Teddy Long on how his dog and grandchild inspired “Playa” and his dance, plus giving input and introducing Undertaker

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By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

Insight With Chris Van Vliet with guest Teddy Long
Host: Chris Van Vliet
Podcast available via Podcasts.Apple.com

On making stars go one-on-one with The Undertaker: “I’ll tell you how I put so much emphasis on that. One night we were in Madison Square Garden. Stephanie went out and she introduced somebody. She came back and Vince was talking to her. He said ‘Stephanie. I want to put emphasis on that when you introduce the guy.’ I was just standing back, so next time I did Undertaker [I said] ‘One on one with The Undertaker!’ That’s how I learned to do that. When they caught on to it and saw that it was catchy, people liked it then they always wrote it and they put it in there. I’m gonna do it anyway. Not that I’m going off, not doing what I’m supposed to do. But I know Vince didn’t mind, Vince gave me free rein to say what I wanted to say. But he knew I was gonna say nothing that would get the company in trouble. They’d write stuff. I just add my stuff to it.”

On the origins of the Playa catchphrase and the dance: “I had a Labrador Retriever, his name was Boss. I got him as a puppy but as he got bigger and bigger and started getting in the way. So every time, I’m like ‘Come on, Playa. Get out of the way, Playa, move.’ I’m just talking to him and one night I went to TV I started using slang, calling people Playa, that’s how I got the Playa started. The way I got the dance, my grandson, he’s 19 now. Well when he was about two years old, we were trying to teach him how to walk. So we bought this walker that we put him in.

“At that time we were taping Smackdown on Tuesday night and then you could go back home on Friday. Every time we put him in this walker, all he would do was bop up and down like that. So I went to TV one night and I think they were playing my music but I was just thinking about him and having fun. So I was having fun and just started doing the dance. I get back home and we are getting ready to watch the show I say ‘Come here, look, I’m doing your dance!’ One night, I got ready to walk out, and just as I got to the curtain right there, Vince [McMahon] was standing up. He’s yelling ‘Do that dance!’ [I say] ‘What dance?’ And he starts doing it! And that’s how the dance started.”

On Buckle Up Teddy: “Taker brought that up, that was just his line. I remember the day we went over that. And this is another thing I have to say about Vince. That day as we leading up to all that, so that day before we talked about the coffin, putting me in the casket. And so Vince sent for me and Taker. So it’s just me and Taker in the room with Vince and we’re talking. I’m sitting here and the only thing I’m thinking about is wow, I’m sitting here with Undertaker and Vince that’s all the thing I’m thinking about, what a hell of a position on me. But I didn’t let it go to my head.

“So next thing you know we’re talking about the match. I don’t say anything, because, you know like I’m saying I ain’t got business opening my mouth, let me hear what y’all want me to do. Vince looks at me [and says] ‘You gonna say anything? Goddamnit we’re going over the match here, anything you think you can add?’ I don’t know if I can add anything. So they started going over something, man. And so I stepped in the coffin. They were talking about breathing and all that, you know, and I’m like, I got it covered Vince. I say what I’ll do, when they start to roll me down, I’ll take one finger and I’ll ease that lid as much as I can so that you can’t see it but I get some air. [Vince said] ‘Goddamn it, that’s good shit!’ That’s exactly how it went down. But my thing is, you ask me for input and that made me feel pretty good. [Undertaker] just said that [line], that wasn’t written.”

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