Honky Tonk Man Talks His WWF Run, Not Dropping The Title To Savage, Heat With Eric Bischoff & More
WrestlingINC: It definitely turned into one of the more memorable runs. When I think of wrestling in the late '80's, I think of Hulk Hogan, Macho Man (Randy Savage), Andre The Giant and yourself. You became one of their top guys. When you won the Intercontinental title, Vince McMahon was supposed to be putting the title on Butch Reed but couldn't find him at the show. Then, Hulk Hogan suggested that you get the title. Was that how you remember it?
Honky Tonk Man: Yeah. I just happened to walk by while they were standing in the hallway and Hogan looked and said, 'What about him?' That's how it happened because Butch was going AWOL or M.I.A. -- which happens some times. Of course, it was like Jake (Roberts). Jake was missing in action about half the time he was there.
I just happened to walk by and they said, 'What about him,' and I said, 'OK.' Vince pulled me aside and told me what he wanted to do. (Ricky) Steamboat was leaving and, you know -- after all these years, Steamboat gets a job as an agent, making all this money. I'm sitting home doing nothing and he was the one that got the belt from Savage and up and quit the company. Saying, 'I want to go home and spend time with my wife and children.'
Of course, if you have a championship belt, you don't go home and spend time with your wife and children. You have to be on the road and [Vince] said, 'This guy wants to go and do this and I got to have the belt in a town.' I said, 'Listen, if you give me that belt, I don't want a day off.' And I ran with that belt for 64 weeks.
WrestlingINC: Winning titles was a way bigger deal back then. What was your reaction when they ultimately decided to go with you for the title?
Honky Tonk Man: I knew I was going to get over and draw people, sell tickets. Title or no title. No matter where I was on the card. I knew that because I had perfected my persona. The Honky Tonk thing. I knew that if it didn't work there, it was going to work somewhere else. Of course, WCW -- which was Turner and the Crocketts in Atlanta at the time -- I knew there was a spot there no matter what. With it being such a Southern-style thing, the Elvis knock-off character, I knew it would work. If they didn't want to use me properly in WWE, then I would just move on.
That's what I was planning on doing but then I got the opportunity to get the Intercontinental championship and I ran with it. I'm not tooting my own horn, but I thought I did a pretty good job with it.
WrestlingINC: Back then, you would headline a lot of the house shows with the Intercontinental title, which I don't remember happening before that point.
Honky Tonk Man: Yeah. With the Intercontinental title, I became (someone with) main event status right under Hulk Hogan.
WrestlingINC: You had some really memorable feuds during that time. Who were some of your favorite opponents during that period?
Honky Tonk Man: I liked being with Jake (Roberts) whenever Jake was around and I liked being with Steamboat. Like I said; he left the company, stayed gone for 20 years and all of a sudden, he came back with a shirt and tie on and was a supervisor. [Laughs.] Oh. Now you're a big shot.
But, yeah. I had really, really good matches with Randy Savage and they were very memorable and really good stuff. Good stuff with Jimmy Snuka. When they put me with Snuka, I had pretty much been degraded down the card because they were going in a different direction with the (Ultimate) Warrior and planning to put him in a position to take over Hogan's spot.