Hack-Man Pro-Wrestling Baron Von Raschke interview

Last updated 3 July 2004

When Baron Von Raschke entered the Mid-Atlantic area during the summer of 1977, his national reputation clearly preceded him. Most Mid-Atlantic fans had already seen the Baron's picture plastered all over the national wrestling magazines. But one still had to wonder, when he actually arrived in Charlotte , would the Baron be as good as advertised? It didn't take long for that question to be answered with a resounding...YES!

Tearing through his early opponents in 1977 with his feared ‘Brain Claw' hold, the Baron quickly established himself as a major star to be reckoned with in Jim Crockett Promotions. That star would shine brightly straight through into 1980. Even after leaving the Mid-Atlantic area, the Baron came back to Charlotte for two shorter visits years later. But even when he left the area, no Mid-Atlantic fan could forget Baron Von Raschke.

In this interview, the Baron talks about his early amateur wrestling days, including an unfortunate injury that kept him out of the 1964 Olympics. He takes us through his early professional wrestling transformation from ‘ Jim Raschke' to the infamous ‘Baron Von Raschke.' And we'll find out the origins of his Claw hold, and some of the wrestling areas he competed in before he finally landed in Charlotte .

The Baron talks at length about all of his major angles, feuds and championship reigns while in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. He chats about many of the personalities we remember so fondly from the Mid-Atlantic days, including Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat, Paul Jones, Greg Valentine, Tim Woods, Johnny Weaver, Blackjack Mulligan, Wahoo McDaniel, Jim my Snuka and others.

And speaking of personalities, stay alert at all times during this interview, as the Baron will jump into character at a moments notice. You have been warned!

Special thanks to the Baron's son, Karl Raschke , for all of his assistance and help with this interview. Please visit the Baron's official website, administered by Karl, which is a wonderful tribute to his Dad…the legendary Claw Master, Baron Von Raschke. The Baron's site can be found at this link: http://www.baronvonraschke.com

And thanks most of all to Baron Von Raschke for being so generous with his time, and allowing the Mid-Atlantic Gateway to do a bit of reminiscing with him. Through the Gateway, it was great having the Baron back in the Mid-Atlantic area, even if it was only for about 90 minutes on the telephone!

Baron…you are a true wrestling legend in the Carolinas , and you will always be fondly remembered by all the fans in the Mid-Atlantic area. And as someone might have once said, ‘That is all you need to know!'

- David Chappell

Question: Baron, thank you for speaking with the Mid-Atlantic Gateway this evening. It's great to talk with you.

Baron Von Raschke: Okay, David . I'm glad to talk with you.

Question:First off, congratulations on your recently being honored by the Cauliflower Alley Club. Your former Mid-Atlantic partner Paul Jones was honored at the same time, I understand.

Baron Von Raschke: Well, thank you very much. Yeah…Paul was out there, and a lot of my good old friends.

Question:How was it out there in Las Vegas for the CAC event?

Baron Von Raschke: It was nice to get together with a lot of guys that I hadn't seen for a long, long time…catching up on the news of different people around the country. There were also a lot of great fans out there…and people I had never met in the business. It was great!

Question:What was it like seeing your old partner Paul Jones again?

Baron Von Raschke: [Paul] really enjoyed being out there this year, and I understand he went out there last year for the first time and really had a good time then.

This year, he was honored also…and his brothers and his son were there. So, it was really very nice.

Question:That's great….and particularly nice that both of you were honored in the same year!

Well, leaving the present and heading back in time for a bit…despite the ‘Baron From Germany' wrestling persona that so many people know you from, you actually grew up in Nebraska , I believe?

Baron Von Raschke: I was raised in Nebraska …yes.

Question:You were an outstanding wrestler in Nebraska from an early age, weren't you?

Baron Von Raschke: I was high school state champion in wrestling my senior year. Also, during my junior year, we won the state high school championship in football.

From there, I went to the University of Nebraska …I went there originally on an academic scholarship. I walked on, and later got a football scholarship.

Question:How long did you play college football for the Cornhuskers?

Baron Von Raschke: I played football for my first three years.

Question:Great football fans at Nebraska …

Baron Von Raschke: Oh yeah…great fans! They follow them everywhere. Lincoln probably doubles in size on football Saturdays!

Question:I didn't realize you had such a football background at the University of Nebraska ! I have to ask you about (former Oakland Raider coach) Bill Callahan, your new coach out there?

Baron Von Raschke: (laughing) I don't know him…I've just read a little bit about him in the paper. That's Big 12 country now, and I live in Minnesota now which is Big 10 country…we don't get too much Big 12 coverage here.

It's kind of like being on the west coast and not hearing much about [ACC] basketball…but you still know it's the best!

Question:(laughing) That's right! Now…you continued to wrestle when you attended the University of Nebraska , didn't you?

Baron Von Raschke: Yes, I continued my amateur wrestling there. Luckily for me, they hired a wrestling coach named Bill Smith before I got there, who was an Olympic Champion. He taught me a lot of good stuff about amateur wrestling. I had some good years there.

Question:Didn't you win a wrestling Championship in college as well?

Baron Von Raschke: Right, I placed second in the Big 8 (Conference) my sophomore year…freshmen weren't eligible. I was in it my junior year, and won it my senior year in 1962.

Question:And, your wrestling accomplishments continued to build after you graduated from Nebraska .

Baron Von Raschke: Yeah, after college I was drafted into the Army. After boot camp, they heard about my wrestling and talked to me and sent me to Brooklyn , New York …so I was able to continue my amateur career and represented the Army for two years.

In between, by the way, I did make the U.S. team in the World Games and won a Bronze Medal in Greco-Roman wrestling. The World games were held in Sweden then…this was 1963. I was the second American to ever place in the World Games in Greco-Roman.

Question:Impressive! You also collected some accolades when you wrestled in the Army, didn't you?

Baron Von Raschke: I won Gold Medals in the Army Wrestling Championships…these were in 1964 and 1965. In ‘64, I also won AAU National Championships in both Freestyle and Greco-Roman.

Question:1964 was also an Olympic year. I understand that you made the 1964 U.S. Olympic wrestling team, but through some incredibly bad luck you were not able to travel to Tokyo and participate. Please tell us what happened.

Baron Von Raschke: I made the Olympic team, but I got injured at the training camp in Annapolis …at the Academy. I got a hyper-extended elbow two days before the plane was to leave for Tokyo …so, I didn't get to go.

Question:Wow…I guess ‘disappointment' doesn't even begin to describe what you felt at that point?

Baron Von Raschke: To say the least. You remember the old show on ABC called the Wide World Of Sports?


Baron Von Raschke: ‘The thrill of victory, and the agony of de-feat.' My ‘feet' hurt real bad! (everybody laughs)

It was a bit of bad luck…but that's life. I'm over it now! (laughs)

Question:(laughing) Well, that's good to hear! As they say, time heals all wounds!

How did you rebound from that setback with the Olympics?

Baron Von Raschke: Actually, while I was in the Army I was working out and messing around with a smaller guy, about a 145 pounder, and I got my leg stuck in the mat the wrong way and it popped. So, I had to go in for knee surgery…

Question:Baron, you really did have a run of bad luck in the mid 60s!

Baron Von Raschke: I was in the Naval Hospital in Queens , New York . I was in the Army, and they put me in a Naval Hospital !


Baron Von Raschke: Anyway, a guy off of an atomic submarine was in [the hospital] with me…his name was John Cunningham. He was about my age, and John had the same operation on the same morning I had mine. So, being next to each other in the hospital, we got to be pretty good friends because we were going through a similar experience.

Question:That's understandable.

Baron Von Raschke: At that time, I wasn't a wresting fan…a pro wrestling fan---but John was. So, every weekend he would drag me down to the TV room to watch wrestling…from Madison Square Garden or wherever it was from.

Question:What were your first impressions of professional wrestling?

Baron Von Raschke: I said, ‘Gee, that might be something I'd be able to do.'

Question:Despite being a great amateur wrestler, professional wrestling didn't mean anything to you until John got you to start watching it on television?

Baron Von Raschke: No, I wasn't interested in [pro wrestling] at all before that.

Question:Being such an outstanding amateur wrestler, did you look down on the professional side at that time?

Baron Von Raschke: I basically had no opinion about it then…

Question:But obviously, you eventually took a liking to the professional side of wrestling!

Baron Von Raschke: Yeah…John got me to watching it on TV, and before too long I wrote to the promoter in Omaha , Joe Dusek. I sent him a list of my credentials, and he wrote a nice letter back to me.

Question:What did Joe tell you?

Baron Von Raschke: He said he didn't have the facilities to train anybody, but told me to come and see him later on after I got out of the Army, and he would introduce me to Verne Gagne.

Meanwhile, I got my first teaching job. When I first got out of the Army, I decided I was going to teach school…and I did for about a year after I got out of the Army.

Question:What did you teach, Baron?

Baron Von Raschke: Biology and general Science. That was the only year I taught full time. I taught fifteen or so years as a substitute (teacher)…not wanting to be tied down with it.

But after the year of teaching, I thought I would see what I could do about trying professional wrestling.

Question:Did you get back up with Joe Dusek then?

Baron Von Raschke: Yes…I contacted Joe Dusek again. They used to have a live television taping in a studio in Omaha…Verne Gagne came down from Minnesota, and Joe introduced us then.

Question:Did Verne show immediate interest in you?

Baron Von Raschke: Verne told me if I wanted to come up (to Minnesota ), he'd train me. So…right away I jumped in my brother's car and drove up there. I got a hotel room, and contacted the Office. They let me sit there for six or seven days!


Baron Von Raschke: Finally, I got Verne cornered enough to where he started to train me. And, after a couple of months of training, I got to get with guys like Wilbur Snyder. Verne had a ring set up at a farm where we would train.

After a few months of that, they gave me the job of hauling the ring around and setting it up in the different towns and for TV. And they also had me refereeing some of the matches then. So, that was sort of my introduction to the business.

Question:Who were the guys that were most influential to you when you first broke in?

Baron Von Raschke: After three or four months of setting up the ring, I was refereeing and Mad Dog Vachon noticed me. Mad Dog was getting ready to leave the AWA for a while, and go up to Quebec , Canada …the Montreal area.

He wanted a partner, and took a liking to me. Mad Dog was on the Canadian Olympic team…two Olympics before I was almost on the U.S. team. So, he had a natural inclination to take me under his wing…and he did.

Question:Did Mad Dog help you develop the ‘Baron' persona?

Baron Von Raschke: [Editor's Note: The Baron Is In Character Voice Here!]



Baron Von Raschke: I told him, ‘I AM A GERMAN! MY PARENTS MADE ME A GERMAN!' (everybody laughs)


So, I took my new bride, the lovely Bonnie, and we got in our little Mustang with the trailer on the back and headed for adventures unknown.

Question:What made Mad Dog see the ‘Baron' from Jim Raschke?

Baron Von Raschke: I think I looked the part to him, so I just went with it. It turned out that ‘Baron Von Raschke' was always there, even though he was inside me…he was my alter ego.

Question:Wasn't Mad Dog injured in a car wreck fairly soon after you all started teaming up?

Baron Von Raschke: Yeah, I went up to Montreal and teamed with him. For people that don't know Mad Dog, he wasn't a tall man…he was quite a bit shorter than I am. And, he probably isn't the best looking man now, but he was quite handsome then.

And I was this big and tall bald guy…and for some reason the crowd automatically didn't like us from the get-go. He would play up to that, and I'd follow suit. Pretty soon, the crowds didn't like us at all…but we were filling up all the arenas!

Question:I recently interviewed Ivan Koloff, and he was up there in Montreal about this same time. Weren't the Rougeaus the big fan favorites up there then?

Baron Von Raschke: Actually, [Ivan] was the next guy they had in after I left. The territory popped with the Mad Dog and I.

Regarding the accident…for some reason I was in another town in a different area that day. Mad Dog was coming back from Chicoutimi …which is way up north---about 350 miles north of Montreal . As you can imagine, it's very icy there in the winter, and the car slipped off the road and went into the ditch. Anyway, it wound up that Mad Dog separated his pelvis…

Question:I guess he was fortunate that the accident wasn't any worse?

Baron Von Raschke: They had midget wrestlers on that same card, and the midgets found the wreck and were able to help. Mad Dog didn't know if they were angels or devils, but there they were!

Question:He was no doubt glad to see them, whoever they were!

Baron Von Raschke: (laughs) Yeah…they were able to get him to the hospital. Mad Dog was out of business for several months. In the meantime, Hans Schmidt was in the area, so we teamed up and were just as hot as Mad Dog and I were.

Question:Ivan told me he teamed with Hans Schmidt up there too, and it got pretty wild!

Baron Von Raschke: It was pretty intense. We had riots all the time. We'd leave the ring, and often times the fans would fill the ring with chairs…

Question:That's what Ivan told me! But I figured it was probably a one night only incident…

Baron Von Raschke: [Editor's Note: The Baron Is Again In Character Voice Here!]


Question:(laughing hard)

Man, that was unbelievable up there!

Baron Von Raschke: We had to take care of ourselves!

Question:Everyone from the Mid-Atlantic area remembers your devastating ‘Brain Claw' hold. Did you develop the Claw hold during these early years?

Baron Von Raschke: Yes. I was wrestling against Pat O'Connor in St. Louis , and we had a talk after the match. He suggested that I use the Claw, and I told him I didn't even know what it was! I hadn't seen it up to that point.

I was only in St. Louis for that one night. I was working in Detroit for Eddie Farhat then…this was shortly after I was in Montreal .

Question:So, you were just in St. Louis at that point for a single shot?

Baron Von Raschke: They had a call in for a guy to go in and work against O'Connor…so they flew me into St. Louis from Detroit . We were in the old Kiel Auditorium.

Question:A great venue.

Baron Von Raschke: Yes…and O'Connor and I had a pretty decent match. He kind of liked me, and took me under his wing and asked me about the Claw. But then I sort of forgot about [the Claw] for a while, because I was doing other things.

Question:So you didn't start using the Claw immediately?

Baron Von Raschke: No, actually, because after I left the Detroit territory I went down and wrestled for Fritz Von Erich…

Question:You probably weren't allowed to use the Claw in Fritz's territory! (laughs)

Baron Von Raschke: Well, I still didn't really know what the Claw was all about…even then. So I didn't look to use it there, particularly down there! I had my own things I could use.

Question:Did the Claw come naturally for you? I remember when you first came into the Mid-Atlantic area, they had you crush an apple with the hand you used for the Claw. You must have had terrific hand strength.

Baron Von Raschke: Well, you go with what you got. I had some abilities that maybe some other people didn't have…and some other people certainly have abilities that I don't have. But, I suppose I had a fairly good grip at that time.

But, yeah, the Claw seemed to be a natural fit for me.

Question:And when you had an opponent in the Claw, your facial expressions were priceless! I think those put the move over as much as anything.

Baron Von Raschke: Well, David , I did the best I could. Speaking of my face, I get asked for autographs all the time---people think I'm Ben Affleck…

Question:(laughs) Oh really?

Baron Von Raschke: Oh yeah…all the time!

Question:Well, I want a current picture of you that we can put up on the site. We'll create a ‘ Hollywood ' section, and put you right in there!

Baron Von Raschke: There you go…is it Ben or is it Memorex? (everybody laughs)

Question:But back to the Claw…I guess it was a combination of things that got that maneuver over so well. But that maniacal and diabolical look of yours was a big part of it for me! But, I digress….

Baron Von Raschke: Well, yes, you do…(everybody laughs)

But, it was a good hold for me…it worked well for me.

Question:Where did you head after your stint in Texas with Fritz Von Erich?

Baron Von Raschke: I went to Indiana with (Dick The) Bruiser's group. That's where I started using the Claw. And I used it a different way than Fritz Von Erich did.

Question:What was the distinction?

Baron Von Raschke: Well, [Von Erich] would throw it on very, very quickly without doing much to set it up.

Basically, I would have to work to set it up…and then when the time was right, I would put it on. That made a lot of difference.

Question:Oh…no doubt. Now, you had a good long run in Bruiser's territory in the early 70s. Is it fair to say that was when Baron Von Raschke really took off?

Baron Von Raschke: Yes…there was a lot of great talent around that area.

Question:Didn't they put the WWA World belt on you pretty quickly there, and then you and Bruiser battled back and forth over it for a number of years?

Baron Von Raschke: Yeah…that's what happened.

Question:And I believe late in your run there, you and Ernie Ladd were the Tag Team Champions?

Baron Von Raschke: Yep…we had some of the best in the business in there then.

Question:We're into the mid 70s now, Baron. Where did you campaign before you ended up in the Mid-Atlantic area in the summer of 1977?

Baron Von Raschke: I went back to the AWA…I spent about two and a half years with Verne and Wally Karbo. Then I got a call from Vince McMahon, and I went up to New York for several months. Then, I went to Crockett.

Question:You were working in the WWWF right before you entered the Mid-Atlantic area?

Baron Von Raschke: Yes, that's right.

Question:Well, we have you up to July of 1977. Tell us about how you came to enter the Mid-Atlantic area.

Baron Von Raschke: It came about in a kind of roundabout way. A bunch of people from Japan were going through the U.S. The top guy over there was Giant Baba…


Baron Von Raschke: Big, tall guy…about seven feet tall. Anyway, he needed an opponent in Greensboro . It was kind of the same story as with me and Pat O'Connor back a number of years before.

[ The Baron battles the Giant Baba in Greensboro ] March 20, 1977

Question:Yep…I know exactly the Greensboro card you're referring to---I collect event posters. It was March 20, 1977 . I always thought it was odd you were on that card, because you didn't start in the Mid-Atlantic area for four more months.

You were wrestling Baba for the ‘Pacific Wrestling Title!' I seriously doubt that Title was defended much in the Mid-Atlantic area! (laughs)

Baron Von Raschke: (laughs) Yeah…and I had never met the Crocketts and hardly knew (the booker) George Scott. Anyway, I went there and worked with Giant Baba…because the Mid-Atlantic didn't want to sacrifice one of their own guys at that juncture.

[ The Baron applies the claw to Giant Baba ]

Question:That's a pretty tough assignment, for your first appearance in the territory!

Baron Von Raschke: He wasn't the easiest guy to work with…but I wrestled him. And it went over really, really good. Next thing you know, I was booked to work in the Mid-Atlantic area full time. You said the Baba match was in March, so I started for Crockett in July.

Question:Interesting! So as I understand it, your match with Baba in Greensboro impressed the ‘powers that be' and they took notice of you, and wanted you to come into the Mid-Atlantic area full time?

Baron Von Raschke: Right…I think that's how it worked out.

Question:When you came in initially, you surely dealt with George Scott a lot in his capacity as the area's booker. What did you think of George?

Baron Von Raschke: He was all business, but I liked him.

Question:I remember that when you first came in, George put you over fast. You were annihilating everybody with your Brain Claw! I also remember the TV announcers mentioning that you were one of a very few guys to have beaten Bruno Sammartino, which was very unusual for our announcers to say something like that. So you were clearly a big deal!

Baron Von Raschke: I don't know what they were thinking there, David . I just tried to come in and do what I did best.

Question:Overall, what were your initial impressions of the Crockett territory?

Baron Von Raschke: I had never really been to the South before, and I fell in love with the area.


Baron Von Raschke: It was beautiful country. I lived in Charlotte, and that was a great place to live. Unfortunately, the business kept us on the road seven days a week…almost every day of the year. I'm glad I had a good strong family that stood behind me, because the schedule didn't allow you much time to be at home. And when you were home, you were tired!

Question:Baron, you certainly have hit on something that everybody from that time frame echoes…working for George Scott back then was VERY hard work!

Baron Von Raschke: Oh yeah! Work and travel was horrendous.

Question:Was it worse in the Mid-Atlantic area than any other place you had been…or would go to in the future?

Baron Von Raschke: It was as bad as any place I've been. Actually, it was worse driving winter roads for a couple of weeks in northern Manitoba, Canada. Those are roads that nobody can take except for in the winter when it freezes up…because part of them are lakes! That was the only time they could get supplies to the villages overland.

Question:Gee…the travel had to be unbelievably dangerous way up in northern Canada. At least you didn't have to deal with that REALLY frigid weather down here!

Baron Von Raschke: You've never driven in an ice storm, huh?

Question:Nothing like you have, I'm sure! Everybody down here goes berserk at the sight of the first snowflake! You know…you've been down here.

Baron Von Raschke: You have to be careful wherever you drive.


Well, when you came into the Mid-Atlantic area, your first real significant match was against the youngster, Ricky Steamboat. Steamboat was getting pushed to the hilt then, and you were really the first guy to beat him in a meaningful match. You took the Mid-Atlantic TV Title from him in October of 1977.

Baron Von Raschke: Ricky was a great performer…

Question:As a veteran coming in, I'm curious of what you thought about a young guy like Steamboat getting such a major push?

[ Baron von Raschke defeated Ricky Steamboat for the TV title ]

Baron Von Raschke: I was tremendously impressed with Ricky Steamboat. He had a knack for the business…he picked it up right away. He was a young man that was going to go far---and he did.

You know, he gave 100% in the ring…which is what I liked. That's how you got a match over. He was a very, very good wrestler and colleague.

Question:The first long running program you had in Crockett was against ‘Mr. Wrestling' Tim Woods. This was set up by an amateur rules wrestling match that you all had on TV. That was a terrific angle…even though you lost the amateur rules match by a couple of points! (laughs)

Baron Von Raschke: I did? You sure about that? (laughs)

Question:(laughing) I'm thinking you did…but it was nip and tuck all the way! Regardless of the outcome, I thought it was a great concept…something very different.

Baron Von Raschke: It was a wrinkle that George Scott thought up. He thought it would be interesting to the fans…a different kind of wrestling. I guess the midgets weren't available that day! (everybody laughs)

Question:So George thought that angle up? I would have thought with the amateur wrestling backgrounds of both you and Tim, that you all would have come up with that idea.

Baron Von Raschke: I think both Tim and I realized at that time that amateur wrestling was way too hard…to go through all the training and stuff. We were in our pro groove then!

(pauses) You know, actually, maybe Tim suggested it. I don't really remember...

Question:But you know YOU didn't suggest it! (laughs)

Baron Von Raschke: That's right…I know I didn't! Tim probably had something to do with it, though.

Question:After you attacked Mr. Wrestling with the ring bell after that amateur rules match, you all had a strong program that lasted through 1977. Tell us about Tim Woods.

Baron Von Raschke: I learned to love the guy. He was just a great competitor, and a great guy. He was a very, very smart man. We always used to have real good matches…we had a real good rapport in the ring. I can't say enough good things about him---I'm sorry he's gone.

Question:You held onto your Mid-Atlantic TV Title throughout that feud, and then early in 1978 the Mid-Atlantic TV Title became the NWA TV Title.

The promotion said you went out and won a tournament to become the new NWA Television Champion. Funny thing, there were never any highlights shown of that tournament! Care to comment on that big tournament? (laughs)

Baron Von Raschke: I don't remember that tournament! (laughs)

Question:Actually, I'd be pretty worried if you did remember it Baron! (everybody laughs)

This was the time frame that they put you together for a while with Johnny Weaver, and you all traded the TV Title. And as part of that, you all had the great TV angle with the Challenge Match of the Claw hold versus the Sleeper hold. How did that angle come about?

Baron Von Raschke: I don't really recall all the details of how that came about. Sometimes, I have trouble remembering yesterday! But we used to have a meeting at the Office, and it might have been something we suggested there.

John was a terrific performer, and I think we had really, really good matches.

But that [angle] was a good one. It was something that kind of built off of a thing I used to do with Pat O'Connor in St. Louis…he had the Sleeper hold out there.

Question:There have certainly been some good Hold versus Hold angles over the years in wrestling, and this was definitely one of the best!

Baron Von Raschke: You're right…the Hold versus Hold is kind of a natural thing in wrestling.

Question:John actually won the Hold versus Hold contest, which was a little surprising…

Baron Von Raschke: [Editor's Note: The Baron Is Again In Character Voice Here!]


Question:(laughing) Yeah…I seem to remember you complaining that the Sleeper was actually a choke-hold!

Question:After that program with Weaver, you were pretty much a tag team specialist for most of the rest of your run in the Mid-Atlantic area. Greg Valentine was the first of your really big-time partners.

Baron Von Raschke: Right…the Hammer!

Question:You all had the famous TV angle in June of 1978 where you put up your TV Title against Paul Jones, in exchange for a shot at the NWA World Tag Team Titles. You lost the TV belt to Jones, but you and Greg won the World Tag Team Belts from Jones and Steamboat! And all this happened on one TV show!

Baron Von Raschke: Yes… Greg and I made a real good team. He was a great partner for me.

Question:Describe Greg as a partner, if you would. I spoke with Greg a couple of months ago, and he was very complimentary of you. He said you taught him how to be patient in the ring.

Baron Von Raschke: (laughs) I don't know if I taught Greg too much! He was always a really good performer, and he was just a good hard worker. He was very steady. It was a pleasure for me to be with a partner of his stature…he was great.

[ Greg Valentine & Baron von Raschke ] NWA World Tag Team Champions

Question:Greg was very similar to his Dad (Johnny Valentine) in a lot of ways, wasn't he?

Baron Von Raschke: Well…they looked just like each other---picture images. They were both very well built people, and they both worked really, really hard.

Fortunately, Greg didn't have his Dad's weird sense of humor! (laughs)

Question:(laughs) I don't think Greg could have ever topped his Dad in that category!

Baron Von Raschke: (laughing)

Question:Besides Jones and Steamboat, another team I remember you and Greg up against during your title reign was Blackjack Mulligan and Dick Murdock.

Baron Von Raschke: The old M & M Boys…they were quite a combination!

Question:Yes, for sure. I told Blackjack I would be talking with you tonight, and he wanted me to be sure and tell you ‘hello' for him.

Baron Von Raschke: Please give him a ‘hello' back from me!

Question:I definitely will.

Well, the title reign of Baron Von Raschke and Greg Valentine came to an end at the tail end of 1978…to newcomers Paul Orndorff and Jimmy Snuka. Tell us about the Orndorff/Snuka tandem.

Baron Von Raschke: They were two great athletes. There was nobody like Snuka, as far as flying around. He could climb those ropes, and leap further than anybody I'd ever seen. He was like a kangaroo going across the ring!

Question:(laughing) Snuka was unbelievable with those dives.

Baron Von Raschke: And Orndorff had a terrific athletic background. He was a real horse in the ring. They both were very impressive…to the fans and to us.

Question:What was going through your mind when Snuka was preparing to jump across the ring onto YOU?

Baron Von Raschke: I got very tense and my eyes got extremely large when I would see Snuka climbing those ropes on the other side of the ring, getting ready to make that big dive!

Question:I can only imagine! And for that time period, Baron, that was an almost unheard of move.

Baron Von Raschke: It certainly was. And in the late 70s, Snuka weighed 30-40 pounds more than he would into the early 80s.

Question:And those 30-40 pounds were all muscle!

I always thought Snuka and Orndorff got over pretty much on their athleticism. They weren't much on their interviews…but they were new and so athletic, the lack of mic skills didn't really hurt them all that much.

Baron Von Raschke: And, David , they looked good too!


Baron Von Raschke: And they really were good.

Question:After you and Greg went your separate ways, you actually teamed up in early 1979 with you former enemy, Paul Jones.

Baron Von Raschke: Imagine that!

Question:(laughing) Actually, Baron, it WAS pretty hard to imagine! You two even won the NWA World Tag Team Titles.

Baron Von Raschke: That we did.

[ Paul Jones and Baron von Raschke at WRAL TV in Raleigh ]

NWA World Tag Team Champions

Question:But I tell you, the thing I remember most about you teaming with Jones was when you two wrestled Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat during the summer of 1979. You and Paul were in large part responsible for Flair really getting over as a babyface for the first time.

Baron Von Raschke: Oh yeah…that was a great series! I think that's when we sold out your hometown…

Question:You're absolutely right! For the first match of that series, I don't think the Richmond Coliseum was ever packed with more people…or had more people turned away at the door.

Baron Von Raschke: I believe we sold [ Richmond] out several times. We kept selling that match out. That was a great run with Paul and myself against Flair and Steamboat.

Question:Tell us about the dynamics of the Raschke/Jones team. In a lot of ways you all seemed to be total opposites, but boy did that team ever work!

Baron Von Raschke: You know, Paul and I had the same phenomenon like I was mentioning before…it was a lot like Mad Dog Vachon and Baron Von Raschke.

Paul was a little shorter than I was…I was the tall one of the team. I'm not the best looking guy…it was automatic heat.

Question:In that time frame, I remember Paul briefly putting a blonde wig on you and saying that the only thing people could call you then was ‘handsome!' I also recall Paul saying with that blonde wig on, you got ALMOST as many girlfriends as Paul did! (laughs)

Baron Von Raschke: All that wig did was make matters worse! (everybody laughs)

Question:How did Paul rank as a tag team partner?

Baron Von Raschke: Very high. Paul and I really clicked…it was just great. Paul and I also had a great time traveling together.

Question:You and Paul rode the Mid-Atlantic highways together?

Baron Von Raschke: Yes…usually by ourselves. Paul had been around the territory a long while, so he knew his way around very well.

Question:Before we leave the subject of you and Paul against Flair and Steamboat, I'm curious about one thing…

Baron Von Raschke: You're a very curious fellow…

Question:I'm not quite sure how to take that Baron! (everybody laughs)

At any rate, was there any thought of putting the World Tag Team Belts on Flair and Steamboat? They were so hot as a team for that brief period of time.

Baron Von Raschke: I really don't have any idea about that. Belts were really never that important to me…

Question:There seems to be a split of opinion with your colleagues as to whether holding a title was all that significant. From the wrestlers I've talked with, there appears to be about an even split of opinion on that subject.

Baron Von Raschke: Belts were something to talk about; they gave the fans something to talk about. But I could work in the ring whether I had [a belt] or not.

Question:It was funny, they never put the belts on Flair and Steamboat, but later that summer in 1979, they put the Titles on Flair and Blackjack Mulligan. I come back from summer vacation that year, and you and Paul had lost them and already won them back!

Baron Von Raschke: David …you HAVE to pay attention to these things!

Question:I know…always keeping the people guessing. Can't ever miss an episode!

Baron Von Raschke: There you go! (everybody laughs)

Question:Your final major tag team program in the area was a very memorable one, in the fall of 1979. You and Paul battled the new duo of Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood. Steamboat and Youngblood would become one of the Mid-Atlantic area's top teams for four more years.

Baron Von Raschke: They were another young upcoming team. We had some really good, really serious, matches with them.

Question:At that time, Jay Youngblood had never gotten a serious push. Even teaming with Ricky, there had to be some concern about him getting over. And the program as a whole getting over.

Baron Von Raschke: You see what happened there, was they teamed up Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood…a couple of guys that were kind of so-so looking. Then, you have Paul Jones and myself…two very attractive and handsome men…


Baron Von Raschke: All the young girls were just going crazy over Paul and I. When the girls would come to see Paul and myself, of course, they saw Youngblood and Steamboat too. So there were a few, a small number, that started liking Jay Youngblood and Ricky Steamboat. Can you imagine that?

Question:Baron, I'm having a hard time imagining any of this! (laughs)

Baron Von Raschke: It boggles the mind, doesn't it?

Question:You might say so! But all of this sounds a little backwards to me...

Baron Von Raschke: The passage of time can twist things sometimes, you know? Anyway, some of our young attractive fans…Paul Jones' and Baron Von Raschke's attractive fans, had the gall to go over to Ricky Steamboat, who looked so-so, and to Jay Youngblood, who looked so-so. So, Steamboat and Youngblood got a few more fans.

Question:(laughing) And a tag team rivalry for the ages was born!

You know, when I interviewed Paul Jones he insisted to me that Ricky Steamboat turned on him in 1978, about a year before all of this happened. I'm starting to understand now why you and Paul got along so well! (laughs)

Baron Von Raschke: (laughing)

Question:At the risk of dredging up some painful memories for you, do you remember when Steamboat and Youngblood painted the yellow streak down your back on TV…

Baron Von Raschke: HEY!!!

Question:(laughing) I'll take that as a ‘yes.'

Baron Von Raschke: How come you had to remember THAT?

Question:You have to admit, that angle is pretty hard to forget! Here's your chance, all these years later, to explain that to all of us fans!

Baron Von Raschke: Well, it was a terrible, terrible thing that they did. Young punks…and their screaming, hollering fans---yelling and screaming and enjoying something like that.

Question:(laughing) Sounds like your memory might be improving, Baron!

I remember on the TV interview right after it happened, Paul said he couldn't get the paint off of him. When I interviewed Paul in Charlotte about a year ago, I should have asked him if he had any remnants of that yellow paint still on his back!

Baron Von Raschke: That wasn't easy to wash off…we'd probably still have to check his back! (everybody laughs)

Yeah...that was quite a deal!

Question:Without having you and Jones to start off with, do you think Steamboat and Youngblood would have become the superstar team they eventually became?

Baron Von Raschke: They were good talents…they would have eventually gotten there anyway.

Question:Well, Baron, nothing lasts forever…and neither did your partnership with Paul Jones. You two had a falling out in early 1980, and had some heated matches against each other. And you were actually cheered in those matches!

Baron Von Raschke: (laughs) Yes…I was.

Question:I'm not quite sure why, but I cheered for you then also!

Baron Von Raschke: To know me…is to love me! (everybody laughs)

Question:How could such a great team have had it all end like that?

Baron Von Raschke: You want to know why?

Question:Yes, I would.

Baron Von Raschke: That Paul Jones was a sneaky coward…he was manipulative. You know, he would give me a medal every time something would happen…and I would go for it. Then I found out that he was just using me…

Question:Using you?

Baron Von Raschke: He kept using my nice personality, and my good looks…

Question:(laughs) A man can only take so much of that abuse!

Baron Von Raschke: But, yeah, Paul and I had some terrific cage matches. And then I was off to a different territory.

Question:Was it difficult facing Paul again as an opponent, after the great run together as World Tag Team Champions?

Baron Von Raschke: I look back on that, David , and it's all good memories. I enjoyed what I was doing, and Paul enjoyed what he was doing. We went our separate ways there for a while…but we got back and saw each other in Las Vegas recently, and it was a great feeling on both sides, I think.

Question:That's terrific…had you seen Paul anytime recently before the Cauliflower Alley Club event?

Baron Von Raschke: No…not since the time I came back to Charlotte in the mid 80s and wrestled for a while there then.

I'm not a real good person about calling and writing people, so seeing people in Las Vegas was really great.

Question:When you left the Mid-Atlantic area in early 1980 after the matches against Paul, you went to Georgia and the AWA and some other areas. But in the fall of 1983, you briefly came back to the Carolinas with Gary Hart as your manager…attempting to unmask Charlie Brown. Why was that stint back in the Mid-Atlantic area so short?

Baron Von Raschke: Then, my daughter had started into college and my son was in high school…so we didn't want to move. At that time, my family wasn't with me and I got to be a very, very lonely guy---and I didn't like that. So, I needed to get back to where my family was.

That's why I didn't stay in Charlotte any longer than I did.

Question:Was it originally the plan for you to stay in the Mid-Atlantic area longer than you did?

Baron Von Raschke: I don't remember all of the details, but basically I was just homesick. I wanted to go home. It was all right with Crockett…so I did.

Question:I can certainly understand your reasons for not staying at that point, but the angle with you and Charlie Brown was some great stuff! And having a manager, Gary Hart, was something new for Crockett fans to see.

Baron Von Raschke: Yes, but I had managers before in other places. Bob by Hennan was my manager in Indianapolis, and then later on in New York, Freddie Blassie was my manager for a little while.

As far as Gary Hart in ‘83…it was just something a little different. Gary and I had been in Texas together at the same time.

Question:I never felt you needed a manager. You were very skilled with your interviews, and you never seemed like a wrestler who needed someone else to talk for him.

Baron Von Raschke: Thank you.

Question:Did you see your interviews as being a strength for you?

Baron Von Raschke: For some reason, I was always a real shy person…

Question:(laughs) No way…that's hard to believe!

Baron Von Raschke: It probably is…but everything I was, Baron Von Raschke wasn't---he really became my alter ego. When I got into character it was real easy for me to think on my feet and respond to questions, ad lib, and go with it.

That's what the Baron does…can do, did do and probably will keep doing!

Question:And as he has shown us this evening…the Baron is just as good as he ever was!

Baron Von Raschke: I try! (everybody laughs)

Question:As you mentioned briefly just a moment ago, your last run with Crockett was in the mid 80s. The business was certainly changing a great deal by the 1986 time frame.

You had been in the AWA again after the brief 1983 Mid-Atlantic stint, and you and the Crusher had lost the AWA World Tag Team Titles to the Road Warriors---a new breed of tag team. Wrestling had changed considerably from the last time you wrestled for Crockett in 1983.

Baron Von Raschke: This all runs together for me a little bit, but I think in the last [Crockett] run Ivan and Nikita Koloff had a third partner who broke his leg…

Question:Right…Krusher Khrushchev.

Baron Von Raschke: Yes…and he broke his leg, and I got a call that [the Russians] needed a partner to replace him. I think there was an upcoming six-man against Dusty (Rhodes) and the Road Warriors…or something like that. So, I was elected. That was my final run in there with Crockett.

Question:Towards the end of that final run, I remember you wrestling as a babyface again. And even teaming up with another great veteran and Mid-Atlantic legend, Chief Wahoo McDaniel!

I remember you and Wahoo teaming up in the 1987 Jim Crockett, Sr. Memorial Cup Tournament.

Baron Von Raschke: Yes, we did. Wahoo was one of my favorite people.


Baron Von Raschke: Oh yeah. He was a great guy and a great athlete…he was a great credit to the business. He was just a good person…really a big-hearted guy.

Question:You and the Chief butted heads in your first run with Crockett. It was really something to see you all teaming together during that final stint!

Baron Von Raschke: There you were with a tag team…one guy with a headdress of Eagle feathers, and the other guy looking like a Bald Eagle!

Question:(laughing) Something to behold!

Baron Von Raschke: Actually, those were turkey feathers…after the dog got a hold of the turkey! (everybody laughs)

Question:After your last run with Crockett, didn't you go to the WWF briefly…when they were gobbling up all the talent in sight in the mid/late 80's?

Baron Von Raschke: Yeah, Vince (McMahon) was good…he flew me in just to fire me!


Baron Von Raschke: At great expense.

Question:At that time, didn't Vince have you managing some people up there?

Baron Von Raschke: Yeah…tried to.

Question:That didn't last long, did it?

Baron Von Raschke: It didn't last long at all.

Question:I guess the last time I remember seeing you on a wrestling program was when the AWA was in its dying days, but their show was still running on ESPN. If I recall, you were involved in a Team Challenge Series as the AWA was about to peter out in 1990.

Baron Von Raschke: I was, and then I did a little wrestling for small promotions for a while after that.

Question:Do you watch any professional wrestling today?

Baron Von Raschke: I do not.


Baron Von Raschke: Very, very rarely. It's not fun for me to watch.

Question:Tell us some things about the Baron…post-wrestling.

Baron Von Raschke: Well, my wife and I bought a gift and souvenir shop and ran that for a time. And right about then, that's when I started teaching school again. I also worked for the Minnesota Zoo for a while. Even during this time, I was still into wrestling a little bit.

I was way up in northern Minnesota when we ran the gift shop…where it's still cold and snowing as we speak! We stayed up there six or seven years with the gift and souvenir shop.

Question:You must have worn a winter coat all year round up there!

Baron Von Raschke: That was about 300 miles from where we live now.

Question:What is the Baron up to presently?

Baron Von Raschke: Actually, I'm in between bookings right now. I'm looking for work.

Question:I know one ‘booking' that Mid-Atlantic fans are hoping that you will be a part of, is the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Fanfest in Charlotte over Thanksgiving weekend! Might we see you there?

Baron Von Raschke: I've been contacted about that, but nothing has been set yet. I'm considering it, but due to careful planning I can't afford to retire until I'm (age) 105!

Question:(laughs) Tell me about that, too! Obviously we would love to see you at Fanfest, but logistically you are a long haul from Charlotte.

But I hope it works out; we'd love to see you there.

Baron Von Raschke: I'd love to come.

Question:Are you currently doing any more substitute teaching?

Baron Von Raschke: No, my wife had me give that up a couple of years ago. When we moved down here, I didn't resume that.

Question:Where are you living presently?

Baron Von Raschke: We're down the (Mississippi) River now, David . We live seven miles from where the Mississippi River starts. We live near the river, though, in Wabasha, Minnesota.

Question:That's beautiful country up there…

Baron Von Raschke: It really is.

Question:Just a couple of final things as we wrap up Baron…

Baron Von Raschke: [Editor's Note: The Baron Is Again In Character Voice Here!]

‘WE'RE NOT DONE YET???!!!' (laughs)

Question:(laughing) Soon!

Since you've lapsed back into character, how did your famous catch-phrase ‘Dat Is All Da People Need To Know' come about?

Baron Von Raschke: That particular one, came out of a thing with Marty O'Neill, who was an announcer in Minnesota. He was a small man, a short man, and all of the wrestlers towered over him. Even Mad Dog Vachon!

But Marty was a great, great announcer and interviewer. And he called me up to the mic one time to be interviewed, and as you know, the interviews usually lasted two or two and a half minutes. Of course, I take my glasses off…and I can't see two feet in front of me!

Question:I know all about that!

Baron Von Raschke: Usually, there's a guy out there that gives you a wind-up signal...you know, a cue that it's time to quit talking.

Anyway, Marty calls me up and I'm talking about whatever I'm talking about...blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I'd finished what I was talking about, but I couldn't see anybody winding us up! Marty, being the pro that he was, asked me another question…and I didn't have an answer for it!


Baron Von Raschke: So I said, ‘DAT IS ALL DA PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW,' and I stormed off!


Baron Von Raschke: Marty was such a good announcer…and he loved that! He thought it was great, and he asked me to do it again when we did another interview. And again, and again.

Pretty soon, the promoter would say, ‘You gotta do that; you gotta do that!' So, that's how that phrase started…and continued!

Question:That's a great story! That phrase is forever part of wrestling lore!

Baron Von Raschke: (laughs)

Question:How difficult was it living your wrestling life in the persona of a hated German? I imagine at some points in time that had to wear on you?

Baron Von Raschke: I just sort of dealt with it. The Baron was such a nasty, vicious and despicable character…

[Editor's Note: The Baron Is Again In Character Voice Here!]



Baron Von Raschke: But anyway, the Baron turned out to be all right. He's kind of like me…to know me, is to love me! I could separate my personal life from the Baron.

Question:During your time in the Mid-Atlantic area, what were some of your favorite towns and places?

Baron Von Raschke: Well, I really enjoyed the Mid-Atlantic territory…the towns were all great. Your hometown Richmond was a great place…

Question:Richmond loved the Baron too! At times, we loved to hate you, but you know what I mean!

Baron Von Raschke: (laughs) Yes, I do!

Norfolk, Charlotte, Greensboro, Greenville, Charleston…they were all great. Great fans…great towns. I just have a lot of good memories from the Charlotte territory. Just a real good run there.

Question:When you think about the times you wrestled in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, what are the first things that come to your mind?

Baron Von Raschke: I think back on all of the great talent that I worked with there, and the business like approach the Office had. The fans were great. I just have a good feeling about the Charlotte territory, and Mid-Atlantic Wrestling.

Question:In closing, Baron, anything you'd like to say to all of your Mid-Atlantic fans out there?

Baron Von Raschke: [Editors Note: The Baron Is Again In Character Voice Here!]

‘The Baron hopes that some day, things will work out where I can come down and see all of my fans and friends from the Mid-Atlantic area.

‘Until that happens, I look forward to my next opponent…who'll probably be the toughest one.


Question:(laughing) What a perfect way to finish up!

Well, Baron, you have been as entertaining tonight as you were during all your great years in the Mid-Atlantic area! Thank you for being so generous with your time this evening…it's been great talking with you.

Baron Von Raschke: Good talking to you, David . You have a good evening, and continued good luck with the web site.

This interview originally appeared at http://www.midatlanticwrestling.net/Resource_Center/interviews/baron/baron01.htm