Kayfabe, Lies and Alibis: Ken Patera Shoot Interview

Presented by Ring of Honor

Recorded November of 2004

Patera starts off snarky right away at the fact the interviewer thinks power lifting is the same as Olympic lifting.

Power lifting is just a different form of weight lifting and isn’t in the Olympics.

In 1954 Patera saw a video of the ’52 Olympics with his family  – Patera was 10 years old and amazed at these short guys lifting so much weight.

3 years later he got his first weight set and he built his body fast – by 16 he was stronger than his 26 year old brother who was a middle linebacker in the NFL at the time.

Patera was a hurdler and long jumper until he suffered a broken ankle.  That led him to shot put and discus competition.

Patera lost at the Olympic trial to 3 guys on steroids and then he learned everyone but him was on steroids- 49 guys and him.

Ken quit shot put and went to lifting – he ended up as the first man to ever lift 500 pounds overhead shortly after.

He made it to the 1972 Olympics and Ken ended up needing major knee surgery.

The doctor did his surgery for free in honor of the Olympics.  Ken’s knee was still messed up and he ended up with a bronze medal at the games.

Ken had met Sheik Adnan El Kaisse in the early 60’s and Adnan told him to be a wrestler – Ken went to BYU to be a teacher instead and once he taught for a few months he figured out he hated it and focused on the Olympics.

A 24 pack of beer would be downed every Saturday by Ken to get drunk in college.

Patera’s steroid use wasn’t very frequent while others took them non-stop.

Jack Patera was the Minnesota Vikings defensive coach and he hooked Ken up with Verne Gagne.

Ken tried to tell Verne that he knew wrestlers from the Seattle area and named Mad Dog Vachon – Verne claimed not to know who that was (even though Vachon had been Verne’s champ in the past) Suddenly Mad Dog walked in the office… “Fucking Gagne always so brain dead”.

Patera trained in Minnesota briefly but they didn’t have the weight lifting experience he needed so he went back to the West Coast.

Ric Flair met Ken at a bar in Minnesota and they ended up as roommates in what became a real life “Animal House”.

Ken had lived with 4 weight lifters before that in a dirty house and a dog that would piss in Ken’s bed.

Within days Flair and Patera’s house was full of orgies of sex and booze. Ken asked Flair to cut it back since he needed to train and this life was getting to him.

Flair went to college with Jim Brunzell and Greg Gagne before flunking out after partying too much.

The Gagne wrestling camp was in a barn with holes everywhere and 1 light bulb.  Roosters and chickens lived in there and shit all over the ring.  The ring sagged and the ropes were loose.

Iron Sheik, Brunzell and Flair trained with Patera.

After 4 or 5 hours of training the guys would go booze it up and come back the next day hung over and puking.

The camp was in winter so it was freezing in the barn as well.

“Some douchebag who said she loved horses was there too scraping shit but she was different…must’ve been brain dead”. (I am dying of laughter here – Ken’s stone faced dead pan delivery makes these sort of lines hilarious!)

Sheik only weighed 180 pounds at this point and was always doing extra reps to help himself stay warm.  He didn’t drink, smoke or do drugs at that point.

Patera injured some guys with his spinning full nelson but he just told the guys (mostly jobbers) that they were to blame for “moving”.

Horst Hoffman ended up being a jewel thief and Ken wasn’t surprised as he messed with Ken in his early days in the ring.

Verne was a prick and barely taught the guys anything – Billy Robinson and Don Muraco trained with the guys instead.  Learning in the ring was a better method anyway in the long run.

Verne and promoter Wally Karbo sent him to Texas.

“Vince McMahon’s kinda a prick and an asshole…eh he’s just a prick not really an asshole”

“Ted Turner is a billionaire alcoholic who used to throw pop corn at the wrestlers when he was younger”

Dick the Bruiser was old and crippled up by the time Ken worked with him. Ken had to keep running around and bumping into him.

Bobby Heenan was a “fucking weasel” and Ken doesn’t have many nice things to say about him.

Fritz Von Erich was a 4 or 5 pack a day chain smoker.   Fritz had a massive ego and Ken watched him ask the Blackjacks how Fritz could beat both of them at once without making himself look back – both guys looked at him incredulously as Patera laughed his ass off in the corner.

David Von Erich knew he had stomach issues and went to Japan instead of the doctor.  He died on that trip (as we well know.)

Patera loved being a heel – babyfaces had to be fake and worry about losing,

Harley Race was a master of drinking, fighting, wrestling and fuckin’.

Jim Crockett was introverted; Jackie Crockett smoked pot with the guys and David Crockett was smart.

Crockett would run 3 towns a night.  The ABA with “Dr. J” Julius Irving drew 500 people one night while JCP drew 3000 in the same town at the same time.

Wahoo McDaniel had the boys over to his house after a show and they found the house empty and Wahoo went crazy. His wife took everything. They would divorce and eventually remarry.

Wahoo made a lot of money but always spent more than he made and was very generous.

A few years later, Ken came over to where Wahoo and his wife lived (a new house in a new town) and Wahoo and Ken found it empty again…

Ken worked almost 500 matches in one year while working for JCP in ‘79.

“Wrestlers were like the US Senators at the time, a bunch of alcoholics.”

Everybody ended up divorced as the guys were cheating on their wives nightly.

Flair and Patera “dated” prostitutes for several months and the girls wanted them to leave their wives.  Non-stop sex and partying.

Vince Sr. and other promoters were easy to get along with and would often give you extra money if you complained.

Sr. was addicted to horse racing and constantly bet on them.

Bruno Sammartino wasn’t a fan of Vince McMahon Jr. but Bruno was given a job announcing anyway due to lawsuits he had started against the WWF.

Patera thought he was going to be given a WWWF title run in the late 70’s – Backlund was picked because he could be controlled.

Vince Jr liked to drink and smoke pot and some occasional cocaine but he cleaned up in the mid 80’s after he realized his whole locker room was messed up.

Nick Bockwinkel was hired by Vince and had to watch guys pee and then haul their pee to be tested.

Adrian Adonis destroyed a hotel room in a paranoid cocaine binge.

Everybody did drugs but Andre- he just drank a ton.

Patera didn’t want to take steroids during his late 80’s WWF run and Vince openly mocked him.

Ken thinks it’s disgraceful that Pat Patterson and him headlined MSG in 1979 for the Intercontinental title and now Vince put the belt on a woman (Chyna).

Drug tests need to be done by Vince to clean the business up so that when guys are released they aren’t addicts.

Patera went golfing with Brunzell, Animal and Curt Hennig shortly before Curt’s death and Curt showed up at 8 am with a joint and a beer in each hand.  Curt drank a beer at every hole, took vicodin, and did more pot- he out golfed all the guys that day anyway.

The interviewer asks about his arrest for damaging a McDonald’s and assaulting a police officer that sent Ken to jail for 2 years. Ken goes off and tells the interviewer to fuck off and ignore those questions since there’s a lot more to talk about then Ken’s 2 years in a stinky tiny prison cell. (Ken has given a more recent interview and talked about his time in the clink – he felt that he should have gotten off because of his Olympic background and that his heel persona persuaded the jury.  The prison didn’t allow Patera a decent chance to work out at all so his body went to hell.  He and Saito took the trial so serious that they reportedly were drinking beer outside of the courtroom before the verdict was to be read.)

Jay Strongbow thanked Patera for injuring Billy White Wolf (Sheik Adnan’s Indian gimmick) legit since they didn’t get along. Both men were cheap bastards.

Fans wrecked Ken’s car constantly during his WWWF run.

Jay and White Wolf were making 650 a week as a team – his headline run with Ken earned Jay 2000-2500 a week.

Ken won the IC title and still worked outside promotions since he was a major heel.

Dusty worked Patera in a stadium during a hurricane.

Bob Backlund struggled to get over but they pushed him till it worked.

AWA wanted him to be “Laurence of Arabia” when Ken became a sheik for an angle.  Ken refused because “Laurence” was a homosexual in real life.

Patera told Verne that Jesse Ventura took his role in the AWA and Verne’s response was “Don’t you think it’s time for you to move on anyway?”

Hogan and Ken worked the same match every night.  Hogan won’t talk to Patera now.

Ventura was on heroin and other drugs – that’s why you see him rock back and forth today whenever he is on TV.  (I’ve always wondered if that was nerve damage or something, since I’ve certainly noticed it.)

Jesse ran for Minnesota Governor as a publicity stunt and he wasn’t really trying to win initially.

Big John Studd and Patera cut Andre’s hair as part of an angle and set business on fire. Andre suggested the angle himself.

Andre let Ken slam him and Andre bumped to the cement floor to put him over.

Ken suggested to Vince to make him a babyface after his prison run. Vince wrote the script for “The Ken Patera Story” and Ken hated it.

Patera was injured frequently once he came back and he was suffering through a divorce as well since his wife was running around with a drug dealer and ignoring their kids. Ken was moved down the cards and his paychecks dried up.

Ken quit in late ’88 and opened up a health club.

The AWA called Ken up and explained that the ratings were in the toilet and nobody was coming to the shows but he came in and did some shows anyway.

Ken implies the “Pink room” AWA TV tapings are what made him quit.  (Verne taped matches in an empty studio that had pink walls – he said on air it was to prevent interference from others.  It ended quickly as an experiment – I believe the AWA ran a 1-900 poll asking fans to vote whether or not to return to a live arena.)  He thinks Verne was going to super-impose fans onto the screen like a weatherman does during his reports.

Heenan suffered a legit neck injury from Patera during a “debate” but Ken says he deserved it.

Ken was drunk for 3 days straight prior to Wrestlemania 4.  Ken was divorcing and depressed and didn’t want to be there.  He made 5 grand and Hogan made a million. Patera found that to be an insult.

Vince refused to help Patera out once Ken became an independent promoter and Ken wanted to use some talent.

Bischoff is implied to be a homosexual.

If you get in the business, get out within 10 years or you’ll leave divorced, drug addled, broken bodied and brain damaged.

In Japan 1973 Ken stayed at a hotel with no working plumbing, He shit in a hole in the floor.

Flair once ran around the house they shared naked except for Patera’s weight belt.  Flair was beating off and covered his cock with mustard and ketchup and offered any girl who wanted it a “hot dog”.

Patera hopes Vince goes to a camp for weirdos and gets himself fixed so we can get wrestling back to what it was and not Vince’s strange bullshit.

Final thoughts: Egomaniac? Yup. Bitter?  Yup. Entertaining? No doubt! For 3 hours Ken offered a glimpse into his fascinating career and minus the McDonald’s incident, it’s fairly comprehensive.  Fans of his glory days would do right to pick this DVD up~!


Written by Andrew Lutzke

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

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