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Interview Highlights: Scotty Riggz discusses his health, updates Buff Bagwell, talks about working for Bischoff

May 4, 2012 - 9:45:41 PM
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Raj Giri of WrestlingINC.com recently caught up with former WCW Superstar Scotty “Riggs” Antol before he underwent gallbladder surgery. Riggs spoke about a large range of topics, including his start in the business, being hired by WCW, his ups and downs in WCW, leaving WCW for ECW and much more. He caught up with Riggs again yesterday, who spoke about his recent health problems as well as how Buff Bagwell is recovering from his car accident.

Here are highlights from the original interview and a follow-up call, reprinted with permission of Wrestling Inc:

How he started teaming with Marcus Bagwell: Me and Marcus were friends before, we hung out in Atlanta or we'd train together here or there. I wouldn't say we were best of pals. Marcus had been with [2 Cold] Scorpio, he had been with Patriot. At the time, when those guys had left, they tried to put him and Alex Wright together with some kind of Germany/America connection. But me and Marcus actually did a music video that WCW show producer Kepper Rogers did. He was trying to expand his resume and put us in a music video so that he could put it out there and let people see his work and stuff like that.

So, I came in from Memphis for a weekend to shoot this thing. Well, he was doing the editing on the video at CNN center. Jimmy Hart, who had been in the business for many years, walked in and a light bulb went off in his head. Him and Alex just wasn't working because Alex was a great singles wrestler and Marcus was a great tag wrestler. Light bulb went off. He saw the great Fantastics. Rock & Roll Express. That late '80's-early '90's, baby face, pure white bread tag team. Two good looking guys. Girls will love them, it'll be cool for the guys.

It was really Jimmy Hart who went to Kevin Sullivan and said, 'Hey, I just saw the perfect guys for Bagwell. He wrestling in USWA and we need to get a hold of him and get him in here. See if he'd be interested in being Bagwell's partner.' Every Wednesday, I was at the Days Inn in Louisville, Kentucky. All of a sudden one day, my phone rang in my room. I was trying to figure out who was calling. So, I pick up the phone and it's Jenny Ingle. 'Kevin Sullivan wants to talk to you.' I was like, 'OK.'

Kevin gets on the phone with this big, Boston accent and says, 'Hey, Riggs. That's good stuff there in USWA. Terry Taylor actually told me about you.' Vader actually did a spot where he came in and killed everyone and they were filming it. They wanted to use me, but Terry Taylor said, 'No. We're not going to use him.' It ticked a few people off in USWA, but I was so young that I didn't even have a clue what Terry was talking about.

But they were kind of watching me at the time. It was about that time that Kevin said, 'We're thinking about bringing you in to be Bagwell's partner. What would you think about that?' I said, 'Well, that'd be cool.' He goes, 'Well, we're going to get back to you in about a week and let you know what's going on.' So, for about three weeks, I kept getting calls from Jenny Ingle and talking to Kevin, talking with Terry. The next thing you know, it was the first week of August and they said, 'Hey, we want you to come in and be Bagwell's partner.'

I came in, left Evansville, Indiana on a Wednesday, drove to Atlanta, flew to Orlando and me and Bagwell had a match with the Blue Bloods -- which was Steve Regal and Bobby Eaton -- and that was kind of our tester match. I had a 90 day tester contract to be Bagwell's partner. I know that if I had not spent that time in USWA, learning how to do matches and do different things, trying to be creative, without getting stuck with a set pattern of how guys do things -- a lot of guys get stuck in that rut. They only have one way to do a comeback. There are guys that are tremendously guilty of that.

I came in from USWA with pretty much nothing, got put together with Marcus and we just had an instant chemistry as a tag team. We could just look at each other and know what we wanted to do without even communicating. Or we'd say a word and know what we wanted to do. I think that kind of caught those guys by surprise, too.

Then, on the third ever Nitro in Johnson City, Tennessee, we beat Heat for the titles and the night before, we wrestled the Nasty Boys. Just the way it was going from the Fall Brawl pay-per-view, where we actually worked the Nasty Boys in the main even live show, they were still kind of testing us, seeing what they wanted to do. We didn't have a good match with the Nastys. We weren't quite sure and they kept ribbing us saying, 'No, we're not going to put the titles on you. Yes, we're going to put the titles on you.' So it went back and forth.

When they actually put them on us, it was like, 'Wow.' It kind of gave me a little indication that leaving was the right thing. But, the funny thing was that I was getting a little emotion. Like you said, those titles actually meant something. So, here I was in Johnson City, sitting there in a chair. Getting a little choked up, a little emotional. And who came out of the corner by total accident? Arn Anderson.

Arn looked at me and said, 'Kid, I remember the conversation we had not even a year ago. Look where you are now. If you hadn't left, where would you be right now?' I said, 'Wow. In essence, you're dead on.' That's why Arn is so good. He is a [good] judge of talent. He knows how to make somebody better. Whether it's by leaving or by riding your butt, he makes you better. He's a giver to this business.

The funny thing is that he saw me being a little emotional. He said, 'Don't worry, kid. In a few weeks, me and Flair are going to tag up and beat your asses for the titles.' It was one of those things where he'd make me laugh. It was just a good way to welcome me in. It definitely meant a lot, going from where I was. To Marcus, who was on his third or fourth partner. It almost had become old habits for him. The one thing that he was excited about was The American Males -- as cheesy as it was with the music and everything else -- the look that we had was cheesy but it was the first thing that Marcus had his own persona.

Before, he had to be 2 Cold Scorpio's tag team partner and do the dance. Then, he was The Patriot's partner and he had to wear the red, white and blue. Then, him and Alex tried to do something and he was still wearing the red, white and blue but it was not his own thing yet. Then, all of a sudden, here comes the pretty boy thing. The image, character, persona -- the whole nine yards. With the American Males, tag team partner that nobody knew. So, Marcus was kind of the lead dog for the first time. He was excited about it.

He said, 'Man, I'm finally getting heat.' This was something that he was finally getting credit for, with being his own person. So, it kind of did both of us wonders in terms of giving us our own identities.

I actually think they put the belts on me and Marcus way too soon because we had great chemistry together. The thing was that we weren't established as a tag team yet and we kind of hot-shot it. After they hot-shot it, they said, 'OK. This is the only good guy team we got. Let's use them while we've got them.' Then, we never really got that secondary push.

The thing is: tag team wrestling is an art form, whether people know it or not. Vince and WWE basically said, 'Well, we don't need tag teams anymore. We'll just put guys together and make them a tag team. We've got Evan Bourne and Kofi Kingston -- two great individual guys -- and put them together as a tag team.' Where'd that come from? They look like A and Z put together. Now, you got R-Truth and Kofi Kingston together and they look a little more alike, but they're still completely different personas.

A Jamaican guy and a street thug; are they going to hang out in real life? No. Are Animal and Hawk going to hang out in real life? Yes. Are Knobs and Sags going to hang out in real life? Yes. Harlem Heat? Two brothers. Steiners? Two brothers. Yes. Arn and Ollie were apart of the Four Horsemen. Are they going to be together? Yes. ... But, you knew all these guys, in a sense, were going to be put together and we're going to be great.

Working for Eric Bischoff: The strange thing about Eric is that he was the first one to give me my first deal, my first contract with WCW. That was after working for about three or four months without a contract. They brought me in August of 1995, finished it up in [November] of 1995. So, about three months went by and I was still working without a contract. A couple of guys actually went up to Eric and said, 'Eric, this kid's working without a contract.' I actually talked to Kevin Sullivan about it and I got a raise and a one year deal.

After that was when they started doing the NWO thing. Eric came up to me at a TV and I was once again working without a contract. There was a rumor going around that I was leaving and I don't know where it came from. It was untrue but it was rumored that I was leaving WCW to go to WWF at the time to be part of their Light-Heavyweight thing they were trying to start doing.

Eric Bischoff came up to me at a Nitro and said, 'Hey, I know you're working without a contract. I appreciate your loyalty. I want to reward you for that.' So, he gave me a three year deal with a pay raise every year. It gave me security and it gave me balance in a sense and I felt better at home in WCW than if I were to leave there and go re-establish myself and find myself not sure of what they were going to do with me. So, in one sense, Eric did some good things for me, business-wise.

When it came to the wrestling side of it -- as soon as Eric became a personality on TV in wrestling, it seemed like he really started to lose his focus. He started worrying a lot more about his own persona on TV than he did about business. He took care of some business things -- he did his business meetings and everything else -- but instead of handling everyone else business-wise, his whole thing became: we've got to beat Vince. We've got to beat Vince. Whatever it took him to do that, he was going to do. That's where he lost his focus.

Instead of beating Vince, just keep doing what you've been doing and keep the show that you've got different and creative. Just like it's been. That's when all these ex-WWF wrestlers came in. Instead of being viable, different option, we became WWF-lite. They were hiring everybody in the world to be on these two live shows with Nitro and Thunder. Five hours a week of live programming. It just got to a point where it became more of a personal vendetta for guys getting back at Vince, instead of having a different style of wrestling.

Being hospitalized recently: I just couldn't stop throwing up one night. The minute I would drink something down -- it could be Coca Cola, Powerade, whatever it was -- minutes later, right back up. I'd drink something again -- water -- right back up. No matter what it was, I just kept throwing it back up. So, I went to the emergency room and  as funny as it sounds, a guy I went to high school with was one of the E.R. doctors. He looked at me and said, 'You know what we got to do, don't you? We've got to stick that tube down your nose again.' I was like, 'Great.'

So, he stuck the thing up my nose and the long story short of that is that there was black stuff coming out of it, which meant there was a bleed somewhere inside. So, they admitted me to figure out where I [was bleeding]. So, I did a CAT scan, did an MRI and I also did an ultra sound. With the ultra sound, they found a four centimeter by two centimeter mass in my gull stone. They didn't know if it was cancerous or not. They also found sludge in there, which is what they basically call it, which means my gull bladder -- I don't know what it actually does. I know it produces enzymes that help you digest food and fat and stuff of that sort.

Basically, it was quitting working. It hadn't stopped yet but it was on the way. Just in light of that -- basically, they did every test twice which kept me in the hospital for about a week. Kind of drove me a little bit nuts. You're sitting there, getting woken up every few hours. They're taking blood and there doing this and that. They basically said it wasn't a stone. A lot of people have gull stones and stuff like that. It wasn't a stone but it wasn't cancerous because it wasn't showing anything in my blood work. So, that was an answered prayer.

But, there was still a mass that was in there. Basically, they decided that it could be [removed] microscopically, they could go in there, break it open, take it out or they were going to cut me open. So, I just crossed my fingers, hoping they would do it microscopically which is basically four little holes going inside of your through your belly button and three other little spots. They can just go in there and use their little cameras and little instruments and stuff. It will eventually heal quicker. You feel sicker, but you heal quicker.

That's basically what happened. They ended up taking it out microscopically and I had about 20 staples in me. Four or five in one spot, four or five in another. Six or seven here by my belly button and stuff like that. I went and got those removed and the doctor said, 'I don't want you working out or doing any crunches or nothing like that for about a month to five weeks. It's going to take your body time to adjust to that not being there and to help you digest food. So, you've got to watch what you eat. You can't really eat red meat. You can't do this, you can't do that.'

He gave me a little dietary plan to keep. A little bit bland at the start, but it's going to help my body adjust. He says, 'There's going to be days where you just feel like a slug -- like mud. There's going to be days that you feel fine. The only thing I can tell you to do is walk if you want to do that. I don't want you to do anything with bending over because you basically had an organ removed. You could always bust stitches, you could do this, you could do that. You could inflame an area.' You know, it's inside your body. It's not something you can see.

It still freaks me out, but it's a good thing that I got it taken care of now. I kind of laugh at it now and it's one of those things [that happens when you're] in the -- I guess you could say -- rock and roll era of wrestling where you're always on the road and traveling. Always eating and not always the best of foods. Always having a few drinks here or having something to eat there. Eating foods in other countries. It works on your insides. I had this same conversation with Lex about some of the stuff that he's gone through.

People don't realize the things we put our bodies through because we do so much 300 days a year. Whether it's; working out, traveling, eating at different places. It catches up with you. With some people, it's vanilla. You have simple things that it doesn't take surgeries to take care of. With [Lex]. he woke up one morning and he couldn't move. He was basically paralyzed from the neck down. Same sort of thing with me. I started drinking some fluids and the next thing you know, I can't keep it down. Some people go from vanilla to Rocky Road and you have that and it's just the way your body reacts to everything. Some people may not have a problem with anything for a long time.

His phone call with Buff Bagwell on Sunday and Bagwell's condition after his recent car accident: It really was a very bad accident. It was life-threatening for him. We only spoke for about five or ten minutes. He was in ICU and you don't have a phone in your own room in ICU. So, I called twice on Saturday and spoke to nurses, getting a little bit of information and he was in surgery all day. The family was there for a little bit and then they left to go home because they were exhausted. They'd been there all week because he was in ICU for most of the week. His surgery was a success.

The nurses said, 'If he wasn't asleep right now, I'd take the phone and let you talk to him. But, he's asleep. I'll definitely get the messages to him.' I said, 'OK.' So, they said, 'Try back tomorrow, mid-day and you might be able to get in touch with him.' So, I called and he'd been moved from ICU and he went to a private room. When I called, this kind of really gruff voice answered. I said, 'Can I speak to Marcus or his wife Judy or maybe his mom Judy?' All I hear in this really gruff voice is, 'This is Marcus.' He basically just said, 'Dude, I am f'd up. It's a weird story of how things happened.'

He basically had gone to the dentist and got some dental work done. They put him on some antibiotics and the antibiotics weren't working the first round. They weren't helping the gum area heal so they changed his antibiotics. As simple as that sounds, everybody's body chemistry is different and they react in different ways. Basically, he told me, 'I was driving home and I just felt this weird sensation going over my body. The only thing I knew to do was to call my wife, Judy, and tell her that I'm going to head to the hospital and to meet me there or to tell her to call 911. Something to let them know.' Because he was heading home and the next thing he knows is that he's in the wreck.

He fractured some bones in his neck, he broke his leg, had a lot of facial injuries and was really worse for wear. He had a breathing tube in, they were feeding him through a tube. Within three to four days, he was getting some twitching. They didn't know if he was going to be paralyzed because of the neck injury. He was actually having some involuntary twitching in his arms and legs. Which was actually good because he was getting some movement. When it happens on it's own, hopefully, it's his mind telling his body to move.

Long story short with it, he had successful surgery and of course he feels rough. He's been a million miles, but he knows he still has a million miles to go. He's been very grateful for all the fans and for all the messages from a lot of the guys. Sting, DDP, the Steiners, Lex [Luger], Mick Foley. A lot of the guys have called, left him messages and talked to him. I mean, we must have said 'I love you' about a million times. It brought a tear of joy to my eye just to hear his voice. It's only been a week since he had a catastrophic injury that could have left him paralyzed to him answering his own phone and actually being able to talk to me and me hearing his voice.

As gruff and as rough as he sounded, his spirit -- he goes, 'How are you doing? I've heard some things about you.' I said, 'Well, I've had two surgeries and about six months ago, I had a hernia surgery done. Just ten days ago, I had my gall bladder out.' He was more concerned in a sense -- I guess if you get asked so many questions about you, you want to find out what's going on with somebody else. So, I said, 'Yeah, I had my gall bladder out and everything.' He's like, 'Dude, you're kidding me.' I said, 'Yeah, I told Mick Foley about it.' Mick went hardcore on the American Males and pulled Mr. Socko out and got us both. He put the American Males down. So, we kind of laughed about that. Same thing with Mick. But, it was just funny.

A lot of guys have been asking -- they're excited and they're still praying for him. Like I said, he's got a long way to go to recovery. With therapy to get his strength back in his body. Knowing him, he's a very active person in the first place, and for probably a good few more months, he's going to be very inactive. It's going to drive him bonkers. We'll have to pray for mental status, too. So, he doesn't go bananas on us. [Laughs.] But, he's done a ton better and it just goes to show how strong he is -- mentally and physically.

He has a tremendous support system with his family and his friends. His fans care about him a lot and he knows that and that's just the power of positive energy. It really exists. Prayer really exists in helping somebody heal. You can be the most negative person in the world and you're going to be a slug. It's going to be gross and you're just not going to be happy. Fortunately for him, he's got so much positive energy around him that it's healing him. It's making him healthier and giving him life again. So, he's appreciative for a lot of the things. It's just very good and it was so good to hear his voice and for him to answer his own phone.

Riggs also talked about the circumstances behind his departure from WCW, working with Paul Heyman and ECW, ECW's dying days and much more, you can check that out by clicking here: WrestlingInc Full Article.

You can follow Riggs on Twitter at @REALScottyRiggs


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