Why did you
never come back to
I talked to
Crockett a couple of times. I had a meeting
with him when he was in
. He offered
me a helluva contract to leave Vince…but
Vince talked me into staying and I stayed in
the WWF until 1992.
You went to
WCW for a little while after that, right?
I went to
WCW, and they were going to give me a
push…and then Bill Watts came in and things
just didn’t work out. He had different
plans, so I quit.
I did a couple of more Pay Per Views in New
York, in and out. From the period of about
’94 to ’97 I worked Independents, but it
worked very good for me. Put it this way…it
was very lucrative. Especially overseas in
Europe, Japan, and Australia…it was great.
didn’t you come back into WCW, which was hot
at the time?
I got a good
contract there, but they still weren’t using
me the right way…in my opinion. But I
didn’t mind…I was sitting home getting a
good check, so I still did the Independents.
worked the Indy’s then, even though you
didn’t have to?
paying me to sit home…but I couldn’t just
sit home, you know? So I kept booking the
Independents. So it worked out good for me.
wrestling here tonight in Lenoir, so obviously
you’re still going strong in the ring. Tell
everybody what you’re up to currently.
wrestling! I’m not really doing anything
else right now.
became a Christian, a couple of years ago. And
with that, I’ve done some public speaking at
high schools, colleges and churches…and
I’m pretty good at it. I’m long winded
though, I go about 45 minutes or an hour!
had me down
Carolina with a preacher named
was down there for a whole week of crusades.
I’ve also done a lot of the same stuff with
Ted DiBiase, and I’m still doing things with
else that I heard is going on with your life
currently, is that you’re going to be
inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame next
weekend at WrestleMania XX. Congratulations!
. Yeah, it
was sort of out of the blue. You know, I
figured Vince had forgotten all about me. Like
they say, everything in life is timing…my
Dad taught me that.
been ten years since I’ve been in the
WWE…what they call it now. Unfortunately, I
saw Vince at (Road Warrior) Hawk’s
funeral…I say that because a funeral is a
bad place to have to see anybody. But, Vince
was very receptive to me. He goes, ‘Man, you
haven’t changed a bit. You look great.’
When I was leaving I went to shake his hand,
he grabbed me and said, ‘Give me a hug.’
My wife said, ‘Man, Vince is all over
you…says you look the same. Maybe you should
get a job up there as an agent or
something…boss people around.’ I just
laughed about it…but I said later, ‘I’m
gonna call him.’
I take it
you all probably talked again?
went by…I left two different messages. On
the second message, the lady says to me, ‘He
knows you called. You’re on his list.’ I
go, ‘Yeah…right.’ (laughs) Another week
goes by and I’ve almost forgotten about it,
and I’m on my way to the Hilton in Charlotte
for the Mid-Atlantic Convention…and I turn
on my cell phone and there’s a message from
returning your call. I’m sorry it took so
long to get back to you. I really want to talk
to you. I hope you’re doing well. Give me a
call back.’ I go, ‘WOW.’
played phone tag a couple of more times, but
we made connections when I was out in
Phoenix…and we made the deal there. He said
he wanted to bring me in, talk to me and
induct me into the Hall of Fame and be part of
well deserved for you.
looking forward to it. Guys, I’m
rubbing shoulders with some good people there.
Jesse Ventura, Superstar Billy Graham, Tito
perfect, because you and Tito had the great
program you’ve spoken about this afternoon.
by Heenan, I
believe will be there.
Harley Race will be there too.
their big 20th Anniversary
And I was on
their very first [WrestleMania].
again, timing is everything. I hope I can do
more up there with them...I hope this is the
start of something more. Whether it’s
working and training guys, or working once in
a while myself, or being an agent…I hope
there is something there for me.
obviously still means a lot to you,
my whole life. A lot of times people probably
think, ‘You’re too old. Get out of
wrestling…it’s a young man’s sport.’
But to me, it’s a darn career.
been doing this 34 years. It’s me…I’m
Hammer’ Valentine. It doesn’t matter where
I go or what I do…I can’t forget who I am.
I see people…they have to know I’m 50 some
years old…they say, ‘When you gonna go
back wrestling? George Foreman can do it.’
I’m hoping I can do something in some
capacity for the WWE. I know they’re going
to do a bunch of interviews with me while
I’m up there for WrestleMania. It will be a
nice payday for us, too. I’m really looking
forward to it…going into the Hall of Fame.
they’ve slotted five hours for WrestleMania
on the Pay Per View showing, so hopefully you
Hall of Fame guys will get featured on the big
show on Sunday.
they’re going to do, is that they’ll have
a lot of us sitting ringside. They called me
yesterday afternoon and told me that.
They’ll shoot camera shots with us. I’ll
be there with my wife, Julie. They’re flying
us first class up there on Friday. We’re
staying at the Hilton…everything’s being
not coming back until Tuesday. On Monday,
I’m talking to Simon and Schuster about
doing a book.
believe Vince is strongly involved with their
a lot of really good things are going on.
doubt about it! I remember a few months ago
the WWE came out with a publication called the
50 Greatest WWE Superstars of All Time…or
something like that. And you weren’t in
there! I couldn’t believe you weren’t in
there…I remember calling Dick just to vent
about that. But they’ve made amends in my
eyes by putting you in their Hall of Fame!
that book, too. You know
decided to do a project like that…they’re
SO many deserving guys. My wife saw that book
too and she goes, ‘Well, why is so and so in
there…he’s not even a legend.’ I go,
‘Well, Julie, look…Tito’s not in there
either. There are so many good guys. They also
went in there and picked some oldies, really
oldies that have passed away.’ I told her my
not being in that book wasn’t a slight to
me. I certainly didn’t take it as a slight.
know, sometimes it’s a case of ‘out of
sight, out of mind.’ Vince saw me at the
funeral, and when I called him I told him
I’d been thinking about asking him if I
could come up to WrestleMania. Then he said
they’d been talking about me as well for
quite a while. And, so, it happened that way.
I’d rather be part of the Hall of Fame than
have my little picture on that magazine!
Like I said,
Tito wasn’t even in that magazine…
are some current guys in that Top 50 magazine
that they are still trying to get over
now…that probably shouldn’t have been in
But, I have
to say, the WWE magazine people have been good
to me. Right after I talked to Vince at the
funeral, a guy called me up from the WWE
Magazine, and they did a good article on me.
That was really the start of getting me going
back there for WrestleMania.
was a REAL nice article. I talked about
Flair…how I’d still like to get in there
and bust him in the face! (everybody laughs)
They dictated it over the phone, and
they printed it 99% how I told it over the
told Vince, I said, ‘Thanks very much for
that article.’ He laughed. I was being set
up, but it was good, and for all the right
reasons! I’m glad…glad to be part of
WrestleMania and the Hall of Fame.
still making waves now, much like you always
did in the Mid-Atlantic days!
I love those
moments where I can mark out like a kid again.
You all did that Royal Rumble…where Flair
won it in ’92.
For a moment
you [and Flair] stopped, and looked at each
other, and to me it was 1980 again, man!
Yes…I think I put the figure four on him!
did…oh, it was great!
That was my
last shot up there. ’92, Royal Rumble ’92.
Flair won the (World) Title at that Royal
Rumble, right? I did come back up there for
another Royal Rumble, I believe in ’94, but
that was it.
ten years later I’m back again! (everybody
laughs) I’m just glad I’m here, and able
to do it. I know it probably sounds
redundant…but timing IS everything.
As we wrap
about the Mid-Atlantic territory in closing? I
talked to Blackjack Mulligan a few days ago,
and he kept saying what a grind the Crockett
territory was. He enjoyed it a lot, but said
the travel was long and the bookings were
hard. Long matches, double shots…things like
know, a lot of times I come up to the
Carolinas now and work these Independent shows
for Tony Hunter,
I tell you what, it really loosens the memory
cells up in my brain. (laughs)
start thinking about all the trips I made
years ago for
think, ‘How did I do it?’ And they’re
some things from those trips, added on to
that, that I really can’t mention! A lot of
really crazy things! (everybody laughs)
A lot of
miles down the highways of Virginia and the
know, 300 mile trips to Richmond. Wrestle in a
cage, and bleed all over the place. Get back
there and tape your head up, and drive all the
way back to Charlotte. Me and Piper, or some
of the other guys.
used to wrestle Piper, and then we rode
together. We got along better in the ring if
we rode together, because then we could talk.
But back in
those Kayfabe days, you and Piper had to
travel together in disguise, right? (laughs)
had to hide when we stopped to get beer, or
my goodness, we’d get in at five in the
morning…and then be back to
Carolina by three in the afternoon. And the
double-shots, like Jack…Mulligan said.
double-shots had to be brutal.
we’d do doubles on Saturdays, and then come
back and do doubles on Sundays. BUT…the
money! The money was great. And we were young
bucks, and we could handle it then.
it wasn’t just the physical part of our
schedule back then that was so tough. The
physical part I handled pretty well. But all
the risks we had to take…when you’re on
those little airplanes. I always thought about
my Dad in that crash…and Ric was in that
same crash and he was scared sometimes. But we
had to fly…we couldn’t make it by driving
traveled SO much…and when you’re traveling
you take so many chances. And, to still be
here, I’m just very blessed. A lot of great
times in Mid-Atlantic.
anything you’d like to say to your many fans
from the Mid-Atlantic days?
appreciate being remembered. You know, I’m
not on television much anymore…though I’ve
been on a little bit lately on Raw and
Smackdown with the WWE Hall of Fame. It’s
really nice to be able to walk through
airports when I’m doing these Independent
shows, and people still run up to me and say,
Valentine?’ And some say, ‘Did you use to
wrestle?’ And I go, ‘I STILL WRESTLE!’
Do you tell
them, ‘AND DON’T MAKE ME MAD!’
AS MUCH, BUT I STILL WRESTLE!’ (everybody
BROKEN A LOT OF LEGS AND I’M NOT THROUGH
YET!’ (everybody laughs)
done yet! I just talked to Terry Funk today,
and he’s still wrestling too. Terry’s
farewell tour has been going on for 20 years,
and he’s still doing it! (laughs)
seriously, it’s a real blessing that people
still remember me. They remember that
Mid-Atlantic era of the 70s and 80s, the times
that I was in and out of
Promotions, and that time was a real joy for
wrestlers and wrestling fans alike.
tell me often, ‘We really enjoyed that type
of wrestling you did in Mid-Atlantic, much
more than what we see today.’ But I want to
tell the fans one thing, Vince is going back
to old school wrestling. I know this, because
I’ve talked to him about it. And you can
already start to see the change back on
television. Matches are going longer, and
you’re seeing more wrestling as opposed to
you’re talking old school wrestling, in my
mind, you’re talking
The WWE is
going back to old school, and that’s barking
right up my tree. There goes that timing thing
again we’ve been talking about…it might
just be my time again.
hope that it is. Well
I thank you for all your time today. I know
you are on a tight schedule, and need to get
into the building for this evening’s event
here at the Mulberry Center in Lenoir. We
really appreciate everything.
been great. Thanks
appreciate your taking time to talk with us
for our site.
appreciate it guys. I know you guys appreciate
wrestling, so I’ve liked talking about it