B. Brian Blair joined Slam Wrestling live for a chat on May 4, 2001. Here’s the transcript:
Moderator: B. Brian Blair joins us from Florida. Thanks for joining us Brian. Let’s get to the first question.
Rick Hallberg, Miami .: My favorite Florida wrestler in the ’70s was the late Bobby Shane, any thoughts or memories of him?
B. Brian Blair: Bobby was a little before my time but I remember him as a kid as being a great villain. He died in a plane crash in 1975 because he couldn’t swim. God bless him.
Jason Armstrong: Just curious if the Killer Bees were invited to take part in the gimmick “Battle Royal” at the recent WrestleMania? Considering your team was an integral part of the history of the event, it would’ve been a natural addition. Also, how do you think the Killer Bees would fare in today’s “attitude” style of wrestling?
B. Brian Blair: We aren’t old enough to be part of the gimmick battle royal. I’m still active and currently co-hold the NWA Florida tag title. We would do well in today’s environment. We took a lot of pride in being able to adapt to whatever the audience wanted. And wrestling never goes out of style.
Herbie Menzies: Did you ever work with the late Johnny Valentine and do you remember any stories you could share with us?
B. Brian Blair: He was my second booker. I remember when he was on his crutches, he used me to demonstrate how to throw a forearm to the other boys. He hit me so hard he knocked me straight to the ground. I tell this story in the Johnny Valentine tribute that will be up this weekend on wrestlingclassics.com. My sincerest sympathies to all his family and those that knew him.
Terry Harris: Who in your opinion were the three best tag teams during your tenure in the WWF?
B. Brian Blair: Killer Bees! The Hart Foundation, and the Rougeaus. I’d add the Bulldogs to that. There were so many great teams, it’s hard to narrow it down to three off the top of my head.
Alex Ristic: What was it like winning the inaugural Frank Tunney Memorial tag tournament at Maple Leaf Gardens?
B. Brian Blair: Um, it was awesome. I would compare it to winning the first Survivor Series.
KillerBeeFan1: Hi, Brian – you rule. Any chance of ever coming back to WWF? or All Japan?
B. Brian Blair: Um, you never know and never say never. I’m probably in better shape now than I have ever been. You can actually see what I look like right now in my book, Smarten Up! Say It Right.
Frank from Port Perry: You held many titles in Florida, did you ever feel lost in the shuffle in the WWF initially?
B. Brian Blair: Yes! But not initially. Most of the feeling of being lost is the fact that we were promised the tag belts on three different occasions. We were told by George Scott and Vince that the money was in the chase but that we would get the belts.
Marco Mosquera: What is Jumping Jim Brunzell doing these days?
B. Brian Blair: He’s working a sales job in Minnesota. He’s doing good. He and Bruce Springsteen are friends. He came to Florida and stayed with me when Bruce was touring the area. He took me to the concert and took me in the back and introduced me to Bruce. It was cool.
Devin: Brian, what was it like to work with Bret Hart?
B. Brian Blair: Probably my favorite opponent. I actually named my older son after Bret, but I Americanized the spelling to Brett. My son Brett will be 9 on Wednesday.
John Pollock: What do you think of other books by wrestlers and which ones do you like the best?
B. Brian Blair: My favorite book was Mick Foley’s Have A Nice Day. I also loved Lou Thesz’s book, Hooker.
Ed Ludwig: Hi Brian! With the WWF/WCW merger, will it help the independent federations? They seem to be getting more media coverage and some pretty big names appearing at various shows. Thank you.
B. Brian Blair: Yes, it will absolutely help the independents, but it’s not good for the boys as a whole. They have no bargaining power with only one owner that can make wrestlers a living. However, I think there is a new federation looming around the corner.
Devin: Brian, you currently work for NWA Florida, who are at war with IPW and FOW. What are your thoughts about inter-promotional angles and do you think it could have work with national/worldwide companies like the WWF & WCW?
B. Brian Blair: The inter-promotional angle is the promoter’s idea. I’m not really involved in that. I just wrestle whoever they put me in the ring with.
Anonymous: Hi Brian. In a Bret Hart interview Bret says that one of his two favourite matches of ALL time was a tag team match between the Hart Foundation and The Killer Bees. I’ve seen this match and it is a very good technical match. What was it like working with the Hart foundation and who else did the Killer Bees have good chemistry with in the ring?
B. Brian Blair: Really, can I get a tape? Drop me an email. We had good chemistry with everyone. Jimmy came from the AWA as Greg Gagne’s partner where they had good wrestling matches with a variety of opponents. He was a natural partner for me. I want to thank Bret for the compliment. I said earlier how much I think of him and respect his ability so it means a lot when someone like that pays me that high of a compliment.
Reggie Donaldson: Where did you train to become a wrestler, and by who?
B. Brian Blair: Tampa, Florida. The whole story is in the book, Smarten Up! Say It Right. Seriously, I was trained by the great Hiro Matsuda as well as some of the other great legends that came by the Tampa Sportatorium to work out with young guys. I was very lucky.
KennyBizz: Did anyone other than the wrestlers get fooled with your gimmick of wearing masks with Jumpin’ Jim Brunzel? Like come on – the two of you had a noticeable height difference and totally different body shapes! LOL! Stuff like that made wrestling back then so much more fun and enjoyable. Who’s idea was it to pair you guys up and who’s idea was it donning the masks?
B. Brian Blair: Hulk Hogan’s idea to team us up in the WWF. And it was Billy “Red” Lyons idea to wear the mask. Jimmy and I came up with the name Masked Confusion. It was a blast. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Blair talks more about both these subjects in our story “B. Brian Blair believed in his book”).
The Widowmaker: In your mind do you think wrestling has crossed the boundaries and will one day regret giving all the kayfabe away. Is it short term gain, long term pain?
B. Brian Blair: Fair question. Honestly, I don’t think breaking kayfabe has hurt the business. The business has thrived since everyone, from Vince McMahon in 1985, to everyone since, has exposed the business. What has hurt the business is seeing the same guys on top over and over, bad angles, vulgarity, and too much T&A.
John Pollock: What did you think of Hulk Hogan the performer and Hulk Hogan the person?
B. Brian Blair: Hulk Hogan was a key to the success of our sport and no one can deny that. As a performer, he never got the credit he deserved by some fans. He could do anything in the ring, he just understood what the fans wanted to see from Hulk Hogan and gave it to them. His matches in Japan before he went to the WWF were completely different. As a person, he really is a cool guy. He’s fun to be with. He’s very giving. He always tries to make sure you have a good time when you’re with him.
Brian Xylos: Will there ever be a Hulk Hogan character or someone like him again, or is that just passe for today’s generation?
B. Brian Blair: There will only be one Hulk Hogan just like there will be one Rock or one Steve Austin. Any gimmick that I’ve ever seen copied has never survived. Same with Ric Flair, Lou Thesz, Gorgeous George, or any other major star in history.
Frank from the Insurance Industry: The Sheik and Volkoff were brutal performers in their day. Was it difficult having a watchable match with these two stiffs?
B. Brian Blair: I disagree. I thought their gimmick got them over. Jimmy and I could work with anybody. I would have to say that we had to use a little more psychology and maybe work a little harder than any other team. But it’s not fair to call them stiffs based on what you saw at the end of their career. At one time Volkoff was one of the best and mobile big men in wrestling. Sheik was an incredible professional wrestler who participated in the Olympics and won the Pan American Games.
Frank Piccolino: Who in your opinion was the most under-utilized worker in the mid-’80s in the WWF, anyone who did not make it to be a star that you thought for sure would?
B. Brian Blair: Bobby Eaton was probably the most underrated performer of the 80s. Absolutely.
Lex_Reda: Hi Brian, what can you tell us about Eddie Graham and wrestling at the Eddie Graham Sports Complex?
B. Brian Blair: I won the Southern Title in that building. It was a dream for me since I grew up watching Eddie Graham and Championship Wrestling from Florida. Eddie Graham was the greatest psychologist I ever met.
The Widowmaker: What are your thoughts on Demolition? I noticed you have not really mentioned them. I thought Ax was truly one of the most under rated workers of his day and Smash was at his best in Demolition.
B. Brian Blair: Glad you mentioned that. They were great performers. It’s so nice to be part of this chat because the fans bring out the best of your career. A lot of things I overlook the fans remember. I get emails all the time bringing up things that make me remember things. It’s great that it’s preserved on tape.
KillerBeeFan1: Hi, Brian. I remember watching you fight Adrian Adonis in the Maple Leaf Gardens feature match of the week. My question – why didn’t your WWF wrestling figure look a thing like you?
B. Brian Blair: Did any of them look like any of the wrestlers they were supposed to be? I still have mine. It looks more like me now than it did then.
Alex Ristic: You guys were a great team, and one of my favourites growing up – but your finishing move (the Bee Sting) was less than terrifying. How important is it to have a fearsome finisher?
B. Brian Blair: We primarily used Jimmy’s dropkick. We were more finesse wrestlers. That’s why we used different finishes. We wanted to be the kind of team that you never knew when we were going to win. Once the Undertaker hits you with his tombstone, everybody knows the match is over. I still like being able to catch the crowd off guard with a variety of different finishes.
Devin: Did any bloopers or funny moments happen while performing the Masked Confusion angle?
B. Brian Blair: Often it was awkward to get the masks out of our tights. Brunzell came out from underneath the ring with the mask on backward and was desperately trying to get it turned around. I saw it out of the corner of my eye and had to bury my face to hide the laughter.
DonMega: The ’80s were my favourite time in wrestling for tag team action, Killer Bees, Hart Foundation, Bulldogs, Freebirds, Horsemen, the list goes on and on. Now with the Hardys, E&C, Dudleys, tag team action is getting back to the spotlight. Any team now that impresses you over others?
B. Brian Blair: I like the Hardyz and E&C but I fear for them due to the fact that they are raising the risk level to get a pop from the audience to the height that it is alarmingly dangerous. And this opinion comes from someone that has been in the same place and knows the risk. If you look on page 49 of my book, you’ll see all my injuries and we didn’t do half of the high risk moves they do today.
Anonymous: Do you think that Paul Roma & Jim Powers deserved the push they received in the late 80’s? Did it hurt the Killer Bees at all?
B. Brian Blair: I don’t think they really got over as a team because they were always fighting with each other and I’ve always believed a house divided will surely fall.
Frank C Reda: How many times do you estimate you wrestled the Hart Foundation?
B. Brian Blair: Over 300 and less than 600.
Brian Acne: What are your thoughts on Barry Windham, he was a can’t miss prospect and he missed? Was it his knees or outside interests?
B. Brian Blair: I’m not sure he really missed. Just because you weren’t main eventing Madison Square Gardens or Maple Leaf Gardens every night doesn’t mean you missed. He did main event a lot. He challenged for the world title a lot. He made a lot of money.
Pat Little: Brian, you wrestled a lot in Toronto. What are your memories of Toronto?
B. Brian Blair: Absolute all time favorite city to wrestle in and I’m not just saying that. The fans had such appreciation for great wrestling and great mat wrestling that my style was really appreciated. I loved wrestling in front of the Canadian fans and I always got an extra adrenaline rush when I was in Toronto because of the history of the building.
KillerBeeFan1: What the hell was in Iron Mike Sharpe’s forearm pad? Every time he and Tom Stone used to wrestle the Bees, he would land that bad boy and you’d be knocked out?
B. Brian Blair: He didn’t need anything in that pad. He was one of the stiffest wrestlers I ever worked with. I really liked working with Mike, a lot.
Number One Norm Kimber Fan: What if any type of wrestling memorabilia did you save from your career?
B. Brian Blair: I have everything. From the Nike shoes we wore in WrestleMania III, The Wrestling Album with Cyndi Lauper, 16 video tapes, posters, photos, you name it.
Anonymous: I have a Killer Bees poster at home. Jim Brunzell visited Windsor (my hometown) in 1998. I would really appreciate if you would sign it as well. Is there an address or something which fans can send autograph requests?
B. Brian Blair: I’m sure that can be arranged if he talks to Mark at WrestlingClassics.com. He runs my website and I’m sure we can figure something out. The only thing that we would want to make sure is that the item was insured because I know it’s valuable to the person.
Monica from the Hellfire Club: Who do you think would be the one to start another wrestling promotion and will they have enough talent to be a success? It would be much like rebuilding a sports team, it would take time and many people in this industry do not have patience.
B. Brian Blair: Kayfabe. If you don’t know what that means, please buy Smarten Up! Say It Right. Seriously, I am not at liberty to comment about a new promotion at this moment.
DonMega: I remember being confused by the Killer Bees. On one hand you were a face tag team because you wrestled the heels, on the other, you cheated to win with the masks. What were your characters intended to be and did it create much “masked confusion” with fans?
B. Brian Blair: That was the whole idea. Thank you. We only used the Masked Confusion when our opponents cheated first.
Theo from the Danforth: I always was annoyed and thought it was silly when you guys did your little bee wing flap. Who thought of this idea?
B. Brian Blair: I did. I’m sorry. Fans seemed to enjoy it, though.
Monica from the Hellfire Club: Will you ever take indy bookings in Canada or do you just do local shots?
B. Brian Blair: I would love to come to Canada! I can be contacted at my website for appearances.
Karen: What do you think is the biggest misconception about wrestling in the 1980’s?
B. Brian Blair: That all wrestlers were on steroids!
Rod from Ontario: What is your favourite match you’ve ever been involved in? And what was your favourite match in the WWF?
B. Brian Blair: Paul Orndorff and I had a match in Worcester, Mass and then in St. Louis that were my favorites as singles. As a tag team, I had a lot of favorite matches with the Hart Foundation. Especially one 20-minute draw in MSG when I was late to the building, was fined $500, and was literally lacing my boots up on the way to the ring. It was great match!
Lindsay Taylor: I heard an interview with Jacques Rougeau talking about a fight between himself and Dynamite Kid. Were you there and if so what happened in your view?
B. Brian Blair: Yes I was. I saw the whole thing. I’d rather not expound because they are both my friends. I’d much rather forget what I saw.
JP: Hey Brian, just wanted to know how was it like to wrestle the Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff at WrestleMania 3 in front of over 93,000 screaming fans at the Pontiac Silverdome?
B. Brian Blair: Biggest moment of my career. I remember going to the top of the Silverdome and looking down and asking myself, “why would someone want to sit way up here when the people look so small?” But then again you have to remember being there is a great feeling itself and feel the excitement in the crowd. It was a great feeling I’ll never forget. I still have the press kit. Looking at the press kit gives me goosebumps.
Mike Mastrandrea: What are your thoughts on Vince McMahon and his style of business (i.e. treatment of talent)?
B. Brian Blair: He actually treats talent a lot better now than he did. I think Bret Hart woke him up. There’s a lot I could say about Vince, both pro and con, but it’s hard to argue with success. I’m actually a WWF/E stock holder.
Mike: Do you think Hogan will return to pro wrestling?
B. Brian Blair: Absolutely
DonMega: Most great tag teams end up splitting and attempting a singles career (Harts, Rockers, etc.) Did you and Jim have any plans at attempting singles careers? Did Vince have any such plans for either of you?
B. Brian Blair: You mean the WWF? I left and Jimmy stayed after we realized that we weren’t going to get the tag belts. For some reason, Vince had a grudge against Jimmy. After I left, he really jobbed Jimmy out. Jimmy had a couple of kids getting ready for college and a lot of expenses. I was fortunate that I was single and didn’t have a lot of expenses and saved my money. So I could afford to leave.
Phil Chertok: I’m trying to find a video of you winning the Tampa Cup in the early ’80s. Any ideas?
B. Brian Blair: Me too! I’d like to have that myself. If he finds it, let me know and I’ll buy a copy. Seriously, Mark Nulty at WrestlingClassics.com has a lot of great Florida footage, but doesn’t have that particular event.
Mike Mastrandrea: Being involved in the ’80s wrestling boom, do you feel that the WWF’s recent popularity has surpassed that of your time?
B. Brian Blair: Probably, yes. You have to remember we were still part of some of the highest rated television shows ever when we were on Saturday Nights Main Event. Also, look at how many more homes have access to Pay Per View now. How much higher the prices are. How many more avenues to sell merchandise. The WWF today is doing great and I’m not knocking them at all. But you’re not really comparing apples to apples.
Mr. Studley from the bowrey: In today’s wrestling landscape who in your opinion will be a sleeper that will one day become a major star, ala HHH?
B. Brian Blair: Edge. I think he and Christian will eventually split up and Edge will go on to be a main event level star. Right now, probably Kurt Angle is my favorite worker.
Frank from the Insurance Industry: Who do you feel will lead wrestling into the late 2000’s, and who if anyone do you see as someone replacing the great Ric Flair in this industry?
B. Brian Blair: Edge, Kurt Angle, there’s a lot of young stars. The Rock is still very young if he stays in the business. Triple H is only 28. I don’t think people realize he hasn’t even hit his prime yet.
Daryl: Brian – who do you keep in contact now on a regular basis from your wrestling past?
B. Brian Blair: Just about everybody. So many it’s hard to say. I speak to Hogan and Savage a lot because they live here. Steve Keirn. Jimmy Brunzell, I talked to Jesse Ventura a little while back. Wow, so many guys to try and name.
Murtz (ProWrestlingSucks.com): Do you see any similarities between you and a wrestling that is currently performing? If so, who is it and why?
B. Brian Blair: I would like to say Chris Benoit but I don’t think I was as good as he is. He reminds me of myself and he is probably one of the most respected guys in the business by both new and old. There’s no true baby faces anymore. I was a real baby face when I wrestled.
Phil Chertok: Here’s a question I’ve always wanted to have answered — when a wrestler shows up in a cast, then he beans the guy when he’s not looking – is it real? You know?
B. Brian Blair: Yes. Read my book.
Dean W.: What was Gorilla Monsoon like?
B. Brian Blair: One of the greatest guys in the world. I loved him. I miss him. I hope he’s dancing in heaven with his son Joey.
Devin (ProWrestlingDaily.com): Is it true that you were there when Brutus Beefcake had his accident in 1990? What are you thoughts on that situation?
B. Brian Blair: Yes, I pulled him out of the water when he was drowning. I’m just glad he made a full recovery. I was very scared that day. I asked him to open his mouth and he said he was. His orbital bone was completely broken around his face.
Phil Chertok: Why isn’t your book available in bookstores?
B. Brian Blair: Because you have a choice of either self publishing or going to a publishing company. The publishing company was only going to give me a small up front fee and small change. Self publishing lets you market it to distributors, which sometimes takes months. That’s why I put it on the internet, to see what kind of response while I’m waiting to finalize the major distributor deals. I’ve been overwhelmed by the response on the internet. Plus, it’s the only place you can get it personally autographed.
Mike Mastrandrea: I recently viewed a tape of you juicing in a NWA Florida match, do you believe that this “hardcore” style will continue to be the future of wrestling? How did you feel wrestling a hardcore style as compared to your usual technical style?
B. Brian Blair: Juicing has always been part of our business. I don’t consider it technical or hard core, just what the angle called for. BTW, drop me a line please and let me know where you got the tape. My address is on my website.
SBP: Hi, Brian. I’m the president of your Hamilton fan club. My question for you: Why not go for the Hardcore belt? You could easily crush Rhyno.
B. Brian Blair: How many members do you have and where are my royalties?
Jeff The Canuck, Eh!: Aside from chats such as these, do you think the internet is good or bad for wrestling in general and story lines specifically?
B. Brian Blair: I think the internet is great for wrestling. That’s one of the reasons I put the best internet sites in the book. Internet fans buy tickets. The internet helps generate interest. If the average fan came to the internet and found the abundant knowledge that is available they would become even bigger fans. That’s my theory. And even if a site gives away an angle a) they’re not always right and b) fans will still watch to see if it happens that way.
Terry Harris: If there is a new wrestling league and I imagine there will be, will it be centered around Hogan or will it be more diversified with younger stars?
B. Brian Blair: Centered around Hogan is a tough question. I’m sure he’ll be there and the talent will be diverse. I think they’ll make it more family oriented.
Karen: How do you feel about the reported need for a union in professional wrestling?
B. Brian Blair: I think a union would be great but it’s very unlikely because you can’t get the boys to stick together.
Andre The Walrus: Did you enjoy working with Funk Brothers and was it fair to have Jesse Barr portrayed as a Funk? I remember you worked with Jesse in Tampa.
B. Brian Blair: Yes it was, because it was Dory’s idea. I remember working with them at the Big Event in Toronto. I loved working with the Funks, including Jesse. There’s a great photo in the book of Jimmy Brunzell hitting Dory with one of the most spectacular dropkicks you will ever see that was taken from that match in Toronto. [EDITOR’S NOTE: Actually, that photo is from the Toronto Sun.]
Frank Piccolino: Where do you see wrestling in five years from now? Will it ever go back to being territories even if they are all WWF territories?
B. Brian Blair: Wrestling will always have peaks and valleys. I don’t have a crystal ball, but I could see territories coming back because there are so many TV stations and they need programming.
Sheldon MacLean: Any good memories of wrestling in the Halifax Forum with the WWF?
B. Brian Blair: I remember the building was small and the fans were loud. I don’t know what it is about Canada but no place was more behind the Killer Bees. Halifax is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, especially for a guy from Florida.
Gary: What is your opinion of the “soap opera” type antics in professional wrestling today?
B. Brian Blair: Well there’s always been storylines in wrestling, so you can always compare it to soap operas. What I don’t like, is when the storylines aren’t followed through with or just plain insultingly moronic like some of the stuff WCW did before they sold to the WWF.
Theo The Golden Greek: How come you never joined the WCW when all the top WWF wrestlers were going there? I figured you would have been a shoe in.
B. Brian Blair: I had the opportunity, but I was making a lot of money from my businesses. I owned three Gold’s Gyms. I was still wrestling a lot. I was going to Japan until 1996. I could spend time at home with my sons. I didn’t have to put up with all the political BS and be away from home 21+ days a month.
Moderator: We’re going to do three more questions.
SBP: I just read your book. It’s too short. Three spelling mistakes.
B. Brian Blair: Nobody’s perfect.
Terry Harris: You have never mentioned one of the greatest wrestlers of the era Greg Valentine and his partner Brutus Beefcake. Was Valentine one of the top five stars of the ’80s? I think he was.
B. Brian Blair: I couldn’t argue with you. I always liked to work with Greg and he’s still a friend of mine today. There was so much great talent that I worked with. If I don’t mention somebody it’s more about my memory than their talent. There’s a picture of Greg killing me in my book.
Maze: So point blank then…if the WWF or WCW approached you and asked you to come back, as a singles or tag wrestler, would you do it?
B. Brian Blair: I don’t mean to give an evasive answer to a straight question, but it would depend upon the money. Both organizations have approached me. But it’s got to be a deal that works for both of us. I have taken care of my money and my family is very important to me. I didn’t take one deal because they demanded that I be on the road well more than half the year.
Moderator: We would like to thank B. Brian Blair for joining us here today. It was great fun.
B. Brian Blair: I’d like to thank everyone for their questions and SLAM! wrestling for their time. If you don’t like my book, I’ll give you your money back. If you have any more questions, drop me a line at http://www.brianblair.com/