J. J. Dillon Interview with Iceman:
Iceman: How did you enjoy your days as a Referee in the beginning of your career?
J.J. Dillon: In the beginning I was willing to do anything to break into the business. As I referee I was the third man in the ring with the likes of Bruno Sammartino, Gorilla Monsoon, Baron Scicluna, Killer Kowalski, The Sheik, and the list goes on and on. These were some of the all-time greats and a thrill to just referee their matches.
Iceman: Which did you enjoy more in your career, being a Wrestler or being a Manager?
J.J. Dillon: I enjoyed wrestling in the ring, which was probably my first love. I was never blessed with unique size or athletic skills. The success I enjoyed as a wrestler was the result of sheer determination and my interview skills. My mic skills and my experience as a wrestler enabled me to become a better manager. I probably enjoyed my greatest success as a manager.
Iceman: Who do you think you had your best wrestling matches against, or who did you enjoy wrestling the most?
J.J. Dillon: My first big break working on top was in the summer in the Canadian Maritimes. I had some great matches with Leo Burke, a very talented performer. I also had several successful runs working the Amarillo territory where I feuded with Dick Murdoch. The matches were very physical, and they were very intense. It was my first opportunity to spread my wings professionally and I learned how to work and draw money on top. I can say that I also wrestled Andre the Giant and the legendary El Santo from Mexico.
Iceman: What made you switch from Wrestler to Manager?
J.J. Dillon: I first met The Mongolian Stomper in the Maritimes, and later in Florida in 1975. Stomper left Florida and went to Tennessee with Bearcat Wright as his manager. Things didn’t work out and Stomper tried doing his own interviews without a manager, and it killed him in the territory. Stomper was offered a spot working on top in Dallas, and remembering my interview skills, he called and asked if I would try managing. I went to Dallas with Stomper as his manager and the rest is history.
Iceman: Which Wrestler was your favorite to manage and who were you closest with?
J.J. Dillon: I liked being around Tully Blanchard and I enjoyed managing him as he was a student of the game and very good in the ring. However, it is hard to top Ric Flair. To me, the “Nature Boy” is the greatest champion of all time and it was an honor and a pleasure to manage him.
Iceman: How were you approached to be the Manager of the Four Horsemen and what was your reaction?
J.J. Dillon: I wish I had some great story about how I was recruited to manage the greatest stable in wrestling history. But, the truth is that it all kind of happened by accident. One week on TBS Flair, the World Champion, Tully, who I managed at that time as the National Champion, and Ole and Arn, the Worlds Tag Team Champions all did an interview as a group. All the champions with all the bragging rights. Arn coined the name during that interview and flashed the four-finger sign, and the Horsemen were born and the rest is history.
Iceman: What’s your favorite memory when you were with the 4 Horsemen?
J.J. Dillon: I think the incident where we ambushed Dusty Rhodes in the parking lot of Jim Crockett Promotions and taped the incident to air as a warning to others to not mess with us was tough to top. It was so “real” that fans wanted us arrested for assault.
Iceman: When you managed the 4 Horsemen, who do you think they had there best feud with?
J.J. Dillon: They were all good. We always did great business with Dusty Rhodes. When Ole was fired from the Original Horsemen, it created an instant opponent which also happened later with Luger and others. The War Games with the Road Warriors and Dusty and Magnum T.A., or Nikita, etc. were among some of our most exciting matches.
Iceman: Any comments or good memories of Ric Flair? Do you still see or talk to Ric at all?
J.J. Dillon: What you see is what you get with the “Nature Boy.” We had some fun times in the ring and on the road. Ric can party with the best of them and he is a lot of fun to be around. I still talk to Ric on the phone every few months.
Iceman: You also managed Abdullah the Butcher for a little bit, how did that go and what do you think of him?
J.J. Dillon: Abby is a class act outside the ring. He understands his gimmick and there are few better than him. Abdullah was really over in Japan and I had the pleasure of making several trips with him to the Far East. The fans in Japan would stampede out of fear when they saw the Butcher coming.
Iceman: Who do you think was the most entertaining Wrestler you’ve ever seen?
J.J. Dillon: Ric Flair gave you 100% every time he went into the ring without regard to the size of the crowd or how tired he may have been from his schedule and traveling. Yet, it would be hard to top Hulk Hogan. I remember working at a TV taping at the WWF and having a crowd sit for three to four hours through countless enhancement matches waiting to see the Hulkster. When his music hit and the crowd finally saw him for the first time, I witnessed a kind of electricity that I have never witnessed at any other time during my years in the business. Hulk Hogan had a special magic.
Iceman: Who do you think was the most talented Woman of Wrestling you’ve seen or been around?
J.J. Dillon: Tough question to answer because I never was into women’s wrestling. Moolah has done it all. I have seen Kay Noble and Penny Banner and they could perform on the same level as the men. Miss Elizabeth was special. She had an innocent look about her and came across as very classy.
Iceman: Have you met or had any memories of Elizabeth or “Woman”?
J.J. Dillon: I have worked with both. I vividly remember the incident at the WWF when Randy tried to protect “Miss Elizabeth” and was bitten by the cobra. I remember “Woman” when she was still a fan and used to sit in the front row of ringside in Orlando each week.
Iceman: Are you still friends or hang out with any Wrestlers or Managers from the past?
J.J. Dillon: I probably still talk to Kevin Sullivan with greater frequency than anyone else. He has always been underestimated and deserves much of the credit for the early success at WCW. Recently I attended a reunion of wrestlers from the Gulf Coast Region and I saw Scandor Akbar and Paul Bearer. I go back pretty far with both. I remember Paul as Percy Pringle, and certainly one of the greats of our business. I also saw Bobby Heenan in Charlotte at Thanksgiving. “The Brain” is the measuring stick by which all other managers are rated. Bobby was the best.
Iceman: What are you currently doing? Are you still involved in wrestling in any way?
J.J. Dillon: I have been working for the State of Delaware for about a year and a half. For the last seven or eight months I have been working on my autobiography with Scott Teal and Philip Varriale. Scott co-wrote Ole’s book, and this was Philip’s first venture writing a book though he has followed my career extensively. You can visit www.jjdillon.com and click onto “Wrestlers Are Like Seagulls” , , , from McMahon to McMahon. You can receive more information about the book and instructions on placing an order. Anyone buying the book before the release date in mid-June can receive a signed and personalized copy for no additional fee. My way of saying “thank you’ back to the readers. I think you will be pleasantly surprised by my book.
Iceman: If you could change one thing about your Wrestler/Manager career what would you change?
J.J. Dillon: I wouldn’t change a single thing about my personal career. If I had known then what I know now, I would have been more aggressive in trying to save WCW. Even there, I don’t know what I could have done differently. I guess I am just venting the frustration over the demise of WCW. The business desperately needs a second major promotion for the health of the industry.
Iceman: How do you view the wrestling sport today, what’s your opinion about it?
J.J. Dillon: We have gotten away from the basics. I relate a lot of things to baseball which is another passion I have. There is a reason that every team and every player convenes each spring in Florida and Arizona to go over the fundamentals. Wrestling has lost sight of the fundamentals, and the “coaches” that have the ability to still teach the basics are fewer and fewer each year. Wrestling is based on a simplistic concept and the wrestlers today don’t even understand that concept.
Iceman: Do you still watch wrestling at all and have any favorite Wrestlers you like to watch?
J.J. Dillon: I no longer follow wrestling at all. I will stumble across wrestling while channel surfing, and if I see the “Nature Boy” I will pause to watch. I am often asked if I miss wrestling, and I answer that I only miss what wrestling used to be.
Thanks again JJ for a great interview,
For more information on J J Dillon, or to purchase his new book "Wrestlers Are Like Seagulls” , , , from McMahon to McMahon", check out his site.
J.J. Dillon (Official Site)
Interview Conducted: 2006
Iceman's World to Classic Wrestling: Main Page
Iceman's Classic Wrestling Chat Forum