Nick Bockwinkel Shoot Interview

nick-bockwinkel-shootlished on September 26th, 2013 | by Andrew Lutzke

An RF video shoot interview resume written by Andrew Lutzke and published September 26th, 2013 on
Opening thoughts: Nick Bockwinkel retired when I was not yet five years old – however he is on a very short list of people I remember hating like few others – this is thanks to my Grandma who explained to me while we watched vintage AWA VHS tapes that she stopped watching wrestling because Bockwinkel would constantly cheat to keep his title and she was sick of seeing him gloat. 
The internet era allowed me and many others to discover what a fantastic heel Nick was and how entertaining he and Bobby Heenan were as a tandem.  It’s amazing that most of the awesome Bockwinkel matches we have available are from when Bock is in his late 40’s and into his 50’s – makes you wonder what we missed in the 60’s and 70’s.   This would be like if Ric Flair’s career didn’t exist on tape until 1998 – how would Flair be viewed if all his prior work wasn’t available?
The Shoot:
Bockwinkel starts off by explaining his deliberate usage of big words to talk down to the fans.  A Wisconsin professor even wrote to Bock over his use of fancy terms on TV.
Ray Stevens and Bockwinkel took flying lessons together – Nick’s dad Warren was also a wrestler and marveled that the AWA were using a plane to go to some shots versus having to drive for hours.
Kids would occasionally give Nick a hard time for his Dad’s profession.  In high school he challenged a loud mouth to a legit wrestling match with the wrestling coach serving as ref – the other guy wanted no part of it.
Bock ended up rotating high schools thanks to his father’s need to travel for his job.
Yukon Eric had his house trailer “stolen” as a rib – Eric no sold the house being missing and walked around the vacant lot pantomiming walking through his house.
Warren helped his son break into the business and gave Nick a lot of stern direction. 
Nick liked playing to his opponent’s strengths and that led to different matches, different styles and variety coming naturally.
Jerry Lawler, Bill Dundee and Billy Robinson were some of Bock’s favorite opponents.
The vets helped Nick a bunch in his early matches as they understood Warren had pushed Nick hard and made sure he paid his dues.
Lou Thesz was partially trained by Bockwinkel’s dad.
Warren told Nick that one of the main reasons that Lou became champion and not himself was that Warren had a family and another side job and couldn’t devote the time that Thesz could to becoming the very best.
Bock was able to meet the monstrous looking “French Angel” in person and Nick was barely able to shake his hand without backing away in fear.
Bar fights were avoided by Nick as much as possible as he knew lawsuits would follow.
Ray Stevens is put over hard and Nick says when you add Ray to his own act and figure in Bobby Heenan as a manager – then you have something special.  Bock considers himself the worst worker of the three.
 Stevens rode his motor cycle in the nude – Bock has the pictures to prove it.
Billy Robinson and Pat O’ Conner were two of the best technical wrestlers ever.
Robinson’s reputation as a bully is discussed – Nick says it’s the wrestler’s job to work an entertaining match for the fans, regardless of personal issues or feelings.  Robinson would rough you up if he felt jilted.
Gene Kiniski helped convince Nick to go to the AWA.
Bock loved the AWA schedule which allowed time for vacations and other luxuries.  The regular stop in Denver meant skiing in the mountains for example.
Stevens and Bockwinkel were AWA tag champs and were able to simultaneously work Florida and come back to the AWA for the weekends.
Crusher and Bruiser were “egotistical bastards” who loved the limelight. They would try and one up each other for fan pops.  They were both also hard to work with as they would gobble you up if you ket them.
Verne Gagne was also big on making himself look good to the detriment of the match.
Nick would potato guys with his short punches as they flew off the ropes – Bock loved seeing the tough guys get stiffed and feel some real pain every now and then.
Larry Hennig and Verne had issues off and on for years – Hennig was stiff as Hell at times. Nick liked when Verne and Hennig were faced off with each other since it meant neither guy would be against Nick that night.
Hennig came out of the hospital (with a bum knee) to drop the AWA tag titles – Verne didn’t give Larry much of a payoff for his extra effort and hard feelings followed.
Baron Von Rascke was a good friend and a real pleasure to be around. A good hand in the ring as well.
Mad Dog Vachon was on the AWA plane one night and opened the plane’s door in mid-flight.  The plane had to make an emergency landing.  Bock was in the co-pilot seat and helped steer the plane as the pilot looked through guides to find a suitable landing place since the open door was messing with the flight trajectory. They lucked out by being near a World War 2 era airport that had 3 runways side by side.
Vachon was questioned why he opened the door and he said “The night looked lovely and I felt we needed some fresh air.”  Bock says Mad Dog had been drinking and taking pain pills.
Babyfaces in the AWA had to accept that Verne was going to be the top star since he owned the place. Nick says Wally Karbo could influence Verne to take a step back for a hotter match now and then.
Andre the Giant and Bockwinkel worked a one hour match once.  Nick obviously had a lot of limitations to work around that night.
Dusty Rhodes was loaded with charisma. 
Bockwinkel went on the road with the guys on his wedding night.
Greg Gagne lacked natural size and had to work his ass off to overcome being too small for his nepotism induced push.
Verne and Greg were fun to work with since it gave Stevens and Bock a chance to “punish” the boss and they tried to blow the Gagnes up and work a bit snug.
Verne liked to shoot quite a bit while wrestling – but then he couldn’t complain about any retaliation that his opponent may give back.
Bock wasn’t a fan of the 70’s “The Wrestler” film.  He was part of it since many AWA guys were part of it. Verne of course was the star.
Jerry Lawler pushed Nick to have great matches and Nick really enjoyed his series with Lawler.
The AWA had a massive reach from Canada to the West Coast and of course a big chunk of the Mid-West and even some of the East Coast.  This made the AWA a big target when Vince McMahon finally started his national push.  Vince was proactive and Verne was reactive and that in part was why Verne lost the territorial war.
Nick learned early on that a relaxed promo voice would stand out in a world full of shouting interviews.
Heenan put a naked centerfold in the middle of a wrestling magazine – which he exposed to announcer Marty O’ Neil in the middle of a promo as a rib.
Scripting promos hurts individual personalities – Nick thinks the guys still manage some solid promos now nonetheless.
Hulk Hogan was a hard worker but was difficult to work with since he was strong and green.  Hulk wanted to be good though and tried to better himself.
Bock can’t confirm that Vince ever tried to buy the AWA before going to war with them.
Heenan leaving didn’t surprise Bock as Bobby’s talents were so grand that Vince was sure to snag him.
Bruiser Brody’s personality rubbed Nick the wrong way and Bock figured he pushed the wrong man too far and ended up getting killed over it.  Bock regrets the family’s loss and blames Brody’s behavior for it occurring.

Bruno Sammartino’s real beef with Vince McMahon was that Bruno felt he should have gotten a bigger role in the WWF after retiring – perhaps a piece of the office or some similar position.

Otto Wanz beat Bock for the AWA World title after bribing Verne.  Nick rips Wanz for being an obese egotist. (Fat and hardly known to the AWA crowd, yet Bock is so hated Wanz gets a monster pop for pinning him)
John Nord (The Berzerker) was a partier and the mid-80’s AWA locker room was a bit muddled with old guys who had left the wild side behind and young guys who wanted to go all night.
Curt Hennig was a very good hand in the ring.  Curt and The Rockers were very into ribs while they were in the AWA.
Two hours into the interview now and Nick is starting to show his age as he is beginning to struggle with memories. 
Stan Hansen was a bad choice for AWA Champion since Hansen was not going to follow the promoter’s wishes.  Nick knew working with Hansen and Brody would be shit matches since they were focused on making sure they looked good.
Bockwinkel appeared on Hawaii Five-0 and Hollywood Squares.  Nick got a Screen Actors Guild card and that led to some extra work and cash inflow.
Nick never had issues with guys trying to shoot on him and “stealing” the AWA title as he had enough of a rep to scare guys off such ideas.
Leon “Vader” White was a pain in the ass and Nick feels Vader would admit to as much.
Verne Gagne’s Alzheimer induced manslaughter of another nursing home resident is discussed – Nick admits he and his wife both have “senior moments.”
Eric Bischoff was very full of himself and envisioned grandeur in his future. 
Shawn Michaels apologized to Bock in recent years for his past behavior of ribbing Nick.  Bock felt it was less than genuine.  Bock retaliated back in ’86 by putting dog shit in Shawn’s car – Hennig got the blame.
Larry Zybysko was a good worker and very capable of entertaining matches.
Scott Hall had a bit of an ego but was a solid worker.
Vince never offered Bock a contract as a worker since Nick was long in the tooth. 
Nick quit the AWA in mid-87 since the tombstone was up and Bock didn’t want to be part of it anymore. 
Pro Wrestling USA was doomed from the start.
Bockwinkel bought 11% of the Houston wrestling office briefly – Bill Watts took over the area and Nick sold off his shares soon after. Watts had a demanding personality and he and Watts weren’t destined to be fruitful business partners.
Nick is in charge of a cache of wrestling memorabilia for the old timers group “The Cauliflower Alley Club.”   A yearly meet and greet is full of cribbage games and tall tales.  
Final Thoughts: This was a solid shoot – however I feel like Nick had a lot more to touch on that wasn’t covered.  Many AWA stars weren’t mentioned at all and had Nick been mentally up to it, this thing could have probably gone another few hours.   RF Video botched the microphone work here as the interviewer is LOUD and Nick is soft and I found myself playing with the volume constantly in order to not miss out on any of Nick’s points.  Overall – nothing groundbreaking here but if you’re a fan of the AWA there is some nuggets of entertainment to be found. 

An RF video shoot interview resume written by Andrew Lutzke and published September 26th, 2013 on

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