RF Video Shoot Interview with Greg Valentine

This was filmed in 2000

The Interview was conducted by Rob Feinstein

It runs at one hour and forty-nine minutes long

The interview starts with Valentine being asked about how he got started in wrestling. He said after his freshman year at Washington State, he traveled on the road with his dad (Johnny Valentine) in Texas, who did not want him to enter the business, and decided that was what he wanted to do as a career.

Valentine said that his mom raised him as his parents divorced when he was about six years old and wasn’t even able to see him wrestle on TV as his dad wrestled across the country while he lived in Seattle.

He said his dad told him at first that he was not big enough to be a wrestler but Valentine thinks he just wanted to drive home the point that it was a tough business. So, his dad then sent him to train in Calgary at Stu Hart’s dungeon. He talks about the training and how he started off as a referee and part of the ring crew at first then after several months called his dad and said he wanted to leave and actually wrestle somewhere. Valentine then does a spot-on Stu Hart impression about how he wanted to leave yet didn’t even know how to lace his boots.

After Calgary, Valentine headed to Detroit as he joked about living in the basement of Eddie Fargo and his “fat” son. Valentine said he had a ring in his backyard and trained then. He then said that Fargo told him not to use the Valentine name and had him go by “Baby Face Nelson.” After that, Don Fargo saw him and as he gained more experience then they teamed together. He also talks about winning the tag belts in the Buffalo territory that was run by Pedro Martinez as he wrestled guys like Dominic DeNucci and Tony Parisi.

He worked as the Fargo Brothers in the Funk’s territory in Amarillo and stayed there for about a year. He said the road trips were brutal but it was long, steady work and he had a lot of fun there too.

In 1973, Valentine had a falling out with Fargo and ended up going to Kansas City and while there switched his name to Greg Valentine. While there, Jack Brisco brought him to Florida where he was billed as the “brother” of his actual father because, as Greg puts it, his father was vein and if they thought he had a son that old he would be labeled as too old.

He left Florida and went over to Los Angeles and stayed there for a year where he won the America’s Title. It was then where he met Vince McMahon Sr. for the first time and worked for the WWWF briefly after that.

In 1976, he went to work for Bill Watts in Oklahoma. At the time, Valentine said he was a great guy to learn from but his payoffs were horrible and Valentine left as a result.

Valentine talks about the plane crash that ended his father’s career. He also talks about Ric Flair, who was part of the crash, and how he never broke his back despite claiming that he did.

Shortly after that, he worked for the Mid-Atlantic Territory. Valentine said he was still a bit green at the time, as was Flair, but they teamed together and worked with the Andersons (Ole & Gene). He puts them over a lot. They also worked against Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood as well as Paul Orndorff & Jimmy Snuka. Valentine estimates they had the belts back-and-forth for about three years.

Valentine then said that George Scott came up to him and said he needed to get out of the territory for a bit and said he had a deal for him in the WWWF. Valentine also said that Vince Sr. gave him the figure-four leg lock as a finisher in 1979 and used that and was built up as a heel then a few years after that, he went back to Mid-Atlantic as he said the WWWF would build up the heels for the babyfaces and that the heels had a short shelf-life as a result.

When he got back to the Mid-Atlantic, Valentine came in and tricked Flair into believing that he was a face then turned on him during a match when he walked out. Valentine said he took Gene Anderson’s cane and hit Flair but it didn’t break as the Andersons were screaming at him to break it so Valentine swung it harder and ended up breaking Flair’s nose and splitting his lip. He said that he felt like shit afterwards for hurting his friend but that Flair didn’t care as he said they were about to make some money with a feud.

He is asked about several workers from the Mid-Atlantic. He said that Tim Woods was very tough to work with. Valentine put over Wahoo McDaniel as a person and a wrestler. He said Rufus Jones was a good guy but a lousy worker, despite being over. He didn’t like teaming with Baron Von Rashcke at first, because it was different than teaming with someone like Flair and didn’t think it would workd but it did and Valentine puts over Rashcke also as a person and a wrestler. He said it took Ricky Steamboat about a year in the business to become a polished worked while it took himself about him. Valentine said that Ray Stevens was a “man’s man” and learned a lot from him then said while teaming up together, they were in a lumberjack match where Big John Studd was supposed to catch him but backed up and Stevens tore his groin and as a result, was not able to come back. He said Paul Orndorff was hard to work with because he was very strong and a little green at the time. Valentine said that Snuka was wild but easy to work with in the ring.

They go back to his time in the WWWF and working with Bob Backlund as Valentine compares it to “going to the dentist and asking for all of your teeth to be pulled out” then laughs for a bit. He calls Backlund a great person then said that they asked him to go an hour with Backlund and it was one of the hardest matches he has ever had, stating he blew up about 500 times that match, and that it was hard to get heat as while champion, it didn’t seem like the people got behind him and noted that his selling was almost comical.

On other guys he worked with in the WWWF, Valentine said that working with Pedro Morales was like a night off. He then said that Vince McMahon Jr. at that time was like one of the boys and partied with them and easy to get along with as back then, he was not the boss. He said the Grand Wizard was a good man and would almost act as a real-life manager to the guys he was managing at the time.

He worked a few tours for New Japan in the early 80’s. Valentine said back then he didn’t like going over due to the culture shock and the wrestling was hard. He worked with Tatsumi Fujinami, who Valentine said was the best over there and Antonio Inoki was easy to work with but there were several other guys who were tough.

He went back to the Mid-Atlantic then was asked about his feud with Roddy Piper. Valentine said they were both close and traveled together and came up with an angle that he would hit him with the belt as Piper “gigged” himself in the ear and he poured blood. Valentine also added that they tried to do a lot of “hardway” stuff as they wanted it to look as believable as possible. He talks about their dog collar match at Starrcade and how fans always mention that match when they see him today. After having problems with Dusty Rhodes, he left to go back to the WWF.

When he went back to the now WWF, Valentine was given Capt. Lou Albano as a manager. Valentine said Albano was hilarious and would always keep him laughing, especially when he was drinking. He also said how Vince Sr. would fire him every TV taping because he got drunk and would swear at everyone but get rehired back each time.

Valentine talks about his feud with Tito Santana and said that originally, Tito was going to feud with Orndorff. However, Orndorff kept missing shows here and there so George Scott, who was the booker in the WWF now, pitched the idea of replacing Orndorff with Valentine and since Tito needed a legitimate operation on his leg, Valentine would win the Intercontinental Title with the figure four that would “break” his leg. Valentine puts over Tito as being his favorite opponent and how he had great timing and was a natural babyface.

He said that he realized the WWF was going to be huge around 1984 when Vince Jr. told him he had a “home” there forever, he referring to him as family. Vince Jr. then told him that he was going to take over the world and buy TV time everywhere. He even asked Valentine if he could bring in the Road Warriors but Valentine did not even know them at that time. When asked, Valentine said his ego grew massively over time as they got more popular.

On his matches with the Junkyard Dog, Valentine said he was hard to work with as when you would knock him down he would just lay on the mat so you had to pull him up yourself. Valentine said he was a great guy but lazy in the ring. Originally, he was supposed to work with Tito at WrestleMania I but George Scott wanted to stretch their feud out longer so he switched it to having Tito point out to the ref that Valentine cheated to win.

Valentine talks about working with Hogan and how the office originally wanted Valentine to job to the leg drop, Hogan got the finished switched to where Hogan pinned Valentine after clotheslining him after he came off of the top then afterwards, to get his heat back, Valentine would attack Hogan and put him in the figure four.

When asked about the formation of the Dream Team, Valentine said that before the officially became a team, the office would throw him and Beefcake as a team on occasion and had no clue they were grooming them as a team.

As part of the Dream Team, Valentine said he loved their matches with the British Bulldogs and notes how they sold out the Maple Leaf Gardens once. He talks about winning the belts from Barry Windham & Mike Rotundo and shortly after that they were all driving around drunk in the snow from Baltimore and the next morning, Windham flew back home and quit the company so they had Danny Spivey come in to take his place but it didn’t work out so they had all underneath teams and then George Scott wanted them to put over the Bulldogs in a non-title match for “Championship Wrestling” then eventually drop the belts to them at WrestleMania II. Feinstein then asks Valentine about Dynamite Kid saying in his book that he refused to drop the belts back to the Dream Team. Valentine says that is news to him then said a lot of guys disliked Beefcake because he was Hogan’s friend but finds it tough to believe as they had great matches together.

On the Dream Team breaking up and feuding with Beefcake, Valentine said they are still good friends to this day but Beefcake would complain when he got hit with stiff chops.

He is asked about several other workers at that time. He likes Jake Roberts as a person, noting how he has his “hangups” but does like him. He said that Don Muraco is a great guy and a “good kind of crazy.” Valentine said that Bret Hart becoming a singles star surprised him because he didn’t think he had the charisma to pull it off and was poor on interviews. On the Ultimate Warrior, Valentine said that everyone resented his push and hated to work with him but Vince was trying to feed him bodies so he could replace Hogan. Valentine said he got to know the Warrior when they did some independent tours of Europe and found him to be a great guy. He said he was friends with the Rockers, noting how a lot of the veterans disliked them at the time.

About steroids, Valentine said he used them a few times to recover from injuries but saw guys shooting them up daily in the locker room. He said they schedule they had back then, steroids and other substances helped them out.

When he teamed with Honky Tonk Man, Valentine said he went back to being managed by Jimmy Hart shortly after his feud with Beefcake ended and thinks they were thrown together because they both had Hart as a manager. Valentine said it took six months of convincing before he finally allowed his hair to get dyed black, which he said was an idea that Vince got from Jesse Ventura, who thought it would shock the fans. Valentine said he tried to make the gimmick work and at one point they were going to get the belts, because they were Vince’s creation, but he signed the Road Warriors then sent him to Japan to work for the SWS promotion as Honky became an announcer.

On Randy Savage, Valentine said that he always thought they were friends but never wrestled much together. However, Valentine said that Savage no longer stays in touch with anyone and talked about how his wife was friends with Elizabeth and when he went on tours, Savage would call his parents to take Elizabeth around when he was away.

He left the WWF after returning from Japan and worked against Dino Bravo then Earthquake at WrestleMania VII. Valentine talks about how originally, they were supposed to go 12 minutes but it got cut down to just four as Valentine didn’t mind jobbing but did not want to look like a jabroni losing in a few minutes. He got heated backstage and nearly walked out but did the match and stayed with the WWF a little bit longer before leaving for WCW.

In WCW, Valentine said that Bill Watts came in and cut everyone’s pay, noting how he gave his own son Erik a nice contract. He said one day he was going to do a job to Sting at the “WCW Saturday Night” tapings in a quick match but refused to do so and Dusty asked him if he wanted to work or not as Valentine said no then left the company.

He is asked about guys he worked with in WCW. Valentine said that Marcus Bagwell would cry when he beat the shit out of him in the corner with chops. He also said that Jimmy Garvin & Michael Hayes were fun to work against, despite the fact they were not the best wrestlers.

On working for Herb Abrams, Valentine laughs as he tells a story about working for Abrams then after the show, he talked with Vince McMahon. Word of this got back to Abrams, who decided to cancel Valentine’s check before he could cash it as a result. Valentine points out that he finished the work he was paid to do by Abrams before speaking with Vince.

Valentine said that he went back to WCW for Bischoff and got a two-year deal and was rarely used. When asked about Bischoff, Valentine said he should worship every wrestler he met as Bischoff made all his money in wrestling despite not knowing shit about the business. He also calls Bischoff a “mark” for Kevin Nash and Scott Hall.

He then talks about working the Independents today and how he now does not mind working as a babyface, something he hated earlier in his career. He would also like to try being a booker some day as well.

When asked if he could change anything about the business, Valentine said he would unionize wrestling and do something similar as the Screen Actors Guild to help pay for the injuries they suffer during their career, noting how the guys in ECW are killing themselves without a pot to piss in at the moment.

Valentine said he still talks to Tito, Honky, and King Kong Bundy today. His favorite match was the dog collar match against Piper. On wrestlers he likes to watch today, he says Chris Benoit, Rock, HHH, and Rikishi.

On the best rib he has ever heard about, Valentine tells a story of how his dad, who was a notorious “ribber,” once pranked Jay York by taking his inhaler and filling it up with lighter fluid. After his match, York used it and nearly died so he then went to his car and got a shotgun. Valentine’s dad took Buddy Rogers’ suitcase, which looked just like his own, and York ended up shooting it out of his hand while Valentine’s dad acted like he got shot himself.

When asked where he sees the business in the next five years, Valentine says that his dad told him no matter what you do you cannot kill the wrestling business. He believes that another company, not ECW, will come in as the TV stations are seeing the ratings wrestling brings in and will jump in on that.

Valentine said that his regrets are getting married so many times and letting Vince talk him out of going to WCW in 1990 when he had one hell of an offer.

And how some word association:

Hulk Hogan: A phenomenon and “basically” a good person.
Ric Flair: A great guy but “shady” at times.
Ricky Steamboat: Great Guy.
Lex Luger: One of the luckiest guys in the business but a nice guy.
Eric Bischoff: “asshole.”
Sting: Doesn’t really know him all that much but said that he was nice to him.

Final Thoughts: I thought this was a solid interview. I prefer is WWE 1985 Timeline with Kayfabe Commentaries but Valentine provided some insight here and was willing to speak. He was not bitter and generally had good things to say about everyone, except for Bischoff.

Valentine was also very protective of his character (Basically, not wanting to get squashed in quick TV matches) and showed that he was a little bit behind the times at that point (Valentine was already 40 years old at WrestleMania VII). Valentine was relaxed and generally happy throughout the shoot as he went through his career in detail.

Overall, I would recommend this as it breezed by and Valentine did have an eventful career that he detailed well.

You can purchase a DVD of the shoot for $15 or download a digital copy for $9.99 by clicking on the links below:

http://www.rfvideo.com/shootwithgregvalentine.aspx

http://store.rfvideonow.com/downloads/greg-valentine-shoot-interview/