HomeTelevisionWWE Hall of Famer Jimmy Hart Reminisces About 'WrestleMania' Ahead

WWE Hall of Famer Jimmy Hart Reminisces About ‘WrestleMania’ Ahead

Jimmy Hart remembers riding to Madison Square Garden for the first WrestleMania with Greg “The Hammer” Valentine. The last time he performed there was as a member of the Memphis band The Gentrys opening for The Beach Boys. In 1985, he was just starting out with WWE, managing top villains of the time including Valentine and King Kong Bundy. Once inside the venue, the now Hall of Famer looked at the empty seats where more than 20,000 fans would witness history. The calm before the storm.

“I got such a thrill and goosebumps,” Hart recalled to TV Insider ahead of A&E’s Biography on WrestleMania. “Walking through the hallways I could see the different names on the doors where the stars were going to be. Liberace, Billy Martin, Cyndi Lauper, Muhammad Ali. The anticipation was tremendous.”

The legendary manager is among those featured in the season finale of the WWE series of Legends documentaries. Hart is one of the few from that 1985 card not only still around but working for the company in an ambassador capacity. Now, the “Mouth of the South” reminisces about those early years of WrestleMania that laid the foundation for it to become a global phenomenon.

WrestleMania Jimmy Hart

WWE

Around the first WrestleMania, you were first starting out with the company, coming from Memphis. How would you describe the atmosphere backstage? I know the story goes that the McMahon family bet everything on this event being successful.

Jimmy Hart: You could see everyone was excited but a little worried. You didn’t know how it was going to be, but we knew we had a sellout. But was this going to work? How would the people respond to watching on closed circuit? Everyone was uptempo and excited. The talent we had was used to sellouts all the time. This was something bigger than what they’d seen before. I don’t think anyone knew what WrestleMania would become.

Fast forward to WrestleMania 3 where you managed superstars in three matches. How was that show for you?

I thought the first WrestleMania was great, but as the buildup went to WrestleMania 3, I was really excited. I had Honky Tonk Man against Jake Roberts with Alice Cooper. I went to the back, changed jackets, and went out with the Hart Foundation and Danny Davis in a six-man match against Tito Santana and the British Bulldogs. I came back again and changed jackets again to go out with Adrian Adonis against Roddy Piper in a hair match where the loser leaves the territory. When all three of those were over, I was so relieved I could sit down and watch the main event between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant. I had not seen anything as big as that night in my life.

You’re always such a good sport whether it’s getting your hair cut to coming close to Jake Roberts’ snake Damien.

That was my job. They spent weeks and weeks doing programs. We had to make sure we got Jake over. He drew us money. When I got my hair cut by Brutus Beefcake, we had to make sure he was over. Anything to keep them going and make a program draw money, I was always in. Same thing in Memphis. If they wanted to tar and feather me, I’d buy the syrup and the feather pillow. This is what I love doing and what I signed up for. I was grateful to be part of something I love.

You wore jackets and had megaphones inspired by the wrestlers you were managing. How challenging was this to come up with new designs all the time?

We were on our own back then. Vince McMahon blessed me. He didn’t tell me what to do or not. He is the one who brought the megaphone to me from Japan. He said, “This is going to be your new gimmick.” It ended up being a good trademark. He let me paint it up, fix it up, and never questioned me about what I would do with it. I would always get jackets done for the pay-per-views for the people I manage. Not one time did he come to me saying, “You know what? I don’t like this.” That made me feel good. To this day whenever he would come into a room, you always wanted him to shake your hand, which he did. I guess in life there is always someone who comes up to you that you really get a boost from. It was always him. Some people have to have coffee or Red Bull to keep going. He was that to me.

You formed quite the bond with Hulk Hogan. What did it mean for you to get to manage him at WrestleMania 9 with Beefcake?

He and Vince put a program together where I would be switched to a babyface. I was managing “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase and IRS against Hulk and Brutus. Hulk said, “I know you were a Hulkamaniac all along,” in the back. It was a thrill for me. We talked all the time about doing stuff together. A lot of people think we left WWE. What happened was we left to do a show called Thunder in Paradise. While we were doing it was when Ric Flair and Eric Bischoff from WCW talked to him about going there. I followed him and did music and managed too. All of it was a thrill.

Jimmy Hart

WWE

How does it feel to still be around the business today?

So often when you are a star in baseball, basketball, and football you have your great run and are not part of it anymore. Then you get bitter. I’m not bitter. I love the talent they have. I go out and talk about these up-and-coming superstars. A while back I was watching NXT and was asked who I saw as the next star. I responded with Bianca Belair. I told her husband that she was great. I love seeing Seth Rollins with all the craziness and the suits. He is kind of the Harry Styles of wrestling with all the outfits he wears. His wife Becky Lynch is super. All the kids are awesome. I have such a great time being with them. It makes me feel good. I love promoting them. It keeps me young.

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A&E

If you could manage anyone today who would it be?

There are so many people, but they don’t need managers now. The guys are doing all their talking. Seth Rollins is phenomenal. The celebrities they bring are great. That Logan Paul kid is awesome. The Miz, I was on his first tour when he got signed. Look at what he has done. They don’t need me, but I’ve still got the megaphone and Jimmy Hart jacket. I’m always available.

Remembering the history and hearing it from those who lived it is so important. Another show I’m excited that you’re going to be part of is Tales From the Territories.

When they called me and said The Rock was part of it, I was like, “Feet don’t fail me now.” Whatever he does turns to gold. It was me, Jerry Jarrett, Jeff Jarrett, Dutch Mantel, and Jerry Lawler. We went to Atlanta and went four or five hours talking about Memphis territories when we first started. It was so great being on that. I can’t wait for that to come out. Fans old and new will love it.

What do you think about this A&E WrestleMania documentary coming out?

I’m happy to be a little part of it and talk about my experience. About what took place in my eyes when I was called out in New York. Me being part of it, how many people out there now can say they were part of the first Wrestlemania? Had it not been successful, me and you wouldn’t be talking now. That was history in the making.

Biography WWE: Legends, WrestleMania, Premieres September 4, 8/7c, A&E

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