Honky Tonk Man Talks Not Dropping The Title To Savage, Heat With Bischoff, Turning Down HOF & More
I've not talked to Eric Bischoff. I could care less. I don't even want to talk to the guy. I got nothing to say to him. He was giving guys three, four, five, six hundred thousand -- a million dollars a year! I mean, God bless him, I was wrestling Brian Pillman a couple of times. Brian Pillman had been off and so was Marc Mero. Sitting home making $300-400,000 a year. They had not wrestled a match in six months.
Then, they come back and, 'Man, I'm so glad you're here and we get a chance to wrestle you. We've been sitting home.' I was making $1,000 a match. These guys were making $300-400,000 a year and they weren't even working. They just got a check every two weeks in the mail.
Kevin Nash and Scott Hall and those guys, they should send Jim Ross 20% agent's fee because Jim would go on TV and say, 'I heard some guys from down South might be headed up North,' and that's all he would say. Then, Eric Bischoff would give them guys a $50,000 raise. [Laughs.] 'Jim, I really appreciate what you've done for me. I'm going to give you and your wife a trip to Hawaii or something.'
Eric Bischoff would call them in the next day and say, 'Listen. I'm going to give you $50,000 more.' [Laughs.]
WrestlingINC: When you went back to WWF in 1997, it had to have been drastically different than you remembered it from the late-'80's-early-'90's. What were your thoughts on where the company was at that time?
Honky Tonk Man: When I went back and did the Billy Gunn thing -- and I love Billy to death. He understands the business now but back then, he wasn't really sure what was going on. It's nothing against Billy and he knows this (but) he had been there and they were looking for the next, greatest Intercontinental champion. They should have brought in a new, fresh guy.
It just did not work. It was terrible. It was terrible for him. He didn't like it. I didn't like it. It just did not work. He and I could make it work now but we could not make it work then. It dragged on for three or four months, which was way too long.
The company had not changed that much at that point other than the fact that they were going towards the DX generation. Pushing the envelope to the sex attitude. Mae Young having a hand with Mark Henry. Vince having a rectal exam. Pulling all kinds of stuff, you know.
It was a sick area. It was a sick part of our business that still exists with some independent promoters. High school principals and civil organizations still remember that. When [we] as independents try to get wrestling shows, people go, "No. No, we don't want that. We don't want all this sex and naked women." Now they're a PG company, but that's what people remember. So, it hurt us out here with what we do with not being able to get as many wrestling shows as we should have or could have because of what they did.
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."