Kayfabe, Lies and Alibis: Magnum TA Shoot Interview

Terry Allen was working security at nightclubs when a friend introduced him to Greg Valentine and others.

Gene Anderson broke him in with a brutal cardiovascular work out for an hour, and then Bob Roop and Buzz Sawyer came into the gym and prepared to grapple with the exhausted trainee.

TA was having trouble breathing due to allergies on top of the cardio work and was totally spent. They tried to drag him back into the gym for a torture session and TA told them off for trying to humiliate him.

He wrote Gene a letter the next day telling him thanks for the chance, but the bullshit training method wasn’t going to fly with him. Gene respected that.

Later on in his career, Bill Watts used TA in the “enforcer” role for trainees

Buzz Sawyer then took money for training TA and ran away with it before doing any training.

TA chased Buzz all the way to Portland to get his money back. Buzz taught him how to lock up and Magnum was in the ring the next night in front of a live crowd, learning on the fly.

Magnum had a big car, and was thus given the “responsibility” to drive Andre the Giant around. Andre and TA became friends, even though Magnum was a rookie nobody and Andre was a huge star.

Andre changed his name from Terry Allen to Magnum TA since he looked like Tom Selleck.

TA claims Andre was going to get him booked in the WWF but Ernie Ladd convinced him to come to Mid-South and become a star first.

Terry got a call a year or so later from Dusty Rhodes, offering him the number one babyface spot in Jim Crockett Promotions.

Watts was paying Magnum 3000 dollars a week, Crockett only promised him 700 dollars a night.

The Mid-South business was on fire and a lot of the guys thought he was nuts to leave the big money.

When TA jumped, JCP wasn’t even on TBS, and the company wasn’t on the map as a national power….yet.

Watts browbeat Magnum for 6 weeks as TA jobbed his way out of the company.

JCP was on its ass and TA worked in front of as little as 300 people.

The WWF had taken Barry Windham, Roddy Piper, Valentine, Mike Rotundo and others so the talent was bare.

Dick Slater, Don Kernodle, a rookie Nikita Koloff, and Dusty Rhodes were trying to keep the company afloat.

Then Jim Crockett bought a time slot on TBS and Magnum became a star overnight as he received a god push on national TV.

Magnum was given instant rub by working with World champ Ric Flair each night.

TA believes he and Flair worked 19 one-hour draws in 30 days.

Tully Blanchard and other talent quickly joined the suddenly hot Crockett Promotions.

All the talent pushed one another in the ring and the fans won because the action was hot from top to bottom on each card.

Dusty Rhodes had great booking ideas but JCP couldn’t compete with the WWF’s money making marketing of toys and such.

By 1986, JCP drew 28 million in ticket sales during the year.

Starrcade 85 drew 800,000 dollars at the gate. Had they had PPV abilities, the money potential would’ve been massive.

Magnum and Tully had a 5-month build up to their Starrcade 85 steel cage “I Quit” match. The cage match presented TA with a chance to be part of the most violent match of Allen’s career.

Blanchard left himself an out during the match finish as instead of saying “I Quit”, he answered “Yes” to the ref asking “Do you quit?”

The wood spike that that TA jabbed into Tully’s eye during the finish was a case of capitalizing on simple luck, as the chair that the wood came from wasn’t gimmicked, and yet it provided the perfect brutal looking instrument.

The Horsemen as a unit was an unplanned, perfect thing that created a world of possibilities for the babyfaces to contend against.

Blanchard was a great heel, and he was able to quickly get the fans to boo him no matter how “cool” the Horsemen became.

TA “won” the World title on a “Dusty Finish” that was so convincing; even the locker room bought it.

Magnum feels adding country music acts to the Great American Bash tours added very little to drawing fans.

By this point, TA was making 5-8 grand a week.

Dusty felt Magnum could have been a Hollywood star at the same time as being JCP’s top draw.

Nikita Koloff and TA started a big feud. Nikita insulted TA’s mom. Magnum was then booked to attack a promoter and be stripped of the US title. This led to a “best of 7” match series with TA/Nikita.

The NWA promoters agreed to make TA the next World champion in late 86.

TA’s life changed after he suffered a car accident where his vertebra exploded. He was supposed to be confined to a wheel chair and be fed by a caretaker his whole life, but his body bounced back remarkably.

(TA flies through his accident and the aftermath, I was hoping for a more in depth talk on his reaction and recovery.)

Allen had to go from working up to 9 matches a week to an unsure future.

Fans weren’t sure if TA’s accident was an angle – some fans thought the Horsemen were behind it.

Magnum felt he would let his fans down if he didn’t keep his spirits up.

The Crockett’s set TA up with cable TV in the hospital.

Jackie Crockett saw Allen getting a sponge bath. During which, Magnum got an erection and Crockett excitedly told the locker room that TA’s parts were coming back.

The Crockett Cup was a good idea, but the tournament format went against the JCP in-ring ideals. All the long hard-hitting matches had to be condensed down to 10 minutes or less.

Being in an arena when the Road Warriors were working was an awesome experience. The music, the fans reaction and other intangibles made for an once in a lifetime team.

When Magnum TA went down, Dusty had no “plan B” for who was going to carry the company.

The Warriors, Luger and other had huge contracts to keep them from jumping to the WWF, however those fat contracts hurt JCP’s bottom line.

TA feels that the guys should have been fighting for every dollar they could earn by drawing fans through promos and in ring work, but the guaranteed contracts took away the fire in some men’s bellies.

Flair made over $100,000 in one month working with TA. The NWA champ made 10% of the gate for each card he appeared on. Allen made over 20 grand that same month.

TA feels JCP would have survived had they hired better office staff to help the ever-expanding company.

Allen blames Jim Crockett for the collapse, because he was in charge of the accountants who couldn’t keep up with the expansion, and for not keeping Dusty’s spending whims under control.

The national expansion had to happen because the wrestlers were going to chase the money, and staying in the south was going to limit their ability to earn cash.

Magnum planned on winning the World title at 28 (a bit after his accident) and then retiring at 30 to chase a Hollywood or NASCAR career.

By 1986 the NWA promoters were already looking to replace Ric Flair as the top dog of the NWA.

JCP served Terry Allen as a vehicle to take his talents to a national stage.

Working in his hometown in front of his family and a sold out crowd was the highlight of his career.

A massive food fight broke out in catering at a hotel during the 1986 Bash tour. Ric Flair and Animal started it. The hotel later billed JCP 30 grand in damages.

They end the shoot by showing a news clip from Magnum’s accident. The utility pole snapped by the roadside is a terrifying sight. TA’s $50,000 Porsche was totaled.

The doctors took bones from his pelvis and rebuilt his neck.

The sick kids at the hospital made Magnum get well cards. It’s a touching segment.

We get another clip showing Allen’s doctor explaining how various limbs are beginning to move again.

What a chilling end to this DVD!

Final thoughts:

Magnum maintains the charisma and gift of gab that made him a star 30 years ago, and he delivered an intriguing angle to the JCP saga. A shooting star who was destined to leave wrestling with more promise and potential unfulfilled than almost any other star. A sad story, a really good shoot.


Written by Andrew Lutzke

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

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