Pick My Brain Interview: Tom Zenk

Former WCW/WWF/AWA Superstar

Tom Zenk is the perfect interview subject for us. Why? Because he’s a smart-ass, and he doesn’t care whom he offends when he speaks.

Which is probably why every promoter is afraid to employ him.

Regardless, I was always a huge fan of the Z-Man. A great worker, a good, marketable look, and no cartoonish gimmicks. He has been around the WWF, WCW, and AWA locker rooms, and has tons of stories he’s not afraid to tell. Thanks to Tom Zenk for this interview.

1. First things first. Please (a) plug your websites/products, and (b) tell our readers where they can go if they want to learn more about you.

Look out for my book due out sometime this year.

2. You revitalized your reputation by being a tremendously entertaining guest on Wrestling Observer Live. I was always a huge fan of your ring work, but never knew you were such a good promo guy. Please answer the question everyone always asks: Why did you never let loose on the mic like when you were in WWF/WCW? (My guess is they wouldn’t let you)

They really never gave me much to talk about as far as angles etc. 30 seconds to one minute, split between 2 guys, plugging the town or opponent. The bookers knew I could talk. We all saw each other out at nightclubs, bars cutting promos. But it was only the top spots that got to show personality. They were all guarded and very close. (See HHH for behind the scenes manipulation). Angles were never discussed with the rest of us. Pillman and I were split up one day, no notice, no discussion, no sense, all politics.

3. One time on a WCW show, you looked into the camera and shouted, “Where’d you get your Harley, Jesse? Where’d you get your Harley??” Sounds like some sort of inside joke between you and the ex-Governor of Minnesota. Please clue us in: why were you asking him that?

I had no idea Jesse was a Harley guy, or a Navy SEAL for that matter, a UDT maybe? Jesse is a BS’er. I was just wondering whose Harley he borrowed for the day.

4. You don’t have to tell us your PPV payoff for WrestleMania 3 (but hey, feel free to), but how did it compare to your PPV payoffs in WCW?

Editor’s Note: Tom answered this question on his first draft, but left it off the final draft. We won’t publish the answer.

5. I was in a store about 11 years ago, and saw a Tom Zenk merchandise item. On the back of the package, you said your motto was: “Stay single!” Did you say this because:

a) you’re a player and could never be monogamous
b) you’re monogamous, but just don’t want to get married
c) it was a gimmick to enforce your “bad boy/womanizer” image
d) you never said it, the WCW marketing team came up with it
e) “What merchandise? I never saw a damn royalty check!”
f) other


6. You wrote a column blasting Dustin Rhodes’ appearance on the Howard Stern show, and said he made a mistake by marrying someone (Terri) who slept with Rick Rude and Brian Pillman, among others. Was Dustin even aware of her promiscuity, or did he just not care?

Dustin was head over heels in love with Terri. He used to chase her around the CNN Center (she was a make up girl there before Dust became booker). It was a ‘Natural’ thang, if you weel.

7. In 1992, you and Brian Pillman saved the WrestleWar PPV in Jacksonville, FL from being a real dud. You had a **** match I remember vividly, and had it not been overshadowed by the excellent WarGames, I think it would’ve gotten a lot more attention than it did. Are you proud of that match, and did WCW ever congratulate you for it?

I’m very proud of the match, so was Brian. We laughed at how stupid the office was for not booking a rematch. But then Watts and Dust had their chillin’ to look after.

8. Yes or No, has Tom Zenk ever:

Been pissed at Dave Meltzer for a low rating in the Observer for one of your matches: No

Rented a hotel room next to Brian Pillman and overheard him having sex: Yes

Arm wrestled Rick Rude: No

Seen Rick or Scott Steiner read a book: Rick, yes and often

Left a bar or restaurant without paying: No

Seen Missy Hyatt get sexually harassed by a WCW executive: Yes

Submitted to Erik Watts’ STF: No

Told a woman you were a tag team champion in order to impress her: No

Been to Sting’s house: No

Been mistaken for Rick Martel: Who?

Been threatened with physical harm by Jim Cornette: No

Heard Bobby Eaton ever say a word: Yes

Made fun of Buddy Lee Parker’s height: Yes

Seen Jushin Liger without his mask: No

Taught El Gigante how to speak English: Yes

Stuck a penny in Abdullah the Butcher’s forehead scars: No

“Free-styled” with PN News: No

Witnessed Terry Garvin or Mel Phillips harass a ring boy: No

Seen Scott Hall get drunk: Yes

9. What exactly went through your mind when you found out Bill Watts had just banned all moves off the top rope?

Oh no, this guy’s a real dope!!

10. In 10 words or less, what went through your mind when you showed up for a TV taping or house show and learned you’d be wrestling each of the following wrestlers:

Van Hammer: Oh f*ck!! How long? (The last time I heard of Hammer time, he was gonna fly outa a f*ckin’ 7th story window high on cocaine… I mean I just had to see this guy? Is he for real?? He gets so high he can fly??)

Brian Pillman: Great we’ll tear it up!! Watch this one, office stooges!!

Steve Austin: easy, night off. Jeannie has brass knucks? 15 minutes?

Brad Armstrong: wonderful guy, a night off with pay!! yahoo!!

Arn Anderson: easy night!! Stealing Turner money!!

PN News: must be a mistake? what? who booked this? Dusty.

Cactus Jack: kick him stiff, he likes it?? the f*ck loves pain? That’s a first?? Odd??

Big Van Vader: Oversell everything, he blows up easy, bump out of the ring.

Hercules: easy night off again, we’ll party later, YEAH!!

Vinnie Vegas aka Kevin Nash: tall, green, clumsy, bad legs, non athletic, 3 moves.

Diamond Studd aka Scott Hall: he likes to punch and calls a DULL match.

Johnny B. Badd: please don’t get makeup on me – your gimmick not mine.

Larry Zbyszko: walk and talk, easy night off, how soon before the crowd yells boring!!

Dallas Page: your stuff stinks, you have body odor. Kimberly married you?

11. You were once named WCW’s “Sexiest Wrestler.” Who decided to give you that award, and did you feel you deserved it?

It was Flair’s wife – she was sitting in my lap at Ric’s birthday party and told me I was the sexiest guy in WCW. I just couldn’t slide her outta the room, much less his sight. He kept staring over at us, gawking at her. Old eagle beak had his eyes all over us. Wow, she was hot!! Hell, she even had a season pass for Space Mountain.

12. If Dr. Zahorian is reading this right now, what do you have to say to him?

Vinnie boy sold you out to save his own ass huh?

13. I loved your old theme music, the one with the classic lyric: “Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah.” Seriously, I liked it! Cool riff. If you could’ve picked any song to be your entrance music, what would it be?

Well, you couldn’t pick just any song. Flair policed the music like he policed everything else, making sure no-one else got over except him. He told them to change my music because it sounded too much like his own. Rick was great about the whole thing… we’re still close!!!

14. Ever heard of Word Association? Well, this is called NUMBER Association. It’s time to utilize all the math we were taught in school. Please give us a NUMBER for each of the following:

Percentage of wrestlers today you estimate are taking anabolic steroids: 80%

Percentage of wrestlers today you estimate are taking HGH: the ones who can afford it.

Percentage of wrestlers today you estimate are taking creatine: who cares?

Number of women you picked up at a bar during your entire WCW tenure [4 years]: 500+

Number of PPV buys you think NWA TNA is pulling every week: a dozen

Number of subscribers you think Dave Meltzer has: 2000

How old you think Sable looks, regardless of her real age: 35

Number of times you’ve read Missy Hyatt’s book: 1

How many millions of dollars Vince McMahon lost out on by botching the Invasion angle: $250 million

Number of PPV events Goldberg will headline before leaving WWE: 2 or 3

Number of wrestlers Terri “Runnels” Boatwright slept with in WCW: the whole territory?

Number of pounds you saw Dusty gain during your WCW tenure: 100lbs

Number of wrestlers Kip Frye had ever heard of when he took over Jim Herd’s job as head of WCW: 1 – Dusty Rhodes

15. Which booker generated the lowest locker room morale you’ve ever been a part of?

Bill Watts

16. Rate the stiffness of the following wrestlers on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 is someone who hits you with love taps, and 10 is someone who loves to potato you as hard as possible:

Vader: 5
Rick Steiner: ?
Scott Steiner: ?
Arn Anderson: 1 or 2
Bob Orton: 1
Brian Pillman: 5
Cactus Jack: 3
Sid Vicious: 7
Steve Austin: 4

17. Who are 3 guys you always wanted to wrestle, but never got a chance to?

It’s fake, who cares?

18. You left WWF right before they really, REALLY hit it big in the late 80s. You left WCW a few years before they hit it big as well. Looking back on your career, do you have any regrets about some of the decisions you’ve made?

I should have gone after WCW for marketing rights – but then again it all turned out well in the end.

19. Of all the developmental guys from OVW in the last few years, as well as the Tough Enough crew, which 3 or 4 wrestlers do you think have the brightest future? Or do you think WWE won’t be around long enough for any of them to make it?

WWE is on its last legs.

20. And finally, who screwed Bret?

The whole damn business.

The Z-Man did not disappoint. We really appreciate Tom’s time, and we need more people like Tom Zenk in this business.