Kayfabe, Lies and Alibis: The Fabulous Ones Shoot Interview!

Stan Lane and Steve Keirn pull no punches as they cover their beefs with Jerry Lawler, the Road Warriors and others!

Stan Lane and Steve Keirn first met in the early 80’s when Stan Lane was working in a tag team with Bryan St. John in Florida.

Lane had been a jobber in Mid-South, but Dusty Rhodes brought him in to Florida with a push.

Keirn and Lane were not social as kayfabe was still very much the rule and no one wanted to face the wrath of Hiro Matsuda shooting on them or Eddie Graham firing them.

Eddie Graham was so into working out finishes that he would be rolling around in his fancy suits on the dirty locker room floors in order to show the boys how he wanted it done.

Jerry Jarrett saw Stan Lane working for the Fuller family and told Lane to call him when he was ready to come to Memphis.

Jarrett had his finger on the pulse of MTV and what the young fans were into. This led to him producing music videos. Watching the ones he put together for the “Fabulous Ones” now make them seem homoerotic in modern eyes.

The girls were all over the Fabs, so the videos worked wonders.

Keirn was recovering from elbow surgery when Jarrett rang him up to see if he’d be wiling to come in for the gimmick.

Florida was a rough and tumble wrestling fed, meanwhile Memphis had a lot of gimmicks and wacky characters, which was a total change for Keirn. He had to learn to express himself in the ring flamboyantly.

There is a rumor that the Fabulous Ones were designed to turn on Jackie Fargo eventually and join Jim Cornette as heels. The Fabs don’t think that was ever the plan.

An unwritten rule was that faces were not to get more over than Jerry Lawler and Bill Dundee. The Fabs broke that mold and became the areas biggest draws.

Keirn took his envelope full of money from the fans buying the Fab’s pictures and dropped it at the feet of Lawler “accidentally” to make a point to him on who was more over.

The less the Fabs wore in the pictures, the more of them they sold.

The Fabs ended up selling shirts, stickers and even women’s underwear with their name on it.

Randy Rose and Dennis Condrey thought Keirn was stiff. Keirn wanted guys to hit him snuggly and tried to convince his opponents to work tough with him.

Lane and Keirn were good friends. They rode around together to the towns. Lane was single and went out every night to dance and find girls. Keirn was married and went home to his kids.

The Fabs knew success in the business comes and goes and sometimes comes again, so they kept their egos in check.

Jerry Jarrett had a great mind for the business and asked the talent for ideas. Lawler was jealous of the Fab’s success and tried to cut them down behind the scenes.

One night, Keirn was hoping to go home and be with his wife and newborn. Lawler played hardball and ordered the Fabs to stay in town overnight and go on a morning A.M. talk show to plug the towns. Keirn quit on the spot. He then took Lane and made sure to parade around the arena so the fans knew they were in the building and hadn’t pulled a “no show”. Jarrett felt bad about the situation and helped get the Fabs booked in the AWA. Keirn avenged Lawler years later when both were in the WWF as he took a dump in his crown while Lawler was taking part in the 1993 Royal Rumble.

Bobby Eaton was a great worker. His partner Koko B. Ware was a bit greener, but was still solid in the ring. Keirn feels Eaton and Curt Hennig were the best workers he ever faced in the ring.

The Sheepherders were more about brawling than technical wrestling, but the Fabs adapted to them and the teams feuded for years.

Memphis wrestlers worked 7 days a week and often twice on Saturday.

In order to get the fans way into them, the Fabs would walk around the ring hugging and kissing everyone who was willing at ringside. They were the first to do this and it quickly became duplicated by other babyface teams.

One TV angle in Memphis saw the Fabs’ fathers appearing. The heels attacked them and accidentally injured Keirn’s father legit, causing him to leave in a wheelchair.

Keirn was not a fan of Andy Kaufman since he was basically making fun of the business.

Dutch Mantel had a habit of spreading rumors and any other info you’d tell him.

The Fabs would use CB radios while driving town to town to pull ribs. They would find a trucker and talk shit to him, pretending they were actually in another car that contained 7-foot plus “Silo Sam” in it. The trucker would finally get mad and either cut Sam off or try and get him to pull over and fight. Sam had no idea what was happening.

A bunch of teams came and went in Memphis as Jarrett worked to keep things fresh and keep the Fabs on top. Every few months a team like the Moondogs or Road Warriors came in and had a real “feud” that would last a while.

The Rock and Roll Express were created by Jarrett in order to copy the Fabs success and try and run two towns a night with split rosters.

With the WWF expanding, the Fabs were on their radar. The travel for the WWF was brutal and that didn’t interest the Fabs. Plus the WWF was full of big monsters and the Fabs were smaller, which probably wouldn’t be good for their potential push.

The AWA locker room had a bunch of guys who Keirn had previously ribbed. He thought they may still have heat with him, so he made a big scene joking around about buying everyone hotdogs and bringing them women. This broke the ice.

Bruiser Brody didn’t like the Fabs’ gimmick and stiffly kicked Keirn in the back so hard that his suspenders popped off. Keirn thought a fan had ran in the ring, only to turn around and see Brody standing there.

Some guys in the locker room used battle royals as an excuse to “stretch” the Road Warriors a bit. Since the Warriors were prone to not selling and worked stiff to boot, the guys relied on their strength in numbers to get one over on them.

Verne Gagne didn’t push the Fabs properly. He wanted them to talk about hanging out with Hollywood stars and such, which they felt turned them heel.

The AWA’s TV show was slow and boring, especially compared to the weekly Memphis show.

A San Francisco TV personality was making fun of wrestling while the Fabs were on the air with him. Keirn taught him a lesson by locking him in a shoot sleeper while they were supposed to be only playfully performing with him.

The Road Warriors were supposed to drop the AWA tag titles in Minneapolis to the Fabs. The Road Warriors didn’t want to lose the titles in front of their family and friends in the arena. The Warriors told them in the ring that they weren’t going to do the finish. Keirn didn’t hear them say it and went “Huh?”, which Hawk took as challenge and a brawl broke out. Later in the match, Keirn got sick of the stiff blows and he finally ended up grabbing a chair and whacking Hawk with a series of very real shots. Verne went nuts on them for not doing his finish, but they told him to go talk to the Warriors.

The Warriors and Fabs wrestled another time in Puerto Rico. The Warriors refused to lose, but agreed to sell. The Fabs double crossed them this time around by waiting until Keirn had gotten the hot tag and was getting the shine on the Warriors. At that moment the Fabs bailed out to the floor and attacked the Sheepherders, who were at ringside. The Fabs ended up counted out instead of being pinned. Hawk came to Keirn’s hotel room that night and tried to get him to come out and fight. A few years later all was forgiven as the Roadies had matured and were better businessmen.

Jesse Ventura thought Stan Lane was stiff, which no one else ever accused him of. Keirn buries Ventura’s in ring ability, describing him as “stumbling like a drunk chasing his hat in the wind.”

Nick Bockwinkel was a pleasure to work with. Bobby Heenan was the absolute best in his manager role. Heenan helped convince Mr. Saito and Bockwinkel to work more with the Fabs style, which they had been lenient to do prior.

Eddie Graham showed the wrestling world that building to a big time mega show could be done without hurting your day-to-day business when he promoted the “Super Bowl of Wrestling” in the 70’s.

Even though the AWA run didn’t go as planned, Keirn was happy they made money and stayed healthy.

After the AWA run, the Fabs returned to Memphis. The Memphis promoters had buried them to the fans after they left, telling the locals that the Fabs had gone to the big time in spite of all the love you showered on them. This led to the fans not accepting the Fabs as strongly as before. In addition, the Fabs made Jarrett and company give them a nightly guarantee, which was then used against them in the locker room by the other guys who were fighting for their paydays.

The Road Warriors didn’t want to sell or lose, which hurt their ability to actually draw heel heat. Hawk once even got in Keirn’s face and growled “What’s your win/ loss record?!?!” Keirn explains that the name of the game is money and losing or winning is secondary.

Blackjack Mulligan was a legit badass. Dusty, Dick Slater and many other vets who knew him told Keirn a lot of war stories from before Steve’s time.

General Skandor Akbar tossed a fireball at Lane during his rookie year while working in Amarillo. He was legit burned on the chest. A few days later he was asked to do the spot again, but Lane was told by others not to do it so he bucked up and refused. Dick Murdoch and Mulligan pulled him into a room alone and read him the riot act over how disrespectful it is for a new guy to refuse to follow the office’s orders.

Mulligan once tried to sucker punch Andre the Giant while they were drinking at a bar. Andre didn’t flinch and said “You fucked up, Boss!” Mulligan ran away.

Kevin Sullivan kissed up to Mike Graham and earned a push because of it. Keirn disliked him because of that until years later when he and Sullivan worked together. Sullivan explained that the office controls your push and your push affects your money and making money is the goal. Sullivan needed a boost to overcome his size disadvantage.

Keirn decided to leave wrestling and go into the real estate business in 1987. Lane was only a single for a few weeks before JCP picked him up to team with Bobby Eaton. Keirn wanted out because the territories were dying and his kids were getting older.

Keirn ended up back in the business the next year as he joined Dusty Rhodes and Gordon Solie to try and start a new wrestling promotion in Florida.

The team reunited in Memphis in 1990, but the promotion was on life support. Keirn blames the promoters for making new versions of the Fabs (Eddie Gilbert/Tommy Rich) and diluting their value for why they could no longer draw big houses.

Jim Herd turned Stan Lane off of the business. Jim Cornette and Lane quit WCW and a few months later went to Smoky Mountain Wrestling to kick the promotion off. Lane enjoyed that  experience, but the travel up and down the mountains was a real pain.

They cover a few ribs they pulled over the years. This included ordering pizza after pizza to Jacques Rougeau’s house anonymously, leaving Rougeau and Terry Taylor alone on a lonely highway without their bags or anything because they were bickering too much and other such things.

A spot in the WWE Hall of Fame would be nice but it isn’t a priority. Being inducted would be a sign that their contributions to the business are recognized.

Keirn didn’t want to be an old wrestler who couldn’t go in the ring anymore. Despite this, he still worked until he was almost 50. He invested well and saved his money though.

Lane finally got married at age 55 after years and years of being a playboy. Keirn convinced him to buy a house and settle down.

Keirn was saddened to see Ric Flair drag himself out to wrestle way past his prime. Eddie Graham was another guy who couldn’t let the business go. Graham turned to the bottle for relief after being dry for 14 years due to his wrestling business going down. Graham, of course, ended up killing himself.

Final thoughts: Keirn was very glib and held nothing back, Lane was quieter, but only because Keirn was so lacaquious. Given that the guys have no reason to hold back, we got a very fun and informative shoot out of it.

 

Written by Andrew Lutzke

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