By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
On the NWA Title reign that didn’t happen: “Getting a run with the title and you know what you do with it when you get that run, we can guess about it till the cows come home. But I mean, I really felt that I was ready for the opportunity. And it was a little different than, say, Ric (Flair), when Ric first got his opportunity for the world title, you know, he was having to travel to New Zealand and Japan and, you know, all over the world defending the title against everybody and their brother cuz there was all these territories and all these parts of the NWA. When I was being groomed to step in that role, there were really only two players in the world and one was Jim Crockett, the other was Vince McMahon. So although I would’ve still had the responsibilities of that title, it would’ve been controlled much more strategically where I went and who I wrestled against and who I was representing to the world, you know, my capabilities by the Crocketts because the territories had had ceased to be a power in what was going on. As everything transitioned.”
On Dusty Rhodes: We, we had, you know, struck up that friendship down in Florida when I worked for Championship Wrestling in Florida and created a bond that was kinda like we were this connected big brother, little brother kind of deal. And it is so ironic because when I went to. Mid-South to take on the role there and, and become Magnum TA, because that’s where Magnum was born, I didn’t know what that character really meant, didn’t know what it looked like, what he was gonna do, anything other than that. I had this great name that Andre the Giant had given me and I called Dusty up and I said, man, ‘I guess this thing isn’t gonna work out like I thought’, and said, ‘What do you think’ He said, ‘Well’, I know you always like to ride motorcycles.’ Because I’d ridden motorcycles since I was 16 years old. And he said, ‘Go buy you a Harley and bring it back to Florida, and we’ll have you take that Harley and ride it into the towns, and we’re gonna make you the lone wolf Magnum T.A. Different, different vibe, different deal’.
“So Jim Duggan takes me down and we go to Baton Rouge Harley Davidson, buy this brand new Harley, buy this Harley Davidson jacket. And I’m wrestling in a little town outside of Baton Rouge. So I ride up into the town on the motorcycle and everybody’s humming, all the people are just buzzing, like some whole different cat’s pulled up. And I go into the dressing room wearing that leather jacket and everybody like looking at me completely different than they had for six months. Same guy coming in the door. And so, I felt the whole persona changing and I was getting ready to do my little time and get out there and pack my bags and go to Florida. Bill Watts sees me and says, ‘Oh, no, no, no, no, you’re not going anywhere. I got big plans for you.’ And he brought Dundee in and whatever. But long story short, you know, Dusty always had that vision of creating something big, and so the jacket that’s represented in the figure, which had never been done, is truly a huge pivot point for me and changing just the whole vibe of what this character was all.”
On Cody Rhodes: “I saw him when he had left the WWE and was working that… recreating himself in the indie world before before AEW. And he was always so laser focused that he had a purpose, he had a plan, and he reinvented himself after he had to overcome the characters, things that he portrayed in WWE that he was just not happy with. And he had tried so hard to pitch them other ideas and other things to give him some depth, to do something else. And, you know, they didn’t see it, they didn’t seem capable of it. So he’s just this great story of self-promotion and overcoming, you know, the quote unquote experts. And then you mold all that athleticism that he’s got in his storytelling ability. And then his business mind, I mean, he’s truly the triple threat.”
On Tessa Blanchard: “Tessa’s always been like a really sharp study of life and she realizes that, you know, first of all, from a woman’s perspective, you know, 40 probably truly is the stretch… you’ve stretched it about as far as you comfortably want to go and be taking bumps in the ring and putting your body through that stuff. So she saw what it takes to be on the grand stage and the big stage of it, but knows that you’ve got to have a game plan and something that’s just got you tunnel vision focused at one thing and then one thing go wrong and you don’t have anything to fall back on. So she’s preparing herself for her future and I’m, I’m really proud of her. She’s in the best shape of her life.”
Other topics include breaking into the business, NWA, Tully Blanchard feud, Dusty Rhodes friendship, Ric Flair, Nikita Koloff feud, WWE, AEW, Cody Rhodes, Tessa Blanchard, the car accident that would be the end of his career, and more.