Written by: Arnold Furious
This is a long one. Pushing five hours of JJ Dillon interview action where he covers territories, NWA, WCW and the WWF and also makes various comments about the current state of booking and working. JJ has a lot of suggestions to make without ever coming off as an asshole. Want to hear them? Read on. Well and check FuriousRage.com for other shoot interview recaps. Not to mention actual interviews. The most famous one we’ve done was Low-Ki.
This is the Highspots shoot with JJ Dillon.
JJ talks about attending his first match in Trenton, New Jersey and how he wanted to wrestle right away. He used to run a fan club for Johnny Valentine. He talks about meeting Toots Mondt and Vince McMahon Sr. He started out as a program seller and he got to meet a lot of wrestlers doing that. He goes on to talk about living in the same town as the guy who hauled the ring to the shows. He came down with him one night to set the ring up and they were a referee short. JJ stepped in and worked a TV taping as a referee. He refereed for 6 years. This was in New York.
He was never really trained. He never trained to referee, he just learned by doing. He talks about just learning bits and pieces in the locker room. He got offered his first break in Detroit by the Sheik. 1968 was around the time of his debut in Detroit. His first match was a tag match and his partner was Arnold Skaaland. He talks about having that tape and seeing all his flaws. His first singles match was a TV taping in Pittsburgh and was against Killer Kowalski. He was terrified. JJ says everyone was really nice to him and no one tried to discourage him. JJ accidentally dropped a Cuban guy on his shoulder in the early going. He was really nice too and showed him what he did wrong in the locker room. He talks about his career not really going anywhere so he took a job with a trucking company. He was still working for the Sheik where he could but business was down. JJ puts the Sheik over and says he was always honest with him. He went to work for Bruno Sammartino after that and he was very welcoming. Bruno got him booked on everything he could. He split his time between Detroit (Sheik) and Pittsburgh (Sammartino).
1970 was his year in Pittsburgh. He met a guy who worked in the Carolina’s for the Crockett’s where business was up in the summer. JJ gave him some publicity stills and Crockett offered him a job in April 1971. JJ talks about not having any money, only having his car and his marriage was falling apart. He quit his job in the trucking company and took up wrestling full time. He drove down to Charlotte overnight. He talks about not really knowing anyone. His first match was with Gene Anderson. They went longer than he expected because Gene was enjoying himself and he told management that JJ was good. He stayed in Charlotte for 2 1/2 years. JJ puts over everyone in Charlotte. They were all really nice to him as well. He talks about a guy selling him his old boots on the cheap because they had the same size feet. He talks about the camaraderie down there because everyone travelled to local shows together. He earned $265 a week in his first year full time. He teamed with Les Thatcher for a while. He talks about watching Dory Funk Jr wrestling Jack Brisco. JJ got a break facing Dory Funk Jr when Dory was the champion in Raleigh. It worked out so well that JJ got a title match against Dory. The matches so impressed Dory Funk Jr that he introduced him to Terry Funk and Dory Funk Sr who wanted him to come down to Amarillo when he was done in Charlotte. At the same time JJ got the chance to go and work for Leo Burke up in the North in Canada. They were so impressed he got twice as much money and an offer to come back to Canada the following summer. JJ let Crockett know that he was going to the Maritimes.
He went up to the Maritimes the following year. He talks about the various guys they’d had working the same position as him – as the big monster heel. Stan Stasiak, The Stomper, Carl Krupp etc. Stasiak had gone to New York. JJ put it to Leo that he’d keep coming back but avoiding the big babyface in order to keep him fresh for some time. He did a Buddy Rogers ‘Nature Boy’ style gimmick. He came out with a cigar because he felt people with cigars were irritating because they thought they were somebody special. I like that. They started recycling the heels from before only with them working babyfaces against Dillon because he got so over as a heel. Can I just add that the questions here are AWFUL so JJ pretty much ignores them and goes on talking. He worked a series of cage matches with Leo Burke before going to work for the Funk’s.
JJ says it was one of the best collections of talents he’d ever seen. The Funk’s, Carl Cox, Ted DiBiase, Tito Santana. He said the guy in the opening match could be in the main event the next week because the roster was so strong. He talks about having some of his best ideas, matches and promos in Amarillo. He talks about preserving kayfabe. If he walked into a restaurant and Dick Murdoch was there he wouldn’t stay to preserve kayfabe. Carl Cox dumped a trashcan on his head one night so they ended up working a ‘trashcan match’. He got the fans to throw their crap into the trashcan to just pile heat onto the match. Sounds like an awesome concept actually. He talks about nearly getting thrown off TV for suggesting that he used a Mexican guys head to grease his tires up. He said his best promo was in Amarillo. He set up a sign saying “chips off the old block” (as the Funks, DiBiase and Murdoch were all second generation). He got cowboy boots, hats and 4 big piles of cow shit. He says that created 6 months of hate that he could work on.
JJ talks about using promos to compensate for psychical skills he didn’t have. JJ talks about scripts and how it might help some people but it really shouldn’t be done that way all the time. You lose the heart and soul of the promo. JJ says that promos are one of the most creative parts of the industry and people’s promos set them apart, which is why they shouldn’t be scripted. JJ’s not sure that promos can be taught. It all comes from within. JJ is concerned that too many wrestlers concentrate on their appearance and high spots over telling a story.
The idea behind territories was that if you started to get burned out you could move on. He went to Japan twice during his Amarillo stint as part of the Funk’s deal with Baba. At the end of the second Japan tour he was on his way out to work for Bobby Shane, who was taking over from Bill Watts. He finished in Amarillo with a cage match against Carl Cox. Some kid jumped Blackjack Mulligan the same night and Mulligan beat the shit out of him. JJ left the next morning while Amarillo were facing a big lawsuit. JJ was told not to come back because of potential lawsuit troubles and he was sent to Florida early. He worked a few dates and they were flying back in a storm after those when Bobby Shane’s plane crashed. They dragged the wrestlers out of the plane as it landed in the bay. Bobby Shane was killed. Harley Race ended up taking over the booking and JJ stayed a year in a tag team. But that was the last territory he worked full time. The Stomper was there and needed a manager. Stomper was going to Dallas and desperately needed a manager and asked JJ. He stuck with the cigars and bought some suits. Stomper went nuts about not getting paid enough though and went back to Calgary. JJ got asked to stay as a manager.
He got everyone thrown his way that couldn’t talk. Stomper called him back because he was going to Atlanta where Jim Barnett was running. JJ got hired again as a manager. Verne Gagne phoned him the next day to offer him a job with the AWA. JJ had to stick with his original gig because he was a man of his word. JJ puts Barnett over for being able to sense money. His example is Tommy Rich who just had a ‘thing’ and Barnett made him a star. Stomper left again leaving JJ on his own again but Barnett wanted him to stay and put him with Abby. Meanwhile the Funk’s were struggling and they wanted Abby because he was a big star at the time. JJ decided at this point that he was retiring from wrestling and going full time as a manager. JJ helped because he was over after working against the Funk’s for so long. JJ puts Abby over although he could never drive because he had sleep apnoea.
I’m sure this question is just here to shill the Highspots shoot with Ole. JJ says he got along fine with Ole. JJ goes off on a tangent about how much he admires Ric Flair. Then another one about the WWA tour with Sting and Lex Luger not being capable enough to work for more than 5 minutes and they’re the main event. They keep doing that and the company won’t draw anything. Back to Flair and he talks about how Flair would always work hard for at least 15 minutes to make sure the main event got over. JJ talks about how much Flair pushed himself. JJ went all over the place after that – Kansas City, Australia etc. He talks about his goals and how they changed as his career went on. He wanted to work MSG, Australia and Japan. He goes off on a tangent about poisonous snakes fighting mongooses. The tangent proves that the wrestling business has given him the chance to see and experience things that he wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise. He also mentions visiting Hiroshima and how moving that experience was.
He started there by going back to the Crockett’s and working with Dusty Rhodes while they were running against Vince. Dusty was hot, Roadwarriors were hot, Magnum was hot and they kept hitting gold like the Four Horsemen. He started managing Buddy Landell, who they brought in as “the real nature boy” to compete against Ric Flair who was very over as a babyface in the Carolina’s at the time. Landell didn’t last long because he had drug problems. It was his chance at a big break. He never got another one.
Flair was the big star. Ole and Gene were tagging and Arn dropped in to replace Gene when he retired. Tully was the US champion and they were all heels. JJ was managing Tully and they all felt the need to cut promos together as it was a sensible fit. Ole got kicked out first and as a result they kept having people come in and they kept rotating Arn’s tag partner spot. Whoever left instantly became an opponent of the Horsemen. He talks about how good the interviews were. He adds that Flair was already so strong that everyone who joined with Flair got added credibility. JJ says they never really realised what they had with the Horsemen gimmick but it kept drawing big money over and over again. He talks about Dusty being the booker. All he ever did was write the TV down on two sheets of paper and walk out. JJ and other people had to fix all the mistakes he made. JJ never looked for credit but he worked with Dusty for a long time. Flair would constantly bitch about losing all the time and how his character would get killed if he lost again. Every 6 months he’d have to go to Crockett and get him to talk Flair down.
He talks about Ted Turner buying out Crockett to keep the programming going or they’d have gone bust. He also mentions Jim Crockett buying out Bill Watts as he tried to expand into Dallas. JJ was told he’d have his contract sorted out just after the buy out. He got a bad vibe about Jim Herd. Tully and Arn had already left and Tully called him to say there was a chance JJ could catch on in the WWF. He called them up and he was invited to meet Pat Patterson. He ended up meeting Vince McMahon as well. Vince offered him a job on the spot. JJ gave him a figure in terms of salary and Vince agreed.
We skip back to the early 80’s and we get JJ’s opinions on how TV has changed the business. He goes off on a tangent about wanting to work all the major arenas and he got to work most of them. He was only really missing the Olympic Auditorium in LA and the Chicago Amphitheatre. He talks about the shows they did for Kansas City. The TV show ended up being broadcast to all the places they went to do shows at. So the places they went to already knew how the feuds they were running were going to finish. The rest of the guys in KC didn’t get it. He points out that no one knew what was going on nationwide. He talks about TBS getting stuff from Atlanta broadcast to Amarillo. So everyone wanted to see Tommy Rich, who didn’t work there. So Cable TV totally changed the business but only Vince McMahon really jumped at the chance to change the business by taking over Cable. Vince has been declared bankrupt twice. He’s always been a gambler. JJ blames Cable as much as Vince for killing the regional systems.
JJ talks about the respect he has for Flair. Not only in the ring but the whole time. He was always wearing a shirt and tie, hiring the cars and hanging out in the local night spots. He lived the image. JJ thinks that most guys didn’t appreciate how unselfish Ric was in the ring. JJ goes on to talk about having to tell Sting how to be Sting because he wouldn’t do it himself. You’d have to remind him to beat his chest and howl. He talks about the Horsemen and how they always used to get beaten up and you really shouldn’t have the same thing happening all the time but for some reason it worked for them.
Bladejobs and screwjobs
JJ didn’t think there was too much colour back in the old NWA. He talks about how the Dusty Finish worked until it got overdone and ended up leaving a bad taste in the mouth. He talks about Eddie Graham, Pat Patterson and Jerry Jarrett and how they know finishes. Eddie Graham wanted psychology and timing and it had to make sense. He’d pre-think the complaints about it to make sure it all worked. He made wrestling an art form at it’s absolute best.
They talk about the attack on Dusty Rhodes in the parking lot and how that was the thing that really got them over as a group. People called the police and reported them for assault. I miss those days and yet, they’ll never come back. JJ talks about the artist side of wrestling again and how you suspend disbelief and you HAVE to do that. JJ talks about not wanting to see the backstage stuff. He doesn’t care for Tough Enough either. The people respect the wrestlers less because they’ve seen ordinary people do it. JJ thinks eventually it’ll go full circle because as soon as the people think there’s an issue between the two wrestlers then they’ll think it’s real to a degree. Like Bruno Sammartino when he was the champ. “We know it’s fake apart from when Bruno defends the title, that’s real” (or in my experience Bret Hart v Shawn Michaels in 1997). JJ talks about a sports writer complaining about how wrestling was fake. Terry Funk called him out to referee a Funk v Dillon match. They went the whole match without talking at all and bladed without him noticing. Apparently the guy was shaking because he was so scared of JJ. The writer got convinced of how real it can be seeing it up close. People can be convinced.
He talks about wanting to clone Scott Steiner because he was such a good heel. He talks about WCW being idiots for giving Steiner a fake club when he had these huge arms. Then there’s the “Holla if ya hear me”. Is that a heel act? Getting the crowd to interact with him? He talks about the WWE guys and how the pop would be huge for the entrance but the matches there’d be silence. JJ bigs up the heel/face system and how it works. He compares wrestling to Wheel of Fortune. It doesn’t need to change a lot. They can keep it simple and keep people coming back. He says you can only learn to work in front of people. He talks about routines and how guys do the same thing every night regardless of the people whereas workers should read the crowd and give them what they want to see. He talks about the lack of teachers for the new guys and how the new guys can’t tell a story.
He talks about the psychology of him losing but points out he needed to get some heat and some offence or he’d have just walked in there as a manager against the Roadwarriors. He talks about his worst injury in wrestling coming in Wargames when he landed on his shoulder and separated it. He talks about hating the Omni in Atlanta. He tells us that Dusty came up with Wargames as far as he knows.
He had the looks, size and personality. JJ gets torn up just thinking about Magnum when he got hurt in the car crash. JJ talks about Magnum nearly dying at the time. He says the business became secondary to thinking about Magnum.
He says it’s harder to establish babyfaces because it takes time for people to trust them. Heels are easy to establish. The storyline saw Ole as not seeing their POV and he was getting old so they got rid of him and moved on to a younger guy. At the same time the guy who got kicked out became their opponent. He thought Sting wasn’t a good fit, which is why he didn’t last. HHH’s stuff comes straight out of this. Having people with him to keep the belt like Flair did and then, when they’d outlasted their usefulness, they got pushed to the other side of the ring. HHH needs some new stooges. Tully and Arn leaving was different. There was no resentment for them going because the money was good. He goes off on a tangent to talk about how he got his match in MSG when Eddie Graham just phoned Vince Sr and asked him to let JJ work at MSG. He worked a match with Tito Santana in 1984-ish.
JJ respects how hard he works. Jerry Jarrett told JJ that he had to work at getting people to dislike him. Jim Cornette never had to do that. You just looked at him and you wanted to slap him. Hahaha. It’s funny because it’s true. He says he’s never had any friction with Cornette.
Favourite Guys to Manage
JJ talks about the notebooks he used to keep where he’d write where he was, who he worked with and where he stayed and stuff like that. We get an extended road story tangent about Lonnie who he was driving to Texas getting drunk before a match with Jose Lothario. Paul Boesch was booking the show and JJ kept him apart as best as he could. It got to the show and JJ managed him to make sure he could get through the match. Lonnie took the credit for it because JJ made him look so good that Boesch gave him a bonus. Ox Baker, The Spoiler (Don Jardine), Kamala, Kendo Nagasaki and The Stomper all get mentioned. He talks about Kamala and working in Memphis and how he cut promos about wrestlers he’d never even seen. He never really disliked working with anyone. Bless. That JJ Dillon. He’s such a nice guy.
We talk about the Crockett purchase a little. He talks about Crockett’s staff and how the expansion was too big for some of the staff he had so they couldn’t cut it and Crockett was too loyal to his people to see it. The company spread itself out too much and started haemorrhaging money. They just didn’t know how to deal with it. He compares it to Vince and his company and as soon as he started losing money he tightened the belt and made sure he didn’t lose too much. When business dropped off he dumped 25-40% of office staff’s salaries. Lord Alfred Hayes just walked out. JJ blames that situation for his bad blood with Vince McMahon today.
He says he was 28 when he broke in so when he retired in 1989 he was in his late 40’s. He was just getting tired of travelling and the WWF rang wanting him to work in the office in New York. He wanted to settle down and start a family. This was his chance to do it. He originally started timing the shows for NWA. The first Clash of the Champions after he left they ran out of time, missed their last two commercial breaks and had to leave off the last two matches. JJ could organise it but no one else knew how to. He knew he had no future with WCW so he was happy to go to the WWF. He was never offered anything on TV in the WWF. He says he couldn’t do the amount of stuff that Jim Ross does (well, Johnny Ace took over the Talent Relations). He heads off into a tangent to talk about how much of a fan he was of Andre the Giant and how he always drove Andre around when he had a chance. Andre put in a good word for him.
JJ worked directly with Vince McMahon and Pat Patterson. He calls it a learning experience. He says everywhere he’s been he’s learned something new. I hate interviews like this. It makes me realise how very little I actually know. I knew the “don’t put two tags together” bit. He points out that if you have a big important match/occurrence then the following segment should be relatively pointless in order for everyone to let it settle in. He says the WWE approach was different to the order of the card. The last match was usually the feel good match. Especially with a heel champion. With a heel champ the main event would usually be just after the intermission. He says he wouldn’t want to do Vince’s job or live his life. He’s business 24/7. Vince never understood people wanting time off. JJ talks about the differences he had with Vince. Often the talent mistook his messages from Vince to be orders from him. Vince often blamed JJ for mistakes Vince made. That’s what led to JJ leaving. He talks about Pat Patterson also living the business, which is why he’s stayed for so long. Vince and Pat would work for 7 days a week. Vince always told him that if he was sick he might as well be at work and sick than at home and sick. Vince is a workaholic. He’s a freak. Those last two lines are my thoughts rather than JJ Dillon’s. JJ goes on a tangent about doing a parachute jump, which is something he never thought he’d do.
Favourite WWF Moments
JJ says that nothing really sticks out. He talks about respecting Hogan for being over for so long. Even when they had people stay for 5 hours watching TV tapings fans would wait for Hogan to do his thing and still be hot for it. He talks about Vince having a narrow concept of what he thinks wrestling is. AMEN! It’s the big guy thing. Pat has always understood what Vince likes as well, which is another reason why he’s been there so long. When Jerry Jarrett was up there Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels got their pushes. He talks about having to do promo days. Some guys would be prepared and good. Some would have no idea what they were doing. Like Jimmy Snuka. He wouldn’t have a clue what he was going to say. Some people wanted more help than others. He talks about WOYAH~! never wanting to talk to them and never wanting to help them. He says they had to wait until 2.30am for him the one time. Some people didn’t realise the importance of the small things.
And because JJ is rambling on a like a maniac that tape is finished and we have to hit up tape two.
He says most people were up to accepting criticism. We go on to talk about the steroid trials and apparently Vince was convinced he was going to do time. He had plans to book the WWF from prison where Pat and JJ would run it in his absence. He also brought Jerry Jarrett in because he felt he needed another guy to cover for him. JJ talks about how well Memphis was doing under Jerry and how well Jeff had done. Jerry asked JJ to get Jeff a break in the WWF. JJ ended up pushing for Jeff to get hired. JJ talks about Jeff being “sharp” and how much respect he had. JJ put forward Jarrett’s name to Vince when Vince thought he was going to jail. Jerry Jarrett survived in Memphis when the WWF went national. They ended up talking a lot and Vince brought Jerry in. He stayed with Vince for 2 months so Vince could bring him up to speed. Vince didn’t go to prison but Jerry stayed on anyway. Jerry got his hotel room reduced to $70 from $100 even when Jerry he paying for it, the WWF were. Vince had lost sight of some of the smaller things that were costing him money and Jerry saw those. JJ talks about Stephanie and Shane and the McMahon family and how their life isn’t balanced because they work all the time.
They removed Vince from the loop and started doing drug testing on everyone. He doesn’t want to comment about the drug testing system. JJ took over as VP Talent Relations as Pat Patterson went on hiatus. He talks about the support Vince gets from his staff especially Kevin Dunn. Vince hired them all so he’s the genius. JJ talks about it just being him and Vince booking Wrestlemania the one-year without Patterson being there. That would be WM8. JJ doesn’t clearly remember the Ric Flair business with the bladejob. JJ talks contracts and how Vince’s contracts had a very low, low end just in case business didn’t do well. But Vince had a good rep for big paydays especially with merchandising. JJ talks about how most guys just took contracts because they were from the WWF. Vince rarely ever negotiated.
JJ talks about being part of the process that brought Triple H in. He knew as Killer Kowalski trained him he’d have respect for the business. He talks about Hall, Nash and Michaels playing political games. He mentions the Garden incident. That didn’t sit well with him because it wrecked kayfabe and made the show look fake. He doesn’t think it was done with malice though. Vince didn’t find out until later and he wasn’t thrilled.
JJ says his main reason for leaving was the pay situation that was discussed earlier. He talks about Shane getting more involved and how it became a competition between Vince and Shane. JJ started thinking differently about the road after he got a family. Wrestlers tended to drive at 100mph. Vince liked getting up at 4am. JJ took to riding with Howard Finkel who was more laid back. JJ left without notice after 7 1/2 years with the McMahon’s. He resented the fact that Vince made him relocate and then cut his money. JJ wanted to get out of that home so he could free up his mortgage money. It took him 18 months to sell his home so he had to wait until that was done before he left. JJ left without planning anything new. It’s clear that JJ has issues with Vince and would rather not work at all rather than work for Vince.
He figured they’d be interested and moved to Atlanta. He didn’t have heat with anyone in WCW bar Jim Herd who he had an argument with as he left. But Herd was now long gone. Down in Atlanta he ran into Scott Hall who put a word in and JJ rang Tony Schiavone who got him interviewed. JJ ended up working as a consultant. Bischoff thought he was too valuable to not hire.
He was confident and obsessed with Vince McMahon and putting him out of business. Eric wanted to know how much Vince had left. Vince’s focus was more on Ted Turner and kicking him out of wrestling. JJ thought Bischoff didn’t stand a chance. JJ talks about Bischoff not having enough knowledge about wrestling to do it. He got manipulated. JJ thought he could help Bischoff, especially with the talent ripping off the promotion. But Bischoff saw it as JJ exposing him as not knowing much about the business. In particular he thought Bischoff offered wrestlers way too much money. Bischoff just didn’t listen to him though and made a point of getting shot of anyone who could threaten his position. JJ talks about the obsession with ratings (heh, like Russo), which isn’t how a wrestling company should work. No one above Bischoff knew what they were doing either so they couldn’t monitor his actions. Harvey Schiller was his superior in 1996 and he didn’t know anything about wrestling nor did he care to.
He used to be the accounting guy under Bischoff who’d present stuff to the head guys at Turner. He was one of the few guys who know how much bullshit Bischoff had told everyone to get the job. JJ says that only Kevin Sullivan knew where the company was going (down the toilet). He talks about WCW putting too much on the air (3 hours for Nitro and 2 on Thunder). Eventually the TV people lost too much money and pulled out. When Bischoff got the boot they were losing 5 million dollars a month. Busch knew he wasn’t good for business. JJ talks about labour costs being 25% and if they go any higher then you’re screwed. WCW’s were over 50% GUARANTEED with no out clauses. They were handing out these contracts like candy. JJ talks about the trouble they had trying to find ways to stop the money from leaking because it had been so mismanaged. He talks about Harlem Heat and how much money they were on and how Stevie-Ray really wasn’t earning his. Then Brad Siegel came in and thought he could fix it instantly. He goes off on a tangent about how the wrestlers were running the asylum. They had to make an example of someone and they docked Scott Steiner a month’s pay but Steiner got his lawyers in and got it overturned. Then Siegel came in to sort it out and ruined the credibility of anyone underneath him. Steiner never saw what he’d done wrong, which was saying something he wasn’t supposed to in a promo. Man, no one liked WCW.
Someone up in New York went to JJ to see if there was any interest in Russo. He was the go between. JJ didn’t really know Vince and thought he’d help them. He talks about the energy and buzz the show got to start with BUT he noticed there was a shit load of ref bumps, interference and run in’s. Every match. Every show. Also the match times had dropped right off to 15 minutes in 2 hours. JJ points out that Russo was shooting himself in the foot by giving away everything on TV for free. He points out that the WWF still made PPV money when their ratings were down. JJ points out how stupid Bischoff’s thing of telling everyone what was happening on RAW was. You don’t draw attention to your competition. He talks about the Jarrett-Benoit build under Russo. They’d hired George Steele, Tito Santana and Jimmy Snuka for one show to wrestle Jarrett. Snuka gave Jarrett a concussion and put him out of the PPV. That was just dumb. Stupid risks. Then on that week’s Thunder the fire marshal had told Russo that Terry Funk couldn’t use his flaming branding iron. Russo wanted to bribe the fire marshal and set the entire ring on fire. JJ talks about how badly Russo was killing their business and he couldn’t even see it. He talks about all the guys that got injured during Russo’s short era in charge. The talent ended up being so low they barely scraped together shows with it. They decided to bring back Bischoff so Bill Busch quit after 10 years with WCW. He saw the writing on the wall. JJ does booking 101 to explain why New Blood v the old guys was so stupid and was never going to work. Siegel was just hearing these colourful pitches and believed that it’d work. WCW ended up losing 62 million dollars and was projected to lose another 62 the following year, which is why it doesn’t exist anymore.
Russo cut a shoot on JJ Dillon and Gary Juster. JJ talks about how offensive it was. We tangent off to Fusient Media. Fusient rang JJ regarding talent contracts. He directed them to Eric Bischoff but pointed out he wouldn’t know the answers. He said he’d only do it if he was hired but even then he couldn’t explain it them because it was too complicated. A month later the deal was dead.
Kevin Sullivan and JJ Dillon both wanted to put the title on Benoit. They’d have done that regardless of him wanting to leave. If they’d caved and booted Sullivan then it’s the inmates running the asylum, again. Just different ones. JJ talks about how great Eddie Guerrero is but he had demons so was damaged goods. Benoit was the star. Malenko was pretty much finished in terms of what he could do in WCW. “Some of the greatest workers in the business have never drawn a dime”. JJ showing us the difference between working and making money there. He runs a critique on Malenko’s facial expressions but says he likes him. He liked all of them. Saturn was injured when he got there and was on borrowed time with a bad knee. He talks about Benoit being good for business at the top. He hoped that Benoit would stay if he got the belt but in hindsight he’d have gone either way.
Returning as talent
Eric Bischoff asked him to come back as on air talent to do some stuff where they needed a figurehead. JJ says he was there to help and did some stuff that made no real sense but he tried to help as best as he could.
JJ talks about the losses WCW had made and how they’d made as many cuts as they could and they were still in the hole. They spent too much money. Simple as that. He talks about at the peak Nitro was costing $600,000 PER SHOW. When they had the crow in the rafters for one five second shot for Sting, that cost them five grand. They did that twice for two five-second shots. Ten grand.
Vince made his entire career on branding everything WWF as the top thing. The best. Then they tried the WCW invasion thing and the fans were conditioned to not care about them. They couldn’t bring everyone in because it’d cost too much money so they ended up cherry picking the guys they wanted. Now WCW is just a handful of guys rather than an entire company. WWF had to appear to be in jeopardy and Vince would never let that happen. Bischoff was a year late coming in but there’s no pay off in Bischoff. No one pays to see him.
Both the WWF and WCW had low, low points for JJ. He was most worried when he nearly lost everything when Vince cut his pay. On the other side we had WCW. He found Vince’s hate for Ted Turner and his personal attack on Ted to be distasteful because Ted is such a big fan of wrestling. JJ says that if Ted Turner had done the same thing to WCW that he did to the Atlanta Braves they’d still be in business. JJ talks about how Taker and Austin are played out. Rock won’t come back and work all the time again. “Triple H – how much more can he do?” Indeed. He thinks Vince’s business is in real trouble. The house shows are down and the guys can’t tell stories. He has to pay 30 guys every night but the business is down so he’s losing money. Pay offs and morale is down and he’s in the same position as WCW. Not enough talent depth and too much TV. JJ talks about how dumb it was giving away Bret and Hogan in a tag match in one night (just a quick WCW bashing sideline there). JJ says the best thing for Vince will be losing one of the shows. The next best thing would be TNA making it big. Vince will still have the edge but it needs competition. Someone needs to pump big money into wrestling to get it back to the Monday Night Wars stage again. Pretty soon they’ll be starting from nothing because there won’t be any established stars.
JJ thinks they can make it (this was a few years back) but the TV is a struggle because the TV networks want money in order for TNA to shill their PPV. JJ says he’s enjoyed the last couple of years too much to come back and join TNA. Or anyone else. He says this has been a wonderful opportunity for him to speak his mind and be honest about the business.
BONUS MATCH – JJ Dillon/Romeo v Spike Huber/Ted DiBiase
Good lord, Ted must be all of 16. He gets a hot tag to wail on JJ. Dropkick and a knee drop. Romero comes in and DiBiase powerslams him. Figure Four and Romeo gives it up at 1.08 shown. Heh. Old school.
2nd fall – Romeo was too hurt to continue so Harley Race comes out to be in JJ’s corner. Sam Mushnick comes out and allows Race to join in the match. JJ collides with him knocking him clean out of the ring. DiBiase slaps the Figure Four on JJ. Race comes off the ropes with a diving headbutt and that’s a DQ. DiBiase and Race have a scrap and the fans eat that up. No doubt Ted was in line for an early NWA title shot. Race bleeds and it’s a shame I’ll probably never get the chance to see that title match.
BONUS MATCH – JJ Dillon v The Great Kabuki
Kabuki breaks out the nunchucks, drawing a sizeable pop. Kabuki blows green mist. Such a showman. No wonder this gimmick got borrowed so heavily. Dillon demonstrates a power advantage so Kabuki kicks him in the head. JJ pulls the hair after positioning the ref to not see it. Kabuki gets into a nervehold. Man, I hate nerveholds. JJ does some more fine cheating with a closed fist. His positioning on this is like Flair minus the theatrics. It seems so natural. No need for suspension of belief there. Kabuki comes back with legal strikes. JJ clubs away and hooks a front facelock. Kabuki strikes out of that. JJ walks into a superkick. Kabuki walks the ropes and drops a fist for 3 at 5.57. Nothing like a good match but seeing JJ work made me notice how natural everything he did was. There are a lot of people who could learn from that.
Overall shoot thoughts –
JJ Dillon is a really smart man and it’s nice to hear him just speak his mind here for something like 5 hours. He’s very honest without being unpleasant to anyone. It’s clear who he doesn’t like but he doesn’t need to name call or curse to demonstrate his dislike. The best parts of this interview is all the stuff about psychology and business sense. JJ Dillon would be a great guy to get advice from. He’d be perfect as a consultant. I’m sure he wouldn’t want to book or write anything these days but there are many people out there who need the kind of advice that I know JJ would be able to dispense. Recommended shoot for some interesting comments on the business.
31-year old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Longtime fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Vikings. Avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on the old school wrestling.