During the 80s a hillbilly character was a popular figure amongst WWF fans despite little, or no, in-ring success. In this latest piece, we ask ‘Whatever Happened to?‘ Hillbilly Jim.
On July 5, 1952 in Louisville, Kentucky, James Morris was born and prior to his joining the WWF in 1984, he competed in Continental Wrestling Association under the guise of ‘Harley Davidson’, unsurprisingly a biker gimmick.
In 1984, he began to appear ringside at WWF events and soon became known as “Big Jim”. He would eventually appear as a guest on Piper’s Pit with Piper offering to train him how to become a wrestler. However, he would plump for the services of then champion Hulk Hogan instead.
He would appear alongside Hulk Hogan in several tag team matches before having his first high-profile singles bout at ‘The War to Settle the Score’ show where he defeated Rene Goulet. He was unable, however, to build up any momentum as soon after he would slip on a spot at ringside and broke his leg. During his time out he would manage his storyline family members Uncle Elmer, Cousin Luke and Cousin Junior.
His first WrestleMania appearance was at the second one as part of a Battle Royal that featured some of the biggest names in the NFL. A year on, he would again be in a gimmick six-man tag partnering two midgets against Kong Bundy and another two midgets.
His time near the top of the card was limited and soon his role would be to predominantly fill in for stars that didn’t appear at house shows. His last high-profile match with the WWF was in April 1990 on an episode of Saturday Night’s Main Event where he lost in less than two minutes to Earthquake.
After stepping back from in-ring duties and leaving the WWF, he would make several returns to the company over the year. The first came in 1992 when he returned to host; alongside Vince McMahon, Jim Duggan, Bobby Heenan, Mr. Perfect, Sgt. Slaughter and others; Prime Time Wrestling. This run lasted until the show was cancelled in early 1993.
It would be almost three years until he returned again. This time it was initially as a guest referee before becoming manager of The Godwinns. This lasted until 1997 when the pair turned heel on him. After this, he focused his efforts on being a road agent. That didn’t stop him participating in the “Gimmick Battle Royal” at WrestleMania X-Seven. During the bout he would eliminate both Jim Cornette and Sgt. Slaughter but was tossed out by The Iron Sheik.
From 2005, Sirius Satellite Radio added “Hillbilly Jim’s Moonshine Matinee”. The program is a mix of Jim’s favourite country and rock music, old stories from his WWE days and anything else that comes to mind.
He also spent a period lecturing to students at the Western Kentucky University. He can currently be found appearing in WWE Legends’ House, which airs on the WWE Network.
You can read all previous ‘Whatever Happened to?’ pieces here.