RF Video Shoot Interview with Don Muraco

This interview was filmed in 2000

It runs for two hours and twenty-six minutes long

It was conducted by Rob Feinstein


Muraco starts by saying he became a fan of wrestling as a kid from watching guys in Chicago like Verne Gagne. He said there was a local promotion on Hawaii that did a lot of the crazy stuff that they are doing now, just minus the production values.

He said that he was an amateur wrestler as well as a football player and surfer in high school. After college, he worked construction then got started in wrestling after being sent to Vancouver by the local Hawaii promotion and trained under Gene Kiniski.

The top guys who helped him out where Mark Lewin, Dean Ho, Bullldog Bob Brown, among others.

Muraco also worked for Don Owen in Portland when he had some time off in Vancouver. This was in 1970 and he was just twenty years old. He started off in wrestling as a babyface.

He went back to Hawaii for the holidays and asked if he could get booked and had some credentials and a bit of name value from being a Hawaii State Wrestling Champion and got some work. He beat Curtis Iaueka via countout one night and the fans were shocked by that. Muraco said that business in Hawaii started to decline sharply around this time.

When Verne Gagne visited Hawaii for vacation in 1971, the promoter put Muraco in a match with Mr. Fuji and they went all out. He said that Verne was interested in him, as was Jim Barnett who toured Australia at the time, but the promoter steered Muraco towards Verne, something Muraco laughs about while telling.

Muraco said that Verne was pretty ruthless as a promoter, wanting complete control of the wrestlers and matches, but said that he did great business.

He is asked about the guys he worked with in the AWA. Muraco said that Snuka was so charismatic and when asked why his push ended, he said that Snuka hated living in Minneapolis as the weather was miserable. Muraco said he also left the AWA for the same reasons.

After that, he did a tour of Japan. Muraco said that he first met Dusty Rhodes on that tour. From there, he went to San Francisco and worked for Roy Shire but he never did much there. Muraco said that Watts called him up to see if he wanted to work for him in Florida.

When he first went to Florida, he was still a babyface. He puts over the talent that was there like Dusty, Dick Slater, The Brisco’s, Bob Armstrong, Joe LeDuc, Mongolian Stomper, and Gary Hart.

Muraco said the travel in Florida was unreal. Monday was West Palm, Tuesday in Tampa, then Wednesday was Miami for TV then up to Jacksonville the next day.

He went to Georgia and tagged with Andre the Giant. He said that they were friends at the beginning. He said that he got a lot of sympathy from the fans and would make the hot-tag to Andre, which the fans loved.

After that, he went to Texas to work for Fritz. He just got divorced at the time. He was living with Scott Casey there. Muraco said that Fritz was easy to work for and that his kids were not wrestling at the time.

Muraco talks about helping Billy Robinson train guys and the class consisted of Ric Flair, Iron Sheik, Ken Patera, Greg Gagne, Jim Brunzell, and another guy named Jimmy. Muraco confirms Dusty’s story about Ric Flair wanting to be just like him and Dick Murdoch. Muraco said that Flair would  run to the airport to pick them up when they came into Minneapolis.

He is then asked if Tommy Rich was overpushed when he was in Georgia. Muraco said its all a judgment call and that kids and women loved him and he was a hard worker. He said that his short-belt reign was all political and at one time, Muraco said he was considered for the belt in Georgia but ended up getting drunk one night at Dusty’s “Rock n’ Roll Revival” and knocked over some speakers.

Rob asks him how he developed his interview skills. Muraco said he grew up listening to Curtis Iaueka and Ripper Collins from Hawaii and how those shows were so insane and he learned from all sorts of guys would help you out, unlike today.

He was asked about his angle with Gordon Solie and Roddy Piper, where Muraco went after Solie and Piper made the save, turning himself face in the process. When asked about Piper, Muraco said that he knew him from when he was in Texas and that they have been friends since. Muraco said he was very driven and would study tapes all of the time.

Muraco went back to Florida and Watts was no longer there. He said that Eddie Graham would bring in older guys to book until they ran out of steam then come in and save the day. He credits Eddie Graham and Buddy Rogers for helping him out with the “Magnificent” gimmick.

He is asked about Vince McMahon Sr. Muraco said that the territory was booked meticulously. He said he was never an asshole or had to show his power. Muraco said that you would do a month of TV squashes then a couple months of house shows being built up and then as the top heel, you face the champ for a few months at Madison Square Garden and before you know it, you are leaving with $150,000.

Muraco talks about how Lou Albano would get fired after every TV taping for being drunk then come in hungover the next day and get his job back. He said that Albano would have about 16 cups around and some would be filled to various degrees with vodka and water and would randomly sip them.

He didnt mind having the Grand Wizard as a manager. Muraco said that he would do anything for you and is even the godfather of his daughter.

His first match at Madison Square Garden was against Rick Martel. He then worked a few matches with Pedro Morales. Muraco said that their matches were solid and he had a lot of fire and would sell well back then. He also worked with Bob Backlund, who Muraco says is a terrific guy.

Muraco said the locker room was really fun at the time. When asked about Mr. Fuji and the ribs that he pulled, Muraco said everytime Fuji tried to rib him it would backfire. He said they were close for a long time and would travel with him a lot. He also traveled with Rick Martel and Angelo Mosca.

When asked about Vince Jr., Muraco talks about how he was trying to take over television markets across the country and started to consult with market strategists then on to Home Video and other merchandise avenues. He also said that he almost went broke during this time.

He was asked about how he came up with the idea of eating food in the ring. Muraco said he started that in Florida when Gerry Brisco would steal his food that he hid so he would bring it out to the ring with him. He also said that he would do bits from older wrestlers for his interviews to entertain the guys. He would also put lyrics from the hit songs in his promos too. If he was around today, Muraco said he would be using material from guys like George Bush, Al Gore, and Bill Clinton.

Muraco talks about Rocky Johnson. He said that Rocky hated to take bumps so as a rib, anytime Rocky messed up a highspot, Muraco would perform a move that required him to bump. He then talks about his son, The Rock, and how he used to watch his daughter when he was 12 and was basically practicing wrestling promos even back then. Muraco then mentions how Rock’s mother sent him a tape of him doing some of those promos as a kid.

When asked about working with managers, Muraco said you would only see them for TV and the Madison Square Garden shows.

He is asked about his feud with Snuka, which started after Muraco spit at him. Muraco said that he could only imagine the money that feud would have made today. He said that Snuka had a lot of problems with the office at the time and they wanted a way to keep him the champion after a cage match and have Snuka look strong. Muraco said that he told Snuka to hit him off the top of the cage after the match and act like you do not care about the belt after the match and to spit on him and throw the belt at him too.

Muraco is asked about Snuka being crazy. He said that he did not act visibly crazy to them. He talks about the night of Nancy Argentino’s death. He was at a bar that night and received a call from Eddie Gilbert after he crashed his car and how he was in the hospital. Muraco was there and said that Nancy was there too and in rough shape. He got back to his hotel about 7am and looked up and saw two homicide detectives in suits talking with Snuka. Muraco said he was a liasion to the office at the time. When asked, Muraco said that he had no idea what happened other than she stopped to go to the bathroom at the side of the road and slipped on some gravel then hit her head. Muraco said that he had to drive with Snuka to TV that day.

He talks about Piper for a bit. Muraco says that Piper didn’t like to wrestle on TV because he was smaller than the rest of the guys and preferred to do interviews and then his “Piper’s Pit” segment. Muraco said that he, along with Bob Orton, hung out with Piper a lot.

When asked about WrestleMania I, Muraco said he was at home during the show but still with the company.

Muraco was asked why he never had a program with Hogan and he didnt know and suggested that maybe Hogan did not want to work with him. Muraco said he was never one of Hogan’s guys and when George Scott was brought in to book, he wanted him to put over his guys, like Ricky Steamboat.

About Mr. T and if guys resented working with him, Muraco said they shouldnt have as they were gaining popularity and doing good business. He said how Mr. T was never comfortable in the ring and was stiff in the ring but got a $2,000 bonus in his check one night at the Boston Garden just for taking a bump for him.

On how he got paired up with Mr. Fuji, Muraco said that they traveled a lot and Fuji settled into a managerial role and it was natural.

Muraco is asked about their skits from “Tuesday Night Titans.” Muraco said that the worst the acting, the more the company liked it and they did not want you to rehearse anything because they wanted to see you screw up.

When asked about Ricky Steamboat, Muraco said he was a hard worker but very meticulous. He calls him a dream to work with. He said the same thing about Tito Santana and recalls a story of how he dropped the IC Title to Tito in the Boston Garden. The place was crazy and they had to start off the match very slowly and after 10-15 minutes, the crowd started to pay attention, but the camera man ran out of film and as a result, they never got the footage of him winning the title.

He said that never hung around David Schultz much then incorrectly states that he was in Georgia with Piper when Schultz slapped Stossel. Muraco said that Vince got fined $100,000. He also said that Schultz loved to make the office go crazy.

Muraco got paired up with Bob Orton and “Adorable” Adrian Adonis. He said that Vince gave him a few pairs of kilts to wear when he did Piper’s Pit when he was gone from the company. Muraco did not remember how that pairing developed.

When asked about his WrestleMania 2 match against Paul Orndorff. Muraco said that his match was too short to do anything. He did like Orndorff outside of the ring. He said that WrestleMania III was insane due to how large the venue was.

Muraco said that Vince became for maniacal as he got famous, comparing him to John Gotti for hanging around with his crew. When asked if became greedier, Muraco said he doesnt know if it was that but his ego got bigger. He says that Vince always wanted to be as big as possible.

He said that the Junkyard Dog would act paranoid at times and you had to work his style in the ring. He said that if he didnt feel like moving, you could not move him.

Muraco said that he ended up teaming with Orton when a few years prior, he filled in for Piper after he no-showed to go up against Hogan and Snuka. A year and a half later, they decided to team them up as an act.

On turning babyface, Muraco said that he never wanted to be a face and did not like the “Rock” nickname and says that Pat Patterson gave that to him as a rib. He said that at that point, a lot of the guys started to get stale as they always worked with the same guys every night instead of learning from doing different interviews and by working with other wrestlers.

He said that the was no pressure to do steroids but at the same time, you knew that if you were 230-240lbs you knew that a program for the belt with Hogan was unlikely and you had to bulk up.

He ended up leaving the WWE after he got into an argument with Nick Bockwinkle during a tour over in Europe. Muraco said that Bockwinkle did a bunch of “chickenshit” things to people when he came in and heard a few rumors that he was brought in specifically to get him and others to leave. Muraco said that Vince gave him some time off but also added that his body was not responding well to pain either.

Muraco said that after he went home, he did a couple of independent shows but never considered working for NWA/WCW. He did a few shows for Herb Abrams and said that he was absolutely crazy. Muraco said that Abrams had 50 American Express cards that were all maxed out in order to pay for the shows.

He came into Eastern Championship Wrestling when Eddie Gilbert was the booker. Muraco said that it was just starting out and just like a regular independent promotion. He never thought it would be as big as it became.

Muraco said he works as a longshoreman today and surfs in his free time.

He believes that the workers today are destroying their bodies because they are afraid of losing their spots and trying to out-do each other and doesnt think they can hold up longer than ten years at that pace. Muraco said that he wrestled for over twenty years himself. He still watches a little bit of wrestling today.

If he was wrestling today, he would work a program with any top guy due to the money they would make and jokes he will cut himself however deep they want him to.

Muraco said that he is not surprised that the business is as open as it is today. He says that he has no regrets about his career, joking that he should have made more money.

They do some name association stuff. Here is a rundown:

Vince McMahon: Extremely driven. He said he could never be like him and work 24 hours a day because he likes to take breaks and go surfing.

Hulk Hogan: Never the greatest worker or talker but the greatest of his era and whenever you saw that you were working with him, it meant more money.

Jimmy Snuka: Says he owes a lot of his career to him and they will always be linked together.

Stan Hansen: Nice guy but stiff in the ring.

Ivan Putski: Said he was able to have matches with him and that a lot of guys disliked working with Putski but never had a problem with him.

Greg Valentine: Hard worker who tried to follow in his dad’s footsteps.

Jake Roberts: Good performer and worker in the ring.

Andre the Giant: Said that as he got older, he became meaner and that being the Giant wore him down. He recalls Andre walking through the aisle in Japan and destroying a bunch of cameras by swatting them around.

Randy Savage: Never worked with him much and said when he first came to the WWF, he would never go out and only stayed with Elizabeth but after a few years, Savage would open up and go out. When asked about Savage being paranoid about her, Muraco said that he involved himself with other people’s personal lives.

Corporal Kirchner: Muraco jokingly called him “Corporal Punishment” because he was so stiff in the ring.

In closing, Muraco tells his fans that he has had a great life and has met so many interesting and diverse people and fortunate enough to travel all over the world. He then says that professional wrestling lets you become personal with the fans.

Final Thoughts: After watching this interview, I thought that Don Muraco came across as a very nice man who was not at all bitter about his career. He was laid back the whole time and smiled frequently when re-telling stories. With that being said, this interview was really bland. I would not call this awful but it was not too exciting either.

Part of the problem was that the questions asked were not interesting at all. Only basic questions that did not give Muraco the chance to elaborate much upon. This happened frequently during the early RF Video shoots. Another thing that happens with the older shoots is that they have told stories that we have repeatedly and while they were interesting at the time this was filmed, it does not hold up today. Unless you were a dominant personality that could take over the interview or just willing to discuss anything, you came across as dull. I don’t think Muraco is necessarily a dull person but he kinda came across that way here.

I can’t really recommend this interview unless you are a fan of Muraco. Also, he started in the early 70’s in really small territories so he brings up some names that most fans have never heard of before and that can get you to lose interest quickly. The first 45 minutes of the interview are tough unless you are a diehard Muraco fan or really interested in the Hawaii and Vancouver wrestling scene.

Muraco said at his age is why he never came back after ECW.