On the latest episode of Wrestling with History on VOC Nation, legendary wrestling personality Ken Resnick spoke about the differences of the industry from now and the 80s, how the AWA continued to book Hulk Hogan even when he wasn’t available, and Hogan’s drawing power. Highlights are below.
On the difference in chemistry during interviews and matches today versus the 80s:
“One of the things I’ve always tried to do, and we’d talk with the talent, we always tried to play to their strengths. I always would try and find out how they were most comfortable doing an interview. The agents, producers, what have you would always try and point out their strengths and stay away from their weaknesses, not only doing interviews but in the ring. That just doesn’t seem to be there anymore… Back in the territory days, there were so many hours on the road driving from town to town that the wrestlers would be together in the cars, they’d be eating together on the road telling stories about their families, and cammeraderie came and grew from that as did a mutual respect. When you were doing an interview you always tried to somehow put your opponent over; when guys were in the ring they tried to put the matches together that even if they were going over, to make sure their opponent had enough high spots to get over even if they weren’t going to have their hands raised. I think a lot of that is lost in today’s wrestling…they just don’t spend the amount of time together.”
On talent contract changing how talent views the business:
“Back in the 80s and 90s, the wrestlers got paid a percentage of the gate. If you were in the main event you got a little more of a percentage than the guys that were in the semi-windup, and a lot more than the guys in the opening match, but everybody strove to try and sell tickets and put their matches over. Today so much of the talent (are) on guaranteed contracts that how big the house is doesn’t really affect their pay that much… I just think back in the 80s and 90s everybody wanted the show to be as good as it could be because that meant everybody got paid a little bit more. Now today I think it’s more about putting themselves over looking toward their next contract.”
On Hulk Hogan’s locker room reputation:
“I was there. The vibe in the locker room – there were some guys that were not well liked – and I never saw Hulk Hogan as someone who wasn’t well liked… If you look at Hulk’s matches in the ring, he always allotted at some point in his matches for his opponent to be going over, and then of course he would hulk up and make the comeback. There were guys that weren’t well liked (but) I never saw that with Hulk.”
On today’s business not centering around mega stars:
“Certainly Hulk was good for the business, he recognized that he was good for the business, and he tried to help a lot of people… When Hulk was on the card, the house was going to be bigger. More people were going to come to a town if Hulk Hogan was wrestling. The same was true if Macho Man and Elizabeth were wrestling, or if Roddy Piper was wrestling…(Today) WWE made the concerted effort to become more of a brand, not really having mega superstars…There’s not really the mega superstar that non wrestling fans (would go out to see).”
On the AWA continuing to advertise Hogan after he left for WWE:
“Hulk was not going to be on TV because he had a Japan tour booked. Everyone was aware of that. At some point either before or during the Japan trip, Hulk notified Verne that he was not coming back to the AWA…. One of the things that bothered me (was) even thought they knew he was not coming back, they continued to advertise him as being on upcoming house shows… (then) that night at the show they would announce that he wasn’t going to be there.”
On Verne Gagne’s personality:
“If you were just with Verne one on one when no one else was around, Verne could be kind of a fun guy or an OK guy. But it always seemed that if there were someone else around, he would – and I’m not 100% sure which persona was real or not – be not so nice.”
Wrestling with History features former AWA and WWF announcer Ken Resnick and drops every Wednesday on VOC Nation. Ken looks back at the 80s and early 90s and tells stories from his time in the business.
Full interview can be found below.