Rip Hawk - A Class Act
By Frank Dusek
I grew up on the road.
By the time I was 3 years old, I had been in 32 states and three foreign countries. But when I reached the age to
start school, all that stopped and we "settled down" in my mom's hometown of
Charlotte, NC. My Dad "retired" from the ring after 35 years and began what
would be a 28-year career as a road agent for Jim Crockett Promotions.
In spite of school, I
still got to travel a lot with my Dad. After all, I was making a pretty good living (as
much as $300 a week in the mid-1960s) selling programs, setting up the rings and
performing all the many other tasks (ushering, announcing, keeping time, etc.) that are
necessary to run a wrestling show.
I tell you this so
you'll understand that during this time, I saw a lot of Rip
Hawk; even before he and Johnny
Weaver took over the booking from George
Becker. The team of Rip
Hawk and Swede Hanson was equal in ring work and drawing power to Gene
and Ole Anderson.
When my ring career
first started, Rip Hawk was one of the wrestlers whose style I kept in the back of my mind
every time I went to the ring.
So its safe to say
I was excited when Joe
Blanchard booked me with Rip Hawk in a match at the Seaside Coliseum in Corpus
Christi, TX. Even though I had only been wrestling for about six months, I had watched Rip
for so many years (meaning he had watched me grow up), and I really wanted to show him
what I had learned.
When it came time for
our "finish", Joe said to "go Broadway", in other words, make it a
time limit draw. Even though Joe had plans for me, this finish was a "tip of the
hat" to Rip for his many years in the business. Joe just wasnt going to ask Rip
to do a job.
To his credit, this
legend of the sport immediately spoke up. He asked Joe if they had any plans for me. Joe
answered "yes". "Then he should get his hand raised," Rip said. He set
about outlining a finish for me that ended with my taking the fall with his own hold, the
"swinging neck breaker".
Now thats a class
is a second-generation wrestler from one of the most famous wrestling families ever. He
had a solid career as a wrestler and later managed several wrestlers to major titles. He
also spent time as a broadcaster, promoter and matchmaker. His first memories of the
wrestling business are selling programs for his father when he was 4 years old.
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