KEN RESNICK: Ken Resnick talks about the pro wrestling landscape in 1983, just prior to Hulkamania invading New York

Posted on 9/18/120 by VOC Nation

On the latest edition of Wrestling with History on VOC
Nation, Ken Resnick talked about the period in 1983 prior to
the WWF recruiting Hulk Hogan and going national. Resnick
discussed business mistakes made by Verne Gagne, Hogan
giving Gagne an opportunity to match the WWFs offer, the
territory system, and much more. Here are some highlights:

On the health of the AWAs business in 1983 prior to
McMahons big push to go national: Business was great
Business was boomingThere was a time, this was probably
(19)84 where on a Sunday night the AWA sold out the St Paul
Civic Center which was about 18,000 people and then had
about another 3,000 to 4,000 next door in the old St Paul
Auditorium watching it on a movie style screenBusiness was
great; they had so many namesThis was before Vince had
moved into AWA territory; Andre the Giant was there, Otto
Wantz from Germany, they had a pretty good relationship with
the Giant Baba, guys going back and forth to Japan Stan
Hansen was there. Business was booming. I think that also
contributed to the fact that as good as business was, Vern
was probably a little slowif you basically have 80% to 90%
of market share and market penetration, youre not really
worried about some outsider thats trying to come and do
business in your townBusiness was so good that it allow
Vince, as strange as it seems, to come in a little bit under
the radar in terms of Verns thinking.

On talent working different territories in 1983: It was
more (that) they would lend their talent to another
promotion for maybe one or two rounds of their major cities
(they didnt really work together) until Pro Wrestling USA
came to the forefront in late 84 or early 85 trying to do
something to hopefully stop or slow Vince McMahons spread.
Thats when they would do joint TVs. The funny thing there,
and one of the downfalls of Pro Wrestling USA is that even
though they were working together on this television, no
promoter wanted their talent to get beat by another
territorys talent on national TV. Pro Wrestling USA was
airing on ESPNEven though they were working together, to
this point the owners of the different territories were very
territorial.

On being able to run different angles in different areas:
As good as Pro Wrestling Illustrated wasby the time those
magazines hit the newsstand, what they were reporting on was
a couple of months old. There wasnt the instantaneous
knowledge Even in those days, mainstream media really
didnt cover wrestling. If you lived in Chicago and were an
AWA fan, all you really saw and knew is what happened in
Chicago. You would have no idea what would have took place
in Denver, Salt Lake, or Winnipeg.

On Verne Gagnes reaction to McMahons push to go national:
I remember being in some of the discussions where Vince was
kind of going through the country like a blitzkriegif
youre facing in business what was essentially a hostile
takeover attempt by Vince McMahon or the WWF, the first
thing you are taught in any business school is you circle
your wagons (and) protect your own business. Being old
school and so angered by what Vince was beginning to
successfully do, Vern focused in trying to get into Vinces
backyard and let markets like Chicago and Milwaukee be
basically second in thought and ripe for takeover.

On business mistakes Gagne made that ultimately killed the
promotion: Vern sold the Winnipeg market and Winnipeg
television to Wally Karbo, Jack Lanza, and Nick Bockwinkel.
For a number of reasons, they ended up taking that
television and giving that market to Vince. The late Dennis
Hilgart, the promoter in Milwaukee, again a lot of it was
financial, but he left Vern and he had the contacts and the
agreements in Milwaukee and he went with Vince. It was a
lot because Vern didnt quite understand the corporate
premise when youre facing a hostile takeover that you
circle the wagons. Vern left a lot of flanks exposed.

On whether Hulk Hogan considered staying with the AWA:
Hulk did give Vern an opportunity. He was thinking about
staying. One of the big things that Vince was able to offer
was a high percentage of the secondary marketing the tee
shirts and hats and everything else and Vern didnt want
to do that. He said without me, you wouldnt be able to
sell anything; Im not giving you that. I remember talking
with Hulk and finally I said whats stopping you? Youve
got 2 choices: Youve got A, or youve got B which is 25x
what A is.

Wrestling with History drops each Wednesday on VOCnation.com
and all major podcast directories. Each week, former WWF,
AWA, and LPWA announcer Ken Resnick looks back in long form
at a different year during the 80s and 90s in pro wrestling.

VOC Nation provides daily, interactive talk radio, geared
toward the professional wrestling community.
Other notable show hosts include former WWE/TNA star Shelly
Martinez (Shelly LIVE Tuesdays), former WCW performer The
Maestro (WCW Retro Thursdays), former TNA Impact talent
Wes Brisco (Brisco and Big Ace), independent female wrestler
Sassy Stephie, Pro Wrestling Illustrateds Brady Hicks, and
more!

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