This was filmed on March 4th, 2016
The interview was conducted by Rob Feinstein
It runs at one hour and fifty-seven minutes long
The first question asked to David is about growing up with his father as a wrestling promoter and his first memories of that. He said his parents were running restaurants as well as wrestling. David said the only times he really saw his dad was when the shows ran as he talked about not being allowed in the locker room as he was about six years old at this time. David said that his dad promoted other things too but wrestling was his favorite as that made the most money.
David talks about how his dad really wanted to live in Greensboro, NC but the rules of the commission were if you promoted shows there, you had to live in Mecklenburg County but they eventually moved there from Tennessee.
He talks about being an amateur wrestler in high school and how he trained were Gene & Ole Anderson beat the crap out of him. He used the name “David Finley” but only wrestled a few matches. His in ring debut took place in 1971. David said he stopped wrestling after developing asthma when he went to the hospital one night as he could not breathe.
On being an undercard guy, David said you have to learn how to lose before you can win.
David said his dad never wanted him in the wrestling business but he always wanted to be involved through the camera lens and wanted to make sure the person watching could feel the experience of what someone sitting in the front row would see. He put over Sandy Scott for being a great teacher.
He talks about when his dad invited Jack Brisco over to the house to tell him he was going to become the champion. David said Jack was a great technician but did not show much presence on camera so they had to devise ways to shoot him on TV to make him appear like a bigger star.
On his dad’s passing (In 1972), David talks about how he still regrets to this day he got to say certain things to him and spend more time with him. He talks about being with his brother Jim in the hospital with his dad where he passed away. David said that his brother in-law John Ringley took over the company as he was in the business before David or his brother Jim but after he had an affair, he was out and Jim was next in line.
He talks about how he got to do commentary. They went to the station where the regular announcer was too drunk to go on air so David and his brother Jim flipped a coin and David lost so he had to announce. David said he was not excited to announce at all. When the new station owner told him he could make more money doing this once a day instead of three so he bought a truck and gutted it out for their own production truck.
David is now asked about a few of the announcers he worked with. He loved Bob Caudle and said he was calm and a great guy. David also liked Tony Schiavone and said they made him grow a mustache because he looked like a kid. He is asked about Jim Ross and said he resented him for a while as he only cared about himself but made peace with him at a recent convention.
On commentary, David said he approached it as a fan and did not even want to know the results before going to air.
He talks about when Roddy Piper first came into the territory and they rode together where Piper constantly wrote down what he heard people saying or from the radio and use that for when he was doing his promos.
Next, he talks about being in the plane crash in 1975 that killed the pilot and injured others such as Ric Flair and Johnny Valentine. He does not remember much because he got a concussion but does recall one of the engines sputtering. David also shattered several of his teeth, broke an ankle and dislocated his right shoulder. When he flew home from the hospital, David said it was raining and he could not see the runway and started to cry as he talks about certain sounds and smells trigger him when on a plane and he needs to know what is going on at that point.
David tells a story of when Ken Patera turned heel he ran out of the back door and never returned. He said that Patera was booed when he came into the territory so they made the call to switch him as a heel.
He is asked about Dory Funk Jr. and Ole Anderson coming in to book the territory after George Scott left in the late 70’s. David said Dory was too laid back of a guy and joked you had to check his pulse to see if he was still alive as a reason it did not work out. David then said that Ole had many good qualities but was just an angry man and they both were still wrestling and trying to put themselves over.
On presenting Ric Flair to the NWA Board to become the next World Champion, David said he was not a traditional wrestler but had the gift of gab and was a likable guy. He also put over Flair’s eye for talent and how he brought in Ricky Steamboat and Arn Anderson as people he could work with.
David talks about Dusty Rhodes and how he was working with his brother Jim. He puts him over for being a creative person and that he wrongly blamed him for why they had to sell the company to Turner Broadcasting. David said he saw him a year before he passed and they had a nice conversation. On if Dusty focused too much on himself, David said its natural for that to happen when an active wrestler is the booker.
He laughs over the question of Dusty going over budget by saying there was no budget. David goes forward to the Great American Bash tour when they were putting on concerts and how it did not make sense to share revenue with a music act. He said it was his brother Jim’s idea and that was the start of their split.
Regarding Vince McMahon trying to take over the wrestling world, David said he knew they would target them as he saw what Vince did to the AWA. David said they financed WrestleMania 1 when they bought the WWF’s time slot on TBS but getting cable was a way to help them against the WWF.
David enjoyed running head-to-head against the WWF. He did say some of the trips into WWF-country could be iffy but that Vince also had difficulties running in the South. David said that they were a fast-paced product compared to the WWF, who did a lot of showmanship.
When asked, David said it was a bad idea to buy dying territories. He was completely against buying Mid-South and said since they were going bankrupt anyway they could just get the talent they wanted.
On expanding their house show tours and letting the WWF run into the South more, David said looking back it was a mistake and does agree if they stuck to the Eastern seaboard they would probably be in business.
David said the Mid-South deal did in Crockett Promotions as they could not justify the expense.
He is now asked about the Four Horsemen. David talks about their interviews and actions in the ring about what made them so electric.
Regarding the angle where Nikita Koloff hit him with the Russian Sickle and the rumor he purposely stiffed him, David confirms it as true and said at that time Nikita hated his guts for being too sarcastic.
On the decision to have Starrcade in Chicago during the day, David said it was a terrible decision because it cost more money and they should have stayed where they were.
David said they had a few other potential buyers for Crockett Promotions but the family attorney did not want it to happen. He did say that Vince never made an offer. David even said before Turner sold WCW to Vince that he had people who made an offer to buy the company but Turner would not sell it to them.
He talks about Turner not taking any of the 16mm footage they had and how some of the footage was even lost.
On why he was no longer on commentary when Turner took over, David said he was told it was due to the fact he was a Crockett and the company wanted it to feel like a new show.
David said that Bill Watts failed as he just wanted to show everyone who was boss and bullied everyone. He then said that Watts cut a lot of the production budget to brings costs down but you need to have good storylines as you can have all the talent in the world but if you do not connect with them its not going to work.
He said that Eric Bischoff had creativity but just started to focus on himself and a few other select people as things started going downhill.
David talks about much money WCW was wasting near the end and at one point had $14 million worth of talent just sitting at home collecting checks.
On some of the other talents in the 90’s, David said someone, thinking it was Jim Herd, wanted to make Steve Austin a Dennis the Menace character but Pillman told them off. He puts over Scott Hall as a great talent who ended up self-destructing. He calls Kevin Nash a complainer and a “locker room lawyer.” David also said that Hogan was always in Bischoff’s ear and had the most influence. He thought that Randy Savage was a really nice guy.
He is asked about his brother Jim and why he does not attend the conventions. David said its because he is embarrassed. He did talk about mending his relationship with him briefly as they are on speaking terms today.
On guys pulling ribs, he talks about Johnny Valentine and how he would shit in a cup and cover it in gravy and leave it in the buffet line. He also put hot mustard in guys tights before they went out to wrestle.
Final Thoughts: Overall, I thought it was a decent interview but have to say I was a bit disappointed. Maybe David did not want to discuss too many family details here but I felt they could have dug deeper here. And David did not give the most detailed answers although I never saw him really dodge a question or anything. He seemed like a decent guy, anyway.
Its amazing to see how many mistakes Crockett Promotions made and how badly Jim Jr. handled things near the end. I wish they went more into details and if Jim Jr. ever sat down for a shoot interview, that would really be interesting to see what was going through his mind at this time.
David told some good stories and I had no idea he gathered a group together in an attempt to buy WCW at the end of their run.
For fans of Crockett Promotions, I would recommend this but if you wanted to learn about the era or family, you can probably get more info elsewhere.