RF Video Shoot Interview with Tugboat

This was filmed in 2007

Rob Feinstein is the host

It runs at one hour and fifty-eight minutes long


Tugboat was a big wrestling fan growing up and in high school trained at the same gym the wrestlers went at it and they wanted him to get into the business. However, he went to college and trained for the Olympics in 1980 but they were cancelled by Jimmy Carter.


He went up to Tampa to train at the Malenkos’  school then eventually moved to the area and trained for a year and a half until wrestling in his first territory, which was Texas All-Star Wrestling as he worked under Chavo Guerrero, Buck Robley, and Jonathan Boyd. They gave him the name “Big Bubba.”


Tugboat got into Memphis and talks about Jerry Lawler. He mentions that Lawler had a lot of heat with other wrestlers and recalls when Lawler came into the WWF they shit in his crown and put it in the edge of the toilet and took razor blades to his gear. He has no ill will towards Lawler here because he was “green” at the time but did not agree with how he constantly gave people the run around.


We jump ahead where Tugboat was pissed when the Legion of Doom refused to drop the Tag Team Titles to Earthquake and himself so he left a meeting. Vince called him back in and was taken aback as Tugboat says he is all about business.


He is asked about several workers. Tugboat said that Bill Dundee was talented but had a Napoleon Complex and was two-faced. Tugboat said he is not a “drama queen” himself. Tugboat loved Gary Hart and thought he was a great character. He also liked Bruiser Brody but said he was his own enemy. Tugboat said he is the best big-man worker in the business. He said Al Madril was sarcastic and always stirred up shit but personally thought he was a funny guy. He credits Madril for helping him out in the ring. Tugboat puts over the Guerrero family and how Gory, at 80 years of age, took a piledriver to help sell an angle.


Tugboat said that Texas All-Star Wrestling did cage matches, barbed-wire matches, and used chairs and tables before ECW.


After Memphis, he went to wrestle in Florida. He went home after a family member died then lived on a friend’s farm in Kentucky for several months to “clear his head.” Tugboat then lived on a boat and was working as a bouncer in Florida and wrestling in Pensacola. He then wrestled for Dusty Rhodes and talks about him for a bit and puts him over for being a great teacher.


On his U.S. Steele gimmick, Tugboat said it was probably Dusty’s idea. He said that he was Big Steele Man originally and Steve Keirn & Mike Graham came up with that.


He loved being managed by Oliver Humperdink and said he was a funny guy. Tugboat said that Diamond Dallas Page was a great talent but had a huge ego.


Tugboat said he got a tryout in June of 1989 with the WWF as they wanted to see what he looked like. He was getting ready to go work for Otto Wanz in Europe then received calls from both WCW and the WWF then chose the WWF as he did not want to turn them down in case it was his only shot to work for the company.


He now puts over Pat Patterson for having a great wrestling mind and how Vince was smart to surround himself with a lot of talent.


When asked about the locker room atmosphere, Tugboat said he was nice to everyone and did not want to do the wrong thing and how there are egos to deal with like any other stressful business. Tugboat talks about some of the guys he traveled with and said that the Ultimate Warrior and Lex Luger were always stressed and wanted to pull over to eat, even if it would make you late to the arena. Tugboat also talks about rooming with Nikolai Volkoff, who would cook steak & eggs in the morning while listening to Pavarotti.


Tugboat said the office came up with that gimmick and when asked said he would have done anything they asked then calls himself a goof who is still a big child today.


He is asked about working with Hulk Hogan as Tugboat said he was almost freaking out but that it was fun. When asked if there was jealousy among the others, Tugboat said he did not pay much attention to that and went out to have a good time. Tugboat said he was never told he’d turn on Hogan and the storyline with Earthquake was created at the last minute.On Earthquake, Tugboat said he was a great worker who always took care of you in the ring.


Tugboat is asked about several other talents. He said Honky Tonk Man was sarcastic and that Dino Bravo was a nice guy who was hilarious. When asked about the Iron Sheik he said that working with him was like being in a sitcom as it was different each night then he talks about how he would entertain you in the car. Tugboat tells a story how Sheik showed up buzzed to a TV taping then dumped a bottle of baby oil all over him and had a match with Jake Roberts and it was a disaster but he came backstage afterwards and thought it was great. He tells a story about Andre the Giant. Tugboat said he arrived late to the show and was trying to shave at the sink before heading out for his match. Andre was playing cards and sitting on a metal bench then ripped a fart that Tugboat said was so loud that is sounded like a lion’s roar and he got startled as Andre started laughing. He also tells a story when Andre was drunk and took a piss outside of a bar and accidentally pissed all over a guy who was changing his tire.


When asked if he was ever supposed to face The Undertaker at WrestleMania VII, Tugboat said he was never told that would happen. Tugboat does say that he was a good person.


Tugboat talks about how while wrestling against Money Inc. at WrestleMania VIII, they were told by the ref to “go home” right when they got in the ring but Ted DiBiase said fuck that as they were all going to get their stuff in then when they got through the curtain, Vince was standing their pissed off. Tugboat put over DiBiase for being a tremendous worker.


Back to the Hogan angle, Tugboat said the bad thing about debuting with him was that you are expected to perform at that level but afterwards there was nowhere to go but down.


When asked if Jimmy Hart was a stooge for the office, Tugboat said he was but still loves him and questions why anyone would say something in front of him.


Tugboat is asked about the Nasty Boys. He said that Brian Knobbs is a good person and that Jerry Sags was the one who pulled all of the ribs but both were clumsy in the ring as Tugboat references how he fell through the wall in WCW. We get one rib story where they tormented Paul Diamond over in Europe as word got out he was seeing Tatanka’s girlfriend on the side. Tugboat also said that the German handler who worked on the tour kept calling the American’s “pussies” for not being able to drink and he actually ended up passing out and the guys clothes were shredded and they painted his dick and balls black and drew swastikas all over him in permanent marker while hinting that the Nasty Boys were responsible.


He talks about how the Road Warriors refused to drop the Tag Team Titles to them on TV (Natural Disasters) so they dropped them to the Beverly Brothers instead and the Natural Disasters beat them over in England.


On Nailz attacking Vince, Tugboat said he was there and watched him chokeslam Vince then several people pulled him off.


Tugboat brought up how Hawk once gave Randy Savage a “swirly” in the bathroom at the Ice Palace in Tampa, FL.


He got hurt while working with The Barbarian as he tore his tricep coming off of the top rope then after that his brother in-law got killed so he was left to run their two bars in Key West and never came back as this was in 1994. Tugboat said he left on good terms and once in a while takes his kids to the show and talks about his nephew Cody wrestling now but does not want to come off like a guy constantly showing up looking like he’s begging for a job.


Tugboat now talks about the Shockmaster incident. But first he says the original plan for his gimmick was for a comic book-type character. They built the stage like a house then sprayed a Star Wars helmet gold and painted it with layers and layers of glitter then cut out holes for the eyes. Tugboat said the glitter went everywhere and into his eyes then the secretary cut her pantyhose out and put it over his eyes but he was unable to see anything. They told him to bust through the wall then after the cue would cut a promo. Tugboat said he was in position but could not see and after telling Mike Graham, who was in the Gorilla position, that he could not see he was told just to hit the wall as hard as he could. Tugboat said he blew through the wall but forgot to kick out the bottom and his momentum and weight shot him forward and the helmet popped off. Tugboat mentions how he was embarrassed and drank all night but laughed about it the next day.


He then said it was Dusty’s idea to portray him as a klutz afterwards as Tugboat does a funny impression of him explaining why it would be a good idea. Tugboat said he had no problems with it because he was naturally clumsy in real life.


Tugboat is asked about other guys he worked with. He said Ricky Steamboat had great psychology and loves Paul Orndorff. Tugboat said he was there when Orndorff knocked out Vader, who Tugboat said was a “prick” who completely disrespected Orndorff. Tugboat said that Vader was okay with him in the ring but would take advantage of younger guys in the ring.


On leaving WCW, he forgets what exactly happened but it was when he was opening two bars with his brother in-law, who died after getting shot when intervening between kids fighting. He filled in for Earthquake against Yokozuna after Earthquake walked out of the WWF but felt like a “scab” crossing a picket line.


Final Thoughts: The interview started off slow but it got going once he talked about his time in the WWF. Tugboat came across a laid-back guy and the rumor he was taken off the 1990 SummerSlam main event due to getting an ego seems false based off what I saw here. However, that question was not asked and he did not say anything about it but did lightly hint it might have been due to the fact he was not getting over. He seemed to enjoy everyone and appreciated his time in wrestling and thought it was cool to see him joke over the Shockmaster incident, something he also addressed on Edge & Christian’s WWE Network show.

Overall, I though the interview started slow but breezed by once he talked about his WWF career. I’d recommend it to those who have the Highspots Network or want to rent it but I don’t think his career was significant enough or the interview entertaining enough to purchase on DVD, despite the fact I enjoyed most of this.

You can purchase this on DVD for $20 here or watch as part of your Highspots Wrestling Network subscription and rent for $4.99 here