Friday, May 1, 2009
Interview with WWE Hall of Famer Superfly Jimmy Snuka
Hit The Ropes Radio: We’re joined by our guest, WWE Hall of Famer, Superfly Jimmy Snuka. Jimmy, how ya’ doing?
Jimmy Snuka: Lovely Brudda, thank you very much for having me.
HTR: You just had you’re Wrestlemania appearance, how’d it feel to be in the 25th anniversary of Wrestlemania?
JS: Well Brudda, to be honest with you, I just broke the record again.
HTR: And what was the record you broke?
JS: I guess I was the oldest guy to ever wrestle at Wrestlemania 25.
HTR: Yes you were. And how’d you feel in the ring and how did they receive you?
JS: I felt great, like a 65 year old man. It was so awesome and hard to explain it Brudda because that’s Wrestlemania Brudda, and I was really proud to be a part of that.
HTR: You’ve had a lot of people admiring you. Mick Foley loved your jump off the cage on Don Morocco, what’s it like having people in the business looking up to you?
JS: You know what Brudda, it’s a really appreciation you know. The way I’m always thinking if you’re good to the Lord, and you’re down here, you got to take care of your missionary worry work Brudda. Do the right thing and get in there have fun. And concentrate and stay focus on what you’re doing.
That’s how these kids get involved because when you do something right Brudda they love it, and I love when they love it.
HTR: Can you tell us how you got into professional wrestling?
JS: Actually I was in Hawaii, training at a gym called Power House. And former Mr. Hawaiian Island, Dean Higuchi, started his gym in Waikiki. That place will really cheer you up quick. Anyways, all the pro wrestlers would work at our gym there since we had former Mr. Hawaiian Island, he was a professional wrestler. So all the guys who come from the main land on their way to Japan would to stop in Hawaii for 2-3 weeks, it depends. They’d go to Japan and then come back to Hawaii and wrestle for a couple weeks and then go back to the main land.
So I was lucky because every time they rotated I’d get to meet them all in the gym. Then finally they turned around and said, “Hey Brudda, I know you’re training for the Mr. Hawaiian contest. But why don’t you forget about that and let’s go make some money?” And I said if I don’t accomplish what I worked so hard for, then I’m not going to get it to I get it first. And then we can get into the business.
At the mean time I grew up watching all these guys ride back and forth. And I finally made up in my mind that I got to win this Mr. Hawaiian contest. And as soon I won that, I won it in 1970, right from there I started to train and then I was on my way to Portland, Oregon, where I started in professional wrestling.
HTR: Well you got your start in Portland, Oregon, at what point did you say, man, I’m good at this? Potentially great at this?
JS: Well, you know what Brudda? I didn’t want to go overboard. I always go one step at a time Brudda. And make sure I’m doing the right thing. So when I finally got into the ring with all these professional wrestlers, especially the old school guys, I was very lucky when I came into it they were serious. I was very lucky and I was very blessed with the Lord. And got to wrestle with these great old timers, they taught me, don’t get excited just go out there and have fun.
What they do is relax you, you go in and wrestle. That’s what you train for, what you do in the ring. Because when you step into the ring for the first time, you have to memorize you’re whole homework. Because wrestling is a different college, ya know. You have to memorize everything and know everything, and know what it’s all about.
HTR: You talk about various legends, who’s your all-time favorite to square off against?
JS: There’s a local boy from Hawaii. He’s a local guy, a wrestler who would come to the gym all the time. Local Hawaiian boy. He’s the one that really going. Ever since I used to watch him wrestle, I just loved it Brudda.
HTR: I’ve seen on the net that the movie The Wrestler was loosely based on your life is that true?
JS: Well Brudda, like I said I got to be straight about everything, that’s the way I like to be. I always like competition to myself. To be involved in a situation like this, I’ve got to take care of it. Take care of business and take care of yourself and everything will be just coming down the road and I look forward to it.
HTR: Now did you see the Wrestler?
JS: Oh, yeah. I sit down and watch it every time.
HTR: So did you like it? Was it an accurate depiction of what wrestlers go through, especially those out of the lime light?
JS: Well I watch it if I’m not wrestling or anything like that you know. It’s a great thing to watch the kids to get in there and try to wrestle and not try to focus on things you know. You got to be really mental involved in yourself and take care of your responsibilities. And have your everything completed before you’re ready to do something, ya’ know?
HTR: Right. Now you’re son is in the business now. He had a thing going with Manu and Legacy, before they let Manu go, are you happy with the way they’re using him?
JS: Well, he’s got it all together. And I was the one who taught him and everything. He needs to relax and focus on what to do right and listen. Pay attention to people that tell you certain things because if you don’t listen you’re gonna miss the cue you know. The whole point of it is he’s doing really good. He’s ready for when they call him. Preparing for what he’s got to do and everything and he’s coming around real good. And I love my son and I really like to see him complete his mission.
HTR: Any possibility of you managing Sim (Jimmy Snuka Jr.) in the future?
JS: You know what, that’s a real good one. That’s why I got to keep up with you kids because you know more than I do my whole life.
Being a manager, it just might happen. You never know what goes through Vince McMahon’s mind. You know. Vince you got a son, I’ve got a son. You’ve got a daughter; I’ve got a daughter coming up in pro wrestling. My way of just thinking about it was as I tried to relay the message to him earlier. You’ve gotta son, I’ve got a son. You’ve got a daughter, I’ve got a daughter that’s training now, and she’s coming up. So why don’t you and your son and daughter go up against me and my son and my daughter?
HTR: So you’re challenging Vincent Kennedy McMahon to a battle?
JS: That’s right Brudda!
HTR: You’re definitely staying in the lime light. There’s a rumor that says you’re trying to get your own TV show. Is that true and do you have a TV deal yet?
JS: Well right now that’s what we’re waiting for. We’re waiting for someone to pick it up, but our lawyer is taking care of the whole thing. We’ve already started already, it’s been 3-4 months already and it’s going good. So we’re just waiting for it to be picked up.
HTR: Have you shopped it to VH1 or any station and what’s the premise or is it top secret?
JS: No not yet Brudda. And no it’s not top secret Brudda. I just want to do something different. When I’m not wrestling I want to have fun and go meet the fans from around the world. That’s what I do the most. Just go with the breeze.
HTR: Well it seems you like the fans, you’ve got a Body Slam University down in Florida, how’d that come about and do you train the kids?
JS: I’m always down there once a month, sometimes twice a month. Because I’m still wrestling around the country Bruddas. I wrestle mostly every weekend, sometimes doing autographs during the weekdays. I just keep myself going Brudda, keep training. Make sure that as long as I’m good with the Lord everything is good with me. I just have to keep up with it.
HTR: Are you in there bumping with the kids?
JS: Oh yeah, oh yeah. I let them want it. You gotta want it. If you don’t want it Brudda you can come back again. I don’t chase them away. Think it over Brudda because it’s not easy. When you pay me I make sure you earn that money you pay me.
HTR: Is there any student you have you think has what it takes to make it to the WWE?
JS: Well there’s what’s his name whose up there in the WWE. He’s from our school I’m trying to think of his name again. Ah…
HTR: Is it MVP?
JS: Yeah that’s right, he’s from our school. We’ve got other good guys. We’ve got a girl whose 7’ and serious. She’s really good. She can move. Good shape. She used to play basketball overseas.
She’s a big girl. I always love to hug her and put my head on her chest and say “Sista, it’s surly nice to meet you.” They’re beautiful kids and I make them comfortable and talk to them. Get to really know them good and dig into them to make sure this is what they really want to do. Because I don’t want to waste my time. But if you want it Brudda, we’re gonna have a good ol’ time in there.
HTR: You say you don’t want to waste your time, you wrestling around the country, teaching kids down in Florida and I heard you made a movie Buffalo Bushido.
JS: Yeah Brudda, this guy was a wrestling fan and I didn’t know he was one of the producers. He introduced himself and said Brudda I’d like to make a wrestling movie with you, you know. I told me the part and everything else and I loved it. And when he came to and told me that I said is this thing real? He comes up and spits it straight up and I said You bet. You just tell me when you want to do it.
HTR: Will it be in theaters or DVD?
JS: I think it’ll be both Brudda. I’m just waiting for him to call me back so me and my wife can go up to Buffalo and see the whole thing.
HTR: So what was your part in the movie?
JS: I was climbing up on the rope, you know, and getting ready to do the Superfly. Doing a little wrestling and some interviews about my partner. The producer dressed up in a wild costume and I’m like the manager, doing all the talking and stuff. It was really good and I had a lot of fun doing it. The spirit was right and everything when it came to an end it was so lovely and I’d love to do it again.
HTR: So you’d pursue more acting roles?
JS: Yeah, I hope so Brudda. I hope so.
HTR: A lot of wrestlers now are coming out with books talking about their careers, is that something you’re interested in or already’ve done?
JS: Well, right now I’ve already started that 4 or 5 months again. We’re trying to put it together and it should be out by this year.
HTR: Can you give us a good road story that might wet our appetite until it comes out?
JS: (laughs) Well actually, the whole book is starting from when I was a kid, my whole story. Working up until now and the whole thing. That’s the thing about this book, it’s my whole life and places where I’ve been before I came to the United States of America and all these things. And it’s going to turn out real well. It’s going to be nice. There’s nothing nasty or dirty about it. It’s just straight forward.
It’s good for people who want to read it and know how I was raised up. I‘ve got to tell them about my lifestyle you know.
HTR: Is this something you’re going to get published independently or with the WWE?
JS: Well right now I’m doing it on my own.
HTR: Well, backstage, did you pull any pranks back when you’re in the WWE?
JS: Well, we always have fun, making people laugh. I don’t do anything bad to them or anything. Just talk to them and feel the spirit. Timing’s got to be right for everything, you know?
HTR: Who was the easiest to get along with all you worked with in the ring?
JS: Well Brudda, mostly all of them. Mostly the guys, Piper was one of them. Don Morocco you know. These are the guys I more or less sticked around and talked to try to educate ourselves to. “Hey guys we’re a team here. Let’s go take care of business.” That’s a lovely thing when you can be close to people who want to make money and think about their families and their future. It’s a beautiful thing when this can be accomplished.
HTR: Now there aren’t that many minorities in wrestling, there definitely weren’t many in your time. As a minority, did you have any problems with any promoters or wrestlers?
JS: Not at all Brudda. I’m a very humble guy. I don’t go around and stick my nose in the air. I just want to be happy and when I talk to other people I want them to be happy before we carry on a conversation.
HTR: You interacted with Hogan and all the top stars, how did they treat you? Did they work with you as you were on the same level as them? Even though you’re a hall of famer, everyone seems to have egos in this business, did you feel any conflict there.
JS: You know what Brudda, I got along good with everyone. Hulk Hogan was a little different character. He wants to be Hulk Hogan and everything, which was good. I was proud of him and I helped him with what he needed to know and stuff like that. And Vince McMahon Sr., that died God bless his soul, was the one that put Hulk Hogan with me so I can take him around and teach him the ropes. And I loved it. He’s a great guy and he takes care of number one. And I love it.
HTR: Vince McMahon (Jr.), everyone who talks about meeting him for the first time talks about the intimidation factor. Did you feel that?
JS: Ah, he was a great guy Brudda. He still is a great guy. I get along with him. He’s a business guy and that’s just the way he is. I got no hard feelings against him or anything. But he’s just a strictly business guy and I love the whole family. We all grew up together in the business. His boy and my boy. His daughter you know, we always been close. The lovely thing about it is I’m still involved with them and I love it.
HTR: Well the WWE, which owns the ECW, doesn’t recognize the NWA ECW title, which you were the first NWA ECW title holder. How do you feel about that?
JS: That’s okay with me Brudda. As long as you people know about it. That’s what I care about the most.
HTR: So you’ve won a long list of titles, but none in the WWE, so the titles don’t mean that much to you?
JS: My way of thinking is it would’ve been nice to get the belt. But one thing about the belt you know once you get a belt you know you’re going to lose it right? Well I’m not a loser.
The only championship belt there is you wonderful people in this beautiful wonderful world. That’s all I care about. I’m not worried about the belt. If they want to give it to me, that’s fine. Mostly it’s between you wonderful people and myself. Your heart. My heart. I want you to come there and have fun in the arenas where you’re at and get your frustrations out there Brudda. And cut it loose and go home happy. That’s my whole gimmick.
HTR: Well maybe since you’re not that pushy with the belt, that’s why the Hogan’s and those have to have the belt always got it.
JS: (laughs) You know I just felt that way, I don’t really need it, but if they give it that’s fine. But do you remember when the WWE were running three different shows a night. They had Hulk Hogan as the champion, Tito Santana as the Intercontinental champion and myself. Now who do you think was drawing and selling out every night between the three of us?
HTR: I’m gonna guess the un-obvious choice and guess you.
JS: That’s very right Brudda, and I love you for that one.
HTR: So you outsold Tito and Hulk Hogan during that time?
JS: You bet Brudda. You bet. We were selling out everywhere every night. And they only had like a half, like a half a building. God bless them, but you know, that’s the way it goes. I was in my prime and I was ready to go as long as you people let me cut loose.
HTR: How were you treated when you had the best drawl and everyone was coming to see you? How were you treated by Vince? Were you treated like the top draw?
JS: Well Brudda, this is the way it happened. The looked at the house, and compared the two together and they got their answer.
HTR: When it’s all said and done and you finally retire, how do you want to be remembered?
JS: Well hold on a minute. Number one Brudda, I’m not retired.
HTR: (lauging) No, no. I know, I said when you retire. I’m sorry. (laughing)
JS: (laughing) It’s all good brother, I love you guys.
HTR: Let me ask you this, will you ever retire?
JS: You know what brother, I’m going to say this one more time, as long as I have the blessing from the Lord, I’m sure he’ll take of me and the rest Brudda. And that’s what I’m going to do. As long my body’s okay and the foundations are very strong Brudda. That’s what Brudda’s gonna still do. Brudda’s gonna keep flying. And till I can’t climb that rope anymore.
Rapid Fire Session
HTR: Who haven’t you faced that you liked to face?
JS: Everybody Brudda, everybody.
HTR: Best thing about being a pro wrestler?
JS: It’s a lovely thing because I deserved it.
HTR: Worst thing about being a pro wrestler?
JS: The worst thing is the good thing.
HTR: If you were to start up your own promotion, who would you sign first?
JS: I’d sign all of them Brudda.
HTR: You’re not making this easy.
HTR: If they made a movie of your life, who would play you and the sporting cast?
JS: Well, it’d be nice if I could play it. I would get in there and do my thing.
HTR: What’s one thing fans would be surprised to learn about you?
JS: Um, the good thing about me is what I did in my whole life, coming up in professional wrestling is the greatest feeling that I’ll ever have for the rest of my life until I die. To love fans that loved what I did and what I love for what I did for them. There’s no question about it Brudda. I loved it and I love everybody.
HTR: In your opinion, who’s the best wrestler of all time?
JS: The Superfly Jimmy Snuka.
HTR: What’s your favorite country of all time to visit?
JS: This whole world Brudda.
HTR: If you can go one on one with any celebrity, who would it be and why?
JS: Um you know what it’d be nice if you can get to see him, this way you’ll know the look, feeling and spirit. And then everything will be alright.
HTR: I know I speak for the guys when I say it’s been a great honor to have you on and we appreciate you taking the time to speak with us.
JS: Hey Brudda it’s a lovely thing. My time is your time and I love you guys. I really appreciate you taking time to think about The Superfly Jimmy Snuka and keep in touch anytime.
HTR: Anything you’d like to say to your fans before you go?
JS: Yes, I’d like to tell them you can see me on Wrestlemania 25 and The Superfly Jimmy Snuka broke the record again. And he will continue breaking records as long as I’m alive.
Alright, let the world know I love them and especially you guys. God Bless.
Check out Hit The Ropes Radio next week as we interview former WCW & WWE Psycho Sid Vicious. Plus, TNA prizes and more. Special Start time next Wednesday at 7 p.m. Eastern.