Kayfabe, Lies and Alibis: Terry Funk Shoot Interview

The Funker looks back at some of his greatest matches, angles and opponents!

“Ringside with Terry Funk”

Hosted by Bill Apter

Presented by Kayfabe Memories

This DVD features Terry Funk and Bill Apter sitting down and watching some of Funk’s old matches. The conversations can stem anywhere from that point.

Terry Funk vs. Jack BriscoDecember 10th 1975 from Miami, Florida

Apter and Funk go through a comedy bit about who is actually hosting this DVD.

Bill reveals that Dory Funk Jr. was originally scheduled to be Brisco’s opponent. Funk explains that he replaced his brother as part of an angle so Brisco could have an excuse for losing. This would set up matches with both of the Funk Brothers against Brisco down the road.

Brisco was an awesome technical worker, the total package for a babyface worker.

Funk won the NWA world title at this show. The NWA promoters had to vote beforehand on Funk being awarded the gold. Dory Jr. had to fight hard at the meeting for Terry to get the title. Harley Race was the top choice otherwise.

The Florida fans were not expecting a title change. While Funk was celebrating his win Terry accidentally smacked the referee in the face and broke his nose.

Funk realizes it was the promoters who made him the champ, and he is forever grateful for their belief in him.

Terry believes he defended the title 310 times during the year he held it. He and his wife had separated, so wrestling was Funk’s sole focus at that point. This was easily the highlight of Funk’s career.

The money from being champion set Funk up for years after the fact.

Terry Funk vs. Harley Race – February 6th, 1977 from Toronto, Canada.

Funk feels that Race’s matches against Funk from this time are superior to today’s wrestling. The pyro and music of today can’t make up for the in ring greatness presented by these fighters.

Race started wrestling at the age of 14. He had a long hard road to success. Funk on the other hand was born into the business and had political backing that helped his ascension.

Apter and Funk debate whether an one fall match has more drama than a best out of three falls encounter.

Race beat Funk with an Indian death lock, a hold that was rarely utilized in matches.

Gene Kiniski gave up the NWA title due to burnout over the schedule. Funk was suffering from some desire to lose the title by the end of his reign too.

NWA champions drew better the longer they kept the title as they became more established and respected in different areas.

Terry Funk vs. Abdullah the ButcherJuly 18th, 1979 from Japan

Apter makes light of the southern fans who called Abdullah “Abduller”.

The Butcher was half crazy. His work was stiff. When he landed on you almost always felt it.

Abby’s gimmick made him the most vicious heel in wrestling at this point. This also made him just about the best paid heel as well.

Race, Brisco and Abdullah were among Funk’s favorite opponents because they made him money.

Funk can’t really explain why he was so willing to carve up his body in order to put on a good show for the fans.

Apter and Funk get sidetracked with a comedy bit about Bill starring in porno.

The Funks were revered in Japan to the point where not only were they were always recognized in the streets there, but Japanese fans came to Texas to visit the Funk’s ranch.

Giant Baba was a fantastic businessman and he treated the Funks very well during their time booking for him in the 70’s and 80’s.

Bruiser Brody hurt his knee while on tour in Japan. To make up for the loss of such a major talent the Funk brothers ended up facing each other one on one for the first and only time in order to save the show.

Terry Funk vs. Jerry “The King” LawlerApril 6th, 1981 from Memphis.

This is the infamous empty arena match. Jerry Lawler would send Apter’s magazines pictures and a letter explaining the recent angles from Memphis each month. Lawler was hoping to get as much press coverage as possible.

In order to try something unique, Funk came up with the concept of this empty arena match. The week after this aired on TV, the Lawler vs. Funk rematch did not draw particularly well, so Funk considers it a failure. The modern day tape traders think it’s a classic.

Lawler was one of the best workers of his era. Had Lawler been willing to move around the country, he would have been one of the best draws ever. Apter questions if that could be true given Lawler’s height. Funk counters with Kevin Sullivan, Ray Stevens and others who were not big and still headlined.

Apter claims Lawler wanted to go to the WWF in the 80’s and would ask Apter why Vince McMahon wasn’t knocking on his door. Funk argues that Lawler was part owner in Memphis, so staying in Memphis was bringing him in big money.

Pro Wrestling Illustrated posted a headline about “The Night Andre lost to a Midget” relating to Lawler beating Andre in Memphis. Vince McMahon Sr. was very upset with Apter over this. It also caused a falling out between Apter and Lawler.

Terry Funk vs. Hulk Hogan December 19th, 1985 from Tampa

This aired on NBC’s “Saturday Night’s Main Event.”

“Willie Nelson and I have both outlived our peckers”

The WWF were pushing the guys hard at this period. Around this point, Funk had a stretch of 65 days in a row on the road either wrestling or traveling for the WWF.

Some of the main eventers raised a stink over losing on national TV, but Funk saw it as an opportunity for exposure.

Funk always wanted to be the best guy in the ring. He had the drive to be on the top of wrestling, and would find himself becoming jealous of the successes of others.

Vince McMahon being the boss was tough on Funk, because he was used to calling his own shots. Having to heed to another was not in Terry’s fabric.

“Chainsaw Charlie” was named after a bad barber Funk knew in the 80’s who gave his friend’s child lousy haircuts.

They get sidetracked again as Funk teases Apter about sharing sexual deviances with Mel Phillips.

Goofy skits like the stuff on “Tuesday Night Titans” did not bother Funk. In fact, he had fun taping some of them at his ranch.

The Funk Brothers vs. The Road WarriorsSeptember 20th, 1987 from Puerto Rico.

The fans were crazy in Puerto Rico. Funk took pride in riling them up and they responded by nearly rioting when Funk was in the arena.

Hawk called Funk the day before he passed away. He wanted to pick Funk’s brain on where he should try and resurrect his career.

The Funks partnered with Carlos Colon to run some shows in Africa.

Colon was a good booker who was able to afford much of the best talent around to come to the islands for shows. The weather was great as well, and the guys could spend the day at the beach in between shows.

Bruiser Brody was able to make demands due to his stardom, and messing with promoters finally came to head in July of 1988 in Puerto Rico when he was stabbed by booker Jose Gonzalez. Gonzalez always had long laid out plans for his angles, and Brody had a habit of coming in and changing the angles at the last second.

Almost every one of the wrestlers had too much respect for the business to come to the ring while drunk or on drugs. Hawk developed a reputation for his demons, but Funk never saw him using anything before their matches.

Terry Funk vs. Ric FlairNovember 15th, 1989 from New York.

Funk, Flair, Jim Cornette, and Kevin Sullivan were on the booking committee at this point. Funk came up with the idea to do the “I Quit” match. He makes it sound like he invented the whole concept, but that is absurd given that JCP had run them in the past.

This feud carried WCW for “a year and a half” and turned business around.

Ted Turner never came around, nor did his “broad” Jane Fonda.

Every NWA champion was a special talent in his own way. Everyone had their distinct style,which makes declaring who was “the best ever” awfully hard.

The people really believed that Funk was a maniac. It was that belief which caused some of his actions, such as placing a plastic bag over Flair’s head, to cause a mass uproar amongst the audience.

Funk’s crazy antics led to his matches getting a lot of attention. The crazier the angles or matches became only meant that he’d get more pictures in the wrestling magazines.

Apter asks Funk about his matches with Sting, and Funk doesn’t want to talk about it. Odd.

“Hardcore” means giving it all to the fans and your opponent night after night, not just using weapons or taking crazy bumps.

Final thoughts: Funk was entertaining to listen to as always, but at times he got carried away with goofing around with Apter and ignoring questions about his matches.

 

Written by Andrew Lutzke

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

Leave a Reply