Rob Van Dam and Scott Hall were featured on Pandemonium Radio to pay tribute to the late Curt “Mr. Perfect” Hennig.
Here is a recap and the highlights of their appearance.
Scott Hall talked about the many things he learned from traveling on the road with Curt Hennig.
“I got my first exposure to Curt in NWA, and the thing about Curt was… I learned so much from him, some stuff out of the ring too. Once you move big time like by the time I got to NWA, I’m not driving any cars anymore from town to town. Now, I’m flying airport to airport, rental cars, hotels. It’s all a different game and it impacts your life. You know, now, you’re gone from your family, and, a lot of guys have a wife and kids. You don’t see them as often as when you’re in a small territory, when you can drive and you come home every night. So all that was changing and it cracks a lot of guys, it’s tough. But Curt taught me to have fun, like always make fun and always have fun… even if you have to create your own. [laughter] A lot of guys would be like, “Ohh, we’re going to Boise.” And then Curt’s like, “Yeah, we’re going to Boise! WOO!” It’s just… I don’t know, that’s one of the most important things I learned off him.”
“We used to study tapes when were AWA champs. He was married with a family. I’m a single guy in Minneapolis, but, when the show would come on, we would talk on the phone and watch it. He called and we would talk about it as we saw it back and he would critique it for me then. It was just great. He was my first experience to what, well, not my first experience ’cause I’d been around Barry Windham and Dusty Rhodes in Florida. But, being like, being what I wanted to be. I rode in the car with those guys but now I just felt like “I’m finally a pro-wrestler. Man, I’m finally, finally going to towns. It’s like I’m a big deal.” And Curt introduced me to that lifestyle and how to do it right, and how to do it and have fun.
Scott Hall also talked about Curt’s famous ribs:
“Curt is a world-class, world-class ribber. Actually, it really, it really hurt my feelings, because I’d been around when he ribbed a lot of guys. Actually, one time, he did the eyebrow rib to me. I think we were in Philadelphia, and, at the airport hotel and, I don’t know, I woke up the next morning and I had like the Vanilla Ice eyebrow thing going. Just a couple little dashes in your eyebrow. Now, I got to go home and… I’ve been a married guy. Really, it hurt my feelings.”
“You know, when we first crossed paths in Minneapolis, during the weekdays, we would wrestle at little high schools stuff. So we’re changing in the locker rooms and Curt would walk around and just pull on all the combination locks. And just, you know, until he found one that wasn’t locked all the way. And then, he would have three or four locks– combination locks in his bag and he would take two guys’ wrestling bags or suitcases and, and lock the handles together, and particularly if it’s two guys who don’t like each other so then they’re forced to, for the rest of the loop, it, uh, you know, it was called buddy bags and now they got buddy bags and walk through the airport with buddy bags. He would put it on the hood ornament of your car and he’d call it “Teakettle Effect”. It’s while you’re driving down the road, it’s just rocking back and forth against your paint-job. He’d take a padlock and put it through the button-hole of your brand new designer shirt or on the little loop of your cowboy boots where you pull them up [laughter.] He always looks for an opportunity to have a laugh. There’s never been a time when I think about Curt and I don’t smile”.
Scott Hall on Curt’s son, Curtis Axel:
“I was just at the SmackDown taping here in Atlanta and I saw his son, Curtis Axel, and he walks, he walks like his dad, like he moves like his dad, you know. He’s always got this little spark in his eye and he’s got the smirky smile like his dad. It’s really great. I try not to bug him about that too much. I don’t know if I should remind him about that or not when we’re face to face, you know. I start treating him like his old man. I’m sure everybody says, “You’re just like your dad. You’re like your dad.” I don’t wanna beat him to death with that ’cause I don’t know what it’s like to be second generation or he’s third generation. My son is second generation. I’m so happy he’s doing his thing in Japan where he’s not getting that whole ‘your dad’, ‘your dad’ stuff.” You know,Curt & I are basically the same age. If you hear this, Joe, you know, I got nothing but love for you. I think you know that.”
Scott Hall talked about how Curt Hennig helped the business:
“Now that people have the WWE Network and stuff, it’s so cool that you can go back and research this stuff. If there’s up-and-coming wrestlers out there and you’re looking for somebody to emulate, Curt Hennig would be a great guy. He learned at the foot of Pat Patterson who was, who was regard as a genius in our business, and rightly so. There’s just not a lot of footage of Pat Patterson wrestling. You know, there’s some, but I mean his early days out in California, when he was teamed back with Ray Stevens, Curt was exposed to Pat and Ray Stevens, so he learned that style to be, to take entertaining bump as a heel. It takes them to another level when a guy can really perform as a heel, and when you can do that, you can get a job anywhere because people always want somebody to make them look good. And Curt learned that and he wasn’t selfish about it. You have to remember, before guaranteed money, a lot of guys were hesitant to do jobs. Nobody wanted to put anybody over because it hurt their money, it hurt their earning power but Curt was never a mark about that and then you got around big time promoters and they see what they’re doing, guys like Vince McMahon pay you regardless of winning or losing. It’s paid by performance and attendance and box office, and Curt was a ground breaker on setting that kind of standard for a business. I came up in it at the same time, and a lot of guys would moan and pout and didn’t wanna do jobs, or when they had to. They would go out there and under perform. When that whole steroid scandal hit, business was down. Houses weren’t full and a lot of guys were moping about it because well, before, we hear it was sold out. Well, Curt was the kind of guy who spread around in the locker room, “Let’s go and make the people who came not sorry that they came.” Don’t have these people come and then sit and go, “Wow, that was brutal, that was boring.” Curt would go out there and rock it. He was the one who started that whole mentality… I was with Curt in the AWA and along comes Shawn Michaels, and Martin Smith. Shawn Michaels is rightfully regarded as the best in-ring performer, and he was influenced by Curt’s philosophy of wrestling along with trickle down from Pat Patterson. Curt is responsible for a lot of positive things that happened in the wrestling industry at a real difficult time. That whole steroid scandal and stuff was hard to dig out from under and it was Curt inspiring guys in the locker room to go out there and rock it. Don’t make the people who came sorry they came. Have them walking out in the parking lot telling their friends the next day, “Man, you should have been there. It was great. It was fun.”
Scott Hall on his favorite Curt Hennig match:
“I think I’ll have to say it was the match that never happened. Ric Flair and I was supposed to wrestle Randy Savage and Ultimate Warrior at Survivor Series. It was a really big deal. I was new in as Razor [Ramon]. Then, they had brought me in with Bobby Heenan, with Flair, with Mr. Perfect, and then they did a little thing where Heenan and Perfect split up. Warrior couldn’t come to terms so they put Curt in as a substitute. So, now he goes from announcing and not wrestling to have to wrestle at the end in the main event, and it changed the history of wrestling. I mean, the, the plans initially for my career were different ’cause, when you have a substitute, you’ll have to feature the substitute or else the fan feels like they got ripped off. So it changed the whole storyline that we were initially on but with Curt, I think that was my favorite match ’cause this was the first time actually as a performer where I kinda had to help. I finally got to carry Curt a little bit because, you know, in announcing, it’s the same as wrestling as every night, so he was a little bit out of shape and it was fun to be in there and kind of pay him back and show him what I learned… what I’d learned along the way from him. I was trying to do the entertaining bumps for him because, at this time, he was in the babyface role and I was the heel, and I wanted to take bumps for him. I think me and Flair both got Perfect-Plexed that evening. [laughs]”.
Scott Hall was asked if there are any Curt Hennig matches on his new WWE DVD:
“Yeah, I met with the producer, he showed me this list of all these matches. You got to look at it from my point of view. Honestly, I’ve, I’ve been welcomed back in the fold two years ago. Hall Of Fame… I was involved in WrestleMania. Things are going so great for me. I feel so blessed. There’s a much better deal on the inside with the WWE than on the outside looking in. They interviewed my family. The TV guy told they really went in depth in this and, when he showed me the list of matches, it was up to me whether I wanted to go through and make sure some are included or some aren’t in it and stuff like that. Some guys have done but I said that I’ve seen the quality of the work that they put out. I trust you guys completely. Let me know how I can help in any way but, you know, I’m not going to tell these TV guys how to do their jobs. They know what they’re doing and I’m just really happy because it’s not for the network, it’s going to be on sale. It feels great. I didn’t wanna see any of the previews. They had screened it and reviewed it and I didn’t want to see it. I said no, that I actually want to see it once it comes out.”
Rob Van Dam on Curt Hennig:
“Obviously, I have a lot of respect for Curt Hennig and I say ‘obviously’ because I just assumed that anybody would know that “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig was a legend and someone of that stature is someone that everybody looks up to. I watched him as a kid and so it was cool to be in the ring with him. However, at that time, things are different because business is thrown into the equation. Your own self position or what the company is doing with you is a big factor as well as what the company is doing with the other person. So, a lot of times, there’s like a humbling factor… maybe even a ‘I’m not sure if I’m worthy’ factor. When you’re wrestling and beating a legend that you grew up watching and scoring the victory, there’s a lot going on as far as that goes. He was cool. “
RVD on working with Curt Hennig:
“What I remember most about wrestling Curt is… we had this match and it was on television, probably for SmackDown. It could have been Heat. The match is going on, we did something where he bumped out to the floor. I jumped over the top rope and we got back in the ring and he said something to me that surprised me. WWE was fairly new to me. They do a lot of things that other wrestling companies don’t. Having that in mind, this is one of those times. When we got back in the ring, Curt relayed the message to me. How he got the message, I guess, was passed on from the referee. Curt says the camera missed the whole last 30 seconds. Somehow, the camera went out or something and he says I will do it again and so we went through the exact same sequence of moves that we just did like boom, boom, whatever it was, he bumped the floor. I went over the top again. Not only had I not done that before this match, I hadn’t done that after either, so that’s always going to stick out in my mind because that is how they used to do things. I’ve heard so many stories about how, back in the day, how WWF used to do their show for the TV and it seems like, at the expense of the crowd, the live crowd there in front of them, they’d ‘have a match and then, for whatever reason, they weren’t pleased with how it went. They would say get right back out there and they would redo that exact match again and that used to be the norm. That used to be how they did things all the time so if you were in the crowd at a TV taping for WWF, a lot of times, you would experience this, where a match, sometimes the match happens again and again and again and it’s like you’re, you’re there watching a TV show being filmed. I, personally, didn’t have much experience with that era or with that style, that process, but the time I did was when I was in the ring with “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig. I was still adjusting to the whole thing so I hadn’t been there that long and. I mean, he had come on for a little while. Everybody knows he’s one of the biggest ribbers in the business, so…In the ring, the guy, the guy produced, you know what I mean, like when you can call yourself Mr. Perfect and back it up in the ring, you must have something going for you.”
“We all know stories, I can repeat the same stories, you know, about experiences but, most of that is just seeing it happen or whatever. Like my times working with him. But I was always seeing him ribbing everybody else. Brock [Lesnar], at the time, was one of his choice guys. I don’t know why, but Brock was a target of his during that time, as was Shawn Stasiak.”