On the latest episode of AEW Unrestricted, Tony Schiavone, Aubrey Edwards and guest Billy Gunn looked back at Billy’s career starting with his tag team with Bart Gunn, The Smoking Gunns. As Edwards revealed how old she was during Billy’s WWE debut, Schiavone asked what Billy remembers from that time.
“What do I remember? This was back when we would do like it wasn’t live. It was all taped, so it was ridiculous. We’d tape so many shows. I think it was Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday something like that and tape two shows a day. When we did the Smoking Gunns, we were decked head to toe with every single Western thing you could imagine,” Gunn said. “So they told us be dressed because back in my day our tryouts were when they tape change or they needed a match before something else, they would throw guys out there for six-eight minutes or whatever. So they said be dressed when the show starts which was when you get there virtually 2:00 in the afternoon. Be dressed from then and we’ll call on you to win so just be ready.
“So the first day, we were dressed all day, nothing. Second day, dressed all day, nothing. Third day, dressed all day, here it comes. They finally go, ‘OK we’re doing the last show tape change just go out there eight minutes.’ It was with Barry Hardy and the kid that does the Gillberg deal. It wasn’t anything we did spectacular. We actually listened to the people that said get out there we just want to see how people react to you. We want to see how you move.”
Billy also revealed the interaction he had with Vince McMahon when getting the contract offer from Vince and WWE. He had talked about before about how he didn’t know much about the wrestling industry and had only been involved through being close friends with Ron and Don Harris, The Harris Brothers who worked a lot in Memphis at the time.
“Being as green as we were, we went literally from the ring they said, ‘hey, Vince would like to talk to you.’ We went to Vince’s office. He was with JJ Dillion. At the time, JJ was working there, and they ask us a little about ourselves. He goes, ‘we’d like to send you a contract. Look it over. See what you think.’ Back then it was a piece of paper that said you’re gonna work 10 days in a year something like that,” Gunn said. “So I looked at Vince and go well I have a job. Can I do this on the weekends? And I’m not kidding you he did his little Vince laugh and looked at me and he goes, ‘I think you’ll be alright.’
“I didn’t know. He knows. He just knew something was there. Could he get it out of me? That’s what I remember the most, looking at Vince McMahon and asking if I could just wrestle on weekends because I had a job. It wasn’t meant as anything except I didn’t know how it worked. I didn’t know you worked all the time, and if you’re good, you can actually make money.”
Billy has talked about Bart Gunn’s toughness before on the Steve Austin Show podcast. He talked about where he met Bart and the training that they would do together at Eddy Mansfield’s wrestling school. He attested to Bart’s reputation as a tough guy when Schiavone asked if Bart really is “pretty tough.”
“Not pretty, very. He’s the only guy that can walk into this town and walk anywhere and it separates like the Red Sea. He’s known, and he’s known well. Actually, when Ron and Don got done with me because they were working up in Nashville and Memphis, and as much as I hate saying his name, Eddy Mansfield, he had a school, but nobody ever went. The only person I ever ran into there was Bart,” Billy said. “Bart was the same as me. He didn’t know none of this either, so we would literally set up a TV with tapes and watch stuff and then run it. Needless to say, he would kill me a lot of the time hence why I got so tough because I had to toughen up just to beat him up. It was never any psychology stuff. It was see do. See, try to do. You can just imagine us two trying to do that. Ever since me and Bart tagged together, it was just a thing. We were very connected. We just had that bond.”
Bart won the infamous “Brawl For All” tournament and took on Butterbean at WrestleMania 15. Butterbean has said that the fight was punishment for Bart, but despite that, Bart still had a reputation for being able to fight 15 guys in a bar. Schiavone asked if that was true, and Billy said that was a normal occurrence for Bart.
“Yes, that would be a weekend basis if he wanted it to. He’s very cool,” Gunn said. “He doesn’t do stuff in moderation either. When he goes, he beats everybody up. He’s not singling anybody out. If you know him or if you hung out with a guy he’s about to beat up, they’re getting beat up.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit AEW Unrestricted with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.