cover cover cover cover cover cover cover

FORUM / MAIN PAGE

Site hosted by Angelfire.com: Build your free website today!

Why did you leave for the WWA after your first WWWF stint?

Well at that time, most people only stayed in the territories 6 to 9, maybe 12 months, and some less.  I'll give you a perfect example of that.  My daughter Robin, by the time she was in 8th grade she had been in 12 different schools.  You know, like you, Graham, with your father having been in the service.  He traveled around and we did too, maybe more.  We had to move twice, maybe three times a year.  It's not like the 1980s, the early 80s, when I stayed with Crockett until he sold to Ted Turner, so I was there 6-7 years.  That was the only time I ever stayed that long anyway.  I usually stayed 6 to 9, 12 or 15 months.  That's just how it was.

How did you meet Johnny Valiant?

We used to go up, me and Bobby Heenan, Raschke, Ernie Ladd used to work for Dick the Bruiser in the WWA.  And we'd go up for Bear Man in London, Ontario and work.  We'd wrestle in Detroit Saturday night and stay over.  In the summertimes, he'd run his Canadian territory so we'd go in there on Sunday afternoon in London and wrestle for him.  And Johnny would go in there and work the whole season for him.  He'd only bring in a crew for the summer only because all the arenas we worked were hockey arenas.  Ice was down and it was so cold and he wouldn't do wrestling.  We called him Bear Man because he had a bear; he'd bring girls in and midgets and he'd have a crew.  And Johnny was one of his crew that summer and we met that way.  And when Bobby Heenan wanted to go to the AWA, WWA told Bobby Heenan that he'd have to replace himself with another rough guy so he was the one who suggested, he said "Why don't we get that big blonde kid and they'll be another Valiant brother."

I was Handsome Jimmy and we brought him in as Luscious Johnny.  We talked about him for 6 weeks and the first time he walked down the aisle, we had a title match in Indianapolis against Bruiser and ... Snyder ... or Snyder and someone.  We took the titles.  And he was red hot.  I was Handsome Jimmy and I had been talking about my brother Luscious Johnny and it just got over so big.

After feuding with Bruno and Dick the Bruiser in the WWA you returned to the WWWF and quickly won the titles, holding them for quite some time.  What was that like?

It was a wonderful experience.  Again, I say it was the biggest territory in the world.  And at that time we held them over a year and at that time we held the record; it was 12 months and something.  And we beat Dean Ho and Tony Garea.  We just had a terrific run there with them chasing us, trying to get the belts back.  We just wrestled against everybody.  Bruno, and Strongbow, and Monsoon, Haystacks Calhoun, and Victor Rivera - you name it.  They threw every team there was at us.  It was just a great, great run.

Why do you think the Valiant Brothers got over to the extent that they did?

You know, I've heard say that we were ahead of our time.  Just for instance, and I'm not trying to pat myself on the back, but I was one of the first to come out to music.  Me and Bobby, Beautiful Bobby, came out in 71 - with the Grand Wizard being our manager.  Beautiful Bobby, I'm talking about Bobby Harmon ...

Right.

... instead of Bobby Eaton.  I wasn't the first blonde but I was one of the first, you know, long hair walking down the streets.  First one to pierce my ear.  Before it was cool is what I'm trying to say.  Now everybody's got long blonde hair, pierced ears, pierced everything.  I walked around with tattoos.  In other words, like the song, I was country before country was cool.

Gotcha.

I did everything before it was cool.  Now it's really cool to have tattoos.  Women, guys - they've all got tattoos.  But I was one of the first.  You got to be different, Graham.  Everybody comes out to music now.  I brought the music to Memphis, and Lawler started doing it and Dundee started doing it.  And I brought it to Mid-Atlantic, and Flair started to do it and Dusty started to do it.  But I was the first.  Boogie Woogie was the first to come out to music.  Now if I were to come out - and everybody comes out to music, every single match - now what I would do is come out to no music just to be different.  You've got to be a little different.  I tried to do that.  I was one of the forerunners to do different things.  Even tights, having stains on your tights.  I used to have a pair that said "Kiss My" on the back of my tights.  Just different stuff, you know, I'd put different slogans or sayings on.

What was it like to work with Andre just as he was getting that mainstream international exposure?

Andre was super.  He didn't know his own strength, of course you know.  He was like a bear.  A bear - if he swaps at you with his paw he could kill you and Andre was the same thing.  He was such a gentleman and such a professional.  I loved him, I loved the man.  I had all the time in the world for Andre the Giant.

On more than one occasion, the Valiants headlined Madison Square Garden against Bruno and Chief Jay in tag team championship matches.  What did you think of Bruno as an in-ring talent?

Bruno was the greatest.  He looked the part, like a fighter, a boxer.  He was Italian of course and an ethnic and that's how they drew, how they wanted to draw just like Morales and wanted to draw with Hogan as an Irishman.  But Bruno looked the part, cauliflower ear, big neck, and strong.  One of the first to press 500lbs without steroids.  Appearance is so important.  Like right now, Graham, I'm a little lean but where am I going, you know?  This is my farewell tour, I'm a vegetarian, and I don't want to carry all that weight around.  But in my prime you can see pictures of me, I was 240-250, both me and Johnny.  We were both big.  The people wanted to see big people.  And Bruno, he was a great champion.

How did Capt. Lou Albano come into the picture and why was he paired with the Valiants?

I was there in 70/71 under the Grand Wizard.  And I left and came back with Johnny and when I came back with Johnny, Capt. Lou bought my contract from the Grand Wizard because he specialized in tag teams more than singles; he did have some singles.  I was sold and he signed Johnny.  We used to go as the "Valiants and Capt. Lou Too" ... how was it ... oh, "Capt. Lou and the Valiants Too."  We had t-shirts made.  In fact, I was the one that gave him the name Captain.  I named him because that morning I heard the Mule Skinner Blues - *singing*  "Good morning, Captain, aha aha ..."  Do you remember that song?

It's probably before my time.

And I just called him captain and it stuck and he had the whistle, giving signals with the whistle.  And that was all with the Valiant Brothers.

What led to the introduction of Gentleman Jerry Valiant?

Me and Johnny went in and did three tapes, then went home and did three more tapes.  Six tapes up in Pennsylvania.  We were both going to do a run again and were challenging for the world championship tag belts.  And I came down and became deathly sick with hepatitis.  Man, I burned the candle at each end and ... well, my book explains it but Angel saved my life.  I wouldn't be here if I didn't change my life.  That's all in my book but I had to bow out.  And Vince had so much money invested in me, well, not me but in the Valiant Brothers.  So he had to bring in another Valiant Brother because me and Johnny's tapes had already gone out.  So they brought him in.  Then, if you remember, I was out for six months and almost died.  And when I came back, I joined the Valiants and we had the 6-man tag team matches everywhere before the Freebirds.  We were the first to do it.  And that was when I got my strength back and was able to get back in the groove.

During the 1970s, you faced just about everyone.  Bruno, Andre, Chief Jay, the new guys like Ted Dibiase, Tito Santana, the guys like that.  Out of all of them, who did you enjoy wrestling the best?

All of them.  All of them, and I'm not just saying that.  But probably the closest was Strongbow, of course because he was my tag team partner.  And I did turn on him and I enjoyed it very much with him.  I wrestled all the world champions from Hogan, Flair, to Brisco, the Funks, to Harley Race, Verne Gagne, Dick the Bruiser, Jerry Lawler - what a run I had with him - Koloff, Kabuki, but I can't say who was the favorite because they were all great.  They were all great to me - I'm not talking about the matches, just great to ...

Great to be around?

You got it.  Great to be around.  And I was easy to get along with, that's just my nature.

PART 3

cover cover cover cover cover cover cover