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Wrestling Then and Now
INTERVIEW WITH THE HONKY TONK MAN

by Dale Pierce

DALE PIERCE: You have read and even contributed to various editions of Wrestling- Then & Now. As someone active "then" and "now" both, which type of wrestling do you personally prefer?

HONKY TONK MAN: I prefer my style adopted from the 80s and 90s. I did start the business in the 70s, but I prefer the later styles to the 70s. The "now" stuff is what I call ping pong wrestling. It is all up and down with no rhyme or reason.

DP: How has the wrestling world changed from when you started?

HTM: There is no such thing as the "boys" anymore. There is no family of boys. There is no compassion for each other or the business. There is way too much cut-throat behind-the-scenes backstabbing today. The wrestlers are not trained at the same level as myself or the guys before me were. There is a lack of quality trainers such as the Kowalskis, Gagnes, Andersons and so on.

DP: For anyone living on the moon who does not know it, what is your website URL?

HTM: WWW.THEHONKYTONKMAN.COM

DP: You tend to provoke a lot of controversy and step on some toes. Some critics say you just have axes to grind. How would you answer them?

HTM: There are no axes to grind. We at the site, and there are several writers, we find subject matter that is interesting to the reader from an inside perspective. We do not "spin" stories or report on every high spot in a match. We take a subject such as "Lawler begging for his job" and we expound on it from a shoot style of reporting. Talking about a change in the business, shoot style reporting is really a stretch from old school, but so is a guy who publicly begs for his job too.

DP: You have been a particularly big critic of Ted DiBiase and his Christian wrestling organization. Why?

HTM: I do not view them as sincere in what they are doing. I know for a fact from several of them that it is "just a payday." I have been in contact with one of Ted's higher ups (not the Lord) but one of his guys. I told them I could not do what they do for the simple fact I would have to be sincere in it, and at this point I still have way too many demons I have to battle, and the demons are winning!

DP: Did you see the controversial WTN edition debating this subject a while back?

HTM: I thought WTN did a marvelous job by letting the "Oh Brothers" post there points of view. I was glad to see a publication do that. It shows that WTN is not biased in the things they publish. I thought it was a very good read for the fans. DP: Is there anything else you would like to throw in on this matter before going onward?

HTM: I have pretty much stated all my thoughts on what they do. I wish they would do it for free and not charge people, then I would say they are "Men of God."

DP: You have been wrestling regularly for various independent promotions. Are you happy here or do you miss the WWF of old?

HTM: I miss the steady pay check, but I have so much freedom on the indy shows. I love what I do. I am the luckiest guy in the world to still be doing something I love to do. I do 60-80 events a year, although some of the trips are grueling, I show up at the events and give the fans my best. The fans deserve it, it is their money they spent to see me. They could have spent it somewhere else. I wish the conditions were a bit better as far as rings, lights, facilities, but that all come with the business.

DP: Do you ever see yourself going back in the WWE?

HTM: Not for any one shot deals, no. If they want to get serious about a long term deal, then we will have to wait and see. I do not sit by the phone waiting on the call.

DP: You are a controversial person and very opinionated. Have you always been this way or did you become more vocal as you have seen the many changes coming into wrestling?

HTM: I have always been that way. If I had one thing to change in the way I have handled myself, I would have been a bit more politically correct at some key times in my career. Changes in the business attitude and the way things stared getting so one sided for the promoters promted me to be more vocal.

DP: You have worked for many indys recently. What are the main faults you see promoters making in these circuits?

HTM: They do not stay on top of what else is going on in the community as events scheduling. They spend money on some things that are not needed and they over pay some talent that will not draw a dime, i.e. Dusty Rhodes. They think wrestling will sell itsef, it will not.

DP: What about positive things they do?

HTM: The good promotions have sponsors or sold shows were there is little or no risk to the payroll.

DP: Your candor reminds me a great deal of the late Eddie Sullivan. Didn't you wrestle him down south a long time ago?

HTM: Eddie was a great guy. I had several matches with him when I was green as gord shit. He helped me and I am grateful for it. He had called my house here in Arizona one day I was gone and left his number, by the time I got the number he had passed away. He was living just down the street from me and I didn't know it.

DP: With whom do you think you had some of your best bouts ih the early years, say with Gulas promotions or Jarrett?

HTM: I had better matches on the Jarrett side. Jarrett's boys were more over than Nick's. We drew well for both promotions as "The Blonde Bombers."

DP: What about in the WWF?

HTM: I knew I could draw in the WWF with the Honky Tonk Man gimmick as a heel. I had perfected it that way. I knew what to do and say to get the heat to draw. When Vince wanted me to do the good guy thing, I knew I could not make it work. I worked very carefully to make the good guy thing a cocky type good guy that I knew the fans were going to hate! I made life miserable for those heels as I took all the heat off them! They were crying to McMahon to switch me heel so they would not have to work with me!

DP: And WCW?

HTM: WCW could have been good for me. Bishoff was and still is an asshole and a liar. He lied about the contract I was to get. When I called him out on it, he said go home then and I did.

DP: You did not have a long run with them.

HTM: Hogan said it was a 24 hour ATM machine and it was, but not for me. As I stated above, when it came time to hand me some dough, Bishoff became a prick.

DP: What are your future plans?

HTM: I will keep doing what I always do as long as the phone rings.

DP: What advice would you give people who want to break into wrestling...except maybe...don't! If they have to do so, what would you tell them?

HTM: If you have a job, don't qiut it for the business. Use the business as a hobby. Don't leave your family chasing this dream because there is just not too many places you can go chase it now. I had several countries and 30 territories to chase my dream, not so today.

DP: What was it like breaking in when you started as opposed to now?

HTM: The first week I was in the business, I traveled 1500 miles and had 18 matches. Yep, that is right! I went out in the opening match as myself, went 15 min. draw or put someone over. I came back in the 3rd match wearing a mask, went 20 min. and put someone over, then I came back in the last match as myself and went 3 falls 45 min. time limit tag matches. That is why the young guys do not learn as fast as we did. I had more matches in one week than an Indy guy can get in 3 years now.

DP: I'm sure you have a load of stories you could tell, but is there any one in particular you would like to speak of?

HTM: Johnny Valiant gets mentioned in WTN several times, he would be the one to tell this. Ask him about the time he was sharing a room with me, and McMahon called to talk to me, and VM and myself got into a curse word fight on the phone!

DP: Closing comments?

HTM: WTN is doing a great job. Keep up the good work!


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