The show featured former AWA and WCW tag team champion and 80′s wrestling star Gorgeous Jimmy Garvin. Jimmy joined the show for an entire hour in a rare interview discussing his entire wrestling career. Jimmy talks WCW, AWA, World Class Wrestling, Freebirds, Von Erichs, and more. This interview was recorded on August 7, 2004 and broadcast live on Pro Wrestling Radio.
Eric: He is a former AWA and World Championship Wrestling World Tag Team Champion and one of my all time favorite wrestlers, “Gorgeous” Jimmy Garvin. Jimmy, welcome to the show.
Jimmy: Well, thank you very much, Eric. It’s nice to talk to you today.
Eric: It’s an honor to have you. Jim, when I grew up watching wrestling, I always loved the promos, and, in my opinion, you were one of the greatest of all time, and I don’t want to jump to far ahead here in your career, but let me just ask you, how did you develop and come up with your style of promos?
Jimmy: As I think back on it, when I first started, which was November 1, 1969, I wasn’t too good. Like anything else, when you start, you just have to work on it. I remember Bobby Shane was a big influence on me, back in the days when I was traveling with him around the Gulf coast area. And just watching and paying attention to the different guys’ style and practicing on the job type training. At first they were pretty crappy, but as I got more comfortable, and got more relaxed, and I could get more creative, and the steps went forward, I found I had a knack for it.
Eric: Is there any kind of interesting anecdote behind “It’s not my fault”?
Jimmy: Somebody asked me that the other night, and to tell you the truth, I think it just came out one day. Most of my interviews, in fact 99% of them, were off the cuff. I never really thought about anything as far as the content went. It went no further than the fact of who I was wrestling and when it was going to be and where it was going to be and then everything else kind of flowed. So somewhere in that process, the “It’s not my fault” phrase came out.
Eric: Gotcha. Again, we’re talking to “Gorgeous” Jimmy Garvin. His website is live, it’s a tremendous website, Jimmygarvin.com. Jimmy, you have a DVD for sale on your website, taking a behind scenes look at the Great American Bash. Maybe you can tell the listeners about it?
Jimmy: It’s a fantastic DVD. I held onto it for years and years. It was when Jim Crockett promotions did the last Great American Bash tour around the country, and I just brought my camera with me, my video camera, and just happened to think, ‘I want to tape the guys behind the scenes, before the matches started, or what they were doing during the matches.’ Because there was a lot of funny stuff went on, as I explain on the website. We traveled so much, night after night, that we had to do something to relieve the tension or something to entertain ourselves. We found that sitting around for hours and hours, night after night, we did some pretty funny stuff to keep the mood going and to keep everybody’s frame of mind where it should be. I just took it [my camera] with me around the country and I got some really great stuff and some very funny moments. People like, God bless him, Hawk, who was a good friend of mine, and his partner, Animal, and Sting, Lex Luger, the list goes on and on. Jimmy Cornette had a little piece in there, Dr. Death Steve Williams- all the guys who were on the tour at that time with Jim Crockett promotions. And mostly, to what comes to my mind, it was the last of an era. It was the last of the old days, so to speak, where we just traveled our butt off, did what we had to do, we wrestled hard, we played hard, and some of that shows in there. It’s just a really, really good DVD. It’s the first of a few to come. The next one is a Behind the Scenes Africa. That’ll be coming out around November. That was a 21-day tour, I took over in Africa, with Chris Adams, we lost him, but he was a real good friend of mine. We had great matches in Texas, and Kansas City, and St. Louis. Kevin Von Erich is on that one. Jimmy Snuka, the Iron Sheik, and the list goes on and on, and again, it’s just what we did to keep ourselves in the right frame of mind to do that kind of traveling under those kind of circumstances. The Behind the Scenes Bash is a really unique piece, that’s never been seen anywhere in the world, and I invite everyone to check out Jimmygarvin.com, and they won’t be disappointed if they get it, because it’s just really, really good.
Eric: That’s tremendous. And what’s on Jimmygarvin.com, and what I think is very cool, and one of my favorite questions that I ask my guests, is the road stories, and you just started telling some road stories on there, and the one about the bear is just tremendous.
Jimmy: The bear was really funny one. I was just a kid, 18 or 19 years old, and I wrestling for Nick Gulas, and it was in Bowling Green, and I invite people to go on the website and check it out. It was something, I’ll tell you that. I really had to pay my dues in that department. Of course, I don’t wrestle bears anymore, never did after that. And, the one after that, with Michael and I in Tigerland. Have you seen that one?
Eric: Yes! Him on the bar.
Jimmy: (Laughs) You almost had to be there to see that, but that was hilarious. I try to update it about once a month. I try to send a story out for the fans, give them some kind of idea of what we went through, and how we entertained ourselves.
Eric: That’s tremendous. Have you heard the story of Michael getting the microphone at the Stephanie McMahon-Triple H wedding and singing and going a little crazy there?
Jimmy: No, but that sounds about right.
Jimmy: Anytime Michael was around a microphone, it didn’t matter, and he just went into the other character. Which by the way, after Behind the Scenes Africa, I’m going to have Behind the Scenes Freebirds and the Badstreet Band, which takes a look at what we did when we traveled around, and we had the Badstreet Band, and Michael and I hit the stages at the Atlanta Olmni. We did a show there; we did one at Centerstage in Atlanta. And that’s going to be kind of interesting, too.
Eric: As the story goes, the McMahons were having a fairly eloquent wedding, and then, all of a sudden, Michael grabbed the microphone and started singing. Some of the crowd, they were running with at the time weren’t too happy with it.
Jimmy: Well, I could imagine. Michael couldn’t sing worth a darn, anyway.
Jimmy: He was hell of an entertainer though, I’ll tell you that.
Eric: When you talk about all time greats, when it comes to watching in the ring and promos, you think about guys like yourself, and absolutely, Michael Hayes.
Jimmy: We played well off of each other. We worked well together. Everything just kind of flowed. Because we were living the gimmick, we were pulling no punches. We were saying what was on our minds.
Eric: Right. I know the history with you and Michael goes way back prior your run as the Freebirds World Tag Team Champions in WCW, how did you guys first wind up together as partners? Was it in Texas?
Jimmy: Actually, as partners, after, I forgot what year it was, maybe ’89, I think it was when Turner bought out Jimmy Crockett, I took a year off and then Michael called me up and said, ‘What do you think about teaming up? We’ll be the Fabulous Freebirds.’ I said, ‘Hell yeah. I’ll do that.’ Because I was always the unofficial Bird back in Texas. Because in Texas, the three Birds were always together, and than it was me, than Precious, and maybe Sunshine and Chris doing battle. We always ran together. We were always in each other’s back pocket, so to speak. So Michael asked me and said, yeah, that would be fine.
Eric: Now, didn’t you guys team up together at the WrestleRock show as well?
Jimmy: Yeah, we did do that. It was kind of a temporary thing. It was just that one time.
Eric: Gotcha. Again, we’re talking to “Gorgeous” Jimmy Garvin. Jimmy, you’ve talked about in earlier interviews, and in your bio, the short time that you have spent with Eddie Graham, as a youngster in the business. What are your memories of Eddie Graham?
Jimmy: Well, that goes way back. I started when I was nine years old in Tampa. My family had a little, small apartment complex, and Joe Scarpa (Chief Jay Strongbow) and the Great Malenko lived there. To make a long story short, Joe Scarpa seen me one day, and said, ‘Why don’t you come down to 106 North Albany, the Sportatorium, because Eddie Graham has an amateur club.’ I said, ‘sure.’ So I went down there, I fell in love with it. I started my amateur wrestling career down there, at the Sportatorium, 106 North Albany. In fact, Gordon Solie did an interview with me, when I was nine years old.
Jimmy: The first time Gordon Solie interviewed me, I was just a nine-year-old kid. Eddie Graham used to take me to the tournaments, along with Mike, we were both around the same age, and I had a real good relationship with Eddie Graham. He was a great person, and great for wrestling.
Eric: Tremendous. Now, all that you can do is read about the legend of Danny Hodge, but you had the opportunity to work with him for a brief time. What was that like?
Jimmy: That was always pretty interesting with Danny, because he was such an intense individual to start with. I believe, if I’m not mistaken, he was the only one on the cover of Time Magazine as a Golden Glove boxer and a champion amateur wrestler at the same time, holding both titles.
Jimmy: And he had that double tendons in his hands, he was born that way, so his strength was enormous, if he ever got a hold of you. He was a very aggressive wrestler, anyway, and I was just a kid, when I got in the ring with him, so I was hoping he was in a pretty good mood and wouldn’t hurt me too bad. Speaking about wrestling Danny Hodge, I was talking to somebody the other night, I wrestled Buddy Rodgers, as well.
Jimmy: I wrestled Lou Thesz, as well. I’m trying to think, I always ask the guys, ‘if you ever find anyone who’s wrestled those three guys and isn’t a hundred years old, let me know.’ I’m 51 now, and before I was thirty, I had wrestled, Hodge and Buddy Rodgers. I remember in West Palm Beach, Buddy Rodgers used to manage me for a while.
Jimmy: Yeah. That was pretty interesting stuff. I’m real proud that I got a chance to get in the ring with guys like that, because they are my heroes.
Eric: Absolutely. I think you actually have my next beat, I got Bruno Sammartino coming up next, and I think he’s only got in the ring with Thesz and Buddy Rodgers. I don’t think he ever was in the ring with Danny Hodge.
Jimmy: You’ll have to ask him. No doubt he’s a living legend, himself, and I got a lot respect for him. To be honest with you, I never met him, after all the years he’s been in the business, and myself. Of course, I always NWA in the South, and he was mostly, WWF in the North, so our paths didn’t get a chance to cross. But give him my regards. I respect him a lot.
Eric: When you first broke in, and maybe for the first five/six years in the wrestling business and doing the territories, who can you point to that took you under their wing, any old-schoolers or old-timers that particularly did?
Jimmy: Frankie Caine always took an interest in me, who later went on to wrestle as the Great Mephisto. Frankie Caine got so much history in professional wrestling, for going way back. He always kind of took care of me. Terry Garvin also helped me out a lot. Pat Patterson helped me out a lot. Those stick out in my mind. Jack Brisco, as I was coming up, not so much when I was managing, but when I started wrestling, he helped me out a lot. He’s a really good friend, both Jack and Jerry.
Eric: Excellent. I should also point out, on Wrestlingclassics.com, they have a message-board, where both you and Jack converse with fans, which I think is very cool.
Jimmy: I really enjoy doing that. I just started doing that a couple of months ago, and I get some interesting questions. It just amazes me how they remember so well; sometimes they ask me questions, and to be honest with you, I just can’t remember the facts, but they sure remember the facts. It’s always a pleasure talking to them.
Eric: Absolutely. I know you wrestled both with and against and also wrestled for Bill Watts, what was it like working for Bill Watts? I heard a mixed bag of reactions from different guys.
Jimmy: (Snickers) When I first worked for Bill Watts, it was in 1971. Holy smokes, ’71 and ’72, he worked us to death. We did an awful a lot of traveling, and I mean hard driving from Oklahoma City to New Orleans, and early TVs. It was like drive, drive, drive, drive. He didn’t have a lot of patience. I always got along with him okay. I don’t really have anything bad to say about him. I try not to say anything bad about anyone if I can help it, unless I just like feel like saying it, that’s why I was always like a rebel; I didn’t always play by the rules they wanted me to play, but I just call a spade a spade. Bill Watts was okay. He was a hard driving promoter that worked his boys pretty darn hard.
Eric: You were WCW when he came back, right?
Eric: What was that like? Bill Watts 1971 is a way different story than Bill Watts running the business like ’71 in ’92.
Jimmy: I think he was fighting, and this is my opinion, I think he’s an old-school type guy, too, and when he got in there with likes of the Turner group, and guys that were slithering around in the upper offices there, I’m not sure he could play their game. So he had a little bit of a hard time. Again, I could be totally wrong, but just know that Bill’s from the old school and it’s hard to teach an old dog new trick, so to speak. He tried, but I don’t think he was happy there. He was fighting a lot of inside stuff.
Eric: Without naming names, tell me you didn’t get a little bit of a chuckle on some of the guys and when you heard Bill was coming and you said, ‘If you think it’s bad now, wait’ll they get a hold of Bill.’
Jimmy: (Laughs) Well, I think a lot of guys learned that when he arrived. I can’t think of any particular individual that learned any worse than any of the other guys. It’s just that, I don’t think they were used to the way he commanded the ship.
Eric: And going from Jim Herd and Kip Frey to Bill Watts is quite a drastic comparison there.
Jimmy: Yeah, well, but at least Herd, he knew nothing, at least Bill knew kind of what was going on. Kip Frey was a good guy; I got along with him. He was like another guy who got thrown into the middle of something that he really didn’t have any idea [about]. He tried and he was a really good guy, don’t miss understand me, but he was out of his field.
Eric: Absolutely. When we come back from the break, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to different guys over the years I’ve been doing this, that were there when Ric Flair had left with the WCW title. Were you there when Ric Flair left with the title?
Jimmy: I don’t think I was. I think that was after. I quit in ’92.
Eric: Okay, because he left right at the end of ’91.
Jimmy: He did? Well, you see, I don’t remember, because I mentally left, probably shortly before that.
Jimmy: I said when I was 26, I’d retire when I was 40, and that’s what I did. I was pretty much done, so I don’t have a lot of memory on him leaving, but I’ll give you what I can.
Eric: I’ll tell you what some of the other guys said and maybe you can throw in some of your comments on that.
Eric: Excellent. Again, we’re talking to “Gorgeous” Jimmy Garvin. His website is Jimmygarvin.com. He has a DVD for sale on his website, that takes a behind the scenes look at the Great American Bash, the last touring Great American Bash, as well as future DVDs that’ll be available on the site, as well as road stories. Check it out, Jimmygarvin.com.
Eric: Jim, we started to talk a little bit about Ric Flair, before the break. It never even dawn on me until I started bringing a couple of the guys from that era on the radio show here, a couple of the guys were still very bitter and very upset with Ric leaving with the title at the time and going over there and they’re saying, that it’s great Ric is making a buck over there, but he’s trying to put us out of business and hurt our families. What’s your take on it?
Jimmy: It’s a little foggy. I remember him going to the WWF out of here. To be honest with you, I was so mentally separated from the business at the time, to a degree, I didn’t care too much. I could care less, so to speak. I don’t know if that makes sense to you. I didn’t normally care what Flair did anyway.
Eric: You have an interesting story that you’ve told at the Wrestlingclassic’s message-board about Ric Flair.
Jimmy: (Laughs) When he tried to fire me three times?
Eric: (Laughs) Yeah. Why don’t you talk about that for a second?
Jimmy: Yeah, it was amazing. He was more or less the booker at the time, if not the booker, he was right up there. Hurricane Hugo, when that came, it hit my house; it put a 90-foot oak tree through two stories of it and microburst came out of it, it turned it twenty degrees off its foundation. Thank goodness, I was off at the time, and being so close in aviation, and watching everything on the radar, I kind of had an idea, along with everyone else, that it was going to get really bad. It destroyed my house. I had a day off and then I was supposed to go back to work, but I couldn’t make the shot. I called them and said, ‘Look, my house is gone. My stuff is strolled everywhere. I got to get my family a place to stay. I’m not going to be making the shot.’ He sent word back through Michael that if I missed another shot I was going to be fired.
Jimmy: So I sent message back through Michael and called the people I needed to call and I said, ‘Look, I need to have a couple of days to get my family secured.’ In the meantime, he sent two other messages that threatened to fire me if I didn’t make the shots. So I never really thought much of that. I really don’t think that was a nice thing to do. I think it would have been more in line to say, ‘Take care of your family and get back to us when you got them taken care of.’
Eric: Absolutely. How did the political struggle between Dusty and Flair affect the boys?
Jimmy: To me, it was one of those things that whoever won out the interview with Jimmy Crockett, because both of them were going in different directions, and neither one of them were having dinner at each other’s houses too often, if you know what I mean. So there was always a conflict. Flair had his guys and Dusty had his. To a degree, it separated the group. Flair did his angles and Dusty would do his. It was just an unnecessary discomfort in the air.
Jimmy: Again, I hate to say it, I probably didn’t care at the time. I didn’t pay much attention, because, honestly, there was stuff going on in the business that I could just care less. I had a job to do, and I knew what my job was, and I kind of knew where everybody was going, but I never really got into the personal [aspect]. I never got involved in that way.
Eric: Sure, one of my favorite promos from “Gorgeous” Jimmy Garvin was when you first came into the NWA Crockett territory at the time, you came out with the want ads, and you were talking about Wahoo looking for a job. (Laughs)
Eric: What are your memories of your feud with Wahoo?
Jimmy: Just great memories. Wahoo was a legend and always will be, well respected throughout the industry, and will always be remembered as a strong individual. He was just a great guy. When I first came to Crockett in ’77, really just started to apply what I watched as a manager all those years in the ring, Wahoo helped me out a lot then. Of course, coming in and working the angle with him right off the bat in ’86, it was great. He was just a great guy. He had a big heart. He was a tough individual. You knew you were in a match when you were in the ring with Wahoo. His stuff was solid. He had a good attitude, too. He did what he wanted to do. He said what he wanted to say. He wasn’t an office type guy. Interviews were so easy to do with him. It could have gone so much further, but there were certain restraints put on.
Eric: It seemed the feud ended pretty abruptly.
Jimmy: Yeah, I think it was getting over. (Laughs)
Eric: (Laughs) Like I said, as a kid, out of everything I’ve seen in the wrestling business, that’s one of the things that sticks out in my mind, that I remember was the interview. I remember the interview clear as day, with the interview and I remember the feud, so that should tell you something right there.
Jimmy: With all the thousands and thousands of interviews that I’ve done, I, like yourself, remember the ones with Wahoo, when I had the Chief fund. I had the pickle jar…
Eric: (Laughs) Yes!
Jimmy: Should I raise money for the chief? I wanted to go up to the hills here in Charlotte, and look for his mama. Do a little film clip, about going up and finding his mama up there on the reservation and looking in her tent for Wahoo, but that never happened.
Jimmy: Which would have been totally hilarious.
Eric: Absolutely. This radio show is based out of the Philadelphia market, and Philadelphia, I would think, was a very good town to you. I know most people remember your match with the Dynamic Dudes; I’ve even seen some interviews where they ask you about it. But I don’t think a lot of people remember, because it wasn’t on pay per view and it was just a regular house show, I remember being at a house show where you had just turned babyface, and you did the angle with the Midnight Express, and you came out as a surprise mystery partner, and I just remember the Civic Center going absolutely bonkers.
Jimmy: Well, Philadelphia, and I’m not kidding when I say this, was one, if not my favorite city. Philadelphia had the same attitude as I had and the same attitude as Michael had, and that was- we didn’t care. We did what we wanted to do and said what we wanted to say and we acted the way we wanted to when we wanted and nobody was going to tell us different. And if they tried to tell us different and we didn’t want to do it, we wouldn’t go for it. That was a good example with the fans. The promotion tried to do a babyface thing out of the dudes, and Philadelphia people told them that’s not what we wanted to do. Philadelphia, that auditorium there was electrifying. The fans were the greatest. They absolutely let you know what was on their mind. I know a couple shows there, I wasn’t feeling so good, I was just run down and I wasn’t at my 100%. Man, they let me know that I wasn’t doing too good. (Laughs)
Jimmy: I remember that. I understand, I wasn’t doing too good. They seen it and they said it. Good for them. I don’t think they realized how we worked and what we had to do to keep going sometimes.
Eric: Sure. When you did have that big babyface turn in Crockett’s company, was that something you got excited about? Was it something you got nervous about? Or was that something, again, you didn’t really care, it was part of the job?
Jimmy: I was always nervous in the Crockett organization. I also told the story on the boards, in ’86, when I came here. They told me to come there out of Texas, but instead I went to Verne [Gagne]. They never forgot that. I was going up the stairs one time, in Fayetteville and Tully and Flair were standing at the top and they said, ‘Oh here’s the guy that wouldn’t come when we needed him to come, now he’s here.’ So that kind of always stuck in my mind that they didn’t forget. I really felt a little uncomfortable. I knew, coming out of Florida, doing business with David Von Erich, coming out of Texas and doing business there, and coming out of the AWA and doing business there, I knew the character of “Gorgeous” Jimmy Garvin and Precious could do business if given a chance. The Wahoo thing was going, then they turned me babyface. I said. ‘I could still make this work. I can control my gimmick to the point I’m creative enough that I could make this work. I just need a little help.’ It takes two to tango. I always knew in the back of my mind, that the rope was going to run out pretty soon. [First] turning me babyface then teaming me up with Bill Dundee. What in the world was that about? Teaming me up with Ronnie. That didn’t make any sense either. I was a single, basically, under the “Gorgeous” Jimmy Garvin and Precious characters.
Eric: Talking a little bit about Verne, what were some of your memories of that run? I remember, and I thought it was tremendous, that [feud] you had with Rick Martel over the AWA title.
Jimmy: Fantastic gentleman. Rick Martel was a great piece of talent, a great individual and person, and just a really nice guy and businessman. His work and my work were kind of like Chris Adams and I when we worked. We just knew each other’s style. We could adapt to the changes, if we needed to on an instant. We both had the same psychology as far as how the match should start and how the match should continue through the middle and how the match should end. We were really mentally connected. That’s what important in having those old-school, classic matches, is the guys have to be able to read each other really good. Rick Martel and I did a heck of a job. Verne had a great territory there. Verne is an old-school guy and he sold wrestling.
Eric: I think it says a lot about you, because Verne got you, and at the time you were a top guy and you were in the top program with Martel. And that was the time that Verne was looking to expand in the Northeast, and he was running the Meadowlands. So I think that says a lot about you and how he saw you.
Jimmy: I appreciate that and I’m glad he recognized it. I had worked almost a quarter of a century on my skills and I wasn’t going to my first dance. I use that phrase often. I could have gone to Verne’s territory and with a little help from the company, let me have a little creative flow going, and we’ll not only give the people their money’s worth, but we’ll also have a good time and everybody will make money.
Eric: What about when you wound up getting that tag team title run with Steven Regal, what was the story with the phantom title change between you and the Road Warriors?
Jimmy: I’m not sure if Verne was trying to give the Road Warriors a secret message or not. I wasn’t in on that and didn’t really know, but the Road Warriors were the Road Warriors and I respect them tremendously. Why would they drop it to Steve and I? We didn’t know it wasn’t going to happen, too much, until that night it happened. The only thing I could figure out was, there must have been something going on, some power struggle going on, this is just my thoughts, I’m sure Animal would know because he was privy to the information, but it was pretty bizarre to have Steve and I, of all people. But thank goodness, like I say, too, sometimes, on the boards, the Road Warriors liked us a lot. We got along well with them, so they didn’t care.
Eric: You seemed to have very good chemistry. You worked with them, I’d imagine, hundreds of time.
Jimmy: I was very good friends with both of them.
Eric: We were talking briefly before, you were talking about having really good chemistry with Martel and knowing where you were. Do you remember any guy or guys that you have wrestled, and it’s not saying anything negative on them, that you just said to yourself, wow, we are just on two different pages and we can’t get anything go here?
Jimmy: I’m sure along my way, there were guys like that. I can’t really bring to my mind right now. I’d really have to stop think about the guys that I worked with. Sometimes you would just have bad chemistry. Maybe the guy would just be thinking too one sided. That’s a question we’d have to think over a little bit and let me think of the guys. There was a black guy, bald headed guy, named Sonny…
Eric: Sonny Fargo?
Jimmy: No, he was down in Florida. I couldn’t remember his name. He was always hard to work with, but he was going to do everything he could do to get over and that’s not always the best thing to do. It takes two guys working together to make everything happen. I’ll probably remember that guy’s name when we hang up.
Eric: (Laughs) I’ll look for it on the boards. What are your memories of Texas? I’ve been lucky, I had Kevin Von Erich on the show a few times and one of the few guys that I actually stay in touch with between his appearances. What a super guy, from my experiences with him.
Jimmy: Great guy. Good friend of ours. Good family friend, as were all the Von Erich boys. Good friends with Patty and I. Texas was just a magical place. I’ve said this before, too, on the boards or from my e-mail club. In ’83, when we went there, all the stars were lined up in the right place. The boys were on top of their game. The Freebirds were there, feeling no pain, and on top of their game. The angle with myself and Chris Adams was hot. Iceman King Parsons, everything was just so perfect. We could do no wrong. It was just magical in Texas. Everybody was paired up with the right person. All the angles that were being constructed were with the right people. It was perfect.
Eric: How did you wind up with Sunshine? Where did she come from?
Jimmy: Sunshine’s my cousin.
Eric: Oh okay.
Jimmy: She’s my cousin. She’s from Tampa and she’s doing fine now. Originally, to make a long story short, when I was just Jimmy Garvin, an old timer down in Florida, a friend of Eddie Graham’s, Lester Welch saw me working. I came back in the dressing room and he said, ‘Jim, I’ve known you forever. You’ve got a good background, you’ve got a good basic style, but you need to have a gimmick.’ So that really burnt on my mind that he’s probably right. The “Gorgeous” Jimmy Garvin character came up and Eddie Graham had a friend, who he hooked me up with to be the valet, and I just created the character from there. Of course, the fact of this girl, the limo picking me up at home, being away for days, that was kind of wearing on the family. Patti is such a wonderful person and a wonderful wife, and I realized the pressure there, so I said, ‘Look, we’ll get rid of her and I’ll try to figure something about, but I got to keep the gimmick going.’ Because I knew it was just a matter of time before the gimmick totally caught on fire, as it did. So I said, I got an idea; I’ll get my cousin Valerie. I called her up and she had never even been to a wrestling match. I’ll teach you on the way to Texas, this what we’re going to do. She was just a perfect natural; she did just a great job. That’s how Sunshine was brought to Texas.
Eric: Your wife was such a natural, especially when you were a heel, just that voice and you guys had charisma together. She was such a natural in that role.
Jimmy: That’s amazing, too. She didn’t want anything to do with that. I had to beg her and beg her and beg her. In fact, I still owe her for doing that.
Jimmy: When Sunshine was in Texas with me for almost a year, we were partying really, really hard, to hard for our own good, actually. It got to the point where her and Buddy Roberts were having a good time, a couple days at a time, and her dependability started to wear. No disrespect to her, that was just normal to take a young girl out of a small town, and Tampa being a small town compared to the rest of the United States, where we traveled, she needed a break. I said, ‘You got to do it, Patti. There’s nobody else to do it.’ Patti said, ‘No, no, no.’ It’s totally against her normal nature. Finally, she said okay, I’ll do it for you. She did it for me for five years; she traveled around the world. 24 hours a day, seven days a week, we’ve been together 35 years. I’m so grateful. I’m so blessed. God has really watched over me and I appreciate it.
Eric: Well, God bless you. That’s tremendous. What an example. You could write a book right there.
Jimmy: 35 years, we met when were kids, she just turned 14, I was 16, something like that, and tomorrow I’ll be more in love with her then I am today. We have two beautiful daughters, one’s going to be 27 in August, she lives in Manhattan, she’s a photographer, and her name is Brianne, and the other one’s Lacie, she’s going to go University of Louisiana as a junior this fall.
Eric: That’s tremendous. I’m going to take a break and we’ll wrap it up and try and scoot around the country in the different territories that you worked and maybe some different anecdotes.
Jimmy: Alright, brother.
AFTER THE BREAK
Eric: Jimmy, one of my favorite questions, that I like to ask guys, especially like yourself, that were in the business that were constantly on the road, a favorite story or stories, ribs, what were your favorite ribs, that you either saw or applied yourself or maybe were the recipient?
Jimmy: There was an enormous amount of ribbing back then. I think one of that sticks in my mind, didn’t involve me, but it was one with the Steiners. They were going down, I think Interstate 20, they were getting ready to pass Brian Pillman, God bless him as well, and he was sleeping, like laying up against the window in the backseat, with his head catching some zzzz’s. And the Steiners pulled up along side, without anyone seeing too much, it happened so fast, and one of them climbed out the window and opened the door on the side that Pillman was sleeping on. He almost fell into the Interstate.
Jimmy: (Laughs) Which I guess wouldn’t have been too darn funny.
Eric: No, no.
Jimmy: That kind of ribbing, that sticks in my mind. The Freebirds did an awful lot of ribbing. I remember one, in West Palm Beach, the Briscos and I, we were going along the road, and there used to be a lot of armadillos hanging around by the side of the expressway. So we stopped, got a towel, and ran one of these armadillos down, and it was big armadillo. We caught up him and put him in the trunk. Then we brought him in the dressing room and I think it was Bearcat Right, I’m almost positive it was Bearcat Right, a black wrestler, had stepped out of the room for a minute and so we took the armadillo and put it in Bearcat’s bag and zipped it up.
Jimmy: The armadillo by now, he’d been the towel for several hours, now he’s in Bearcat’s bag, you could see when Bearcat came back in the dressing room, you can see the top of the zipper, it was one of those big hockey bags, and it was kind of [moving] where the armadillo was trying to get out and, of course, Bearcat’s not paying attention, he’s telling a story or something. So he reaches down and unzips his bag all in one stroke, well, when that armadillo seen light, it sprung straight up. When Bearcat seen the armadillo jump out of his bag, at the time, I don’t think he knew exactly what it was, it hit the floor, he hit the floor, the armadillo went one way, he went the other way screaming like a little girl.
Jimmy: That was pretty funny.
Eric: That is a great story. It would seem, as hot as you were throughout your career, you would have at least been a natural fit as some point for the WWF. Were there any talks or negotiations in your career, past, present, or whenever?
Jimmy: Well, in ’92, when I retired, as I had planned to do when I was 26 years old, I did get a call. Pat Patterson called me and said, ‘Vince wants you to come up’ and get a load of this, he said, ‘Vince wants you to come up and try out.’
Jimmy: Yeah, that was the phrase. He wanted me to try out.
Eric: That’s crazy.
Jimmy: So he flew me up to New York. Of course, I thought, ‘Try out? I got something you could try out.’ But I wanted to fly up there and see the boys anyway and I had nothing else to do, so I went on up there. I did an interview with Gene Okerlund and it didn’t feel comfortable at all. It felt so out of place and it felt like I didn’t need to be here. I didn’t speak more than ten words to Vince, nothing against Vince, whatever he does is his business, but I believe there are people in this world that just don’t get along, and I believe Vince and I are those two. He never really cared much for me, and I didn’t care much for him. They wanted to change my name, I said no, that ain’t happening. I just didn’t care, as usual.
Eric: If you had the entire library of film to put on tape and DVD from your career, if you could pick three matches to put on there, for any reason at all, off the top of your head, what three matches would they be?
Jimmy: The Hour Broadway with Harley Race from Tampa, Florida, at Al Lopez Field. It would be any match that I had with David Von Erich. And it would be any match that I had, it would be a toss up between Chris Adams and Rick Martel.
Eric: Interesting. You’ve already talked about why you retired, you had it in your mind, what have you been doing since that time?
Jimmy: I’m a commercial pilot. I started flying when I was 19 years old. Sam Menacker took me to a town in his airplane and I fell in love with aviation. I flew throughout my career. There were certain periods of time when I was just too busy on the road, and too wound up, and wasn’t in the right frame of mind, to say the least, to be in airplane, so I took a break from it. But it was always in my mind that when I turned 40 to retire and fly airplanes and play a little golf. In ’86, when I came to Crockett’s territory, I bought a 401, flew that around the country, again building time, I had already accumulated every rating that you could get from Federal Aviation. On my birthday, when I quit, I had a flight instruction job lined up; I went into flight instruction. I did that for about a year, then I flew freight for a couple years, then I got on with the US Air express carrier out of Charlotte. I flew jet stream for five years, and then wanted to fly jets before I really quit. I went to Midway, and flew almost two years there, flying their regional jet, the CL-65, which is a real nice piece of equipment, state of the art stuff. Then of course, after 9/11, they went under and now I’m working with the sixth largest airline in the world, I’m a captain for them and I have really wonderful job.
Eric: That’s tremendous. Jimmy, the hour went by so fast. When you put out the next DVD, I’d love to have you back.
Jimmy: I’d love to be back. I’d like to thank everybody for all the years of support, and, again, being so blessed, to be able to live my dream in professional wrestling, I’m just like an artist, I just needed a place to paint, and that provided me that. And now I’m living my dream in aviation. I’m so blessed to have such a wonderful family, a wonderful wife, and I’m thankful to God for everything.
Eric: Jimmy, all the best to you and your family and we’ll be looking forward to having you back sometime…Jimmy, thank you very much.
Jimmy: Take care, Eric.
© 2013, Pro Wrestling Radio. All rights reserved.