Missy Hyatt Interview On World Class Memories
Launching her career in 1985 as valet for her then-boyfriend John Tatum in WCCW, Missy Hyatt quickly became one of the most famous and recognizable women in professional wrestling. She is still active today as a wrestler, valet and commentator, and her successful adult websites, Missy Hyatt 24/7 and Missy Hyatt and Friends, continue to feature alluring images of herself and many more of the sport's most beautiful women. We wish to thank Ms. Hyatt for taking time out of her busy schedule for this exclusive email interview with John Dananay.
How did you get involved specifically in World Class Championship Wrestling? What was your first impression of Fritz Von Erich and his sons?
I was dating John Tatum at the time. We both watched an episode of World Class Championship Wrestling after David Von Erich passed away. We both realized that we had to get to Dallas, since this company was mega-hot, we wanted to be a part of it. Ken Mantell thought that Tatum was missing “a piece of the puzzle” in the presentation of his character. The missing piece ended up being me. I can honestly say that out of everybody that I ever managed in my career, I had the most chemistry with John. We played the roles of the “bratty-bitchy girlfriend” and “dumb jock boyfriend” roles to perfection. I still have kept in contact with John over the last two years. I think people underestimate what a great wrestler he was during that time period. I love Fritz and have nothing bad to say about him on a personal or professional level. He treated me better than any promoter in my entire career. I never had any issues with pay. I never got screamed at. I never had to worry about politics. The greatest times in my career was working for Fritz. I could never duplicate the fun that I had in Dallas for the rest of my career. I never really had much interaction with Fritz' children, due to kayfabe. I got along with all of them. I even got to work with Kerry's daughter, Lacey over the last two years for WSU and Kayfabecommentaries.com. I thought it was funny how Lacey once asked me why I was so nice to her. I said "it’s the least I could do, since your granddaddy was responsible for my career." I still have my first check from Fritz framed on my wall. Kerry had a rock star presence that none of the current wrestlers have. He could walk anywhere, and you immediately thought he was a star. I saw tons of people mob him for autographs, including the security. I found Kevin & Mike to be nice guys.
How were women treated versus the way male workers were treated in the promotion? Did you or Sunshine (that you know) ever have any negative encounters with talent or management because of your gender?
I never had any problems. We were considered one big family. I did get ribbed by the Freebirds, but it was not malicious. Sunshine and I were treated properly. Sunshine was very respected.
I have heard you had a crush on Gino Hernandez when you were younger, so I must ask, what made him so special? Do you think he had what so many wrestling "insiders" refer to as the "it" factor to make an eventual impact to a Crockett or WWF? Or is it more of mystique due to him dying in his prime?
I never had a crush on Gino; I believe Baby Doll had a crush on him. The character that Gino portrayed was similar to the real Gino. I remember asking Gino about his Louis Vuitton luggage. Gino told me it doesn't matter, since I can never afford it. Gino did apologize to me about being rude. I remember Gino had an idea for me to manage him. Gino had the qualities of a Horseman. He was similar to Tully Blanchard. They both had the heel quality that struck a nerve in most people. I've only seen bits and pieces of their work together for Southwest Championship Wrestling, and I believe they could have been great together on a national level. Sorry for losing focus on the question. I became a big fan of Tully Blanchard later in life. I still get a kick out of the match that Gino & Chris Adams lost their hair to Kevin & Kerry Von Erich [at the Cotton Bowl in October 1985]. I still giggle at the image of all of the guys holding Gino down as they shave his head.
How was it to work under Ken Mantell? In Gary Hart's book [My Life in Wrestling...with a Little Help from My Friends], he was VERY critical of Ken. Do you think such criticism was warranted?
I've got nothing bad to say about Ken. I was upset that Bill Watts knocked Ken in his book [The Cowboy and the Cross: The Bill Watts Story -- Rebellion, Wrestling and Redemption. Ken was one of the best bookers that I ever worked for. He was partly responsible for the boom period in WCCW. He was also instrumental in raiding WCCW in order to build up the UWF for Bill Watts. I respect Gary Hart and I would love to read his book in order to hear about his opinion about the matter.
When Ken Mantell defected to the UWF in the early summer of 1986, and took yourself and numerous other talents with him from World Class, was it something that was extensively planned in advance, or was "the writing on the wall" with World Class pulling out of the NWA, the death of Gino, and Kerry's motorcycle accident? How was the mass exodus executed and how was it discussed?
My departure from WCCW had nothing to do with personal issues. UWF was expanding to go national and I wanted to get on board. I looked at it as more money, more exposure, and more markets to work in front of. The departure was out of business. Everybody who left fulfilled their notices. I do have remorse that the UWF exodus sparked the downfall of WCCW. Fritz lost the Freebirds, Skandar Akbar, Ken Mantell, Sunshine, John Tatum, Fantastics, and myself. Unfortunately Kerry would get into a major motorcycle accident a few weeks later. Kevin was drifting out of the business. Mike was suffering from toxic shock syndrome. These were too many hardships for any promoter to be able to maintain their business. I had remorse about leaving up until recently. I realized if I never left, I could have been one of those performers that never made it out of fear in having to get over in front of a new audience. Even if I stayed, the houses were decreasing after the spring of 1986. The exposure I got from UWF would get me a tryout in the WWF and a job with NWA. I made the right move for my career. I'm still grateful to Fritz and my jump [to the UWF] had nothing to do with hurting him on a personal level.
Looking back, what was your favorite memory of World Class? Does the territory hold a special place in your heart still, or was it "just another promotion"?
My favorite memory of WCCW was having the last match at the 1986 Parade of Champions with Sunshine. It helped that our match was a mud match, that was the only reason we went on last. But at least it gives me ammunition in my own mind to say that I main-evented the show. My greatest memories were being provided an opportunity and being partly responsible for being in several programs that drew money. I will always be grateful that John Tatum was willing to share the spotlight with me. WCCW was not just another promotion to me. Calendars, trading cards, posters, & bigger checks from WCW still does not have the same place in my heart that I had in WCCW. I try not to remember the dark side of WCCW that it would later be known for in Heroes of World Class or Gentleman’s Choice. I instead would prefer to reminisce about the happiest times in my life and career.
What could have kept World Class going longer than it did in your opinion?
The defection of talent to the UWF was a major catalyst to the downfall of WCCW. They also needed several babyfaces that were not Von Erichs in order to carry the company. I think if Fritz went national, he could have risked failing like Jim Crockett and Bill Watts. Fritz should have focused on staying regional, since Vince McMahon had been the only promoter to go national successfully. I think Fritz could have focused on touring foreign countries, since we ran a successful tour in Israel. I don't think Fritz had enough staff and talent to become a national touring promotion.
Were you close to Sunshine away from the ring? Did she offer to mentor you in any way? Do you feel she often gets overlooked in the history of professional wrestling?
Sunshine carried me in WCCW and taught me to respect the business. I remember laughing during one of our first cat-fights. Nobody could tell, since our hair was hiding our faces. Sunshine screamed at me when we got backstage to take it seriously and I will never forget it. I remember having a party at my old place in Dallas. We still believed in kayfabe, but Sunshine wanted to attend the party. Sunshine ended up climbing from the outside into my window and we hung out in my bedroom with several friends. I would love to know how Sunshine is doing in life and hopefully she can get in contact with me if she hears about this article. Sunshine is overlooked as a valet. Sunshine was one of the pioneers in the “valet versus valet” programs that gave many women like me a job in the wrestling business. Almost any program she was involved in got over. She didn't need implants to get over, instead she had talent.
Who were your favorite workers from World Class?
My favorite workers from a fan’s perspective would be The Freebirds. I remember switching through the TV channels on WTBS and saw them on Georgia Championship Wrestling. It totally changed my life. I was obviously a big fan of working with John Tatum. I believe our UWF stuff still holds up, especially the interviews we did together. I was in total awe of Bruiser Brody. I don't recall talking to Brody much in WCCW. I enjoyed working with The Fantastics. I think WCCW could have done a lot more with making them into a drawing card. I enjoyed working with Ken Mantell. Many of his booking ideas were ahead of (the other wrestling bookers) at the time.