IYH Interview: Nick Bockwinkel
By Neal Jones
Nick Bockwinkel was the guest this week on http://www.inyourheadonline.com. Which can be heard live every Wednesday at 6:00 PM with Jack, OneInchBiceps and Barbie Richards, along with our full archive of interviews.
The hosts welcomed Nick to IYH, and mentioned the upcoming Capitol Legend’s Fanfest August 11th to the 13th in Rockville, MD. The huge event will feature 30 Wrestling legends including Rockin Robin, The Patriot, Masked Superstar, Jim Cornette, Bret Hart, Midnight Express, Nick Bockwinkle, Tony Atlas, Stan Hansen, Ernie Ladd, Ricky Morton, Angelo Mosca, Jim Niedhardt, Rocky Johnson, Robert Gibson, Ivan Koloff, Nickolai Volkoff, Baby Doll, Dr. Tom Pritchard, Rick Martel, Superstar Billy Graham and many more. For more information please visit http://www.capitollegends.com
Nick talks about some of the Fanfests he has attended. He says they are fun, because fans come up and talk about things he doesn’t even remember. It’s uplifting to him that he has done something that has been recorded into the fans memories. Nick also enjoys seeing some of the old wrestlers. One he worked with, and guys he knew of but never really met because they only wrestled in certain territories. Nick also discusses the common bond between wrestlers, the mutual respect that they have all paid the price physically to be a wrestler.
Jack asks Nick how he is doing health wise. Nick says he has a limp from his ankle, but he is doing ok.
Nick talks about the current wrestlers, and the amount of bumps they take. Nick says if he was young and dumb again he would possibly do what it took to make it wrestling as well. Nick compares his father’s era to his era. Saying guys in his dad’s era thought Nick’s current era took too many bumps, juts like guys from his era look at the current era now. Nick says a guy like Bobby Heenan took the big bumps in his day like they do now. Nick also says he knows the aches and pains he and his era have now, and can’t imagine what the new guys will feel like when they are his age. Nick does have a lot of respect for what the current wrestlers do in the ring though.
Jack asks about Ray the Crippler Stevens. Nick says it was an absolute delight. Stevens was considered by many to be the best worker of the 70’s. Nick also mentions Bobby Heenan added so much to the mix, and he was a tremendous performer not just the best manager. Nick said Bobby had so much heat he could actually take Nick’s place on shows in the main event and the crowd would explode. Nick believes Bobby was a good as a performer as himself or Stevens, Bobby could replace either of them but they couldn’t replace Bobby. Jack asks why did Nick have a manager when he was a good promo guy himself. Nick says AWA just thought it would work, Bockwinkel and Stevens worked and when they added Heenan it was just that much better.
IYH fan Mark asks Nick about the High Flyers. Nick says they were all professional, everyone really gave it their all and did the best to their ability which makes great matches.
Jack asks Nick if WWF had any interest in bringing him in with Bobby Heenan. Nick said no, he was 50 and at the end of his career. Bobby asked Nick if he should go. Nick told Bobby to go, he knew what Vince was ready to do and it was a big opportunity for Bobby. Nick remembered sitting in a hotel room with Bobby and Stanley Blackburn telling Bobby he had to go where the money was.
Nick talks about Vince McMahon WWF and the wrestling change of the mid 80’s. He knew it was coming. The territories were very laid back and ran very smoothly. Vince was a young buck with piss and vinegar putting all his energy into making WWF. Vince put in all his free time into wrestling.
Jack asks if it was a mistake not putting the belt on Hulk Hogan in the AWA. Nick said people didn’t realize how much of an influence the Japanese market was having on wrestling in the USA. Nick talks about guys like Hogan, Bruiser and Stan Hansen protecting their personas in the USA to keep them strong in Japan.
Jack asks if the plan was for Curt Hennig to be the long time champion when Nick dropped the title to him, and if it was to be the passing of the torch. Nick says at that time they would test a guy out to see how he would draw, if Hennig as champion drew people to the arenas then he would have been champion longer. The promoters wanted a champion who would maximize business. Nick says he new the Hennig family, and Curt was so talented it was such a heart breaker when he passed away.
Jack asks if they change the title too often today. Nick says it’s argumentative. There are a lot of minds in WWE, who are we to say they are wrong. WWE is run like a business.
Nick talks about the original AWA title he will be bringing to the Fanfest. Nick tells a story of someone who stole the AWA title, and broke up the belt so he wouldn’t be arrested for grand theft. The title was finally found and sent back to AWA in pieces, and it was remade by prisoners. Nick talks about Stan Hansen taking the belt and running it over with his pick up because he didn’t want to lose it in a match.
OIB asks Nick about Eric Bischoff. Nick says he was very arrogant, and Eric didn’t have to stretch very much to play his online character. Nick says Eric was sharp enough to see that Turner was run by corporate big wigs, and they were coming off an old school wrestler Bill Watts running the company. WCW was fed up with the wrestling mentality. Eric presented himself as one of them (corporate) not one of the wrestlers. Nick says Vince has shown time and time again that he can use Eric for his own gain.
OIB asks if Greg Gagne was over pushed in the AWA. Nick says he was pushed, and Greg busted his ass. Greg was small and his dad was the boss, so Greg knew he had to prove himself and every time he was in the ring he worked so hard.
OIB asks Nick about Stan Hansen. Nick says Stan was a business man. Nick and the guys in AWA were against bringing in Stan or Brody because they were trouble. Stan and Brody made oodles of money in Japan, so didn’t even need to work in the USA. They would never do anything to tarnish their persona in Japan. Stan and Brody were business men, but very selfish and out for themselves only.
Jack asks Nick about his WCW commissioner role. Nick said it was fun but he knew it wouldn’t last long. If the figure head has no authority there’s no use in doing it.
Nick says he thought a few times of coming back after his retirement. There was talk of him coming back to wrestle Lawler. Nick said he never wanted to come back unless he could give it 100%.
Jack asks why Nick stayed in AWA for so long. Nick talks about the NWA champions like Thesz, Race, Kiniski etc all lost wives from being away from home so long. In the AWA he could work less dates and travel less for the same amount of money, so why leave? Nick talks about there was always the hope you would go to a territory and get over so big you wouldn’t have to leave and stay on the top forever. Nick was on top pretty much his entire AWA run, so he had no reason to wan to leave.
Nick talks about Bob Orton Sr’s current passing. He was talking with Bob Orton Jr. earlier that day comparing life stories growing up in the wrestling business and moving from territory to territory.
Jack asks Nick if he would recommend his sons go into wrestling. Nick only has daughters, but if he had a son and they wanted to he would do everything to help them but he wouldn’t push them. Nick says both he and Bob Orton Jr. weren’t pushed into wrestling by their fathers. They both wanted to do it. Jack asks if there was a better success rate for wrestlers who wanted to get into wrestling over ones who were pushed in. Nick says it all depends, but to really make it in wrestling you had to have a passion for it.
OIB asks why Nick never did commentary after he retired from wrestling. Nick says for whatever reason it didn’t work out. He tried a few times for Vince, maybe his strong point was his promos, not color commentary. Promos you put yourself over, commentary you put the other guy over.
Nick tells all the fans to come see him at the Capitol Legend’s Fanfest in Rockville, Md. August 11th through the 13th. Nick says they all gave their all for wrestling, and they are all real people. Stan Hansen was a big southern boy. Nick helps IYH plug some upcoming IYH guests from the Fanfest. Dr. Tom Prichard the 26th. Rick Martel possibly on the 2nd. Nick says Rick was going to be a future long time AWA champion. Superstar Billy Graham on the 9th. Nick says Billy was one of the first guys to be really honest about steroid use. Nick tells a quick story about Billy. Nick asked him in the AWA what percentage of Billy would be gone if he was off the steroids. Billy said 25 or 30%. Which would be 90 pounds, Billy would be 225 and was over 300 with steroids. Nick says Billy was always a straight shooter and a nice guy.
The In Your Head hosts will also be at the Capitol Legend’s Fanfest. We will be conducting some interviews over the 3 day weekend. Please make it there if you can, come and see all the legends. Plus talk to the IYH Crew and be part of their special Fanfest edition show taped over the 3 days. For more information on how to save on hotel bookings, air fair and the special VIP pass please visit http://www.capitollegends.com.
Nick talks about working on his autobiography.