"Superstar" Bill Dundee was recently interviewed by IYHWrestling.com, here is a recap by Taso the Greek:
The term "heat" is brought up right away, as Superstar has said before that people today don't know what real "heat" is when it comes to garnering it and how to manipulate a crowd. Jack asks the difference between heat today and yesterday. Bill says kayfabe is dead first and foremost, and he would never have done a wrestling radio show 20 or even 10 years ago. Nonetheless, Vince McMahon changed the business from a territorial weekly business to a weekly TV drama with a big money monthly PPV show and merchandise sales that reap in much more money than they made in the territorial days. He talked about how he and Jerry Lawler were the top stars who were able to get people to buy tickets for the Monday night arena matches, and if you were a wrestler who couldn't draw people to the shows you did not last long in Memphis.
The consensus in wrestling is that Lawler and Superstar did not get along. Did Superstar and Jerry Lawler hate each other? Yes and no, was Superstars answer, to which then he elaborates with a history lesson of Memphis wrestling. Jerry Lawler had a falling out with Jerry Jarrett and went to Florida for a time. Superstar and George Barnes came into the territory and in just 4 months they got over as heels. George Barnes did not stay very long but Superstar said that even today people talk about him in Memphis. Then, Lawler came back to the territory. Personally, they didn't click, as Superstar said that he liked to go out to bars and have a good time, and Jerry was an artist. Away from the ring they did not click, but in the ring they had a ton of chemistry as both tag partners and opponents. Lawler was the star and Dundee was the work-horse. Superstar goes into how Lawler was part of the office and how that specifically effected both of them and their roles in Memphis.
Jack asks Superstar about Sputnik Monroe and his place in Memphis history. Superstar sheds light on the territory some more, from the split between Nick Gulas and Jerry Jarrett, the size of the territory and the massive number of towns involved, and his matches with Sputnik Monroe. He mentions Monroe's disdain for the racism he encountered in the South, and then spoke about his own feelings on racism when he first came to the United States, as well as racism in Australia.
Jack asks about Bill Dundee's experience in the carnival days. Superstar reminisces about carnival wrestling, rubber mallets, marks, and how he felt after getting into the carnival business and finding out that a lot of it was a work. He brings up the driving force behind the old days and today's version pro-wrestling, money. He also talks about the talent today and whether or not they would even be in the business if things were different and the business was not just a big show. When asked about how he felt when the veil was officially lifted from the face of pro-wrestling, he blamed a broader authority and much larger power figure than Vince McMahon Jr., he blamed the sports athletic commissions.
A caller asks Superstar if he would accept an invitation to be in the WWE Hall of Fame. Superstar says that usually it is people who have worked for Vince that get asked to be in the Hall of Fame. He says he would go if asked but doubts he will ever be asked. A follow up question, would he work for WWE if they asked him, and he replied that he would.
Gene the Drunk calls in and asks Superstar about his son, Jamie Dundee. Superstar talks about his son's career and where and when he may have gone wrong, the J.C. Ice gimmick, and his influence, or lack thereof, in his son's life. Gene's next question is about a rumored parking lot brawl between Macho Man & his father Angelo Poffo, and members of the Memphis territory. Superstar recalls that Thunderbolt Patterson & Pez Whatley were there, and Macho Man and his father were there, and Lanny was not involved. Thunderbolt walked up to Dundee to talk to him and Macho Man sucker-punched Superstar which started a brawl. Superstar proceeded to go to his Cadillac and get a certain item with the initials S & W on it (Smith & Wesson). When Superstar reached into his trunk, Angelo Poffo grabbed his arm and out came a gun, pointed at his face. Superstar goes on to tell the rest of the story, the words between himself and Angelo Poffo, Jerry Jarrett's reaction, the court case, Randy Savage and Memphis wrestling after the incident, and his relationship with Savage after this fateful day.
Who came up with the Sir William character in WCW? Bill Watts hired Steven Regal to be a wrestler. Steven Regal wasn't getting over, so Dusty suggested Larry Zybysko as Regal's butler, but Superstar suggested the Sir William idea and they went with it. He did play it down because he felt that his job as an agent backstage was more important and took up a lot of his time.
Incher asked a question from Playboy Don Douglas: Whose idea was it to shave Superstar's wife's head and did they regret it? Superstar tells the story of the angle and how it progressed, as well as a funny story about the barber who was too scared to shave her head in front of a heated Memphis crowd.
Did Superstar ever turn down any angle or feud? He said he did not. He mentioned a number of various gimmick matches that he and Dutch Mantel invented while in Memphis. He also mentioned a number of wrestlers he enjoyed working with due to their wrestling ability. He then gets into talking about the style of wrestling back in the day and the lack of ability and the inability to "work". He said he was never injured unless an angle called for it because everyone knew how to work in the territorial days. He also mentioned he never watches WWE, he never worked for the WWE, but he did once go to Vince McMahon's house to talk, but nothing came of it. Superstar said he had a lot of heat with many people up in Connecticut, and in the end Vince didn't need him and he didn't need Vince.
Rowdawg called in to ask: How did you like booking Mid-South as opposed to Memphis? Superstar went on to explain some of the different talent that he used in Mid-South as compared to Memphis, what the fans did and did not know, Bill Watt's style and philosophy, and big men vs. middleweights. He talks about a ton of different talent and how he drew money with them. Superstar also talks about Bill Watts and his relationship with him.
Weeble calls in and asks if The Honky Tonk gimmick was Superstar's idea? Superstar explains the gimmick, who had it first, Wayne Ferris, Handsome Jimmy Valiant, and who should get credit for The Honky Tonk Man gimmick. He also gets into talking about the Blonde Bombers, the Tupelo concession stand brawl, and a little bit about hardcore wrestling. When asked if he liked working better as a face or a heel, Superstar talks again about George Barnes and their start in Memphis, moving around the territories to refresh your character, and his love for the wrestling business regardless of what his job was at any point in his career.
Question about the ring rats in Memphis: No comment on ring rats, but this sets off Superstar on the golden era of wrestling in Memphis and how they did huge business and money between the 70's and early 90's. He talked about the huge ratings they got on TV, how the wrestlers were on par with some of the biggest names in show business, and how the wrestlers were treated like royalty everywhere they went.
Who did Superstar travel with? Bill Dundee talks about who he worked with, who he traveled with, all the different wrestlers, the difference between working and traveling as part of the office and being one of the wrestlers.
Superstar is asked about Jackie Fargo, and he gets into his relationship with Jackie and what it was like working with him. He then gets into talking about his book as well as other people's books. There is not a single lie or mistruth in Bill Dundee's book, says The Superstar, in his own colorful language. Every angle, every show, every payday, it is all chronicled in his autobiography.
Superstar is asked about the tan, muscular appearance of the current wrestlers in WWE. He gets on a roll talking about the current product as over-produced and nothing comparable to what they did in his hey-day. He mentions Jerry Springer and how Jamie Dundee was on it a few times and what he was told to do and not to do.
A surprise caller to the show is an old friend of Bill Dundee's and former IYH guest, Big Mama! You can hear Big Mama & Superstar Bill Dundee get reacquainted when you listen to the show!
Thoughts on Handsome Jimmy Valiant: Superstar says that Jimmy was much more laid back than his on-air character. Dusty Rhodes, Jerry Lawler, Bill Dundee they are who they are, but Jimmy Valiant is a much calmer and tamer man behind the scenes.
William calls in and asks about the UWF Mid-South and NWA and the differences. Superstar talks more about Bill Watts, Verne Gagne, and the difference between working with the two, working for both of them, and who made more money for whom and why.
Thoughts on hardcore wrestling and ECW: He doesn't think the Tupelo concession stand inspired ECW and hardcore wrestling, as some people might think. In fact, Bill thought that guys like cactus Jack could not wrestle so they did crazy stunts instead. He talks about Paul Heyman and what he thinks of him as a talent, a booker, and as a "genius".
He talks about what it takes to be a genius in pro-wrestling. He explains why guys like Andy Kaufman lasted three months but Lawler & he lasted thirty years. He breaks down how things cannot go back to the way they were in years past, mainly because of technology and the internet.
You can check out the full audio interview at IYHWrestling.com.
Neal Jones contributed to this article.