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Larry King Live

Has Professional Wrestling Gone Too Far?

Aired March 17, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, organized mayhem. Has professional wrestling gone too far?

Three top wrestlers give us a rare look inside and outside the ring. One of the most famous wrestlers in the world, Hulk Hogan, joins us from Tampa. Plus the "Masked Madman," Mick Foley, also known as "Mankind" and "Cactus Jack," joining us from Los Angeles, along with one of the most explosive, unpredictable wrestlers there ever was, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, and the director of a controversial new documentary on the sport, "Beyond the Mat," Barry Blaustein.

It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

"Beyond the Mat" opened today all over the United States. It is a very controversial documentary, and so we'll start with its director, who's making his directorial debut, Barry Blaustein.

How'd this come about?

BARRY BLAUSTEIN, DIRECTOR, "BEYOND THE MAT": Well, I'd always been a wrestling fan all my life, and over the years, I met a number of wrestlers, and they would talk about -- you know, you talk -- I'd sit and talk to them. They'd talk about their families and raising kids and all these problems that they'd go through, that every couples go through. And I would always think, well, you know, they're just not that different than me. But they are different because I don't bash my head against a steel post for a living. I don't run around in my underwear -- in public, at least.

KING: So you thought this would be a good...

BLAUSTEIN: Yeah, I thought -- actually show these guys as human beings. And I've been -- like I said, I've been a wrestling fan all my life, kind of a closet fan because it's not something most fans like to admit. And I wanted to give the sport and its dignity -- and the people in it some dignity and some respect, to show people -- get people to look at it the way I look at it.

KING: And that is you approached WCW, World -- did you approach WWF for cooperation, both groups?

BLAUSTEIN: Yes. I approached both groups. WCW would not sign my releases. They wanted some sort of editorial control over it. Vince McMahon, WWF, did sign my releases and had no editorial control over the movie whatsoever.

KING: And he is very ticked now.

BLAUSTEIN: Well, I think -- I don't think he's ticked as much about the content. He's ticked that he doesn't own a piece of the film. And that I think is the crux of the argument. You know...

KING: Is Hulk Hogan in the film?

BLAUSTEIN: No, he's not, because he was part of WCW at the time.

KING: Hulk, are you ticked that you are not in this movie about this sport you love and have gotten so successful in?

HULK HOGAN, WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING: Oh, yeah. I'm very ticked. But hopefully, Mr. Blaustein'll do more of these things, and he will consider me in the next one.

KING: You like the finished product?

HOGAN: Yeah, I do.

KING: All right. Mick, you have written about -- you wrote a book, autobiography...

MICK FOLEY, RETIRED WRESTLER: Yeah. Sure.

KING: ... "Have a Nice Day," big hit.

FOLEY: Yeah, I wrote it myself, too.

KING: Yeah.

FOLEY: I have to point that out.

KING: And you are with -- you were with the World Wrestling Federation.

FOLEY: Yes.

KING: Were you with them when Barry was doing this?

FOLEY: No. Actually, it's funny because when I met Barry five years ago, I met him through Barry Bloom (ph), who was Jesse Ventura's agent. Figure if I'm going to drop a name, I might as well drop a good one.

KING: Why not?

FOLEY: And Barry approached me because Barry Bloom had told him I was kind of an interesting wrestling study. And at that time, I was the independent guy who kind of -- whose career had kind of gone downhill and was now slugging it out anywhere and everywhere that I could be paid. And so when I spoke to Barry, I was that guy five years ago. Over the past four years, you know, my career has kind of taken on a resurgence and an upswing. So I went from being the independent guy to the -- I guess the mainstream guy.

KING: Have you seen the film?

FOLEY: Yes.

KING: And what do you think of it?

FOLEY: I actually saw it -- I've seen it twice now. I saw it the first time with Barry in Los Angeles when it premiered. And I saw it in the theater, and I liked it very much, was very proud of it. And I saw it a week ago with my wife on videotape and...

KING: And she liked it?

FOLEY: She had seen it with my parents, so it was the second viewing for both of us, and she liked it very much, although, you know, it was powerful and in some ways, she, you know, regrets doing it simply because she is now known as "the woman who cries."

KING: As she watches you. We'll see that.

"Rowdy" Roddy Piper, have you seen it?

"ROWDY" RODDY PIPER, WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING: Yes, I have. Three times.

KING: And?

PIPER: I think it's the best documentary ever made on professional wrestling. I think they did the -- an excellent job of bringing some respect to some people that have been under a black cloud for a lot of years. They did the best job they had -- they could, rather -- with what they had to work with.

I'm going to be a little adversarial because they didn't get a chance to get inside the inner circle, the cause and effect. You know, this gentleman here, a great athlete, in the film we see a spot where he's getting hid over the head ruthlessly. That's the effect. How did Mick get there?

KING: Well, what didn't they get?

PIPER: Pardon me, sir?

KING: What didn't it get?

PIPER: The cause. How did he get there? All the things that the promoters do and the tyranny that he has gone through to get there and what he's had to do to feed his family.

KING: Barry?

BLAUSTEIN: Well, you know, yes, I'm -- is this the exhaustive study of everything about what's going on in professional wrestling? No, because I only had an hour and a half or two hours to film. There's much more. This is not everything you need to know about wrestling. But I think the film, you know, talks a little about dealing with promoters. I mean, I think that's one thing that is a big problem is that there are basically only two places in this country where wrestlers can make a living doing this, and the wrestlers must constantly, constantly kiss up to the promoter, must protect their position with the promoter.

KING: WWF and WCW.

BLAUSTEIN: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

BLAUSTEIN: ... but they must always -- you guys are on -- you guys are on top now, and you're more free to call your shots. But in a...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: ... average wrestler.

BLAUSTEIN: Right. The average person starting out, it's very political.

KING: You think there's room in all this now for a major movie novel, fiction movie, that tells the truth about wrestling? You know, with actors and...

BLAUSTEIN: Well, I think my movie does tell the truth. I think the...

KING: But not a documentary.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: An epic.

BLAUSTEIN: No, I don't know. You know, I think the reality of wrestling backstage, the non-fiction is so much stranger than you could ever fictionally write. There are things that happen there that if you wrote, they would come across cliched and unbelievable.

KING: When we come back, we're going to see some scenes of Hulk wrestling. In fact, he wrestled just the other night. This film opens today wide. It's been seen in some circles, right?

BLAUSTEIN: Right.

KING: There was a premiere and...

BLAUSTEIN: There was a -- we had an Academy screening. We ran an Academy engagement...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Is WWF suing? Are they trying to stop this?

BLAUSTEIN: No.

KING: No?

BLAUSTEIN: What they're doing...

KING: I know they...

BLAUSTEIN: ... is preventing advertising from...

KING: You can't advertise on their...

BLAUSTEIN: Their show.

KING: No.

BLAUSTEIN: And they put pressure on USA and UPN not to allow any advertising.

KING: When we come back, more. And that's our subject for the hour. Why do they do what they do?

Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "BEYOND THE MAT")

UNIDENTIFIED WRESTLER: (INAUDIBLE) It's cooking!

CLINTON:

UNIDENTIFIED WRESTLER: I'm a very violent person, and I'll hurt you, and that's what I get paid to do.

UNIDENTIFIED WRESTLER: Yeah, you're right! We're too extreme! We're too wild! We're too out of control!

UNIDENTIFIED WRESTLER: It is showtime!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOGAN: Here's a natural disaster. Look at this. Orrin Anderson (ph), the man, paid his...

ORRIN ANDERSON: What is it, Hulk?

HOGAN: Pays his dues in the wrestling business, busted his butt every day. You turn around here, look at the scar on the back of his neck from taking so many falls on the back of his neck. No feeling in his shoulders, traps, tricep. See his hand?

ANDERSON: (INAUDIBLE)

HOGAN: That's what this fake wrestling business does to you. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Hulk Hogan is with us in Tampa. We sent a television crew to a recent match he had in Virginia, and Hulk decided to describe for us various injuries to his body parts.

Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOGAN: The list of Hulk Hogan injuries start with the broken nose. It's debatable, six or seven times, depending on my wife or myself. She hit me once and says she didn't break my nose. That was after a match -- just kidding.

Six or seven times nose broken, front teeth knocked out four different times, the torn trap, (INAUDIBLE) see I'm off-centered, the deltoid torn in three different places, bicep torn in two places, big hole in the back of the latmus (ph) torn from slamming Andre the Giant. Hip sockets worn out from falling on my right side too much.

Need to have a knee replacement done pretty soon. The left ankle was broken by the man that broke me into this business, Hira Matsuta (ph). And then there's -- if I had the rag off of my bald head, you'd see all the different scars and all the different stitches where I've been hit several times with a steel chair on the head. Just the normal costs of doing business.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: From this, Hulk, an obvious question. Why do you wrestle?

HOGAN: Oh, I love it. It's a great way to make a living. I mean...

KING: It's a great way to make a living?

HOGAN: Yeah. I mean...

KING: After what you just described?

HOGAN: Yes. Yes. I mean, it beats working a real job. And for those of us that love this business and have it in our blood, like Mick Foley and Roddy Piper, I'm sure they'd agree with me. It's something that you want to do the moment you get hooked on watching wrestling. And once it gets in your blood, it's the only thing you want to do.

KING: Now, here's you in the ring in Virginia. Can you see this? Describe what you see. Who are you wrestling?

HOGAN: That was Ric Flair. That was last night about, oh, I guess a few hours ago. We had a...

KING: Now there's two guys in the ring.

HOGAN: Right. That's Lex Lugar and Ric Flair. And we're getting ready to set the stage...

KING: What are you -- what are you hitting them with, Hulk?

HOGAN: Oh, that's a weight-lifting belt. This...

KING: Yeah.

BLAUSTEIN: This coming weekend, we're having a pay-per-view event, and we're having a strap match. And basically, that's -- the theme is one wrestler gets strapped together, and we'll probably keep hitting...

KING: Now, how -- how much of you here is acting, Hulk Hogan, and how much of you is angry?

HOGAN: Well, I'm basically doing my job. I'm not mad at anybody here. I'm trying to entertain the people and have a great match. I'm in a situation where it's a two-on-one situation, so I'm in there trying to keep up with both guys and keep the storyline...

KING: Now, when you -- when you hit them with that strap and you knocked them -- are you hurting them, or are there ways you're taught not to hurt them?

HOGAN: Well, I'm sure it hurts.

KING: Now, did you just kick that guy flush on the face?

HOGAN: Excuse me?

KING: Did you just kick him flush on the face?

HOGAN: Yes, but I mean, he's in a situation where he's running into my foot. I'm sure it hurts, but I'm not trying to kick his teeth out or anything.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: What are you doing now?

HOGAN: Climbing the ropes and punching it looks like Ric Flair in the side of the head repeatedly before I...

KING: Hulk, this is a great way to make a living, isn't it, Hulk?

HOGAN: It beats...

KING: This beats work.

HOGAN: It beats selling cars or bagging groceries.

KING: It does, huh?

HOGAN: Yes, sir.

KING: Rick looks like he's having the time of his life.

HOGAN: He is. He loves it.

KING: Why do you wrestle, Rowdy?

PIPER: You know, I was on the street when I was 13. I was in the Police Athletic League. I was...

KING: Me, too.

PIPER: ... a 167 amateur champion. You were?

KING: PAL, New York City.

PIPER: You betcha!

KING: I'm on the board now.

PIPER: Oh, God bless you, man! Because...

KING: They took us to baseball games, but we didn't wrestle.

PIPER: ... there was somebody -- somebody didn't show up at the Winnipeg Arena, and I came fifth in the world playing the bagpipes, and they said, I'll pay you 25 bucks. And the guy didn't know my name and didn't care. And I walked into the arena, and he said, ladies and gentlemen, here comes" -- and my Christian name was Roderick (ph). So he says, "Roddy the Piper." And, bah, bah, got dropped, and it's been Roddy Piper ever since. And the "Rowdy" comes from Hogan.

KING: And you love it.

PIPER: No. No. I have a whole different point of view. I have it in my blood, like Hogan said.

KING: So it's an addiction.

PIPER: It's addiction to feed my family.

KING: If you made the same money driving a bus, would you drive a bus?

PIPER: No, sir.

KING: No. So you like it, too?

PIPER: No, sir. I am -- yeah, I'm on the line. I live on the line. But you know, at the same time, when I came into it, it was 300 people in a garage. You know, it was -- it was different -- it was a different ballgame. The tyranny, the -- you know, you were dealing with everything from pedophiles to promoters, which are one and the same, you know? It's true. You know, I...

KING: Why -- Mick, why do you wrestle?

FOLEY: I was one of those kids who -- who always loved it. I guess I had it in my blood, too. I got...

KING: Were you a fan of, like...

FOLEY: Oh, a big fan.

(CROSSTALK)

FOLEY: I don't want to date Roddy and Hogan, but I used to go see them in the arena.

(LAUGHTER)

FOLEY: I used to hitchhike to Madison Square Garden when I was...

KING: Yeah. You knew it wasn't real competition, in the sense there wasn't a real champion. "The New York Times" sports pages doesn't list this every...

FOLEY: Right.

KING: ... day, right?

FOLEY: It didn't matter.

KING: Didn't matter? Why?

FOLEY: I thought it was a great blend of -- of drama and sport. I mean, I'll go on record. I mean, I think your quote was -- one of your columns was "I'm sorry, golf is a skill. It's not a sport."

KING: Correct.

FOLEY: To me, all right, if golf is a sport, then what we do is a sport. If figure skating's in, we're in. So I don't see it as being -- I see it as a great combination between the two. And I actually got involved via a home-made videotape, where I was, you know, this big World Wrestling Federation champion.

KING: Of our panelists, Rowdy appears to be the most bitter. We will find...

(LAUGHTER)

KING: We'll find out why and get into that right after this. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING")

PIPER: (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: ... history as he dismantles the office of the powers that be!

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: He's over the edge now!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING")

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: Well, when he walked in here tonight, it was very apparent that he was not the same Roddy Piper that we had become accustomed to. And it was apparent he was...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Before we talk to Rowdy about that element of the sport, here's a scene from "Beyond the Mat," opening today, about wrestling. It features Mick Foley and family saying good-bye as he goes to work. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "BEYOND THE MAT")

FOLEY: Well, you know (INAUDIBLE) is Daddy's friend, right? He's not going to do anything to really hurt Daddy, right? OK. (INAUDIBLE) you know that? You do, right? Not going to be scared, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's going to be OK.

FOLEY: You go on back to the future, you can do anything. Right?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Yes.

FOLEY: Can I have a hug for good luck, please?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Why are you wearing that absurd thing on your face?

(LAUGHTER)

FOLEY: Probably that...

KING: (INAUDIBLE)

FOLEY: Well, it was because I'd been "Cactus Jack" for 11 years, when it came to the WWF. The good news was they wanted Mick Foley. The bad news is they wanted to can the Cactus Jack character.

KING: Kids get a little afraid?

FOLEY: Well, at one point, that was the meaning of the character. He was supposed to scare kids.

KING: Ah!

FOLEY: But over the course of four years...

KING: Good thinking. That's nice. FOLEY: Scare everybody.

KING: Yeah.

FOLEY: But kids, in general, would -- in particular, would run in -- run in fear. And four years later, when I finally took off the "Mankind" mask in order to become Cactus Jack again and go full circle, by that time Mankind was really a children's character. I mean, he was about as close to a human Muppet as you can be and...

KING: Did the set-up of taking the kids to see you wrestle...

FOLEY: Yeah.

KING: Was that done for Barry and to set up the thing, or do you take them...

FOLEY: No, I take them...

KING: You do?

FOLEY: ... occasionally. And this was a situation where I knew going in -- I want to say -- address something Roddy mentioned first about the tyranny. And in my case, at least, I was...

KING: And here we're seeing your family...

FOLEY: Yeah, they're reacting...

KING: ... watching you.

FOLEY: ... to this match. And this was a rough one. In retrospect, this was not a good parental decision to have my kids sitting there, although most of the time, the matches don't resemble this -- this beating.

KING: Are you aware they're there? Are you...

FOLEY: I'm aware they're there, but you know, I got into the match, and at this point, I didn't realize my kids were going to react in this manner and...

KING: And your wife.

FOLEY: My wife also. They'd never been this close, and they'd never seen a match this physical and...

KING: Whoa!

FOLEY: Yeah, it was...

KING: And you say you would not recommend this for the family to attend.

FOLEY: I can highly recommend that -- I brought -- I brought my kids since then, but I've always made sure that the matches didn't resemble this...

KING: But doesn't this back up what Rowdy said a little...

FOLEY: No.

KING: ... about it, the tyranny of it?

FOLEY: No, it doesn't.

KING: The promoters like this, right?

FOLEY: No, because this was my idea.

KING: They've got to leave now.

FOLEY: Yeah, my kids -- it's my mistake. I mean, I'm not going to point fingers at Vince McMahon because I was the one who approached Vince McMahon and said, "I got this great idea to be handcuffed and to be hit with a chair."

KING: Now, that -- explain what you meant by "tyranny."

PIPER: Promoters manipulate you right from the get-go. They brainwash you.

KING: In, like...

PIPER: You know, they -- they take you -- I love the sport, first of all. Let me qualify. I love it. What you have done is terrific, and it's a "must see" to understand what I'm about to tell you, which is you've got a television show, let's say the WWF or the WCW, and you've got 80 or 40 wrestlers in a dressing room, and they've been there since 11:00 o'clock. And it's 8:00 o'clock, 9:00 o'clock, and you're about to go out.

And you go, and the sanitary conditions are just terrible. There's -- you know, these people have used it, and it's nasty. And these people -- these boys walk under that curtain and, like, nothing's wrong, and they go because they love their fans, and they go there.

But do you think -- you know, I love you for what you did, but let me tell you something. Do you think a year from now they're going to remember what you did for the sport and the guts you had and what you did? Do you think that any promoter is going to love you for what you did? They're going to ride that mule until...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: ... say the same about a football owner. He doesn't care about your broken leg.

PIPER: Yes, but...

KING: He cares about number 6 playing Sunday.

PIPER: Sir, they have -- they have a union to back them up.

KING: And you don't.

PIPER: We have nothing. There's a few of us that have managed to get through the tyranny, through the -- it's terrible some of the things that...

KING: Are you saying conditions are not good?

FOLEY: No, I think they're pretty good. I think -- I would much rather be doing this than -- like Hulk Hogan said, than bagging groceries, and...

KING: But could you -- you don't need a union? You don't need protection, as employees?

FOLEY: You know what? A union would be nice. I don't know how it'd go about being organized. I don't know how you could do it because there are so many different wrestling organizations. I'm not -- yeah, it's a rough business, but this is something I knew 15 years ago getting into it.

And I will say -- I mean, wrestling's been very good to me. It's been very good to Roddy. It's been very good to Hulk. For the guys breaking in -- the tyranny for me occurred 10, 11, 12, 13 years ago, when I was being ordered around. It hasn't occurred in the last four years.

KING: So when you're a star, you're a star. And when you're not, you're not.

FOLEY: More or less.

KING: All right.

FOLEY: Probably.

KING: We'll put it that way. Would you agree, Barry, having filmed this...

BLAUSTEIN: Yeah. Oh, yeah.

KING: ... and being a fan?

BLAUSTEIN: Yeah, I think there is. I mean, there's incredible -- what struck me interesting in wrestling is that in the ring, the guys must cooperate with one another. Otherwise, they would literally be killing each other. But backstage, there's ultimate paranoia running deep, and guys are put up against each other, and it's -- I've been in Hollywood for 20 years, and the back-stabbing in Hollywood is nothing compared to the back-stabbing backstage in wrestling.

KING: Oh. OK, we'll get Hulk's thoughts on that. We'll take a break. We'll come right back with more. Our entire program devoted to wrestling, the opening of "Beyond the Mat" today, wide across the United States. Hulk Hogan's with us, and Roddy Piper. And as we go to break, here is Mick at the end of that evening. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "BEYOND THE MAT")

FOLEY: It's OK. I'm all right. I mean, it's OK. Just a boo- boo (INAUDIBLE) It's no big deal. Just a boo-boo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's OK.

BLAUSTEIN: It's a nice boo-boo. It's a nice boo-boo. (INAUDIBLE)

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's OK.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's smiling, see? He's OK.

FOLEY: (INAUDIBLE) got a plastic surgeon here (INAUDIBLE) Daddy's all right, OK? (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Yeah.

FOLEY: OK. Don't worry anymore, OK? (INAUDIBLE) He can't hurt Dada.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: (INAUDIBLE) blood!

FOLEY: I know. It's a little boo-boo.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOGAN: (INAUDIBLE) injuries. Injuries. Injuries. Here we go. Here we go. He just came off the road. He's wrestled about -- OK. Turn around. He's all bruised up. Where else? Where else? Butt? Look at that.

UNIDENTIFIED WRESTLER: Well, he looks good...

(CROSSTALK)

HOGAN: Look. Bruised up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bruises.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But he looks good.

HOGAN: Where else? Where else are you hurt? Show me.

UNIDENTIFIED WRESTLER: Scars.

HOGAN: Tell them (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED WRESTLER: Fingers that don't close, broken nose, eyes, stitches in the back of the head...

HOGAN: That's (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED WRESTLER: ... just about everything. That's just from last week, so...

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED WRESTLER: We're going through hell here, boys, but we love it! There wouldn't be any kind of way to do it but one way. The right way! Right?

HOGAN: Whatever.

UNIDENTIFIED WRESTLER: That's my brother from another mother.

HOGAN: Hit them with the Friday night deal.

UNIDENTIFIED WRESTLER: Oh! Every day's a Friday, and every night's a Saturday night!

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're talking wrestling.

Hulk Hogan, are the conditions as bad as Rowdy described them, or are they not so bad, as Mick says?

HOGAN: Well, we all knew what we were getting into when we got in this business. I mean, it is a pretty cut-throat business behind the scenes. I mean, guys are doing whatever they can to get ahead and get themselves strategically positioned because the higher up on the card you are, sometimes the more money you make.

Conditions lately, with WWF and WCW, are much better than in the past. But I mean, some guys have driven 400 miles one way, gotten their heads beat open with steel chairs for $25 and then driven back 400 miles. But it's...

KING: And you're saying they like it, too.

HOGAN: Oh, yes. I mean, like I said, when these wrestlers get in this business, they know what they're getting into. And when it's in your blood, you'll do about anything to make it and get the job done. But I think with this new era of sports entertainment, the conditions have been getting better.

KING: Do you need a union?

HOGAN: Do we need a union?

KING: Yeah.

HOGAN: That's questionable. I think -- I really don't know how it would affect us. If it made the conditions better, if it made...

KING: Those are things unions fight for, better conditions...

HOGAN: If it made the money more consistent, if it gave guys insurance and a health plan and some type of insurance policies, I think it might be a good idea, but...

KING: Is there any health plan that takes care of you after you're done?

PIPER: No, sir.

KING: None?

PIPER: There's nothing. You know, you're taken behind the barn and shot in the back of the head like a dog.

KING: Rowdy!

PIPER: Yeah, you know what? I'm sure -- and I don't mean no disrespect to you, to you, to you, or the panel. But you know, this -- I'll tell you, Larry, you have done us a big favor here in giving us an open forum where we can speak without having to worry about what's going to happen. And I don't mind speaking my mind because I'm in a position to. And these gentlemen and this documentary is opening the door for a union. And if these guys...

You know, our generation, what we couldn't do? We started all this with Hogan and this big boom, but we couldn't stick together.

KING: By the way, you wanted to add that he's a good father.

BLAUSTEIN: Yeah, I wanted to add, before people get...

(CROSSTALK)

BLAUSTEIN: ... about Mick. Mick is -- I spent a lot of time with Mick and his family, and Mick's a tremendous father. He's a guy who made a bad decision. But as a parent, you all make bad decisions, but...

KING: You think that's going to live long with those kids?

FOLEY: No, I think -- actually, I think they were over it by the time we left the door. I think I did a really good job of pretending to be a lot better off than I was when I came through there.

But I'd like to point out I was -- I was kind of beaten up and worn down, as it was, before that match. I was supposed to get some time off following the match. So my psychology was kids -- you know, if you come to the match -- my wife said kids'll be OK. I didn't want them there. Every day I talked to the kids for a month, said, "Now, Daddy's probably going to get beat up. Are you OK with that?" "Yes, Daddy. We're OK." "Are you going to be scared?" "No."

And the idea was I was going to take them to Disneyland for four days after. So even if I did take a beating, it'd be "Guess what?"

KING: Did you take them?

FOLEY: "We're going to Disneyland." I took them there the four days before, so...

KING: Ah!

FOLEY: So I ended up wrestling for the next six weeks. But psychologically, you know -- you know...

KING: Yeah.

FOLEY: ... Mick Foley just had the...

KING: You get a break.

FOLEY: ... you know, just been beaten up. What are you going to do?

KING: We'll be back. We'll reintroduce our panel. There's lots more to come on the subject of wrestling. We're going to get into psychological pain, the use of drugs, whatever. And "Beyond the Mat" opens today.

Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "BEYOND THE MAT")

VINCE MCMAHON, WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION: Since you are able to regurgitate, you know, on command, it just seems to me that it's pretty logical that you should be "Puke." You know, "Puke" is -- "Puke" is good. I think "Puke" is nice.

UNIDENTIFIED WRESTLER: Gee, I've never of that. That's great.

MCMAHON: I know. That's right.

UNIDENTIFIED WRESTLER: Everybody always (INAUDIBLE) about it. That's good.

MCMAHON: Yeah. It's -- it fits the WWF attitude.

UNIDENTIFIED WRESTLER: Now, I've been waiting for -- OK. I guess...

MCMAHON: You want a little coffee or what? Huh?

UNIDENTIFIED WRESTLER: Oh, God. I think I'll (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) some more?

MCMAHON: Huh? Try not to get it on the rest of my table here. UNIDENTIFIED WRESTLER: (INAUDIBLE) do that.

MCMAHON: Huh? Can you do that? Huh? You going to get sick?

UNIDENTIFIED WRESTLER: It's a possibility.

MCMAHON: Huh? Huh? Oh, my God! He's -- he's going to -- he's going to -- he's going to -- he's going to puke! He's going to puke! He's going to puke! He's going to puke! He's going to puke!

UNIDENTIFIED WRESTLER: Oh, man!

(LAUGHTER)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOLEY: I was supposed to get some time off following the match. so my psychology was, kids, you know, you come to the match -- my wife said kids would be OK. I didn't want them there. Every day I would talk to them for months, saying, "Now daddy is probably going to get beat up. Are you OK with that?" "Yes, daddy, we're OK." "Are you going to be scared?" "No." And the idea was, I was going to take them to Disneyland for four days after, so even if I did take a beating, it would be, guess what? We're going to Disneyland.

KING: Did you take them?

FOLEY: I took them there the four days before, so I ended up wrestling for the next six weeks. But psychologically, you know, Mick Foley has just been beaten up. What are you going to do?

KING: We'll be back. We'll reintroduce our panel. There's lots more to come on the subject of wrestling. We're going to get into psychological pain, the use of drugs, whatever. And "Beyond the Mat" opens today.

Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "BEYOND THE MAT")

VINCE MCMAHON: Since you able to regurgitate, you know, on command, it just seems to me that it's pretty logical that you should be "Puke." Puke is good. I think Puke is nice.

That's right.

Yes, it's -- it fits the WWF attitude.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have been waiting for this.

MCMAHON: OK, you want a little coffee or what, huh? Try not to get it on the rest of my table here. Can you do that, huh? Are you going to get sick?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a possibility. MCMAHON: Huh oh, my God -- he's going to -- he's going to -- he's going to puke. He's going to puke! He's going to puke! He's going to puke.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, man.

(LAUGHTER)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE.

We're talking wrestling with Hulk Hogan, one of the world's most famous wrestlers. He appears, by the way, on World Championship Wrestling, "WCW Uncensored," on Pay-Per-View, March 19, coming up this Sunday night. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, a veteran wrestler of the WCW famed, as the heel, was always the bad guy in the ring. After watching him tonight, we wonder why they cast them that way. Mick Foley just retired from the World Wrestling Federation, wrestled as Mankind and Cactus Jack, and wrote a bestselling biography ,"Have a Nice Day," and he's also featured in the documentary we've been talking about, "Beyond the Mat." Barry Blaustein is the director of that documentary which opens today. He's an award-winning screenwriter. This is his first chance at direction.

Drugs in the sport -- how much does that goes on, Hulk?

HOGAN: They're there. I mean, it's just like in any other sport. The athletes take shortcuts. I mean, we had the steroid hysteria during the '80s and '90s and the federal government passed laws which made them illegal, and a lot of the guys smartened up and some of them didn't. And as far as the pain pills and stuff like that, it's prevalent, because wherever there's an injury, there's a doctor that'll prescribe a pain pill in way to take the pain a way, and in our sport, there's a lot of pain and injuries. So the drugs are prevalent, and they're there today.

KING: All right. Now it can get also a little worse. Here's a scene from this documentary, "Beyond the Mat," Jake "The Snake" Roberts, and the problem here is addiction of a different sort. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "BEYOND THE MAT")

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After seeing his daughter, Jake was quiet for the first time. After checking into a hotel, he disappeared. When I caught up with him a few hours later, he was doing crack.

JAKE "THE SNAKE" ROBERTS, FORMER PROFESSIONAL WRESTLER: I never use needle. But I used to tell myself I'll never, ever do drugs, never, no way. It's for losers. And we were wrestling 26, 27 days a month, twice on Saturday, twice on Sunday, catching eight, nine airplanes a week. It was basically a necessity just to continue. And you took pills to go to sleep. You took pills because of your pain. You took cocaine to wake up so you could perform. You drank to go to sleep. You took sleeping pills. It's a trap. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: It's happened in every sport, so I guess it's no surprise that it should happen in wrestling, right, Mick?

FOLEY: Yes.

KING: Football, baseball, basketball -- they all have it.

FOLEY: Yes, sure and like Hulk said, there is a lot of pain in wrestling, and some guys like the feel. I have been lucky. I realized 15 years ago that going into this my style was going to be very physical, and I wasn't going to take medicine unless I was really in a lot of pain, and over the years, my description of "really" kept getting broader and broader.

KING: Have you wrestled in pain -- have there been nights you shouldn't have wrestled and you took a painkiller to wrestle?

FOLEY: Never. No, I've never pain medicine before I wrestled, and I very rarely, honestly, take it afterwards.

BLAUSTEIN: I don't think there's a wrestler who doesn't wrestle in pain.

FOLEY: Yes. I mean, that's a given, if you can't deal with the pain, then you need to get out.

KING: Did you take drugs, Rowdy?

PIPER: Yes, you know what? I was king of the frathouse. I rolled. I was "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, and the more trouble I got into, the more the promoters liked it, the more press it was.

KING: So they would have been happy if you were arrested for drugs.

PIPER: They loved when I got arrested. And then finally, I married a 4'11 1/2", 100-pound lady and had a baby, and had to decide, you know, you need a license to hunt, you need a license to fish, but any jerk can have a kid; it takes a man to be a father and I had to make that decision. and I made that decision.

KING: Did it on your own?

PIPER: Yes, sir.

KING: Hulk, have you taken painkillers in order to wrestle?

HOGAN: Oh, yes. Yes, I've been there, done that. I mean, you know, I've smartened up over the years, learned my lesson, got myself up to speed. And I, too, have a family, which once you have something that's very, very valuable, your priorities change.

KING: Do the promoters do anything to try to stop it?

HOGAN: Sure. I mean, whether they're aware or not -- they turn their cheek.

FOLEY: The thing with Roddy is usually the guys who are bitter are the guys who didn't make it, and here we've got a superstar, went on to movies, and he's...

(CROSSTALK)

PIPER: No, I'm wrong, because if it hadn't been for wrestling, I probably would have been dead on the street or something. I love the sport. You know what I am doing is these guys are great, and they're the next generation, and I would hate to see them fall into the traps that they had for us where they can do much better and do better for themselves.

KING: Conflicted, do you think? Your kind of, yes, torn in that you love it and hate it at the same time?

PIPER: Yes, I've got a titanium hip. This wrist has been broken for seven years. This rotator cuff is gone. So I am going along with the same -- what are you laughing at?

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Let me get a break. Hold on. Hold on, guys. Let me get a break, and we'll be right back. This program will end in pandemonium, as I become a wrestling announcer and try to do what those crazy guys do.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "BEYOND THE MAT"

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have confidence that he knows what he's doing, but it's still hard after all these years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Mick, you wrestle with the WWF.

FOLEY: Yes.

KING: And they're known as the one that does sex and violence more than WCW, right, they play to that?

FOLEY: A little more, yes.

KING: Like that aspect?

FOLEY: Honestly I don't think that's why people -- at least as far as the sex is concerned, I don't think that's why people tune in to wrestling.

KING: No? The girls walking around with the...

(CROSSTALK)

FOLEY: I don't think so. I think if you eliminated the girls, you'd have just as many people watching.

BLAUSTEIN: The biggest misconception about wrestling is that these guys don't get hurt. They get hurt all the time.

KING: You have to get hurt...

PIPER: That's the difference between the generation gap. I never walked out in the ring, and said I am going to do a, b, c, d, e, f, g. I might have had a predetermined outcome, but how I get there is my business.

KING: We knew you were going to lose to the hero because you were the bad guy, no, but how you lost was depending on the fight right?

(CROSSTALK)

PIPER: I fought the way I wanted to fight.

KING: Hulk, you were a hero a lot of the times, right?

HOGAN: Most of my career, yes.

KING: All right, so the hero has to win.

HOGAN: Unless we're setting up the ongoing story where the hero is left laying a pile of dust, and he's going back for revenge.

KING: You guys also have to be, do you not, pretty good actors?

HOGAN: Well, you have to...

KING: When that announcer is interviewing you for your next match and he's goes nuts and you go nuts, and you yell at him and you scream.

PIPER: You seen some of my movies? I don't know.

HOGAN: I mean, you have to be excited. You have to make the people realize that you want this thing more than anything. And if you're not excited about it, the crowd's not going to be excited, and they're not going to buy tickets. So we generally...

KING: This is a show.

HOGAN: Yes, it is.

KING: Right? Wrestling is a show?

HOGAN: Yes it is. BLAUSTEIN: It's participatory theater, and I think the fans know that. People go, well, don't the fans know it's not real? People go to a movie and they suspend their beliefs.

KING: You mean, there are no fans sitting there saying, Fin Clone is the fifth ranked heavyweight...

BLAUSTEIN: Very, very few.

KING: And he beats Carter McCuan Thursday.

BLAUSTEIN: As many fans who go, you know, Dr. Evil is really a real guy and we better stop him.

PIPER: But your documentary brings forth a new respect for what you're talking, it is choreographed and all that, But the amount of talent, the amount of pain, and the...

BLAUSTEIN: Oh, sure.

PIPER: ... the ability that it takes, you've brought that to the surface. It just needs to go a little deeper.

KING: Psychologically, how do you approach this?

FOLEY: Psychologically, there are moments, like I said in the movie -- there are several moments -- I am known for the people who don't know who I am or don't any of us are, just tuning in to see you. I am known as the guy who has taken more risks than anybody in the history of wrestling. And I've got, like I said, not to, you know, blow my own horn, but I've probably more injures than anybody. I approach it realistically. Several times a year, I do something that I know is going to hurt. And the most immature thing I can think of is not to look in the mirror and say, I am the guy who makes the decisions, because nobody has told me, do this, it's nothing painful. I've been told outcomes. I've been told how to have my match. I've never been told to anything painful.

KING: Not our business. Tops year, how much do you make?

PIPER: I will actually make more this year as an author than I did...

KING: Because you have a very hit book.

PIPER: Well, I made a little over a million dollars last year.

KING: Is that what a top wrestler would make, Rowdy?

PIPER: Yes.

KING: Hulk, you agree?

FOLEY: Well, Hulk's in a different league.

KING: Hulk, you would make more right? (LAUGHTER)

HOGAN: I got a different deal.

KING: We'll take a break and come back, and you will not need a benefit for any of these guys.

Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOGAN: Beats working.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Mick, who wrote a best-selling autobiography, I asked about psychological preparation when you know you're going to get hurt. Not many people in life know their going to get hurt.

FOLEY: Sure.

KING: A football player know he's going to hit, but doesn't know he's going to get slammed to the ground and...

FOLEY: I actually think if a football player knew, if football was choreographed, and if a football knew, I am going to cut cross the line, I am going to get my head taken off by a linebacker, yes, it doesn't make it any less real.

KING: How do you approach that?

FOLEY: I think, without trying to sound like a tough guy, it takes a certain amount of guts. And I think the guys, by and large, who end up being successes in the wrestling business, have that amount of guts. And that's a willingness -- I mean, you are willing to suffer the consequences, at least I am. I know this is going to hurt. I am going to spend a lot of my time in considerable pain, and that's price I am willing to pay.

KING: Having done the documentary and being a fan, do you like them less or more?

BLAUSTEIN: I like them more. I appreciate it more.

KING: Despite the fact that you got to see some things that are -- that puking thing couldn't make you love this sport?

BLAUSTEIN: No, it couldn't. I mean, that's very surreal, another man asking another man -- sort of degrading to ask another man to throw up in a basket.

KING: Yes, I would say degrading.

BLAUSTEIN: No, there are parts of wrestling I don't like. There are storylines that I don't like. But overall, I appreciate it. I appreciate the artistry there. When it's done well, there is an artistry.

KING: When you do a Pay-Per-View thing, Hulk, like you're going to do Sunday night, it's "WCW Uncensored," includes a strap match, you against Ric Flair. That means you're holding straps?

HOGAN: Well, we're strapped together and we're going to be hitting each other with belts.

KING: OK. On Sunday night on Pay-Per-View, you will be strapped to him hitting each other with belts?

HOGAN: Yes, and the tough part, like Mick Foley says, is the psychological training.

KING: You're going to be hurt Sunday night?

HOGAN: Oh definitely, and the hard part is, my son will probably be there in the dressing room because it's in Miami close to my home. And all of a sudden you're sitting there talking with your son about Pokemon or a video game, and you know in about 10 or 15 minutes, you're going to be out in front of the crowd, in front of 15,000 or 20,000 people, and the transition is from the Pokemon to getting hit and having welts and blood all over your body for a leather strap. That's a hard mental transition to go through.

KING: Is there a strap champion?

HOGAN: No, but I am going to be the strap champion that night. I am going to get the most hits in, I can tell you that.

KING: Do you miss it, Rowdy?

PIPER: I still have eight fights left for Turner-Time Warner.

KING: Oh, you do.

PIPER: Yes, sir, I do.

KING: Eight left?

PIPER: Yes, eight left.

KING: You'll be beaten in all of them?

PIPER: Not in one.

KING: You're going to win them all?

PIPER: The only way I could...

KING: You've changed.

PIPER: The only way I could lose is if it's fake. Please, I'm not bitter, you know? I'm not bitter. I love the wrestlers to death. If it wasn't for wrestling, I'd be dead.

KING: What did the death of Owen Hart do to the sport, Mick?

FOLEY: Oh, man, I don't know what it did to the sport. I know what it did to me personally.

KING: Didn't affect the crowds, didn't affect attendance.

FOLEY: No, it didn't. Personally, it was very tough. I won't pretend that I know the kind of grief his family has shared, but I considered Owen to be a very good friend. I still consider what happened to Owen to be a freak accident and not really an indictment on wrestling, because, you know, there was no plan for Owen to be in any pain. That was supposed to be a safe stunt. I don't know what went wrong.

KING: As we go to break -- we have one segment left. Don't go away -- here's a scene from a new movie. It's going to open nationwide April 7th from warner Brothers. It features the WCW wrestling stars. It's a comedy. It's called "Ready to Rumble" -- watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "READY TO RUMBLE")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Down goes Jimmy Cane.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Oh, my god, a four-post (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Any match any time.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: The steel cage.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: The steel cage when?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: We are ready to rumble.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "WCW CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING")

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: Now he's taking it to Lane. He comes off the ropes, big kick. Spinaroonie, spinaroonie, spinaroonie.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Hulk, how do they hire the announcers, the guys who go, what are you going to do on Sunday, Hulk?

HOGAN: I'm not sure. I mean, there's a few guys that are established in our business. We've got Mean Gene Okerland and Michael Buffer, but I'm not sure how they hire them or how they find these guys...

KING: I wonder if I could get a crack it. HOGAN: ... maybe a radio or TV background, who knows?.

You want to take a crack at it?

KING: Yes, I think one day I'd like to go through...

PIPER: In this corner...

KING: ... WCW, bring these two guys in...

HOGAN: Sure.

KING: ... all right, you're fighting him. Why are you mad at him?

FOLEY: Because he's bitter.

PIPER: I am not bitter, doggone it.

KING: Wait a minute. let him talk?

PIPER: I'm sorry.

KING: OK, you're acting bitter. What are you doing here?

BLAUSTEIN: (OFF-MIKE)

KING: Hulk, if you had to fight one of these two guys, who would you want to fight?

HOGAN: Well, I tell you, I've been beaten up by Roddy Piper on several occasions over the years...

PIPER: And vice versa.

HOGAN: I don't want anymore of Roddy. I think I'd like to try on Mankind one time. I'm sure we could probably sell out the Pontiac Silverdome.

KING: You've never fought...

FOLEY: He brought up a point. On the WWF Web site, when they asked me who are the guys if I had to wrestle anybody? There are three guys I wish I'd wrestled that I didn't: Bruiser Brodie, who...

KING: Not Bruiser Brodie.

FOLEY: Bruiser Brodie, yes. Had a chance and it didn't come about. And then there's Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair. And the shame is, I was in the same company as those two guys -- for a short time with Hulk and for quite a while with Flair -- and the matches never came about.

KING: How would you have done in a square match with Hulk Hogan...

FOLEY: In a square match?

KING: ... where the outcome is not known?

FOLEY: Larry, I don't think I'd be in a square -- this business if they were square.

KING: What is he talking about? Has he lost his mind?

FOLEY: I was a pretty good am amateur wrestler, but that's not why I'm here.

BLAUSTEIN: Larry, you're taking it too seriously.

KING: When you fought Hulk and you were the evil guy, did you dislike him? You must get to dislike someone in the ring.

PIPER: I tell you, in the very beginning, more to settle the score when this all started, there was a tremendous amount of jealousy, more on my part, towards Hogan.

KING: Because he was so big and...

PIPER: He's genetic, and he looks terrific. He's the driving force in our sport. I was the bad guy. I felt second fiddle. But as all things have come around, he deserves everything, all the accolades he can get. And he's a terrific role model for our sport. And as far as being bitter, Doug, I'm not going to get out of this. I'm for you. And I'm trying to stand up -- the promoters...

FOLEY: Right.

PIPER: ... if I may, shortly, where the promoters can't hurt me anymore. And I don't want them to hurt you and the next guy and the next guy, and I want them to treat you fair. And that's all I was trying to get across.

KING: Like all athletes, are they getting better? The new ones better than the old? The games aside, are the new ones better?

BLAUSTEIN: Yes, I think it is better. I think they work harder, they achieve more.

KING: Take vitamins, they have better training?

BLAUSTEIN: They have better training. I think wrestling's...

KING: Better shape?

BLAUSTEIN: Yes, I think wrestling is better than...

PIPER: It's evolved a lot.

BLAUSTEIN: It's evolved.

PIPER: And it's a great documentary.

BLAUSTEIN: Thank you.

FOLEY: Can I point out was thing about Terry Funk, who would have liked to have been here, who couldn't be here?

KING: Yes.

FOLEY: When I met Barry, Barry asked me about people I thought were interesting. And I said, you really need to talk to Terry Funk, because I describe him as being everything that is good about wrestling.

BLAUSTEIN: I totally agree.

FOLEY: And for people who want to see a great role model and want to see him in a part of a great movie, Terry Funk's a major part of "Beyond the Mat." And it's a shame that he couldn't have been here, but he is...

KING: This documentary is going to do super. We look forward to seeing it.

BLAUSTEIN: I hope so.

KING: Now, Hulk -- let's get this straight. On Sunday night, you're in "WCW Uncensored" on pay-per-view, and you're fighting Flair. And you're attached to each other and hitting each other with straps?

HOGAN: That's it -- Sunday night.

PIPER: Just another day at the office.

KING: I don't believe I'm actually saying this.

KING: OK, good luck in the strap match.

HOGAN: Thank you.

KING: Rowdy?

PIPER: Yes, sir.

KING: you will fight next -- what do you call it, fight or wrestling?

PIPER: I call it fighting, what I do, yes.

KING: You fight next?

PIPER: I fight next in the end of April. And you know what I'm going to do? I'm going to write the rest of the book. That's what I'm going to do. I want to write the stuff that everybody's afraid to say.

KING: You're retired, right?

FOLEY: I'm retired, and my goal is to become America's foremost author of children's Christmas books. And...

PIPER: I'm bitter.

KING: He can write. And are you going to do another documentary or back to writing?

BLAUSTEIN: Back to writing, hopefully direct another movie.

KING: We thank them all very much. Hulk Hogan, you'll see him Sunday night on pay-per-view.

HOGAN: Thank you.

HALL: Rowdy Piper, one of the great guys; Mick Foley, his best- selling book "Have a Nice Day"; and Barry Blaustein, director of "Beyond the Mat," which opened today. Our subject has been wrestling. Kill them!

Tomorrow night...

PIPER: Book 'em.

KING: Tomorrow night, Deepak Chopra will calm us all down.

Good night.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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