The Two Man Power Trip of Wrestling Podcast with Koko Ware
Hosts: John and Chad
Interview available at Tmptow.podomatic.com
Whether Vince McMahon came up with the “Birdman” gimmick to go along with all the other “animal” acts in the WWF and what did Vince think of Koko’s popularity: Maybe later on down the line but it wasn’t too much Hollywood on our part because Vince didn’t give me the gimmick at all. That was created by me and my wife. We created the “Birdman” gimmick from day one and Vince McMahon, who loves gimmicks, at the time was searching and having agents go out all over the territories and taking the best talents out of those territories and bring them to the WWF back then. That was one of the things that he didn’t give to me and when I got there he was so excited and he used it and it took off. He was very shocked that my gimmick took off the way it did and he couldn’t believe that my popularity shot up and that my gimmick was getting over.
Opening the door for smaller athletes in the WWE: Coming from a little small country town and made it all the way up to 93,000 people and all the way to the highest wrestling organization in the world. I think as a little guy at 5’7” that I opened the doors for all of the little guys that made it into that league. I opened the doors for those guys and to have a chance in life and have a chance in the WWE because back in the day I heard when (Vince) Senior was living that he only loved giants. He didn’t use anything but giants and I just thank god that Vince McMahon (Junior) and the WWE saw me, saw something a little bit different in me and helped open up a lot of doors for the smaller guys. Look at Bret Hart, Worlds Champion, look at Shawn Michaels, Worlds Champion those guys got a break going against guys like Undertaker and other big guys. It was that opportunity and I’m just glad for the little guys and want the little guys to still think and have the mindset to say, I’m little but I’m creative and I’m exciting to watch.
His history with Hulk Hogan and thoughts on his the racism controversy: When Hulk Hogan came to Memphis, Tennessee along with his “brother” Eddie Boulder (Brutus Beefcake) I’m the one that helped them out a lot because at the time nobody would show them anything in Memphis and because they were “green” and coming out of Tampa, Florida they didn’t know a wrestling hold or wrist-lock from a wrist-watch. Hogan wanted to learn how to dropkick and wanted to learn how to do a lot of crazy things and I told him that he needed to learn how to do all the big man stuff. The whole time I was with Hogan, there was never ever any racial stuff that came up in that car or ever came up in the dressing room. I never heard him say anything out of the ordinary and that’s why I was shocked when I heard that because that is not the Terry that I know. He was like a brother to me from a different mother and God bless him, I am glad he won his lawsuit. I can honestly say that and I’m not saying that so I can get a payoff, I could care less because I am not going to sit here and tell a lie that he was racist back in the day because if he was racist back in the day then I would say it right now.
Learning from Jerry Lawler down in the Memphis territory: My favorite matches were with Jerry “The King” Lawler and Bill Dundee and the Scaffold Matches. It was Jerry Lawler that really kicked my career off because I had a chance to work in the ring with the pros and I learned from those guys. I stayed in Memphis when I first got onto TV for five years before I went anywhere else and into any other territory and when I left Memphis I could go and work Ric Flair or Terry Funk and go and work the Junior Heavyweight Champion Les Thornton. I went an hour Broadway (with Les) in Oklahoma City. I was good and I was polished because of the guys like Jerry Lawler. He really is the King because he would teach you stuff while you were in the ring with him.
On working with a young Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson while he was training in USWA and advice he gave him about going up to the WWE: When he was a kid his nickname was “Dewey” and my wife used to babysit him. One day he was sitting down on my couch and his dad was a wrestler, Rocky Johnson and he said to me that he was going to quit the wrestling business and go and get a real job because he’s starving to death. I told him, “Dewey” let me tell you one thing if you keep working out, you are a good looking man and the girls down here love you to death. Can you imagine if they gave you a win and started doing something with you? Girls are screaming over you right now once you come out of the dressing room because of that baby-face you have but if you get the chance to go the to the WWF(E). He stopped me and said that his Dad had burned all of his bridges up there, and I said I want you to get to the WWE and keep your mouth shut and do what they tell you to do and they might treat you a little better than your Dad. They may look at you as a different black man than they already have pushed. They may not look at you like that and what do you know the last time I talked to him he told me he was going up to the WWF and I told him to go up there and make some money and don’t you know, look at him now.
Other topics include his time with WWE, his emotions following WrestleMania 3 vs. Butch Reed, history with the Undertaker, being the first match ever on Monday Night Raw, and his WWE Hall of Fame induction.