This interview was filmed on October 31st, 2004
The interview was conducted by Rob Feinstein
Disc One runs for one hour and fifty minutes long
They start by telling us how they broke into the business. Tommy says that he was in college and friends with Brett Sawyer, brother of Buzz Sawyer. Brett started to travel with his brother in the Florida Territory but could not make one of the house show loops so Buzz asked Tommy, who was a wrestling fan, if he wanted to travel with them. Tommy went along and got to travel with the guys and would sit backstage with the families or in the crowd. One day, Charlie Cook got into a car accident and could not make the show so they asked him to fill in and Tommy was hesitant as he never trained and thought he would get killed. They told him not to worry as the guys in the ring will lead him through the match and to use the little bit of amateur wresting experience he had. He also said that he had to borrow a pair of boots that were a size too big and wore extra pairs of socks to fit into them and they got him some tights. Jack & Jerry Brisco told him to run into the ring and jump on top of the apron and over the top rope, saying that he would get over. Well, Tommy did that but with the boots a size too big he caught the top rope when he jumped and barely landed on his feet. After that happened, Tommy said that he could not even see the fans and was completely overwhelmed. His opponent was Eddy Mansfield, who walked him through the match. He then got his first payoff, which was $100 and he thought that was great and he had a few fans ask him for autographs.
The Brisco’s ended up giving him the name “Tommy Peters,” which was a rib on him as he was from St. Petersburg. After a few matches, he decided to try a move against a Japanese wrestler whose name he forgot and figured he would try a bodyslam as he saw the move on TV a million times. He ended up slamming the guy very hard against the mat as he had no idea how to perform the move because he was never trained at that point. When he got backstage, the Brisco Brothers chewed him out for doing that.
Buzz Sawyer left Florida and went to Georgia so he followed him up there. He met Brad Armstrong and ended up staying at his place and took care of him. Bob Armstrong also helped out Tommy by training him. They taught him to know what he was doing before trying something and also not to expose the business.
Bobby Fulton says that he became a fan of wrestling by watching guys like Abdullah the Butcher and the Sheik. He was into the bloody brawls. He ended up wrestling his first match at age 16 after writing a letter to Ken Jugan (He did some work as a WWF jobber in the early 80’s) who was running shows in West Virginia. His dad drove him 175 miles to the show by the way. He got there and Jugan would not let him wrestle as he was afraid that he would get hurt. However, they ended up being short on bodies so he wrestled some other guy who also got a spot on the show by writing to Jugan and also had zero training so they went at it for about three minutes until the locker room broke it up as they were really going after each other. Tommy said that he got $5 for the show. He then talked about how difficult it was to break into wrestling as there were no schools and you had to know another wrestler to even get a chance and most of them would almost discourage you to start.
They both talk about training as Tommy puts over how different it is from what you see on TV and how you perform in the ring as you are taught to work the left side as Bobby talks about how he learned on the job and saw guys 5-6 nights a week who could work with a broomstick. Tommy also said that the longest thing to learn is to slow down and make it easier for you and your opponent but that you also want to learn new stuff so you can progress your career. They both put over all the guys who they learned from for being able to have a career in wrestling.
Bobby said that he didn’t even attend his High School Graduation ceremony as he was doing jobs for WWWF TV. His first show was the one where Greg Valentine broke Chief Jay Strongbow’s leg. He also did jobs in Calgary and for Nick Gulas’ Territory. He also said that he worked for Bill Watts who gave him the name “Russ Jones” and he hated that name so he only stayed their for a short time.
He then talks about his time in Calgary working for Stu Hart and tells several stories about the Hart family. At a TV taping where Stu Hart was on camera and someone from the stands threw a bag of popcorn that landed near him so Stu went over and picked up the bag and started to eat from it as he was being filmed. Bobby tells another story about the Hart family when Bruce was wrestling against Sandy Scott and was in a sleeper hold and really milking it for all it was worth. His brother Wayne was the referee and warned Bruce if he dropped his arm again he would ring the bell so Bruce dropped his arm and Wayne signaled for the bell so Bruce decided to attack his brother right in the ring and they ending up having a fist fight. Bobby said that Smith was sent to Japan to learn from Inoki but they sent him back because Smith decided to come out to the ring with a Hitler mustache and marched to the ring and when he got there he opened up his robe and was not wearing anything underneath.
Bobby tells another story about Calgary. Len Denton & David Patterson (David Sierra) were the Tag Team Champions and they all lived in the same house together. One night, Denton woke him up and told him to put him in a small package and Patterson got down and counted to three and they threw him the Tag Belts and ended up leaving town. Later that day, Dynamite Kid knocked on the door and asked Fulton if he had a “small package” for him. Bobby said it was a great learning experience in Calgary as you learned from so many good workers.
Tommy said that he enjoyed his time in Oregon and was amazed when he saw Andre the Giant in person as he would pass through the territory on occasion. He said that they had a good locker room and learned from the guys. He said he hated his time in Memphis as Jerry Lawler and Jerry Jarrett were very clique-ish. Bobby chimed in and said how he got paid nothing in Memphis when he was there and at one point decided he was going to quit the business then went back home and wrestled some independents in Kentucky but ended up breaking his arm then broke it again and had no money and couldnt even afford to feed himself so he saw the Cuban Assassin on TV wrestling in Memphis and called him up and went to work for the Jerry Jarrett. Bobby puts over the talent in Memphis at that time.
Tommy is now is asked about working for Ole Anderson in Georgia. He said that Ole took to him as he was close to Buzz and treated him great but saw him be really nasty to others. He then tells a story of how he was wrestling in the Philippines and Ole got pissed at the sponsor so he decided to leave but he had Tommy’s working visa and everything else with him and did not realize that until he got back and he eventually sorted that out through the embassy. He then tells a story while in Georgia of how Jim Hellwig (Ultimate Warrior) and some other muscle bound kid came to the office and they blew them up and Bob Roop stretched them both out. Tommy said it was brutal what they did to those two. Bobby then talks about how they worked against both Hellwig & Sting in Memphis and Mid South and how it was tough as they were both so much bigger than them and would blow up quickly. Bobby said one time he was used mounted punches on Hellwig, who was screaming for him to get off of his chest as he could not breathe.
Bobby talks about the formation of the Fantastics. He said that he was teaming with Terry Taylor as the “Fantastic Ones” in Memphis and was barely being used. At the time, Bill Watts and Jerry Jarrett were exchanging talent and Jarrett wanted the Rock n’ Roll Express back as Watts sent him a bunch of guys who were young and not stars. So, the Rock n’ Roll Express lost a loser leaves town for 90 days match and Watts needed a new team so they put him together with Tommy, who he had only seen briefly while they were in Memphis together at one point.
Both guys agree that Watts was a tyrant and how he would just scream and yell at everyone during the TV tapings. He also said that on average they worked 9 days a week and drove about 3,500 miles.
Their first matches were against the Midnight Express. Tommy talked about not wanting to wrestle the same as the Rock n’ Roll Express as they replaced them and attracted the same crowd and stressed how you do not want to be a copy of another act. Bobby then chimes in with a story about the Fabulous Ones in Memphis being one of the first teams to come out to music and how Koko B. Ware came out to music a few nights later and that resulted in a fight between Koko and Steve Keirn.
Originally, they were promised the top tag team spot but that ended up going to Al Perez & Wendell Cooley. They ended up talking about payoffs as Bobby said he was making between $600-1,000 weekly then went on to say how the promoters would keep you “half broke” so you would need to come back but also because if they you a ton of money, you would get the power that came with it so that is why the payoffs were different week to week.
On their ring entrance, Bobby said that they basically did what the Fabulous Ones did but put their own twist on that.
While in Texas, the Fantastics became very popular among the female fan base. They are asked if they have any good stories about that. They talk about how there was one female fan who had the elephant man’s disease who was at the shows. One day as they made their entrance, she grabbed Bobby by his hair and tried to turn him around so she could kiss him and he was able to fight free.
Tommy tells a story of how one female fan came up to him and said that Dusty Hill from ZZ Top was a huge fan and they ended up actually meeting him the next time they came to town as they were brought to Hill’s bar, which was a blacked-out old convenience store located at a strip mall and someone knocked on the door where Hill opened the door and greeted them and they became friends. Bobby added that they never met the rest of the band but that Hill was a huge wrestling fan who also befriended other wrestlers.
They are asked about the party scene in World Class with the Von Erich’s and the Freebirds. Both said that they would see their cars parked and knew they were getting fucked up in them as they would come out stumbling all over the place but never harmed anyone and since they all did it in their cars, they never saw it take place.
Tommy tells a story of how Kevin Von Erich was in an eight man tag and dropped down as he was all pale and had some dark blue veins showing on his back. Some fan came up on the apron with a camera and Bruiser Brody took it and slammed it on the cement. The Emergency crews thought it was part of the show as Tommy saw Kevin looked oxygen deprived so he opened up his mouth and Kevin started to grasp for air then the crew finally came in and took care of him. Tommy said that bothered him a lot and almost quit the business as he did not want to see anyone die in the ring. Tommy said that he got his paycheck from Fritz the following Friday, who barely thanked him and after that saw why the kids were the way they were as he felt that Fritz was a complete tyrant with them.
Both guys talk about some of the wrestlers in World Class as Tommy talks about how he never hated anyone as everyone has their own quirks and idiosyncrasies and he tried to understand them. Bobby never understood why Fritz never did anything with Jake Roberts when they were there as Jake was wrestling in on the second match of the card most nights.
After World Class, they went to work for Watts. They talk about Mid South and how great the television shows were at that time.
They tell a story of how they got arrested in Baton Rouge. After working against the Sheepherders, some fan was ragging on them by saying how the blood they drew was fake so Terry Taylor knocked the fan down. They guy got up then Tommy started to beat on him in the crowd as the babyfaces were fighting with the fans. The next day they came to the locker room and were told that they had to turn themselves in as that fan had pressed charges against them.
Final Thoughts: Good stuff so far. Both guys are relaxed and willing to discuss their careers and all of the crazy stuff they have seen and heard. There was not even a shred of bitterness here, which I always find refreshing.
Bobby talks the most and always has something to say but Tommy also tells good stories and they both have a good sense of humor.
Disc Two will be up tomorrow at noon.