The Two Man Power Trip of Wrestling Podcast recently interviewed WWE Hall of Famer Jesse "The Body" Ventura. During the interview, Jesse talked about the passing of legendary AWA promoter Verne Gagne, as well as why he now lives "off the grid." You can download and listen to the full episode by clicking here, they sent us these highlights:
Verne Gagne's creation of "The Body" nickname:
You have to remember both Hulk (Hogan) and I wrestled in other places before we came to the AWA. I had been wrestling five years, I wrestled in Portland, Oregon for three years, Hawaii and so let's put it this way. It was during my tenure with Verne that I became Jesse "the Body" Ventura. In fact, Verne named me that. He had lost Superstar Billy Graham a couple of years earlier and he asked me; "Can you do Superstar Graham?" I told him I could do Superstar Graham better than Graham, because Billy was my hero. There would not have been a Hulk Hogan or a Jesse Ventura if there was no Superstar Billy Graham. Verne said to me that's what we want and it was Verne that actually thought of it, he said I want to call you Jesse "The Body" and I want you to pose and do all that stuff that Graham does and that's where the birth of Jesse "The Body" came from.
Working for Verne Gagne in the AWA:
Verne had a great territory. The thing that made Verne's territory so good was that you only wrestled about 12 or 14 times a month at the most. It gave you ample time with your family and ample time to work out and recover from injuries. I remember in Oregon I wrestled 63 consecutive nights in a row without a day off and there are guys who wrestled way more than that and beat that record like it was nothing. When you wrestled for Verne you would wrestle a day or two and then get three or four days off so it really made the Minneapolis territory at that time a wonderful place to be, if you wanted to make good money and not be on the road every day of your life.
Verne being a perfectionist:
We would be doing interviews and Greg (Gagne) would be running the interviews and we would bang through every market and have it down to like two or three markets and then Verne would come in and you would be there for six hours doing the final two markets. I would get so angry about that. At the time I lived along the Mississippi River and I would be so ticked off that I would park my car on the river bank before I would go into see my wife and kids. I look back on it now at age 63 and laugh about it but at the time it was happening Verne could literally (laughs) drive you crazy.
Teaming with Adrian Adonis as part of the East-West Connection in the AWA and WWF:
Adrian was phenomenal in the ring and I couldn't have asked for a better and more athletic partner, he was a great wrestler and could do anything you could imagine. My only problem with Adrian was after being with him for three or four years, was outside the ring Adrian sometimes required a babysitter and I got tired of that role. I didn't feel as a professional it was my job to make sure Adrian made the planes on time and the events on time. So he became a little dependent on me and I really didn't like that aspect of being with him and that was one of the reasons I finally broke the tag team up. Taking care of myself is a load enough, I don't need to be taking care of a second person and don't get me wrong that was all stuff outside of the ring, Adrian was never a problem in the ring at all... ever.
Favorite match teaming with Adrian:
When we beat the High Flyers at the St. Paul Civic Center and I always loved that I got the pin on Greg Gagne, so it will go down in history that Jesse Ventura gave Greg Gagne the spike pile-driver with a little help from Adrian and covered him 1-2-3. That's on the famous AWA tape that Vince has out there now, I know because I actually watched it this past winter.
Jesse Ventura also talks at great length about the difference in working for Vince McMahon Sr. and Vince McMahon Jr., beating Jerry Lawler in Memphis, the problems he has with Hulk Hogan making the transition to commentary, working with Tony Schiavone and Jim Ross, WCW not using him properly and more. You can download and listen to the full episode by clicking here.
Two Man Power Trip of Wrestling contributed to this article.