This was recorded on March 14, 2008, less than 48 hours before Hart passed away.
The host is Sean Oliver
It runs at two hours long
Sean Oliver sets up 1986 in World Class Championship Wrestling as the company split from the NWA, saw Kerry Von Erich get into a motorcycle accident, got talent raided from the UWF, and the death of Gino Hernandez. Also, the local economy tanked and booker Ken Mantell left. However, this interview will see Gary Hart book from May-November of 1986 and with the idea that Kerry never got into the accident and that he convinced talent to stay instead of leave for the UWF.
Gary is first asked about the territory system and what it meant to wrestling. He said the best it did was offer places for young talent to break through before they went on to the bigger territories and as a result, wrestling is worse off. He says once corporate wrestling took over they never stopped to think were the next group of main event wrestlers coming from because taking a guy from a developmental territory is not going to teach them as they need to work with superb veterans night after night who will teach them to have a match with a beginning, middle, and end. Gary says most of the guys also ignore the crowd too and how that is a problem.
He then talks about the Texas style of wrestling and how it was snug and that guys left with black and blue marks and if you couldnt take that style, you were not going to make money because the fans were not big into highspots. He then said how the Dallas booking office was the one with the talent that sent guys to Joe Blanchard and Paul Boesch and he was the one in charge of that. He then goes into the history of Houston and San Antonio wrestling and how Southwest Airlines provided cheap airfare and it allowed the talent to fly within the state of Texas.
Hart talks about when you booked the NWA Champion, 10% would go to the champion while 3% went to the NWA President. When Kerry Von Erich was the champion, Hart said at that point the champion is technically off of your roster at that point as they went under control of the NWA President. He then goes on to talk about how grueling the Champion’s schedule was and wanted good relations with them and not have them work in a crappy town so he’d manipulate the champ by giving them days off and working the big cities instead of the spot shows then the champ would like him and they’d want to go back.
Hart tells us about Ken Mantell’s departure from World Class as he said Mantell was in bed with Bill Watts, who wanted to get Mantell and his guys in order to take over the territory to get a bigger price as his plan was to sell to Jim Crockett. However, Hart said that Mantell was a “booker” but not a “matchmaker” and could not re-establish guys to draw big money.
We go over the 1986 World Class roster from May through November (to the Thanksgiving “Star Wars” show) as they will act as if no one left for Watts and that World Class never left the NWA Alliance. They go through the World Class and then the NWA roster at this time and there are too many names to list here.
Hart books the winner of the Fabulous Freebirds vs. Road Warriors & Paul Ellering match would face Kerry, Kevin, and Lance Von Erich for the Six-Man Titles. Hart said that in his mind, the Road Warriors were the hottest act on TBS TV and since the Freebirds and Von Erich’s worked a lot he wants to keep them apart. Hart would have the Warriors win that match too. He’d also put Bruiser Brody vs. Blackjack Mulligan together as they are two hard-hitting guys for the TV Title program as Brody was the champ. Hart would have Mulligan win the title.
Week Two, he’d have the Freebirds get back a strong win against Chris Adams, Steve Simpson, and Steve Regal and then brag about how they chased the Road Warriors out of town. He would then put Abdullah the Butcher in a match over Brickhouse Brown to build him up for Blackjack Mulligan.
In the 3rd week, the Von Erich’s would face the Warriors & Ellering in a non-title match with Ellering eating the pin so the champions can have a win over the unbeatable Warriors. Hart would then get the Rock & Roll Express and put them over Killer Tim Brooks & Matt Borne.
Hart now books Kevin & Kerry Von Erich & Brody vs. Gordy & Buddy Roberts & Blackjack Mulligan as Brody and Mulligan would brawl outside and get counted out to enhance that feud. Then, the Rock & Roll Express would face Brooks & Borne again in a No DQ match were the Rock & Roll Express would win.
Week Two he would put Abdullah against the One Man Gang as Abdullah would get the win. He would also re-introduce the Great Kabuki and put him in a match against Chris Adams were the match would be won by whoever hit the super kick first. He would then put Iceman Parsons against Buddy Roberts the next week in a hair match, which actually did happen as Hart said it got over good.
Hart would put Ellering & Warriors against the Von Erichs for the Six-Man Titles week one, with the Warriors winning, then have Brody vs. Mulligan again for the TV Title that would end in a countout in the second week. The third week he’d have a special attraction match with Wahoo McDaniel beating Baron Von Raschke as both guys were on TBS but had been previously established in Texas.
The third week of August he’d put Mulligan and Brody in a cage with the winner facing Ric Flair for the NWA Title and Brody would win. Hart said Brody would win then, they would have a double cage match show with Brody vs. Flair and then Dusty Rhodes vs. Abby with both Flair and Dusty winning, respectively, as Hart says you cannot pin Dusty the first time you bring him into the territory.
Week one, he then puts the NWA Tag Team Champions, the Rock & Roll Express, against the Midnight Express then the Von Erichs against Borne & Brooks & Kabuki so the Von Erichs can get their win back in the second week. The next week he would put Brody vs. Kabuki the third week with Brody getting the win then after the match Mulligan would run in and attack Brody after Kabuki mists Brody.
Hart puts Adams against Flair for the NWA World Title in the first week while Lance & Kerry Von Erich beat Brooks & Borne for the vacant American Tag Titles. He then puts Brody, wearing goggles to avoid the mist, against Kabuki with Brody the previous week telling Mulligan he bought him a ringside ticket. Brody would then beat Kabuki by countout. In the third week, Hart brings in the Warriors & Ellering as they defeat the Freebirds. On that same show, Steve Simpson & Steve Regal face One Man Gang & Tim Brooks and get the win.
Hart wants to load up the first show in November with a battle royal featuring all of the top feuds that have been mentioned. He gives the win to Abdullah, since he has not won much of anything, and this would give them a lot of footage to use to hype up the Thanksgiving Show not to mention enhance all of the feuds. The second week, he would drop down the intensity as you would not draw as well as normal just before a big show as fans are waiting for that big show. The week before the big show, he would put over all of the stipulations for the big matches. He would make Brody vs. Mulligan a “Loser Leaves Texas, Falls Count Anywhere” match for the TV Title, and put the Warriors & Ellering vs. Von Erichs for the Six-Man Titles in a “No DQ” match. He would also put the Rock & Roll Express vs. Jimmy & Ronnie Garvin for the NWA Tag Title, Great Kabuki (c) vs. Wahoo McDaniel for the Brass Knux Championship, Rick Rude (c) vs. Chris Adams for the American Heavyweight Championship, Lance & Kerry Von Erich (c) vs. Abdullah & Gang for the American Tag Titles and Kevin Von Erich vs. Terry Gordy, and Buddy Roberts vs. Brian Adias for the Texas Championship.
Hart then talks about a wrestler’s rib called “Mabel” where one wrestler would tell another how a girl in the room wants them so they would go in and mess around and at some point, the girl’s husband or boyfriend would run in and the wrestler would run out. One time, The Spoiler was with a girl and the guy barged in but The Spoiler ended up chasing the guy down, who told him that Stan Stasiak was the one who set this all up. So, The Spoiler went looking for Stasiak, who ended up leaving the territory. Seven years later, Stasiak brings up the rib while they are all in the car as The Spoiler was driving and the Spoiler ended up fishtailing on the side of the road and dragged Stasiak out of the car and beat the shit out of him until Peter Maivia broke it up as Hart said Stasiak’s head whacked off of the car and probably could have beaten him to death as he kept stomping his head. Hart then tells a story while touring Australia, they saw Tom Jones in concert and went to their rooms with their wives when the guy at the desk told them they could not take “whores” back to the room. The Spoiler told Gary to take the wives up to the rooms and he would handle this and the Spoiler ended up pulling the guy over the desk and tossed him through a glass window and nearly stomped his head into the head. Hart told him to stop so Spoiler ended up kicking the guy in the nuts so hard they ripped off. He then tells a few more stories about the Spoiler and how Ken Mantell promised the Missing Link a push if he beat the shit out of him (Hart).
THANKSGIVING STAR WARS SHOW
Hart would have Kerry submit Ellering with the claw so the Von Erich’s can regain the Six-Man Titles as beating Ellering does not harm the Road Warriors. He then talks about making a deal with Crockett to have the Garvins win the Tag Titles to take back to the Carolinas. He’ll have Rude vs. Adams end in a time-limit draw so they can play out their feud going forward as they need to have a few things from the big show to follow up on so they do not have to start out from scratch. Roberts would beat Adias to enhance him as he takes the falls for the Freebirds. Hart would have Brody go over Mulligan and tape that to give to Crockett, along with the NWA Tag Title match, to utilize that in his territory and Crockett would have two angles for him to use. Wahoo would win as he needs a win because its his first appearance in years then have a brutal brawl between Gordy and Kevin Von Erich to enhance the Von Erichs/Freebirds feud that ends in a double count out. Hart says he likes to “build a dragon” for the good guys to slay.
Hart now talks about the difference between a booker and a matchmaker. He says a booker puts good guys against bad guys while a matchmaker puts together the scenarios for the good guys to overcome. He also talks about chatting with Fritz about Kerry defeated Flair for the NWA Title. He asked Fritz how long he would keep the belt and Fritz said three weeks. Hart told him it was a horrible idea after all the finishes they used and what just happened with David’s death. Business plummeted after that and did not pick up until Kerry feuded with the One Man Gang as Hart goes on to say how the Florida Territory died after Dusty had a few week-long reign and how he had to go to Crockett.
This closes with Hart talking about bookers burning out after long runs and needing to go to other places where they could appear fresh.
Final Thoughts: Overall, just a tremendous interview. Hart’s insight is only matched by a select few in the wrestling business and even when they did venture off topic, it was informative and entertaining. There was nothing here I would consider a waste of time.
Hart showed what made a great booker here and did so while providing the insight into this time period, which was during the Territory days. He explained all of his decisions in great detail as well.
Sadly, Hart passed away less than two days after this was filmed and the credits are dedicated to Hart’s sons, with pictures of them with their father.
For my money, this is the crown jewel of the “Guest Booker” series and an interview all hardcore wrestling fans should all watch. Just a stellar interview.
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