Mud Lick, Kentucky's favorite son is three weeks away from a dream-like situation becoming a reality.
Inductee into the WWE Hall Of Fame class of 2018, Hillbilly Jim has been making the rounds on the interview circuit discussing what he still can not believe is becoming a reality. Hillbilly Jim's home-state news publication WKUHerald caught up with their future Hall Of Famer to take a trip down memory lane on Jim's road to glory.
Hillbilly Jim became seriously interested in pro wrestling during his early 20's after friends joked about his physique being one similar of a pro wrestler.
"When cable TV came out, I started watching Georgia Championship Wrestling,” Hillbilly Jim said. “It blew my mind because they had these wrestlers that looked like guys from the gym. Most of the wrestlers we used to see looked like big fat guys with their shirts off, but these guys didn’t look like that.”
Before Hillbilly Jim developed the persona that has earned him a spot in the WWE Hall Of Fame, he was known as "Harley Davidson" and little did he know that his opportunity to be a part of the then, World Wrestling Federation was coming sooner than he could have ever expected.
“The WWF was doing a show in Nashville, and my friend Bruce Swayze said that he would bring me into the dressing room down there,” Hillbilly Jim shared. “They immediately went for me and I ended up getting asked to do an opening match that night. I told them I didn’t have my gear with me, so they had some of the wrestlers give me boots, kneepads and a pair of tights.”
Big Jim standing at 6'7 certainly impressed WWE officials by his size and build alone. A month after that Nashville show that he spoke of in the quote above, he was invited to Stamford, Connecticut for a meeting with the Chairman of the company, Vince McMahon.
“Chief Jay Strongbow told Vince that there hadn’t been a hillbilly in the business for a long time. Vince asked me where they could say I was from and I came up with Mud Lick, Kentucky. Vince said, ‘That’s great, Hillbilly Jim from Mud Lick, Kentucky,’ and that’s exactly how it began.”
Hillbilly Jim appeared in the WWF and was offered the training services of two men; "Rowdy" Roddy Piper & Hulk Hogan. Jim chose to be "trained" by Hogan and he never forgets to mention that without Hogan giving him the "rub", he may not have had the success that he did.
“Hulk Hogan was like Elvis in the wrestling business, so when they had him start acting like he was training me, it was over. When people look at you, you’ve got to have something to connect to them and because I had that charisma the fans really loved me. I knew I wasn’t a hillbilly, but I became the best hillbilly that I could be.” Hillbilly Jim expressed.
The former co-host of WWF Prime Time Wrestling is humble about his Hall Of Fame induction. He feels that the wrestling business does not owe him anything, but nonetheless is grateful for the honor to be placed amongst the greats that have walked through the company's history.
"This business doesn’t owe me anything because I’ve already had a Hall of Fame life,” Hillbilly Jim stated. “I’ve already had my glory, so this induction is in my name, but I’m accepting it for my family, my friends and the fans. Nobody makes it by themselves and this whole thing wouldn’t have happened for me without help from a lot of different people.” Hillbilly Jim added, “I don’t live in the past, but I’m thankful to God I had those wonderful memories. I'm more interested in what I’m going to do today, but I know I’m one lucky guy because I got to live my dream. My friend Wes Strader once said, ‘I got to do what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it and where I wanted to do it at.’ That’s a lot like my life and it’s really a miracle. "
The Kentucky native would also delve into his childhood and discussed the Sirius XM Radio show he currently hosts. To read more from Hillbilly Jim, click here.