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goodhelmet

The thoughts of Bill Watts

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In my own personal Mid South project, I am transcribing the words of the Cowboy and his thoughts on various wrestlers. As I go through the shoot, I'll post the Cowboy's own words and hopefully you can respond with your own thoughts.

 

This is what I have so far....

 

The Freebirds

The Freebirds, we found them. Gordy and Michael Hayes, I wanted Gordy. I didn?t never think Michael was worth a shit in the ring but Gordy wouldn?t leave Michael. So Michael came and we had him but Michael was such a phenomenal talker and had such psychology on the mic but he always wanted to wrestle. He had that pride. Michael has a lot of drive and I love him to death but to me he was never what I needed in the ring. He didn?t compliment Gordy in the ring. Gordy was so awesome but then Gordy had to have Michael. They were co-dependent.

 

So, I?ll never forget, Buck Robley was my booker then and he was going to trade them to Florida for 2 guys in Florida and I said ?the hell you are?. We?re going to find somebody to go with this team and Michaels going to start just doing the interviewing and managing. Then we got Buddy Roberts who was perfect and that team just took off as the Freebirds.

 

Junkyard Dog

JYD, he was in Calgary as Sylvester Ritter. We found him, brought him here. I saw his charisma. I named him. I gave him his music and did everything. He was so dynamite. He wasn?t a good worker, he was terrible. Matter of fact, by that time, we got him going and we were selling out everywhere but Ernie Ladd was having a big influence here. Ernie one night said ?I got your new star and he can?t handle it. We put him with Scott Irwin and Scott ran him ragged and his tongue was hanging out. He just can?t compete.?

 

I didn?t understand Ernie completely but Ernie was the greatest human being in my life. Ernie, not only as a person but as an athlete but as a fabulous human being, Ernie taught me about black. All the things I was trying to learn at that time, a white man can never learn black. We don?t ever have to go through it, we can only observe it. I learned so much from Ernie Ladd and he had such a great heart but he didn?t want a black man to fail. So he was afraid JYD would fail. I fired Ernie for what he done that night to JYD with Scott Irwin. Ernie got the message and it never happened again and of course the rest is history. JYD became the biggest star I ever had.

 

Paul Orndorff

Orndorff battled me every day he was here. He was such a unique piece of talent. He was a tough guy. Couldn?t wrestle that well. We stretched his ass down in Florida when he came but Eddie Graham wouldn?t let us hurt him because he was a friend of Mikes. You saw he had guts. Orndorff was an athlete but he had guts. But he argued and fought me all the time. I?ll never forget, I had him and Ted Dibiase scheduled to go an hour broadway, both of them were babyfaces in Jackson, Mississippi. You should have seen the whining. ?Oh you?re going to kill our careers. We can?t do that. We can?t go an hour that way.?

 

I said ?You two pussies or babies. Let me give you a finish that if you cant do it you can use it but you can?t use it until 5 minutes until the end of the hour. But I want this, this is what I want, but here is the finish. If you two sissies can?t do this and you chickenshit out, go ahead and cop it and do this.? That got them so dang mad at me. They were so mad at me they went out there and tore the joint down. They tore the joint down. They could have gone 2 hours but they grew. They both grew that night because they both realized ?Gosh dammit, we can do it. We can do it? and it changed both of them. And they both know it now and they both know that was pivotal. Paul Orndorff called me years later after he was in New York ?I was so damn mad at you I didn?t realize how much you taught me until I got away from you.?

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Goodhelmet, you were the one who posted Will Parrish's history of Mid South here a few months ago, right? Did you ever find the rest of that? It was very interesting reading and I would really like to know more about the subject, particularly the transformation into the UWF and the downfall of the company.

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The Orndorff story along with the famoust HBK story reveal Bill Watts' biggest shortcoming: He was good at motivating people, but in the process he'd piss them off so much they'd end up hating his guts and leaving.

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I pulled all of this from the Watts shoot. Once I compile enough quotes from Mid South wrestlers, I'll have the Thoughts ON Bill Watts thread...

 

Wrestler A: He was a bully

Wrestler B: He was a bully

Wrestler C: He was a bully... and a racist

Wrestler D: He was a bully

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On one hand, you can't argue with Watts' style since guys had performances under his watch they never came close to matching anywhere else. On the other hand you can't help but argue that the way he got guys to produce at those levels also bought their tickets out of his promotion.

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The Memphis Trade (MX, RNR, Dundee)

My territory was down because you get into the trees and cant see the forest. So I call my friend Jerry Jarrett and I ask him and Lawler ?Why don?t you guys come over and just watch one of my TV shows and tell me what is wrong???

 

So Lawler and Jarrett came to the TV taping at the Irish McNeil Boys Club in Shreveport and they watched the taping and came in afterwards and I said ?lets go get a bite to eat, what did you think?? and they said ?Where is all the blowjobs??

 

I said, ?Blowjobs? Let the boys take care of that. That?s not why I brought you over here. I want to go eat and I want you all to tell me what is the matter with my territory.?

 

He said, "Where are all the blowjobs?" I said, ?I am missing it.? He said,? Bill, you have got the toughest athletes here. You are down to your hardcore base of fans. There is nobody that?s bringing the young girls. And where the young girls are, the young guys are. To have a healthy mix, you gotta have a mixture and you don?t have it. You got Hacksaw Duggan, you got JYD, you got Dibiase, you got Dr. Death., you got Hercules Hernandez, you got guys that could whip everyone out here." He said, ?Why don?t we work a trade? Why don?t you come look at some of my talent and I?ll look at some of your talent??

 

So I went to Memphis and he had a young guy named Jim Cornette and I was just mesmerized by him. Bobby Eaton was in one match and Dennis Condrey was in another match and they weren?t even teamed. And Jarrett said ?Would you take this Cornette for me? I want to keep Jimmy (Hart), I want to keep him but I need to get rid of Cornette. I don?t have anything for Eaton or this other guy to do.??

 

We were talking about Stan Lane and his partner who were the Blondes (the Fabulous Ones), and I was really interested in them but he wouldn?t let me have them but he had Morton and Gibson doing nothing and he gave me them. That was the greatest trip I had ever taken. He picked out of my group Rick Rude, who was a young rookie at the time and somebody else and he took them. Well we took the videos and we put Cornette, Condrey and them together? and I am telling you we electrified this place.

 

Plus, he had a little bitty booker over there named Bill Dundee and he didn?t have a place for Dundee. So I made a deal with Dundee to come over and help me with the book except I wouldn?t let him wrestle. Dundee?s got the greatest ego in the world and he?d want to beat Andre the Giant when he?s less than 6 feet tall himself but he had the most fertile mind. Dundee was phenomenal and Jimmy Cornette was mind-boggling and Bobby Eaton, what could you say about Bobby Eaton, he could do it all and Condrey fit. Robert Gibson was good but Robert was just ok. Ricky Morton could make any match. And so we had these guys and that was like we had the icing on the cake. And we could do all the stuff we needed to do and we blew this thing open. The teenyboppers and everybody were coming. And we still had the tough guys trying to be careful how we booked them or book them with guys who would work with them.

 

 

Magnum TA

We had Magnum and we converted Magnum. We dressed him up and started getting him and image and everything else. He was a fine kid. We had him for awhile but then he left and went to the Carolinas and was doing good there.

 

 

The Fantastics

Fantastics we tried to follow (the Rock N Roll express) but they could never follow Ricky and Robert. They were good but they couldn?t take it to the level of (the Rock N Roll Express). You don?t have that many Ricky Mortons. Ricky Morton can do it all. There are lot of guys who can do the mechanics but don?t have the feel for the match. And there?s a big, big difference.

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Ted Dibiase

I call him my catalyst. I wanted him in any match. Dibiase by himself would never draw the biggest bucks in the business but Ted Dibiase in the match always made the match.

 

 

Jim Duggan

Duggan is the kind of guy who could draw money but Duggan could get so screwed up he is not working with the guys right. I had a hell of an angle here one time with Dibiase and Duggan that was a classic, the best dressed man angle, and every town that was going in, the town was going down. I went and watched and I saw why and had to chew Duggan?s ass. He was guzzling Dibiase and Dibiase?s not going to fight Duggan for getting his own part of the match. Dibiase is going to go along with it but it was killing the towns.

 

But as far as heart, you want a guy like Duggan. He split his head, he speared his own head in Houston where it penetrated the skull with the damn turnbuckle. He goes to the hospital and sews it up. He never missed a show and finally his wife calls me and said, ? I don?t know if he can make it tonight. He can?t even shut his eyes. I said, ?Why?? ?His head is so swollen and it?s all puffy.? I said, ?He?s got blood poisoning. Get him to the hospital!? Duggan, with his way, he would make it if he was going through fire.

 

 

Warrior

Sting was partnered with a guy that was a real jerk. He was a piece of shit... Hellwig and Sting got upset and walked out on me. I told Grizzly, ?Go get Sting and have him come back.? I didn?t want the other guy.

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Eddie Gilbert

Eddie Gilbert was a talented, talented kid. I was intrigued by his talent but was always off wrong on the timing? Eddie needed somebody that was strong to be around him that could lead him and capitalize on the talent because Eddie could do anything in the ring. He had a gift but he just couldn?t overcome his own self-destruction

 

 

Missy Hyatt

Oh, Missy, we just had to have Missy but I don?t think Missy added one damn thing except problems. I can?t remember who she first came here with but every time she?d break up and start going with someone else you would have a headache and a problem. Missy never was one of my favorite ones at all. She was just part of where the thing was transitioning to. I don?t think it adds or takes away one thing. Well, I think we could have never had her and done just as well. I don?t think she added anything

 

 

John Tatum

I don?t really remember Tatum very well. I remember Tatum had problems. Oh yeah, I got my bad lawsuit over him being under the influence and having a major car wreck that killed somebody. So that?s my memory of Tatum. I wouldn?t even recognize him if I saw him so I didn?t think much of him.

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I can’t remember who she first came here with

 

 

 

I don’t really remember Tatum very well.

 

 

Poor Tatum, he got forgotten in real life and in storylines. Now he's running a state fair according to obsessedwithwrestling.

 

He's probably one of the saddest stories in wrestling that isn't directly drug and/or alcohol related as he ended up not only second fiddle to his wife but having to have his breakup turned into a wrestling angle.

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I think Missy Hyatt is better in the spoiled, blonde bitch role than any woman ever has been, with Sunny/Tammy *possibly* being an exception by showing up in red-state crazy SMW and declaring her role model to be Hillary Clinton and making her first televised act be to file a lawsuit against SMW for sexual discrimination.

 

Anyway, I've always laughed at the complaint people make about a Missy Hyatt or a Stephanie McMahon being too annoying. That's the DESIRED reaction, and in both cases, they've been part of successful (and unsuccessful because they were pushed too long) programs.

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I agree about Missy Loss, but doesn't Stephanie draw bad heat simply because she's annoying and most people know what she does backstage? To me, she always got "change the channel" heat, not "kill the bitch" heat. I never saw Stephanie as being terribly effective at her on screen role.

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I think Stephanie's at that stage now, yes, but it is true that for whatever reason, the McMahons are all major ratings draws, and Stephanie was a successful TV character at one time.

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Well there's no doubt that Stephanie's "Billion Dollar Princess" character owes a debt to Missy Hyatt. All Steph was missing was the Gucci bag to hit people with.

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Fine, let's put the discussion back on Mid South.

 

I do think Missy Hyatt is the best blonde spoiled bitch character ever, with only Sunny/Tammy coming close. I'll just leave it at that.

 

Mid South was really smart about how they used valets. One thing I read recently that wowed me because it's true and I never thought about it was the metatextual race-related nature of the Dick Slater/Butch Reed feud in 1986.

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I think the whole Bil Watts = racist thing is somewhat misunderstood. I'm sure the Cowboy isn't the most progressive guy in the world, but he seemed to be better at pushing black wrestlers than any other territory booker I can think of with the possible exception of the World Class crew.

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When he pushed Ron Simmons in WCW, he had several justifications for it. He felt Simmons' real athletic background was a plus (since Watts is a mark for football players) and that every other sport was dominated by black athletes and wrestling should be no different.

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I think the whole Bil Watts = racist thing is somewhat misunderstood. I'm sure the Cowboy isn't the most progressive guy in the world, but he seemed to be better at pushing black wrestlers than any other territory booker I can think of with the possible exception of the World Class crew.

I think a lot of that is people look at what you say more than what you do. Watts strikes me as the type of guy to not use very PC language towards black wrestlers and I think his reputation stems from that.

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Yeah, Bill seems like a guy who's probably no stranger to the N-word, but him turning JYD into a top draw has to go down as one of the biggest booking miracles of all time.

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That's the way it was with Schott in Cincy. She got branded a racist for calling one of the pitchers "her million dollar n word" despite the fact that she had the guy over to her house for Thanksgiving every year.

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Guest EastCoastJ

I have no idea if Bill Watts was a racist or not. Pushing the Junk Yard Dog certainly doesn't mean anyone is not a racist though. JYD was over huge with everyone (white children included) and as Watts has been known to say, he only saw one color, green. If Watts was going to make JYD the top guy in the territory and piss off the local politicians in the process as he did, it was because he thought JYD would make him some serious money with the African American crowds in economically waning New Orleans.

 

I would love to hear the interview that Wade Keller did with Watts in the early 90's that got Watts in all that trouble with Turner. Meltzer makes it sounds as though it was really racist, but you never know.

 

If you are looking for good Watts quotes, you have GOT to check out his new book. It's one of my favorite wrestling books that I have ever read.

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