Eddy Mansfield Talks About The Infamous 20/20 Wrestling Expose, More
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 01.20.2013
Old-school star talks about Arn and Ole Anderson, Jerry Lawler and more...
- Eddy Mansfield recently spoke with NotInHallOfFame.com about breaking into the wrestling business in the 1970s, his participation in the famous 20/20 expose on wrestling in 1985 and more. Check out the highlights:
On his main influence growing up: "I guess if there was one person it would be Terry Funk. Actually, I can't say that there was one guy that I wanted to be like in the business. The guy who broke me in was Leon Ogle in Georgia. He was part of the Georgia promotion out of Atlanta. He was a referee and he wrestled also and he promoted towns. I was kind of like a self taught guy. When I came out of playing pro baseball and my arm went out. Within six months I went into pro wrestling and I got a shooter to teach me the amateur style to protect myself in the ring. I went to learn the moves and then Leon broke me in, and said "Hey man, you're a natural!" Right after that, I moved to the Gulf Coast which was Dothan and Pensacola and I became the youngest ever Gulf Coast Heavyweight Champion, and believe it or not I was a baby face then! Now, a baby face Eddy Mansfield lasted about six months. (laughs) I really wasn't a baby face type of guy. I came into the business and got a real good push right at the beginning. I was Rookie of the Year in the NWA and I was Rookie of the Year in my second year. David Schultz used to laugh about that. First it was the Pensacola territory and left there to become Rookie of the Year in Knoxville. It was really funny, and I wondered how many years I would be a rookie! When you're a young kid and you're blessed with a little bit of talent they kind of heap things on you."
On working against Mil Mascaras early in his careeer at the Olympic Auditorium: "Mil Mascaras used to draw big there, same as Chavo (Guerrero). What I was doing was taking Moondog Mayne's spot (who had died suddenly) and he would have been wrestling Mascaras had he not been killed. That's the way I started in Los Angeles; on top! L.A. was really good to me; we had a lot of good talent there. Chavo Guerrero and Roddy Piper were still there when I arrived. With you being a Canadian, you can really be proud of him as a human being and a superstar in the wrestling business. He is one hell of a good guy. Anyway, Roddy was getting ready to leave and one time we were riding to the Olympic Auditorium one night from Santa Monica and he said me, "Eddy, I'm leaving and I want to pass the torch to you." In other words he made sure that I had his spot. I have always been very grateful and appreciative for what he did for me to this day."
On his nickname "Continental Lover": "I was with a girl, who called me that. It just hit with me, so I started calling myself that; The Continental Lover; a rich woman's lover and a poor girl's dream. 230 pounds of twisted steel and sex appeal. That was my line. I loved L.A. I loved working with Chavo Guerrero, but yes I was worked to death. If the slave trade was in style it was there. At one time I had the Russian Flu and I lost about thirty pounds because they wouldn't give me a day off and I'll never forget Leroy Brown who was just a great guy. We were coming back from Ventura one night and he had been taken me every morning to Dr. Schwartz, who was the commission doctor for Los Angeles to get a shot for it. Finally, one morning we stopped at a Safeway store he got me a blanket and wrapped me up and even turned on the heater in the car. If I hadn't been sick, the temperature would have been fine, but I was freezing. I looked over at him and he was pouring sweat. It was nice of him to do that. Dr. Schwartz called the office and told them that they needed to at least give me a day off. When Chavo was talking about Piper (working like a dog), he could easily describe Eddy Mansfield. They got every dollar out of us."
On his conflict with Ole Anderson in Atlanta: "He not only had a piece of the action, but he was the booker and put himself on top. He would put guys like me and Austin Idol, Kevin Sullivan and Mark Lewin and guys like that underneath him on the card. That old cocksucker (Ole) stacked the card. That's why he had guys like me right underneath him that would do all the work...Me and [Eddie] Gilbert were working in a town in Georgia, and of course Ole put himself in the main event, and I was underneath him. Anyway, I get there and Ole comes to me and I don't need anybody telling me how to work. He says ‘Whatever you do, just work the arm.' I said, ‘No problem.' Now, i worked the friggin' arm alright! I told Eddie Gilbert, ‘We're going to work the arm, brother. I'm going to work it on tables, on chairs, on ring posts. I'm not going to work anything else but the arm.' And that's just what I did; pillar to post all the way around. I beat him that night. Now even though Ole wanted to keep me down, he also wanted a piece of my action because I could draw money. That was one thing I was good at. I could get over; I could get a lot of heat. He put it to me that it was Jim Barnett and him (Ole) wanted to book me across the country and get twenty percent of what I got. Now I'm thinking that I was already going across the country. This was also when Wahoo went Ole and said ‘Leave this guy alone, he's mine.' That was when I was drawing all that money in San Antonio."
On Ole Anderson going to other promoters to have him blackballed after he rejected Ole's offer: "It was a teach him a lesson kind of deal. What they did, now I heard this from [Georgia promoter] Fred Ward's daughter who told me that Ole thought I got too powerful, too quick, and he he's going to show you that you would do what he said you would do. When it all went down, I got a call from a good friend of mine, Roy Shire, who used to promote the Cow Palace in Northern California, and he said here's what is going on, and so did Ed Farhat and the Funks. These were guys who liked me. They told me what was going on. What's really funny is that even the guys that I wasn't working for were sticking up for me. All these marks, all these people who write things about Eddy Mansfield, they don't know their ass from a hole in the ground. They will say how come he (Ole) didn't fire him? It's cause he couldn't make any money if he fired me! It was all about the cash. When I didn't give him the cash, he fixed so that I couldn't work at all. The NWA was such a band of thieves and they were held together by Sam Mushnick in St. Louis that if weren't for those guys would be like piranhas."
On how he got involved in the 20/20 piece: "What happened was that I was moving to New York and I was thinking that this damn wrestling business needs to change a little bit and that it needed to be slanted more in favour of the boys for medical benefits and hospitalization insurance and benefits in general. I knew a union wouldn't work; Jesse Ventura tried to do that (in the WWF) and Hulk Hogan ratted him out. So, that got killed and that would have been great for the guys. Now I don't know that a union will ever happen, but I had an idea. Since we were on television every week, why don't you let us join AFTRA or the Screen Actors Guild and let us pay our own money (dues)? Promoters don't like responsibility when it comes to wrestlers. You are just a piece of meat, and not even an employee. I don't know how they get away with that stuff but anyway that's how it is. Now if we could join AFTRA or SAG where we could have paid our own dues, you know paid in our pension or welfare or whatever it was that we needed to pay, as guys got older we would have something to fall back on. As a wrestler, your insurance payments are so frigging high because of the business that you are in. It's like stuntman insurance. If you are a stuntman in Hollywood, your insurance is higher because of your calling in life; you take bumps every day. That's like wrestling. So it was my idea for that to come across in the 20/20 piece, but it turned the way they wanted it to do. They interviewed Vince McMahon, and I never had a problem with Vince. They interviewed David Schultz who is a friend of mine to this day. Last February, I was with David and his wife and my wife for dinner when he was here in Orlando. David is one of my dearest friends and always will be. They (20/20) did things that I had asked them not to do with the piece. Every person that they showed was my friends and they got that from Ole Anderson. I had nothing, and still have nothing against Vince McMahon."
On the piece's impact: "The piece that I did took wrestling from backdoor to the Mecca that it is today because it put it in a spotlight. That was the highest rated show they had until Bernie Goetz, the man who killed the people on the subway. It took professional wrestling and really made it legit. The following year after I did the 20/20 piece, it was highest revenue gross year (at that point) in the history of the wrestling business. I do want to say this though if I could. After the 20/20 piece, a lot of people who do not know me have done their best; and I am referring to a lot of other promoters too, to have erased my name from the wrestling business. I held over twenty titles, and a lot of them to this day are not even listed in Wikipedia. When you start looking for them, you can't find them. They wanted me to disappear. That's what is really strange to me; I helped them, I didn't hurt them."
On Arn Anderson: "He was gifted. He was a hard worker. He got a real lucky break. He was a guy from Tennessee that Ole took a liking too and he worked hard. I don't really know Arn, so I can't say that much about him, but as far as is his in ring work goes, he's great."
On Manny Fernandez: "Overrated son of a bitch."
On Adrian Adonis: "I knew Keith Franks in Los Angeles. Keith was a hoot, when I was with him, he wasn't Adrian Adonis then. Later on, we were working for the ‘Bear Man' up in Canada. That's where he died.'
On Tommy Rich: "Oh boy. There's not much really I can say that's good about him. I'll say this about Tommy Rich; he was Jim Barnett's boy, and Barnet wanted him to have the NWA World Title so bad, that he gave Harley Race an extra $15,000 to drop the strap to Tommy Rich. He only held the title for a week. The worst thing to ever happen to Tommy Rich was to give him the World Championship, because after lost the World Title, Harley Race killed Tommy Rich in Georgia, and he never was the same after that. Sometimes, you have to be careful what you wish for. This does lead me back to a story about Barnett. After everything went down with Ole, he called me up and told me that he wanted to tell me something. Now, I always liked Jim Barnett, believe it or not, so I was going to listen to what he had to say, and I knew it was Ole all the time. They used Barnett as a front guy too, and actually helped Vince McMahon get Wrestlemania off the ground. He put the deal together where Crockett bought Vince out, and Vince used that money to finance Wrestlemania; so Jim Barnett was influential in all that stuff. Jim Barnett was no dummy. Anyway, he called me on the phone, and said ‘Eddy, my boy! Whatever you do, always remember this; I had nothing to do with what Ole Anderson did to you. It was all Ole.' I said, ‘I know, Jim, you were always scared of Ole.' Now why Jim Barnett was scared of Ole, I have no idea, but Barnett was really the brains behind all these guys. Even though he was a gay guy in the wrestling business, and that didn't go over too well back then, you know what I mean?"
On Jerry Lawler: "I was with Jerry years ago, actually when I produced the XWF in 2002 which was out of Universal Studios. That was Hulk Hogan's return, I produced and directed that. I put all the stories together, me and Kevin Sullivan. That was another thing I produced, when you asked me to name some of the shows I have done, I can't remember them all!"