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RF Video Shoot Interview with the Honky Tonk Man, Volume 1

This video was released in the beginning of 2001, with WCW still in business.

The interview starts with a clip of Honky, as Wayne Ferris in Memphis, teaming with Larry Latham as the Blond Bombers.


Honky says that he got into wrestling because he did not want to grow up and it was an extension of his childhood. He said he knew in the 3rd grade that he would be in sports or entertainment when he grew up and wrestling gave him the best of both worlds.



He said he was trained by Herb Welch, who was the uncle of Robert Fuller. He said that Koko B. Ware was in his class. He trained for nine months straight.



Honky’s first payoff in wrestling was for $9. He said that before wrestling, he was making $10,000 a year coaching football.



He confirms that Jerry Lawler was his first cousin. Lawler began wrestling five years prior. His other cousin was Carl Fergie, who also wrestled. Honky said he was the athlete of the family and those two never played sports.



Honky said that he would wrestle the same towns for weeks at a time then drive up to 400 miles away for some $9 payoffs.



He said that he liked teaming with Larry Latham as the Blond Bombers. Honky staes the teamed first formed when he was sent to a tournament in Atlanta and thrown together with Larry in a team by Jerry Brisco.



The Tupelo Concession Stand Brawl is mentioned next. Honky said it was a precursor to ECW and that a lot of people on the independent scene do not realize that he wrestled a hardcore-style match before. He said that Jerry Jarrett and Robert Fuller put the match together on the spot. He said he had no idea at the time it would be considered a classic match but looking back years later, thought it was pretty great.



He is asked about his memories of Tommy Rich. Honky said that people have no idea how over he was back then and said they had good matches



Honky then talks about how back when he started, he wrestled in a lot of “Best of Three Falls” matches, which helps younger wrestlers as you have to do a different match each fall. He then states how he recently saw a younger wrestler in California do twenty minutes of highspots and after the match, went up to him and told him that he did not do a single wrestling hold and the kid replied that he did not know any. Honky says that this limits your opportunities, as you can only work one style. He then adds that it helps to learn a lot on the fly when wrestling.



Honky says that Bobby Eaton was overrated, stating he was a great worker but could not talk and didn’t sell a ton of tickets. Honky also said that Eaton worked really hard for lesser pay.



He is then asked about how he wound up in Calgary. Honky said that he was in Pensacola with David Schultz at the time, who felt that he was getting screwed by the promoter, and told Honky they could make money up there. Honky said that Schultz was cool and would tell people his opinions right to their face. He also did that with promoters and they hated that. Honky said he picked up some of Schultz’s bad habits with promoters.



Honky says that Stu Hart gave him a lower guarantee than promised and he threatened to walk out but Stu called him back. Honky puts him over as a businessman and for the fact that he survived in the extreme conditions, stating the Winter in Calgary was like no other place. He also respects those who stayed up there for a few years. Honky said that Stu asked him if he wanted to go to the dungeon but he declined and Stu was fine with that, as he knew Honky was a show-business guy. Honky says he has good relations with Stu’s sons then mentions how Bret never wants to lose in Canada.



Up next is the Dynamite Kid. Honky said that he is another person who destroyed his body for little pay and is now bitter and addicted to drugs as a result. He is asked if he ever had problems with him and Honky mentions how once after a show at the Boston Garden, someone stirred up shit about Honky stating that he made enough there to pay the boys rent and he flipped out. Honky says that he was hard to deal with when he was on drugs. He then brings up how Dynamite thought it was funny to make fun of Harley Race having a colostomy bag but didn’t think it was when Jacques Rougeau knocked him out.



Honky is asked about Chris Benoit. He said he had a few matches with him when he first broke in Calgary. Honky says that Chris was actually trained in Edmonton before arriving to Calgary by a promoter. He says that his drawback is his size and that is what the WWF promotes.



He is asked about Bret Hart. Honky says that he always showed up late but worked hard. He then says that he always does the same match, like Ric Flair, and is bland on interviews, like most Canadians. Honky then says that he could never figure out his push but did like him in the Hart Foundation.



Honky said he wound up in the WWF when Vince did another talent raid so he could run three shows a night. He was the North American Heavyweight Champ in Calgary at the time. Honky stated that he didn’t even think he was good enough to go to the WWF, after twelve years of training. He then brings up guys today who after wrestling school think they belong in the WWF.



His first impression of Vince McMahon is that he knew Vince was management and that he was talent. He makes the analogy of Vince as a small child and all the wrestlers as their toys. Once the toy is done, it is pushed aside and replaced with a new one. Honky says that he knew that he was just labor to him.



Honky said that he came up with the Honky Tonk Man gimmick from the song of that same title by Johnny Hark. Honky said he always believed that wrestling and music went together and that he took a lot of his interview material from songs and puts it over as a good way for younger wrestlers to cut promos.



He is asked about his hair vs. hair matches with Austin Idol. At the time, Honky was doing is Punk Rock character but he said the hicks didn’t understand the gimmick so the matches were a good way to revamp his character. Honky stresses the importance of being able to keep yourself fresh in wrestling. He said they did a series of hair dye matches and would use a spray that would come out after he washes his hair but used real dye during the last of the matches, leaving a small blond spot in the front.



Honky is asked about his relationship with Hogan. He said that he first met him in Pensacola in 1977. He states that Hogan was in Tampa but that Mike Graham hated him because he was small and wanted to be known as the giant killer so his territory was stocked with small guys. Hogan was known as Terry Boulder at that time and had a brother Eddie, who went on to become Brutus Beefcake. Honky said that Brutus was never formally trained and learned to wrestle by traveling on the road with them. He even let Brutus use his boots when he started out. Honky said that later on, Hogan turned into an opportunist when he got famous in the WWF and thinks that Vince McMahon had something to do with that as all of the top guys turn out the same way.



He wound up with Jimmy Hart in Memphis after Hart was brought in by Lawler to help him make an album. Honky puts over Hart as having a strong mind for the business then says that a lot of promoters wasted his talents as they only saw him as a music guy. Honky also says that Hart is politically correct and did not mess around with any drugs or alcohol.



Honky is asked about the WWF locker room when he first arrived. He said that it was tense as all of the veterans knew that they were being replaced by stronger, faster, and cheaper talent.



Honky said the competition between the wrestlers was a lot more tense than it is today as back then, there were no guaranteed contracts and they were paid based on the gate receipts.



Honky also says that the pay discrepancy between the top and bottom of the card was huge. For example, he said that working with Hogan at a sellout in MSG could earn you $8,000 and the opening match on the same card would earn you about $300. Honky states how that starts all of the politicking and backstabbing. He said when he arrived in the WWF after 12 years of working all over the place, he didn’t want to settle for shitty payoffs.



When asked about what he first thought of the Elvis gimmick, Honky said he told Vince that no one wanted to cheer for that. He then says how Vince’s sees the business as a circus and looks to see how much merchandise he can sell. Vince was imaging all sorts of Elvis jumpsuits and wigs being sold with the character.



Honky is then asked if he kept in touch with Lawler. He said that he last spoke to him when he left Memphis. Honky also called him “Chester the Molester” and tells us a story about him receiving a payoff for the Tupelo Concession Stand match. Lawler told him how he felt about his first thousand dollar payoff. Honky looked at the check and it said $999.99 and told Lawler it was not a thousand dollars. Honky then states how Lawler turned to be teenager he was dating and told her he knew he wouldn’t be grateful for the check. After that, he stayed a few more months in Memphis and was rarely booked and would then receive calls that he was missing shows he was never told about. He saw the writing on the wall and left soon after.



He is then asked about refusing to drop the Intercontinental Title to Randy Savage. At the time, Honky said he would only drop the belt to two people, Hogan and Vince, after he told him he can have the belt after he can to his home and took it off the mantle above his fireplace. Honky then says that Vince used that line on TV with Steve Austin. He tells the story about how they wanted Savage to win and parade Elizabeth around on his shoulders. Honky asked about what would happen to him and was told that he was going to be rebuilt, which Honky remembered Schultz telling him that was promoter bullshit about getting buried at the bottom of the card. Honky did not want that to happen and called Jim Barnett in the NWA. He said he was about to leave and fly to the Bahamas but Jimmy Hart told him to reconsider as Vince would find out. Honky couldn’t reach Vince and told agent Jack Lanza that if not called back, he was going to leave and take the belt with him. While at a cheap hotel in Winnipeg, Vince called him. Honky said to Vince that he was a model employee and sold out shows two weeks in advance. He said that there were a million finishers they could use but jobbing him in the middle of the ring was the worst. Vince agreed then he said he made a deal with Vince that as long as he didn’t job on TV and drew with the belt, he would get paid and if he didn’t draw, he wouldn’t get paid at all. Honky said after that, Wrestlemania IV was changed to a tournament with Savage winning and getting to parade Elizabeth around on his shoulders.



He was asked about the relationship between Savage and Elizabeth. He said that Elizabeth used to run with the boys in Kentucky and use to be with Rip Rogers. He confirmed that Savage was extremely overprotective and did indeed lock her in a storage closet in Poughkeepsie, where the TV tapings were held for Championship Wrestling.



He is asked about working with Brutus Beefcake at Wrestlemania IV. He said that he would have offered to have his hair cut if gotten paid. He said that he made sure to drop subtle hints about that in his interviews. He then goes on to say he received $8,000 for his payoff while Hogan received a million dollars.



When asked about working with the Ultimate Warrior, Honky mockingly hums his theme song. He tells a story of him asking Hercules about working with him and being told that you will dread getting up in the morning knowing that you will have to work with him. He said that you had to protect yourself working with him and puts over Rick Rude for teaching him how to work. He then said that he made $22,000 jobbing to him in thirty seconds at SummerSlam.



Honky then is asked about teaming with Greg Valentine. He says the team worked because they wrestled two different styles and that is needed to make a good team. He said at one point they were promised the belts but that Vince was looking to bring in the Road Warriors and that plan got squashed.



He is then asked about his opinion on a few workers. He puts over Steamboat, saying he was one of the best faces of all time. He liked working with Snuka, although taking his splash hurt like hell. He calls Dusty Rhodes a liar and does an impression of him. He said that Dusty lied to him about getting a job in WCW and did the same thing to Rick Martel and Dino Bravo. He then said how Kerry Von Erich couldn’t read off the cue cards during the tapings of the house shows promos and everyone else had to wait in line forever. He says that on a plane ride, Kerry got fucked up on GHB and they had to land the plane so they could take him to the hospital.



He was asked about doing commentary with Roddy Piper and called him Daffy Duck. He said Piper was all fucked up on drugs and you could not get a word in with him. He then adds that position, commentary next to Vince, is a prestigious one and a lot of backstabbing goes on to try to get there.



Honky says that Shawn Michaels was nice at the beginning but became an asshole after rubbing up against Vince.



He said he asked for his release after not being booked in anymore matches.



Next, Honky is asked how he wound up in WCW. At the time, Honky was teaching in Phoenix. Jimmy Hart called him and said they needed some ex-WWF guys to come in and make an impact. He spoke with Ric Flair, who told Honky that he could fly in so they good get a look at him. Honky told Ric that he knew him for years and that he already knew what he looked like. He asked Ric about the money and he said he didn’t handle that to Honky asked him to tell the person that did to give him a call.



Honky flew to WCW and went to shake Eric Bischoff’s hand, who told Honky he was not a fan and was only inviting him down as a favor to Jimmy Hart. Honky told Eric that he would try to win him over but was blown off. At that point, Honky knew that this wouldn’t last very long. Later that day, Bischoff talked to him about a contract and told Honky that they had some really bad contracts expiring soon and when that happened, they could offer him a deal that would be more than Vince ever paid him. Honky then says that months later, he spoke with Brad Armstrong who told Honky that he just got renewed for three more years. He then said how Steve Regal complained to Florida sports writer Alex Marvez about wanting to leave and join the WWF and was offered a $175,000 contract. Honky hen went to speak with Bischoff about a contract and was told that at his current rate, he would make about $200,000 a year but Honky said half of his dates were cancelled.



He is then asked about refusing to job for Johnny B. Badd. Honky said that he told Bischoff he would walk if not given a contract. He also said that he told Bischoff that he got paid doing jobs in the WWF. He then shook Bischoff’s hand and left in a cab, as his music was playing in the arena. He states that Hogan went over to him trying to get him to stay but Honky said he told Hogan that he could have helped get him a contract then called him a piece of shit. Honky then brought up the lawsuit Hogan filed against Russo and said it would never win in court.



Honky talks about how Hogan copied the “Hulkamania” gimmick from Austin Idol and his “Idolmania” gimmick. He also said that Schultz came up with the Wrestlemania idea when they were in Memphis and insinuated that Hulk stole that from him. He said that Schultz not being part of that card broke him. He then tells a story about when Schultz was fired from the WWF, he threatened Vince and told him he knew where he lived and that Vince hired 24 hour surveillance around his home. Honky claims to this day that Hogan is still afraid of Schultz.



Honky is asked about Jeff Jarrett taking his guitar gimmick. He said that Jeff could only get over in his dad’s territory. Honky said that he needed to do the gimmick better than he did to get it over. He then said that Jarrett was spineless for taking his gimmick while he was still in the WWF, stating he would not do that in the same territory or company as someone else.



He is asked if he saw star potential in the Rock. Honky said he did because he was big, could work and can talk. He says Austin is a flash in the pan and wont last long with his neck and knee injuries.



Honky is then asked about the 1997 Survivor Series. He says he missed what happened as he went back to the hotel after being in the locker room earlier in the day. He said he knew Bret didn’t want to job, especially to Shawn. He brings up their locker room fight a month prior in Hartford. Honky said that Rick Rude called him the next day and said that Bret beat the shit out of Vince.



Honky is asked about his nephew, Brian Christopher. He said they are not close but thinks he is talented and that his height is the thing holding him back. He tells a story of Jerry Lawler running over to Arnold Skoaland after Brian showed up two minutes late to RAW, yelling at him to fine his son he adds that Lawler basically disowned his kids.



Honky is asked about doing commentary. He said that when Jake Roberts was writing TV, he put him in but that Vince Russo would take him out. He calls Russo power hungry for making himself the champion in WCW and said that he had a few good ideas for shock TV but did not turn around the WWF, stating that Mike Tyson appearing on Wrestlemania did.



He calls Kevin Nash “Big Lazy” and said that Scott Hall never impressed him. He compares Nash to an overpaid athlete and that if WCW doesn’t change, the company will be finished by the time this interview gets out. Well, Honky was spot on with that.



He is asked on his thoughts about ECW. Honky said there is a place for a 3rd company but it is too extreme. He says it is a shame that the workers are ruining their bodies and not getting paid. He said there is nowhere else to go with that company once you hit a certain point because you can only try to be more extreme each night and that wont last in the long run.



He is asked about the Rockabilly character and said that was Vince’s way of punishing Gunn for threatening to go to WCW. He said that Gunn was roided up at the time and frequently blew up in the ring.



Honky is asked if the business is overexposed. He said that most cycles last nine years but this one will not and it will nosedive hard when it is finished.



He is asked about the best rib he ever saw. He said he didn’t partake in them but mentions the stuff that Dynamite Kid did, cutting up Terry Taylor’s clothes, saying that stuff is not a rib. He also says that shitting in a bag is not a rib.



He is asked if he keeps up a lot with the current product and says that he does not. He says the same five guys are on top in the WWF and the undercard guys cant hack it. He says WCW is filled with wrestling school guys. He then says that Russo is unable to realize that you cannot create stars and a wrestler needs to have something to take that next step.



He is asked if he would want to become a booker. Honky said no and that he is not good at coming up with angles and finishes. He can add to stuff that is already in place.



He then mentions wrestling books and how he wouldn’t want to do one He says most of them leave stuff out and brings up a story of Arn Anderson leaving something out of his book. He says that Arn’s first match against Bob Armstrong, he got picked up and Arn’s toupee got ripped off in the process. Honky can’t believe why you would leave that out.



Honky is asked about having any regrets. He says that too often, he let his emotions get involved in his decision making process and that he made things get bigger that they should have been.



He closes by stating that he still wrestles independent dates and tells anyone looking to break in to finish college first and use wrestling as a hobby unless someone throws money at you.  He also said that it should be fun and you should not be killing yourself out there.



Final Thoughts: Wow. I highly recommend this shoot. Honky is very candid and even if you don’t always agree with him, it is still worth a listen. Some might be turned off by his always putting money over anything else but really, in the wrestling world, you need to get paid as much as you can while you still can get work. Honestly, look at the guys who he says beat up their bodies for no pay. Dynamite Kid and Bobby Eaton are in terrible health and broke. My only complaint was that the interviewer jumped around all over the place and did not go in chronological order. Honky would put out a second shoot with RF Video ten years later and has done a bunch of stuff for Kayfabe Commentaries (his first YouShoot is a riot), which is all very entertaining.


  1. This was the first shoot I ever watched and it set the bar super high. Honky might come off bitter at times but more often than not he's right (Austin wrestling on borrowed time, WCW dying, ECW taking things overboard, etc.). Plus his imitation of Warrior's entrance is hilarious.

  2. Honky is pretty awesome. Bret contradicted his story about Dynamite making fun of Harley Race on Austin's podcast. He said that Honky made some joke about it and DK backhanded him.

  3. He was also on Colt's podcast recently.

  4. Sounds like a good shoot.

  5. Good work Bayless. I'm digging these shoot review features. Honky sounded bitter but it could also be a candidness we don't often see with so many guys trying to be politically correct.

  6. The Ghost of Faffner HallJuly 11, 2013 at 4:44 PM

    He's right about winters in Calgary, too--they're brutal.

  7. Until the end he sounded more fair than bitter, and even then it wasn't as sour as some people get. He's pretty candid about refusing to job, so that's respectable in a weird way. I'm curious about his early punk rocker gimmick too, never knew that he did something like that.

  8. Scream09_HartKillerJuly 11, 2013 at 7:40 PM

    I know what you mean - it's refreshing to hear a guy say he wouldn't job because it wasn't in his best interest, rather than "I wasn't asked to job" or "it would have crippled Canada".

  9. How did he get to keep his name in WCW?

  10. No mention of Butch Reed supposedly being booked to beat The Dragon for the IC Title but then no showing so Honky got his spot?

  11. WWE didn't do much copyrighting back then.

  12. If the Arn Anderson/toupee story was in his book, he'd spin it into getting his hair ripped out of his scalp because "that's how vicious the business is". It would be all right in line with the rest of the kayfabe in the book.

  13. What's funny is that in Alberta, Calgary is famous for it's milder winters, because of all the Chinook winds they get. All my friends living there say it's MUCH nicer than Edmonton.

  14. Yeah, this sounds like a very good one. Much less "I am a huge mark for myself" and "this is what I think about the business". I kind of admire guys like him & Piper, who basically flat-out refused to job because in a mercenary business like wrestling, you have to keep yourself strong while the going's good. Look at all the mid-tier guys WWE has now, who jobbed like crazy after a big push, so now everyone looks equally bad.

  15. It is. Trust a guy who used to live in Edmonton, with it's winters from October to April, -30C and blizzards every week. I moved to Vancouver entirely to get away from all of that. I don't even understand why anyone would voluntarily live there year after year.

  16. Yeah, I'm from Edmonton too, so I get it. Though the past two winters have been super-mild. Just... never-ending.

  17. It's like when people criticise Nash for beating Goldberg - why wouldn't he fight to beat the streak and earn more money?

  18. The Ghost of Faffner HallJuly 12, 2013 at 2:22 AM

    I've actually lived in both, and Calgary may have a slight edge due to the Chinooks (when they happen) but I wouldn't say its MUCH nicer that Edmonton. Weather-wise, I mean--Calgary has Edmonton beat in every single other respect. :)

  19. MaffewOfBotchamaniaJuly 12, 2013 at 3:15 AM

    Thought it was this shoot (think I'm wrong) when he talks about commentating at WMXIII when he refused to stop talking to annoy Ross/Lawler...and Vince loved it.

  20. Heeeyyyyyyy... we have that mall, you know. And more artsy-fartsy stuff. And we weren't underwater a couple weeks ago, either!

  21. My only problem with him is, that he was IMO one of the worst wrestlers, had one of the worst gimmicks and was one of the worst IC champions of all time - (besides Roaddog and Godfather and Chyna and Santino).

  22. Please explain why a gimmick that garnered massive heel heat was terrible? Or how "one of the worst IC champs ever" had one the most remembered HEEL title runs ever?

  23. The IC title was always about better wrestlers and not about Elvis Wannabes who can't wrestle and which thinking and behaving like they are the biggest stars but who are not. For me he was always a big joke and nothing more. Anyone can hit others with guitars... even Jeff Jarrett.

    Not everyone, who the fans wanted to get his ass kicked, is a good wrestler. I think most of his heal heat was x-pac heat.

  24. He wasn't a great wrestler, just ask Bret Hart, but his 87-88 run was very successful, and that's the name of the game. Besides Andre, he was the most over heel. Dibiase's character was amazing but 1988 WWF fans didn't buy him in the ring for some reason.

  25. It just occurred to me that a toupee is a good metaphor for wrestling: Done right, it looks real, but is rarely undetectable if you're paying attention.

    I had no idea Arn had one, though. Figures the guy who never breaks kayfabe would also keep hairfabe.

  26. The Ghost of Faffner HallJuly 12, 2013 at 4:21 PM

    So you weren't hit by a natural disaster, and you consider that worth bragging about? What kind of sense does that make? That's like Calgary saying, "At least we weren't hit by a tornado in 1987!"

  27. I think it might, just maybe, have been a joke.

  28. That would be a correct thought.

  29. The Ghost of Faffner HallJuly 13, 2013 at 4:05 AM

    Oh I'm fully aware it was--still a nonsensical joke, though. But that's an Edmontonian for you. :)

    (I have to say, I've missed this.)

  30. For example, JBL was also hated, but he still sucked as Champion and was IMO one of the worst ever.

    Ok, today everybody can be IC Champion but back then it was the last step before the World Title and not some joke title.

    If there would have been a TV title or so, why not, but IC Title was IMO too high for the Honky Tonk Man.

  31. HTM's YouShoot goes into that story, and the meeting the next day where he claims JR and Lawler basically agreed to sabotage him.


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