May 4, 2006
Honky Tonk Man still rolling
Former WWF star loving life as an independent wrestler as he prepares to come to Cochrane May 12
By CORY PYTLARZ - Cochrane Times

There have been many classic wrestling characters through the years: Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Jake 'the Snake' Roberts, Randy 'Macho Man' Savage.

Joining that group is the Honky Tonk Man, who will be paying a visit to Cochrane with Stampede Wrestling May 12 at Spray Lake Arena.

While Honky was best known as a villain during the height of his popularity with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in the late '80s, Cochrane wrestling fans will see a slightly different version of the old-school favourite when he comes to town .

"Right now I'm really a good guy," says Wayne Farris, now 53. "The fans love to see me. They love to chat with me again and see that I'm still around and always doing what I always did."

Getting his start in professional wrestling back in 1976 with the independent Outlaw Federation in southern Missouri, the Honky Tonk Man brought his act to Canadian fans and Stampede Wrestling in Calgary back in 1982.

"I was known all across Canada before I ever went to the WWF," he recalls. "That kind of helped my career in WWF as far as being known by the fans in Canada before the American fans had ever seen this Honky Tonk Man gimmick."

And his time spent in Calgary left him with more than just professional benefits. His wife Tammy is a Calgarian and his son, Roy, was born in Calgary.

But it was in the WWF, beginning in 1986, that he and his Elvis-like character became an international star, holding the Intercontinental belt for an unprecedented 15 months starting in 1987.

"That was the highlight of my career," Farris admits. "That took me from mid-card to upper-card status, then to main-event level.

"I enjoyed doing it," he adds. "The only thing was the 300 shows a year was not very enjoyable. That took a toll on us. It was a grueling schedule. It made it not fun."

After participating in thousands of matches on the sport's biggest stage, the Honky Tonk Man says the most physical opponent he ever wrestled was the Ultimate Warrior, who infamously defeated him for the Intercontinental Championship in Summer Slam 1988 in a mere 32 seconds.

"It really was my call on the amount of time to put in for the match," Farris recalls, saying the quick defeat worked best in catapulting the Ultimate Warrior as the guy to take over top-billing from Hulk Hogan.

"(A longer match) would have exposed him as being not as good as probably he should have been.... It turned him into a superstar, which helped the company.

"For me being the bad guy, to lose very quickly to some muscle-bound bohemian like him, that didn't hurt me," he adds. "As far as my drawing power with the fans, I think it made them more angry."

Despite the loss nearly 20 years ago, fans haven't forgotten him.

In an Internet poll on wwe.com, wrestling fans voted the Honky Tonk Man the greatest Intercontinental champion of all time.

"I thought that was an honour," says the now independent wrestler. "That was something that wasn't predetermined or pre-planned or some shenanigans that goes on in the corporate world. It was actually done by the fans and it's legitimate."

Wrestling in 80 shows in six different countries in the past year, the all-time great says he is having more fun wrestling now than he ever has and is anxious to make his return to his Canadian wrestling roots when he comes to Cochrane, adding that he still has friends in town from his days in the Calgary area.

"I think the Canadian fans are more loyal," he says. "Americans, they're a little bit harder to be entertained. They're a little more critical."

And the intimate setting of Spray Lake Arena isn't scaring the Honky Tonk Man away.

"I don't mind it all," he says. "To me it's entertainment, and no matter whether it's on a stage of 20,000 people or in front of 300 people, it's still the same for me."

And he's hoping it will still be the same for his fans.

"I pretty much look the same as I did 10, 15 years ago," he says. "What I'm able to do is entertain someone for the time that I'm out there doing my little skit, and it makes them relive some history of their life for a few moments. They can go back in the past and that brings enjoyment to people I think."



RELATED LINKS

  • March 29, 2006: Time for some Honky love
  • March 27, 2006: Honky Tonk Man free & proud
  • July 1998: Fan Q&A
  • April 1998: The Honkytonk Man bares all
  • www.thehonkytonkman.com


  • CANOE.CA SLAM!