Who were the guys that were most influential to
you when you first broke in?
After three or four months of setting up the
ring, I was refereeing and Mad Dog Vachon noticed
me. Mad Dog was getting ready to leave the AWA for a
while, and go up to
wanted a partner, and took a liking to me. Mad Dog
was on the Canadian Olympic team…two Olympics
before I was almost on the
team. So, he had a natural inclination to take me
under his wing…and he did.
Did Mad Dog help you develop the ‘Baron’
[Editor’s Note: The Baron Is In Character
Dog said to me, ‘YOU WOULD MAKE A VERY GOOD
I told him, ‘I AM A GERMAN! MY PARENTS MADE ME
A GERMAN!’ (everybody laughs)
said, ‘WELL…COME TO CANADA WITH ME AND BE MY NEW
I took my new bride, the lovely Bonnie, and we got
in our little Mustang with the trailer on the back
and headed for adventures unknown.
What made Mad Dog see the ‘Baron’ from
I think I looked the part to him, so I just went
with it. It turned out that ‘Baron Von Raschke’
was always there, even though he was inside me…he
was my alter ego.
Wasn’t Mad Dog injured in a car wreck fairly
soon after you all started teaming up?
Yeah, I went up to
and teamed with him. For people that don’t know
Mad Dog, he wasn’t a tall man…he was quite a bit
shorter than I am. And, he probably isn’t the best
looking man now, but he was quite handsome then.
I was this big and tall bald guy…and for some
reason the crowd automatically didn’t like us from
the get-go. He would play up to that, and I’d
follow suit. Pretty soon, the crowds didn’t like
us at all…but we were filling up all the arenas!
I recently interviewed Ivan Koloff, and he was
up there in
about this same time. Weren’t the Rougeaus the big
fan favorites up there then?
Actually, [Ivan] was the next guy they had in
after I left. The territory popped with the Mad Dog
the accident…for some reason I was in another town
in a different area that day. Mad Dog was coming
…which is way up north---about 350 miles north of
. As you can imagine, it’s very icy there in the
winter, and the car slipped off the road and went
into the ditch. Anyway, it wound up that Mad Dog
separated his pelvis…
I guess he was fortunate that the accident
wasn’t any worse?
They had midget wrestlers on that same card, and
the midgets found the wreck and were able to help.
Mad Dog didn’t know if they were angels or devils,
but there they were!
He was no doubt glad to see them, whoever they
(laughs) Yeah…they were able to get him to the
hospital. Mad Dog was out of business for several
months. In the meantime, Hans Schmidt was in the
area, so we teamed up and were just as hot as Mad
Dog and I were.
Ivan told me he teamed with Hans Schmidt up
there too, and it got pretty wild!
It was pretty intense. We had riots all the
time. We’d leave the ring, and often times the
fans would fill the ring with chairs…
That’s what Ivan told me! But I figured it was
probably a one night only incident…
[Editor’s Note: The Baron Is Again In
Character Voice Here!]
WAS NIGHT AFTER NIGHT AFTER NIGHT!!! THEY WERE
HANGING FROM THE RAFTERS…AND I DON’T MEAN THAT
AS AN IDIOM…THEY WERE ACTUALLY SITTING ON THE
BEAMS GOING ACROSS THE TOP OF THE BUILDING!!!!’
that was unbelievable up there!
We had to take care of ourselves!
Everyone from the Mid-Atlantic area remembers
your devastating ‘Brain Claw’ hold. Did you
develop the Claw hold during these early years?
Yes. I was wrestling against Pat O’Connor in
, and we had a talk after the match. He suggested
that I use the Claw, and I told him I didn’t even
know what it was! I hadn’t seen it up to that
was only in
for that one night. I was working in
for Eddie Farhat then…this was shortly after I was
So, you were just in
at that point for a single shot?
They had a call in for a guy to go in and work
against O’Connor…so they flew me into
. We were in the old Kiel Auditorium.
A great venue.
Yes…and O’Connor and I had a pretty decent
match. He kind of liked me, and took me under his
wing and asked me about the Claw. But then I sort of
forgot about [the Claw] for a while, because I was
doing other things.
So you didn’t start using the Claw
No, actually, because after I left the
territory I went down and wrestled for Fritz Von
You probably weren’t allowed to use the Claw
in Fritz’s territory! (laughs)
Well, I still didn’t really know what the Claw
was all about…even then. So I didn’t look to use
it there, particularly down there! I had my own
things I could use.
Did the Claw come naturally for you? I remember
when you first came into the Mid-Atlantic area, they
had you crush an apple with the hand you used for
the Claw. You must have had terrific hand strength.
Well, you go with what you got. I had some
abilities that maybe some other people didn’t
have…and some other people certainly have
abilities that I don’t have. But, I suppose I had
a fairly good grip at that time.
yeah, the Claw seemed to be a natural fit for me.
And when you had an opponent in the Claw, your
facial expressions were priceless! I think those put
the move over as much as anything.
, I did the best I could. Speaking of my face, I get
asked for autographs all the time---people think
I’m Ben Affleck…
(laughs) Oh really?
Oh yeah…all the time!
Well, I want a current picture of you that we
can put up on the site. We’ll create a ‘
’ section, and put you right in there!
There you go…is it Ben or is it Memorex?
But back to the Claw…I guess it was a
combination of things that got that maneuver over so
well. But that maniacal and diabolical look of yours
was a big part of it for me! But, I digress….
Well, yes, you do…(everybody laughs)
it was a good hold for me…it worked well for me.
Where did you head after your stint in
with Fritz Von Erich?
I went to
with (Dick The) Bruiser’s group. That’s where I
started using the Claw. And I used it a different
way than Fritz Von Erich did.
What was the distinction?
Well, [Von Erich] would throw it on very, very
quickly without doing much to set it up.
I would have to work to set it up…and then when
the time was right, I would put it on. That made a
lot of difference.
Oh…no doubt. Now, you had a good long run in
Bruiser’s territory in the early 70s. Is it fair
to say that was when Baron Von Raschke really took
Yes…there was a lot of great talent around
Didn’t they put the WWA World belt on you
pretty quickly there, and then you and Bruiser
battled back and forth over it for a number of
Yeah…that’s what happened.
And I believe late in your run there, you and
Ernie Ladd were the Tag Team Champions?
Yep…we had some of the best in the business in
We’re into the mid 70s now, Baron. Where did
you campaign before you ended up in the Mid-Atlantic
area in the summer of 1977?
I went back to the AWA…I spent about two and a
half years with Verne and Wally Karbo. Then I got a
McMahon, and I went up to
for several months. Then, I went to Crockett.
You were working in the WWWF right before you
entered the Mid-Atlantic area?
Yes, that’s right.
Well, we have you up to July of 1977. Tell us
about how you came to enter the Mid-Atlantic area.
It came about in a kind of roundabout way. A
bunch of people from
were going through the
The top guy over there was Giant Baba…
Big, tall guy…about seven feet tall. Anyway,
he needed an opponent in
. It was kind of the same story as with me and Pat
O’Connor back a number of years before.
Baron battles the Giant Baba in Greensboro
Yep…I know exactly the
card you’re referring to---I collect event
posters. It was
March 20, 1977
. I always thought it was odd you were on that card,
because you didn’t start in the Mid-Atlantic area
for four more months.
were wrestling Baba for the ‘Pacific Wrestling
Title!’ I seriously doubt that Title was defended
much in the Mid-Atlantic area! (laughs)
(laughs) Yeah…and I had never met the
Crocketts and hardly knew (the booker) George Scott.
Anyway, I went there and worked with Giant
Baba…because the Mid-Atlantic didn’t want to
sacrifice one of their own guys at that juncture.
Baron applies the claw to Giant Baba
That’s a pretty tough assignment, for your
first appearance in the territory!
He wasn’t the easiest guy to work with…but I
wrestled him. And it went over really, really good.
Next thing you know, I was booked to work in the
Mid-Atlantic area full time. You said the Baba match
was in March, so I started for Crockett in July.
Interesting! So as I understand it, your match
with Baba in Greensboro impressed the ‘powers that
be’ and they took notice of you, and wanted you to
come into the Mid-Atlantic area full time?
Right…I think that’s how it worked out.
When you came in initially, you surely dealt
with George Scott a lot in his capacity as the
area’s booker. What did you think of George?
He was all business, but I liked him.
I remember that when you first came in, George
put you over fast. You were annihilating everybody
with your Brain Claw! I also remember the TV
announcers mentioning that you were one of a very
few guys to have beaten Bruno Sammartino, which was
very unusual for our announcers to say something
like that. So you were clearly a big deal!
I don’t know what they were thinking there,
. I just tried to come in and do what I did best.
Overall, what were your initial impressions of
the Crockett territory?
I had never really been to the South before, and
I fell in love with the area.
It was beautiful country. I lived in Charlotte,
and that was a great place to live. Unfortunately,
the business kept us on the road seven days a
week…almost every day of the year. I’m glad I
had a good strong family that stood behind me,
because the schedule didn’t allow you much time to
be at home. And when you were home, you were tired!
Baron, you certainly have hit on something that
everybody from that time frame echoes…working for
George Scott back then was VERY hard work!
Oh yeah! Work and travel was horrendous.
Was it worse in the Mid-Atlantic area than any
other place you had been…or would go to in the
It was as bad as any place I’ve been.
Actually, it was worse driving winter roads for a
couple of weeks in northern Manitoba, Canada. Those
are roads that nobody can take except for in the
winter when it freezes up…because part of them are
lakes! That was the only time they could get
supplies to the villages overland.
Gee…the travel had to be unbelievably
dangerous way up in northern Canada. At least you
didn’t have to deal with that REALLY frigid
weather down here!
You’ve never driven in an ice storm, huh?
Nothing like you have, I’m sure! Everybody
down here goes berserk at the sight of the first
snowflake! You know…you’ve been down here.
You have to be careful wherever you drive.
when you came into the Mid-Atlantic area, your first
real significant match was against the youngster,
Ricky Steamboat. Steamboat was getting pushed to the
hilt then, and you were really the first guy to beat
him in a meaningful match. You took the Mid-Atlantic
TV Title from him in October of 1977.
Ricky was a great performer…
As a veteran coming in, I’m curious of what
you thought about a young guy like Steamboat getting
such a major push?
von Raschke defeated Ricky Steamboat for the TV
I was tremendously impressed with Ricky
Steamboat. He had a knack for the business…he
picked it up right away. He was a young man that was
going to go far---and he did.
know, he gave 100% in the ring…which is what I
liked. That’s how you got a match over. He was a
very, very good wrestler and colleague.
The first long running program you had in
Crockett was against ‘Mr. Wrestling’ Tim Woods.
This was set up by an amateur rules wrestling match
that you all had on TV. That was a terrific
angle…even though you lost the amateur rules match
by a couple of points! (laughs)
I did? You sure about that? (laughs)
(laughing) I’m thinking you did…but it was
nip and tuck all the way! Regardless of the outcome,
I thought it was a great concept…something very
It was a wrinkle that George Scott thought up.
He thought it would be interesting to the fans…a
different kind of wrestling. I guess the midgets
weren’t available that day! (everybody laughs)
So George thought that angle up? I would have
thought with the amateur wrestling backgrounds of
both you and Tim, that you all would have come up
with that idea.
I think both Tim and I realized at that time
that amateur wrestling was way too hard…to go
through all the training and stuff. We were in our
pro groove then!
You know, actually, maybe Tim suggested it. I
don’t really remember…
But you know YOU didn’t suggest it! (laughs)
That’s right…I know I didn’t! Tim probably
had something to do with it, though.
After you attacked Mr. Wrestling with the ring
bell after that amateur rules match, you all had a
strong program that lasted through 1977. Tell us
about Tim Woods.
I learned to love the guy. He was just a great
competitor, and a great guy. He was a very, very
smart man. We always used to have real good
matches…we had a real good rapport in the ring. I
can’t say enough good things about him---I’m
sorry he’s gone.
You held onto your Mid-Atlantic TV Title
throughout that feud, and then early in 1978 the
Mid-Atlantic TV Title became the NWA TV Title.
promotion said you went out and won a tournament to
become the new NWA Television Champion. Funny thing,
there were never any highlights shown of that
tournament! Care to comment on that big tournament?
I don’t remember that tournament! (laughs)
Actually, I’d be pretty worried if you did
remember it Baron! (everybody laughs)
was the time frame that they put you together for a
while with Johnny Weaver, and you all traded the TV
Title. And as part of that, you all had the great TV
angle with the Challenge Match of the Claw hold
versus the Sleeper hold. How did that angle come
I don’t really recall all the details of how
that came about. Sometimes, I have trouble
remembering yesterday! But we used to have a meeting
at the Office, and it might have been something we
was a terrific performer, and I think we had really,
really good matches.
that [angle] was a good one. It was something that
kind of built off of a thing I used to do with Pat
O’Connor in St. Louis…he had the Sleeper hold
There have certainly been some good Hold versus
Hold angles over the years in wrestling, and this
was definitely one of the best!
You’re right…the Hold versus Hold is kind of
a natural thing in wrestling.
John actually won the Hold versus Hold contest,
which was a little surprising…
[Editor’s Note: The Baron Is Again In
Character Voice Here!]
CHEATED…DON’T EVER FORGET IT!’
(laughing) Yeah…I seem to remember you
complaining that the Sleeper was actually a