Dory Funk Jr. Talks His Wrestling School, Why He Left WWF, Training Kurt Angle, Wrestling Terry
Wrestling Inc.: What made you decide to leave WWF shortly after that?
Dory: It was commitment to Japan. It was one that I had made earlier and had to continue on with.
Wrestling Inc.: And what made you start the Funking Conservatory School?
Dory: There was so many wrestlers that I had trained just because I knew them, including Jumbo Tsuruta in Japan. Oh heck, going back to the West Texas kids, Stan Hansen. I had always been interested in training and teaching. It was many years ago, probably about 1996 or 97 I got a call from WWE and they wanted me to come up there and train their talent and exclusively work for them. That's when I went up there. Wrestlers like Kurt Angle, the Hardy brothers, Christian, Mark Henry, Edge… just a tremendous crew that I had the opportunity to work with. [They] went on to become superstars.
Wrestling Inc.: Yeah. I remember back then when you were training Kurt Angle, and hearing about just how, what a prodigy he was, just how quickly he picked up the business. Was that pretty unique, or do you see that every now and then?
Dory: Kurt was unique. He was still with us for a good period of time before WWE felt he was ready to go on the road with the company. But yeah, Kurt was unique because he had such great amateur wrestling skills and the first thing I told Kurt was, "Whatever you did in amateur wrestling you should do in professional wrestling, but you just have to adapt your style to what we do and what we're trying to do in the professional wrestling business." He did a tremendous job. So did Christian. So did the Hardy brothers. So did Edge. Mark Henry is still going and doing a terrific job.
Wrestling Inc.: How has your training style changed over the years, because wrestling obviously in ring, back in the day, used to be a bit more snug, a lot closer? Now it's a lot more high spots and building to false finishes before the finish. How has your training style adapted and how did you adapt it?
Dory: Okay it's a mixture. There's several things we do. One thing we do is we take care of our people. We don't want them hurt. So we have a safety program which includes many of the things that WWE does. Basically blows to the head whatsoever, they don't allow. We have a calisthenics program that conditions your body, to strengthen your knees and your neck. We work very hard on television because television is the heart and soul of professional wrestling. We use video almost every day in our training. We also train very hard on technical performance. Technical performance begins with the basics. For someone to walk and in and want to try backflips, flying off the top rope, they need to show that they know and understand the basics of wrestling first. There are WWE agents and WWE personnel and TNA personnel and Japanese personnel, but the first thing they want to know is do you know the basics? They can tell if a wrestler is good or not. They just want you to walk in the ring.
So we start with their entrances. We teach them the basics. Then we take them as far with the spectacular as they can show they're able to go and still have a safety factor to it. We don't want any crazy things like somebody flying out of the ring and a serious injury. We pride ourselves very much on our safety program.
Wrestling Inc.: When someone signs up, can anyone sign up? Or do you pick and choose who gets in? Or how does that work?
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