Friday, August 8, 2014

The Night I Angered WCW Security

Me and the Brain in 1998
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I spent the first 18 months of my career working in Florence, Alabama.  I was barely on the job two months when I learned that WCW would be doing a live Thursday Night Thunder show in Huntsville.  It was an hour drive from the station and with the help of my news director, I was able to secure a couple of media passes for the event.

I really didn't know what to expect when we arrived at the Von Braun Civic Center that chilly January night in 1998.  We were greeted by the media relations people and told we'd have the opportunity to talk with a handful of WCW stars.  My photographer, Brian, was also a wrestling fan.  We both hoped that Ric Flair would be a part of the group.  But those dreams came to a quick halt when we were informed Flair wasn't there.  

One of the competing stations was interviewing The Giant live for the 5 p.m. news.  We stood and watched in awe at the mountain of a man.  I'd hoped he'd be available for the lil' podunk station from Florence, but he was quickly whisked away after his live hit.

It wasn't long until we were introduced to Ray Traylor (aka The Big Bossman).  We started rolling as I asked him what his plans were for the night.  He stayed in character the whole time, vowing to get revenge on the nWo.  He'd just split from the group and was angry. The interview was short and sweet and he left the area where all the reporters and photographers were standing.

Since we had some down time before our next guests (I ended up interviewing Goldberg, Bobby Heenan, and Buff Bagwell that night), I figured it would be a good time to get some extra video footage.  The crew setting up the ring caught my eye and I asked Brian to start getting some shots.  He started rolling when WCW head of security Doug Dillinger approached us.  I could tell by the look on his face he was not happy and when he asked what the hell we were doing, I knew he was pissed.

He means business!
I explained we need some B-roll for the story and thought the ring set up was interesting.  Dillinger told us we did not have permission to record the ring crew and immediately demanded the tape.  I promised him we would not use the footage and pleaded with him to let us keep our video, because my interview with Traylor was on it.  I told him no one had told us not to get video of the set up.  His anger increased and demanded that we hand it over.  I didn't want to get kicked out, so I gave him the cassette.  He did say he'd try to make sure the production team didn't erase the interview with Traylor, but made no promises.

Flustered and frustrated by what had happened, it was time to move on to the rest of the interviews.  Brian brought an extra tape and everything went flawlessly after that.  We stayed and watched the two hour show and chatted amongst ourselves and the other reporters about why Dillinger was so mad.  Then as the main event, which featured The Giant versus Scott Hall, things became clear. During the melee that ensued the angry Giant destroyed the ring with his bare hands.

The Giant destroys the ring
That night was the first time I'd ever seen a ring being put together. Since then I've helped put together my fair share of rings.  I've got to assume that they had this one rigged to come apart when The Giant trashed it and that was the concern over the video footage we got.  Maybe though, the company wanted to keep that part of the business protected.  I really didn't think about it as potentially exposing anything.  I just wanted to share a rarely seen perspective.  I don't blame them for that, I just thought the reaction was a bit over the top.

Anytime I hear Dillinger's name brought up in an interview I think of that night and how he cussed at us for getting the footage.  It was a memorable night none-the-less and remains one of my favorite stories I did while working in Alabama.  By the way, click here for those interviews, Blogger isn't letting me embed the actual video for some reason.

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