Honky Tonk Man Talks Changes In WWE, Working With Billy Gunn & Santino, Turning Down HOF, More


Now, if you want to know how business changed... When I went back and did Cyber Sunday with Santino Marella, it was all scripted. Everything was written down on paper. You got to study it like in Hollywood. It's, like, "Man. Come on. I don't need to study this stuff. I know what I need to do."

You had to go out and rehearse it and say it that way. They start rehearsing and like two or three in the afternoon until five or six o'clock at night. Even coming through the curtain and coming down is all rehearsed. It's, like, "Man, give me a break! I know how to walk down the damn aisle."

WrestlingINC: Other than the scripted part, was it a fun thing or did the scripting thing kind of turn it completely off?

Honky Tonk Man: It was fun in a way, but the scripted thing kind of turned me off. What I was really hoping for and what I really thought they should have done -- you know, it's not my call. But, because [Santino's] a great talent and a fantastic guy, they should have let this thing run with him and I. This was in October. Let it run until WrestleMania and I say, "If you can beat me at WrestleMania, I will drop down and say you are the greatest of all time."

That would have catapulted him into whatever they wanted to do with the Intercontinental championship belt but make it mean something again. But, they didn't do it and they passed on that. Then, a week later, they went to England and I think [William] Regal beat him in a minute.

None of the championship belts mean anything. When you have to bring The Rock back and give him $10-20 million for WrestleMania, it just means that you have nobody on your roster that's worth a s--t. Excuse my French or English or whatever, but that's just how it is.

WrestlingINC: You were asked to induct Koko B. Ware into the Hall of Fame. What were your thoughts on that?

Honky Tonk Man: I enjoyed it. I thought it was a great thing for Koko. Koko and I had trained together and the call just came out of the blue. Normally, someone that inducts someone has already been inducted themselves. But, I didn't mind it. I enjoyed being there. It wasn't even about the pay day or anything like that because I got screwed on the rent-a-car and several other things I never got my money for. Going there and doing that for Koko was fine with me.

We started together and trained for a year together. Even today, if they put he and I in a match together, we'd have the same match. It might not be as fast as it was back then, but we could have the same match that we had 30 years ago in training camp. I enjoyed being there and doing that for him. I didn't care about being around the rest of the people. I didn't work for the company, so I didn't give a s--t.

WrestlingINC: Didn't it seem odd that you weren't being inducted yet or you hadn't been inducted yet?

Honky Tonk Man: Well, they called me the next year. I was living here in Phoenix and they wanted to do it in Phoenix but I was already booked doing the Wizard World Comic Book Convention. I had a contract with those guys. I had a Toronto date the same weekend.

WrestlingINC: Did you get any heat for having to turn that appearance down?

Honky Tonk Man: I'm sure. But, hey. It is what it is. Every now and again, I speak with my friend, Jimmy Hart. Jimmy is back with the company. I say, "You know, Jimmy. They have their show to run and I have mine." What they do is totally different from what I do. I'm out here doing my thing, booking my own stuff. They do their thing. The only thing is that their checks don't bounce and it's a steady paycheck. That's the only difference. Other than that, I don't wait on that '203' area code to pop up on my phone. [Laughs.]

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