Chappell: Okay…before Ole dropped in, I think we were talking about your first stint in the WWWF.


Valentine: Okay…yeah.


Chappell: What were the big differences between the Mid-Atlantic area and the WWWF?


Valentine: 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 Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine is.’


Chappell: I believe you said McMahon had you breaking wrestler’s legs on TV before you ever got in the Garden.


Valentine: 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.


McMahon 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 figure four.


Chappell: The ER’s were busy then up in the Northeast!


Valentine: 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 someone over.


Chappell: Didn’t you break Chief Jay Strongbow’s leg?


Valentine: Yeah…another Indian. (laughs) Strongbow was over up there like Wahoo was down here.


So, anyway, when I came back to Charlotte at the end of 1979, I was ready to start another good run for Crockett.


Chappell: 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?


Valentine: 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)


Chappell: Then for a while right after that, you went back to tag team wrestling?


Valentine: Yeah, that’s right. Ray Stevens and I held the (World) Titles at that time.


Bourne: 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 true?


Valentine: 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 the cane!


Chappell: 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?


Valentine: (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 time.


So 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.


Chappell: You were heartless! (everybody laughs)


Valentine: I know it! (laughs)


But 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.’


Chappell: That cane was pretty sturdy, wasn’t it?


Valentine: 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.’


Chappell: That was easy for Gene to say!


Valentine: (laughs) 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.


Bourne: Oh my word!


Chappell: Flair’s nose didn’t stand a chance, did it? (everybody laughs)


Valentine: At the time I didn’t know it was hickory, but I was thinking it might be something like that.


So 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! (everybody laughs)


WHAM! I hit him as hard as I could…and it didn’t break! (everyone laughs)


Chappell: What was running through your mind then?


Valentine: I’m just looking at that cane. Gene is looking at me from the outside on the floor. [Editor’s Note: Greg does a great Gene Anderson impersonation here] Gene yelled at me, "Break it kid, break it!"


So 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 bleeding bad.


Chappell: Did you know you had broken his nose then?


Valentine: 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! (everyone laughs)


But 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.


Chappell: What was Flair’s reaction to what you had done?


Valentine: 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.’ (laughs)


Greg Valentine battles Ric Flair, 1980


Chappell: 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.’


Valentine: (laughing) Yeah…it looked like a space mask or something!


Chappell: It’s amazing that Ric wouldn’t complain about how that went down.


Valentine: 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.


He had stitches all over his lips. I’m sure that made it hard to kiss his wife and stuff. (laughs)


So, 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.


Chappell: 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.


Valentine: 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.


Chappell: 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?


Valentine: 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.’


Chappell: Right, that’s when you beat him in Norfolk in November of ’82 for the United States Title.


Valentine: 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.


Chappell: How do you compare your 1977 feud with Wahoo to the 1982 feud with him?


Valentine: The one in 1982 wasn’t as good as the first one.


Chappell: Why not?


Valentine: 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.


Chappell: 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.


Valentine: The thing with Piper…yeah, that was very, very good. Piper was a heck of a guy. 1983---the ‘Year Of The Ear.’ (laughs)


Chappell: 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.’


Valentine: (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 really well.


David , 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.


Chappell: The ‘Year Of The Ear’ pretty much went through all of 1983.


Valentine: It finally came to a head in Greensboro at the very first Starrcade, in November of ’83.


Chappell: What was it like being a huge part of Starrcade 1983? At that time, it was tantamount to being the ‘Super Bowl’ of professional wrestling.


Valentine: Oh, it was fabulous. It was really the first of its kind…kind of like a Pay Per View then.


(laughing) 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 was brutal.


Chappell: Is that what drove you back up to New York for good? (laughs)


Valentine: (laughs) Yeah… I was back in New York soon after that, in 1984.


Chappell: 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? (laughs)


Valentine: Well, Crockett 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 Bob Orton, Jr. and Dick Slater against me. But I didn’t want to be a babyface!


I 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 laughs)


Chappell: So you left the Mid-Atlantic area for good at that point?


Valentine: Yeah…I headed to New York then. It made Jim my Crockett 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.


(laughing) I never realized how bad the babyfaces had to get beat up, so they can make a comeback! To heck with that!


Chappell: Come on, Greg , you didn’t love all those fan-favorite cheers from your legions of fans out there? (everybody laughs)


Valentine: (laughs) Hate to say it, but I really wasn’t into being a babyface!


When I went back to New York, it was actually perfect timing for me…because in came George Scott as the bookmaker.


Chappell: That’s right…you were reunited with George then.


Valentine: 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, ‘ Greg 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 London, Ontario.


Chappell: You had a good run with Tito.


Valentine: That was a really good run…that was a great run. Tito was a FABULOUS worker…just fabulous.


Chappell: Tito was down in the Mid-Atlantic area years before, as an undercard worker.


Valentine: Yeah…as ‘Blood,’ or something…


Chappell: Richard Blood.’


Valentine: But he always had the talent. He was just a true, complete babyface.


Bourne: Much like a Ricky Steamboat.


Valentine: 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.


Chappell: Of course, the national expansion took off right about that time. And you were right in the middle of all that with the WWF.


Valentine: Yeah, you’re 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.