5. KURT ANGLE
My experience over the years has proven that the “truest”, or “purist” wrestlers have the tendency to do whatever is written. It seems that their theory, “we’ll tell the story in the ring—you tell it on the paper”. Bret Hart was also very much this way, as was Jeff Jarrett in his earlier years when he was dealing with much less stress and responsibility.
Kurt is just a pro. If I was to start a wrestling promotion, and I had to start with one guy to build around, it would no doubt be Kurt—he is the most dependable and reliable wrestler I have ever worked with. He’s that cornerstone that every company needs. When people call him a CYBORG—they’re not kidding—he is! Another guy who just never raises his voice, never knows more than you do, and just allows you to concentrate on doing your job.
When we did the Main Event Mafia a few years ago, do you know how difficult it was to wrangle Kevin, Booker, Sting, Steiner and Kurt to do pre-tapes? At times—it just wasn’t possible. There were so many occasions where the pre-tape called for the whole group—but at the end—I had to rely solely on Kurt to do it. Even though as a side note I’d like to add that there were also many occasions where BIG POPPA PUMP was there first—ok—maybe he couldn’t find his knee brace for 15 minutes—but, he was there first!!!
I’m the biggest Kurt Angle fan on this planet.
4. ANY FEMALE WRESTLER
Do you know how easy my job would have been had I worked with all WOMEN!!! The female wrestlers will do whatever you ask them to do (of course, within reason) no questions asked—PERIOD. The mindset is real simple: they’re living in a “man’s world”, they are happy to be there, and they will do whatever deemed necessary to STAY there. That’s their mindset—NOT MINE!
In my view, and I could care less who gets hot at me—women have just as much right as men to make a career for themselves in the professional wrestling industry. Some of the biggest stars I worked with in the industry were women. I can remember VIVIDLY that Rena Mero got the push she did, because when she came out to a live audience she was getting the second biggest crowd reaction of that night—only behind Steve Austin. Sadly, and pathetically, this caused some of the TOP male performers to get in Vince’s ear at the time, and put a halt on Rena’s skyrocketing career. Disgustingly enough, one male wrestler went as far as to defecate in Rena’s bag at a house show. What a pathetic excuse for a human being.
I loved working with the females in the business—loved it!!! Why—because they actually appreciated the fact that you were trying to HELP THEM. They got that—and they listened. From Chyna, to the Beautiful People, to Medusa, to Mickie James to Gail Kim, to Luna Vachon for cryin’ out loud—they all welcomed you with open kindness. The only one encounter on the negative side I ever had with a female performer was when Sunny wasn’t happy with the shot we chose of her for the cover of the “Raw” Magazine—that was it.
No doubt in my mind that an all KO/DIVA wrestling show would draw HUGE numbers with today’s audience.
3. DUSTIN RHODES
Far and away, Goldust was the most intricate character I’ve ever had to write/produce for in my career. No two promos were ever the same, or was the same movie ever quoted twice. So much research and reading went into the process of writing for Dustin—-and my kids will tell you—I HATE READING ANYTHING!!! I can’t even imagine the train wreck we would have had on our hands had Dustin not been cooperative, and gone with the written word. 100% trust on his part—100%, and at one time that character was more over than any other heel I had ever worked with.
And what a great, great natural actor Dustin was/is. No doubt—you know who his daddy is!!! Thanks to Dustin, I was given two fond memories that have stayed with me throughout my two decades. 1. Along with Dustin and Marlena—Terri Runnels who was also TREMENDOUS—I had the experience of walking the red carpet the day prior to the Academy Awards, and #2. Having the once in a lifetime opportunity to produce both Goldust and Conan O’Brien on the set of Conan’s late night show. And yes—even Conan followed my script.
2. PAUL BEARER
OLD SCHOOL RULZ!!! The old school guys just get it—what can I say? I loved working with the late William Moody, every chance I got. He was just such a pro, and so freakin’ good. See—the New Yawk just came out of me there. I don’t know how else to say it—to bring life and believability to such an over the top character is a true, true testimony to the man. Just one of those guys that you take for granted because you know that every week he’s going to deliver no matter what you put in front of him.
And, what a southern gentlemen he was. I think he respected “Vinny Ru” as he would refer to me, just as much as I respected him. Man, he is so sorely missed.
1. MR. BACKLUND
When you look back now, how ridiculous is it to think that Bob Backlund needed Arnold Skaaland as his mouth piece when he was WWWF Champion. Well, I guess it’s not ridiculous at all—having gone back and looked at many of those Backlund interviews with a young Vince McMahon. Timid, soft spoken, kind, polite, Backlund just did not have the traits necessary to cut that strong baby face promo to sell tickets.
Fast forward a little over a decade later when MR. BACKLUND hit the scene. Are you FREAKIN’ kidding me?!!! (there I go again). Who is this guy, and where did he come from?!!! I remember in the mid-90s when I was writing for the WWE Magazine–when I was on the road, and Mr. Backlund was in a pre-tape room, I would stop whatever I was doing to just go watch—-and listen. I swear to you all, this was the best thing I had ever seen since the BIG THREE—-and I’m talking Albano, Blassie and Wiz!!!
Like Warrior, when I would later be producing Mr. Backlund—you couldn’t write for him. There was NOTHING—NOTHING I was going to write that was going to be better than what was just coming off the top of his head. This was entertainment at its finest form—nobody better—nobody.
My TOP memory of ALL-TIME in the wrestling business is when I got to go to spring break in Daytona Beach with Mr. Backlund sometime in the mid-90s. As a shoot—Backlund—sorry—MR. Backlund wore a grey wool suit, red bow tie and white preventive sunburn cream on his nose, being that the temperature was in the triple digit range. There was even a scene where he rolled up his pants and waded in the pool with some of the unruly students. Again—as a shoot because I was there—Mr. Backlund started preaching to these kids and within FIVE FREAKIN’ MINUTES—these teens were sitting on his every word. It was one of the most incredible things I had ever seen.
So there you have it—my top ten list of the easiest talents to produce. The hardest? Stay tuned—but, only if I dare.