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The W - CRZ's World - BONUS: THIS DAY IN BEN MILLER INTERVIEWS
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This interview first appeared on WrestleLine seven years ago today. I wonder whatever happened to WCW.

Thanks to: the Internet Archive (web.archive.org)


    Sonny Onoo and lawyer speak out
    May 15, 2000

    By Ben Miller
    WrestleLine/WrestleManiacs


    Over the past two years, WCW has had its share of problems. One of the problems that has largely been ignored by wrestling fans is a series of racial discrimination lawsuits being filed by midcard minority wrestlers formerly employed by the company.

    Racism and racial stereotyping has long been and continues to be pervasive in professional wrestling. Ex-WCW employee Thunderbolt Patterson has long been critical of the organization. More recent legal wranglings began with Power Plant graduate and WCW Saturday Night mainstay "Hard Work" Bobby Walker (who is African-American) filing a racial discrimination lawsuit in April 1998.

    To this day, there are several outstanding complaints concerning racial discrimination in WCW, with Sonny Onoo being the most vocal of the accusers. Onoo debuted in the company in 1995, where he was a liason in the WCW-New Japan relationship behind the scenes and a stereotypical Japanese businessman heel manager in front of the camera. He acted as a heel mouthpiece for several Japanese and Mexican wrestlers throughout his tenure, and also had a stint as the manager of the Cat.

    Onoo is known in hardcore wrestling circles as being the man to finally dethrone Mr. Fuji as Worst Manager in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards in 1996 after Fuji left the pro wrestling scene. Onoo went on to capture the crown again the following three years, as he is still the reigning Worst Manager in wrestling.

    Despite what appears on the surface, this fact should actually help Onoo's claims, as the racial stereotyping of the character (of which Onoo claims he had no creative control over) is largely what led to Onoo being named Worst Manager four years straight.

    My involvement in this matter is because a part of Onoo's suit stems from the fact that Vince Russo controls WCW storylines and Onoo is claiming that comments made in an interview I did with Russo in September of 1999 exposed Russo as a xenophobe.

    Onoo and I were joined by Onoo's attorney, Cary Ichter, for the following 43 minute long phone conversation.

    ICHTER: I'd be interested to hear what his [Vince Russo's] excuses are for why there are no Asian wrestlers at all left in the WCW, at least from what you can discern from watching the TV. And what has happened to all the Mexican wrestlers?

    BEN: I can tell you just from ... I can't put words in his mouth, but if he were to say, well Kaz Hayashi was let go, or one of the Mexican wrestlers was let go because they didn't speak English. And if he were to say that a large part of any character in his promotion was that you'd have to speak English, what would be your guys' response to that?

    ICHTER: Well, for one thing, that particular idea introduces the reason why Sonny was a valuable asset to the company.

    SONNY: Exactly.

    ICHTER: What's amazing to me is that there has been this long-standing relationship between New Japan and the WCW, which has been a talent exchange until Mr. Russo appeared on the scene. And up until that point in time, there never seemed to be any sort of problem with having Asian wrestlers who didn't speak English, or having Mexican wrestlers who didn't speak English, who had managers who played the part of heels, and they provided the necessary persona ... so that the only thing that you would have to look at in dealing with an Asian or Mexican wrestler who didn't speak English was a question of pure talent. Were they good enough to do the job physically in the ring, and then you go out and you hire them a mouthpiece that you knew was capable of playing the part of a heel, which we all know Sonny was capable of doing because he had some of the best ratings in the organization. But instead what they do is they ditch both of these guys, in spite of the fact that there has been a long history of a talent relationship trading going on between New Japan and WCW. What is really startling to me is take a look at what's going on over in Japan. The American wrestlers over in Japan who are enjoying such great success. People like Vader --- how much Japanese do they speak?

    BEN: They don't. But in Vince's defense I gotta say that it's a completely different product. Because both the Japanese product and the WCW product under Eric Bischoff in the '95, '96, '97 era, were a lot more focused on the work in the ring, having longer matches, having finishes that were clean ... and therefore a guy who was a great athlete like a Kaz Hayashi was able to get over a lot easier than he is under the current regime, where it's a lot more based on your interview skills and your personality. Do you see what I'm saying?

    ICHTER: Oh, I understand. I'm still a little skeptical of that excuse, because I can't imagine that there are no Asian wrestlers that speak English, that there are no Hispanic wrestlers that speak English, that could get a push in the WCW.

    BEN: His excuses that he gave, and I know what you're going to say about that, is Juventud Guerrera has legal problems right now. Rey Misterio Jr. has a knee injury, which we all know is true. Konnan is packaged with Rey Misterio Jr. as a team, and he was also suspended, that's why he was off TV. Psichosis is also having legal problems, and then as far as Jung Dragons and Silver King or El Dandy -- he said Silver King and El Dandy, he didn't see any talent in them, and Jung Dragons, he didn't know about them, because he didn't see them on TV.

    ICHTER: He has no interest in seeing them either. What kind of legal problems are we talking about that these guys have?

    BEN: I don't know. I believe Psichosis can't get into the country right now. I don't know if that's true or not, but that's what I heard.

    SONNY: If that's true, who's fault is that?

    ICHTER: The people who handle the green cards and the visas are these guys in the WCW.

    SONNY: I worked in that department, it's not priority. If they want to get you a visa, they get you a visa. If they want to get you a work visa, they can do that. Psichosis has been in the company for three years, and all of a sudden, he can't get in the country?

    BEN: As far as Juventud goes, I know he had an auto accident, and I'm not sure about the legalities of it, but I believe that may have been a reason for it. I don't know if he didn't appear in court or what.

    SONNY: Let's pick a couple of persons we just talked about. El Dandy and Silver King can't get over because he doesn't see any money in them -

    BEN: If he were here, I'm pretty sure his argument would be ... El Dandy and Silver King don't speak English do they?

    SONNY: No, and you know what, neither does Juvi.

    BEN: But Juvi, he said in an interview, speaks broken English, which he thinks is funny.

    SONNY: Let me tell you about Juvi's deal to begin with, because I was there. When Russo came in they did a big rib on all the Mexicans. You should remember this, they had a piata match --.

    BEN: Yeah, that was pretty bad.

    SONNY: Where they brought in all the Mexicans and had one of the American wrestlers beat the - put four of them in the hospital. Beat the living daylights out of all of them. Out of that piata match, the whole thing it was a rib. A rib meaning it was a joke to make the guys in the back laugh. Out of that came out Juvi talking in his broken English and commentating - that was a rib. That was to make the guys in the back laugh. So the point I'm saying for Vince Russo to tell me he put Juvi out there, and Juvi should thankful or the Latino speaking public should be happy because he put Juvi over - no, the whole thing started out as a rib to make the guys in the back laugh. Every time Juvi goes out there, that's what guys in the back do. Give me a break, for him to sit there and tell me that he takes credit for making Juvi ...

    BEN: Well if the situation with Juventud, or with Rey Misterio or Konnan or Psichosis isn't good enough for you, can I just ask you, what would make you happy? What do you want to see? Do you want Vince Russo to go back to making workrate a priority so that wrestlers who can't speak English that are talented from Japan and Mexico have more of chance to get over? What would you like to see happen.

    SONNY: Here's what I'd like to see happen. Publicly speaking, my problem with Vince Russo is very simple. When he said he doesn't give a shit about the Japanese guys and he doesn't give a shit about the Mexican guys ---

    BEN: That's not exactly true though because I have the quote right here, and he doesn't say he doesn't give a shit about Japanese or Mexican wrestlers. He said," You will never ever ever see the Japanese wrestler or the Mexican wrestler over in the mainstream American wrestling. I'm an American and I like watching wrestling here in America. I don't give a shit about a Japanese guy or a Mexican guy because I want to see American guys."

    SONNY: Exactly. That's his view of America.

    ICHTER: And that's the guy in charge of who gets promoted and who doesn't. What would you say if the Personnel Director at GM say, "You know, we're making an American product here. These are American cars, and I don't give a shit about Japanese. I don't give a shit about Mexicans."

    BEN: I think what he was saying though, if I can finish my thought ---

    SONNY: No, it's not what you think, it's what he said.

    BEN: I know that, but you have to take it in context, because what he was saying there was, from the point of view of the average wrestling fan. It may not have been exactly what Vince Russo thinks. He said, "I'm an American. If I'm the average American guy who watches pro wrestling, the average American doesn't care as much about a Mexican or a Japanese guy." I was doing the interview with him, and it didn't seem to me that he was saying, "Me, personally, I don't like Japanese or Mexicans, I don't want them on my television show." He was saying, the average American wrestling fan, they're just going to fundamentally not care as much.

    ICHTER: Let me ask you this. What if he had said black wrestlers? What if he had said, "You know most of our fans are white. I'm a white guy. Most of the fans who watch our stuff are white, and we white guys, we don't give a shit about black wrestlers."

    BEN: But he didn't say that.

    ICHTER: No, no, why is it different?

    BEN: Because at least on his television show, the black guys who are out there, they can speak English. Speaking English and being able to have that type of persona is clearly a big deal-

    ICHTER: That assumes that there are no available Asian or Mexican wrestlers who speak English, and I just don't believe that.

    BEN: Okay. Do you guys know of any Asian or Mexican wrestlers who do speak fluent English who have been denied by WCW?

    SONNY: I can be one. Not a wrestler. That's what my job was. That's how I got my job.

    BEN: So you're saying you are the only one that you know of, of the Asian and Mexican wrestlers that speak fluent English that was denied by WCW?

    ICHTER: Not only that, but when we're talking about this sort of thing, generally speaking what the employer does is they go out and make a play to them, one if you want to keep a job here, you have to become fluent in English. They don't say to you, "You don't speak English, you're gone." And they make that play to them that it's a term and condition of employment on the front end, instead of doing things like --- I mean these guys have had careers with this organization for a while, boom they're gone. That's just not the way it's supposed to happen. What's supposed to happen is they're supposed to tell you what's expected and give you an opportunity to perform.

    BEN: I see.

    SONNY: My position is exactly this, if this is Russo's view of his America, that's fine, but my problem is the position he's in. He's in a position to dictate who goes on television, who's on payroll and all of that. If a manager of the Braves made a statement that he didn't want any Puerto Ricans or any blacks -

    BEN: That's not applicable -

    SONNY: Why not?

    BEN: Because baseball is based solely on your performance on field. Wrestling you have to have a personality. If someone producing an action film said that the action star has to speak English, that's an applicable comparison, but baseball is simply not a comparison. I can't accept that.

    ICHTER: By the way, there's a long and storied tradition in wrestling. Folks having managers and mouthpieces who aren't particularly good on the mic, and that has bee true too for folks who don't speak English. Why is it that doesn't constitute some sort of reasonable accommodation when it comes to people like this? All the Civil Rights laws talk about reasonable accommodation to people who have some sort of limitation. But there's been no effort at all. No effort!

    BEN: I'm not saying that WCW is totally innocent or anything like that. The question I would respond to you guys is, do you think that WCW which is a company which has had money losses, basically from 1988 till 2000 straight, with about a two year period where they made money. They've had all these losses; they brought in a guy who made money in the WWF. Do you think he should be given the right to promote wrestling the way they want to promote it, whether that means you have to speak English or not?

    ICHTER: No, not if it's in a violation of the law. End of story. No. Not if it's violation of the law.

    BEN: So you're saying that to be in compliance with the laws, rather than just letting guys go, offer them to opportunity, say, 'look, you're gonna have to speak English, you will have the opportunity to take English classes, and if you're able to progress that way' ---

    ICHTER: Right. [He could have said] "We'll give you 3 months or we'll give you 6 months. Go out and hone your language skills." Or don't fire Sonny Onoo, who is the #1 heel in the organization.

    BEN: See, I have to disagree with that, because Sonny Onoo, nothing personal, but he was named Worst Manager in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter poll four straight years.

    SONNY: I'm going to say this to you, I don't care what talent you are, they give you the opportunity for you to do what they do. Everything I did, I was following directions -

    BEN: So you had no creative control of your character, I take it?

    SONNY: Absolutely not! It's no different than a wrestler being able to say, "Look, I'm going to train real hard. I'm going to train harder than everybody else, and I'm going to get my opportunity to be a World Champion." Do you think that's true?

    BEN: I think with some wrestlers ---

    SONNY: No, answer the question.

    BEN: Okay, what's the question, do the wrestlers have the opportunity -

    SONNY: The question is, if I train really hard, I weigh 230 lbs., and I see myself as one of the best athletes in the company, and if I train harder than anybody else, do you think I'm going to become a World Champion based on the fact that I'm a better athlete?

    BEN: No it's not based on better athlete, it's based on your personality, and your ability to draw money.

    SONNY: But who determines who's going to get the move? It's a television show: the writer makes the talent. They can make me a superman.

    BEN: That's not entirely true though, because you have guys like Glacier, who are brought in and given every opportunity. They're given television exposure and they simply fail.

    SONNY: I disagree with that. Glacier came in and it was a big thing, they gave a green guy who had really, relatively no experience, and gave him all this opportunity, all this push, but he couldn't deliver, because he didn't have experience.

    BEN: Yeah.

    SONNY: Whose fault is that? That's management's fault to put him that position.

    BEN: I know that, but what I'm saying is that your point was that management makes the wrestlers; management can make anyone into a star. I don't agree with that. I think you have to make yourself ... eventually, you'll have to need management's help, but you'll still have to -

    SONNY: Ben, I can't believe you're naivety to believe that just because you have charisma and you have athletic ability that you can be a World Champion in WWF or WCW or ECW or anywhere else. The booker determines ---

    BEN: No, no, World Champion, that doesn't mean that much. I'm talking about a top-level guy. You don't have to be a World Champion to be a top-level guy. You see what I'm saying. I'm talking about a guy who gets the most exposure and are paid the most money and are in the main events. I mean Mankind, he was the World Champion for all of what, one or two months, but I don't think anyone would argue that he wasn't one of the top guys.

    ICHTER: Well, if racism, just general racism, is not prevalent in the WCW, how do you account for the paucity of black athletes in the organization, and for the lack of success that they have enjoyed.

    BEN: Believe me, I'm with you guys 100% there. There's no response that I can think of for that, because there are guys like Booker T and Norman Smiley who have gotten over on their own. But, what I would argue with there, I think that you're after the wrong target, because Vince Russo has pushed guys like Norman Smiley and Booker T more than previous regimes that kind of kept them in a subordinate role, even though these guys got over.

    SONNY: You should talk to Cat about stuff like that.

    BEN: But Cat is being pushed right now as one of the top guys.

    SONNY: After 8 months.

    BEN: Eight months? Vince Russo has been in for what, two months now?

    SONNY: He was in for three months, the first thing he asked the Cat to do, when he came in, was ask Cat while he didn't have a doctor's clearance, to come in and do a job for Lash LeReux. That was the first thing Vince Russo asked the Cat to do.

    BEN: But Cat was injured during Vince Russo's first reign. I'm talking about right now, Cat is one of the top pushed guys of the New Blood.

    ICHTER: Do you want to know what he makes compared to the tops guys?

    BEN: I'd love to know.

    ICHTER: I will tell you it's a fraction.

    BEN: Do you have numbers?

    ICHTER: I know the numbers. I can't say it right now, because I don't have his authority to say it. I was looking at his contract yesterday, and I will tell you that --- what would you say the top 15 guys in WCW, what would your guess be that they make on average.

    BEN: I don't know, I would say close to a million dollars.

    ICHTER: Well the Cat makes a fraction of that.

    BEN: Well, the Cat hasn't proven an ability to draw money yet.

    ICHTER: [laughs]

    BEN: He's only been in wrestling for two or three years. Most of the guys you're talking about have been in wrestling for 10 years.

    ICHTER: Actually, he's been there for about 4 years, but they had him sit at home because he was first brought in as a token when Bobby Walker made his first claim.

    BEN: I remember Cat debuting at Slamboree 1997. It was May of 1997. That's 3 years.

    ICHTER: He was under contract for at least a year by then.

    BEN: But the Bobby Walker lawsuit wasn't until well after that.

    ICHTER: No, no, that's when it was settled. The lawsuit was filed well before that.

    BEN: Do you know when it was filed?

    ICHTER: Let's see here ...

    SONNY: Ben I think you're confusing yourself. Bobby Walker had filed a lawsuit prior to my lawsuit and all that.

    BEN: I know that, but I don't think it was before May of 1997 unless I heard incorrectly.

    ICHTER: Hold on ... he filed in 1997.

    BEN: Do you know when?

    ICHTER: Wait, no, that's wrong. No, he would have filed in '96, because he entered into his contract and his merchandising agreement in '97 in connection with his settlement.

    BEN: I see. Do you have a concrete date that he filed it?

    ICHTER: I would have to go back into the file (Hey Deb, could you pull the Bobby Walker file - the entire thing?) Let me see if I can come up with that for you. Let's go back to that though. Yeah, maybe the Cat may be getting a push right now, but if that's all that can be said to disprove the existence of racism in the WCW, then they're in bad shape. Today I'm filing 5 new EEOC complaints, including one for Thunderbolt Patterson.

    BEN: I just want to tell you something, I'm not saying that there's not racism. I'm not in the company enough to know that. But just from what I've seen on TV, the portrayal of Sonny's character for example, from '95 to '99, and the stereotypical ... the businessmen coming over from Japan, always taking pictures, always smiling, that in itself is bad enough, and other things I've heard about. I'm not saying there isn't racism; I'm just saying that I just think you guys are missing the target by going after Vince Russo. I don't think -

    ICHTER: I'm not going after Vince Russo. Vince Russo is not a defendant in the lawsuits that we've filed.

    BEN: I know, but you're going after things that he has said. You're taking things that he's said and saying, "Look WCW is racist, and part of the reason that the WCW is racist is because they hired this guy Vince Russo." Is that right?

    ICHTER: That's part of it. That's a very small part of it.

    BEN: Okay, well all I'm just saying that I just don't see that part of it. I agree that Sonny was a mouthpiece, but I think if Vince Russo decided that Sonny wasn't a manager who was going to draw him money ... if Vince Russo was going in the direction of women valet managers which is the direction that the wrestling world in general is going right now ... I just think that Vince Russo should have the right to get rid of Sonny. I also think that if there are Japanese and Mexican wrestlers that don't speak English, I agree that they should be given a chance to learn English, but if they don't learn English, I think that they should probably should be let go, because it's hard to promote a guy unless he speak English these days.

    ICHTER: I understand that position. If the WCW's history of dealing with minority wrestlers was other than what it is, maybe it would be appropriate to give them the benefit of the doubt. But I don't think that an organization that has engaged in the kind of conduct that WCW has historically engaged in is entitled to the benefit of the doubt. They typically refer to their black wrestlers as niggers.

    BEN: In the backstage area?

    ICHTER: On the booking committee. If you take a look at what the demographics are now, there are virtually no Mexican wrestlers, virtually no Asian wrestlers, and precious few black wrestlers. If you take a look at the way that the Mexican wrestlers were paid, if you take a look at how the Asian wrestlers were paid, if you take a look at how the black wrestlers are paid and were paid, you will find enormous disparity in pay. All of that leads ... when the evidence piles up and piles up ... and then the answer to it is, well look, they're giving the 3-time full-contact heavyweight karate champion of the world after four years a push, while he's being paid a small fraction of what the top guys are being paid. If that's the answer to the notion that pervasive racism exists in WCW, then I say, there is no answer.

    BEN: I see. Now just playing Devil's Advocate here, what if I were to say the reason that ... just going point by point, in today's environment the reason why there's no Asians and Mexicans is like you guys said, there is none that speak fluent English that aren't already employed in the company that are wrestlers - I'm not talking about managers - and the reason why their pay is smaller, is because they haven't in the past shown the ability to draw money ... and if I were to say the blacks in the company, why their pay is also small is because they also haven't shown the ability in the past to draw money ... what would be your response to that?

    ICHTER: My response to that would be - how do you draw money, when all you do is get jobbed? When you spend your entire career looking up at the lights, because you're doing a job for somebody who's getting a push, how is it that you are supposed to develop a following that enables you to become a top guy and draw some money? You know Blacks aren't going to come to watch Blacks get the shit kicked out of them by white guys. It just isn't gonna work that way. Asian fans, Hispanic fans, are not going to come to watch their heroes get the hell beat out of them. What happens is the racism that holds these guys back in the first place, prevents them from ever advancing, and then you'll always be able to us excuse that, well they're not making any money for us. Well of course they're not making any money for you because you don't have black and Hispanic fans, because Blacks and Hispanics are not going to come to watch a bunch of white guys all the time. They could have used the same argument to keep blacks out of baseball - "Well you know, we just don't have any black fans, they're all watching the Negro Leagues."

    BEN: But that's not true again because you can't compare baseball, because if a black guy is a good player with a good batting average, he gets in, and ---

    ICHTER: No, no, no, that was not true for a long time.

    BEN: That was not true, but what I'm saying is, that's an obvious case, because if a black guy shows the ability to hit homeruns and get on base, and he's kept out because of that, that's obvious. His performance CLEARLY shows that he should be there and he's being kept out. But this is wrestling ---

    ICHTER: All I'm saying is this same argument that you just made could have been made a long time ago when there were two separate black and white leagues.

    BEN: How?

    ICHTER: They could have said, you will not increase the draw of white fans, you will not make more money by introducing, and as a matter of fact, it will probably impair our audience, because we got a bunch of bigots out there who are baseball fans, and if we start race mixing, we're going to lose some money.

    BEN: But see, baseball isn't an entertainment company that decides it's own storylines and endings like that. Baseball is supposed to be legitimate athletic competition, so by it's nature, the best athlete should be allowed on the field. So if a black athlete is better than a white athlete and he's being kept off the field, then you absolutely have a point,

    ICHTER: What we're talking about is giving somebody a chance, and what you just said is the reason they're not getting a chance. The reason they don't have an opportunity is because historically they have not done well. What I'm saying in response to that is-

    BEN: No, no, I said that's the reason they made less money. I didn't say that's the reason they're not being given a chance.

    ICHTER: Well, whether it's because they're not making as much money or not getting a chance - whichever. All I'm saying is, if given the opportunity, if they get a push, if they play on an even playing field with white wrestlers, they will do just as well. Look, like I said, I'm about to file a claim with Thunderbolt Patterson who's been trying to become a booker for the WCW for years.

    BEN: Okay, alright ... I can tell you right now that's going to lose a lot of credibility in the eyes of the average fan right now.

    ICHTER: Why is that?

    BEN: Just because a guy wants to become booker, and he wasn't given the opportunity to be a booker [he files a racial discrimination suit]? Right now, there are no ex-wrestlers who are even bookers. There are none in professional wrestling.

    ICHTER: Until two months ago there were.

    BEN: Who? No successful one. There hasn't been a successful one in 3 years.

    ICHTER: Sullivan?

    BEN: Sullivan was not successful.

    ICHTER: [laughs]

    SONNY: Kevin Sullivan was part of the team that was doing very well against the WWF.

    BEN: Yes, three years ago.

    ICHTER: When they were using former professional wrestlers as bookers, they never had a minority as a booker.

    SONNY: Does it bother you at all?

    BEN: It's not an ideal situation, but if you go to wrestling schools throughout the country, there is a very small percentage of blacks to whites in general and I think that perpetuates itself all the way through. When you get to the elite level, you have to go on performance. I just think that if there are not a lot of guys who start out, and not a lot of guys who make it through wrestling, and not a lot of guys who perform well in the independents ... then the number of black wrestlers and then coming into bookers keeps getting smaller and smaller. I just think that it's unfortunate that there hasn't been a black booker, but I believe there is a reason for it outside of racism.

    ICHTER: And that would be?

    BEN: There are not many who start out to get into the business. I would think if you take a survey of hardcore, sheet reading, internet reading fans, and you take a survey of guys entering wrestling school, guys graduating from wrestling school, guys on the indies, on many levels, I don't think there is as large a percentage of blacks as whites, even in comparison to the national average ... I don't know what it is [the national percentage]... 13%. I doubt that even if 13% of the people who apply to wrestling school are black, and I just think that perpetuates itself all the way to the top, and I think part of that may be performance.

    ICHTER: Ben, if you were a black guy, would you try to get into wrestling.

    BEN: Personally, it's tough to say because I may have been raised differently. But being raised the way I have, and being the same person I am, if my skin was a different color, I probably wouldn't because I'm too skinny.

    ICHTER: I'm saying, do you think a black guy looking at what wrestling is like, thinks that he has an even shot for getting in.

    BEN: Probably not in WCW. I'm not saying that your lawsuit is groundless, I'm just saying -

    ICHTER: I know it ain't groundless. I don't need you to tell me that. [laughs] I'm not talking about whether or not my lawsuit was groundless. I'm telling you it is a fact, it is a fact, that the WCW operates in an environment that is poisoned by racism.

    BEN: The last thing is, do you have that date for the Bobby Walker ---

    ICHTER: I don't have it. I do know that the case settled ... our complaint said that the case got settled in '97, but that might not be correct, let's see. Actually, the settlement agreement was signed in '98.

    BEN: The reason why I had a problem there is that I've heard numerous times that the Cat was Eric Bischoff's son's karate instructor.

    ICHTER: He was.

    BEN: And that's why he was brought in rather than for any lawsuit.

    ICHTER: Well you know Eric had been talking to Ernest for years about becoming a wrestler before he actually did it, and Bobby Walker filed his lawsuit and then all of a sudden it happened.

    BEN: Well, I don't see how you can say that without having the date Walker filed the lawsuit. Cat was brought in a year and a half before the lawsuit was settled.

    ICHTER: I can say that because I used to study karate under Ernest, and I was there when he was training Bischoff's kid. That's how I know that.

    BEN: I'm not doubting that. If the lawsuit was filed prior to May of 1997, then you're right, but if the lawsuit was filed, but without having the date that the lawsuit was filed, I don't see how you can say that.

    ICHTER: Hold on a second [checking]

    SONNY: Well, I can tell you that WCW didn't settle the case right they filed it. I can tell you that much.

    BEN: Oh yeah, of course not, but a year and a half ... who was the first one ... out of all the people that are suing WCW, who was the first one to start with this lawsuit, and was there any event that started it. I know there was a racist joke that Eric Bischoff's secretary sent around. Was there any one event like that?

    ICHTER: Sonny and Bobby Walker and Harrison Norris were the first three.

    BEN: Is this part of a second Bobby Walker lawsuit then?

    ICHTER: Yes. Well, no, they are 3 different separate lawsuits. The charge of discrimination was filed it appears in April of 1998.

    BEN: See what I mean?

    ICHTER: Yeah, I have to go back and see when Ernest's first -

    BEN: I can tell you right now that he showed up on camera in May of '97.

    SONNY: Ben, let me ask you one question, when Vince Russo says he doesn't see any money in El Dandy and Silver King, what do you think these guys feel?

    BEN: What do I think who feels.

    SONNY: El Dandy and Silver King.

    BEN: I think they're mad about it, but I think that's not -

    SONNY: He doesn't have any management skills?

    BEN: Look, I think that to him, management skill to him is being able to evaluate who you see money in and who you don't see money in. And I think it sucks for El Dandy and Silver King when Russo says that, BUT it doesn't mean that it's necessarily a racist thing. I think he doesn't see money in a lot of white boys too. He released Scotty Riggs. He released Blitzkrieg, who I saw money in as a Cruiserweight. He released Johnny Swinger. He released plenty of white boys. I don't know if he released black guys.

    SONNY: He didn't make any statements about them though.

    BEN: That's because he wasn't asked. He was asked about Silver King and El Dandy. No one said, who don't you see money in, in WCW, and Vince Russo automatically thought of the Mexicans. Someone specifically asked him what he thought of El Dandy and Silver King.

    ICHTER: I don't know about you guys, but I really miss Shark Boy [laughs].

    BEN: Yeah, that guy was --

    SONNY: To me, what disturbs me is the fact that Vince Russo, on the pay from WCW while he was sitting at home, he goes on and says he doesn't even know who the Jung Dragons are.

    BEN: He wasn't watching their television.

    SONNY: Well yeah. You get paid, that was a part of his job.

    BEN: Part of his job wasn't to watch television.

    SONNY: Oh absolutely. I worked in the office, and they always tell us, part of our job is to watch our show.

    BEN: Even when you've been suspended?

    SONNY: It makes no difference. If you get the paycheck, they tell us to watch our show. You don't know when you're going to be called back.

    BEN: That may be true, but does the fact that he didn't watch the show means he's a racist?

    SONNY: That's not what I'm saying. I'm saying he doesn't even know who his talent are.

    BEN: That's because he wasn't watching the show, though.

    ICHTER: Ok, guys. I think we got it all worked out.

    BEN: Thanks Cary, Sonny. I really appreciate you spending your time.

    ICHTER: Don't mention it.






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Since: 26.1.03
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#2 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.67
Well, that was an entertaining read. I don't know if Ben was playing devil's advocate the entire way through or he actually sided with Russo there, but this could've been a softball-filled interview with these guys, but he came to play.



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Since: 7.11.02
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#3 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.36
That reminds me of another interview by Ben Miller that I've seen (and fortunately saved for posterity, since Archive doesn't appear to have it any more), with Vince Russo. I'm still puzzled by this section:


    RUSSO: I was too. I could not ... to this day the hardest thing for me to watch is Mick coming off the top of that cage in the Hell in the Cell with -

    BEN: That was planned before that, or did he call that?

    RUSSO: He planned that beforehand. That was hard for me to watch. As a writer, we never ... never write spots like that. How it works basically is we write the television, we know what we want in the finish of the match, so we say to the guys, "OK this is the match, this is where we want to go, get us there." And then they lay out the match between themselves with an agent.

    BEN: This was in a mainstream magazine article, so Mick might have been trying to work em, but I heard Mick say that he didnt know that the top of that cage was gonna be trapped, is there any truth to that? That's when he took the chokeslam from 'Taker through the top of the cage, he didnt know he was going through the cage, he thought he was just going to land on the top?

    RUSSO: What was supposed to happen was when he was hit at the top of the cage, the cage was supposed to break down more slowly. So it was supposed to be an effect where 'Taker slammed him on the cage, the cage fell in, but Mick kind of slid down.

    BEN: So he wasnt supposed to take the 13 ft. flat back bump?

    RUSSO: No. He was supposed to hit it, the cage was supposed to bend down, and it was supposed to be an effect where Mick slid down and hit the ring.

    BEN: I just watched the tape the other day with some of my friends who had just started following wrestling and they thought that it looked he was leaning farther than he should have if he was going to take a flat back bump.

    RUSSO: Yeah, the bump wasnt supposed to be that way.



That's really weird, since it's counter to everything we've since heard about HiaC, but actually makes sense, since clearly once Mick went back up there were only two places to go: the other announce table, or through the cage.



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