Terri Runnels Says She Created the Marlena Character
Terri Runnels on her leaving WCW where she was Alexandra York: “I walked out. I got upset. It was at The Center Stage in Atlanta, Georgia and I just said, “I’m done,” and walked out. That is why Alexandra York ceased to be.”
Terri Runnels on creating her Marlena character for WWE: “WWF never pitched Marlena, I created Marlena. So Dustin‘s on the road, I have a year and a half-year-old daughter. I’m laying in our tanning bed, and I’m thinking, “What is it that WWF doesn’t have?” They had Sherri, Tammy Sytch, and I’m thinking they’re missing real glamour. As I’m laying there, I’d just been to my sister’s home, and she collected Barbie dolls. There’s a designer named Bob Mackie. He designed a Barbie Doll called The Sun Goddess. So I’m laying in the tanning bed, and all these thoughts are going through my head. I’m like, oh my God, Dustin is supposed to be this androgynous actor. So I started thinking about Hollywood, androgyny, glamor, old school. So Marlene Dietrich was one of the first women to ever wear pants. Women always wore dresses back then. She bumped the trend and went somewhat androgynous in the way she dressed.
I come up with this whole concept. Everything that I think Marlena should be, and I called Dustin from the tanning bed. I said, “Babe, I have this great idea, what do you think?” He goes, “I love it.” I said, “Call Vince.” He said, “You call Vince.” I go, “Babe, I don’t work for him, you work for him, you tell him.” He goes, “Nope, if you want it, you’re gonna have to call and tell him.” At the time I think Dustin was kind of nervous and too new.
So I called, and the person who called me back is Pat Patterson. So Pat goes, “I heard you had an idea.” I was like, “Yeah.” I told him, and he goes, “Well, we appreciate the idea but, thank you, bye.” So I was like okay, they don’t like the idea. A month later, I’m at my grandparents home, Dustin calls and says, “What are you doing?” I tell him, “I’m at Grand and Grannies.” He goes, “Pack your bags, they want to do your idea.”
I need to beat Bruce Prichard‘s ass. He did a podcast with Dustin, and he goes, ‘Vince came up with Marlena.’ No, the hell he didn’t. The sad part, I had to sign it away. They’re like if you want to do this, sign your life away. I told Vince I either want to go to the ring with a glass of wine or a cigar. At the time, I would smoke cigars in a bubble bath with a glass of wine, and I loved it. I thought it would add to the androgyny of the character. It also allowed me to partake in something love, cigars! Cigars, Scars, & Superstars is my podcast name, but I have to give credit of my podcast name to my jester Cory, he came up with that.’”
Terri on if WWE went too far with the angle of Brian Pillman and Goldust fighting for her services: “No, I think they went too far when it was with Luna. It’s funny I went to do a show for Afa. It was the first time I ever met Luna. So sad, Brian actually passed away on my birthday. When that tragedy happened, that angle went away. So I said, ‘You know what, if we switch it around, and while I was gone you fell in love with somebody else.’ That’s how it came out with Luna.”
“The night Pillman won my services, I had to leave with Dustin in the trunk of our car to protect kayfabe. I’m claustrophobic! When we did the divorce thing with Jim Ross, people believed that. Even the Family called. I was kind of proud of my acting skills that day.”
Terri Runnels on the original plans for finishing the angle with Pillman before he passed away: “So Dustin lost. I go with Pillman for a month. When I came back, we were going to renew our vows in the ring. When it was time for someone to object, Pillman was going to come out. They were going to get in a melee. It was going to end up with me basically covering Pillman and protecting him from Dustin saying, “After that thirty days, I love him.” I was going to leave Dustin for Pillman. It would have gone for a while, and it would have been great. It’s funny because Dakota [she and Dustin’s daughter] and I were going through two storage units. I found the gold dress and vale that never made it to TV.”
Terri Runnels on if WWE contacted her about the Evolution event: “They did not. Here’s what’s interesting, I hadn’t thought about this until the other day when someone said, ‘Well Terri was a trained wrestler, not a good one but at least she was trained.’ No, the hell I wasn’t. I would get to the building and I would nine times out of ten when Vince started making me wrestle, I’d be sick to my stomach until I found out if I was wrestling or managing. I hated it. Truthfully, I didn’t mind taking bumps. I’ll take bumps all day long. I used to say to him, ‘Vince, people excel at things they want to do. I don’t want to wrestle.’ He’d slap me on the arm and tell me I’d do great. Whomever I was working with would teach me a few moves during the day. That was it. Every time I went out, I did my best.”