Show: Wrestling Epicenter at www.WrestlingEpicenter.com
Guests: JJ Dillon and 101 Reasons Producer Michael Moody
Date: October 1, 2005
Your Hosts: Chuck D, James Walsh, and Francine
Recap By: James Walsh
On a day that professional wrestling finally receives the alternative we’ve begged for since WCW was sold and Extreme Championship Wrestling died, we proudly present you with a show we are honestly proud to bring you.
Fist, joining us as she does each and every week, “The Queen of Extreme” Francine stops by to bring the commentary only she can bring. If you’ve not heard these segments yet, be sure you catch this one. She is a natural at this stuff. And, be sure and see her off-the-chain hot pictorials, videos, and even chat with her on her great new web site http://www.MissyHyattandFrancineTV.com. I legitimately pay for a membership on this site and can honestly say it is worth each and every penny.
Next up, we have the producer of one of the most real documentaries ever produced about pro wrestling. Michael Moody who has released 101 Reasons Not to be a Professional Wrestler joins us. You can pick up this great item by going to http://www.highspots.com/www/stores_app/browse_item_details.asp?AffiliateID=823&item_id=13157
And finally, the main event of the evening. He’s been a wrestler, a manager of champions, a backstage employee serving as Vince McMahon’s fall-guy, a WCW higher up, and a true classy individual through it all. He’s JJ Dillon and he joins us for an interview that goes nearly an hour in length. Be sure and pick up his great new book titled “Wrestlers are Like Seagulls” at http://www.JJDillon.com.
To hear the entire show, visit http://www.WrestlingEpicenter.com
— The producer of 101 Reasons Not to Be a Professional Wrestler joins the show before JJ. A transcript of this interview will be released on Monday.
— JJ joins the show and expresses his pleasure to be on the Wrestling Epicenter. James jokes saying he’s glad to have another Jersey boy on the phone. JJ says Jersey boys are few and far between in the wrestling business.
— JJ has a new book out there on Crowbar Press. You can buy that book at http://www.JJDillon.com, JJ’s official web site. The book is self-published so you can’t buy it on Amazon or in a book store just yet but you can get it at JJ’s official site by clicking the banner at the top. Some may have picked it up at the recent WrestleReunion event in Philadelphia and for those curious, you can also check JJ out next June at the Cornflower Alley Club in Las Vegas, Nevada.
— JJ was a 14-year-old kid when he got interested in wrestling. Trenton was near enough New York and was also near Philadelphia so you could see TV from both territories. He became a fan and still is a fan. He chased the dream of being in the business and did everything imaginable to get in the business. He set the ring up, tore it down, was an announcer, a second, and then referee until he got into the ring. He became a full-time wrestler in 1971 months from his 29th birthday.
— JJ is proud of what he saw in the wrestling business as he started with stars like “Argentina” Rocca and saw the early TV stars from wrestling all the way through when WCW was sold to Vince McMahon and how it progressed and changed over the years. JJ describes the dying days of WCW and what Vince bought as, “All that was left was the video rights.”
— JJ thinks in some cases, wrestling has changed by the wrestlers not “paying their dues” or doing the things he did to get involved. But, in the same token, “Look at guys like Goldberg.” He speaks about how Goldberg made the transition from a pro wrestler and became a huge star in wrestling without going through what JJ himself had to go through. “He had it. Unfortunately, Hulk Hogan had it and had the ability to maximize it. Goldberg never really had that ability and never really had a chance to get that experience.”
— Still on the stars not paying their dues and perhaps not respecting the business, JJ had occasion to pay homage to Bruno Sammartino at the recent WrestleReunion event and at that speech, The Dudley Boys spoke. JJ was impressed at how humble they were and how much respect they showed the legends of the business. “There is one example of guys currently in the spotlight that certainly respect the business.” James then mentions how humble D-Von was when he joined us just a few weeks ago and how much respect D-Von earned in James’ book when he said no matter what the Dudley Boys do, they will never have a problem being slated second next to the Road Warriors. JJ says while sounding impressed with the statement, said, “That’s a class response there.” JJ explains, “The toughest test is the test of time.” What he means by that is in 10 years, we can sit and compare the Dudley Boys to the Road Warriors and see if both are remembered as fondly then as they are at this moment.
— JJ has seen a lot of superstars through his 5 decades in this business. “Certainly any time you can say you’ve wrestled Andre the Giant it would be a memorable occasion. I was in a handicap match with the Mongolian Stomper against Andre the Giant in Texas Stadium. That was certainly a memorable experience.”
— JJ feels some of his best matches as a wrestler were against the late Dick Murdoch. He also remembers having a great match with Tito Santana the only time JJ ever wrestled in Madison Square Garden. But, JJ says, “There’s so many matches I had in the course of my career that not one jumps at me.”
— Still on his favorite in ring performances, JJ remembers a classic match he had on TBS on the Saturday before the War Games at the Omni in Atlanta against a wrestler named Allan Martin. “Ric Flair was there, Tully Blanchard was there, Arn Anderson was there, Lex Luger was there… During the course of the match, I took all the signature moves of the guys I was managing and applied them to Allan Martin and it was a very entertaining tongue and cheek kind of match that set the tone for the War Games. As crazy as it sounds, it was one of the matches that jumps out at me as the best of my career.”
— “I would love to tell everybody on Wrestling Epicenter that this was an excellent plan we plotted for months but it was really a spontaneous thing,” says JJ about the creation of the Four Horsemen. “Ric Flair is the real deal and we used to go out on the town and get in late,” adds JJ. “At that time I was only managing Tully Blanchard. Tully was the National Champion, Ric Flair was the World Champion, and of course Ole and Arn were the tag champions. They said, “You all go out.” JJ says Apocalypse got on the microphone and said nobody had raised so much havoc since the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The next time they went out, the fans kept holding up four fingers.
— One of the most gratifying things for him is to have fans come up to him today at personal appearances and remember the old days.
— One of the differences between the classic backstage segment the Four Horsemen did where they beat Dusty up and the backstage segments on TV today is they explained why the camera was there. They threatened the camera man to join them and film it like it or not or they’d get him. Today, the guys just are magically being filmed without it being explained how the camera got there or if they are even aware that there is a camera nearby.
— “I definitely think so,” says JJ when asked if he feels the absence of managers is a negative on the business today. JJ also puts over Bobby Heenan as the best manager of all time bar none. “He set the standard by which the rest of us are measured. Bobby can do it all.”
— JJ feels the absence in companies like WCW and ECW hurts the business today because Vince had a way of getting the best of the best. JJ compares wrestling from today like baseball without the minor leagues. “You might not notice a lack of talent right away but eventually when you don’t have players at the major league skill. You can’t wrestle once or twice a week and have the ability to home your skills.”
— JJ thinks the business is hurting because of the lack of live events which is caused by the rise in prices such as gas making people not go out as much.
— JJ feels the Internet changed the ground rules for professional wrestling because a guy can’t go away anymore for a tour of Japan without it being reported online. In the old days, a guy could fake an injury and go to Japan and then come back and get even with the guy who injured him.
— “When I first went there, the World Wrestling Federation was doing two syndicated programs, Superstars and Challenge. They were taped every third week,” said JJ. They were running 2 to 3 shows a night. As time went by, it became 2 shows per night. Then they fell into the situation they have now where instead of 2 shows with 6 matches a night there is now 1 show with 12 or 13 matches on it. “They basically forgot the whole basic concept of what professional wrestling is all about,” said JJ about some of the modern workers. And, he feels the teachers who could teach them the business either are out of the business or have passed away like Curt Hennig.
— When JJ got into the WWF, he was in charge of talent relations which involved personal appearances and such. He also was one of the people that met with some of the wrestlers and Vince to see if he wanted to give that young wrestler an opportunity. It was in this position that he got off to a bad start with Mick Foley because Mick was told he blocked him getting a job there. JJ says, “Vince takes full credit for things that are good but wants nothing to do with things that are unpleasant or not good.” JJ says he explained that to JJ somewhat recently and he and Mick are now good friends and Mick is aware of the above fact.
— “I was the head of talent relations with the WWF. I followed Pat Patterson and after me was Jim Ross. Jim was an announcer too. I don’t know how he did that for all those years like he did.”
— “My job was to be the fall-guy and to take the heat for anything and everything including pay offs,” says JJ.
— JJ mentions an experience he had with Vince where he felt Randy Savage was more valuable on a card and deserved a bigger pay off. Vince didn’t agree. Well, Savage called and said he was disappointed as he felt he meant more on the card than that and, of course, Vince agreed and said he didn’t know what JJ was thinking.
— “Vince McMahon is very difficult to work for. I was married 3 times and divorced for 3 times. The last marriage before I retired, I had twins when I was 50 years old. I have another baby that just turned 11. I was worried about my future and supporting them. After the steroid trials, he didn’t cut all salaries for all his employees which I could’ve lived with. He picked a handful of people who had a quote unquote wrestling background like myself, Lord Alfred Hayes, Pat Patterson, Gerald Brisco… Because I was high management, it meant a 40% cut for me. Like everyone else, I had bought a home and obligated myself to a mortgage and between a Friday and a Monday, my salary was cut 40% which lead to me declaring bankruptcy,” says JJ. JJ says he’s always been a survivor and would live in a phone booth if need be but the minute you take food from his children, he can’t forgive you for that.
— “I told Vince the day that I resigned that I had lost all personal respect for him and professional respect. The day I sold my house, which took me a year and a half, I told him I couldn’t work for him anymore and walked out the door.”
— JJ feels he never stopped growing in this business and he feels he learned a lot from Vince. JJ says the difference between the WWE and WCW was WCW only had a handful of people doing the job whereas the WWE had 10 different people doing a job similar like his.
— About Starcade 1997 and what made the Hogan and Sting match fail was because Hogan played politics better than perhaps anybody in the history of the business. JJ says Vince knew that nobody could be more important than his brand or his company and that included Hulk Hogan. In WCW, it wasn’t that way. In the end, “He inmates were running the asylum.”
— As for Eric Bischoff and his big contracts, JJ says the problem with WCW was always, “It wasn’t his money. That’s the difference.”
— “There are only three people in my book that I really don’t have time for. One was Brad Siegel, Eric Bischoff, and Vince Russo. I don’t blame Eric Bischoff for taking the opportunity and running with it. I blame him for not being very smart and not being a good business man and running it into the ground. Vince Russo was just a pawn. But, really, Brad Siegel I blame the most.”
— JJ blames Siegel the most because he should’ve stopped the bleeding before it got to the point where it couldn’t be helped. And, JJ waited for years for Siegel to come ask him for help but he never did and the company was sold.
— JJ Dillon’s book, “Wrestlers are Like Seagulls” is available now at http://www.JJDillon.com. Be sure and tell them the Wrestling Epicenter sent you.
— To hear the entire interview, which is almost required for such a classic interview like this, simply visit http://www.WrestlingEpicenter.com.