Steve Eighinger

Hulk, Studd and a huge pizza -- the stuff of memories

By Herald-Whig
Posted: May. 7, 2019 9:30 am

Every so often, the topic comes up in conversation.

And every so often, the memory is the same.

And so is the smile that begins that conversation, and the laughter that normally punctuates it.

"What have been your most memorable interviews or assignments?" I will be asked.

The answers have been the same for years, and probably always will be.

Arguably my most memorable assignment as a reporter dates to sometime in the 1980s, about the time professional wrestling was getting a stranglehold on the nation's consciousness.

Living in Ohio at the time, I was assigned to do a feature piece on a big-time WWF (World Wrestling Federation) card scheduled for just south of Cleveland.

I was able to hook up with some of the evening's second-stringers, who were extremely cooperative and entertaining, but I couldn't make contact with headliners Hulk Hogan and Big John Studd, the stars who more than 10,000 were paying handsome money to see. At that time, Hogan was approaching megastardom and Studd was already there.

I was wandering around the bowels of the arena that was hosting the event, opening doors and looking for large men in tights. Finally, I opened the door to this one particular area, which was little more than a glorified broom closet, and lo and behold there they were.

Hogan, Studd and two others whose names now escape me more than 30 years later.

The four men were playing cards, and did not seem interested -- or amused -- by my presence. I quickly introduced myself and said why I was there, which was about the time Hogan, Studd and the two others slammed their cards to the table. Studd, who died at age 47 of liver cancer and Hodgkin's disease in 1995, stood up and yelled at me, "I don't know who you are and I don't care, but you better get out of here right now!"

First of all, I have never thought of myself as a brave man. Secondly, Studd was about 7 feet tall, weighed 300-plus pounds and was not the least bit interested in anything I had to say.

Let's just say he didn't have to "ask" me twice to leave their card game.

Later that same night, I am sitting at ringside -- yes, I could reach out and touch the ropes and mat -- when I enjoyed (endured?) one of the greatest (most embarrassing?) incidents of my reporting life.

Greg "The Hammer" Valentine, a notorious "bad guy," was jousting with some relative unknown, preparing to beat him to a pulp when out of nowhere a pizza appears. An extremely large cheese and pepperoni pizza, I might add.

Valentine takes dead aim at his dazed and confused opponent and throws the extremely large pizza in his direction. The opponent ducks, however, and the massive pie hits your truly, bouncing off the left side of my chest, but not before leaving much of the cheese and pepperoni behind -- on my shirt.

I don't want to imply this was planned, but Valentine looked directly at me and winked. Even though I was covered in sauce, cheese and pepperoni, I couldn't help but laugh.

I'll be honest, I didn't get that great of a story that night, but the memories -- as you can tell -- have lasted a lifetime.

º On Thursday, I'll go over two memorable interviews from more than 40 years ago that have stuck with me to this day.