You mention Sonny Fargo. When you started with
Crockett late in 1975, most of the refs were retired
wrestlers, or wrestlers on the verge of
retiring…Angelo Martinelli, Johnny Heidman, El Gaucho
and Greg Peterson. Did any of these guys really help or
influence you when you were starting out?
No, none of them did.
have to remember; I was 28 at the time and was basically
brought in and made the top referee in Mid-Atlantic
right away by George Scott. So, naturally, I was hated
by Martinelli and some of the other referees. I was
young and had a different style.
did the “roughhouse” thing back and forth from
, going up there and working with his brother. Greg
Peterson was doing both…wrestling and refereeing.
Gaucho was doing a little of both…but he was a great
guy. Martinelli hated me…just hated me.
What was the deal with Martinelli in particular?
Everybody hated Martinelli, and Martinelli hated
everybody else. This was just a hateful man,
that’s all there was to it. It was a shame. Angelo
Mosca told me one time that Martinelli was complaining
to him about nobody liking him…well, Martinelli never
did anything to make people like him.
Martinelli was a favorite of old man Crockett, Sr.
Martinelli died not that long after I started with
I’m thinking of another referee that came along a
few years later… Stu Schwartz. What did you think of
He did things I’d never have the balls to do.
He’d tell one guy one finish, and his opponent
another. Real funny, huh?
As a rib?
Yeah ribbing, but a dirty rib.
One of the all-time ‘ribbers’ was Johnny
Valentine. Do you have any good stories on Johnny?
Yeah, Johnny Valentine was kind of vicious with some
of his ribs.
wasn’t at this one, but some stories just get around.
Valentine was wrestling Luis Martinez at the old Atlanta
Auditorium. There they actually dressed on the stage
with the curtain down, kind of like in
Luis was totally naked except for his boots on and
bending over to get something. At the same time,
Valentine pulls the curtain up. Luis had his fanny to
the audience…and the audience was dying, they were
laughing so hard. (everybody is laughing)
that, you can’t really show your face in that building
again…people are always going to remember that.
(everybody is still laughing)
More Valentine stories!
Valentine did something else real dirty. You
remember the Alaskan, Jay York? I actually wrestled
in my very brief career as a wrestler.
Jay had a problem with asthma. After the matches, he
would come back and get his primatene mist, or whatever
it’s called…an inhaler of some sort. Good ol’
Johnny decides to put lighter fluid in the inhaler…
…Jay was coming back wheezing, and they said he
was in agony.
Jay realized Valentine did it, he went out to his car
and came back in with a gun.
was getting ready to leave,
stopped him and told John to put his bag down. When he
did, Jay blew a hole in his bag. Jay told John, ‘next
time where do you think I’ll be aiming.’
to say, Valentine didn’t try any more ribs on Jay.
Were you the victim of any good ribs?
I was prone to ribs, because as a referee you’re
in the ring all night. Back when I was doing it, it was
the whole show so anybody could mess with my stuff.
Portz got me good one time. (laughs) (Editor’s note:
Portz performed in JCP in the late 1970’s as Mr. X #2)
, and he glued my shoes to the floor! (everybody laughs)
noticed my shoes didn’t want to move, so I stood up
and said ‘what the hell.’ I’m pulling (laughs) and
the tile came up and I was walking around like I had
clogs on. (everybody laughs)
was a good rib and funny as hell…I’ve laughed at
that one many times since.
Curt Hennig tried to get me one time…put a turtle
in my bag. He wanted the turtle to get on the plane and
then explode in my bag, but I found it first.
I had heard that Curt was kind of like the
modern-day Johnny Valentine as far as pranks.
It was really a shame that Curt passed away
Another wrestler who has also made the news
recently, not in a good way, is Lex Luger. Tommy, what
are your thoughts on Lex?
I know Lex has some issues going on now outside of
always thought he was flaky, but I liked Lex. And he
depended very heavily on the
referee…very heavily. Lex always wanted me to
do his matches. He really tried, but he just didn’t
fit in this profession.
was tailor-made for this profession…Lex wasn’t. But
I feel sorry for Lex now…I hope it all works out for
From the outside looking in, it didn’t seem like
Lex had a passion for the business.
No, he didn’t…I’m sure he wasn’t the only
one to be that way but having that passion helps. But,
did he have a body.
And he got pushed so hard so fast. The very first
time he stepped into a wrestling arena Wahoo put him
over for a title…the Southern Heavyweight Title I
Wow…that’s something. I’m surprised Wahoo
would have done that.
Speaking of Wahoo McDaniel, what are your memories
of the Chief?
He was a hard worker, but he did something really
dirty to me that I couldn’t forget.
alienated a lot of people…he had hardly any friends
when he died.
That’s too bad.
He did it to himself. If he liked you he’d do
anything for you, but at the end after he retired he got
scared I guess. I don’t know why…he was getting a
football pension for the rest of his life.
one of those people that never realized that it was
over. You’re not a superstar anymore…it’s over.
Just move on to something else.
You hear that George? It’s over. (laughs)
Come on David…he ain’t done. (laughs) George
still gets in there.
He’s a great talent.
I want to see Tommy make a comeback!
Dick and David showed me the tape of a match of Flair
and me on TBS this morning. That was something! Flair
didn’t want to work that morning…he hated wrestling
in the mornings…but Dusty (
) made him. To get back at Dusty, Flair sold that whole
match. I was never so blowed up in my life!
That was really a great match, George. I thought you
had the ‘Nature Boy!’
We all know about that ‘Nature Boy,’ Ric Flair.
But Tommy, tell us a little bit about ‘Nature Boy’
He was one talented guy, but his personal life got
him. I used to chew him out…‘dammit Buddy.’ He
said, (Tommy using his best Buddy Landell impersonation)
‘You’re right, Tommy, you’re right.’
Another guy that was big in the mid 1980’s was
Jimmy Valiant. What did you think of the ‘
You know, Valiant and I were a lot alike in one
respect. We were both quiet in the locker room, but we
both had a completely different personality when we got
into the ring.
) Before I forget, I almost emailed you last Monday
after you got speared by Goldberg. That looked
took a spear from Bill Goldberg on a WWE show about a
week before this interview was conducted)
I called Charles after it happened. It scared me.
Bill really got him, really. You know if I called you, I
thought you were hurt.
I had all kinds of guys call me. I didn’t even
feel it. Goldberg took care of me.
He felt it…Charles is just being a pro!
I called Goldberg at home the next day and thanked
in PART FOUR