While at Retro Game Con 6 in Syracuse, NY, I was able to interview former WCW/WWE Manager Terri Runnels. During the interview, we discussed The York Connection, Marlena, PMS and more.
SK: Your career started as a businesswoman and manager, Alexandra York, and the York Foundation in WCW. Your factions credited for being the last ever WCW six-man tag team champions ever. Were you, Terry Taylor, Ricky Morton, or Tom Rich has ever given a reason why the company was getting rid of those titles?
Runnels: "No, I wasn't. I was so damn green at that point, are you kidding me?"
SK: The group broke up in a feud with The Fabulous Freebirds. What caused WCW to disband the group?
Runnels: "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."
SK: What was your first reaction to the Goldust/Marlena personas?
Runnels: "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 Stych, 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 Marlena 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 Pritchard'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."
SK: WWF played an angle with Goldust and Brian Pillman fighting for your "services," did you ever feel WWF went too far with it?
Runnels: "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."
SK: Sadly, during the angle, Pillman passed away. What was the original plan between Goldust, Pillman, and yourself?
Runnels: "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 and I were going through two storage units. I found the gold dress and vale that never made it t.v."
SK: Later, alongside Jaqueline, the two of you formed PMS, Pretty Mean Sisters and, "love slave," Meat (Shawn Stasiak) did you enjoy being part of that faction and who created it behind the scenes?
Runnels: "Hated the name by the way. P.M.S. Who in the hell wants to think of that. We could find a better acronym people.
Everyone thinks that Shawn and I had a thing together and that Perry and I did. No two things could be farther the truth. I never had a relationship, or dated, or saw anyone other than my husband. They ask me all the time about that it was all a gimmick.
In fact, Perry gave me one of the coolest compliments ever. He said, "Terri, before you, I never believed a woman could be a friend. I always have seen women as objects."
One day he calls me in the stands during the afternoon and says, "I like you, I want to date you." I said, "Dude, I love you, but you're my friend. I'm not interested in anything else." He didn't speak to me for two freakin weeks. Once he got over it, he was back to being my dear Perry. He gave me that compliment a few years ago. He said, "Honestly, you were the first female I said that I could have a female friend."
SK: You held The Terri Invitationals Tournament with The Hardys Boys versus Edge and Christian competing for your service, and a one-time hardcore champion. What was that like?
Runnels: "During their infancy stage. It's cute, I tell this story about The Hardy's. They were new, and I was managing them. I forget what match it was, but I was the one injured. So they should be coming to check on me. All they do is run around high fiving each other. I'm laying on the ground. You always have to check on the manager. They were so new it was cute."
Fun fact: Terri Runnels is one of only four women in the WWE to have held a male championship. Terri is a former WWF Hardcore Champion. The other three are Chyna, Trish Stratus, and Molly Holly.
SK: Did WWE ever contact you to be part of WWE Evolution or the women's Roal Rumble?
Runnels: "They did not."
SK: Do you feel there is any reason they didn't contact you?
Runnels: "You know, I don't know. Heres 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."