Thursday, May 04, 2017

Interview: Bill Eadie (Masked Superstar / Demolition Ax) - Part 2

(Note: We were notified on Sat. 5/6/17 that the Wrestle Expo event scheduled for May 19-20 in Richmond has been cancelled. )

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway 

Catch up on what you may have missed in PART 1.

In any discussion of the storied history of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, the familiar name “Masked Superstar” always comes to the forefront. Bill Eadie, the man behind the mask and later behind the paint as Demolition Ax in the World Wrestling Federation, is an enduring symbol of excellence to legions of wrestling fans. While he is no longer a fixture inside the wrestling ring, Eadie has not severed his connection to professional wrestling, much to the contrary.

Part 2 of our conversation with Bill Eadie continues.

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Masked Superstar (Bill Eadie): Not bragging, but I think I had some of my better matches in Richmond.

David Chappell: I absolutely agree…

Superstar: Against [Mighty] Igor of course. We had a big feud there. As you know, David, George Scott was a stickler for almost nearly perfection…which you can’t get.

Chappell: Blackjack Mulligan would call George Scott the ‘Taskmaster.’

Superstar: He would have been a fantastic football coach I think!

Chappell: (laughs)

Superstar: We had a series of matches with Igor and I felt I was getting under control. And then I had a match with Igor in Charlotte, I walked out of the match and I thought it was a pretty good match, and then George came into the locker room and said, “Bill, I need to go over this match a little bit.”

Chappell: Uh oh!

Superstar: He was a stickler! He would make sure I called him daily…not only me, but all the guys. We would call into the office, report how the match went and what went well and didn’t go well.
In my particular case, what outfits I wore and what mask color combination I wore…

Chappell: That’s pretty detailed!

Superstar: If it was a red mask with black stars, I wouldn’t wear that for the next three or four shows when I was in that area. That’s how particular he was.

Chappell: Wow!

Superstar: I had to write down everything in a notebook, and I still have that notebook. But getting back to that match with Igor in Charlotte, I get back to the dressing room and I sat down and I was feeling pretty confident and George came in and he was never critical, but it was always constructive criticism.

Chappell: I’m sure that approach made a difference to you.

Superstar: He was always working towards putting on a better match, and pleasing the fans. (laughs) But after about 15 minutes of George, I didn’t think I was capable of tying my shoes, let alone getting in the ring and wrestling!

Chappell: (laughs) After that you probably wondered if you still had a job!

Superstar: Everything that I thought I was doing well, he was criticizing…but it was constructive. It wasn’t like he was tearing me up; he wanted us to be good. It was never like he said, “I could do this and I could do that.” He never put himself in that situation.

Chappell: Your feud with the Mighty Igor in 1977 was tremendous, and it really took off when you stuck Boris Malenko’s victory cigar in Igor’s eye in a match in Charlotte during the spring. The program ended in your favor when you beat Igor in a tremendous cage match in the Richmond Coliseum on September 30, 1977. What are your memories of that blow-off match with Igor in Richmond?

Superstar: Oh yes, I remember having that match! The cages back then were not like ones they have now where they have poles in the corners to keep the cage upright. Back then, they also had poles in the center of the sections of the cage.

Chappell: Right, I remember that.

Superstar: Igor threw me into the ropes where that center pole was, and I flew from like midway in the ring into that pole and I knocked myself out!

Chappell: (laughs)

Superstar: I had a concussion during that match, and I did the whole match and went back to the locker room and didn’t remember it!

Chappell: Amazing!

Superstar: (laughs) This is one of the ironic things, getting back to George. I’m sitting there with a puzzled look on my face, and George comes into the dressing room and said, “THAT is what I was talking about…that was a perfect match!” And I don’t remember anything he’s talking about!

Chappell: (laughing)

Superstar: But as far as the end of the program with Igor, you know how politics kind of get involved. It wasn’t George, and I won’t name names, but there was a lot of animosity because Igor was popular at that time and he wasn’t.

Chappell: I remember Igor’s push dropped sharply right after the match in Richmond, and you went straight into a program with Paul Jones after you cut Paul’s hair in a match in Greensboro.

Superstar: Igor wasn’t the social butterfly that I think some of the people thought he should be. I think that was part of his demise as far as his longevity.
Chappell: After you battled Paul Jones, your next mega-program in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling saw you go against Blackjack Mulligan attempting to collect a $10,000.00 bounty. Again, one of the climactic matches of that feud was in the Richmond Coliseum, again in a cage and you lost your mask in this one. What comes to mind about that titanic Richmond cage match on September 1, 1978?

In the summer of 1978, Ric Flair put  a bounty on
the head of Blackjack Mulligan. The Masked Superstar
was one of guys trying to collect on it.
Superstar: As you remember David, we had a series of cage matches. I don’t know if the people ever realized it, but we did 13 or 14 different cage matches around the area that summer. And the first half dozen of them were 60 minute draws!

Chappell: Incredible!

Superstar: It was in the middle of the summer, and Richmond and a lot of the bigger arenas were air conditioned, but some of the events were outside. You know, we were losing weight wrestling that long in that heat.

Chappell: I remember Blackjack telling me that as well.

Superstar: After the 60 minute draw, we came back with a 90 minute match in a cage, and then we came back with a special referee, which was George Scott.

Chappell: Yep, the September 1, 1978 match in Richmond was a 90 minute time limit cage match, with George Scott as the special referee.

Superstar: Mulligan and I both thought that George was ribbing us with the 60 minute draws.

Chappell: I bet you wish he had been!

Superstar: But you know, the houses kept going up, particularly in Richmond. The number of fans kept increasing, increasing and increasing at each one of the events.

So I never doubted George’s ability to book and promote towns and things like that, but they were grueling.

Chappell: Without question.

Superstar: Mulligan lost 50 or 60 pounds and I lost close to 30 or 40 pounds that summer. We were just trying to keep ourselves hydrated.

It’s sad that Jack’s not here any longer and we can’t reminisce about that summer. A lot of my friends are gone too soon, and we’re not promised tomorrow, but I thank God I’m available to come back to Richmond and talk about that summer with the fans.

Chappell: Yes, for sure.

Superstar: But that series of matches with Mulligan that summer, and that final match in Richmond, were very memorable but grueling.

Chappell: Speaking of memorable times for you in Richmond, one wasn’t especially joyous. You unfortunately got stabbed in Virginia’s capital city.

Superstar: I remember a lot of good things in Richmond, but you’re right David, that wasn’t one of them!

Chappell: There’s no way you can put a good spin on that. Richmond was also the site of another infamous stabbing in the ‘60s involving Boris Malenko, who would later become your manager, at the Virginia State Fairgrounds where the wrestling matches were held back then. In a strange way, the stabbings are a testament to what a tremendous job you heels did back then to generate that level of raw hatred from the fans. The atmosphere in the Mid-Atlantic arenas was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before or since. You had to be there to fully appreciate it!

Superstar: Luckily, my stabbing wasn’t very serious, and it was almost comical the next day.

Chappell: How so?

Superstar: I got stabbed…I think John Studd was beating up Mulligan and I ran in and we tap-danced at Mulligan a little bit. Somebody cut me at the ringside. Of course I went back to the locker room and they rushed me to the hospital and that was delaying my flight out of Richmond.

Chappell: Uh oh.

Superstar: Yes, the guys on the plane were kind of upset because they had to wait for five or six hours until I got cleared. And I remember the Doctor telling me if I felt wheezy or a little bit lightheaded, to make sure I got immediately to the hospital because that would mean I had an infection. Well, by the time we landed we had an afternoon show in Asheville. So I had to land in Charlotte, go home pack my bag and drive to Asheville. I got to Asheville around 11:00 for a 1:00 show and I’m sitting in the dressing room, and I’m starting to feel queasy.

Chappell: Oh boy…

Superstar: And the Doctor’s voice is going off in my head!

Chappell: I bet!

Superstar: But then I realized I hadn’t had anything to eat for almost a day!

Chappell: That’ll make you queasy!

Superstar: Yeah, I told one of the guys to go and get me a sandwich, and when I ate it I felt better immediately. But there for a moment I didn’t know what was going to happen. But that was the only negative thing that ever happened to me in Richmond.

Chappell: I’m just glad that incident wasn’t any worse.

Superstar: But ironically after that, I was wrestling Mulligan on the next show in Richmond and a fan jumped in the ring and touched me on the shoulder…

Chappell: Good grief!

Superstar: Of course, I thought he was coming in there to cut me!

Chappell: I’m sure; you had just gotten stabbed at the last Richmond show.

Superstar: Well, the police in Richmond were always very good and they were around the ring. And they were on edge because of what happened at the event before. They’re thinking it’s going to happen again. As soon as that poor guy hit the floor, the cops were all over him. They thought he was trying to stab me too. They took him to the back, and after much interrogation, and some of it wasn’t of the kind variety…

Chappell: No question!

Superstar: They come to find out that he was going through a pledge initiation for a fraternity, and he had to go in the ring and touch one of us and get out before we touched him back!

Chappell: Oh my God!

Superstar: Of all the bad timing, it happened right after I got cut!

Chappell: We’ve been talking about how hated you were as a heel to where a fan in Richmond stabbed you. But in 1980 you turned into a fan favorite, and won the NWA World Tag Team Titles with former adversary Paul Jones. Back in the Richmond Coliseum on November 28, 1980, one night after winning the World tag team belts, you voluntarily took your mask off for the fans after beating Ray Stevens and Jimmy Snuka in a bloody steel cage match. Tell us about your changeover to a good guy.

Superstar: Oh yeah, I was a little apprehensive about turning because I didn’t know how I would be able to be accepted by the fans. But I think at that time, they at least respected me.

And I say that because I promised the fans, and I tried to be honest during all of my interviews…I learned that from Wahoo McDaniel and Boris Malenko, to not exaggerate and not say anything that you couldn’t back up.

Chappell: You definitely had a lot of credibility because of that.

Superstar: The fans even mention it today when I go to these signings and things…that I came off meaning what I said.

Chappell: Very much so.

Superstar: I told the people if I won the World Tag Team Championship that I would take off my mask. Well, we were successful and we won.

Ironically, a lot of people didn’t want me to do it. But I promised I would do it…but I didn’t promise I would keep the mask off.

Chappell: That’s right, I remember you saying you would probably go back to wearing the mask because you were more comfortable wrestling with it on.

Superstar: I think that was an important step in them believing in me. I mean, I made a promise. It’s like I try to tell my girls and my grandsons…don’t make up stories and don’t tell lies and fibs…because you have to have a good memory to keep them straight.

Chappell: (laughs) Right!

Superstar: Be honest, if you say something be truthful. My Dad always told me…you’re only as good as your word. That’s all you have. You’re going to make money, you’re going to lose money and a lot of things are going to happen, but if somebody says you’re not a man of your word that’s as bad as it gets.

Chappell: Well said.

Superstar: And I appreciate the fans remembering that about me. They do…they bring it up quite often. And there were a couple of people that were in the audience that night and they told me they turned away…they didn’t want to see it! But I kept my promise.

(Note: We were notified on Sat. 5/6 that the Wrestle Expo event scheduled for May 19-20 in Richmond has been cancelled. )

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