Hardcore wrestling legend Terry Funk recently spoke with Andy Malnoske of Wrestling Inc. about his hardcore style, ECW and much more.
Funk said he developed his hardcore wrestling style during the early part of his career when he was in Japan. When he joined an upstart wrestling promotion, he knew he had to do something to differentiate from the other companies.
“Basically it became necessary in Japan,” Funk said. “The reason why was because I separated from the All Japan Wrestling Association and I went to another group. And that other group, I knew what was necessary to make us successful because we didn’t have the national television [deal] that All Japan had over there or New Japan had. We had nothing, all we had was a newspaper. A picture is worth 1,000 words, so I guess that’s what determined my style and what I did, because it was a survival situation.”
Funk is known for being one of the pioneers of ECW. He said he had a great relationship with Paul Heyman and he had a personal goal of having ECW compete with the WWE. Funk believes that even though ECW never surpassed WWE, the hardcore wrestling company did enough to be up to par with the top promotion in the business.
“We had to compete, compete with the greatest there was in the business at that time, and that was in the New York office and we did more than compete,” he said. “We didn’t surpass them, but we damn sure were out there, and they knew we were there.”
Funk is a wrestling lifer and wrestled as recently as September at the age of 73. He said he’s driven by the fierce competition among wrestlers to be the best in the business.
“There is tremendous competition in it as to who is the best and who is on top and who is considered the superstar at any time,” he said. “That’s what the great drive in the business is, when you go out in that ring and say, ‘That last guy had a g**damn match, but let’s see the son of a b***h follow this one.’ That is really the truth, that’s what makes wrestling wonderful.”
Funk said he is currently going through some health issues. While he didn’t officially announce his retirement, he made it clear that it’s time for him to transition out of the business.
“I have an abdominal hernia which I tore and had operated on, and it’s not the easiest thing in the world to get over. I’m gonna go on down the road, but hopefully I can get over the damn thing. There comes a time whenever your family’s out there and they need you too, and my family needs me. I’m not gonna squeal out that this is my 23rd retirement, my real, real retirement. But you know there comes a time where you need to look to go in another direction in life, and I have entered that time. It’s been a wonderful, wonderful career. It’s been just a great run that the Lord gave me and I damn sure appreciate it and thank him for it and for him giving me the body and the ability to do what I have done for years.”