Former NWA Florida Heavyweight champion Manny Fernandez recently appeared on VOC Nation Wrestling With History, announcing that he will be debuting a new podcast called “No BS With The Bull” on VOC Nation Wrestling. It begins Friday, March 12. Fernandez was also known as a two-time NWA/WCW World Tag Team Champion with partners Rick Rude (pictured above) in 1986, and Dusty Rhodes in 1984. Below are some the highlights.
Manny Fernandez on becoming friends with Bill Apter, who would be the bell ringer for NWA Florida:
“That’s what I respected about him the most, he was just a regular guy up there doing his little job, giving me advice, and telling me ‘you look good kid.’ That made my night; I felt good that I could impress somebody. When you’re a rookie coming up in the old days, it wasn’t easy. They didn’t come back there and pat you on the back and say ‘great job, kid.’ They rode (you). They told you what you did wrong.”
On the rumors of Dick Murdock being a racist:
“When I started my career, I loved Dick Murdoch. He took me everywhere, I drove for him. I drove him everywhere… I never found (him to be racist). That was the rumor (about him), and that’s why he was called Captain Redneck… He was never racist around me…he was really dedicated into training me and getting me straight…”
Manny Fernandez on respecting the business:
“When I messed up (in training), Murdoch would knuckle me upside the head. Sometimes I’d come out of that ring with about 10 knots on my head. That’s how serious they were about it… Back then you had to earn the respect of the old schoolers. You had to respect them. You come into the dressing room and there was guys like Dusty (Rhodes) and even Ernie Ladd and all the guys that were in there; Bugsy McGraw, Don Muraco, Sir Oliver Humperdink – you went over there and shook their hands and you respected people. If you got out of line and acted stupid, you paid the price. That was part of the business. If you weren’t going to respect the business, they didn’t respect you.”
On his run as NWA Champion in Florida:
“1979 I was blessed. Everybody came in and worked with me when I was the champ; it was an amazing run. It was all Terry (Funk). To this day I owe him. To this day I owe everything I am to him… They trusted me enough (after) eight months in the business to follow their lead.”
On not making the move to WWE:
“I told him to F off, I spent thirty some years in the ring and didn’t want to work for Vince because I’m not a politican. And I got in a lot of trouble coming up in the business because I didn’t brown nose (or) kiss (up to) nobody. If you didn’t like what I was then do what you’ve got to do. I didn’t want their belt, belts didn’t mean nothing to me. I watched Terry Funk draw more houses when I was coming up in the business without a belt.
My mom raised a man not a dumb (person). I didn’t have a father so my mom raised me. She taught me to be a man. So I’m not going to go there and let (them) humiliate me and put bull horns on my head, come out there like a raging bull like they did Terry Taylor and all that… Struggling in the early parts of your life makes it easier in later parts of your life. I didn’t need that. I had just signed with New Japan anyway.”