World Class Championship Wrestling and Mid-South Wrestling 1980s star “Hollywood” John Tatum talks Michael Hayes, Sting, Missy Hyatt, Chris Adams, health, more


The following are highlights of an interview conducted this week with 1980s wrestling star “Hollywood” John Tatum, who gained most of his acclaim in World Class Championship Wrestling and Mid-South Wrestling. These highlights were supplied to by the Wrestling Epicenter podcast hosted by James Walsh. The interview took place July 27.

Legendary World Class Championship Wrestling, Mid-South Wrestling, and Global Wrestling Federation star “Hollywood” Join Tatum joined James Walsh and the Wrestling Epicenter on Thursday, July 27th, 2023 to discuss the upcoming big East Texas Wrestling Alliance benefit show for the medical bills of former WCCW Champion Black Bart who has been battling stage 4 cancer.

The former romantic partner of the “First Lady of Wrestling” Missy Hyatt discusses their relationship and break up, his infamous superkick to Tessa who he lost to “Superstar” Bill Dundee, his tag teams with Jack Victory and “Rugged” Rod Price the “California Stud,” and so much more.

Tatum also talks about breaking in the business with Michael “PS” Hayes, who was a childhood friend of his, and trying to impress Ricky Gibson by having matches on sand on the beach in front of him. Plus, some incredible stories about the Von Erichs, Chris Adams, and more!

Check out East Texas Wrestling Alliance on Facebook to get your tickets to the Aug. 12 event where you can meet John Tatum, Rod Price, Jack Victory, and many of the World Class and Global stars who all are coming together to honor the meanest, toughest, roughest ‘rastler you’ll ever seen, Black Bart himself!

•On making a somewhat rare appearance for the East Texas Wrestling Alliance’s Black Bart Benefit Show:

“I love Black Bart. I have a lot of stories of Black bart from when we first started years and years ago. What kind of a guy he was, what kind of a person he was. I was very attracted to the man – He was always a man’s man. He did drink his beer but he didn’t do the things that we did – He wore blinders. But, he never participated in anything wrong. Of all of us, he’s not the one who deserves to have this disease (cancer). It has eaten up a lot of my friends and a lot of my family. But, I’m just moving forward with anything I can do to help. I would do anything to help him.”

•On the Texas Wrestling legends reuniting for this event:

“Absolutely! That is the up-side. Well, that sounds wrong. Of course, first, giving everything to Black Bart is the first upside. But, the other upside is that I know there are going to be people there that I haven’t seen in 30 years. I haven’t seen some of these guys since you were 11! I don’t do a lot of signings or personal appearances. But, i do have some T shirts and hats and things. I don’t typically sell them – I just give them away sometimes to family or friends. But, anyway. I’m going to have those items for sale and I’m going to charge a ridiculous price. Every penny of that price is going to Black Bart.”

•On falling in love with pro wrestling:

“I grew up with Michael Hayes. We were best friends. Back when we were 12 or 15, we started going to shows and we would watch Ricky Gibson, Don Fargo, and Gorgeous George Jr. Anyway, we got in with Ricky Gibson and Robert Gibson – Ruben Cain. Well, Ricky was already wrestling but Robert was setting up the rings before events. Well, we got in on that. We started setting up the ring at the TV station before a taping.

•On his friendship with Michael Hayes:

“Michael and I went to the beach a lot… Michael’s daddy died in a plane crash – He was in the air force. I don’t know all the details. But, his mother never remarried. So, Michael (Hayes) was raised by his mother and my family. Anyway, we set up the rings at the TV station and of course we stayed for the matches and watched and were drawn to it. We grew up on it. We loved wrestling. We got in with Robert Gibson and, this is amazing. We would go to the Pensacola Beach and Ricky Gibson – And if you don’t know who Ricky Gibson is, he is one of the greatest. But, drugs got him. Not drug drugs but beer – which is a drug! Anyway, he was one of the greatest. Anyway, Michael and I would know where he would lay on the beach. So, we would go and we would set up about 15 feet from him and we would wrestle. And, we would do all types of moves and go on and on. Ricky Gibson would just sit there and drink his beer and never say a word! (laughs) He wouldn’t put us over one bit! So, Michael and I would go home and we would say, “We’re just not putting on a good enough match!” And, we would come back and do it again!”

•On him falling in love with Missy Hyatt:

“My relationship with her has never changed. I don’t think she’s ever done anything to hurt me. I have never said or done anything to her to hurt her. I love her. I still talk to her nearly every day. Well, I was married for 30 years so during that time, I didn’t talk to her much But, now that I’m not married anymore, we talk not every day but it is close. At one time, she was the most beautiful woman on the planet – her and Madonna! And, in her heart, if people don’t know that girl, she is just a wonderful person. She is not what people think.”

•On Missy Hyatt leaving him for Eddie Gilbert in Mid-South:

“To keep it simple, i loved Eddie Gilbert. I loved his daddy Tommy and his brother Doug. I won’t bore you with the whole set up because it would take some time. But, Eddie came to me one day and he said, “I like Missy Hyatt. And, we’re going to have a relationship.” I said, “Ok.” And, we went about our business. But, he came to me as a man. And, he was a man. He was a man just like his daddy Tommy Sr. and Doug. Eddie was great. Maybe a little small. His muscles weren’t very big. But, his ringmanship, he was truly great.”

•On the Sportatorium being a place many look at as a lost treasure:

“When you work somewhere so often, you sort of become jaded. When I think of the Sportatorium in Dallas, my fondest memories don’t have anything to do with the building. But, I think of things like Buddy Roberts climbing up to pee on Missy Hyatt in the shower. Things like that… The cage in the Sportatorium where you could put the girl you were with. Everyone in that place knew, not who was in the cage but what the cage meant. That was high society right there! (laughs) But, the Sportatorium meant a lot to me. To me, it meant selling out. If you could get people to come to that building because there was no air conditioning, the roof leaks, everything sucks! The food sucks! The Von Erichs suck! The hot dogs suck! (laughs) Well, if you’re there year after year, week after week, and if you want to still sell out, you have got to come up with some different poop. You can’t just go out there and be John Tatum week after week. You’ve got to get a girl, you’ve got to kick that girl in the head, you gotta flip that girl’s bra up, you’ve got to flip her upside down, you gotta pull her skirt up! You just gotta do something! Because, if you’re there and you’re in the middle where I was, there isn’t a lot there for you. There isn’t a lot of angles if you’re not on top. So, you just have to get something going to get an angle going.”

•On getting flack, loss of TV networks after superkicking Tessa:

“Well, that was when I was working for Mr. Jerry Jarrett. I don’t know the logistics on if Jarrett bought the company or whatever. But, Jerry Jarrett and Bill Dundee were the bosses. I had Tessa. And, Tessa and Bill Dundee met. And, well, Bill Dundee fell in love with her. So, he comes over to me and is like, “Brotha” or however he talks (laughs), “Come stay at my house!” Well, it wasn’t “I love her” at first. But, we were new to the territory and we were staying in the boss’ mansion! Well, it was a couple of months that went by and he comes to me and he goes, “I love that girl!” And, i go, “Okay! You can have her! ” (laughs) “I do not love her!” And, we did that superkick deal…. Well, the thing I learned is how to lead leaders. All that stuff between Bill and I, he never spoke a word. My elders in the business have told me, “We saw those tapes. We’ve never seen Bill Dundee listen for a whole match.” Babyfaces weren’t supposed to talk. Typically, if they did, they talked, it wasn’t going to last long. They would have to listen to us heels talk. But, Bill liked to talk. Anyway, I have nothing bad to say about Bill Dundee. He was a great guy and he let me stay in his mansion for months! And, I would get so drunk, being honest, I would let Tessa… I mean, I wasn’t having sex with Tessa anyway. So, if she was f***ing the boss, I didn’t give a shit! (laughs) Same with Missy and Eddie Gilbert… Same with my first wife! I mean, i’ve only had 3 women in my life… I mean, I’ve had a lot of sex between those women. But, all 3 of my women have been some of the most beautiful women in the entire world – Missy Hyatt being one of them. But, at this point in my life, I just do what women tell me to do!” (laughs)

•On learning the Superkick and Chris Adams’ stiff shot:

“To start out with, the reason I learned the superkick was I was in a match with Chris Adams. And, the finish was the sueprkick… And, he hit me with the superkick and I saw stars. It was one of about 5 times in my 20 year career that someone really kicked me. He meant to do it. The guy was an asshole. I’m not the Lord and I can’t say that is why he died, but he was an asshole. He called my mother, who he never met, a cunt. Excuse my language. But, that is the kind of guy he was. He died by getting shot in the face… And, I hate to say it, but, he deserved that. I wish I had the balls to shoot him in the face after he called my mother the “C” word. He actually had the balls one night to come to me in the dressing room and say… This is when World Class would provide beer in the dressing room for the boys. He came up to me and said, “Hey Asshole! You know you wouldn’t be shit if it wasn’t for missy Hyatt!” I was like, “Okay! Thank you!” (laughs) I mean, I love him and all that. But, I can see why he got shot in the face and killed.”

•On seeing Sting still out there doing it in 2023:

“Man, I’m happy for him. Sting was always a wonderful guy. I wish Eddie Gilbert was around to see it maybe still be doing it too. But, Steve Borden is a great man. I’m so happy for his success. Now, his partner? The Ultimate Warrior? Well, i don’t want to ever say I want anyone to die. But, I’m glad Steve Borden is alive!”

•On being paired with Rod Price in Global:

“The only time I came as a package deal with anyone was with Missy Hyatt. Jack Victory and then Rod Price were the idea of the promoters. Now, both turned out great. But, I’d shave my butt and walk backwards if you paid me to! I went out with both Jack and Rod Price and I did the best I could and they did the best they could. The result was pretty good. I love both guys. Rod is one of the most genuine, down to earth, compassionate people you’ll ever meet.”

•On the famous superkick to Sebastian, formerly Jameson in WWE, in Global:

“I don’t remember the kick. But, i do remember who you’re talking about. Look, I came up in the business in a different way. This kid, who seemed like an OK kid, came in and kind of wanted to be a TV star. So, while I don’t remember the kick exactly, I wasn’t about to kick someone and have them act like I kicked them. So, I probably about took his head off! (laughs)”

•On why he never went to WCW or WWE:

“I was John Tatum. That is who I was going to be. And, it didn’t matter what Vince McMahon or Vince Russo wanted, all I was going to be was John Tatum. And, unless they were going to take me as I was and paid me what I wanted, I wasn’t going to do it. And, the time that you are asking about, when it would have mattered, I had gotten out of the business.”

•On leaving pro wrestling:

“I got a better offer. In 1993, I got an offer from the business world to leave pro wrestling and I took it. There was a non-profit organization that ran the 24th largest fair in the country. The fair ran for 10 days but during the off season, they had these buildings and they needed something. So, they brought me in, they offered me this job, and I excelled at that. So, I never went back to wrestling!”

•On wrestling today and the superkick being used as just a regular move now:

“I notice the women don’t do that as much as the men. Man, the women of wrestling today astound me. I mean, we went from Sherri Martel, Candi Divine, and Moolah…. I would cringe. “Oh my God! They’re F’ing our business up! Look at these whores!” But, these girls today are amazing. They astound me. If it isn’t already, it is going to be 50/50 soon. But, today, women just about rule the world. So, it isn’t going to surprise me when they rule wrestling. I don’t like Hillary Clinton. I never have. But, these girls are bad ass. They’re better than us. What took us men 100 years to accomplish in wrestling, these women have accomplished in 10 years.”

•On his health after multiple heart attacks in 2019:

“Mentally, I’m good. Physically, I could be better. I mean, I try to work out. I go to the gym, I play golf. I’m fine. I don’t take anything… After my heart thing, they had me on all kinds of things. And, one day, I just said, “That’s it!” and I stopped everything. I don’t take anything now except Tylenon and aspirin. That helps. But, now, when I go to the doctor, I’m the same as I was with all that stuff they had me on. All the numbers, they’re still the same. So, when I was taking their medicine, it was doing nothing! It was only hurting me.”

•On his final thoughts heading in to ETWA’s Black Bart Benefit Show:

“I have a deal with Black Bart. We go way back. Of all of us wrestlers and how we lived, Black Bart was the one guy who I never saw touch a drug. He never drank too much. He never ran around. He just never did anything wrong. And, he’s the last guy of all of us who should have to deal with this disease. Unless the Good Lord is calling for him because he needs him up there – I’m not going to sniff too hard into that direction. But, he’s the last guy who should have to be going through this. I will do anything I can to help Black Bart. I actually have an event the night before this event. And, I made sure that they get me on a flight that night back so I can be there for Bart. It means that much to me. Black Bart means that much to me.”

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