Former WCW and ECW wrestler, Scotty Riggs recently took some time to participate in an interview. Riggs reveals his work with WCW and ECW, his time on the independent circuit and the differences between his time alongside Marcus Bagwell as the American Males and alongside Raven in The Flock. Check out the complete interview below:
Discuss your early training under Ted Allen & your work in Smokey Mountain & the USWA
That’s back in 92. To make a long story short with it, I basically was playing football in college and exhibition 2 school and had Road Warrior posters on my wall and my dorm room and a couple of guys that I played football with and they said they saw advertising for a wrestling show which was about 15 minutes from the campus so I go over there one day to watch a show and a snow storm had come in that night so they canceled the show and I ended up meeting Ted and a couple of the other guys and that’s where I started talking to him. The next thing I know he invited me to the show with him and train twice a week. We would practice on Saturday afternoon and then put on the show that night. So basically I trained about 6 weeks with Ted and he took a great deal of time to work with me because he knew that I had a football background, was a good athlete and good looking kid the whole nine yards and Feb 6th of 92’ was when I had my first match. Pretty much after that Ted started getting me booked on some shows.
A few months after that having a few shows after that working and having some shows under my belt, he then had me booked to promote Ben Masters which was a couple of towns from Georgia. At that time I basically wrestled Ted, who wrestled as The Nightmare and they would use his ring basically old school style I’d go set up the ring and wrestled Ted that night and he’d basically train me in front of a live crowd where he would basically call the match and you’d learn to get the feel of the crowd and when you’d want to do this move and it basically helped me to tell a story in the ring while listening to the crowd. It was very old school. You have to have a TV match where everything has got to be within a 7 minute time frame and we know this. We had the chance to learn the basics and develop a match in 15-20 minutes and learn dramatics unlike how it is nowadays where guys have to do it. Back then we went and we listened. You listened to the crowd, you listened to a guy who was leading the match and that’s what Ted taught me and that’s what a lot of guys learned back in the day and that’s why Ted helped start out outstanding careers and helped with great psychology and great storytelling. It’s something that is lacking today.
Getting into Smokey Mountain and USWA were two different opportunities for what has come up both with Jake the Snake Roberts. Jake was in Atlanta and I was in Atlanta so basically, we ended up hooking up through DDP and I started to do some shows with Jake. Basically, Jake told Jim Cornette about me and Cornette brought me in to do a few shows. I worked as myself and some matches as Kendo the Samurai. Cornette made me his TV champion. Then I got to work with Bryant Anderson., Ole’s son and dropped the TV title to him. My run in Smokey Mountain didn’t get to last very long. They were using me when they were using Jake. When they stopped using Jake they stopped using me. The nature of the business.
Arn Anderson told me that Bischoff was taking over at WCW and he was going to be the top guy and I would get through that glass ceiling. You’re a good looking kid, you’ve got a good attitude, and you’ve got the great ability. This was when Jake the Snake came around the second time in my career and we’re working the Thanksgiving show for the Ben Masters promotion. Jake the Snake says to Jerry Lawler you need to book this kid in USWA. He’s a good looking kid, works hard. This is after my conversation with Arn. Lawler introduces himself and talks to me and says we’ll get our booker to give you a call and we’ll set something up.
If Scotty Riggs was competing actively today, during a time where what is done in the ring now more is more as it is today to when where before less was more?
The psychology works today. There is just that wrestling is more of a TV show now today. The way I always looked at it was that WCW being southernly based run by Ted Turner was a wrestling show that was on TV. So we put wrestling shows on and we put wrestlers in a lot of 8-10 minutes. Some matches were squashes and even on Nitro, we could have longer matches where we had guys that could tell stories and you had to do all these spots. When I was wrestling Benoit or Raven, it was just that the veterans knew how to tell stories and they could work holds.
Nowadays you can have a few holds and everything else and fans would be educated that holds had meaning. Today holds have no meaning. There is a bunch of running around. It’s basically makes everything else look week. They do all these things over and over again to get a win. WCW was always a wrestling show that was on TV where WWE has always been a TV show about wrestling. Everything is so precise that it’s hard to tell a story and you can do it but you need a lot of veteran talent. That is why Jericho can go in there because he is so good at go a story and tell a story with 5-8 minutes or even tell a story with 15 minutes that is why he is so good at what he does.
A lot of guys today it’s the moves they do rather than through holds anymore. It could work today but unfortunately, it’s more of a TV show nowadays. Even though it’s a 3 hour TV show everything is still rushed instead of telling a good story. PPV’s are different because they maybe have more time. However, in somewhere like NJPW, they actually tell stories even though we don’t see the whole matches on their shows through access TV. We can tell that these guys know how to do the wrestling and the fans there are so respectful because they are so educated to focus on the match. It’s two different beasts to say to be able to get in there and do something with guys because of the psychology today. It can be done, you just need the time to do it. It’s a matter of who am I going to be, who I am as a wrestler and get that point over. Make them aware that they aren’t here to be a celebrity. If you end up believing that persona about that and then sell it, it’s actually a lost art.
During your time in WCW, you were a part of two fairly successful allegiances both alongside Marcus Bagwell in the American Males & as part of the Flock. Was there one experience you enjoyed more than the other? Why or why not?
It’s hard to really say one was better than the other because they were both so completely different. When me and Marcus we were the American Males and the tag champs. That’s a great benchmark for me. I came in from Memphis where I really wasn’t doing anything and given a trial and being Bagwell’s partner we clicked. It was instant chemistry. Our first match we had in Orlando, Florida was against Steven Regal and Bobby Eaton as The Blue Bloods. I got in with those guys and Bobby I knew from previous times that I worked with them. They made me look like a 10 year veteran even though I was only in the business for a few years’ time. We clicked so well in the ring that Kevin Sullivan, Jimmy Hart and Arn and those guys were part of the booking committee and Terry Taylor just went ahead and wanted to see what would exist without giving us specific direction. When they started having promotional videos for us, the next thing we know we’re the world tag team champions. That chemistry that we had as a tag team also worked well as opponents. When Marcus went nWo and I stayed WCW we had great chemistry as opponents. That was one way that sort of solidified me as a player. In that I could get in the ring with anybody and have a great match.
To compare that with my time with Raven, we had known him for years. We already had a good friendship and put things together and we did the deal with the injury where we turned that into a character. One of the coolest things about being in the Flock was we did something that no one else really did. We would be heels but then jump guys like Goldberg, DDP, and Benoit at the time and sit down at ringside every week like that. On Nitro, no one else was doing that. It made us the anti-establishment which was the foundation of the group. So that distinguished us as different and gave us a different identity. We were really bad guys which were a whole lot more fun than trying to be the squeaky clean good guy. So it was hard to distinguish which one was different than the other one because they were so opposite. I will say though that being the bad guy was a lot more fun. To be able to get that hate out of people, when you’re in the crowd you can really hear the people really cursing at you. You can hear it in the ring but when you’re sitting there and throwing popcorn and drinks towards you we got in a few tussles along the way.
When Perry Saturn and I wrestled Benoit and Steve McMichael at the Georgia Dome we won the match but Van Hammer instead of going along the rails and going towards the back he decides he was just going to go over and go through the crowd. So we have Lodi, Kidman, myself and we’re going back up through the crowd. We just laid out the Four Horsemen basically and the crowd was pissed. We had people shoving us, punches being thrown. I’ve got the eye patch so I can’t see out of my peripheral so I pretty much screwed and I’m ducking and dodging and we are pushing and fighting our way through. It was pretty brutal. We had no security because we were supposed to go through on the other side but Van Hammer decided to go a different way and we’re like well you know we went that way. It was a really cool emotion to draw out of people.
It was reported that the eye injury suffered was legitimate. Did you find it challenging competing with an eye patch? How did you overcome it?
I basically had to put a white opaque contact lens in the eye. To keep me from getting headaches from the TV lights. So I was legit blind in that eye. That eye patch came off and I still couldn’t see because of the white contact lens in my eye protecting it. Scott Hall uses to bust on me, not in a bad way but saying, ‘dude if you could draw this out with the eye injury’ it could go somewhere. I still remember the match with Perry Saturn. Before I joined the Flock, it was on a Nitro. I did the dive off the top of the ring post over the railing into the crowd onto the Flock. During the match, the eye patch came off and nobody knew what to do because they didn’t know if the lens was intact. It was one of the first matches back where I wrestled and everyone was like you shouldn’t be able to do that dive because of the eye and everything else. Scott Hall was the first guy that just said if you could just build that and be clumsier it would be more believable.
At the time it was more the transition throughout the match we had to tell a story and seven minutes to do it. It was more important to get the match over and a spot in for TV with a dive into the crowd. I remember when the eye patch came off they weren’t sure in the back if I had the contact in and they didn’t know if the bandage would be seen or not. So that was a little bit of dysfunction between the production staff, the booking crew and everyone else. But when they saw the lens they saw the ref come over saying put the eye on the camera, let me see the eye. After Scott Hall was telling me he’s old school mentality and that if I could make it work then the story we would be telling would be to make the eye more a part of the story.
Unfortunately, that’s not what they wanted the wanted it to be more about the match. It definitely threw my depth perception off. I was just blessed to be an athlete again. It was like playing football or anything else I had good body control and could do a few things and luckily with the right eye being covered I could see punches coming because people would be throwing rights to my left side. I wrestled a lot of right-handed people very few left-handers and I could always see punches coming. The problem was to the people I was throwing punches at. I’d always hit someone pretty hard and then say ‘sorry’ because my depth perception was off. It was funny to a point but after doing it a few times they start to get a little pissed.
While in ECW you had the chance to be a part of the Jerry Lynn/RVD feud. How did that come about and did you think more could have been done with it?
I don’t know if more could have been done with it or anything like that because the path of it was a different direction. It was RVD who was coming back from a foot injury so I came in and Tommy Dreamer wanted me at the time to be a part of the Dangerous Alliance and be a Rick Rude-like personality with it. Paul Heyman had the idea and he and RVD had already come up with the idea with Robbie and I being friends we met in like 93’ I guess was when I first started. I was wrestling down in the Carolina’s when I first met Rob and we became good friends and stuff and when I got in ECW with him, Rob’s whole mentality was he’s coming back off the injury with Scott and us being good friends and connecting with Paul and maybe doing a tag team. The thing is I didn’t have the work with Rob like a Sabu did and having the high flying style to gel well together as a team. I didn’t have that same style as Rob we were kind of opposites. I was more of a ground and pound type of wrestler where Rob was a high flying guy. We maybe could have worked well together being opposites but it just worked out better to turn on Rob and have a feud and that elevated me and made me a good player for ECW and for Heyman.
For Heyman to have a good strong heel, the work with anybody was what we wanted. He said I could get into the ring with anyone there and have a good match. So having worked a match with Rob and having him lose after a year or so he was the TV champ at the time. His big feud with Jerry Lynn set up marquee matches for him. They’d have 5-star matches and Meltzer always praised him. The whole funny part was when Jerry Lynn was doing the Mr. JL gimmick in WCW we were actually roommates for almost a year. He came in and he was easy to talk to. As time goes on we trusted each other and very lucky to be a part of Jerry and Rob’s matches and very blessed to not only be a part of it but when I turn on Rob and screw our friendship I caused him to lose his first match in years. And it was to his biggest opponent Jerry Lynn. Knowing that I was going to work against Rob, I knew I had to do something that made me stand apart that was the best way to do it. He was his number one opponent. That worked better than to have anything else be a part of it. Then Jerry moved into a great story with Corino which you would have never gotten Jerry Lynn writing DIE on his own chest with Corino’s blood at Heatwave 2000. If we had been in any other storyline these things wouldn’t have happened. It worked out well.
Having worked for WCW during the Monday Night wars & ECW as a company closing its doors. Describe how the environment in both places was?
When I was in WCW when it started off the locker room was great. The first guy to welcome me to the company in 95’ was at the Fall Brawl in Nashville was Ric Flair. I was tagging up with Marcus (Bagwell) and we had just come down to the Marriott and Flair comes up to us and says, ‘Scotty, welcome to the company you and Marcus are going out with me and the girls tonight’. There was about 4 or 5 of his girls and I mean they were great girls top-notch sweethearts love them to death and still friends with them today. We would always go out with Ric and party with him and we were basically all good friends. That was the first person to welcome me to the place. Arn (Anderson) joined us and a few others. So that was welcome.
By the time I left WCW, there was a lot of tension in the air because Bischoff was there and he was being replaced with Bill Bush and then Russo/Ferreira came in and then they left and then Kevin Sullivan was back and there was a lot of turmoil when it came to the management part. That created a lot of conflict in the dressing room. We didn’t know what and when we were doing it. We would come to a Nitro at 2 pm in the afternoon. The board would be up at 4 pm of what match we were having, who we were facing, your time allocated for the match. 12 segments in a three-hour show. At around 5 pm a certain group of guys would show up and they would go to the board and say, ‘I’m not doing that, I’m not doing that. I’m just doing a promo at the top of each hour’. Terry Taylor and those guys in the booking committee would get so ticked off because they organized an entire show and these other guys had their own game plan. The match they wanted to do was their own. Every time they put someone in charge, the inmates kept changing the rules in the asylum. There was no real authority figure. It was tough to be there and didn’t know what was going on. There was a Nitro where Billy Kidman wrestled Juventud Guerrera because they could do a two-segment, 15-20 minute match while they were still trying to figure out and fix the show for the guys that did and didn’t want to do something. When you had this much confusion going on it was just not a happy place to work.
When I left WCW at the end of 99’ beginning of 2000’ and went to ECW when I first got there I was welcomed and treated me like I belonged there. Dreamer who I already knew, brought me in and from Francine to Kid Kash to Corino all these guys C.W Anderson. All these guys that I already knew was very welcoming to me and warm for such a hard-core dressing room. They had a very different perspective from where they basically egos, where who, was going to have the best match that night. Whether it was a house show, TV everyone was trying to out due each other in the best match. Whether they wrestled three nights in a row and it came to perform in front of the crowd, everyone was trying to steal the show. The fans benefited from that. There was a little bit of head butting on a few occasions here and there but there were very few egos in the ECW locker room in a sense because they weren’t high paid millionaires like they were in WCW. Nobody came in and said ‘I’m not working this, I’m changing this’. We all basically needed to work together. It was like the old territories were everyone worked together and everyone was succeeding and making money together. Whether you were winning or losing. Whether you were doing your run-ins or promos. That’s why I think fans ate up ECW so much and believed in it and supported it because they were getting great shows. Whether you were doing the barbed wire match or whether you were doing a comedy match. Everyone was a part of it and everyone was succeeding at it. That was probably the biggest difference between ECW and WCW. It was that hunger to want to see everyone succeed and work as a team in ECW.
Would you say that those competing in ECW had in a sense a personal investment in the success of ECW?
Yeah, definitely. In WCW nothing was wrong with it but we all had guaranteed contracts. The way I look at it is WWE you had your base salary where you made $250 000 a year on your check but if you do well, you have great matches, you get on PPVs, you get bonuses from the house shows and your merchandise is doing well. In a year you would make a million dollars. In WCW we all had guaranteed contracts and your set salary was your set salary that was it. You worked all the shows and you worked 4 or 5 shows a week on the road for 15-16 days a month and you still made your set salary and then there were some guys making their million dollar contracts not working house shows they’d do a Nitro, they’d do a Thunder and that would be it. Everyone else would be on the house shows. The created a class the way they sort of systemized it. It was a little bit of hierarchy which was a little bit difficult to work with but that’s why it worked.
In ECW, I had a guaranteed deal where I got bonuses when we had great matches. That’s how Paul worked it. It was almost like a WWE thing where you got your bonuses if you worked your show but you made extra money, you did extra things. You were doing extra things that were available for you to make extra money. So it was two different atmospheres. But like you said it was something where in ECW where the talent was taking a little more personal pride in what was going on because there was bonus money that made everyone work harder.
What was the difference between working for Jim Cornette & Paul Heyman?
I really can’t define that because I didn’t work long enough for Jim Cornette. I maybe worked a couple of months for him if that. It wasn’t on a regular basis. A few shows here and there and TV here and there. So it’s hard to compare. I didn’t work with Jim long enough. I wish I do though because it was one of those territories that were really hot at the time. I had a great mixture of younger guys and older guys that would help each other.
Heyman was the first guy I ever wrestled for and worked for that when I came in and pulled me aside and sat me down and said this is what we’re going to do with you for the next six months. And it felt like dominos with how it played out no one ever said to me this is what we’re going to do for you as a complete schedule. That’s why he’s always given credit of being an ‘evil genius’ I guess. He would take anybody and create a game plan, implement it and make it work. I knew Cornette did that with a few people where you could see their strengths and weaknesses and match them up against other guys and have them buy into it. I never worked with Cornette one on one like that to be able to compare it to.
Describe your time on the independent circuit and what the experience has taught you.
Independents especially nowadays the lifeblood of pro wrestling. It’s hard to describe it now. Where I’m from in the early 90’s it was still a territory and you worked the craft. You worked with older guys, younger guys you learned how to work and wrestle. You learned how to manipulate the crowd. You learned how to get you boos and cheers and leaving people either wanting more to come back or to move on to the next story when you come back. The Indy’s basically teach you how to wrestle. WWE teaches you how to be an entertainer. They are a performance thing. A lot of the talent today are being trained on how to portray wrestlers rather than be wrestlers. They all look great. They’re all hard bodies. They’re all this and all that. They all have a certain image they have to portray and be a modern-day celebrity.
I remember the day when I wrestled for Dusty Rhodes and his TCW group I was very honored and blessed to work with Barry Windham for almost a year straight where we were going back and forth over Dusty’s heavyweight title. I remember working one show where there were about 500 people at the show and I wrestled Barry in the main event. Dusty comes up and says to me and asks me to wrestle again. I then respond to him in his own lisp, ‘I just wrestled Barry. You want your heel to go back out there and lose steam. They just saw me cheat to beat Barry’. To be a cheating rotten heel and Dusty looks at me and says my attitude reminded him of Tully Blanchard with a great heel mentality. You can work with anybody, you’re a great heel and you can protect the business. He says your right, you don’t want to go out there and make people like you, you want them to hate you and not sell gimmicks. I said thanks Dusty and he says, ‘you know what you’re doing’. God rest his soul, I love him. He taught me a lot. You really learn how to be a good guy or a bad guy working the independents unlike the guys on TV nowadays. It showed more appreciation for learning the craft and having the fans either booing you or cheering you. That’s the way I view the independents. There is a lot of great talent in the independents that know how to be a vicious character.
What does the balance of 2015 & beyond have in store for Scotty Riggs?
Hopefully golf and the beach. (chuckles) Just being a fan of the new wrestlers that are coming up nowadays, that’s about it. I’m just enjoying just being me and I got into wrestling at a time when we were quasi-celebrities I guess you could say. Where a live Nitro, Thunder or PPV could happen and we’d walk into a mall and people would recognize you. When Marcus and I were the American Males we had people come up to us and ask for autographs and stuff and when I joined the Flock and the hair was long and always wear the shades and never took them off and people would always look at you. When we were part of the Flock we would always hang out together and they kind of shied away from you. You would say hi but we protected our personas back then. We were the Flock we were a bunch of a**holes basically and that’s how we came across in public. We would joke around with ourselves and stuff and flirt with girls but we also protected being bad guys. We didn’t hang out with all the good guys. Here and there we would if we bumped into each other but it didn’t happen often. I remember when Marcus and I were the American Males we would always travel together.
Marcus and Lex were friends and trained together so here I come and I join them and who am I now traveling with? Marcus, Lex, Sting and I were all traveling together and training together. We would play golf together. If we went out somewhere it would be to a smaller place and keep it to the hotel bar. When we were in the Flock we acted the idiots. We were still viewed as wrestlers. I saw something on twitter where Seth Rollins was in New York or somewhere and he couldn’t get a meal and he had to leave the hotel, he actually had to get a police escort who drove him to the restaurant. He got the meal to go and had to bring it back. I wouldn’t want that level of insanity around me. When I would go out with Flair, Sting, and Lex, it wouldn’t be the same. I just wanted to be the wrestler and not a celebrity. I enjoy the peace and quiet now and look back and think of the good times. It was great to have that mystique back then when we protected the business. Chris Jericho and Raven labeled me with the ‘Riggs Story’ persona. Where basically Jericho or Raven would ask me what time it is and I would tell them how to build a watch by the end of it still didn’t tell them what time it was. That’s a Riggs story.
Was there anything you’d like to share, promote or encourage?
Nothing coming up at the moment. In the summer, I have some appearances lined up. But I’m enjoying golf and some time by the pool. The biggest thing I could promote would be my twitter @realscottyriggs and prowrestlingtees.com/scottyriggs is where you can find my t-shirt store. I’m just pushing my t-shirts and pushing my twitter.