WWE Hall of Famer Mr. T was on today’s episode of The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Wrestling Inc. Managing Editor Nick Hausman asked Mr. T about his memories of the first WrestleMania where he teamed up with Hulk Hogan to take on Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff.
“When I met with Vince McMahon and Hulk, Hulk was telling me about it because remember, me Hulk Hogan, we go back because we were in Rocky III together, then he did a couple episode of The A-Team,” Mr. T noted. “He was friends with Cyndi Lauper, and everyone came in and said, ”Wow, you’re getting Mr. T in!’ We did the contract, and now it’s serious. Now we gotta train. Now I gotta learn the moves. I knew wrestling in Chicago. Two-time state champ but like I said, this is professional wrestling because I remember as a kid, Dick The Bruiser and The Crusher being from Wisconsin. I remember Sweet Daddy Siki and Bearcat Wright.
“They would come in Comiskey Park in Chicago, but now, here, I’m involved in WrestleMania. I was like, man, Madison Square Garden. I was thinking about the pressure. I was like, oh man, I gotta hold my own. We’re going up against Piper, he’s one of the meanest, toughest wrestling heels. He’s the ultimate bad guy, and now I gotta go against him. I was like, oh man. Hulk was training me, showing me, throwing me around. I was like, man, I can’t lift you up. We’re moving, and we’re practicing. I was like, man, what did I get into? We kept practicing. I felt some pressure because I didn’t want to let the people down. Then also, there was a little pressure from other wrestlers.
“They didn’t understand that. They probably thought I was maybe a cream puff or somebody trying to come in and make a joke of their sport, but I didn’t. I came in. I was already with Vince because he wanted to advance the sport. You got Cyndi Lauper. You’re getting more eyeballs because before that, they had a certain crowd. Now, we’re bringing in everybody to see wrestling. ‘Hey, this is the guy from Rocky III and A-Team! Cyndi Lauper from the MTV!’ Now, I got to deliver. I got to do my part. I gotta stand toe-to-toe with Piper. It was thrilling and exciting at the same time. I was really pumped.”
Mr. T’s feud with Piper would continue past the first WrestleMania and would culminate in a boxing match at WrestleMania 2. The feud was heated on camera, but Hausman asked Mr. T what their relationship like was off camera.
“He was the ultimate professional,” Mr. T stated. “Later on, people threw out we had a beef or whatnot, but no, we were trying to promote something else so I had to come out and say, ‘Yeah, I don’t like Piper. I’m gonna get him,’ and this and that. Something was gonna happen but it didn’t happen. We were setting the stage because we were trying to sell tickets. I learned from Muhammad Ali. You got to promote it. You got to sell it, and that’s the whole thing. You don’t want to give people too much. You want to give them enough.
“You want to make them excited, make them believe, ‘Hey, I want to see that.’ He was a professional. He was good. He was a scholar. He wrote stuff down and prepared. You’ll notice that when he got into the camera to say stuff, he had it together. Some wrestlers, they can’t really sell it that good. Well, he could sell it. That’s what Ali was. He was a promoter. He could sell it. He was an entertainer, and that’s what Piper was. He was an entertainer, and he was tough. He knew the business. He knew his toughness.
“I was just honored to be with the guy, I told other wrestlers, ‘Hey man, I’m coming to add to it. I’m not coming to take away. If I can’t help you, I don’t want to be a part of it.’ And the guys later say that I was sincere, saw that I was for real after WrestleMania. Then there was WrestleMania II. They knew I wasn’t joking, that I wasn’t trying to make fun of wrestling. Then we got respect for each other.”
Mr. T can be seen nationwide as part of Tide’s #TurnToCold campaign! You can find Mr. T’s full interview with Wrestling Inc.’s Nick Hausman below: