During a recent interview on Busted Open, “The Living Legend” Larry Zbysko spoke about AOL / Time Warner being primarily responsible for WCW’s ending, the upcoming WrestleReunion and fans of Bruno Sammartino wishing for his death.
On AOL/Time Warner: “It was really sad, and I just shook my head ‘cause we had it so hot. And the terrible part was, not only did we have it hot (right after the New World Order which got kind of goofy after a while because everybody was a “New World Order guy”), but we had a guy that was so over that you could’ve built the whole business around—just like they did Bruno or The Hulk—we had a guy named Goldberg. And Goldberg was over like God for a while. But the bad news is—and you can’t blame WCW—if you want to blame somebody, blame AOL! AOL came into Turner Time Warner and lied and told Turner Time Warner how much money they had, and how great it was going be when AOL bought over Turner Time Warner.
Ted Turner, who was kicking’ himself in the ass today, gave up his power and his percent and sold out to AOL, and AOL did not have the money and all the crap they said they did! And they’re the ones that came in and said We don’t want the baseball, we don’t want the wrestling, we don’t want the basketball. You know, they didn’t have a clue how to run television; they were just a bunch of crooks—crooked bankers, or Goldman Sachs… I mean, it was nonsense. And it was unfortunate because they just basically cancelled the number one show they had. Not only did they cancel the number one show they had, these idiots sold a library of tapes thirty years old that was worth a fortune in free programming for two-and-a-half million bucks, pennies! So if you want to blame anybody, blame AOL. And the company knew AOL was going to cancel it, so the last year, no one cared what happened ‘cause it was already gone, and , unfortunately, they dragged it to the mud with some other idiots… the rest is history. But AOL are the people that came in and lied and screwed up Turner Time Warner.”
On Bruno Sammartino: “I bumped into him here and there at some other events. There’s always been that little thing there. You know how those Italians can be stubborn, especially them old-school Italians? It’s kinda like when they say, “I wash my hands of you!” they really mean it, they wash their hands! And it’s like, he’d like to get his hands dirty again, but thirty years ago he said, “I wash my hands of you!” so now he’s fighting with his own words. But he’s one of those old-school guys who, when they say something, they mean it, their word is their contract. They don’t make a breed of men like that anymore nowadays, they say.”
On WrestleReunion: “Miami will be fun because I hate flying around; I live in Orlando. So for Miami, we’re going to drive down and have a great time! I love meeting the fans and I haven’t been to Miami for a long time. It’s one of them crammed, crowded cities I never, like, go to. It’ll be fun, it’ll be a wild weekend, it’ll be full of wrestling fans—I’m looking forward to it! I got some friends and family going to be there. Close drive so it’ll b e an easy trip for the “Living Legend”. And then of course we’re going do another one in Toronto and Bruno [Sammartino] will be in the one in Toronto. Still emotional for me.”
On Arn Anderson: “When me and Arn came along and we teamed up, it was weird ‘cause it was already a day when the fans were different. But when me and Arn got together, for some reason it clicked like the old days. When we walked out, you could feel that 1970s heat. The crowd still was into it. Me and Arn got over good together. And I really didn’t like tag-teaming; I liked being by myself—you got more glory, you got more attention, you got more money, and I didn’t want to lower myself to someone else. But Arn was guy that clicked and he was great, the look was good. And it should’ve went on longer, it’s just the politics of WCW was so screwed up, and then they had a lawyer, then they had a pizza guy running it, then they had Bill Watts screwing it up. And it’s too bad because the enforcers really should have been done different and lasted longer than it did, ‘cause it was over and it was due to both of us. Arn was one of my faves.”
On Leaving Wrestling: “Back in those days was the days of the territories. It’s not like today where there’s nowhere to go but the WWE. After the me and Bruno thing which was so famous at the time, I had all kinds of opportunities to go other places. And then I was bumping heads with the McMahons through the whole Bruno-thing, so they didn’t like me. And then when McMahon, Sr. died and McMahon, Jr. took over, they kinda changed their format and went a different direction, and I wound up wrestling for—like—the Crocketts and found a home in the AWA with Verne Gagne who was an old wrestler that liked wrestlers.
But the WWF in those days, they were changing into kind of a show format when cable came in. They didn’t have wrestlers ; they wanted the 300-pound guys full of steroids that all had that look—the Hogans and the Warriors and everybody was all gassed up, no one could wrestle, they all threw clotheslines. And I wasn’t that cup of tea, and the guys didn’t want to wrestle me ‘cause I’d kill ‘em. They just wanted to have muscles. So it was kind of a thing where I really didn’t want to be there, and they really didn’t want me there, and I wasn’t going to take the gas to go there, so I never went there.”
On Getting Heat from Bruno Fans: “I wish the fans of today could go back in time because it was scary because back then people really hated me. They really loved Bruno and all these guys, but they hated me. I mean, I got stabbed in the ass, I got shot at, I had cars smashed… I used to have to sneak out of buildings, hiding in the trunks of cars. I got turned over in a cab in the Boston Gardens. I mean riots! People would fly into the ring—it was a night riot! Nightly! Those days don’t exist anymore. It was really a different world.”