Kayfabe Commentaries Timeline Series: 1987 WWE As Told By the Honky Tonk Man

Poster “Randie” selected this shoot to be reviewed

This was released in 2009. It is an hour and fifty minutes long.

JANUARY

Honky is asked about all of the vignettes that featured him at various Elvis-centric locations. He said that they filmed a bunch of stuff at the gates of Graceland. It was a freezing cold day in January and he was wearing his knit Elvis jumpsuit, freezing his ass off. He had to stand around and wait for a long time between takes. He said that it was horrible and if you look back at the videos, it was a dark, cloudy day with no leaves on the tree and the grass was dead. He said that the vignettes were thought up by Vince and thinks that vignettes in general are a perfect way to build up a character, as they show a wrestler outside of the ring.

January is the month when Honky first became a full-fledged heel. He was wrestling guys like S.D. Jones, George Steele, and Koko B Ware at the house shows. He is asked if he realized at first that he was going to get a big push. Honky said that he was unsure whether or not if he was going to get pushed at that time but did state that the vignettes helped him and promised to Jimmy Hart that if he got a chance to get pushed, he would make it work.

Honky is now asked if they knew at the beginning of the month that they would go with Andre vs. Hogan at WrestleMania. He said that you could tell they were going that way through the television shows. He believes that the feud started right around Survivor Series. Honky is asked if there was a fear that Andre wouldnt show up due to a bad back and Honky said no, because he had been wearing a back brace for a year prior. He doesnt know about any behind the scene struggles but thinks if there were any, it was over money.

Sean asks Honky about January 10th, when Crockett ran at the Philadelphia Civic Center and the WWF ran at the Spectrum, with the WWF outdrawing the NWA by a few thousand. Honky almost remembers that they tried to book Baltimore the same night as them but could not find an available arena. Honky also said that they didnt pay much attention to that but were happy that the NWA sold well because if they were thriving, it could give them another place to go. Honky then talks about how those guys usually left to join the WWF, and not the other way around. He then says that the NWA’s problem was that their television was not as strong and they lacked the merchandise and games that the WWF had made popular. They also lacked the personal appearance machine that Vince had created and the main thing, the WWF had made their performers household names.

Next, is Jim Neidhart is arrested for allegedly assaulting a stewardess. Honky remembers the incident and said it was a big deal at the time. At one point they thought Neidhart would be gone for good. Honky then puts over how Vince took care of his people, as he put up money to take him out of jail and for his lawyers. However, Vince took the money back from his paychecks and Neidhart got pissed over that and during a TV taping, started to break furniture.

Honky is now asked about Howard Finkel. He said that he was the hardest working guy in the company, doing several jobs at once, and put Finkel over for never having to read off of cards and always knowing everything about the wrestlers. Honky also said that he was a great finder of talent and believes that it was Howard who brought in Jimmy Hart, Elizabeth, and Randy Savage into the WWF after watching tapes of the Memphis territory.

Sean asks Honky about the tour schedule. They were running at least  three separate shows a night. On January 19th, the “A” show was headlined by Hogan vs. Kamala at MSG, the “B” show was headlined by Steamboat vs. Savage at the Atlanta Civic Center and the “C” show, headlined by Tito Santana vs. Butch Reed in a Steel Cage match in Lincoln, NE. When asked who arranged the travel, Honky said it was Vince and Pat Patterson. There was a guy named Ed Cohen who booked the buildings, who oddly enough discovered Honky while looking at a building in Calgary and saw Honky, putting in a good word to Vince. On Jan 19th, Honky worked against Pedro Morales at the “C” show. Honky said Pedro was extremely bitter at this point in his career and tells a story of how Billy Jack Haynes almost fought him in the locker room, when Pedro told Billy he wasn’t going to make it in wrestling. Honky does a pretty funny impression of Pedro. He said the “C” show payday was about $300 but said they were a good way to test guys that were just starting with the company.

Andre’s heel turn was completed at the January 26th TV tapings. Honky thought that the angle turned out better than he thought because Andre was extremely over as a babyface. He gives Andre a lot of credit for being able to be a great heel and said that Hogan also did a fine job making himself turn out as the good guy. Honky said that he couldnt believe how big WrestleMania III turned out to be. Honky then puts over Heenan as a great mouthpiece, especially since Andre wasnt very good at cutting heel promos.

Honky is asked about the Dynamite Kid’s back injury. He didnt work much with him but was told that he needed help getting off of the airplane and could barely use one of his feet and it finally reached a point in which he simply could not perform anymore. When asked about the WWF advertising the Bulldogs as champs after they lost the belts, Honky said that the TV tapings were three weeks in advance so all of the promos and everything else was done then too.

Outback Jack also debuted at the January 26th tapings. Honky said he was found by Jim Troy, who was the International guy at the time. Honky said they saw him and he looked like a guy that had never been in a gym before and said that his being Australian rubbed the English guys the wrong way then said that he eventually rubbed everyone the wrong way. Honky said that everyone gave him a rough time, as he believed that he was just as big as Hulk Hogan when he started. Honky then rags on Troy, saying this was the only person he had ever found. Sean asks Honky what to do after all of the vignettes and effort put into a guy who cant work at all. He said that you can put him in a position to get someone else over.

Honky is asked about the retirement angle with Piper. He said it was a good way to sell tickets as he went off to make movies. He is then asked about Adrian Adonis and Honky said that he had his problems outside of the ring. He then said during the “Flower Shop” segment, they used real flowers that were fresh-cut and brought in from a florist daily.

At the January 27th “Challenge” taping, Honky hits Jake Roberts over the head with a guitar on the “Snake Pit” segment. Honky said he was happy to have a run with Jake at the time, as he was almost a main event guy and thought it would be a great opportunity. He said that Vince and Pat came up with the angles then. Honky says the guitar was heavy but gimmicked. He said that Jake did not go to rehab due to the guitar shot and said that it bothers him because Jake said it, people think it was true. Honky disputes the fact that Jake said this is what led to his drug use because he abused cocaine, not painkillers. He said that they are friends still though. Jake wound up in rehab a few weeks after WrestleMania and Honky ended up wrestling Bruno Sammartino in the Northeast and Crusher in the AWA cities and he would job, to make the crowd happy and because it was non-title. Jake went back to rehab shortly after returning.

FEBRUARY




Andre beat Hogan at the battle royal on “Saturday Night’s Main Event.” Honky was eliminated first in that match. Honky says it was filmed in Detroit and the building didnt sell out and he was actually shocked that WrestleMania drew as much as it did in that market as they struggled to draw a bit in that area.

MARCH




Tom Magee makes his TV debut on March 16th. Sean asks if he was hired to be the next big thing as reported. Honky says he was groomed to be the next Hogan but was another “Outback Jack” story. He said he worked against Tom in Calgary, doing boxing matches on occasion. Honky said that he wasnt that bright and couldn’t work in the ring worth a shit. When asked why it didnt work, Honky said that he had no charisma and could not project his character, noting the Ultimate Warrior could do that. He said Magee would show up to TV, wearing a suit and walked around taking notes. Honky believed he should have been learning in the ring instead.

Honky is asked about the angle in which he and Jimmy Hart tried to get the DDT banned. Sean asks if the mail-in vote was just a way to get people on the mailing list. He confirms that the “Vote of Confidence” thing with him was all bullshit. He did say that “Cyber Sunday” was legit when he was there.

He is now asked about Jack Tunney and how someone with such a lack of charisma could be featured on TV. Honky said he looked like a legitimate authority figure though, like a school principal.

Honky is asked about the week leading up to WrestleMania. Honky said that he didnt have to do much promotion as he wasnt in a major match. He said back then, no one brought their family or guests. They treated it as just another show. The atmosphere backstage was that everyone was burned out and exhausted, from the non-stop touring. He said that he didnt have much interaction with the celebrities.

In regards to the match between Hogan and Andre, he thought it worked well. He saw the ending their live and had watched the match since and thought it was good. He also thought his match with Jake was good an puts him over as always being a professional in the ring. He then said that Jimmy Hart was petrified of the snake and was so tense at the end that his neck ended up getting hurt afterwards because Jake had to hold him still. Honky puts over Harley for being able to carry the Junkyard Dog to a good match, stating that Harley even put the whole match together.

When asked if celebrities understood wrestlers, he said that Bob Uecker and Steve Allen did, mentioning that Allen once was involved in wrestling in California. He also said that Morton Downey was good.

Honky is asked about the match between Steamboat and Savage at WrestleMania. Honky said it was a good match and thought the match going on made Savage look better because Steamboat had been known for going longer in the NWA. He then says that it wasnt out of the ordinary for him because he had seen them wrestle so many times. He then claims that what he did with Jake was almost as exciting for the fans and they did far less than those guys. When asked if people were huddled around the monitor backstage, Honky said no one did that back then, or at least the guys he hung around with, saying guys were playing cards or probably getting Andre wine. Honky said when he was at Cyber Sunday and RAW the night after and didnt watch one match. He did his job, got undressed and left the building. When asked if Savage always scripted his matches heavily, Honky said that if there was any changes or a different match style, Savage would re-script everything. Honky liked working with Steamboat, saying it was easy and he could feed his comebacks and bump for him no problem.

He is asked about the Piper vs. Adonis match. Honky said Adonis went nuts in that match and thought Piper should have lost his hair then in a rematch, have Adonis lose his. When asked about Piper getting electrocuted, Honky disputes that, claiming that he was in the building and that the dressing room lights were around the mirrors and does not know how you can break the bulb and get electrocuted touching the filament, because when the bulb broke, the filament is useless. He then asks what Piper was on if indeed he stuck his finger in the outlet. He then laughs about those stating he had electricity running through his body then says that what he was doing was practicing for a film role.

APRIL




Honky is asked about Ken Patera’s return. He said that he thought Patera did good with the vignettes. He then said that he had a match at the tapings that was so bad that he was told to go out and wrestle again.



MAY



“Superstar” Billy Graham made his comeback. Honky said that the business outgrew Billy at this point and he was deteriorated.

He was asked about Jim Barnett attempting suicide over job stress. Honky said that he heard Barnett made the attempt after learning he was about to lose his job. he was let go after the attempt.

Honky sings a song mocking the Iron Sheik and Jim Duggan getting caught together with drugs. He said that the angle was going to get Duggan pushed to the top then after the arrest, Vince gave them a meeting and said those two would never work in the WWF again. Honky said he looked over to Jimmy Hart and said that they would be back, because they got caught with a little bit of grass and some beers.

JUNE




Honky is asked if Butch Reed no-showing led to him getting the Intercontinental Title. Honky said Butch was AWOL for a while but did appear at the show before Honky won the belt. Honky said that Butch was a good worker and would have made a good champ. Honky said that Hogan saw him walk by and suggested that Honky win the belt. Honky thought that Steamboat believed he was in a good enough position to ask for a few weeks off. Honky brings up how Steamboat mentioned he didnt want to lose the belt to an “Elvis Impersonator.” Honky jokes about that , saying Jake impersonated a snake handler and that Hogan impersonated a body builder from Venice Beach, CA.

When asked about Ted DiBiase and his first-class travel arrangements, Honky said that it got him a lot of heat in the locker room.

JULY




Honky is asked about a returning David Sammartino, who had bleached-blond hair and a leaner physique. He was gone by the end of the year. Honky said that he was out of place with that look, stating that it did not fit his personality at all.

In regards to the Muraco face turn, Sean references Honky’s YouShoot and how he said once they give you the baby blue trunks, it was all over for you. Honky said that Muraco wasnt a good face and much better suited as a heel.

AUGUST




Honky now talks about the angle that turned Randy Savage into a face, when Savage got upset over Honky cutting a series of promos stating he was the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time. Honky said that he started and finished the match as the heel and also said that there was no long-term investment into making Savage a face, just the one segment on “Saturday Night’s Main Event.”

SEPTEMBER




The “Piledriver” album was released. Honky said he filmed his piece of the video after a show in San Francisco at a construction site down the street from the Cow Palace then they filmed him driving the Cadillac. They finished the video in Stamford, CT. Honky said it was a difficult video to shoot and said the editing was great but there was a ton of takes and it was filmed in between their travels. He says that Jimmy Hart wrote the song and Rick Derringer and David Wolfe were involved.

Honky said the Mega Powers were formed as a result of him not wanting to drop the belt to Hogan. He said that DiBiase got the Million Dollar Belt as a result, instead of the Heavyweight Title as planned (This was the result of Honky seeing the writing on the wall when he was told that his character was going to be “repackaged” after dropping the belt and Honky did not want to end up back on the beginning of the card making no money so he asked Vince to give him a chance to let him earn some money for him and if it failed, he would do whatever). When asked about Ted’s thoughts on what happened, Honky joked that he should pray for him

OCTOBER




Nick Bockwinkel was brought in as an announcer and a road agent. Honky said that Nick took his agent job a little bit too far, telling people how to do everything. Honky thought he was fine. He then said that he was the “pecker checker” as he had to supervise the drug tests. Honky said he likes Nick as a person.

NOVEMBER




The “Survivor Series” PPV concept makes it debut. Honky said it was good to push the guys you want and to take the guys you are done with and use them to get others over.

DECEMBER




On December 26th, Honky Tonk Man vs. Randy Savage sells out Madison Square Garden. Jimmy Hart was suspended above the ring in a cage. Honky said that was Hart’s idea and puts him over for giving a lot of guys ideas, especially when it came to get his own guys over. Honky said that Hart came up with the Peggy Sue angle. He calls him innovative.

Final Thoughts: Not bad. This was the first Timeline that was released by Kayfabe Commentaries. Since this was released, Sean has done a much better job in formatting. I’d say about 65-70% of this was focused from the beginning of the year through WrestleMania, with the rest of the year barely covered at all. I know Honky has told the story of him getting and refusing to drop the IC title on several other shoot interviews so I understand why that wasnt covered but they glossed over the last quarter of the year in about ten minutes. Honky was game here and he really does have a great understanding of the business. He gets it that it is just that, a business, and that you have to stand up for yourself in order to not get completely buried. I would recommend this, it does provide insight into how hectic the schedule was, but it was actually weaker than I remembered. There are a lot worse Timelines that you could watch over this.