Mike Rotunda: The Varsity Club Gave ‘Bragging Rights’ A New Spin, It Could Still Work With The Right Chemistry
Mike Rotunda was great at portraying a villainous tax collector, but he was also a very convincing member of the Varsity Club in WCW.
Rotunda, aka Irwin R. Schyster, recently spoke with WrestleZone Managing Editor Bill Pritchard ahead of his virtual signing for ’80s Wrestling Con. Rotunda looked back on his run in JCP / WCW in the Varsity Club stable that also featured Kevin Sullivan, Rick Steiner, Steve Williams and Dan Spivey, and talked about how “bragging rights” is relatable and still something you could pull off today.
“Up to the point that we did the Varsity Club, you often had college athletes that had wrestled or played football or whatever, but they were babyfaces. And this was a whole different spin on it. You know, taking it to a heel level where you could actually knock people for where they lived and what school they back, so I think it could work again today.”
“If you had the right chemistry with the guys in it that actually had wrestled or played football. If you got the right group together, I think it could work this day and age. If anything, rivalries have gotten bigger, especially with college football and basketball and it’s huge now with the media coverage, where back in the day, there were rivalries but it was more [localized]. Now you have national rivalries because you’ve got so big a coverage [footprint], like an Alabama playing Florida or Clemson. It’s just huge now because of the ESPN football and everything like that. It could still work, I think. I think it could be redone, for sure.”
Big E, Dolph Ziggler and Otis are some of the names in WWE that have that amateur wrestling background, and Rotunda agreed that it’s a great boost to have a collegiate connection, plus it’s easy to generate heat too.
“If you had the right guys, you know, that actually had played sports in college and they have a true link to an Iowa or a Kent State or whatever, and people start bragging about that and calling the other schools trash, then it’s a natural heat getter.”
The Varsity Club formed in Jim Crockett Promotions by Kevin Sullivan, who recruited Rotunda (Syracuse) and Rick Steiner (University of Michigan). The stable wore their alma mater’s letterman jackets, an element seen in recent years with WWE’s Alex Riley. WCW also brought back the stable in 1999 with Sullivan, Rotunda and Steiner returning to team up at that year’s Starrcade event.