On the latest edition of Wrestling with History, Ken Resnick and Bill Apter covered the career of Harley Race, including his attitude toward the business, his toughness, his WWE run, and more. Highlights from the episode can be found below.
Bill Apter talks learning from Harley Race:
“I traveled many many years with Harley. He educated me on a lot of the business. He was one of these people who was gentle at times, but he was a legitimate tough guy. Harley Race could shoot if he needed to shoot on somebody. Harley was the type of guy who you wanted to be close to, you wanted to be his friend, because he was not a guy you didn’t want to not like you.”
Ken Resnick on how Race made people show respect to the business:
“He very much dictated the pace of the match. The book on Harley, especially among the veterans talking to the younger guys, (was that) Harley could shoot, Harley could work stiff, but the book was that Harley would do that if you weren’t selling enough or putting enough effort into the match. If you were doing everything he thought you should be doing, he did not try and shoot or work stiff; but if Harley went to that, it was his way of saying to his opponent ‘I don’t think you’re respecting the business enough.”
How Vince McMahon always took care of veterans:
“Vince monetarily paid a lot of the veterans out of respect for what they had done for the business. Vince did do that. As much as Vince takes shots for this gimmick or that gimmick, or this booking or that booking, when he initially brought them in he monetarily and financially…that was Vince’s way of paying his respects to the veterans of the business. But once you got there, it could be a different story.”
How serious Race was with championships:
“He was one of the people in the lineage of Dory Funk Jr, Jack Brisco, that made the belt totally respectable. People would say to me, ‘oh I know that this wrestling is all fake except for the title matches.’ When you’d go to a wrestling show and you saw Harley Race in his classic matches against Ric Flair and people like that, you never thought that what he was doing was (fake).”
Resnick on Harley being paired with Heenan in WWE:
“Until Vince basically gave up the business, during the kayfabe era if you look back, Bobby did not have the silliness… he had it with Gorilla on Prime Time, but in terms of his interviews and what he did around the ring, Bobby had the same respect and showed the same respect for the business that Harley did until the kayfabe era was dead… If you look at the interviews Bobby did with Harley and for Harley, there wasn’t any silliness involved.”
Full episode can be found below.