Interview - Billy "The P" Donald


Interview: Billy "The P" Donald, Wrestling Manager (retired): 14th July 2003


Media Man Australia conducts part 2 of the interview with Billy The P!I


Why do people become wrestlers and wrestling managers?
is it a personality trait?

Well, I think that personality is definitely a factor, but there are a lot of heel wrestlers that could just as easily be a manager because they are such good talkers, and there are some managers that could as easily be wrestlers because they understand the psychology of setting up a story and telling the story through the match.

Case in point for both: Bobby Heenan. In fact, Bobby told me once that he always just tried to wrestle like a manager and manage like a wrestler, which made perfect sense to me. He did both, and did them well because he knew what it took to tell a story not only out of the ring through interviews, but in the ring as well.

Guys like Jim Cornette and Jimmy Hart had this talent too. They had great minds for the business, and that is why I will always consider Heenan, Hart and Cornette the best trio of managers in the history of wrestling. That is starting to become a lost art now, unfortunately.

You'll find that most managers are guys that used to be wrestlers that had a career ending injury (Paul Ellering and Ted DiBiase come to mind) or maybe they are just retired (such as Harley Race or Superstar Billy Graham were), or guys that are just too small to wrestle, such as I was, or a guy like Jimmy Hart.

Explain the "rush" that you get in the ring, and performing to a crowd?

It's like no other feeling, that's for sure. And I've been on both sides of that fence as heel and babyface. I've gotten a great pop when I was a babyface and insane heat when I was a heel. Of course, I always far preferred getting that heel heat, because I just liked to piss people off. It came naturally to me.

What other wrestlers have been the most supportive of you?

I can honestly say that nearly everybody I ever worked with was always there for me and were very supportive. Guys and girls like Ian Rotten, Bull Pain, Doug Gilbert, Mad Man Pondo, Sherri Martel, Les Thatcher, and so many more were nothing short of helpful to me. It was a real blessing.

Have things ever got out of control in or around the ring? - explain...

Well, I'd have to say that the IWA Mid-South had the kind of environment that often led to things getting out of hand, but that was acceptable. It was part of what made the IWA so much fun, really. Probably the most famous out of hand incident was when Wolfie D. of the team PG-13 started shooting
on Ox Harley during a hardcore weapons match after Ox did something that Wolfie apparently did not particularly care for. The whole dressing room cleared to break them up. We also had an incident at only our second show where all of the fans in the arena threw almost every chair in the building into the ring on Mad Man Pondo until he was eventually buried under a mountain of steel chairs. It was something unusual almost every week!

Has the media been fair to the wrestling business over the years?

Certainly not. We got yet another glaring instance of this in the recent HBO Real Sports program. Particularly if you live in the Southern United States as I do, where even "respected" journalists refer to it in their articles as "rasslin" and the usual song and dance about it being fake and what not.

I don't see the same writers reviewing movies and talking about how fake the blood is or how fake the action is, yet, both the movie industry and the wrestling industry are clearly identified as entertainment. So in effect, how is a guy like Steve Austin different from, say Robert DeNiro?

They are both generally respected and admired for the work they do, the credibility of the characters they play (even though it is safe to say that they are both just usually playing a variation of themselves), and they are considered to give the people their money's worth when they buy a ticket to see them.

Yet, DeNiro may get an Oscar or a similar award, and Steve Austin is just some redneck "rassler" according to the media. Professional wrestlers, referees, managers, etc… work very, very hard. Just like construction workers, surgeons, policemen, and just about any "normal" profession. Wrestlers have bills to pay and children to feed too. Wrestling is generally escapism for regular people, just like a movie is.

Going to the wrestling matches is a great way for hard working people to go to unwind from their jobs and to enjoy themselves, as well as being a place for kids to forget about their problems or their schoolwork for a while and have fun. But, it will be an eternal struggle for the wrestling business to get positive media attention, so why the hell try, huh?

What other promotions did you work for?

I worked for the IWA Mid-South Promotion, the Heartland Wrestling Association. The Hardcore Wrestling Federation, and a couple of other small promotions in Indiana.

Have you, or are you involved in any other forms of entertainment?

Not at all. I lead a very quiet life now with my Wife in Louisville, Kentucky, and that is the way I like it, quite frankly!

Anything else you want to let us know about?

Well, I'd just like to invite everybody to come out and check out my official website www.geocities.com/billythep2003/home.html to see the stories from my career and enjoy the photos and memories, and everybody is free to write me if they have any questions or comments.

Greg, it has been a pleasure being your guest. Thank you very much for having me, and keep up the great work.

Links:

Billy The P official website

Greg Tingle interviews Billy The P (part a) - 9th July 2003

Memphis Pro Wrestling Directory (Greg Tingle's)

Wrestling Managers (Greg Tingle's)

Independent Wrestling Promotions (Greg Tingle's)