dropped in, I think we were talking about your first
stint in the WWWF.
What were the big
differences between the Mid-Atlantic area and the
Well, when I went
into New York, like I told you earlier, Vince
McMahon, Sr. brought me in and said, ‘By the time
you go into Madison Square Garden, everybody is
going to know who
I believe you said
McMahon had you breaking wrestler’s legs on TV
before you ever got in the Garden.
Right. Vince, Sr.
was really the one that got me to using the figure
four leg lock again. He said, ‘Do you know how to
use it?’ I told him that I used it some for
Crockett, but Flair was using it there and I never
really got into the niche of using it all the time.
said he wanted me to start breaking guys’ legs all
the time. We did three tapes a day, and they had
back-to-back tapings on Tuesday and Wednesday. And
they did it every three weeks. So, I’d do three
matches on three different tapes…and they’d
carry the guys out. The next night I’d do three
more. So between Washington, DC all the way up to
Maine and over to Pittsburgh and Toronto…they were
seeing all these people being carried off from the
The ER’s were
busy then up in the Northeast!
All I had to do
then was wrestle somebody and grab the leg, and
they’d all start screaming. So that really got the
figure four over. McMahon really knew how to get
Didn’t you break
Chief Jay Strongbow’s leg?
Indian. (laughs) Strongbow was over up there like
Wahoo was down here.
back to Charlotte
at the end of 1979, I was ready to start another
good run for Crockett.
When you first came back from New York at the
end of 1979, you asked Ric to be your partner again,
and he wouldn’t do it, right?
Flair turned his back on me. (laughs) When I
came back from New York, Ric was on the other side.
He was a babyface, and he wouldn’t tag with a
villain like me. (laughs)
Then for a while right after that, you went back
to tag team wrestling?
Yeah, that’s right. Ray Stevens and I held the
(World) Titles at that time.
But soon after that, you went after Flair again.
And you broke his nose in that feud in 1980. Now,
one of the urban legends in wrestling was that you
caught Ric with Gene Anderson’s cane and
legitimately broke his nose with that cane. Is that
Yeah…it’s true. You know, we were sitting
back in the dressing rooms getting ready for that
match. Of course, Ric was on the other side of the
building. We didn’t have dressing rooms
together…heels were on one side and babyfaces were
on the other. George came in and told me
what they wanted us to do. But I was never supposed
to break Flair’s nose…I was supposed to break
But didn’t that whole thing have its roots
from an incident on TV, where you came out and told
Ric that you’d seen the light, and that you now
wanted to tag back up with him? Wrestle as a fan
favorite tag team, in other words?
(laughing) Can you believe he trusted me! This
was against…I think it was Snuka and the Iron Sheik, right? And Gene
Anderson was managing Snuka and the Sheik at that
I short-armed Ric and wouldn’t tag him. The place
was sold out---I thought there was going to be a
riot when I refused to tag him. Ric is already
bleeding, and he keeps crawling on his knees trying
to tag me in…and I’m walking away from him.
You were heartless! (everybody laughs)
I know it! (laughs)
as I was saying before, they told me back in the
dressing room, ‘We want you to hit Flair over the
head with Gene Anderson’s cane and make sure you
break the cane over his head.’
That cane was pretty sturdy, wasn’t it?
Hey, I was looking at that cane and I could tell
that cane was gonna be brutal to break over a darn cement block, let alone somebody’s head.
(everybody laughs) I
didn’t know, but I kept saying, ‘Maybe you
better gimmick up the cane a little bit, so I can
make sure I can break it.’ Gene said, ‘Naw, you
can break it…just hit him.’
That was easy for Gene to say!
Ric knew I was supposed to break the cane. But
later, I found out that the cane was made out of
hickory wood. You know, the hardest wood there is!
They make baseball bats out of hickory.
Oh my word!
Flair’s nose didn’t stand a chance, did it?
At the time I didn’t know it was hickory, but
I was thinking it might be something like that.
I was out there, and the Sheik and Snuka found out
that I wouldn’t tag Ric so they worked him over
pretty good. After they took the fall on Ric, Gene
Anderson threw me the cane and I caught it. Ric’s
hanging over there in the corner trying to get
away…or acting like he’s trying to get away.
Now, Flair has blood all over his face by that
point, and I’m thinking if I hit him the cane is
just going to slide down. But…I went for it!
WHAM! I hit him as hard as I could…and it
didn’t break! (everyone laughs)
What was running through your mind then?
I’m just looking at that cane. Gene is looking
at me from the outside on the floor. [Editor’s
does a great Gene Anderson impersonation here] Gene
yelled at me, "Break it kid, break it!"
now I really clocked Ric hard with the cane right on
top of the cranium. And he’s REALLY trying to get
away when he heard Gene say again, ‘BREAK THE
CANE, KID!!’ (laughs)
I tried again with a wild stroke and Ric is
moving trying to avoid it and I hit him across the
top of his nose…the bridge of his nose. It went
right down and busted his lips open…his lips were
Did you know you had broken his nose then?
I had no idea I had broken his nose…I didn’t
find out until a few hours later that his nose was
broken. And I STILL didn’t break the cane!
the damage had been done then. I think it was
Mulligan that came out and ran us all off. Ric went
right to the hospital.
What was Flair’s reaction to what you had
I called Ric up around two o’clock in the
morning, and he was already back home. I apologized
for it. And he said, ‘Man, don’t worry about it.
We’re gonna make lots of money from it.’
Valentine battles Ric Flair, 1980
Yeah, that set the stage for some great return
matches between you two. I remember Ric had to wear
that hideous looking faceguard to protect his nose.
I think you said it made him look like something out
of ‘Star Wars.’
(laughing) Yeah…it looked like a space mask or
It’s amazing that Ric wouldn’t complain
about how that went down.
Yeah…Ric is one hell of a professional.
Anybody else probably would have been really, really
mad. But he didn’t care. It was a hairline
fracture, so it wasn’t ALL that bad. But he had to
wear that nose protector…and you know it had to
hurt like hell.
had stitches all over his lips. I’m sure that made
it hard to kiss his wife and stuff. (laughs)
I think the people knew that was for real. We broke
some (attendance) records when we came back and
wrestled each other after that happened.
You and Ric battled over that United States
Title into early 1981…so many classic matches. And
then several months after that, you packed up and
went back to the WWWF again.
When I went back to New York in 1981, I worked
mainly with (Pedro) Morales…I did a deal where I
suplexed him on the floor. I didn’t use the figure
four then…they wanted to do something different.
That was beautiful, too. I did a little act up there
with Backlund the second time, also.
If I recall, you stayed up in New York about a
year, and came back to the Mid-Atlantic area in the
summer of 1982 and renewed your feud with Wahoo?
Yes…actually Wahoo was the bookmaker when I
came back to the Carolinas for the last time. He was
the U.S. Champion then, and he said, ‘Take that
belt off me.’
Right, that’s when you beat him in Norfolk in
November of ’82 for the United States Title.
I did that deal then where he suplexed me from
the outside of the ring…and (Sir Oliver)
Humperdink gave me a gimmick and I popped him over
the head, and became the U.S. Champion. And Wahoo
and I were feuding again.
How do you compare your 1977 feud with Wahoo to
the 1982 feud with him?
The one in 1982 wasn’t as good as the first
Because Wahoo was a little older…and a little
fatter. But you know, then, he was the office guy
still trying to wrestle as well.
The feud with you
and Wahoo didn’t last real long in 1982, and then
you moved pretty quickly into your last major
Mid-Atlantic feud---the one with Roddy Piper for
most of 1983.
The thing with
Piper…yeah, that was very, very good. Piper was a
heck of a guy. 1983---the ‘Year Of The Ear.’
I’ll never forget
that match where you were pounding on Piper’s ear,
and he lost his equilibrium and was flopping around
the ring like a fish out of water! But everybody
bought into his ‘injury.’
(laughing) Oh, they
bought it! You know, he knew how to do that because
he was a Golden Gloves boxer. The guy really knew
how to fight, so he could play up that part of it
, in that same
match you’re talking about, Piper took one of
those blades and just cut his ear right in half.
Blood was everywhere, and I’m hitting him with the
belt. It just looked horrible…looked hideous.
That’s when the ‘Year Of The Ear’
started…with that match.
The ‘Year Of The
Ear’ pretty much went through all of 1983.
It finally came to
a head in Greensboro at the very first Starrcade, in
November of ’83.
What was it like
being a huge part of Starrcade 1983? At that time,
it was tantamount to being the ‘Super Bowl’ of
Oh, it was
fabulous. It was really the first of its kind…kind
of like a Pay Per View then.
But little did we know, that we were going to have
to go all around the territory after that and do the
same match! Dog Collar Match! And oh my God…that
Is that what drove
you back up to New York for good? (laughs)
(laughs) Yeah… I
was back in New York soon after that, in 1984.
But there were a
short couple of months…late 1983 into early
1984…before you went back to New York for good,
that you actually wrestled as a babyface in the
Mid-Atlantic area. What the heck was that all about?
didn’t want me to go back to New York then. They
were trying to do something different with me to
make me stay. So they turned
Orton, Jr. and Dick Slater against me. But I didn’t want to be a
played along for a while with what they wanted to
do. After Orton and Slater beat me up several times
on television and kicked my head around like a
football…I said I don’t want to be a babyface. I
have to lay here and get beat up…to hell with
this, I’m going to New York as planned! (everybody
So you left the
Mid-Atlantic area for good at that point?
Yeah…I headed to
New York then. It made
hot…but I had to do what I had to do. I had to
take care of myself. I didn’t want to lay down
there and get beat up anymore.
I never realized how bad the babyfaces had to get
beat up, so they can make a comeback! To heck with
, you didn’t love all those fan-favorite cheers from your legions of
fans out there? (everybody laughs)
(laughs) Hate to
say it, but I really wasn’t into being a babyface!
I went back to New York, it was actually perfect
timing for me…because in came George Scott as the
right…you were reunited with George then.
Tito (Santana) had
a bad leg, and they were all set to do a [program]
with him and Paul Orndorff. But Orndorff was missing
shots here and there, so George Scott said, ‘
Valentine has that
figure four and his work is so convincing, let’s
do the thing with Tito with him.’ So I took the
(Intercontinental) Title from him up there in
You had a good run
That was a really
good run…that was a great run. Tito was a FABULOUS
Tito was down in
the Mid-Atlantic area years before, as an undercard
‘Blood,’ or something…
But he always had
the talent. He was just a true, complete babyface.
Much like a Ricky
Yeah…just like a
Steamboat. It was a perfect matchup for me, because
I was very much a wrestling heel. It was what they
needed at the time in New York. They needed to get
away from all those cheap, Tennessee style wrestling
matches. They needed wrestling…that people would
believe in. So that was a great run for me after I
left the Mid-Atlantic area.
Of course, the
national expansion took off right about that time.
And you were right in the middle of all that with
exactly right. That’s when expansion was really
starting. Around that time, I went in and talked to
[Vincent K. McMahon], and he said I had a job there
for life. As it turned out, I did stay there a
really long time.