By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
On trying to rival the WWF: “When Vince [McMahon] got national television, then obviously he is going to be in the driver’s seat. Everything was regionalized for many many years with the National Wrestling Alliance being a huge part of that and everybody ran their own operations, but they tried not to put their television programs in somebody else’s area because it was just not done and Vince changed all that obviously and got a National program. He started to buy talent by basically picking up the best wrestlers from certain areas and he’d take them back to wrestle against the guys that had developed them.
“I developed a lot of talent for him too that he did very well with and, like a lot of other territories, Hulk Hogan came from me, Honky Tonk Man came from me, Arn Anderson came from me, and there is a lot of guys we developed who were young guys that weren’t stars that went on to work for Vince. And it made it very hard when Vince would bring those guys back and use them against you. We had some success against Vince early on and we figured out how to compete with him as best we could.
“We tried to compete but I had a feeling that it was kind of like I could see the writing on the wall and it was not going to work and we weren’t going to be able to compete with him and we weren’t going to beat him. I could have maybe done so as far as that and I had an opportunity in 1985 and I had a company that took Continental Wrestling and they sold it in the Middle East for me and they got really hot on my talent and my program and they had a connection with NBC in the same place where Vince went.
“They talked to me and said that they (NBC) are looking for a National TV show and your program is great, you’ve got super talent and we want to try and get you on. I turned them down because I was a member of the NWA and I couldn’t see how if I became a National product how everyone else in the National Wrestling Alliance would’ve been scared to death of me and it would have made my life difficult. I chose at that point to turn down the opportunity to make a run at that and the rest is pretty much history. I am not really pleased with where the wrestling business is today and had it been handled and someone else had got their foot in that door and handled it differently, I think it could be a whole different product than what it has become with Vince.”
The creation of the Continental Wrestling territory: “I had Southeastern and I saw what was happening (in the business) so I combined the two businesses and changed the name to Continental and I started doing a show in our main arena with 5-6,000 people and it made a big difference in the product that was out there. It made me harder to compete with for Vince and it probably helped me last a little bit longer than most and I might still have been in the wrestling business had I not gotten into hockey after wrestling. I owned a couple Minor League hockey teams and have done a little bit of everything.”
On the lost Continental Wrestling footage: “Well, actually there is no footage. Footage of it still remains but we didn’t save programs, we didn’t save tapes and there was no reason back in the ’70s or ’80s to save your program because you expected to be there forever so a lot of it has gotten away. Oddly enough, I have a gentleman that works with me out of West Virginia that has found a bevy and a huge stack of maybe as many as three years of Continental Wrestling from a guy in England. I don’t know how they got to England but there is about to be some on the horizon that are going to be sold and they are piecing it together now and I am a part of that to help them put it together properly. I think a lot of people that never saw our program before will probably be pretty amazed at the talent that was there and the types of things we were doing back in those days.”
Thoughts on the innovation of their television and the work that went into producing their show: “I always just loved the entire business. I loved every bit of it. I loved wrestling and going in the ring and I loved having a good match. I loved the booking and figuring out what was going to happen and just blowing people’s minds and trying to stay two steps ahead of the average fan. I loved the television in my first company, South Eastern Championship Wrestling out of Knoxville. I probably had the most inventive and creative wrestling program in America.
“I was the first one to ever do instant replay, the first one to do split screen and I did all kinds of deals with that program so I liked every part of it and the wrestling business was so interesting to me. I guess that is from growing up in it and riding up and down the roads. It was a great life, a phenomenal life of riding up and down the roads just talking business and being around people that you liked and you admire while having fun and laughing. Nothing is better than that. Nothing is better than being a wrestler in a territory that is on fire and doing great business with everybody in that dressing room getting along.”
Other topics include Vince McMahon, the WWF, Continental, Gulf Coast, South Eastern, Knoxville, the Plan B controversy, Bob Armstrong, Hulk Hogan, CWF, The Fullers legacy, and more.
You can listen to other shows apart of the TMPT Empire including Shane Douglas’ Triple Threat Podcast, Taking You to School with Dr. Tom Prichard, Talking Tough with Rick Bassman, Taskmaster Talks with Kevin Sullivan, Pro Wrestling 101 with Justin Credible and the University of Dutch with Dutch Mantell.