Dave Meltzer Discusses Appearing On 'Donahue' With Vince McMahon, WON, UFC, '90s Wrestling, More

WrestlingINC: During that time in the late '80s, was that when you went to the weekly format?

Meltzer: Yeah, I think that I would have gone to the more weekly format, I'm guessing, around '85 if I remember.

WrestlingINC: You also worked briefly for the WWF as a researcher...

Meltzer: Well, it's hard to say that I worked for the WWF. That's a really weird way of putting it. I did work for the WWE, but I didn't work for the WWE or WWF as it was called at the time.

WrestlingINC: Was there any kind of weird reaction from the front office kind of viewing you as public enemy number one?

Meltzer: I mean, the whole deal was very weird. I didn't last very long. [Laughs.] It was Vince's idea and I'm sure it was Vince's idea to co-opt me or something and then it didn't work and just kind of fell apart. I guess, I don't know. The only person who would really know is Vince as far as what the motive was. I can only presume.

WrestlingINC: Did you have any interaction with Vince at that time?

Meltzer: No, not really. No, I mostly worked with Lou Dondero who was Pat Patterson's friend. I mean, that was who I used to talk to in that era. Then, Pat and Terry Garvin, I talked to them a lot, too.

WrestlingINC: A couple of years later, the steroid scandal broke out. How difficult was that to cover? Because it was more than just the steroids, obviously. There was the sex scandal and all that. It really put the business in a negative light. Was that difficult at all?

Meltzer: Yeah! I mean, I knew it was coming. I had written about that stuff dating back to the early-to-mid-'80s that this was going to happen. You could see it when WWF changed in '84 and then the whole business changed.

I mean, steroids were always around. This idea that Billy Graham or Hulk Hogan or someone like that brought steroids into the wrestling business... When I started watching wrestling in the 1970's, a lot of the guys were on steroids. I remember when I was 11 or 12-years-old, the jobber guys that I knew were talking about taking dianabol and deca durabolin and things like that.

So, I'm not saying everybody was on it and they weren't all bodybuilders or anything like that. I don't know when steroids started in wrestling, but it had to be the early-'60s if not the late-'50s. Plenty of guys were on it, but I don't know if it was a necessity to be on them. It's not like everybody in the business was on them or anything like that.

But in '84 -- again, not everyone because when you say everyone, it's never everyone -- but the percentage of guys who were on them increased greatly in '84 when the WWF became the big game in town. Hogan became the star and you had to keep up with Hogan, you know what I mean?

So, that's when it became more plentiful. Also, there was more of an emphasis to look like a bodybuilder whereas, before, the guys would lift weights and maybe take steroids but maybe not watch what they ate and were big, burly guys as opposed to bodybuilder-looking guys. So, everything changed in '84, the whole business changed in '84 when Vince took it national and changed everything about it.

WrestlingINC: Then, business almost collapsed in the early-'90s. I remember you appeared on Donahue. That's one of the most memorable episodes I've ever seen. I've never seen Vince look some vulnerable and uncomfortable and I don't think you'll ever see that publicly again. What do you remember about that appearance and Vince's reaction on that show?

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