The Blackjacks were a great team, but nothing
We went all over the place. We toured all over
Canada…at one time the Blackjacks had like 25
straight sellouts. I mean, all the way from Montreal
to Edmonton and all the way down to Chicago. Ten
straight (sellouts) in Chicago. Like I said, we
popped Indianapolis…on Channel 9 over there where
is now, or was recently.
we were in Texas doing our thing down in Texas, and
I told Jack that I wanted to do a split. He said
that was fine, because he wanted to go home for a
Where did you go at that point?
I signed a deal with Vince McMahon, Sr. But
Vince said, ‘Well look, why don’t you grab your
partner, and see if he’s interested in coming in
here, and you and Lanza can have one more run.’
I called Jack, and we made the deal. I don’t
remember the exact month, but it was six months
before we started. Back in those days, you came in
six months or so ahead of time, and did your TV in
New York building up for the switch, you know?
So, I had a little six month down time there. So
Jack went to Minnesota, and I stayed on in Texas.
And we would meet up in New York and do out taping
And time wise, we’re talking about the end of
1974, early 1975?
Yeah. Now, in the meantime, Bronco Lubich told
me that George Scott, a guy that I had wrestled over
in Houston, wanted me to give him a call. George had
heard that I had some down time, in between my
tapings in New York…
The WWWF spread out their tapings, didn’t
Every three weeks. So I went ahead and gave
George Scott a call. He was still fairly new booking
Mid-Atlantic at that time.
said, ‘Jack, would you mind coming on in now, and
doing a six month stint with me here. You can work
your way right on into New York, and we’ll finish
you up here as your (Madison Square) Garden opening
time comes up.’
thought that George’s idea was a good one…so I
did that. Wound up in Charlotte, North Carolina that
What were your impressions of wrestling in the
Carolinas and Virginia then?
I would never really venture into that area
because it was always known as…not a bad place,
but just kind of a good steady place to go. Not the
biggest money territory in the world. Just a real
good, solid old-timer, old school…Johnny Weaver,
Gene Anderson, Bronko Lubich…hard working place.
It was really a place that featured the old style,
two out of three (falls matches), a lot of
Yeah, tag teams and all that stuff.
But in early 1975, George Scott was changing the
territory’s direction away from some of the older
tag team guys.
That’s exactly right. George told me, ‘We
have Wahoo, Johnny Valentine and
Jardine in here now.’
Who were primarily singles wrestlers. And Ric
Flair was less than a year into the territory as
well when you first came in here.
Flair was down in Corpus (Christi) with us for a
while. If you can imagine this…Ric Flair was about
Yeah, he was a little ‘beefy’ way back then…
He had his head shaved, and he looked like Curly
of ‘The Three Stooges!’ (everybody laughs)
came out of Minnesota, and he used to hang out with
me. He really wanted to emulate Dusty Rhodes…he
was just a great performer at 300 pounds, because he
thought he was going to be the next Dusty Rhodes!
didn’t see Flair again until I came to
Charlotte…he was a lot smaller and had blonde
hair. Didn’t even look the same! George Scott
said, ‘Here’s the kid I’m pushing.’
How was George Scott as the booker for Crockett
Well, I made this deal with George, but nobody
really knew what he was going to do. He had never
been a booker before. I’d wrestled with him in
Houston…he was called ‘The Great Scott.’ I was
curious…I asked him why he called me and wanted me
to come to Charlotte.
What did George say in response?
He said, ‘In Houston, when we had to go 20
minute broadways you never complained. I’m a
little guy and you’re a big ol’ guy, and you did
it…and I always remembered that and appreciated
it. 20 minutes…you didn’t have to do that. You
could have beaten me anytime you wanted to.’
I said, ‘Uh…George, I really appreciate you
basing things upon that.’ (laughs) I didn’t
really know George that well then.
Tell us about this short run you had for
Crockett in early 1975.
I did the six month trip in Charlotte. It did
real well…it really popped. I mean, there was
really a lot of competition there. I really wasn’t
THE guy, because I was on my way to New York and we
had planned to move me right on out.
The thing I remember most from your first stay
with Crockett, was the program with you and
Wahoo…the Cowboy versus the Indian. Indian Strap
Matches, Texas Death Matches…you two had some
Right…that’s exactly right. I hooked up with
Wahoo, and those were some BRUTAL matches.
Were those series of matches with Wahoo as tight and
stiff as they appeared?
Oh, those were almost shoots. Wahoo and I, we
were like…let me try to classify this. Ballplayers
always had their separate little deal. You know,
there was no complaining and bitchin’ about
getting hit or potatoes or anything like that. We
just went out and worked each other over.
Over the years, you worked with a number of
fellow football players.
Many. There was Angelo Mosca. Ernie Ladd…he
got a little touchy sometimes. There was Walter
Johnson. There were a whole group of guys that came
out of football, because we weren’t making any
money in football. We were only making 15-20
thousand a year in football.
saw Wahoo one day and he had a big stack of bills in
front of him, and I asked him where he got all that
money. [Editor’s note: Blackjack does a wonderful
impersonation of Wahoo at this juncture!] He said,
‘Boyyyyyyyyy, you need to get into this wrestling.
You need to get some of this money, man!’ It was
kind of like the conversation I told you that Wahoo
and I had in Corpus…when I said, ‘I think I’ll
try that!’ (laughs)
anyway, Wahoo was the highlight of that early six
month run for me in Charlotte.
Did you then go back to New York later in 1975
I headed on back into New York. Lanza and I hook
up, do the Garden and become the World Champions.
That’s right, you actually won the belts
during that last run with Lanza.
That was kind of funny, because we had really
decided we were going to go our separate ways for a
little bit. You see, the thing was, we had (
Bobby) Heenan with us for years…and
Bobby couldn’t make the move with us because Vince
always had his own group of managers in New York. I
mean, he had Lou Albano, the Wizard, Freddie Blassie
and a couple of other guys. So, Hennan couldn’t
make the move with us…so Lanza and I went on in
there and we were selling out and having a great
Describe working in the WWWF, compared to some
of the other areas you had worked in.
It was very, very easy working stints in the
WWWF being the tag team compared to say, working in
Texas and Minnesota. It was a different style…it
was a big guy territory. You would pound guys to
death, so the matches were shorter and easier. It
was a very comfortable place to be…I enjoyed my
runs there with Vince, Sr.
How was the money there?
We made lots of money…making REAL good money.
You didn’t make the money you made if you were on
top…I mean, we were on top but the singles guy on
top always made more money.
Vince always promised us that Lanza would get one
(singles World Title) shot a month and I’d get one
shot a month…to get us some top money. Things were
really going great…
But fate would soon intervene and bring you back
to Charlotte. Please take us through those events.
Well…I don’t really remember the time
frame…90 days or four months or so, I get a phone
call from George Scott. And he was like…just,
broken. He said, ‘Jack, I need you immediately.
You can’t believe what just happened.’
The plane crash in Wilmington, North Carolina…
Yeah. George said, ‘The plane’s gone down.
Johnny Valentine’s gone, Ric Flair’s gone, Timmy
Woods is gone.’ And soon I learned that (
) Crockett and (
) Bruggers were also in the plane. I think that runs
the gamut, doesn’t it?
Yes…along with the pilot of the plane who
eventually died of injuries he received in the
George was devastated. I said, ‘George, are
you thinking right my friend?’ I said, ‘I’m in
New York, on top. I’ve got the second best slot in
the world…the Tag Team Championship in the WWWF
territory.’ Vince, Jr. had just come in the
business, and we were breaking him in on TV at that
time…this thing was really hot in New York. I told
George, ‘This thing is hot here on top.’ And he
said, ‘No, no.’
Well, the Crockett territory was in desperate
straights at that moment, particularly on the heel
side of the talent ledger. They had just lost the
top two singles heels, Flair and Valentine, and they
still hadn’t found a big-time replacement for
Jardine, who had left the area two months earlier.
‘Desperate’ is a good description. I gave
him a (money) figure, and I said, ‘George, I’m
looking at this kind of money.’ And he said,
‘I’ll match it…and I’ll make it better.’
Scott and Crockett were actually in a position
to do that?
I said, ‘George…be careful. I really like
you, but…’ He said, ‘No, I’ll guarantee you
that, plus more.’
said, ‘You can’t guarantee me that out of the
Carolinas.’ You know, they just didn’t have the
demographics to match that. Back in those days,
Vince’s territory ran in Washington, Baltimore,
New York and Boston…so the demographics were there
to make that kind of money. But George said, ‘Yes
So, George Scott was persistent?
I said, ‘Let me just sleep on this, George.’
And he said, ‘No, I have to have an answer
tonight.’ (laughs) And we’re talking MAJOR money
I hang up the phone, and I call Lanza. He has a
heart attack…some kind of thromboses. (everybody
told me, ‘ARE YOU OUTTA YOUR MIND…HAVE YOU LOST
had been in the Carolinas for a while prior to me as
‘Cowboy Jack Lanza,’ many, many years before.
So Lanza had spent some time in the Carolinas
Yeah, yeah. As Cowboy Jack Lanza…as a
babyface. Jack told me, ‘Man, they have the
longest driving trips…here with Vince, we can fly
from town to town…’
So Lanza didn’t really want to come back to
the Carolinas because of the travel, etc.
No he didn’t. And really at that time,
, the Crockett territory hadn’t popped yet. It was
starting to awaken…they had already gone to the
Coliseum in Greensboro and started to pop some. But
not really all the way.
mond…really hadn’t maxed out, I don’t believe.
Everything hadn’t started to max out yet.
George had built around Johnny Valentine, but
the territory was still in a bit of flux at the time
of the plane crash…older guys around but with some
great new guys coming in.
Johnny’s style was the slow old style…pound
it out. Here I was…I was the new style. Myself,
Dusty Rhodes and (Superstar) Billy Graham…we were
the new style, and that style sort of changed this
Tell us about this new style you’re speaking
We copied our styles after an old wrestler out
of Atlanta, Georgia…named Thunderbolt Patterson.
He did one of the greatest TV promos in the
history of wrestling. He never got his due, I think
because he went on this racial thing in Atlanta and
had problems after that with some in the business.
Regardless of that, Dusty started it and I came in
right behind him…and we copied him. It was a
soul-like down home barbeque type interview…people
had never seen white boys do this type of promo
So T-Bolt was the inspiration for all of those
great interviews we heard from you in the 70s?
We did that kind of interview, and we copied it
from Thunderbolt Patterson. We added our Western
twang into it…and that thing just started popping
left and right.
Why do you think people took to that style so
Because it was really us. It was a natural feel
for us. And we copied some of the ‘soul’ content
of it from Thunderbolt Patterson’s stuff…we
robbed him! We robbed him blind! I say God bless
him…I love him. (laughs)
He knew we stole it from him…just raided him!
You were certainly a different-type character
than we had seen in the Mid-Atlantic area to that
(laughing) I’ll take that as a compliment,
! You’re right, the people in the Carolinas had
never seen anything like that. I gave them a little
bit of it during the first stint, and it was
catching real fast. And because of that, George
wanted me to stay on then, and I said, ‘George,
you’ve got a full barn here with Johnny and
Jardine in those (top) slots. I’ve gotta be number
one or number two, or I’m not gonna play the
What did George say?
He said, ‘What bad timing, man!’ I said,
‘Not for me!’