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TSJ 101 Exclusive Interview: Scotty Riggs

Scotty Riggs as part of Raven's Flock bill_mandy_4life_2002, via Flickr.

WWE

TSJ 101 Exclusive Interview: Scotty Riggs

Hello, dear readers, this is Gregory Black here, yet again, to bring you another great exclusive interview for TSJ101.com. And today, much like past interviews, this one promises to be a fun and interesting read. Yesterday, I had the honor of interviewing one of my favorite WCW wrestlers. He was a former tag team champion with Marcus “Buff” Bagwell in WCW, as well as being an ECW alum, where he brought thousands of fans the joy of “The Clap”.

He is a man who is full of great knowledge, that anyone looking to get into the business would be wise to speak with and learn from. He is none other than Scotty Riggs, a man with a great story to tell, and a very interesting view on the wrestling business today. I got the chance to speak with him earlier today, after he agreed to do an interview with us, having spoken to one of the website’s owners. And while the interview was delayed a whole week, it finally happened today, and needless to say, it was an incredible joy to speak with him.

Now, I know you are all looking forward to reading this interview, but, before I go on, I encourage all of you after reading this to look Riggs up on Youtube or the WWE Network, where you will be able to find his matches in WCW and ECW. And, if by the off chance that you find any of his work from TCW or World-1, feel free to enjoy those, as well.

Let’s begin.


GB: How did you get your start in the wrestling business?

SR: Basically, I’ve been a fan since I was eight years old, and was involved in sports from my youth, including football, basketball, shot putt, and I went to the University of West Georgia, and a friend saw a poster for a show, and we were going to go, but, the show was cancelled due to bad weather. The show was run by Ted Allen, known as “The Nightmare”. He had worked with a few names, Arn Anderson, Ranger Ross to name a few. So, we went and met Allen, who told us the show was cancelled, and after talking to him, invited me and my friends to train. After talking with him, I went to train, and within a few weeks of training, he put me in the ring for my first match, on February 6th, 1992.

GB: From that point, you worked several promotions.

SR: Pretty much, working from his promotion, Ted brought me to all of these other shows, I worked as ring crew, putting the ring up and tearing it down. Before the shows, he would train me, and on normal training days, we would train on Tuesdays and Thursdays, we’d train for a couple of hours, and before shows on Saturdays. And it was kinda on the road things, so, I was the only one he really brought on the shows, then, after putting the ring up, he would have me watch the shows, then quiz me after the shows, asking what I liked, what I didn’t like and so on. It’s different from how they do the training in the WWE today.

GB: How many years was it before you had gotten your break on the national scene (WCW)?

SR: The good thing about training with Ted was that he had connections, not on the national scene, but, locally, so, I would get booked on shows against Ted, and it was basically training. And the only thing that was determined was the finish. He trained me a very old school way, in front of a live crowd. And through doing these live shows, I was able to meet all of these different promoters, and it took me about a year and a half before to get noticed by different promoters.

I wound up on a show with Jake “The Snake” Roberts, and had gotten some advice from him. Making those connections gave me more and more experiences. And one of the promoters I met, he had a ring in the back of his dojo. And having worked a few shows with Jake the Snake, DDP was just getting started in the business working with his, and I told them about the promoter who had the ring in the dojo. So now, I am now training with Ted, and on some days, training with Jake, DDP, and Brad Armstrong, Steve Regal, and I was learning the ropes from them, basically bein a punching bag for them in the ring, but, learning from them. So, I got an opportunity to try out for the WCW Power Plant, and we put on a match, and afterward, I impressed the trainers and was questioned about my work, who I was. This was how I got my foot in the door to better opportunities, through training with these guys.

Soon, Jodie Anderson put me to work on TV, working different opponents, learning more in the ring, in a very old school way. Just being able to work inside the ring with all of these guys gave me this experience. Working with the likes of Steven Regal, and if it were anyone else, he would have eaten people alive, but, having trained with him, he gave me the chance to shine. I even had a chance to work with Steve Austin, and our match caught the eye of Dusty Rhodes, who was the booker at the time. ASnderson told me to leave WCW, get a bit more experience, which would help me in the company.

I eventually wound up working with Jerry Lawler in USWA, I would work a few days out of the week, twice on Saturdays, for about eight months, which helped with getting into WCW. If it weren’t for training in the back of that Karate dojo with Jake and the rest, I would have never gotten the chance to work with Lawler, and gotten that experience, which I benefitted from.

GB: Once you were in WCW, you were teamed up with Marcus Bagwell, who would later become Buff Bagwell. How was it working with him?

SR: To put it in context of how we were put together, we had great chemistry, and while we didn’t really know each other, we just knew when to do the hot tag, when to hit certain moves and such. And we were put into a music video, and while we were in the video, Jimmy Hart saw us in the video, and he started asking who we were, and what I was doing, and through that, we were put together as a team.

As for how we were put together as a team, Marcus was such a good tag team wrestler, and for us, we clicked, before us, him and Alex Wright were paired up, and while they were friends, they didn’t click. When we were paired up, we clicked, and we had a trial match against Regal and Bobby Eaton, and Regal made me look like a ten year veteran in the match. When it came to working in the match, we just knew when to hit the tag, and when to hit certain moves, we just knew. It cemented The American Males as a solid tag team for WCW.

With Marcus Bagwell, as part of "The American Males"

Riggs (White Suspenders) with Marcus Bagwell, as part of “The American Males” team. Photo by whitesoxfan4ever2002, via Flickr.

When Marcus had been involved with tag team wrestling, where he was working with a few like (Too Cold) Scorpio, and Alex, when he went on to the NWO, I saw it as an opportunity for him to expand. And the break up of the team was done in a very old school way, a flub here, a slap there, it really told a story, and it was done so well, you couldn’t tell who was going to turn heel. When the Souled Out PPV came up, I found out that I was wrestling Marcus at the PPV through his girlfriend, who I ran into a gym. And the chemistry transitioned from working as a team to opponent, and it went smoothly. We made it work. It was very much the same that helped get the both of us over, where you know what this person was going to do next, it helped put the both of us over. And through that match, it helped elevate him and I in WCW.

GB: Shortly after that, you continued to be a popular wrestler within the company, and would get the opportunity to work with Raven. How was it working with Raven?

SR: It was a piece of cake working with him, because one of the coolest things working with him was the style he worked. And what made it great was that everyone knew who he was, he was coming in working an established wrestler in me, and working with him, we planned to turn a simple match into a feud, which it wasn’t originally planned. We worked in the injury, which would elevate him as a devious guy in the ring, and establish him as a monster, and it was because he came from ECW, where they were doing hardcore wrestling. And this was where I would also get involved with The Flock, and it worked in helping create a whole new character with me.

He originally didn’t want me to join, he wanted to bring in fresh new faces the fans hadn’t seen, but, the eye injury helped to turn me into a whole different character. And all of this build was to help establish him as this cult like leader, a way to introduce him as a character that the fans in WCW had never seen before, and also gave me a new character to work with.

Working with him also taught me a completely different style of wrestling altogether, it was a bit more edgy than what I knew. It was a great opportunity to work with him, as we had great chemistry, and I was the only guy who was really “beaten” into the group, where it was if you can survive the beating, you can be a part of the group. And as a group, we learned to work together, while using our individual talents. And it seemed we were the only group who wanted to be heels. And it helped to bring in the unity of the group, working against (Chris) Benoit and DDP.

We enjoyed being the real heels of the company, while the NWO wanted to be the cool heels of the company, we enjoyed being the real heels of the group.

GB: I hope you know that back in the day, me and my friends would play the WCW games on N64, and I would use your character in the game from time to time. Cool move list, it was cool.

SR: It’s always great to hear that from people who really watched the product, and to hear that they enjoyed what you did in the ring. What was great was the reaction we had with fans, when you can get them to hate you after what you did in a match, when yoyu can draw the kind of emotion from fans where they wanted to fight you after hurting their favorite wrestler is amazing. But, when you did bring that out of the fans, you had to be on your guard, because you would have fans attacking you while on the way to the ring.

GB: That sounded like something that was a wild and cool experience.

SR: Experience is a great word to use for that.

GB: Now after WCW, you went on to work with original ECW, what was it like transitioning from the world of WCW to the world of ECW?

SR: That transition was eye opening, where the WCW locker room with all of the great talents, a lot of egos and cliques and all, were very welcoming in a sense. And back in 1995, there was only 47 people on contract, I was 47. And in working Fall Brawl that year, we were working the Nastys (Nasty Boys), and walking into the locker room, you just here a loud “Wooo!!”. Ric Flair walked up to me and says welcome to the company, and he gave me a warm welcome. In walking to the ECW locker room, there was a different mindset.

Everyone was trying to succeed, not off of everyone else, but, to try to out do each other. One match after the other one trying to one up the other. To go from a locker room with, at one point, almost up to 200 people on contract, which was frustrating, because everyone was walking on eggshells, to go to a locker room with like 18-20 people, where they were happy to see you, it was like night and day.

Going from one lockerroom where there was a lot of confusion and frustration in WCW, to work in a lockerroom where everyone was working together to bring everyone up was eye opening. Everyone in the ECW lockerroom wanted to succeed, work together to bring up the company, because everyone believed in the product.

GB: You were also involved in a major feud with Rob Van Dam in ECW, what was it like working with him?

SR: It was one of the best feuds I’ve had, because me and Rob had wrestled back in 1993, and a promoter name Greg Price, would put us together in a team, but sometimes would put against each other in a babyface main event. Which was kind of difficult to promote, but, we would get a great reaction from the fans.

There wasn’t really any punches thrown, it was really more like the chain wrestling like you saw with him and Jerry Lynn. When it came to ECW in 2000, it was definitely a different way to approach it, we approached it as me and Robby being good friends, old friends, it went over pretty well with the fans, though, I think that the fans knew it was coming. And to go into it as a heel, where he was so over as a face, to turn on Rob as his best friend, with (Paul) Heyman putting me with the Clap gimmick.

GB: It used to crack me up whenever Joey Styles would say that you gave everyone in the crowd “The Clap” whenever you did the clap taunt.

SR: It went over well, with me and Rhino being a part of “The Network”, and Rhino came to me saying that he couldn’t do it, but, that the way you do it, it comes across as arrogant, but it was only cool if you do it. And where 80% of the crowd would do the clap, the other 20% not getting it and booing me for it. And when me and Rob worked a spot, which Tommy Dreamer helped out with, where I put Rob into a surfboard, and held his hands, making him do the clap.

GB: I remember that, I remember seeing that on ECW TV, and thinking “Holy Crap!”

SR: The Clap really go over, and I remember having a conversation with Heyman, and he said to me he had a three to six month plan with you. And he said he wanted to turn me heel, and have you do the clap. And I thought “aww man, the clap?”, but, what was crazy was that what he said wound up happening. I remember sitting in the gorilla position, Hammerstein Ballroom, New York City ECW crowd, who are as wild and crazy as the Philly ECW crowd, hardcore crowd, and as soon as my music played, everyone in the crowd was doing the clap. I look at Paul and he looked and had a smug smile on his face and said “I told you it would work”. And while the fans were behind the clap, as soon as the music stopped, they booed the crap out of me.

GB: After your run with ECW, you went back to the indy scene. When the WWE bought out WCW, did anyone contact you to come in to the company, especially with them doing “Invasion” storyline?

SR: Actually, I’ve kinda gotten, not really contacted, but, I got messaged from RVD, and he said “dude, what’s going on here, it’s not going to be what ECW was, it’s going to be Vince’s vision of what ECW was, or what it’s going to be, and what WCW is going to be, it’s not goint to be a profitable thing”. And there was some talk about the clap being used, but, it wasn’t going to be something solid. And in the two conversations I had with Jim Ross, it wasn’t something that would have turned out as a long term thing. If they would have said they liked the clap thing, but be yourself, but, they wanted more of me as someone who would be used briefly, and unless you really wowed them, it wouldn’t have been a long term thing. And basically, because of the run with ECW, business wise, it was better for me to run in the indys, since it wasn’t going to work out for either of us long term.

GB: You got to wrestle for AWA World-1 back in 2007, did it transition to working for their Japanese counterpart, Zero-1?

SR: We had had ideas and were working on the possibilities of working with them, and Steve Corino was in the works of working with them, and I wound up having surgery on my arm. And there was plans of putting their title on me, which would have given me the chance to work with their Japanese counterpart. But, three elbow surgeries would put an end to that, and I would work my last match, which was an ECW reunion show, in 2009.

GB: You worked for Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling until its closing in 2003. How was it working for that promotion, and do you feel your working there helped them gain a greater audience?

SR: The situation with Dusty was good, I wish it happened ten years earlier, because it was kind of like working the old territory style, and I was paired up with Daffney, who was great to work with, she wrestled as well as managed. And I look at the talent pool that Dusty had, from Scott Hall to Dreamer, the roster was phenominal, and the big thing for me was getting to work with Barry Windham. Working with Barry was great, he was still in great shape, still ready to go, and it was a great learning experience, and Dusty was running a school at the time, along with running the promotion.

Working with Barry, he taught me how to be a great champion and with Dusty, it was a great experience, and it didn’t get any better than that. It was such a good talent pool of guys, a good mix of young guys that he was training along with the veterans, it was a good time to be there. I wish it would have happened a few years earlier, but, it was definitely a great time, and working with Barry was an amazing run, and after that, I got to work with Dustin (Goldust), and that was a great experience, working a program with the both of them.

It was different from working with Marcus, we would work on TV here in the States, worked in Japan for three weeks, then come back to work the PPV, and after that, it was over. Working with Marcus, we could have run a few months, but, in WCW, they were all about “do this, do that, and that’s it”, where as with Dusty, we worked a feud for almost a year.

GB: You see, for me, I like things like that, I like a good feud, and nowadays, it seems like it is a lost art for a good feud that lasts more than a month or two, especially on TV. How do you feel about the current state of wrestling?

SR: Wrestling evolves, where for me, it’s not professional wrestling anymore, it’s sports-entertainment, and where you have a group of professional athletes who are trained to go on TV, it’s evolved, which is good, they’re playing roles on TV. What it is now is it is a couple of guys, who are supposed to be wrestlers, actors portraying wrestlers, to go out there and perform. Like, when you got a guy like AJ Styles, who is a 15 year veteran, who can work big guys, small guys, and can tear the house down with anyone, and putting him in the ring with people who have been taught one way of working. Styles, in working with Roman Reigns, he basically carried Reigns throughout that feud, which says something, because your champion is supposed to be your best guy. And it is telling of Styles’ ability as a wrestler, to be able to work with anyone, him being not a small guy, but, a medium-sized guy, having that much talent to be able to do that.

GB: Have you been involved in the wrestling business in any aspect after retiring?

SR: No, I’m just in the sense that I am a fan now. I’m a fan of wrestling, where you try to establish of a wrestler, the love/hate of a character, the promos, and with what it has evolved to now, it’s different from what I was brought up on. Alot of today’s product has become a TV show now, which isn’t a bad thing now, where you establish a good guy vs a bad guy in a bit of a different manner than before. I look at New Japan Pro Wrestling and WWE, where the New Japan fans still look at the matches as legitimate athletic contests, they still suspend the belief that it is real. But, when the WWE comes to town, they don’t really look at it as real, more entertainment, in that aspect, but, they still look at New Japan as an athletic contest. The fans look at WWE as we’re here to tell you a story, while New Japan is more or less two athletes going against each other.

This is what I feel about the authenticity of the product. I was able to catch RAW last week, and it feels like they are all about selling their product. Going back to AJ Styles, he has the talent to go in there with a broomstick and make you believe the broomstick is going to win. Meanwhile, you have their champion who seems to still be trying to find himself and only really has the belt because of his look. Then again, this is Vince’s title, his company, and is his decision on who he wants as champion.

GB: I don’t know if you have seen the match that everyone has been talking about recently, which was Ricochet and Will Ospreay. What is your opinion on that match?

SR: There’s no denying their athletic ability, or their telling a story in the match, but, my mentality on wrestling is that what was done could be done in a bar fight. Now, if you can see two guys flying around a bar, and this isn’t to take away from their ability, because I can’t do it, but, I am trying to see who I would see win in a bar fight with me. And to say it honestly, they did a great stuff in their match, it boils down to if it looks credible, though it looks entertaining. Whether you really believe if they are really fighting each other. It is entertaining, but, does it really look like a competition? Does it fit into the psychology of a good match. It reminds me of the Rob Van Dam/Jerry Lynn going tit for tat, but, in the end of it, with Rob and Jerry, it was more about one-upsmanship.

It’s different from the one WrestleMania match I’ve watched, where it was (Ricky) Steamboat vs (Randy) Savage, where they knew what they were doing, it was a steady back and forth, where as with Ricochet and Ospreay, if something happens in the match, how are you able to go from where you are to where you are going to finish? That’s my take on it.

GB: Let’s take a moment from talking wrestling, are there any other sports you’re watching these days? Any specific teams you watch?

SR: I am really rooting for the Warriors, I’m looking at Steph Curry as the guy that no one really looked at as making it to where he is at, and for him to go against LeBron James, who was apparently was destined to be the greatest in the NBA, the heel in me is wanting to see LeBron go 2-5, where he has been anointed to be the best, but, he could get knocked down. Things like that kind of remind me of the LA/Boston series years ago, which when the Lakers played in Boston, and the crowd cheered “Beat LA”, it was spine tingling. Been a Dallas Cowboys fan since 1975, and a Chicago Blackhawks fan, as well. I like that the UFC is kind of like New Japan, where the fans treat it with great respect. And I like how the UFC treats their events. I also like golf, started playing in college, and I would play with Lex (Luger), and Sting, and we would play from time to time, as a chance to actually be outside. Because wrestling, you’re always in an arena, in front of fans, and when we played, it was a chance to share laughs, to enjoy the air, being outdoors, it was great.


We brought the interview to a close there, as Riggs had to tend to some things, but, as you can see, it was more than enough that was covered. I thank him for taking the time to speak to me here, and likewise, I thank each of you for reading this interview. And trust me, this is not the last one, there will be more, ladies and gentlemen, but, until that time, feel free to keep and eye out for this week’s TFTCG. It’s going to be deep.

Well, until next article, dear readers, this is Gregory Black, wishing you a great day.

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