|Ole Anderson Shoot Interview (2008)Posted by Brandon Truitt on Jan 5, 2004, 19:30|
Ole Anderson Shoot Interview (2003)
How did he get started in wrestling? Grab the book to find out in detail, but here’s the short version: He was in amateur wrestling from ten years old until he was in the army. Shortly before he got out of the army, he was advised by some wrestlers, including Dick The Bruiser and Verne Gagne, to get into the business.
Did he watch wrestling before he got in the business? The first time he ever heard of it was when The Crusher came to Minnesota while he was in college. Crusher was so popular that you couldn’t help but notice him. He’d only heard that wrestling was bullshit up until that point but figured there had to be some legitimate tough wrestlers somewhere. He knew that Verne Gagne was an All American in football and a national champion in amateur wrestling.
His first match- It was against Danny Hodge, who was a very decorated college wrestler. He remembers specifically that he was pulling down $148 a paycheck as a Specialist 4 in the army around that time (1967). Verne Gagne told him his pay would be about $350, which Ole thought would be his monthly pay until Verne told him it would actually be his weekly pay.
How did he end up in the Southeast? He stayed in Minnesota for about a year. After that, he had a choice between going to Dallas for Fritz Von Erich or Calgary for Stu Hart and took Calgary because Stu guaranteed him $300 a week. Calgary wasn’t much of a town back then and he could only take it for a month before he left. Stu was a great guy but he’d been warned by Wally Karbo beforehand not to get too close to Stu because Stu liked to stretch big, strong guys.
Waldo Von Erich- Waldo, Archie “The Stomper” Gouldie, and “Sailor” Art Thomas were the big draws in the territory at the time.
Owen Hart- He remembers Owen and one of his brothers, possibly Bret Hart, hiding under the ring and shooting them with squirt-guns during the matches.
Lars Anderson- He and Gene Anderson were wrestling as the original Minnesota Wrestling Crew. Ole and Lars had gone to the same college and talked on the phone about teaming up, so Ole went down to the Carolinas, where Lars and Gene were, and then they started wrestling there as the Anderson Brothers. When Lars left for Minnesota a few years down the road, Ole and Gene became a tag team full-time.
His pay at the time- He was pulling down about $30,000 around that time in Minnesota, which was more than many Minnesota Vikings football players were making. He made about as much in the Carolinas, although the drives weren’t as Hellish. At least one wrestler got killed due to the road and weather conditions up there.
Doing a shoot interview now- He wouldn’t have done it at all before a few years ago but says that the business is so exposed now that it’s no longer a big deal.
Wrestling in his time vs. today- In his time, people who got into the business tended to have an amateur background of some kind, although Ole admits that he wasn’t anywhere near as good as Danny Hodge, Joe Scarpa (Chief Jay Strongbow), Verne Gagne, or others who started out at that time. While there weren’t too many real shoots back then, the first few minutes of a match with Wahoo McDaniel would still hurt like a sonofabitch because he’d chop you so hard that you’d get blood blisters. There weren’t too many people who’d stand still and take that kind of punishment in a “fake” fight.
Protecting the business- Lou Thesz and Verne Gagne told him early in his career that if someone is being charged to watch you work, then you’re providing entertainment. You always have to keep in mind whether you’re providing a good show or a bad show. However, his big deal was making anyone who ever got in the ring with him think that he and Gene Anderson were the toughest people they’d ever face because they believed in the philosophy of doing a work so stiff that it seems like a shoot by the end of the match.
Old Timers- He worked out with Lou Thesz a few years ago. They did like 45 minutes of work in the weight room then Thesz suggested they spar on the mats in the other room. Even at 86 years old, Thesz was still a great shooter and knocked the shit out of him and, 30 minutes later when they were done, both were bleeding but Ole was the worse of the two. Thesz even put Ole in a few shoot holds that were used in pro wrestling but were never applied properly there.
People from other territories- He was always warned never to go to Tennessee because it was total bullshit. Whenever wrestlers from Tennessee would show up and expect to lay out a match before getting into the ring, they were in for a rude surprise. He specifically told them “It’s assholes like you who have everyone thinking that all professional wrestling is the same and that it’s all bullshit.” The Tennessee guys would all say “Well, that’s how I like it” but very few would stick around for the match. At least one guy waited until he was out of sight then bolted for the door and drove off before Ole even realized who was leaving.
The reason he was in the business- To make as much money as possible. Some people were in it to win championships but Ole’s mindset was “Fuck, I can buy as many championship belts as I want. Don’t mean shit.”
Hall of Fame- He heard he and Gene were considered for the Hall of Fame but that they weren’t strongly considered because they didn’t go too many places other than the Southeast. His response to the guy that called up (he never says Dave Meltzer although he refers to “Some guy in California”) was that the stupid sonofabitch should have realized that doing something like that would have meant uprooting his family several times chasing money that might not have been there instead of staying in areas where he was on top and making a lot of money. He also says that the people who worked in all those different territories were people who weren’t good enough to hack it in any one place, which is why they were always moving around. He and Gene were told by Jim Crockett Sr., Jim Barnett, and Eddie Graham that they could stay in Mid-Atlantic, Georgia, or Florida as long as they wanted, which is why they never left the Southeast. “As stupid as you are, I wouldn’t want to be in your goddamn Hall of Fame.”
Sidenote- If Ole didn’t want to be in the Hall of Fame, then why does he go off on this tangent here, in his book, and ESPECIALLY on the Wrestling Observer Live show during an interview with Dave Meltzer?
What made his team with Gene so special? They didn’t care about all the pageantry of the business but, rather, were more concerned with being able to kick everyone’s asses and go as long as they needed to in the ring. Harley Race was one of the guys who could smoke, drink, kick ass, and go for a long time in the ring.
Harley Race- Tough guy, although not much of a wrestler. He’d do all kinds of crazy stuff like kicking the shit out of anyone who got close to him. He got sued plenty of times but was a very tough guy. He had a lot of balls. No one would ride with Harley, partially because Harley would typically drive 85 miles an hour down two lane highways. Harley was crazy enough that, if he wanted someone else to drive, he wouldn’t even stop the car to do it. He ended up finding out WHY Harley did that about 30 seconds after he got behind the wheel, as he looked in the rear view mirror and saw flashing red lights. Harley DID pay for the ticket though.
Wahoo McDaniel- He was a great guy to have in wrestling because he was a legitimate athlete instead of a weightlifter. Wahoo’s nose was broken by Jack Brisco but he still kept on going in the business.
Gene Anderson- He was another tough one because they were tagging together in a match against Wahoo and Paul Jones. Wahoo got a little sloppy with one of his chops and accidentally hit Gene in the mouth, knocking the top set of Gene’s teeth so that they were bent backwards. They still finished the match though. Gene went to bed that night, then they both got up the next morning and went to the dentist, who had to replace all the teeth that were knocked back. Gene never said a word the whole time. He then asks a rhetorical question about whether anyone in the business today would do that. (I’d say it’s because they have more sense than that, although that’s just me.)
People skipping shows- People used to skip them in WCW for a variety of BS excuses such as “I think I’m getting a cold.” Ole says the only show he ever missed was after he got stabbed really bad and the doctors thought he could die. He still wrestled two days later because he would have missed TV for the week. He split his chest where he’d been stitched up, which happened constantly for the next few weeks. He’d just get stitched up again then get ready for the next night.
The series against Greg Valentine and Ric Flair- That was when Valentine and Flair were both good wrestlers. It was unusual to have two heel teams facing each other at that time. He starts asking rhetorical questions about who the fans will turn face before answering himself and saying that they’ll always choose the toughest team, which was himself and Gene.
Being a babyface- He hated it, although it allowed him to turn heel on Gordon Solie and tell him off on the air. He basically told Gordon that he didn’t know shit about wrestling and Gordon was in shock the whole time.
Joe Pedicino- He didn’t like this “big, fat tub of shit” either. Pedicino and Solie were doing a show where they showcased old matches and someone brought up Ole’s name as being someone unlikable and the other said that Ole didn’t have any friends in the business and probably never had any friends. (Sidenote- I’d say it’s true for the most part… the only people I’ve ever seen that say they like Ole were the Road Warriors.) He called up Solie a few years ago and asked about getting some pictures and Solie offered to provide him with a lot of pictures of Ole from his time in Florida as well as 16mm films and tapes of his matches there. Never got a thing from Solie and never heard a word out of him after that.
His hand- He’s got a brace on his left hand which he says is partially due to how he’d decide if someone was big enough to be in the business. He’d put his finger and thumb around the guy’s wrist and, if they almost touched, it meant they weren’t big enough to be in wrestling. Magnum TA was naturally a small-boned guy.
Shoots in the business- They’re usually only a few seconds long, at which point one says to the other “OK, you’re stronger or better” and they go back to working.
Did he travel with Gene most of the time? Yes, because he and Gene were close. They used to play football against each other in high school then ran into each other again when Ole was in the army. The conversations between them, though, were fairly one-sided as Ole would do most of the talking and Gene would say yes, no, or “I don’t think that’ll work.” (Sounds like the conversations between the two kidnappers in Fargo… Steve Buscemi did all the talking and the other guy would only say “Yup” or “Where is pancakes house?”.)
Professor Boris Malenko- He met him in Florida then Boris came up to the Carolinas in the mid-70s. Boris was pretty tough, as were his sons Joe Malenko and Dean Malenko, who’s currently a WWE road agent. Boris kept talking up Karl Gotch at the time until Ole said “How tough could he be? He’s over in Hawaii hauling garbage right now.” (That was a true comment… Gotch was like a sanitation commissioner in Hawaii at the time) A few weeks later, Gene drives up with Boris and someone else in the car. When Ole gets in the back and looks at the other person in the back, it’s Karl Gotch. Ole basically challenged Gotch and Gotch threw it back in his face, but did it in a way to where they all became friendly. (It was something like Ole saying “If you want to kick my ass, stand in line and pack a lunch.” Gotch turned to him slowly and said “I’ll pack a lunch because, when I have you in the ring, I want to take all day.”)
Wrestling today- He doesn’t like how people today no-sell everything like Jason in a Friday the 13th movie. Although they’ve got some legitimate wrestlers in there, they don’t know how to draw a crowd, work, etc. The audience has also shifted towards being a much younger crowd.
The art of the interview- No one speaks spontaneously anymore, as everything’s scripted. They used to cut plenty of promos between 30 seconds and 2 minutes in one day and would do it spontaneously, not using a teleprompter or cue cards. They’d get a subject, such as Wahoo McDaniel and Paul Jones in Charlotte and the stipulations, then would go from there.
The Four Horsemen- He thinks that Dusty Rhodes came up with the whole thing. He didn’t really want to get involved in it because he was thinking about retirement, but had heard that the checks were about to start going up due to merchandising. He doesn’t remember exactly how much it was, but thinks that he didn’t make squat off of Four Horsemen merchandise but that the houses went up slightly because of it. He didn’t like Flair much at the time. Tully Blanchard was okay. He didn’t know Arn Anderson that well because he’d mainly known Arn as a TV jobber in Georgia when he was running the territory. He says that Arn had a lot of the same mannerisms as Gene Anderson, though.
Ric Flair- He’s nowhere near as good as he thinks he is. Ole says that a lot of people probably say the same thing about him but his opinion of himself is so high that even a fraction of it is still pretty far above everyone else.
His role in Georgia Championship Wrestling- He was the booker of the territory. He was very hands-on in that job, which not all bookers do, but he feels it was an essential part of the job to watch all the matches and tell the guys if he thought what they did was shitty because it affected his money directly as well as their money. Booking today has a lot of thought that goes into it but that they don’t have the tools to do it properly.
Who should write the definitive book on how to book a promotion? Verne Gagne, Bill Watts, and himself would definitely be on the short list for it. He’s not sure about Pat Patterson because he was a star but that doesn’t necessarily make him qualified. The top three matches were all planned well going into it but the undercard matches were all planned so that there weren’t any major problems. Ole talks about how, early in his career, he had a match against Rene Goulet that he felt was very good but Verne Gagne let both of them know that it was the worst match he’d ever seen. They were booked as the second match on the card but did everything that they knew, which stole the thunder away from the main event match.
Matches today- It’s just people beating the shit out of each other and making people kiss their asses, which he’s just heard second hand but he feels that it’s a bunch of crap. People back in the day could draw a crowd and get enough heat that people want to kill you. People today can’t get even a fraction of that because there’s no one around who can teach them. They all felt that it was “jumping off the top rope, or jumping off the building like Owen Hart, or grabbing your balls and talking about having two hos who work for you.”
Booking WCW in 1990- Ric Flair, Kevin Sullivan, and Jim Cornette were booking it before him. He can’t tell you everything that was wrong because there was so much that was screwed up. The wrestlers weren’t willing to work by the time he was a booker, and it pisses him off a bit that he was making about a quarter of what some guys were making at the time. The people at Turner didn’t have a clue and that he’s not sure what his boss’s claim to fame was (Jim Herd) but implies he was a clueless putz. The first thing he was assigned as booker was slashing the WCW budget, which he took from ten million dollars down to seven million dollars within a few minutes. When he took it back to his boss, he was told “How is that going to make me look?” because his boss had been there for several years and couldn’t do what Ole did in a few minutes. Ole’s response was “I don’t think anyone ever accused you of knowing anything about wrestling”, which he admits probably didn’t help his position as he was fired seven months later. In short, everyone thought that wrestling would be bullshit and that it would be easy to run, but his counter-position was that movies would also be considered bullshit but that people don’t think making one of those is easy.
Heavy criticism against him for the Black Scorpion and Robocop angles- Robocop was the fault of his boss and he had nothing to do with it. The Black Scorpion started because he was pissed at his bosses at Turner, “the dumbest bunch of bastards I’ve ever met.” During a meeting a few months into his term as booker, the Turner suits looked at some of the booking he was doing in the small towns and decided that the cards he was booking were no good, so he came up with the Black Scorpion vs. Sting as a joke and they loved it. None of them, himself included, had any idea of who the Black Scorpion would be but the Turner suits still loved the idea. At that point, he was just sitting there collecting a paycheck because he was so sick of the job. He feels that anyone who watched wrestling at that time and could only criticize that one thing, then “you’re a bunch of stupid asses to begin with and it doesn’t make any difference what you people think.”
Talent in WCW at the time- Flair was okay, Lex Luger was completely clueless, etc. “Tell me one person who was there at the time who you can remember from the 70s.” (… I’m not touching this one with a 50 foot pole. You can insert your own comments here.) He had a bunch of “snot-nosed kids” in the ring but didn’t do too badly with what he had to work with.