Greg Gagne Shoot Interview

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Before there was the coveted Monday night wars. Before billionaires dueled over ratings points and lured talent with million dollar contacts. There was a man who ruled over his territory with values, honesty and a work ethic now long forgotten. Verne Gagne was a man of respect, a man who lived by a code that your word was you bond and expected nothing less of the men and women he dealt with. He built a local empire by teaching his talent that you can never succeed in life unless you earn what you have. Each person who trained under these guidelines would either walk away broken or emerge a better man, a better performer. No one understood more how tough these conditions were than the person who sat at the right hand of a legend for the entire rise and fall of the company he loved. His son Greg Gagne. It was a true honor for RF VIDEO to sit down with Greg Gagne and to hear an insight never before told on what it was like to live under the umbrella of a man with arms as wide as his father Verne. The burden now falls on Greg to carry the family name as he waists little time in the interview separating fact from fiction. Hear early tales of the AWA’s rise to power, learn what it took to create and train true talent. From lighthearted stories of the Iron Sheiks first days in the much heralded AWA training camp to the true grit and determination it took to actually complete it. Emotions run high as Greg describes in detail the ruthless business practices of the WWF as they launched attacks to gain national prominence. For a son to want only the approval of his famous father he had to endure all of the hardship as the empire crumbled. He tells of each and every talent leavening to go up north without the common courtesy of a phone call. Verne took a man at his word by looking him in the eye and shaking his hand only to learn that the promise of money and fame carried more weight than honor. In perhaps one of the most compelling moments in the interview Greg tells in candid detail moment by moment descriptions in what lead to Hulk Hogan leaving the AWA and tipping the balance of power forever. You will hear an emotional Greg Gagne talk of his distain for Eric Bischoff. How it was he, and not Eric or Ric Flair, that was responsible for Hulk Hogan joining WCW in 1994. The eventual falling out with Bischoff that lead to a double-cross and his firing. Greg plays the name game and reveals his thoughts on all of the top stars of the AWA. Greg has several interesting segments on ideas he pitched to compete with the WWF that never came to fruition that will have you thinking what if including a controversial idea of reviving both the AWA and the NWA in the mid-90’s! Discussions of the business turn to life after the AWA, his eventual employment and controversial release by the WWE, motivations behind his fathers hall of fame induction and so much more. Whatever emotions this interview may stir in you it will be impossible for you to not come away witnessing a mans unadulterated love for his father. Greg will say “not a day goes by that I do not think about my father” and it is evident throughout the interview. He may not have always agreed with him, he may have spent his entire life living in the shadow of the great Verne Gagne, but the values, lessons and essence of the father live on in the son.

Obviously you were born into a wrestling family, but we have to ask what are your earliest memories of pro wrestling?
What was it like growing up with Verne Gagne as your father?
When did you realize the business was what it is? Did your father protect the business from you when you were growing up?
What was the best and worst thing about having a star pro wrestler as your father?
Did you have to defend the business to other kids when you were growing up?
Who were the first wrestlers you enjoyed watching beyond your father?
When were you first “let in” on what the business was?
When did you decide you wanted to become a wrestler?
Your father’s school was renowned for turning out great wrestlers but also being extremely difficult – what was your training like?
Your father and Billy Robinson each had a hand in your training – what are your memories of Robinson?
Robinson and your dad starred in the film your father wrote and produced – What led to your dad making the movie “The Wrestler?”
What are your memories of filming the movie?
Any fun stories from the set?
How did your dad get all the other promoters to appear?
Is it true your dad sold a piece of the film to other promoters and wrestlers to help finance it?
Was he disappointed the film wasn’t a bigger hit?
One of his last public appearances was at a public screening of the film – what are your memories of that day?
Who owns the rights to the film today?
Do you remember your first match?
Was it hard following in your father’s footsteps given he was World champion and a major star?
Was it hard to please him as you were finding your way in the business?
You had a number of matches against Ric Flair when you were each pretty early in your career – memories of Ric during that stage of his career?
Could you tell even in 1973 how great he was going to be?
We’re going to give you a number of names you worked with during the early part of your career so you can discuss memories of being in the ring with them:
Rene Goulet
The Crusher
Tony Rocco
Gene Okerlund
Lars Anderson aka Larry Neimi
Bob Remus before he was Sgt. Slaughter
Baron Von Raschke
Red Bastein
Chris Taylor
Paul Perschmann aka Buddy Rose
Wilbur Snyder
Bobby Duncum Sr.
Ernie Ladd
Pat O’Connor (teamed in St. Louis)
Ox Baker
Mad Dog Vachon
Lord Alfred Hayes (in St. Louis)
Ken Patera
Blackjack Lanza
Bob Orton Jr.
Stan Hansen
Iron Sheik
Steve O
There were a number of times you were sent to the WWWF to make appearances in Madison Square Garden. Talk about the reasoning behind that as obviously the AWA and the WWWF at the time were running different regions. Break down why promoters would send talents to other promoters for one-off appearances.
Any specific memories of wrestling the following in MSG: Jose Estrada, Johnny Rodz, Rick McGraw
Do you remember any dealings with Vince McMahon Sr or Jr?
How would you compare the WWWF product at the time to what the AWA was presenting?
Memories of going to St. Louis for Sam Muchnick and appearing at the Kiel Auditorium?
What was Muchnick like to work for?
If the AWA and the NWA were separate entities, why were you being sent to St. Louis? What was the back story there?
How often would there be communication between the top three promotions on a weekly or monthly basis back in the 70s and 80s before the
national expansion of the WWF?
Why is it you rarely went outside of the AWA beyond the dates we discussed – was there another territory you wanted
When did you first meet Jim Brunzell and what led to you being put together as The High-Flyers?
Memories of feuding with Nick Bockwinkel & Ray Stevens?
You defeated Bobby Duncum Sr & Blackjack Lanza to win the AWA Tag titles in 1977 and then feuded with them in a series of rematches. Memories of that feud?
Memories of feuding with Jesse Ventura & Adrian Adonis and what they were like behind the scenes?
Thoughts on Jesse Ventura’s political career?
Memories of touring All Japan Pro Wrestling in 1982?
You had the chance to work opposite Ricky Steamboat in six man tags on that tour – what was he like in the ring?
There was also a dream match on that tour – High-Flyers vs. Steamboat & Jay Youngblood. Any memories of that bout, which was a 30 minute draw?
He and Ric Flair are often mentioned in the same breath as workers in the ring – who do you think was superior as a worker?
What led to the end of the High-Flyers?
Were you upset when Jim Brunzell left for the WWF?
Do you wish you had gotten the chance to reunite the team?
Memories of working with Jerry Blackwell?
You had the chance to challenge for the AWA title a number of times, but you never ended up with the belt – were you disapointed your father never booked you to have a run with the title?
What were the origins of the Bobby Heenan weasel suit matches? Favorite memories of dealing with Bobby? Is it true he was the only AWA talent
to properly give your father notice and close out his run before leaving for the WWF?
Andre the Giant would come in occasionally as a special attraction. Memories of spending time with Andre, either in or outside the ring?
Memories of you and your dad feuding with Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie’s army?
Favorite memories of wrestling Bruiser Brody?
Memories of working and teaming with Wahoo McDaniel?
Memories of the following 80s stars:

Tito Santana
Sherri Martel
Larry Nelson
Scott Hall
Bill & Scott Irwin
Nord the Barbarian
Ken Resnick
Rick Martel
Midnight Rockers
Mr Electricity Steve Regal
Memories of wrestling the following in All Japan:
Genichiro Tenyru
Kerry Von Erich
Mighty Inoue
Dory Funk Jr.
Masa Fuchi
There’s been a lot written and said about the WWF talent raids on the AWA starting with Hulk Hogan. What was your father’s side of that story?
Is it true Vince McMahon tried to buy the AWA?
What was Verne’s side of Hulk jumping from the AWA? Is it true they were fighting over t-shirt money and Japanese booking $ percentages?
Is it true your father called The Iron Sheik offering to pay him to break Hogan’s leg?
How did your dad feel about the talents who left? Did you and he take it personal or was it just part of the business?
Did you ever get an offer to leave?
Memories of teaming with your dad against Mr. Saito and Nick Bockwinkel at Starcage?
How important were The Road Warriors in the battle as WWF expanded?
Talk about why your father decided to team with other promoters to create Pro Wrestling USA and why it didn’t work out?
Looking back, what mistakes do you think the AWA made in the battle against the WWF?
Do you think the Col. DeBeers South African racist gimmick went too far?
Break down how the AWA TV show was syndicated prior to cable spreading nationally?
How did the ESPN deal for the AWA come about and do you think the company was able to make the most of the deal?
Larry Nelson wrote in his book that Verne didn’t even have cable at the time and never watched the show – do you think your father had a grasp of
how much technology was changing the TV and wrestling landscapes?
What led to the AWA getting on WPIX in NYC since that was so far outside of the usual AWA area?
Thoughts on the Ken Patera & Mr. Saito arrests?
Memories of a young Leon White aka Vader?
Memories of wrestling Terry Funk in 1989 in the AWA?
Memories of the following who worked for the AWA over the latter part of its existence:

DJ Peterson
Scott Norton
Doug Somers
Teijo Khan
Badd Company
The Destruction Crew
Tom Zenk
Jake The Milkman Milliman
Brad Rheighans
Tommy Rich
Diamond Dallas Page
Paul Heyman
Nikita Koloff
Soldat Usinov
The Troooper
Ricky Rice
Derrick Dukes

Memories of your feud with Curt Hennig for the AWA title?
There were several instances where the promotion did main event finishes where it appeared you won the belt and then the title was handed back to Hennig on technicalities – do you think looking back that might have been done too often and it burned the crowd?
What led to the angle where Jerry Lawler defeated Curt Hennig for the AWA title in Memphis?
What are your memories of the AWA putting the working agreements together with Memphis and World Class to build to the Superclash 3 PPV?
Do you remember who’s idea it was to try and do the PPV?
Memories of winning the AWA TV title in the tournament, defeating Adrian Adonis?
Memories of feuding with Ron Garvin for the TV title?
Why at Superclash, did you win the belt back by countout, as opposed to Garvin losing, since he was heading to WWF?
What are your behind the scenes memories of the Superclash 3 PPV in Chicago?

Were you and your father let down that the show wasn’t more successful?
What led to the falling out with Jerry Lawler that saw him stripped of the Unified AWA/World Class title?
When the Battle Royal to fill the vacancy was held, why didn’t the promotion book you to win the belt after so many years of coming close but never getting it?
Larry Zbsyzko won the AWA belt – thoughts on his title run and working a feud with Larry?
Memories of wrestling a young Yokozuna in the AWA as Kokina Maximus?
Memories of the angle that ended your career where Kokina splashed your leg – what made you decide it was time to retire?
Was it hard giving up performing in the ring?
Memories of Eric Bischoff during his days working for the AWA?
The Team Challenge Series – who was responsible for coming up with the idea and what was the mindset behind it?
Memories of working the final AWA event in May 1991?
There’s been a lot of talk about why AWA shut down. The WWE documentary on the promotion and Eric Bischoff have both said it wasn’t the
competition of WWF but really the legal battles of Verne trying to fight off an eminent domain acquisition of land he owned by the government that
finally killed the company – talk about that situation and when your father finally decided the end had come?
How did your dad take the end of the company? How did you?
Before the company closed, you settled a workman’s comp claim against the AWA – what was the cause of the claim?

How did you end up in WCW as a producer and road agent?
What did you think of their product at the time?
Break down what your responsibilities were working for WCW?
How had Eric Bischoff changed since his time in the AWA, if at all?
What did you think as the Monday Night Wars were going on as Bischoff was close to putting WWE out of business?

Were you surprised he had the ability to build WCW to such a huge successs?
What was it like dealing with Turner Broadcasting management?

What led to you leaving WCW?
For a time, there was an AWA Classics TV series airing locally in Minnesota hosted by your father and yourself – what was the story behind that series?
Talk about how the deal came about for WWE to purchase the AWA video library and rights. What was the process like?

How did your family feel about selling the material before, during and after the sale was completed?
What did you think of the AWA documentary they produced?
Thoughts on Dale Gagner saying he was related to your family and passing himself off as the AWA for so many years?
Were you surprised that as soon as WWE sued him in regard to the rights, he never defended himself?
Memories of inducting your father into the WWE Hall of Fame? Do you find it ironic that WWE and Vince McMahon were now honoring him?
How did your dad feel about the induction? Was he happy about it? Who wrote his speech?
Memories of spending that weekend with him and your family in Chicago?
What led to WWE hiring you to work in developmental?
Break down the differences between how the AWA handled producing it’s TV show and how WWE produces theirs today, especially from how
segments, matches and interviews are put together?
Thoughts on OVW and how WWE operated it?
Thoughts on working with Danny Davis?
Who were the talents you thought were the best wrestlers while there that could become stars?
What led to WWE letting you go?
Is it true you were told they didn’t like the way you were teaching dropkicks as a reason they were letting you go?
If that’s true, what was your reaction?
Thoughts on the following:
Triple H
John Laurinaitis
Stephanie McMahon
Is it true you had an idea for a wrestling project that was similar to what later became MMA? Why did your version never get off the ground?

Thoughts on TNA?
How did you end up with a role in the first “Highlander” film?
Thoughts on the Buck Zumhoffe arrest and incarceration after he was found guilty of abusing his daughter? Were you shocked by the news?
Obviously your dad had been ill prior to his passing. How would you want wrestling fans to remember Verne Gagne?
What advice would you give to families dealing with relatives who have dementia?
Is there anything you miss about pro wrestling today?
Would you still want to work in the business today?
Let everyone know what you are up to today?
Any favorite road stories or ribs?
Any final words for everyone who’s supported you over the years?