Ernie Ladd [Highspots Shoot Interview]
Ernie Ladd is a well-spoken and sharp man whose athletic background and role as top star in pro-wrestling make him unlike anyone else who ever came down the pike. In addition to having an amazing career to talk about, Ladd had some interesting stories of racism in the Deep South, his political views which are interesting as a black man who is a long-time Republican and even his story of being "saved" was unique. I found Ladd to be a great storyteller and while not as over-the-top as his promos (he was in the latter stages of the cancer that would take his life), he really pulled you in. Initially, I was on the fence about whether or not the detailing of his extensive and impressive football career would be a huge addition, but he was so adamant about his greatness, so fiery about Grambling's and the SWAC's legacy of great football players and so passionate about describing the unusual cohesiveness (across racial lines even) of the AFL's San Diego Chargers that you had enjoy it. He even called the question of "how would Grambling have stacked up against the white teams that they couldn't play" out as being "stupid" because clearly they would have crushed anybody! You get some great insight into the greatness of the "Big Cat."
I sometimes hold off on listening to a shoot interview in anticipation of it being really awesome. This was one of those and it was good, but it did not blow me away. Ladd is one of my all-time favorite promos and this was not a promo (not that it should've been), so much of his fire and humor were missing. He showed hints of both, but this was the musings of a dying old man, not the rantings of a man in his prime. Clearly Highspots had a two-hour time frame because they seemed to be limited in their depth and it could've easily been twice as long. I think if prompted appropriate Ladd might have delivered a little more strongly, but it was an average interview with an average interviewer and an above-average legend, so they is some disappointment there for me. Especially since Ernie Ladd is no longer with us.
The Rating: ****