THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) Papers No. 121-2001

WHERE DO THEY GET THESE PEOPLE?

(Nashville Scene, March 8-14, 2001)

By Adam Ross

From the moment Nashvillian David Martin arrived at NBC studios in Chicago for his appearance on The Jerry Springer Show, things grew curiouser and curiouser. Never mind that in the hallway of his hotel the day before, David had seen a woman walking topless with male twins. She had nothing but a towel wrapped around her waist, "and she'd been augmented," David recalls. This threesome, as it turned out, was to appear on the same show as David. Their segment was about twins who've been having sexual intercourse with the same woman -- unbeknownst to her.

David, his sister Kelly, and his sister's boyfriend Brandon were slated to appear on a Springer episode entitled "Angry Lovers Attack!" Brandon planned to reveal to Kelly, his girlfriend of the past year, that one night when he'd slept over at David and Kelly's house, he'd been seduced by David. The two men had been having a torrid affair for the past six months. Brandon felt compelled both to confess his "wrongdoings" to Kelly and to "out" himself on national TV. But that wasn't the strange part.

No, what was truly curious was the fact that Toby Oshemura, the show's producer, insisted that David and Brandon kiss at least three times during the segment. He was positively adamant about it. "You're not getting a plane ticket home if you don't kiss!" David recalls Oshemura saying. According to David, Oshemura also wanted Brandon to be "butch in the beginning and then get gayer as the show went along."

Things got more bizarre by the minute. First, the makeup artist at the studio was a drag queen. Then, while the members of the trio waited in different green rooms before the taping -- David alone in one, poor unsuspecting Kelly with Brandon in the other -- an intern appeared with an attorney and a video camera and read a release form to all three guests. David had to swear on video that everything he said on the air would be true and accurate. Then the intern read aloud a list of "surprises" that might occur during taping. "One was: Another guest may appear on the show that has a crush on you," David recalls. "Or your boyfriend is a hermaphrodite," Kelly remembers.

If the guests had any problems with these surprises, the intern told them, they had to speak up now. If they didn't agree to the terms on the release form, they could be sued for the price of producing the show. David considered it all carefully. Back in Nashville, he worked as a legal assistant at the law offices of Bart Durham; he was no idiot when it came to the law.

David, Brandon, and Kelly were ushered into the studio separately. "If the audience is louder than you," David recalls Oshemura telling him right before he went onstage, "you've lost!" David wasn't worried about being loud. Plus, Kelly could be a real bitch when she got mad, and boy oh boy, when Brandon told her what he and David had been doing together, she was going to be pissed.

All three were scanned with a metal detector before going onstage. David figured it was a cautionary measure that grew out of the Jenny Jones incident in which a male guest had revealed that he had a crush on another male guest, and was subsequently murdered by the man in an embarrassed rage. The producers couldn't be too careful, he guessed. Who knew what kind of psychos appeared on these shows?

Brandon was first onstage. Kelly, meanwhile, was kept in a soundproof area.

"Our guests today are preparing for battle," Springer said as the show began. "They are preparing to break the bad news to their lovers. And our first guest," the host explained, introducing Brandon, "says he's someone who's found love on both sides of the field. Tell us what happened, Jon?"

"Well, Jerry," Brandon said. "I'm dumping her. I've been cheating on her with someone else..."

Aw, the audience said.

"...and Jerry, it's her brother!"

Boooooooooo! the audience said.

"Does she have any idea you're bisexual?"

"She has no idea whatsoever," Brandon said.

Jerry shook his head side to side, a life buoy of sanity in a sea of the insane.

"Did you know her brother first?" Springer asked.

"No," Brandon said. "I went and stayed at her house one night, and her mother wouldn't let us stay in the same room -- so I stayed with her brother."

The audience's reaction to this tidbit was part catcall, part appreciative applause for a guy's nice-work-when-he-could-get-it. Springer seemed only mildly shocked.

"Well," he said, "let's bring Kelly onstage."

When Kelly came on, Brandon kissed and hugged her, then guided her to her chair. There was a ripple of noise through the audience--laughs and whistles and more applause--a collective expectation of a stupendous dis. Kelly, meanwhile, had a look of love in her eyes. She thought Brandon was going to propose to her on national TV.

"So," Springer said to her, "you've been together a year, Jon tells us."

"That's right, Jerry," Kelly said.

"And how's the relationship?"

"It's good. I care about him a lot."

"Your family like him?"

"Yeah, my mom really likes him."

"Jon," Springer said, "what would you like to tell this nice lady?"

"Well, Kelly," Brandon said, "I know we have a great relationship and all -- but I'm here to dump you. For the past six months, I've been cheating on you."

"What?"

"And it's with your brother!"

Kelly jumped out of her chair and tried to bitch-slap Brandon, but a bouncer got to her first.

"My own flesh!"

"It's who I am!" Brandon said, index fingers pointed toward his chest. "It's who I am!" The bouncers put the pair back in their chairs. On screen it flashed: JON/CHEATING ON GIRLFRIEND WITH HER BROTHER.

Springer invited David onstage. The doughboy-gayboy-homewrecker sight of him was met with near hysteria. If the audience had vegetables, they'd have tossed them at him. David screamed back at the crowd, returning some of his own head-wagging abuse. Kelly immediately dove on her brother. She got to him before Brandon could stop her, the bouncers could restrain her, or David could do anything to defend himself. She knocked him clean offstage, gave him a right, then a left, and knocked off his microphone. The whole sequence was cut from the aired segment. "That was the best part," Kelly recalls.

The bouncers finally got everyone seated again, with Brandon sitting in the middle.

"So I take it you like men," Springer said to David.

"I am G-A-Y, gay," David replied. On screen it flashed: RICK & JON/SECRET LOVERS; JON IS DATING RICK'S SISTER. "She's got great taste in men, and I know firsthand!" David pulled Brandon's chair up next to his and took his hand. "Today, baby, he's going home with me!"

Boooo! the audience said. David turned around, stuck his butt out, and grabbed his shanks: "It's all good! It's all that! I know it!"

"We'll be back after these messages," Springer said.

Later, David, Brandon, and Kelly sat quietly in the limousine on their way to the airport. Nobody spoke. They were all emotionally spent. David sat next to Brandon. Kelly sat alone by the window. David opened the gift bag he'd been given by the producers. Inside was a Slammin' Jerry doll that said "Jerry phrases" when you bopped it on the ground. There was also a check. It was for a few hundred dollars. David asked Brandon and Kelly how much they'd received; all three checks were cut for the same amount.

David was so pissed off about this he stewed all the way to the airport.

Why was David so angry? Well, for one thing, David expected a finder's fee -- some kind of additional compensation for all the legwork he'd done for Toby Oshemura. The producer had the plot line -- a prefabricated, outrageous story about a gay guy who steals his sister's boyfriend -- but he didn't have "guests." Oshemura had the form, that is to say, but lacked the content. It was David who'd gone to the trouble of recruiting Brandon and Kelly to be on the show with him after Oshemura came a-callin'. The only thing that was true on the Springer segment in which David, Brandon, and Kelly appeared was that David and Kelly were brother and sister and that David and Brandon were gay. But of course, you already knew that a good portion of The Jerry Springer Show was fake, right?

Or maybe you weren't so savvy. Maybe you thought that what you were watching were the exhibitionistic exaggerations of trailer-trash, the sick sexual escapades of society's nether-whatnot. (Not that you were watching intentionally -- you were probably home sick or up late, and "nothing else was on.") You couldn't believe what you were seeing, but you were convinced nonetheless.

David's grandmother bought his episode hook, line, and sinker. "She called my dad right after she saw it and said to him, "Oh my Lord, did you know what David did to Kelly?' "

Which brings us back to the fundamental question that the Springer viewer always asks himself: Where do they get these people?

(to be concluded in The New WAWLI Papers No. 121-2001)
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THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) Papers No.
122-2001

WHERE DO THEY GET THESE PEOPLE? (Part 2)

(Nashville Scene, March 8-14, 2001)

By Adam Ross

Two months before David's appearance, Debbie Combs, a wrestler with the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), had called David to ask him if he wanted to be on The Jerry Springer Show. On weekends, David had a side gig as an openly gay professional wrestler, a heel character who went by the name of The Flamboyant Faron Foxx. He was part of a tag team called Sweet 'N' Sassy. "I'm Sassy," David says. "Luscious Quentin Charisma, my partner, is Sweet." They wrestled at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds in Nashville and throughout the Southeast. "I've been wrestling since I was 15," David says. "But I didn't come out of the closet until '97."

Initially he had some concerns about portraying an openly gay wrestler. He didn't want to offend the gay community, so he made sure that Foxx was both "a queen and vicious. He's butch and fey -- a double-edged sword, so to speak." Any dilemmas David had about playing such a character have been quashed by Foxx's ignominious popularity. "The louder they yell ‘faggot,' " David says, "the better I'm doing my job. They pay their $7 to yell at me, and I get to prevent one woman from being abused domestically."

Combs, meanwhile, worked a side gig for the Springer show to help the producers recruit "guests." Primarily, she used pro wrestlers from the NWA circuit because they were good at improvising, though she didn't limit herself to wrestlers alone. Recently, her 70-year-old mother had been on an episode about grandmas who sleep with young hunks. She got an all-expenses-paid trip to Chicago as well as some walking-around money out of the deal. She had a blast.

"So when she asked me," David recalls, "I said sure. Any way that I could make a buck. And maybe I'd get some exposure."

Initially, David recalls, Combs told him the producers wanted to do a show about a man who marries another man on the air in wedding dress and all. But the idea was dropped. About a month later, Oshemura called him at his home close to midnight on a Sunday. "He was a freaking madman," David says. "He wanted me to play this story out: You're dating this girl, and this guy steals you from her."

Oshemura offered to pay all expenses, then told him he needed David to find the other participants, and that they had to be in Chicago by Tuesday morning. David spent the next couple hours calling friends all over Nashville. He had terrible problems finding someone to play an openly gay character on national television, but finally managed to convince his gay friend Brandon, who had misgivings at first. "I've always seen these talk shows as exploiting the gay lifestyle," Brandon says. "But then I called a friend who's in the movie and theater industry who said it would probably be a lot of fun. Plus when I was 8 years old, I was an extra on Roots, The Gift. I have it on tape and I still get a thrill seeing myself on TV."

After Brandon agreed, David asked his sister Kelly to participate; it was a no-brainer. "She took some acting classes in high school," David says. That Tuesday morning at 4 a.m., a limo picked them up -- compliments of the Springer show -- and took them to the airport, where they departed for Chicago.

The hotel where they were put up was crawling with wrestlers from all over the Southeast, all of whom were to appear on Springer. It was here that David saw Strawberry Fields, the augmented female wrestler from North Carolina, walking half-naked down the hall with the Batten Twins, a well-known pair also on the NWA circuit. Later that night, Oshemura called David, Kelly, and Brandon into the studios to talk about the story line.

Oshemura's office, David recalls, was full of pro wrestling posters. "He was cool," Brandon says. "I loved him. Rather than saying, "This is what happened' in our story line, he let us come up with the details." All four changed the story around so that it was David who stole Brandon from Kelly.

"’When you three go out there,' " David recalls Oshemura telling them, "’I want you to be loud. If Kelly's louder than you, you've lost. And Kelly, I want you to be the Southern mistress in distress. And I want you to hit these points in the story: David and Brandon have to kiss three times. If you want a plane ticket home, you better smooch! David, I want you to be a big ol' flamer.' "

During the meeting, Oshemura also stressed above and beyond everything that the moment they set foot in NBC studios the next day, they had to be completely in character, leaving their real identities outside the studio. David and Brandon were both given fake names for the segment: Brandon became Jon, and David became Rick.

"After that," Brandon says, "the only coaching we received was right before we went onstage. Oshemura came up to each of us in the green room individually and basically went over the rules: Don't throw chairs. Don't say ’shit,' ’fuck,' or ’cunt.' Don't stay in your seats for more then 30 seconds at a time. He told us not to worry about going at it. He said Steve [the bouncer] and the others will pull you away.

Given the circumstances, David didn't take anything they were being told too seriously. "I looked at the intern and attorney videotaping my release statement as being part of the show," he says. "I thought it was all part of the act." After all, what was the point of videotaping a release statement about the events of the show being true and accurate if the producers themselves had supplied the story line? Was it a scare tactic to ensure that no one gave away the obvious fact that Springer guests were a bit too dysfunctional and lurid? The whole thing was like a pro wrestling match, with this odd dimension of suspended disbelief.

A month after the appearance, a reporter from the Globe called David at his office and interviewed him. Sources had told the reporter that the Springer show used pro wrestlers to pretend to be pimps, gays, and love cheats. David corroborated everything. "Springer Show Scandal Exposed," the headline read. He never heard from the show's producers, but that wasn't surprising: Nobody believes anything that's written in the Globe.

Ironically, one of the people quoted in the Globe article was Nashville-based wrestler/announcer Gary Douglas. When the Scene learned that Douglas himself was appearing in an upcoming Springer segment this month (in which he apparently declares his love to another man), he was suddenly less forthcoming. Was his show a fabrication too?

"Are you paying money for this interview?" Douglas asked. When told no, he said, "As far as a regular interview at this time, I'm going to wait till the show airs to see what happens." He wouldn't comment further.

Of course, Springer himself knows all this stuff is fake, right? "It's hard to say," Brandon says. "Oshemura kept telling us that he himself was the only person who knew we were pretending to be real characters, and that part of our job was to sell the story to Jerry."

Toby Oshemura is still a producer at Springer. (David's segment on "Angry Lovers Attack!" aired in November 1999 and has rerun numerous times since.) When asked whether wrestlers are playing guests on the show, or whether Springer himself knew this to be the case, Oshemura told the Scene, "I don't know what you're talking about." He referred all questions to the show's head of PR, Linda Chaffron. "I haven't reviewed that particular episode," she said at first. A week later, she said, "As of right now, I have no comment on that show."

But if certain segments of the show are so obviously phony, and if the evidence is so overwhelming -- WWF world champion The Iron Sheik appeared on an episode, to name but one semi-notorious "guest" -- why do the producers refuse to comment?

Bill Behrens, vice president of the NWA, thinks it's pretty simple: "I think Springer has a firm grasp on the fact that he's a ringmaster at a sideshow. As for his producers, well, it behooves them not to comment on it. If the producers came out and said, ’Yes, it's fake,' well, essentially they're screwing their gimmick."

Springer might rely on a gimmick, Behrens says, but comparisons between the show and pro wrestling aren't as apt as we'd like to believe. "Pro wrestling creates a good guy and a bad guy, and gets the crowd to cheer if he wins or boo if he loses. Pro wrestling tells a story. Springer, on the other hand, satisfies an audience's need for outrage, but it's a controlled outrage. It's confrontation with no risk -- clowns, that is to say, as opposed to trapeze artists. Because if all these people were real and if their stories were real stories, then the show would be scary and depressing. In my opinion, what Springer does is more like tabloid journalism -- it's entertaining, but not compelling."

Long before the mega-hit Survivor and its subsequent spin-offs, Jerry Springer was one of the first people in television to realize that there was money in muck. He was onto the fact that people at their most grotesque and dysfunctional (or banal or hypersexual) fascinate and comfort the viewing class. We live in an age when our own prurience craves caught-you-red-handed scandal, from the pedestrian to the presidential; rather than aspire upward, we take comfort in the perverted, punch-throwing masses below because they confirm our own social standing. The fact that Springer's hybridized version of "reality" TV has lasted so long only proves that the hunger of the viewing class to see bad things happen to other people is stronger than ever.

David's brief stint on television has helped the career of The Flamboyant Faron Foxx. Whenever he's on the ticket, the draw is huge. Even though the Springer episode aired for the first time more than a year ago, when Foxx gets into the ring on Saturday nights at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds, the audience chants, "Jerry Springer! Jerry Springer!"

Kelly, meanwhile, had a great time on the show. "You know that song that goes: ’I'm gonna take you on Jerry Springer and beat your ass legally'? Well, I got to do all that, and I thought it was fun. Plus I've never been on a plane before. And I got to go to Chicago. I've never been up north, except for Kentucky."

But David doesn't make a big deal about being on the show. He works for Durham's office during the day, goes to school at night, and wrestles professionally on the weekends. He hopes to become a lawyer someday. Currently, he's acting as the communications director for the political campaign of Carlton Cornett, the first openly gay candidate to run for Congress in Tennessee. David is too levelheaded to be caught up in his own fame.

"It was just another booking -- but with less bumps," David says. "Another day, another dollar."
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EMPHASIZING THE ‘WORLD’ IN WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION

(WWFE Press Release, Business Wire, October 17, 2001)

STAMFORD, Conn. -- World Wrestling Federation Entertainment Inc. (NYSE: WWF), today announced a series of agreements that will deliver more than 2,200 hours of WWFE programming across three continents.

"These deals are a significant milestone in the extension of our global distribution," said Andrew Whitaker, Senior Vice President, International Television, WWFE. "We have been working diligently to increase our distribution across the Indian sub-continent and have now accomplished that through our new deal with Taj TV. This is WWFE's biggest single deal in the region and we see it as a landmark in building the profile of the World Wrestling Federation brand in west Asia."

INDIA

The agreement with Taj TV for 1,500 hours of World Wrestling Federation programming to be broadcast across the entire Indian sub-continent is the company's biggest deal in west Asia and represents a sea change in global distribution. It delivers WWFE's entire portfolio of programming across India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and the Maldives. Approximately 1,550 hours of WWF Raw, WWF SmackDown!, Livewire, Metal, Superstars, Heat and 12 annual Specials (Pay-Per-View events in the United States) will be broadcast on pay TV stations and free to air stations in the region across the next 3 years.

TAIWAN

In Taiwan, WWFE announced a breakthrough two-year deal with Pay TV station, Z-Channel. They have acquired 152 hours of WWF SmackDown! and Specials.

SINGAPORE

Also in Asia, terrestrial broadcaster TCS in Singapore will deliver 316 hours of Superstars, Livewire and 12 Specials over the next three years.

SOUTH AMERICA / CENTRAL AMERICA / CARRIBEAN

A landmark deal with national broadcaster, TV Record in Brazil, brings World Wrestling Federation programming to that market for the first time. WWF Raw started airing in the territory in August.

AFRICA

In Africa, terrestrial station, eTV has purchased the rights to broadcast WWF Raw through 2002. This agreement will build on the tremendous success of World Wrestling Federation programming on pan-regional satellite television station, MNET. In addition, MNET has agreed to extend the broadcast of Superstars for another year.

"The first step in expanding into overseas markets is securing high quality broadcast partners. We now have a good mix of terrestrial, cable and satellite penetration on five continents," said Roger Marment, Executive Vice President, International Business Development for WWFE. "This breadth of coverage is key to driving demand for our licensed products, local language publications, music, home videos and, ultimately, international events."
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THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) Papers No. 123-2001

(ED. NOTE: A treasure trove of collected articles from noted wrestling journalist Mike Mooneyham of the Charleston SC Post and Courier may be found at www.mikemooneyham.com – articles like the following cluster, most by Mooneyham, concerning the legendary Charleston wrestling promoter Henry Marcus.)

STEPPING BACK IN TIME AT OLD COUNTY HALL

(Charleston Post & Courier, April 5, 1998)

By Mike Mooneyham

If you build it, they will come.

Henry Marcus did many years ago, and for several decades they came in droves.

County Hall was the place to be on Friday nights, and Marcus was the man who promoted weekly wrestling shows that put this town on the map as a mat mecca.

The biggest names in the business appeared here during the 48 years that Marcus promoted - from the original Gorgeous George to Lou Thesz to Ric Flair.

On Saturday, May 30, fans will have an opportunity to step back in time to a golden age of grappling as Lowcountry Championship Wrestling presents "The Night The Legends Return: A Tribute to Henry Marcus." Several matches are planned for the program, but they will be simply a backdrop for an awards ceremony that will honor Marcus and some of the top stars to have ever appeared in the Carolinas.

The biggest star-studded reunion ever held in this area will bring together a "Who's Who" of talent that has graced the pro wrestling ring over the past 40 years. Fans will have a special opportunity to meet the legends on Saturday afternoon, May 30, from 1-4 p.m. at the King Street Palace (formerly County Hall). Later that evening a wrestling program will be held at the same building where an awards ceremony will take fans and participants back in time to a golden era of professional wrestling.

The list of honorees include one of the biggest arrays of talent ever assembled in the local ring.

Among that group: Johnny Valentine, Wahoo McDaniel, Ole Anderson, Tully Blanchard, George and Sandy Scott, Rip Hawk, Swede Hanson, the original Mr. Wrestling (Tim Woods), Nelson Royal, Ronnie Garvin, Abe Jacobs, Hiro Matsuda, Grizzly Smith, Jose Lothario, Burrhead Jones, George "Two Ton" Harris, The Fabulous Moolah, Penny Banner, and referees Tommy Young and Ron West. A number of surprise guests also will be on hand. Marcus, 86, who retired in 1989 and now resides in Myrtle Beach, will be guest of honor for the festivities.

County Hall was a Charleston landmark for many years. It served as host to dances, graduations, sporting events and a variety of other activities. Over the years its stage was graced by the likes of big band leader Tommy Dorsey, singing cowboy Gene Autry and even "The King - Elvis Presley.

It also was the home of professional wrestling in this area.

When County Hall was closed as an auditorium in 1985, it marked the end of an era for wrestling fans here in the Lowcountry. Friday nights at the hall meant wrestling, and the arena was usually packed to capacity. Even though conditions weren't always the most comfortable, to wrestling followers it was a home away from home for a couple of hours a week.

On hot summer nights the spectators usually would sweat as much as the wrestlers in the ring, with the only forms of cooling being a few fans and an occasional breeze from outside the building.

The building fell into disrepair in later years, a victim of leaky roofs, bad floors and balconies destroyed by termites. Considered a firetrap, County Hall closed as an auditorium in 1985. The landmark was brought back to life when a motion picture production company bought it in 1988 and embarked on a $1.5 million renovation project.

The '90s version of County Hall - the King Street Palace - is equipped with all the luxuries of a modern arena, including a heating and air conditioning system. The walls were stripped to their original brick, the balconies were rebuilt.

Tickets for the reunion and awards show may be purchased at any SCAT outlet or by calling 577-4500. Tickets are $15 ringside, $10 general admission for the Saturday night show, and $10 for the afternoon event. A VIP package for both programs is $20.

TRIBUTE TO HENRY MARCUS

(Charleston Post and Courier, May 24, 1998)

By Mike Mooneyham

Downtown Charleston may be filled with the sights and sounds of Spoleto, but next weekend at 1000 King Street, professional wrestling will be the order of the day.

The King Street Palace, site of the former County Hall, will be the stage for the biggest pro wrestling reunion ever held in this area. "The Night the Legends Return: A Tribute to Henry Marcus" will be a long-overdue tip of the hat to one of the sport's great promoters, along with a recognition of the past stars of the Mid-Atlantic area.

Sponsored by Low Country Wrestling, the weekend events will feature a "meet and greet" session with the legends from 1-4 p.m. and an awards show beginning at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Several matches will be included on the evening program, but they will simply provide a backdrop for a ceremony honoring some of the sport's legendary performers.

Adding a special touch to the weekend is that the two major activities will be held at the King Street Palace - the building once known as County Hall where thousands of fans made their weekly pilgrimage every Friday night. Wrestling is one of the most colorful of all professions, and many of its legendary characters have graced the hallowed hall at which some of those same performers from the past will gather to relive memories of a tradition-rich sport that, like a fine wine, only grows better with age.

For nostalgia lovers and followers of the glory days of Mid-Atlantic wrestling, it's a must-see event. And even for fans who believe wrestling started with the Hulk Hogan era, it will provide a refreshing look at the past and the stars who paved the way and laid the groundwork for the Hulk Hogans, Steve Austins and Stings of today.

The event holds even greater significance for many of the honorees themselves. Many who traveled the road together and teamed up have not seen each other in years.

Two decades have passed since Rip Hawk and Swede Hanson, one of the greatest teams in wrestling history, have been together in the same ring. George and Sandy Scott, a team which Hawk and Hanson encountered in many a bloodbath during the '60s and '70s, will join their old rivals in that same ring on Saturday.

It's been even longer since the paths of Wahoo McDaniel and Johnny "The Champ" Valentine have crossed, but the memories of their torrid feud remains fresh in the minds of many longtime wrestling fans. Some of the greats of the Mid-Atlantic era have since passed on. The list includes names like Skull Murphy and Brute Bernard, Aldo Bogni, Homer O'Dell, Haystacks Calhoun, Gene Anderson, Rufus R. Jones, Billy and Jimmy Hines (The Masked Red Demons), Luther Lindsay, J.C. Dykes, Jimmy "Rocky" Smith (The Inferno), Larry "Missouri Mauler" Hamilton, Boris "The Great" Malenko, Luke "Big Boy" Brown, Dick Murdoch and, sadly, others too numerous to mention. Many stars shaped their careers here.

George Scott, who was booking the Carolinas for the late Jim Crockett Sr., brought in two youngsters fresh out of Verne's Gagne's Minnesota wrestling camp during the early '70s – Richard Fliehr and Richard Blood. Blood, an amateur standout out of Tampa, would be billed as Ricky Steamboat - "nephew" of Sam Steamboat, an area favorite who at the time teamed with Mr. Wrestling (Tim Woods). Fliehr was brought in as "nephew" and protege of Rip Hawk and was billed as "Nature Boy" Ric Flair, a '70s version of "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers.

Shortly thereafter Flair would join with the infamous "Minnesota Wrecking Crew" (Gene, Lars and Ole Anderson) as their cousin from Minnesota, setting the stage for the '80s formation of the original Four Horsemen - Flair, Ole Anderson, Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard.

The rest, as they say, is history. And much of it was shaped right here in Charleston, under the Jim Crockett territorial banner and the local promotion of Henry Marcus.

A little-known fact is that Arn Anderson, some years before before the formation of the Horsemen, enjoyed some of his fondest memories as young Marty Lunde growing up in Rome, Ga., hurling insults and objects at those same Anderson Brothers at the local wrestling shows. A number of surprise guests also have made plans to attend the festivities and pay tribute to a man who promoted wrestling for nearly half a century.

LEGEND NOTES

Promoter Henry Marcus turned 87 last Thursday...Referees for the evening matches will range from Tommy Young, longtime NWA senior official who presided over some of Ric Flair's greatest matches during the '70s and '80s, and Ron West, a popular NWA official in the Carolinas, Georgia and Mid-South area, to present-day refs Charles Robinson and Mark Curtis (Brian Hildebrand)...Commemorative T-shirts will be available at the afternoon event...Radio station 98 Rock, which will be airing updates on the show throughout the week, will do a live remote from the King Street Palace noon-2:30 p.m. Saturday.

One of the honorees, Burrhead Jones, is a Moncks Corner native whose infamous TV angle with Black Jack Mulligan in the mid-'70s ranks as one of the most memorable in Mid-Atlantic history. Burrhead, cousin of the late Rufus R. "Freight Train" Jones, suffered a lopsided thrashing at the hands of Mulligan that led to Rufus' crown (he billed himself as the "king of wrestling" after being presented a crown by Greensboro fans) being stomped to pieces at the hands of Gene and Ole Anderson, Flair and Mulligan.

THE NIGHT THE LEGENDS RETURNED

(www.mikemooneyham.com)

By Andy McDaniel

Charleston, S.C., has been the site for some of the greatest battles in history. Many schoolchildren have read of these great wars and the heroes who fought them and many times wondered what they must have been like or what it would have been like to meet one of them.

Daydreams such as this filled my head as a youngster, too, but the famous battles in Charleston I thought of were not at Fort Sumter or one of the famous battlefields nearby. The wars I thought about happened on Friday nights at 8:15 p.m. at County Hall. The leader of these troops was the legendary promoter Mr. Henry Marcus. Starting back in the fifties Mr. Henry would bring these great warriors to town to create the epic battle of good vs. evil.

As time moved on these men and women became heroes and legends, and for of us who grew up during this time, these great athletes will always be thought of and remembered with great respect. This feeling may not be shared by all, but I know there is something special about being a Charleston County Hall wrestling fan. I must truly say I miss what is known as the glory days.

My father took me to County Hall for the first time when I was four years old. The main event was Ric Flair vs. Wahoo McDaniel. I was in total amazement that I was seeing them for real and from that moment on I was hooked. County Hall holds many great memories for me personally, and until the last show that Mr. Henry promoted in that great old building, I made that trip to Charleston, S.C., down to Kings Street on Friday nights. If the walls of that place could talk I can only imagine the stories that would be told.

Much has changed in wrestling today, very few mentions of the past are rarely made. The new breed of wrestlers would look in puzzlement if you asked them who Burrhead Jones was or who was known as the Profile? Well, this bothered me because I know, and these names along with many other legendary names are are special to me, and a few years ago I had an idea that would just not get off my mind. I wanted to see the legends again and I was determined to make it happen.

Unlike the kid who only wondered what it would be like to meet his heroes, I knew I could make it a reality. I knew that many of the battle-scarred veterans were still very much alive, so I began to put this project together. With much of the planning in full swing, I knew that I still needed some help and I knew there was no one better to contact than Mike Mooneyham. I placed a call to Mike and introduced myself. After a brief conversation, Mike agreed to meet me and talk about my idea. I knew that Mike was a pro and would not want to waste his time on someone with a big dream, so I went prepared with all my information and work and with an intention of getting my idea over.

Mike and I talked for many hours that night, both of us sharing fond memories of Friday nights at County Hall. Mike agreed to help me, and soon after began to contact some of the greatest names in pro wrestling history about coming back to Charleston just one more time. We also wanted this to be a night in which we paid honor to the man who made wrestling famous in Charleston: Mr. Henry Marcus.

Almost no resistance was met as all the legends looked forward to seeing each other again many for the first time in many years.

The date was May 30, 1998, the place was Charleston, and the venue for this special night was appropriately the old County Hall. It was like going back in time to sit and watch "Mr. Wrestling" Tim Woods walk through the curtain or to see George "Two Ton" Harris strut to the ring. To hear Mr. Henry say "Hold your own ticket" was just classic. Watching Swede Hanson and Rip Hawk step through the ropes again was awesome and to stand beside the legendary Johnny Valentine was unbelievable.

The night was full of some wonderful stories and some great reunions. I can say it was a dream come true.
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THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) Papers No. 124-2001

LEGENDS GATHER AT KING STREET PALACE

(Charleston Post and Courier, June 21, 1998)

By Mike Mooneyham

Once in a blue moon an event comes along that shouldn't be missed.

The recent Low Country Wrestling Society reunion was one of those special occasions.

A number of former greats from the old Mid-Atlantic wrestling area gathered in Charleston on May 29-31 to take part in festivities that included an autograph session and an awards ceremony at the King Street Palace (the old County Hall), and a banquet at a downtown motel.

It was a special weekend of telling old "war stories," reliving past triumphs and sharing tales of the road. It was a "Kodak moment" in the truest sense when Rip Hawk and Swede Hanson, one of the greatest teams in pro wrestling history, saw each other for the first time in nearly 20 years.

Ole Anderson, who didn't look far removed from the days as one of the infamous Minnesota Wrecking Crew along with "brothers" Gene and Lars and as a member of the original Four Horsemen, got one of the biggest pops of the night from the crowd.

One of the most poignant moments of the awards ceremony came when emcee Steven DeTruth (Prazak) paid tribute to the legends who graced the hallowed hall for many years but had since passed on - stars like Skull Murphy and Brute Bernard, Gene Anderson, Aldo Bogni, Homer O'Dell, Rufus R. Jones. "If you look hard enough," Prazak told the crowd, "you can still see them."

And he was right.

There were those who wanted to be at the show but simply couldn't due to circumstances beyond their control.

Wahoo McDaniel, whose legendary feud with Johnny Valentine made a number of stops in that very same building, was unable to make the trip due to failing health.

Ric Flair, who had some of his most memorable encounters during the first half of his illustrious career at County Hall, had planned to attend the event but was unable to make the show due to a family illness.

The highlights were many: Burrhead Jones juking and jiving, George "Two Ton" Harris doing his memorable strut (but no longer to the boos of the crowd), Hawk and Hanson sharing a ring entrance for the first time in more than two decades.

But it was "The Champ" - Johnny Valentine - who perhaps symbolized that golden age of wrestling more than anyone. Valentine, paralyzed in a 1975 plane crash at the pinnacle of his career, remains an imposing figure of a man despite his handicap and still has the ability to move a crowd.

Valentine, who walks with the help of leg braces, drew a thunderous ovation at the autograph session when he made his way into the ring and proceeded to deliver his signature sledgehammer blows to Tim Woods (the former masked Mr. Wrestling) and Burrhead Jones.

And who could ever forget the inimitable Thunderbolt Patterson, who took the art of the interview to a new level, and was the man behind the original "You better tell somebody!" line that has found a new audience via Road Dog (Brian Armstrong) of The New Age Outlaws.

The night, of course, belonged to 87-year-old Henry Marcus, promoter extraordinaire who for decades made Friday nights special for thousands of Lowcountry mat fans. Few have a resume like the man who promoted everything from pro wrestling to ice shows to the Harlem Globetrotters, brought the original Superman and Lois Lane to Columbia's Township Auditorium, had Jesse Owens race a thoroughbred horse through that town's Capital City Park and featured the likes of Joe Louis and the original Gorgeous George at County Hall.

It was, indeed, a night of the legends.

HE’S BACK AND BOLDER THAN EVER

(Associated Press, June 7, 1994)

ATLANTA -- Ringside excitement hit a fever pitch this weekend when long-standing rumors were confirmed -- Hulk Hogan has returned to wrestling!

The world-renowned Hogan signed a deal with World Championship Wrestling (WCW) that would bring him back into the ring early this summer. The historic signing, the biggest acquisition in the history of the wrestling industry, was announced on WCW Saturday Night, seen weekly on TBS Superstation.

"Wrestling fans all over the world can celebrate now that the most exciting presence in the sport has returned to do battle," said Eric Bischoff, senior vice president and executive producer of WCW Programs, who was instrumental in negotiating the Hulk deal. "Having Hulk in our corner only confirms the fact that WCW is the premiere wrestling organization of the '90s."

WCW President Bill Shaw added: "Hulk is the crowning jewel to a glittering array of talent such as Ric Flair, Sting, the Nasty Boys, Mean Gene Okerlund and Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, a group who has truly escalated to superstar status this year. I have enjoyed following Hulk's career and look forward to a long and happy partnership."

Hogan has always impacted wrestling in a big way. The 6'7" 275-pound giant exploded into American pop culture with a phenomenon known as "Hulkamania," which propelled the industry to tremendous popularity in the late '80s. During his career, Hogan captured five world titles, packed arenas and stadiums around the world and generated some of the largest pay-per-view numbers ever.

His most memorable bout occurred in 1987, when he body-slammed 7'4", 500-pound Andre the Giant on his way to victory at the Pontiac Silverdome. That event surpassed all indoor attendance records, with over 93,000 fans on hand.

Hulk created intense excitement and brought in a whole new cache of fans to wrestling with his signature bandanna, blond mustache, rippling biceps and his shredded yellow t-shirts. He parlayed his incomparable physique and persona to a motion picture and television career. He currently stars in the syndicated hit, Thunder in Paradise.

Now that Hulk has broken the shackles of retirement, he is ready for action. "What you gonna do WCW, when these 24-inch pythons (biceps) run wild on you!" Hulk Hogan challenges. "It's gonna be great to strap on those boots and get back to the squared circle. Get ready Hulkamaniacs, because the fun begins soon on WCW!"

Hogan's agreement with WCW includes participation in select TBS and syndicated television programming, select pay-per-view events and merchandising. His first appearance for WCW could be at the live Clash of the Champions, June 23, at 8:05 (ET). The event will take place in Charleston, S.C., and will be broadcast on TBS Superstation.

Hulk is also expected to participate in the upcoming pay-per-view telecast, WCW's Bash at the Beach, which will air live on July 17 at 7 p.m. (ET). That telecast will originate from Orlando, Fla., and is being distributed by Viewer's Choice, Request Television, Viewer's Choice Canada and Premier Satellite. The "Hulkster" can also be seen weekly on such TBS and syndicated television programming as WCW Worldwide, WCW Saturday Night, WCW Main Event and WCW Pro Wrestling.

World Championship Wrestling is a subsidiary of Turner Broadcasting Systems Inc. (TBS), which produces and markets television programs featuring wrestlers and live events.


THE NATURAL PROGRESSION FOR HULK?


(Valparaiso IN Times, November 12, 1996)

You might expect that acting would be a natural progression for the world's most popular professional wrestler. After all, whether you consider pro wrestling a total sham, a completely legitimate sport or something in-between, you can't deny the obvious showmanship involved.

Wrestling is entertainment, and the most successful wrestlers are usually the most entertaining ones. Yet Hulk Hogan, the industry's most famous and popular personality, said his film career still feels the weight of the negative wrestler stereotype.
After seven feature films, including "Rocky III," "Gremlins," "Suburban Commando," "No Holds Barred" and his latest effort, "Santa With Muscles," Hogan said he knows he must still earn his breaks in Hollywood.

"I proved myself in the wrestling ring, and I'll have to do it again in Hollywood," said Hogan during an interview last week. In Chicago for a quick promotional tour on his new movie, "Santa With Muscles," the 6'7, 275-pound professional wrestler talked about his life in the ring, in front of the camera and as one of tthe entertainment world's more recognizable role models.

Hogan said wrestlers have always labored under a dubious reputation that has hindered them from making the move from the ring to movies or other endeavors. That was true when he first started making movies more than 10 years ago, and he said it hasn't entirely changed.

"It's still there," said Hogan, who has two children, Brooke, 8, and Nicholas, 6, with his wife, Linda. "I'm a sort of a security freak, and I know I'll always have wrestling there to take care of my family. But when I wrestle, some people look at me and say, `Oh, he's just a dumb wrestler.'"

Hogan is anything but dumb. Involved in various movie and television projects, the actor-producer has a varied and busy career outside the ring. In fact, he left wrestling for several years in the early 1990s to pursue various small and big-screen projects, including his TV series, "Thunder In Paradise."

That hiatus came on the heels of pro wrestling's most successful period ever, a streak of nationwide, even worldwide, popularity during the mid-and-late 1980s. Led by Hogan and his legions of "Hulkamaniacs," the World Wrestling Federation and its cast of colorful fighters took pro wrestling from the regional notoriety of small-town convention halls to the national prominence of network matches, lucrative cable deals and pay-per-view windfalls.

Coincidentally, or perhaps not, wrestling's spiraling fame dipped during Hogan's absence. Hogan said wrestling's popularity is on the rise again, though he admitted it's still not where it was during its heydey. Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, said he was taken aback one day when his son asked him who Hulk Hogan was.

"He said, `Dad, the kids at pre-school say you're Hulk Hogan,' " Hogan recalled. "I said, 'Well, I am and I'm not.' So I let him watch tapes of me wrestling."

Hogan returned to the ring in 1994. Signing up with the Ted Turner's World Championship Wrestling, he gave his mat persona a twist.

"I was working on some projects with New Line Cinema, which is owned by Ted Turner," Hogan said. "He called me up and said, `There's a home for you here, boy, but you've got to wrestle part-time.' I said, `OK, what's the deal?'

"I told him that if he really wanted to get a reaction from the audience, he should turn me into a bad guy," Hogan said.

Thus was born Hollywood Hogan, Hogan's latest wrestling incarnation, and one that has proved quite popular. A classic ringside villain, Hogan's bad-boy antics haven't cost him many fans. Indeed, Hogan expressed surprise that his following has remained intact and just as supportive as ever.

"They still cheer, man. I can't believe it," Hogan said. "I was wrestling in Las Vegas the other night, and I did something that I just knew would make them boo me. I had this wig on, and I walked out, strutting like a peacock. And they still cheered. It's wild."

Hogan said playing the bad guy is something he never could have done in past years, in the ring or on the screen. His image as the ultimate do-gooder led to another title: role model. Because kids and adults of all ages looked up to him as wrestling's greatest good guy, Hogan said any deviation from that path would have betrayed the image so important to others.

"I would have had parents yelling at me, `How could you do that? My kids look up to you,' " said Hogan. "Now, though, people recognize that it's just entertainment. It's entertainment with good athletes."

Whether he's Hollywood Hogan, Hulk Hogan or just plain old Terry Bollea, the multi-talented entertainer said he remains very active in charities and other activities that benefit children. He's involved with the Pediatric AIDS Center, the Special Olympics, the Starlight Foundation and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Unlike some athletes, who consider their role-model status a burden, Hogan said he has enjoyed living up to the responsibilities it entails. He has been one of the Make-A-Wish Foundation's most requested celebrities.

"I have two perfectly healthy children, for whom I am very grateful," said Hogan, who emphasized that his career comes second to his family. "This gives me something positive to do, something that fills that need in my life. I've really enjoyed it. You always have to be ready, too, because you never know what kids want to talk to about. I've been asked everything from `Is wrestling fake?' to `Why am I dying?' "

Hogan's concern for and emphasis on children has extended to his film career, too. "Santa With Muscles," like his other movies, is directed at youngsters, and upcoming roles in "The Secret Agent Club" and the new "3 Ninjas" sequel continue the trend.
Hogan said he's not sure how much longer he'll continue to wrestle. At 43, he's still in great shape, and Hogan said he feels he can still compete with guys 10, 20 years younger.

"I don't know," Hogan said. "As long as I'm not embarrassing myself out there, I'll keep doing it."
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THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) Papers No.125-2001

‘RUSSIAN BEAR’ EMBRACES NEW LIFE

(Charleston Post and Courier, April 23, 2000)

By Mike Mooneyham

The scenario was a familiar one.

The "Russian Bear," Ivan Koloff, taking one of his patented bumps, with the "Russian Nightmare," Nikita Koloff, at his side.

The action, however, wasn't taking place in front of a packed building of wrestling fans. It was five years ago at a small Assembly of God church in Kannapolis, N.C., where the two former wrestling partners reunited for a different type of occasion.

And, like a good teammate, Nikita was ready to catch Ivan when he fell.

The reunion was set up when Nikita, who became a born-again Christian in 1993, asked Ivan to attend a revival that featured noted evangelist Terrence Rose. Koloff accepted, somewhat reluctantly, but soon found himself at the front of the aisle.

"Actually I don't remember going up front. I just found myself there," says Koloff, who was raised Roman Catholic in his native Canada.

"He was praying with the people, and they were being sl

ain in the spirit. I had heard the expression before and I knew you were supposed to be born again, but I was never pushed in the Roman Catholic Church. I had left the church when I was 16 or 17 years old.

"I remember thinking to myself that I hated to disappoint the guy, but there was no way I was going down, even though my heart was telling me that I needed the Lord. He (Rose) came up to me and asked me if he could pray with me. He started praying, and boy, I was on my backside just like that. Nikita caught me. I guess that was the Lord's way of just letting me know through the Holy Spirit that `I'm for real, man.'"

Ivan Koloff today is a far cry from the menacing Muscovite mat terror who for three decades spoke in a raspy Russian voice, wore heavy stomping boots, toted his trademark Russian chain, and boasted the cross and sickle emblazoned on his ring garb. There's no mistaking the beard, shaved dome and jagged forehead that serves as a testament to his brand of wrestling. But the inner Koloff has changed.

"God can take the bad and turn it into good," he says.

Koloff should know. Ivan "The Terrible" was as bad (as in "villainous") as they came - at least inside the ring. Few performers generated more heel heat than Koloff, who began his pro wrestling career in 1961 and was one of the top draws for Crockett Promotions during stints ranging from 1974-89. One of his biggest runs was during the mid-'80s when Koloff, along with "nephew Nikita," was leader of a "Soviet" contingent that included Krusher Khruschev (Barry Darsow) and Vladimir Petrov (Al Blake). None, of course, were actually Russian, but the gimmick was an unqualified success.

Koloff, who lives in Greenville, N.C., with his wife and 17-year-old daughter, has unofficially retired several times over the past four years, and wrestles now on an occasional basis.

"Seems like I was the youngest one in the dressing room just a couple of years ago. All of a sudden, I'm not in the dressing room anymore."

Koloff says he enjoyed his career but feels fortunate to have survived it.

"I feel so very thankful that something serious didn't happen to me. It sure could have," says Koloff, who permanently etched his name in wrestling history when he dethroned Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF title 29 years ago.

"I can remember waking up going 70 miles an hour in a ditch. I was in a DWI where I totaled my car, and a telephone pole went through the windshield. Crazy stuff. A lot of us weren't too smart."

Koloff also suffered numerous injuries from his time in the ring, the most serious being a back injury that plagued him for most of his career, suffered when he took a back body drop and landed on a bad spot in the ring during a 1973 tag-team match in Minnesota in which he teamed with Ray Stevens against Wahoo McDaniel and Billy Robinson. He's also suffered broken shoulders, torn biceps, knee injuries and dislocations, and has been attacked by rabid fans on many occasions.

"It's a wonder I'm alive," says Koloff. "I've suffered a lot of injuries from all the bumps and the matches. I thank God for that because he's got a purpose for me and for all us all, and I'm glad to be part of it. I've had partners who have had knives stuck in their backs by fans just because they were mad. I've had huge rocks thrown through the windshield of my car that have nearly knocked me out. I've had nails sticking out of my head that were put there by fans. I've been in riots where fans filled the ring with flying chairs, and you had to pick up a chair to defend yourself."

Koloff's life is much more relaxed now. He has done fund raising for the Children's Miracle Network on weekends for the past eight years, along with charitable work for other worthy causes. He visits prisons to offer his testimony and encouragement, and, of course, talk about wrestling.

"I found out that whenever you make a commitment like that, that old devil tries to come around," says Koloff. "You've definitely got to stay in the word. He's a real heel, that guy."

Koloff readily admits to being no angel himself during his ring heyday. He partied with the best of them, and that included the legendary Horsemen. He even helped 14-time world champ Ric Flair celebrate his 21st birthday in the early '70s while Koloff was wrestling for the AWA in Minnesota.

"Ric was also working as an insurance agent at the time. He was the type of guy who always wanted to party. We had to drive several hundred miles all the way to Davenport, Iowa, from Minneapolis. It was a long trip, and we had a good time, I guess. All I remember is six bottles of Boone's Farm wine. We still had the results from it for two or three days after."

Koloff, who teamed with and headlined against Flair in the Carolinas and Virginia during the late '70s and '80s, says it doesn't surprise him that the native Minnesotan is still a major draw.

"He was an impressive guy with all the bumps even when he first started," says Koloff. "I guess he's got to keep proving he can still do it."

Koloff also recalls many memorable non-wrestling escapades during his run in the Mid-Atlantic area. One of those times, he says, was a DWI following a wedding reception for Tully Blanchard. Koloff had left some of his cohorts in charge of his car keys at a local club, knowing in advance that he didn't want to be behind the wheel in case he drank too much.

"I got the keys back, but it wasn't the fault of the person I gave them to," says Koloff. "It was my fault. I was one of those people that, if I started drinking, I'd get real mean, so they returned my keys when I insisted. One of the guys tried to drive me home about 3 or 4 in the morning, and I threatened to jump out. He'd lock the door, and I'd unlock it. Finally he let me out. I told him I could drive, even though I couldn't talk. I ended up wrapping my car around a telephone pole."

Koloff adds that he was fortunate to have come out of the accident with just a couple dozen stitches in his head.

Koloff cites the changes in former partners like Nikita, who is involved in world mission work, and Blanchard, who is an evangelist.

"What a big change in Tully and Nikita. I used to party a lot with with Tully. Nikita - not that he would drink or take drugs - was a real somber type. He looked like he was mad all the time. He didn't seem very happy. But he made a big change, like night and day, and I'm really happy for the things the Lord has done with Nikita and Tully. All of us."

Koloff recalls that Nikita was one of the quickest studies he ever encountered in the business.

"He was a very educated guy. And he had a good coach - that ol' Ivan Koloff. Nikita was one of the fastest learners I ev er saw for a guy who had never got in the ring to learn. He told me he never had any formal type of wrestling training. I'd talk to him in the car and I'd talk to him in the dressing room. His first match was in front of a sellout crowd on Raleigh TV. Jim Crockett came up to me and said, `If he falls down or trips or anything like that, the whole deal's off.' I said, `Nikita, I don't care what you do, just don't fall.' We had three things worked out. He did the lock- up, pushed the guy down on his rear end, and he'd pick the guy up and do his finish. That was it."

Koloff maintained a full-time wrestling schedule until he left WCW in 1989 to spend a couple of years on the independent circuit and run a wrestling school. But he admits the business has changed.

"It's hard to knock success, at least money-wide, but I don't like the direction as far as the language, gestures and such. And the kids seem to be picking up more and more. I don't remember back in my time kids going home and trying it on their little brother. I hear now about kids getting killed and seriously injured from their friends giving them clotheslines and other maneuvers. For that reason I don't like some of the stuff they're doing. But it all goes through changes like everything else does."

Koloff began his Russian gimmick in the late '60s as a combination of a Mad Dog Vachon-type interview and what he thought a Russian talked like.

"I wasn't up that much on language or anything like that." Koloff recalls a match at an ice arena in Quebec where he teamed with "Nazi terror" Hans Schmidt (actually a French-Canadian) against the hometown favorite Rougeau Brothers.

"Hans was doing most of the interviews since he could speak French, and I had Tony Angelo do the interview for me be cause I didn't know what they were saying. I do know it got to the point where the people hated me. We went up against the Rougeaus in a two-out-of-three-fall match, and the chairs started flying after we won the first fall."

Koloff's biggest moment in wrestling came nearly 30 years ago when he ended the legendary Bruno Sammartino's seven-and-one-half-year run as World Wide Wrestling Federation champion.

"No question. Beating Bruno. He was my hero. I don't think there was anybody who got over like him. Now they've got so many kinds of ways to get a guy exposed in such a larger medium. People really believed Bruno because he looked the part."

Koloff had first wrestled Sammartino in 1969 in the Montreal territory. He later went to Pittsburgh for a six-month run be fore Sammartino brought him to New York. Koloff impressed promoter Vince McMahon Sr. enough to put him in a main-event program with Sammartino, but it was Bruno who gave Koloff the seal of approval.

"It was strictly Bruno. Had Bruno not suggested me as the guy he'd drop the strap to, I wouldn't have had it. It was be cause he insisted. Vince wanted to go with somebody else, but Bruno said no." Koloff served as a transitional champion between Sammartino and Pedro Morales, to whom he dropped the title a month later, but says he'll never forget when he dethroned Sammartino in front of a packed house at Madison Square Garden in 1971.

"I'm still a mark when it comes to Bruno."

"Wrestling Andre The Giant also was a great thrill for me," adds Koloff. "I really felt out of place. Even when I wrestled him the first time and I weighed 300 pounds, I still felt intimidated. He was like twice the size."

The Rougeaus brought Koloff to Montreal to wrestle Andre in the late '70s. "I had wrestled him before that - in tag-team matches and even three-on-one. I still couldn't whip him."

Koloff's peak weight of 300 dropped following his back injury in 1973, and fluctuated from 230-250 during later years. His weight dropped to as low as 205 during the early '80s while teaming with Alexis Smirnov in Georgia. Koloff says he met the late Boris "The Great" Malenko (New Jersey-born Larry Simon), another great "Russian" heel, during his first tour of Japan in 1967.

"I wasn't wrestling as Koloff then. He was a fanatic about working out. He showed me some stomach workouts that I can remember to this day because of how sore my stomach got from doing them."

Among Koloff's many titles: the WWWF heavyweight title, the IWA tag-team title with Mad Dog Vachon in Japan, the Cana dian singles title, the Canadian tag-team belts, the world tag-team title on four different occasions (with Ray Stevens, The Crusher, Don Kernodle and Nikita Koloff), the world's six-man tag-team title twice, the Florida state championship, the Georgia state championship and the Mid-Atlantic TV title.

Go to: http://www.wrestlingmuseum.com/
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THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) Papers No. 126-2001

GAGNE PUTS SOME FLEX IN ZENK

(Wrestling Scene, early 1985)

By Paul Heyman

In the past, bodybuilders were awkward, muscle-bound athletes, severely lacking agility and flexibility. Today's modern training methods, however, have brought us great bodybuilder/wrestlers like Tony Atlas, Kerry von Erich and Billy Jack Haynes. Add one more name to that list.

Tom Zenk, 1981’s Mr. Minnesota, is one of wrestling's brightest up-and-coming stars.

"I always wanted to be a professional wrestler," explained the handsome Zenk. "After I won the Mr. Minnesota contest, I was approached by several promoters. I had no ability and I was pretty awkward, but I told them I'd think about it."

In 1983, Tom met up with the legendary former AWA World's Heavyweight Champion Verne Gagne whose training camp had produced such notables as Ric Flair, Bob Backlund, Jim Brunzell, Ken Patera, and Ole Anderson. Verne saw a lot of potential in the young bodybuilder, and convinced Tom to try his hand at the grappling game. "I couldn't believe it," Zenk recently stated, "here was this all time great, this legend, telling me he saw a great future for me!"

"The first problem with Tom Zenk was that he was a bodybuilder, not a wrestler," Gagne noted, "and we had to teach him to move around the ring - gracefully! The next problem was to get him to Think like a professional wrestler.," Gagne continued," and finally, he had to unlearn all the bad wrestling habits he developed wrestling with his friends in the gym."

Gagne's Training Camp was the roughest experience in Zenk's life. "When I first got there, it was so crowded you couldn't move an inch without bumping into someone," Tom recalled, "but by the time we were half-done with the training, the camp was almost empty!"

This is no exaggeration. Since 1973, only 25% of those enrolled have completed the course at the camp. As one noted ring veteran stated, "When you talk about Verne Gagne's camp, you're talking about the roughest, toughest, most grueling training a wrestler can get anywhere in the world." This is why so few beginners actually make it through the camp. It "weeds out" those who won't make it in the dangerous world of professional wrestling.

Thus, it's very impressive that Tom was graduated at the top of his class! "Wow," he exclaimed. "that was really an honor. I mean, here's a school that's produced world champions like Ric Flair and Bob Backlund and I graduated at the top of the class! That was probably the most thrilling day in my entire life!"

After graduation Tom spent several weeks going to all the matches on the AWA circuit. "I spent some time with World Champion Rick Martel," Zenk stated, "and he is really a great champion and a fine friend." When asked about the up-and-coming bodybuilder-turned-wrestler, Martel responded, "Tom is one of the best prospects in wrestling today. He has youth, he has speed, and he is willing to get in there and learn the hard way, by taking his lumps!"

Finally, in August 1984, Tom made his professional debut [with AWA] in a small town in Wisconsin against tough veteran Jimmy Dune [Jimmy Doo]. Right before his match, Zenk was paid a surprise visit by none other than Verne Gagne!

"Verne came into my dressing room, and told me to go out there and do what I did best," Tom recalled with a big smile on his face, " and he told me that if I didn't win, there will always be a tomorrow. Not to despair, because everyone has to pay his dues in this business. And right before I walked out to the ring, Verne told me, 'I spent so much time with you, if you don't make me proud I'm gonna put you in the sleeper hold!'"

Gagne's joking-around put Tom at ease, and he pinned the experienced Dune (Doo) with a series of fantastic scientific maneuvers. "I was so happy," Tom remembers fondly, "because I knew that if I could take a guy like Jimmy Dune [Doo], I could make it in this business!"

But not every night has been so rosy for the twenty five year old since his debut. Like any young wrestler, Tom has had to take his lumps. He has been brutalized by Kendo Nagasaki ("one of the worst nights of my life was the night I tried to go to sleep after facing Kendo Nagasaki. I was black and blue from head to toe!"); tortured by Mr. Saito

("they call him Mr. Torture, and it's pretty obvious why"); and battered around by Jimmy Garvin ("he really got me mad because he was so arrogant about things. One day, I'm going to even the score!")

But Tom doesn't complain. He knows that even in defeat, he gains valuable experience. "There's no easy road to success," he reasoned, "and there's not a wrestler alive who didn't go through this. It's called 'learning the ropes!"

Tom Zenk is learning those ropes rather quickly, as he has survived his "tests" against some of wrestling's toughest and most brutal men And although he has been wrestling for less than a year, he is already being touted as a future champion!

One of the many men who have been following the career of this young fan favorite is Montreal promoter Frank Valois, who recently signed Zenk to wrestle in the beautiful Canadian city starting in late June. "In Tom Zenk I see one of the finest youngsters in wrestling today," Valois noted, "and we have some great young wrestlers here in Montreal, such as The Rougeau Brothers, Rocky Della Serra and Gino Brito Junior."

Tom admits that he was at first hesitant about signing to appear in Montreal.

"My immediate goal in the AWA is to break into the top ten contenders list, and I thought I'd ruin any chance of that by going to Montreal."But when Tom learned from promoter Valois that the Canadian Wrestling Alliance (the governing body in Montreal) is affiliated with AWA, he agreed to change his home base. "Rick Martel defends his belt up there all the time," Tom said, "and the Road Warriors have defended their belts there several times, so I'll be able to get my title shot when I'm ready!"

One title for which Tom hopes to contend is the prestigious Canadian-International Heavyweight Championship, which as of press time, is still being held up due to the brutal series of matches which took place between champion King Tonga and former champion Dino Bravo. "I've met Dino Bravo at a few of the Pro Wrestling USA TV tapings, " Tom said, "and he told me that maybe we could get together for some work-outs when I came to Montreal!"

But the Minnesota native will never forget his home-town fans. "Even if I end up wrestling half-way across the world, Minnesota will always be my home," he stated with pride, "and I plan on bringing any titles I may win back on Minnesota, even if it's for one day, to show all my friends and fans that I'll never forget them."

Maybe, one day, Tom Zenk will bring a world's heavyweight championship to Minnesota. "Nothing would make me happier," he beamed.

I'm sure his fans feel the same way.

http://www.geocities.com/Colosseum/Arena/9893/bday3.htm

WRESTLING AND RACING SHARE THE BILL

(Valparaiso IN Times, April 27, 1997)

CRETE - This was too good to be true, but the newspaper ad seemed to be legit.

Balmoral Park and Windy City Wrestling
Present - 1st Time Ever
Pro Wrestling
Featuring Wrestling and Racing
King Kong Bundy - Koko B. Ware
Midgets - 7 title matches
Bell - 5:30 Racing - 7:30


Surely, this was a joke, or something out of the Bill Veeck school of marketing.
You want entertainment? Come see Eddie Gaedel Jr. jump over the ropes, win the WCW midget title, and then guiding Sea Biscuit home in the fifth.

But sure enough, at 5:30 p.m. Saturday about 1,000 fans of all shapes, colors and ages had slapped their fannies into the Balmoral grandstand on the second floor. If they looked out onto the track behind the makeshift ring, they could see some of the featured horses of the night warming up. Not many did.

Down on the first floor, Mr. Racing Form Vendor was trying to make a living. He didn't want to give his name. He knew this was a slightly different kind of night.
"The people up there are not regular customers," he said. "That's a new crowd."

A new crowd is exactly what the horse racing industry is trying to attract. Riverboat gambling, cable and age have thinned out the horse crowd to where many tracks nationwide are struggling, closing or both.

So it's in their best interest to try Something Completely Different.

If Saturday was any indication, they may be onto something. Not only were Mssrs. Bundy and Ware in the house for entertainment, but also the WCW lightweight champion, Calvin Thomas, the "Chi-Town T."

If the name doesn't ring a bell, Thomas was a backup fullback on the '85 Bears. In the WCW, everyone's a celebrity.

"This is great," said Wayne Rollins, a retired Marine and Navy man who lives in Chicago Heights. "This has to be two of my favorite things. I can come and scream and yell, and then lose all my money right afterward."

As with many fans, Rollins had a rooting interest, and not just because of the five empty beer cups stacked in his right hand.

His nephew, "Bulldozer," had just lost a very, very important match to WCW heavyweight champ Mike Anthony.

Dozer looks like Meat Loaf in denim. He enters the ring to the soothing sounds of "Working Man," by Rush. He's earnest and wrestles by the rules, unlike that cocky Anthony character, who pulled on Bulldozer's long hair many times and had to be warned by the referee. Meanie.

In the end, Dozer got jobbed because his wife got into a ringside tussle with Anthony's babe, Baby Doll (not her real name), and Dozer was disqualified when he left the ring to break up the spat.

Bulldozer shook off that emotional loss and was able to wrestle two or three more times before the evening was up.

It helped that he had plenty of support. Uncle Dozer sat with his brother, Mr. Dozer -- Bull's dad -- and about 10 more friends and family for an evening of beer and belly-to-back souffles.

Oh yeah, and by the way, horses.

"We've seen him wrestle about a hundred times," Rollins said. "Most kids have got nothing to do. He went to wrestling school, trained hard. There's a lot of education involved here. You have to know what you're doing."

Yes, you do, and Balmoral did with this one. A thousand people at 10 bucks a pop plus concessions equals something for not much.

Down below, Mr. Racing Form Vendor was counting his money, and chuckling.
"They go where the show goes," he said, motioning toward upstairs. "Will they be back? I couldn't tell you."

Bulldozer and his entourage will be, at Balmoral or wherever.

"It's all about showmanship," Rollins said. "Putting on a show. That's what it's all about. Nobody gets hurt. It's a good time, right?"

Hey, whatever it takes.
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THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) Papers No. 127-2001

PRO WRESTLER SLAIN AFTER GLORY DAYS

(Dallas Morning News, Tuesday, October 9, 2001)

By Michael E. Young and Robert Tharp

Chris Adams always lived bigger than life, his days bright with promise, his nights black with promise unfilled.

His troubled days ended early Sunday, when police say a man described as Mr. Adams' best friend and former roommate shot the professional wrestler to death during a drunken brawl in Waxahachie.

At the time of his death, Mr. Adams, 46, was awaiting trial on manslaughter charges in the drug death of a girlfriend in 2000 and faced up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

He'd already served a term in federal prison for assaulting an airline pilot during a drunken rage. And he had seen his career plummet from the days when "Gentleman Chris Adams" was an honest-to-goodness wrestling star.

Waxahachie police said Mr. Adams was shot once with a .38-caliber handgun. Mr. Adams and wrestling promoter William B. Parnell had been drinking late Saturday at the home of Mr. Parnell's mother in the 200 block of Sendero Drive.

The two started "roughhousing" and wrestling, and the play got out of hand. Mr. Parnell told police he began to fear for his life, Sgt. Nathan Bickerstaff said.

"He reached over on the nightstand and got a gun and shot Mr. Adams," Sgt. Bickerstaff said.

Mr. Parnell then called police and told them about the shooting. He was waiting inside the house when they arrived.

He was charged with murder and is being held in lieu of $300,000 bail at the Waxahachie jail, police said. Mr. Parnell could not be reached for comment Monday.

Mr. Adams arrived in Dallas in 1983. Raised in Stratford, England, he was a national judo champion as a teenager. And he fast became a star in professional wrestling.

He joined the regional World Class Championship Wrestling circuit, using his British accent to create his ring persona, "Gentleman Chris Adams."

"He became a local superstar," said friend Jim Wehba, who wrestled under the name "Skandor Akbar." "When things got real hot around here, Chris was one of the main cogs. He had a lot of charisma."

"Between 1983 and 1986, he was one of the biggest stars in wrestling," said Dave Meltzer, editor of the Wrestling Observer publication.

"There were a lot of guys you watched then, and he was the one I always thought was going to be as big as anyone could be in wrestling," said Bill Mercer, the WCCW's television voice. "But I guess he was always in trouble."

Though untrained as a wrestler, Mr. Adams was gifted with dramatic flair and exceptional athletic skills. He quickly joined the Von Erichs, Dallas wrestling's royal family, in the flashy new WCCW television broadcasts.

"A lot of guys flooded in here to be part of the WCCW," said wrestling promoter Gary Hart, once Mr. Adams' manager. "He came and he became a sensation."

Actually, the whole WCCW production was something of a sensation, and its young stars pushed life to the edge. A staggering number wouldn't survive.

"It was an unbelievable period in wrestling," Mr. Meltzer said. "It was something wrestling had never seen before. They all had so much fame so early. They weren't equipped to handle it."

Four Von Erich brothers, whose family name is Adkisson, died young – three committed suicide, and one died of an intestinal illness. Mr. Adams' former wrestling partner, Gino Hernandez, died of a drug overdose in 1986.

Frank "Bruiser Brody" Goodish was killed by another wrestler in Puerto Rico in 1988. "Ravishing" Rick Ruud died from a drug overdose in 1999. So did Buzz Sawyer. Scott "Super Destroyer" Irwin and Jeep Swenson died of cancer. Terry Gordy suffered a fatal heart attack in July 2001.

Mr. Adams survived, though alcohol haunted him.

"This was a problem he battled for the last 10 or 12 years," Mr. Hart said. "Sometimes he won; sometimes he lost."

Kevin Adkisson, the only surviving member of the Von Erich wrestling family, saw some of those problems first-hand.

Mr. Adkisson was on a flight with Mr. Adams in 1990, returning from a series of shows in the Caribbean, when their plane was grounded with mechanical problems. The airline provided an open bar. When the flight finally took off, the crew decided they wouldn't serve drinks. Mr. Adams objected.

"I was asleep in the back and a stewardess came up and said, 'Mr. Von Erich, can you help us?' " Mr. Adkisson recalled.

Mr. Adams had argued with a flight attendant. When one of the pilots intervened, Mr. Adams knocked him to the floor.

"I ran up and got him in a half nelson. I said, 'Chris, you know they're going to arrest you for this.' I told him we could switch shirts and try to walk out with the crowd. And he said, 'No, I'll go off as Chris Adams.' "

Mr. Adams was one of the toughest wrestlers Mr. Adkisson ever fought, he said.

"He could fight, he really could. And I'm talking Texas style," he said.

Mr. Adams opened a wrestling school – The Gentleman Chris Adams School of Personalized Professional Wrestling Coaching – and it flourished for a while. His most successful graduate: "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, now one of wrestling's biggest stars.

But Mr. Adams eventually lost the school. He started various wrestling ventures, which usually failed. Still wrestling himself, he received a contract with World Championship Wrestling in the late '90s. Eventually, though, he returned to Dallas, his career barely a flicker.

He battled alcohol and developed a drug problem. In April 2000, Mr. Parnell found Mr. Adams and girlfriend Linda Kaphengst of Dallas unconscious in an apartment after they overdosed on gamma hydroxybutyrate, or GHB. Ms. Kaphengst died 12 hours later.

He started drinking again, as heavily as ever.

Mr. Wehba said he worried for years about Mr. Adams' substance-abuse problems.

"I often wondered why Chris didn't get it treated," he said. "God rest his soul, it got worse and worse.

"I think Chris felt his life was in a hole and he couldn't climb out.

"Chris Adams always lived bigger than life, his days bright with promise, his nights black with promise unfilled.

His troubled days ended early Sunday, when police say a man described as Mr. Adams' best friend and former roommate shot the professional wrestler to death during a drunken brawl in Waxahachie.

At the time of his death, Mr. Adams, 46, was awaiting trial on manslaughter charges in the drug death of a girlfriend in 2000 and faced up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

He'd already served a term in federal prison for assaulting an airline pilot during a drunken rage. And he had seen his career plummet from the days when "Gentleman Chris Adams" was an honest-to-goodness wrestling star.

Waxahachie police said Mr. Adams was shot once with a .38-caliber handgun. Mr. Adams and wrestling promoter William B. Parnell had been drinking late Saturday at the home of Mr. Parnell's mother in the 200 block of Sendero Drive.

The two started "roughhousing" and wrestling, and the play got out of hand. Mr. Parnell told police he began to fear for his life, Sgt. Nathan Bickerstaff said.

"He reached over on the nightstand and got a gun and shot Mr. Adams," Sgt. Bickerstaff said.

Mr. Parnell then called police and told them about the shooting. He was waiting inside the house when they arrived.

He was charged with murder and is being held in lieu of $300,000 bail at the Waxahachie jail, police said. Mr. Parnell could not be reached for comment Monday.

Mr. Adams arrived in Dallas in 1983. Raised in Stratford, England, he was a national judo champion as a teenager. And he fast became a star in professional wrestling.

He joined the regional World Class Championship Wrestling circuit, using his British accent to create his ring persona, "Gentleman Chris Adams."

"He became a local superstar," said friend Jim Wehba, who wrestled under the name "Skandor Akbar." "When things got real hot around here, Chris was one of the main cogs. He had a lot of charisma."

"Between 1983 and 1986, he was one of the biggest stars in wrestling," said Dave Meltzer, editor of the Wrestling Observer publication.

"There were a lot of guys you watched then, and he was the one I always thought was going to be as big as anyone could be in wrestling," said Bill Mercer, the WCCW's television voice. "But I guess he was always in trouble."

Though untrained as a wrestler, Mr. Adams was gifted with dramatic flair and exceptional athletic skills. He quickly joined the Von Erichs, Dallas wrestling's royal family, in the flashy new WCCW television broadcasts.

"A lot of guys flooded in here to be part of the WCCW," said wrestling promoter Gary Hart, once Mr. Adams' manager. "He came and he became a sensation."

Actually, the whole WCCW production was something of a sensation, and its young stars pushed life to the edge. A staggering number wouldn't survive.

"It was an unbelievable period in wrestling," Mr. Meltzer said. "It was something wrestling had never seen before. They all had so much fame so early. They weren't equipped to handle it."

Four Von Erich brothers, whose family name is Adkisson, died young – three committed suicide, and one died of an intestinal illness. Mr. Adams' former wrestling partner, Gino Hernandez, died of a drug overdose in 1986.

Frank "Bruiser Brody" Goodish was killed by another wrestler in Puerto Rico in 1988. "Ravishing" Rick Ruud died from a drug overdose in 1999. So did Buzz Sawyer. Scott "Super Destroyer" Irwin and Jeep Swenson died of cancer. Terry Gordy suffered a fatal heart attack in July 2001.

Mr. Adams survived, though alcohol haunted him.

"This was a problem he battled for the last 10 or 12 years," Mr. Hart said. "Sometimes he won; sometimes he lost."

Kevin Adkisson, the only surviving member of the Von Erich wrestling family, saw some of those problems first-hand.

Mr. Adkisson was on a flight with Mr. Adams in 1990, returning from a series of shows in the Caribbean, when their plane was grounded with mechanical problems. The airline provided an open bar. When the flight finally took off, the crew decided they wouldn't serve drinks. Mr. Adams objected.

"I was asleep in the back and a stewardess came up and said, 'Mr. Von Erich, can you help us?' " Mr. Adkisson recalled.

Mr. Adams had argued with a flight attendant. When one of the pilots intervened, Mr. Adams knocked him to the floor.

"I ran up and got him in a half nelson. I said, 'Chris, you know they're going to arrest you for this.' I told him we could switch shirts and try to walk out with the crowd. And he said, 'No, I'll go off as Chris Adams.' "

Mr. Adams was one of the toughest wrestlers Mr. Adkisson ever fought, he said.

"He could fight, he really could. And I'm talking Texas style," he said.

Mr. Adams opened a wrestling school – The Gentleman Chris Adams School of Personalized Professional Wrestling Coaching – and it flourished for a while. His most successful graduate: "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, now one of wrestling's biggest stars.

But Mr. Adams eventually lost the school. He started various wrestling ventures, which usually failed. Still wrestling himself, he received a contract with World Championship Wrestling in the late '90s. Eventually, though, he returned to Dallas, his career barely a flicker.

He battled alcohol and developed a drug problem. In April 2000, Mr. Parnell found Mr. Adams and girlfriend Linda Kaphengst of Dallas unconscious in an apartment after they overdosed on gamma hydroxybutyrate, or GHB. Ms. Kaphengst died 12 hours later.

He started drinking again, as heavily as ever.

Mr. Wehba said he worried for years about Mr. Adams' substance-abuse problems.

"I often wondered why Chris didn't get it treated," he said. "God rest his soul, it got worse and worse.

"I think Chris felt his life was in a hole and he couldn't climb out."
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THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) Papers No. 128-2001

VERNE GAGNE RECALLS GLORY DAYS

(SLAM! Wrestling, www.canoe.ca/SlamWrestling/home.html, April 20, 2000)

By Greg Oliver

Without Verne Gagne, pro wrestling wouldn't be the multi-million dollar industry that it is today.

If somehow you were able to alter the time-space continuum, and take Gagne out of wrestling to prove that statement, there would be some huge voids. For one, the American Wrestling Alliance probably would never have formed in 1960. Who would have trained future world champs like Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat, the Iron Sheik, Bob Backlund, Curt Hennig for the sport? Without the seasoning and national exposure that Hulk Hogan and the Road Warriors got in the AWA, would any of them changed the wrestling business the way they did?

At its peak, the AWA ran from its Minnesota base all the way from Chicago to Winnipeg, straight through Omaha, Denver, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas to San Francisco. It was a massive territory, dwarfing the northeast-based WWWF. Ratings were huge, sometimes beating the Vikings and Twins in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul. Yet, because it's not around any more -- Gagne having thrown in the towel in the early '90s -- the promotion probably doesn't get the credit it deserves.

Today, nine years after getting out of the wrestling business, does the 10-time AWA world champion Gagne miss being involved? "It was fun. I liked it, enjoyed it, but I can't say that I really miss it," Gagne told SLAM! Wrestling recently. "I was doing everything at one time -- wrestling and promoting and match-making and all that."

Gagne spends his time doing fundraising for the U.S. Olympic wrestling team, and the team at the University of Minnesota. "I'm involved in a lot of things. It keeps me busy. I like it that way better than just sitting and laying around. I play tennis a lot. I've got a couple of other businesses going on the side here."

A successful amateur wrestler himself, who competed for both the University of Minnesota and 1948 Olympic teams, Gagne made his professional debut in 1949 against Abe Kashey. He was a successful light-heavyweight -- including a stint as the NWA Jr. champion -- before getting his break and appearing on the old Dumont Network's weekly wrestling show out of Chicago.

In 1959, some members of the National Wrestling Alliance got fed up with Lou Thesz as the world champion, and recognized Edouard Carpentier as the champ after Thesz was disqualified in a match. In 1960, Gagne beat Carpentier to become the first champion of the newly-established AWA. Gagne held the title 10 times over his 35-year career, his last reign starting in 1980, and ending in May 1981 when he retired (though a couple more matches did follow).

Besides the aforementioned world champions, Gagne was also responsible for training other stars like his son Greg, Larry Hennig, Baron Von Raschke, Jim Brunzell, Ken Patera, Brad Rheingans, Sgt. Slaughter, Buddy Rose, the Steiners, Buck Zumhoff.

Needless to say, given his own amateur wrestling background, Gagne doesn't think too much of today's wrestlers, except maybe Kurt Angle.

"There's no wrestlers in wrestling," said Gagne. "There used to be a thousand-I-don't-know-how-many wrestlers out there. There were 26 booking offices at one time in America and everybody had a job. Now there's only two big companies, and that's it."

The openness of wrestling today, where the wrestlers will talk about how everything is pre-determined and a big show, doesn't bother Gagne as much as the lack of defined rules. "I don't know what the rules are in wrestling today. We had certain rules -- over the top rope was a disqualification, if you threw someone over the top rope, if you ran them into a ring post, you were out of there. Now they bring in tables, chairs, and slam them on there. And they let it go. There's nothing that makes it a sport of any sort. ... It's kind of pathetic. But it's getting ratings, and it's selling merchandise so what are you going to do?"

Looking back on how hot the AWA was in the early '80s, Gagne knows that the company missed some opportunites. "The thing we didn't take advantage of a lot was merchandising, which is huge now. We decided to sell some of our programming overseas to a few different countries. But other than that, the crowds and of course, the prices, then are not what they are today," he said laughing. "So they're grossing a lot more, whether they're making any more money, I don't know. Everything has gone up."

In 1985, to combat Vince McMahon's expansion plans with the WWF, Gagne teamed with the main NWA promoter Jim Crockett Jr. to create Pro Wrestling USA. They put on a couple of mega-cards, true inter-promotional dream shows in McMahon's backyard at the Meadowlands in New Jersey. For example, the second Night of Champions on December 25, 1985 saw Stan Hansen beat Rick Martel for the AWA title, Ric Flair defend the NWA title successfully against Dusty Rhodes, plus appearances by the Road Warriors, Magnum T.A., Tully Blanchard, Sgt. Slaughter, Carlos Colon, the Rock'n'Roll Express and more.

Could the Crockett and Gagne have competed with McMahon if the alliance held together? "Oh, well, I don't know," offered Gagne. "Vince, we had him on the ropes there pretty good, but he got an influx of money from someplace and was able to survive and went on from there. Probably, probably. It was hard to organize everybody."

The WWF's expansion in 1983-84 saw them raid the AWA for a massive amount of talent, most notably (at the time) Hulk Hogan, Dr. D. David Shultz and announcer Mean Gene Okerlund.

Gagne recalled Hogan's early years for SLAM! Wrestling. The soon-to-be Hulkster had had moderate success up until this point, about 1982.

"When he called me, I didn't know who he was," said Gagne. "He called from Tampa. ... I said, 'Look, who are you?' He said, 'I'm Hulk Hogan.' Greg happened to be in my office. I said to him, 'Greg, have you ever heard of a guy by the name Hulk Hogan?' And he said, 'Yeah, I saw him in New York one time.' I said, 'How was he?' He said, 'Ah, so-so.' He said, 'He's a big guy.' So I said 'Okay.' Then I'm back talking to Hogan. He said, 'I'd like to give it one more try. I've quit wrestling 'cause I can't make it. But I'd like to give it one more shot. I've been sitting here for the last three, four weeks or a month, and could I come into the AWA?' So we brought him up, and the rest is history."

The Hulk Hogan that became the international celebrity was developed in the AWA. Watching old tapes proves it beyond a shadow of a doubt -- the same catch-phrases are there, the ring actions, the unbelievable fan reactions. "There was a lot of work turning him around into a Hulk Hogan that meant something," said Gagne.

Looking back on those days now, Gagne can recognize how the business was changing. Partly, that was because of the arrival of steroids.

"I first heard of steroids, I think, in the '70s," Gagne said. "When they first came out, the guys didn't know that they could hurt them. We had some guys die, overtake, take too much, or whatever. When that starting going, it seemed that the quality of the wrestlers changed."

He said the AWA tried to hold out as best they could against the changing physiques and match styles. "We kind of held the line on what was wrestling, and what wasn't wrestling. We had some matches that were a little bit unique - cage matches, battle royales, and you name it .... Most of the guys are on steroids today and they've got the big bodies, the muscular bodies that look good. But as far as watching the matches, the ones I see, are kind of a routine type thing. You hit me, and I'll hit you. We're [not] going to hurt each other, we're just going look like we're hitting each other."

The other change that bothers Gagne is the lack of true good guys and bad guys. "The good guys were the heroes in our era, and the bad guys were not. Now what you've got are the bad guys as the heroes. It has an affect on society, I don't care what anybody says," explained Gagne. "I know just from the things that they do in the ring -- the gestures, the interviews, the terminology, the words -- the kids pick up on it. And I don't think that it's a good influence."

Yet he will admit that hooking the kids is the key to a successful promotion. "Kids love wrestling and they've always been a big part. I know with our ratings that if we could get the kids, then the parents. And once they start watching, they're into it also."

FORMER PRO WRESTLER FATALLY SHOT

(By Tanya Eiserer, Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, October 9, 2001)

When William Brent Parnell was arrested in the shooting death of professional wrestler "Gentleman" Chris Adams, he repeatedly told police he was Adams' best friend.

Waxahachie police said Parnell was distraught when he was arrested Sunday on suspicion of murder. Parnell, 49, remained in the Ellis County Jail on Monday with bail set at $300,000.

Adams, 46, died Sunday morning at the Waxahachie home of Parnell's mother where Parnell lived, police said.

The two men had been drinking and "roughhousing" when the shooting occurred, police said. Parnell told police he shot Adams in self-defense.

"I don't know what happened," said Tom Lance, a friend of both men and a wrestling promoter. "I know Brent was a big teddy bear. I don't believe he would hurt anybody."

About 1 a.m. Sunday, Parnell called 911 to report he had shot Adams, Sgt. Nathan Bickerstaff said.

When police arrived, they saw Parnell with a gun in his hand standing in the front bedroom window, Bickerstaff said. Parnell told the 911 dispatcher he was going to put the gun down and come to the front door unarmed, which he did, police said.

"He surrendered to the officers at the scene," Bickerstaff said.

Bickerstaff said it appears Adams and Parnell had been drinking.

"They got to roughhousing with each other," Bickerstaff said. "Evidently ... it got out of hand. That's when Parnell is stating that he was in fear of his life and shot Adams in the chest."

Police recovered a .38-caliber handgun.

Adams died at the scene, police said.

Parnell recently served as best man in Adams' wedding, said Gary Hart, Adams' former manager.

Parnell, nicknamed "Booray," met Adams about 11 years ago and had worked with him promoting wrestling matches. The two were once roommates.

"He's a wonderful person to be around," Parnell said of Adams in a previous interview with the Star-Telegram. "I'd trust him with my life."

Adams' girlfriend at the time, Linda Kaphengst, 30, died in Parnell's far north Dallas appartment in April 2000 from an overdose of alcohol and gamma hydroxybutyrate, or GHB, an illegal designer drug.

Adams was indicted on manslaughter charges in her death in June.

"It was the worst thing that's ever happened in my life," Adams told the Star-Telegram in an August interview.

Trial was scheduled to begin April 8.

Parnell told the Star-Telegram in an earlier interview that he had nightmares after Kaphengst's death. "It really devastated me," he said.

Adams lived in Rowlett with his new wife, Karen, and his 7-year-old daughter.

Hart said Adams recently told him he was compiling a collection of video clips of his wrestling matches. "He wanted to sell them to raise money for his defense," Hart said.

Lance, the friend and wrestling promoter, said Adams talked to him Friday about picking up the weights he had left at Lance's house. "He wanted them back to start getting in shape," Lance said.

He said Adams had talked about wrestling with a new Florida-based company. Parnell mentioned Friday that he wanted to move to Shreveport, La., where he owned rental property, Lance said.

Adams, a British-born pro wrestler, gained fame in the 1980s while wrestling with World Class Championship Wrestling, operated by local wrestling icon Fritz Von Erich, whose sons also gained fame in the sport. Adams' death is the latest tragedy to befall wrestlers who became famous during the Von Erich sons' era.

Adams had acknowledged, and several of his friends agreed, that alcohol use was his Achilles' heel, or his weakness. Lance said that in the past when Adams drank alcohol, he sometimes became violent. Adams had twice been convicted of drunken driving and a federal court jury convicted him of misdemeanor assault after he was accused of head-butting an American Airlines co-pilot in 1986 during a Dallas-bound flight from the Caribbean.

"He was one of the greatest people, a true dear friend, but something about when he starts to drink ... bad things happen," Hart said. "If it wasn't for alcohol, none of this would have happened."
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THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) Papers No. 129-2001

PRO WRESTLING: FANTASY VERSUS REALITY

(Valparaiso Times, March 27, 2001)

By Bradley Cole

HAMMOND -- Professional wrestling is coming back to Hammond, bringing the fantasy that thrills fans, but concerns health professionals who see children mimicking the sometimes dangerous holds and moves.

Shows such as the World Wrestling Federation's "Smackdown" regularly captivate teen-agers and young adults with their soap operalike plots, scantily clad women and incredible athletic displays.

There is, however, a dark side to the sport when some wrestling fans take their fanaticism too far.

There are the wrestling hopefuls who trudge out to the back yard and decide to videotape their own wrestling matches, oftentimes sending them to wrestling programs in hopes of making the big time.

What can happen, however, is that young fans mimicking stunts and moves perfected by their wrestling heroes wind up in the local emergency room after cracking their head open, breaking a leg or tearing ligaments.

Pro wrestling has been blamed with causing deaths as well.

Recently, Lionel Tate, 14, was convicted of killing a 6-year-old playmate by smashing her skull in Florida. He claimed he was just wrestling with the girl, imitating what he saw on TV, but the jury didn't buy his defense. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

The case rekindled the debate of who has the responsibility to monitor the content of TV programs that children are likely to watch. Many parents and family organizations blamed the TV networks, which in turn said it's up to the parents to turn off negative TV programs.

Jon Dykstra of Hammond said he's watched WWF shows and didn't like what he saw.

"(WWF owner) Vince McMahon says if you don't like it, click the TV off," Dykstra said. "So we're a clicker."

Dykstra admits his teen-age sons enjoy the televised wrestling "and we've had battles over that for some time."

"I tried to explain to them that it promotes revenge, pride, violence, abuse of women and greed, and that's clearly wrong."

He said he believes that his sons, who are into body building, enjoy watching their muscular heroes and their scantily clad female counterparts.

"It is not quite pornography, but it's about one step above it."

Some professional and amateur wrestlers agree that children trying to imitate the fantasy images they see on TV are wrong for doing so. They all said it's the parents' responsibility to keep abreast of their children's activities and to teach them right and wrong.

Chris Chetti, 26, is a professional wrestler from Long Island, N.Y., who knows the dangers of professional wrestling firsthand. Despite being a graduate of a top wrestling school, Chetti has suffered some serious injuries that culminated in him being paralyzed twice last year.

Chetti said he feels bad for kids who see what happens on wrestling shows and try to imitate it.

"I don't understand why they want to mimic what they see on TV," Chetti said. "Why are they doing it? For what? They're not getting paid, and they're not trained to do it."

Professional wrestler Simon Diamond, agreed, but said he understands why some kids do that.

"As a kid, childhood is tough," Diamond said. "Some kids are often ostracized by others and have a lot of pent-up frustration. They see this fantasy on TV of people beingbullied and fighting back.

"As they watch this they begin to have a vision of busting out. They think, 'Boy, wouldn't it be great if I could do that to Johnny. Boy, if I did that to him and other people saw it, they wouldn't pick on me anymore.' They see their fantasy played out."

Diamond said it's difficult for some people to understand that wrestling is just entertainment.

Daniel Moran, a professor of psychology at Valparaiso University and a practicing psychologist, said it's natural for children to mimic behaviors.

"Children learn from mimicking the behavior of their parents or siblings," Moran said. "A child learns to get juice from a jar by watching his father, or a cookie by mimicking the behavior of an older brother who has received one. They learn that mimicking often leads to good things."

Moran said children don't always see the difference between mimicking good or bad behavior. He said it's the parents' role to intervene and teach children the difference between right and wrong and fantasy and reality.

Moran said he doesn't believe television programs, such as wrestling, should be censored nor does he believe that TV is the sole reason why kids become aggressive or violent. He said a child's upbringing has a lot to do with his behavior.

Diamond also said that it is up to the parents.

"Parents have a responsibility," Diamond said. "If they allow their children to watch wrestling on TV then they need to sit down and say, 'Look, this guy you see on TV is acting. He's playing a character.' I don't think some parents do that."

Local wrestler Ward Doepping of Crown Point said wrestling itself is not harmful for children to watch.

"I do extreme matches," Doepping said. "We use thumbtacks, fall through tables and are chained to each other. It's definitely something that I wouldn't want kids to mimic at home, but I don't think it's my (or other wrestlers') responsibility to tell them that. It's the parents that need to do that."

Doepping said he plans to organize a summer camp for children that would allow them to witness and experience everything that goes into wrestling, from the preparation to the setup of matches, so they can get a better understanding.

FROM THE COLLECTION OF MARK HEWITT …

(NOTE: After Tom Jenkins returned from his defeat to George Hackenschmidt in England on July 2, 1904, the following was published by New York newspapers. George Lurich was a famous wrestler who defeated Hack in Moscow early in his career and the two hated each other. Hack is hard on him in his book. This is from the collection of Mark Hewitt – Steve Yohe.)

HOW JENKINS WAS DEFEATED

Lurich Claims That the Match was Not "On the Level."

Tom Jenkins, the American wrestler, who was defeated by George Hackenschmidt in England, has returned to New York. Just why this tour abroad was not successful may be explained by an alleged expose which was circulated very extensively in London, England, just prior to the recent match at Albert Hall.

The circular was issued by George Lurich, who signs himself "Champion Wrestler of the World", for the purpose of showing why Hackenschmidt, who defeated Jenkins, refuses to wrestle him for the title. In the "expose" Lurich says:

"In the vital interest of good sport and self-protection, I am obliged to expose a so-called world's championship match. The preservation of my own reputation dictates that I shall explain to the public why it comes about that Jenkins, who is purely a catch-as-catch-can wrestler, comes to wrestle for the world's championship in Graeco-Roman style.

"Had this match been anything other than a world's championship contest, then I, or anyone else, could have had no grounds for protest. But every good sportsman will admit that others have a better title to wrestle for the Graeco-Roman championship than a catch-as-catch-can wrestler, who, only recently, was thrown by Gotch, a twelve-stone American wrestler, in his own style, and was disqualified by the referee for striking with his fists his victorious opponent. Surely, (that is) a grave reflection on the character of any sportsman. That, and also his defeat at the hands of McLeod, Hassan, etc., is a sufficient index to his qualifications to wrestle for championship honors.

"I will now relate in brief the basic of my statement that this match is arranged. On my arrival in England, I was on speaking terms with Hackenschmidt, and as a result of a few meetings together, there was a possibility of having arranged a match with him, though Hackenschmidt showed reluctance. Simultaneously with this, Jenkins arrived, and made his debut before the British public. With his arrival Hackenschmidt's attitude towards me seemed to change, and I saw him less frequently than before. I chanced to meet him one day, and asked him point blank if he intended to wrestle me. He appeared undecided, and responded , ‘Why Not?.’ After further parley, he informed me that Jenkins wished to make a match, and was daily complaining to Cochrane – his and Hackenschmidt’s agent -- that his experience in this country was scarcely what he was led to believe it would be.

"Hackenschmidt then led me to understand that Jenkins was not only prepared to go down to him in Graeco-Roman, but also in catch-as-catch-can, and that he, Hackenschmidt, would go down in catch-as-catch-can to Jenkins in America, and pretended that he was in a dilemma, adding, ‘Jenkins is prepared to go down in both styles and what am I to do?’

"The only inference to be taken from his language was that he would wish me to wrestle if I would do as Jenkins had promised to do. I, of course, have a reputation to lose, as well as Hackenschmidt, and pretended that I did not understand his meaning.

Hackenschmidt afterwards made precisely the same statement to another Russian wrestler in the Artistes Club, and both he and myself are prepared to swear to the truth of these statements. I was not surprised at what Hackenschmidt had said regarding Jenkins, as a certain wrestling promoter, named Haggarty, who informed me he had come from Jenkins, called one day and endeavored to obtain my sanction to wrestle Jenkins a mixed match under catch-as-catch-can and Graeco-Roman rules. He said he had Jenkins' permission to say that he, Jenkins, would go down in Graeco-Roman if I would go down in catch-as-catch-can.

"I refused these overtures, and the same person repeated his call, this time assuring me that if I would wrestle a match with Jenkins, the American was prepared to go down in both styles, and that there were rich Americans who would back him and the money could be shared. I have witnesses to prove the truth of what I have written regarding this affair. How far Jenkins was connected with these mediums, I cannot say."

THE CASE OF LOU THESZ AND HENRY WITTENBERG

(from the J Michael Kenyon correspondence file, circa January, 2001)

Mr. Vic Boff, President
The Association of Oldetime Barbell & Strongmen
4959 Viceroy Street, Suite 203
Cape Coral FL 33904

Dear Mr. Boff,

During a recent visit to the Orlando-area home of one of the sporting world’s fine gentlemen, Mr. Lou Thesz, my host happened to share a peek at a recent issue of your A.O.B.S. newsletter (and a very entertaining publication it is, I should add!).

In said issue, published near the end of last year, I believe, there was an article under your byline that piqued the attention of Mr. Thesz. Given his extremely gracious and well-mannered way, however, I doubt whether he would bother to notify you of the inaccuracy therein contained.

So, if you’ll excuse me, in the interest of fair play and "getting it right," allow me to represent Mr. Thesz and tell you the "rest of the story" insofar as the 1940s "challenge" of Olympic and AAU wrestling champion Henry Wittenberg.

It was, indeed, during the long, unprecedented (and insofar as I know, unparalleled) winning streak of the fine amateur wrestler Mr. Wittenberg (1939-52, and said to have encompassed some 400 matches!) that he, as you noted, "challenged the ten top pro wrestlers."

This was done, as you might guess, to poke fun and make "sport" of the wayward and clown-like tactics displayed by SOME professional wrestlers during the period (although he might have been surprised to learn that even the marcelled Gorgeous George could put up a pretty good scrap when necessary). Mr. Thesz, however – neither then, nor now, or at any other time in an active wrestling career that spanned SEVEN decades – never included himself in the company of "other," or "some," wrestlers.

(And, don't forget, Thesz himself was to engineer a pretty fabulous winning streak, stretching from June 1948 to March 1956, encompassing more than 1,750 matches.)

At any rate, when he read your Wittenberg note, and its concluding phrase -- "…none (of the pro wrestlers) accepted the challenge" – he was visibly chagrined at the slight, imagined or otherwise.

You see, back in those days, Lou Thesz was – albeit far too humble to say this aloud in the company of others -- a ONE-OF-A-KIND wrestler, trained in the ancient art by such master "hookers" as George Tragos, Ray Steele (Pete Sauer), "Strangler" Ed Lewis and Ad Santel.

When he got wind of Wittenberg’s challenge, he quickly shared the news with a good friend, then-Topeka (Kans.) State Journal sports editor Stu Dunbar, and the latter, on Thesz’ behalf, fired off a quick ACCEPTANCE of said challenge.

Alas, although Thesz and Dunbar kept an eagle eye on the mailbox for several months, there was no return ACKNOWLEDGEMENT forthcoming from Wittenberg, who may have by then taken a more prudent view of the situation and decided to stay busy pinning his amateur colleagues. Wittenberg, too, would have been at a decided weight disadvantage in those days, his best work coming at 191 pounds while Thesz, as a mature pro, was tipping the Toledos at approximately 225.

But Thesz’ willing acceptance of the Wittenberg challenge, some 55 years ago, isn’t quite ALL when it comes to telling "the rest of the story."

Although somewhat burdened by an artificial hip (which may have cost him a 1990 match in Japan, at age 74, with a top-flight youngster, the then-26-year-old Masahiro Chono), Mr. Thesz has endeavored to keep himself in reasonably fit condition as the years roll by. Now, with his 85th birthday forthcoming in April, he would have you know that his acceptance of the Wittenberg challenge is AS GOOD TODAY AS IT WAS THE LONG-AGO DAY WHEN IT WAS PENNED BY STU DUNBAR!

By my calculation, Mr. Wittenberg is also in his 80s, although a smidge junior to Mr. Thesz (having achieved 82 years this past September). Like Thesz, he enjoyed a long and active career, in his case the latter years being spent coaching at Yeshiva University and City College of New York (until 1979).

Sounds like a pretty fair match to me! You might be interested in arranging for it to take place at a future gathering of the A.O.B.S., or at some other appropriate forum!

On behalf of Mr. Thesz, who has nodded in the affirmative to such a joust, and myself, we wish you and your organization prosperous and enlightened times in the new century.

Sincerely,

J Michael Kenyon
Seattle WA
http://www.phocian.com
oldfallguy@phocian.com

cc: Lou & Charlie Thesz, Winter Garden FL

THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) Papers No. 130-2001

(ED. NOTE – The following is a transcript of a LAW Radio Show interview with Terry Taylor on October 6, 2001. The LAW may be heard Saturdays from 5 to 6:30 p.m. ET and Sundays from 11:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. ET on Mojo Radio AM 640 in Toronto, at LiveAudioWrestling.com, or at MojoRadio.com)

JEFF MAREK: He’s one of the most underrated wrestlers of the last twenty years in pro wrestling. A pleasure to welcome to the show, finally, Terry Taylor. Terry, how're you doing today?

TERRY TAYLOR: I'm doing great. If I'm underrated, Stevie Ray's overrated.

DAN LOVRANSKI: [Laughing]

JEFF MAREK: [Laughing] You think? This just in from Terry Taylor. You're in Atlanta right now? You're doing the Penzer show tonight?

TERRY TAYLOR: Yes, I have the queen next to me and Cody in the back seat and we're on our way.

JEFF MAREK: And you're working with Larry Zbyszko tonight, I understand?

TERRY TAYLOR: I'll be fighting for my life against Larry Zbyszko, the Living Legend in his own mind.

DAN LOVRANSKI: So what has Terry Taylor been up to lately? We've seen you on some indy shows (I saw you on the Border City show a few weeks ago) but what else have you been doing lately?

TERRY TAYLOR: Working around the house. I've had six surgery’s since April just fixing stuff that I've had wrong with me that when you're wrestling, you can't get fixed because the guys are depending on you to show up. I had two hernias, both knees done, a back surgery, and something else -- I can't remember it.

JEFF MAREK: You take a lot of indy bookings now, Terry. You get a chance to look at a lot of wrestlers around the country. As you see it, you're a veteran of professional wrestling. Is the art of professional wrestling dying?

TERRY TAYLOR: Yeah, it's gone.

JEFF MAREK: It's gone?

TERRY TAYLOR: I think so. It's just funny how wrestling is like Hollywood. There are no actors in Hollywood that can thrill someone with their performance and that's all. Now, there's computer generated monsters and pyrotechnics and it's the same thing with wrestling or sports entertainment -- whatever you want to call it. It's hard to think of somebody just going out there and telling a story by what they do in the ring. How many matches can you think of in the last six months that have stayed in the ring?

JEFF MAREK: None. It doesn't stay in the ring. You can't tell a story anymore. I think a lot of performers and bookers are scared to keep a match in the ring.

TERRY TAYLOR: The thing is, in my opinion, every match looks the same. In the old days, if I was on first, last, middle, whatever -- I watched everything before me and everything after me to make sure I wasn't repeating the guy ahead of me and I was watching to see what worked after me.

JEFF MAREK: For my money, one of the most damaging things that happened to the wrestling industry is this term "sports entertainment." For my money, all sports are entertaining and wrestling is a very particular thing. The minute you say "Oh, it's not wrestling anymore -- it's sports entertainment" it totally becomes something different than what it should be, you know what I mean?

TERRY TAYLOR: Well, what do you think it should be?

JEFF MAREK: Well, I think it should be two guys in the ring telling a story. I don't think it necessarily should be two guys brawling all over the building, I don't think it should be a lot of breaking tables, I don't think it should be fire and huge pyro and the entire spectacle it's become because at some point you have to stop and you can't go further.

TERRY TAYLOR: That's true. Mick Foley kept pushing the envelope and pushing the envelope and he's ten years younger than me and he's in worse shape than me. I used to wrestle nine matches a week and I did that for six years. We had to keep going and Mick has completely ruined himself. They call it backyard wrestling (jumping off roofs and hitting each other with florescent lights) but that's not wrestling! That has nothing to do with wrestling. That's just either stunt work or stupidity. The media rides the coattails of wrestling because people are always reading about wrestling and are always interested.

JEFF MAREK: And the legacy of Mick Foley and I guess Sabu, the one that first popularized that style, is guys taking the shortcuts just to get to the big leagues and then you get guys that don't know their basics and of course, their career is going to be over by 33.

TERRY TAYLOR: Yeah, a lot of the stuff we used to learn was by riding in the car after matches and before. We would talk over stuff and figure out why did this happen. We would really brainstorm. But now, nobody does that anymore. They all fly and go work out. We did all that but we still had that block of time. Nobody knows how to work. It's a highspot, then another highspot, and then another highspot and nothing matters and nothing means anything. One thing I say to guys is "There's only two moves in wrestling" and they go "What do you mean?" I say, "A move where you try to win or a move where you try not to lose." I say, "Anything you do that doesn't fit those two categories doesn't work."

DAN LOVRANSKI: Terry, is part of this because there doesn't seem to be that connection between the youngsters and a veteran. A veteran used to take a younger kid under his wing and teach him the things he needed to know. That doesn't seem to happen much anymore.

TERRY TAYLOR: I did a Torch Talk with Wade Keller and one of the things he asked me was "What do you think of the Undertaker refusing to do a job?" I wasn't on the inside and I said, "I don't believe that" because the Undertaker was a locker room leader and he didn't say much but when he spoke, everybody listened. To think that the leader who led by example would say "No" to putting somebody over knowing that this is not real. You say acting but this is like acting and stunt work rolled in together. If Ric Flair needed an opponent because whoever he was working with got hurt, he chooses Ricky Steamboat. Way back when in Florida, they ran out of babyfaces and someone said, "How about that young kid Jack Briscoe?" Jack was going to quit the business. They needed somebody and Jack got hot and then he won the world title and he's a legend now.

JEFF MAREK: Are you still watching wrestling on television, Terry?

TERRY TAYLOR: Not too much [but] I try. This is not a hateful negative: I just have trouble watching what's out there right now.

JEFF MAREK: What were you trying to do as a booker in World Championship Wrestling before it folded? You're a guy who's concerned with what happens in the ring and two guys telling a story. You're a wrestler in a classic mould whereas Vince Russo and Ed Ferrera came in and had the most outlandish ideas that ultimately killed that promotion. What were you doing in the Russo/Ferrera era?

TERRY TAYLOR: Where? In the WWF or WCW?

JEFF MAREK: No, in WCW.

TERRY TAYLOR: Oh, WCW was real sick when they got there. It wasn't like they killed it themselves. There was horrible management. The management rewarded bad behaviour and had two standards and locker room morale was bad -- it was just a mess. When you give guys a million dollars and tell them they can do what they want and then give guys that want to be there minimum wage and treat them like crap, that's the beginning of the end. It's like the Roman Empire -- it crumbles from within. WCW could have been as good as anyone wanted; it just wasn't run well.

DAN LOVRANSKI: I have to ask you, what was it like working with Arn Anderson? The two of you had a series of matches for the TV title back in the early 90's on the syndicated show and I pulled them out this week and watched them again and they were just fantastic. I just wanted a little bit of your memories of working with Arn.

TERRY TAYLOR: Well, I loved working with Arn. He was so good at it and he was so unselfish. It was never "Hey Terry, I've got to do this to you and I've got to get this in." He'd always go "What do you want to do? What can I do for you?" That made me want to give. That’s the kind of the difference in the business now. Now, guys go "Hey, I've got to give you a suplex off the top" and "If you're going to do that, then I've got to do this" and it becomes an exercise in taking instead of in giving.

JEFF MAREK: I know it used to be the mantra that you don't ask someone to take something that you won't take yourself. I guess that's sort of out the window now.

TERRY TAYLOR: Well, not for me. I've got a funny story. Horrus Hogan, one time when we were in Disney wanted to give Goldberg (in his second match) a bell-to-back off the top-rope and Goldberg said, "I don't know how to do that. I'm scared" and Horrus said, "Get out of the business you piece of crap. You can't take a bump." I said, "Hey, would you give that to your uncle, (who's Hulk Hogan)?" He goes, "Of course not." I said, "Then don't expect him to take it." You can't expect guys to take bumps that your top guys wouldn't take.

DAN LOVRANSKI: You also mentioned Ric Flair as well. I would just like to get your memories of working with Ric Flair [who was] certainly one of the other most talented wrestlers we've seen in the ring.

TERRY TAYLOR: All you see with Ric is the tip of the iceberg and I'm talking about the wrestling fans. He partied more, drank more, stayed up later, romanced/womanized more than anybody… He would spend one week in a territory and he would out-drink and out-party everybody in any territory. When he came through the territory that I was at, we'd be glad when he left because our livers were turning into stony liquids.

JEFF MAREK: [Laughing]

DAN LOVRANSKI: [Laughing]

TERRY TAYLOR: But he did that day-in and day-out for twenty years.

JEFF MAREK: And he still turned in four and five star matches every time he was out there.

TERRY TAYLOR: That's exactly right. People say he was repetitious an all, but can you imagine how good he would have been in the end if he would have been able to work with Ricky Steamboat and guys that could have worked. He was given a bunch of stiffs and he was out there to bounce off them because they couldn't do anything and he still got good matches out of them.

JEFF MAREK: He made babyfaces in every single territory he went to. I can't think of one guy in the business more so than Ric that made other guys in this business. He made the shoulders that other people stood on.

TERRY TAYLOR: Talk about unselfish. People can say whatever they want but he was slammed off the top turnbuckle every night for twenty years -- back dropped over and over and over. Harley Race has had two hips replaced, a shoulder replaced, back fusion, neck fusion... He told a lot of those bumps too but Ric hasn't had anything. He's had a shoulder repaired.

JEFF MAREK: Let's go to the phones. People want to talk to Terry Taylor.

Darren: I would like to ask you what it was like to work for (who I think is the smartest man in professional wrestling) Vince McMahon.

TERRY TAYLOR: It was great. Vince now is probably one of the best human beings I know. Here's a guy who has been through it all and now has wisdom to go along with all his money. He understands family and Vince is a good guy. When they didn't have an opportunity for me in the WWF, Vince has a thousand people working for him and he could have told any one of them call me and give me the bad news. I've got a wife and two kids and Vince called me himself to tell me that they didn't have anything for me. I respect that -- he didn't run away from it. He's a good guy.

JEFF MAREK: Your go around with Vince, as great an in-ring performer you were an still are, one of the things that will standout in the career of Terry Taylor is that awful Red Rooster gimmick. We've heard so many rumours as to why it started, how it started, what was the reason for it... I've never heard you comment on it. What the hell was going on with that Red Rooster gimmick? Where did that come from?

TERRY TAYLOR: I begged him to make me the Red Rooster.

JEFF MAREK: What?

TERRY TAYLOR: I'm just kidding.

JEFF MAREK: [Laughing]

DAN LOVRANSKI: [Laughing]

TERRY TAYLOR: I gotcha, didn't I?

DAN LOVRANSKI: Absolutely. I was falling out on my chair.

TERRY TAYLOR: You probably don't know this but I used to idolize Flair and I stole a lot of his stuff. Ric used to do this strut where he used to bob his head as he walked. Vince saw that and he was looking to make somebody the Red Rooster. He had the Red Rooster character in his head and when I did that he said, "That's our guy." When he made me the Red Rooster, I said "Ok" because I didn't know. Somebody said that if Vince McMahon comes up with a character and it's his idea, he'll send it to the moon. I said "Yes, sir. Whatever you want." He was sitting there saying, "You'll ‘cockle-doodle-doo’ and catch the first flight out and comb your hair straight up in a red Mohawk." He said "You know, it'll be great" and I'm sitting there thinking, "Oh my God, I just came off a nine year run as this clean-cut, hard-working blood and guts babyface with a wrestling background. I was dying inside and was saying, "I can't do this." But, it was his company, the business had changed, and I was working for Vince. To be honest with you, when I first heard it, I didn't like it but the finish is that more people remember the Red Rooster, who I did for 16 months 11 years ago, than anyone knows Terry Taylor. Being known for something that stupid may not be a good thing but I disagree. In the overall picture, the Red Rooster gimmick was way ahead of its time and if I had have been less selfish and more trusting, it probably would have been good. My heart wasn't in it and I didn't give it the respect it probably should have had.

JEFF MAREK: How can you respect a character like that? Come-on. How can you go in there and say, "I'm going to give this Red Rooster gimmick my all"? You're Terry Taylor to come off this amazing run in NWA as being a hard working wrestler and they stick you with this. How can you give it your all?

TERRY TAYLOR: Because I worked for a guy and he paid my salary and that's what he wanted. And if that's what he wanted, my obligation is to either do it or turn in my notice. I did what I was asked to do.
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