Alan Wojcik: At any point during your time with WCW did you ever receive any offers from WWF to come and work for them? Plus with all the corporate shuffling and power plays that were going on did you ever think I better call there and see if the ship sinks can I jump on their boat?
Scott Hudson: After the buy out, everyone who wanted to was invited to meet with WWF representatives at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Buckhead. I took advantage of that and spent an hour talking to Jim Ross in a top floor suite about working for the WWF. I love Jim Ross and really spent more time talking than listening. Nothing came of that (I didnâ<80><99>t expect it to since the WWF was not exactly hurting for announcers at the time.) I thanked Jim for the time, told him how much of a fan I was of his and figured my wrestling days were behind me.
Fast forward about 3 months. Kevin Dunn called me at my house and asked me if I could be in Stamford the next day for an audition. I figured what the hell so off I went. I took the day off and flew to Connecticut where a limo was waiting on me at LaGuardia. They drove me to Titan Towers and then on to the production facility. I met with Kevin and MAN did he put me through my paces. First, an hour of market specs (30 second or 60 second promos without a script. Just make people want to come to the Joffa Mosque to see Steve Lombardi vs. Jacques Goulet!), then calling a generic one hour TV show with Michael Hayes on color, and finally interviewing talent. That took from about 10:00am to 3:00pm. After a bout an hour break, Kevin called me into meet with him and Vince. â<80><9c>You did great…â<80> etc. â<80><9c>Weâ<80><99>d like you to work here.â<80> The end of this story was that they wanted me to quit my job (no) move to Connecticut (no) for a substantial pay cut (hell no) and a one year contract (no). We parted on good terms and I came home.
The next week Kevin called again and asked if I could do a couple of Rawâ<80><99>s and Smackdownâ<80><99>s to help establish the Invasion angle. I would do shows in Tacoma, Washington, and Atlanta, Georgia, and maybe the Invasion PPV but that would be it. That was too good to pass up. So off I went to the Pacific Northwest for the ill-fated edition of Raw during which Arn Anderson and I announced the Buff Bagwell vs. Booker T match.
Sweet Christ on a crutch was that match awful. After walking out with Arn and Stacy Keibler and getting booed unmercifully, I was as pumped up as I had ever been. Then the bell rung. Arn was writing notes to me during this travesty about what we were seeing and we were rolling our eyes for the entire thing. We knew.
What most everyone forgets is that the next night in the same building at the Smackdown taping, Jindrak, Oâ<80><99>Haire, Palumbo and Stasiak had a helluva good match but by then it was too late. The next week at the Phillips Arena show, Kevin told me they â<80><9c>were going in a different direction.â<80> I said, â<80><9c>I donâ<80><99>t blame you.â<80> and that was that.
It did not work out because Vince McMahon did not want to (1) pay the WCW talent that would get the angle over i.e. Sting, Goldberg, etc. enough money to make it worth their while (they were still receiving the balance of their WCW contracts and Vince would not match those amounts); and (2) Vince would never, EVER, put over WCW talent on his show. The end.
Mid-card and low-card WCW talent serving as jobbers to WWF talent doomed it to failure before it began. By the time, Page, Goldberg and the rest showed up it was over. The ECW guys got a little better treatment because Paul Heyman was there and could speak for them. But ultimately they got (and are getting) shafted too.
In retrospect, WCW was about a million times more organized that the WWF as a TV product. In WCW, we knew the format at 10:00am and had pretapes done before 5:00pm. In the WWF, there was no format and pretapes (if there were any – a good many were done live and it showed) started at 6:00pm. But, regardless, theyâ<80><99>re still open and we are closed. They won.
Alan Wojcik: Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, the Big Show and Sean Waltman all left WCW for the WWE. Many journalists felt that was the main reason people turned off WCW TV shows. In your opinion was that & the writing lacking consistent storylines or was it something else?
Scott Hudson: In wrestling, the talent (announcers included) are interchangeable and, thus, always expendable. Talent knows this and behaves accordingly. Itâ<80><99>s a true â<80><9c>us vs. themâ<80> mentality. Whatever viewers the WWF gained by the jumpers you listed were offset by the viewers they lost when their jumpers came over to us.
Alan Wojcik: You were part of the final Nitro broadcast which sequed into WWF’s Monday Night Raw. Talk about that day and what did you think would happen to the WCW roster and you under the WWF umbrella?
Scott Hudson: A truly surreal day. We knew it was the last show (who in the hell didn’t?) so there was a morose vibe all around. I could write a book about that day but suffice to say it was both sad and exhilarating. When it was over, there were a LOT of tears and hugs especially for the crew who had no where else to go come Tuesday morning. There was supposed to be an after-show reception / goodbye party. Tony grabbed me about 15 minutes after the show and said “do you want to go to this thing or just go home?” I said “let’s go home.” We jumped in his jeep and drove from Panama City to Atlanta (5 hours) and reminisced about our wrestling experiences in and out of WCW and what we hoped to be doing in 6 months. I wouldn’t trade anything for that ride.
Alan Wojcik: You took a couple of years away from the business before TNA Wrestling made you their backstage interviewer. Who contacted you and what made you say yes to the company that was going to launch running weekly PPV broadcasts?
Scott Hudson: I really didnâ<80><99>t stay away. I worked for Bert prenticeâ<80><99>s â<80><9c>USA Wrestlingâ<80> in Nashville, Tennessee, between WWF and TNA. While there I got to know most of the Nashville indy talent (Kid Kash, Chris Harris, James Storm, Chase Stevens, Andy Douglas, Rick Santel, Chris Vaugh, Arick Andrews, etc.) and announce with first Larry Zbysko and then Jim Cornett.
I also remained in contact with Vince Russo after the end of WCW and after the â<80><9c>Invasionâ<80> stuff. He owned and operated a retail store near my house, actually, so I would stop by and catch up. He kept me updated on how the evolution of the origin TNA was progressing. Before the company opened up shop, they approached me about doing the announcing ( I assume with Mike) but I had to decline. My schedule just would not allow it plus I was VERY happy being home with my wife and daughter. In 2003 they asked me about doing the backstage stuff because they had bigger plans for Goldilocks. I agreed because I just missed those guys plus they were using a lot of the same guys I knew in Nashville.
I really enjoyed everything about TNA. Absolutely no bad memories about my TNA experience. Totally positive. I would go back today if they would have me.
Alan Wojcik: You were working again with Vince Russo who was doing the shows with Jeff and Jerry Jarrett. Did you notice any changes in Vince from his WCW days and what was it like to work with Jeff and Jerry?
Scott Hudson: During this period, Vince became a born again Christian and the evolution of his character (the real one not the TV one) was startling. I always liked and respected Vince but, to a lot of people, he seemed quite abrasive and prickly. He became this easy going, fun-to-be-around guy that, whether you agreed or disagreed with his booking decisions, was easily likeable.
I had never met Jerry Jarrett before this but it was easy to see why he was successful in everything he did. He is incredibly goal-oriented and can maintain focus in chaos like almost no one else in this business. Whether he is the owner or a consultant, he is an asset to whatever company he is attached.
Jeff Jarrett is the best person in wrestling. With all due respect to everyone else – heâ<80><99>s number one. Heâ<80><99>s always treated me like an old friend but, then again, he treats everyone that way. Let me tell you a quick story. In 2001, my mom was suffering from breast cancer (a disease that would kill her in 2002). As I was in the building somewhere on the afternoon of a â<80><9c>Nitroâ<80> broadcast, I was speaking to her on my cell phone, I walked past Jeff as he was sitting in the stands and told her. She said, â<80><9c>Tell him to grow up.â<80> (My mom was something of a mark – like her son.) I told Jeff what she said and he said, â<80><9c>Let me talk to her.â<80> I whispered to Jeff about her disease and, with all the gentlemanliness Iâ<80><99>ve ever encountered, he carried on a 20 minutes conversation with this dying woman he had never met. She felt like a million bucks after that. Jeff could have just snickered and walked away but he didnâ<80><99>t. I cried like a baby when I heard that his wife Jill passed away a couple of years ago. I hope that Jeff Jarrett achieves every goal he has and ten times more.
Alan Wojcik: While you were working for TNA you did some stuff with Tony Falk’s USWO promotion. Talk about that promotion and the Nashville wrestling scene as a whole.
Scott Hudson: I really enjoyed most of my time in the USWO. It had been a long time since I had worked in a truly independent organization. Small building with low or no pay-offs but intense, rabid fans (Iâ<80><99>m looking your way, Chicken Hat) take ALL of the pressure off. It was a terrific environment. I got to enjoy the work of wrestlers who were in the business strictly for the fun of it with no desire or delusion they were ever going to advance up the food chain. I also encountered some who had no business in the business or, quite frankly, out of jail. The Nashville scene in general was best described by Jeff Jarrett who called it â<80><9c>10 rats fighting over a crumb of cheese in a five star restaurant.â<80>
Alan Wojcik: In 2004 TNA debuted Impact on Fox Sports Net and in September dropped the weekly PPV format to join the Sunday PPV race with WWE. Did you think this was a good idea and did the change in scheduling affect your normal work routine?
Scott Hudson: Well, you left out the move to Orlando which was THE reason I had to leave TNA. I just could not manage my schedule to be in Orlando for regular TV. I worked the monthly pay-per-views for 6 months but even that was interfering with my work schedule. That really sucked because I loved everything about TNA and I wish I go back. I think the move to a monthly PPV built from two weekly television shows was okay but I still believe the weekly PPV concept was a great one. I remember conversations early-on with Vince about the marketing of the show. I thought the best marketing would be along the lines of this: For $10 per week you get 8 hours of PPV quality wrestling per month with TNA – while for $40 per month you get 3 hours from the WWE. Unfortunately, the PPV companies had a completely closed minded approach to marketing based on price or value. That was too bad.
Alan Wojcik: What do you think of the current TNA product as a whole and do you think stars like AJ Styles, Sting, Christian Cage, Kurt Angle, Booker T, Samoa Joe (& if the rumors are true Mick Foley) can help the promotion keep pace with the WWE or should TNA not worry about competing and just do its own thing?
Scott Hudson: TNA should offer a distinct alternative to the WWE product – not an imitation. They have achieved a measure of that with the television shooting style, the way they use promos and, obviously, the 6-sided ring. They have yet to get any separation from the WWE in booking. They have a good foundation to build on but it is a work in progress. I would bet on their continued success.
Alan Wojcik: Are you surprised to see former WCW stars Sting, Rey Mysterio, Booker T and Kevin Nash still wrestling today?
Scott Hudson: I am. Rey is not that old but has REALLY abused his body with his incredible working style. Sting certainly does not work like Rey but is a good bit older as is Kevin so the fact they are still going is truly inspiring. Booker and I are the same age and I donâ<80><99>t feel old so I guess he doesnâ<80><99>t either. More power to â<80>~em.
Alan Wojcik: This past WrestleMania saw the retirement of the legendary Ric Flair. What did you think of the way he went out and do you think he’s 100% retired?
Scott Hudson: I worry about Ric a lot. As long as he is in the wrestling business with the cocoon of protection his legacy affords him – he is fine. Away from the business, I worry that he is almost child-like in his naivete. For his own good, I hope he comes back to the WWE and never, EVER really retires. The business need him and he needs the business.
Alan Wojcik: Two of your former WCW colleagues had untimely demises, namely Ms. Elizabeth and Chris Benoit. Being as you reside in Georgia where both passed away, would you be willing to share any thoughts on either person.
Scott Hudson: Liz was on a downward spiral for a while. She really was a breathtaking beauty but kept to herself so much I honestly cannot remember ever having a conversation with her. I know that Lex has since turned his life around (albeit with a myriad of physical problems) and Iâ<80><99>m really proud of him. Lizâ<80><99>s death was a tragedy that was avoidable. Chris, on the other hand, well, as easy as it is to say that you never saw it coming – a lot of people knew Chris was a troubled soul. He lost Owen then he lost Eddie and in between he endured a personal and professional upheaval that anyone would have a hard time adjusting to. I donâ<80><99>t know how much of a role his use of steroids and other substances played in what ultimately happened but it really does not matter. What he did to his family (not just Nancy and Daniel) was the most heinous act a human can commit. I thought I knew him and realized I knew nothing about him. I guess a lot of people feel that way now. He went from one of the best ever to THE worst ever.
It is obvious to me that Chrisâ<80><99> brutality and ultimate death was a massive wake-up call for wrestling. Have you noticed how very, very few young wrestlers have died since Chris? Not many. It took that murder suicide to throw cold water in the face of this business that it can kill you young. Old wrestlers are dying now. As sad as death is at any age, its not tragic for an 80 year-old to die of a heart attack like it is tragic for a 30 year-old to die of an Oxycotin overdose. I think Benoitâ<80><99>s death turned the tide. At least I hope so.
I’ll post coverage of the Peterson Cup from Port Richey and Brooksville beginning late Friday night. If you’re in the area, come on out. Its always a great show.