Terry Funk Interview
I’ll sum up my trip to the WCW television tapings earlier this week by saying I had a great time. For both shows the crowd came across much better live. The wrestling was of course lacking, but overall it was a positive experience, and I’m looking forward to making a similar trip in July.
Prior to the Thunder tapings I had a chance to meet a very gracious man and his daughter who is equally as nice, and as soft spoken. I’m talking about Terry and Brandi Funk. I had a nice conversation with Funk and when it turned wrestling related I got the chat on record. Starting the day I was anxious to meet wrestlers, I didn’t think I’d get a chance to talk with a legend.
Terry Funk: What you think of the big announcement last night?
I thought it came across great live –
TF: Did you really think it was?
Hell, everyone I knew, including myself, thought you were going to retire.
TF: Kind of tricked ’em? Thats hard to do in this day in age is trick people in wrestling. You got to be pretty shifty to trick people. [laughs]
How about that date you set for yourself –
TF: It’d be an act of God if I make it to June 1, 2001. [laughing]
How is your health right now?
TF: I feel about 80. Well, a lot of things are nagging me right now. I got a broken finger. My hand has a small bone broke in it. Thats just nagging me though. Just things that you have to live with when you are in this business in this day in time. And so you go on down the road. At least thats what I think I’m going to do [laughs].
How do you like working with Shane Douglas and the other New Blood members?
TF: I think its fresh. I think that is what counts. That is a real important factor for WCW these days. It is important they come up with some fresh story lines and fresh inter mixes. Its not that the guys get old, its that the issues get old. It’s a proven fact through the years that age is not a factor of the wrestler, it is really the age of the storyline you are using and sometimes it becomes a little passe, a little bit old, a little bit stale before we know it and the fans in wrestling always dictate what we give them and sometimes they dictate before we listen and I think that is what we have seen from WCW in the past and that is one of the reasons why we are not on the level of the WWF right now.
We are coming back though, we are making a move on them. I’m 55 years old and I’m helping out trying to make a move on them. That is pretty tough now isn’t it? [laughs] Believe me I may try to make a move in wrestling but no where else at that age, I don’t think any of those girls [pointing to Nitro Girls practicing a routine] would go for that.
[talk of the ratings delay in the background and Funk goes into how he would format Nitro against Raw]
TF: I think that the … I don’t know. I think its very interesting we are always breaking new ground in this industry. It’s how do you attack the WWF. It’s a two hour show where we have one hour against and one hour before. We always try to hit them with our second hour when we are head to head, now I think the better way to attack at this period in time is to shoot that first hour in there and get everything you can on that and get your rating up there as high as you can and make them beg for the rest. Instead of waiting. I think that is a formidable way to go at it – hit them with our first hour. Give them the best you can the next hour but load up that first hour and try made a big impact. Any time you can make a spark and lower a pointage on the front of that show you are doing well and I think that… it’s not to go out there head to head with the toughest stuff we got against the toughest stuff they got right now, because you’ll never get them [the fans] to see it. You go ahead and shoot it all in the first and flip flop what we have now, first to second and second to first. That’s the way you got to go at it now. So, if that becomes true, they’ll have me on the last match of the second hour pretty soon and I’ll be in the main event every week. I should ask for a raise. [laughs]
I respect your commitment to the Independent scene. You worked a date here in Michigan and still made a WCW pay-per-view later that day –
TF: You know I really like it. There is a lot of different reasons that I like the Independent scene. Believe me you can see the worst in the Independent scene but if you look real close you can see a great deal of potential and I like being around the young guys. I like being around the guys that haven’t been around that much before and guys that want to make it in this business. I tell them again, and again and again and hopefully they are listening to me. That whenever you get into the wrestling business they shouldn’t jump all they way in with both feet, in other words, don’t give up another job for it, because if you don’t get a major situation going for yourself well you are not going to make enough money to live on. Go ahead and do it as a past time and a hobby and it can be a lot of fun that way. Enjoy wrestling, if you are a young person and want to get in it, get in it, but just do it for the enjoyment of it. Older people get in it, anyone who wants to be a wrestler become a wrestler. Get with the independents around your area and do it if that is what you want to do, but don’t give up everything else, just do it as a hobby. And don’t try jumping off a roof of a house like Cactus did. [laughs]
Do you agree with wrestlers working there way from backyard wrestling without formal training?
TF: They need somebody, not formal training, but someone with some sense that they will pay attention to that will tell them when they are going to far, and sometimes they don’t have that and it gets out of hand. But I don’t mind the backyard wrestling. I don’t mind any kind of wrestling. You want to do it, do it. But do it with a little bit of sense. Don’t do it like me, don’t do it like Cactus, don’t do it like so many of us here. Its all brought out by what is going on, on television and all the high risk maneuvers, and high risk maneuvers are so connected to the business today because of the head to head competition. I don’t think we would have so many of them, so many injuries, that is if it wasn’t for the head to head competition. And the people wouldn’t have the quality of wrestling without the competition. It really has put our profession in gear. Where we are driving to we don’t know.
You mentioned Cactus. Since his retirement have you been in frequent contact with him?
TF: Oh, absolutely I talk to him. He says he is retired but I tell him he is full of shit. [laughs] That remains to be seen but I got my money on it that Cactus has not seen his last wrestling ring as of yet. He might be able to tell y’all that but I just can’t believe it because he is just like me. There are two reasons that you do it and continue to do it. One is because you love and secondly is because of the money in it and the money in it for him right now is fantastic.
Are you pleased with how “Beyond the Mat” was received?
TF: I really am. I am very, very happy for the feedback that I have gotten from that. I’m just glad because Barry [Blaustein] did a good job with it … and people come out of there … and it produces some questions in their mind and all wrestling fans minds and in the public itself minds, and it also produces questions in my mind. And one of them was … you know I had my daughter here last night, and I also had her at arenas when she was very young. Well, you’re not sitting with them, you are in a ring, and you only get to see the aftermath and I don’t mean it was a bad aftermath either, you just see the child more subdued whenever they are watching it. You know my kids watched it and they had the same experience Mick’s kids had while watching it. It is a very frightful thing to watch your parents up in a ring. And I don’t … if I had to do it over again, would I do it that way? Would I take the kids to the matches? I think I would wait for a later date. Especially in this era, it is not much fun for a kid that is of five or six years, and the explanations do not work that well when they see their father out there.
How is Dory Funk Jr. doing? Was he supposed to be here for your big announcement?
TF: He is doing great, he really is, he is doing absolutely fantastic. In fact he was supposed to be here last night for when I did make my big announcement. Gosh, I thought it would have been great here for the fans, but he got stuck in Atlanta because of the weather and he was really, really wanting to be here. I thought it would have been good for the Funk Brothers to be goin’ and blowin’ in the ring one last time and I really would have enjoyed it too, and it really disappointed me and I know that he was tremendously disappointed. He called me afterwards and he thought it went very well and I said well it would have been better if you were there.