Chappell: Another guy you butted heads with in the area in 1983 was Jimmy Valiant…the ‘Boogie Woogie Man.’


Slater: Oh…a funny guy! The Boogie Woogie Man!


Chappell: You saw Jimmy when he was at the apex of his popularity in the Mid-Atlantic area. Few guys have been as over as he was back then. How do you explain his extraordinary popularity?


Slater: He was doin’ really good when I knew him. Then I left [Crockett] and went to work for Bill Watts, so I left Charlotte then and didn’t see a lot of him after that.


I worked with him, and had some great matches with him. He had a complete different wrestling style than I was used to…


Chappell: I’m sure!


Slater: Yeah! So…I’d have to work around him, you understand?


Chappell: Right.


Slater: I never got in the ring, and ever had anybody have to work around me, you know what I mean?


Chappell: Was working with Valiant a different sort of challenge, because of his wrestling style?


Slater: No…not really. I mean, I did all I could to have a great wrestling match with him. But he had a different style, than say Wahoo McDaniel. He had a different style than Ric Flair or Roddy Piper…somebody like that.


Chappell: There were certainly a lot of different styles you encountered, but you seemed to have good matches with pretty much all of them…


Slater: That’s what I’m saying…I can work around anything. You know, if you could just stand there, I could have a good wrestling match! (laughs)


Chappell: (laughs) Of course, as the Boogie Man, Jimmy never stood still!


Slater: I had some good matches with him…


Chappell: And the people loved him!


Slater: Well…they liked the Boogie Man gimmick…


Chappell: Yep.


Slater: I mean those people up there in Virginia in the mountains…


Chappell: Couldn’t get enough of him!


Slater: He reminded them…of what they really are, you know? That kind of a man.


Chappell: I wanted to get your thoughts on a long running angle that was playing out soon after you arrived in the Carolinas in 1983. Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood against Sergeant Slaughter and Don Kernodle. Even though you weren’t involved in the angle, I’m sure you remember how red-hot that feud was?


Slater: That was a long, long deal. They did great business…


Chappell: They sure did.


Slater: And they were all good workers, to keep it alive that long. I haven’t seen Don in years…I heard he was working for a stock car driver or something?


Chappell: Actually, I believe he is a Correctional Officer now.


Slater: Really? But…those four had a real long going solid angle…for a long, long time. I was there in the territory at the time, and enjoyed seeing that angle played out.


Chappell: You also did some booking at some point, right?


Slater: Remember when Jimmy Crockett went to Atlanta?


Chappell: Yes.


Slater: Actually, I was helping at the booking office there…I don’t know if you knew that or not. I was put there with one girl, as my secretary, when Dusty was the booker, you understand?


Chappell: Right…


Slater: I had the second hour on the TV show, plus I was working. Then Jimmy Crockett came down, and Dusty and I collaborated with the TV people. It was SO hard trying to run two places at one time…one in Georgia and one in the Carolinas.


Chappell: That had to be a grind.


Slater: I had a bunch of guys like Buzz Sawyer that I had to take out of the Charlotte territory down to Atlanta when Jimmy first went down there. I had my own TV show there, and plus every Saturday I had to go Fred Ward’s Columbus, Georgia tapings.


Chappell: Wow…


Slater: That was a real tough job.



Chappell: That was a time the business was really starting to change in a lot of ways.


Slater: It was tough…I got so burned out from having to work the Charlotte territory and go down…I was doing both places. I was working Charlotte, booking Atlanta and booking for Columbus, Georgia. Runnin’ around back and forth to Charlotte…finally I was so burned out that I went to work for Bill Watts.


Chappell: This would have been late in 1985 and into 1986. I remember your stint in Watts’ Mid-South well…I was living out in western Arkansas during those years.


Slater: Out there, I had to book three places!


Chappell: (laughs) So, you didn’t exactly have a relaxing stay out there either, did you?


Slater: From one extreme to the other!



Chappell: Unbelievable…


Slater: Then I took Dark Journey with me down there…


Chappell: (laughs) I know you have more than a few stories about her!


But I want to get back into the Mid-Atlantic area right now, and ask you about the months leading into Starrcade 1983. A lot of people remember Harley Race putting the bounty on Ric Flair, and you and Bob Orton, Jr. collecting it. You were a big part of that first Starrcade.


Slater: That was great…that was a great era. Starrcade was probably one of the biggest wrestling shows there was ever produced…


Chappell: Certainly at that time.


Slater: (Vince) McMahon never produced a big show like that…at that time.


I did work for Vince McMahon after that, and he produced a bigger show later…


Chappell: But Starrcade started it all!


Slater: Jim Crockett’s Starrcade was the biggest event I wrestled on, you know? I was very proud of the fact that I was part of that.


Chappell: You were a huge part of that whole Race-Flair angle.


Slater: We had an ongoing thing there with Flair for a long time, and then they did the thing with Piper and Valentine…it was a really hot deal.


Chappell: Oh man!


Slater: That was a major television network type production…and we did great ratings.


Chappell: Yeah, the closed circuit telecasting really turned out to be the precursor of the Pay Per View format that really defines the business today.


I remember well when you and Orton collected the bounty on Flair, and he miraculously comes back and teamed with Wahoo against you and Orton. They were some GREAT matches leading up to Starrcade ’83!


Slater: Oh yeah…they were some great matches!


Chappell: Tell us a little bit about Bob Orton, Jr. You two really made a terrific team.


Slater: Bobby was a great performer. I never had a partner in the wrestling business at all, point blank, that I enjoyed working with more than Bob Orton, Jr.


Chappell: You could see that watching you two.


Slater: He knew my style. I could change my style just about better than anybody ever did.


That’s what I was so good at…I could change my style in a New York minute---from one thing to another. And Bobby and I knew each others style, and we knew how to create chaos wherever we went…


Chappell: Boy, was that ever the truth!


Slater: Whatever it took to get the crowd into a wrestling match…Bobby Orton, Jr. and I could do it.


Chappell: What about Starrcade ’83 itself, the big show. You and Orton wrestled Wahoo and Mark Youngblood.



Slater: I tell you what led up to that David. I had worked a lot of matches in Houston, Texas with Wahoo McDaniel. He would go down to Houston, Texas…Paul Boesch was there.


I tell you, the first time I ever met Wahoo McDaniel was in Houston Texas. I never had the chance to wrestle him, but I always heard that he was one of the greatest all-time wrestlers. You know who the legends are in the wrestling business…but I never had the opportunity to get in the ring with him until then.


You know when I broke in, Johnny Valentine was a legend…you know?


Chappell: And he was in the Carolinas, without a doubt.


So, you and Wahoo developed some chemistry down in Texas?


Slater: Wahoo and I had an ongoing fight before I even went to Charlotte. He liked working with me, for some reason. You know, I always gave him a good match…


Chappell: You would hang in there with him.


Slater: Yeah, and we were a big part of Starrcade…with Bobby and he was with Youngblood.


Chappell: It’s interesting to learn that you had that prior history with Wahoo.


Slater: I fought Wahoo all the time, you know? He beat me up so many times…but I beat him up too! (laughs)


Chappell: (laughing) And he shot you, too!


Slater: (laughs) Tough guy to fight. I tell you, a lot of guys were scared to get in the ring with Wahoo!


Chappell: I don’t doubt that for a second!


Slater: No, that’s why the Chief didn’t mind gettin’ in the ring with me…he knew I was gonna fight him back. Otherwise, he’d just beat you up…and that was it!


Chappell: After Starrcade ’83, Vince McMahon started to go after talent in other areas, and the business was beginning to change…


Slater: You know, the whole thing shouldn’t have gotten into a great big war…they should have just left each other alone.


Chappell: I sure wish things had played out that way…


Slater: It’s a shame things happened like that, but you know, you can’t blame that on us. What happened was with the TV people…that was the whole key. If some people didn’t have such a big ego…we’d all be in great shape


Chappell: Soon after Starrcade ’83, you got into it with one of your former allies, Greg Valentine and took the U.S. Title from him. In the process, the promotion tried to turn Greg into a babyface! I talked to Greg about eight months ago, and he told me that trying to play the role of a babyface was pretty uncomfortable for him!


Slater: (laughs) That wasn’t even his style at all!


Chappell: No…no way! And he left for New York pretty soon after that!


Slater: His style was not anywhere close to being that. He couldn’t portray that at all, you know what I mean? In that role, nobody’s gonna feel sorry for him!


Chappell: (laughing) Yeah, it was kinda hard rooting for Greg…even against you!


Slater: He’d been doin’ bad stuff for years on TV there, and all of a sudden now everybody was supposed to feel sorry for him?


Chappell: That’s exactly right. Well, you had a good run with the United States Title until you left the area in the spring of 1984.


What stood out for me during those early months of 1984, was when Flair was in as the World Champ, and you went and made your own NWA World Heavyweight Title belt! I believe you had beaten Ric in a non-title bout, but you were going around calling yourself the real World’s Heavyweight Champion…that was a great program there in early 1984!


Slater: I remember that well. I tell you what, I put down in my book the reason I did that. We were talking a long time ago in this interview about politics, you know?


Chappell: We sure did…about the politics involved in becoming the NWA World Heavyweight Champion.


Slater: (laughs) Well, in ’84, I just went ahead and made myself World’s Heavyweight Champion!


Chappell: (laughing) Talk about taking matters into your own hands!


Slater: (laughs) Yeah…I just did it myself!


Chappell: That was a beautiful belt you had made, and you definitely looked the part!


That was your major program in the Mid-Atlantic area with Ric Flair. What are your thoughts on Ric Flair?


Slater: Flair and I…we had some sensational wrestling matches. It all goes back to the time that he became World Heavyweight Champion…and the reason why. I didn’t think I was World Heavyweight Champion…then I was going a different direction.


I received a lot more than I should have, you know what I mean? But, I can’t look back at it and say anything negative about it…it has nothing to do with Ric Flair at all. It has to do with the National Wrestling Alliance. It was the Board of Directors at the time…they made the decision. All I needed was one vote, you know! (laughs)


Chappell: Unbelievable…so close. That had to be hard to take.


Slater: But that’s okay


Chappell: Dick, it sounds that Flair had the extra vote at the time, but you’re not being critical of him because of it.


Slater: Oh no, I’m not critical of Flair at all…


Chappell: It was the system in place that you all had to live with, I guess.


Slater: It had nothing to do with Ric Flair at all…or myself. It had nothing to do with either one of us.


Chappell: Did you enjoy working with Ric Flair in the ring?


Slater: Yeah, I loved working with Ric Flair…he’s a good friend of mine. I have no complaints against Ric Flair whatsoever.


Chappell: Are there those in the wrestling business that you do have complaints against?


Slater: I really don’t have any ill regards for anybody in the wrestling business at all. I understand that you are what you are, and you make yourself what you make yourself. And I can’t look back, and blame anybody for doing anything bad to me.


I’ve enjoyed my life, and I would not change it in a million years. If I could do it all over again, I'd do it in a New York minute! You know I would, David.


Chappell: (laughs) You’ve had quite a ride…quite a ride!


Slater: I mean, I look back on what I used to do and what I did…and where I’ve gone and the people I’ve known…


Chappell: Through wrestling, you’ve gone places and seen the world more so than 99.9% of the rest of us.


Slater: That’s right. It’s hard to try and get all that out, but through my book I’m trying to get the big picture out to people. I’ve lived a different life than a lot of people would think.


The name of my book is ‘A Thousand Lives.’


Chappell: Really? That’s the title of your book?


Slater: Yeah…


Chappell: I think that’s a perfect fit, Dick!