Chappell: When the shift came later to WCW, you were there weren’t you? Isn’t that where you started getting hurt?


Slater: I got hurt in ’96. I got hurt in Gainesville, Georgia. It was a TV match, and I blew a disc out…L four and five.


Chappell: That sort of started all of your injury problems?


Slater: That started it. Then I had one operation…the guy was supposed to be a good surgeon, but he did a real bad job. Then I had another operation done by a surgeon who was supposed to be a real good surgeon…and he did a pretty bad job.


There’s actually no back surgery that’s 100% successful. It’s the hardest part of the body to operate on.


My last surgery was the latest technology. But you never know what can happen. It could put you in a wheelchair forever.


Chappell: I thought that all the problems with your back started in that late WCW time frame.


Slater: I never had one bad injury until I had that.


Chappell: Going back a little earlier in your WCW years, you were reunited with your good friend Dick Murdock as the tag team of the ‘Hardliners.’ Tell us about Murdock.



Slater: Oh yeah, Dickie was a great friend of mine. Him and I went to Japan together, on his last trip over there. I stopped on the way home in Amarillo, Texas, and was at Terry Funk’s there for about three days. We talked to Dickie’s girlfriend, and he had gone to a rodeo and when he got home, the next day, he sat on the couch, said he wasn’t feeling well, and he passed away on the couch from a heart attack.


I mean, I was just with him two days before that. You know David, that was a real bad blow to me.


Chappell: It had to be…I know how close you were to him.


Slater: We had just had a great time together in Japan for a couple of weeks. I was a real big shock.


Same thing with Wahoo, you know? A lot of people are gone now. Look at all the people that are gone. Ray (Hercules) Hernandez, a good friend of mine, he’s gone. Road Warrior Hawk, Mike Hegstrand, is gone. There has been quite a few of us that have checked out.


Chappell: And many at such early, premature ages.


Slater: (pauses) Yeah…I know.


Chappell: Well, Dick, after you finished wrestling in the ring in the mid-90s, you sort of faded from view. And then, about a year ago, your name surfaced again in a very unfavorable light---you were charged with attempted murder, for allegedly stabbing your ex-girlfriend repeatedly.


What was going on with you after your in-ring career ended?


Slater: Funny thing David…last month I had like 350,000 hits on the Internet, you know? Everybody’s asking a lot of questions about me, what I’m doing. I haven’t answered them yet, and I really haven’t said anything at all.


Now I’m doing your interview, and I’m writing a book. Everybody’s concerned about, you know, what’s happened to Dick Slater and what’s he doing.


Chappell: We’re very happy you’ve chosen the Gateway to talk about some of these things…


Slater: Basically, I’ve been rehabbing myself back from all these back operations that I’ve had to go through…that was absolutely a nightmare for me.


Chappell: As I understand it, there were certain medical issues in your life that most people don’t know about…that had a bearing on the legal issues that people starting reading about you about a year or so ago?


Slater: It’s pretty hard to try to explain legal issues about what happened…when a doctor messes up on you, for one. The way the laws are governed, especially in the state of Florida…these insurance policies that doctors have to have to cover their self when they make a little boo-boo.


It’s very hard to find another doctor to testify against a doctor, unless you can find one out of state…


Chappell: So, when people read these reports about you being charged with attempted murder…


Slater: I mean…I’d really like to say a lot of things about it, you know what I mean?


It was all drug related…most of it all. I mean, I couldn’t tell you what happened…if I didn’t know what happened.


I really don’t know what actually took place, other than I was…I woke up in Intensive Care in the hospital. I had gone to the hospital by ambulance the night before…


Chappell: You mean the night before the incident with your former girlfriend?


Slater: Yes…they had given me a shot of Morphine, and when I went to the Emergency Room they had apparently gave me two forty milligram Oxycontins on top of that. And on top of that, I was already on Vicodin and Klonopin and Neurontin.


And they had a drug called Avinza, which is a Morphine based pain pill. Plus, I had nerve damage and I could hardly walk. And I had a hurt neck…I had spinal stenosis in my neck.


So, I was like in real bad shape. And when they did all that…they let me out of the hospital! They put me in a friend of mine’s car, and I ended up at his house. I couldn’t tell you what happened from there. (laughs)


Like I was saying, I woke up in the hospital later, and I was…pretty messed up.


Chappell: Let me get my bearings here…you’re talking about being at a hospital a second time in the space of a day or so, right? This time waking up in the hospital, after your ex-girlfriend had been stabbed? 


Slater: Yeah…that was the whole thing. To this day, you know, that’s all I remember.


Chappell: And basically, you’re saying that was because of a combination of a lot of drugs…legal drugs.


Slater: Legally too many.


Chappell: Okay…right.


Slater: I didn’t take them myself…that’s the whole thing. I got them shot in me by an ambulance driver, and put in my mouth by a doctor.


That’s the whole deal…they gave me all those drugs. I mean, I got shot with a shot of Morphine…


Chappell: So, right before your ex-girlfriend was stabbed, you were taken to the ER at a hospital for some health issues…that actually can be traced back to injuries you had in wrestling?


Slater: Yeah…I was taken by an ambulance from a friend of mine’s house to the hospital. On the way there, I was in pain and they shot me up with Morphine. And then when I got in the Emergency Room, and this is what the medical records say, I remember taking a couple of pills for pain…forty milligram Oxycontins on top of that. So, that’s Morphine and another eighty milligrams of synthetic Morphine on top of that. Oxycontin is synthetic Morphine.


On the top of all that, I’ve already had Vicodin in me, and Klonopin and Neurontin…


Chappell: And these last drugs were ones you were taking regularly yourself, by prescription?


Slater: I was taking Vicodin for pain normally…right after my operation. I tell you what happened, I went to have a spinal stimulator put in my back by a pain management doctor, because I have nerve damage, and it was a major problem…


Chappell: I’m sure…


Slater: I had no reflexes in my legs at all…I couldn’t walk. Maybe a city block at the most…that’s as far as I could make.


Chappell: I had no idea you were in that kind of health situation.


Slater: Not being able to walk wasn’t because I was in severe pain, it was because I have no nerves in my legs.


Today, I still have pretty bad nerve damage…but I keep on training and I can walk now a lot better, you know? Some of the nerves can grow back…they only grow back like a millimeter a month. But where the nerve itself was damaged, it may never come back.


I got ten screws, and three rods in my back…


Chappell: What in particular prompted you to go to the ER on this occasion? Right before the incident with your ex-girlfriend…


Slater: I went to the Emergency Room because I was in severe pain. I had to call an ambulance on myself, at a friend of mine’s house. The pain was so bad. This was right around Christmas (2003).


Chappell: I remember the reports of your arrest were right after Christmas (2003).


Slater: Yeah…and they laid me flat down on a board, put me in an ambulance and took me to the hospital.


They sedated me really well, and after they sedated me and after they x-rayed me…that’s when they gave me all those drugs. Then they just sent me out the door, you know? (laughs)


Chappell: So, you were never actually admitted to the hospital on that occasion?


Slater: No.


Chappell: You were just administered those painkillers, and sent on your way?


Slater: I was overdosed. I went home, and then the next morning, is when I got in trouble. And then later that day, I went back to the hospital for the overdose.


But I went to the hospital for overdosing, not because I overdosed…myself. All that was given to me.


Chappell: Okay…as I recall the reports I read soon after your arrest, I was under the impression you overdosed AFTER the incident with your ex-girlfriend.


Slater: No…it was based on all the medicine they gave me before that. Eighty milligrams of Oxycontins. I was already taking the other prescribed drugs like Vicodin, Avinza, that I have talked about…which are types of narcotics, and the others are for seizures like Klonopin and Neurontin.


From what I read in the medical books, you’re not supposed to mix narcotics with benzodiazepines, drugs for seizures. They say don’t take this drug with this drug and this drug. But you take them anyway…because the doctor gives you those drugs. Well then, whose fault is it when there’s something wrong with you because of those drugs? I mean…that’s what I don’t understand.


David, I’ve never been in trouble in my life for anything…


Chappell: I think a lot of wrestling fans were taken aback when these stories broke about a year ago, saying Dick Slater was arrested for attempted murder by a stabbing.


Slater: Yeah, well, that got dropped…that was all dropped.


If all they charged me with was true, I’d still be sitting in the Pinellas County Jail now.


I hate to be a heel when I’m not, you know…I ain’t pleading to somethin’ I didn’t do.


Chappell: The attempted murder charge…


Slater: I never had any history of altercations with [my ex-girlfriend] at all.


Chappell: So, you don’t have a prior history of criminal behavior?


Slater: No, no history at all. I got arrested for public intoxication once. You remember Luna Vachon?


Chappell: Oh yes.


Slater: (laughing) I wasn’t as wild as she was…half a hairdo!


Chappell: (laughing)


Slater: One time her and I took my boat over to a Tiki bar. I got outta the boat, and the boat turned over! I slammed into the sea wall, and cut my feet on barnacles!


Chappell: What a sight that must have been!


Slater: Somebody grabbed me from behind to pick me up, and Luna ended up getting in a fight with three guys behind the bar! She was fightin’ three guys, and finally I had to try to break it up.


Chappell: I’m sure Luna was probably holding her own?


Slater: She was! But finally the police get there, and of course the only one that got arrested was me! For public intoxication! It was so bad, they let me go and I went to the (Florida) Keys from there! (laughs)


Luna and I laughed about that. But that’s the extent of my prior trouble.


Chappell: I’m not sure the resolution of the original charge of attempted murder got as much publicity as the arrest, but didn’t you plead guilty to a lesser charge? Is that correct?


Slater: Well, I mean, they threw a $100,000 bond on me…and it’s really complicated for me to get into the whole story about the legal system.


Chappell: (laughs) As a lawyer, now doing all criminal defense work, I know what you’re saying…but try to just give the folks a basic idea of how this went down.


Slater: They threw a big bond on me, and I couldn’t have bailed out (of jail) anyway. You know what I mean?


Chappell: So you were in jail a number of months awaiting trial, because you couldn’t make bond? You weren’t able to get out on bond?


Slater: Well, no, I wanted to bond out…but I couldn’t raise the money. It was $100,000 to get out…


Chappell: But this thing did get resolved fairly recently in Court, didn’t it, on a lesser charge? What’s the outcome on that?


Slater: I just got two years probation on that now.


Chappell: Okay…


Slater: And I got six months on house arrest.


I had to plead what I had to plead…you know, because I had to get out of jail. Finally get out of jail, you know…


Chappell: What did you actually plead to?


Slater: Uh…I don’t know. Aggravated battery, I think…


Chappell: Okay, or something like that…a lesser charge.


So, basically, your sentence as far as active time, was the time you sat in jail pending trial. And, you were put on two years probation?


Slater: Yeah.


Chappell: And part of that was house arrest?


Slater: I’m almost off of that now. I’m still on house arrest, but I go back to Court soon and I hope to get that removed…


Chappell: To have the house arrest component of your probation removed?


Slater: Yes, I hope I’ll be taken off that.


Chappell: You’re hopeful?


Slater: Yeah…I haven’t gotten in trouble or anything.


Chappell: That’s certainly real important, and should work in your favor.


Slater: I had to sign a piece of paper to the State here, saying I couldn’t make any money off of my story. When they made me sign that, it made me think that maybe they didn’t have as good a case as they thought on me.


Chappell: Interesting….


Slater: My ex-girlfriend testified in my favor at a deposition. She was a witness on my side, along with two doctors and a lawyer. If I’d gone to trial, I think I’d have got off on the whole thing. But I would’ve had to sit in jail for another…well, who knows how long.


Chappell: I understand what you’re saying…I see the same type of thing nearly every day.


Slater: I mean, there’s a lot of people that are innocent….a lot of them in jail right now.


I tell you another thing, I had to go through that whole thing on a Motrin a day, you know…


Chappell: That might have been the worst part of all of this…being in jail with all your physical problems.


Slater: Yeah…very bad pain, my friend. High blood pressure medicine three times a day…that was it.


Chappell: You mentioned signing something with the State that you couldn’t make any money off of your story. Will you be able to get into any of this in your upcoming book?


Slater: Well, David, I can’t say actually what happened…because I don’t even remember what happened! I don’t know what happened. My (ex) girlfriend could say what happened more than I could.


Chappell: And certainly being a criminal defendant is a tough place to be in, regardless of the specific facts of your case.


Slater: I couldn’t do anything about it. Once you’re in that position, you can’t do anything.


They moved me around everywhere…people couldn’t even find out if I was even there. [People] would call in, and they would say I wasn’t even at the jail…when I was there.


Chappell: Was this done because you were a celebrity…a former professional wrestler? I’m sure the jail was thinking about your safety, but I know that wasn’t what you were focusing on at that point in time!


Slater: Well, of course, that’s right.


They moved me from protective custody to the back and then to somewhere else. I was moved around everywhere…was I the only celebrity ever at the Pinellas County Jail?


Chappell: That would seem hard to believe!


Slater: I’m not for sure…but it felt like that to me! It was pretty much a nightmare to me.


But when I came to jail they pushed me in with a wheelchair…but I walked out. They pushed me in with a wheelchair, and I was a big heel when I went in there, and I walked out the babyface! (laughs)


Chappell: (laughs) Having spoken with you several times over the last couple of months, I’ve been amazed how upbeat you seem as you’re dealing with all this. You sound as though you’ve really risen above it.


Slater: Fought back all the way. You know I’m gonna fight back!


I’d be down about a few things at times. I had everything that I ever owned taken away from me…alright? I lost everything. I lost my house, I lost every dime I had in the bank, I lost my car…I lost everything. I lost my clothes…everything was gone. Everything I had was gone---everything.


When I walked out of jail, I had one pair a pants and a pair of socks and one t-shirt.


Chappell: Unreal…


Slater: And there’s no rehab in the jail. I was fighting the law, fighting the pain, fighting the legal system…fighting to stay alive.


You know, there were a few times that I thought I might not make it. But, I just wanted to make it…so that’s why I made it.


I came out fighting…I’ve never been a quitter. You’ve never seen me be a quitter…


Chappell: Absolutely not. I suspect you had to dig down deeper than you’ve ever had to in the last year or so?


Slater: Oh, it was real bad. I got let out of my cell the first four or five months while I was in there…maybe 15 minutes a day. That was it buddy. I was locked in…I was there by myself. Protective custody…they cut the phone off and I couldn’t call anybody.


It was like living a nightmare. It was a bad deal.


I was locked down buddy. I wasn’t in a good position! I had to fight everybody…the legal system---everybody. It gets to be rather hard, you know?