The Art of Wrestling with Colt Cabana
Episode 308 – Jim Brunzell
Release Date: July 7, 2016
Report by Chris Davidson
– Jim Brunzell talks about Vince McMahon, the AWA, and his new book, “MatLands”
– Colt Cabana gets into his recent ankle injury and hosing the Academy of Podcasters Awards
0:00 – Introduction
8:57 – Song of the week
12:38 – Jim Brunzell interview
18:22 – Jim Brunzell talks AWA
23:43 – Jim Brunzell talks going to WWF
34:57 – Jim Brunzell talks about the Killer Bees and Ric Flair
44:13 – Jim Brunzell talks post-WWF
46:20 – Jim Brunzell talks getting to the AWA
55:49 – Jim Brunzell talks about his booK
59:45 – Colt wraps up the show
1:03:30 – Easter Egg
0:00 – Introduction – Colt opened the show joking that about hosting an award show and going to Denver, but not smoking their marijuana. Colt went into the marijuana laws in Colorado, and his recent appearances in Denver for Lucha Libre and Laughs. Colt also mentioned wrestling at a Minor League baseball stadium for Global Force Wrestling, and hopes they do a 2017 Minor League stadium tour. Colt talked about hurting his ankle and how scary an injury can be when you’re a wrestler. Colt teased Jim Brunzell as one of the Killer Bees, one of Colt’s favorite tag teams in the 1980s, and gave a brief introduction for listeners who don’t know who Brunzell is. Colt talked about the inevitability that, when wrestling “dries up” he’ll have to get another job.
8:57 – Song of the week – The song of the week this week is “MatLands” by Jim Brunzell.
12:38 – Jim Brunzell interview – Colt opened the interview asking if Brunzell knew Bruce Springsteen. Brunzell talked about getting Springsteen’s permission to parody “Badlands” and made “MatLands”. Brunzell made a picture disc and tried to get Vince McMahon to promote it during the Rock ‘n’ Wrestling era, but it was used as an ashtray. With the help of a friend, Brunzell used an ad in a wrestling magazine to sell copies of the single. Brunzell had heard “Badlands” on the radio, loved the song, and eventually met with Springsteen after a show in St. Paul. Two weeks later, Brunzell saw Springsteen again in Chicago, and Springsteen’s right hand man was a huge wrestling fan.
18:22 – Jim Brunzell talks AWA – Brunzell said that wrestling had the highest attendance, at the time, in the St. Paul Civic Center was Jesse Ventura and Adrian Adonis against Brunzell and Greg Gagne in a cage match, but it wasn’t getting coverage by local media. Brunzell talked about the talented wrestling shows in the AWA in the ’70s and ’80s, including Hulk Hogan’s success and Verne Gagne’s reluctance to give Hogan the title. Brunzell brought up a rumor that Hogan owned Gagne $40,000 in t-shirt money, but Hogan was working in Japan and once a month in the AWA so he was very successful.
23:43 – Jim Brunzell talks going to WWF – Brunzell had opened a gym and wanted to stay in the AWA, but Verne Gagne told him he wasn’t worth a $90,000 guaranteed contract, so he went to WWF. The first WW TV appearance he made, Brunzell realized he wasn’t going to get along with McMahon. Brunzell criticized the current WWE style where people talk a lot more than they wrestle on TV. Brunzell talked about the rough road schedule, where he wrestled 27 days a month, and said that “the money was almost worth it.”
Brunzell talked about an Australia tour where McMahon paid them less than they were making on the road, with the promise that he’d pay more the next time, but then McMahon never sent him to Australia again. Colt asked how Hogan was able to get him a job in WWF. Brunzell told him that Hogan had told him there’d be a spot for him, but the booker didn’t like him. Brunzell told a story about the booker burying him when they worked in North Carolina, and then firing him for insubordination. Brunzell said that McMahon wanted him in WWF, mainly to keep him from wrestling in the AWA. Brunzell mentioned the Ultimate Warrior as someone who didn’t really have the skills in the ring, but McMahon paid well because he had created them. Brunzell talked about getting a really bad t-shirt, and getting over a babyfaces with masks, but McMahon not doing anything with the gimmick.
34:57 – Jim Brunzell talks about the Killer Bees and Ric Flair – Brunzell was put into a take team with Brian Blair, who had been in WWF for a while not really doing anything. Brunzell got along great with Blair, but they couldn’t share a hotel room because of Blair’s snoring. Brunzell talked highly of Blair, and seemed to enjoy reminiscing about the great tag teams of the era. Colt asked about wearing high top sneakers, and Brunzell said that they wore them because they wanted to get a Nike sponsorship. Brunzell eventually sold his shoes for $300 to someone who was buying classic sneakers. Colt asked about the Killer Bees breaking up and having to job to low card talent.
Brunzell said he was fired three times, but kept getting rehired due to talent getting hurt. Colt said that he saw Brunzell take a shoulder tackle and flip around to land on his stomach, which Colt joked was a veteran move to keep him from hurting his back. Brunzell praised Ric Flair, and talked about having great one hour draws with him. Brunzell mentioned a match where he was booked to give Rene Goulet six dropkicks in a row, which beat him up, and he joked it was a “wrestler’s vasectomy” because they started at the chin and got progressively lower. Brunzell talked about running into One Man Gang recently, and reminiscing about wrestling 30 years ago.
44:13 – Jim Brunzell talks post-WWF – Brunzell mentioned a tour in Malaysia where he didn’t get paid $5,000. Colt asked if Brunzell went out on his own terms. Brunzell said that he wrestled his last match on his 50th birthday, when he wrestled Jim Neidhart and was afraid Neidhart was going to pop his head off. Brunzell mentioned Tito Santana as someone who is still going strong, and also said that he has turned down multiple offers to get back in the ring.
46:20 – Jim Brunzell talks getting to the AWA – Brunzell played college football with Greg Gagne, and when he didn’t make the NFL, he started training with Greg, Ken Patera, and others under Verne Gagne. Brunzell knew he could wrestle, and he was great at dropkicking. Brunzell’s first match was a 15 minute draw with Dennis Stamp that he knew was terrible, but Dusty Rhodes encouraged him that bad matches are just a part of wrestling. Brunzell was put over in his second match, and when he got a check for the two shows that was over $800, he decided to give wrestling a try. Brunzell talked a bit more about some of his matches and promoters that he interacted with in his early career.
Brunzell went into the origin of teaming up with Greg Gagne to form the High Flyers. Colt asked about the cage match that drew 17,000 in St. Paul. Brunzell said it was the most he got paid, but he didn’t really enjoy it at the time because he had wrestled another show earlier that day. Brunzell praised Harley Race, Terry Funk, and “Cowboy” Bob Orton. Brunzell said that wrestlers wanted to wrestle Orton because he was an easy heel to work with, rather than “character heels” such as The Crusher and Mad Dog Vachon, who he told a quick story about.
55:49 – Jim Brunzell talks about his book – Brunzell talked briefly about his book, “MatLands” and said there are a lot of great stories in the book. Colt asked about social media, which Brunzell said his son helps out with. Brunzell briefly talked about his son’s work promoting film festivals. Colt asked if Brunzell considered himself an athlete or an artist. Brunzell said he considered himself an athlete who wanted to have a great match every night and he had no problem helping put his opponent over.
Brunzell said his only regret was staying in wrestling too long, because he was working odd jobs to supplement his wrestling income. Brunzell wishes he had quit wrestling at 40 so he would have more time to set himself up for his later life. Brunzell plugged him book again, and Colt ended the interview.
59:45 – Colt wraps up the show – Colt talked about the pictures in Brunzell’s book, and told listeners to watch him on the WWE Network. Colt plugged his past episodes on the Howl app, his upcoming events, thanked his fans, Jim Bruzell, his tech help and sponsor. Colt talked briefly again about his hurt ankle, and mentioned the Podcast Movement before signing off.
1:03:30 – Easter Egg – Colt told Brunzell that the podcast should be a conversation, and referenced their newfound friendship.
OVERALL SCORE & REVIEW
Score: 8.8 – I wasn’t familiar with Jim Brunzell, but I certainly enjoyed hearing his wit and wisdom from his decades in wrestling. Brunzell didn’t pull any punches talking about Vince McMahon and, while he didn’t quite bury anyone, he clearly wasn’t worried about offending anyone. Brunzell is an old-school wrestler, and he made for a great interview.