(originally conducted September 2002)
Brian Blair has seen allot of thing during his illustrious wrestling career. His career in the wrestling ring spanned close to twenty years. His first rise to prominence was as a singles wrestler where he was the Florida Heavyweight Champion back in 1982. It was not however until he teamed with Jim Brunzel in the WWE that fans had the opportunity to appreciate his in ring work. Brian took the time out of his very busy schedule to talk to me about wrestling today in comparison to that of when he first competed along with, moving forward on his long time political aspirations.
MM :You appeared to have gained a huge following in WWF during the 80?s. How do think the styles of these wrestlers different than those than those today? Why do you think this is so?
BB :Well you know life changes everyday, I mean look at the difference in the styles of cars, the way people dress, the trends and styles are continuously changing and it is no different in the wrestling profession. Since it is not a sport with exact rules and boundaries like baseball or football, it is going to evolve continuously. There is more innovation. There is different storylines that are always changing. The one thing that I can say is that every time I see someone actually get down and have a really good set of wrestling high spots, put together in a very nice way almost like a shoot style way people get off on it, and really like that. That will never change.
MM :In the ring you combine superb revolutionary technical maneuvers along with speed and finesse? In your honest opinion, do you think wrestlers today are lacking in their actual “in ring” ability? Does this affect the quality of their matches?
BB :I think the wrestlers today in some ways are more talented than the wrestlers of yesterday and that doesn’t apply to all cases. As far as the guys with the amateur background if you look at Kurt Angle for example, the reason he is the fastest rising star that hit the top of the main event status in the shortest amount of time is because of his tremendous amateur background. If you ever watch him and Chris Benoit when they wrestle they are just kind of like a magic that happens there. They combine the old school with the new school. When you learn to do that, in an effective way, than it creates for the ultimate enjoyment of the fans. This is provided that the storyline is adhered to.
MM :After watching you compete for years, fans who could only see you on television could not watch you compete. What happened and where did you go?
BB :We were promised the belts and promised the belts and we chased the belts for 3 years and I was just getting frustrated. I just felt like I could do something else in life and just wanted to switch gears for a while and Jimmy (Brunzel) still wanted to wrestle. We were in a town in Maryland and I asked Vince (McMahon) if I could talk to him and I asked him if we were getting the belts and he said, “no time soon” and I said, “well I don’t know what to do I don’t feel real comfortable”, and he was real nice about it and he said, “well if you don’t feel comfortable while don’t you take some time off, and if you want to come back the door was always open”. So that is how we left we left on good terms and that was right before 1990, and I came back to Florida and opened up 1 Gold’s gym and ended opening up 4 Gold’s Gym’s. I turned those Gold’s gyms into a multi-location, multi-million dollar business and sold them in November of 1998.
MM :During your time with the WWF, you were involved in several matches. Do you think the company did a good enough job to promote you? What could they have done differently?
BB :No, there was no doubt we were in there with some tremendous talent and I am not saying which team was better at which given time and when your promised something your promised something that’s the bottom line and that promise was never a reality, but I am not negative about it I am grateful to Vince for giving us an opportunity to work and grateful to the fans for all their support. When I look back I don’t look back to regret I always look back for good reflections or to learn something but never to regret. I don’t feel like we were robbed of anything that’s his opinion. In my opinion it is just that sometimes you don’t understand someone until you’re in their shoes. Obviously he didn’t understand my shoes and I didn’t understand his shoes, but that doesn’t mean that either one of us was right or wrong, it was just the way it was.
MM :Along with Jim Brunzel you formed one of the best teams in WWF. Do you think teams today offer the type of competition in the ring that both you gentlemen had?
BB :I think the styles are a little different. It is more like you work more like a heel style where Jimmy and I were real hardcore baby faces. As far as the relationship between Jimmy and I we talk to each other at least once a month, always have and hopefully always will. We were on the road together for almost 5 years, and we never had a major argument that we still couldn’t still split a room in those days we would still split a room allot to still save money. Jimmy has a wonderful wife, and his kids are all grown now. He would be so upset and at one point we wrestled 67 days in a row and didn’t have a day off and it was really hard on him and the family. We still managed to keep that togetherness both in the ring and out of the ring we were just both good friends and remain as that today and that is a great thing.
BB :I was a main event single wrestler for a long time in Florida which is perhaps the most well respected territory in the history of pro wrestling. You can call that opinion where most people will call that a fact. If you look at Eddie Graham and what he built in Florida. It was a dynasty with the Brisco’s and the Funk’s would always be here and Dusty Rhodes. When Florida was on its downslide, and when I came back with Rick Rude, Jesse Barr, Derek Draper and Ed Wiscowski the guys like that. I was very fortunate to be around early in my career to be around people like Pat Patterson, the Brisco’s, the Jose Lothario’s. When there were territories I worked my way up to the top my first few years in the business and every some territory as a single wrestler. So I enjoyed allot of success, if you go to my website bbrianblair.com. If you go there, there is a history all the titles that I have held and the territories I was in and I thought I had a good successful singles career, as well as Japan. I have spent over a year of my life over in Japan. Working for New Japan Pro Wrestling and if you go there one time and they don’t like the way you wrestle they don’t invite you back because they pay you well, and they don’t put up with any garbage. You have to know how to wrestle to go there and be somebody that knows how to wrestle both in the ring and out of the ring. To go there as many times as I have been there and spent as much time as I have, it is something I consider an accomplishment.
MM :Brian, you have worked so hard to attain the popularity you have. What is it about wrestling that has always appealed to you to continue to compete? Why?
BB :Mono e mono I guess man against man. The reason I first started wrestling is I looked at Jack Brisco and said that’s just what I want to do. When I was real little I prayed to be Superman when I was 7 years old. Obviously you can’t be Superman, but I guess God answered my prayers by allowing me to become a professional wrestler. Instead of leap frogging or jumping over tall buildings, I was leap frogging men. Instead of racing faster than a speeding bullet, I was hitting the ropes as fast as I could. Rather than bullets bouncing off me, I had 300 pound men bouncing off me. Rather than being in the blue tights with the “S” on my chest, I was in wrestling tights. So my prayer was answered. The desire to wrestle was something that intrigued me since I was a kid. From amateur wrestling I played football and participated in allot of sports. It was something about pro wrestling that was really consuming.
MM :This question allows you to be more of a fan and not an actual athlete
for a second. If you could face anyone past or present in a match or watch any match of any two wrestlers who would it be and what type of match would it be?
BB :If I could watch a match past I would like to watch. I would probably like to see “Stone Cold” Steve Austin against “Gorgeous George”. (Laughs)I could just picture that. I would think that would be for tremendous show quality. I could just picture Stone Cold giving George the finger after his valet sprayed perfume on him. There are all kinds of things about. I would have personally loved to wrestle Lou Thez. There are allot of fantasy things you could think about. Right off the top of my head that is all I can just about say there.
MM :Since you have made the transition from wrestler to political advocate, has the transition been an easy on or have you needed to make adjustments?
BB :No. I wrestled for new Japan, October 8th (2001) and it was a nice tour probably one of the nicest tours I have been on but I have had political aspirations for a long long time. Since I sold my businesses in 1998, I have pretty much dedicated myself to community service even though I have stayed in the ring part time. I managed little league, coached little league, I do motivational speaking for kids in schools for athletics and academics. I do allot of stuff for our church and I stay very active in the community so politics is a natural fit. I have had several people ask me to take my community service to a more formal level and that is exactly what I have done.
MM :Has there been any one stand out moment of your career that you would call it as a ‘defining? moment?
BB :Absolutely and that would be Wrestle Mania 3. It was a very defining moment in our careers as far as a high spot up where you realized that you have made it and you know you have. Wrestling in general has made it and when it enjoyed that super boom period in the mid-late 80’s. Wrestl Mania 3 even though I was on 2, 3 and 4 and should have been on 5 but that is when Vince and I had our disagreement and we mutually decided not to. I just think being in front of that many people I know they reported the crowd at 92,173 you hear pro and con about that number regardless it is still the largest indoor attendance record I believe to this day it is and that was a very defining moment that made me realize that wrestling was popular, we had Aretha Franklin, Bob Uecker was there, Alice Cooper was there. There were so many celebrities. Prior to that celebrities were starting to come to the matches and the white collar was starting to say, “hey wrestling is cool” and it wasn’t just a blue collar sport anymore about traction. That point I think from then on became not only a defining moment for not only the Killer Bees but for the wrestling industry in general.
MM :Word Association, what comes to mind when you think of these athletes
Vince McMahon – Caesar
The Rock – Awesome
Ric Flair – The Best
Verne Gagne – A legend
Steve Austin – One hell of a guy
Hardcore Wrestling – I am not sold on it
Backyard Wrestling – Shame on you
Jim Brunzel – The greatest partner I ever had
Eric Bischoff – No comment
Brian Blair -The “Will Rogers” of wrestling
MM :Was there anything you would like the fans of yours to know?
BB :I would like the fans to know how much I appreciate them, always will appreciate them. They can always email me. I hope to see them again in some way, shape or form. Just because I am entering the political arena doesn’t mean you will never see me again in wrestling. I learned along time ago, though to never say never. I wish them all the very best, and wish them all of God’s blessings.
To keep with all the latest on Brian, and his political future check out,
www.BrianBlair.com and to learn more about B Brian Blair the wrestler check out www.BBrianBlair.com his official wrestling website.