Hillbilly Jim on RAW's move to USA
During RAW's Oct. 3 Homecoming on USA Network, WWE will pay tribute to many of the Legends who helped pave the way for all of WWE's future success. WWE.com will be posting interviews with many of these Legends as we recognize the vital role they played well before RAW ever became the landmark show of sports-entertainment.
Hillbilly Jim, the overalls-clad "Country Boy" from Mudlick, Kent., is one of the most distinctive and recognizable figures in WWE history. This lifelong wrestling fan was trained by the "Immortal" Hulk Hogan, and Hillbilly eventually returned the favor by joining The Hulkster's Team Mega-Powers in a battle against Team Mega-Bucks at the 1988 Survivor Series. Hillbilly also made his pay-per-view mark in an unusual WrestleMania 2 Battle Royal featuring NFL players and a memorable WrestleMania III mixed tag-team match. Hillbilly led a team consisting of the much smaller Little Beaver & The Haiti Kid against the tank-like King Kong Bundy and Lord Littlebrook & Little Tokyo. Hillbilly's team won the match but lost the war when Bundy flattened Little Beaver. A distraught Hillbilly carried Little Beaver out cradled in his arms.
Still an active member of the WWE family, Hillbilly makes appearances as part of the annual Road to WrestleMania Tour. He also frequently discusses the world of sports-entertainment in between "Outlaw" country songs during his SIRIUS satellite radio show, Hillbilly Jim's Moonshine Matinee. When Hillbilly returns on Oct. 3 for RAW's Homecoming, current Superstars best remember the motto, "Don't go messin' with a country boy!"
WWE.com: Oct. 3 will not be your first appearance on RAW. In fact, you were on RAW on USA in the mid-'90s with the Godwinns.
Hillbilly Jim: Yeah. And way before that when I began back in the '80s, our shows were on the USA Network. We had shows called Wrestling Challenge as well as Wrestling Superstars, and all that stuff. And I even had a Sunday morning show; every Sunday morning Gene Okerlund and I hosted All American Wrestling, which I did for a couple years. Also, I was a co-host on Prime Time Wrestling. For a while it was called Tuesday Night Titans. That was early on, though. And it was like a talk show. So the format was Vince (McMahon), myself and maybe Bobby Heenan and Lord Alfred Hayes or Gorilla Monsoon. It would be three or four of us sitting around, kind of like one of those CBS football shows.
WWE.com: What are your memories of being on USA Network, and how do you feel about RAW coming home to USA?
Hillbilly Jim: I remember it being there when I began, so obviously it was the only thing that I knew for all those years. It was a magical time for me because most of the things that I did were directly related to the USA Network. The early days for me were all on the USA Network. It was so good to be there; you kinda felt at home. When they moved a few years ago, it seemed a little bit odd to me, looking at it from home. So, I was kind of sad, but I understood that everything has to move on. But when I found out that we were going back to USA, it made me excited. I was happy and delighted because I felt like that's where we belong.
WWE.com: Are there any stories you can share with us about your time on USA?
Hillbilly Jim: Well, I guess one of the more famous things is early on in my career, we did a barnyard scene with Vince and I and Uncle Elmer and Lord Alfred Hayes. It was pretty cool. We brought animals out there. It's pretty famous actually, if you look back over the early WWE days. That was one of my highlights; it was a lot of fun. A lot of people ask me about that time. It was the segment that pretty much introduced Hillbilly Jim to WWE at that time.
The other thing that I always remember is doing the Sunday shows with Gene Okerlund. We'd be in the studio in the control center, and from time to time we'd have special things happen there. One time we even brought some little farm animals to give it the 'ole Hillbilly flavor. We brought the farm animals into the studio. It was a mess. We had chickens and ducks and the producers were going crazy because these animals were flying around all over the control boards. It was quite a hoot, you know. Yeah, I have a lot of memories of the USA Network. To me, it's really good that we're going to go back to it. It's exciting and it is kind of like a homecoming.
WWE.com: Is there anyone in particular that you're excited to see again?
Hillbilly Jim: Actually, as soon as I get there I'll be excited to see them all. Many of those guys I haven't seen in several years, and I'm just looking forward to reuniting with all those guys, getting caught up and having some laughs.
WWE.com: If you get a chance to mingle with the current RAW roster, is there anyone in particular who has caught your eye that you're looking forward to talking to? Or anyone you'd like to give some advice to?
Hillbilly Jim: John Cena is a good guy. I enjoy talking to him. And some of the ladies, of course. Victoria has always been sweet to me, although she seems to have displayed a mean streak recently on television. I always give them all a little bit of advice and ask them how things are going.
WWE.com: What do you like about Cena?
Hillbilly Jim: I like Cena because he brings that edge to it. We always have to have an edge in WWE. That seems to be the thing that drives our business — people who are different. And he's different in that urban way. Yet, at the same time, he's a very respectful guy who likes to learn. He doesn't think that he knows everything, which I think is cool.
WWE.com: How is the SIRIUS satellite radio show going?
Hillbilly Jim: It's going great. I was in Nashville recently taping a couple of shows because I know I'm going to be busy with RAW's Homecoming.
WWE.com: You mentioned doing Saturday and Sunday morning shows back in the day. How do you feel about A.M. RAW coming to USA?
Hillbilly Jim: I think that's great. I like all the possibilities of things we can do now that we're back on USA Network. I think we're comfortable working with those people because we have such a long history, and the network had such a wonderful association with us — I think it's a visa versa thing. We're all going to be happy and it's going to be more comfortable, and I think we're going to be able to expand some things. I look for us to possibly go into a whole new era of growth because of this (move back to USA). I think this is going to give us a great boost.
Hillbilly Jim talks about his satellite radio show