Honky Tonk Man Talks His WWF Run, Not Dropping The Title To Savage, Heat With Eric Bischoff & More
WrestlingINC: There was talk that you were going to originally drop the title to Savage at The Main Event, but that you didn't feel that you should drop the title yet. Was that accurate?
Honky Tonk Man: It wasn't really about dropping the title. I was talking to my friend, "Rock N' Roll" Buck Zumhofe from the old AWA days, who I was on tour with all this past week up in Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin. It wasn't the fact of losing the belt or anything of that nature.
I had a deal with WWE and Vince, a handshake deal. There were no contracts back then. 'I'll do anything you want if you give me an opportunity. If I do good, pay me. If I don't do good, I'll pack my bags and move down the highway.' All I said was, 'Treat me good on TV. Take care of me on television.' Back in the old days, us old guys always believed that if they destroy you on television, you're pretty much destroyed.
So, when they mentioned the destruction of the Honky Tonk Man on television and going with 'Macho Man' -- you know, in reality, if 'Macho Man' was still around today and with us at a roundtable. It did his career better than mine because he became world champion as opposed to being the Intercontinental champion again. For that reason, Ted DiBiase -- who still has a little animosity towards me though not a lot -- Ted never got to be world champion because Ted was going to be world champion.
This particular television show had 35 million people watching. That particular Main Event had 35 million people. You got to remember; Turner had a lot of money and Turner was trying to make a run at Vince. I said, 'No. I'm not going to do this on television. You want to do it, I'll do it anywhere else. I'm not doing it in front of 35 million people.'
I had to protect my business, too. My business, of course, was the Honky Tonk Man because I could have taken it to Turner. I did make a call to Turner and they said, 'Absolutely not. Do not do that on television if you want to come down here with us.' We had a meeting set and down and then I ended up staying with WWE which was probably not the best move of my life because, after that, they never trusted me again.
WrestlingINC: Did that lead to why they had you drop the title to the Ultimate Warrior?
Honky Tonk Man: No. Not really. They had him in the plans after the Savage thing. Because Hogan wanted to go to Hollywood and he wanted to make movies and he was leaving the company, they needed someone. Vince was always into these big bodybuilders. He loved that no matter where they could work or not. It didn't matter. He just cared that they had these great bodies and that's what he wanted.
Warrior fit the mold and at that point, Vince decided he wanted to go that direction. The Intercontinental belt was such a hot item that it was a stepping stone to the big belt. For him to get the Intercontinental championship for me and keep it for six months or eight months, then move up to the next level made him bigger and better than he would have ever been.
WrestlingINC: It definitely catapulted him to the next level.
Honky Tonk Man: Right. It was a catapult to the next level and I didn't have a problem with it when it was done that way. It was done and everybody was professional about it. We knew about it six months ahead of time what was going to happen. We planned for it and it was laid out the proper way. I didn't have any problem with that.