Shawn Spears has opened up about his on-screen relationship with Tully Blanchard, and why the legend should not be dismissed by fans – or wrestlers.
“Well, that all came about when I was having my issues with Cody, nobody knew Dusty, Cody’s father, better than Tully, so he had an inside track to how the Rhodes mind works. And I’ve known Cody for 15-plus years. That’s been well documented. But in terms of competition, in terms of how far that guy has come along, and I mean Cody, on his own, his mindset’s changed. So bringing Tully in and on board gave me a little bit of insight to how the Rhodes operate.”
Responding to Kenny McIntosh’s comment that wrestling almost “put Tully out to pasture” as the legend endured a brief hiatus ahead of his AEW debut, Shawn Spears elaborated.
“But you said something interesting. You said how wrestling nowadays almost put, or would like to put Tully out to pasture just because what’s old doesn’t work and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. That’s an interesting point and I think I brought it up in a recent interview where wrestling has evolved in terms of speed and in terms of high-risk maneuvers, that’s it. When people say, ‘Oh, wrestling has evolved. You either need to keep up…’ Yes, it does change and you have to change with the times. But the very basic fundamental of professional wrestling always remains the same. It will always work. It is the basis of everything that we do.
“There’s nobody that understands that better than Tully Blanchard or an Arn Anderson, or a Sting, or guys like that that are part of AEW right now. It just depends if talent, young and up and coming talent, want to give them the time of day to go, “Hey, what do you know?” “What do you say?” Or, “What did you go through?” Or, “Explain this to me.”
Spears stated that a lot of talent is dismissive of experience due to the apparent evolution of wrestling.
“A lot of talent nowadays are dismissive, the same with fans – are dismissive of guys that have so much experience in the industry because they think, ‘Well, wrestling’s evolved.’ Well, it hasn’t really. The fundamentals stay the same. The only thing that’s evolved are the spots and the moves, but like you said, you saw Tully in the ring in the six-man tag with FTR. How good did he look? He’s over 65 years old, man, and he’s still in there killing it. Do you know what I mean? The fundamentals still work to this day. So having Tully onboard and seeing what his capabilities are, and he’s still surprising us to this day. He’s the one who’s coming up with the strategy for tonight’s match. He’s got it all, we’re going to go by his playbook. He’s got his troops in line, he’s got the strategy that’s going to lead us to victory. So having Tully a part of us, a part of The Pinnacle and, you know, heading the way it’s going to make us near unbeatable.”
Speaking of Tully Blanchard’s performances thus far in AEW, Shawn Spears pinpointed believability as the difference-maker.
“I see the same thing you guys get to see, so whenever he has a microphone and he gets talking, you believe it, and that’s why you see the internet go crazy and social media blow up because they’re going, ‘Oh, my God, there he is. Tully’s the greatest. Tully’s the best.’ Yeah. Because he believes everything he’s doing and that’s what he tries to instill in young talent, in guys like me, guys like FTR and Max. We sit there and we watch him, we just go, ‘Man, this guy is so good.’ And if you believe it, everybody else will believe it. It’s only when people try to play wrestler or try to avoid the truth, or try to avoid telling people what they’re obviously seeing. That’s when you get in that… ‘Ah, I don’t believe that.’
Spears continued that the impact of Blanchard is such that it’s often forgotten how short his in-ring career was by comparison to his accolades.
“Guys like Tully, you believe through and through. So any time he gets a chance to speak or any time he gets one of his ideas and we say, “Tully, what do you think?” And he starts going, “Well, what about this, this and this?” You go… ‘Didn’t even think about that, didn’t even see that.’ That’s the beauty that he has. He has that eye. And if you think about it, this is crazy, too. His in-ring career was only 13 years. That was it. He only had a 13-year in-ring career, I’ve had a 19-plus year in-ring career and his legendary status has carried him for over 30. That is a testament to what that guy knows. So, I mean, how could you argue with greatness? You can’t.
The Chairman also elaborated on the ‘Search For Spears’ storyline he and Blanchard embarked on several months ago.
“So that was legitimate. That’s when we were traveling town to town and they actually had certain guys, like the video thing was a legitimate submission. It wasn’t just an act or anything like that. They would actually video in, they would pick guys from certain towns that we were traveling to and it was a way to get young talent, or independent talent, a look – like tryouts, essentially. They were going to be thrown on TV, a little bit of exposure. It would allow me to be dramatic and joke around, and treat guys a certain way. At the same time while building other people’s records. So it was kind of a win-win for everybody and it gave me something to do on TV.”
Spears discussed how Covid put an end to the storyline, but that it was a blessing in disguise as he ended up forming The Pinnacle.
“So obviously when Covid hit, that put a stop to all the traveling, we couldn’t get to all these shows. And then when Tully couldn’t travel, it almost essentially just cut the legs out from that whole idea, so we kind of had to scrap that and go in a completely different direction, which in turn turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because I think, a week or two later, I’m sitting ringside with MJF and he goes, “What do you think if we threw a crew together?” So had I actually found a partner in the Search for Spears, I might not have been a part of The Pinnacle. So I count that as a blessing in disguise. But that was originally the idea was that it was to get young talent an opportunity. Where they were going, I’m not sure. There wasn’t exactly a person in mind, at least that I wasn’t aware of, but I thought it was a wonderful way to get unexposed talent a chance to be seen, because I’ve been in that situation before. So I understood it. And it was entertaining and at least fun for while it lasted.”