SWE fans, yours truly, managed to sneak into Braveharts office and get Dennis Stamp’s phone number. I called him up and I asked if he wouldn’t mind doing an exclusive interview with The Grue for the SWE fans. Here’s what the Legend of the squared circle had to say:
Grue – First of all Mr Stamp, thank you for taking this time to join me in this exclusive interview. My first question is, what got you hooked on professional wrestling in the first place?
Dennis – Well I went to an AWA show and I seen these larger than life guys putting on a show and I thought I can do that. I saw the likes of Andre the Giant, Bobby Heenan, Nick Bockwinkel, Larry “The Ax” Hennig, father of the late Curt Hennig aka Mr Perfect. I was just hooked with those larger than life stars and the lights. I said to myself “I can do that”. It was very hard to break in to professional wrestling back then and it was very well protected. I approached Verne and asked how do I become a professional wrestler. He laughed and said [mimics Verne] “Kid, come to my school tomorrow morning, 8am”, so I did. He put me in the ring with a wrestler called Billy Robinson, a wrestler from England, who later on I’d call Daddy, he was the Godfather of pro wrestling. He beat the shit out of me for a month. I must have took about 100 bumps in one day. So for a month I got my ass kicked. Sorry I shouldn’t swear in an interview. [laughs]
Grue – That’s ok Mr Stamp. [laughs]
Dennis – Actually before I go on. I just want to say a huge thank you to my friend Chris Duke and to Scotland. When I was diagnosed with Cancer I thought that was it for me but Chris got everyone in Scotland behind me and they prayed for me and I am truly grateful to Scotland, it’s like a second home to me.
Grue – I think I speak for the SWE roster and the SWE fans when I say we can not wait to meet you in August.
Dennis – I can’t wait to meet them. So where was I? Oh yes, so he beat the crap out of me for a month, it was tough.
Grue – Why did Billy Robinson and Verne treat you this way? I thought they would encourage people to get in the business to secure some sort of future.
Dennis – Yeah I see what your saying, but back then things were different. You didn’t just walk in and say “I wanna be a wrestler”, there was stages you had to go through.
Grue – So why the beat downs?
Dennis – Basically for a month I kept coming back, coming back., until Verne and Daddy (Billy Robinson) said “ok this kid just keeps coming he has what it takes”. They were testing me to see how much I’d take before I gave up and I didn’t, I was hooked. I loved it too much. See Brian, thing is, when you ask a wrestler why you here why do you do this 9 times out of 10 he or she will say for the money, that’s bullshit. More often than not, it’s for the lights, the crowd, the big events, being apart of something special. Now I’m not saying the money doesn’t help [laughs] it helps but it’s not the main reason, and even then back then we didn’t get paid what the talent gets today.
Grue – It’s ridiculous money I’m sure.
Dennis – It is ridiculous money, you are right. I’ve been talking so much, I don’t know what question we are on. [laughs]
Grue – We are on question two sir.
Dennis – Just the second question [laughs] wow.
Grue – Who did you look up to before or when you broke in to professional wrestling and why?
Dennis – I had a few. Jack Briscoe, Billy Robinson, Verne Gagne and Dory Funk Jr. Now let me tell you, Verne later on wasn’t the man I thought he was.
Grue – Sorry to cut you off Mr Stamp, but why wasn’t he? What happened.
Dennis – I really don’t want to get in to that at the moment, perhaps when I meet you I can tell you.
Grue – Ok, so you may have already answered this but who was your favourite opponent to work with and why?
Dennis – That’s easy for me, Dory Funk Jr everything about him I liked. He was old school style, slow, maniacal methodical, the best thing about Dory is that he made you look like a million bucks, a champion. He was NWA Champion and he defended that title every night, even to this day he and Terry still wrestle.
Grue – I believe they just finished a tour of Japan at the age of 68 and 73, that is very impressive.
Dennis – It is impressive, more power to them, anyway Dory was a legitimate tough guy. Now when I die, and they say who died, and the reply is “oh just that wrestler” I’d prefer they say “that writer” because that’s what I am now, a writer, and if I may I’d like to read you a short story I wrote about being a tough guy, would that be ok?
Grue – Sure, go for it.
Dennis – Tough Guy by Dennis Stamp…
As I’m travelling to Dakota for the show and get out my car I hear Bruiser Brody talking shit about me. It’s not the first time, so I decide enough is enough I say “hey Brody that’s the last you talk shit about me, now you may kick my ass but one way or another we are gonna find out right here right now”. As he stares at me for a few moments, which seems like a life time, he starts to back off and walk away. I then realise that I was in a game of Texas hold-em poker, I had the Royal Flush and Brody didn’t even have a pair. I learned later on that Brody wanted to test how tough I was to see how far I was willing to go, it’s good to be a tough guy in this kinda business. I would later on in life learn that you have to be a tough guy but pick your moments. When I started working for Dick Murdoch, who was also known as Dirty Dick, who I hated, I mean, I hated his guts and Blackjack Mulligan in Los Angeles they didn’t have a place on the card for me so used me as a referee, a job I did for 20 years and I was also their Office Policeman. I burst in to Mulligans office and stood up to him and told him I want to be the booker, a job I knew I could do in my sleep. He just laughed at me and said you got some balls kid but the answers “no”, I squared up to him and he said you really want to go there because I ain’t Brody. I wasn’t backing down but in the end I walked away not before I heard Mulligan shout “you got heart kid I’ll give you that”. Who won that day was it me? Or was it Mulligan? Yes you’re right Mulligan won that battle but I won something more, his respect. Moral of the story Brian, is being a tough guy doesn’t always get you anywhere, if you have a bad reputation for being a tough guy a promoter will not book you.
Grue – Wow, that’s a great story. Can I go back to something you mentioned in there?
Dennis – Sure you can go back to whatever you like [laughs]
Grue – You mentioned Office Policeman in your Tough Guy short story…
Dennis – [laughs] Yes I did, a dying breed if not long extinct.
Grue – I’ve heard the myth, can you tell our readers what that is Dennis?
Dennis – Sure ok, an Office Policeman was the guy who protected the business in a way. Like if fans would come to a show or on the street and he would say [mimics a fan] “I can do that, it’s easy all there doing is playing”. Now the said promoter would come up to that fan and say, “oh, you think so? I’ll give you a 100 bucks to get in the ring and take on my Office Policeman”. So when he gets in the ring, in this case with me, all bets are off. I do whatever it takes to protect my world so if I have to break your arms, legs or nose I will. Daddy (Billy Robinson) was an Office Policeman and let me tell you, he showed no mercy, that guy can break your bones just with his wrist, you didn’t mess with Daddy, no one did, not even Verne. He was one tough son of a bitch.
Grue – So there are no Office Policeman now, what happened?
Dennis – Well times changed and Vince McMahon came along and said that wrestling isn’t a sport but it’s entertainment welcome to the death of “kayfabe” you know “kayfabe” right.
Grue – Yes
Dennis – Ok, so yeah Vince killed that side of things but in aspects of Office Policeman being dead, I think there is a different kind of Office Policeman in wrestling he’s just the guy now that if there is an incident backstage between two talents rather than the promoter get involved it would fall to whoever that may be. I believe Mark Callaway aka Undertaker was one for WWF, sorry WWE now.
Grue – So he would sort out any trouble so Vince wouldn’t have to?
Dennis – Yes exactly, so there is still office policeman in wrestling just it has a different meaning.
Grue – Ok Mr Stamp, last question for this part of the interview. Do you have any regrets about your career or, if you could go back and change something, what would it be and why?
Dennis – [laughs] Ah man, I got asked this question not long ago and I’ll give you the same answer. If old Dennis Stamp can go back and tell young Dennis Stamp anything it would be, don’t worry be happy. I had my first match back in 1971 for AWA and by the time it closed its doors I was the most popular wrestler they had because the fans knew who Dennis Stamp was, I loved everything I did, the people I met, the matches I had. No regrets.
Grue – Mr Stamp its been an honour and a pleasure to call you and talk with you, would it be possible to call you again? I would like to discuss more about the business, your life and what you did outside the business.
Dennis – I tell you Brian you can call me any time I would love too its been great talking to you. I don’t know how much authority you have but when I come over to Dundee I want to put on a clinic, I want to teach, I want to get in the ring, I want to talk to everyone fans, wrestlers, yourself, I just want to have fun and help put on a great show.
Grue – [laughs] I’m afraid I don’t have any authority, however, I’m sure our fans and talent will welcome you with open arms and I hope you will be able to do all of that. Mr. Stamp it has been a pleasure, again you’re a true gentlemen.
Dennis – Thank you, take care of yourself and I look forward to talk with you again. Goodbye Brian.
Grue – Mr Stamp, take care and thank you.
Come and meet Dennis Stamp at Hell for Lycra XI, you can buy tickets online at http://www.sweonline.co.uk or on our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/sweonline or at our next event Hellbound, which will present internet sensation Grado, as seen on BBC, and former WWE superstar Colt Cabana who is here in Scotland performing at the Edinburgh fringe festival, aswell as our event at Kirkton Community Centre on August 23rd. Doors open 1:30pm First Bell 2pm.