Kayfabe, Lies and Alibis: Jimmy Garvin Shoot Interview Review

Jimmy Jam covers the wild nights with the Freebirds, the big feuds and much more

Presented by Wrestling Classics
Hosted by Mark Nulty

They start with vintage footage of Garvin starting out as a 17-year-old manager , then transition into talking about all the titles he secured over his career, as well as the major titles he nearly snagged.

Eddie Graham had a camp in Florida, and Joe Scarpa and The Great Malenko saw Garvin around their Florida homes and invited him to try out as a wrestler.

Scarpa would go on to be Chief Jay Strongbow.

The camp had names like Dick Slater, Mike Graham, Steve Keirn and Bob Orton as graduates.

The young guys basically did shoot fights, and Garvin puts over the smaller Graham as not being a guy who would lose.

Gordon Solie interviewed Garvin when he was 9 on Florida’s TV wrestling since Eddie Graham liked to push amateur wrestling.

On November 1st, 1969, Garvin made his debut as a 17-year old manager – he was afraid of getting killed by the Mexican fans in Arizona.

Garvin didn’t even graduate high school, putting it off to enter the business.

The Garvin clan (Terry and Ronnie) went to Arizona each summer to take advantage of the excellent fishing.

Jimmy was barely 160 pounds when he started out.

The family moved on to other southern promotions.

Garvin flew in a plane to get from one spot show to another and immediately fell in love with aviation and began to study it in between wrestling shows.

In Wichita Falls, Garvin had a fan waiting inside of a barn where the wrestling was held with a sniper’s nest and gun with intentions of killing him.

Danny Hodge tore Garvin up when Hodge won the rights to fight Garvin in matches.

Hodge was a beast that never even got taken down in college wrestling.

Garvin learned the art of the promo by Bobby Shane. Then while working in Oklahoma, they had to cut so many promos due to having so many spot shows to promote he polished up his act.

Wichita Falls was also the site where Garvin fought a wrestling bear.

In 1977 Garvin finally became a full-time in ring worker, and was no longer deemed a manager.

The Crockett’s gave Garvin his first shot at wrestling a circuit.

Bobby Shane and Gorgeous George’s acts influenced Garvin to add some flare to his own gimmick.

Garvin was stuck in prelim matches in Florida when he switched gimmicks in hopes of breaking out.

Very few valets existed in wrestling history, so Garvin found himself a chick for his act. He then paid the union guys at the arena to put a spotlight on him and play Don Henley’s “Dirty Laundry” over the P.A.

Michael Hayes and Garvin have a playful feud over who played music during their entrances first.

Garvin’s wife gave him a lot of heat for having a woman running around with him at the arenas, so Garvin convinced his cousin to play the role instead.

David Von Erich saw Garvin in Florida and got him booked for World Class.

Garvin got major heat right away in World Class, which caused a culture shock for his cousin, Sunshine, who hadn’t even been a wrestling fan before getting involved in this.

WCCW had excellent TV production and a young, talented roster and Garvin was plopped right in the middle of a hot territory.

The Freebirds invited Garvin to stay with them. The place was party central. The door was never locked- in fact the guys kicked the door off the hinges and never bothered to fix it.

The guys partied all night and all morning. Lots of Jack Daniels was consumed.

Sunshine and Buddy Roberts became drinking partners. Roberts was more interested in getting drunk than screwing women.

The guys were often seriously hung over while working, but they still busted their butts and put on hard-hitting matches.

The Freebirds and Garvin basically booked their own angles. Hayes was eventually made an assistant booker, which turned their drinking binges into booking meetings.

Sunshine was becoming too popular, so they paired her with Chris Adams and Garvin brought in his wife as Precious to feud with them.

The Texas Stadium show that World Class ran at their peak ended up being among the top 5 all-time in attendance and money drawn ($450,000) at the time.

Garvin’s payoff was $3,500, which was rather low for having the third most important match on the card.

The promoters came calling, and Garvin didn’t want to burn out his gimmick in Texas, and so he moved on.

Since Sunshine and Precious were not trained, their matches looked very realistic since things were close to a real catfight.

Chris Adams and Jim Garvin’s feud got so hot that St. Louis and other promotions booked the men to bring the feud to their areas. Garvin says they sold out St. Louis several times, (author’s note – more often than not they were not on the top of the card – and ticket sales were hurting with the WWF attacking the city.)

JCP, AWA and WWF all made an offer to Garvin. Garvin felt Verne Gagne was a legend and had a history of making stars – plus they were on ESPN.

AWA champ Rick Martel was quickly booked to feud with Garvin.

Martel did not like to travel, which may have hurt his stock in the long run.

Garvin worked with Pat O’Connor and Lou Thesz in his younger days, and was both scared and thrilled to be working with the all-time greats.

Steve Regal and Jim Garvin were put together by Verne. The night the Road Warriors lost the AWA titles to Regal and Garvin, the heels were not even told they were going to win until they arrived in the building. Wally Karbo and Greg Gagne gave the Warriors the finish, and Garvin and Regal went along with whatever the Warriors wanted to do.

The AWA was worried Garvin and Regal were going to refuse to lose the titles several months later, as Garvin had a habit of jokingly saying things like “we aren’t going to job” in order to watch the promoters freak out.

The night Curt Hennig and Scott Hall beat them for the titles, Garvin called an audible in the ring and prolonged the match down to near the end of the time limit draw in order to make the promoters sweat about whether they were going to do the job or not.

Garvin toured Japan after his Texas run, but did not take it as serious as perhaps he should as he was so burnt out from the hard WCCW matches.

The day after the Japan tour finished, Garvin had to stop in Hawaii to set up a family vacation and rush to St. Louis for a show that night.

Garvin was jet lagged and told Harley Race he was not going to make his booking in Kansas City the next night. Race docked Garvin his pay for the St. Louis show after that.

JCP was the next stop for Garvin, and it became apparent early on that he had heat for not going to JCP earlier.

The backstage politics in JCP was rampant. A big group of guys were all trying to out do one another in the ring and out of the ring.

Wahoo McDaniel was Garvin’s first feud, and working with a legend got Garvin over right away.

Jim Cornette tossed a fireball in Garvin’s face to turn him babyface. Garvin really didn’t like the idea of his gimmick being a face.

Garvin did get a run with Flair out of the turn. This led to a cage match where the finish was changed on the fly when a fan began to scale the cage.

Ron Garvin and Dusty Rhodes got involved with Garvin’s angle with Kevin Sullivan, which really hurt Garvin’s babyface heat. The blow off of the feud with ten men in a triple decker cage did not even end with Garvin saving his own valet/wife.

JCP expanded to Atlanta, and Garvin was not booked. Garvin drove down anyway and Jim Barnett gave him some cash and sent him home.

Garvin suggests that Miss Elizabeth and Randy Savage were put together in the WWF as a response to how well Precious and Garvin got over elsewhere.

Hurricane Hugo hit Garvin’s house, and thankfully he was home and had his family in the basement. A tree went through the house, and the frame was torn off the foundation. Garvin was suppose to work the next day, and canceled due to the circumstances. Booker Ric Flair told Michael Hayes three straight days to tell Garvin he’s fired if he didn’t make the shots. WCW/NWA never called to see if he and his family were alright.

Jimmy looked into making a WWF run in 1992, but then he thought about all the other guys who went there and were given terrible gimmicks. Vince McMahon offered him a tryout, but Garvin figured that a 40-year-old with 23 years experience should not have to try out. He went anyway and he and Vince had a chilly reception to start. Then they asked him to change his name, Garvin said “no” and that cheesed Vince off too.

No one ever offered Garvin a booking spot. The AWA had a rotating booking plan where Verne, Greg Gagne and Nick Bockwinkel all had a hand in it and Greg did talk to Garvin about booking from time to time.

Garvin was more of a party guy than a suit wearing office guy. Hayes and Garvin came up with tons of angles, but Garvin didn’t want all the other hassles involved in booking.

Being a World champion never interested Garvin either, as it was too much responsibility compared to being a party animal.

Ron Garvin and Jimmy went to Montreal in the summer of 1985 and lit up the territory.

Ron and Jimmy are both stubborn and alpha males, so they do not get along. Ron married Jimmy’s mom when Jim was 14 and Ron was 22, so they had issues with that too. Garvin would rough him up while they play wrestled too. They do not talk anymore.

Wahoo and Rick Martel are among the favorite guys for Garvin to have worked with.

Charlie Fulton and Steve Regal were among the more underrated hands in the business.

Final thoughts: This was a  breezy two hours, with a well informed host and an engaged subject.  They did not go too in depth on any subjects, and skipped over a lot of things, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.


Written by Andrew Lutzke

The grumpy old man of culturecrossfire.com, lover of wrasslin' and true crimes.

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