Kayfabe Commentaries: WCW 1987 Timeline: Tully Blanchard
Written by: Brian Bayless
This was released in November 2016
The interview was conducted by Sean Oliver
It runs at two hours and thirteen minutes long
Tully is asked about the TV Title. He talks about winning it in 1984 when he first came to the NWA and how the belt was the first level for a guy that they wanted to push. Tully also talks about coming up with an idea that instead of having a 10 minute match he would have 20 minute matches and if his opponent failed to beat him in that time period, he would win. That changed when Dusty came in and when Dusty’s ideas were not immediately catching, Tully said that Dusty asked him for advice as Tully told Dusty he was taught to put the best against each other.
On Crockett buying the Central States territory, Tully said they were buying up smaller promotions in one effort before they all went under as Tully calls 1987 the “tidal wave” of cable TV growth and how the WTBS studio shows were killing the smaller territories.
Lex Luger made his TV debut against George South. When asked why Luger came here instead of the WWF, Tully said that it was due to Crockett offering guaranteed contracts. Tully thought he had a great look and said there was not much resentment to him getting a push, from the Horsemen anyway, as their were a lot of heels making money for the company and they kept him strong when he was part of their group just like they did with their babyface opponents.
Barry Windham wrestled Ric Flair to a time-limit draw on the January 24th edition of World Wide Wrestling TV. When asked if Windham should have gotten a babyface title run at this time, Tully had no idea as they were still voting on who would get the belt and he was never on that level himself. Tully puts Windham over as a tremendous talent and talks about the NWA philosophy of heel faces making babyface stars while the WWF had babyface champions while heels were built up to get beat and how being a heel was not flattering there. Tully goes back to how they made more babyface stars and how they’re remembered today unlike the heels that were built up to lose to the champion.
Tully talks about Brad Armstrong and how good he was in the ring. He then said that his interview ability might have been why he was not a bigger star and that the same went for Tim Horner.
Luger becomes an associate of the Four Horsemen on January 31st. Tully said it did not mess with their chemistry at all.
On Dick Murdoch turning on Dusty, Tully said that Murdoch was a better heel and threw a great punch. He also talks about how the territory was so big that they needed more people who were over and that made everyone’s job easier when all the cities stayed hot with different stars coming through all the time.
On the Lazertron character, Tully said that it failed because Crockett did not understand they had a stronger product than the WWF and later on when Turner took over, they tried to mimic the WWF and failed as he states you cannot beat them at their own game. Tully said they needed to be different as a product.
When Ole Anderson left the Four Horsemen, Tully said that he was the nucleus along with Arn Anderson and Ric Flair and that you could plug anyone along side them and things would be fine.
March 15th is when Crockett merged with Championship Wrestling of Florida. When asked, Tully said there was no worry among the rest of the Crockett locker room over spots on the card as the Florida guys were on the third match on the card at best and not a threat to any top spots.
Tully did not know how the Mulkey’s achieved their cult status but laughs and said that it worked.
On if the rest of the locker room knew about how big WrestleMania III was and that it set the record, Tully said he knew of how big the event was and points over how a lot of the guys on top of the card were from other promotions and that Vince waits for others to create stars before taking them away. He then talks about not really gossiping with the guys and that he would usually try to fly up front with the pilots and how they even let him fly briefly on a few occasions as he says the view is incredible.
Stan Lane replaces Dennis Condrey in the Midnight Express. Tully said he was a good talent and the Midnights did not miss a beat.
On Wahoo McDaniel, Tully confirms that his chops are incredibly painful. He then says when you work with a guy who is as intense as Wahoo, there is not an ounce of disbelief in the building so it was easy to sell for him and get the crowd into the match.
The Superpowers (Dusty Rhodes & Nikita Koloff) won the Crockett Cup. Tully said it was good to do those shows as it lasted two nights and you could stay in the same hotel. He put over the restaurant Sabatinos in Baltimore, MD and said that Baltimore hated the Four Horsemen and how they stayed at the Marriott across the street from the arena. Tully teamed with Luger and said he was fine with it as it was before he started teaming with Arn.
Tully is then asked how tough it was to play a heel that was getting cheered by the crowd. He said that he never felt that way about himself but people liked the Horsemen. Tully further explains by saying people wanted to like Arn & Ric but not himself as he was there to pull them back as heels. Sean asks Tully why people hated him as Tully talks about watching soap operas and people in public getting into arguments or being agitators and using that to further himself as a heel wrestler.
Sean asks Tully about the 5/20 card in Hicksville, VA and said it might have been the worst Crockett show of all time. He then lists off the matches (Mark Fleming d. Dave Diamond, Denny Brown d. John Savage, Gary Royal d. Mark Fleming, Nelson Royal d. Rocky King, Italian Stallion d. Larry Stevens, Vladimir Petrov d. Todd Champion, Jimmy Valiant & Italian Stallion d. Chris Champion & Sean Royal in the main event!). Tully said they might have been spread thin and been working three towns that day.
Tully talks about how wrestlers had more success in this era compared to today because they never had to be a different person but rather expanded on your own personality to become a larger-than-life character. Tully talks about how when he went to the WWF they tried to tell him what to say and how to act as he fought back with the office and as a result they never got to do many promos.
On Dark Journey becoming his secretary, Tully said they were trying to recreate what he had with Baby Doll but the chemistry was not there. Tully forgets whose idea this was.
He is asked about working an hour-long match as Tully said you had to work on your flow but did not consciously think about the pacing.
On the “Great American Bash” tour, Tully said a lot of places were successful and the matches got the same reactions as the concert. When asked about working outdoors, Tully said you do not have the reverberation from the fans as you do from an indoor arena.
Tully is asked about blading and how you do it without getting scars. He said you cut in the direction of your muscle and never had anyone else do it for him. Tully then refused to say where he hid his blade as they both joked about that. He then switches gears and how no one else would put that type of passion into their jobs where they would cut themselves like that.
Tully said he never had a problem dropping the TV Title to Nikita Koloff. Tully said it didnt matter if he was “green” because selling tickets is the main goal and his gimmick worked. When asked if Koloff made for a good TV Champion, Tully said he had no idea as history determines that. Sean then asks just for his opinion as Tully continues to say that history proves everything.
When asked if Dallas was a good market for Crockett, Tully said no because Fritz Von Erich was still running there. Tully agrees that it was probably the downfall of Crockett when they had offices in Dallas and expected the talent to move there but most stayed in Charlotte.
On why Tully thought they took the belt off of Ric Flair, he had no clue why it happened. Tully said they were doing so well as a business at that point so they went through all of the ideas and speculates they were experimenting with stuff to try and “rev up” newer markets.
Tully & Arn defeated the Rock & Roll Express for the Tag Team Titles on October 10th. Tully is asked about what makes a good team as he says you need to be on the same page, have the right philosophy on what makes a great team, and to make the other team look good so you either lost to “superman” or eeked out a win over “superman.” Tully said that when he teamed with Gino Hernandez, they were basically the same guy but he was different from Arn and that gave them a great dynamic. Tully denied that anyone ever booed the Rock & Roll Express after Sean mentioned how they were getting some boos as the crowds were cheering the Horsemen. Tully talks about making money off of the Horsemen merchandise and fan club as he said it was cool to dislike them.
On his initial impression of Sting, Tully said he came in and got over at a time where they needed more people to get over.
They wrestled at the Nassau Coliseum in New York as Tully joked about overrated room service. He is then asked about running Starrcade in Chicago as Tully said they sold out and it was off the chart as they were in limos and staying at top hotels. He is then asked about the WWF running Survivor Series and how the locker room reacted to them as Tully just said they were competition and looked at them as another place to go and work.
Tully is asked about the Road Warriors losing in Chicago and said it was the right call but did not elaborate.
He thought it was good for Luger to leave the Horsemen and become a babyface because it was easier to guide him in that role.
Tully won a Bunkhouse Stampede on December 13th, an event he claimed to have never won earlier in the interview. Tully said he had no recollection of this then is asked to sum up the year for himself. Tully said 1987 was the apex of the tidal wave of the Four Horsemen and how when they left the following year it really dropped as he claims they were not able to identify the talent that made up the foundation of what made the Horsemen successful and just rewarded other stars by putting them into the group.
Final Thoughts: Tully showed off great insight at times. However, this was an interview about an entire company and when asked about others, he’d give non-answers and brought it back to himself. Tully essentially refused to say any character or any idea was bad and did it with a laugh at times. Tully was clearly “working” here.
When he was explaining business insight, he was pretty good. However, Tully kept mentioned how he always kept to himself thus using that when asked about others in the company. Although you learned from him here, it was infuriating at times to see him unwilling to discuss other topics.
Overall, while you learned about Tully Blanchard somewhat in 1987, you did not get a good picture about the rest of the company. Tully was not a good candidate for a Timeline shoot but would be great in an interview on wrestling psychology. Personally, I’d pass although its not the worst timeline I’ve ever seen.