WCW's Kevin Sullivan on Paul Heyman & the early days of ECW
- WCW's Kevin Sullivan talks Paul Heyman, Terry Funk, and all things ECW.
Kevin Sullivan is best known for his time in World Championship Wrestling, where he led The Three Faces of Fear and became known as 'The Taskmaster,' leader of The Dungeon of Doom. With both factions, Sullivan feuded with the likes of Hulk Hogan and The Four Horsemen.
Sullivan would be forced to retire from in-ring competition in 1997. He went on to become a booker for WCW, and eventually head booker in 2000. Below is our interview with the audio provided.
SK: Hello Mr. Sullivan. How are you doing today?
Sullivan: Great, Lee. Thanks for having me on.
SK: You were part of the World Wide Wrestling Federation (this was before it was called WWF), what was it like to wrestle in Madison Square Garden?
Sullivan: It's the biggest thrill of any performer's life. Whether you're in a rock group, comedian, wrestler, or a boxer, its the biggest thrill in the world.
SK: You were a two-time tag team champion with The Tazmanic (a.k.a Taz). What were your thoughts on the belt(s), and what are your thoughts on the direction that ECW went into?
Sullivan: Most people don't know this, but I broke Paul [Heyman] into the business. He came down to Florida with a wrestler we named Tombstone. Tombstone had this drawing on his back of Scott Hall, and Scott Hall's birthday, and expiration date with a question mark.
Paul was a quick learner. I think some of the reasons why ECW worked as well as it did was Paul took the prototype of Championship Wrestling from Florida. Most people back in that time when there was Championship Wrestling from Florida always said it was a wrestling territory. It wasn't. It was a blood and guts territory, but there was always a serious wrestling match with Jack Brisco, or Dory Funk, Harley Race, Ric Flair. They always had wrestling as the seller, and the blood and guts was the thing that brought people to the arena.
Paul was doing all these innovative things for ECW with the barbwire matches with Terry [Funk] and Sabu. He always had Shane Douglas as the wrestler. He worked out that the World's Champion was a legitimate wrestler, and I think that Paul did a magnificent job. Some of the talents that he used were limited, but he [Paul] also knew their limitations.
There was one guy, a very nice guy, but he wasn't the best wrestler in the world, but Paul gave him the chokeslam. His matches were eight seconds long. He'd chokeslam them [his opponent], and he'd get over, and over til Paul pulled the plug. He [the wrestler Sullivan is referring to] I think had Shane or Tommy Dreamer beat that guy, and the guy had been going over like a maniac for at least ten months. Again, either Shane or Tommy beat him, and it meant something.
Paul just knew how to rile the troops up. He had a great pre-match rally cry to everybody, but he got the most out of every talent, and he saw things that a lot of people didn't see. If somebody did see something, but didn't use it, Paul would always keep it in the back of his mind.
I once said to Paul when he was in Championship Wrestling from Florida, I told him, 'I think that Bill Alfonso would make a great manager.' Well, Bill didn't have that position, but Paul remembered it, he saw it and took it. It was a great position for him [Bill Alfonso] and Sabu because Sabu, not being able to talk, and Fonzie being a very good talker - it worked out much better than you would have thought.
They [ECW] got a lot of mileage out of guys. Terry Funk went in there, lighting the place up on fire, and Paul listened to Terry quite a bit. Terry's one of the mass manipulators, and I don't mean that as a bad thing - manipulation meaning how to put guys together and how to manipulate the matches. Paul did a magnificent job. My hats are off to him, and he's still doing a fantastic job.
You can listen to the interview below:
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