Kayfabe Commentaries Timeline WCW 1985 – Magnum TA
Written by: Brian Bayless
This was released in September 2015
The interview was conducted by Sean Oliver
It runs at two hours and one minute long
The interview starts with Magnum being asked about leaving Bill Watts and the Mid-South Territory to work for the Crockett Family. Magnum said he trusted his friend, Dusty Rhodes, but was also leaving the Mid-South territory, which was on fire at the time. Dusty told him he would get an opportunity of a lifetime and since Magnum grew up in Virginia watching the Mid-Atlantic region, his dream was to wrestle in those same arenas so he decided to make the move. Magnum talks about the Crockett territory struggling at the time and he was taking a pay cut to move. When asked if others followed suit, Magnum said he didn’t look at the move as a downsize because he was a “dreamer” and have gone somewhere else. On comparing the locker rooms, Magnum said Mid-South was tense and the drives were brutal. He also said they would get fined if late as Magnum talks about how he was never late in 1.5 years. He then compares Mid-South locker room as a military atmosphere and said that Jim Crockett was a fan of the business and did not have the ego to be in the public eye and was uncomfortable on the camera. Magnum said that Watts wanted it to be a hard-hitting sport while Dusty also wanted some of that but also had much more creativity than Watts.
On January 6th, Magnum won a $50,000 Battle Royal after eliminating Wahoo McDaniel. Magnum remembers the match and said they wanted him to focus on Wahoo and the U.S. Title. He said Wahoo was a respected heel and the win established him as a contender for that belt to the fans. He is then jokingly asked about if he got any money for this while Magnum talks about how his grandfather was a huge fan and thought he was actually getting this money. When asked if the locker room was tense as he was a newcomer getting this opportunity, Magnum said that if it happened he never saw it and that the guys were all happy seeing the company getting some momentum. He also puts over the camaraderie in the locker room.
Regarding the vignettes that introduced Baby Doll, Magnum said she was a great fit with Tully Blanchard, who came up with the idea of making Baby Doll her valet. Magnum said Tully wanted to be a heel and thought by pairing a tall woman who may not have been all that attractive, would stir the pot and it ended up working. Magnum said that Baby Doll helped his character take off. Behind the scenes, Magnum said he didn’t spend a lot of time with her, talking about how locker rooms were separated, and just said she was very new to the business and one time was supposed to hit him and did it as hard as she could.
Eddie Graham was found dead on January 21st after committing suicide. Magnum said he got the call while watching the Super Bowl with Dick Slater. Magnum puts over how much Graham taught him while he was only a few years into the business. He also couldn’t imagine Graham would take his own life but apparently hid that part of his life very well as he looked up to him like he was John Wayne while working for him.
Krusher Kruschev (Barry Darsow) made his debut assisting the Russians. Magnum put him over for being a big man that could bump and a perfect fit for the group.
He is asked about the Crocketts running their first show in Philadelphia on February 5th, headlined by Ric Flair pinning Ricky Steamboat. Magnum said their syndicated show wasn’t that strong in the market and it was cold in the city but once they came to the building, they got sold on the show and over time the attendance would increase.
On the March 2nd episode of “World Wide Wrestling,” Baby Doll slapped Dusty Rhodes, who slapped her right back. Magnum joked that everyone except for a few guys joked whether or not they could take her in a fight due to her size and said that he knew it would get a reaction but didn’t go nuts in a politically correct aspect. He added there was zero backlash from this incident from the TV station.
Arn Anderson made his debut. Magnum said he knew Arn from Mid-South but had no idea he was such a good interview because there he was just doing TV matches. Magnum said the act was money and when asked, Magnum said they really maintained kayfabe and did not know much about him. On Ole Anderson, Magnum said he was funny at that time, because he was one of the guys in the dressing room. Magnum tells a story at a TV taping when Ole charged at Magnum and called for him to do a press slam as Magnum said Ole was about 275 lbs but got right up for him. He puts over the Arn & Ole team a lot here.
Buddy Landel also makes his debut, billing himself as the “Nature Boy” as he mimicked Ric Flair’s entire act. When asked about the act and if Flair had issues, Magnum never thought Flair had an issue before adding that Landel had the opportunity for a huge push but was his own worst enemy.
On the chemistry became Dusty and Tully, Magnum said it was great because they both had huge egos and wanted to be the best face and heel, respectively. On how Tully acted behind the scenes, Magnum said he couldn’t figure him out but that they knew together, they would make money in a feud.
Magnum beat Wahoo McDaniel for the U.S. Title in a cage match on March 23rd, a match that aired on TV March 30th. When asked, Magnum said he did not remember how far in advance he was told about the win but talks about the show being sold out and recalls a spot where he was in the corner getting “color” and his eyebrow got caught and ripped off as Wahoo said he didnt need the eyebrow to begin with. Magnum also added how when his feud with Wahoo started, he accidentally dropkicked a chair into his face and gave Wahoo eight stitches. Wahoo never complained and told Magnum it was just part of the business. Magnum spoke more about Wahoo and said he was a man of feud words and they traveled together when Wahoo turned babyface and said he was a “straight up” guy and honored to be in the same ring with a man of his caliber.
On April 6th, Jim Crockett Promotions debuted on WTBS. Sean asks if knew anything that was going on in the office at this time. Magnum said he did because he was almost exclusively traveling with Dusty, specifically the details where Vince McMahon sold his WTBS time slot to Crockett (A scroll across the bottom of the screen tells us Crockett paid $1 million for the slot on WTBS and purchased Georgia Championship Wrestling). Magnum talks about how it allowed them to be in the homes of people in all 50 states and took them from a territory to a National promotion. Sean asks Magnum if his life changed due to this as he said it did but they also wrestled seven days a week, twice on the weekends, and spent so much time on the road that everyone was caught up in a whirlwind, no matter your position on the card. He added that if he had not been privy to the business and built up the way he was, he might have cracked. Sean then asks Magnum about the road life and if a lot of women came on to them. Magnum said before that the TV deal they were basically a band of traveling gypsies who would takeover bars and towns but the National TV exposure made them almost like rockstars as he notes the locals did not have a chance when they came to the bar as there was 15-20 of them and they were all a little flamboyant. Sean asks him if he ever saw Flair in action and said yes then briefly mentioned an incident in which Wahoo tossed the Rio Grande Dip on some woman wearing a white pants suit. Magnum said all he remembered about that was it involved Crown (Royal) and Coke and a Pacman machine. Magnum then said it got you a lot more attention than you had before.
Abdullah the Butcher made his debut on April 13th as part of the Paul Jones Army. Magnum said he was a great, laid back guy. When asked if he was hard to work with, Magnum said not at all and said when he picked him up for a slam it was like slamming “Pee Wee Herman” as he easily went up for the move. Magnum puts him over for being able to get heat and being a better athlete than you would think.
On Jimmy Valiant and if he was as colorful behind the scenes as he was on TV, Magnum said no and he was very mellow, almost like a “Cheech & Chong” type guy and jokes about his wife, who looked “outrageous.” Magnum said he was almost afraid to work with him as he was so light the way he worked as he was told to work a hard-hitting style.
Magnum is now asked about his TV squash matches being so short and if he liked the idea, Magnum said it was brilliant. He added that he didnt care about the length of his TV matches and talks about at the time TV was nothing but an advertising piece and the gimmick was a great way to get people to pay to see them at the house shows. He also said they never really gave main events a way for free on TV and would just give the fans a little taste of something for free then take it away.
On the gimmick where Dusty brought a gorilla with him on TV (Dick Slater under a gorilla suit), Magnum said he was unsure if this was Dusty’s idea or the idea of Dick Slater. Magnum puts over Slater for being creative but said he had some delusion that the Crocketts were going to run Georgia as a separate entity within the promotion and even went as far as buying office space in Georgia. Magnum said he had no idea if they told him this was going to happen or if it was just Slater being crazy.
Magnum talks about wrestling Flair in a one-hour broadway in the pouring rain at a show at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. He said the rain started about halfway into the match then it turned into hail and they could barely stand. He then adds that he worked 19 one-hour broadways with Flair in a month. Sean asks Magnum the key to working a match that long as Magnum said he doesnt even know but you need to have a babyface who can sell without dying as when you make the comeback and do not win or cannot keep the false finishes going on, you lose the crowd. Magnum said they could almost do it in their sleep as they got good together. He tells a story of one match where he accidentally knocked down referee Tommy Young while reversing a move and covered Flair. Young pulled himself up and got into the position and it seemed like he counted to three as the fans went nuts but Young ended up disqualifying Magnum for knocking him down. Magnum said that the finish even fooled the Road Warriors, who were backstage going nuts thinking a title change took place without them knowing.
They talk about the June 1st TV episode in which Flair brought out a $1,500 suit for Magnum to “give him some class” that ended with Magnum tearing it up. Magnum said the promotion wanted to paint a picture of Magnum being a blue-jeans wearing American going up against Flair. Magnum said it would have been easy to ride that wave to a feud but they were smart to hold off and make money with other feuds. He credits Dusty for coming up with the idea.
He talks about Big Mama (Jimmy Valiant’s wife) coming in to pair with Dusty to take care of Baby Doll (Who hit Dusty with a fireball). Magnum said you couldnt forget her outrageous look but also put her over for being a good worker.
On the June 15th TV episode, Magnum put up $1,000 of his own money to Ric Flair, stating he could not beat him in whatever TV time was left. Magnum said it was a way to create excitement to draw fans to the house shows. Magnum goes back to Dick Slater, who wanted to put up billboards of Dusty, Magnum, Ron Garvin, and himself to promote them as four of the toughest guys to promote the shows.
The Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton & Dennis Condrey) make their debut on June 29th. Magnum said he knew them in Mid-South and called them the most amazing heel team he had ever seen and that Cornette was great on the mic. Magnum said Condrey was a master of ring psychology and Eaton could do anything in the ring.
Magnum is asked about the “Great American Bash” along with an hour-long performance by David Allen Coe. He said it was not worth it and they proved that because the musicians themselves should have sold out the shows and that wrestling fans want to be entertained and see action while those wanting a concert would rather just drink and have a good time. Magnum said the idea looked good on paper but just did not work out.
He talks about wrestling Kamala. Magnum also thought he was a good guy and said you should learn to work the style of the “gimmick guys” like a Kamala so they can help put you over.
Magnum talks about the Road Warriors and how they should have been used like an Andre the Giant being used occasionally and not 52 weeks a year in the same company because they end up looking vulnerable instead of appearing immortal. On working with them, Magnum said they were great to team with and go up against. Magnum called it a night off when teaming with them as they would toss everyone around and he would just get heat.
On July 6th, Dusty beat Tully Blanchard for the TV Title. And per stipulations of the match, won the services of Baby Doll for 30 days. Sean asks Magnum about Dusty becoming scrutinized for being the booker and a champion. Magnum said he was but it’s a tough situation as Dusty was charismatic and could draw money. Magnum said he was smart enough to be a booker and also young enough to still keep wrestling and would put himself in situations that would draw criticism but at the same time, he produced. Magnum credits Dusty for working hard and smart and could get the crowd involved into his matches to the point where a fan would want to jump in and help Dusty when he was getting beaten down.
The Rock ‘N’ Roll Express made their debut and won the Tag Team Titles from the Russians on the same night. Magnum said they came from Mid-South with the opportunity for the biggest push of their lives. Magnum credits them for appealing to the younger kids and women, expanding the fanbase of the company. He then says all the kids that came to see the team also meant their parents bought tickets to, meaning your revenue doubles right off of the bat.
On July 21st, Tully Blanchard defeated Magnum for the U.S. Title at the matinee show from the Charlotte Coliseum when Baby Doll, dressed as security, handed Tully a roll of quarters. Magnum talks about how the crowd knew Magnum was about to win but when Tully hit him with the roll, as quarters flew all over the place, he fell and sold like he was dead as the crowd was absolutely stunned.
Magnum talks about Flair’s work. He said while great, it was predictable and almost like watching a routine. Magnum adds that if you have seen Flair 2-3 times then you can work him with your eyes closed. When asked if that is better or worse, Magnum said back then it was better because you drove around to different towns and used the same match but today it would not work as if you cannot change it up, the fans could call the spots for you.
At the August 13th TV tapings, Magnum came to the ring dressed as a security guard and handcuffed Baby Doll to the bottom rope then went into the ring and attacked Tully Blanchard. Magnum said the idea was thought up on the ride to the arena. Magnum bought a pair of glasses and borrowed handcuffs from Doug Dillinger and said no one in crowd had a clue it was him and they lost their minds when they found out.
He talks about the few Buddy Landel vs. Ric Flair matches as once again, Magnum reiterates that Buddy was his own worst enemy. He adds that at one point Baby Doll was going to be aligned with Buddy, which would have seen his career taken off but he self-destructed before that could happen.
Sam Houston pinned Arn Anderson on TV with a rollup after Arn got distracted by Magnum, who was on the apron. Sean asks why this happened. Magnum said they were trying to give Sam a push and Magnum was going to be his mentor and even have Sam use the belly-to-belly suplex finisher. Magnum said Sam was young and they wanted to give him a midcard push and put him over for working hard and having a lot of potential. When asked about Sam outside of the ring, Magnum said he wasnt a bad guy but wasnt the best at “holding his liquor” and said no one has the time to babysit an obnoxious drunk. He didnt think he got heat for dating Baby Doll though.
On the Super Clash event at Comiskey Park, which was promoted by Verne Gagne and featured wrestlers from Crockett and around the world, Magnum said there was a dispute about how the revenues would be divided up and remembers his payoff being abut 25% of what they thought it would be and that is why it never worked. Magnum talks about giving anyone the benefit of the doubt the first time but once the line is drawn in the sand, then he is out.
On the October 22nd episode of “World Wide Wrestling TV,” Baby Doll came out to interrupt Magnum’s interview, leading to Magnum grabbing and kissing her as Tully Blanchard came out for the attack to close the show. Magnum said it was awkward as he knew she was dating Sam Houston and was told he was doing this just before they filmed when Dusty casually mentioned it to him. However, Magnum said he was not going to kiss someone on TV unless he looked like he was the “boss” and said the whole thing came off great as Tully charged at him as hard as he could and knocked him down. He did say that there was never any sexual tension between Tully and Baby Doll as it all looked like a business deal and this angle really kicked up the tempo of the feud.
Starrcade was the first supercard to take place in multiple places simultaneously. It featured five title changes and almost every match featured blood. Magnum said it was the first “mega match” he had been invovled in and knew the heat would be insane as the build up to the match was fantastic. He talks about the end when he had a piece of a broken chair that Baby Doll tossed in during the match. Magnum looked like he was going to drive it through Tully’s head and just tossed it down and walked off as he said it made sense to do that as the feud had reached the boiling point already and to do anything else over the top would come off as ridiculous. When asked, Magnum said it was the best match of his career.
He is now asked about the “Dusty Finish” and if it was either brilliant or cheap. Magnum said it was a little cheap and the fans deserve more than what they get out of it. He also does not understand why you would make a finisher seem devastating then have a title change via a small package as he believed that psychology, which was in the 60’s and 70’s, should have gone away. He even puts the WWF over for having their main event guys win with their finishing moves.
On December 8th at the Omni in Atlanta, GA, Magnum won the $20,000 Bunkhouse Stampede battle royal. Magnum is asked about the match and said he liked them because you could dress up in jeans and ripped up shirts and stomp “mudholes” into people. He said they were fun because the matches themselves were outrageous but only something to do once a year.
Magnum worked two shows on Christmas and asked if he was upset by that. He said yes but was “brainwashed” at the time because he loved performing so much and the shows were to provide a distraction for those during the holidays, like a movie. Magnum said wrestling is not for families as you have to be self-centered and constantly work on your character and work. He also said its a young man’s game and does not translate into the real world as you are playing a super hero or villain in a controlled environment and in his day, fans thought you were that character 24/7 and it made it really tough once you could not do that anymore.
He closes the interview by saying the pinnacle of his career was the Best of Seven series with Nikita Koloff and they both got to tear the house down together and got to be the “general” in those matches and felt he could carry the banner for the company.
Final Thoughts: Another excellent installment in the KC Timeline Series. It started off a little bit slow but became excellent as it went along. Magnum was very insightful and really seemed to get the wrestling business. He would constantly explain what and what would not work as well.
Magnum does not dish the dirt but at the same time answered every question asked. I felt he was honest and I came across as a fan of the guy. Its a shame his car accident ended his career as he was on the verge of becoming a major player in the NWA.
Overall, I highly recommend this interview. And, for those checking out these episodes on the network this would be both interesting and helpful for you to paint a picture of what was going on at this time.
You can purchase the DVD of this shoot for $20 or purchase it On Demand for $15.99, which you can own forever, by clicking on the link below: