Bill Mercer Shoot Interview

RF VIDEO scored a huge interview from one of the most knowledgeable personalities to ever be apart of World Class Championship Wrestling, the legendary voice of Texas Wrestling Bill Mercer.  Bill Mercer is the one guy who knows all the dirt and gossip that went down in World Class championship wrestling and he has seen and done it all.  He has worked with all of the Von Erichs from Fritz, David, Kerry, Kevin, Mike and Chris.  He was around during all of the scandals, suicides, drugs, and deaths that haunted the territory and for the first time ever with RF VIDEO Bill Mercer was a open book!!!  This is a HUGE score for RF VIDEO because Bill was not afraid to answer any question that we threw at him.

Bill starts off talking about how he got his start in the wrestling business and goes into details about the JFK assassination as he was a reporter at the time.  Wait until you hear what he went thru and saw and his theories on what really went down in TX the day JFK was shot.  You will never believe who he got to interview!  Bill talks about how he got the job in wrestling after being a sports announcer.  What did he think of Fritz Von Erich as a promoter and trust me, he tells it like it is.  Did he think Fritz Von Erich was a horrible father?  What are his thoughts on the vicious rumors on how Fritz ran the boys lives and forced them into the family business.

Bill was there from the ground floor up.  He was a major part of the TV deal being shot and changing the way the business with filmed along with legendary wrestling producer Mickey Grant.  You will hear how they got on national TV and what their plans were.  Bill goes into great detail on all of the Von Erichs and you will hear all about their ups and downs.  We touch on the suicides and the drugs that ruined the boys lives.  What really happened to David Von Erich in Japan.  What did Bill think about his death, and was there a cover up?  Did he think Fritz tried to capitalize off the death of his own children?  What were the real stories with the run ins that Kerry had with the law, you will find out!!

Bill talks all about the legendary Kerry Von Erich in and out of the ring.  There are a ton of great Kerry stories as well. If you love the Von Erichs this shoot is waiting for you right now.  What were his thoughts on Mike Von Erich being in the ring after his medical condition that almost killed him and changed his life forever.  We talk about the suicides of Mike and Chris Von Erich.  Where was their mother during all of this?

Bill worked with the biggest names that came thru the territory like Bruiser Brody, Abby, Gary Hart, Freebirds, Chris Adams and Gino Hernandez.  Bill gives his thoughts on Gino and if he really was murdered or was it a accidental OD.   What did he think about the legendary feud with the Freebirds and the Von Erichs and how it put World Class on the map and made the company the most money as they had some of the biggest houses of all time.

We talk about all of the bookers of World Class from Bruiser Brody, Gary Hart, Ken Mantel and a few others that had power in the company.  You will hear a ton of locker room stories never shared before until now. Why did the company fail and who was to blame.

World Class Championship Wrestling will go down in history as being one of those old school promotions that put on great brawls and hard hitting matches.  There was nothing fake about World Class wrestling but when you talk about territories that was filled with horror stories based on death, drugs and self destruction you can’t help think about WCCW.  Hear all the legendary stories from the man who has seen it all Bill Mercer.   The stories are all incredible from Ric Flair coming into the company to guys like Percy Pringle, Jim Cornette, Rick Rude, Tim Brooks and other legends making their mark in the business.

This interview is a must for all fans of World Class Championship Wrestling as Bill Mercer has a great memory and he opened up the vaults for RFVIDEO with another historic interview!!!!
What are your memories of growing up in Oklahoma?

You served in World War II.  Would you mind talking about your memories and experiences in the war?

When did you first decide you were going to go into journalism and broadcasting?

Talk about your background in journalism and how you became involved reporting the news.  How did one go about breaking into that business in the 1950s?

You were in Dallas when JFK was shot and you helped cover that story – what are your memories of learning about the assassination and as a reporter, working that story?

What was it like being in Dallas that day?

What are your memories of being the reporter who told Lee Harvey Oswald that he was accused of murdering JFK?

What was your reaction when Jack Ruby shot Oswald?

There’s obviously a lot of conspiracy theories about what happened to JFK – so what is your take?  Do you think Oswald did it?

You’ve announced a lot of different sports.  What makes a good broadcaster for sports?

Is pro wrestling easier to call as opposed to other legitimate sports?

What makes a good wrestling announcer in your mind?

What are your first memories of the pro wrestling business?

How did you first get involved with the business in Oklahoma?  You were announcing wrestling on the radio in Oklahoma, correct?

What are your memories of the territory and the talents that worked there in the 50s?

Was it a studio show or was it filmed in an Arena?

How did you prepare to call wrestling for the first time?

Were the wrestlers helpful?

What are your memories of the talents that worked there – any favorite stories from that time period?

As a reporter, did you feel working in wrestling conflicted with your journalistic integrity given the business is a work?

Was it normal for regular sports broadcasters to also work side jobs in wrestling and other entertainment entities at the time?

How well was the business protected from you and others who weren’t workers but worked in the business back then?

How did you call the business – a lot of announcers would treat wrestling as if it was silly at the time, but you have the reputation for always treating the business as a serious sport.  What led to you taking that approach?

When did you make the move from Oklahoma to Dallas and what were the series of events that set that up?

How different is it to call wrestling for TV vs. calling it for radio?

Was the wrestling different in Dallas vs. Oklahoma?

Who were the wrestlers that were working the Dallas territory at the time?

First memories of the Sportatortium?

Is it as bad of a dump as it’s reputation says it is?

What was the atmosphere like in the venue like live?

What were the wrestling fans like during that time period?

What made that venue so special and unique for professional wrestling?

Was Fritz Von Erich promoting at the time?  If not, who was promoting?

How much of your workload was pro wrestling vs. other sports and reporting?

What led to you taking a break from announcing wrestling and calling baseball?

Did you miss the business?

What led to you going back to calling wrestling?

We’ve heard that you were the connection for Mickey Grant, who was a major producer for World Class, to get in the business – can you talk about your early meetings with Grant and how he got involved in wrestling?

How did pro wrestling end up on a Christian TV station in Dallas?

Talk about shooting the pilot for World Class Championship Wresling?

From the perspective of someone who worked in TV before pro wrestling?

What do you think the most important upgrades were to the TV product for the pilot?

Were the wrestlers cautious about being filmed so close up?

What was Fritz Von Erich’s reaction to the pilot before and then after he saw the footage?

What deal was made with Fritz and World Class to produce the show?

How was Fritz as a boss?

Who created that signature opening for WCCW with shot of Earth and the satellite beaming down to Dallas and the clips of the wrestling before the logo appeared?

Do you think Mickey Grant gets the credit he deserves for evolution in production in the business?

Talk about building the syndication of the series?

How did World Class get so many overseas TV deals?

Do you have any idea how many of them were syndication deals vs. someone taking the tapes on the black market?

Why do you think the show took off as quick and fast as it did?

What was the most unique piece of fan mail you received from overseas?

Were you surprised to see how international the appeal of WCCW became?

Talk about Israel’s love for the product?

In hindsight, do you find it funny that a predominantly Jewish country was in love with a product that had such Christian overtones?

Why do you think World Class never ran tapings in markets outside of Texas?   It seems like they would have done well, especially internationally.

Let’s talk about the Von Erichs.

What was your first impressions of Fritz when you met him?

When did he begin to become so religious?

Is it true he wanted to add a priest to the announcing team?

What are your first memories of meeting each of the Von Erichs boys?

David
Kerry
Kevin
Mike
Chris

Some feel Fritz forced them into the business too young – do you think that’s a fair assessment?

Doris Von Erich isn’t spoken about much – discuss her role in WCCW and your memories of her?

Thoughts on the death of David VE and all the conspiracy theories surrounding it?

Memories of David’s funeral?

What led to you and Mickey putting together the tribute episode to David when he passed away?

How did you feel about Fritz using David’s passing as a way to build to Kerry challenging Ric Flair for the World title?

Do you think David would have had a longer NWA title reign than Kerry had?

Any insight into why they went with Kerry over Kevin as Flair’s challenger?

There have been constant rumors that WCCW sold fake David autographs at the first Parade of Champions?  Any insight into that?

Do you think WCCW was ever the same after David passed away?

Kerry had a reputation for being a little out there.  Was it hard producing him for TV spots and interviews?

Talk about Michael’s health issues and the decision to bring him back to the ring?  Why do you think Fritz allowed him in the ring again?

Was it fair that Chris Von Erich was ever allowed in the ring at all?

There are many stories passed on about Fritz protecting his kids when they got in trouble with the law.  Do you think Fritz protect the Von Erich kids to their own detriment?

Gary Hart claimed in his book that he once tried to approach Fritz with his concerns over the fast living of the boys but Fritz didn’t want to hear it.  Were you ever aware of that and do you know if anyone else ever tried to counsel Fritz about it?

Was it open knowledge that the kids were using drugs?  Was it ever a concern among anyone in the business?

How do you think Kevin was able to survive all this personal turmoil?  Thoughts on Kevin’s struggles and strength through all this.

WCCW had stronger religious connections than any other promotion past or present – do you feel it was fair to use the faith of the VE and the faith of the fans in order for the promotion to make money?

Do you think such tactics – trying to play off spirituality & morality, could work today in wrestling?

Do you think it’s fair Fritz gets vilified for what’s happened to his children?

One of the aspects of TV production in World Class that made it so unique were the personality profiles and vignettes.  Talk about your memories of producing and putting those together.

Which of the personality profiles were your favorite?

Did you know Kamala was going to shove you down when he did on TV during an interview?

Memories of the famous vignette where you and David Von Erich ride horses into the sunset?

Memories of the David Von Erich-Jimmy Garvin feud and the vignettes where Garvin had to work for David on his ranch?  Memories of working with Precious and Sunshine as well?

Memories of working with The Freebirds and doing vignettes with them?

What made the Freebirds vs. Von Erichs feud work so well?

Memories of the Von Erichs shaving the heads of Gino Hernandez and Chris Adams?

Thoughts on the passing of Gino Hernandez?

What was it like in Dallas during the height of the WCCW frenzy?

What was the craziest story you heard about interaction between the wrestlers and the fans back then?

Did you have any crazy interactions yourself based on your level of celebrity?

What was your family’s reaction to all this fame and recognition?

Memories of working with Mark Lowrance?

Who were your favorite announcers to work with?

Favorite memories of the Freebirds?  Why did they gel so well with The Von Erichs?

Thoughts and memories on:

-Ric Flair
-Bruiser Brody
-King Kong Bundy
-Killer Tim Brooks
– The Great Kabuki
-Abdullah the Butcher
-Percy Pringle
-Gary Hart
-Chris Adams
-David Manning
-Gino Hernandez
-The Fantastics
-Bill Irwin
-Broncho Lubich
-Skandar Akbar
-Rick Rude
-Andrea the Lady Giant aka Baby Doll/Nickla Roberts
-Jim Cornette and The Midnight Express
-Iceman Parsons
-Brickhouse Brown
-John Tatum
-Al Madril
-Scott Irwin
-Missy Hyatt
-Jack Victory
-Killer Khan
-Al Perez
-Brian Adias
-Steve and Shaun Simpson
-Lance Von Erich
-Missing Link
-Killer Karl Kox
-Eric Embry
-The One Man Gang

Was there ever a moment where you thought the crowd heat was too when you were at ringside – did you ever worry for your safety?

Any funny stories or interactions with the wrestlers while at ringside calling matches?

Compare World Class under Gary Hart as a booker to Ken Mantel?

Were you surprised when Fritz removed Hart from power?

Do you think Fritz made a mistake?

Were you surprised when Mantell’s departure led to a number of top World Class names including the Freebirds, Chris Adams and John Tatum leaving Dallas?

Do you remember what Fritz’s reaction to the departures was?

Obviously the biggest show of the year was The Parade of Champions.  Do you have any favorite memories of those shows?

The WWF was growing really strong in the 80s.  Why do you think WCCW didn’t feel the immediate pressure like so many other promotions did?

Do you think it was it a mistake to break away from the NWA?  If so, why?

In 1987, Ken Mantel started Wild West Wrestling and ran opposition to World Class.  What led to you leaving WCCW and working for that promotion?  Memories of working there and what was Fritz’s reaction to your decision?

Why did that promotion not take off and what led to them working with WCCW?

Why was Gary Hart so opposed to Fritz selling Ken Mantel a piece of World Class?

Were you surprised when the Von Erichs sold the promotion to Jerry Jarrett?

Thoughts on the promotion turning into the USWA and retiring the World Class name?

What led to you and Mickey Grant and Gary Hart running World Class II – The Next Generation in Dallas in 1997 and why do you think it didn’t take off?

Do you think there was a World Class curse, given how many talents from that era have died?

Thoughts on the different WCCW documentaries that are out there (WWE, Heroes of World Class, Chris Adams) if you have seen them?

Who were the most underrated WCCW talents that you feel don’t get the attention they deserve today?

Do you ever miss calling pro wrestling?

Why did you never try to go to other promotions?

Do you get recognized more from WCCW or your time covering mainstream news in Texas?

What do you think of WWE having purchased the tape library and absorbing WCCW into their own history and timelines?

What led to you writing a book about your life?

Do you think someone should have tried to save the Sportatorium?

In your mind, would that venue have been landmark worthy?

Do you still watch any wrestling today?

If WWE offered you a chance to go into the WWE Hall of Fame, would you be open to it?

How do you feel about WWE broadcasting old World Class episodes on the WWE Network?

Any favorite stories from traveling on the road?

Is there a favorite moment or match that you called?

How would you like to be remembered when it comes to your legacy in professional wrestling?

How do you think World Class should be remembered?