|"Precious" Paul Ellering|
David Chappell: Paul, thank you for taking the time to speak with the Mid-Atlantic Gateway today. My website partner, Dick Bourne, told me that he hoped you weren’t reading your Wall Street Journal when I called, and that I wouldn’t be interrupting your reading time with what used to be your favorite newspaper! With smart phones and other electronic substitutes, I don’t even know if there’s a Wall Street Journal paper out there anymore.
Paul Ellering: Believe it or not, I still get the Wall Street Journal! Basically, it's so obsolete because of, like you say, the cell phone. Recently I've been back at NXT, and they said, "Yeah, nothing out of the '80s or '90s. No Wall Street Journals, no sunglasses, no nothing."
Chappell: I don’t doubt it at all; the world has really changed. Skipping ahead a little bit, since you brought up NXT! I follow the current product at WWE, and actually I went up to the Battleground event in Washington recently. But for whatever reason, I haven't gotten into NXT much, just because I guess there are only so many hours in the day. I'd heard great things about NXT, but I actually watched, probably for the first time, one of their entire special events, NXT TakeOver: The End of the Beginning, and I had no idea you were going to be there. When you came out with the Authors of Pain, I became an instant NXT fan!
Ellering: Well, they've got a great product. They have a great facility, with the performance center, and my gosh, they've got an abundance of talent.
Chappell: Absolutely, for sure.
Ellering: NXT itself has gotten to a point where they're self funding their whole deal. They don't do a lot of shows, but the ones they do, they do really good. There is one coming up in Brooklyn next month, and that was sold out in 4 hours!
Chappell: NXT has a kind of old school feel to it for me!
Ellering: Well, going back to the '70s and '80s, we always did TV in basically small venues. Now, with Raw and Smackdown, they do them in big arenas and stuff, but with NXT, it's like old school TV. It's not huge, and it fills up, and the crowd's really into it. In that respect, it's a throwback.
Chappell: I agree. Paul, you have been previously inducted into several prestigious Halls of Fame, but the 2016 Hall of Heroes in Charlotte is principally recognizing you and the Road Warriors for your accomplishments during your Crockett/NWA run in the mid and late 1980’s. I'm curious how the stint with the NWA compares to all the other successes you and the Warriors had in other parts of the country and world.
|The Legion of Doom, The Road Warriors Hawk and Animal with "Precious" Paul Ellering|
Chappell: A huge part of it!
Ellering: We came along in the first revolution of wrestling, which was the beginning of the '80s, when cable TV started to spread across the country. Then people, there were so many, many territories across the United States, could finally compare their local products to a national product. Then along came the Road Warriors, and wrestling changed from the old school wrestling to the new era at that time.
Chappell: That's right, you all were really front and center during that switch over period.
Ellering: Oh yeah, we were just huge, and it was non stop action, and very visual. The guys were super strong, and then along came the paint and the haircuts and the entrance music, and it was really exciting in that respect.
Chappell: At that time, nobody had seen anything like the Road Warriors. I remember when you all came briefly into the Mid-Atlantic area in the summer of 1984. Of course everybody had heard about the Warriors and had seen you all in the Apter magazines, but when you all appeared on our local TV program it was quite an awakening. You all really were at the forefront of that change. Change is good a lot of times, and I think in this case, it really was.
Ellering: Yeah, and then at that time, I think we worked up until '84 or '85 for TBS there, Turner. Well, actually, Ole was the booker at that time.
Ellering: Then we basically went independent, because we had our deal with Japan. Japan always came first, and then we did a deal with Verne, up in the AWA, so we could move back home, and then we also kept working for Crockett. Basically, we worked for everybody, but we called our own shots. I saw it, at the time, because I saw how they promoted Andre as just an attraction, where you bring him in and he's in for a month, and then he's gone.
Ellering: The guys were over, so strong, I thought to myself, "Boy, we can do the same thing.” We can just be an attraction, not even stay in a territory, and just hot shot the whole country, the whole world, for that matter, and just hot shot it. Go in, go out, and they see us, and then the fans are always left with, "We want to see more." You always had another place to come in, and it worked really good because we didn't get over exposed, and so it was very exciting that we had that many territories that we could work with.
Chappell: What a great set-up for you all! You were of course managing the Road Warriors on TV, but you actually did a lot behind the scenes to set them up to be these touring free agents, so to speak.
Ellering: I am, to this day, the last shooting manager, because I was a manager. I set up the travel. I set up how we were going to get paid, and we'd just sit down with the calendar, a month ahead, and I'd just say, "Okay, what days don't we want to work, because if you leave it open, I'm going to fill it up."
Chappell: It wasn't just the TV role for you as a manager, you did it all!
Ellering: Oh, yeah! It was fun, though. It was fun. We got to be really close, and were a special family unto ourselves.
Chappell: It’s interesting that the Road Warriors were close behind the scenes, in addition to their obvious on-screen camaraderie. With that being said, you must be excited to be reunited with Animal at Fanfest in Charlotte.
Ellering: Well, it's always great to see him. I saw him a couple months ago. We did a show, well, it was in Dallas I believe. It's always good to see him, see how his family's doing, because all their kids and my kids, we all grew up together and they're family. There's always a special place in my heart for Animal, and him for me, too, I'm sure.
Chappell: Is it a bit bittersweet that when you and Animal get together now, Hawk’s not here to complete the team? I’m sure fond memories of that big man must come flooding back to you.
Ellering: Well, always, because any time you sit around, some memory of Hawk just comes up. Somebody will come up and say, "Remember this? Remember that?" We just go into the memory banks and enjoy those moments.
Chappell: Hawk was a memorable guy, there's no doubt about it. In a lot of respects!
Ellering: Yeah, they only made one Hawk!
Chappell: That's right. They broke the mold, without a question.
Chappell: You and the Warriors are being inducted into the 2016 class of the Hall of Heroes with several people that were important in making that mid 1980s Crockett/NWA time frame so special. One is the late great Dusty Rhodes, of course, who is being inducted by his close friend Magnum TA. What are your thoughts on those two legends?
Ellering: Well, I really miss Dusty. He was just, he was just one of a kind, and it'll be really good to see Magnum. I haven't seen him since the '80s.
Chappell: Wow, really?
Ellering: Yeah. I think it's really a tremendous satisfaction as far as me and the fans, that Magnum gets to talk about Dusty, because they were very close.
Chappell: Very much so.
Ellering: Well, they all were at that time. Yeah, so I think it's tremendous.