Gateway: You had almost a year long
program with Igor in 1977. People still
remember the angle where Malenko’s cigar
was stuck into Igor’s eye.
That angle was Boris Malenko’s idea.
Boris actually hated cigarettes, and he
couldn’t smoke…he was a health
fanatic. But Boris wanted to do something
to set us apart from the other guys.
my Hart and all these other
managers…they always wanted to get
involved. Boris never got involved. When
Boris stood up, something big was going to
happen and the people knew that. That was
his psychology. He knew that if you were
jumping around all the time, you were
taking away from the action in the ring.
Boris came up with the thing where every
time I would have a victory, he would
stand up on the apron and light this big
cigar…my victory cigar. And it caught on.
soon as I put the cobra on, Boris would
get up and light that cigar. We programmed
that and programmed that. And of course,
we expanded that to where we used the
cigar on Igor.
Mighty Igor wearing the patch after
eye burned by Malenko and the Superstar
Gateway: You certainly got a lot of
mileage out of that cigar angle with Igor.
[Antonio] Inoki heard about it in Japan. I
used to go back and forth to Japan all the
time, so I did the same angle with Inoki
in Japan. It was so hot over there, you
wouldn’t believe it.
did it to him during the first week of an
eight-week tour over there. I was supposed
to finish the tour in the Tokyo Dome, but
I had to go home because of death threats.
It was unreal.
one angle gave me thirteen years of work!
(everyone laughs) It was so good, that
when I did it Dino Bravo was on the tour
with me, and Dino remembered it. About ten
years later, Dino had his own territory in
Montreal…so what do you think we do? I
spent two more years with Dino off of that
same angle. So that one cigar, that
investment of that $1.50 cigar, was real,
real good to me.
Gateway: Looking back on the cigar
angle over here, and your dealings with
Igor generally, do you think it’s fair
to say that Igor had a strange character,
particularly for that time period? His
character seemed totally different from
I’ll put it this way…Igor lived
his gimmick. He was a real nice guy, but
he was a businessman. And he was a very,
very wealthy man. I remember him buying
eighteen acres of property in the area of
North Hollywood…every time he got a
paycheck he would send money out there.
he was really a nice guy. He was
‘Mr. Michigan’ a couple of
times…a strong, strong guy.
Gateway: After the long feud with
Igor, you transitioned into a feud with
Paul Jones in October of 1977. Of course,
that was set up when you cut Paul’s hair
in a match in Greensboro.
I was supposed to work with Steamboat
The angle with Igor was really hot…it
just went on and on and stayed hot. Then
George Scott asked me who I wanted to work
with, and I told him Steamboat. So it was
supposed to be with Ricky. But George had
a real close relationship with Paul, and
he suggested that I work with Paul. I told
him that I really didn’t care…it
didn’t really matter to me who I worked
the thing that upset me about Paul was
that after I cut his hair on Saturday in
Greensboro, he comes in the following
Monday with a crew cut. I mean, we had
laid the whole thing out to Paul, talked
it over…and the whole gimmick revolved
around Paul being a pretty boy and having
the aura of being a well-dressed man. When
he got that crew cut, he did away with all
the damn gouging I did to his hair…it
just killed the angle. We got some mileage
out of the angle, but that killed it from
going very far.
Superstar battles Paul Jones
that to Igor in the cigar angle. And at
the time I started with Paul I admit I was
used to working with Igor. But Igor
throughout the cigar angle would use
sandpaper on his face, so the people would
see how raw and infected looking the area
around his eye actually looked. No one
could say that injury was phony, looking
at him. And that’s what carried that
gimmick over. And I think had we done the
haircutting angle with Steamboat, there
would have been a huge sympathy factor
just didn’t want to live out the angle.
He thought going around with that gouged
out hair would affect his persona.
Actually, what it probably did was affect
both of our pocketbooks.
Gateway: After the program with Jones,
you finished up your first stint with
Crockett in 1978 going after the
$10,000.00 bounty on Blackjack Mulligan.
What do you remember about the feud with
They were good matches. Believe me,
they were stiff matches. Boy, they were
stiff. And long matches.
started with 60 minute matches in a
cage….that had never been done before. I
remember sitting down with George Scott,
and we went over the first night that was
in Raleigh…it must have been 115
degrees. I asked George what we were
doing, and he said we were going 60
minutes and walked out.
Young was the referee, you know Tommy is a
nervous wreck, and he asked me what we
were doing and I told him to go ask
George. I could hear Mulligan over on the
other side cussing. Tommy comes back in
wide-eyed, saying the finish was 60
minutes in a cage! Tommy couldn’t
Gateway: Weren’t there 90 minute
cage matches in that program too?
We did 15 hour broadways in a cage.
And, yes, we came back and did fifteen 90
minute matches in a cage…no blood for
the first hour. Then we came back with no
time limit cage matches with George Scott
as the special referee.
all these matches took place in the
summertime in 1978. All the buildings felt
like they were 100 degrees. I was right at
300 pounds when we started that program,
and by the end of the summer I was down to
250….my outfit was just hanging off me.
And Mulligan lost as much or more weight
than I did….it was brutal.
Gateway: Guess there’s no need to
ask you why you left
Crockett Promotions after that program!
Here’s the deal, I came down here to
Georgia…Ole Anderson was the promoter. I
was only supposed to be here for several
months, but I stayed down here a good deal
longer than that.
[Scott] kept calling me telling me he
needed me to come back. I told him I was
doing less than 1,000 miles a week and you
guys were doing 3,000 miles. I also told
him I wasn’t making as much money down
here, but I wasn’t getting my ass beat
as much either! (everyone laughs) But I
finally did go back up to the Mid-Atlantic
RETURN, TURNING BABYFACE,
WINNING THE WORLD TAG TITLES
HOME • RETURN
TO INTERVIEW INDEX