For those wondering, this is the WWF referee and wrestler Danny Davis, not the one who owned OVW.
This was released in 2014
The interview was conducted by Rob Feinstein
It runs for one hour and thirty-six minutes long
The interview starts with Davis asked about being a wrestling fan while growing up. Davis said he wasnt really a big fan then recalls watching a WWWF show at the Jack Witchie Sports Arena in North Attleboro, MA. He remembers seeing Chief Jay Strongbow, Lou Albano, and others while he recalls getting hooked by this event.
He then talks about growing up poor in Brockton, MA and would skip school in order to help put up rings for WWWF shows that came into the area. He said at that time they kept him out of the dressing room and he was “in the dark” to what was going on in wrestling. Davis said at that time, no one at all smartened him up to the business.
Davis said a few years later, Vince Jr. called him up as the guy who was in charge of driving the ring trucks got fired and offered him the job. Davis says this was in the late 1970’s. When asked about the territory, Davis said that two guys ran things: Ernie Roth (The Grand Wizard) and Bob Harmon. Davis puts over Roth for taking him under his wing but still didnt smarten him up to things. Davis did say that after being there for a while, you would listen to the guys and could pick up on things.
He continues to talk about his time in the ring crew, saying he was in charge of putting rings together on the shows from Maine to Philadelphia, which was really as far as the territory went. He lists of all the smaller towns and cities in New England where they ran shows.
Davis recalls the first night he became a referee. They were at a show in Bangor, ME when Davis approached Vince Jr., stating he thanked him for the opportunity but needed to make more money to support himself. He had been there for a few years Vince told him he would be offered a referee position and shortly thereafter at a show in Connecticut, Vince told him to get dressed and be a referee. Davis also notes that he started as a referee on the same show that Howard Finkel started as a ring announcer. His first match was Tony Altimore against some local guys. Davis said everything went fine and was told after the match that if everything continued to go smoothly, the top guys would soon ask for him to referee their matches, which would happen later.
Feinstein asks Davis about becoming masked jobber Mr. X. Davis said that was the idea of Chief Jay Strongbow, who took a liking to him. After they worked a match, Strongbow would put him into shows as a replacement because Strongbow thought he had something. Davis also credits Strongbow for putting him in with guys who could teach in the ring. Davis said that the veterans were stiff but did not hurt him or anything.
When asked about formal training, Davis said that he learned on the fly and credits the veterans for helping him out. He then said it took him about eight years before he became comfortable in the ring. Davis says as he got better, he started to get matches against better talent.
Davis talks about not wanting to go back into refereeing as he thought he could make something of himself as a wrestler. He then talks about the ring psychology being the hardest to pick up, stating you need a “sixth sense” to know when to sell, work the crowd, or stop a guy in the middle of a comeback. He then gives advice to everyone that wants to become a wrestler by stating you should watch as many matches as you can. Davis says after your match, continue to watch the rest of the show and as much as you can until you finally get everything. This leads to Davis talking about kids today, who want to get their “shit in” during the matches as Davis tells them no one even knows who they are, nevermind their signature moves. He then tells a story of Strongbow telling a kid, who asked if doing jobs would hurt his career, to worry about establishing himself first then after that he can worry about doing a job.
He didnt mind working double duty as a referee and wrestler because no one knew he was under the mask as Mr. X.
He is asked about guys he worked with as Mr. X. Davis says that he worked against Bruno Sammartino and his son on TV and was absolutely thrilled to be in the ring with him. Davis tells a story of how Vince Jr. called him in his office afterwards and Bruno was there, telling Vince that he needed to sign a 100 more guys like him. On Lou Albano, he never thought Albano was even drunk because he acted just like he did on TV in the locker room. Davis talks about traveling with Andre the Giant for a few years and would drive him around in a specially made van. He calls him one of the sweetest and best people he ever known but if you crossed him once, Andre would never like you again. Davis said he was too big and never comfortable anywhere besides his home and in the locker room, where he could be just a regular guy. Davis then said Andre could not even fit in airport bathrooms or a lot of the showers backstage. He puts over Greg Valentine for being a good guy. Davis said that the Grand Wizard was always about business. He calls the Wild Samoans two of the nicest guys you will ever meet but also some of the strongest. He traveled a bit with Don Muraco, who told Davis that when he leaves the dressing room, he is Don Muraco but backstage and after the show, he is himself as this leads Davis to talking about some of the guys would get big heads and actually think they were their wrestling personas backstage and on the road. He talks about Mr. Fuji being vindictive and rough on people he did not like and if Fuji did not want a certain guy around, they wouldnt last long at all.
Once again, Davis addresses the kids that want to become wrestlers to respect guys who came before them because those guys are the reason wrestling is around today.
Davis is asked about the vibe in the locker room when Vince Jr. took the WWF to the National level. He said everyone was in disbelief at first, with Davis going as far as saying if Vince Sr. knew what his son was trying to do he would probably have not sold the company to him. But when it became successful, Davis said the “proof is in the pudding.”
Davis said that Gorilla Monsoon was a great guy who was respectful towards everyone. He then talks about his son, referee Joey Marella, and how he was a great pitcher in high school and wanted to become a pro baseball player. Davis almost gets choked up talking about him (He passed away in an automobile accident while employed by the WWF) and says he flipped his car getting off the exit to his house and was killed.
He is now asked about the evil referee angle. Davis said someone must have caught on to his fast counting while a ref as he legitimately did that at times. Davis then talks about people trying to the same gimmick but how it will never be the same and is only one of a kind, stating that he is not bragging about it then adds how you can never copy a Bobby Heenan, Gorilla Monsoon, or anyone else. He talks about the popularity of the angle and how at times he would need to be escorted to his car after the show due to the rabid fans.
On Hulk Hogan, Davis said he knew him back during his first WWWF run and how back then no one thought too much of him. Davis then talks about the original plans for Hogan were to dye his hair red and have him be an Irishman. He then talks about how everyone wanted to work on his card because he would draw so much money.
Davis is asked about David Schultz slapping 20/20 reporter John Stossel at Madison Square Garden. He talks about being there when it happened and joked how he almost shit himself due to how hard Schultz slapped him. Davis doubts that Vince put him up to this as Schultz acted like his character in real-life.
He then talks about the Dynamite Kid and how tough he is then talks about his health today, stating it is very important for people to know that a wrestler sacrifices every day of their lives to put on a show for your entertainment and suffers broken bones and concussions among other injuries.
On working with Jimmy Hart, Davis said they are still friends today and calls him a “consumate wrestling manager” and that he is all business.
Davis said he just went out and did the promos without any script, saying he was really just being himself.
Regarding the drug scene in the locker room, Davis says you could tell who was doing drugs and who was not then says that he stayed away from that scene because he knew better as he was not a nice person when partying. On the “rats,” Davis said you could tell which girls were and said they could be beneficial as they would pick you up from the airport and makes reservations for you at the hotel and restaurants. Davis did not want to throw anyone under the bus here at all.
Davis talks about knowing Vince McMahon for 30 years but today he’d never answer his phone or call him back. He then talks about how long he worked for the WWE and how not once they invited him to the shows when they come to town.
During his match at WrestleMania III, Davis was in awe of the crowd and said it was like a dream being there in front of all these people as he then talks about feeling bad for those who dream but do not follow through with it as anything is possible. He also talks about being nervous for the match and when he looks back, he isnt as happy because he thought he could have done a better job.
He is asked about other guys he worked with. Davis said he was basically married to Koko B. Ware and said that he was a great worker. He tells a story about Jake Roberts and how they had a TV match. When they came backstage, someone told Davis that they had a hell of a match as Davis told that guy it was all due to Roberts. He then says that Roberts got over by basically being himself as he talks about a lot of guys trying to be something they are not as characters. He still talks to George Steele today and jokes that he wrestled his doll “Mine” more than he did with Steele before putting him over for having great psychology. He talks about Mr. T and how they were supposed to have an angle but that Mr. T did not want anything to do with it and no-showed a lot of appearances as the angle got scrapped. Davis talks about Harley Race and how he was a crazy driver, once losing his license in Arizona after getting caught driving 135mph. Davis talks about Sam Houston and how he wanted to be “bigger than he was” and got the impression that he was always trying to impress his brother and father (Jake Roberts & Grizzly Smith). He does say that he was a good worker.
Davis said he went back to being a referee as the company was short on referees. Shortly after that he was gone.
He is asked about people in the business that he did not like. Davis said he did not but recalls an incident overseas involving the Nasty Boys. He went to pick up his luggage at the airport carousel and as he was bent over, Brian Knobbs kicked him in the butt. Davis told him to never fucking do that again as Knobbs laughed. Jerry Saggs then snuck up behind Davis and told him to be careful who is behind him as Davis warned them both he’d fuck them up and they left him alone after that. Davis noted that they could have roughed him up there.
Davis said he left the company on a tour of Germany when he decided to quit. He gets really vague here as at first, he said there was “someone in charge” who he felt should not have been in that position then when asked, denied it was someone from the office or a road agent as he talks about something happened in his personal life that led to him leaving. Davis then said he had an opportunity to get full custody of his son and did so, saying he did not regret anything. Davis got a real job at a farm making $8 an hour “shoveling cow shit” and milking cows before getting a better job driving trucks and repairing engines. He said at first it was humbling and he missed being around the other wrestlers he worked with but again, does not have any regrets.
He does not follow the business today and talks about enjoying seeing fans at conventions who remember him, giving compliments and thanks the fans very much.
Davis talks about how he started in the business driving the trucks and putting together the rings and worked for payoffs as little as $25 per night while miffed that the people in the WWE do not even know who guys like himself, or even someone still there like Howard Finkle are, as he also says that Vince McMahon should at least send out a Christmas card to people who used to work for him as without the guys from the past, he would not have the empire he does today.
The interview ends with Davis once again thanking the fans as without them, there would be no wrestling.
Final Thoughts: I thought this was a solid interview. Davis seems like a nice guy and refused to badmouth anyone, which is an admirable trait. The guy called just about everyone “respectful” and put over their skills as wrestlers. He also seemed like he was trying to “protect the business” here and you could tell there were times in which is he was not forthcoming with his answers (locker room drug use, him leaving the WWF).
Davis also seems miffed that the WWE does not acknowledge guys like himself. He is not bitter about it but you can tell its eating away at him. In fact, Davis was not bitter at all, even when talking about younger guys just starting out on the independents today.
I also thought that Davis’ story was quite interesting. He grew up on the streets and went from putting together rings, to driving trucks, being a referee, and a wrestler that never had any formal training as he learned while he wrestled. There is probably never going to be someone to come up through the WWE like that ever again. He certainly earned his spot in the company.
If you are a fan of the 80’s WWF, I’d consider giving this a shot. You are not going to get much dirt here but its a decent interview.
You can purchase a DVD of this interview for $15 by clicking on the link below