Chappell: Well, now, after you had the run with Ric, you left the Mid-Atlantic area soon after dropping the U.S. Title to Ricky Steamboat in the spring of 1984.


When you came back to the area later in 1984, you returned as a babyface against Tully Blanchard and JJ Dillon’s Longriders, and you had some Bunkhouse matches with them. Why the switch to a babyface? In the Mid-Atlantic area, we had not seen that side of you before!


Slater: The babyface thing…was a little bit of a strange time. I never changed my style at all…


Chappell: You sure didn’t! Of course, you had wrestled as a babyface in other areas before that. Did you enjoy the heel persona better?


Slater: Well…I mean, it’s all according to who you wrestle. If I wrestled someone like Abdullah The Butcher, or Stan Hansen, or Bruiser Brody…


Chappell: I understand what you’re saying Dick…it was a little hard to have a scientific match with those guys!


Slater: I wrestled Piper when he was a babyface and I was a heel, and when he was a heel and I was a babyface. I could adapt to that.


Chappell: Like you were saying earlier, that was a real strength for you. You could pretty much adapt to whatever.


Slater: Yeah…it depended on what the circumstance was. If it was the right card and drew and a lot of money, and it caused a lot of attention and people would watch it…that was fine. But if it didn’t…it didn’t feel right.


And it depended on being with great workers…and there were a lot of them with Crockett. All those guys…like working with Flair, working with Wahoo or with Greg Valentine. Or working with Ricky Steamboat…but Ricky Steamboat couldn’t switch to be a heel, you understand?


Chappell: I’m glad you mentioned Ricky Steamboat. As great as he was as a consummate babyface, do you think his legacy is somewhat diminished in that he never worked as a heel?


Slater: He just didn’t have that perspective…that persona himself. Those traits of a heel…he didn’t have them himself.


Chappell: By not having the ability to switch between a babyface and a heel…do you think that holds Steamboat down maybe a notch below the very, very tops in the business?


Slater: Yeah…exactly. You know, you gotta be able to adapt, and do whatever it takes to draw money.


Chappell: Dick, you could definitely adapt well, as you say, but I always thought you were a great heel!


Slater: Yeah, I mean, I would change when it was time. When things got stale, you know…I changed.



Chappell: You bring up a good point. Somebody like Steamboat…it was pretty amazing that he could wrestle exclusively as a babyface, and never really get stale. Though, times have changed, and I doubt whether he could have survived as the ‘goody two shoes’ he came across as…in today’s environment!


But it was a real gift to be able to switch back and forth so effortlessly in the 70s and 80s…like you were able to do


Slater: It’s like being able to walk straight into a wrestling crowd, and being able to switch the people, you understand?


Chappell: You mean like coming out for a match as a babyface, and leaving as a heel…or vice versa?


Slater: I could switch you from liking me to hating me…or I could switch you from hating me to liking me.


Chappell: That’s a real skill…that many couldn’t pull off. But you could.


Slater: Right. Gettin’ booed on the way out to the ring, and get [cheered] on the way back to the dressing room. And the other way too.


That was really something! They never knew what you were gonna do next!


Chappell: Talk about having the audience in the palm of your hand! You must have had that feeling a couple of times?


Slater: That always made me feel good, because I’d love doing that. I enjoyed myself…whatever it [took], that’s what I’d do.


Chappell: After you had your babyface run in the Mid-Atlantic area into 1985, you left and I guess you headed into Watts’ territory then. Why did you leave Crockett?


Slater: I got tired…


Chappell: Just been there long enough?


Slater: I got tired, because I took the job over of booking down there…


Chappell: Right…that’s when you were doing several different things.


Slater: I did that, and I was having a good run in Japan…I mean, I was just burned out. I was just really tired.


I got this brainstorm, I don’t know what I was thinking about, but Bill Watts had called me and wanted me to go down there and book his territory. And I said, ‘Well, I don’t know if I want to do that.’ Then I was with Paul Boesch in Houston…of course I had been down there before. And I knew Tully Blanchard and Joe Blanchard in San Antonio…I had worked in and out of there too, you know?


Chappell: No doubt that was a busy time for you…a time many fans remember you in the Mid-South area. Tell us about your valet there, Dark Journey.


Slater: I was at some nightclub down in Atlanta, and I watched her dancing one night. One thing led to another, and I asked her if she wanted to be my valet. So, I took her down [to Mid-South] with me. Boy, did we cause a lot of chaos!


Chappell: Lots of heat!


Slater: And about nine lawsuits!


Chappell: (laughing)


Slater: I had more people really mad at me down there, than I ever did in my life.


Chappell: Because of Dark Journey being with you?


Slater: It didn’t go over well in some places. It got so bad, that I couldn’t go to a few places, you know? I had to stay home.


It got that hot, where I had to say, ‘I better not go in there tonight.’ It got so hot, they were following me in the car out of the buildings. They were stalking me in a few places.


Chappell: Did Watts have any trouble with you being with Dark Journey…a young black woman? Watts always struck me as being a pretty conservative guy.


Slater: Bill Watts was kinda scared to death of the whole thing itself…


Chappell: (laughs) That’s sorta what I figured!


Slater: But we really drew a lot of money, because I created a different kind of heat. You know what I mean?


Chappell: Very much so. That was a very conservative area…like I said, I was living there at the time. And I remember how you and her were received in that part of the country!


Slater: They weren’t ready for that. Yeah…nobody was ready for that. I surprised the whole world with that shot!


(laughs) Where I did it [in Mid-South]…I had a lot of balls doin’ that! I was completely stupid…but I’m still here!


Chappell: (laughing)


Slater: Then I walked into the Dallas territory and, buddy, there were a whole lot of people not liking me!


Chappell: I believe it!


Slater: Then I’d go the other way with it to, you know? I’d go down to New Orleans, and it would be the other way around down there.


Chappell: Right…I can see not having the same problems there.


Slater: I would take her dressed up one place, and she would take me dressed up another place.


Chappell: (laughs) Depending on what side of the territory you were on!


Slater: (laughs) Depending on what side of the street I was on!


Chappell: (laughing hard) Gotcha!


Was the Mid-South/UWF territory the toughest as far as travel was concerned?


Slater: It was pretty tough…but I had an airplane. I had Bill Watts’ airplane.


Chappell: Okay. And you said earlier travel in Crockett was tough…


Slater: Travel-wise, that was tough in Crockett. (In Mid-South), Watts let me use his airplane, but I still drove a lot. His airplane was available, and that helped.


You know what happened? Why I left there?


Chappell: No…sure don’t. Where did you go after that?


Slater: TBS…I went back to book in Atlanta.


But the thing was, I had to book three places. I had Dark Journey, I had Bill Watts, all the boys…and I had that great big monkey on my back, you know that. That took a lot of mental stress on me.


Chappell: I can only imagine.


Slater: Yeah, it was pretty tough. I enjoyed it, but it was tough. I did it for about a year and four months. I wrestled every night in all of it, did all the TV’s…did them all. Joe Blanchard had his own TV, Watts had his own TV and Paul Boesch had his own TV…three TV shows!


Chappell: Good grief!


Slater: And every one of them wanted something different.


Chappell: That was understandable, but it had to be tough on you.


Slater: I survived, and actually I really had a good time doing all of that. I never had a bad time!


Chappell: (laughing)


Slater: But I did get tired…so I went to Key West!


Chappell: And who could blame you, with all that on your plate!


Now, this was generally around the time that Vince McMahon was bringing everybody and their brother up to the WWF. When did you head up to New York?


Slater: That was about the third time I left Florida, and I went up there when Piper was there.


Chappell: They brought you up there with the southern ‘Rebel’ gimmick.


Slater: That was totally not me at all.


Chappell: That was pretty clear to see.


Slater: I didn’t stay there that long with that gimmick…I was out of there. I just survived there. Actually, I worked 98 straight nights in a row there. Finally, I was in Seattle, Washington…and I got on an airplane and flew back to Florida---and went down to the Keys again.


Pat Patterson called me, he was the booker, and he asked me what I was doing. I told him I was out of there, I quit, and I’m goin’ fishing!


Chappell: That was a different world up there, wasn’t it?


Slater: You know David, it wasn’t my style at all.


Chappell: Completely different. It never seemed like a good fit up there for you. You didn’t seem like the Dick Slater we all got to know and enjoy in the Mid-Atlantic area.


Slater: No, I didn’t think it would click there either. I wasn’t really happy with it.


Vince is kinda a funny guy to know, and he wasn’t really involved that much in it. I mean, he was involved, but he was involved behind doors, you know?


Chappell: Did you have any dealings with Vince that you remember, or were they primarily with Patterson and those guys?


Slater: Never had any problems with any of them. I got along with all of them. Never had any problems with anybody in the wrestling business. If things didn’t go right, I just got up and left!


Chappell: That’s the best strategy sometimes!


Slater: I just moved. I wasn’t in the right gimmick, so I left [the WWF]. That wasn’t me.


Chappell: Now, didn’t you come back to Crockett, about the time Crockett was selling out to Turner?


Slater: Yeah, I did a little bit then. I was running around to so many places then, trying to work.


Chappell: I remember in 1989, after Crockett had sold to Turner, that you were involved with the deal with Terry Funk when the plastic bag was put over Ric Flair’s head on TV…


Slater: (laughs) Yeah…I got fired!


Chappell: I thought so.


Slater: Yeah, we put the bag over Flair’s head on TV.


Chappell: And you know Dick, today, that wouldn’t even get a second glance.


Slater: We couldn’t put a plastic bag over somebody’s head on TV…


Chappell: Not 15 years ago, apparently!


Slater: [Turner] fired us both for that deal. They said they got more letters come into the TV station than they ever had before.


Chappell: I have to say, at the time, it was pretty over the top!


Slater: (laughs) We wanted to create some problems…


Chappell: You accomplished that feat!


Slater: We just went ahead and did it. Flair went along with it…


Chappell: Flair would go along with most anything!


Slater: Okay, so we put a plastic bag over Flair, and he pretended like he was dying, and they took him out. So we left, and did a promo…too bad for Flair. Flair never said a word, so they didn’t know what happened to him.


Then the next day after it aired on TV, that’s when the problems came…


Chappell: Yeah…the public spoke!


Slater: People were mad on that one. But we were just trying to have some fun. There was a lot of other stuff, that we didn’t have to worry about.


Chappell: At some level, you could argue some of the bloody matches on TV were no worse than sticking a bag on someone’s head!