Ironically, that timing would change by October
of 1975, when neither Valentine nor Jardine were in
the picture anymore.
That’s exactly right.
Obviously, you made the jump from McMahon to
Crockett right after the Wilmington plane crash in
October of 1975. It had to be a tough decision on a
number of fronts. How was the relationship between
McMahon and Crockett?
They had a good working relationship…up until
what was fixin’ to happen with me! I’m fixin’
to end that relationship in just a second!
(laughing) Okay Blackjack, tell us what went
Everybody went nuts…bonkers! I said to George,
‘Are you sure?’ And he says, ‘YES, I’ve
gotta have you here NOW!’ I told him I had to give
a notice to Vince, and he said he wanted me here for
the next Raleigh TV taping. I just happened
to be off that Wednesday, and George said,
Well, I remember you being on Mid-Atlantic TV
very soon after the plane crash.
Here I’m left with this…I’m taking a major
risk in my career. You know, at that time, [the WWWF]
was the Mecca. I mean, San Francisco, Chicago and
New York…they were the Mecca. NOBODY does what I
did…taking a chance on the Carolinas under those
circumstances! You just didn’t do that!
What possessed you to do it!
(pauses) Well…I trusted George Scott. I
really, really did.
What was the deciding factor…the money? A
promise to be on top here?
It was [George]. He was an honest man…he had
always kept his word to me.
the deal was, and nobody has ever known this to this
day…he said, ‘I’ll give you the number one
slot. I’m getting this kid (Flair) ready, and
you’ll hold the number one slot until he’s
ready. We’re gonna prep this kid, and we’re
gonna take him all the way. You’ll have it as long
as I’m here, and when we get him ready, we’ll
move you to number two. And then you’ll hold that
slot as long as you want it…as long as you can
withstand the work of it.’ I’ll get to that last
part in a minute.
The heavy workload?
Yes…the work was a lot different in North
Carolina. Very, very hard work. You [didn’t] get
away with easy work in Carolina with George
Scott…he was like, like a taskmaster.
wasn’t really built to do those one hour
broadways. I was a 15-20 minute guy, bashing tables,
that kind of stuff.
George Scott certainly featured A LOT of long
matches in the Mid-Atlantic days.
George loved those long drawn out [matches].
And you agreed to come into the Mid-Atlantic
area, knowing that he was going to expect that from
I had to have that conversation with George too.
I said, ‘George, you know I’m not built to do
these one hour things.’ He said, ‘No, I’ll
take care of you. You just do your thing and we’ll
see how it works out.’
guess it was just his personality. The guy having a
lot of moxie to come after me to step out of the
territory I was in.
put it this way…about the most you could max out
in Carolina in those days was 35-40 thousand
dollars, and that wasn’t even in my ballpark then.
Compared to what I was making with Vince.
By comparison, what were you making for Vince?
We were doing over $100,000 in New York…and
Chicago too. We were making some big money.
So…deciding to go with Crockett after the
plane crash, you were risking losing a heck of a lot
Making that move, it could have been a career
disaster. Be that as it may,
George talked me into it!
Tell us about the actual switch to the
Mid-Atlantic area…this would be in October of
My coming back to Charlotte was directly as a
result of the plane crash. I promised George I would
do TV for him that next Wednesday.
the conversation with George that evening, I’m
left with having to call my partner (Lanza) as I
said, and calling Vince McMahon. (laughs)
I bet those were two phone calls you just
couldn’t wait to make! (laughs)
Oh man…I somehow got past that. Vince McMahon
said, ‘You’re totally crazy…you need to be
under psychiatric care! If you do this thing…I
don’t accept this. You’re not thinking
right…you’re drinking or on drugs, there’s
something wrong with your thinking. Talk to me on
Monday at TV about this.’
Sounds like Vince didn’t even want to think
about what you were going to do!
He would not take my notice!
is another little known thing…I’m up there in
the ring with (Dominic) Denucci and…the other
Italian, (Tony) Parisi. I think the other guy was
Parisi…maybe it was (Victor) Rivera…
This is after you had given your notice to
Right…they wouldn’t accept my notice,
David. So, we were wrestling a World Championship Tag
Match…we were working a small show up there. It
was two out of three falls…Lanza and I won the
first fall and they won the second fall.
the last fall, in a slam I pulled Denucci on me and
covered myself---one, two, three! We jump up and
they’re the World Champions…they couldn’t
believe it. That’s how I ended up REALLY giving my
Is this a rib?
(laughing) No, no…they wouldn’t accept it. I
made sure that it was on camera!
McMahon must have been FURIOUS!
Vince McMahon called me, screaming on the phone.
They cancelled the camera, and shut that down. They
gave the belts back to us, and he told me, ‘You
can’t do that. I can’t believe you did that.
I told Denucci…now, nobody knows this except
me, Lanza and Denucci. I pulled Denucci, Dominic, on
top of me. I’m covered…one, two, three and we
lose the World Tag Team Championship.
went, ‘Oh my God…I knew you were gonna to do
that---I knew you were gonna do that!’
So after you pulled a stunt like that, McMahon
let you loose?
That’s how I finally got out of there. They
didn’t even change the billing on the next TV show
up there…but I didn’t go to TV. I told them that
was it, and you have to accept it. Vince, Sr.
finally says, ‘I hope you get everything that
comes to you.’ I don’t know how he meant that…
I don’t think he was real happy with you,
Those things waned. ..in the business. In my
career, to the end, I always left on my own terms.
Actually, I kind of burned bridges to get out of
You said earlier that Lanza didn’t react much
better to your leaving?
When I called Lanza after I made my decision, he
said, ‘Nobody in their right mind does this.’
After that conversation, Lanza and I were never
really the same again. It was that big a break.
had ever done this before…in (wrestling) history.
So, you made that immediate TV taping on
Wednesday night in Raleigh that George was so
I showed up in Raleigh for TV there. Ol’ Bob
is there. And there’s nobody on top…I’m it!
The Anderson’s were there, but the singles slot
was wide open. They brought Angelo (Mosca) in about
the same time, I guess.
How did George start you out in this situation?
I said, ‘George, listen. I have a very strange
way of getting myself over. They’ve never seen
this before anywhere in this area. You just have to
brute-force me over. You need to let me do what I
have to do…you give me the time and give me the
guys, and you let me worry about getting over.’
What exactly did you feel you needed to do to
get over for Crockett?
This is what I told George I needed to do. I
told him, ‘I want you to allot me 7-8 minutes. I
want you to double-tape me…I want to be on A and B
(TV shows). And I want interviews…not following
the match---but I want interviews prior to the match
and within two segments after the match.
said, ‘Boy…you’re very demanding!’
I said to him, ‘No, no…I’m just telling
you this is the best way to go for me. You banked on
me, and I’ll tell you what I need to get myself
Well Blackjack, I’m sure you knew what you
needed to do…better than anybody else. But at that
point, under the circumstances, what choice did
George really have but to follow your advice?
Back in those days, it went a little different.
You controlled a lot of your own destiny, you really
did. The booker was there and he gave you the
idea…but you controlled whether you got over. You
shot ideas to him, he gave you the time…and you
went in there and did your thing.
George was receptive to what I was telling him. He
said, ‘Here’s the format, I’ll give you the
7-8 minutes and put you on the A and B tapings like
you want. We’re going to push you right over,
stronger than anybody has ever seen in this
To that point, Crockett’s pushes did tend to
be a bit more methodical than what you’re talking
They had never seen anybody pushed that strongly
in Carolina. They had pushed everybody before real
slowly…methodically, like you said. I mean, when I
started, I was just clobbering guys! (laughs)
And it had to happen quick…and it did happen
quick. Because they had open dates for [Flair and
Valentine] that they were booked for, that I had to
close. And I had to go back to New York and fill
those dates up there.
timing worked out right where I could fill the big
dates. I had to knock off some little dates…like
the ‘Villes’ and the ‘Burgs’ up in New
York—I had a few of those, but not too many.
made the big shots in Charlotte, and filled in for
Johnny (Valentine). What great timing for me…and
the rest is history!
What were your thoughts coming into the
Mid-Atlantic area then, as the ‘Top Dog,’ so to
There’s Flair, caught in this little
Mid-Atlantic position, getting started…trying to
learn the business. Here I am, the old pro moving
in. I was at the prime of my career at that point.
Flair was obviously on his way up. Mosca was always
kind of in the middle. And they brought Billy Graham
and Steve Strong in.
There was definitely a roster makeover at the
end of 1975…a lot of it occasioned by necessity.
The thing popped so fast,
David. I mean, it really just went crazy! It just built,
and built, and built…we broke all kinds of
Wasn’t Tim Woods your first program after the
(laughs) Timmy Woods…God bless him---one of my
favorites! Him and Johnny Weaver.
Johnny Weaver is one of my favorite people of
You remember that audio CD of your promos that
Dick (Bourne) sent you? You said on one of those,
back in 1976, that you were going to hang ol’
Johnny Weaver from the rafters at the
Richmond Arena and have a good laugh! Now you’re
telling me he’s your best buddy? Come on
now…would you have hung him? (laughs)
(laughing) Yeah…I’d have tried that on
ol' Johnny Weaver
Weaver and Blackjack Mulligan on the set
"Best of NWA Wrestling"
David, Johnny Weaver probably had the greatest mind in
this business. He was such a steady, ‘Steady
Eddie’ type guy. He was old school, and he knew
all the moves. He knew things about this business
that most people would never even think about. He
had more ideas in his brain about this business than
I’ll ever dream of. And if he heard something, he
always remembered it.
Nobody knew the territory better than Weaver,
that’s for sure.
Ohhh yeah…the whole business of wrestling.
Johnny Weaver was the anchor, and he kept everything
steady. He was always there when you needed him. He
was a super human being…one of my favorite people.
I don’t think Weaver ever got the credit he
deserved for the things you speak of.
No he hasn’t, and that’s a shame. And he was
the booker before George was brought in.