The WWE Hall of Fame consists of wrestlers, managers, celebrities, tag teams and many more, but what it lacks is a Hall of Fame referee. Teddy Long is the closest thing to that, as he got his start in the business as a referee. He was also a ref when he made his WWE debut.
Long had a lengthy career as a manager and on-screen authority figure, so it may not have come as a surprise to many when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017. But it was a surprise to Long, himself, and he talked more about that on The Shining Wizards Wrestling Podcast.
“It was a great honor and a big deal for me. I’ve always looked at The Hall of Fame like it wasn’t for guys like managers, or doing what I was doing. I thought it was just really designed for the wrestlers that get out in that ring and bust their butt each and every night, and take bumps, and do a lot of damage to their bodies,” said Long. “So, those guys deserve to be in something like that. When Vince McMahon gave me the call and said he was going to do that for me, I was kind of speechless because I was honored. And it was a big surprise because I never dreamed that I would have been in the Hall of Fame.”
Long was inducted into the Hall of Fame by the APA ? Ron Simmons and JBL. He was asked if he got to pick who inducted him into the Hall.
“No, I didn’t get a chance to pick them. They didn’t even tell me who was going to induct me until way down the line, and when I did find out? I think that was a Vince decision because he knew that when I first came into WWE that I rode with Bradshaw and Ron, ya know? It was great to have Ron and John, man. That almost brought a tear to me because these are two guys that really know me, and they helped me so much when I got there and took care of me. So to have them induct me was a great honor,” stated Long.
Throughout his WWE career as SmackDown’s general manager, Long was known for his signature catchphrases, such as “playa” and the way he said The Undertaker’s name as “The Un-der-ta-ker.” He discussed the origin of his special pronunciations and whose idea it originally was.
“You know, let me tell you something about that – a lot of people thought that was something that I came up with. And I didn’t, and it didn’t happen like that. Vince McMahon, ya know, I learned his way and that’s why I was there so long, because I learned what he liked and what he didn’t like,” admitted Long.
“He came and told me one day, and he says, when you introduce people like The Undertaker, and he named Triple H and other stars, he said, ‘You need to put emphasis on that, ya know what I mean?’ When I say, ‘The Undertaker’, he said, make that mean something, and so, that’s what I did. I just went out and started putting emphasis on The Undertaker, or you’ll go ‘One-on-one’, or a ‘Tag? Team? Match!’ That’s all I was doing, what he asked me to do. So, when I looked around, everybody loved it, so it became a catchphrase.”
Long worked in NWA/WCW for over a dozen years before leaving in 1998. That year was also when WCW started its decline in the Monday Night Wars, and RAW overtook Nitro. Many former WCW talents point to the dysfunction of the company as the reason behind the company’s struggles, and Long was asked if he witnessed any of that.
“It was pretty stable while I was there, you know what I mean? Because, like I said, I wasn’t involved in none of the big major stuff, so I didn’t have to worry about that. I just did what I did and kept on rolling,” said Long. “But like I said, in some parts, it got real dysfunctional. But me, I’m no big star or none of that, so I just tried to stay away from that and just sit and watch it.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit The Shining Wizards Wrestling Podcast with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.