Former Enhancement Talent: “it’s not like it used to be”
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Former AWA and WWE/WWWF enhancement talent Chris Curtis joined VOC Nation’s Wrestling with History program with Bruce Wirt and former AWA/WWE broadcaster Ken Resnick. Curtis talked about life as an enhancement talent, his interactions backstage, and his dubious distinction of being the first to have his head shaved by Brutus Beefcake. Here are some highlights:
On working his entire career as an enhancement talent: “I had no problem with it; I knew what my role was. I knew that I was not going to be a Crusher or a Bruiser or a Verne Gagne, or a Billy Robinson or a Hogan or a Ric Flair. I knew going in there that that’s what I was going to do, and that’s what I wanted to do. As long as I did a good job making the guys look good, putting over their moves, and putting over their finishes to make them look strong so that the office would use me more, I had no problem with that…The guys that I worked against in the ring took care of me, didn’t abuse me, didn’t take me for granted…I put my trust in them.
On working in the AWA: “Verne Gagne really wanted wrestling. You had to know how to wrestle in order to (work there). That was the name on the marquee: Wrestling.” Ken Resnick added: “To be able to work in the AWA even as enhancement talent, you had to know fundamentals. If you didn’t, you would be a one and done. If guys didn’t understand fundamentals or psychology in the ring, they would never come back.”
On who approached him about working with Brutus and getting his haircut: “Chief Jay Strongbow was the guy who booked all the jobbers. He said ‘I got you working Beefcake, you know he cuts guys hair…we’re going to do something different tonight – he’s going to put you in the sleeper and then take electric clippers and shave your head on the top from front to back, then he’s going to spray paint the top of your head.’ We always go paid $150; even if we didn’t wrestle, they paid us. He said that they were going to give me an extra $250 for the insult (of going through this nonsense). The hardest thing about the match was trying to pretend that I was still knocked out from the sleeper.”
On his interaction with Vince McMahon after getting his head shaved: “I go back to the dressing room looking like Bozo the Clown with my hair. Vince came up to me and said, ‘you know what Curtis, that was the best thing. We’re going to give you another $150.’ I made $550 that night. I called my wife and told her what happened during the match. She said, ‘I wish you had been hurt instead.’ It was pretty fun, everybody got a kick out of it.”
On his ongoing work for the WWE: “From 87 to 89, I wrestled probably 19 or 20 matches. When you’re a job guy, you usually have a full time job (as well). There were several times that I had to turn down going down south or out to California or out east because I couldn’t get away like I wanted to. I worked for them for the next 3 years at least 6 shots a year and that was good for me.”
On working with Hulk Hogan: “No matter what some of the guys (say), he was the nicest guy. He was so good to us, he took care of us, he was an absolute joy to be in the ring with. He sold for you too; you’d get your heat and he would sell for you. I always enjoyed working with him.”
On today’s product: “Growing up and watching wrestling in the 60s and 70s, the guys that really drew my attention were the heels…they all had their own unique and distinct personalities and looks…It was a thing that drew people to the matches. Nowadays, you don’t know which is which. The guys wear the same kind of boots, the same kind of trunks, they have the same kind of hair…they’re great athletes, but it’s not like it used to be.”
On not wanting to work with the Road Warriors: “When these guys first showed up as a team, they were throwing guys around like they were paper airplanes. I said I’d be damned if I’m getting in the ring with these guys. Even the established stars were afraid to work with them because they were so reckless. They didn’t know what they were doing. It’s not like they wanted to hurt people, but Ole just told them to go out and beat the hell out of people. They had to do what the office said.”
Link to the interview here: https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/vocnation/episodes/2019-11-20T20_27_46-08_00
Embed the interview to your site (credit to VOC Nation) here:
Wrestling with History comes to you live every Wednesday night at 930pm ET on the VOC Nation Radio Network. Former WWE and AWA broadcaster Ken Resnick and VOC Nation Founder Bruce Wirt take listener calls, emails, and tweets, and talk to pro wrestling’s most interesting personalities.
Coming on December 5th: The legendary Gen Adnan Al-Kaissie makes his first ever podcast appearance, exclusively on Wrestling with History.
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