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Former WWE Superstar and the longest reigning Intercontinental Champion of all time The Honky Tonk Man joined Kayfabe Wrestling Radio Tuesday Night. In a nearly 40 minute interview, he discussed being a generation's ‘babysitter' on television, his experience in Calgrary before coming to the WWE, how much of the character was created by Vince and how much input was his own, the famous ‘vote of confidence' segment, being a part of the ‘cartoon character' style of WWE and being an entertainer, teaming up with Jimmy Hart and if he felt he would have been as successful with another manager or not, if there was competition with others in drawing heat from the crowd, the traveling schedule and who he usually traveled with, being at Wrestlemania and what it was like seeing the Pontiac Silverdome filled to capacity, the Wrestlemania experience and how it has changed over the years, his historic Intercontinental Title run and if he ever had problems with people during that run, what some of the best ribs he's been a part of or heard of and so much more.
Working in Calgary before coming to the WWE: "I was still very active in Calgary; in fact, I was the North American Heavyweight Champion I think at that point in time, or if I'm not mistaken… yeah, I think I was because Ron Starr, my partner, we were tag team champions and when those guys left and went to the Maritimes for the summer; and at that point in time I was picked up by WWE, so it was through the good graces of Stu Hart that he brokered the deal for me and gave me the rite of passage to leave Calgary to go over to the WWE. You know, Stu was the nicest guy in the world and would never hold anyone back and of course his son, that being Bret and his son-in-law, Jim ‘The Anvil' Neidhart, the Dynamite Kid and Davey Boy Smith. They were, all for of them, there at the time and had went over the year before, then I came over and shortly after that I kind of left it off where Bad News Allen, which became Bad News Brown in WWE, and he came over shortly after me, six-eight months later, and that's how it went."
How much of the Honky Tonk Man was personally created and how much was by Vince: "That's a very good question; I like how you put it, because it was one of those things where I had started this character down in the Southeast wrestling with the Fullers, Robert and Ron Fuller; Robert being, of course, Col. Rob Parker in the WCW days. And then, I took the character up for Stampede Wrestling, for Stu Hart and the Harts; worked on it and developed in down in the Southeast down in the Mobile and Pensicola area, then took it up to Calgary and then came back to the Mobile/Pensicola area, then back to Calgary again. So I spent three-five years working on this character: the black hair, the jumpsuit, the guitar thing, the interview style and all of that, so when I went over to interview with Vince McMahon; he wanted me to bring a tape so he could see something, a little piece of a match and of course some interview stuff. Their first thing was, back then there was no creative department or anything, there was just Vince and pretty much Howard Finkle, Pat Patterson, Arnold Skaaland; I mean, those were the guys in the office when I went over there. He looked at it (the tape) and saw these visions of black sideburns and the sunglasses; he saw little foamy guitars and little jumpsuits. Vince was always into the marketing part of it. The wrestling thing, I heard you say earlier as part of your intro ‘you're not supposed to say ‘wrestling''; Vince was not really into the wrestling part of it. I mean, he loved it and that's his life, but what you did in the ring was secondary to what he had planed for you. But I had developed this character to be a bad guy, not a good guy and he envisioned it as a good guy, but eventually about six months later, it eventually went back to what I had developed, which was the bad guy character."
Being an entertainer and perceived as a ‘cartoon' style character working with WWE in the 80's: "You know, it was never something that I had a problem, because there's so many people who have said those nasty things about me over the last few years; that I was terrible in the ring, I couldn't wrestle, I couldn't what they call ‘work', I was not technical by any means and all. Well, you know, thank you very much; I have never considered myself to be a wrestler. I have always been an entertainer; I entertain people and I happen to be in sport entertainment or I like to call professional wrestling ‘theatrical athletics' and anybody who says its different must be living, they obviously come from somewhere else. But Vince understood the entertainment value of what we were doing and consequently he had a group of guys there that were entertainers and that's what we did."
If he thinks he would have been as successful with a different manager, other than Jimmy Hart: "I think it would have been a little more difficult. It's like I said, I don't know if the gears would have clicked as much with; you know Bobby was more, and I know that, from just my conversations with Rick Rude over some periods of time. Rick was one of those guys that; Rick never thought that he needed a manager, in fact, and he really didn't. Rick was a good mouthpiece himself and of course Bobby is a mouthpiece and Bobby was Bobby and was already well established as a bad guy and had been thrown in with weasel suit matches and things like that. It's difficult when your manager, when the fans are yelling while your in the ring and you're trying to get your persona and get your character... (Continues on next page)