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The Honky Tonk Man On The Current Direction Of Wrestling & Lack Of Superstars

The Honky Tonk Man appeared on Busted Open, which airs every Monday and Wednesday on Sirius 92 and XM 207 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Highlights from the interview are as follows:

Direction of wrestling: “I think what WWE has done, and I don’t mention what TNA a lot because sometimes I don’t even know if they’re still in business. Anyway, they’re so ratings-driven right now, and they have been for a couple of years. They’re so afraid that if someone picks up that remote control, and clicks to another channel, the person might not come back and watch the show. And the wrestlers today; they are not fans of wrestling.

“They’re not wrestling historians, and the fans themselves, and the wrestlers. I say it: They’re fans of a TV show called, ‘Raw.’ I think it had a lot to do with it. It started there, and then of course it went into this hardcore level, and then to the x-rated level, and…For somewhere down along the line…Well, look at this past Wrestlemania. The biggest feud they had, and the longest feud they had was between the TV commentators. I mean, when you have to dig that deep in the barrel, and believe me, TV commentators, and referees do not sell tickets!”

Intercontinental Title/Feuds: “It was a catalyst to move me from mid-upper card status to main event status. Of course it was…The belt meant that, it meant that much…and you hit the nail on the head. These belts have been so devalued. They mean absolutely nothing. No one knows who…Well they got like 4, 5 different World Champions, they finally brought Tag-Team Champions back now, and, they had European and Hardcore, and they dropped those and, and for sometimes a guy like not so long ago, he was World Champion for one day.

“And these feuds went on for, I was with The Ultimate Warrior for 6 months, 7 months. I was with Randy for almost a year. I was with Jake for 6 or 7 months. So, during that course of time, you have a chance then to, like you said, develop this character, work on it, make it work with your opponent, so that it creates interest for the fans. Listen, if the fans are not interested, they’re going to stay home. I really think the slow burn will always work, and to me it’s like a movie: If you kill The Terminator in the first 10 minutes of the movie, why would you stay for the next 2 hours? It’s one of those things where if Hollywood hasn’t forgotten how to do it, they still can do it.”

On the lack of superstars: “I think because they don’t give the young fellows enough time to develop. To take em’ down, and say it’s a minor league in Florida, and have em’ down there for 2 years, and they’re self-contained being somewhat brain-washed I guess to do just WWE-style wrestling, and learn how to read a script, and practice reading a script, and memorizing it. That’s not really how you become a Superstar or that’s not how you learn this business. It’s a hands-on type thing that you have to practice and do, day-after-day, night-after-night, different parts of the country, riding the cars with different guys. Learn different points-of-views, learn different styles. And then you put it all together and after about 5 years, you say, “Gosh, I’ve been doing this all wrong, and then you start to understand how to be a star.

“And that’s the point I was trying to make, that these young fellas…Nothing against them, they’re obviously good talents, and they could be Superstars, if given the right time and opportunity. Not just to be thrown in the ring, or thrown on the Raw or Smackdown show, and , I would…myself personally; I would hate to have to try to start over the way the business is structured today. Because I don’t know that I could do it. I don’t know that..If they only gave me 1 shot at it, could I make it work or give me 2 Raw shows, and then cut me or send me back to the minors? That’s a very difficult situation.

“The independent scene is my bread, and butter, but they are so cut-throat to each other, that it’s like, I might be in 1 town 100-miles away, there’s a show the next night, and they fly in a whole new talent. It’s like, ‘No, we’re not gonna’ use that guy’s talent because we don’t like him, and his promotion,’ or, ‘He’s trying to run in our back yard,’ and it’s not just in America, it’s around the world I see this because I travel everywhere. But if they would get together, and they said, ‘Look, let’s 3 of us guys, promoters, get together, and run 3 shows straight in a row of Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Friday, Saturday, Sunday,’ and use these guys this way, I think it would work.

“What I don’t understand is with WWE; with the amount of money they have behind them, and the size of the bank account, why don’t they just open up a territory themselves, and say, ‘OK. We’re going to run all of the state of Texas for the next year. Then we’re going to move out to California to do that,..,’ I mean I think it would be cost-effective for them. And they could develop some real stars. You could see a star start to develop. Believe me, you cannot, like I said, go out there, spend two years out in a training camp, or a year out in a training camp, and all of a sudden be thrown out there on TV, and say, ‘OK, make it or break it!’ This it can’t be done!”

  • the_electrifying_one

    I think they need to change how they do things. I agree with HTM i dont think all the “Superstars” are wrestling fans. I can only think of a handful of WWE stars who you could call proper wrestling fans.

    CM Punk, Sheamus (don’t believe me then read up on him, John Cena, Christian, Sin Cara, Zack Ryder and John Morrison.

    I also agree if you dont fit what Vince calls a main event star then your not going to get anywhere. What about JOMO I think he is incredibly talented. Given the chance he could be a huge star once he has his persona perfected.

  • wtffbbqsauce

    wwe roster is trash, and they know it. Hell they gotta put a bunch of legends in the new wwe 12 game to sell it.

  • italia911

    Time as change and the way our generation grow up as created this type of wrestling and its sad 80″ 90″ where great moment in wrestling history storyline made sence wrestler use to fight the same guy 6 months in a row that create a good match and a good feud having tons of territory was helpfull now just like Roxanne said : WWE just manufactures wrestlers now. Everyone might as well come off an assembly line … WWE starts are like a bunch off lego they build a new one everyday !!!

  • Kawika

    I agree Roxanne that and the fact that if you dont look like what Vince thinks a main eventer or super star should look like good luck in getting anywhere above mid card level and thats even if your lucky to get to mid card.

  • shawn

    so pessimistic. i hate mason ryan but i think most of the wrestlers are very good. watch an old HTM match, you’ll fall asleep. or hercules. or hogan, demolition,etc. i like them because of the nostalgia factor, thats it. now dynamite kid was the best “80s wrestler” ive ever seen.

  • RoxanneConner

    WWE just manufactures wrestlers now. Everyone might as well come off an assembly line.

  • venom

    HTM is right about everything he said. I’m surprised he wasn’t spreading rumors again saying TNA signed him. lol.

  • Kawika

    he is right fueds and story takes time not just 1-3 months then drop it for the next one. and building a superstar takes time i mean look at the stars of the past they built there reps up by wrestling in different areas and learning there craft from others in those area. throwing a rookie from your training camp into the ring just dont work. They need to learn try there character a different areas to see how the crowds react to them and make corrections and changes as needed for there character to get them over, that also allows them to learn how to gage the reaction of the different crowds and learn ok this works here but not at the other area.