Highlights from J.J. Dillon’s Book: Part 1

Since I enjoyed putting together passages from Bret Hart’s book, I figured I might do it for other wrestling books. Maybe I’ll try to cut it down from 17 parts. Ergo, a look at J.J. Dillon’s book will run 3 parts. Dillon is best known as the manager of the Four Horsemen from 1985-89, and as the on-screen WCW Commissioner from 1997 to 1999. But he also played a key role behind the scenes in the WWF from 1989 to 1996 doing the grunt work, and was a wrestler himself in various territories. The book is “Wrestlers Are Like Seagulls”, an interesting quote itself that will be covered eventually.

I had a passion for baseball, but when the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, my interest waned somewhat. 

A common issue, actually. My wife’s grandparents (born in the mid-1930s) remain pissed to this day about the Dodgers leaving. Hell, even Mets ownership had Citi Field built, but turned it into a monument to the Dodgers and not their own franchise.

To this day, I have a warm spot in my heart for Bruno.  I was once told that situations like that caused a lot of the friction between Bruno and Vince Sr., which then carried over to Vince Jr.  Bruno would get involved in situations with other talent—always on behalf of the talent—and as the champion, he had a lot of clout.

Wrestlers from the 60s and 70s LOVE Bruno Sammartino and that is because he would always do right by his peers, speaking up when necessary and doing what he could to put more money in their pockets. Bruno and Vince Sr. did have issues with money; it seems Vince Sr. stiffed Bruno on payments during his title run which is why he kept coming back for the money. As I’ve gotten older (and wiser), I take Bruno’s side against Vince Jr. more often.

Terry Funk, Dory Funk, Tully Blanchard, Ted DiBiase, Dusty Rhodes, Barry Windham, Stan Hansen, Bruiser Brody, Manny Fernandez, Tito Santana, and Bobby Duncum all went to West Texas State University.

You can take the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary “The U” and shove it. I want to see a documentary on guys who went to West Texas and became wrestlers. That would be the greatest Survivor Series match of all time right there. Three world champions, and Brody and Hansen have God-like status in some circles.

My impression of Rocky Johnson was that he was lazy.  You always had to push him to be Rocky Johnson. 

The Rock’s father was a talented guy who had a ton of success in Canadian promotions but his work in the ring was never all that great. In spite of that, he was insanely popular at times.

Somewhere along the way, we broke Barry [Windham] into the business.  He had his first match with me in Odessa, Texas, on November 27, 1979.  He was just a skinny kid at that point, but he was tall, and we were certain that he would fill out.

Windham had quite an interesting career. He had success in Florida and ended up as a tag champion with brother-in-law Mike Rotunda into 1985 in the WWF. After his 2nd tag title reign, he abruptly leaves the WWF (a bad move, IMO because it burned a bridge for a while) and goes back to Florida. In Jim Crockett Promotions, he has great matches with Ric Flair and by 1988 he is a Horsemen and is considered by some to be even BETTER than Ric Flair. Then he made a power play for the booker position in early 1989 and his career more or less went to shit. Yeah, he had a run as the “NWA Champ” in 1993 when that meant less. But he was never the same. A six foot six guy who bumps like Mr. Perfect and has cool offense. What’s not to like? Plus he was the best Western States Heritage Champion there ever was, dammit.

The people were educated to assist the babyface with any fine he might incur.  If a babyface made a comeback, and in the heat of the moment, did something that would earn him a fine from the referee, the fans in the audience would run down to ringside and pay his fine! For instance, if a babyface was fined ten marks for a rules infraction, you would see some guy in the bleachers, or the ringside seats, get up and run down to the announcer’s desk.  The announcer would say, “His fine has been paid!” The person who paid the fine would get his name announced.   When that happened, the people would all cheer.    At the end of the night, the promoter took the fine money and divided it among the boys.

In German pro wrestling, this is how they did things. Seems pretty strange to me, but hey, whatever keeps them happy.

I had heard the stories about Stu making eggs in the kitchen.  When the cat crapped on the kitchen counter, he used the spatula to scoop up the turds and flip them into the trash can, then went right back to flipping the eggs.

It’s a crossover with my last book overview! That’s pretty much the Dynamite Kid story about Stu Hart and his cats.

Leaving with little notice was bad enough, but Dusty also siphoned off a lot of Eddie’s talent to give him a base to work with in Charlotte, and that really crippled the Florida territory. 

Dusty Rhodes left Eddie Graham’s Florida territory in 1984 to become the booker in Mid-Atlantic/Jim Crockett Promotions. As is the case when someone with his clout leaves, he took a lot of people with him. At the same time, established people in the Carolinas didn’t mesh with Big Dust. Conflict between he and Rocky Steamboat in the main reason why the Dragon went to WWF in early 1985. Dusty saw Steamboat as something of a threat to the top babyface position.

Coming up next time: Dillon becomes the manager of the Four Horsemen and later jumps to the WWF to work on the nuts and bolts of the operation.

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