Billy "The P" Donald, Wrestling Manager
(retired): 9th July 2003
Media Man Australia's continues to explore the often
misunderstood world of pro wrestling.
Donaly tells of his success in the once hotbed of
wrestling in America, Memphis, and the life of a wrestler
on the road.
What's your background?
broke into the business in the fall of 1996. I was
friends with Ian Rotten for quite some time before
that, and when he told me that he was going to put
together a new promotion in Louisville to bring an
ECW/Japan type of product to the local area, which
was a total departure from the Memphis style wrestling
that had been here for over 30 years, he asked me
how I would feel about becoming the promotion's top
heel manager. Of course, growing up watching Jimmy
Hart, Bobby Heenan, and Jim Cornette was a great advantage
for me, and it was something I could have only dreamed
of doing, so I jumped at the chance, as you could
were your highs and lows in the wrestling business?
weren't a lot of lows, to be honest. I was really
my own worst critic, so if I didn't cut a very good
promo or if I mildly botched a spot occasionally,
I would kick myself over it. That was my own fault.
99 % of the people I worked with were nothing but
supportive of me. As for the high points, those include
my last appearance at the IWA Mid-South arena, working
on the 1997 Eddie Gilbert Memorial brawl alongside
guys like Terry and Dory Funk Jr, Tommy Rich, and
Tommy and Doug Gilbert, and my favorite memory of
all was working the first annual Brian Pillman memorial
show in 1998 with Steve Austin, Chris Benoit, and
did you get your break?
I mentioned in the first question, Ian Rotten had
complete faith in me to pull off being the top heel
manager for the IWA Mid-South when he began the promotion,
so that was THE break. I will be forever grateful
are your mentors?
would consider Bull Pain, Sherri Martel, Doug Gilbert,
Tommy Rich, Tom Brandi, and Ian Rotten to be my mentors.
They taught me more about the business than anybody.
Sherri Martel particularly was my most important mentor
because she obviously is a legendary manager, so she
taught me so much about manager psychology, style,
I couldn't have asked for
a better teacher. Everything I learned was "on
are some "bad apples" in memphis wrestling,
truly don't think there are any bad apples in Memphis,
really. They are just unfortunate to have a couple
of people within the promotion that don't know when
to step down and let their younger talent blossom,
and I truly think they have some pretty good guys
such as Chris Harris, Kevin White, and Reed Richardson.
But the real problem is the booking. I don't really
know who is booking, but Memphis is just a broken
record. You can watch an old Memphis tape from 1983
and be watching the same product as you are seeing
now, including a lot of the same guys on the roster!
The angles they are doing now have been done at least
10 times before in the territory. There is no element
of surprise. I feel sorry for Brian Christopher and
Doug Gilbert, who is a good friend of mine, because
I think the pressure is really on them to keep things
interesting. Nobody else there is going to draw money
for them, including Jerry Lawler.
is the deal with Erik Estrada and Lawler?
ha! That's just me being a smartass, really. Apparently,
I have pissed off a lot of the Memphis supporters
because I have spoken out against their product, just
as I am doing here. The thing is, I grew up on Memphis
wrestling, and if it weren't for Memphis Wrestling
in the early 80's, I never would have been in the
business. Memphis wrestling was everything to me.
Believe me, I want Memphis to succeed. I really do,
because it was the last of the great territories.
But if they want to survive, they need to bring a
fresh perspective in and they need to do some house
What media coverage have you
just coverage in the underground sheets such as The
Lariat, The Wrestling Observer, and things like that.
I have done a couple of interviews for independent
reporters as well.
some funny stories from the road?
I can say that I have gotten to travel with a lot
of entertaining people, so I have a few. Mad Man Pondo
and I stayed a couple of times at this total piece
of shit hotel in Evansville, Indiana, and we stayed
in the "penthouse suite" as the owner called
it, which was actually just a little room over an
old garage! It had an air conditioner in it that was
hanging halfway out of the wall, and the only way
it would work was if you pounded your fist on it a
couple of times, so Pondo and I liked to call it the
"Fred Sanford" suite, as in the Sanford
& Son show.
was the time I picked up Axl Rotten and Jeff Jones
(the heel ref from ECW) at the Greyhound bus station
in a bad part of Louisville, Kentucky. We would be
driving through the ghetto basically to get to the
interstate, and when Axl saw black people walking
down the street, he would roll down the window and
start shit with them! We're lucky the bastard didn't
get us murdered that day. Axl was always entertaining.
He was crazy.
funny story was the day that Myself, Ian Rotten, and
The Headbangers were driving together, and we pulled
into a gas station to fill up. The Headbangers and
Ian went inside to pay while I pumped the gas outside,
and Headbanger Thrasher (Glen Ruth) got on the gas
station microphone where everybody could hear him
and started ribbing me over the loud speaker. It was
hilarious. There are so many good stories.
What are you doing with yourself
I just enjoy a quiet married life. My Wife and I work
together at the same telecommunications company and
we still live comfortably in Louisville, Kentucky.
I have no desires to get back into the business, so
I just have the luxury of sitting back and enjoying
my memories and the friends I made. It was a good
note: An entertaining, and talented wresting manager.
This bloke sounds like a good bloke to share a beer
or two with.
part b of the interview
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