"The Living Legend" Larry Zbyszko Interview: Talks about HHH, TNA w/ Gerweck

»Reported by Paul Nemer of WrestleView.com
On Saturday, October 9, 2004 at 2:39 AM EST

Steve Gerweck of Gerweck.net sent in the following:

Zbyszko started the interview by announcing that "Like every other wrestler under the sun, I’ve decided to write a book." On the book front, Zbyszko says he is writing the book longhand, and has written about six chapters thus far.

Zbyszko explained how he got started in the pro wrestling business. In 1967-68, a skinny Zbyszko, about sixteen years old and weighing about 150 pounds, scouted out Bruno Sammartino in the North hills of Pittsburgh, were both lived at the time. Sammartino was impressed with Zbyszko’s amateur background and took Larry under his wing. Zbyszko did weightlifting with Sammartino in his basement starting at age seventeen or eighteen. Larry would also get his ring name Zbyszko from Bruno, and got his start with the WWWF through Sammartino. Zbyszko found a home in the AWA with Verne Gagne preferring a wrestler’s wrestler over some of the muscle bound wrestlers that were heading to New York.

Zbyszko was asked about marrying Verne Gagne’s (AWA promoter) daughter, much as Triple H did by marrying Vince McMahon’s daughter Stephanie. When asked about getting special treatment by marrying Gagne’s daughter, Larry responded "I never got any special treatment." At the time, Zbyszko felt he was already an established wrestler. Zbyszko and Verne’s daughter Kathy tried to keep their relationship a secret, and did so for about a year. Zbyszko noted that Paul (Triple H) worked hard and paid his due, and was already a champion before he married Stephanie.

Zbyszko attributed the closing of AWA to "the time and the old school fading out." Zbyszko stated that former AWA announcer Larry Nelson was "a character." Zbyszko stated that Nelson had three DUI’s and disappeared from Minneapolis opening the door for Eric Bischoff in the company. The last Zbyszko remembers hearing about Nelson (which was six or seven years ago) was that he was a disc jockey for an Oldies station in the Florida Keys under another name. Zbyszko believes Nelson recently wrote a book.

Zbyzsko got started with TNA when he was asked to make A.J. Styles his protege. Zbyszko was happy to help a struggling promotion to help create competition and an alternative for the fans. Zbyszko believes TNA is doing better now, and has the support of Panda Energy. Zbyszko has heard that Fox is going to switch "Impact" to a better time slot (possibly Saturday night and perhaps on FX on Monday nights), and that the TNA ratings on Fox Sports Net does better than McMahon’s syndicated ratings. Zbyszko now lives in Switzerland, Florida, not far from Orlando.

Zbyzko’s stint at Styles’ mentor was not supposed to end so quickly, but ended under Vince Russo’s creative direction. Zbyskzo joked that all the hurricanes in Florida this summer can be attributed to "the cure of the Armstrongs." Near the end of the AWA days, Gagne approached WCW with the idea of an "AWA invading WCW" angle. Jim Barnett, who was consulting for WCW was against the idea because Zbyszko (the AWA champion) could "eat Sting up" (then WCW champion)." Basically, Barnett nixed the idea feeling the AWA champion could outshine WCW’s champion in the ring. After that the AWA invasion angle was nixed, Jim Herd finally brought Zbyskzo to WCW. Zbyszko credited the idea of the "invasion angle" to Gagne, not Bischoff who later used it to create the New World Order.

Zbyszko stated one professional regret during the interview. In hindsight, Zbyszko regrets not getting himself more involved in WCW office politics, thinking he could have saved the company, since they could have used the help.

Name association:

Eric Bischoff - "Tremendous one man sales force."

Verne Gagne - "Old school classic promoter and tough guy."

Vince McMahon Sr. - "Classic old school promoter; decent guy, he was smooth."

Vince McMahon Jr. - "Isn’t very smooth, gutsy guy. Very creative guy."

Arn Anderson - "True work horse, a wrestling machine. Could have been a bigger star than he was. Great worker."

Ric Flair - "He’s in his own world. Survived the test of time."

Scott Hall - "Doesn’t realize how much charisma he’s got. A great talent."

Curt Hennig - "Hell of a worker, heck of an athlete."

Dusty Rhodes - "A classic, a very creative guy."

Vince Russo - "New school creative guy. A hard working guy, but didn’t know what he was doing."

Larry Zbyszko - "Greatest wrestler of all time."

Zbyszko will be appearing on Saturday, October 23rd in Indianapolis, IN at the Indianapolis State Fairgrounds Expo Hall for the Slam and Showdown Convention.

To hear the Zbyszko interview, call the Gerweck Report hotline now at 212-502-6636. The interview can be heard in its entirety on the main greeting, options #1, #2, and #3. Its free call, but long distance charges may apply. Gerweck is the webmaster of www.gerweck.net

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