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Scott Teal Interview

Conducted by Jeremy Hartley for TWC Online
Transcribed by Earl Oliver

Jeremy Hartley: Starting from the beginning, and we'll work our way up, and I ask this question of everyone I talk too...when did the wrestling bug bite you? What made you become a fan and pursue this line of work? It's certainly a very demanding thing but it must be a lot of fun for you.

Scott Teal: Well, actually it was way back in the sixties, the mid-sixties was probably the first time I remember hearing anything about wrestling. I was watching TV, just flipping the channels...and of course we only had about thre or four channels...and I run across this great big black guy on the screen. They had some guy playing the drums, playing a cadence and this guy was bouncing his pec muscles up and down to the beat of the drum. I thought that was the funniest thing, it turned out it was "Sailor" Art Thomas...

Jeremy Hartley: Oh yeah!

Scott Teal: Well, abotu 1969 I was over at a girlfriend's house and her parents had Championship Wrestling from Florida on...I had never watched it - other than that one little clip I saw and these guys come walking into the dressing room carrying this wrestler. And he was bloody from head-to-foot, and I looked and I said, "Now what in the world is this?" I thought' "Good grief! Somebody just tore this guy to pieces!" Well, it turned out, what it was, is was Joe Scarp and two-three of the guys were helping him back. The fans had apparently presented Ricky Hunter, who was wrestling as the gladiator, with a watch. Joe stumbled upon a couple of guys - it was the Great Malenko and Hans Mortier were destroying the watch while Ricky was in the ring. Scarp had tried to stop them and of course they bloodied him up and Scarp was crying on the stage, saying, "Ricky I tried to stop them." And I thought this is the neatest stuff, I tuned in and it was like a soap opera. I said, "I'm going to watch it again next week because I want to see what happens, did he get his revenge?" I mean I was fascinated. So I got hooked on that storyline and I tuned in that week and then the next week and every week after that. You know, I continued to watch it. So I guess it was probably a year after that before I ever went to my first live show and that was in Bradenton, Florida where I up. They had Skull Von Stroheim and the Missouri Mauler (Larry Hamilton), and the one that fascinated me, and I just couldn't believe...I don't know if you ever heard of "Spaceman" Frank Hickey...he was probably the funniest characters you'd ever see. He came into the ring as a spaceman. He had a helmet on and a cape and he was running around almost looking like he was trying to be Batman, or something like you'd see Bela Lugosi wearing as Dracula, and I thought that was the funniest thing for a wrestler for this guy to come in in this space suit. But I was hooked from that point on and after that I started making the trip...it was about an hour trip up to Tampa, Florida. I went there every Tuesday night, they had the matches there at the time at the Fort Homer History Armory. I usually met a friend there named James Brown, he worked at a mortuary down there...but anyway we went every other Tuesday night and I was hooked, every chance I had to be at a live wrestling show, you know, I was there.

Jeremy Hartley: So that was that whole Florida territory, the Eddie Graham territory?

Scott Teal: Yes it was, that's right. Eddie Graham was the promoter, actually, when I started Cowboy (Clarence) Luttrell was the promoter. Eddie had his finger in it, I think he probably owned a good part of the territory but the Cowboy was actually the owner at the time. And it wasn't too long after that that Eddie bought Cowboy out.

Jeremy Hartley: Right, and of course, at that time you had Gordon Solie on the television I believe...

Scott Teal: That's right...

Jeremy Hartley: ...and really brought people back into wrestling. There's something that can be said about the territories that a lot of people today don't really realize that in the territories you had time to develope angles, as you mentioned the watch incident with Ricky Hunter, because of the fact that you had these regional stars, these regional territories. Would you say that that was what brought a lot of the mystique into the world of wrestling? Unlike on this really national scale...that you could get closer to the wrestlers, you could really identify with them, almost like a family...

Scott Teal: Sure, you felt like these guys were, well I wouldn't say they were like your friends, but they were guys you looked for every week. And specifically, when I think about it back then, lets use the guys today as an example, you didn't think about just Hulk Hogan, or Stevie Richards, Raven, any of these guys that are big now...you though about some of these other guys like Greg Peterson. Few people know who Greg Peterson was, well Greg Peterson was on the show probably every week, every other week on the TV show. He never won a match. But you know, everybody knew Greg Peterson. Now today how many people can name more than a handfull of the guys that are doing the jobs?

Jeremy Hartley: Sure...

Scott Teal: I mean, you can't. But you mentioned Gordon Solie, Gordon, too me was probably the greatest play-by-play announcer ever...

Jeremy Hartley: Yeah, I think so too...

Scott Teal: He knew all the moves, the holds, he knew what the angles were being planned for the future. He gave pro-wrestling a great deal of respect, which it reall...in a lot of cases today, it doesn't have.

Jeremy Hartley: Yeah...

Scott Teal: But you could tune in, I don't care who you were, watch it then and just listening to Gordon...it had a lot of credibility in the eyes of the general public.

Jeremy Hartley: Yeah, and especially for someone like me who is unable to see the screen, Gordon was very impressive. I could sit there and really understand what was going on in a match whether it be the psychology, whether it be the moves in the ring and that's something that a lot of folks have just taken for granted. But what's interesting to me is...now you're in Tennessee right now..?

Scott Teal: Right...just north of Nashville...

Jeremy Hartley: ...so you said you grew up in Florida, did you get to see a lot of the Tennessee wrestling? Did you recently move to Tennessee?

Scott Teal: No, not at all. I was in Florida during my childhood - after I began watching wrestling I was there, I'd say, another five years before I moved up here. That friend I told you about, we started doing a little newsletter which was quite different from the newsletters that you see today, it was more of a kayfabe thing, you didn't get the real deal or anything that was happening, or who the masked guys were or anything. We called it the "Tampa Scene" and it was about the things happening there in Fort Homer History Armory, and we changed the name later to "Florida Fanfare" and covered then whole territory. It wasn't sold on the newstand, but it was the type of thing whwre fans could order it - and we did pretty well with it. Well, I say real well...as kids we thought it was great - it probably thirty people who subscribed to it...

Jeremy Hartley: So you've always had an interest in the journalism aspect.

Scott Teal: Oh yes, I've always loved it. From the time I was probably about twelve...maybe fifteen years old, I'd say. I had a typewriter. My hobby was comic books before wrestling, and I typed up eery super hero, every power they had, everything you could think about - I used to make a list of everything and I loved, just the history of stuff, how things got started, how the super hero was started - well that sort of carried over into wrestling. I read all the magazines, subscribed to all the newsletters and I just thought, "I'd like to do something for this territory." To let people know what's going on here because back then you could pick up a newstand magazine and all you saw was Bruno Sammartino, Verne Gagne, the Crusher, the Bruiser...and nothing against those guys but nothing...or very little about Florida, very little about Texas, Georgia, and I can understand why...the reason was that most of the people who bought the magazines lived up in the Northeast where they sold the bulk of their magazines. So they sort of went towards those people, their interests. I felt like there needed to be a little bit better coverage then that...that's sort of one of the reasons we did that. But we bought every magazine available, I mean, you name it, we had it. I'll tell you a funny story too about how big of fans we were. You cut me off if I get too longwinded, but this friend and I - we used to go to the Tampa Sportatorium, they did the TV tapings there every Thursday afternoon, and I'd go up there about every other week. One day we were in there and we noticed this big dumpster around the side. The next Tuesday night we got there early and, of course it was dark about seven o'clock, the matches didn't start until 8:30. So about 7:00 we decided lets go to the Sportatorium and check that dumpster out. I could just see programs, I thought' "Man there must be a lot of stuff in there." We got in there and we found 16mm film that they had edited out the TV program, and it was always the funny stuff and the ends of the interviews where the guys break kayfabe and laugh, and the little blooper stuff. And we started digging that stuff up, we did that for about six weeks and all of a sudden we noticed after about six weeks, that the next time we went it was locked. I think they knew somebody was doing it, but we would get down in that dumpster, this is before the matches now, we woulf come out stinking to high heaven, Cokes, food, coffee, you just wouldn't believe...it was terrible. But we dug through there and take that film and then we'd clean it - we had some great 16mm footage. I don't know where it is now, we lost it somewhere along the line...

Jeremy Hartley: Ahhh...did you ever put it in any of your articles or any of your newsletters you were doing..?

Scott Teal: No, no, never did...I didn't even think about it. They would have found out about it...

Jeremy Hartley: Sure, back then...well I was talking to Les Thatcher yesterday and he was talking about how wrestling was a guarded secret back then, and the guys protected there business as they should. Now as far as on the Internet, and for somebody who is covering wrestling as you are and talking to some of the old timers...is it really necessary, or really our right as fans to demand to know all the revealing? I mean, isn't that why we watch wrestling in the first place? Isn't that why we were fans to begin with? We weren't fans of wrestling to begin with because we have an inside track on whose going to hit who with an axe next week...(laughs) I wounder if those who have followed this for a long time ever wonder, you know, "...who are these people and why are they demanding to know this much now about the business." Or is it just because of the "nature of the beast" so to speak? Of the Internet?

Scott Teal: I don't know...that's something that's always been around...whether it's the Internet, or whether its just people in general. Everybody has always had a fascination for what actually happens. What happens in the dressig room? What figures whose going to win, whose going to lose, who comes up with these ideas for how their going to win, how their going to lose.

Jeremy Hartley: Right...

Scott Teal: I don't know that the Internet has really making it any different then it's ever been, I think it's just something that...being a secret, it's just naturally fascinating, people want to know. Now, as far as "demanding to know" the business, I do think that people do expect a little too much and I think that bleeds over to expecting too much from the boys in the ring. However, I think the promotions have dug their own hole, that they've given out so much information and they have done so much to expose the business themselves that I don't have any problem with anybody wanting to know how the business works. I won't always tell people, my newsletter primarily goes out to the wrestlers and to quite a few of the old-time fans, some of the newer fans. But I find that most of the people that do subscribe are the old-time wrestlers and the fans, I don't really cater to the group that doesn't know much and they just buy it to find out secrets. Now there are people I'm sure that subscribe to other newsletters, or read the internet, they think...in fact there's pretty much of a joke in the business, a lot of people, these guys that think their "smart" but they've never been in the business...and I'm not putting these people down because of that reason, but they think they know everything, they want to tell everybody how to run the business, you know, "...they don't do this right, they don't do that right... this guy's a lousy worker, this guy doesn't know how to wrestle, that guy doesn't know how to take bumps..." and they've never done a bit of it. You know, they're 350 lbs. sitting in an easy chair with a computer in front of them...

Jeremy Hartley: Right, well, and the same can be said about corporate America who decides to head up the promotions as well. The same guys that have never been in the ring, that have never taken the bumps, never laced the boots up, so to speak...you know, I've never done any of that, the closest I came was when I did amateur wrestling for six years... But when I ask people about angles and so forth, I ask it out of respect. As you said, I look at it as a fascination...I love to know the history, and that's why the purpose of this show is basically to tell people, "Hey,it's alright to ask, but let the tell you if they want, let the divulge...it's like being a magician, being anything else.

Scott Teal: Well it's what you said, it's respect. It's having respect for the business. There's a lot of people, some of the announcers, Gordon Solie for instance. He's never been in the ring, I don't know - he might have done a deal one time, but he's never taken any bumps but what a credit to the business that guy's been. And you yourself, I think what you are doing here is great, the fact that you're willing to talk to some people, some of the legends of the business who don't get the respect that they should get.

Jeremy Hartley: It's a learning experience for me...

Scott Teal: I hear you there (laughs)...

Jeremy Hartley: It puts a smile on my face every morning when I get up to do an interview with somebody, it's really an incredible thing. So, shifting to your newsletter here, I was talking to Earl Oliver, who runs a web site tribute to Gordon Solie and he also has a Monday night report and he's got some historical interviews...

Scott Teal: Great material on that web site...

Jeremy Hartley: Yeah, he's a great guy, he was my first interview actually, so that's up there now on the web site. We did about a 45 minute interview, we talked about wrestling and the territories that he grew up watching...but anyway, he mentioned that your "Whatever Happened Too..." web site that chronicles your newsletter was one of the first historical emphasis web sites that he saw, and this was back in late '95 - early '96. When was it that you put up your web site?

Scott Teal: If I remember right it was the beginning of '97, I think it was February. Now Ross Marshall, who has a good web site - he was really the first one who put up a "What Ever Happened Too..." web site for me. He handled it for me for about two-three months, then I decided that I wanted to try some things myself and see if I couldn't learn how to write the web pages, and that's where I'm at today. There are several...well, I can't say several actually, but I believe that Earl had his site up even before I did... (Editor's Note: I believe Scott is mistaken in his chronology here because I distinctly remember seeing the Ross Marshall version of his page in early 1996. Whether it was up before or after my own site went up in May '96, I'm not so clear on...) Mark Long's Professional Wrestling Online Museum is another one...

Jeremy Hartley: Yes, that's a good one. I think the best one I've seen is put up by the man himself, the Dory Funk, Jr. page.

Scott Teal: Yes it is, it is good...

Jeremy Hartley: It has those great stories. So, how long have you been producing this "Whatever Happened Too..." newsletter?

Scott Teal: Well...I wish I had a date...I could look it up, but it's been about 5 years or so. I had been out of the business, I'd worked for Nick Gulas in Tennessee under various capacities for a quite a few of years. About 1982, I think it was, I quite the business, got out of it, The only thing I kept up with was - I read a couple of newsletters once in a while, and in 90 - whatever year it was - '91, a friend called and said he was having a Wrestling Flea Market and a Banquet here in Nashville and he wanted some help with producing his program and everything. I said, "Well I'll be glad to do some printing stuff for you" and he was telling me all who was here, he said, "Yeah, Dick Steinborne, I talked to him the other day and he was asking, 'What ever happened to Scott Teal?'" And I said, "Well, you tell Dick where I am and have him call me." Well, over the course of the next few weeks as I helped (this guy's name was Don Rowlett) as I helped Don, he said, "You know, everybody keeps asking, "Whatever happened to so-and-so, whatever happened to so-and-so." And it was like a light just clicked. I'd been out of wrestling for all those years and I thought, "You know, that would be a fascinating subject." Whatever happened to...Baron Skacluna, whatever happened to Roger Kirby, all these guys. And that's where it all got started was at that little event that Don put on. I went to the Flea Market part of it and talked to a lot of old friends I hadn't seen in years, I passed out flyers and it originally started out to be just a kayfabe type thing, just where are they at, where they started wrestling, what they're doing today and all the boys kept encouraging me saying, "Print the stories, don't just give us the fluff stuff, you know, that kind of stuff you can find on the newstand." And, you know, I hate to knock the newstand magazines but they don't carry the good , nitty gritty stuff. And that's how it ended up the way it is today. The guys keep saying, "Just print these things in detail, tell these straight stories before they're lost". It seemed like every month two or three of the guys are passing away and several that have called and said, "Yeah, I'd like to do an interview", I say "Great! I'll get with you.." and before I had a chance to get back with them they'd passed away. And I think, "What a shame". I would have loved to have talked to them but just because of time constraints or whatever I just never got a chance.

Jeremy Hartley: Yeah. Let's backtrack a little. We had discussed via email several months ago about your involvement in the business, but give us a little capsule of Scott Teal in the wrestling business here.

Scott Teal: Alright, actually I guess it started in Florida, I was doing my newsletter and I started shooting pictures at the matches, it wasn't for the newsletter - I just enjoyed the photos and I started sending them to "The Wrestler", and "Inside Pro-Wrestling" for Bill Apter. And for Tommy Kay, who used to put out, I think it was "Wrestling Monthly" out of Scottsdale, Arizona. So I started shooting pictures for the magazines and several of the boys down there (Editor's Note: "boys" is how people in the business generally refer to the wrestlers), that were working in Florida asked me about pictures, they saw me around the ringside, so I started to selling pictures to them. I made a few trips to Georgia for the Gunkel's, shooting pictures there. In '74, when I moved to Nashville, I don't think I even went to the matches for the first year, I was too busy with school. And I went to the matches finally and started shooting, I started traveling around with some of my old friends from Florida that came in to work for Nick Gulas, and Nick came up to me in Huntsville one day, he said he's seen my work and he asked me if I'd come work for him doing publicity. So I just did his photography and within the next year I was doing the arena program and putting out the weekly "Slam-O-Gram" programs which we sold at arenas throughout Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, and all the house shows there. I didn't have Memphis, didn't have Birmingham, but I had most of the others. That evolved into carrying all kinds of gimmicks, souveniers, you name it - ashtrays, combs, notebooks - anything...Boyd Pierce was the one whoi used to have them made up...

Jeremy Hartley: Oh, he was the one who did play-by-play for the Bill Watt's promotion..?

Scott Teal: Yes, he worked in Houston for Paul Bosch for many years...he put out a whole line of stuff. If it was portable, and you could carry it he would stamp either "NWA" or some kind of wrestling pisture on it and sell it as a souvenier at the arenas. You wouldn't believe the stuff we had! I used to get kidded because the hottest thing we had was this great big plastic afro comb, the thing was huge and we sold these things for a buck a piece with "National Wrestling Alliance" on it. People loved them, especially the black people in Tennessee, man they went crazy over that thing! We were ordering those by the case. Well, every week these guys would come back and they'd buy another one and they'd say, "Man, you need to make these things out of rubber, they break! We put them in our pockets and they break." I said, "Well, we'll talk about that..." then I'd look at my wife after they'd leave and say, "We're never going to make these things out of rubber because every time they break we can sell another one." We sold cases of them.

Jeremy Hartley: (laughs)

Scott Teal: We had a lot of fun in those years - I really miss the traveling and everything else. I stayed in the business until 1981-82. Nick sold his promotion to Jerry Jarrett and Buddy Fuller and I worked for Buddy for, I guess half a year or so and then Jarrett bought the whole promotion. Jerry had his programs that he was already selling, his own photography and everything so I just got out of the business and started working full time at United Parcel Service.

Jeremy Hartley: And you're still doing that now..?

Scott Teal: Yeah, I've been with them for almost 20 years now. I drive a tractor trailer back and forth from here to Memphis, or here top Louisville. Just 8 hour to 10 hour days, back home every night.

Jeremy Hartley: When I think of wrestling in Tennessee I immediately think of Jerry Lawler and Eddie Gilbert, both important wrestlers out of Tennessee. Do you have any memories or stories about either of those guys?

Scott Teal: Well, I don't really have a lot of stories about Eddie because when I was working for Nick, I guess Eddie was still a teenager, stil pretty young and wasn't in the business yet. He was a great person, he loved the business. I met him a couple of times when I'd go to Memphis - just a really neat kid. He loved to talk about wrestling and I guess he didn't really get into the business until I was either out or I was just about out. So I didn't really get a chance to be around Eddie when he was in the business - it was before he was a wrestler.

Jeremy Hartley: Uh huh...

Scott Teal: Jerry Lawler? I knew Jerry pretty well back then. Jerry's a great guy. I worked for Jerry for quite a while, at the time, like I said, I was doing the programs for Nick. Jerry Jarrett and Jerry Lawler sort of went off on their own. They sort of did a deal where they had been running Louisville, Memphis and that end of the territory and they sort of took it over from Nick. It was sort of a power play so they could have their own deal. I think they probably paid Nick something along the line for it but I have never been able to find anybody to verify that. But Lawler called me one day and wanted me to come do the stories for his program in Memphis. Well, it doesn't matter whether you're a wrestler or publicity or what, when you work for a promotion, most of the time they're going to say, "If you go work for the outlaw guys, you'll never work for me again." And that's sort of the way it was. Nick came to me and said, "You know, you're making a fairly decent living with me, I'd rather you not be taking pictures and doing stuff for the other group." So what I did was, I didn't go to the shows but I sent Lawler 5 or 6 stories a week and he'd send me a check. So I had a chance to work for Lawler. Lawler was real good. He seemed to love the work I did and I saw him, I guess, last summer. The only show I've been to in about 15 years was in Franklin, Tennessee this past summer.

Jeremy Hartley: Was that the Weindross...

Scott Teal: That's right, George Weindross promoted it and wanted to know if I would come out. I thought I'd like to, and the more I thought about it I realized it had been a long time because, like I said, it had been 15 years since I had been to a show. But I saw Lawler whaile I was there and we had a nice time. We spent probably close to an hour standing in the back laughing and talking about old stories and old times.

Jeremy Hartley: So do you follow wrestling of today..?

Scott Teal: No, I read two newsletters, I read the Observer and I read the Lariet. I love the write-ups in the Lariet, I think they do a super job with their house show reports, I mean they just do a great job...

Jeremy Hartley: Very detailed...

Scott Teal: Yes, it is. And that's about all I really do. I don't watch the television anymore, I really haven't watched it in years and years. Every once in a while I'm flipping the channels I just watch a couple minutes of it but that's about it. I really just think that the product they have today just doesn't interest me. I'm not intersted in all the women and the flash that they show. Like that's half of what they do anymore. It's gotten completely away from wrestling, and I don't mean to be knocking it because if that's what people want to see, that's great. If that's whatwas on television when I flipped the channels at my girlfriend's house that day then I wouldn't be a fan today. I never would have kept up watching it. I don't know it just doesn't interest me.

Jeremy Hartley: Youe mentioned something in your email about the injuries and the high impact style of today compared to what it was..if you could kind of describe it, what were the styles like back when you were following it, and what made you a fan? As you,ve been reading, you know that people seem to want these "double somersault planchas" and going though tables and, you know, time bombs and (laughs) everything else...

Scott Teal: Yeah - barbed wire...

Jeremy Hartley: Yes (laughs) exploding...

Scott Teal: Sure. Well, it was quite different back then. I keep coming back to Gordon Solie, he talked constantly about amateur wrestling. Even on the program. And in Florida that's what they were. I mean, it was professional wrestling but watching them in the ring, they were amateur wrestling. You know, they did their little deal whenever it was time to do it but for the mot part they were wrestling, nd I'm talking about the brawlers too. The Missouri Mauler, Buddy Colt - some of the great heels in the business - these guys weren't just getting out there and hitting and punching, they were pretty good on the mat when you get right down to it. They would feature special segmants on the program with some of the great amateurs, you know, that were pros like Don Curtis, John Heath, Hiro Matsuda, Danny Hodge - they'd have them out there doing amateur matches just to explain to people how they worked. Eddie Graham, the promoter was a big sponsor of amateur wrestling in the State of Florida.

Jeremy Hartley: Yeah, he did a lot of charity work, a lot of scholarship work and that type of stuff...

Scott Teal: Sure, but they had a good mix, you know, they had a good mix of amateur wrestling and then they had the knock-down-drag-outs every week. There was always an emphasis placed on the amateur wrestling, so I guess that's pretty much what I enjoyed about it more then anything and, as I said, Gordon put it over to an extent that you believed what they were doing, that they were really getting at it, really wrestling. I think today, one of the things that really scares me is the way the wrestlers are abusing their bodies. They are endangering their health in their matches, and I guess it's because of the fans. The fans demand so much, maybe that's what you were getting at a little while ago when we were talking about this. But the fans just don't seem to respect the wrestlers for what they're doing in the ring. Today if they get in there and try and do any type of wrestling they're chanting "boring" - not only that, they're chanting the nasty stuff at the wrestlers' women - I don't really understand that. The old timers back when I used to watch wrestling, they did a lot of the high spots, the bumps and a lot of them are having a problems today because of it. They're getting their knees replaced, their hips replaced. But they could work for twenty/thirty/thirty-five/forty years without having to quit. Well, you got guys today, I mean, you look at Stevie Richards...

Jeremy Hartley: Yeah, Stevie Richards is now out...

Scott Teal: Right, and how old is he and how long has he been in the business..? Steve Austin - he's having problems, you know those are young guys but what future do they have? Sabu? There a guy who gives the fans everything he can give but, if he keeps up that pace - what's he going to do ten years from now? And the fans don't care. You know, you stop and think, the fans talk about how great Sabu is - I mean, they go back and forth on that deal, about how wonderful he is because he does all these great moves and abuses his body. Well that's fine, but ten years from now when Sabu's out of the business, their not going to care one iota about him.

Jeremy Hartley: Right...

Scott Teal: You know, he'll be out of the business and what's he going to be doing? I could give you a list of about a thousand ex-wrestlers right now who gave everything they had for the business to entertain the fans, yet today have nothing. They're working dead end jobs making little more then minimum wage and then when you try and talk to people about them they say, "Well, I don't care about him, he's an old-timer, what do I need to care about that guy for?" But they gave their everything to the business, a lot of sacrifice back then, with the traveling and being away from their families. It's just a different breed of people today, I don't know what they want from the boys, you know?

Jeremy Hartley: Yeah...

Scott Teal: It seems like nothing they do is good enough, fast enough, dangerous enough or entertaining enough. I guess it's the times. People demand so much these days. I've seen my kids, they'll go see one of these Arnold Swarzenegger films and they come out saying, "Ah...it was all right but it got boring at times. I mean what could be boring? And I loved it. I think it's just that people expect so much, they've seen so much that what else can you give them? And its the same in wrestling, it's just carried over. You just get to a point, the boys, some of the old-timers watch today and they say, "...that move right there" say a piledriver... "that move would be used in the middle of, say, an 8 week program with somebody..." They wouldn't be able to get over the fact that it's a killer, that they just destroyed a guy with a piledriver. Now they get out to the ring and it's one of the first things he does. Well, what do you come back with? You know, you don't, you've just got to give them more and more.

Jeremy Hartley: Yeah...

Scott Teal: Or like we said, the high bumps - dangerous things. I still don't understand this stuff in Japan, I have only seen a tape - but all this explosions in the ring - it's all beyond my comprehension I guess. I guess I'm too old to understand it...

Jeremy Hartley: (laughs) No...unless 22 is too old to understand (laughs) because I don't understand it either. In talking with a lot of these old-timers...we had mentioned off the record - the tape wasn't running at the time - but you had said how foks would call you for interviews. Did you find it easy to start a project like this? Were people willing to talk? Or was it like, "Who is this guy..?"

Scott Teal: Yeah, I find it easier with people that I know. thee guys in the business that came through Tennessee, I was friends with everybody. So I didn't have any problem. I had a lot of credibility with them. My program always gave 100%, and it's a funny story around here because as I printed these programs I would bring them to the dressing room and I'd leave copies around for all the boys. Well' they'd come in and they'd grab couple, because they were always great, I'd do the made-up interviews and all. It started to be a running gag through the weeks - Roger Kirby was the one who started it. I walked into the dressing room one day and he said, "Let me see a copy of that program. I want to see what I don't remember saying last week."

Jeremy Hartley: (laughs)

Scott Teal: (laughs) ...and that was funny because I'd make up all this stuff. Well, they thought it was great as it wound up, bits and pieces of these interviews, which I had pretty much worked, you know, would appear on television the next week when they did their TV promos...

Jeremy Hartley: (laughs)

Scott Teal: So anyway, that's the long way around, but I had a lot of respect from the boys, I think, and I think that's why most of them are willing to talk to me, Most of them understand the fact that there's really not going to be anything hurt by sharing the facts like they used to be. I mean, twenty years ago I probably would have been beat up for doing the kind stuff that we print today. But the boys, some of my most faithful subscribers are the guys themselves. They remember the stories, they love the stories, they love hearing them again. A lot of them they've forgotten about.

Jeremy Hartley: Yeah...or some of them probably didn't even know...

Scott Teal: Sure, there's a lot of them that didn't know. In fact, some of them have been made-up, you know. Some of the lies that are told...

Jeremy Hartley: Some of the memeories get "enhanced" as they get older...(laughs)

Scott Teal: Very much so.

Jeremy Hartley: You know you have a spot on your web page for the Cauliflower Alley Club and it impressed me so much that after I talked to Lou Thesz about it that I decided to go to the March 14th meeting (Editors Note: the club's annual dinner was held in Studio City, CA at the Sportsmans' Lodge). Hopefully 'm going to be able to cover it for this radio show. I'm not going to be, you know, perstering them for interviews but I hope to get the roast they're going to be doing for Lou and a couple of other things...

Scott Teal: Yeah, well don't ever feel like you're pestering these guys to call them, these guyd, especially some of the old, old-timers...it's like Frankie Kane - I did a book on Frankie. Frankie was one of the original Infernos. Now Frank, for forty years was a vital part of the business. He was well known, respected, he was on television every week - everybody knew him. Well, when he got out of the business he became just another guy. When you call a lot of these guys for an interview or to talk to them, they are more then happy tp talk to you because, you know, they don't get that exposure that they used to get. When you call them and say, "Hey man, I remember you from back in the 50's. You worked with so-and-so, that was a great match..." or, "You know, I just loved wrestling back then, things have really changed and I wish you were working here again because I really liked watching you..." - they love to hear that. You're giving them that respect that they don't get any more. So don't ever feel that. If you call somebody and they don't want to talk, just hang up. I guarantee you 95% of them will enjoy hearing from you. Whether they'll open up with you, as far as, you know, not maintaining kayfabe about everything, that's a different story. A lot of them will open up, because they know there's really nothing going to be hurt any more by doing that but...no, any chance that you get to talk to these guys, get them to tell their stories - have at it.

Jeremy Hartley: Well, and that's one of the things. When I came across your "What Ever Happened Too..." web site, for me to read something on the screen I have this little speech board (Editors' Note: Jeremy is blind) that sounds like something close to a Swede on drugs...

Scott Teal: (laughs)

Jeremy Hartley: ...and so you're trying to get the overall picture of what's going on, and you can't really imagine the voice because you're having another voice speak to you, and as I'm reading these publications I say to myself, "I would kill to hear that actual voice, that actual emphasis..." and so that's why I am presenting these interviews. I'm having a ball doing it...

Scott Teal: I told somebody last week, "The Killer Karl Kox interview was my favorite interview that I've ever done." But it was probably so much better for me then it was for everybody else because I could hear the inflection in his voice as he talked because he's a funny guy, just the way he talks and addresses himself, it makes it funny. I wish there was a way that I could have these interviews available as audio because it just adds so much to telling of the story.

Jeremy Hartley: Right. You know, you mentioned that you did the book with Frankie Kane. You've also worked with J. Michael Kenyon (Editors' Note: Kenyon is the the editor of the "Wrestling as we like it" papers) on some of these and what did you call them? "Rasslin' Reprints"?

Scott Teal: "Rasslin' Reprints". The only one I have in that series, eventually we'll add some more, but there's an old book called "The Fall Guy". It was, I'd say, the first book written that really exposed wrestling. It took you behind the scenes and explained what was going on with the World Heavyweight Title, how that was secured a lot of times. It's funny, even when I got started doing my own newsletter, I guess I really didn't realize that there were so many exposes out there, but its always been that way. Probably it's because of mass communication that we feel there's more of them out there today. I mean from the thirties on out, wrestling has been exposed. Jack Pheffer, who was a promoter up in New York, who you've probably heard of - he was another character, he was feeding the finishes of matches to Stan Parker (New York Times columnist) before they ever took place! And wrestling was doing as well then as it ever was. I think it hurt it over a period of time, doing that, but Roy Shire, a promoter ot in San Francisco, he did a bix newspaper expose, talked about everything from the blood to how they determined the matches - it didn't hurt anything. That's the way it's always been. JM: I think those are in the "WAWLI" papers ("Wrestling As We Liked It"), and that's something that J. Michael Kenyon does so well...haven't you printed an actual bound version of his issues..?

Scott Teal: Yes, as they come out, there have been four issues so far, but as they come out I format them, which takes a lot of time. You know, when you get something off the web it's really sort of jumbled. But I format them in really tiny 8 point type, and as soon as I get 100 pages I produce another volume. So I've just about got enough for the fifth volume. I just feel that it's something that we need to have in print because so much of our history is being lost. J. Michael does such a good job with his research that for it to be on the Internet and nowhere else is a shame. A lot of people don't have access to the Internet.

Jeremy Hartley: Right, and that's something we talked about. You always hear that these promotions nowadays are booking for the Internet ans and its all they're doing is catering to them - as I asked Les Thatcher yesterday, I said, "...are we really talkig about a big percentage?" and he said, "No." There are still fans that are just fans and buy the pay-per-views and threy don't know anything about the insider information.

Scott Teal: Sure, well even in the days when I was in it you had fans who would scream bloody blue murder during the matches - well they'd walk into the matches talking about it being fake, "Yeah well, it's fake but I think the main events are real...". And even while they would talk about the matches being fake, as soon as the matches started they were into it! I don't know if it was just the fact that they wanted release from everyday life and they thought, "Well I'll get into this..." the bad guy/good guy situation or "let's see some justice here..." I don't know what it is. It's funny, I can't really recall anytime, other than when I first got into it, maybe the first few weeks of watching it, that I didn't know in the back of my mind that there was more too it then just wrestling. And I think everybody's that way. People who say, "Well, people use dto believe it way back then...", I don't think that's true. I really don't.

Jeremy Hartley: I think what it is, you know, like for me and for a lot of other fans - sure, we know it's a work but, you know, you have to be in shape, there's no doubt about it you have to willing to take those bumps. Especially the guys who wrestled three- four times a night. And they would be repeating this several times a week, they'd be going on the road. Driving from one booking to another, not being able to fly and "boom!" they'd have to get into their trunks and wrestle again...

Scott Teal: That's right...

Jeremy Hartley: ...at that point it was just as fast paced as it is now, it's just taken on a different package...

Scott Teal: Yeah, I think that today, in some cases it might be even more stressful. Like I said, I don't enjoy the product as much but I think that a lot of the guys you have today are great workers, you know, they're not wrestlers what-so-ever, you see very little wrestling, but it's a completely different product and I've gotten to the point where I don't knock them any more for that. And I used to, saying, "Man, you don't see a wrestling hold anywhere..." but it's a completely different animal...

Jeremy Hartley: Well I think to that something can be said about, as you said, the great workers. I can name a couple of tremendous workers who, if they haven't been in the business for years and years, they've either had fathers who were in the business or they've been trained...I mean even Shawn Michaels was trained by Verne Gagne, so he had to have a little bit of that instilled into him. You had guys like Ric Flair still working today, Bret Hart, Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, the list continues to go on. And then you have guys who, if they call it wrestling, guys like Kevin Nash and rest of those characters...

Scott Teal: Sure, it's more of a character then anything that gets over, I think.

Jeremy Hartley: And speaking of characters, there were a few back in the sixties...and one who has become a legend, even though a lot of people haven't even heard of him today, and that's the original Shiek (Edward Farhat). Unfortunately the only matches I have been able to see of his career are just bits and pieces of matches with Bobo Brazil and Mark Lewin and a coupel of the other characters, but what made him so special?

Scott Teal: I guess it was just the outrageous caracter that he portrayed. You know it's funny, I'd been in the business probably 8 years or so before I met Sheik. He came to Tennessee for Nick, actually they were working together somehow in a promotion. I met him in the dressing room, talked to him a while, he was telling me about some things he wanted, some pictures he wanted. And some of the things he was going to do, and I get out to ringside and I'm shooting the matches. Well, he gets in there for his match and, I think he was working against Lewin, he gets out of the ring - here he is all bloody - and he comes at me with his hands up in the air. I'd been in the business a number of years and knew what was going on, but it scared me! Of course, I stood up and ran, I did the little deal, you know, worked with him, letting him chase the photographer around the ringside, this crazy Shiek - but even knowing what I did - it scared me! You know, it was that feeling like, "...this guy is crazy, maybe I'm wrong, maybe it's not a work after all..."

Jeremy Hartley: (laughs)

Scott Teal: Just the same as you go to these haunted houses I guess, and you know their not real, but it scares you to death! And I think that was just part of the Shiek's character. I think that regardless of the bad rep he has from a lot of guys that were more "pure" wrestlers, he had a character that people believed. They believed every minute that soomething was wrong with him. That, you know, "upstairs" he was just a little bit nuts, and I think that little bit of belief was what made people sit back and think, "Well. maybe there is something to this..." I do think though that the constant use of the gimmicks and the blood was what eventually led to the downfall of the whole territory.

Jeremy Hartley: Right, and then you had guys come in later, Terry Funk, for instance...the think about Terry Funk that's always amazed me...this crazy loon, you know, doing all these crazy things - and actually he's avery intellegent man.

Scott Teal: Sure he is. It's hard to diffientiate, I think at time, between the character and the real person regardless of how long you've been in the business. You know, you always think that, like with the Shiek that there is something wrong with him, or like with Terry that he's just a nut. But Terry is a great worker, I mean, and a great wrestler too. He can go either way. I think that's what has made him successful. He wasn't just a character but he had something that he could back it up with - and seems more, I guess you'd say, "realistic".

Jeremy Hartley: Yeah, well and he was somebody too that is still working today and still being able to be put over, which I think has amazed me more then anything else - this hardcore brand of fans - everybody knows who Terry Funk is, and I guess that just takes a very special person, sometimes I think it takes intellegence to be crazy.

Scott Teal: Yes it does...

Jeremy Hartley: You know, the more intellegent you are, the more you can see a storyline, and the more you can see angles coming, and the more you can work them. You mentioned the territories, and I have seen your share of when the NWA Champion would go into the territories. Those must have been some really classic matches just because the Champions had to be on their game all the time and so did the wrestlers, and the fans as well. I can recall some matches I've seen with Harley Race - would you say that he was one of the better workers...

Scott Teal: Well, you put me on the spot there...he was definitely a big part of wrestling history, but back then you had manymany guys who were great workers and great wrestlers both. It would be really hard for me to sit down and say, you know, Jack Brisco was a much better World Champion then Harley Race. You know, it was a different time frame, a different era. I don't know, you even go back to Lou Thesz. Thesz was great with what he did - today, you know, he wouldn't get over for anything because people just aren't educated to what he did. But what he did, he did the best. Buddy Rogers, now there's a good case of somebody that really couldn't wrestle all that well. I guess back them they would have referred to him as the Hulk Hogan of that era...and I'm not knocking HUlk because what he does is great, he's a great showman, but Buddy Rogers couldn't wrestle a lick, but boy, he could pack 'em into the arenas and that's the name of the game. So I guess I'd be hard pressed to say who would be the best. I have had situations in the past where people have asked me things like that, or "what match do you think was the best match of all time?" - I think it depends on where you grow up. The matches that I saw that stand out in my mind, if I had to pick one, would be Jack Brisco against Dory Funk, Jr. I probably saw them wrestle maybe 13-14 times, an hour to ninty minutes apiece. Two scientific wrestlers, no gimmicks, no brawling, just scientific wrestling. And they had the people on their feet, in an hour match, people were on their feet 45-50 minutes. And I would take that as probably the greatest match ever, but then again, I never saw the matches up in Portland, Oregon or the matches in New York back then. That's just something that depends on the person.

Jeremy Hartley: You know it's funny, I have this big pile of tapes of interviews I'm going to be putting together for this show, and I have to ask, what do you do when your conducting an interview - and people have a tendancy to just ramble on, to things as organized as you do...?

Scott Teal: Well, you'll probably find out when you try to organize aome of this stuff I've been talking about (Editor's Note: Tell me about it..!) I've mentioned in my newsletters several times that the interviews I print aren't exactly verbatum. It is exactly what they said. What I end up doing is, doing the interview, and after I type it up onto the computer, when I'm finished...I'll have generally 20-30 questions that I maybe didn't know anything about and I think, "Well I should have asked this..." or "I should have asked that..." So I'll end up calling them back. At that point you have two separate interviews. I end up taking it all, and I put it in a timeline. From the trime you read the first paragraph it's just liek the guy started from his childhood, whene he was born and talked through to where he is at today. Of course, the interviews don't work that way, but I do it because it gives people a little better idea of a guys life rather then jumping from 1952 to 1980 then back to the 1940's up to the '90's. You know you really can't get a good feel for their life. This more the way I do it to put things into perspective.

Jeremy Hartley: So we've been talking about your "What Ever Happened Too..." newsletter. What's the timeline on that now?

Scott Teal: I'd like it to be every other month but it works out to once every two-to-three months now. About four-to-six issues a year. Each issue now is 50 pages - it's real small print, there's no wasted space, no advertising, I know this sounds like a plug but what I want to say is that I want to give the people as much as I can for their money. You know, this isn't a business for me, I make very little money. I've got a full-time job - I could work a few hours overtime a week and make a lot more. But I enjoy doing it so it generally works out to be about every tw0-and-a-half to three months. We're trying to get the next one out so that the time frame from the time I mailed the last one will be two months.

Jeremy Hartley: You know, as you said, interviews don't always go the way we want because something just popped into my mind. You did a story that I have yet to read, but you did a whole issue...is it in the next issue or in the last one... about the Carnival wrestlers...

Scott Teal: Yes...

Jeremy Hartley: ...and you also did something about the wrestling bears?

Scott Teal: I never really did get to the wrestling bears. I said I was going to try to in the next issue and didn't. I will in the future. What I'm trying to do is get the boys to tell the story as they remember it about the wrestling bears. There's some funny stories. The Carnivals is an ongoing thing, it started in the last issue, actually the past two issues, and most people don't realize it but professional wrestling started in the carnivals where people would go up to the Carnival and challenge a wrestler. And a lot of that, believe it or not was a work just like it is in professional wrestling today.

Jeremy Hartley: Sure, and that;'s where the art of hooking came from.

Scott Teal: Yes it was. I just talked to a guy named Dick Cardin, I did a big interview with him for my next issue and he was one of the great hookers up in the Seatle area. It's a fascinating subject. If you're interested in pro-wrestling, the subject of "AT Shows" which stands for Athletic Shows and the Carnivals is just a fascinating subject.

Jeremy Hartley: So if anybody out there wants to read about this kind of stuff you've got one article on your web page about it, "Taking On All Comers".

Scott Teal: Right, that's a brief overview by one of the fellows that writes for me, a historian named Mark Hewitt. He did quite a bit of research and wrote that article. It's a good overview of how the Carnival Athletic Shows worked.

Jeremy Hartley: Right, and for anyone whose wondering, I don't believe in giving out URL's because a lot of times they get so jumbled in the translation, however, I have a links list, so if you're listening to the show and you ] think, "Oh, I want to click over to Scott's web page..." just click on the "What Ever Happened to..." on this week's show and it will be right there for you. You've got a lot of interesting links, you've done a lot of research, it looks like to get the fans some very informative wrestling stuff. You know you see "exclusive links" on a lot of web sites and you click on them and most of them are down or they don't give you...

Scott Teal: Or they take you somewhere else...

Jeremy Hartley: Yeah, exactly...and they don't give you much but you seem to have scouted the web...

Scott Teal: I try, every once in a while I'll go through and find the good stuff, you know, that's out there. You know I could have a page with probably 3000 links on it of wrestling stuff...

Jeremy Hartley: (laughs)

Scott Teal: ...but there's so much stuff that's repeated so I limit it to the one that I really feel are worthy of being read because there's so much junk out there, like I said that's just copied or repeated from somewhere else. I appreciate the nice comments you made...

Jeremy Hartley: Hey, no problem. I'm one who looks for wrestling history and your site I keep cooming back too. As a matter of fact, any time you put a new update I'm probably one of the first people to email saying, "Wow! Great..."

Scott Teal: (laughs) Yeah, you're pretty good about that...I will say one thing about...you know, you said something about wrestling history. A lot of people today, when you mention wrestling history they sort of shrug and say, "Well, I'm not really interested. People that read the stories on my web page, it's not just history written down in a long, monotonous thing. Most of what I have on there are the stories that were told by the wrestlers themselves. They're funny, great stories...the ribs they pulled on the road on each other, the things that happened behind the scenes, in the dressing room. I've talked with a guy that does publications for Carnivals, he has interviews with the old Carnival workers, not wrestlers but the Carnival people, the "Carnies". I sent him an issue and he doesn't know the first thing about wrestling but he loved it! He just loves it because of the funny stories in it. It sort of gives you a slice of life of what it was like to be a professional wrestler in the old days. So I try to make it a little bit for everybody.

Jeremy Hartley: Well, the thing about the interviews and the stories - name some of the folks that contribute to your publication. You have a whose who list of folks that write memories...and so forth. Name off a few of those...

Scott Teal: Well, most of the one's that do write have been around wrestling for thirty to forty years. The one that I send me things regularly - Tom Burke, Fred Hornby, Don Leuss, couple of guys out of the Minniapolis area, George Shire and James Melby. Chuck Thornton down in Atlanta. J. Michael Kenyon, of course you've mentioned him and we've mentioned Mark Hewitt and I've been branching out over the past several months and several of the guys have told me that they're interested in contributing things on a regular basis. I think it was Dick Steinborne really who was the first to do that. He has a column in my newsletter called "The Way I Remember It..." - and he tells the old stories the way he remembers as a wrestler. So I've added about 6 or 7 other wrestlers since then. Dean Silverstone who used to promote up in Seatle, he has a regular column, of course Frankie Kane, Lou Thesz, Killer Karl Kox - that guy knows a funny story about everybody. And Spudnick Monroe the same way. All the boys are contributing, I just call them up and say, "You know, so-and-so died - do you remember anything about him..?" and they tell me the most wonderful or funny stories about these guys.

Jeremy Hartley: Can you tell us about some of the more memorable interviews or stories that you've published in the newsletter?

Scott Teal: I hate to choose because I love them all. I earn something from every one of them. It doesn't matter who it is, if it's some little tidbit or some little story. I did mention Killer Karl Kox, his was just tremendous, I had so much fun because it seemed like every story he told was funny, I sat here and laughed the whole time. Of course Lou Thesz, there are several interviews that he's done. To be honest with you some of the most memorable interviews were with some of the guys who probably weren't as well known, as recognizable as some of the others even though they were big names in their day like Roger Kirby, Dennis Hall, Dr. Ken Ramey, Spudnik Monroe whose in this latest issue. I'd say that they were some of my favorite interviews. Then you have some of the guys that that were workers more into the seventies. One guy I interviewed recently that was really fun to talk to and who I've really developed a good friendship with is Rick Drayson. He lives out in California and he's just a wonderful guy. He enjoys corresponding with people if you ever want to interview or talk to someone whose really a lot of fun to talk with he'd be one to get in touch with. Stu Hart was fun, though it was kind of hard to keep him on the right track as I have mentioned. He's got a great fund of stories about the great shooters. He remembers a lot of the stories about shoots that took place, sort of like the Bret Hart/Shawn Michaels deal. Boy he can tell 'em. Stu still remembers a lot of that stuff...

Copyright 1998 - Jeremy Hartley and Jump City Productions.
This material may not be reproduced in any form without the expressed permission of the author.