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Zoogz Rift - ("UniversalWrestlingFederation.net" - 08/22/2005)
Between 1993 and 1996, was there any live events or new footage shot other than the 7/93 Minot, ND tapings and the Blackjack Brawl in 1994?
Rift: No. Everytime we had the money to do tapings, it always went up Herb's nose. Many events were planned and scheduled, but were always cancelled for lack of funds (at the time, a single tv taping cost $30,000 to pull off). Herb was a wheeler and dealer and money was always around, but he spent it in the wrong places. It pisses me off, because, in addition to the Warlord, I was slated to manage Dr. Death Steve Williams, Terry Funk, Abdullah the Butcher, Cactus Jack and others, but it never came to be. Cocaine was his downfall. I believe the edited Minot shows were broadcast in syndication, but the only FULL, UNEDITED footage is in my personal posession (several hours worth, including interviews and a Minot press conference).
While traveling with Herb, what specific licensing deals or other deals did you make? I know there was a series of videos called "Wrestling Superchamps" released in Germany.
Rift: Licensing is where Herb made all his money. He would frequently sell the rights to the same footage to different countries, with constant repackaging. During my tenure with Herb (1993 up to his death in 1996), we negotiated with clients at the NATPE convention in Miami Beach, the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Showtime in NYC, and secured video rights in various outlets in the Pacific Rim (Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore) and Japan. I have some interesting Thailand stories while Herb and I were there, but I'll save it for another posting.
You were in charge of booking in 1996. Who booked during the company's initial 1990-1992 run? Who booked Blackjack Brawl?
Rift: Herb booked prior to me. I originally booked Blackjack Brawl, but quit the company a few months earlier (for a short while) because Herb wasn't coming through with my paychecks. Herb totally rebooked Blackjack Brawl, turning it into the ridiculous monstrosity that it was. That show may very well be the worst booked wrestling show in history. One bad judgement by Herb after another--again, the coke was making the decisions. He was out of his mind, and Blackjack Brawl proves it.
You left the company in 1994 two months before Blackjack Brawl. How was the finished product different from what was originally planned for the show?
Rift: The original main event was to be Williams vs. Terry Funk for the title, with Funk going over. Herb didn't want to pay Terry's $1200 fee (reasonable at the time). He spent a lot of money, but ultimately, he was a cheapskate and was more interested in feeding his drug addiction. Fortunately for me, I got to work a non-UWF match with Terry years later, which was a blast. Terry and Steve Williams are awesome. I also wanted to remove the secondary title from Bob Orton, but Herb and Bob were close friends and Herb refused. I like Bob too, but I felt the belt would be more controversial with someone else.
I'm not sure if you were with the company when it happened, but do you know if the Steve Ray-Steve Williams match that was taped at Hotel Pennsylvania and aired in May 1991 was a legitimite shoot?
Rift: It was. Steve Ray allegedly screwed Herb in a drug deal, and Herb had the impression that Steve was fooling around with Herb's wife (he wasn't), so Herb paid Steve Williams an extra $100 to break Steve Ray's nose during the match. Wrestling knows no morals, sadly. I like both Steves on a personal level (Steve Ray is also a big fan of my albums, so it never hurts to get one's ass kissed...lol...), so I hate to see that kind of shit happen. With me in charge, I would NEVER have allowed that to happen. Herb respected me, and would even ocassionally listen to me!
Was the 1996 deal with Prime Network to air a weekly show ever solidified? Did the UWF Training School ever open?
Rift: Yes to Prime Network and Sports America, no to the Training School. The "school" was basically a scam by Herb to bring in a few extra bucks, but I talked him out of it. I felt we had more important things to concentrate on, like doing more live shows and TV tapings. At the time of Herb's death, we had solidified plans with the Mexican government to put on a major ppv live from Acapulco, as well as a major ppv show in Kuala Lumpur, but of course it all came to a crashing halt when Herb had his heart attack and passed away.