Between The Ropes
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
ESPN Florida AM 1080 and AM 1060
Simulcast online at BetweenTheRopes.com
On Tuesday night, August 12, former manager of the Four Horsemen JJ Dillon joined hosts Brian Fritz, Dickerman, and Vito DeNucci live on Between The Ropes on ESPN Florida AM 1080 and AM 1060 to discuss the state of wrestling today, his time with the WWE, his favorite version of the Four Horsemen, and much more.
At the outset of the interview JJ was asked about the decline of male managers in the wrestling industry. He chalked this up to a general change in wrestling and the business turning towards eye candy in that role.
Following up on that JJ discussed the heavily scripted nature of interviews in wrestling today compared to when he was in the business.
“Back in the day we had some creative control over our own individual characters. We were allowed to develop our own personalities and our own style and that’s what made everybody unique and different. It would be very hard for me for somebody to hand me a written script as to what they think my character might say no matter how good they may be or how talented they might be at what they’re doing. I don’t think I would have succeeded in that environment. I just needed to know when I did an interview what were the bullet points…then I would put on my thinking cap and try to think of a new approach, something to make my interview different from everybody else’s and different from my last interview.”
Continuing on the issue of scripted interviews JJ said that he feels that over scripting stifles the creativity of the talent and a cookie cutter effect to the interviews since they are all being written from the same sources.
Next JJ talked about changes in the wrestling business that led to the monopoly that WWE enjoys today. He started by mentioning the impact of cable television on the industry. “The little small fiefdoms couldn’t flourish anymore because everybody was seeing what everybody else was doing with cable television.” He then credited Vince McMahon with successfully having a vision and implementing it. Lastly he discussed his feelings on WCW. “Part of the problem with World Championship Wrestling was you had non-wrestling people who didn’t understand the product trying to compete with a company that was headed by a third generation family in the wrestling business and understood the core product. Even though the WCW was beating them in the ratings the WWF was still remaining profitable with pay per view. It was really a situation where they just gave WCW enough time to create their own demise and that’s really what happened.”
With the business having changed so much JJ was asked how he felt about so many high caliber matches being given away on free TV every week. JJ said that this has hurt pay per view business and also said that fewer and fewer great new talents were coming into the business. As a result of this guys like the Undertaker, Triple H, and Ric Flair have had their careers extended.
Turning back to the old territory days JJ was asked if there was any hope for a current independent promotion to rise to the level of a Mid South or WCCW from back in the past. JJ said that it was possible, but very unlikely. He went on to explain the biggest obstacle in the way of this happening is people’s perceptions. “It’s like a minor league baseball team. You can have a beautiful park, some outstanding players, and a great product that you’re putting on the field, but the perception is that it’s still the minor leagues and the big show is over here and everybody is going to see the disparity between the two. I don’t think there’s any way that the minor league team can elevate themselves to the place where they’re seen at the same level.”
The talk then turned to JJ’s time with the WWE immediately following his time as a member of the Four Horsemen. He said that he worked as Vince McMahon’s right hand man doing creative work and talent relations issues like contracts and travel. He said that Jim Ross took over for him in that role after his departure. He also talked about working in that role during Vince McMahon’s steroid trial. He said that the company was forced to plan for the possibility that Vince might be imprisoned. He said that he was instrumental in bringing Jerry Jarrett into the company as the back up plan since Jerry was successful at doing many of the same things as Vince, just on a smaller scale.
JJ then discussed his appearance at the Ric Flair tribute after WrestleMania 24. He said it was the first time he had talked to Vince McMahon in 12 years since we walked out of the office and quite his job. He said that Howard Finkle was the person who called to invite him and that he felt he owed it to Ric Flair and his fellow Horsemen to be there. He then credited the McMahons for doing such a first class tribute for Ric.
The interview wrapped up with JJ being asked what the best incarnation of the Four Horsemen was. “The original Horsemen will always be special to me because they were what started it all and it wasn’t molded creatively, it was an impromptu thing. The fans really made it happen and it was because of the uniqueness of the talent…But in terms of the in ring product and the capability of the type of matches, about the third time through when Barry Windham was there was the best in ring product because Barry had everything. Barry was young, tall, good looking, had an amazing athleticism, could really do anything in the ring, and would have made a great world champion. So that’s my favorite group in terms of what could happen in the ring.”
To listen to the entire JJ Dillon interview, including JJ talking about partying with Ric Flair and his thoughts on Raven’s lawsuit against the WWE, as well as the entire August 12th edition of Between The Ropes in streaming audio, visit the show online at http://www.BetweenTheRopes.com. In addition to listening to this week’s show you can become a site member and access hundreds of previous Between The Ropes shows and interviews. Join us for Between The Ropes for two hours every Tuesday night at 6:00pm ET on ESPN Florida AM 1080 and AM 1060 and worldwide on BetweenTheRopes.com.
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