Guest Editorials VALLEY: The story behind the 1980s wrestler who is suing WWE for egregious mistreatment of its wrestlers over the years
Oct 31, 2014 - 12:55:31 PM
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By Jim Valley, PWTorch contirbutor
I have only met Billy Jack Haynes in person once. Living in Portland for a time, I can tell you the stories are endless.
It may come as no surprise to you that KGUY, the radio station from where I did my "Total Chaos" radio show (those shows are now republished exclusively on the PWTorch VIP website twice a month), was not exactly state of the art. It was a small station in a house. I worked there on the weekends to supplement my income and get more on air experience in Portland. The owners of the station at the time tried to revive Portland Wrestling with limited success. Being new, I suggested Billy Jack Haynes. I was told that Billy had previously sold advertising for the radio station and did really well. One problem: I was told he kept the money from the contracts he signed and then never came back to work. You will see a pattern.
Jason Sullivan is one of the more talented and charismatic independent wrestlers who has worked in Texas and the northwest. He says when he was younger he gave Billy a deposit of $500 to begin his wrestling training. Billy took the money and disappeared. Are you seeing a pattern?
There is another well-known story among local indy wrestlers in Portland. Billy acquired a ring that was purchased with money he was given for a sold show in the city of St. Helens, Oregon. The show never happened. Billy, the ring, and the rest of the money disappeared. Do you see a pattern?
Later, I'm told, Billy went to another wrestler and borrowed $1,000 using the ring as collateral. The wrestler says he kept the ring, lost the grand, and Billy disappeared. You are seeing a pattern.
You may remember or have seen on YouTube, where Billy Jack Haynes was one of a few wrestlers who publicly exposed the seedier side of wrestling in People Magazine and tabloid TV shows in the early-'90s. Fast forward to 2001. I'm at the Portland Auto Show to interview Mick Foley at an autograph signing. Through the crowd comes a hulking familiar figure: Billy Jack Haynes. He politely cuts through the line (nobody minds), shakes Mick's hand, whispers in his ear, and gives him a manilla envelope. "What is going on?" I thought.
I took my microphone and interviewed Billy Jack Haynes. After hearing all of these stories and worse, I was scared. Would he lash out at me? Would he kayfabe me? Luckily, Billy Jack Haynes was incredibly polite and candid in our brief interview. But I was still nervous as hell. What was in the envelope? It was an apology to Vince McMahon and a proposal to box Butterbean in a shoot at that year's SummerSlam. He said he saw it as a way to avenge Bart Gunn's infamous WrestleMania knockout. You don't have to check the PWTorch VIP Archives to know that didn't happen. Billy Jack disappeared, but this time without anyone else's money. The pattern was broken.
With his new class action lawsuit against WWE, I expect three things: (1) He won't get any money. (2) He will, again, disappear. (3) The new pattern will continue.
Billy Jack Haynes may or may not have issues that could be blamed on WWE practices and pressures, but he has hustled for money, by many accounts, for most of his wrestling career... I don't know if Billy Jack Haynes suffered sexual abuse as a child. If he did, my heart goes out to him. At the same time, I don't think that gives him a blanket excuse for all of his well-known transgressions... You've probably seen the Billy Jack Haynes shoot video. I'm under the impression that BJH was trying to create a money making persona a la The Iron Sheik...
EMAIL JIM VALLEY AT firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Professional broadcaster Jim Valley is a long-time wrestling fan, PWTorch subscriber, and currently PWTorch Livecast guest host and now a PWTorch.com editorialist. He won a National Edward R. Murrow Award and several regional awards during his 20 year broadcast career. He has done TV announcing for several independent wrestling promotions, hosted his own wrestling radio show, interviewed many top stars, and was flown out to Stamford to audition for WWE. He took second to Todd Grisham. His Attitude Era "Total Chaos" wrestling radio show is currently being featured on PWTorch.com's VIP membership website, with new episodes added each month.)
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