I'm just waiting for a call ....
'Give me a half hour with Brad Siegel... 'Tom Zenk shoots on Eric Bischoff and Dallas Page; Bischoff's current 'Master Plan', Dusty and Dustin's 'clown act'; Sullivan buries Pillman; Pillman on Hogan ("he's out of control"); Vince McMahon ("makes everyone mean something"); his role in the 1994 McMahon trial; the Arquette fiasco ("Bischoff and Page's plan to segue out to Hollywood"); WCW - the good ole boys and the stooges; Missy Hiatt; the Dynamite Kid; Dino Bravo's murder and much, much more ....
Transcript - Tom Zenk live Between the Ropes, Sports Radio 504 Orlando, 6 July, 2000.
Hosts - Brian Fritz and Dickerman
Hey Tom, what are you doing? We hear you play a lot of golf. Are there a lot of courses up there?
Z - Oh yes, there are! Its big time up here and Tiger Woods is making it happen. He's an Orlando boy, right?
Q - Yes, he sure is. But, if you've got some courses up there, you should check out the courses down here. We've got everything going on down here
Z - Okay, don't rub it in. I know its big time down there. Doesn't Scott Hall live down there too?
Q - He sure does! You've got a history with him. One of his first feuds in WCW as the Diamond Studd was with the Z-Man, as I recall.
Z - Exactly. It sure was - a long time ago.
Q - Did you like working with Scott Hall?
Z - Oh he was fine. But they didn't really have much for him back then. He'd traveled about and he'd been there two or three times since I'd been there - he was hooked up and then he was gone and then he came back with DDP as manager and things didn't really work out for him until he went to the WWF.
Q - Now, as I recall, I think this thing happened between yourself and Scott Hall. Was there some angle during that feud when somebody's pants got ripped off or something?
Z - Yeah they stripped me on TV. They were trying to jack the ratings by stripping the pretty boy and trying to humiliate me. It was trying to get him over and trying to jack the ratings. "It was a Dusty theeng, if you weeel."
Q - This was the time when you were WCW's sexiest man. I recall Missy Hiatt making the announcement at one point that you'd won the sexiest man in WCW.
Z - Yeah something like that. I do believe it was a time like that. But it was a very short lived angle.
Q - Now as I recall Missy Hiatt - did you and Missy Hiatt .......
Z - No. No I was one of the few that didn't. (laughter]. Oh oh wait a minute ...
Q - You know actually she's still in the wrestling business believe it or not.
Z - How is that?
Q - She bounces around between indy federations. She was in ECW for a while. I believe she's still in the middle of her WCW lawsuit maybe 10 years by now
Z - I thought she'd settled that and it was all hush hush.
I got my notice ... when I showed up on a list of witnesses [for Missy Hiatt, against WCW]
Q - Maybe - I don't know - I mean I heard the law suit was still ongoing. Maybe my facts aren't correct. I heard the details were that she lost her top in the ring and someone snapped a picture and hung it up in WCW's office
Z - Yeah it was up in there. Greg Gagne and Mike Graham were around .... but that's the last time I heard from WCW. I got my notice in the mail when I showed up on her list of witnesses [for Missy Hiatt, against WCW].
Q - Really!!!
Z - Oh yes, there's a coincidence there. I got my termination notice from Eric Bischoff.
Q - So I'm sure you're a big fan of Eric Bischoff then?
Z - Oh big time. Eric was a lousy announcer in the AWA - DDP gave Jim Herd a tape [of Eric's work] and got him in. The rest is history. I guess DDP owes his push to his next door neighbor.
Q - You know I always found that either you love Bischoff or you hate Bischoff. There are certain guys - seems to be the guys who get the big push who are his close friends - who love him. And other guys, they hate him. And some say he's a nice guy but he screws around with you. It seems like in WCW there haven't been any real big break-out stars with the exception of Sting and Goldberg. Everyone else, like you said, has had to go to the WWF. Like Scott Hall and like Chris Jericho. A lot of big names haven't been made in WCW. They make them in WWF and they end up in the WCW when they're older.
Bischoff bought up Vince's old talent and killed off the idea of promotion through the ranks ......
Z - Why do you think that is? Don't you think Vince knows how to create stars and use TV? Bischoff buys up talent that Vince has created and so he's saddled WCW with old guys and big money contracts. Meanwhile he got rid of the established mid card guys who should be taking over right now. So he killed off the idea of promotion through the ranks.....
Q - Exactly.....
Z - Exactly is right. We're on the same page guys.
Q - We're speaking with Tom Zenk on Between the Ropes. Now Tom you mentioned getting your release from WCW after appearing on the lists as a witness for Missy Hyatt. Did you have to go to court for that?
Z - No, no. But it was very coincidental timing I believe [being terminated at the same time]. I heard about it through a couple of different people from the office..... it was very suspect.
Q - Yes it was kinda strange when you just disappeared off WCW television. What did you do after you were released from the company?
Z - Oh not much. I hung around for about a year in Atlanta and just got on with my life. It was kinda strange. They'd jobbed me out pretty bad. Dusty Rhodes "he beat me like a rented mule, if you weeel." All of them push their sons. A lot of nepotism, a lot of cronyism going on down there. It's the 'good ole boys' syndrome. Now, its 'what goes around comes around'. And I'm glad I've lived this long to see it. Pillman's dead. Rick Rude is dead. A lot of wrestlers - is it 20 or 25 have died. What have they got going on down at WCW. When wrestling is at an all time high. Vince knows how to do it but I think Eric Bischoff .... well, ooh boy ....the worst is still to come!
Q - You had an opportunity to work with Pillman. You guys were a tag team together. What was Brian like?
Z - Brian was a fantastic worker. That's one thing I'm wondering about. I wrestled Brian. I wrestled Benoit. But there was never any follow up, even though, I thought, we had excellent matches.... We tried to have good matches just to rub it in Dusty's face or Bill Watts' face when they tried to bury us. (Ole and Watts tried to bury myself and Pillman because we were among the first guys to get good contracts at the start of it, in the early nineties). I mean, we had a great match to put the Light Heavyweight belt over and Pillman over in Jacksonville (WrestleWar1992) but there was just no follow up. Right when Bill Watts was coming in.
Dustin - they made him a transvestite in the WWF just like they put the old man in polka dots - and that's the biggest they ever were. Vince knows how to use them - as a clown act - the Runnels are goofs.....
Q - Bill Watts ... a lot of guys say Bill Watts was a terrorist. What did you think of Bill Watts?
Z - Oh, geeeze. Bill Watts came from that mentality that regarded the promotion as his personal property. He set his son, Erik, up to fail. It's too bad because Erik was a very nice guy... Erik told me " My dad told me if I got a degree in College, he would help me get into the wrestling business, if that's what I wanted." Well that's what he wanted and look what Erik has done.
Q - I know...
Z - Daddy's gone, no push and Erik's never developed. He was set up by his dad to fail. And Dusty's kid, what happened to Dustin - they made him a transvestite in the WWF just like they put the old man in polka dots and that's the biggest they ever were. Vince knows how to use them - as a clown act - the Runnels are goofs
Q - oh, oh... oh.
Z - I don't care, Come and get me. Dustin - what's he collecting? $750,000 from Turner. Look at all the guys who have their heads in the Turner trough. Com'on. They should be ashamed at what they've done. Wrestling is at an all time high and they can't do anything with Dustin? Dustin came back but he didn't even want to get in the gym and look good for the business 'his daddy loved'? Com'on, look like something!! Look like an athlete!! For gawds sake, have some pride!!
Bischoff has a 'master plan' - he's got his little clique waiting in the wings to make a big impact after Russo fails
Q - You're on Sports Radio 504 Between the Ropes and we're joined by Tom Zenk. While we're on the subject of some of the different bookers, what are your thoughts on Vince Russo and some of the product he's putting on WCW.
Z - That's really a good one ....that's really some heavy stuff, ha ha. Flair's the best thing he's got going for him ..whooooooooa. I guess Flair can draw ratings but none of the other guys do. We'll see. I think Bischoff has a 'master plan'. He's trying to get a Fox deal, is it?
Q - That's the rumor.
Z - But everyone's kinda fading out. Bagwell and Bischoff's whole crew that he gave money to, Lex, Bagwell, etc - for some reason they're all suspended or they've punched somebody and been held off TV. So he's got his guys, his crew, this little clique waiting in the wings to make a big impact, right?
Q - Yes. He does!
Z - I would guess so. But I don't know. I'm a dinosaur. I'm out of it. I don't have much intelligence for the business.
Q - I don't see how you're a dinosaur!
Z - Well I'M OLD!! I gonna be 42 IN NOVEMBER!!
Q - Well look at Terry Funk, he's wrestling and he's 55.
Z - You've gotta be kidding me.
Q - Terry Funk is 55 and Ric Flair is 51.
Z - How old is DDP?
Q - DDP is 44 I believe.
Z - What about Stinger?
Q - Stinger is about 41 or 42.
Z - Oh man!. Well I guess maybe I'm not so old ....
Q - You're WCW PRIME Tom Zenk
Q - That's Dickerman saying that!!....
Z - Oh, okay - you're the one who knows Stu Hart and the Seven Dwarfs.
Q - Oh, Stu Hart is a close family friend.
Z - Oh sorry, I'll back off then.....
Q - No wait! Flair was at his prime in WCW when he was 42 and he was also a few years in the WWF
Z - Well you've just boosted my ego. So I'm just waiting for a call now for a million dollar contract. I could bring four guys with me - and two of them are attorneys - and one's got a tax degree - and we could dig the Time-Warner people out of the WCW hole - they're scheduled to lose $61 million, I believe?
Q - Something like that.
Z - Oh my gosh, I'm glad I don't have stock in AOL and Time Warner. What about you guys?
Q - I'm glad I don't either. I'd rather resource my money somewhere I can actually make some money... ha ha . Speaking of WCW and some if the guys responsible there. One of them is Brad Siegel. I heard you're a big fan of his and you'd love to have a few minutes to talk with him..
Z - I'd love to have a half hour with Siegel - I could smarten him up. It's hard to get to him but I heard rumors Scott Hall has an 'in' with him - or did he have an 'in' with the daughter?
Q - The daughter. The big rumor was that Scott Hall dated his daughter and Siegel's not a big fan of Scott Hall right now. ...Let's speak to Mike ..
(Caller) Mike - Hey, how're you going Tom?
Z - How're you going Mike?
(Caller) Mike - Pretty good. Do you attribute lack of push to jealousy from the old veterans - you know , the ole boys?
Z - Well, what I would say Mike, to be totally honest. a lot of nepotism goes on, the old cronies thing. And I didn't encounter that too many places elsewhere .....
(Caller) Mike - a lot of back stabbing in WCW right?
Z - Yes, they give you the Tennessee handshake - the right hand out and the left hand with a knife to the back.
(Caller) Mike - pretend to be friends and then put the knife in....
Z - You've got it baby. Are you a worker Mike?
(Caller) Mike - No...
Z - Oh. Well maybe you SHOULD be!
(laughter) Q - He's sure to work somebody on something, isn't he?
Z - I love it.
Bill Watts tried to beat Pillman out of that $325,000 contract. Simply jealousy!!
Because the old timers never made that sort of money.
(Caller) Mike - What about Pillman and Sullivan. What was the situation there?
Z - What do you think? I mean, have you see Sullivan in the WWF or Japan since he left WCW. Have you read about him? Where's he at? He comes in. He comes out. Kevin Sullivan HATED the fact that Brian Pillman got a big money contract because Kevin Sullivan NEVER got that kind of money. Like Ole tried to burn on me and beat me and then Bill Watts tried to beat Pillman out of that $325,000 that he signed for Kip Frey and the Light Heavyweight Champion. Simply jealousy!! Because the old timers never got that sort of money. But there's a double standard in wrestling. Their sons (like Erik Watts) should be able to get that money but not guys like Z-Man or Pillman. Dusty Rhodes was quoted as saying "What did Z-Man's daddy ever do for this business?"
Q - Aaaaah....
Z - And I quote that from Dennis Brent, the photographer from the WWF [later worked on WCW magazine] who told me that. I had a lot of good friends and a lot of good feed back from people who knew I was a decent enough guy that shouldn't have got back stabbed like that. That's how it went with the good ole boys. Like Sting. How does Sting have a 15 year run. He didn't draw like Hulk Hogan - and Hogan never had a 15 year run on top, did he?
Q - Uh uh...
Z - So what do you think goes on behind closed doors. You think they don't level the playing field. Like, behind closed doors the stooges say about Brad Armstrong "Don't use him, he's partying." But I'd put my money on a guy like Brad Armstrong to outwork any of these guys AND party every night!!
Q - Exactly.
Z - Why is that? Because he's an athlete. And I think I'm an athlete and I'd like to give some of these guys the triple challenge .....
Q - What's the triple challenge?
Z - Beat me at any three sports or anything you name and I bet you I could beat you. Anything you guys [at WCW] can do I bet I can do better. I won't hobble out to the ring [Nash/Hogan/ddp]. I can still drop kick from a standing leap. These guys with 15 years on top. You know what's going on. They've got their head in the Turner trough and they're taking Turner down the tube... I don't have two knee braces on [like ddp].
Q - Tom, upon your release from WCW, was there ever any thought of returning to the WWF and did you do any wrestling after that?
Z - What was I going to do?!! They [Federal Government] brought me back from Japan  to go to court and testify against McMahon. You know you can only quit once. I quit because Martel signed his own deal with the WWF. The only money part in my contract was $50 a night for TV.
Vince is smart. He makes everyone on the card mean something. From top to bottom
Q - It was rough back in the days when you were in the WWF.
Z - Yeah that was in '87 - that's the past. But Vince is only as good as he has to be. He's smart. He's from the old school. "LIsten, I put you on my TV, I made you a star." They want to build stars and keep the money themselves. What do you think Stephanie and his son make. I bet you THEY get big time money. And then pay the guys off on nothing.
Q - I'm sure they own a good part of the company as well.
Z - You've got it!
Q -Are you surprised that the WWF is as big as they are?
Z - NOO!! He's smart! He's the best! Vince is the Walt Disney of professional wrestling. They make everyone on the card mean something. From top to bottom they've got their angles. They even made something out of Steve Lombardi. Do you remember - The Brooklyn Brawler?
Q - He pinned HHH on Smackdown tonight!!
Z - You see! He's clever. He mixes it up. I didn't have a chance to watch it. I was at the driving range.
Q - Oh, see, you put golf in the way of wrestling again man, com'on.
Z - Yeah, I get a tear in my eye when I see it and I'm going "Oh no - that could be me taking all those bumps."
(laughter) Q - Yeah you sound really sad about that.
Z -Yeah, I am. But com'on - don't make me cry in my beer.
Q - We'll take a break and be right back. Tom Zenk is our guest. Ask anything you want - and I guarantee you'll get an honest answer......
We're back and we're joined by Tom Zenk speaking his mind on anything and everything.
Now Tom I want to ask you what you think about the current climate in wrestling right now. It's changed a bit since you were in wrestling. It's so outrageous, there's a ton of violence, plenty of sexual overtones. What are you thoughts about the current product?
Z - Well my thought are - All the sex and stuff? - I reckon just swing with it. When I grew up and went to high school we didn't have metal detectors either. So I think it just parallels society. ...
Q - So you're not one of the guys who says "It doesn't need to be like that, We should see RASSLIN out there. 60 minute matches every match."
Z - No. Not 60 minutes! I would say 12 - 15 minute matches!! If I was running WCW I'd give them a different product. Because they'll never be able to compete with Vince. I'd give them athleticism - not so much bodies, you know, because it takes all sizes and shapes, but I 'd give them a different product and a different workrate.( You know all of the current top guys are lame. They hobble out to the ring. They're old timers now . You know I'm 41 years old and I know I can compete with THESE guys. But they're not going to pay me a million dollars). So I'd give them a different product. You can't compete with Vince. I mean they've proven that time and time again. Vince doubles their ratings so why try and compete on HIS ground. Yet whatever Vince does, they try to copy it and fail. So give them a different product.....
Arquette is part of Bischoff and Page's plan to segue out to Hollywood for a career after they've run WCW into the ground ....
Q - About a month ago Vince Russo made a comment about how it was easier to train an actor to wrestle than a wrestler to act. And he thought he could get more actors and people from Hollywood to come over and be a part of wrestling. I want to get your thoughts about that as a wrestler?
Z - Well, you're going right down my highway. Talk to me about David Arquette.... Explain David Arquette to me. WHOSE decision was that? How did David Arquette get to be World Champion? I never got to be that way and I thought I was a pretty good wrestler. But David Arquette? Whose brainstorm was it to give him the belt and INSULT millions of people on national TV. Whose idea was that?
Q - It's got to be a slap in the face to any wrestler whose gone out there, pulled a muscle, pulled a hamstring, injured themselves, to do something like that?
Z - Who put that up?
Q - Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff.
Z - Oh gawd....
Q - You've got to believe its one of Eric Bischoff's big deals - his deal to bring in Jay Leno, his deal to bring in Karl Malone, his deal to bring in Dennis Rodman, his deal to bring back the Warrior. Eric Bischoff is always pulling off these big deals and you've got to believe the one with Arquette was just another one of them.
Z - I think that's a way that Bischoff and Page could segue out to Hollywood for a career after this because they've run WCW into the ground. I mean Bischoff in the ring? And Page? I never agreed with it from day one. You know, I spoke my mind - I didn't care what I said. And I might have been my own worst enemy BUT - Page being a manager and at 40 years old being trained at the Power Plant?
(And you know they put advertisements on TV saying anyone can be a wrestler. No. Let guys who want to be a wrestler pursue it by whatever means. You get in because you have DESIRE, not because you saw a TV ad saying 'come to the Power Plant and try out'. That approach means anyone can be a wrestler - but it doesn't protect the business that's made a lot of people money).
David Arquette exposes the business. That's a joke. And everyone responsible should be fired. But then I guess they're all collecting mail box money and don't even have to show up to work anyway. They have no respect for the business. The whole lot of them are guilty on that charge. I don't agree with that. No wonder Vince McMahon is killing them in the ratings.
I suppose I'd have a better job in wrestling if my next door neighbor was the guy who runs WCW.
Q - You've mentioned Diamond Dallas Page a couple of times. Do you believe Dallas Page has earned his spot in wrestling or that it was given to him by Eric Bischoff?
Z - How did everyone else miss on his talent? Was he ever in Japan? WWF? I never saw him in any other territory. He hung around with Jake the Snake TRYING to get booked. Bill Watts got rid of him. No-one cared about him. Not until his friend Eric Bischoff. ... In his book, how come he leaves out the information that he and Bischoff bought their houses from Dusty's wife ....
Q - Really?
Z - RIGHT NEXT DOOR to each other. So I mean I suppose I'd have a better job in wrestling if my next door neighbor was the guy who runs WCW. Page told me that he showed Jim Herd a tape of Eric Bischoff from the AWA and that's what got him in. What Page neglects to tell you is that he told Verne Gagne "I'll work for free. I just want to be on your TV." Now what do you think a guy like me that's working for top spot with Larry Zbyszko (Gagne's son in law Larry Zbyszko - I know!! its a family business!!) But I'm trying to make a living, paying my rent. And this guy is going to work for free. How do you think it feels to a guy like me when Verne says "This guy will work for FREE. He just wants to be on TV. He'll fly himself up from Florida." That's what happens when you get MARKS in the business. Eric Bischoff and DDP. Its over and done for DDP- a ruptured disc. Who's going to hire him. It's over. His best days are done. Sorry. The Nitro Girls? That's just a way to get his wife a job.
Q - Do you think DDP ever lent Kimberley over to Bischoff for that title shot he got?.....
Z - I'd hate to be sued. And I'd hate to get beaten up by a guy with two leg braces.
How come no-one puts DDP in the figure four. Oh okay, they can't get the steel wrapped..
Q - If he could chase you down on the golf course.....
Z - (imitating Page) "Hey brother I heard what you said about me." Yeah, I'd blow his knee out - I'd just kick him in the leg - he'd be down for the count. How come no-one puts him in the figure four. Oh okay, they can't get the steel wrapped.. oh okay.
Q - Hogan actually commented if anyone tried a drop toe hold on him he'd punch them in the face.
Z - Oh, really.
Q - That's when he was commenting on working a program with Billy Kidman. If he tried a drop toe hold on him, he'd turn around and punch him in the face.
Z - Oh no. Would it be his best working punch or would it be a shoot punch?
Q - Apparently, from what he said, it would be a shoot punch..... Randy Savage was on one of our radio stations yesterday. And during the interview they asked him how the WCW could improve. And Randy Savage said, quote "By shooting Hogan in the head. He's been dead for 5 years and Bischoff keeps paying him anyway."
Pillman told me - 'Hogan's out of control. He even wants to beat a little guy like me....'
Z - Oh my. Well I think Hogan is running on all ego. And the last time I talked to Pillman, Pillman told me (imitating Pillman) "Tom, you'll never believe, this guy's out of control. He even wants to beat me. A little guy like me. He wants to take all the steam that I've tried to manipulate and get by acting a psycho crazy guy. He wants to beat me....." (imitating Hogan) "Yeah brother". (imitating Savage) " Oooooh yeeeeah. The Hulkster's running wild." I thought they were buddies. He was married to Elizabeth. Now [she's with] Luger. What's going on?
Q - I don't know. Luger's with Elizabeth. And Macho Man's not there. And his girlfriend's in a porno tape.
Caller - What was it like working with Rick Martel. It was right after he held the AWA Heavyweight Championship. Was his ego so huge as to .....
Z - No no no. Rick was a great guy. We were great friends. I dated his wife's sister. OK. It's like Dynamite Kid [who married into the Hart family]..... its a family business. Maybe he wanted me to be his brother-in-law. But Rick Martel made his own deal behind the back of his business partners in the Montreal territory - Dino Bravo and Gino Brito - with Vince McMahon because Vince was overtaking Montreal. So Rick cut his own deal with Vince. I had to sign a contract but there was no money on it except $50 a night for TV. Rick was a great guy, a great friend, but I felt a little betrayed that he cut his own deal and was making more money. After I left, they teamed him up with Tito. Now Tito has forgotten more moves than I'll ever know. He was a great wrestler but they [Strike Force] never got over. Why's that?
Q - Now Tommy you mentioned the Dynamite Kid to our last caller . Did you ever have a chance to wrestle the British Bulldogs? I've just finished reading the Dynamite Kid's book. I was wondering if you'd read it as well?
Z - Yeah I did. And that's the best and most honest book of all! Dynamite was a fantastic worker and a hell of a ribber. Yes we wrestled at the Montreal Forum and its one of my greatest memories. I think it went for15 or 17 minutes and they were heels that night. And by the end of the night the crowd were throwing beer and cups at them and people were going nuts. He was fantastic to work with and so was Davey Boy. That's another sad story. They were cousins and they're enemies now, or they don't get along. It's just sad.
Q - It [wrestling] tears people apart, apparently.
I saw Dynamite being carried out after Vince called him to drop the belt ... that clued me into what kind of guy Vince was and how much he cared for the boys.
Z - Yeah, after I read the book I didn't sleep real good for about three weeks - I just kept rehashing things because, the WWF, it was a fantastic time there. Too bad the money was so lousy - but I guess I should have been happy to be there? But, when all's said and done, he's in a wheel chair and I've never had any injuries or any problems. So, maybe, I caught the drift. Well, I should say, very soon into my time there, I saw Dynamite being carried out by Tito Santana down in Tampa after Vince called him to drop the belt ...
Q - Yeah!
Z - ..so that kinda clued me into what kind of a guy Vince was and how much he cared for the boys. And there was one other thing that clued me in. When the Sheik and Jim Duggan got busted for narcotics riding together, Vince McMahon had a big meeting at TV and said "Listen, this thing [wrestling] is bigger than the NFL." And I looked around the room and I saw Pat Patterson and his buddy Louis shaking their heads, like "Yah, yah", and all the boys were shaking their heads like puppets and I thought "But doesn't the NFL have unions?" You can't just get anything. Vince is the king and that's it. And you can't get to Vince.
Caller - Hey Tom, howya doing? I was a big fan of the Can-Am Connection when you guys were in WWF. And they were giving you a big push as faces and you were very good faces. And then they had this little sketch with Martel saying that you'd left. And that was it. And we never saw you again. And I just wanted to know what happened and what were the circumstances of you leaving so quickly?
Z - Okay. Well, we were on the road for maybe three weeks and off for two days. In the WWF I think I averaged about 2,100 or 2,200 dollars a week. Patterson knew that. They knew what I was making in Montreal because Martel [who had been the Montreal promoter] knew what my checks were. And they knew I'd been in Portland where I was making about 700 - 1,000 dollars a week. So they thought they could manipulate me - or knuckle me under - by referring back to what I'd been making in Portland compared to what I was making in WWF. But I didn't buy into that because when you're a single guy, one third goes to the tax man right away, another third goes to expenses on the road (all the WWF did was pay for cheap air flights in the early morning, cheap fares in coach class. You had to pay for your own rental car and your own hotel. So if you were on the East coast, in New York or wherever, you'd be paying then $90 or $100 a night - so that cut into your profit right away). But you were supposed to be proud, and so much of a mark as to be happy to be on Vince's TV [at $50 a taping], with stars in your eyes. Well, I guess I never really bought into it - and thats the bottom line!!
Now Rick cut his own deal. I told Rick, I'm not happy with the money and Rick said " Oh y'know, y'know Tom, y'know Vince wouldn't like two on one, y'know, if we both went to talk to him, y'know..." Now I knew Rick because I'd hung out with him for a couple of years and I knew by the look in his eye that he was lying to me. So I wrote him a note, "Here's the keys to the rental car, I'm gone." I'd told him on three different occasions "I'm not happy with the money." In '86 when we went to the All Japan tag team tournament with Baba, they offered us a job where we could come back as much as we wanted. Like the British Bulldogs. The Bulldogs were over there for Baba. But they signed with the WWF and we could have had that tag team baby face spot. And Martel, I'm sure he's bitter!! Because I did all the jobs, I did all the selling. He made all the comebacks. Who wouldn't want to hold the ropes while I got my butt kicked. He got all the glory, PLUS he was paid more. Why? because he was more experienced, well okay ......
Q - Well he WAS the AWA champion Tom
Z - (Imitating Martel) - "Well, y'know, y'know, y'know he, he, he was the best y'know interview, y'know." Yeah. Okay. Well, I think10 years after the fact he's been exposed. It was only over cash. And I left Rick an out, to save face - putting him over by saying I was a quitter. But you know such is the power of TV that Dusty Rhodes and Ole Anderson bought into it - that I was a quitter - (imitating Dusty) "Z-Man, we beat you like a rented mule and you was suppose to have an ego." I never bought into it. It was all about cash. I never quit on $156,000 here did I - and they beat me more than anyone. I wouldn't quit. They had to get rid of me. Okay - so I think 'point made'!
Q -Tom, do you miss being part of the wrestling business? Do you miss getting out there and performing in front of people?
Z - No. I just miss the cash! Every time I drive by a bank I miss the cash. (laughter) And the women. They were all over the WWF. Any of you young wrestlers, the women out there in the WWF, it was totally different, like a rock singer - you get the top notch women.
Some business deal had gone wrong ....he let them in the house and they shot him 14 times, in his favorite chair.
Q - You've done some good impersonations. Dusty Rhodes, Rick Martel , who else do you do impersonations of?
Z - I've got to be focussed in on it - its just memories, I can't think off hand. Well (imitating Harley Race) "I told the guy, what's your finish kid." " Drop kick off the rope Harley" "I'll move." (laughter). Harley was a lot of fun - a real character. Dynamite Kid goes over all that stuff in his book. A million stories.
Q - Talking about the Dynamite Kid, did you ever fall prey to one of his notorious pranks.
Z - No no. I was on his good side!
Q - You were one of the few, if you read his book. What about the Rougeaus story?
Z - You see that was the French Connection, Pat Patterson, the Rougeaus, Martel, there was a whole deal up there. And I think Patterson maybe ran a little interference, I would guess, knowing the whole cast of characters, and what happened to Dynamite. It took the edge off Dynamite - he was never the same after that. I think the Rougeaus were pretty proud guys. He says in his book they were connected to the mob. I wouldn't guess the Rougeaus. I knew Dino Bravo. I hung around him in Montreal and with a different crowd but I wouldn't guess the Rougeaus were connected like that.
Q - Isn't that how Dino Bravo was killed - gangland style ...
Z - He got shot in his favorite chair fourteen times, Phil Lafon told me, and it was over a cigarette deal. He owed $5000,000 or $600,000. I guess he was in some business deal that had gone wrong or something, importing cigarettes across the border or something. But that's just hearsay. And you've got to pay the piper, right?. And it was someone that he knew. He let them in the house and they shot him in his favorite chair. It's too bad. Dino was a nice guy.
Q - Well Tom, we want to thank you for coming on the show and we've definitely got to have you on again sometime soon because I know there's plenty more stuff we want to talk about and I'm sure there's plenty more you want to talk about as well.
Z - Well I hope I didn't go too far between the ropes and end up out of bounds.
Q - There's nothing too outrageous for this program. We pretty well have free rein over the airwaves for two hours every Thursday night.
Z - God love you, that's the kind of guys I want to do business with.
F - That was Tom Zenk joining us here Between the Ropes. My goodness, how can you prepare for something like that? Thanks again to Tom Zenk for sharing every living thought he has on the world of professional wrestling, over the last hour.
D - I'm going to have to go over to betweentheropes.com next week to listen to that interview again to absorb all that he said, all the people that he shot, all over. Its funny - Dusty Rhodes "What did Tom Zenk's daddy ever do for wrestling."
F..... Man you are not prepared for something like that. You get a guy, he picks up on everything, he knows what he's talking about, he can speak clearly and he's not afraid to share his thoughts.
D - And he's not in the business any more so he's willing to talk about the guys he had to deal with and what his thoughts were about these people, and what they were really like as people. The thing that surprised me about Zenk was that he never wrestled again after leaving the WCW . He was in the prime of his career when he was the Z-Man in WCW and I guess he couldn't go back to WWF because of the situation there. And they called him back when he was in Japan for the trial of Missy Hiatt [actually the 1994 trial of Vince McMahon] - I found it very interesting that he decided never to go back to wrestling.
Caller - great show as always. Hey that was a great interview with Zenk. I think I mentioned to you in the chatroom about a month ago I heard he's done some great interviews.
F -I'd heard that in the past too. We'd heard some great things about him and it was great having him on the show.
Caller.... keep up the great work.
chronology of Tom Zenk's career
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