|April 30th, 2010||#1|
Join Date: Jul 2007
Cowboy Bill Watts (U.S.)
First, the backstory. Long, but interesting:
"Cowboy" Bill Watts was a major pro wrestling star in the regional days before Vince McMahon changed the business by going national.
Later, as he wound down his in ring career, he was the owner/promoter/booker of Mid South Wrestling, which mainly ran in Louisiana, and parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, & Mississippi. Watts was always considered one of the brighter minds in wrestling, as Mid South featured cutting edge booking and storylines, and is credited as the first wrestling promotion to feature "episodic" television storylines that later became the norm in the business.
Watts greatest success as a promoter came during the heydey of Sylvester Ritter, better known as The Junkyard Dog. JYD was wildly popular, to the point many of his matches were able to sell out the Superdome, which was no small feat in those days (or even today). In 1984, Vince McMahon, who was raiding all of the regional promoters of all of their top stars, eventually came calling, and JYD took the big money. Watts attempted to replicate the success with several other black stars, but none could hook the audience quite like JYD.
Previous to JYD, Watts had used former pro football star Ernie Ladd on top, another black star. Ladd & Watts remained friends for many years.
Around 1986, with no JYD, a bad oil economy hitting the Louisiana area hard, Watts was losing thousands of dollars as crowds dwindled to a fraction of what they were two years earlier. He decided the answer was to go national, renaming his product UWF Wrestling, and sold his tapes to TV stations around the country. Despite a slick, well written and produced product, the climate was too tough, with not only Vince McMahon's WWF ro deal with, but also Jim Crockett's WCW on TBS. Watts sold the UWF to Crockett, and left wrestling while still a wealthy man.
Flash forward 5 years. WCW is in the shitter, getting their asses kicked by McMahon. Watts' old TV announcer, Jim Ross, now holding the same role with WCW, pushes management to hire Watts to turn things around.
Watts' first order of business is to put the WCW World title on Ron Simmons, a former All American football star at Florida St. Simmons was the first black World Champion in wrestling history, but he failed at the gate.
A few months before taking the WCW job, Watts did an interview with Pro Wrestling Torch, an insider trade journal covering the business. He went on the following rant:
ďIf you own a business and you put the money in it, why shouldnít you be able to discriminate? Itís your business. If free enterprise is going to make or break it, you should be able to discriminate, itís your business. It should be that by God, if youíre going to open your doors in America, you can discriminate. Why the fuck not? Thatís why I went into business, so I could discriminate. I mean really, I want to be able to sell to who I want to and be able to serve who I want to. Itís my business. Itís my investment. So they (the government) come in and say `No.í I canít tell a fag to get the fuck out. I should have the right to not associate with a fag if I want to. I should have the right to not hire a fag if I donít want to. I mean, why should I have to hire a fucking fag, if I donít like fags? Fags discriminate against us, donít they? Sure they do. Do blacks discriminate against whites? Whoís killed more blacks than anyone? The fucking blacks. But they want to blame that bullshit `Rootsí that came on the air. That `Rootsí was such bullshit. All you have to do if you want slaves is hand beads to the chiefs and they gave you the slaves.í What is the best thing that has ever happened to the black race? That they were brought to this country. No matter how they got here, they were brought here. You know why? Because they intermarried and got educated. Theyíre the ones running the black race. You go down to the black countries and theyíre all broke. Idi Amin killed more blacks than we ever killed. You see what I mean? Thatís how stupid we are. But we get caught up in all this bullshit rhetoric. And so itís ridiculous whatís happening to our country. Lester Maddox was right. If I donít want to sell fried chicken t blacks, I shouldnít have to. Itís my restaurant. Hell, at least I respect him for his stand. That doesnít make me anti-Black.Ē
The interview eventually made it's way to the desk of Hank Aaron, the former baseball star who now also held a job with his former team, the Atlanta Braves. The Braves were owned by Ted Turner, who also by this time had purchased WCW from Jim Crockett. Aaron called for Watts head, and Watts was fired.
Aside from a very short stint working for Vince McMahon in 1996, Watts has been out of wrestling. A nasty divorce saw him lose the rights to his old Mid South/UWF footage, and his ex-wife promoptly sold off the tapes to McMahon for pennies on the dollar. Watts, who remianed close friends with Ladd through all of this, maintains he's not a racist, and points to his track record of successfully promoting blacks during his career.
My question to you guys--is it possible to make comments such as those, and not be a racist (not to mention the comments towards homosexuals)? Does Watts make valid points about business owners being able to discriminate if they so choose? Or, is Watts just an opportunistic businessman who exploited blacks to make money off of other blacks?
|pro wrestling, speech martyr, ted turner|