WrestlingINC.com recently caught up with former WCW Superstar Scotty "Riggs" Antol before he underwent gallbladder surgery. Riggs spoke about a large range of topics, including his start in the business, being hired by WCW, his ups and downs in WCW, leaving WCW for ECW and much more. We caught up with Riggs again yesterday, who spoke about his recent health problems and how Buff Bagwell is recovering from his car accident.
Here our highlights from our original interview and yesterday's call:
How he started teaming with Marcus Bagwell: Me and Marcus were friends before, we hung out in Atlanta or we'd train together here or there. I wouldn't say we were best of pals. Marcus had been with [2 Cold] Scorpio, he had been with Patriot. At the time, when those guys had left, they tried to put him and Alex Wright together with some kind of Germany/America connection. But me and Marcus actually did a music video that WCW show producer Kepper Rogers did. He was trying to expand his resume and put us in a music video so that he could put it out there and let people see his work and stuff like that.
So, I came in from Memphis for a weekend to shoot this thing. Well, he was doing the editing on the video at CNN center. Jimmy Hart, who had been in the business for many years, walked in and a light bulb went off in his head. Him and Alex just wasn't working because Alex was a great singles wrestler and Marcus was a great tag wrestler. Light bulb went off. He saw the great Fantastics. Rock & Roll Express. That late '80's-early '90's, baby face, pure white bread tag team. Two good looking guys. Girls will love them, it'll be cool for the guys.
It was really Jimmy Hart who went to Kevin Sullivan and said, 'Hey, I just saw the perfect guys for Bagwell. He wrestling in USWA and we need to get a hold of him and get him in here. See if he'd be interested in being Bagwell's partner.' Every Wednesday, I was at the Days Inn in Louisville, Kentucky. All of a sudden one day, my phone rang in my room. I was trying to figure out who was calling. So, I pick up the phone and it's Jenny Ingle. 'Kevin Sullivan wants to talk to you.' I was like, 'OK.'
Kevin gets on the phone with this big, Boston accent and says, 'Hey, Riggs. That's good stuff there in USWA. Terry Taylor actually told me about you.' Vader actually did a spot where he came in and killed everyone and they were filming it. They wanted to use me, but Terry Taylor said, 'No. We're not going to use him.' It ticked a few people off in USWA, but I was so young that I didn't even have a clue what Terry was talking about.
But they were kind of watching me at the time. It was about that time that Kevin said, 'We're thinking about bringing you in to be Bagwell's partner. What would you think about that?' I said, 'Well, that'd be cool.' He goes, 'Well, we're going to get back to you in about a week and let you know what's going on.' So, for about three weeks, I kept getting calls from Jenny Ingle and talking to Kevin, talking with Terry. The next thing you know, it was the first week of August and they said, 'Hey, we want you to come in and be Bagwell's partner.'
I came in, left Evansville, Indiana on a Wednesday, drove to Atlanta, flew to Orlando and me and Bagwell had a match with the Blue Bloods -- which was Steve Regal and Bobby Eaton -- and that was kind of our Tester match. I had a 90 day tester contract to be Bagwell's partner. I know that if I had not spent that time in USWA, learning how to do matches and do different things, trying to be creative, without getting stuck with a set pattern of how guys do things -- a lot of guys get stuck in that rut. They only have one way to do a comeback. There are guys that are tremendously guilty of that.
I came in from USWA with pretty much nothing, got put together with Marcus and we just had an instant chemistry as a tag team. We could just look at each other and know what we wanted to do without even communicating. Or we'd say a word and know what we wanted to do. I think that kind of caught those guys by surprise, too.
Then, on the third ever Nitro in Johnson City, Tennessee, we beat Heat for the titles and the night before, we wrestled the Nasty Boys. Just the way it was going from the Fall Brawl pay-per-view, where we actually worked the Nasty Boys in the main even live show, they were still kind of testing us, seeing what they wanted to do. We didn't have a good match with the Nastys. We weren't quite sure and they kept ribbing us saying, 'No, we're not going to put the titles on you. Yes, we're going to put the titles on you.' So it went back and forth.
When they actually put them on us, it was like, 'Wow.' It kind of gave me a little indication that leaving was the right thing. But, the funny thing was that I was getting a little emotion. Like you said, those titles actually meant something. So, here I was in Johnson City, sitting there in a chair. Getting a little choked up, a little emotional. And who came out of the corner by total accident? Arn Anderson.
Arn looked at me and said, 'Kid, I remember the conversation we had not even a year ago. Look where you are now. If you hadn't left, where would you be right now?' I said, 'Wow. In essence, you're dead on.' That's why Arn is so good. He is a [good] judge of talent. He knows how to make somebody better. Whether it's by leaving or by riding your butt, he makes you better. He's a giver to this business.
The funny thing is that he saw me being a little emotional. He said, 'Don't worry, kid. In a few weeks, me and Flair are going to tag up and beat your asses for the titles.' It was one of those things where he'd make me laugh. It was just a good way to welcome me in. It definitely meant a lot, going from where I was. To Marcus, who was on his third or fourth partner. It almost had become old habits for him. The one thing that he was excited about was The American Males -- as cheesy as it was with the music and everything else -- the look that we had was cheesy but it was the first thing that Marcus had his own persona.
Before, he had to be 2 Cold Scorpio's tag team partner and do the dance. Then, he was The Patriot's partner and he had to wear the red, white and blue. Then, him and Alex tried to do something and he was still wearing the red, white and blue but it was not his own thing yet. Then, all of a sudden, here comes the pretty boy thing. The image, character, persona -- the whole nine yards. With the American Males, tag team partner that nobody knew. So, Marcus was kind of the lead dog for the first time. He was excited about it.
He said, 'Man, I'm finally getting heat.' This was something that he was finally getting credit for, with being his own person. So, it kind of did both of us wonders in terms of giving us our own identities.
I actually think they put the belts on me and Marcus way too soon because we had great chemistry together. The thing was that we weren't established as a tag team yet and we kind of hot-shot it. After they hot-shot it, they said, 'OK. This is the only good guy team we got. Let's use them while we've got them.' Then, we never really got that secondary push.
The thing is: tag team wrestling is an art form, whether people know it or not. Vince and WWE basically said, 'Well, we don't need tag teams anymore. We'll just put guys together and make them a tag team. We've got Evan Bourne and Kofi Kingston -- two great individual guys -- and put them together as a tag team.' Where'd that come from? They look like A and Z put together. Now, you got R-Truth and Kofi Kingston together and they look a little more alike, but they're still completely different personas.
A Jamaican guy and a street thug; are they going to hang out in real life? No. Are Animal and Hawk going to hang out in real life? Yes. Are Knobs and Sags going to hang out in real life? Yes. Harlem Heat? Two brothers. Steiners? Two brothers. Yes. Arn and Ollie were apart of the Four Horsemen. Are they going to be together? Yes. ... But, you knew all these guys, in a sense, were going to be put together and we're going to be great.
Working for Eric Bischoff: The strange thing about Eric is that he was the first one to give me my first deal, my first contract with WCW. That was after working for about three or four months without a contract. They brought me in August of 1995, finished it up in [November] of 1995. So, about three months went by and I was still working without a contract. A couple of guys actually went up to Eric and said, 'Eric, this kid's working without a contract.' I actually talked to Kevin Sullivan about it and I got a raise and a one year deal.
After that was when they started doing the nWo thing. Eric came up to me at a TV and I was once again working without a contract. There was a rumor going around that I was leaving and I don't know where it came from. It was untrue but it was rumored that I was leaving WCW to go to WWF at the time to be part of their Light-Heavyweight thing they were trying to start doing.
Eric Bischoff came up to me at a Nitro and said, 'Hey, I know you're working without a contract. I appreciate your loyalty. I want to reward you for that.' So, he gave me a three year deal with a pay raise every year. It gave me security and it gave me balance in a sense and I felt better at home in WCW than if I were to leave there and go re-establish myself and find myself not sure of what they were going to do with me. So, in one sense, Eric did some good things for me, business-wise.
When it came to the wrestling side of it -- as soon as Eric became a personality on TV in wrestling, it seemed like he really started to lose his focus. He started worrying a lot more about his own persona on TV than he did about business. He took care of some business things -- he did his business meetings and everything else -- but instead of handling everyone else business-wise, his whole thing became: we've got to beat Vince. We've got to beat Vince. Whatever it took him to do that, he was going to do. That's where he lost his focus.
Instead of beating Vince, just keep doing what you've been doing and keep the show that you've got different and creative. Just like it's been. That's when all these ex-WWF wrestlers came in. Instead of being viable, different option, we became WWF-lite. They were hiring everybody in the world to be on these two live shows with Nitro and Thunder. Five hours a week of live programming. It just got to a point where it became more of a personal vendetta for guys getting back at Vince, instead of having a different style of wrestling.
Leaving WCW: Everybody goes, 'He just got fired or released.' The true story of it was that I was supposed to get a pay raise. Went in there, met with J.J. Dillon, had a conversation, talked out a nice, little deal for another one year contract. I get called back in about three days later and they're like, 'Well, we're bringing these guys back. We're bringing Jeff Jarrett in. We're doing this and we're doing that and we're not going to be able to give you that pay raise. We want to put you on a nightly deal. You'll still make X amount of dollars, but it's more of an incentive-type thing. We'll work you, but we're not going to guarantee you anything. Do you want to accept that?'
I went, 'You're going to yank what you just gave me and want me to come back and work, in a sense, just as much but not having anything guaranteed? So, if I get hurt, I'm screwed?' The one thing that happened is that I did have a few injuries where I separated my shoulder and kept trying to work and stuff like that but was basically told to take time off. 'You're getting paid anyway, take some time off and heal. Make your appearances like we need you to do but you don't have to wrestle.'
So, I'm like, 'Now, all of a sudden, you take away all of my security? You want me to be happy about it? No.' So, basically, when I turned down their deal, they said that they were about to let me go. I said, 'Well, fine. I want to leave anyway.' It was not a happy place to work. When they started bringing all these guys and everything started getting re-done and everybody had to be a certain persona -- like, me with he mirror was not the happiest of times but it was something that they wanted me to do. [Laughs.]
Going to ECW and working with Paul Heyman: The funny thing was that I was living in Atlanta and ECW actually came in to do a show at Center Stage. I had been good friends with Rob Van Dam for a long time. Since '93, we really had known each other. We had talked and had phone calls and traveled and everything for a long time. We just kept in touch.
With him and some of the guys coming into town, Rob was like, 'Why don't you just come to the show?' So, I came in and the first guys I really bumped into was Tommy Dreamer and Paul Heyman. They kind of pulled me aside and said, 'Hey, we'd love for you to come here. Do you have a clause where you can't do this or you can't do that?' I said, 'I'm still receiving paychecks for X amount of weeks from these guys. Tommy said, 'Well, I don't want to mess that up for you but we want you in here.'
If I hadn't gone to that show, I might have sent out feelers to WWF. But, at the time, Tommy, Paul and Rob said, 'Hey, I want to bring Scotty in. We can do this thing together.' So, it was kind of like they automatically reached out to me and it was just by chance that I had gone to that show. Just to see the guys and watch the event. The next thing I know, that's where I was wanted before anybody else really had a chance to grab me.
I got a nice little pay day coming from them for a little while at least so I couldn't complain. It was a schedule I liked and it was still a wrestling viable thing. I was always hesitant about WWE because you just never knew how they were going to use you. You went in there and you had to re-establish yourself which I didn't even mind doing, but you just never knew what they were going to do to you. When they took Mr. Ass and put him with Chuck Polumbo and had 'Chuck loves Billy' and 'Billy Loves Chuck,' I went, 'Wow. They can do that to a guy that was a part of the D-Generation X and really helped establish that era? Then turn him into this kind of hokey thing. What are they going to do to anybody else?'
You just never knew what they were going to do to you or how they were going to use you.Were they going to use you for a short period of time and then get rid of you? Did they want to use you for a long period of time and never let you do anything? It was just one of those things where there was a whole bunch of uncertainty there. Unless you were one of the top guys, there was an uncertainty there.
I had the fact of going to ECW where I knew a lot of the guys because I had met them and talked to them along the way. I was great friends with Rob so I knew that decent things were going to be happening with me there. Paul Heyman actually sat down and said, 'This is the way I want to use you and for a six month period of time.' Then, he went through a-b-c-d-e-f and g with me. The funny thing was when I actually sat with him and started working with him, that's exactly what happened.
Already put in his mind was, 'This is what I want to do with this guy and this is how I'm going to build him, use him and work him.' That happened like he said. Bischoff didn't do that. Sullivan did that at the start of it. Bit this was a boss that actually ran the company and said, 'This is what I want to do with you,' and you run with it and made it happened? For me, that was a chance for me to actually grow and gain more perspective for wrestling. Not only as a sport, but from the business side of it.
Paul Heyman was going to teach me more of the business side of it. That was just really a great time for a guy that creative. Paul Heyman -- he's definitely a Dr. Frankenstein. He's a creative genius when it comes to that. Businessman? He kind of sucks. When it comes to wrestling, he is phenomenal... If he went in to TNA or even Ring Of Honor with just his genius being put into that and actually being used right? Wow! The things that could happen. If he went back to Vince and WWE, they'd be the same thing like when he was there before. He'd have great ideas, but when Vince didn't like them and didn't want to do them -- Vince is the final say-so. A lot of fans don't understand that. Vince has the final say-so in Daniel Bryan getting squashed in 18 seconds by Sheamus. Vince said, 'This is what we want to do,' and that's what happened.
No matter what anybody else said, Vince said, 'This is what we're doing.' He's the boss. In one sense, that's a great thing to have. In another, it's, like, 'Wow!.' If he doesn't have any flexibility, I'm a little nervous.
Paul E. was just so good but all of the times, he got squashed with what he wanted to do which was keep things sparked. Keep things alive. Instead of going one route in a story, you'd have a fork in the road. You could go either way. He had that golden horse shoe that could tell which way you needed to go with this. The crowd would go nuts over it.
ECW's final days: We started working shows towards the end with no pay. Once certain guys that had been there for a while like RVD, Sandmanů Dusty Rhodes was actually the first guy to [leave]. When they stopped paying him, he just said, 'Hey, I'm not coming to your shows until you pay me.' He was still under a deal with him and he stopped coming. Then, even their top guys were not getting paid.
Some of the guys stayed and worked because they knew that that's what helped establish the company. So, I stayed there for a short period of time working and then even tried to re-structure my deal Paul so that I would still get paid something. But, they just didn't have the funds to pay anybody anything towards the end of it.
Unfortunately, at the beginning of ECW, they were a mom and pop operation in the sense that when they made money, they just spent it as best they could. Everybody was working. When Paul got that deal with TNN, he sat down with them and got one pay-per-view that was done using their satellite trucks, lighting and rigging, and one SpikeTV program that was taped using their lighting, rigging, cameras, production process and everything else. That's all he was guaranteed. One of each.
So, when they came in and did their one, that was it. But we had to deal with them to be on TV, which ECW never had before with actually being on TV. If you notice, the production value of the first couple of shows was great, but after that, Spike pulled their stuff out and said, 'Hey. We've fulfilled our obligation. You got on TV. Now, you've got to keep doing the TV thing for us,' So, we went from having hard cameras, two hand held cameras and everything else, to having one guy on the side of the ring with one hand held camera and one guy with a hard camera that they had used in the past.
The lighting went to hell. The whole production value went down because, all of a sudden, they had to produce it themselves. Because we were on TV, we were actually making money and we were drawing the house show money and stuff like that. But Paul was having to pay his past creditors from buildings that he didn't pay and stuff like that. Towards the end of it, unfortunately, he could go back to a lot of the buildings because he owed them money for renting the buildings. There were very little places you could go because he owed money.
That was the thing. If Paul would have just hired somebody to be a businessman for him, instead of him trying to do the business side of it himself and he could just be the creative guy that he was before -- I don't know what the relationship with Todd Gordon and him was and how they worked together. I was a wrestler, not a businessman. But, just as a fly on the wall, I saw how everything just started going straight down hill. The money started drying up and you stopped receiving your paycheck.
The FedEx package with your paychecks just weren't there. You didn't get them at the TV. Whenever you just kept getting promised them and you knew they weren't showing up, guys stopped coming. It just became a hard time and you just knew the money was not going to be there. You wanted to keep the company viable and you really wanted to be there because that was one of the greatest companies I ever worked for. So, I don't want to get all down and dreary on the place.
Those guys had the biggest egos in the world, but it wasn't with themselves, it was in their matches. Everyone there tried to make ECW better. When I left WCW, where everyone was pretty much cut throat and tried to make themselves better and went to ECW, it was just a breath of fresh air. Everyone from C.W. Anderson to Steve Corino, Dreamer -- all those guys. Jerry Lynn. Everything they were doing was to try to make that show better. They all took pride in that. That was something that I hadn't seen in wrestling in a long time since Nitro first started. Everyone tried to make everyone better.
Being hospitalized recently: I just couldn't stop throwing up one night. The minute I would drink something down -- it could be Coca Cola, Powerade, whatever it was -- minutes later, right back up. I'd drink something again -- water -- right back up. No matter what it was, I just kept throwing it back up. So, I went to the emergency room and as funny as it sounds, a guy I went to high school with was one of the E.R. doctors. He looked at me and said, 'You know what we got to do, don't you? We've got to stick that tube down your nose again.' I was like, 'Great.'
So, he stuck the thing up my nose and the long story short of that is that there was black stuff coming out of it, which meant there was a bleed somewhere inside. So, they admitted me to figure out where I [was bleeding]. So, I did a CAT scan, did an MRI and I also did an ultra sound. With the ultra sound, they found a four centimeter by two centimeter mass in my gull stone. They didn't know if it was cancerous or not. They also found sludge in there, which is what they basically call it, which means my gull bladder -- I don't know what it actually does. I know it produces enzymes that help you digest food and fat and stuff of that sort.
Basically, it was quitting working. It hadn't stopped yet but it was on the way. Just in light of that -- basically, they did every test twice which kept me in the hospital for about a week. Kind of drove me a little bit nuts. You're sitting there, getting woken up every few hours. They're taking blood and there doing this and that. They basically said it wasn't a stone. A lot of people have gull stones and stuff like that. It wasn't a stone but it wasn't cancerous because it wasn't showing anything in my blood work. So, that was an answered prayer.
But, there was still a mass that was in there. Basically, they decided that it could be [removed] microscopically, they could go in there, break it open, take it out or they were going to cut me open. So, I just crossed my fingers, hoping they would do it microscopically which is basically four little holes going inside of your through your belly button and three other little spots. They can just go in there and use their little cameras and little instruments and stuff. It will eventually heal quicker. You feel sicker, but you heal quicker.
That's basically what happened. They ended up taking it out microscopically and I had about 20 staples in me. Four or five in one spot, four or five in another. Six or seven here by my belly button and stuff like that. I went and got those removed and the doctor said, 'I don't want you working out or doing any crunches or nothing like that for about a month to five weeks. It's going to take your body time to adjust to that not being there and to help you digest food. So, you've got to watch what you eat. You can't really eat red meat. You can't do this, you can't do that.'
He gave me a little dietary plan to keep. A little bit bland at the start, but it's going to help my body adjust. He says, 'There's going to be days where you just feel like a slug -- like mud. There's going to be days that you feel fine. The only thing I can tell you to do is walk if you want to do that. I don't want you to do anything with bending over because you basically had an organ removed. You could always bust stitches, you could do this, you could do that. You could inflame an area.' You know, it's inside your body. It's not something you can see.
It still freaks me out, but it's a good thing that I got it taken care of now. I kind of laugh at it now and it's one of those things [that happens when you're] in the -- I guess you could say -- rock and roll era of wrestling where you're always on the road and traveling. Always eating and not always the best of foods. Always having a few drinks here or having something to eat there. Eating foods in other countries. It works on your insides. I had this same conversation with Lex about some of the stuff that he's gone through.
People don't realize the things we put our bodies through because we do so much 300 days a year. Whether it's; working out, traveling, eating at different places. It catches up with you. With some people, it's vanilla. You have simple things that it doesn't take surgeries to take care of. With [Lex]. he woke up one morning and he couldn't move. He was basically paralyzed from the neck down. Same sort of thing with me. I started drinking some fluids and the next thing you know, I can't keep it down. Some people go from vanilla to Rocky Road and you have that and it's just the way your body reacts to everything. Some people may not have a problem with anything for a long time.
His phone call with Buff Bagwell on Sunday and Bagwell's condition after his recent car accident: It really was a very bad accident. It was life-threatening for him. We only spoke for about five or ten minutes. He was in ICU and you don't have a phone in your own room in ICU. So, I called twice on Saturday and spoke to nurses, getting a little bit of information and he was in surgery all day. The family was there for a little bit and then they left to go home because they were exhausted. They'd been there all week because he was in ICU for most of the week. His surgery was a success.
The nurses said, 'If he wasn't asleep right now, I'd take the phone and let you talk to him. But, he's asleep. I'll definitely get the messages to him.' I said, 'OK.' So, they said, 'Try back tomorrow, mid-day and you might be able to get in touch with him.' So, I called and he'd been moved from ICU and he went to a private room. When I called, this kind of really gruff voice answered. I said, 'Can I speak to Marcus or his wife Judy or maybe his mom Judy?' All I hear in this really gruff voice is, 'This is Marcus.' He basically just said, 'Dude, I am f'd up. It's a weird story of how things happened.'
He basically had gone to the dentist and got some dental work done. They put him on some antibiotics and the antibiotics weren't working the first round. They weren't helping the gum area heal so they changed his antibiotics. As simple as that sounds, everybody's body chemistry is different and they react in different ways. Basically, he told me, 'I was driving home and I just felt this weird sensation going over my body. The only thing I knew to do was to call my wife, Judy, and tell her that I'm going to head to the hospital and to meet me there or to tell her to call 911. Something to let them know.' Because he was heading home and the next thing he knows is that he's in the wreck.
He fractured some bones in his neck, he broke his leg, had a lot of facial injuries and was really worse for wear. He had a breathing tube in, they were feeding him through a tube. Within three to four days, he was getting some twitching. They didn't know if he was going to be paralyzed because of the neck injury. He was actually having some involuntary twitching in his arms and legs. Which was actually good because he was getting some movement. When it happens on it's own, hopefully, it's his mind telling his body to move.
Long story short with it, he had successful surgery and of course he feels rough. He's been a million miles, but he knows he still has a million miles to go. He's been very grateful for all the fans and for all the messages from a lot of the guys. Sting, DDP, the Steiners, Lex [Luger], Mick Foley. A lot of the guys have called, left him messages and talked to him. I mean, we must have said 'I love you' about a million times. It brought a tear of joy to my eye just to hear his voice. It's only been a week since he had a catastrophic injury that could have left him paralyzed to him answering his own phone and actually being able to talk to me and me hearing his voice.
As gruff and as rough as he sounded, his spirit -- he goes, 'How are you doing? I've heard some things about you.' I said, 'Well, I've had two surgeries and about six months ago, I had a hernia surgery done. Just ten days ago, I had my gall bladder out.' He was more concerned in a sense -- I guess if you get asked so many questions about you, you want to find out what's going on with somebody else. So, I said, 'Yeah, I had my gall bladder out and everything.' He's like, 'Dude, you're kidding me.' I said, 'Yeah, I told Mick Foley about it.' Mick went hardcore on the American Males and pulled Mr. Socko out and got us both. He put the American Males down. So, we kind of laughed about that. Same thing with Mick. But, it was just funny.
A lot of guys have been asking -- they're excited and they're still praying for him. Like I said, he's got a long way to go to recovery. With therapy to get his strength back in his body. Knowing him, he's a very active person in the first place, and for probably a good few more months, he's going to be very inactive. It's going to drive him bonkers. We'll have to pray for mental status, too. So, he doesn't go bananas on us. [Laughs.] But, he's done a ton better and it just goes to show how strong he is -- mentally and physically.
He has a tremendous support system with his family and his friends. His fans care about him a lot and he knows that and that's just the power of positive energy. It really exists. Prayer really exists in helping somebody heal. You can be the most negative person in the world and you're going to be a slug. It's going to be gross and you're just not going to be happy. Fortunately for him, he's got so much positive energy around him that it's healing him. It's making him healthier and giving him life again. So, he's appreciative for a lot of the things. It's just very good and it was so good to hear his voice and for him to answer his own phone.