We had the privilege to talk with Brian Blair, current president of The Cauliflower Alley Club and one half of the tag team The Killer Bees. In this candid discussion on our Genius Cast with Lanny Poffo podcast, Brian opened up about his dear friend Paul Orndorff, how he’s doing today, the GoFundMe effort which saved his home, how he and Paul “took care of business” on the road, the assistance he’s trying to provide through The Cauliflower Alley Club, hilarious never-before-told stories of ribs and practical jokes on the road, details on the five times he got into shoot fights with the likes of Matt Borne, Buzz Sawyer, Doug Somers, and so much more!
*A note to publications: if you are going to use excerpts from this interview in a piece on your site, please kindly cite your source by linking back to this article.
Lanny Poffo: Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you, B. Brian Blair.
Brian Blair: Anytime I can be on The Genius Cast is a great day (laughs).
Lanny: Well Brian, I am blushing all over. Thank you so much.
Brian Blair: Oh man, I love you Lanny. I’ll never forget when George Scott was asking Brunzell and I to come up with a name for a tag team.
I was in love with the ’72 Miami Dolphins because they were an undefeated team and I was a huge football fan, I played football in college. You have to have something catchy, you have to think of something catchy and I thought about the Killer Bees defense on the ’72 Miami Dolphins, their linebacker corps, all their linebackers- Buoniconti, all their names began with a B., and I suggested the Killer Bees. Of course, Jimmy liked it.
George Scott came back to us and I said how about the Killer Bees? And at this moment, Lanny’s sitting there in the corner, listening, just kinda listening, minding his own business as he does, never gets in anyone’s way, just a complete locker room gentleman, 100% etiquette. All of a sudden George comes back from speaking with Vince, and says, ‘Hey, Vince loves it! You guys are the Killer Bees!’ I said, ‘Awesome, that’s great, that’s great!’ All of a sudden, Leapster, out of your bag you pulled out a pair of Killer Bee tights and sure enough those looked like the exact replica of the Killer Bee tights we wore, so thank you for that Lanny!
Lanny: Well you’re welcome, and I don’t want to say anything that will try to impress you, but I met [former Miami Dolphin players] Mercury Morris and Larry Csonka.
Brian Blair: Wow, that’s great!
Lanny: They’re some of the reasons the Miami Dolphins went undefeated in 1972.
Brian Blair: Correct. They called them the Killer Bee defense because the linebackers, they had 4 linebackers whose last names all began with a B. So, they got the nickname The Killer Bees.
JP Zarka: That’s great- you were named after success! Lanny and I were talking before our interview with you and he was telling me about the time you and Brunzell were in the WWF locker room, and they were joking about the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger that went down, and it was a bit inappropriate, you didn’t want anything to do with it. You stood up, told the guys off and you left the room. Now I thought that was great, because you stood up for what was right and went against the grain, which is kind of what you’re doing now as President of the Cauliflower Alley Club, standing up for what needs to happen, and helping others. Being a voice of reason.
Brian Blair: Well, I appreciate that very much, JP. You know, you got to stick up for what’s right, what you believe in. I always have and always will.
Lanny: You know, sometimes the locker room can be a bunch of rough and rowdy guys, and it was great to see you and Brunzie stand up for, you know, we’re not gonna laugh at everything, we’re gonna draw the line right there, and I thought to myself, wow, this is, you know, integrity. So, excellent. Kudos to you guys.
Brian Blair: Thank you. Thank you, Leapster. Very nice.
“I have to tell you about Oscar The Grouch. Of Course, that’s Mr. Wonderful, Paul Orndorff.”
Brian Blair: I wish Oscar could be here. Of course, that’s Mr. Wonderful, Paul Orndorff.
Lanny: Oscar The Grouch
Brian Blair: I have to tell you how he got named Oscar The Grouch (laughing).
Paul is a great guy, I’ve spent more time on the road with Paul than anybody period. We were glued together for a year in Florida, a few years in the territories after that, a few years in WWE, Georgia for a year, all over and we would always ride together. I remember in Louisiana, Grizzly Smith would try to catch us riding together, that was his mission in life, was to catch Paul and I riding together. He had all his stooges trying to catch us, and one time I had a flat tire and we got to TV late, the first time I ever got fined in wrestling. But Paul was late too, so Grizzly swore he had us busted, but he never saw us, so we never admitted to it. It is what it is. But we did more things than I could ever mention on your broadcast. I’d be in huge trouble. We did a lot of fun things. We never hurt anybody, but we always had a blast. And, we got in a lot of fights, we never lost one, thanks to Paul.
He was probably one of the, ah, without a doubt I think Paul Orndorff and Haku were the 2 toughest guys in the business in their prime, they both would have killed each other before they gave up. I mean, Paul beat up 7 Sheriffs in Hillsborough County one night.
JP: No kidding!
Brian Blair: Over his brother.
Lanny: Not a good idea.
Brian Blair: No, he put 4 of them in the hospital. And, you know, they had batons out and everything, he was just going through them one after the other, a 22-year-old stud that could just squat 600 pounds and he knocked out John Matuszak with one punch. You ever heard of John Matuszak?
Lanny: Hell yeah.
Brian Blair: Six foot seven; they were playing a pickup basketball game at the University of Tampa Spartans where Paul played football. He also got drafted by the Saints, I think in the seventh round. And he couldn’t stay with the Saints because at the rookie training camp he had to stand up on the table and sing a song before they could eat as an initiation. So, and then the players would throw biscuits at you or something. So, Paul’s song was Jeremiah Was A Bullfrog. So, if you talk to Paul and sign Jeremiah Was A Bullfrog, he’ll look at you right away (laughing). He doesn’t share that with many people. But he couldn’t take it and he quit.
He came back and got in touch with Eddie Graham. Eddie Graham had offered him an opportunity once before to try to become a professional wrestler and Paul had thought about that, but he said he wanted to see what football had for him first. Then he came back obviously after the training camp calamity and decided to try out with Eddie Graham. I had gotten good as this was my second full-time summer when Paul came in. I had a full-time summer with Hiro Matsuda, Karl Gotch, Nelson Royal, Bob Backlund, Briscoes, just a bunch of, so many awesome shooters and hookers. They taught me a lot and when Paul came he was so strong he was very, very difficult to stretch and it was only once in a while that I could actually stretch him. I mean, he couldn’t outwrestle me, but he was so strong, his brute strength was incredible, I couldn’t even tell you how strong he was. It was amazing.
JP: Paul was quite the specimen. I wonder what it would have been like if you put Paul, Haku and the likes of Harley Race in a room by themselves in their prime. I wonder how that would have gone!
Brian Blair: Harley was a tough guy, but I don’t think Harley would have stood with either one of those guys.
Lanny: No, there’s no comparison, but Harley also was packing, so there’s another reason not to…
Brian Blair: Yeah, Harley was always packing. One time I was in his Porsche, we were going about a hundred miles an hour, I was already scared to death, and he pulls out this giant 44 Magnum and rolls the window down on my side and all of a sudden goes ‘Blam!’, and I look and he’s trying to shoot this rabbit at 100 miles an hour while he’s going down the road, as if I’m not afraid enough, he’s not paying attention on a two lane road, obviously he’s being distracted by trying to turn and shoot this rabbit, and oh gosh, I can’t even tell you, I think my pants were wet after that.
JP: I bet! I have a story on ProWrestingStories.com about a time when Harley race stormed into the locker room on Hogan, and he punched Hogan in the face, and this was the time when the territories were being taken over by Vince, and, you know, Hogan was on the ground and said, ‘Well, I’m surprised you don’t have a gun.’ At which point Race took out his .38 Special and pointed it at him, but no gunshots were fired.
Brian Blair: Yeah, I heard about that. Don’t know. I never heard Terry tell me the story, but I did hear about it.
Lanny: I’d just like to add that Harley Race has been in several, several car wrecks, okay, so if you’re at home, speed kills, drive defensively, and if you want to get there early, leave early.
Brian Blair: (laughing) And don’t text and drive.
Lanny: Yeah, don’t text and drive. You know, social, we’re really helping people here.
Paul Orndorff was called The Brandon Bull. Tell us about that.
Brian Blair: Paul was called The Brandon Bull in high school. He went to Brandon High School and we used to call them the country boys, the rednecks because at that time Brandon was out in the country and we used to tease them about riding their tractors to school. But Brandon was actually a very good athletic school and Paul was the best athlete without a doubt. He was all-state, he was The Brandon Bull, he was a fullback. Literally, it took 2 people to tackle him, at least, and he had great footwork, was quick, and just so powerful that he would run over people so he got the nickname The Brandon Bull in high school, and it carried through to the University of Tampa Spartans, where Paul received numerous scholarship awards, people that wanted to give him scholarship offers, but he decided to stay home.
He was married to his wife Rhonda in high school. So, there was no reason to leave home when there was such a good school like the University of Tampa and at that time, the Spartans were hot, they were drawing like 30,000 people, and then the Bucs came in ’76, so I had worked hard and finally signed a letter of intent and God, I used to sell sodas while I watched Mr. Wonderful on the field, #40, him and Freddie Solomon, Leon McQuay, John Matuszak, all these studs, man, all these great people, Sammy Gellerstedt at nose guard, he was so short and so stocky. One time he went through the center’s legs, I’ll never forget seeing this, ’cause Dayton was ready to kick the winning field goal and keep the Spartans from claiming their third straight NCAA Division II Championship, and Sammy Gellerstedt went through the center’s legs and blocked the field goal attempt at the 15 yard line. That was amazing.
Lanny: I wish I’d been there. Great story.
Brian Blair: And so anyway, the Buccaneers came and so all of a sudden, they mysteriously had to drop the University of Tampa football program because the athletics program was bringing our academics down. That’s their excuse. But I know that somehow, they were paid off by the Buccaneers because the Buccaneers were drawing with a losing team, which they knew they would have at the beginning, and with a winning team like the Spartans drawing 30,000 people on a Saturday night. So, when we found out, Preecy Davis, who went to Tampa Bay Tech, and I cried for about a week and I went on to Louisville and Preecy never did go to college. Actually, he went to HCC, forgive me. But, those were some great days.
Brian Blair shares the story of the time he Paul Orndorff, and Bob Orton Jr. went fishing and accidentally caught a prize whale shark
Brian Blair: Paul was a stud in football, and Paul was a stud in wrestling, and I’ve been all around the world with Paul, Italy, you name it. I remember we worked a show one time for that referee from New York, his name was, it’ll come to me, Randy Eiland, Bonaire, Aruba, and Curacao. And, Paul and I got Bob Orton, Jr., and a couple of other guys, we all coughed up a hundred bucks and chartered this boat to go fishing. So, we’re out trolling for dolphin, and all of a sudden Paul shouts, ‘I got one!’ and I mean, this big heavy rod that he had was bending and bending and bending and the captain was looking and it was, ‘Wow, it’s a big one!’, I think he was up in the crow’s nest and going crazy. So now about an hour later, I’m not kidding, an hour later, Paul says, ‘I can’t hold on to this thing anymore, I’m blowing up!’ I mean you could see every vein in his arms and everything, he was trying like crazy to get this fish in. And Bob Orton Jr. takes over and he’s fighting it, and then I took over, and then I’m trying to think of the guy’s name, he laid in the boat and puked most of the day, he finally got up and held the rod for about 10 minutes, and then he laid back down on the floor.
Finally, after all this time, and I’m talking way over 2 hours, the captain had already reeled to the shore, because he had some kind of record, we had no idea we were fishing for dolphin, we didn’t know what we were gonna catch, and all of a sudden this giant fin comes out of the water, and it’s about 6 foot long. Now this fish, the line kind of slacks up and Orton Jr. pulls it and pulls it and pulls it and all of a sudden, this fin is coming towards us and towards us and it’s longer than the boat, the captain now is really freaking out, it’s a whale shark. They swim through plankton and somehow when he was swimming through the plankton Paul hooked him and I mean it was crazy where everybody was taking pictures, and it was such a beautiful beautiful, docile animal and Orton tries to bring its head up a little more and the line went limp and he pulls it up and the whale shark had actually straightened the hook out.
Brian Blair: So now the captain’s in tears because the fish is getting away, and you could see the boat coming to document, I guess for him that he caught this fish on the line and it was a big deal to him. So, his prize got away and so did ours but that’s a memory we’ll never forget.
“You had to go through Hiro Matsuda to break into the business.”
JP: What an experience! You were talking about how Paul was from Brandon, Florida which is outside of Tampa. Now, Tampa does produce a lot of good wrestlers. Big stars such as Orndorff, Buddy Colt, Austin Idol and some guy by the name of Terry Bollea. What do you think it is about Tampa that produces such amazing stars?
Brian Blair: Well, Tampa was always a hotbed of wrestling. Lanny could tell you almost every top name came through Florida, so they got to experience our weather, how nice the Tampa Bay region is, and so a lot of people made this their homes because so many of the wrestlers came here and it was a great territory because you could live in Tampa and you’d be on the road 7 days a week. Monday you’d be in Fort Lauderdale, for example, Tuesday Tampa, Wednesday you’d do TV in the morning and fly if you were lucky to Miami, most of the guys had to drive, and Thursday, of course, you’d come back to Tampa, Thursday would be Jacksonville. Friday would be a spot show in Fort Lauderdale. Saturday was either Lakeland or St. Pete, Sunday was always the Eddie Graham Sports Center at 8:00, but every other Sunday was Ocala in the Jai Alai Fronton Center at 1:00, so you’d have a double shot on Sunday, so we were working 2 times on television, sometimes 3 times, and then we’d do double shots on Sundays, and we would never get a day off. I mean, Florida, you might get one day off, two days off if you were lucky. So, you were having over 360 matches a year, it was pretty tough on your body. But it was a great territory.
People would just move here and flock here, so many people came out of this territory because of the good talent that was here, and Eddie Graham had Hiro Matsuda, his major role for the promotion. Hiro, of course, was a wrestler, but then he also bought into the promotion. And he was the enforcer, and he was the one, you had to go through Hiro to break into the business. So, I think out of the 3 Summers I trained with him, 3 full summers that I trained with Hiro well over 100 people came. Danny Spivey left, Scott Hall left, a lot of guys left. It was brutal, I mean absolutely brutal training camp. Looking at a thousand Hindi squats, a thousand pushups, sets of 100, wrestling for 15 minutes straight, amateur wrestling in 105 degrees high humidity Sportatorium. But Paul Orndorff was the first to make it and the last summer was Hulk Hogan, Terry Bollea. So, the three of us were the only three that made it during those three years. A lot of people left without their clothes (laughing). It was brutal.
JP: I bet. With that type of training, it probably prepared you for what was to come in the ring. You probably never got too blown up or tired after having training like that early on.
Brian Blair: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.
JP: You guys were on the road 350 plus days a year, and as you said 360 plus matches. You guys were a different breed back then, I mean that’s incredible.
How Brian Blair and The Cauliflower Alley Club is making a huge difference
JP: Travis Orndorff, son of Paul, recently put out a video talking about how many wrestlers from your era didn’t realize the health risks they were putting themselves through by wrestling as much as they did and living the way they did back then. It’s kinda like how the NFL is looking into things and is making changes as a result of things of the past. How does the Cauliflower Alley Club help wrestlers of your era and today, whether it be financially or through health support, because I think what you are doing is fantastic.
Brian Blair: First off, it’s such an honor and joy, it’s a real blessing actually to be able to be such a part of such a wonderful organization. Believe me, we help so many people, JP. We don’t announce the names that we help but we’ve helped 14 people just since the last reunion that were in dire straits and we’re only allowed to give so much money per individual per our bylaws and we went above and beyond with Paul and with Brickhouse Brown as well because he had Stage 4 Lymph Node Cancer and was not getting any treatment. But we have helped other guys that I can mention like Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, Kamala, big names and it’s due to no fault of their own. It’s usually either from diseases, hospital bills, operations, cancer, different types of health issues, or divorces, or they met Bernie Madoff, you know, they made bad investments.
If you made a living in the wrestling industry for at least 3 years, you’re eligible for financial help, and you can join the Cauliflower Alley Club for 25 dollars, and for the fans, you know we’re getting ready to have our 54th Reunion April 29th, 30th, and May 1st are the official days, which is a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. And, we have $45.00 rates at the hotel which is great, a really nice hotel with about 15 restaurants in it, and a casino, all that kind of stuff, and I mean it is just off the chain. Last year we had Shawn Michaels and Harlem Heat and Steve Keirn, it went on and on and on. Great, great talent. And we sell out every year, it’s a blast, but the Cauliflower Alley Club really does so many wonderful things for these people, it’s amazing. And to see how much the wrestling fans and his colleagues love Paul. To be able to see him hit his goal on the GoFundMe account, and it was 24 hours after I put it on my social media, he had reached his goal, and they were sitting around a hundred bucks and then we got up to like $10,300, I think.
JP: Within 24 hours over $10,300 was raised. Now, it’s sitting at just a bit over $10,800 at the time of us talking. What a beautiful display from both fans and folks within the business alike. I mean, you even had Chris Jericho, he donated $1,000 to this which is just amazing. You know, something like this must be bringing such a wide range of emotions for Paul and his family. It’s incredible.
Brian Blair: Yeah, that’s awesome. I need to go back and look at who those donors were because I need to call Chris and thank him. Paul was so thankful and actually Travis was supposed to film something with his Dad saying thank you and post it. He told me that he did. I have to look for that.
JP: Yeah, that was posted about a day or two ago on the GoFundMe page. It’s quite a sweet video. You’ve got Paul sitting outside the house thanking the fans, and it was really nice, and if anyone wants to see that video you can find it through Paul’s GoFundMe website I believe, or just by a quick Google search. But, what’s important for everyone to understand is that this wasn’t another case of a wrestler spending money irresponsibly over the years. Orndorff was under financial duress due to medical costs. He had a lot of great expenses due to his Stage 4 Cancer. And doing this GoFundMe, it helped him pay off the property taxes which he fell behind on due to these medical costs, and I believe all extra money is going towards his medical costs which are still surmounting. But really, the help from the fans and how quickly this money was raised is really remarkable.
Brian Blair: Yeah, it’s great, it’s a great feeling, and it’s a team effort. It’s because of the people that join the Cauliflower Alley Club, you know $25, we make about $12 off of that because we send 4 copies of our award-winning newsletter that you can’t find on the internet, you get 4 copies of that each year, plus a certificate that’s suitable for hanging. I have mine hanging right behind me. And, it’s an honor to be honored at the CAC, it’s a big deal.
If you look at Jack Brisco’s eulogy that was spread throughout the world via social media, it listed 5 accomplishments for Jack Brisco. First being the NWA Heavyweight Champion. Second being the NCAA Champion. Third thing being second in the NAA Championships. Fourth, his Lou Thesz honor at the Cauliflower Alley Club, and fifth was his Men’s Wrestling Honoree at the Cauliflower Alley Club. So, I thought that was pretty amazing. Greg Oliver had written that eulogy, and it was the one that everybody went with.
The relevance of the CAC is huge to be honored, but the relevance of what our fans and what our volunteer, 100% volunteer board members do, is also fabulous and it culminates into a tremendous opportunity to help these people that gave so much and entertained people for so long that have just fallen on difficult financial due to no fault of their own. So please, any of your [readers], we would appreciate it if you went to caulifloweralleyclub.org, and joined today. It’d be the best $25 you ever invested. If you join as a life membership, it’s a tax write-off for 300 bucks, and you never have to worry about joining again, and of course, you can go to all of our wonderful reunions just like the 54th coming up at the end of April.
JP: And that’s going to be in Las Vegas am I right?
Brian Blair: In Las Vegas, yes. Lost Wages (laughing).
JP: Lost Wages, that’s absolutely right.
Now the beauty of pro wrestling is that the talent and fans alike are all part of this family, where we come together, and we help when somebody’s in need. And Brian, you, what you’re doing is- you’re at the helm of a lot of this. When something’s happening, take for instance what happened with Brickhouse Brown and his health issues back in July before he sadly passed away, a lot of the messages were coming through you. You’re the voice of many when they’re down and really you should feel proud. I think what you’re doing is amazing.
Brian Blair: Well, thank you, JP. I appreciate it. It’s a labor of love. It truly is.
“I have some tremendous Paul Orndorff ribs. I mean, after all that time, you don’t go on the road without a lot of ribs.”
Brian Blair: I have some tremendous Paul Orndorff ribs. I mean, after all that time, you don’t go on the road without a lot of ribs!
First, I have to tell you how he was named Oscar. This is Paul’s first trip to Japan, and it’s a 6-week tour. (laughing) Big John Studd’s on the tour with us, golly we had a heck of a crew, a heck of a crew. Quick Draw Rick McGraw, anyway Paul about the third week he’s bitching every day, I mean he’s griping about this, about that, he just wants to get home, he can’t stand it. He doesn’t like the food, you know, and the biggest thing about Paul is Paul is a frisky guy, let me put it that way. So, you know, there was no talent around there, so to speak, and he was a grouch and all of a sudden Big John Studd says, ‘You know Paul, my kids have a TV show that they watch at home, it’s called Sesame Street, have you ever heard of it?’ And he said something like ‘John, I don’t even watch cartoons, I don’t even want to think about it’. You know, that’s how grouchy he was. So, Studd says, ‘Well, that’s what I’m talking about, because you’re exactly like Oscar the Grouch, he lives in a trash can, and that’s where I ought to put you, in a trash can, and put a lid on the top!’ And so, everybody kept calling him Oscar after that. It was funny. I mean for the whole tour he was Oscar and then John Studd, everybody that was on the tour would call him Oscar forever after that. And he truly was, I mean if he got upset, he was like Oscar the Grouch.
He got lost coming through New York when you have to stay in New Jersey, what’s that hotel, Lanny?
Lanny: Howard Johnson’s?
Brian Blair: Not the Howard Johnson’s, there’s another one in New Jersey there that we used to stay at, not far from the airport or from New York City. I know we used to stay at the Howard Johnson’s, but this was another one. And it was so hard getting there, you know being Florida drivers and going up to New York and they have these roundabouts and these ways of guiding traffic, and Paul would get lost in this little Toyota Corolla that he had, and he’d pull that steering wheel so had that one time he broke the steering wheel just yanking on it so hard, and that’s pretty tough to do. So, Paul was fired up.
He loved to go to the gym first thing in the morning, man, he had to go to the gym, and he was a great influence to be around because he wasn’t into drugs, he wasn’t into alcohol, he was a great guy. I mean, he would drink a couple beers or have a little wine or something, but you’d never see Paul drunk. In Japan we’d get a little tipsy once in a while, that’s all you got to do. But, never drunk. And, so he was a good influence on my life as far as that regard. And, I gotta tell you this story, it’s a dirty story, but I gotta share it. I’ve never shared this story with anybody, I don’t believe I have. But, you got a PG audience?
Lanny: No, don’t leave ANYTHING out, please.
“I gotta tell you this story, it’s a dirty story, but I gotta share it. I’ve never shared this story with anybody.”
Brian Blair: Okay. Okay, okay. This is what happened.
We’re in Bill Watts’ territory, and I hurt my knee somehow and we used to always share a car, Paul and I, and we’d share a room. We’d check in for one. We knew the Days Inn always had 2 beds, and it was like $33 for a single and $39 for a double, so we’d save 6 bucks plus tax by checking in for one. So, Paul goes to check in and I’m sitting in the back seat and Paul brings out a bag of ice, and I think, dang, that’s really nice of him, man, I can’t believe Oscar grabbed a bag of ice for my knee, I’ve never seen him that considerate. So, he goes, ‘C’mon man, I got a room, put this on your knee and you’ll be okay, we’ll be able to go to the gym.’ (laughing) Okay, thanks, Paul!
We parked right by the hotel room we were going up to and he goes, ‘Wait there, wait there, let me help you out.’ So, I should have known something then, because Paul’s not the kind of guy who’s gonna come open the door for you, but all of a sudden I’m backing out, my knee’s killing me, and I’m just about out, and he gooses me so hard, he hit me in the booty about as hard as you could hit somebody and my head went straight up and hit the top of the roof inside the car! Now, I’ve got this big goose egg and I’m cussing at Paul and he’s laughing, he thinks that’s so funny.
So we get to the room get out stuff up there and now I’ve got a sore knee and a sore head and all he’s saying is, ‘C’mon, hurry up, we gotta get to the gym, we gotta get to the gym.’ I said ‘Paul, man, my knee hurts, my head hurts, give me a minute.’ He says, ‘C’mon, c’mon.’
In the meantime I’m sitting on the bed, just trying to get myself together, and I see Paul fighting like crazy because he never wears underwear, and for some reason he’s lazy, he likes to pull his jeans off over his shoes so he doesn’t have to take his shoes off, so he can put his gym pants on, so he’s got one hand on the wall, and he’s jumping up and down, his pant is stuck on his shoe. And as I see that, I look to the left of me and there’s a brand new #2 pencil, and it hadn’t been sharpened, right next to the bed. There was one that was sharpened, and one that wasn’t sharpened. So, I took the one that wasn’t quite sharpened because it was longer, and I licked the end of it and I go line it up and he’s jumping up and down trying to get his jeans on and all of a sudden, I hit him right in the bullseye! He went, ‘Ahhhhhhhh!!!!’ (screaming), jumping up in the air, screaming so loud, and he’s reaching back when he went up, the whole pencil sucked up in his rectum. ‘Ahhh ahh ahhhh!’
So now he’s pinching back there trying to get a hold of this pencil, he’s bending over, he’s screaming, he’s going, ‘I’m gonna kill you, I’m gonna kill you!’ Now he’s starting to come after me. So, I’m running around, and I open the door and he just misses grabbing my shirt. Remember, he’s got one pant down and he’s trying to grab this pencil out of his ass and just as he does, he takes 2 steps out the door and the door shuts behind him and he doesn’t have a key. And I’m saying, ‘C’mon Paul, get me!’ ’cause I know he can’t run (laughing) and I’m laughing at him and he’s screaming, ‘Help me, man, help me! You gotta get this thing out of me!’ At this very moment, he turns around and there’s this big, big, very nice black maid. And, she looks at Paul and he’s stark naked and he’s trying to pull a pencil out of his butt, and she says to him, ‘Oh my Lord, I don’t know what you guys be doing, I don’t know what you guys be doing, I don’t wanna know! I’ll be back, I’ll be back.’ And, she took that maid cart and went away.
Paul was so embarrassed, it was the funniest thing the way the maid put it over, oh my gosh. (laughing) I mean, I don’t know how he got back in the room. I left ’cause I thought he was gonna kill me. So, I guess, you know, he got his pants back on or something and went down to the front desk (laughing). That was hilarious, I don’t even know how he got the pencil out of his butt.
JP: It must have been an interesting workout after all of that!
Brian Blair: Oh my gosh, just rib after rib after rib after rib. And, so many fights.
One time, we were at the Shakey’s Pizza in North Little Rock, and this big lumberjack guy comes walking in, and he’s staring at Paul. This guy’s about 6’7”, probably in the high 3’s (pounds), just a giant Man Mountain Mike kind of guy. And I said, ‘Paul, that guy keeps staring at you, man, you must have messed around with one of his girls or something.’ He said ‘Nah, I don’t know what you’re talking about, Brian.’ I said, ’Alright, I’m gonna keep an eye on him for you.’ He said, ‘Please do.’ I said, ‘Okay, I will.’
We were eating some pizza, I don’t know where the guy was or what was happening, but I was playing this pinball machine called Aces High. And as I’m playing the pinball machine, all of a sudden, I see something whiz past my head and I hear a loud ‘poom!’ Somebody punched somebody and I see that big guy was after me. He was getting ready to hit me from behind, Paul was watching, he saw it, he hit him one time with that left, I mean he has got the most brutal left hook you’ve ever seen. He hits him one time with the left hook and the guy goes straight down and hits his head on the concrete. Boom. Now he’s laying there and we’re trying to wake him up, trying to get him up, and he’s not waking up. So, Paul goes. ‘Let’s get out of here, let’s get out of here.’ So obviously, he’s driving, I’m gonna follow Paul, and we left, and the guy was still laying there when we left. But, that’s how tough Paul is (laughing), one punch, man, and the guy was completely knocked out, completely knocked out.
So many other times, so many stories, Paul’s just a- he could work with a broomstick. He’s the only guy I know that I ever saw that could bring 100% out of Junkyard Dog. And Junkyard would make a tremendous comeback and just stand in the middle of the ring. Paul would feed him, he’d clothesline him, Paul would feed him, he’d slam him, Paul would tell him to shoot him into the ropes, he’d backdrop him. Junkyard never had to move, Paul would sell every move to the max, and it was just fabulous. Paul was such a great wrestling technical heel, and he was so intense, you know, when they started that Paul chant, it was great.
Brian Blair gives an update on Paul Orndorff’s condition
JP: That was great. And it’s just a shame seeing him have all these health issues at the moment. Can you give us an update on how he’s doing overall right now?
Brian Blair: Paul’s having problems with his memory, obviously a lot of problems with that, and he’s on some medication that’s been helping. So, you know, I’ll just keep praying for him. Paul only really recognizes a couple of people other than his family members, and fortunately, I can pick up the phone 2 weeks from now and he can go back and recollect and remember so many things and he’s always happy that I call him and smiling. That’s part of my weekly chores, to make sure I communicate with Paul. It’s not a chore, it’s actually an honor. And you know, he’s in all 3 Hall of Fames, WWE, Iowa, and Texas. He’s even in the Florida Hall of Fame. Guy’s amazing. You know, he’s healthy, he’s healthy, and he beat Stage 4 Lymph Node Cancer. Which, I thought we were gonna lose him, I really did, and you know, it went into his throat, and he finally beat all that. So, with that though, it kind of puts more pressure on his brain, which, you know, he’s had several concussions. And, unfortunately, they’re finding, there’s a neuron or something, something called a TAU, that they can find in living people’s brains that will, the researchers say, all CTE patients have this TAU thing inside of them. So, Paul has CTE as diagnosed by his doctors. And, he’s taking medicine. He’s getting ready to raise the dosage so hopefully, that will help his memory because his body’s healthy, so let’s hope it does.
JP: Absolutely. Now, are fans and people still able to contribute to his GoFundMe account, is that still active? Like, is the money now going to be able to go towards his medical costs?
Brian Blair: Oh absolutely, absolutely. Just because they paid the tax bill doesn’t mean they’re out of the woods, I mean, they have to eat, and they just have social security. So, it’s very difficult and then, you know, Rhonda (Paul’s wife) is kind of like my wife, an enabler. She’s got Buzz [Sawyer]’s kids. Paul’s older son got into some problems, so Rhonda’s raised like 8 kids of Buzz’s from 2 or 3 different women, and even taking the women in. And, so, you know, Paul doesn’t really know about, he knows the grandkids are there and all that kind of stuff, and he was okay with it at first when things weren’t so bad, but it’s getting to where she’s got to kind of cut the bait with them and just take care of Paul. But that’s kind of personal stuff and but we appreciate our wrestling fans and they’re like family to us, so we would never be where we are at without the wrestling fans. So, it doesn’t hurt to let them inside of the house sometimes.
Advice for current and upcoming wrestlers
JP: Being that you’re the President of the Cauliflower Alley Club, and that you’ve seen a lot of stuff, good and bad, what advice do you have to give for current and upcoming wrestlers as well as former wrestlers, that they can take on board and help them. What advice do you have?
Brian Blair: Well, a couple of things. Probably the first one, Lanny would tell them first, save your money. Both Lanny I have learned it’s not how much you make, it’s how much you save, and, we’ve always been, I wrestled Angelo Poffo and even then, Angelo would tell me, ‘Save your money kid, save your money kid, save your money,’ and he drilled that in me. So a lot of the old timers did that and it’s so true, because you never know how long your career is gonna be, you don’t know what’s gonna be around, so we would many times skimp and live a pauper’s life making a good salary just so we could save and fortunately, I was able to do that and turn them into Gold’s Gyms and then be elected county-wide politician and go on and do some other things that were very good and I’ve been blessed that, you know, financially we don’t have to worry about our electric bill.
The next thing I would say is you have to be a business person, you need to humble, you need to be quiet, don’t speak unless spoken to unless you feel comfortable enough to have a conversation with somebody and when you’re doing that you need to be respectful of everyone. it’s just like Steve Keirn said when he was addressing who has trained more people in the WWE than any person alive. Steve said that Vince isn’t looking for the greatest guy with the biggest muscle or not even necessarily the guy with the greatest talent, he’s looking for people with integrity. People that he can count on that he knows if he sends them somewhere to represent the WWE, that they’re going to do it with class and dignity. And, that’s the kind of people that Vince is looking for now. Of course, you gotta be an athlete. Of course, you gotta be able to wrestle, but if you don’t have the very first thing that he wants, you’re not going to make it. If you’re a butthead, if people don’t like you, I’m sorry, you’re not going to get that opportunity. Now there have been people that have made it that have kind of forgotten those values, but you know that is what it is.
JP: That is really good advice. In fact, you can use that advice outside of wrestling. As you said, if you are a wrestler, if you get to New York or anywhere else, don’t be a butthead. Represent yourself well as you’re representing the company. Very good advice you gave there.
Brian Blair on Killer Bees tag partner, Jim Brunzell
JP: Are you and Brunzell still in contact? Are you guys still friends?
Brian Blair: Yeah, Jimmy and I have never had an argument. His new comic book is coming out [October 14, 2019]. you can go to inversepress.com and get the Jumping Jim comic book. And while you’re there, pick up the B. Brian Blair one so you can have a set because our Killer Bees together like my comic book came out, Leaper’s got one as well at inversepress.com, which is very good. These comic books are inexpensive, they’re collectibles and they’re real shoot stories. John Crowther, the author, actually asked, ‘Tell me how you grew up and how you got to the WWF, and how did you meet Jim Brunzell.’ So, that takes my life story up to that point.
Hogan was the one that actually got us together. I was sitting with him and, Jimmy’s comic will bring him up to that point as well. Vince was bringing me back and he wanted to find a tag team partner for me, and Terry suggested Jim Brunzell. At that time, Vince had already stolen Terry from Verne, and he was taking their top talent, and the next thing they had was the High Flyers, Jumping Jim and Greg Gagne. So, Jimmy gave his notice there. He came, we met up in Branford, Canada, and we hit it off right away. We were together as the Killer Bees for 4 years there and wrestled as the Killer Bees all over the world afterward, from Russian to golly, Singapore, Malaysia, The Island of Saba, all over Italy.
In those days, from ’90 to ’93-’94, it was so hot on the independent circuit because wrestling was getting so so hot, and their takes were behind, so we were like fresh to them. And, you know, it was great, it was great. I mean, personally, I think my career was best as a singles wrestler. I had a lot of success but we didn’t have the big stage like the WWE has to offer so everyone will know me more as a Killer Bee than B. Brian Blair. So, as long as they call me, I’ll take it. If you remember me, I’m happy. It’s all good.
Jim and I still work together. We’re booked in Niagara Falls, in Canada, next year, early next year; we’re booked in a lot of places this year still together.
JP: That’s great. As a singles star, you definitely weren’t a scrub, not by a longshot. You had wins over Jimmy Garvin, Stan Stasiak, Stan Hansen, and Bruiser Brody amongst many others. Are you in contact with Hogan anymore?
Brian Blair: Well, you know, when Terry was getting a divorce, my wife and his wife were very close. And, Linda wanted my wife to testify against Terry in the divorce; I wasn’t about to let that happen. So, you know, his new wife was kinda pissy about that so, it’s kinda… we really still love each other and say hello, we just can’t hang out like we used to. It used to be an everyday thing. But, people change, things change, and you know, I love my colleagues, I can’t say that there’s anybody in the business that I dislike.
“I never lost a fight, but I never started one either!” – Brian Blair opens up about shoot fights he had with Doug Somers, Matt Borne, Buzz Sawyer, and more.
Brian Blair: I’ve had 5 shoot fights with 5 of the guys in the business, and I was friends with them all afterward. I never lost a fight, I can say that, but I never started one either, and that’s because of all the stuff Hiro and the guys taught me; just taught me to be able to take care of myself, when push came to shove, and I had to do that, I did. So, it’s all good.
Lanny: Brian, you know, I don’t mean to put you on the spot, but can you elaborate on these 5 guys? Or, would you like to tell at least one story? Because, you know, I appreciate the fact that you are so candid, so if you would like to tell a story that’d be fantastic. Because, as you said, sometimes you do have to take care of yourself.
Brian Blair: Well, here’s one, Doug Somers. He’s still alive.
Lanny: No, he died about 2 years ago.
Brian Blair: Oh, did he? Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. Well, anyway, he apologized to me and friended me on Facebook before, I’m sorry, I forgot about that.
I got married at a young age, at 22, to Mike McGuirk – Leroy’s daughter in the promotion. We were married for about a year. But she was very jealous. She would tell you that right now. She’s a friend of mine, and we still get along, we still talk occasionally, and I found out that she and Doug were getting a divorce, but at the same time, she’s still my wife and I used to let Doug ride in the car with us.
Anyway, somehow, they wound up having an affair. So, I find out about it, and I had just gotten done wrestling Ron Starr for the World Junior Heavyweight Championship in Tulsa. We had a tremendous crowd. And I go back to Leroy’s office and as I go into the office Doug Somers is sitting in there. Well, I looked at him and I said right away, what the heck are you doin’ f’ing with my old lady? Doug responded, ‘Oh, what are you talking about, what are you talking about?’ So now he starts lying to me. Boom, boom, boom, and I got up in his face and he goes to swing at me and when he did, I took him down to the floor and I was actually merciless. I just lost my temper so bad and I wound up throwing him into the walls and broke some of Leroy’s trophies and beat him pretty bad. I really didn’t know how bad until some guys, Oki Shikina, a bunch of different guys came in and finally pulled me off of him. He was just lying there in blood. And I took off.
I cleaned up and left the house with just my ’72 blue Lincoln Continental and my 18-foot Caravel inboard outboard boat, some of my clothes, my Great Dane, and 500 dollars. I left the 75,000 dollars I put into the house in Tulsa, and everything else that I had bought and saved up until that point. I just left it all, and I started to leave but I wanted to say goodbye to Mike just one more time.
I went to her house, I pulled in, Lincoln Continental, boat and everything, I’m on my way to the Von Erich’s, David’s waiting on me, my year and a half roommate David Von Erich, he’s waiting on me to get there, he’s got a room for me. But they’re all trying to cheer me up, Kev, Dave, Kerry. But anyway, I knock on the door and Leroy comes to the door. He said, ‘Who is it?’ I said, ‘It’s Brian’. He started cussing at me so bad. ‘You broke the trophies in my room!’ I mean he went off on me, off on me. He goes, ‘Get the F out of here’, and he slams the door.
“I knocked on the door and all of a sudden Leroy slams the door open and he’s got a gun, and as I see the gun pointed right at me.”
So, I go back and sit in my blue Lincoln Continental for a couple of minutes, I’m kinda thinking, golly, I can’t believe this, I can’t believe this. I gotta at least say goodbye, I gotta at least say goodbye. So, I walk around to the back, and I can peek through the back curtains, and I look, and I see like a mummy laying on the couch. Now, this is like 3 in the morning. There’s like a mummy laying on the couch in the living room and Mike is sitting there feeding him soup and it was Doug Somers and he was completely bandaged up. He only had eyes and a mouth and a nose. And just the nostrils. And so that hurt me. That was like somebody just stuck a knife in my heart.
I went around to the back and I knocked on the door and all of a sudden Leroy slams the door open and he’s got a gun, and as I see the gun pointed right at me, I just twist over to behind the wall, cause there’s like a brick wall in the front, in the door’s inset. So, I went behind the brick wall and all of a sudden, it’s like ‘blam, blam!’ His car was parked out there and he almost shot his tire. I saw the dirt, ’cause I’m staring at it scared to death. I’m thinking, ‘Should I run to the right now? Is he gonna come outside? What’s gonna happen?’ I already knew for sure he was blind, at first, I wasn’t sure but then I found out he really was blind. So I knew he couldn’t see me, but still, he had a gun. There’s a chance he could shoot me, and I’m already scared to death, you know? He just pointed it at my face! If I’d have stayed there 2 more seconds I’d be dead!
Anyway, after that, I just got in my car and left. Drove to Texas, and the next year and a half were phenomenal with the Von Erichs.
“Another fight was with Matt Borne. If you ever talk to Ric Flair, ask him who his favorite fight was.”
Oh boy, so that was one fight. Another fight was with Matt Borne. If you ever talk to Ric Flair, ask him who his favorite fight was. We were in a bar somewhere in the Midwest, Murdock was there, Adonis was there, golly so many of the boys were there, Muraco, and Flair’s there, you know, acting crazy, good time, and Matt Borne just came into the territory. He hadn’t even been there a week yet. And he comes up to me and he goes, ‘Hey, why you messing with my girl?’ I said ‘Matt, what are you talking about?’ He said, ‘You’re messing with my girl’. I said, ‘Who’s your girl, Matt? I’m not messing with your girl. If I am, I don’t know who it is. I mean, tell me who it is.’ And I said, ‘You need to calm down and just go have a drink and realize that I’m not messing with your girl. If your girl wants to come up and say I messed with her in front of you, I apologize, but I don’t think that’s the case.’
As I turn around, boom! He hits me right in the back of the head. Flair saw him hit me. So, I felt the punch and as I turn around, he grabs me and tries to tight waist me, belly to belly and take me down. But as he does, I wind up on top of him, so he grabs my ears and starts pulling my ears and my hair down so he can bite my nose. I see his teeth, ahhh! My nose is getting closer, closer, and his teeth are open, and they are about to chomp down when I grabbed his lip with my teeth and I bit his lip off! I just grabbed his lip and spit his lip out. He was screaming and crying like a baby, oh my gosh. And so, as he does that he gets up and starts swinging wildly and I started pulverizing him, bing, bang, boom, boom, boom. I got him on the ground and the boys pulled me off of him. At this point, he goes off and he leaves bloody.
Afterward, I’m sitting there having a drink with the guys, Flair’s going crazy talking about that, ‘Golly, and we thought Matt Borne was a tough guy!’ And as we’re talking about him he comes back and jumps on me again! This went on 3 times. He was a tough guy because he took a heck of a beating, man. I swear, he took a heck of a beating, and he would not stop. Finally, we wound up- he was just crawling, trying to grab my leg, and we got to a door where it was like a slow alligator chasing me (laughing). Finally, he gets to my leg and I want to kick him in the face, but I’m thinking, ‘I’m not gonna do it, I’m not gonna do it, it’s so easy to do.’ I was really pissed at this time, and Ivan Koloff says, ‘Ah, just let him alone.’ I said, ‘Here, just let me out.’ And I turned my back just for one second and he hits me in the legs from behind, right in the middle of my knees, from behind, buckles me so I go down, and he grabs my leg and he jumps my back and he puts his hand towards my eye. And, as he puts his hand towards my eye, Uncle Ivan, Ivan Koloff kicks his hand away. He said, ‘No eyes.’
After that, I got up one more time, hit him about 3 more times, down he was, and I left. And that was it. But Ric Flair said that was the greatest fight he’s ever seen in his life.
The other ones, Larry Booker, Bobby Jaggers, but they were just fights, not much to them. I mean, they started stuff with me. Larry Booker, I’ll never forget him. We were in Boger City, at the hotel in Boger City, and Murdock and Killer Karl Kox had rooms right next to each other. We were going there to have a beer and Larry Booker started complaining about how stiff I was, then he started saying, ‘Nobody could outshoot the Book! I was the best shooter in Tennessee! and all this kind of stuff. So, Kox and Murdock, you know how they are, they start egging stuff on and anyway, he swings at me and that was it. He went down pretty quick, and there wasn’t too much to that. And Bobby Jaggers, I forgot what he did, but he wouldn’t do it again. And the fifth guy, I’m trying to think of who the fifth guy was. Oh man, it’ll come to me. Buzz Sawyer! Buzz Sawyer was the other one.
Lanny: Oh, please tell us about that.
Brian Blair: Well Buzz, we had a heckuva 15-minute match. One of the best 15-minute draws, it was his first match of the territory. This is the first time I had seen him since we had gotten into the fight. We were at a bar and he was drunk and he just, you know, same old shit, started, started, started and he got on me, got on me, got on me, and finally, I don’t remember exactly what happened, all I remember was I was on top of him. It was another bruiser brawl, because Buzz Sawyer, he was a tough guy, and, you know, all the boys were around again, and Buzz was just a little short on the stick that day and he finally quit, they pulled me away, got Buzz, took him away, I had no blood and he was juiced from ear to ear. And, he told me we would pick it up again tomorrow. And that never happened.
Lanny: I never met Buzz Sawyer but I know that he was a bully and I’m glad he got his comeuppance. On behalf of all the boys, thank you for your honesty, your stories, and thanks for standing up to these bullies that, you know, they’re miserable people but every once in a while they meet a Brian Blair that has to make them sit down. So, thank you for that.
Brian Blair: Oh, it’s my pleasure. I guess Lanny, you know we don’t like bullies, nobody likes bullies.
Lanny: You know what, you were a fantastic interview, JP wasn’t he great?
JP: Absolutely. We couldn’t have asked for a better guest, Brian. You were candid, you held nothing back and I know our [readers] are going to find everything you said to be very interesting. It’d be good to have you back at some point!
Brian Blair: Sure, sometime I’ll have to break down and tell you some Dusty and Andre stories.
Lanny: Oh man, that’d be great, but for another time. Thank you, B. Brian Blair. Always the greatest respect and thank you so much.
JP: Brian, how can our [readers] find you on social media?
Brian Blair: You can go to @Killerbee1B at Twitter, and then they can actually go to thekillerbees.net. We’ve got a lot of great stuff on there. There’s a store there, there are all kinds of memorabilia things, so they can check out thekillerbees.net, but by all means, check out the caulifloweralleyclub.org, and consider investing 25 dollars in your happiness and the wrestlers that brought you so much entertainment’s health. I appreciate it guys!
JP, this has been awesome, I appreciate it. Thank you so much. Keep on buzzin’. You are an official member of The Hive now. (laughing)
JP: Thanks again Brian, it’s been a pleasure having you. I wish you nothing but health, happiness and good fortune in the days to come. Let’s do this again soon.
Brian Blair: Well thank you and God bless. I loved being on The Genius Cast!
So, there you have it. Brian is certainly a stand-up guy, with a wealth of priceless stories from his days on the road with the old territories, the WWE, and the independent circuit. The Cauliflower Alley Club that he presides over is a wonderful organization that tries to give back to the many men and women who have provided us with countless hours of entertainment in the Squared Circle. We look forward to having Mr. Blair back for another interview in the near future.
You can hear this interview with Brian Blair on The Genius Cast with Lanny Poffo in its entirety below:
A big thank you to Pro Wrestling Stories contributor Benny Scala for transcribing this interview in its entirety.