Why did George program you with Tim Woods first
thing after the plane crash? I remember you broke
Tim’s wrist on TV, and for revenge he ran into
Greensboro at the big Tournament in November 1975
for the vacated U.S. Belt and knocked you from
behind with the cast, and cost you a shot at the
U.S. Championship. Then you put a $5,000.00 bounty
on him, and that went on into 1976.
Oh, Timmy Woods…you talk about a shoot! It was
easier being in an iron lung than being in there
with Timmy Woods!
He was a real old-timer, boy. I’m telling you,
it was a battle with him. It was tough with Timmy
Woods…he was one of the toughest human beings that
That’s not something I would have thought. I
always thought of him as more of a
Well, he was an amateur wrestler from
I guess he could tie you up pretty good anytime
he felt like it! (laughs)
Oh…any time! But he could kick and stomp, too.
We broke each other’s noses, but I loved Tim
Woods. He was just super. God bless him, because
he’s gone…unfortunately. Our [program] wasn’t
a classic, but we did okay with it and got through
it. It got me going.
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You talk about Tim Woods being tough. I’ve
always heard that he came back and wrestled really
quickly after the plane crash, even though he was in
pretty tough shape physically. I guess just because
they needed him, but also because he was on the
plane with his rival Johnny Valentine and word had
started to leak out that they were traveling
together…you know, to preserve kayfabe.
Yeah, that was typical Tim Woods. He had a back
injury from [the plane crash], but I don’t know if
you could hurt Tim Woods. I don’t think it was
possible…I tried to on many occasions! (laughs)
busted my knuckles on his head one time, and he was
supposed to go down and he didn’t go down. I said,
‘Timmy, next time try going down.’ Next time,
boom, he bops me in the face as he’s going down!
What a character he was! But a super guy.
While your program with Woods wasn’t one for
the ages, it did start the ball rolling for you as
you went into 1976. As you said, it got you going.
And 1976 was a huge year for you. I remember that
year being defined with your feud against Paul Jones
over the U.S. belt…and then at the end of the year
you had to go to NWA President Eddie Graham to keep
the belt off of Paul!
Poster for show where Blackjack
his first US title.>> MORE
The [program] with Paul…I didn’t really want
to do it with Paul. And the reason was because of
the size difference with us.
Considering the size difference between you all,
I thought you all did an amazing job with
that…making those matches come off as believable.
George Scott made me do that with Paul. George
and I had a relationship where we could banter
around back and forth, and pop ideas off of each
other’s heads. To the point that we would pull
each other across the desk sometimes! But he would
always win in the end, anyway…talk me into
whatever he wanted. (laughs)
I said to George, ‘People will never buy this
thing with Paul.’ George fired back and said,
‘Who do you think you are…you’re not the
greatest worker in the world.’ I said,
‘No…but, but I’m a lot bigger than him and
could stuff him down a commode!’
I’m not sure PAUL would have gone for that!
(laughs) George says, ‘Are you going to work
the thing with Paul or not? You’re gonna do it.’
I said, ‘Okay, we’re gonna do it.’
basically whatever George wanted, I did.
How was it actually working with Paul Jones?
It was hard work for me to try to do that. Not
emotionally…it was just hard work to make the
thing with Paul work. Boy, it’s hard to
explain…it didn’t look like it would work, but
it did. It worked out fine.
had no complaints with Paul. He was a trooper…he
made it. I probably made it a little hard on
him…good! I used to just beat the stuffing out of
It kind of sounds like you might have enjoyed
that, Blackjack! (laughs) But those matches did come
off as very believable.
They did. God bless him, Paul was a heck of a
. But I used to make little Paul pay his dues! Paul
would go, ‘Oh Jesus,’ you know, hoping George
would get him away from this monster! But Paul kept
coming back for more!
This time frame, 1976-77, was when you held the
United States Title for long stretches. Of course,
NWA President Eddie Graham ‘double-crossed’ you
in a protest in 1977, when Bobo Brazil ended your last big run with the belt! Tell
us about that title…you certainly always put the
U.S. belt over big.
Oh man…yeah! That was my idea. Check the
…this U.S. belt outdrew the World Champion then.
We had it hotter than the World belt…until we made
the switch to Flair---then they demphasized the U.S.
Title. At that time, the Sheik and Vince also had
versions of the U.S. belt that were strong.
we made that U.S belt so strong that when Terry
(Funk) or Harley (Race) came in with the World
belt…it outdrew the World belt! Go back and check
the match (attendance) figures.
That’s amazing…I bet that didn’t happen
often in the NWA!
Hey…it affected my payoff! Back then, the
(World) Champion got, I think, 10% of the gate, and
so much had to go back to the NWA. My payoff would
be less, so I would fight it and eventually go to
Jimmy (Crockett). I’d say to
Jimmy, ‘Why do we need the World Champ?
’t put me on the card with the World Champion…I
don’t want to be on the card with him! He takes my
Jimmy, ‘Run a second show somewhere else, and put me
and Paul on that one.’ Now, Paul was right there
with me on this…because we were the two that were
drawing the money!’ (laughs)
Champion would go, ‘What are they complaining
about?’ Well, I said, ‘You’re taking the money
and riding on us!’
that’s one of the few times in the history of the
NWA that happened…it was very rare.
About that same time, you were having a good
little run with one of the area’s all time fan
favorites, Rufus R. ‘Freight Train’ Jones. Talk
to us a little bit about Rufus.
Oh gee…Rufus Jones! I knew him from the day I
started in the business. One of my favorite
people, God bless him…he’s gone. They found him
under an oak tree with a shotgun---he’d been
was so black…he was blue! I loved that man!
Rufus got quite a few shots at that U.S. Title
of yours we’ve been talking about.
Let me tell you something about that. At that point,
I was picking my own people to work with. They were
getting rid of some people…and they were about to
let Rufus go. I said, ‘No, no, no, no…don’t
let him go. I can make something work with Rufus.’
So, you and Rufus set up your own program?
Yeah…and you know, he was really from Dillon,
South Carolina? Right down there…he was raised in
Dillon, South Carolina.
Right…and he was proud of it, too!
I said to Rufus, ‘Listen, we’re gonna do
something. Can you hold it…can you bite your lip?
If you can do it, we’re gonna make more money than
you’ve ever made in your life, you understand?
Just bear with me, because we’re gonna make this
work. I’m gonna get personal.’
No question, you got REAL personal with Rufus!
Oh, I can name you guys that when I said some
things about them, they would say, ‘
’t ever say that again.’ And I’d tell them,
‘Well, your angle’s over then.’ That was the
whole idea…to go beyond what everybody is
saying---because everybody is saying the other
stuff. So, some guys would check themselves out of
the program saying, ‘Man, you’re getting a
little personal there.’
Rufus obviously didn’t do that!
I made this deal with Rufus…I said, ‘
’t take this personally. If you get mad at me,
just knock my head off. It doesn’t bother me.’
interview comes down. I don’t know if you remember
Chappell, but Rufus is standing next to me, and it
goes something like this---I said, ‘How in the
world, God is supposed to have created Man equal,
how in the world can you say that---look at this!
Take a look at this thing standing next to me. How
in the world can I be kin to this thing?’
knocks me right through the (TV) set! He slaps
me…like to broke my jaw---beats the stuffing out
of me! (everybody laughs)
Then you went after Rufus’ cousin, Burrhead
Jones, didn’t you?
Yeah…then we do the thing with his little
skinny cousin, Burrhead. Now that Rufus is out of
there, I’m the ol’ tough guy, right? I can whup
the heck out of his little cuz! (laughs)
I come off the rope, and break his neck, I
believe---put him in the hospital. So I broke
Burrhead’s neck while Rufus is out of town, tough
guy, right? Real brave guy! (laughs)
(laughing) The act of a real coward, Blackjack!
Then Rufus gets back into town. And,
, they had never really popped that South…I’m
talking deep South---Charleston, Columbia, Florence.
We popped those places wide open.
There was some serious heat with that
program…all over the area.
They destroyed my car in Columbia. They beat the
fenders off of it, took the tires off of it, and
beat the windshields out of it!
But I had the U.S. belt at the time, so I was
beating Rufus all the time…and it was killing him.
I went to the office…now, this will show you how
the Old South was still at work. Now, I was a Texas
boy, in Texas we were semi-segregationists,
semi-not. But I was raised that it was okay, you
Right...you've already said that you always
thought a lot of Rufus.
I went into the office…and Jimmy
Crockett’s sitting in there and George
Scott’s sitting in there. I said to them,
‘Listen, why don’t we switch the U.S. belt to
Rufus Jones…it will really pop this place.’
Jimmy Crockett jumps up and said, ‘Have you lost your
friggin’ mind? Have you lost it…are you nuts?’
I said, ‘Yeah, probably a little bit… with some
of the things I’ve done!’ (everybody laughs)
Jimmy said, ‘This is the South, my friend. You
can’t get away with doing stuff like that. That
ain’t gonna happen.’ I said, ‘God…that’s
the end of that.’
George didn’t go to bat for you in there?
I went to George about it. I said, ‘I think I
got Jimmy a little upset.’ George said, ‘You gotta
remember where you are buddy…you’re in the
South. That ain’t gonna happen.’
you believe that,
? What a conversation between me, Jimmy
Crockett and George Scott!
Did you tell Rufus what you’d tried to do?
I went to Rufus, and I said, ‘Ruf, I tried
brother…I did my best.
even came back and made money with Burrhead!
Yeah, you all went around the circuit once…
Burrhead weighed 117 pounds! (laughs hard)
Soaking wet! (everybody laughs hard)
(still laughing) I love it…I love that
man---Rufus R. Jones!