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The Thread Killer

The Thread Killer Talks Too Much: The Recaps (Updated 01/20/21: Interview with Jim Herd, Part One)

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4 hours ago, The Thread Killer said:

The "Eric Fires Back" series seems to be getting a lot of votes, but I could use a bit of a break from listening to Bischoff for a while.  Plus, those "Fires Back" shows are going to be a bitch to transcribe because I'll have to recap both the Shoot Interview clips and then Eric's rebuttal.  I will definitely do the first episode, but I'm going to put that on hold.  Based on the reaction in this thread, I think next up I will tackle either an episode of Mailbag with Mike Chioda, or the Herd Interview.

My advice: Don't do anything you don't want to do.

If stops becoming fun and starts feeling like work, that will lead to burn out, and that's no good for you or any of your devoted readers. 

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Just speaking for me, Eric Fires Back seems like it would get old to read, much less transcribe, real quick.

Another vote for Herd. 

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Monday Mailbag with Mike Chioda
01/11/21

Hosted by Conrad Thompson

 

Note from The Thread Killer: I am going to try something different and recap a Q & A.  Also, I have never recapped something as I listen to it for the first time, but I am doing that now.  That could turn out to be a mistake, because if this episode is boring I’ll have ended up wasting my time.  However, Conrad Thompson claimed (and this could be, and probably is nothing more than carny hype) that some of the answers on this podcast are “shocking” and will probably get reported on Pro Wrestling news sites.  So I figured...why not try it?  If it doesn’t work, I won’t do it again.

* * * * *

Conrad welcomes everybody to the podcast and wishes everybody a Happy New Year.  Conrad says that over the holidays, the Ad Free Shows subscribers have submitted a bunch of great questions for former WWE referee of over 30 years...Mike Chidoa, so let’s get to it.

Question: What was a bigger shock to Mike Chioda, Dusty Rhodes coming to the WWF in 1989, Ric Flair coming in 1991, Hulk Hogan going to WCW in 1994, or Hulk Hogan returning in 2002?

Mike says Hogan going to WCW shocked him. Hogan says after all the years he had worked with Hulk Hogan it was shocking to him that he would ever leave the WWF.  Mike says he is happy that when Hogan returned, he got the opportunity to be the referee for the Hogan/Rock match at Wrestlemania 18.

(Sidenote: Mike Chioda has said in a recent episode that match was one of the most memorable of his career, and he even did a “watch along” of the match with AFS subscribers.)

Conrad follows up: Knowing that Mike grew up a WWF fan and worked with WWF exclusively, did he think it was a big deal when Dusty came to the WWF in 1989?

Mike says that even though he hadn’t been an NWA fan, he understood what a big deal it was when Dusty signed with the WWF.  Mike points out that some people might not realize it, but Dusty made an impact when he came into the WWF.  Mike says he refereed at countless house shows, and he remembers that sometimes a WWF show might not draw many fans when they ran a show in the South, or in what might be considered “NWA Country.”  Mike says as soon as Dusty was on the WWF roster, the attendance on those house shows increased significantly, just because Dusty was on the card and there were fans who were coming out pretty much just to see Dusty Rhodes live.

Conrad follows up: What about Ric Flair?

Mike says he was shocked that Flair came especially with the World Title, but he thought it was great because Ric Flair was an icon and a great performer.

Question: Has Mike tried “Kojack’s BBQ” since he moved to Tampa?

Mike says no he hasn’t but he will try it out, because he loves BBQ.

(Ugh...I’m starting to regret this decision already and I’m only four minutes into the show.)

Conrad follows up: Since Mike has been pretty much everywhere in the world during his 30+ year career, is there one place that stands out for having the best BBQ?

Mike says there is a place in Texas that he remembers in Houston, but he forgets the name of the place. Mike says he lived in Texas for 14 years.

Conrad follows up: Since he lived in Texas, does Mike like Brisket? Conrad says he knows most Texans love their Brisket.

Mike says he does, but says he was surprised when he went to Montreal that they have excellent Brisket as well, except they called it “Smoked Meat.” Mike asks if Conrad has tried it?

Conrad says no, he has never been to Montreal, but he would like to.  Conrad says that Eric has told him that the Strip Clubs in Montreal are “out of this world.”

(Sidenote: Well actually, he’s right about that. I hear. I’ve never been to a Strip Club of course.  I mean...Strip Clubs are bad, and you should never, ever go to one.  And you should especially never date a stripper, because it might seem like a good idea when you’re drunk...except she’ll probably end up being a coke head, and her jealous ex-boyfriend might attack you, and when you fight back the cops end up being called and then you end up spending the night in jail. I mean...hypothetically of course.  I don’t know anybody who actually did that. ;))

Mike laughs and agrees Eric is correct.  Mike says everything about Montreal is great, especially the Smoked Meat at Shwartz’s Deli. Mike says he had been going there for years, and he was introduced to the place by Pat Patterson.

Question: Do you have any memories of working in Pittsburgh or Buffalo?  The fan asking has lived in both towns and doesn’t think either town gets enough credit as being a “great wrestling town.”

Mike says that is true. Mike says both towns were underrated, but both drew sold out houses. Mike says he remembers refereeing some great Rock/Mankind matches at house shows in Pittsburgh, and of course that is where the infamous Hell in a Cell match with Foley and The Undertaker happened.  

Mike says he will never forget running down to the ring after Foley fell through the cage.  He noticed Foley had a big booger hanging out of his nose and he was going to tell him to wipe it, but then he realized it was his tooth that had somehow become lodged up his nose.  Mike says he will never forget that night.

Question: As a fan...not just as a referee, does Mike have a favorite match of all time?

Mike says his favorite match is Rock/Hogan from Wrestlemania 18. He says he doesn’t understand why that match was not the Main Event.

Question: Does Mike have a favorite era in Pro Wrestling.

Mike says “The Attitude Era” without a doubt.

Conrad says that surprises him. Conrad says what made The Attitude Era better than the Hogan Era in the 80’s?

Mike says the fact that the content was more for adults, not just kids.  Mike also says that the roster was much better in The Attitude Era, there were more stars it wasn’t just Hogan.  Mike says he remembers the crowds being better during The Attitude Era. Mike says it felt like you could do whatever you wanted then.  Mike says he liked that women were always flashing their boobs at DX and it was a lot of fun.

Question:  Does Mike have any good Brodie Lee stories, and what was Mike’s experience like working with him?

Mike says he has a lot of fond memories of Brodie Lee backstage, he was a great guy.  Mike says he loved his look.  Mike says that Luke Harper really stood out, especially when you compared him to guys like Randy Orton, with the short hair, and muscles.  Mike says Luke Harper had a great look for Pro Wrestling, and as far as he’s concerned, that is what Pro Wrestlers are supposed to look like. Mike says Luke Harper was old school. Mike repeats that Luke Harper was just a really good guy and treated everybody backstage nicely.  Mike says he spent a lot of time talking to Brodie when they did European tours, and was so excited to see him again this past August in AEW. 

Mike says “God Bless Him” and gets a bit choked up at this point.

Conrad follows up: Did Mike ever meet Danny Hodge?

Mike says that he did meet Danny Hodge, and the thing that stuck out to him right away is that Hodge’s hands were huge.  Mike says he saw Danny crush an apple with his hand once backstage, when somebody asked him to.  Mike says he tried to crush an apple with one hand later, to see if he could do it and he couldn’t.  Mike says at first he thought it was a work...but it wasn’t, Danny Hodge just had amazingly strong hands, even in his later years when Mike met him.

Conrad agrees.  He says if anybody wants to see him do it, they should check out YouTube.  Hodge still hand unreal hand strength as a Senior Citizen, and Conrad says he was a “different level of human being.”

Question: Aside from the Screwjob and Jerry Lawler’s heart attack, does Mike have any memories of Montreal?

(More Montreal? What the hell?)

Mike says he loved working with Dino Bravo and Frenchie Martin. Mike says you wouldn’t believe the crowd reaction Dino Bravo used to get in Montreal.  Mike remembers that before Bravo even signed with WWF full time, they would bring him in for their Montreal house shows and he would end up being the most popular guy on the show.  Mike says it was a similar situation with Jacques Rougeau, but in reverse.  Mike says when Rougeau was “The Mountie” in Montreal, the fans absolutely hated him, which Mike always found odd because he was from Montreal.

Conrad follows up: Does Mike remember the ovation Hogan got the night after Wrestlemania 18 in Montreal, when he came out in the “Red and Yellow?”

(Sidenote: Not to be a nerd here...but Conrad is confusing his “Hulk Hogan Montreal ovations.”  Hogan did come out the night after Wrestlemania 18 in Montreal, and got a massive, sustained ovation...but he was still wearing his NWO gear that night.  As big as that ovation was...

What Conrad is thinking about is when Hogan appeared on Smackdown in Montreal in 2002, wearing the Red and Yellow.  The crowd literally cheered for five minutes straight and wouldn’t let Hogan talk, and Hogan has since said that it was the biggest, loudest crowd reaction he ever got in his career.  I watched that on YouTube once and it still gave me goosebumps.  And of course, you can’t see it in it’s proper context on the WWE Network, because they edited out his theme music.)

Mike says he remembers that ovation, because Hogan was supposed to cut a promo but the crowd literally wouldn’t let him speak they were cheering so loud.  Mike says it gave him chills.

Conrad follows up: Does Mike remember the reaction Elias got a few years ago when he cut a promo in Seattle, making fun of the their Basketball Team moving to Oklahoma City?

Mike says he does remember that, and he was shocked because it was pretty typical “cheap heat” but it was one of the loudest negative reactions he can remember hearing from fans in a long time.

Question: Does Mike have any stories about Pat Patterson?

Mike says he knew Pat Patterson for 35 years, and they got along great. Mike says that Pat loved the way Mike worked, and he once told Mike “when the referee is not even seen in the ring, you’re doing your job.” Mike says Pat was very complimentary towards him.  Mike says Pat used to rib him all the time, and always used to get him with the old joke:

“Hey Mike, do you know who was just asking about you?”

“No.”

“Absolutely nobody.”

Mike then tells a story about how one night, he was in a nightclub in Philly, when the bouncer came up to him.  Mike says the bouncer was one of the biggest men he had ever seen, and as soon as he saw him, he thought it was the second coming of Andre the Giant. Mike says he remembers how big the bouncer’s hands were, it reminded him of Andre. Mike says he knew Andre, and thought he’d never meet anybody like him again, but now he had. Mike says the bouncer told him that he knew who Mike was, and asked if he would pass his contact information to the WWF because he was interested in becoming a Pro Wrestler. Mike says the bouncer gave him his phone number.

Mike says the next time he went to work, he went straight to Pat Patterson and gave him the phone number.  Mike says he told Pat that he absolutely had to see this guy, because he looked just like Andre the Giant and that the WWF should take a look at this guy, right away.  

Mike says Pat told him that he would look into it, but Mike never heard anything more about it after that.

Mike says much later on, he was passing the “Gorilla Position” backstage, and they had a monitor on which was showing WCW Monday Nitro.  “The Giant” was on the screen, and Mike says that Vince was marvelling at The Giant’s size and that he couldn’t believe WCW had signed him.  Pat Patterson was there, and agreed with Vince.

Mike says he interrupted Pat and Vince McMahon and said:

“Hey Pat...that’s the guy!  That’s the bouncer from the nightclub that gave me his phone number, and I gave it to you!  I can’t believe you never called that guy.”

Mike says things got very quiet, Pat’s eyes bugged out and Vince slowly turned and looked at Pat Patterson and said:

“What the fuck, Pat?  We could have signed this guy?”

Before Pat could reply, Vince turned and asked Mike to excuse them, so Vince and Pat could talk in private.

Later that night, Pat Patterson came up to Mike and chewed him out for getting Pat in trouble with Vince McMahon.  

Mike says he apologized, but he reiterated that he was shocked that Pat never called the guy after Mike had begged him to call him and talked about how big the guy was.  Pat replied:

“I just thought you had run into Giant Gonzalez!”

A couple of years later, Paul Wight finally came to the WWF as “The Big Show” of course.  Mike says that the first time he saw The Big Show backstage, Mike just so happened to be standing with Pat Patterson.  Mike says The Big Show came right up to him, and shook his hand...but he said sarcastically: “Nice to see you again. Thanks a fucking lot for passing on my phone number.”

Mike says he put his hands up in the air and said: “Hey, don’t blame me. I gave your number to this guy right here, he’s the guy you should talk to.”  Mike then pointed at Pat Patterson.

Mike says Pat got a confused look on his face, looked at Mike and then The Big Show innocently and said:

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

(Sidenote: I have seen a couple of interviews with The Big Show where he said he had reached out to the WWF before he got signed by WCW, but they had no interest.  I guess now we know that story is true, and the details. I hope I did this story justice by recapping it, because it was really funny.)

Question: While refereeing a match, when both wrestlers are outside the ring and the referee is required to do a ten count...does the referee have to “work” the count to make sure that both guys get back into the ring in time, or is it the responsibility of the wrestlers to listen to the count, and make sure they both get back in before the count of ten?

Mike laughs and says: “always.”  Mike says you pretty much always have to work the count, and says there have been many occasions when he got as high as counting to eight but the wrestlers were still not in the ring, so he would have to break his own count, roll out of the ring and under his breath he would tell the wrestlers to get back in the ring.  Mike says there were also occasions that the wrestlers were too far away from him to hear him if he talked quietly, he would have to yell at them to get back in the ring.  It would look to the fans like he was just being a tough referee, but in reality he really was yelling at them because they were spending too much time outside the ring, and he was being told in his earpiece to make them get back in the ring.  

Mike says that at one point for years, just one wrestler could roll back in the ring to break the count, but then roll right back out.  Mike says the WWF changed the rules so that was no longer allowed, and both wrestlers would have to be back in the ring by the count of ten, otherwise it was a countout.  Mike says literally 95% of the ten counts you see are worked.

Question: What was Shawn Michaels like to work with, prior to his back injury in 1998?  Are the rumors of him being hard to work with true?

Mike says Shawn was always good with him, but he was extremely particular about his referees.  Mike says Shawn was a big fan of what he called the “one...two...not today” spot, which was basically Shawn kicking out right before the three count. Mike says that Shawn really liked doing that spot so it was important to him that he meet with the referee before the match and plan it out in advance.  Mike says that Shawn really liked cutting it as close as possible and kicking out at the last microsecond, so Shawn was very particular about the referee being able to handle that spot, otherwise it could wrong.

Mike admits that there were a few times that he screwed up spots in the ring during a Shawn Michaels match and that Shawn would yell at him, either in the ring or backstage after the match.  Mike says that they always got past conflicts like that, and that Shawn understood accidents happened when you do the same spot over and over, there are bound to be times things get screwed up.  Mike says Shawn was a perfectionist and despite the fact that there were many times that Shawn freaked out on him, he still knew Shawn respected him.

Mike says that outside the ring, he and Shawn always got along well.  Mike says that when he was younger, back during the days of The Rockers, Mike would always try and find out what nightclub or bar The Rockers would be going to after the show, and then he would go there too because it was guaranteed that the place would be packed with good looking girls.  Mike says it was not uncommon to walk past The Rockers hotel room and there would be five women in there with them.  Mike says he would have a hard time picking up women but The Rockers would have women to spare, so he would knock on their hotel room window begging to be let in.

Conrad follows up:  Conrad had heard rumors that The Rockers had so many girls trying to come back to their room, that Shawn and Marty started coming up with all sorts of outlandish conditions or tests the girls had to pass, in order to be allowed to come back to the hotel with them.  

Conrad said the craziest rumor he had heard was that The Rockers would tell some girls that if they wanted to come back to the room with them, they would have to shave their heads bald, to prove that they were serious.  Conrad asks if that is true or if it is just an exaggerated Locker Room urban legend.

Mike says he personally witnessed The Rockers do just that.  Mike says that some girls were so desperate to come back to the room with Shawn and Marty that The Rockers started to make all these outlandish demands to see how far they could push it, and yes...Mike personally witnessed girls willingly shaving their heads just for a chance to come to the hotel room with Shawn and Marty.

Conrad is shocked at this revelation and actually yells “WHAT?”  Conrad says he had always assumed that was just a myth.

Mike said he saw one girl shave half her head, and then The Rockers told her to finish the job, so she went all the way and shaved her entire head.  Mike says he couldn’t believe the lengths some girls would go to, just for a chance to go back to the hotel room with The Rockers.

Conrad says that they should make it clear...Mike never saw The Rockers do this to a girl who was passed out, only to girls who would do it willingly?

Mike says yes...he only ever saw girls do this to themselves willingly and he never witnessed anybody getting their head shaved when they were unable to consent, or against their will.  Mike says The Rockers would always book rooms at a “Rodeway Inn” because they had hot tubs, and they would always have a cooler full of beer back at the room after the bar closed.

Conrad says that he should clarify that Shawn Michaels is no longer the kind of person that would do that kind of thing and that he had changed.  Conrad asks if he noticed a change in Shawn Michaels after his comeback?

Mike says not really, but that is only because he and Shawn always had a good relationship to begin with and never really had any problems.  Mike says that when The Rockers first came into the WWF, he was usually the referee in all their matches, and he can’t even count how many Rockers matches he worked.

Mike says that Conrad might not know it, but Pat Patterson was actually the person in the WWF who saw The Rockers and brought them to Vince’s attention, and really advocated them getting a job. Mike says The Rockers had a bad reputation in the industry before they came to the WWF, but Pat convinced Vince McMahon to hire them.  Mike says it is too bad Marty Jannetty went in a bad direction after The Rockers broke up.

Conrad says that everybody he always talked to in the industry has always told him that when The Rockers broke up, it was assumed that Marty Jannetty was the better Pro Wrestler and was going to be the breakout star of the team, not Shawn Michaels. Conrad asks if Mike thinks one of The Rockers was better than the other.

Mike says they were both great workers, but Marty went in a bad direction.  Mike says it’s always inevitable when a Tag Team breaks up, one guy will “take off” and the other will flounder.  Shawn did well without Marty, Bret Hart did great without The Anvil, and  Jacques Rougeau did great without his brother Raymond.  Mike says that he always thought that would happen when The Shield broke up, that Roman or maybe Seth would turn out to be the big star...but they all made it and that is one of the few stories of all the members of a team or stable going on to great individual success.

Conrad asks if Mike ever heard the rumor that The Shield was actually CM Punk’s idea and he wanted to bring them up from NXT to be his goons, except with Chris Hero instead of Roman Reigns?

Mike says he had never heard that rumor.

Question: Mike Chioda was at the infamous “Public Workout” in Boston right before Wrestlemania 14. Does he have any memories of that crazy event?

Mike says he does not remember that event.

Conrad reminds him that shortly before Wrestlemania 14, the WWF held an outdoor show in the public square in downtown Boston.  The whole purpose of the event was to shoot an angle leading into the Shawn Michaels/Stone Cold match.  The crowd was very rowdy, and while Shawn Michaels was in the middle of cutting a promo a fan threw a battery and hit him in the head. Shawn stormed out of the ring, and had to be convinced to return because they had to shoot the angle where DX and Mike Tyson tied Stone Cold up in the ropes and kissed him.

Mike says he doesn't remember that.

Question: Does Mike have any memories of pranks or ribs pulled on him during the Attitude Era?

Mike says that DX used to tease him all the time when they were in the ring.  Mike says it was “so much fun.” Billy Gunn used to hit him in the nuts (Mike Chioda clearly has a different definition of the word “fun” than I do) and Chyna was always messing up his hair.  Mike says DX did whatever they wanted to do, they were always trying to trip him up...but it was “good ribs.”

Question: What was it like being in the ring on the Monday Night Raw, the night after Wrestlemania 30?  Mike was refereeing a match between Sheamus and Randy Orton, and the fans were not into it, so they started chanting “Mike Chioda!”

Mike says he remembers that night very well, “it was awesome” because that was the first time any fans had ever chanted his name, and he loved it. Mike says he really wanted to react to the chants, but he knew he was supposed to appear to be impartial, and if he reacted to the chants that would make him a babyface, and he would get into trouble when he went backstage.  Mike says it was hard to maintain his composure, but inside he was eating it up.

Mike said Randy Orton was very, very angry during that match, and he was actually complaining in the ring during the whole match.  Mike says Randy kept complaining the match was stupid and never should have been booked, and kept saying “why are we even wrestling?”  Mike said he apologized to Randy Orton but there is nothing he could have done.

Question: Has there ever been a big moment or surprise that not only shocked the fans, but the wrestlers and referees as well?

Mike says that very rarely happens, because referees are always told ahead of time about what is going to happen during the match, and how they are expected to react.  Mike says you can’t really pull a surprise on a referee and expect them to do their job properly.

Conrad asks if Mike was surprised by the appearance of Eric Bischoff in WWE.

Mike says that yes...Eric Bischoff showing up at Raw definitely was a total surprise and very people backstage knew that was going to happen. Mike says that actually shocked him.  Mike says that he was surprised Vince McMahon would want to work with Eric Bischoff after all the things Eric had said about Vince while he was running WCW.  Mike says nobody should underestimate how much Vince McMahon hated Eric Bischoff.

Mike tells a hilarious story about while Eric Bischoff was running WCW, he paid a ton of money and arranged to have a billboard advertising WCW Monday Nitro, right outside WWE Headquarters.  Mike says somebody must have told Eric where Vince’s office was, because the billboard was directly facing Vince’s office window...so every time Vince looked out the window all he could see was a giant WCW billboard.  Mike says he knows Vince had to look at it every day, and it drove him nuts.

Mike says that he knows how Vince McMahon thinks.  Mike says Vince would work with pretty much anybody if he thought it would make him money.  However, Mike says if Vince ever hires somebody who has upset him in the past, Vince will always find a way to get revenge on the person and humiliate or embarrass them as payback. Mike thinks Vince hired Eric Bischoff partially because he thought he was a good talent, but also so he could screw with him, and humiliate him and get revenge.

Mike says he was rarely shocked when Vince would bring back somebody who left the WWF under bad circumstances, but he definitely admits he never thought he’d see Eric Bischoff in WWE.

Question: What does Mike Chioda think of the recent angle where Randy Orton set The Fiend on fire?

Mike says he doesn’t know anything about that.

Conrad fills him in on the “Firefly Funhouse Inferno Match.”

Mike says he does not watch WWE, he watches AEW and based on what he has heard about the ratings lately, he isn’t the only one who isn’t watching WWE anymore.

Question: How many years do you have to work in the business to earn the title “Senior Referee?”

Mike says that when you look at cars, 15 years is a classic, 25 years is an antique.  When it comes to referees, 15-20 years makes you a Senior Referee.  Mike says it takes a very long time to learn to be a referee and it takes at least 15 years to learn all the different tricks.

Question: During his entire WWF/E career, was Mike ever asked to do something that he was uncomfortable with, that he refused to do?

Mike says yes, absolutely.  “Be a stooge.”

Conrad asks Mike to explain.

Mike says that when a new Vice President of Talent Relations started in WWE, he met with all the referees and told them that it was now part of his job to basically spy on the talent, and inform the office what they were up to. For example, Mike was told he needed to start making notes about what time the wrestlers were arriving at the arenas for house shows, and report back to the office if they were late, and by how much. Mike says he was actually told he needed to hide in the corner and basically spy on the wrestlers and report back to the office.

Mike says that was something that he would absolutely not do.  Mike says that WWE have totally changed the responsibilities of the referees over the past few years.  Mike says that the refs used to be the ring crew, drive the trucks, and then referee the matches.  Mike says now, the office basically uses the referees as gophers and stooges, and that Mike does not think that is the job of a referee.

Mike says that in WWE, referees do not get paid transportation or lodging.  Mike says referees have to pay their own way everywhere, and pay for hotel rooms.  Mike says that if you are friends with the wrestlers, they will split expenses with you, share a car and a hotel room.  Mike says if the wrestlers know you are going to go back to the office and report on everything you see and hear, then they will not trust you and it won’t work. Mike says nobody wants to travel with a stooge. Mike says that when a referee stooges on the talent to the office, the office then turns around and fines the talent $500 - $1000 for being late.  So why would a Pro Wrestler want to travel with or be friends with somebody who could cost them money?

Conrad asks who were Mike’s favorite Talent Relations executives, and who were his least favorites?

Mike says without a doubt, his favorite VP of Talent Relations, was Jim Ross.  Mike says Jim Ross was a man, he was old school and his handshake meant something.  Mike says that if JR told you something was going to get done, it got done.  Mike says that JR took great care of the referees, because he understood how important they were.  Mike says JR came up in the business and JR’s first job in the Pro Wrestling business was as a referee so he had respect for the refs. Mike says while JR was in charge of the referees, there weren’t even any employment contracts for the refs, everything was done on a handshake deal, but Mike didn’t feel insecure about that because he trusted JR.  Mike says JR was in charge of the pay for the referees, and he paid very well and even gave performance bonuses.

Conrad asks who was the worst?

Mike doesn’t hesitate and says Mark Carrano.

Conrad says he is not surprised to hear Mike say that, because he has never heard anybody say anything nice about Mark Carrano.  Conrad asks why Carrano has so much heat with everybody?

Mike says: “because he’s the shits.”

Mike says Mark Carrano has paid no dues in the Pro Wrestling business.  He never put together a ring. He never worked as a ring attendant taking robes.  He never drove the truck.  He never refereed a match. Mike says maybe Mark paid his dues in the office, but not with the boys.

Mike says Mark Carrano is just that...a “mark.”  Not his name, that’s what he is...a mark. Mike says he might as well be honest...he was talking about Mark Carrano when he just told the story about being ordered to “stooge” on the wrestlers in WWE.  Mike says that is probably what cost him his job in WWE, the fact that he wouldn’t stooge on the boys.  Mike says that you can’t trust Mark Carrano, he will tell you one thing but say something else behind his back.  Mike says that when Carrano fired him, he was told it was because he was making so much money, because he had been there so long...but Mike knows for a fact it was actually because he refused to spy on the boys, like the other refs did.  Mike says that’s why they got rid of a lot of the old school refs.

Conrad asks for examples of some of the things Mark Carrano has done that the Pro Wrestlers and referees didn’t like.

Mike says they don’t have enough time on the podcast to list that many things. Mike says he won’t even look you in the eye when he talks to you.  Mike says he knows it was Mark Carrano’s idea to fire him and they just used the Pandemic as an excuse.  Mike says he doesn’t think that Vince McMahon or Stephanie wanted him fired, but he thinks Mark Carrano did so he talked Triple H into approving it, and then Carrano fired him.

Conrad asks what is was like for Mike working with Mark Carrano when he disliked him this much.

Mike says he was professional with him, but he didn’t like him so he avoided him as much as he could. Mike says he understands that the VP of Talent Relations is a thankless job and that Vince always puts all the heat on whoever is in that position, but he just didn’t like, trust or respect Mark Carrano.

Mike says this is the first time he’s talked about Mark Carrano since he was released,and he doesn’t like talking about him.  Mike says: “when you put somebody’s name out there, you’re putting them over either way, bad or good” and he doesn’t want to do anything to put Mark Carrano over.

Conrad says he can tell Mike is getting upset talking about this, so he apologizes and says they will move on.

Mike says it’s okay...but he doesn’t even like to think about Mark Carrano because he didn’t pay his dues and turned the referee’s job in WWE into something Mike doesn’t agree with.

Conrad says he will find a different question, so they can talk about something happier.

Question: Was there a referee Mike Chioda looked up to when he was growing up and getting into the business.

Mike says definitely Joey Marella.  Mike says that although he ended up having a totally different style from Joey, especially when it came to counting, he really looked up to Joey Marella and emulated a lot of the things he did, and how he carried himself.  Mike says Joey set a great example for a young referee.

Mike says another example would be Dick Woehrle. Mike says he was very old school, he wore wrestling boots under his referee uniform and took the business and his job very seriously, and Mike really looked up to him for that. Mike says he grew up in the business idolizing Dick Woehrle.

Question: Has Mike ever had to prevent fans from entering the ring to attack the wrestlers.

Mike says that has happened many times during house shows.  Mike says there are two different situations. Mike says sometimes kids will rush the ring because they are excited or want to touch their favorite wrestlers or get involved in the match.  Mike says in cases like that, he would just grab the kid and hold them until security came to escort the fan away.  Mike says he would never want to hurt a young kid.

Mike said the other, scarier scenario is when a fan rushes the ring with the specific intent to harm somebody. Mike says that once when he was refereeing a Stone Cold/Triple H match in Germany, a crazed fan rushed the ring and tried to attack Stone Cold, but the Security Guard just stood there and didn’t do anything because he thought it was part of the show.  Mike says Hunter managed to get the fan down and had him in a chokehold, but the guy was crazy and kept fighting.  Mike says he tried to help and kept trying to kick the fan, but he kept accidentally hitting Triple H and Triple H finally yelled at Mike and told him to stop kicking him in the head. Mike says the incident is on YouTube, and if you watch it you will see Mike accidentally kicking Triple H in the head.

Question: Is there any heat between Mike Chioda and the Hebner Brothers, since Mike pretty much took over the Senior Referee position in WWE after Earl and Dave Hebner were fired?

Mike says he hopes not, because there is no heat on his part.  Mike says he always got along great with Earl, who taught him a lot and he really liked Dave Hebner.  Mike says Dave Hebner was an agent but he used to be a referee so he respected the refs.  Mike says at one point, Dave Hebner was the agent in charge of all the referees and he always took very good care of Mike and paid bonuses.   Mike points out the Earl’s son Brian is also a referee and is really good at his job.

Question: What is Mike Chioda’s current status with AEW and would he want to work there full time?

Mike says he is friends with Cody Rhodes, so after Mike got released Cody called him and said he wanted to bring Mike in to AEW on a part time basis.  Mike says Cody told him he wanted an experienced referee for the big PPV and TV matches, and for important angles, because he trusted Mike.  Mike says he does not have a contract with AEW but he would love to work there full time if the chance ever presented itself.  Mike says the atmosphere backstage in AEW is totally different from WWE, it is so much more relaxed but still professional.  Mike says he especially likes being around all the young talent who are still coming up in the business.  Mike says he hopes to work more for AEW in the future.

Question: Did Mike have a good relationship with Chris Benoit?

Mike says he had a great relationship with Chris Benoit, and that he considered him a friend. Mike says Chris gave him the nickname “Coyote.” Mike says the main thing with Chris Benoit was that he was big on respect for the business and the Locker Room.  Mike says that if Benoit thought you were being disrespectful to the boys or the Locker Room, he would kick you out and he saw Benoit do that several times over the years.  Mike says that if Chris Benoit let you sit down next to him, then you knew he respected you, and he had sat down next to Benoit many times.

Mike tells a funny story about a time Chris Benoit came up to him at a show, and showed him a picture.  The picture was of Chris Benoit putting the Crippler Crossface on Brock Lesnar.  Mike says Brock Lesnar had a big line of drool hanging out of his mouth, and then Mike looked at Chris Benoit and Benoit also had  big line of drool hanging out of his mouth too.  Chris told Mike to look at himself, so Mike looked at his own face in the picture. In the picture, Mike was yelling at Brock and asking him if he wanted to give up, and sure enough Mike Chiolda had a big line of drool hanging out of his mouth too.  Mike says he and Chris Benoit laughed their heads off over the picture of all three guys drooling.  Mike asked Chris to sign the picture and says he still has the hilarious photo to this day, of himself, Chris Benoit and Brock Lesnar all drooling.

Conrad asks Mike if he ever saw signs of Chris Benoit having a bad temper or being a bit unbalanced?

Mike says yes, he has to admit he did.  Mike says one time WWE was on an extended European tour, and they were in England.  Mike says they had been on the road for about 10 days at that point and everybody was very tired.  Mike says they pulled into their hotel in Manchester and when they went into the lobby, there was a huge crowd of English Football/Soccer players in the lobby, and they were all drunk.  Mike says as soon as the British Footballers saw the WWE wrestlers, they started mocking them and shooting their mouths off. Mike says that one thing lead to another, and soon enough there was a massive brawl going on in the lobby of the hotel between all the WWE wrestlers and the Footballers.  

Mike says it was hilarious, because Johnny Ace was there and was running around trying to get everybody to calm down, but nobody was listening.  Mike does a humorous (and fairly accurate) intimation of Johnny Ace at this point.

Mike says at one point during the fight, a huge footballer walked up to Dave Batista and squared off with him nose to nose.  Mike says the footballer was talking all sorts of trash, claiming that he was the World Kickboxing Champion and that he was going to kick Batista’s ass, etc.  Batista called the guy on, but before anything could happen, Chris Benoit showed up and physically inserted himself between Batista and the footballer.  Mike pointed out that Batista was much bigger and more physically imposing than Benoit was, but the footballer wasn’t the least bit scared of Batista, in fact he was encouraging Batista to fight.

Mike claims that as soon as Chris Benoit interjected in the fight, he got right up in the footballer’s face and Benoit looked absolutely insane with his eyes looking all crazy.  Mike says as soon as Benoit got into the guy’s face, the guy looked terrified and he literally ran away from Chris Benoit because he looked enraged and insane.  Mike says he couldn’t believe at first that the footballer wanted to fight Batista but ran away from Benoit, but when Benoit turned around and Mike saw the expression in his face, Mike understood because Benoit looked insane.

Conrad says he has actually heard about that fight before.  Conrad says that Hurricane Helms told him the story of that fight “off the air” and that Helms had told Conrad that Benoit was acting insane that night.  Conrad says that Helms told him that Chris Benoit actually put the Crippler Crossface on a guy for real during that fight.  Mike confirms that is true.  Conrad says Hurricane Helms told him that the fight was in a bar, but Mike corrected him and said that the fight was in the hotel lobby, but there was a bar in the lobby.  Mike says they are talking about the same fight.

Question: Mike was a referee and was not involved in creative, but was there ever a time that he had a really good idea and pitched it somebody?

Mike says not really.  Mike says he kept to himself.  Mike says he did help plan finishes, but storylines were up to the writers, producers and Vince.  Mike says he did help contribute an idea for the finish for a Money in the Bank match.  Mike says he envisioned two guys fighting on the top of the ladder for the briefcase, when the briefcase opens...one guy grabs the briefcase but the other pulls out the contract at the same time, and they both hit the mat.  Mike said he thought it would be interesting since the briefcase means nothing without the contract, but the contract is not official without the briefcase.  Mike says Pat Patterson loved the idea, and pitched it to Vince but Vince shot it down.

Question: Did Mike ever referee a match where he had to tell the participants to pick up the pace because they were losing the crowd?

Mike laughs and says yes, many times.  Mike said if the crowd was getting restless then he would be told through his earpiece to tell the wrestlers to pick up the pace and get things going.

Question: What was it like being the referee during a match involving Vince McMahon?  Did Vince take his cues from Mike like the other wrestlers, or did he do what he wanted because he was the boss?  How did it feel being able to boss Vince around during the match?

Mike says when he refereed matches with Vince he would tell him how to do something, but not what to do.  Mike said Vince actually relied on Mike’s perspective on things during his matches. Mike says nobody ever told Vince what to do.  Mike says he was flattered when Vince wanted him to referee his matches, because that meant Vince had confidence in him.

Question: Did the production crew hang out with “the boys” or did they stick to themselves?  Also, did Mike Chioda ever go gambling with Gorilla Monsoon?

Mike says he did gamble with Gorilla in the Atlantic City Casinos, but mostly with Joey since they were friends. Mike says everybody always hung out together, the crew and the boys because they all stayed at the same hotel. Mike said it was different for TV production, because they had their own bus and were on a different schedule from the boys...but if they could they all hung out together.

Question: Do you think it would be feasible for WWE to go back to just running 6 PPV events a year?

Mike says that when you only run 4-6 PPV shows a year, it gave the creative staff much more time to build up the storylines between the talent and you could keep guys apart until their big match.  Mike says monthly PPV shows really hurts the buildup for the shows and it got repetitive. Mike says less would be better.

Question: Was Mike there when The Undertaker got badly burned at Elimination Chamber 2010, and if so what was it like?

Mike: “He was PISSED.” Mike says the pyro guy got fired for that. Mike says he remembers how angry The Undertaker was, but that the fault was totally on the pyro guy, he messed up the cues.  Mike says The Undertaker could have literally been killed.

Question:  Was there any time Mike missed his “go home” cue and messed up the finish, so he got in trouble for it?

Mike says no, not really.  Mike said he used to mess up once in a while at Live Events but he can’t remember ever messing up a TV or PPV match.

Question: Does Mike remember the first time he refereed a match on TV, and if so who was in the match and where was it?

Mike says he made his TV debut in 1989, and he is pretty sure it was a singles match between Marty Janetty and Duane Gill.  Mike says he has saved a program with a picture of the match, and he is pretty sure the reason he saved that program and picture is because he is in the picture and it was his first match.

Question: Does Mike have any stories or insight into when Seth Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase at Wrestlemania 31 and changed the Main Event, since Mike was the referee for the match? Did Mike know how that was going to go down?

Mike says during the whole week leading up to the match, it was just supposed to be Reigns vs. Lesnar and he had been prepared for that, when all of the sudden the day of the show they totally changed it.  Mike says of course he knew before the match that the finish had been changed, but he didn’t know prior to the day of Wrestlemania.  Mike says he thought it was a great moment.  Mike says he was really happy for Seth Rollins because he worked so hard and was always trying to improve every week.  Mike says he is proud of Seth, he was a hell of guy and a good worker.

Question:  Was there anybody that Mike never got to work with, that he wishes he had?

Mike says as he records this podcast, he is looking at a picture in his office with himself and Bruno Sammartino and he would have loved to work a Bruno match back when he used to sell out Madison Square Garden. Mike says he would have loved to referee a match involving Gorilla Monsoon, Blackjack Lanza or Renee Goulet.  Mike says he wished he would have got the chance to work with Jesse Ventura as well.

Question: What did Mike Chioda’s parents think when he told them he was going to get into the Pro Wrestling business?

Mike laughs and says: “They didn’t like it!”  Mike says he was refereeing when he was only 16 years old, working for Víctor Quiñones in the Philly and South Jersey.  Mike says Gorilla Monsoon had set that up for him, since Mike grew up with Joey Marella and knew Gorilla when he was just a kid. Mike says he made a ton of money as a teenager and his Mom freaked out when she found rolls of money in his sock drawer.  Mike says that his parents were worried because by the time he was 17 years old he owned four cars from all the money he was making.  Mike says he had always wanted to be a professional baseball player, but then Victor started paying him $500 a night to sell programs and referee.

(Sidenote: What the hell?!  I smell bullshit.)

Mike said that because his parents didn’t like him working in Pro Wrestling, he quit for a while and got a job as a machinist, but eventually he quit that and went back to Pro Wrestling.  Mike says once his Dad saw him on TV, he was proud of him and accepted that Mike was a referee. Mike says his parents didn’t think Pro Wrestling was a serious job and they were very skeptical about it at first, but they came around.

Question: Since Mike is from New Jersey, does that mean he is a Bruce Springsteen fan?

Mike says he is a huge Bruce Springsteen fan.  Mike says his favorite song is “Jersey Girl.”  Mike says he has seen Springsteen in concert four times. Mike says he can’t believe it when some people say Jon Bon Jovi is the best performer from New Jersey because it is Bruce Springsteen, for sure.

Question: What is the role of a referee during a Royal Rumble?

Mike says there is not much for a referee to do during a Royal Rumble, just stand around the ring and make the call if somebody goes over the top rope, or if they go through the ropes.

Question: What does Mike think of the last World Title run Hulk Hogan had in 2002?

Mike says he liked that Hogan went back to the Red and Yellow, but that the highlight of Hogan’s final run was the Rock/Hogan match and maybe that should have been the end for Hogan. But he knows Hogan had a lot of fun during his last run, and he knows that the fans enjoyed the nostalgia.  Mike says it couldn’t compare to the 80’s.

Question: Did a wrestler ever do such a good job of selling during a match that Mike thought they were actually injured?  Or did anybody ever pretend to be injured as a “rib?”

Mike says no, he could usually tell.  Mike says there were some guys that would rib him and pretend to be hurt, but all that stopped when WWE introduced the “Concussion Protocol” and everybody started taking in ring injuries much more seriously.  Mike says after the Concussion Protocol was introduced, nobody would ever pretend to be injured if they weren’t.

Question:  During the Hogan/Rock match at Wrestlemania, was Mike involved in discussing the two men switching roles between heel and babyface during the match?  Also, can Mike clear up the rumor that Hall and Nash coming down to attack Hogan was an “on the fly” decision that was made once Vince saw the way the fans were cheering for Hulk Hogan?

Mike says Hogan and The Rock were totally surprised by the crowd reaction, especially when Hogan made his entrance.  Mike says Hogan and The Rock talked between themselves during the match and decided to switch roles, and Mike didn’t really have anything to do with it.  Mike says he was “marking out” during the match for the reaction Hogan was getting.

Mike says it was always planned that Hall and Nash would get involved in the match, but he’s not sure it was always planned for them to turn on Hogan.  But Mike is very sure it was always part of the plan for Hall and Nash to come down to the ring at the end of the match.

Mike said Hulk Hogan was in a lot of pain during that match, and he actually broke a rib during the match.

Question: Was Mike Chioda on “The Plane Ride from Hell?”

Mike doesn’t know which plane ride was the plane ride from hell...was it the flight from Japan to Russia where they all almost died due to a snow storm?  

Conrad clarifies that the flight he is referring to is the flight back to the USA from England, when everybody got drunk and Michael Hayes almost peed on Linda McMahon, and somebody cut off Michael Hayes hair.

Mike says he remembers Michael getting his hair cut off, but he didn’t think it was in 2002...he thought it was much earlier and Kerry Von Erich was there.

Conrad says no, this was much later...and starts listing off all the things that happened on the flight.  When Conrad gets to the part with Flair walking around naked, except for his robe...

Mike says: “Oh yeah. NOW I remember.” 

Mike says he was sleeping during most of the flight.  Mike says he remembers that was the last ever Charter Plane WWE booked where booze was served.  Mike says that he had a few drinks and went to sleep, and when he woke up he couldn’t believe all the stories he heard about what had happened while he was sleeping. Mike says that based on everything else that was going on during that flight, he was relieved that nobody shaved his head or eyebrows while he was sleeping.

Conrad asks why Mike thought Kerry Von Erich was involved.

Mike says he used to travel with Kerry when he was in the WWF, and Kerry was a big fan of cutting people’s hair while they were sleeping...but Mike was thinking of a different incident.

Conrad says that he has been told The Nasty Boys used to be famous for shaving people’s eyebrows while they were sleeping.  Conrad says that on the package for the 1-2-3 Kid WWF action figure, Sean Waltman has no eyebrows because Brian Knobbs shaved them the night before the photo shoot.  Conrad says that Brian Knobbs told him that he also liked to shave just one of his victim's eyebrows, and make them decide if he wanted to shave the other or walk around with one eyebrow.  Brian Knobbs eventually shaved his own eyebrows off, because he was so afraid of retaliation.

Mike says all those stories are absolutely true.  Mike says that somebody once shaved one of his eyebrows off, and Bret Hart used a magic marker and tried to help him by drawing another eyebrow, because he was an artist.  But Bret couldn’t get it to look right, so Mike ended up shaving both off.  Mike thinks it was Davey Boy Smith who got him.

Conrad says this has been the best episode of Mike Chioda’s Mailbag that they have done yet. Conrad says he and Mike will have to talk when they go off the air to decide if Mike wants Conrad to edit any of the things they have talked about out of the show, due to their controversial nature.

Conrad thanks Mike for his honesty during these interviews,and says that he loves the fact that there is no filter and “no bullshit” from Mike on these shows.

Mike says he is the one who should thank Conrad for the opportunity to share these stories and trust him...there are plenty more to come.

Mike hypes his shirts at Pro Wrestling Tees...and we are out of time...

~End of Interview~

 

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Another tremendous recap, @The Thread Killer. Slow start with all the boring bullshit about BBQ joints, but it definitely picked up later on.

BTW, big LOL for this... :lol:

5 hours ago, The Thread Killer said:

(Sidenote: Well actually, he’s right about that. I hear. I’ve never been to a Strip Club of course.  I mean...Strip Clubs are bad, and you should never, ever go to one.  And you should especially never date a stripper, because it might seem like a good idea when you’re drunk...except she’ll probably end up being a coke head, and her jealous ex-boyfriend might attack you, and when you fight back the cops end up being called and then you end up spending the night in jail. I mean...hypothetically of course.  I don’t know anybody who actually did that. ;))

Also, I kinda feel bad for Mark Carrano. He's not "one of the boys" because the business has changed and Vince no longer puts "the boys" in that position. Seems unfair for Chioda or anyone else to hold that against him. Carrano does seem like a bit of a smirking cocky douchebag on Total Divas, but it would be ridiculous of me to judge him based on a fake "reality" show. 

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It's not uncommon for there to be some negative feelings toward someone coming in from outside the industry getting a position of power over those who did. I've seen it at my workplace and you hear about it all the time in sports that X person doesn't have what it takes to be a coach/GM/whatever because he didn't come up the ranks. LIke @C.S. said it probably doesn't help him that he comes off like a douchebag every time I've seen him in a WWE show or documentary. Like Johnny Ace without the charisma. 

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Chioda even says right in the interview that the point of the talent relations position is to take the heat. It seems like Carrano was probably put in this position for this purpose,  to take the heat from the boys, so he was probably hired because he wasn't one of the boys. Chioda being mad at Carrano proves the point; not being one of the boys makes it easier for him to do his job since he feels no loyalty to the boss like JR probably did. The fact Chioda is blaming Carrano and not Vince doesnt mean to me that it's not Vince's fault Chioda was fired. I bet it was Vince's idea.

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On 1/11/2021 at 2:24 PM, Blehschmidt said:

Appreciate these write ups! Super cool of you to do.

 

On 1/11/2021 at 4:08 PM, Log said:

Loving these recaps!

 

On 1/11/2021 at 4:35 PM, Alucard said:

Love the recaps, great job on the Bischoff one.

 

On 1/11/2021 at 6:15 PM, Yo-Yo's Roomie said:

Thanks for doing this, by the way.

 

On 1/12/2021 at 6:53 AM, Blehschmidt said:

Thanks for doing the write up on that one!

 

On 1/12/2021 at 11:21 PM, C.S. said:

Tremendous recap, @The Thread Killer.

 

On 1/13/2021 at 9:04 AM, ButchReedMark said:

Best thread on here, thanks Thread Killah.

Thank you for the appreciation, everybody.

I have time on my hands for now (although that might change at some point) and I have all these podcasts saved, so I figure if people keep enjoying them and it keeps discussions going, I'll keep doing them.

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11 hours ago, C.S. said:

Slow start with all the boring bullshit about BBQ joints, but it definitely picked up later on.

Yeah after the first couple of minutes listening to that, I was all like...

Untitled-1.jpg

But thankfully the show picked up with the Shawn Michaels question, the Pat Patterson question and especially the stuff about Talent Relations.  I really laughed at the Pat Patterson/Big Show story. 

"I thought you met Giant Gonzalez!"

 

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On 1/11/2021 at 6:59 PM, Dooley said:

I'd lend an ear to the Jim Herd piece.

 

On 1/11/2021 at 11:45 PM, MoS said:

I would also like to read the Jim Herd recap

 

On 1/12/2021 at 11:21 PM, C.S. said:

Count me in as another one, BTW, who would love to read a Herd recap.

 

On 1/13/2021 at 9:04 AM, ButchReedMark said:

I vote for Herd.

 

On 1/13/2021 at 10:56 AM, Matt D said:

second the vote for Herd.

 

On 1/13/2021 at 2:41 PM, clintthecrippler said:

Adding a vote to the Herd interview, if simply for the historical significance of it being the first time he talked about his WCW tenure in nearly 30 years.

 

On 1/13/2021 at 10:13 PM, PeteF3 said:

Another vote for Herd. 

That's seven votes for Jim Herd, so I think that is the recap I will tackle next.  If memory serves me that interview is pretty damn long, so I may end up tackling it in instalments like I did with the Bischoff Leaves WWE episode.  I don't mind recapping anything under an hour in one sitting, but anything over that stops being fun and starts feeling like a chore so it's better to break it up.

Stay tuned.

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Thank you for another epic recap, brother TTK.

Quote

Mike says that when a new Vice President of Talent Relations started in WWE, he met with all the referees and told them that it was now part of his job to basically spy on the talent, and inform the office what they were up to. For example, Mike was told he needed to start making notes about what time the wrestlers were arriving at the arenas for house shows, and report back to the office if they were late, and by how much. Mike says he was actually told he needed to hide in the corner and basically spy on the wrestlers and report back to the office.

Mike says that was something that he would absolutely not do.  Mike says that WWE have totally changed the responsibilities of the referees over the past few years.  Mike says that the refs used to be the ring crew, drive the trucks, and then referee the matches.  Mike says now, the office basically uses the referees as gophers and stooges, and that Mike does not think that is the job of a referee.

Mike says that in WWE, referees do not get paid transportation or lodging.  Mike says referees have to pay their own way everywhere, and pay for hotel rooms.  Mike says that if you are friends with the wrestlers, they will split expenses with you, share a car and a hotel room.  Mike says if the wrestlers know you are going to go back to the office and report on everything you see and hear, then they will not trust you and it won’t work. Mike says nobody wants to travel with a stooge. Mike says that when a referee stooges on the talent to the office, the office then turns around and fines the talent $500 - $1000 for being late.  So why would a Pro Wrestler want to travel with or be friends with somebody who could cost them money?

I'm kind of torn here. On the one hand, giving the referees additional responsibilities (stooging for the office) without any corresponding increase in pay and/or benefits is a bullshit carny move. On the other hand, showing up to work on time is a basic requirement in any job. If you get fined for not doing the bare minimum, don't blame the guy who stooged on you.

Quote

Mike says they don’t have enough time on the podcast to list that many things. Mike says he won’t even look you in the eye when he talks to you.  Mike says he knows it was Mark Carrano’s idea to fire him and they just used the Pandemic as an excuse.  Mike says he doesn’t think that Vince McMahon or Stephanie wanted him fired, but he thinks Mark Carrano did so he talked Triple H into approving it, and then Carrano fired him.

Hilarious. I'm sure we'll see plenty of examples of "Vince loved me but that son of a bitch Johnny Ace" in these interviews.

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4 hours ago, The Thread Killer said:

That's seven votes for Jim Herd, so I think that is the recap I will tackle next.  If memory serves me that interview is pretty damn long, so I may end up tackling it in instalments like I did with the Bischoff Leaves WWE episode.  I don't mind recapping anything under an hour in one sitting, but anything over that stops being fun and starts feeling like a chore so it's better to break it up.

Stay tuned.

Thank you so much for all of the work you're doing and info you are sharing. I think we're also glad though that you're setting some limits and parameters for yourself, and if this ever hits a point where it stops being fun, I would hope all us would understand if you had to walk away as needed.

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4 hours ago, NintendoLogic said:

I'm kind of torn here. On the one hand, giving the referees additional responsibilities (stooging for the office) without any corresponding increase in pay and/or benefits is a bullshit carny move. On the other hand, showing up to work on time is a basic requirement in any job. If you get fined for not doing the bare minimum, don't blame the guy who stooged on you.

I love how "get someone lower on the totem pole to get the heat for you" is baked in to the very being of WWE management. 

It's extremely fucked up to have refs pay their own way, and then turn around and make it part of their responsibilities to stooge on the same people who could help them out with those same expenses.  I'm sure that $500-1000 they collect in fines could allow them to afford a hotel room or two.

 

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If the refs are the talent then no way they should be snitches for the office.  If there full fledge WWE employees then I guess you that's another thing.  

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Ad Free Shows Exclusive
“Conversations with Conrad”
With former WCW Executive Vice President

Jim Herd
November 10, 2020

Preamble from The Thread Killer:

Shortly after this interview was released last November, Conrad released one of his regular “Ask Conrad Anything” podcasts on Ad Free Shows.  One of the questions for Conrad was regarding this interview with Jim Herd.

Conrad says that going into this interview, he was fully armed with detailed notes which had been thoroughly researched for him. Conrad claims he had no intention of being overly confrontational, but he did intend to ask some rather pointed questions about some of the more controversial decisions that Jim Herd made during the years he was Executive Vice President of WCW, from 1989 to 1992.

Conrad says that the day of the interview was the first time he had actually met Jim Herd face to face, and he was taken aback by Herd’s appearance.  Conrad says that going into this interview he was aware Jim Herd was 88 years old, but that fact had not fully registered with him until he saw Herd in person.  Conrad admits that he had not really mentally reconciled the fact that he wouldn’t be meeting the bold and blustery Jim Herd that was seen on WCW Television in the early 90’s.  The Jim Herd that Conrad met on this day was a stooped, frail and somewhat feeble old man, and Conrad admits that he felt the need to change the tone of the interview on the fly, because he would not have felt comfortable being confrontational or combative in any way with the man he met that day. 

Having said that, as you will read...Jim Herd is still in full possession of his mental faculties and has a good memory.  Conrad also admits that the interview probably would have gone longer, but Conrad could tell Herd was getting tired so he omitted a couple of questions that he had intended to ask.

Conrad said the other obvious issue that hung over the idea of Conrad Thompson interviewing Jim Herd, was the historically contentious relationship between Jim Herd and Ric Flair.  Conrad claimed he wanted Jim Herd to be totally honest about his feelings regarding Ric Flair, so prior to the interview Conrad chose not to inform Herd that not only was Conrad personal friends with Ric Flair, but Ric Flair was actually Conrad’s Father-In-Law. Conrad says that immediately after the interview, Conrad did disclose his relationship with Ric Flair, and Jim Herd did not seem to have a problem with it.  Conrad says that Jim Herd seemed to really enjoy the interview at that if Herd’s health is permitting, Conrad may work with him again in the future.

During this interview, Jim Herd makes a few statements which are debatable at best, and in a few cases they are probably provably false.  He also shares a couple of opinions which are pretty laughable, but I suppose that is the point of recapping an interview like this. So without any further introduction, I will do my best to recap what he said, and let you decide for yourself...

* * * * *

- Conrad welcomes us to the very first episode of “Conversations with Conrad” and thanks Jim Herd for joining him to be his first guest.

- Jim Herd thanks Conrad for inviting him.

- Conrad says that if he is not mistaken, this is the first interview that Jim Herd has given in over 20 years?

- Jim Herd says it has been at least 20 years since he has given an interview, and it has probably been longer than that.

- Herd says that he has been involved with Professional Wrestling since 1962. Herd says that in 1962 he worked with Vincent J. McMahon, also known as Vince McMahon Sr.  Herd says he used to promote shows for Vince McMahon Sr. in the old Blue Moon Arena in South Philadelphia which was known as “The Jungle.”  Herd says remembers that Vince McMahon used to carry around a roll of quarters, and the roll would break and quarters would end up flying everywhere.  Herd says Vincent J. McMahon had great success as a promoter...but obviously his son took it much further.

- Herd says he is happy to talk about anything regarding his Pro Wrestling career, the early years or, if Conrad just wants to focus on his time working with Ted Turner, that is fine with him too.

- Conrad says that before they talk about Ted Turner, the NWA and WCW they should probably talk about “Wrestling at the Chase.”

- Herd says that he was the Station Manager for KPLR TV in St. Louis, and that his station was responsible for syndicating the TV show “Wrestling at the Chase” which was filmed in the ballroom of the Chase Hotel, and was promoted by Sam Muchnick who was not only the promoter of the NWA’s St. Louis territory, he was also the President of the NWA.

- Jim Herd says he still remembers some of the great Pro Wrestling matches that took place in St. Louis featuring names like Gene Kiniski, Pat O’Connor, Lou Thesz and Wilbur Synder.  Herd says it’s a shame nobody remembers Wilbur Synder, who he remembers being brought into St. Louis after playing Pro Football in Canada. Herd says Wilbur Synder was great but nobody ever talks about him.

- Herd says that the problem is that he is so old, that all the names he remembers and all the people he knew are all dead.

- Conrad says that he thinks there is a lot of misinformation about Jim Herd out there, and asks what year he was born.

- Jim Herd says he was born August 13, 1982 and he is 88 years old.

- Conrad asks how Jim got involved with Ted Turner.

- Herd says he first met Ted Turner while Jim was the General Manager of Channel 11 in St. Louis. Herd says that he and Ted Turner were two of the founding members of an organization called ITV, which was The Independent Television Association.  Herd says that this organization was an alliance of all the Independent TV stations in the Southern United States that did not have a network affiliation.

- Herd says when he managed Channel 11, “Wrestling at the Chase” was their most popular program and that his station used to get fan mail from all over the place, from fans out of state and everywhere, wanting to talk about how much they loved Professional Wrestling.

- Herd says at that time, Ted Turner owned two TV stations, one in Atlanta and one in North Carolina, and Herd sold him “Wrestling at the Chase” in syndication for Turner’s channels.  Herd says that as soon as Turner started airing Pro Wrestling, his channels started getting the same kind of overwhelming fan response that Herd’s did.

- Herd says that Turner realized right away what a popular property and ratings success Pro Wrestling was, when nobody else took it seriously.  Jim Herd that when Ted Turner started his “Superstation” he always intended Pro Wrestling to be one of the foundations of the channel, since he had already seen how successful it was when he owned Channel 17 and ran “Wrestling at the Chase.”

- Jim Herd says he remembers that Ted Turner once told him that when he looked at a map of the United States, there were not enough Professional Baseball teams in the South.  Turner said Baseball was supposed to be “America’s Pastime” but they had no real representation in the South aside from the Braves who had moved to Atlanta from Boston. Turner bought the team (which was apparently at risk of being moved) and started showing their games on the Superstation, which broadcast them to the entire country and ended up making the team much more popular, and basically the official team of the South.

- Herd says he was impressed how Turner eventually built a Sports Package at Turner Network Television that ended up including Baseball, Hockey, Football, Basketball and Pro Wrestling.  Herd says that when advertisers would buy time with Turner’s “Sports Package” they wanted their ads included on the Pro Wrestling shows, because the ratings were so high on the Superstation.

- Jim Herd says that to run a 30 second ad on any one of the games or events included in the Turner Sports Package would cost $100,000, which would be the equivalent of $500,000 today.  Herd concedes that he is 88 years old and his memory might be faulty, but that is what he remembers.

- Herd says the thing about Ted Turner is that he was very competitive and “he never wanted just one of anything.  He wanted it all.”

- Herd says that thanks to the high advertising rates for the Turner Sports Package, WCW made “tons of money” while he was in charge.

- Herd says the main area where he failed when he was running WCW was in the fact that although TV ratings and ad revenues were high, they could never draw big houses or duplicate the WWF’s success when it came to touring and house shows.

- Herd says eventually they decided to stop running many house shows, because they couldn’t get into many of the best venues, as Vince McMahon had them locked up...and even if they could get in, they couldn’t draw any crowds.

- Conrad says that maybe they should go back a bit and discuss before Jim Herd came to work for Ted Turner. Conrad asks if it’s true that after he worked for Channel 11 in St. Louis, did Jim work for Pizza Hut, prior to being hired by Ted Turner?

- Herd says that he did work for Pizza Hut and was a regional manager for the Pizza Hut restaurants in Missouri and southern Illinois, he was responsible for around 67 locations in total.

- Herd says that when he came on with Pizza Hut, they were in competition with a chain called Pantera’s Pizza. (Not to be confused with the band Pantera.) Herd says Pantera was doing much better business than Pizza Hut was, so as soon as he took over, he decided to do some market research.  Herd discovered that customers didn’t like Pizza Hut compared to Pantera’s because Pantera’s had more cheese on their pizza, so Herd went back to the owner and convinced him to increase the amount of cheese he put on the pizzas.  Herd claims the owner, a man named George Middleton didn’t want to do that because it would cost more money, but Herd convinced him.  Herd claims as a result, Pizza Hut went from making six million a year to thirty-six million a year.

- Conrad says that in 1988, Ted Turner purchased the NWA from Jim Crockett, and one of the first things Ted Turner did was put a man named Jack Petrik in charge of the NWA. Petrik was named President of WCW, and one of the first things Petrik did was hire Jim Herd to be the Executive Vice President.

- Jim Herd says that Jack Petrik was an old friend and colleague who also ran a TV Station in St. Louis, Channel 30.  Herd says that along with himself and Ted Turner, Petrik was also a member of the aforementioned Independent Television Association. This is how Ted Turner knew Jack Petrik, and why Turner hired Petrik to run WCW once he purchased it.  Jack Petrik had no experience with Professional Wrestling, but he knew Jim Herd had promoted shows for Vincent J. McMahon and had worked with Sam Muchnick syndicating Wrestling at the Chase, so Petrik reached out to Herd and offered him the job of Executive Vice President.  Herd says the plan was that Petrik would handle the financial and business end, and Jim Herd would oversee the actual Professional Wrestling operations.

- Conrad asks why Herd was hired in 1988 but didn’t start with 1989?

- Jim Herd says that he waited until his pension plan with Pizza Hut was vested, and then he made the move to WCW in January 1989.

- Conrad asked about the controversy with Dusty Rhodes around this time?

- Jim Herd says that as soon as Ted Turner took ownership of the NWA, his first rule was that he wanted a reduction in gratuitous violence and especially blood...he did not want blood on his shows. Jack Petrik had made this clear to Dusty Rhodes, who was in charge of booking WCW at that time.  For some reason, Dusty Rhodes went against that edict and ran an angle on Television where he took a spike in the eye from The Road Warriors. As a result, Dusty was fired from his management position with the NWA and put on a performer’s contract. Dusty Rhodes was not happy with this situation, so he resigned.

- Herd says that entire situation with Dusty Rhodes was already happening at the time he was hired and that he did not have anything to do with Dusty being demoted, that situation was handled by Jack Petrik under the orders of Ted Turner.

- Herd says that Jim Crockett was then selected to be the booker for the NWA, but that pretty much right from the start nobody really liked Jim Crockett’s style of booking.  Herd claims that Ted Turner himself said that there were too many “run ins” so he instructed Jim Herd to deal with Jim Crockett.

- Herd says that the relationship with Jim Crockett was awkward from the beginning, because Crockett was used to running things himself, and he did not like to take orders from anybody else.

- Herd claims that it was Ted Turner who told him to get more control over Jim Crockett, so Herd told Crockett he was no longer allowed to book anything without running it by Herd first.  Herd says Crockett “took great umbrage” with that fact, and that their relationship deteriorated very quickly as a result.

- Herd claims that he liked Jim Crockett personally, and that he was an honest man...but his remaining in charge of the NWA while Ted Turner owned the company was never going to work, so Jim Crockett came to an agreement with Turner to purchase his remaining ownership stake in the NWA.

- Herd says that David Crockett stayed on, after Jim left and that Herd was always happy with David Crockett and he was a nice guy.

- Conrad asks if there is any truth to the story that as soon as Jim Herd came to work for Ted Turner, he did the same thing that he had done with Pizza Hut...namely he did market research and commissioned a man named Jeff Carr to write a report on the state of the NWA?

- Jim Herd confirms that a report was commissioned by a man named Jeff Carr that ended up being 42 pages long, and that a Herd did implement a number of the recommendations made in Carr’s report.  Specifically, the NWA/WCW Television programs needed to rely less on interviews and more on matches, and most significantly that Ted Turner’s WCW should move out of the “Studio Wrestling” format and tape their TV in arenas.

- Herd says that at the same time of the Carr Report, Bill Watts was also hired as a consultant and he provided Jim Herd with a lot of feedback regarding making changes to the NWA/WCW product.

- Herd says that lots of people had ideas about making changes to WCW, but the main person driving changes to the product was Ted Turner.  Herd claims that Turner wanted him to focus on two primary areas, reducing the amount of violence associated with the product, especially bleeding.  Secondly, Turner wanted Herd to focus on making WCW a revenue generating product.

- Conrad asks Jim Herd if he had anything to do with the changes made to the look of the actual product that happened around this time.

- Jim Herd says that yes, he was instrumental in moving the TV Tapings into arenas but also adding the improved lighting, music, the entrance ramp and especially the pyrotechnics.

- Conrad says that if he is not mistaken, WCW actually introduced the idea of using pyrotechnics before the WWF did.

- Jim Herd confirms this, and says that the idea behind using more lights and pyro was to make the Pro Wrestlers on the show seem like a bigger deal.  Herd says he may have been first, but Vince McMahon did it better in the long run.

- Conrad asks about JJ Dillon.

- Jim Herd says JJ Dillon was Dusty’s assistant booker and as soon as Dusty Rhodes fell out of favor in WCW and left for the WWF, JJ was not too far behind him.  Jim Herd says that JJ Dillon was important to the WCW product and deserved credit for his contributions...but Herd’s philosophy has always been that it is better to get contributions from a group of people rather than relying on the creative input of just one or two people.  Herd says he much preferred creative work to be done by committee.

- Conrad asks what Jim Herd’s plan was for the booking was after the departure of Dusty Rhodes and JJ Dillon?

- Herd says the first person he hired was George Scott. George Scott was the booker for the WWF from 1983-1986, during the birth of “Hulkamania” and the first couple of Wrestlemania events.  Herd says he hired George Scott partially due to his history working for Vince McMahon, but Herd says that honestly the main reason he hired Scott was because of his contacts with current and former WWF talent.

- Herd admits that his main goal was to take advantage of Scott’s relationships outside WCW and bring some top recognizable names into WCW.  Herd says he wasn’t interested in what George Scott knew, he was interested in who he knew. Herd says: “Sure, George Scott can be the booker...as long as I get Ricky Steamboat.”  

- Herd says his decision to hire George Scott paid off pretty much right away, when Scott was able to put Herd in touch with Ricky Steamboat.  Herd puts Ricky Steamboat over huge as one of the best wrestlers he has ever seen.  Herd says that he and George Scott had hoped to recreate the magic of the Ric Flair/Ricky Steamboat rivalry from years before in Jim Crockett Promotions, but this time on a national scale.

- Conrad says that Jim Herd probably doesn’t get enough credit for bringing in Ricky Steamboat and helping set up the famous “Flair/Steamboat Trilogy” in 1989 which are still considered to this day to be the greatest Pro Wrestling matches of all time.

- Conrad says that he has heard rumors that in the aforementioned Jeff Carr report, one of the suggestions that was made was that WCW focus less on Ric Flair.  Conrad asks if this was the reason tensions started to build between Jim Herd and Ric Flair, starting in the late winter/early spring of 1989?

- Jim Herd says that there were a lot of problems with Ric Flair, right from the start.  Herd says that Ric Flair was resistant to Ted Turner’s no bleeding policy.

- Herd says that just recently, he had seen an interview with Ric Flair, where he was being interviewed by “some bald headed guy.”  Herd says he was surprised at how great Flair looked, and that Flair must have had plastic surgery and had part of his ass grafted onto his forehead, because Herd assumed he would look terrible by now due to all the scarring from cutting himself during the matches so often.

- Herd says the main problem with Ric Flair was his behavior outside of the ring.  Herd says Ted Turner was worried that Ric Flair’s lifestyle would reflect badly on WCW and the Turner organization, and that Turner wanted Jim Herd to get Ric Flair under control.

- Jim Herd implies that a lot of the time he was just speaking for Ted Turner or trying to implement Turner’s policies, but that Herd was the one “taking the lumps” from the talent.  Herd says it was his job to keep WCW running smoothly but at the same time Turner wanted it “rain dollars.”

- Conrad asks about the rivalry between Ted Turner and WCW and Vince McMahon and the WWF that really started to heat up around this time.  Conrad asks if it is true that Ted Turner decided to counter-program Wrestlemania V with WrestleWar?

- Jim Herd confirms this.  Herd says Turner was quite anxious to go to war with the WWF, and that he had the contacts in the PPV business to get away with running a major show on the same day as Wrestlemania, but there were scheduling problems in WCW so it couldn’t happen, and WrestleWar ended up airing in May.

- Herd says it was Ted Turner’s plan to try and freeze Vince and the WWF out of PPV, much in the same way Vince had done it to Jim Crockett Promotions.  Herd says that he would have gone along with the plan but he thought it was a very bad idea.  Herd says that instead of the PPV, they ended up putting on a Clash of the Champions show at the New Orleans Superdome.

- Conrad asks if the rumor was true that the bad rating and attendance for that Clash of the Champions was the reason George Scott was fired?

- Jim Herd confirms this is true, that for some inexplicable reason George Scott did not promote the Clash of Champions on WCW TV and the show was barely advertised, so very few people attended the show or watched it on TV.

- Conrad asks if it is true that George Scott’s reason for this was because he thought promoting a show on television would hurt the house show business?

- Jim Herd confirms that this is the case, and says the whole thing was “a major disappointment.”

- Conrad asks how long George Scott lasted in WCW, is it true it was only 11 weeks?

- Jim Herd says he can’t remember the exact amount of time but “his time there was short...let’s put it that way.”

- Conrad asks if this was around the same time Vince McMahon hired Tony Schiavone?  Conrad says Tony Schiavone felt like he was being demoted around this time.

- Jim Herd says “he was!”  Herd says that Tony Schiavone was very upset that Jim Herd had made the decision to give Jim Ross a new contract and make him the main announcer and basically the voice of WCW.  Jim Herd puts Jim Ross over huge, and says that Ross could take any match and make it great with his commentary, and Tony Schiavone just couldn’t do that.

- Herd says he liked Schiavone personally, but that as far as Herd was concerned Tony’s best role would be to do interviews and be a backup announcer.  Herd says Schiavone got his “nose out of joint” and couldn’t accept that so he took a job for more money working with the WWF, and Herd totally understands that, but he doesn’t regret his decision to make Jim Ross the top play-by-play announcer in WCW.

- Jim Herd says that he thinks Vince McMahon didn’t even want to hire Tony Schiavone, and that he did it just to spite Herd.

- Conrad reiterates that the quality of the actual in ring product in WCW improved significantly after Jim Herd took over in 1989, and that Conrad thinks Herd doesn’t get enough credit for that.

- Jim Herd says that the quality of the actual wrestling was very important to him.

- Herd says that around this time, he decided that WCW needed to start creating their own stars and he wanted to find the best athletes.  Herd says he went and met with the Atlanta Falcons during their training camp and asked the coaching staff for a favor. Herd says he gave his business card to the Falcons coaching staff, and told them that if anybody ended up getting cut from the team but was an impressive athlete, to have the player give Jim Herd a call and he would arrange a tryout with WCW to see if they could learn to become a Professional Wrestler.

- Herd says that the plan worked and he got a number of great prospects referred from the Falcons.  Herd laughs and says: “but then I made a mistake.”  Herd says that when the potential wrestlers came for their tryouts, he put them in the ring with the Steiner Brothers, and by the time the Steiners were done, the football players all quit.  Herd says that he found it very funny at the time...but the football players probably didn’t think it was.

- Conrad says that it is funny that Jim Herd mentioned the Steiner Brothers, because that is another thing Herd probably doesn’t get enough credit for.  Conrad says that the Steiners were on the roster but really didn’t get heavily pushed in WCW until Jim Herd took over, but Herd made them superstars.

- Jim Herd confirms that he loved the Steiner Brothers and puts them over big time.

- Jim Herd says to Conrad: “I don’t know if you remember him...there was this guy, his last name was White.  He was a big guy, I think he played right guard for the Denver Broncos.  He had this big helmet he used to put on, and he used to scare the hell out of the Japanese fans.”

- Conrad: “Big Van Vader?”

- Herd: “Yep. That’s him.”

- Jim Herd says that when Vader came into WCW he didn’t like the Steiner brothers and got into arguments with them.  Herd says one of their arguments was so bad that one day, Herd got called down from the offices to deal with the problem.  Herd says that when he got to the Locker Room, both Steiners had picked Vader up and literally taped him to the wall with athletic tape.  That’s how strong they were, they were able to take a guy that weighed over 300 pounds, pick him up, subdue him and tape him to the wall.  Herd laughs at this story and says: “they were funny guys.”

- Conrad asks Jim Herd about bringing in Terry Funk to work with Ric Flair after his series with Ricky Steamboat.

- Jim Herd says that he paid Terry Funk more money than he had ever made in his career.  Herd says he knew the Funk family quite well from his days in St. Louis, since Terry wrestled there and so did his brother Dory when he was the NWA World Champion, and he also knew their father who was one of the toughest men he ever met.

- Conrad asks if it is true that after the Great American Bash PPV in 1989 that Jim Herd and Ric Flair got into a major disagreement?  Conrad says that the story that had been reported was that Ric was fighting outside the ring and went outside the area covered by the TV lights.  Jim Herd allegedly said something backstage to the effect that Flair should know better than that, and Eddie Gilbert was right there.  Conrad says the story is that Eddie went and told Flair what Herd said about him, and there was a major blowup between the two men as a result.

- Jim Herd confirms that when Ric Flair heard what had been said about him, he became very angry and attempted to hand in his notice.  Herd says he took Flair out for lunch and did his best to smooth the situation over.  In an effort to reconcile with Flair, Herd offered him the booking job that was now vacant due to the departure of George Scott.

- Herd says that when Flair was made the main booker, it was as the head of a new booking committee. Herd says that since Flair was booking for the first time, he wanted to make sure he got a lot of support, plus as mentioned earlier, Jim Herd is a proponent of booking by committee, rather than having just one person making all the creative decisions.

- Herd says that the main problem with Ric Flair as a booker is that “he never wanted to lose.” Herd says that Ric Flair’s refusal to lose matches was the reason he didn’t last very long as the head of the WCW Booking Committee.

- Conrad asks about the Booking Committee.

- Jim Herd says that if one person is booking, the product will take on a “sameness” and that having one person coming up with all the ideas “never works.”  Herd says that you need “a multitude of ideas from lots of different people.”

- Jim Herd says that the booking committee consisted of Flair initially, plus Jim Cornette and also Jim Ross. Herd was going to continue naming people who were on the booking committee, but he gets sidetracked and starts talking about how great Jim Ross was again.  Herd reiterates that Jim Ross was the not only the best play-by-play man in Pro Wrestling, but he was also very creative and came up with some great ideas when he was on the Booking Committee.

- Herd claims that another reason Tony Schiavone left WCW is because Jim Ross was named to the Booking Committee but Schiavone was not, and that upset Tony greatly and “got his nose out of joint.”

- Conrad says one of the first decisions the Booking Committee came up with was the angle where Terry Funk put a plastic bag over Ric Flair’s head.

- Jim Herd says that angle caused a lot of trouble for him, and that he ended up getting called into a meeting with Ted Turner which was very unpleasant.  Herd says he was “called on the carpet” and reminded that one of the first things that Turner told him was to tone down the violence, but Jim Herd had “digressed” from that plan for the first time, and Ted Turner was not happy.

- Conrad points out that the resulting Ric Flair/Terry Funk match ended up being one of the most watched Pro Wrestling matches in American TV history...but for some reason the rest of the Turner organization refused to support WCW.

- Jim Herd confirms this, and says that CNN covered Wrestlemania that year, but they wouldn’t mention anything about WCW.  Herd says that for whatever reason, the entire Turner organization seemed to think that WCW was “beneath them” and it was very frustrating.

- Herd says that he came up with the idea of “WNN” the Wrestling News Network hosted by Gordon Solie, but CNN did not like the idea and “raised hell” so WCW had to end up changing the segment into “Joe Pedicino Knows.”

- Conrad says that around this time, Ted Turner purchased the Turner Classic Movies library, and that the story has always been that Jim Herd had given the Booking Committee instructions to create new characters which coincided with the characters in the movies.  Conrad says that this alleged decision by Jim Herd has been the source of amusement to Pro Wrestling fans for years, and asks Jim Herd if the story is true? Specifically, Conrad asks if The Ding Dongs, and The Hunchback and the One-Legged Pirate Long John Silver were created by Jim Herd in order to tie-in with Turner Classic Movies?

- Jim Herd laughs at this question.  Herd says that it is true that he wanted to tie-in some Pro Wrestling characters with Turner’s Classic Movie library, and that the Booking Committee did “brainstorm” some ideas about how to do that...but Herd claims the stories have been greatly exaggerated.

- Herd says that he knows that for years, people have claimed that he wanted to change Ric Flair’s name to “Spartacus” but that is not true.

- Herd says that he had come up with an idea called “The Zodiac Man.”  This idea would be a wrestler who would be costumed differently every month, depending on the signs of the zodiac.  For example, in April/May he would be dressed like a bull, for the sign of The Taurus.  Then after his matches, he would throw disks with the Taurus sign out to the fans on his way back to the dressing room, and if the fans caught one of these discs, they could take it to participating fast food restaurants or stores, and redeem the disc for prizes or discounts...as long as they did it during the specific months.

- Jim Herd claims that Ric Flair heard about this idea and became convinced that the Booking Committee and Jim Herd wanted Flair to change his gimmick and become The Zodiac Man, but that was not true.

- Herd claims that ideas like “The Hunchback” or Spartacus were never seriously considered, and many times they were discussed in booking meetings as a joke...but then somebody would tell somebody else about the joke and it would end up being reported as a being true or being an actual plan, when it was never meant to be taken seriously.

- Conrad asks about turning Brad Armstrong into “The Candyman.”

- Jim Herd says that he had been trying to get an advertising deal with Hershey’s, and that they had specifically asked him if WCW could work a giant candy bar into their show, and if they could, then Hershey’s would consider becoming a sponsor of WCW.  Herd says The Candyman character was created to lead up to the introduction of a giant, 6 feet tall, 4 feet wide Hershey’s Candy Bar at the live shows, which could be split up and given to the audience.  Herd claims that the idea fell apart because the venues would not allow a giant Candy Bar into their buildings, because of the potential mess it would make.

- Conrad says that the Hershey’s deal might have fallen through, but Jim Herd probably deserves credit for some of the advertisers that he did bring in during his tenure in charge of WCW. Conrad names M&M, Coors and “Roos” as examples.

- Herd says WCW had been losing money ever since Ted Turner purchased the company, but some of these advertising deals help finally generate some revenue.  Herd confirms that landing a beer sponsorship had long been the “Holy Grail” of advertising sponsors for a Pro Wrestling company.

- Herd talks about a close personal friend of his who was named Chuck Fruit.  Herd claims Chuck Fruit worked for Budweiser and was in charge of allocating their advertising contracts.  Herd says that even though Chuck was a friend of his, he told Jim Herd that Budweiser would never advertise on a Pro Wrestling TV program or PPV because of the negative associations with the product and that Pro Wrestling fans were perceived as low class and “beneath” the Budweiser brand.

(Sidenote: Once I heard the name “Chuck Fruit” I just had to google it and it turns out there really was a high ranking executive named Chuck Fruit who worked at Budweiser and Coca-Cola. The name sounded made up to me...but old Chuck Fruit was real.)

- Jim Herd reiterates that Ted Turner really wanted to change the image of WCW as a violent “bloody” product and that Turner was constantly after him to appeal to children and women, not just men.  Herd says as hard as he tried, WCW never could increase their female viewers.

- Herd says one of the main reasons he agreed with heavily promoting Sting is because being so colorful, he appealed to kids and he was also good looking, which would appeal to women.

- Conrad asks about The Great Muta.

- Jim Herd says The Great Muta was a great wrestler but he wasn’t well liked by the other wrestlers in the Locker Room.

- Conrad asks if Gary Hart had anything to do with why The Great Muta didn’t do better in WCW (as has been suggested by both Jim Ross and Jim Cornette) but Jim Herd says he really doesn’t know.  Herd pointed out that as the Executive Vice President, he usually wasn’t privy to a lot of the Locker Room gossip.

- Conrad asks about Brian Pillman.

- Jim Herd says Brian Pillman was a great wrestler and was exactly the kind of athlete Herd wanted to feature in WCW, young, good looking, athletic, popular and he had exciting matches.  Herd says that kind of Pro Wrestler is the type he felt would be WCW’s best chance to make a lot of money.

- Conrad asks Jim Herd about his opinion of Eric Bischoff.

- Herd says all Eric Bischoff did was use Ted Turner’s money to hire away all of Vince McMahon’s most popular stars, and that Herd tried to do that but Jack Petrik wouldn’t give him the money.

- Conrad asks if Jim Herd actually had any conversations with any of the top names in the WWF while he was in charge of WCW.

- Herd says that he tried very hard to sign Randy Savage.  Herd says that Randy Savage was the exact type of star that he would have loved to build WCW around, he was popular with kids, he was a household name and he would have really helped draw new advertisers.

- Conrad asks if Jim Herd actually had serious discussions with Randy Savage about jumping to WCW?

- Herd says that he and Jack Petrik did have a very serious meeting with Randy Savage about coming to WCW, and they were very close to making a deal.  Herd says the problem is that Jack Petrik would not go any higher than $500,000 a year for Savage, and Savage wanted more than that.  Herd says that honestly, he would have paid Randy Savage whatever he wanted to sign with WCW because that would have been “revolutionary” for WCW but Jack Petrik wouldn’t budge on the money so the deal never got made.

- Conrad goes back to talking about Sting and asks about Jim Herd’s feelings about him.

- Jim Herd agrees that Sting was great, but that his injury in 1990 derailed the plans the Booking Committee had to put Sting on top over Ric Flair.

- Conrad asks if this is when WCW made the decision to pivot to putting the World Championship on Lex Luger.

- Jim Herd confirms that is exactly what happened.  Herd says that he wanted Lex Luger to beat Ric Flair but Flair refused “and that was pretty much the end of our relationship, to tell you the truth.”

- Herd says that Flair was making top money in WCW and that WCW had always done whatever Ric Flair wanted to do.  Herd says he thought that he and Ric Flair had a good relationship, but that Flair always thought Jim Herd and WCW were trying to “diminish” him.

- Jim Herd asks Conrad if he knows much about Ric Flair.  Conrad doesn’t comment, so Herd takes a moment and puts Flair over huge.  Herd says that in his opinion, Ric Flair was probably in the best physical condition of just about anybody in WCW, and he could literally “wear out a Stairmaster until it started to smoke.”  Herd says he personally witnessed Ric Flair doing cardio in the gym and he was amazed at how long and hard Flair worked out, and he did it every day. Herd says the only other athletes in WCW who came even close to Ric Flair’s physical conditioning would be the Steiner Brothers. Herd says he knows he has talked about the Steiner Brothers a lot, but he admits they were his favorites.  Herd says Ric Flair could wrestle 45 minutes every night, with anybody...and Herd appreciated that Flair worked that hard.

- Herd admits that by this point, his relationship with Ric Flair was fractured beyond repair but Herd didn’t totally realize it.  Herd says that Flair can be very charming and personable, so you can be in a meeting with him that goes really well, and not realize that he hates you.

- Herd says that Vince McMahon obviously heard that Ric Flair was unhappy in WCW and used that as a chance to “swoop in and steal him...and he did.”

- Conrad asks if this was around the time that Ole Anderson started booking?

- Jim Herd says hiring Ole Anderson was big mistake on his part. Herd says “Ole was just mean.  He was mean in the ring but he was even meaner outside the ring.”  Herd says his memories of Ole are that he was always angry and always in a battle with somebody.

- Conrad asks if Jim Herd remembers The Black Scorpion?

- Herd says he does remember and that was also a big mistake.  Herd admits that Ole didn’t even know who the Black Scorpion was supposed to be when he came up with the idea.  Herd agrees that the job was offered to Al Perez but Perez ended up turning it down because he thought it would hurt his career.  Herd says that whole Black Scorpion storyline ended up being “a big hodge podge.”

- Conrad asks if this was around the time that Dusty Rhodes reached about about returning to WCW?

- Herd agrees that it was, and says that Dusty was just supposed to be brought back as an in-ring talent.

- Herd says that he still remembers that a sticking point in dealing with Dusty was that his son Dustin be made part of the deal, and that Dusty was very insistent that Dustin get a job and be featured heavily once Dusty returned to WCW.  Herd says that he really liked Dustin, he was a “nice kid” but Herd was initially unsure about bring Dustin in because Herd didn’t know if he would be any good.  Herd says that when Dusty came back in, he kept “shoving” Dustin on Herd and eventually Herd got annoyed and “shoved back.”

- Conrad asks about Sid Vicious.

- Jim Herd says that Sid had the greatest physique that he had ever seen.  Herd says he remembers Sid “vividly” because negotiating with him was a nightmare.  Herd claims Sid would agree to terms for a new contract and then change his mind and demand something else.

- Conrad asks Jim Herd if the urban legend is true that Sid demanded time off in the summer so he could play softball, and Herd laughs and agrees it is true.

- Herd says you could never satisfy Sid, and talks about the day their contract negotiations broke down for good. Herd claims that Sid was in his office and demanded the summers off and more money, and told Jim Herd that if Herd didn’t meet his demands he would quit and go and work for Vince McMahon, but before he left Sid said he was going to throw Jim Herd out the 12th floor office window.  Herd claims he told Sid that he had a loaded gun in his briefcase and that if Sid took one step toward him, Herd was going to “blow his head off.”  Herd claims Sid turned around and walked out of the office and that was the last time he ever saw Sid.

- Conrad asks if that kind of thing ever happened when Herd was running Pizza Hut, and Herd laughs and said no...that never did.

- Jim Herd says he doesn’t know what happened to Sid, because he knows so many of the Pro Wrestlers he worked with over the years have since passed away.  Herd asks Conrad if Sid is still alive.  Conrad says he still is, and Herd says he is glad to hear it because he doesn’t like to think he has been sitting there talking poorly about somebody who has since died.

- Conrad says now would be as good a time as any to get into Ric Flair’s departure from WCW and the transition to Lex Luger as champion.

We are now exactly halfway through this interview, so I am going to take a break here and pick it up later with Part Two...

~End of Part One~

 

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2 hours ago, The Thread Killer said:

- Jim Herd says that when Vader came into WCW he didn’t like the Steiner brothers and got into arguments with them.  Herd says one of their arguments was so bad that one day, Herd got called down from the offices to deal with the problem.  Herd says that when he got to the Locker Room, both Steiners had picked Vader up and literally taped him to the wall with athletic tape.  That’s how strong they were, they were able to take a guy that weighed over 300 pounds, pick him up, subdue him and tape him to the wall.  Herd laughs at this story and says: “they were funny guys.”

 

WHAT?????  

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21 minutes ago, Rocco said:

WHAT?????  

Yeah, I had my doubts about that story.  I know Vader wasn't as big in 1991 as he would go on to be, and I don't doubt both Steiners could easily lift him up, but I can't imagine them being strong enough to hold him in place long enough to tape him to the wall, nor can I imagine there being enough tape to hold him up.

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Yeah that was the part that threw me too. The amount of tape that would be required for that is mind boggling.

It does fit in with all the other stories of Vader rubbing everyone the wrong way though.

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