WrestlingINC.com recently caught up with former WCW Superstar Scotty "Riggs" Antol. We 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. You can check out part one below, and make sure to check back tomorrow for part two where Riggs talks extensively about his time in WCW, his dealings with Eric Bischoff and much more.
The interview was conducted before Riggs underwent gallbladder surgery last week. You can follow Riggs on Twitter at @REALScottyRiggs and send him your well wishes as he recovers from the procedure. We here at WrestlingINC.com would like to wish Riggs the best as he recovers.
WrestlingINC: You were in the indie scene for about three years before being signed by WCW.
Riggs: Actually, my first match was February 6th of 1992. In about a year or a year and a half, I started going to some TV stuff with WCW thanks to Diamond Dallas Page. I moved to Marietta, Georgia, from Carrollton, Georgia. That's where I went to college. I met DDP and Brad Armstrong and a couple of the other guys like Steve Regal working out at Sting and (Lex) Luger's Main Event Fitness.
We had a friend in the back of a friend and mine's karate school. Instead of going all the way down to Jonesboro from Marietta -- which is like a 45 minute drive -- I told DDP about it. He was like, 'Hey, can we come and train there?' I was like, 'Yeah. Sure.' I was thinking that this is just a good way for me to train with these guys. I was already doing my thing. I was maybe wrestling every weekend with the independents at that time. [I] Really wasn't doing anything full-time.
Then, me and DDP put a match together to go down to the Power Plant in Jonesboro and showed it to Jody Hamilton, who was their head trainer at the time. We put the match on and Jody walks up to me and says, 'Where have you been wrestling?' Page actually shut me up and said, 'Jody, this kid's been working a year and a half.' Jody was like, 'You're kidding me. Well, I can't promise you anything but what I can do is; put you on TV, get you some matches and get you in with some good guys.'
My first couple of matches were against Steve Regal. I had an eight minute match with him and Steve had already showed me some stuff at the little karate school. So, Steve gave me a lot and made me look really, really good. This was probably mid-'93. From about mid-'93 to around January of '95, I was actually doing some TVs with WCW where they'd put me here or there. I had an eight minute match with Steve Austin when he was "Stunning" Steve (Williams) after him and Brian Pillman had just split with the Hollywood Blondes.
We had an eight minute match that Dusty Rhodes was actually trying to put Sam Houston in. Sam Houston no-showed the TV so Jody put me in. Steve Austin made me look like I was a ten year veteran in the match. I had only been in the business [for less than] two years. At that time, I was pretty much doing house shows. I was in that deal where you get paid X amount of dollars to wrestle a show. I was at TVs, but I would never really wrestle a match unless it was for somebody being put over in a long match. I wasn't there to get wins on TV yet. I was paying my dues, but I was doing dark matches on TV where I would get wins.
We'd always do our Saturday night's at Center Stage and I would always be a dark match with someone like Rick Rogers, someone who was calling matches, teaching me how to do stuff. They'd put me over in a quick way, but get the win for the young kid that nobody knows yet.
To make a long story short, Arn Anderson came up to me at Center Stage and says, 'Kid, you've been working these house shows. You've got a great look, you've got a great work ethic, you don't cause problems. You don't stir stuff up. You just got great character, you're just a good kid. Right now, Dusty is losing his pull and Bischoff is slowly starting to take over. What we need you to do is get out of here.' I'm like, 'Excuse me?' He says, 'You need to get out of here. You're going to get stuck under a ceiling.'
This is Arn and I'm thinking that he pulled me aside and said, 'Kid, you're too good right now. You're going to get stuck. You need to leave.' That's basically when, in January of 1995, I went to USWA and worked for Jerry Lawler. Jake "The Snake" (Roberts) actually introduced me to Lawler at a show in Warner Robins, Georgia. I was giving Jake rides at the time because I was trying to keep him out of trouble. Which, for me, was the hardest thing in the world to do. But Jake put me over huge to Lawler and Lawler told me, 'I'm going to bring you in.' So, January 1st, I got a phone call from Randy Hail, the booker at USWA. 'We want you to come in January 14th.' I said, 'Sure.'
I was there for eight months. Right around six and a half months, I started getting calls from Kevin Sullivan and Terry Taylor and Jenny Ingle, who was the head secretary, about coming in to be (Marcus) Bagwell's partner. So, this was February of 1992 to August of 1995 -- this was just a little over three years before I got my first, actual shot at a contract.
WrestlingINC: When you returned to WCW, you were put in a tag team with Marcus Bagell. Whose idea was it to team you and Bagwell together?
Riggs: 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 funny thing was that 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.
Then, there are guys that know how to make their comeback almost the same way, but can do it differently. Those are the creative guys that are lasting, who are your major players. They don't just get looked over. That's what's lacking nowadays because a lot of these kids just get put in positions that they're just not ready for yet. If they had either been around the business -- like, Cody Rhodes is a kid who's very young but he's grasping it. He's learned his persona. Everything about him just comes across genuine. You go, 'Wow.' He's young, but he's been around with his father and his brother.
I still remember when I was wrestling for Dusty and his group in TCW (Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling). I remember talking to Cody at shows at his high school. Dusty would run the shows at [his] high school. We'd go do an autograph session during lunch to sell tickets and stuff with Cody. Cody would just sit there and ask questions. Goofy questions and you'd be like, 'What's this kid asking these wrestling questions for?' Now, look at him.
Then, you look at a guy like The Miz, who got a nice push but hasn't been able to sustain anything. He had about a one year long push. Hasn't been able to sustain anything because he's stuck in that rut. He doesn't know how to grow or how to translate stuff differently to the audience. So, WWE writers are just going, 'Well, he's just stale.' You know, and guys get that way because they just don't know how to blossom from one stage to the next. They didn't have territories like they used to, where you could move from one place to the other and learn from other guys.
WrestlingINC: I think it's even worse now. Now that you have the scripted promos, you're not coming up with your own idea for what to say. It's even easier to be stuck in a rut. There's not much you can do about it.
Riggs: Guys learned back in the day. I mean, I watched the guys in USWA cut promos. I learned from those guys. I learned from watching a Ric Flair or a Sting. Even Luger, who wasn't the greatest talker, but was articulate in how he talked and how he made himself look a certain way. Guys had freedoms in their promos. You'd give them high points to talk about, but they expanded on who they were.
Now, with the writing staff, as you said, it's scripted interviews where guys have to read them almost verbatim and regurgitate verbatim in their promos. It's what a creative writer thinks your persona is instead of what your persona actually is. Instead of being a wrestler that's talking about yourself, you're an actor, talking about being a wrestler. Guys today get stuck in a rut with what somebody else thinks they should be and not with what their actual persona is.
WrestlingINC: Back to what you were saying about winning the Tag Team Titles and it was kind of hot shot with Harlem Heat. What were your thoughts when you were told you'd be winning the titles? You had just basically come into WCW. You hadn't been there that long and titles meant a lot more back then. What were your thoughts?
Riggs: It really blew my mind. Like I said, 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.
WrestlingINC: Nowadays, you see guys just thrown together and they don't mesh. You guys definitely meshed and you looked like a tag team.
Riggs: 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.
WrestlingINC: Now, it's basically just having two guys with nothing to do and giving them something to do. Basically, treading water until they come up with something else. But, did you know when you won the title that it was going to be a short reign?
Riggs: No, we didn't at the time. The strange thing about it was that we were the only good guy tag team there was. You had Harlem Heat, The Nasty Boys -- which could have been a baby face team, but they didn't want them to be good guys. The thing was: we were still young as a tag team so what they ended up doing was taking them off of us on a Saturday night. In actual days, [our reign] was only nine days. In months, it was around three months because they did everything so far in advance.
But, we were the champions for a few months. What they told us was, 'We're going to take the title off you now, but look for us to put them back on you again to spark some things. Make that umph again.' But that's when the Steiners and The Road Warriors came in. Sting and Luger had become a tag team. All of a sudden, the tag team division became very strong and very deep. They just said, 'Well, we need to stick with these upper guys and let you keep building as a tag team. Keep you credible, but not really give you that major push.'
We just got lost in the shuffle after they signed all those bigger guys. Just more established teams. We got lost in the shuffle because they were looking for higher ratings on Nitro. We were involved in the Monday Night Wars at the time.
WrestlingINC: You guys basically teamed up for about a year. Right?
Riggs: We were together from August of '95 to right before '97. So, about a year and a half.
Make sure to check back tomorrow for part two of our interview with Riggs, where he talks extensively about his time in WCW, his dealings with Eric Bischoff and much more.
Also, you can follow Riggs on Twitter at @REALScottyRiggs and you can send him your well wishes as he recovers from his recent gallbladder surgery. We here at WrestlingINC.com would also like to wish Riggs the best as he recovers.