|Show: The Interactive
Guest: Mike Tenay
Your Hosts: Daniel Edler & James Walsh
Transcript By: James Walsh
In quite possibly the longest interview conducted so
far by us here at the Interactive Interview, and once again continuing the
trend of getting the best answers from the best guests from start to finish,
Mike Tenay took James Walsh (once again flying solo) for an hour and a half
in an interview that you will kick yourself if you miss.
Tenay, who has been working for NWA-TNA of late, has been involved in the
wrestling business for over 30 years, and has many many different stories
to tell. The recap below just doesnt do it justice.
"THE PROFESSOR" MIKE TENAY
-- Mike says he was a wrestling fan growing up. His favorite was the Destroyer.
The Destroyer was a masked wrestler that had the figure 4 and challenged
anyone to break the move. He says that the recently departed Freddie Blassie
was also an influence on him getting involved. He said without Blassie, the
Destroyer never would have been brought to Southern California. He mentions
that he honored Blassie on NWA TNA pay per view.
-- Tenay has been writing for wrestling magazines since he was 11 years old.
He talks about how wrestling was so different in the 60's because it was
not nearly as open as today. He says the announcing job didn't come about
until a chain of events beginning with a radio appearance on a late night
radio talk show was heard by the station's owner, who had insomnia that night.
Tenay came on and was talking about hockey, basketball, baseball, all the
regular sports and the guys from the show kept bringing up wrestling and
that became the discussion. The next day, Tenay was offered a show on the
station that eventually became "The Wrestling Insiders." He felt that was
a big part of why he was signed by WCW.
-- Mike never trained for broadcasting in college. He says he was always
surrounded by journalism and that is what he really did but never studied
on air broadcasting in school.
-- Many people mention Mike working with the NHL. That is not entirely true.
Mike and Jeff Jarrett attended an L.A. Kings game to promote a Nitro event
that took place in that arena. Mike was talking to one of the high ranking
workers for the Kings and the official was shocked at how much he knew and
offered him a job writing for the game program. So, Mike has done that for
the past four years.
-- We then get into one of the most highly praised wrestling pay per views
of all time. "When World's Collide." Mike says it was his first opportunity
to call a wrestling match on television and is the one event that has followed
him through his career. He talks about doing 1,500 shows with World Championship
Wrestling and nearly 50 pay per views for NWA TNA, but the When World's Collide
pay per view still, to this day, is something people talk to him about. He
says he did it with Chris Cruise, who was working with World Championship
Wrestling at the time. Turner was funding the pay per view but most of the
WCW announce crew wanted nothing to do with the lucha libre style of wrestling
so Cruise and he took the opportunity.
-- He feels that pay per view is what changed wrestling and created the styles
we see today, like the X division in NWA TNA. He talks about Steve Austin
telling him how he used to go to the WCW Power Plant with Brian Pillman with
Pillman's video of the event and how Pillman would try to recreate the high
spots from that show at the early formation of the Power Plant. He also says
that NWA TNA X division star Jason Cross talked to Mike about When World's
Collide and said it was probably the event that made him love wrestling and
realize he can do it more than anything else he's seen.
-- Mike says it is no secret that he loves the lucha libre style. He says
that pay per view launched the lucha influence in WCW and feels that the
influence is partly why they were so successful for that ratings winning
streak. He also credits the pay per view as being the main reason why Eric
Bischoff gave him the job on Nitro.
-- Mike was given Steve McMichael's job on Nitro because Mongo became a wrestler
and was not at the announce booth anymore. Mike says he loved the opportunity
and enjoyed the winning streak immensely.
-- His job was to mainly provide insight to the Lucha Libre stars since Mike
had made several trips to Mexico as a fan because he loved the style so much.
It evolved into a full time job at WCW.
-- Mike feels that Bobby Heenan was one of the perks of working at WCW. He
says that Turner paid him a lot of money, but working with Bobby Heenan made
it more enjoyable than anything else. He says his wife and Bobby's are now
close friends and that they travelled together and saw more of each other
than most families do for years on end. He is honored, and amused, that in
Bobby's book, he trashes everyone except Mike himself. He also says the fans
have no idea how funny Heenan can be because you have only seen the G rated
version. He said there is an R or even X rated Bobby Heenan that is just
as if not funnier than what you see on TV.
-- He got along with Tony well the first few years of WCW. But, at the end
of the company, he felt Tony didn't want to be there. He talks about Tony
acting as though it was a hard job to do and not a fun job to do. James mentions
the story in Heenan's book about Tony putting his head down in front of a
live crowd and all Mike says is it is absolutely true and it happened more
-- The NWO formed based on an angle Eric Bischoff saw in Japan which had
two "rival" promotions against one another allowing dream matches to take
place. Bischoff realized that Vince McMahon would never agree to do such
a show with WCW so he took available WWE talent and created the perception
that they were coming from the WWE to take over WCW. He feels that is why
WCW worked, because it was a great story that was proven to work in Japan
and worked even better in the United States.
-- Mike feels that the WWE missed that story completely when WCW fell into
their laps. He said they could have done an NWO style invasion by WCW with
the big name stars, done it right and probably come off with the most successful
and biggest story in wrestling. He feels they dropped the ball completely.
-- Despite the Internet denouncing Vampiro, Mike still feels he is a valuable
talent and someone he enjoys watching. He does not blame him for his career
choices, namely leaving WCW (quite a few times) to do somewhat rock concerts.
-- He says Vince Russo came in and the company changed dramatically. He says
it was already on the decline because Bischoff had been removed and it was
obvious that there was no solid power in charge. But, he feels it was able
to be saved at that point. He says Russo did a lot of things he didn't agree
with and still does not agree with Vince about much at all.
-- He was disappointed that his story of being hit with the guitar and then
doing the run in to save Gene Okerlund was not continued. He says that the
crowd popped for it very positively and he felt it could have gotten over.
He doesn't know why it was cut but he felt it was a mistake.
-- He feels Russo being removed the first time was a very sketchy issue.
He doesn't know the details and can't get into it. He feels Kevin Sullivan
was a great booker but he didn't agree with him on everything either.
-- Tenay feels the Radicals (Benoit, Saturn, Guerrero, and Malenko) leaving
was a damaging blow. He said you had Hogan, Savage, Nash, Hall, Sting, Goldberg,
and the other super hero wrestlers on top and then you had guys that could
give you a different style of match and a different style of wrestling. He
feels that having all those bases covered is what made WCW number one when
it was and losing those four took away their talent depth. He says that
regardless of what people say, he does not feel Benoit is being used well
in the WWE and never has.
-- He didn't think Russo and Bischoff could work together because of their
clashing opinions on the business. He says ultimately, it didn't work.
-- He feels the "heel" interviewer role he played was a fun thing to do.
He said after 1,500 shows, even he was tired of hearing himself so turning
"heel" made sense.
-- He said he realized that the company was in trouble in 1999 or late 1998.
He said when he saw Goldberg lose, he knew they did something very wrong.
He also says the one finger title change damaged the company more than it
appeared to on television.
-- Mike talks about how Fusient Media Ventures came in and said they were
buying it. He says after they looked at the books, they realized they couldn't
match the offer they made. When they made another, Time Warner had decided
they did not want wrestling on the Turner networks and made things very difficult
for Fusient. The end result was Vince getting the company.
-- The last Nitro was emotional because it was the last time he would see
some of his friends that were like family.
-- He had serious talks with the WWE and even met with Jim Ross. He talks
about the infamous match between Booker T and Buff Bagwell and says that
match made everyone in the WWE look at everyone from WCW badly and almost
instantly after that match, the talks of bringing him to the WWE stopped.
-- Jeff and Jerry Jarrett called Mike to come to TNA. They said they wouldn't
censor him, they wouldn't tell him what to say. They wanted Mike to be Mike
and that is what he has been. Mike says he was pretty negative about the
possibility of a weekly pay per view company working. He says to this day,
there is no question that a television deal would be great. But, he says
it is not a life or death thing. If they get one, great. If not, they will
survive. He feels that the time at TNA has made him believe what the Jarrett's
and Ryder claimed all along, it can work.
-- The X division was and is his favorite and there should be no surprise
there. He says the action that you can get to open or close a show from those
guys is just pure energy. He says it should not shock anyone that he feels
that way. He also claims that the first few months of X title matches between
Jerry, Low Ki, and Styles were amazing.
-- He says the Jay Hassman situation was a situation of ignorance in the
locker room being bliss. He says nobody knew how bad the company was in trouble
and looking back, he is glad. He feels that they got back on track quickly
and says that moving to a smaller arena has been another blessing in disguise.
He talks about the Asylum being like the Showboat Hotel in Las Vegas where
the AWA held many events. He also talks about it possibly comparing with
the ECW arena.
-- Every word of his speeches about Vince Russo are shoots. He says nothing
was scripted and every bit of it was his true feelings.
-- He feels "Tits & Ass" can have a place in wrestling as long as it
is part of a story. He feels if it is just done to have it on a show, it
is worthless. He points at the Lollipop incident as being just to happen.
He says it didn't bother him too much but the fact that little kids were
in the crowd when it happened did. He says sometimes things go too far, but
at least now it has happened and maybe won't have to happen again.
-- He had no idea that he would be having a confrontation with Tony Schiavone
on TV. Once again, the Schiavone incident was a total shoot in terms of what
was said. After the show, Tony and Mike spoke very short with one another
and Tony told Mike that it was a story he did not like and Mike says that
Tony cut it and that is why it was not continued.
-- He says he never thought he would see the day that Disco Inferno challenges
for the world title. But, he says Disco took a character that was one way,
turned it the complete other way and made himself a success in TNA. He likens
it to Steve Austin.
-- He feels Chris Sabin brings glory to the X title again. He wasn't sure
the X division was important when Sonny Siaki held the belt because Sonny
wasn't really an X style competitor. But, he feels that with great matches,
that title can mean what it once did very soon.
-- He feels the single best match in terms of drama in the history of TNA
was Jeff Jarrett against AJ Styles. He says the X division is always entertaining
and that he could not select just one fantastic match but the one he thinks
about most is Styles against Jarrett.
-- Tenay talks about Gordon Solie being a very important person in his life.
He tells a very touching story about how Gordon told a friend just a few
days before he died that he wishes he could have spent more time with Mike
Tenay. He says that when he was brought in to WCW, he more or less took Gordon's
spot and Gordon never was angry about it. Gordon instead passed the torch
and taught Mike while had had time.
-- The best rib he can tell without anybody getting mad is Bobby Heenan taking
a coin and sliding the bathroom door sign on a plane from empty to occupied.
Bobby used to like to sit in the aisle by the door while people line up to
use it and watch them shift their weight from foot to foot while he makes
idle conversation about waterfalls, dripping faucets, and things of that
-- He feels Eric [Bischoff] is responsible for him getting a break. He also
is impressed at how well he is doing in the WWE as a character. He is not
surprised to see him there.
-- Jerry Jarrett is a wrestling genius. He feels you have to soak up all
he says while he goes over the order of a show because he understands everything
-- He feels Larry Zbyszko is probably one of the funniest men he's ever met.
He says he also is one of his best friends. He talks to him every week and
tries hard to keep in contact. He also wants to see him on TNA again because
he is so entertaining to watch.
-- He feels Trinity has all the tools you need to be a huge star. He says
she is dedicated and has shown that she can get over. He feels that her future
in the business does not depend on her skill but on the way she is used.
He stresses that she must be used properly and if she is, she could be the
biggest TNA break out star.
-- AJ Styles is a star he loves watching. He says very soon, you will hear
Rock, Hogan, Goldberg, Benoit, and Styles in the same sentence. In his mind,
he is already there.
-- The only thing he can say about Vince Russo is a drastic difference of
Plus other word associations, and more! This interview runs an hour and a
half in length! And, James Walsh offers a challenge to the Interactive
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