The Honky Tonk Man recently appeared on Busted Open on Sirius XM Radio with Doug Mortman and Dave Lagreca. Some highlights from the interview are below, and you can listen to the show on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 2-4 ET on Sirius 94, XM 208.
The current direction of wrestling: "I think what WWE has done, and I don't mention TNA a lot because sometimes I don't even know if they're still in business... anyway, they're so ratings-driven right now, and they have been for a couple of years. They're so afraid that if someone picks up that remote control, and clicks to another channel, the person might not come back and watch the show. And the wrestlers today; they are not fans of wrestling. They're not wrestling historians, and the fans themselves, and the wrestlers. I say it: They're fans of a TV show called, 'Raw.' I think it had a lot to do with it. It started there, and then of course it went into this hardcore level, and then to the x-rated level, and... for somewhere down along the line ... well, look at this past Wrestlemania. The biggest feud they had, and the longest feud they had was between the TV commentators. I mean, when you have to dig that deep in the barrel, and believe me, TV commentators, and referees do not sell tickets!"
The Intercontinental Title: "It was a catalyst to move me from mid-upper card status to main event status. Of course it was... the belt meant that, it meant that much. These belts have been so devalued. They mean absolutely nothing. No one knows who... well they got like 4, 5 different world champions, they finally brought tag-team champions back now, and, they had European and Hardcore, and they dropped those and, and for sometimes a guy like not so long ago, he was World Champion for one day. And these feuds went on for... I was with The Ultimate Warrior for 6 months, 7 months. I was with Randy [Savage] for almost a year. I was with Jake [Roberts] for 6 or 7 months. So, during that course of time, you have a chance then to develop this character, work on it, make it work with your opponent, so that it creates interest for the fans. Listen, if the fans are not interested, they're going to stay home. I really think the slow burn will always work, and to me it's like a movie: If you kill The Terminator in the first 10 minutes of the movie, why would you stay for the next 2 hours? It's one of those things where if Hollywood hasn't forgotten how to do it, they still can do it."
Lack of superstars: "I think because they don't give the young fellows enough time to develop. To take em' down, and say it's a minor league in Florida, and have em' down there for 2 years, and they're self-contained being somewhat brain-washed I guess to do just WWE-style wrestling, and learn how to read a script, and practice reading a script, and memorizing it. That's not really how you become a superstar or that's not how you learn this business. It's a hands-on type thing that you have to practice and do, day-after-day, night-after-night, different parts of the country, riding the cars with different guys. Learn different points-of-views, learn different styles. And then you put it all together and after about 5 years, you say, 'Gosh, I've been doing this all wrong,' and then you start to understand how to be a star.
"And that's the point I was trying to make, that these young fellas... nothing against them, they're obviously good talents, and they could be superstars if given the right time and opportunity. Not just to be thrown in the ring, or thrown on the Raw or Smackdown show, and, I would ...myself personally; I would hate to have to try to start over the way the business is structured today. Because I don't know that I could do it. I don't know that... if they only gave me one shot at it, could I make it work or give me two Raw shows, and then cut me or send me back to the minors? That's a very difficult situation.
"The independent scene is my bread, and butter, but they are so cut-throat to each other, that it's like, I might be in one town 100-miles away, there's a show the next night, and they fly in a whole new talent. It's like, 'No, we're not gonna' use that guy's talent because we don't like him, and his promotion,' or, 'He's trying to run in our back yard,' and it's not just in America, it's around the world I see this because I travel everywhere. But if they would get together, and they said, 'Look, let's 3 of us guys, promoters, get together, and run 3 shows straight in a row of Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Friday, Saturday, Sunday,' and use these guys this way, I think it would work.
"What I don't understand is with WWE; with the amount of money they have behind them, and the size of the bank account, why don't they just open up a territory themselves, and say, 'OK. We're going to run all of the state of Texas for the next year. Then we're going to move out to California to do that,..,' I mean I think it would be cost-effective for them. And they could develop some real stars. You could see a star start to develop. Believe me, you cannot, like I said, go out there, spend two years out in a training camp, or a year out in a training camp, and all of a sudden be thrown out there on TV, and say, 'OK, make it or break it!' It can't be done!"