Kayfabe, Lies and Alibis: Barry Windham Shoot interview

Barry Windham takes us through his twenty-plus years in the business as a headliner and backstage agent!

Recorded in 2018 by Hannibal TV

Blackjack Mulligan played in the NFL, which gave Barry and his family a taste of the roaming lifestyle that wrestling would cause once Mulligan switched over to that career.

Mulligan moved his family all over the U.S. and Canada as he worked from territory to territory. Windham ended up going to 15 schools or so between 1st grade and graduation.

Windham would go to the shows from time to time, but Mulligan didn’t reveal the worked nature of the business to Barry until he was in college.

Manny Fernandez and Nick Kiniski were Barry’s college classmates.

Barry broke into the business by serving as a referee for the Funks while still taking college classes.

Dick Murdoch was Windham’s traveling partner often during that time period. Murdoch would drink 2 cases of beer and drive 120 miles an hour while taking him town to town.

Windham broke into Florida as a wrestler after Hiro Matsuda trained him in the late 70’s.

One night in Toronto, Dick “The Destroyer” Beyer brought in his new protégé Mike Rotondo into the locker room. That was the first night Rotundo and Windham met.

Windham and Rotundo hit it off right away. Mike ended up dating and marrying Barry’s sister a few years later.

JCP was dying at the gates in 1984. Windham had to trade in his car because he couldn’t make the payments. At that point, he called Vince McMahon and got a gig for he and Rotundo so they could actually feed their families.

“The Rock” Dwayne Johnson was backstage at Wrestlemania 1. He hung out with Windham and Rotundo because they were the only really young guys around in the locker room.

Johnny V rubbed his cigar in Windham’s eye as part of an angle. The WWF wanted Barry to wear an eye patch to sell it, which annoyed Windham enough that he quit. The heavy work schedule was another huge factor. He and Rotundo worked 90+ days straight before Rotundo quit out of the blue. Barry quit the next day, only for Mike to come right back. Barry stayed home and Dan Spivey took his spot on the team.

Roddy Piper never hung out with Windham. Piper was a bit older and partied with a different group of wrestlers.

Ric Flair had Windham at one of his house parties when Barry was only 14.

The Midnight Express (Condrey, Eaton and Lane) are all put over by Windham as great workers.

Ivan Koloff was an “icon” and Barry Darsow was a “big, raw-boned rascal”. They had good matches with Ron Garvin and Windham.

Lex Luger was groomed in part by Barry down in Florida when Lex was a rookie.

Ron Fuller and Windham were partners in the “All Japan tag league” and worked against Stan Hansen and Bruiser Brody. Brody and Hansen took it easy on Windham, probably due to his family connections, but they beat the hell out of Fuller.

Dusty made Windham one of his office hands in JCP and eventually WCW. Windham stayed mum while other guys got huge contracts, but finally he got sick of being overlooked and went to the WWF in 1989. His family got in trouble for counterfeiting money, so his WWF run was cut short.

His return to WCW didn’t go smoothly as he and Jim Herd butted heads. In 1992, Herd accused Windham of faking a wrist injury, so Windham quit again.

The WWE put Windham, Tully, Arn and Flair’s version of the 4 Horsemen in their Hall of Fame. Windham agrees that the first version of the Horsemen that he was part of was certainly the best.

JCP offered Windham a run with the NWA gold, but Windham didn’t want the workload that Flair had.   In 1991, Windham was ready to win the gold and Flair wanted to drop the belt to him, but Jim Herd got in the way and Flair ended up quitting. Windham had to put Luger over to crown a new champion instead.

Nikita Koloff was never really trained and groomed to be a wrestler, so working with him was a chore as he was stiff and uncoordinated.

Koloff ended up milking an insurance injury payout for years after Vader “hurt” him.

Dusty Rhodes liked Windham, so once Barry turned heel Rhodes actually worked long matches with Barry, instead of short spurts that was the norm for Rhodes by that point.

Dustin Rhodes and Windham were good friends, but they haven’t seen each other for 5 or 6 years at this point.

Sid looked amazing, but lacked promos ability and in ring skills.

The interviewer tells Windham about Sid’s recent claim that he didn’t know the finish of the Halloween Havoc 90 match where Windham dressed as Sting and let Sid pin him to “win” the World title. The real Sting then ran out from the back where the Horsemen had been brawling with him and pinned Sid for real. Windham laughs at the absurdity of Sid’s claim, says they laid everything out for him before the match, and the thinks that Sid may have just “forgot” by this point.

Arn Anderson and Windham worked a series of stiff battles with DOOM, which Windham enjoyed because he liked the snug working style.

Brian Pillman feuded with Windham in WCW. They ran a re-hash of the “Yellow Dog” angle Windham had done in Florida a decade earlier. Windham had a Porsche, which Pillman saw and desired. Pillman then bought his own, which Windham warned him he needed to practice how they control. Pillman ended up crashing his Porsche and wrecking his ankle a few years later, seriously derailing his career.

Steve Austin obviously had star potential.  Windham had a role in grooming him in his early days in WCW. Despite both being Texas rednecks, they never hung out away from the ring.

Ricky Steamboat and Shane Douglas were easy guys to work with.

Windham went under the knife several times in 1993-94 for a knee that just wouldn’t heal up.

Eric Bischoff’s early days in WCW did not affect Windham much because he was in and out of action with his bum knee. Windham indicates he saw WCW was a shit show, so he gave the WWF another shot in 1996. “The Stalker” was Vince McMahon’s idea, which Windham disliked. Thankfully, Vince changed his mind in early 1997 and made him and Bradshaw the “New Blackjacks”.

Bradshaw got along with Windham. Vince liked Bradshaw as well, so Barry was not surprised “JBL” got a good push.

Bradshaw’s rep as a bully is unfounded. He had an abrasive sense of humor which a lot of people misunderstood.

The WWE’s comedy skits are part of a phase, and eventually the fans and direction will move back towards a more serious product. (Somebody remind Barry TNT debuted 34 years ago and kicked off Vince’s comedic leanings.)

The West Texas Rednecks were meant to be heels in WCW, but the crowd loved them right away and it derailed the angle where they were to feud with the No Limit Soldiers. Master P and his crew were signed for hundreds of thousands of dollars, which was kind of a slap in the face to the regular talent.

Virgil was added to the Rednecks to avoid them being labeled “racist”. The Texans were nice to him, but he didn’t fit in their lifestyle.

Curt Hennig was a great guy and a good friend. He just had demons he couldn’t shake.

Windham’s WCW contract ran out right before the WWF came in and bought them out.

Vince Russo didn’t like Bradshaw and Windham in the WWF due to their accents and their “cowboy” gimmick. This didn’t bode well for Windham when Russo took over in WCW.

Blackjack Mulligan was put in the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006. Vince met Windham that weekend and offered him a gig as an agent. This worked well for Barry, who needed more surgery on his legs, and the WWE job gave him the insurance to cover it. Windham quit 2 years later due to the travel. Windham wouldn’t take an agent’s position if it were offered again.

Barry has a mechanic shop where he fixes up motorcycles and cars.

Bo Dallas and Bray Wyatt both have talent, but they probably need to freshen up away from the WWE and come back strong.

NXT is loaded with young talent. WWE is throwing a lot of guys into the system and hoping the odds play out in their favor and some true stars come out of it.

Ric Flair and Dustin Rhodes were among the best guys Windham worked with. Dick Murdoch was a blast outside of the ring, but you had to keep him from goofing around while in the ring. Mike Rotundo and Windham are not only related through marriage but are very good friends and fishing buddies.

Final thoughts: Barry has a good memory for his career, speaks well and has no reason to fib or protect anyone. That pretty much equals out to a good shoot interview every time.

 

Written by Andrew Lutzke

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

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