and athletic background and that he’d be able to get over on his own slowly. I say he’s full of shit there… he’s looking at the WRONG people who are getting a push. Guys like Rob Van Dam, the Hurricane, Goldust and Booker T, and many others all got over without a significant push. In the case of RVD, it was his unique style, while the other three all got over due to their gimmicks and were NEVER expected to have a fraction of the success they achieved. It’s choads like A-Train who give people a bad name by getting a big push and then completely flopping.
Any regrets? Sure. He wishes he’d been home more because he’s mellowed out in the last year.
The openness of the business today- He feels that is why there’s only one company today, as people learned that they can make it too easily. Back in the day, you had to know someone to make it.
Who does he stay in touch with? Rick Steiner, Steve Austin, Curt Hennig, etc., but he doesn’t go out of his way to talk to most of the guys.
Best rib he’s ever seen- He knows some real good ones but he says he can’t talk about them. Ones he does talk about include putting sardines in someone’s bag, which got lost anyway, so they were in there for about a week.
Where does he see himself in ten years? Working with kids at his church. He says that he is a much nicer person now than he used to be and says that becoming a better Christian is how he did it. (If this is the kinder, gentler Paul, God forbid the OLD Paul do this interview.)
Anything he wants to say to his fans? He misses the reactions of the fans, especially since some of them started watching as kids in the 70s and have watched him over the past few decades. He says the fans have been very good to him and that they tend to be overlooked by most wrestlers.
First is an Orndorff promo from Smokey Mountain Wrestling promoting a piledriver match against Ronnie Garvin.
We then get that Orndorff vs. Ronnie Garvin pilediver match, which is very old-school Tennessee because there is a LOT of stalling, mainly by Orndorff since he is the heel. At one point, referee Brian Hildebrant takes a bump and Orndorff knocks out Garvin with an international object. However, instead of piledriving him after waking up the referee, he decides to wake up the referee and go all Kevin Nash by claiming to have given Garvin a piledriver while he was knocked out. Then Hildebrant calls for the bell but it’s a Dusty finish, as current OVW trainer Danny Davis runs out and tells Hildebrant what happened and the match is restarted. Davis gets a piledriver for his trouble by Orndorff. Garvin eventually makes a comeback and Orndorff flees the ring, at which point Hildebrant awards the match to Garvin. LONG, LONG match, running about 30 minutes.
Next is an Orndorff vs. Buzz Sawyer match from Georgia. Orndorff has Sawyer down and is beating him but the bell rings for the draw.
Fourth is an Orndorff vs. Akira Maeda match from Japan. Man, I wish that Maeda had just been a prick with Orndorff and shot on him like he did on Satoru Sayama (Tiger Mask 1) and Riki Choshu because it would have made this match interesting. Maeda eventually hits a bridged suplex on Orndorff for the three.
Fifth is an Orndorff and Dirty White Boy vs. Ronnie Garvin and “Prime Time” Brian Lee match from Smokey Mountain Wrestling. Dirty White Boy gets pinned on a sunset flip by Lee as Garvin punches DWB in the face while he’s struggling to stay upright. This match looks like complete crap because the match was filmed in an arena that was blacked out except for a spotlight on the ring and, besides that, the source tape is in horrible condition. While this may look good at house shows, I seriously question why Jim Cornette thought it was a good idea to tape TV matches like this. Granted, this was in 1992-1993, so Cornette was new at making TV to go with his territory.
I think the phrase “What a crinkly, moody asshole” covers this shoot. Orndorff has a lot to say and it’s interesting, but he’s a VERY dislikable person. The only thing I think he outright lied about was his fight with Vader, so at least he’s not a bullshitter on the level of Shawn Michaels or Dusty Rhodes.
On the whole, I’ll give this shoot a rating of Recommended because of the quality of his information, but be prepared to put up with a lot of Paul’s shit if you sit through this.
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