RF Video Shoot Interview with Paul Orndorff

This interview was filmed in 2002. It ran about two hours and 45 minutes long.


Orndorff is asked if he was a fan of wrestling growing up. He said that he was not but after getting drafted by the New Orleans Saints and after failing his physical and not making the team, he lost his spirit for football and went to Tampa, where he was a former High School All-American. His father in-law knew Eddie Graham and he got a tryout.

He is asked about bodybuilding. He said that he did it for football then became obsessed with it and said that he had the best natural body in the business. He then looks back and says that his WWF heel character worked because that is what he was at that time, a jerk who was overly aggressive.

He was trained by Hiro Matsuda. Orndorff said that most people didn’t last long in training and that it was brutal. He said that he had four practices in a single day with the Saints and that still didnt compare to the training under Matsuda. They would practice in a building that was closed up and over 100 degrees inside. He said that he had the drive and was passionate and that is why he made it.

His first went to Memphis and stayed for nine months. After a week, Eddie Marlin took him aside and said that if he didnt improve, he would be let go. Orndorff said that the crowds intimidated him and he is not an outgoing person, making it tough at first. After that, he started doing things he had never done before and called Marlin a good guy that knew how to handle him.

In Memphis with him at that time was Jerry Lawler, Junkyard Dog, and the Fullers.

Next, he went to Mid-South to work for Watts. Orndorff said that he liked athletes and called the territory an experience. He said that the travel was a rude awakening but he loved it. After a while, he left and went to Charlotte after George Scott saw him and asked if he wanted to go to Charlotte.

He is asked about working with Dusty Rhodes and Ernie Ladd. He said that he has the utmost respect for Ladd as he helped him tremendously. He did not hang around Dusty all that much.

He is asked about Bill Watts being tough. Orndorff said that he was and that Watts made all the new guys go through him.

In regards to working the Superdome, he said that he only had about two years of experience and had to grow up quickly. When asked if guys were jealous of him, Orndorff said maybe a few of the older guys but that he gernerally got along with everyone.

Orndorff is asked about Andre the Giant. He said that he was very smart and respected him a lot. He called him a friend and said that if Andre didn’t like you, he would let you know.

He is now asked if he left Watts under good terms. Orndorff said no and that he got pissed when he found out he was not getting any money off of his T-shirts and got fired. Orndorff said that he really did him a favor and that Watts did not know he had a deal with Charlotte.

He is asked about teaming with Snuka. Orndorff puts him over as one of the best ever and that he learned a lot from him. He said that they had fantastic matches against Gene & Ole Anderson. When asked about Greg Valentine, he liked him a lot and said that he was old school and enjoyed working with him.

When comparing the locker rooms between Charlotte and Mid-South, Orndorff said Charlotte had a lot more stars. He said if you asked the veterans for help, they would help you but if you did not, you wouldnt receive any help at all.

He is asked about Ric Flair at that time. He calls him a great worker and that you need the “pencil” behind you and if you did not, you were only as good as you want to be.

Orndorff is asked about David Schultz. He said that he was a good worker but cocky. He was asked about the John Stossel incident and Orndorff said that Schultz was trying to get himself over as the top heel and that was his way of trying to get notoriety.

Rob jumps ahead and asks if he ever bumped heads with Roddy Piper about being the top heel. Orndorff said that as corny as it might sound, he let his work do the talking instead of backstage politics.

Orndorff quit Charlotte and went back to work for Watts. He said that he was miserable in Charlotte. He is then asked if Watts treated him different and he said yes but he likes Watts.

He is asked about Dick Slater. Orndorff liked him a lot and calls him and Bob Orton one of the best tag teams ever. He also liked Orton but said that he stuttered a lot. He says that guys like Orton, Slater, and Eddie Graham are the ones who should be thanked as they are the reasons that guys are making big money today.

Next, Orndorff is asked about Hulk Hogan around this time. He said that Hogan was never an athlete and playing the guitar at the time but didnt really no much about him until he went to the WWF. Orndorff calls him smart and charismatic.

He is asked about working with Ted DiBiase. He said that they had good matches sold out the Coliseum and had an hour-long draw. Orndorff said at first, he didnt think it would work as they were two young guys without much experience. Orndorff puts over the genius of Watts for having the vision to see that it would workout then adds how the match gave him a lot of confidence going forward.

When asked about Jake Roberts, Orndorff said that he really is a snake. He calls him a good worker but didnt care much for him personally. He said that while he is a straight shooter, Roberts would make everything about himself.

He is asked about matches against JYD. He said that in Mississippi, he had a gun pulled out on him. It was his first time working heel too. Orndorff said that JYD tried and was a hard worker but they had different styles. Orndorff said that he was determined to give the best match on the card. He brings up how Eddie Graham once told him that if you wrestle in front of ten people or ten thousand people, you still give the same effort.

Orndorff is asked about Ricky Steamboat and joked that he was “too good.” He also said that he was ahead of his time and one of the best.

Next, Orndorff went to Georgia and wrestled for Jim Barnett. He said that he got a good guarantee and liked the schedule. He said that he got along with Ole Anderson then adds that you always knew where you stood with him. Orndorff also states that the TV show put TBS on the map and because you were on TV, you could go to another territory and be noticed.

Orndorff is asked about an altercation he had with Tony Atlas. He tells a story of how Brian Blair was driving and Orndorff was with Atlas. They had a cooler with melted ice and everytime they took a turn, the water would splash on himself. He wanted Blair to pull over but Atlas said no and wanted to keep going. They kept going at it then he said it ended up with Atlas going to the hospital after they fought on the side of the road. He said that he didnt know what happened with Atlas that night as they always got along.

He is asked about any Ric Flair stories. Orndorff said that he doesnt but puts over Flair for his psychology and work. He also puts over Harley Race for his psychology and that both guys could draw and were nice guys.

Orndorff went over to Japan to work for Antonio Inoki. He said that happened when Ernie Ladd told him that Vince McMahon Sr. wanted him to work for the WWF. Orndorff said that he was called a year and a half prior but declined because he said that he was not ready yet. Around this time, Vince Jr. was getting ready to take over for his dad so he only worked in Japan for several months while Vince Sr. took care of him.

He said that he liked Japan and wished that America would adopt their ways of doing business. He said that he trained hard over there but did not like the food and that it was too far of a plane ride.

Orndorff went to the WWF with David Schultz, Hogan, Piper, and Orton. He said that Vince Jr. treated them wonderfully and wanted to take over the world. He said that Vince told them all of the expansion plans. When asked if it would work, he said that you have to take chances. Orndorff said that at the time, WWF did not have many athletes and relied on slow, lumbering guys.

He confirmed that the office came up with the idea to team him up with Schultz and Piper. He said that he did not like tag matches but they are a good way of helping young guys. He said that Vince told him he was going to make money and when he says that, you will and he is still like that today.

At this time, he traveled with Heenan a lot when he came in and also traveled with guys like Tito Santana and Rick McGraw but he liked to travel by himself and concentrate on his matches instead of being caught up in gossip. He said that he took his work seriously.

Orndorff talks about wrestling today and how they no longer have guys around to teach psychology. He said that teaching someone to jump off a balcony or take a bump off the top rope is the easy part. He then adds how no competition will really hurt things in the long run as competition makes everyone better.

Next, he is asked about working against Hogan when he first got the title. Orndoff said that he loved worknig with him and calls him good people. He then adds that Hogan made him a ton of money and the hottest heel in the company as Orndorff made him the hottest face in company.

He is asked about how Snuka was in the WWF at this time. He points out that is body was broken down and had “other” problems going on as well. Snuka’s drug problem was rumored to be out of control at this time.

When asked about Vince changing as the company grew bigger, Orndorff said he is a class act all the way. He tells a story of how he got hurt at the end of WCW and Vince called him and told him how much he respected him.

Orndorff is then asked about Captain Lou Albano. He brings up how he was always loaded on the plane rides and would talk the entire flight. He said he was a fun guy.

He said that Jesse Ventura was probably ahead of his time but his gimmick didnt do anything for him. Orndorff thinks that there must be LSD in the waters of Minnesota for him to get elected governor then says that he wouldnt be any worse than the others.

Next, is the incident between David Schultz and John Stossel. Orndorff thoguht he should be fired as you had Schultz, who was 6’5, slap a tiny reporter in Stossel. Orndorff also believes that they should act like professionals and stuff like this is what gives wrestling a bad name.

Orndorff is asked if the TNT skits bothered him. He said not at all and mentions that it was all ad-libbed. He saw it as another vehicle, as you couldnt have just wrestling all the time. Orndorff thought it was smart and that Vince knew how to get his product over.

He is asked about several workers. Orndorff thought that Rocky Johnson was all show and when he was facing him, he was past his prime. He couldnt stand Chief Jay Strongbow at all. he still doesnt like him and says that Strongbow never treated him with respect and one day, he dressed down Strongbow in front of the locker room. He loved Bruno Sammartino, calling him a great and humble guy. He would have loved to work with him in his prime.

They talk about MTV. Orndorff said Vince told him it was all about the big picture. He tried to focus on himself at this time. Vince says he was the first to do this (WrestleMania) and said everywhere they went after that, people were talking about it. He was asked about if he had to change his style and Orndorff said not at all.

Next, he is asked about Mr. T. He said that he did not like him and if he tried to shoot on them, Piper and him had a plan. Feinstein asks him about the rumor of Bruiser Brody running in during the main event and shooting on Mr. T but Orndorff said that he never heard about that.

In regards to the travel schedule, Orndorff said that it burned everyone out. He said that he got offered a role in “Rambo” but Vince would not give him the time off to film. He also got offered a part on “Miami Vice” by Don Johnson that he was unable to get the time off for. He adds that he was in the main event and had to be at all the shows.

Orndorff is asked about the drugs in the locker room. He said that wasnt for him because he took his job seriously and you cant burn the candle at both ends. He says that the drugs were there.

Back to Mr. T, Orndorff said he was scared to death but they worked with him. When asked who trained him, Orndorff said he forgot then jokes how they didnt do a very good job.

They ask Orndorff about the training vignette in which they throw Gene Okerlund out on the street. Orndorff thought it was great.

Now, he is asked about turning babyface. He said that he did not like it much at all. He then adds that he suggested to them that he get the belt then lose it back to Hogan, mentioning how it would have drawn huge, but they decided to do that with Savage later on. He did not enjoy working as a face because it wasnt his style but he had to do it that way.

Orndorff did not like working with Piper, saying he was very limited in the ring. When asked if Hogan was difficult as a partner, Orndorff said he was a business man.

He thought Big John Studd was a great guy, which seems to be the consensus for most of the shoot interviews I have seen. They traveled to Japan together and he said that Brian Blair and himelf used to pull pranks with Studd.

When speaking about the politics in the locker room, Orndorff said there were a lot of sharks in the locker room. He said that he was not a good politician and Vince told him once that he was too honest. Orndorff said that he let his work do the talking. He also says that Piper played a lot of politics then too.

Now, he is asked about being upset as a face due to being behind Hogan. He said no, because he was drawing  alot of money.

Orndorff is asked about Dynamite Kid. He said that he went overboard with the ribs that he pulled and himself wasnt into hurting someone or destroying their stuff.

He said that Funk was in a league by himself but beat up his body too much. He adds that he will always find a way to work a match and that is why he is great.

Up next is WrestleMania 2 and if we was bothered about going from the main event to fcing Don Muraco. He liked Don but said that his style at the time wasnt good and that sometimes, they have to put you on the backburner.

When asked about Adrian Adonis, he said at the time, he wasnt going to work with him while he was wearing the dress. Looking back, he said that he would have done it but didnt care as he had enough money in the bank.

Orndorff then stresses the importance of good matches, saying that you need the money angle and the good match.

He calls the first WrestleMania and the Big Event show in Toronto as the highest poinrs of his career. He mentions how much the crowd hated him. He recalls that was the biggest check of his career.

Next, he is asked about Bobby Heenan. He loved him and says that always got lost driving from Newark and he ripped out the steering wheel on one occasion.

He said that he saw guys crack. One night, he worked with Hogan at the Nassau Coliseum then went to Chicago. They had a jet waiting for them and he left the arena in his robe and went to the show.

Orndorff said that he took pride in having good matches. He says that the crowd works hard for their money and want to be entertained. He mentions growing up in a trailer park and how that made him appreciate everything he had.

On his physique, Orndorff said at one time, he had 4% body fat. He said that when he traveled, he never ate the airplane food because it was terrible for you. He said that his body was his money and that he took care of it.

Orndorff admitted that he took steroids at one point. He said that he got them through a doctor and took only as prescribed.

When asked about the Iron Sheik and Jim Duggan getting caught with drugs, he said that it was really bad for business. He also said guys getting into bar fights also hurt things.

Orndorff is asked about getting buried when he turned face again in late 1987. He said he probably was but he was also really burned out at that time too.

He thought that Bret Hart was a good worker but a terrible interview. He also adds that Bret thinks he is bigger than he really is but also said that he saw something in him when they wrestled at the end of his WWF run.

Now, he is asked about the angle in which he fired Heenan and hired Oliver Humperdink. He said that it was good but didnt think it would draw a lot of money. He didnt think that he needed a manager.

On working with Rick Rude, he said that he was hurting badly at the time but kept working. He said Rude was one of his best friends and that he was a pallbearer at his funeral. They hunted together and Orndorff said that he talked to him the night before he passed. He said that Rude was the best heel at the end of the 1980’s.

He did not leave the WWF on good terms with Vince. Orndorff claims that others got into Vince’s ear that he was not really hurt. Orndorff said that he was prepared to retire at the time.

Now he is asked about an obituary report about him dying on steroids. Orndorff said he got a call about that at his bowling alley.

On how he wound up in WCW, Orndorff said that he was offered close to $500,000 by Jim Herd at one time but turned it dow, as  he was mentally and physically burned out .Looking back, Orndorff said it was a mistake turning that down.

When asked about comparing WCW locker room to the WWF, Orndorff said that WCW was second rate. He liked the Steiners and Sid Vicious but hated Luger, calling him a “puke” and a “sissy.” He thought that Sid had a lot of potential. Orndorff then adds that the fans are a lot smarter than what most wrestlers and promoters give them credit for and just being big or a freak is not going to sell if they do not have anything to go with that.

He is asked about smart fans hurting the business. Orndorff said that is does to a point but the promoters and wrestlers have gotten away from the basics and are delivering a product that is not believable. He talks about how it is an insult to the fans intelligence for someone to get right up after they fall from a balcony.

He is asked about being phased out of WCW. He said that he was banged up at the time. He went to UWF and worked for Herb Abrams. Orndorff said that he was a good guy but wild and wanted to hang with the wrestlers. He then says that he wished more promoters shared his enthusiasm for the product. He said he liked him and didnt blow him off like others did.

On how he wound up in Smoky Mountain, he said that someone called him up but he forgets who. He liked it there and enjoyed teaching Brian Lee. He calls Ronnie Garvin a solid worker and an okay guy. He also said that Brad Armstrong did good but was on the small side.

He went back to WCW when Bill Watts was in charge. He said that the company was different and they had non-wrestling people in charge who knew nothing at all about wrestling.

He puts over Cactus Jack, saying he could talk and work but says that he did not have any respect for his body and if he did, he could still be wrestlnig today. He loved working with him as he always went all out. He also said that he was a nice guy.

Orndorff is asked about teaming with Vader. He said that he had all the tools to be a star but that he wanted to be a “Mexican.” He is referring to his highspots. Orndorff said that he should have been the hottest heel in the country but his attitude got in the way. Feinstein said they will get to their altercation later in the interview.

Next, he is asked if the locker room was angry over Erik Watts being pushed. He said he wasnt personally mad then adds that he wasnt even pushed that hard. He also adds that he was not ready for the spot. He knew Erik when he was a little kid and wanted to help him out.

Back to the company, Orndorff said Watts could have turned it around but the office would not let him. He says that Vince would never run a company the way that WCW did, especially when it comes to guaranteed contracts. Orndorff said that guaranteed deals give guys no incentive to work.

He thought 2 Cold Scorpio could have been something and was really good in Japan. He hated the Goldust gimmick but said that Dustin Rhodes could work. He calls Ricky Steamboat a professional.

When asked about conflicts between other wrestlers and Bill Watts, Orndorff said there was but he did not care to get involved as it just brings you down.

When Jim Herd replaced Watts, Orndorff said that he did not know much about him but that he helped them during interviews.

Orndorff is asked about Eric Bischoff. He replies that if you cant say something good about someone, dont say anything at all. He did say that Bischoff valued his opinion then mentioned how he was unable to win the race against Vince McMahon. He said that he predicted that from day one and that it would never work because Bischoff listened to the boys.

He calls Steve Austin his friend and is glad that he went to the WWE . He then adds that he needs to stop cussing so much.

On the subject of Pretty Wonderful, he said there were plans for them at one point.

When Hogan came to WCW, he said that he was a help to the company but when he turned is when the company really took off. Orndorff also adds that Hogan should have turned heel in the WWF.

He said that Randy Savage was different but worked hard. He never hung around with him outside the ring so does not know if he was paranoid.

Orndorff said that Jimmy Hart came up with the Gary Spivey angle. He adds that Hart was very underrated and had a smart mind for the business. Orndorff said he doesnt let things fall through the cracks and wishes him well in XPW.

Next, is his fight with Vader. He said that Dave Penzer asked him to do interviews and he said no then after Vader declined a few more times, Kevin Sullivan went up to Orndorff and asked him if he would talk to Vader. Orndorff says that the crew was union and had fifteen minutes until their break so he apporached Vader and asked if he could do it then Vader swore at him and Orndorff said that they went back and forth then Vader sucker punched him. Orndorff said that he got up and defended himself and evetually knocked him down then started kicking him in the face. He said that they got into it again and Orndorff took a few more shots at him. When asked about the locker room reaction, he said that they loved it . Orndorff wasnt proud of it.

Orndorff now talks about how hard it is to be a good wrestler today. He adds that he can teach anyone to bump in three months but to become a good worker, you need between 3-5 years of wrestling constantly and without territories, it is hard to accomplish. He then talks about how wrestling is just about showbiz now and that it is filled with profanity and nudity. He then adds that people will get burned out on the product and believes the economy will play a factor in wrestling’s popularity declining.

When asked about if he was pressured to return to the ring, he said that they always asked him and brings up his last match in WCW, when he hurt himself giving a piledriver to Mark Jindrak. He said that his legs were supposed to be straight but that Jindrak’s legs were bent and he couldnt drop him down because he would drop straight on his head so he altered the hold and when he hit the mat, his right arm went numb. He basically broke his neck again, according to him, and mentions that it toes become numb after walking and that he has to visit a pain clinic on a regular basis.

He is asked how WCW changed when Kevin Nash and Scott Hall entered the company. He said that they liked to stir things up and were not his kind of guys.

He is asked about the issues between Ric Flair and Eric Bischoff. Orndorff calls it a feud between an egomaniac and a spoiled brat. When asked if there was something they could have done to solved the problem, he said fire both of them then laughed afterwards.

Orndorff is asked about Hogan and Billy Kidman. He said that he would never lay down for a “Beanpole” like Kidman, who couldnt draw flies. He thought it was horrible

On the subject of Goldberg’s rise, Orndorff said that he never saw someone get over as quickly as Goldberg. He then says that Goldberg shouldnt have jobbed to Nash and should have threatened to go to the WWF and feud with Austin. He said that it would have drawn a ton.

About the younger wrestlers showing respect, Orndorff said 95% of the guys were very respectful towards him. He says that you have a few guys who think they are something when they are not, hinting that Kidman was one of them, who show up to the airports looking like a slob and cannot get recognized, despite being pushed on TV.

He denied that Vince ever contacted him about an office position. He said that he liked to train and knows talent. Orndorff claims he can tell in five minutes if someone has talent.

When asked about how he got involved with the WCW Power Plant, Orndorff said he was approached about training then came up with the idea of the Power Plant by himself. He says it was the finest place in the world then states that Sean O’Haire, Chuck Palumbo, and Johnny the Bull will all become stars, as long as they are serious and do not cop attitudes.

Still on the Power Plant, Orndorff said that you could not just show up and get trained. He said only about 5% of the tapes he received got selected. He said he gave guys between 4-6 weeks to get train before they showed up. Orndorff said that he broke in and had to go with four guys in a row for five minutes straight the very first day.

He didnt have favorite students and said that the ones who made it were good. He tried to be fair and everyone had to do the routines every day then adds that they were getting paid to train

Orndorff said that Bischoff was not involved much at all in the Power Plant. When asked about Les Thatcher, he calls him an “ambulance chaser” and has no respect for him as he went on TV and told everyone how easy it is to wrestle.

He never thought Paul Wight (Big Show) would be anything as he has no heart. He calls him a “fat basketball player” and would never be as good as Andre the Giant.

On Vince Russo, Orndorff said that he was just about shock TV and that didnt work with Turner due to them being a family station.

He is asked about the “Old Age Outlaws” gimmick. Orndorff said that he got good crowd responses.

Orndorff said that he does not like women in the business, especially when they beat men. He also doesnt like fat women.

When asked who ruined WCW, Orndorff said that they were just about competing with the WWF and didnt pay attention to their own product. He said that they should have spent time focusing on their own product.

Orndorff liked to work with athletes but hated going against guy just coasting for a payday or the old-timers who wouldnt do anything. He said a fan can easily tell who is just going through the motion in the ring

He is asked how to change the business. Orndorff said to go back to basics. He then says that they need to go back to recruiting athletes.

Orndorff is asked to rate himself as a worker. He says that he was athletic, had a great body, and was a badass. He then tells Feinstein to look up his matches and say who was better than him.

On giving advice to younger wrestlers, Orndorff said you have to work constantly but the problem is that there are not many places to do that.

He talks about his surgeries and is fearful on what will happen with his next surgery

Orndorff hopes that some young guys can come up today and bring back wrestling to what it was in the 1980’s. He also says that Vince is smart and will turn things around.

He is asked about having any regrets. He said that he has a lot due to him basically being a jerk when he was wrestling . Today, he claims that he has mellowed out and enjoys spending time with his grandchildren.

He still keeps in touch with Curt Hennig, Rick Steiner, and Steve Austin but doesnt follows the current product.

When asked where he sees himself in ten years, he says that he now commits hmself to the lord. He says that he was not a nice guy back then. he no longer hates anyone either and sees himself working with kids. He seems sincere when discussing this issue.

Final Thoughts: This interview went on for way too long. They should have shaved off the last half hour or so as it just went nowhere. Feinstein’s questions near the end were redundant and he really had no idea to conduct an interview. He can only stick to his script of questions. Orndorff seemed like a straight shooter but he frequently stated how he didnt really hang around a lot of the guys in the locker room and mostly took care of himself yet Feinstein continued to ask him questions about that. Orndorff came off as bitter during the end but I have seen much worse from others in that regard. Also, he just might be his own biggest fan. He is also another wrestler that found the lord after admitting that he was a prick. I wouldnt really recommend this interview unless you are a diehard Orndorff fan.

Promo of the Day: Paul Orndorff interview, ‘Mean’ Gene cracks up

Okerlund’s deadpan reactions to Orndorff’s outrageous lies are almost as funny as the interview.  The straight man is really a lost art in promos these days because everyone has to be either totally useless (Josh Matthews etc.) or scripted to be as “witty” and cutesy as the wrestlers (Michael Cole, Lawler).

Orndorff

why wasnt mr wonderful on the wrestlemania 3 card? thanks

jim

I think he was taking time off due to having nerve damage in his neck so severe that he could barely use his arms, but you'd think he'd be back for the biggest payday of his entire life, especially when he'd been gutting out the Hogan matches for months.  I have no better answer for you than that, I'm afraid.