Chappell: Bobby Duncum was really your last big program with Crockett. Describe your departure from the Mid-Atlantic area in the spring of 1981.


Mulligan: Well, I tried to do that stupid Knoxville thing…trying to be a promoter. I never did well in promotion, and I’ll tell you a big reason why.


Ole Anderson would pull those TBS tapes down on everybody, and then Vince started to make his (national) move. So, that killed all the little places…there weren’t any good little places to run anymore because they were throwing that big TV over at them.


Chappell: How were those last days with Jim Crocket Promotions in 1981?


Mulligan: It ended kind of badly.


Johnny Weaver and I were offered the book…


Chappell: You mean right after George Scott was let go?


Mulligan: Yes…and it was kind of brutal to me. Jimmy (Crockett) and George. When it comes to an end, it’s like football. When you’re cut from a football team, it’s cold. George got his notice, and Jimmy wanted to do something else...and at the same time Jimmy’s talking out of both sides of his mouth---he offers me the job and Johnny Weaver the job.


Chappell: What was your response to that offer?


Mulligan: Out of respect to George Scott, I didn’t take it. I could have made a fortune there. I would not take that job, out of respect to George Scott.


Chappell: And eventually Crockett brought Ole Anderson in to take it?


Mulligan: Yes. Weaver was offered the South (portion of the territory), and I was offered the North.


Yeah…we let Ole come in, and the wild man came in and took over. And the rest is history…


Chappell: I get the sense you and Ole weren’t best buddies?


Mulligan: Ole and I had some problems. But listen, we were so much alike in our beliefs…that we couldn’t coexist. But, he loved the political intrigue of this business…and I didn’t. Let’s tell it like it is. That was our big difference.


But as far as having a mind of how to run this business---he had it. He was a tough character.


Chappell: But as I recall in 1981, about the time Ole came in was about the time we didn’t see you around anymore.


Mulligan: As far as Ole and me…we didn’t jive together. We had our differences…those things come down in the reality of life. But that’s okay…that’s all right. He’s a tough guy, but I was about two tenths tougher. That’s just the way it is.


But no knock toward him, buddy. He knew what he was doing. He did the TBS thing. He was a great booker and a hard worker…don’t ever take that away from him. He had some good breaks, but he also had some tough breaks in his life.


Chappell: Well, by that time in your career you knew the territory inside out…better than Ole. And you were still drawing money with your own programs. Heck, only your loyalty to George Scott kept YOU from being the booker!


Mulligan: David , back then you got a percentage of the gate, and I always made a lot of my own decisions…


Chappell: Because you sort of ‘did your own thing,’ did that make some bookers leery of you?


Mulligan: They never wanted to relinquish the Title to me, because they didn’t know if I would take it away or relinquish it…after some of the things I did in my career! On any given night, I might relinquish it…and on any given night I might not! (laughs)


I played with them a lot, you know? Overall, the whole thing worked good for me, but with promoters it was a hard time with them sometimes…


Chappell: But you always drew money for them…


Mulligan: NEVER did they ever lose a dime on me. And that was the whole idea…to make money in this business!


Chappell: This may be a bit of an unfair question…because I’m asking you to essentially put yourself in other people’s heads. But how do you believe others in the business perceived you?


Mulligan: (pauses) Probably as a bit of a hard character. I didn’t have anything to prove to anybody. I did everything that I wanted to do. I was a pro football player…so I’d already proved myself as to what I could do.


Some guys that got into this business, I won’t mention any names, came through the back door and really couldn’t measure up. There was a group of us, that really didn’t acknowledge them. And when it came down to doing things for them…well, we wouldn’t for them.


Chappell: I guess there are different cliques in every sport…every profession.


Mulligan: You had to earn your way…the old school.


The Jack Brisco’s, the Dory Funk’s and the Harley Race’s. Boy, you had to earn that respect. And that’s the hard school there, that I didn’t make…those were the real tough guys.


Chappell: After you finished your major run in the Mid-Atlantic area in 1981, your career was far from finished, right?


Mulligan: I had so many opportunities after that…my career didn’t end after Mid-Atlantic. After I left Mid-Atlantic, I toured the whole world. I had a little run in Florida…even in my old age I got to pop Florida---which really nobody had done in those circumstances.


Chappell: You actually came back to Charlotte in late 1981 and early 1982 and teamed with your son Barry, then referred to as Blackjack Mulligan, Jr. Tell us about that.


Mulligan: Yeah, Barry on his way…coming into his own…


Chappell: Why didn’t that little run last longer?


Mulligan: I kind of let him grow, and didn’t want to hold him back. Barry was the last old school trained wrestler…after him, there were no more. Barry was Jack Brisco, Harley Race trained.


Chappell: How is Barry doing these days?


Mulligan: Doing great, David . He’s down here in Florida with me.


Chappell: Now, tell us some more about that great run down in Florida with Dusty in the early 80s. This was in the time frame before Dusty came to Crockett in 1984, right?


Mulligan: Dusty…when I came down [to Florida] on vacation…I’m pushing 46-47 at that time, and at the end of my career. I told him, I said, ‘Hey, I don’t want to work here, I’m on vacation…give me a guarantee.’ And they gave it to me! I was the only guy to get a guarantee in Florida, and I’m in my old age! (laughs)


Chappell: (laughing)


Mulligan: So, then I had a three year run in Florida…and it was phenomenal!


Dusty Rhodes and I and JJ Dillon cut and coined some of the greatest takes…very similar to the ones that I cut in Charlotte. Dusty let us have free reign as far as cutting takes. We cut some of the greatest promos then, that were EVER made in the U.S.


Chappell: You’d have to go a ways to top the promo work you did in the Mid-Atlantic area!


Mulligan: They were very equal, David . I mean, we ran JJ Dillon off in the woods with a 30-30…


Chappell: (laughing)


Mulligan: Flair was the Champion, he had become the World Champion then…‘Mr. Hotshot.’ We ran him off in the woods and tore his clothes off of him!


Chappell: (laughing) Sounds like you had a great time during that early 80s run in Florida…


Mulligan: And during that time, I was given an opportunity. Dusty came to me and said, ‘We’re going to Charlotte. You’re leaving with me, of course. Blackjack gets another run.’


Chappell: This would have been later in 1983 or in 1984…


Mulligan: I’m the one that told Dusty to get the (Mid-Atlantic booking) job up in Charlotte…sent him there. He took the job, and wanted me to come back with him.


(long pause) Destiny stepped in…I wish I had [gone back to Charlotte]. Looking back, in retrospect, I should have come back to Charlotte. Because, even as old and fat as I was…I was too heavy…I could have rode with those guys. With Dusty Rhodes’ routine…me and him…we could have popped anything for 15-20 minutes. And then give us oxygen at the end! (laughs)


But at that time, I had also become a real estate tycoon in Florida. As destiny would have it, that would eventually become the low point in my life.


Chappell: Blackjack, we’ll talk in detail about the legal issues that arose from your business ventures shortly. But even though you didn’t return to Charlotte full time with Dusty in 1984, you did make one final appearance in the Mid-Atlantic area during the late summer of 1984.


You mention some of the great takes you did in Florida around that time. One that ran up here, and people still talk about, is when Flair came down to the swamp in Florida to try to convince you to come back to the Mid-Atlantic area to be his partner. You and Dusty and some other guys are sitting around the campfire, and Flair comes in there with a suit after walking through three miles of mud to get to you! (laughs)


Mulligan: That’s right. (pauses) Oh…yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah! That’s one of (those Florida vignettes)!


Yeah…what happened was, I wound up in New York doing TV after that stint. I tell you what happened David …boy, you’ve really, really got my memory going here!


I worked a show with Wahoo McDaniel in Wilmington at the ball field there…


Chappell: And in a reversal then, Wahoo was the heel and you were the babyface.


Mulligan: Right! Wahoo hits me with a chop, and I grabbed my stomach. I thought something had ruptured. So, we ended the match real quickly. This is at the end of the summer in ’84, and I go back to this little dressing room…actually it was a football field, that’s where it was.


Dusty and Barry (Windham) were in there, and Barry said, ‘Why don’t you come and ride back to Charlotte.’ I said, ‘No guys, I have a plane ticket to go back to Tampa.’ I was supposed to do some more stuff…come on back in.


Chappell: What was the nature of the injury that occurred in Wilmington?


Mulligan: Well, what had happened, was that I had a gall bladder attack. (laughs) When the Chief hit me, he knocked some of those gallstones around! I ended up having to be rushed to the emergency room.


Nobody knows these stories, David , you’re the first!


Chappell: It’s great! (pauses) I don’t mean your gall bladder attack was great! (laughs)


Mulligan: (laughs) I know! Anyway, they rushed me to the hospital in Charlotte…and gave me some pain medicine, but they said at the ER, ‘Let’s get him back to Tampa.’ They flew me to Tampa, and rushed me to the hospital there. They had to take my gall bladder out.


Chappell: Whoa…


Mulligan: Yeah…I was definitely down for a while. And that killed anything that Dusty and I had going in the Carolinas.


Chappell: We never saw you back in Jim Crockett Promotions after that.


Mulligan: Now…listen to this. Boy, I haven’t talked about this in destiny steps in! This is unbelievable, David …how it’s almost in reverse.


I have a gall bladder attack, and go back to Tampa to have surgery. And that kind of kills my deal with Dusty. (pauses) Then…George Scott becomes the booker in New York!


Chappell: That’s right! (everybody laughs)


Mulligan: Man, this is getting my memory going again! So…then George calls me! He says, ‘You need to get your tail up here!’ I said, ‘George, I’ve got a scar about 15 inches long right down the middle of me.’ He said, ‘I don’t care. I’ll bring you in.’


I was giddy…I was back in my prime now!


Chappell: What did George want to do with you?


Mulligan: George said, ‘We’ll bring you in and do Mulligan’s Barbeque. Roddy Piper is in and you can do TV…we’ll find a good slot for you and make you big bucks.’


I said, ‘Come on, you don’t mean that.’ He said, ‘Bring it on!’


So I go up there…with another George Scott guarantee!


Chappell: What a difference nine years makes! In 1984, George Scott lures you away from Crockett to New York. In 1975, Scott lured you from New York to Crockett! (laughs)


Mulligan: (laughing) And again, I’m rolling up there in New York.


But David …the fire was gone. The fire was gone.


I gave my notice real quick, and Vince, Jr. and I had a couple of words. Vince and I are out in Tucson, and we’re doing MTV, and the business is starting to make its great change…


Chappell: That’s right…at that time Vince was pushing ‘Rock and Wrestling.’


Mulligan: It was like, ‘My God…déjà vu.’ I used to hear from Butcher Vachon and Maurice (Vachon), how me and Dusty were killing the business with all our ‘BS’ and all that. But the business was changing…it was evolving.


Chappell: I assume Vince was trying to sell you on this new type of wrestling?


Mulligan: I told Vince I was going to leave. I said, ‘Look…I’m gonna move along and do my thing.’ Little did I know that shortly after…disaster would hit.


Chappell: You mean your legal problems several years later?


Mulligan: Yes. But after I give my notice to Vince, he calls me on the phone. David …if you would have heard this conversation…it almost sounded like two homosexual guys talking on the phone. It probably would have sounded something like that to someone from the outside, who didn’t know that the call was actually about professional wrestling! I mean, we really did care for each other…it was really a strange conversation.  (laughs)


Vince said, ‘You can’t leave me…what are you doing leaving me? You can’t walk out on me?’ (everybody laughs) I said, ‘I never walked out on you.’ Then he said, ‘You walked out on my father.’


Chappell: It sounds like he wouldn’t take your notice, just like his Dad wouldn’t in 1975!


Mulligan: I said, ‘I’m finished Vince. I don’t want to do this anymore. Don ’t you get me? I don’t want to do it anymore.’ He said, ‘You’ll regret this for the rest of your life. I’ll give you $500 a day just to be here, I’ll put you up in a hotel room…you don’t have to do anything.’


Chappell: What?!


Mulligan: Vince wanted somebody there to keep him in touch…keep his feet on the ground. He was losing touch with reality in a wrestling sense…he was losing touch with the old school. He was fixing to make this big leap into the ‘Rock and Wrestling’ thing.


Chappell: Well, Blackjack, he probably DID need you then! (laughs)


Mulligan: He wanted to keep me around to do that. But I said, ‘I’m gone…I can’t take this anymore. This MTV stuff you’re into…I’m not into that.’


Chappell: (laughing) No…I don’t see MTV and Blackjack Mulligan as a match made in heaven!


Mulligan: Vince got mad one time because I wouldn’t do a David Wolfe interview for MTV. They had all that stuff set up…it was a big production and all. I said, ‘Blackjack Mulligan’s not gonna do that.’ He said I was hardheaded.


Chappell: ‘Hardheaded,’ because you wouldn’t do the interview…or because you weren’t into this ‘Rock and Wrestling’ stuff?


Mulligan: Vince said, ‘You know, this business is going to change…come with me on it. Come with me, come with me, come with me. The bigger fool I’ll let you make of yourself, the more money you’ll make…and you’ll make more money than you can ever, ever imagine.’


I said, ‘No Vinny…I’m leaving you. I’m gone.’ I never attained the prominence there that I had before…but they really loved me in New York.


So, that was basically it for me in New York, though I did have a little final run up there a year or so later.


Chappell: When you left ‘Rock and Wrestling,’ you went back to Florida? This would have been 1985, I guess?


Mulligan: Went back to Florida, and that’s when I really got into the real estate thing.


Chappell: I believe you wrestled some with your son, Kendall Windham, during that last run in Florida in 1985?


Mulligan: I was in there with Kevin Sullivan then, and I tell you David , we went too far with some of that stuff…


Chappell: You mean that ‘devil’ stuff with Sullivan?


Mulligan: Yeah. Florida had pretty much been burned out by then, and we were grasping at straws to make things work. Kevin hit me in the head with a Coke bottle on TV…split me open all the way across my forehead. Actually split it. And I ended the program then…you can’t do that.


David , we had demonic things going on at the matches. Burning cars in the parking lot…it was just totally out of hand. But the territory had totally burned after Dusty left…I guess, how do you follow Dusty Rhodes?


Chappell: Sullivan was the booker?


Mulligan: Kevin was one of my bookers…one of my guys. We just went too far. Hey…I was equally to blame for that stuff---we went too far with that.


But here we had an old-timer, over the hill…and a kid, wild booker, trying to draw money. And we did with it some, you know.


Chappell: And when you left there…you were back in the WWF in 1986-87. I remember you were the masked “Big Machine” for a little bit…with fellow “Machines” Bill Eadie and Andre the Giant. I guess that WWF stint from 1986 into early 1987 was your last major in-ring run in wrestling?


Mulligan: Yes, I went back to New York that last time. Now David , this may be sad to you but it wasn’t to me…after 20 some years in the business I get in the ring one day and I said, ‘What am I doing here…I’m making so much money in the real estate business. It’s really time to exit. Let’s exit stage left on top…semi on top.’


Chappell: Earlier, you mentioned how the real estate ventures you got involved in became the low point of your life.


As many may know, after your last run in New York, you ran into trouble with the law, which led to a federal counterfeiting conviction and subsequent prison sentence in the early 90s. Tell us about your life in the late 80s and early 90s.


Mulligan: David , you’re an attorney, right?


Chappell: Yes.


Mulligan: Okay…you’ll probably understand something like this better than most. I get knocked a lot about this…but Jack’s fine. Jack’s fine.


I was in business with four or five attorneys. We were doing all kinds of real estate…shopping centers, all kinds of stuff.


Chappell: You made a lot of money?


Mulligan: I became very, very wealthy. But I outstretched myself, and got in a bind. And then I did something real, real rash. I did something really stupid and crazy…me and four attorneys did.