WCW ref Dickinson on the outs
By GREG OLIVER -- SLAM! Wrestling
Scott Dickinson and his wife Jennifer.
Lost in the cost-cutting measures of the money-pit that is World
Championship Wrestling are the little guys. Fans hear about the big
money contracts that the top stars are getting. Almost the entire
'Millionaire's Club' is sitting at home at the moment, collecting a
Then there is WCW referee Scott Dickinson, who has worked for the
company just once over the past 10 months. After three years working on
a part-time basis for the company, he was the early victim of corporate
downsizing, which to his surprise started at the bottom rather than at
the top of the salary chain.
"I kind of saw it coming when [WCW honcho Bill] Busch came in and they
started talking about cutting," Dickinson told SLAM! Wrestling.
Luckily, Dickinson never quit his real job working for the U.S. Post
Office in the Boston-area. In fact, many within WCW like Kevin Sullivan
and Terry Taylor were supportive of his first job, and urged him to keep
it because of the up-and-down nature of pro wrestling.
It was a tough call for Dickinson, 33, who had always dreamed of working
in pro wrestling, and started as a 21-year-old referee on independents
around Boston. "In my heart I wanted to [work full-time], but in my head
I knew, 'here today, gone tomorrow,' and I had a pretty good job."
Dickinson was a big fan of wrestling growing up and started attending
many Boston-area independents. The late promoter Tony Rumble suggested
that he become a referee, scaling down his dream of being a wrestler. "I
didn't really have the size -- at least the right proportions anyway,"
Dickinson can say now.
He paid his dues, working wherever and whenever he could. Rumble brought
in Kevin Sullivan to work the area and Dickinson got to know the
'Taskmaster'. When Sullivan had moved up in WCW and Nitro was expanded
to three hours, Dickinson saw his opportunity.
"I called at the right time and he told me to come down. I mainly worked
Monday nights at pay-per-views, occasionally I'd do other stuff,"
Dickinson said. Paid on a per-night basis, his longest trip was 12 days
in a row for WCW.
Hitting the road was rewarding in a whole other way for Dickinson. He
had made many friends over the years in pro wrestling, and in more than
a few stops he had a place to stay for free and a ride to and from the
airport. "You basically pay for everything on your own on the road," he
explained, adding that the cost-saving measure ended up being great fun
Dickinson admitted to being a little bit nervous on his TV debut, but
said that he quickly got used to the crowd. It was the IFB ear-piece,
which is runs from a box in the pocket, up the shirt and into the ear,
that the referees wear for TV that was a little bit hard to get used to.
"The first few weeks, I had a defective one," Dickinson said. "So I
couldn't hear the guy very good to give me the signals. So it was pretty
tough at first. Once I realized it was the piece and not me."
It could be any number of people in the arena feeding him time and
information through the ear-piece. "Usually they just tell you to send
them home, so it wasn't too bad. Sometimes so guys want, Dallas Page is
famous for wanting a minute to minute countdown and stuff, even if it's
just during the middle of the show. Just for his own, 'cause he plans
everything out anyway. Except for the end of the show, it's generally
not that important."
Other wrestlers can be difficult too. "The guys sometimes do their own
thing and don't listen to you, so they'll yell at you to tell them to
get out of there." The well-known WCW primadonnas like Buff Bagwell, Lex
Luger and Scott Steiner were tough on the referees. "Those guys are hard
to deal with," Dickinson said.
Away from the ring, he is good friends with Hugh Morrus, Charles
Robinson, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, and Chris Jericho.
For Dickinson, the career highlight was refereeing Ric Flair vs Bret
Hart in Boston at a house show. But the most memorable match for him had
the unexpected. "Alex Wright and Jim Duggan almost had a little bit of a
shoot when I was reffing a pay-per-view. It was very brief," he said.
The two became very "uncooperative" in the ring. "Alex was trying to be
a wrestler for a minute, basically. I don't know why."
The referees in WCW were a varied bunch, but were happy to have him
arrive when he did because they were overworked at the TV tapings.
Dickinson roomed with Brian Hildebrand most of the time.
"Mickey Jay thinks of himself as the head ref. It's kind of a joke
because Nick [Patrick]'s been there 10 or 11 years. They let him write
up the ref order up," he said. Charles Robinson is a true Ric Flair mark "to the 10th
And referee Billy Silverman, Dickinson said he "couldn't trust as far as
I could throw him."
He still does independent around the Northeast, but is recognized less
and less for his time on WCW TV as time goes by. Dickinson's wife, Jennifer,
has been great. "My wife is probably the most supportive person around,
even today," he said. Even his parents gave him all the support they
could over the years, but with his father being a postal worker too,
Dickinson knew that wrestling over the Post Office wasn't going to fly
as a full-time career decision.