Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Gateway Interview: "Mr. Unpredicatable" Dick Slater (2010) Part Two

In 2010, David Chappell had the opportunity to interview the legendary Dick Slater for the Mid-Atlantic Gateway. The lengthy interview covered a wide range of topics spanning Slater's entire career.

If you missed PART ONE, check it out here.

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Chappell: That Mid-South promotion was terrific. I actually moved out to that area in late 1984 for a while, and got to see that promotion up close.

Slater: You were out there the same time I was!

Chappell: Yep, pretty much…that was a heck of a promotion! And I want to talk some more about Mid-South in a little bit…and especially ‘Dark Journey’!

Slater: (laughs)

Chappell: I guess Dark Journey was really a ‘valet’ and not a manager, but I’d like your thoughts on your use of managers over your years in the business. Did you feel that they added a lot to the equation?  I know you had Gary Hart as your manager before you came into the Mid-Atlantic area, and for a while when you first came into the Crockett territory.

Slater: Actually, I’m pretty sure when I first went up to Jimmy Crockett’s territory, I’m pretty sure Gary Hart was working there…or came in soon after.

Chappell: That’s right…I believe Gary was focusing on Kabuki and the Magic Dragon for the most part then. But I remember you and Gary working together some in the Mid-Atlantic area.

Slater: I never really needed a manager to do the talking for me, but depending on the situation, managers could really add a lot…and generate heat. Gary was great…he managed Bobby Orton, Jr. and I in Georgia…before we ended up together in the Carolinas.  Gary was a talented manager…one of the best managers in wrestling.

Chappell: Since we’re still really talking about your pre Mid-Atlantic stuff, something that always comes up when the subject is Dick Slater…is the incident when Wahoo McDaniel shot you.

Slater: Well, Wahoo McDaniel, me, Tommy Rich and Andre the Giant were at a lounge in downtown Tampa that we always hung around down there. Andre, Wahoo and I were sittin’ at the bar, and somebody said something about Tommy Rich’s wife that got Wahoo real mad. Tommy went outside, this was about at closing time, and what I remember was that Wahoo got in an argument with this guy, and the guy went to the car, and gets his knife out, right?  So, Wahoo saw that, and I guess he went to the car and got a gun out.

Chappell: Oh boy…

Slater: I don’t know what’s goin’ on in the parking lot, because me and Andre are still inside at the bar. So when I go out, I see Wahoo with some guy by the shirt against the wall. I told Wahoo, ‘What’s you doing?’ Me and Andre just stood there looking at him. Then [Wahoo] grabs the guy, and he backhands the guy…and when he backhands the guy, Wahoo’s got a gun in his hand now, alright? He pistol whips the guy and the gun goes off…and I catch the bullet!

Chappell: Just your luck, huh?

Slater: Then he comes over, and stands over there looking at me. I said, ‘Wahoo, put the gun up.’ When the police got there, I told them that a sniper shot me…to save Wahoo.

Chappell: (laughs)

Slater: They took me to the hospital. I had to be in Japan three weeks after that to wrestle. He shot me with a nine millimeter…went in the side of my leg and came out the back of my knee. It blew a hole the size of a tennis ball at the back of my knee, and about the size of a quarter in the front…

Chappell: How long were you out?

Slater: I was back in the ring three weeks after that.

Chappell: Really?

Slater: Yeah.

Chappell: You mentioned early on that Bob Roop was there with you when you started in the business. Roop has said some things about putting you up and loaning you money when you got shot by Wahoo, and that you didn’t pay him back as agreed…

Slater: Bob Roop was never, ever in the same place as Wahoo and I. I haven’t seen Bob Roop since I left Florida and went to Georgia. I haven’t seen him…and that was way before I met Wahoo McDaniel. That’s a big lie there.

Chappell: I hope I’m remembering this correctly, but I read where Bob Roop was involved in trying to take over Knoxville at some point, and you got involved, and Bob said you stabbed him in the back…

Slater: I went to Japan…and got a phone call from Bob Roop. He wanted to start his own business in Knoxville, Tennessee…

Chappell: Okay…

Slater: He wanted to know if I wanted to go with him, and I said, ‘No, I was fine just where I was at.’ I was working for Ron Fuller…I went in there to work for Ron Fuller. I was traveling in and out of there, going to Japan back and forth, and with Jim Barnett.  I wasn’t about to jeopardize my wrestling career to work for Bob Roop. So, I mean, he can say all he wants to say, but Bob Roop…where’s he at now?  (laughs) But look at me, where I’m at now….

Chappell: I believe that Bob has also said, as ‘payback’ for your turning your back on him in this Knoxville takeover thing and not paying him back promptly for this loan…that about a month later he worked you over with a blackjack---beat your ass pretty bad.

Slater: (laughing hard) Is he kidding?

Chappell: You’re saying all that’s a piece of fiction?

Slater: A real big piece. He hit me with a blackjack at a bar, right?

Chappell: Uh huh.

Slater: He got the shit kicked out of him afterwards! (laughing hard)

Chappell: Oh, so you do remember something happening between you and Roop?

Slater: (laughs) Yeah…I remember that!

Chappell: So Roop actually came after you, and you’re saying he ended up getting the worst of it?

Slater: He sure did!

Chappell: Really?

Slater: Yeah…he went into the Pepsi machine head first!

Chappell: Courtesy of Dick Slater?

Slater: Yeah…you got it!

Chappell: (laughing)

Slater: He did use a blackjack…he did. He just didn’t hit me hard enough!

Chappell: (laughing) Well, I figured there might be another side to that story…

Slater: Mine’s the right one! If he thinks he’s ever beat me up, then he’s got a problem. He’s never really beat me at nothing.  I don’t know who he’s ever beat up, but he ain’t never beat me up. That’s just a rumor there.

Chappell: Well, you sure beat up quite a few folks when you wrestled in the Mid-Atlantic area! And you won quite a few titles. In fact, you were one of only a handful of stars that won all of Crockett’s singles titles during your Mid-Atlantic career…the NWA TV Title, The Mid-Atlantic Title, and the U.S. Title.  A ‘Triple Crown’ winner!

Slater: And Crockett even invented a Brass Knucks Title…he had Roddy Piper and me doing those damn taped fist matches!

Chappell: (laughs) Yeah, several versions of that Brass Knucks Title would magically appear every five years or so…and then just as quickly disappear!  I remember your very first interview on Mid-Atlantic TV in January of 1983. You came on and said you were the last surviving hero, and that anybody that got in the ring with you was in for the most violent match they’d ever have! Does that sound about right?

Slater: (laughs) Probably so…the last hero in the ring!

Chappell: Was Dory (Funk, Jr.) booking the territory when you first came in?

Slater: Yeah…Dory was there then. He sure was.

Chappell: When you came into the Mid-Atlantic area, you hit the ground running. I remember early on you confronted Roddy Piper on TV…one of those deals where everybody came out from the back and couldn’t pull you two apart!  Tell us a little bit about Roddy Piper.

Slater: Oh, Piper was a character! He’s a great guy. I mean…I love Roddy. He had the gift of gab, you know?

Chappell: Absolutely.

Slater: He could talk, and he was GREAT in the ring. I liked a good fight David, you know what I mean?

Chappell: Sure do.

Slater: I didn’t like to go in there and pussyfoot around, in the first place. I was a believer in what I did, and Roddy was a believable wrestler. We went at it. You knew when you were in there with Roddy, it was almost like a fight.  You know, we laughed at beatin’ the shit out of one another!

Chappell: (laughing)

Slater: We beat the shit out of one another! Greg (Valentine) was the same way. Wahoo was another one…chopping me in the throat every night.  It was physically hard. I mean, a lot of people say wrestling’s this and wrestling’s that…yeah okay, well you get in there and fight them guys every night!

Chappell: Did matches with those guys almost become shoots at times?

Slater: Oh, it was.

Chappell: It sure looked like it to a fan!

Slater: It was…for sure! (laughing) Travel was so far, by the time you got to the town, you were so mad, you wanted to beat the shit out of somebody!

Chappell: (laughs) I remember only your second or third week into Jim Crockett Promotions, you called Jerry Brisco out on TV. What is your relationship with Jack and Jerry Brisco?

Slater: Jack and Jerry Brisco have been great friends of mine for years. They got a body shop down here…

Chappell: Right…the Brisco Brothers Body Shop.

Slater: The last time I saw Jack was at Hiro Matsuda’s funeral. Jack made a great comeback…he had a bad back surgery that got infected real bad, that almost cost him his life. He was in a walker for awhile. I’ve heard he’s gotten back in the gym, and his wife helped him tremendously in his rehab.

Chappell: Jack was in Charlotte for Fanfest at Thanksgiving, and I thought he looked great. Jerry was there, too, and looked good also.

Slater: It’s amazing what he’s done to fight back. I felt real bad for him with that back surgery. He changed me from having a surgery…I was scared that I’d have to take those chances. I’ve been on that operating table, and gone code blue a couple of times…and that’s something you don’t want to do. I didn’t see no sign of light or anything at the time…you don’t know what happens when you get that way. I was there. I live for every day now. My last operation was nine or ten hours on the operating table. I woke up…and it took me two years to walk after that. They called that a successful back operation…

Chappell: (laughs)

Slater: Hate to see a bad one!

Chappell: Yeah!  Well, you won the first of your Crockett titles within a month or so after entering the territory, beating Mike Rotundo for the NWA TV Title. Mike was just sort of starting out at that point…did you think he had the right stuff in those early days?

Slater: Mike’s a great guy. Mike’s wrestled in Japan a lot. He’s one of the guys that was a great amateur, a great amateur wrestler, like the Briscos. Jack Brisco was never beaten as an amateur the best I can remember. He might have gotten beat goin’ up the ranks, but he wasn’t beat goin’ all the way up to the national finals. And Mike was in that same class.  Mike was very good. He was kind of a quiet guy, but he had a dry sense of humor. And when he wants to make you laugh…he’s pretty funny!

Chappell: That’s interesting…Mike seemed really low key back then. And very soft spoken.

Slater: He was fairly soft spoken, but when you got around him and got to know him that changed. But he was never a boisterous person.

Chappell: Going in the other direction from Mike, I remember a match of yours from Richmond, Virginia in April of 1983 when you lost the TV Title to Joe LeDuc. Was LeDuc as crazy as he looked…and acted?

Slater: He loved pain, I tell you that! First time I ever seen Joe, he took an ax and had his arm down on a table, and he actually cut his own arm! This was on TV down here in Florida.

Chappell: Oh geez…I think I heard about that.

Slater: And then he took a piece of concrete brick, a concrete block, and put it down on a table and he took his head, and broke the block with his head! (laughs)

Chappell: (laughing) So he WAS as crazy as he looked!

Slater: I mean, pain didn’t seem to bother him…but that was a little nuts!

Chappell: (laughs) Very nuts! With him, what you saw was what you got, I guess!

Slater: He was a physical guy…

Chappell: No finesse with him! I enjoyed those matches with you two. Joe had just turned babyface…which was pretty interesting in and of itself. And they were tough physical matches. 

Slater: They sure were.

Chappell: Another guy you butted heads with in the area in 1983 was Jimmy Valiant…the ‘Boogie Woogie Man.’

Slater: Oh…a funny guy! The Boogie Woogie Man!

Chappell: You saw Jimmy when he was at the apex of his popularity in the Mid-Atlantic area. Few guys have been as over as he was back then. How do you explain his extraordinary popularity?

Slater: He was doin’ really good when I knew him. Then I left [Crockett] and went to work for Bill Watts, so I left Charlotte then and didn’t see a lot of him after that. I worked with him, and had some great matches with him. He had a complete different wrestling style than I was used to…

Chappell: I’m sure!

Slater: Yeah! So…I’d have to work around him, you understand?

Chappell: Right.

Slater: I never got in the ring, and ever had anybody have to work around me, you know what I mean?

Chappell: Was working with Valiant a different sort of challenge, because of his wrestling style?

Slater: No…not really. I mean, I did all I could to have a great wrestling match with him. But he had a different style, than say Wahoo McDaniel. He had a different style than Ric Flair or Roddy Piper…somebody like that.

Chappell: There were certainly a lot of different styles you encountered, but you seemed to have good matches with pretty much all of them…

Slater: That’s what I’m saying…I can work around anything. You know, if you could just stand there, I could have a good wrestling match! (laughs)

Chappell: (laughs) Of course, as the Boogie Man, Jimmy never stood still!

Slater: I had some good matches with him…

Chappell: And the people loved him!

Slater: Well…they liked the Boogie Man gimmick…

Chappell: Yep.

Slater: I mean those people up there in Virginia in the mountains…

Chappell: Couldn’t get enough of him!

Slater: He reminded them…of what they really are, you know? That kind of a man.

Chappell: I wanted to get your thoughts on a long running angle that was playing out soon after you arrived in the Carolinas in 1983. Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood against Sergeant Slaughter and Don Kernodle. Even though you weren’t involved in the angle, I’m sure you remember how red-hot that feud was?

Slater: That was a long, long deal. They did great business…

Chappell: They sure did.

Slater: And they were all good workers, to keep it alive that long. I haven’t seen Don in years…I heard he was working for a stock car driver or something?

Chappell: Actually, I believe he is a Correctional Officer now.

Slater: Really? But…those four had a real long going solid angle…for a long, long time. I was there in the territory at the time, and enjoyed seeing that angle played out.

Chappell: You also did some booking at some point, right?

Slater: Remember when Jimmy Crockett went to Atlanta?

Chappell: Yes.

Slater: Actually, I was helping at the booking office there…I don’t know if you knew that or not. I was put there with one girl, as my secretary, when Dusty was the booker, you understand?

Chappell: Right…

Slater: I had the second hour on the TV show, plus I was working. Then Jimmy Crockett came down, and Dusty and I collaborated with the TV people. It was SO hard trying to run two places at one time…one in Georgia and one in the Carolinas.

Chappell: That had to be a grind.

Slater: I had a bunch of guys like Buzz Sawyer that I had to take out of the Charlotte territory down to Atlanta when Jimmy first went down there. I had my own TV show there, and plus every Saturday I had to go Fred Ward’s Columbus, Georgia tapings.

Chappell: Wow…

Slater: That was a real tough job.

Chappell: That was a time the business was really starting to change in a lot of ways.

Slater: It was tough…I got so burned out from having to work the Charlotte territory and go down…I was doing both places. I was working Charlotte, booking Atlanta and booking for Columbus, Georgia. Runnin’ around back and forth to Charlotte…finally I was so burned out that I went to work for Bill Watts.

Chappell: This would have been late in 1985 and into 1986. I remember your stint in Watts’ Mid-South well…I was living out in western Arkansas during those years.

Slater: Out there, I had to book three places!

Chappell: (laughs) So, you didn’t exactly have a relaxing stay out there either, did you?

Slater: From one extreme to the other!

Chappell: Unbelievable…

Slater: Then I took Dark Journey with me down there…

Chappell: (laughs) I know you have more than a few stories about her! But I want to get back into the Mid-Atlantic area right now, and ask you about the months leading into Starrcade 1983. A lot of people remember Harley Race putting the bounty on Ric Flair, and you and Bob Orton, Jr. collecting it. You were a big part of that first Starrcade.

Slater: That was great…that was a great era. Starrcade was probably one of the biggest wrestling shows there was ever produced…

Chappell: Certainly at that time.

Slater: (Vince) McMahon never produced a big show like that…at that time.  I did work for Vince McMahon after that, and he produced a bigger show later…

Chappell: But Starrcade started it all!

Slater: Jim Crockett’s Starrcade was the biggest event I wrestled on, you know? I was very proud of the fact that I was part of that.

Chappell: You were a huge part of that whole Race-Flair angle.

Slater: We had an ongoing thing there with Flair for a long time, and then they did the thing with Piper and Valentine…it was a really hot deal.

Chappell: Oh man!

Slater: That was a major television network type production…and we did great ratings.

Chappell: Yeah, the closed circuit telecasting really turned out to be the precursor of the Pay Per View format that really defines the business today.  I remember well when you and Orton collected the bounty on Flair, and he miraculously comes back and teamed with Wahoo against you and Orton. They were some GREAT matches leading up to Starrcade ’83!

Slater: Oh yeah…they were some great matches!

Chappell: Tell us a little bit about Bob Orton, Jr. You two really made a terrific team.

Slater: Bobby was a great performer. I never had a partner in the wrestling business at all, point blank, that I enjoyed working with more than Bob Orton, Jr.

Chappell: You could see that watching you two.

Slater: He knew my style. I could change my style just about better than anybody ever did. That’s what I was so good at…I could change my style in a New York minute---from one thing to another. And Bobby and I knew each others style, and we knew how to create chaos wherever we went…

Chappell: Boy, was that ever the truth!

Slater: Whatever it took to get the crowd into a wrestling match…Bobby Orton, Jr. and I could do it.

Chappell: What about Starrcade ’83 itself, the big show. You and Orton wrestled Wahoo and Mark Youngblood.
Slater: I tell you what led up to that David. I had worked a lot of matches in Houston, Texas with Wahoo McDaniel. He would go down to Houston, Texas…Paul Boesch was there. I tell you, the first time I ever met Wahoo McDaniel was in Houston Texas. I never had the chance to wrestle him, but I always heard that he was one of the greatest all-time wrestlers. You know who the legends are in the wrestling business…but I never had the opportunity to get in the ring with him until then.  You know when I broke in, Johnny Valentine was a legend…you know?

Chappell: And he was in the Carolinas, without a doubt. So, you and Wahoo developed some chemistry down in Texas?

Slater: Wahoo and I had an ongoing fight before I even went to Charlotte. He liked working with me, for some reason. You know, I always gave him a good match…

Chappell: You would hang in there with him.

Slater: Yeah, and we were a big part of Starrcade…with Bobby and he was with Youngblood.

Chappell: It’s interesting to learn that you had that prior history with Wahoo.

Slater: I fought Wahoo all the time, you know? He beat me up so many times…but I beat him up too! (laughs)

Chappell: (laughing) And he shot you, too!

Slater: (laughs) Tough guy to fight. I tell you, a lot of guys were scared to get in the ring with Wahoo!

Chappell: I don’t doubt that for a second!

Slater: No, that’s why the Chief didn’t mind gettin’ in the ring with me…he knew I was gonna fight him back. Otherwise, he’d just beat you up…and that was it!

Chappell: After Starrcade ’83, Vince McMahon started to go after talent in other areas, and the business was beginning to change…

Slater: You know, the whole thing shouldn’t have gotten into a great big war…they should have just left each other alone.

Chappell: I sure wish things had played out that way…

Slater: It’s a shame things happened like that, but you know, you can’t blame that on us. What happened was with the TV people…that was the whole key. If some people didn’t have such a big ego…we’d all be in great shape

Chappell: Soon after Starrcade ’83, you got into it with one of your former allies, Greg Valentine and took the U.S. Title from him. In the process, the promotion tried to turn Greg into a babyface! I talked to Greg about eight months ago, and he told me that trying to play the role of a babyface was pretty uncomfortable for him!

Slater: (laughs) That wasn’t even his style at all!

Chappell: No…no way! And he left for New York pretty soon after that!

Slater: His style was not anywhere close to being that. He couldn’t portray that at all, you know what I mean? In that role, nobody’s gonna feel sorry for him!

Chappell: (laughing) Yeah, it was kinda hard rooting for Greg…even against you!

Slater: He’d been doin’ bad stuff for years on TV there, and all of a sudden now everybody was supposed to feel sorry for him?

Chappell: That’s exactly right. Well, you had a good run with the United States Title until you left the area in the spring of 1984. What stood out for me during those early months of 1984, was when Flair was in as the World Champ, and you went and made your own NWA World Heavyweight Title belt! I believe you had beaten Ric in a non-title bout, but you were going around calling yourself the real World’s Heavyweight Champion…that was a great program there in early 1984!

Slater: I remember that well. I tell you what, I put down in my book the reason I did that. We were talking a long time ago in this interview about politics, you know?

Chappell: We sure did…about the politics involved in becoming the NWA World Heavyweight Champion.

Slater: (laughs) Well, in ’84, I just went ahead and made myself World’s Heavyweight Champion!

Chappell: (laughing) Talk about taking matters into your own hands!

Slater: (laughs) Yeah…I just did it myself!

Chappell: That was a beautiful belt you had made, and you definitely looked the part! That was your major program in the Mid-Atlantic area with Ric Flair. What are your thoughts on Ric Flair?

Slater: Flair and I…we had some sensational wrestling matches. It all goes back to the time that he became World Heavyweight Champion…and the reason why. I didn’t think I was World Heavyweight Champion…then I was going a different direction. I received a lot more than I should have, you know what I mean? But, I can’t look back at it and say anything negative about it…it has nothing to do with Ric Flair at all. It has to do with the National Wrestling Alliance. It was the Board of Directors at the time…they made the decision. All I needed was one vote, you know! (laughs)

Chappell: Unbelievable…so close. That had to be hard to take.

Slater: But that’s okay

Chappell: Dick, it sounds that Flair had the extra vote at the time, but you’re not being critical of him because of it.

Slater: Oh no, I’m not critical of Flair at all…

Chappell: It was the system in place that you all had to live with, I guess.

Slater: It had nothing to do with Ric Flair at all…or myself. It had nothing to do with either one of us.

Chappell: Did you enjoy working with Ric Flair in the ring?

Slater: Yeah, I loved working with Ric Flair…he’s a good friend of mine. I have no complaints against Ric Flair whatsoever.

Chappell: Are there those in the wrestling business that you do have complaints against?

Slater: I really don’t have any ill regards for anybody in the wrestling business at all. I understand that you are what you are, and you make yourself what you make yourself. And I can’t look back, and blame anybody for doing anything bad to me.  I’ve enjoyed my life, and I would not change it in a million years. If I could do it all over again, I'd do it in a New York minute! You know I would, David.

Chappell: (laughs) You’ve had quite a ride…quite a ride!

Slater: I mean, I look back on what I used to do and what I did…and where I’ve gone and the people I’ve known…

Chappell: Through wrestling, you’ve gone places and seen the world more so than 99.9% of the rest of us.

Slater: That’s right. It’s hard to try and get all that out, but through my book I’m trying to get the big picture out to people. I’ve lived a different life than a lot of people would think.  The name of my book is ‘A Thousand Lives.’

Chappell: Really? That’s the title of your book?

Slater: Yeah…

Chappell: I think that’s a perfect fit, Dick!

Well, now, after you had the run with Ric, you left the Mid-Atlantic area soon after dropping the U.S. Title to Ricky Steamboat in the spring of 1984.  When you came back to the area later in 1984, you returned as a babyface against Tully Blanchard and JJ Dillon’s Longriders, and you had some Bunkhouse matches with them. Why the switch to a babyface? In the Mid-Atlantic area, we had not seen that side of you before!

Slater: The babyface thing…was a little bit of a strange time. I never changed my style at all…

Chappell: You sure didn’t! Of course, you had wrestled as a babyface in other areas before that. Did you enjoy the heel persona better?

Slater: Well…I mean, it’s all according to who you wrestle. If I wrestled someone like Abdullah The Butcher, or Stan Hansen, or Bruiser Brody…

Chappell: I understand what you’re saying Dick…it was a little hard to have a scientific match with those guys!

Slater: I wrestled Piper when he was a babyface and I was a heel, and when he was a heel and I was a babyface. I could adapt to that.

Chappell: Like you were saying earlier, that was a real strength for you. You could pretty much adapt to whatever.

Slater: Yeah…it depended on what the circumstance was. If it was the right card and drew and a lot of money, and it caused a lot of attention and people would watch it…that was fine. But if it didn’t…it didn’t feel right.  And it depended on being with great workers…and there were a lot of them with Crockett. All those guys…like working with Flair, working with Wahoo or with Greg Valentine. Or working with Ricky Steamboat…but Ricky Steamboat couldn’t switch to be a heel, you understand?

Chappell: I’m glad you mentioned Ricky Steamboat. As great as he was as a consummate babyface, do you think his legacy is somewhat diminished in that he never worked as a heel?

Slater: He just didn’t have that perspective…that persona himself. Those traits of a heel…he didn’t have them himself.

Chappell: By not having the ability to switch between a babyface and a heel…do you think that holds Steamboat down maybe a notch below the very, very tops in the business?

Slater: Yeah…exactly. You know, you gotta be able to adapt, and do whatever it takes to draw money.

Chappell: Dick, you could definitely adapt well, as you say, but I always thought you were a great heel!

Slater: Yeah, I mean, I would change when it was time. When things got stale, you know…I changed.

Chappell: You bring up a good point. Somebody like Steamboat…it was pretty amazing that he could wrestle exclusively as a babyface, and never really get stale. Though, times have changed, and I doubt whether he could have survived as the ‘goody two shoes’ he came across as…in today’s environment!  But it was a real gift to be able to switch back and forth so effortlessly in the 70s and 80s…like you were able to do

Slater: It’s like being able to walk straight into a wrestling crowd, and being able to switch the people, you understand?

Chappell: You mean like coming out for a match as a babyface, and leaving as a heel…or vice versa?

Slater: I could switch you from liking me to hating me…or I could switch you from hating me to liking me.

Chappell: That’s a real skill…that many couldn’t pull off. But you could.

Slater: Right. Gettin’ booed on the way out to the ring, and get [cheered] on the way back to the dressing room. And the other way too.  That was really something! They never knew what you were gonna do next!

Chappell: Talk about having the audience in the palm of your hand! You must have had that feeling a couple of times?

Slater: That always made me feel good, because I’d love doing that. I enjoyed myself…whatever it [took], that’s what I’d do.

Chappell: After you had your babyface run in the Mid-Atlantic area into 1985, you left and I guess you headed into Watts’ territory then. Why did you leave Crockett?

Slater: I got tired…

Chappell: Just been there long enough?

Slater: I got tired, because I took the job over of booking down there…

Chappell: Right…that’s when you were doing several different things.

Slater: I did that, and I was having a good run in Japan…I mean, I was just burned out. I was just really tired. I got this brainstorm, I don’t know what I was thinking about, but Bill Watts had called me and wanted me to go down there and book his territory. And I said, ‘Well, I don’t know if I want to do that.’ Then I was with Paul Boesch in Houston…of course I had been down there before. And I knew Tully Blanchard and Joe Blanchard in San Antonio…I had worked in and out of there too, you know?

Chappell: No doubt that was a busy time for you…a time many fans remember you in the Mid-South area. Tell us about your valet there, Dark Journey.

Slater: I was at some nightclub down in Atlanta, and I watched her dancing one night. One thing led to another, and I asked her if she wanted to be my valet. So, I took her down [to Mid-South] with me. Boy, did we cause a lot of chaos!

Chappell: Lots of heat!

Slater: And about nine lawsuits!

Chappell: (laughing)

Slater: I had more people really mad at me down there, than I ever did in my life.

Chappell: Because of Dark Journey being with you?

Slater: It didn’t go over well in some places. It got so bad, that I couldn’t go to a few places, you know? I had to stay home. It got that hot, where I had to say, ‘I better not go in there tonight.’ It got so hot, they were following me in the car out of the buildings. They were stalking me in a few places.

Chappell: Did Watts have any trouble with you being with Dark Journey…a young black woman? Watts always struck me as being a pretty conservative guy.

Slater: Bill Watts was kinda scared to death of the whole thing itself…

Chappell: (laughs) That’s sorta what I figured!

Slater: But we really drew a lot of money, because I created a different kind of heat. You know what I mean?

Chappell: Very much so. That was a very conservative area…like I said, I was living there at the time. And I remember how you and her were received in that part of the country!

Slater: They weren’t ready for that. Yeah…nobody was ready for that. I surprised the whole world with that shot! (laughs) Where I did it [in Mid-South]…I had a lot of balls doin’ that! I was completely stupid…but I’m still here!

Chappell: (laughing)

Slater: Then I walked into the Dallas territory and, buddy, there were a whole lot of people not liking me!

Chappell: I believe it!

Slater: Then I’d go the other way with it to, you know? I’d go down to New Orleans, and it would be the other way around down there.

Chappell: Right…I can see not having the same problems there.

Slater: I would take her dressed up one place, and she would take me dressed up another place.

Chappell: (laughs) Depending on what side of the territory you were on!

Slater: (laughs) Depending on what side of the street I was on!

Chappell: (laughing hard) Gotcha! Was the Mid-South/UWF territory the toughest as far as travel was concerned?

Slater: It was pretty tough…but I had an airplane. I had Bill Watts’ airplane.

Chappell: Okay. And you said earlier travel in Crockett was tough…

Slater: Travel-wise, that was tough in Crockett. (In Mid-South), Watts let me use his airplane, but I still drove a lot. His airplane was available, and that helped.  You know what happened? Why I left there?

Chappell: No…sure don’t. Where did you go after that?

Slater: TBS…I went back to book in Atlanta.  But the thing was, I had to book three places. I had Dark Journey, I had Bill Watts, all the boys…and I had that great big monkey on my back, you know that. That took a lot of mental stress on me.

Chappell: I can only imagine.

Slater: Yeah, it was pretty tough. I enjoyed it, but it was tough. I did it for about a year and four months. I wrestled every night in all of it, did all the TV’s…did them all. Joe Blanchard had his own TV, Watts had his own TV and Paul Boesch had his own TV…three TV shows!

Chappell: Good grief!

Slater: And every one of them wanted something different.

Chappell: That was understandable, but it had to be tough on you.

Slater: I survived, and actually I really had a good time doing all of that. I never had a bad time!

Chappell: (laughing)

Slater: But I did get tired…so I went to Key West!

Chappell: And who could blame you, with all that on your plate!  Now, this was generally around the time that Vince McMahon was bringing everybody and their brother up to the WWF. When did you head up to New York?

Slater: That was about the third time I left Florida, and I went up there when Piper was there.

Chappell: They brought you up there with the southern ‘Rebel’ gimmick.

Slater: That was totally not me at all.

Chappell: That was pretty clear to see.

Slater: I didn’t stay there that long with that gimmick…I was out of there. I just survived there. Actually, I worked 98 straight nights in a row there. Finally, I was in Seattle, Washington…and I got on an airplane and flew back to Florida---and went down to the Keys again.  Pat Patterson called me, he was the booker, and he asked me what I was doing. I told him I was out of there, I quit, and I’m goin’ fishing!

Chappell: That was a different world up there, wasn’t it?

Slater: You know David, it wasn’t my style at all.

Chappell: Completely different. It never seemed like a good fit up there for you. You didn’t seem like the Dick Slater we all got to know and enjoy in the Mid-Atlantic area.

Slater: No, I didn’t think it would click there either. I wasn’t really happy with it.  Vince is kinda a funny guy to know, and he wasn’t really involved that much in it. I mean, he was involved, but he was involved behind doors, you know?

Chappell: Did you have any dealings with Vince that you remember, or were they primarily with Patterson and those guys?

Slater: Never had any problems with any of them. I got along with all of them. Never had any problems with anybody in the wrestling business. If things didn’t go right, I just got up and left!

Chappell: That’s the best strategy sometimes!

Slater: I just moved. I wasn’t in the right gimmick, so I left [the WWF]. That wasn’t me.

Chappell: Now, didn’t you come back to Crockett, about the time Crockett was selling out to Turner?

Slater: Yeah, I did a little bit then. I was running around to so many places then, trying to work.

Chappell: I remember in 1989, after Crockett had sold to Turner, that you were involved with the deal with Terry Funk when the plastic bag was put over Ric Flair’s head on TV…

Slater: (laughs) Yeah…I got fired!

Chappell: I thought so.

Slater: Yeah, we put the bag over Flair’s head on TV.

Chappell: And you know Dick, today, that wouldn’t even get a second glance.

Slater: We couldn’t put a plastic bag over somebody’s head on TV…

Chappell: Not 15 years ago, apparently!

Slater: [Turner] fired us both for that deal. They said they got more letters come into the TV station than they ever had before.

Chappell: I have to say, at the time, it was pretty over the top!

Slater: (laughs) We wanted to create some problems…

Chappell: You accomplished that feat!

Slater: We just went ahead and did it. Flair went along with it…

Chappell: Flair would go along with most anything!

Slater: Okay, so we put a plastic bag over Flair, and he pretended like he was dying, and they took him out. So we left, and did a promo…too bad for Flair. Flair never said a word, so they didn’t know what happened to him. Then the next day after it aired on TV, that’s when the problems came…

Chappell: Yeah…the public spoke!

Slater: People were mad on that one. But we were just trying to have some fun. There was a lot of other stuff, that we didn’t have to worry about.

Chappell: At some level, you could argue some of the bloody matches on TV were no worse than sticking a bag on someone’s head!

And in case you missed it, check out PART ONE here.
This interview was conducted and originally published in October of 2010.