The SmarK Rant for the RF Shoot Interview with Tully Blanchard
– Once again, courtesy RFVideo.com, here’s another candid interview with an old-school star.
– Taped October 2, 1999.
– Tully talks about college football to start, noting that it was too much of a business for him in the early years. Got shifted from quarterback and eventually to defensive end, at which point he dropped out of school and went to work for his dad, Joe Blanchard, running what would eventually become Southwest Championship Wrestling down in San Antonio.
– Each of the towns had it’s own TV and booker, making it tough to book a coherant product overall.
– His wrestling in the 70s was mainly as a summer job while playing football and going back to school. He learned a lot from gigs in Florida and North Carolina, and used that to help out his own home promotion. They ended up buying a grocery store and converting it to a faux-arena, and had great success doing so. They went broke overpaying the wrestlers, though. He blames himself for not having a vision for the future.
– He left the company in the early 80s due a coke problem and wanted to get his life back on track. He’s actually quite candid about his cocaine addiction throughout the interview.
– Went to Kansas City next, which he compares to Siberia. Bad houses, cold winters.
– Got into a car accident around this time that severed his lat muscles and ended his football career.
– So SCW is paying $7000 a week to be on the USA network, but Fritz ran most of Texas, so Tully gave out USA’s phone number on one episode of the show and encouraged viewers to call in with their favorite matches or angles from SCW. He wanted to prove to USA that SCW was valuable, even though Fritz controlled most of Texas. The switchboard become swamped with calls, and USA kicked the Blanchards off the station and sold the time to the WWF, which they held onto until moving to Viacom in 2000. There was also the matter of a five-alarm bladejob Tully did on the TV show that nearly got them kicked off before that, but he doesn’t mention that one for some reason.
– Talks about Gino Hernandez, who apparently wanted to be Elvis and was more into the drugs and chicks than the actual wrestling. Tully thinks that the OD was a cover story and his death was actually a mob hit due to Gino pissing off the wrong people. Wouldn’t shock me, either.
– Tully Blanchard v. Gino Hernandez. JIP about 4 minutes in. Gino tosses him right away, and Tully stalls. Gino works the arm, but misses a blind charge and Tully takes over. Some punchy-kicky, and Tully gets a suplex and drops an elbow off the middle for two. Gino takes a Flair Flip to the floor and Tully stomps on him outside. Blood flows. Back in, Gino reverses a piledriver and dropkicks Tully out. He nails him with the ringbell, drawing color on Tully. Tully retreats to the ringside table for sanctuary, but gets pulled in and stomped. Big elbow gets two. Suplex and Gino goes up, but misses an elbow. Tully gets in the ref’s face, gets decked (the ref is some local boxer), and Gino gets the pin with a splash at 11:20. Nothing too special. **
– Back to the interview, as Tully has words of praise for Wahoo McDaniel’s teaching. He met Jim Crockett in Kansas and moved to the Carolinas to wrestle for him, where he won the Mid-Atlantic TV title right away and had a program of LONG matches with Rick Steamboat.
– Interview clip of Tully & Steamboat, as Steamboat wants a match RIGHT THERE, but Tully is in a nice suit and doesn’t want one. Of course, Steamboat turns his back, and Tully attacks him and murders him until babyfaces make the save.
– Tully learned about “all that political garbageÃ¢â‚¬Â from his dealings with Dusty Rhodes. What a shock. Dusty asked him for some booking advice to turn the territory around, so Tully suggested an angle between them, which introduced Baby Doll to the world.
– The Four Horsemen came about by accident, as Dusty booked a six-man with Arn, Tully & Flair against three of Dusty’s cronies and Arn compared his team to the Horsemen of the Apocolypse for dramatic effect. The fans latched onto it, and Tully notes how overwhelming it became to be that over as a heel. They added Ole later on as a fourth.
– The key to the Horsemen: Using the interview to sell the sizzle, as opposed to the standard “I’m gonna beat you upÃ¢â‚¬Â type of promo. Be the best, basically.
– He was offered a $500 per night deal in 1993 to reform the Horsemen at Slamboree, an offer so insulting he didn’t even bother calling them back. That didn’t stop them from advertising him as being there, and he still to this day thinks he should have sued them for that. I think he should have sued them for replacing him with Paul Roma, myself.
– Talks about the transition from Ole to Lex and how it didn’t matter because the other three were the good ones in the team anyway. Man, does Ole have ANY friends left in the business?
– Tells the usual story about the Brisco Brothers and Jim Barnett selling out to Vince McMahon and giving him Georgia Championship Wrestling’s timeslot on TBS, and Vince’s subsequent total and complete failure in that slot, until he finally sold the time to Jim Crockett for a rumored $1,000,000. You don’t hear that one told by anyone in the WWF very much, and in fact according to WWF canon it probably never happened.
– Discusses the NWA going national via cable TV.
– Ego problems between the Horsemen? Nah, Tully knew his place.
– Considers the Windham group to be the strongest, although again he shows disdain for anyone in the fourth slot and considers the real Horsemen to be the Big Three. The bookers were always trying to split them up and beat them every night in an effort to get them un-over enough to justify that. It never worked.
– National title match: Dusty Rhodes v. Tully Blanchard. From Worldwide Wrestling. Dusty fires away with elbows and Tully begs off. Press slam and Dusty works the knee. Tully bails and we cut to Tony & David in-studio, who analyze Dusty’s loaded boot. Back to action, as Tully stalls. Back in, Dusty keeps on the knee and does his unique interpretation of the figure-four. Tully makes the ropes. Dusty keeps on the knee, using the spinning toehold. He can do THAT, but can’t pull that other leg up and do a proper figure-four? For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, watch Dusty try to do a figure-four sometime and you’ll understand. It’s kinda like Erik Watts trying to dropkick someone or Sid doing a crossface. Tully cheapshots the knee and Dusty bails. They brawl outside and JJ gets his shots in. Back in, Tully works the knee and Tony & David analyze further as they head to commercial. Back to action, Dusty elbows out, but his knee collapses and Tully goes right back to it. Figure-four gets several two-counts. Dusty reverses, so Tully breaks. Dusty comes back with football tackles, but his ankle gives way on a slam attempt. Slingshot suplex gets two. Dusty comes back with a lariat and the usual, and grabs a sleeper. JJ interferes and gets one as well, but Tully charges him and gets backdropped out. Color commentator Ric Flair hands him an international object and they do the Randy Savage finish as Tully wins the title. Good TV match. **1/2
– When he does speeches in prisons, the inmates LOVE the “I QuitÃ¢â‚¬Â match. Complains that he got the crap beat out of him by Magnum and he veers off onto a whole “I hate people who think wrestling is fakeÃ¢â‚¬Â speech that we’ve all heard 1,000 times before.
– He made $12,000 for that match, by the way. I’d say it was worth the beating.
– He calls the barbed wire matches with Dusty “yuckyÃ¢â‚¬Â.
– “I QuitÃ¢â‚¬Â cage match, US title: Tully Blanchard v. Magnum TA. Backstory: They HATE each other. That’s all you need. They slug it out, and fight on the mat like schoolkids, then slug it out again. Tully bails to the apron and TA rams him to the cage. Tully responds in kind, then drops an elbow and does it again. Rear chinlock and Magnum powers out in a rather famous visual. He presses Tully onto the top rope, but gets kneelifted. He slugs away on Tully, but gets tossed into the cage again and they fight on the mat. Tully goes to the cage, and then again out of a hammerlocked position. His arm starts gushing blood, but he headbutts Magnum low. Magnum keeps digging at that arm, but Tully potatoes him, and busts him open. Tully kicks away and uses the mike to pound on Magnum’s face and ask for the submission. Magnum refuses, so Tully rams it into his forehead four times. They actually do this a few times, resulting in the crowd hearing this charming exchange over the PA: “SAY IT!Ã¢â‚¬Â “NO!Ã¢â‚¬Â THUNK. Hotshot into the cage and Tully goes up and hits an elbow, then more hijinx with the mike. “SAY IT!Ã¢â‚¬Â “NO!Ã¢â‚¬Â THUNK. They slug it out, won by Magnum, and he uses the mike himself. “SAY IT!Ã¢â‚¬Â “NO!Ã¢â‚¬Â THUNK. They claw at each other’s eyes on the mat, and Tully knocks TA silly with a right. TA hits his own and grabs the mike, but Tully kicks him in the head to block. Inverted atomic drop and Tully just destroys him with the mike. “SAY IT!Ã¢â‚¬Â “NO!Ã¢â‚¬Â THUNK THUNK THUNK He drops some elbows and tosses the ref aside, as Baby Doll throws a balsa-wood chair in, which shatters upon hitting the mat. Ah, American workmanship. Tully grabs a piece and tries to stab Magnum in the eye, but it’s blocked. Magnum grabs it from him, jams it into Tully’s eye, and gets the submission and US title at 14:22. And you thought Mick Foley was hardcore. *****
– Onto the WWF jump: He was one of the first people to get contracts with Crockett, but he was kinda bitter because he was making $200,000 a year and Paul Ellering was making $320,000. They started taking his loyalty for granted, and didn’t push to get him re-signed. When they sold out to Turner in 1988, Jim Herd called him into his office and asked for his opinion on guys like Rhodes, and Tully made the mistake of actually telling them the truth instead of the Truth According to Dusty. Crockett and Dusty got wind of that, and had him blackballed from the NWA as a result. They took the titles off of him and Arn the next night and they were gone.
– Clip of the Midnight Express winning the tag titles in Philly to a MONSTER pop.
– Tully didn’t actually expect Arn to come with him, but there he was the next day.
– Talks about Vince’s way of doing business, and how he used talent not to help himself, but to hurt Crockett. Tully found that out too late to stop the Brainbusters from doing jobs to the Bushwhackers in every major city in America, however. The WWF confiscated and tore up Four Horsemen signs in each of those cities. They were C-Show main eventers, but didn’t make any more money. He thinks the backstage attitude was kinda hypocritical, in that pills and pot were fine but they tested for cocaine.
– Decided to jump back in late 89 to reform the Horsemen, and had a fat contract all lined up, but Vince wouldn’t let them out of the contract until Survivor Series 89. They day before he was to give notice, he failed a cocaine test and got suspended. Someone stooged him out to Jim Herd, who tore up his contract and sliced Arn’s contract in half, leaving Arn with less money and Tully with no career remaining in wrestling.
– At this point, laying in bed worrying about his future at 4 in the morning, Tully found Jesus and stopped swearing.
– Onto Slamboree 94 and the match with Terry Funk. He made $2500, and got in shape for the match, hoping for a contract. He didn’t actually know Terry already had one, and they had no intention of giving him one. They asked him to put Funk over when he got there, at which point he informed them of the facts of life and that Funk’s 10 or 15 ECW fans in the front row were greatly outnumbered by the other 5000 Four Horsemen fans in the stands. He refused to do the job, pissed everyone off, and lost any potential employment there again.
– He attributes his success to trying to steal the show every night.
– Onto Shane Douglas in 95, and the horrible 60-minute draw. His view: The first 35 were good, the next 10 were suspect, and the final 15 sucked. Blames the match on a natural heel playing a babyface and vice-versa. Didn’t agree with putting Shane over just for the purpose of burying the Horsemen, and didn’t agree with having 15 guys do a run-in at the finish, either.
– Tully is prepping for a match against Stan Lane on some PPV the week after this was taped Heroes of something-or-other. Hey, that sounds like a pretty good show! I hear Jake Roberts was on it!
– His kids aren’t wrestling fans. Yeah, if they watched that PPV, it’s no wonder.
– Talks about the “extention of yourselfÃ¢â‚¬Â theory of wrestling characters that’s so de rigeur these days.
– Clip of Wahoo & Tully beating on Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes MAKES THE SAVE?!? What universe is this from?
– The Parking Lot Angle: The Horsemen kidnap a cameraman and track Dusty to Jim Crockett’s offices, where they beat the hell out of him and break his arm with a baseball bat. Notable for Dusty yelling “MAKE IT GOOD!Ã¢â‚¬Â just before the fatal blow.
– Talks about the big shows taking away from the importance of the little ones.
– Discusses Magnum, Wargames, valets and managers in general. He thinks Baby Doll was hot. Jesus, how much coke WAS this guy doing in the 80s?
– Matches with the RnR were always great. Loved Morton’s selling.
– Thinks getting yanked out of the business at his peak was a sign from above.
– And that’s that.
– NWA World tag team title match: Tully Blanchard & Arn Anderson v. Barry Windham & Lex Luger. Here’s the setup: The Horsemen are Bad People, and Luger/Windham are Good People. There you go. Specifically, Luger was kicked out of the Horsemen for free thinking two months previous to this, and he figured kicking the Horsemen’s asses would be a good idea. Luger clotheslines both heels and powerslams Tully right away, racking him less than a minute in. A stomp to the knee swings it back again and they work the knee. Windham gets the hot tag and Lariats Blanchard, again nearly getting the win very early. He gets a sleeper and Tully makes the ropes…but Windham holds on as Tully rolls out. You NEVER see that anymore. Horsemen get control of Windham and pound on him. Crowd is fanatically behind the faces. Really amazing pace because of time restrictions. Windham survives a slingshot suplex and hot tags to Luger. Clothesline! Clothesline! Double-noggin-knocker! Oops, knee to the back and Lex is slowed for about 2 seconds before powerslamming Arn. Brawl breaks out, and JJ climbs on the apron with a chair, which Luger promptly whips Anderson into for the pin and the World tag team titles. Badda bing, badda boom. Luger and Windham get a Steve Austin-like pop for the win. Wow, that was just about the loudest I’ve ever heard. ****1/2 Windham would turn on Luger two weeks later to join the Horsemen, giving the titles back to Anderson and Blanchard again in the process.
– $100,000 Barbed Wire Ladder match (lights out, non-title): Tully Blanchard v. Dusty Rhodes. The circumstances surrounding this match always bugged me, because on Worldwide they showed the initial match to set it up (where Dusty got screwed during a TV title shot), the buildup (JJ cons Jim Crockett into putting up $50,000 on his behalf) and they talked about it constantly, but they never actually said WHO WON THE DAMN THING. It’s a standard ladder match, but the ring ropes are covered in barbed wire. Crappy match. Most of the spots involve one guy trying to cut the other on the wire. Rhodes cuts Blanchard’s arm right on camera…ick. Barry Windham is seconding Rhodes and Dillon is seconding Blanchard. The ladder never really gets used as a weapon, just as a ladder. Rhodes fights off interference from Dillon to climb the ladder and claim the $100,000. DUD.
– World TV title match: Tully Blanchard v. Rick Steamboat. Steamboat is coming in with those pesky DDPish injured ribs. Blanchard goes right for them, but Steamboat fires back and Tully bails. Steamboat suplexes him in and gets a splash for two. Steamboat goes to the chinlock and holds on to it as Tully tries to roll out. Tully misses an elbow and takes a kneelift, but Steamboat can’t do anything because of the ribs. Tully goes for them and hits a rib-breaker. Elbow and Steamboat is in some pain. Tully just viciously kicks away at him and struts. Steamboat fights back with a chops and a drops a pair of knees for two. Hit the chinlock. Tully knees him in the ribs like a jerk and suplexes him for two. Steamboat grabs a headlock, but Tully breaks. He dances around, taunting Steamboat, but gets powerslammed for two. Double-chop gets two. Kneedrop and big chop get two. Steamboat spits on him (!) and chops away in the corner. Tully is on rubber leg street. Neckbreaker gets two. Steamboat pulls out Tully’s slingshot suplex for two. Dropkick gets two. Chop and Tully bails, then goes to the tights for an international object. Steamboat suplexes him in and gets a face full of brass knux, for two. To the top, but Steamboat blocks a superplex and splashes him for two. Sunset flip, but Tully blocks and utilizes the international object for the pin at 13:12. Didn’t like the finish, but the match was awesome. ****
The Bottom Line: While it’s certainly an interesting and very shootish interview, Tully has a speaking style where he starts a thought
For a long time…
If you can endure the long quiet stretches, there’s some neat stuff here and the matches are all classic stuff. Too much recycled commercial stuff for my liking (Hey, Rob, where’s the title switch from Luger & Barry back to Tully & Arn, for example?) but if you haven’t seen it, the classic Tully matches are as good a reason to pick this up as anything.
Recommended tape, and you can of course buy it at www.rfvideo.com.