THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) PAPERS No. 231-2002
OAKLAND MAT WAR OPENS
(San Francisco Chronicle, January 15, 1936)
Ernie Fedderson and Ad Santel, Oakland wrestling promoters, and Bobby Burns of Eureka turned "trust busters" yesterday.
They quit the Trust, better known as the Bowser-Curley combination, shouted their defiance and declared they will get along with grapplers of their own in the future. Insisting they were forced out by the Trust, they say that Ad Santel w8ill come out of retirement as a wrestler and deposit $2,000 with the state commission to go to the Managers and Athletes’ Benefit Fund if Ad fails to throw Vincent Lopez.
Fedderson, on the firing line for the insurgents, declared it was impossible to continue business relations with the Trust. He says his club has been losing money and that the Trust has purposely been feeding him poor wrestlers.
"We just couldn’t stand it any longer," insisted Fedderson. "So we have cut loose. In the future we will get our own wrestlers and work as independents. We can’t have a show this Friday night but we will go ahead in the future."
PARENTE NEW MAT MOGUL
(San Francisco Chronicle, January 16, 1936)
Louis Parente has fallen heir to the trust wrestlers in Oakland.
Parente for the last year has been using the lightweight grapplers, through an arrangement with Jack Reynolds. Now that Ernie Fedderson and Ad Santel have cut loose from the heavies, Parente has entered into an agreement with Joe Malcewicz.
That will leave the Fedderson-Santel group free to play ball with Hugh Nichols of the lightweights. Parente has his first card next Tuesday, using Vincent Lopez and Abie Coleman as his main event.
WORLD’S MEANIE-EST ELECTED MAT CHAMP
(United Press, January 20, 1936)
By Jack Diamond
CHICAGO -- George ("Cry Baby") Zaharias, the pouting pachyderm with the happy faculty of making the wrestling customers hate him even before he launches some of his quaint routines such as sticking his thumb in his opponents’ eyes or kicking them in the head as they lie prone on the canvas, is the new heavyweight grappling champion of the world.
I trust Dr. Jacques Curley, mogul of all the matmen, will act accordingly when this matter reaches his attention.
Georgie, who already gloats in the distinction of being wrestling’s "Meanest man," wrested the heavyweight crown here the other night from the doctor’s No. 1 boy, Danno O’Mahoney, the flabby Irish grunter whose ability even to throw a snowball is open to very serious conjecture.
Neither of the principals, I might add, attended the unusual match in which the title changed hands. There was no blood spilled, and, I hope, no ill will.
The transfer took place at a round-table discussion of itinerant sports writers the night Joe Louis disposed of Charley Retzlaff in 85 seconds, thus leaving them with a goodly part of the evening still on their theoretically ink-stained hands.
They felt they certainly were entitled to a voice in the matter, particularly in view of the fact that Dr. Curley is known to be preparing to place Danno’s mouldy laurel wreath upon the brow of some other willing worker in the industry.
Such notables as Ernie Dusek, Ed Don George and even Man Mountain Dean have been mentioned as likely candidates. Good men, yes, with many sterling qualities – but none of these won the unqualified approval of the assembled journalists.
It required only one ballot to declare Zaharias the new champion, another log was placed on the fire and a committee appointed to notify Dr. Curley of the vote.
I would like to be among the first to congratulate the weeping Greek from Cripple Creek, Colo., and predict that his reign as champion will be one in which he will make many new enemies among the mat fans, who have learned to hate him so well and even become accustomed to paying for the privilege.
Mr. Zaharias, 27 years old and christened Theodore Vetoyanis, means to be mean and has practiced long at the art of making all the facial calisthentics of Frankenstein, Dracula and a red-faced subway guard packing another sardine on the Seventh Avenue express.
His public relations counsel pictures him as the sort whose greatest pleasure is to lead blind persons out into the middle of a busy intersection choked by traffic and then to desert them there. Other advertised Zaharias delights include the snatching of bottles from the mouths of babies in their buggies and the mashing of them on the pavements.
George’s mat career, as one of the most thoroughly disliked members of the trade, has been a long and profitable one, nurtured in a blasphemy of boos and Bronx cheers and embellished by his amazing repertoire of dirty tricks and his incredible assortment of whines, grunts, whinnyings and groans.
AS BILL LEISER SEES IT: TRUE SPORTSMAN JOE MALCEWICZ
(San Francisco Chronicle, Saturday, Jan. 25, 1936)
By Bill Leiser
As a sportsman, and a good one, we should like to place before the house today the name of Sergeant Joe Malcewicz.
Yeah, the wrestler, now the promoter at Dreamland.
Why? Well, you know about the war of the "little fellas," the welter weights and middle weights and all those at the Auditorium, as against the big boys of the heavy weight trust who perform at Dreamland. Their war has carried into politics, and almost everything else.
And you heard, "Why, Hans Steinke could throw all the lightweights put together in the same night." On the other hand, Lansdowne will guarantee to throw both O’Mahoney and Man Mountain Dean on any given evening for five bucks each, the purse to go to charity.
You know how they stood.
We happened to run across Sergeant Joe Malcewicz last night and, for what reason we don’t know, but we asked him who he thought the best wrestler in the country.
Now look at his answer:
"Two are awfully good.
"One is Ed (Strangler) Lewis." That might have been expected, even if it is no great compliment to the present flock of champions, but listen to the rest of it:
"The other is Jack Reynolds, who works over at the Auditorium."
"WHAT?" we asked, "The champion of the little guys?"
"Yep," says Joe, "that’s the guy."
"But gosh!" said we. "Isn’t he getting pretty old to mix with the young strong men of today, and hasn’t he been champion too long, and can he really tangle on even terms with those powerful new kids?"
"Say," said Joe, "there’s a lot to wrestling besides strength.
"There’s the matter of leverage, for instance, and the matter of how much you know. I’ve watched this Reynolds often, though I haven’t seen many of the other lighter men.
"And I’ll tell you Reynolds knows more about throwing a man than all of the boys he’s meeting today will ever learn. He may be a little old, or not – I don’t know just how old he is – but it doesn’t matter, because he knows too much for them. He’s an artist.
"And I’ll tell you there are a lot of heavyweights whose ears he would pin back in no time, too."
Can you imagine that! A promoter of the big fellows not admitting but standing up and telling you that the champion of the little guys is an artist, and too smart for even some of his own big heavy growlers!
We just have to give Sergeant Joe a salute for that.
Maybe you know that Joe is quite some wrestler himself. He actually beat the great Earl Caddock when he, Joe, was pretty young, and let any old-timer tell you what that means. In those days wrestlers were WRESTLERS and Caddock was held to be the greatest of all.
And, as a matter of fact, it is common opinion that none of the O’Mahoneys, Marshalls or Lopezes could beat Joe today if he elected to step up and let ‘em have it. After 25 years of experience, beginning when you had to be able to pin somebody to get in the ring, and when you would have been disqualified for trying to win by such silly business as drop kicking and jumping on the other fellow’s tummy – he really knows.
And he thinks that if Strangler Ed wanted to be tough that still no man living could throw him.
"Say," says he, "when the Strangler puts those two index fingers of his together and spreads them out wide from the inside, no man today could get to him.
"I saw Steele go after him in Chicago. A grudge match. Strictly on the up and up, with plenty at stake. Steele went in barefooted. He never got a hold on the Strangler, Ed just kept him off and in half an hour he had Steele’s heels bleeding from the sliding around the mat he was taking on his feet trying to get to Lewis. The mat was a series of criss-crossing bloody half moons off Steele’s raw heels. And in due time Strangler took the bout. He could do pretty much the same with any man today.
"Nope! They wouldn’t beat Ed, if he still felt the urge."
Malcewicz was once a football player. In the army. Didn’t know anything about the game, but when they told him what man to get, you can imagine what a ride that boy got around the field.
"The captain wanted me to go to college and play this game," says Joe, "but when he learned I had been a professional wrestler, of course, I found I wasn’t eligible. So I lost that chance."
After nine years in the wrestling dodge, Joe decided he wanted to be a fighter. He decided he had always wanted to be a fighter.
They got him one match. He managed to win.
Then they got him Motorman Somebody from Cleveland.
"I went out and squared off and he clouted me," says Joe. "I went down. I got up and squared off and he clouted me again. I never saw the punch. I went down again. Then he proceeded to knock me down faster than twenty men could pick me up.
"In the second round I got mad. I couldn’t see anything and could not do anything, and got so mad I went and picked the Motorman up and slammed him into the corner, and if it had been a free for all, even after being knocked down 20 times, I would have beaten Sam Hill out of him. But it wasn’t. They warned me and let me get knocked down again and I decided to get back and be a wrestler from there on out."
And there’s Sergeant Joe’s BIG POINT. If it had been a free for all, he, Malcewicz, would have won in a walk after being knocked down all over the place by a guy who was three times as good a fighter. And, therefore, as Joe makes his case, "THE REAL MANLY ART OF SELF DEFENSE IS WRESTLING."
At that, who would you rather have with you, wandering up a
mean, dark alley, than a guy like Sergeant Joe?
THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) PAPERS No. 232-2002
MALCEWICZ SENDS DEFI FOR $1,000
(San Francisco Chronicle, January 31, 1936)
Joe Malcewicz, or a grappler selected by him, will meet Ernie Fedderson’s 240-pound Masked Marvel for a $1,000 side bet and winner take all the purse.
Oakland’s Fedderson climbed into the Dreamland ring last Tuesday and "sneaked" one over on Malcewicz, challenging the Dreamland promoter to produce a worthy foe for the Masked Marvel. Malcewicz came into The Chronicle office yesterday to accept the challenge, declaring he is ready to call Fedderson’s bluff.
"But I insist upon a $1,000 side bet, the same to be placed with The Chronicle," shouted Malcewicz.
"I accept," said Fedderson, with considerable dignity.
Such details as when and where the match will be held and whether Malcewicz or someone else will uphold the honor of Dreamland are yet to be decided.
A MAT TRAITOR OR RASSLIN’ KILLJOY
(San Francisco Chronicle, February 4, 1936)
By Will Connolly
A man who profits by the hippodrome element in modern wrestling is traitorous to his source of livelihood and thinks out loud that they ought to cut out the horse play.
The old kill-joy is Jack Reynolds, welterweight champion of the world who is hereby getting free publicity for his match with Mr. X this week. I can’t help it. Colonel Reynolds is quite a personality and ripe for a writeup.
The proud old Kentucky Colonel from Iowa is not only a yeoman rassler but also an office executive in the circuit of the little guys, that is, the 160-pounders and under, as opposed to the big guys.
Therefore, when the little guys clown, kick, bite, gouge, throw stools and otherwise run amuck by design, Colonel Reynolds profits from the increased gate.
I fear the Colonel is an incorrigible purist.
"It isn’t wrestling," he insists. "Wrestling and swimming are the finest sports for developing a puny youngster, but a boy in grammar school would be frightened away by the rough spectacle he sees in the ring.
"If the horseplay keeps up, the science of wrestling will be lost. Sure, I know the gag acts draw the crowds, but so would good wrestling. Gotch and Hackenschmidt hold the record for wrestling crowds in the White Sox ballpark and they didn’t clown.
"Skillful wrestling isn’t dull. Most of the clowns are clowns."
The Colonel may be giving a backhand slap at the heavyweights, who are studded with clowns, but he is also kicking the shins of his own lightweights who are not without staff cutups.
The current heavyweights he dismisses with:
"Gotch could have thrown any three of them in 30 minutes."
Maybe the Kentuckian is prejudiced. He was born in Iowa, a whoop and a holler from the birthplaces of Farmer Burns, Frank Gotch and Earl Caddock. He was tutored by Burns, a hint he is prejudiced toward the classical school.
Wrestling saved his life. As a boy on Iowa’s steppes he was tubercular. His folks sent him to Idaho to seek health. He took to amateur wrestling and eventually tossed not only the bacilli but every man of his weight in the pro ranks.
He reached the dignified estate of wrestling coach at the University of Indiana from 1920 to 1927 when the Hoosiers ruled the Big Ten. The old Colonel retains professional enthusiasm for his subject, which was probably listed in the Indiana prospectus as "Wrestling 2C, Professor J.V. Reynolds."
The clown or villain is not new in wrestling. Reynolds remembers 25 years ago when an Italian named Leo Pardello landed in New York with the avowed purpose of making the fans hate him – and come back every week to see him beaten. Pardello gloried in gallery boos.
He insulted his clientele, glowered at ringsiders and visited foul tortures on his opponents to provoke the fine instinct of revenge in the hearts of the fans. He succeeded.
Another was Kalla Pasha, whose villainy was so lifelike that he got a job in the movies as bosom thumper and utility bad man. Kalla was in vogue when Theda Bara was hot stuff.
It seems the wrestlers were always given to cute tricks. The fun loving boys of the present crop bring the crowd to their feet with such mischief as secreting an ether sponge in their trunks, throwing red pepper, producing a rope from nowhere and strangling their opponents, and lining their legs with cardboard set with tacks.
Joe Parelli, the wild Italian, practices the innocent prank of staining his toenails red and wrestling barefooted.
In the old days, too, they did anything for a laugh. Farmer Burns, the classicist, allowed himself to be dropped through a standard scaffold at Rockford, Ill., to show his neck development. He chatted with reporters while dangling from the rope.
John Pesek, in recent memory, made a trade of having an auto run over his chest to demonstrate his free wheezing.
Ollie Olsen of Chicago ballyhooed his matches by going to the ballpark and having the pitcher sock him on the konk with a high fast one. As a warmup, Ollie used to splinter one-inch boards on his scalp. He never had dandruff.
I fear me old Colonel Reynolds will go to his grave years hence without having seen a renaissance in the most ancient of codified sports.
As long as a kick in the trousers remains the great national laugh, the wrestlers will continue to kick and the victim will continue to feign agony.
It rolls ‘em in the aisles.
MR. X IRED BY REPORTS OF DEFEAT
(San Francisco Chronicle, February 6, 1936)
Ired by erroneous reports that he had recently been unmasked in Los Angeles, "Mysterious Mr. X," hooded grappling star, stakes his identity against the world’s welterweight championship tonight at the Civic Auditorium when he clashes with Jack Reynolds, veteran champion, in a title match as the one hour, best two of three fall main event on promoter Frank Schuler’s weekly wrestling program.
"Reports that I was unmasked in Los Angeles are absolutely without foundation," "Mr. X" declared yesterday. "In fact, I have never wrestled in Los Angeles. I have never been unmasked anywhere and will not tonight as I will beat Reynolds in straight falls."
"Mr. X" has sauntered in and out of Pacific Coast rings for the past few months, always wearing his red mask an equally brilliant-hued robe. He will unmask and reveal his identity whenever he tastes defeat. But, as yet, not one of his opponents – in any city – have been successful in their efforts to pin his shoulders to the mat.
Already victorious over more than 50 opponents on the Pacific Coast, "Mr. X" has long been recognized as the leading challenger for Reynolds’ title.
Reynolds is considered by many mat experts as one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. Several of his strongest admirers, however, are of the opinion that his days as champion are limited and that an up-and-coming youngster will soon lift the crown. "Mr. X" may be the man to turn the trick.
Bobby Samson meets Tsutao Higami in the second main event.
Following is the balance of the card:
Ken Hollis vs. Frank Taylor, 30 minutes, one fall.
Sergeant Bob Kenaston vs. Shinuchi Shikuma, 30 minutes, one fall.
"Tiger" Tsakoff vs. Dr. Barney Cosnek, 15 minutes, one fall.
First bout is at 8:30 o’clock.
REYNOLDS IS MAT WINNER
(San Francisco Chronicle, February 7, 1936)
The long concealed identity of the Mysterious Mr. X is no longer a mystery. He stands revealed as Cyclone Mack, of New York, who was forced by a mob of wrestling fans to remove his red mask following the defeat by Jack Reynolds last night at the Civic Auditorium.
Reynolds not only ended the winning streak of Mr. X, thereby forcing him to reveal his identity, but also successfully defended his world’s welterweight title in so doing.
The champion took two out of three falls, the first in ten minutes, 42 seconds with a leg scissors, and the third in 5 minutes, 50 seconds on a body press. Mr. X won the second in 5 minutes, using a toe hold.
X’s mask was all but torn from his head as the mob descended upon the ring.
Bobby Samson, Los Angeles boy, grappled the junior welterweight champion, Tsutao Higami, to a draw in the semiwindup bout. Higami won the first fall in 40 minutes with a double-arm stretch, and Samson the second in 9 minutes with a flying head scissors. The bout ended at the duration of one hour with Samson leading, but the bout was called a draw.
Ken Hollis and Frank Taylor, draw; Shinichi Shikuma defeated Bob Keneston in 15 minutes with an arm stretch; Barney Cosnek tossed Tiger Tsakoff in 15 minutes with an arm stretch.
THESZ VICTOR IN MAT MAIN EVENT
(Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Tuesday, May 8, 1956)
Lou Thesz was the winner over Adrian Baillargeon in the windup exhibition of Monday night’s wrestling card at the Trianon. Baillargeon took the first fall in 18 minutes with an airplane spin. Thesz next dumped Adrian with a back body drop, putting the latter out for the evening.
The midget tag team of Pee Wee James and Tiny Roe took two out
of three falls from Ivan the Terrible and Otto Bowman, the Red Devil tossed Bud
Fisher, and Ken Kenneth and Don Kindred drew in the opener.
THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) PAPERS No. 233-2002
CHAMPAGNE GLASS DIET ENDED TOP MATMAN’S CAREER
(Sydney Daily Mirror, Monday, August 10, 1970)
Somewhere in a Melbourne cemetery lies the broken, weather-smoothed headstone (it probably lies under a thick weed growth now) of the mighty American matman Clarence Whistler who succumbed to a diet of "inferior Australian champagne glasses."
Whistler had eaten champagne glasses in practically every state in the U.S. and had suffered not the slightest ill effect.
There might have been some truth in what a fellow American said after the sad demise of the famed muscleman. "Perhaps it was not the Australian champagne glasses; perhaps it was the Australian champagne."
At any rate as Whistler writhed in agony on his death bed he was consoled by the knowledge that he had won the title of world champion wrestler from that doyen of matmen, the fabulous Australian "Professor" William Miller.
It had been a real grudge match, that bout in Melbourne’s Theatre Royal in 1885, for both Whistler and Miller had each been loudly proclaiming himself the real world champion.
At the bout’s end the controversy was settled once and for all as the triumphant American squatted panting and sweating on the prone body of his aged and vanquished opponent.
That night Whistler celebrated his victory by quaffing huge quantities of champagne. At the binge’s end he followed his usual custom of eating his glass.
Thus it was that six weeks later the mortal remains of Clarence Whistler were laid to rest in a Melbourne cemetery and Professor Miller again began referring to himself as the world’s greatest wrestler.
Clarence Whistler, the son of a farmer, was born at Delphi in Indiana in 1856 and as a youth developed into something of a celebrity in those sports in which brawn paid better dividends than brains.
In a fair wrestling match there was not a cow on his father’s farm that could beat him, while a prize bull carried bruises for days following an encounter with the powerful young Whistler.
At 23 Clarence left Delphi to pit himself against some of the professional matmen who in those days were making bigger money than vaudeville stars.
In January 1878 he won himself a bout with a Frenchman, Lucien Marc, who happily bet $200 that he could knock the wrestling ambitions out of the young hick farmer.
It was slaughter. For a full half-hour Whistler tossed his opponent from one side of the ring to another then, as though suddenly tiring of the sport, he pinned the Frenchman in two straight falls.
Whistler’s next bout lasted a little longer. Indeed he and another French opponent, Andre Christol, worked on each other for four hours before the referee declared a draw.
About six months later, after defeated Christol in a three-hour return bout, Whistler put up $600 that he could beat the American Bill Muldoon, a pupil of Professor Miller who was then ranging America challenging all comers.
It was quite a bout to which the 8,000 Chicago fans were treated.
At the end of four hours’ grunting and grappling without a fall the referee called a 30-minute interval to allow the combatants to restore their energy.
Three and a half hours later they were still going at it hammer and tongs.
Finally, a desperate band of Muldoon fans crept outside the stadium with an axe and hacked through the gas main. In pitch darkness, the two wrestlers fought on.
And they continued battling until officials lit matches to see where they were and then pulled them apart. Officially the result was a draw.
In the newspapers next day sporting scribes led the cry for a quick return match. But the money-wise Whistler had a better idea. As a result he and Muldoon teamed up to travel the national wrestling circuit.
It was scarcely coincidental that after the two had wrestled each other hundreds of times on the tour their tallies of wins and losses were exactly square.
But Whistler did take on other opponents (198 of them) and beat the lot.
Yet far above the up-and-coming Clarence Whistler towered the figure of the amazing Australian matman, Professor Miller, who was taking on America’s best wrestlers and flattening them with monotonous regularity.
And when not making hacks of great wrestlers like Donald Dinnie and Duncan Ross, he was taking on and beating America’s top weight-lifters, marathon walkers, dumb-bell, foils, and broadsword exponents as well as underwater swimmers.
In fact, when William Miller returned home to Melbourne late in 1880, he was recognized not only as the world champion matman but, world champion practically in everything else.
Now there was one thing that Clarence Whistler wanted – Professor Miller’s wrestling title. And to get at it he took on some of the local champions the Australian had defeated.
In June 1883 Whistler faced up to Duncan Ross and beat him in 170 minutes. He then downed Donald Dinnie who reported after the encounter that Whistler was the toughest man he had wrestled since the famous professor.
But, as far as Whistler was concerned, Australia was a great distance away. If he could not get at Miller he might was well create his own world title claim.
Announcing he would take part in the famous St. Louis World Wrestling Tournament, he said: "Whoever wins the tournament must be regarded as world champion for you can’t hold such an important title in a place o hard to get at as Australia."
For three solid days Whistler wrestled one opponent after the other and none looked like beating him.
After his final bout he stood in the ring’s centre, beat his chest Tarzan-like, and roared: "I, Clarence Whistler, am the world’s champion."
He celebrated his new title by guzzling champaign for three straight days and eating a glass or two in between pints.
The glasses agreed with him for immediately he had recovered from his normal hangover he was back in the ring hurling challengers out of reckoning.
In 1882 Dinnie sailed for Australia to have another got at Miller. Not long after Ross followed him.
Just before Ross’ departure, the San Francisco Newsletter, annoyed that anyone should still consider the professor as world champion, said: "Miller and Dinnie are somewhere in Australia. Now Ross threatens to follow them.
"We are glad to be rid of them and sincerely hope they and all like them will avoid this city forever."
The news that filtered back to the U.S. was alarming. Miller, the report said, who was nearly 40, was as good as ever. Celebrated matmen from overseas had climbed into the ring with him but had quickly gone out over the ropes.
The Miller-Dinnie bout took place in Melbourne’s Bijou Theatre. The professor ended the bout by pinning his opponent twice in quick succession – and this despite the fact that the Australian had broken a leg after the first throw.
Towards the end of 1885 (with his conscience about the St. Louis title obviously worrying him), Clarence Whistler arrived in Melbourne to prove to Professor Miller who was the real champion of the world.
Perhaps more than a half a century later Cassius Clay used some of Whistler’s personal promotion technique, for the Negro heavyweight’s chest-beating pronouncements had, in retrospect, a familiar ring about them.
Whistler told Melbourne on his arrival: "Miller thinks he is world champion. He is wrong. I am. Not only do I think I am but I know I am."
Miller’s leg had not yet completely healed and Whistler had to fill in time before the bout could be staged. He whiled away the days training on champagne and eating good quality cut-glass tumblers.
One day he took time off from these activities to easily beat Donald Dinnie and Joe Thomas in the space of three hours for a total stake money of $400, apart from bets and promotion fees.
But now, at last, Miller was ready. The American was 10 years young than his opponent but Miller was the favorite, chiefly because he did not train on champagne and glasses.
For the match, scheduled for September 26, 1885, a ring was erected on the stage of Melbourne’s Theatre Royal.
Physically, the two men were evenly matched, both touching 16 stone with deflated chest measurements around 50 inches.
There was not even standing room in the theatre when Miller stood in his corner calmly easing his muscles while Whistler pranced like a high-spirited colt.
Whistler got the first hold but Miller slipped to his knees and the value of the grip was negated.
Finally, Whistler broke his hold and in a frenzy began hurling Miller all over the ring. But he never looked like getting a fall.
An hour later both men were near exhaustion and a 15-minute break was called.
The 29-year-old Whistler returned to the battle much more refreshed than his older opponent. He even had enough energy to roar like a bull and shout a variety of fearful threats at the Australian.
Next instant, he encircled the exhausted professor in his great arms and hurled him on his back. Whistler drove his knees into the Australian’s shoulders and inch by inch forced him down. It was the first fall.
After another spell, the difference between the physical condition of the two became even more apparent. The professor was nearly finished.
Then came the end. Whistler got the Australian in a vicious arm lock. Realizing a little more pressure would break the bone, William Miller conceded.
Whistler’s win was not popular, chiefly because the professor was a national idol and the American was scarcely a likeable personality.
One newspaper reporter wrote: "It was not pleasing to see the element of torture brought into the manly sport of wrestling."
That night the wildly triumphant Whistler returned to his Swanston Street hotel, accompanied by a few of his fans and began a long spree mainly on champagne but taking in any other wine offered him.
Then, when he was well primed he performed his favorite trick of chewing and eating his glass.
But this time little slivers of the tough glass pierced his gullet and intestines.
A few days later the new world champion matman was helped into the bed he was never to leave alive.
On November 6, 1885, Clarence Whistler, never destined to return to his homeland as undisputed world champion wrestler, died in his Melbourne hotel.
Among the pallbearers at the funeral was Professor William Miller who, as he bore the coffin’s weight, moved his head constantly to shake away the tears that coursed down his cheeks.
Later, a special benefit concert was arranged and the profits were used to erect a fine tombstone over the American’s grave.
Although Professor Miller agreed that the world title should revert to him he changed his mind soon after and announced his retirement.
In 1903, just 18 years after losing his title to Whistler, Miller and his American-born wife sailed to the U.S. where the amazing Australian was to spend the rest of his life.
For a while Miller was chief physical instructor to the New York Police Force, then he became manager of the Athletic Club in San Francisco.
He died in 1938 at the age of 92, still a remarkable physical
specimen up to within a few years of his death.
THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) PAPERS No. 234-2002
WRESTLING CHAMP KO'D IN LOCAL BAR
(Syracuse Post Standard, October 21, 1995)
By Mike McAndrew
Shawn Michaels is the WWF's Intercontinental champion. But he recently took a beating in North Syracuse. A gang of four or five men attacked the WWF champion seven days ago outside Club 37 on Brewerton Road and knocked him cold as two other WWF wrestlers watched helplessly.
The 6'2" 200 pound Michaels didn't even get a chance to use his famous super kick - a move that never fails to knock the WWF bad guys on their cans. The brawl is the hottest news in the WWF circuit. "I have two hotlines. They've never been buzzing like this past week."
"It's just unbelievable," said Georgiann Makropoulos, editor of The Wrestling Chatterbox, a monthly magazine based in Astoria, Queens. Michaels, 30, whose real name is Michael Hickenbottom, suffered cuts above and below his right eye and bruises to his face in the 2 a.m. Oct. 14 assault. He was stitched up at St. Joseph's hosptial.
The WWF had to cancel Michaels' scheduled match in Syracuse the next day. A witness to the attack provided Onondaga County sheriff's deputies with the license plate of a pickup truck that Michaels' assailants fled in. Deputies traced the truck to a Canastota man. But a woman at the Canastota address said the truck's owner no longer lives there.
Detectives closed the case without an arrest because Michaels checked out of the hospital and flew to his Texas home before giving them a statement about the incident, according to a deputy's report. The brawl occurred after Michaels and two other wrestlers -- the 1-2-3 Kid and the British Bulldog -- made an unscheduled appearance at Club 37, where they signed autographs for fans like Donna Jones, 21, a day-care worker from East Syracuse.
The three wrestlers were in Jones' car in the parking lot when a group of nine or ten men approached the car, Jones said. "They were calling (the wrestlers) losers ..." Jones said. "One reached in to hit either the 1-2-3 Kid or the British Bulldog." When Michaels got out of the car, a handful of men jumped him, slammed his head against the side of Jones' car and knocked him out, she said.
"While he was knocked out, he was face-down on the pavement. They were kicking him in the face and stomping on his head." she said. It was worse than the poundings the WWF bad guys usually get. It was real.
Several other men prevented the 1-2-3 Kid and the British Bulldog from coming to Michael's rescue.
Jones and her brother drove the three wrestlers to a hotel, where an ambulance met them.
"He's recovering," Michaels' mother, who indentifies herself only as Mrs. Hickenbottom, said Friday night. "It was pretty bad."
TRANSCRIPT OF HULK HOGAN’S HEEL TURN, BASH AT THE BEACH ’96
(Courtesy of WCW Magazine)
(It's the conclusion of the "Bash at the Beach 1996" Pay-Per-View and Hogan has just shocked the wrestling world by attacking Randy "Macho Man" Savage, thus revealing himself to be the third member of The Outsiders. "Mean" Gene Okerlund enters the ring for an interview. Hogan stands beside his new allies, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, as the fans pelt the ring with debris. Tony Schiavone, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan and Dusty Rhodes sit by stunned at the announcer's desk).
GENE: Hulk Hogan, what in the world are you thinking?
HH: Mean Gene, the first thing that you need to do is to tell these people to shut if you wanna hear what I gotta say.
GENE: I have been with you for so many years... for you to join up with the likes of these two men absolutely makes me sick to my stomach and I think that these people here and a lot of other people around the world, have had just about enough of this man, this man, (pointing to Nash and Hall) and you want to put yourself in this group? You've got to be ... kidding me!
HH: Well, the first thing you've got to realize, brother, is this right here is the future of wrestling (points to Nash and Hall). You can call this the New World Order of Wrestling, brother.
GENE: "You have made the wrong decision, in my opinion!"
HH: Let me tell you something! when it all came to pass, the name Hulk Hogan, the man Hulk Hogan, got bigger than the whole sport! And then Billionaire Ted, Amigo, ... he wanted to "talk turkey" with Hulk Hogan. Billionaire Ted promised me movies, brother, ... Billionaire Ted promised me millions of dollars, brother, ... and Billionaire Ted promised me world calibre matches. As far as Billionaire Ted, Eric Bischoff, and the whole WCW goes, I'm bored brother! That's why these two guys here, the so-called Outsiders, ... these are the men I want as my friends. They're the new blood of professional wrestling, brother, and not only are we going to take over the whole wrestling business, with Hulk Hogan and the new blood, the monster with me, we will destroy everything in our path, Mean Gene!
GENE: Look at all this crap in the ring! This is what's in the future for you if you want to hang around with the likes of this man, Hall, and this man, Nash.
HH: As far as I'm concerned, all this crap in the ring represents the fans out here. For two years, brother, for two years, I held my head high ... I did everything for the kids ... the reception I got when I came out here ... you fans can stick it, brother, because if it wasn't for Hulk Hogan, you people wouldn't be here. If it wasn't for Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff would still be selling meat from a truck in Minneapolis and if it wasn't for Hulk Hogan, all these Johnny-Come-Latelys that you see out here wrestling, wouldn't be here. I was selling out the world, brother, while you were stealing gas to put in the car to get to high school, so the way that it is now, brother, with Hulk Hogan and the New World Organization of Wrestling, brother, me and the new blood by my side ... whatcha gonna do when the New World Organization runs wild on you? Whatcha gonna do????? (He grabs Gene)
GENE: Hey ... don't touch me!!!! I'm gonna call my lawyer ... Tony, Bobby, Dusty, ... dammit ... let's get back to you!
TONY: All right ... we have seen the end of Hulkamania!!!!! For Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, Dusty Rhodes, Gene Okerlund, ... I don't know ... I'm Tony Schiavone, and, Hulk Hogan, ... YOU CAN GO TO HELL!!!!!!! STRAIGHT TO HELL!!!!!!!!!
PROFESSIONAL WRESTLER FOUND DEAD AT MOTEL
(Associated Press, Monday, October 6, 1997)
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- Friends suspected something was wrong with Brian Pillman the night before the 35-year-old professional wrestler and former linebacker with the Cincinnati Bengals was found dead in his motel room.
Pillman, of Walton, Ky., was found dead shortly after 1 p.m. Sunday, the day after a pay-per-view wrestling match at the St. Paul Civic Center.
Brian Meltzer, editor of the Wrestling Newsletter, said Pillman wrestled Saturday in St. Paul and was to have taken part in a pay-for-view event Sunday in St. Louis.
''The WWF (World Wrestling Federation) had a chartered plane that was scheduled to leave from Minneapolis at 1:30 p.m.,'' Meltzer said. ''When Brian didn't show up for the bus ride, police were asked to check the room.''
Known as ''The Loose Cannon,'' ''The Rogue Horseman'' and ''Flyin' Brian,'' he was a college football star at Miami University of Ohio and played in 1984 for the Bengals. He was playing linebacker with the Calgary Stampede when he started his wrestling career 11 years ago.
An autopsy was scheduled for today. A release from the Hennepin County medical examiner's office mentions ''injury,'' but authorities would not say if they suspected foul play.
Some people at Saturday night's match said the World Wrestling Federation wrestler was acting strangely.
''I was at the matches with him,'' referee Eddie Sharkey told the Saint Paul Pioneer Press. ''He came to the matches real early, and he seemed fine, but the last time I saw him, he was just staring into space.''
Sharkey said that Pillman had been sleeping on the floor of
the dressing room during the broadcast, ''which was kind of unusual.''
Professional wrestlers often have a hectic travel schedule, Sharkey said, but
they don't typically nap during
''We were supposed to go out and have a few drinks and eat,'' Sharkey said. ''He was supposed to come with me, but he just walked off, a real strange look to him.''
Pillman had drug problems in the past. He was arrested for drunken driving and illegal possession of prescription drugs by Cincinnati police in 1993. The drug charges were later dropped as part of a plea agreement.
Pillman had also been plagued by an ankle injury he suffered when a Humvee he was driving overturned in Kentucky last year, leaving him in a coma for a week, according to Bruce Hart, who trained Pillman to wrestle in Canada.
Hart said that he thinks Pillman took painkillers after his car accident, but added: ''I never knew him to take drugs recreationally, like heroin or cocaine. I never knew him to take those.''
Pillman didn't show up for a scheduled bout recently, said
Canadian promoter Bob ''Doc'' Holliday. Pillman had previously run afoul of the
federation, which warned him after he waved a gun at another wrestler on live
THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) PAPERS No. 235-2002
LEGEND IN HIS OWN MIND
(Willamette Week, Portland OR, August 18, 1999)
By Zach Dundas
If American culture is ruled by a sect of high priests, Johnny Legend may be its chief, its cardinal, its ascended master. How many people can name-drop pro-wrestling demi-god "Classy" Freddie Blassie, epochally endowed porn icon John "Johnny Wadd" Holmes, comic genius Andy Kaufman and film nerd parexcellence Quentin Tarantino in the same conversation? Legend can -- and he's not just some pomo hipster talking coffee-shop smack. When Legend spiels at his rapid-fire hustler's pace, he's reporting live from pop culture's shadow side.
In the early '70s, Johnny Legend directed Teenage Cruisers, an X-rated rockabilly epic featuring Holmes. When Blassie needed an anthem, Legend served up "Pencil Neck Geek." Legend directed Kaufman's final movie, My Breakfast with Blassie. Lately, the self-styled Rock 'n' Roll Rasputin hooked up with Tarantino to reissue Legend's favorite exploitation flicks and assembled the psychotronic grappling show Incredibly Strange Wrestling.
On the eve of an appearance with his band the Rockabilly Bastards, Johnny Legend breaks it down for WW from his home base, deep in the heart of what he calls "the Hell-A territories," --i n other words, Los Angeles.
Willamette Week: So, before we get into movies, wrestling and so on, can you tell us what to expect from your show?
Johnny Legend: Well, the show is pretty much a psychotic rock revival -- 90 minutes of insanity. I wear some sequined vests originally made for Freddie Blassie--this is original Blassie wear we're talking about, not just some glittery somethin' from someone who happens to make that stuff. I've never had to deal with a tailor. I just get my stuff from the source.
Last year I formed this band with some Portland guys, with this guitarist named John Wallace and some of the guys in the Flapjacks. I had to cover that territory up there, from Portland up to Vancouver, and I figured the easiest way to do it was to get a band together up there. I've got bands all over the world -- I've had a band in Germany for years. With the Portland guys, people immediately thought we'd been together for five years. I try to find musicians who can act like they've been together forever. This isn't some Chuck Berry pick-up band.
So we're talking about some serious rockabilly here, then?
Well, my roots are mixed. I was playing the Sunset Strip back in the glory days, and then in the early '70s I started what was then the only performing rockabilly band in America that we knew of, or the first one since the '50s, anyway: the Rollin' Rock Rebels. We had Ray Campi on bass, Billy Zoom was in there, and we had five or six singers. We were pretty much a self-contained rockabilly time bomb. These days, I'm mostly doing originals with a few great obscure old songs, like "High School Caesar" from the old juvenile-delinquent movie. I do a version of "Pretty Thing" because it's a good excuse to get into this long, tribal, sex-charged freakout.
In there somewhere is something that appeals to the rockabilly die-hards. I pretty much get along with all the different factions -- someone who's into more Cramps-like material might not like traditional rockabilly, and a rockabilly purist might not like the crazier stuff, but they all can get into me. I use a wrestling mentality and just ride herd over all of 'em.
Let's talk about wrestling. It seems like there are a few different elements of American culture you're weaving together.
Well, yeah. I grew up as a fan of different things--horror movies, comic books, rock 'n' roll--and wrestling was part of it. I came to wrestling in the era between the glory days of the early '50s and the sort of Hulk Hogan stuff that's made it totally ridiculous again. So I was following wrestling when it was very regional, when it was in its very pure form and the audiences were these strange people who really believed.
Freddie Blassie came into town like this huge, Jerry Lee Lewis-like presence and really just changed the lives of all of us who got to see him. And Andy Kaufman, he started doing his wrestling thing when it was completely taboo in respectable show biz to have anything to do with wrestling. Then, after he died, boom --everyone was lining up to get into wrestling.
Yeah, the Cyndi Lauper era in the WWF came right after that. Do you follow any of the mainstream pro wrestling, the WWF or WCW?
Yeah, I keep up with it. I know people from the old days who are involved in both the major organizations. It's funny, because we'll do something with Incredibly Strange Wrestling and six months later it'll show up on TV. I had a porn-star wrestler, and then later the WWF brings out its Val Venus character. Come to find out the writer who created Val Venus was going to our shows before he got hired by them.
Talk to me about Incredibly Strange Wrestling.
Incredibly Strange Wrestling--that's hard to pull off, because it's an elaborate thing. It's almost like a special occasion. We basically have to corral an amount of action that would ordinarily take up two or three nights into one. We just did an event with nine bands in two rooms, squeezing the matches in between the bands. I can fit so many wrestling matches into the amount of time it takes a typical rock band to set up its gear, you wouldn't believe it.
Did wrestling lead naturally to your film career, or was that a separate thing?
I was making films when I was a kid, and later on in life I got to do the musical scores for some skin flicks in the pre-Deep Throat era, when the movies were really a lot more elaborate. By the '70s I was co-starring in stuff like Pot, Parents and Police, and in the '80s I was in Star Slammer, which was the first women's-prison-in-outer-space movie. I had a part in Children of the Corn III that I was very proud of. Lately, I've been working on DVD reissues of old Jack Hill movies, like The Swinging Cheerleaders. That's pretty much the archetypal '70s cheerleader movie. I'm putting some of my own stuff, like Weird Cartoons and Rock and Roll Wrestling, out on DVD too.
Good Lord, man, how do you fit it all in?
I always say I'm a full-time rock-'n'-roll beast. Everything else just sort of works around the fringes. In the last couple of years, I've really buckled down. I've got two albums out in a year and a half. I feel like I'm in high school, about 17 years old, and I've got a new band out playing in clubs. This is not a revival show --there's something real primal and fascinating going on with these shows. I cross over into another personality. I'll ask people afterward what happened during a set, and they think I'm crazy. But that's something I've watched happen with wrestlers for years. I warn people that I'm not going to be the same person on stage that I am hanging out at the bar. Don't ask me obscure questions, don't expect a normal response.
And, man, I'll tell you -- there's been a weird thing happening lately at the shows. I can't explain it. Women have been getting crazy.
What on earth do you mean, "getting crazy"?
Well, women have been coming unglued during the sets. They've been doing all kinds of physical things during the shows that I don't think they do on a regular basis. We had this show in Whittier--that's Richard Nixon's hometown--last Friday, and I thought we were going to get arrested.
Why? Because of what the women were doing?
They were squatting in front of the stage and … I don't know, it was wild. And I'll play harmonica solos anywhere--anywhere I'm invited to go, let's just say. There have been times I've been worried about physical violence from boyfriends and husbands, but so far that hasn't happened. In fact, this guy came up with his girlfriend the other night and said, hey, man, you gonna do what you did the other night again? And I just said, man, what are you gonna do when she starts to like it?
So, uh, with all this going on, do you have an overall mission?
No, man--I just say, throw away the Bible and let's get tribal. Because I'll tell you what, there is this real primitive explosion that happens. I don't know what exactly sets it off, but I've obviously found the way to spark it, that's for sure.
BUSTED WIDE OPEN
(Willamette Week, Portland OR, March 7, 2001)
By Sam Soule
It wasn't the four cruisers rolling up with their lights flashing that made the night worth talking about. The 60-odd-person mob chanting profanities as two cut-and-bloodied men hurled each other against signposts and construction barriers along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard wasn't even the most memorable scene of the evening. No, the defining moment came when the Hollywood Studd put the Psycho Sailor's head through the plate-glass front door of the Straight Blast Gym. Then you knew: This was not your father's pro-wrestling match.
The Feb. 16 event was the latest offering from Portland's newest independent wrestling promotion, New Dimension Wrestling. Originally conceived as a single-elimination tournament to decide who would hold the NDW Heavyweight belt, it was a story line that would never reach its conclusion. But, as the scripted chaos of the night's proceedings spun out of the ring and out of control, it was as if the clichéd antics of old-school rasslin' were being tossed out the window. Right behind poor Sailor's head.
Local professional wrestling has been in Oregon for 60-plus years, reaching the height of its popularity in the '80s, when the region's most venerable promotion, Portland Wrestling, could sell out the Coliseum with a big match. Today, however, the independent-wrestling scene in Portland is virtually nonexistent.
Some in the Portland area feel that the wrestling old guard running the existing promotions relies too heavily on tired, family-oriented "good guy vs. bad guy" performances that simply can't hold the attention of the new generation of fans. They point to East Coast promotions with minuscule budgets, which comparatively flourish as they experiment with high-risk moves, frequent bloodletting and themes too outrageous for the World Wrestling Federation. And they applaud the arrival of New Dimension Wrestling.
"What NDW is trying to do is be innovative and give people things they haven't seen before," explains Jim Valley, host of a two-hour professional wrestling talk show that airs Saturdays at 1 on 1010 AM.
For example, NDW took local wrestler Billy Two Eagles--a longstanding Indian stereotype, complete with feathered headdress and war dance--and updated the cliché. Enter B2E, the Pit Boss, whose war cry is: "The white man took our land, now we're going to take the white man's money!"
Other NDW favorites are the high-flying hardcore Awesome Adam and the appropriately retro C.C. Poison, "the wrestler 1982 forgot."
New Dimension Wrestling came to Portland this past year in the guise of one Johnny Fairplay, a former booker for the original NDW based in Greensboro, N.C., which has been promoting independent wrestling on the East Coast and through the Midwest since 1994. Fairplay's executive charge: to bring the excitement, intensity and presence indie wrestling enjoys on the East Coast to the West.
Currently, NDW is in a "developmental phase." That is to say, wrestlers work for free. Things are not much easier on the promotional side. Revenue taken in at the gate and earned through sponsors is funneled directly to paying for venue and production of the NDW television broadcast. "For any indie wrestler or indie wrestling promoter, it's definitely not about the money," says Fairplay.
Not everyone who saw NDW's latest show approved of the apparent recklessness. "The show got out of hand, frankly," says Ivan Kafoury, the most recent owner of the long-running Portland Wrestling promotion. "When you go outside the building with as busy a street as MLK is, you're just opening yourself up for nothing but trouble. It should never happen."
Kafoury's comments might seem self-serving, but he actually enjoys a friendly, competitive relationship with NDW. Both promotions share the wrestling talent pool, and Kafoury helped NDW secure the Straight Blast as a venue on the 16th. "There are some very good wrestlers in that group, and I wouldn't hesitate to use them," he says. "I'd just pull their reins in just a little bit. Let's face it, you're looking at potential liability, and they ain't going to sue the wrestlers."
Valley has a different take on the match between the Psycho Sailor and the Hollywood Studd. "It was boys being boys," he says. "They just got carried away with their fun. It was an accident. Hours later everything was all cleaned up and the window was fixed."
The "boys" got some unwanted attention from the nearby North Precinct. Shortly after the match, a group of officers arrived to investigate the scene. Although they determined that no criminal activity had occurred, the tournament was cancelled as it entered the semi-finals.
As potentially disastrous as last month's show might have been, Fairplay sees it as something of a watershed moment for his struggling promotion. "I've been in the wrestling business for over five years now, and I've never seen an event shut down by the police and had fans chant the name N-D-W as they stacked chairs and cleaned the place."
NDW Wrestling's television broadcast is Saturday nights at 8 p.m. on cable channel 15.
According to Fairplay, NDW made wrestling history on Feb. 16 by being the first independent promotion ever to stage events on both coasts on the same night.
The Hollywood Studd has recently signed a developmental deal with the WWF. He is no longer scheduled to appear at NDW events.
At press time, Fairplay reports he is in negotiations with two
potential venues for the next NDW event, which should take place next week.
THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) PAPERS No. 236-2002
AN INTERVIEW WITH RENE GOULET
If you've been a wrestling fan for less than fifteen years,
you probably know Rene Goulet as one of the guys always breaking up
extracurricular brawls in the WWF.
If you've been a wrestling fan a little longer than that, you remember Rene as a key player in the WWF when the WWF first started hitting it big in the early 1980s.
You go back before 1980? You'll probably remember Rene Goulet as one of the most well-known professional wrestlers from Canada.
In short, Rene Goulet is a man who wrestled his first professional match in 1957, wrestled regularly until 1984, and worked as a road agent well into the 1990s. That means over 40 years worth of stories.
On June 20th, 2000, I had the privilege of doing a telephone interview with Rene Goulet. We talked for 45 minutes, and I could have listened to his stories for 45 days. I've transcribed the highlights.
First, the vital statistics:
Ring Name: Rene Goulet
Other Ring Name(s) Used: Sgt. Jacques Goulet
Finisher: Scorpion Claw Hold
Pro Debut: 1957
Original Hometown: Quebec City
Current Hometown: Charlotte, NC
Bill: I see by your phone number that you live in Charlotte.
Rene: I've lived here for about 20 years now.
Bill: A lot of guys who were big in the 1970s and 1980s seem to live there.
Rene: Oh, yeah, a lot of wrestlers live here. In the days of Crockett when he had his territory here, the territory was large, and Charlotte was a great location to get where you needed to go. It was centrally located. It's got a great airport, and you could get in and out pretty easily. The climate is really nice...it's beautiful. I love it here.
Bill: Yeah, the people that I know who've lived there for a long time talk about it like it's the greatest city in the world.
Rene: Oh, yeah, definitely.
Bill: Let's start at the beginning. Where did the interest in pro wrestling start, as a kid?
Rene: Oh, as a kid, I didn't think about pro wrestling. I was
a hockey player. I'm from Quebec City, Canada. And, over there, when you're a
kid, you play hockey.
I was a pretty good hockey player, playing Junior at around 18 years old, with dreams of making it to the major leagues. But, back then, the NHL had something like six teams, and I wasn't good enough to make it.
About the age of 21, I was around 190 pounds. At that point,
when it looked like I wasn't going to make it into the NHL, I started doing a
little boxing. I was doing a lot of sports...at that time in my life, I think I
was doing every sport in the world.
Anyway, one day I was sparring with somebody, and the guy told me "Why do you want to be a boxer? You'll wind up being punch-drunk. Why don't you be a wrestler?" That was the first I thought about it.
So, at the time I was into bodybuilding...heavily into the weights. Now, at that time, I did watch wrestling. It was very popular in those days. It was the beginning of TV, so it had to be 195...let's see, I started wrestling in 1956/1957...you look a little bit before that, and wrestling was one of the first things ever that was really popular on TV.
So, I used to go to the wrestling matches on Friday night in Quebec City, and really enjoyed it. Finally, I met this guy who had a gym in Quebec...he was a wrestler...a 160-pound wrestler.
Bill: What was his name?
Rene:. Johnny Michaud. That's how I got started. I started to train over there...I liked it. I worked out with him...we did some amateur wrestling, too.
Finally, he introduced me to Yvon Robert who, at the time, was one of the biggest stars in Canada. Ever heard of him?
Bill: Unfortunately, he was a little before my time.
Rene: Not only was he one of the top stars, but he was
involved in the promotion end.
So, that's how I started...he booked me and I had my first match in Quebec City in February or March of 1957.
Bill: Who was the first person you wrestled?
Rene: Believe it or not, the first person I was supposed to wrestle was Mad Dog Vachon.
Rene: At the time, they didn't call him the "Mad Dog"...they just called him Maurice Vachon.
I was supposed to wrestle him for my first match in Quebec City and, for some reason, he got hurt or he couldn't make it, so they sent another guy. The guy was Gerard Dugas. The guy was about 210 or 215.
So that was my first big-time pro wrestling match, in my hometown, Quebec City. I made $75. I thought I was a millionaire.
Bill: Wow...that's really good money for those days.
Rene: Oh, yeah. But, then, I had only two or three matches that whole year, that's all I had. [Laughs]
It was pretty tough in those days, too, you know? The local guys had a tough time getting work. The promoters liked to bring in guys from the outside...the States. Always the same story...
But, finally, I made it, I got to wrestle Mad Dog Vachon. From about 1957 to 1962, I was struggling, trying to make it and really break into the business as a local wrestler. I trained for five years...worked hard, trying to get myself ready for when I got that break, you know?
It was tough for us...I couldn't speak a word of English. It was "Yes" and "No" and that's it.
In 1961 or 1962, it was in Montreal, which was always one of the biggest territories in the country...actually, in North America. Eddie Queen was the promoter. During the summer, he in was involved in a co-promotion with Vince McMahon [Sr.] to bring in guys from New York (the WWWF] for co-promoting. I was supposed to get my break at that time...the young French-Canadian...and they were going to bring me back to the States, too.
It worked for about a month, and then one of the guys in Quebec, Eddie Carpentier, had a big car wreck, and they decided they were not going to co-promote anymore. So, there went my big break.
But, I started making a living out of it in 1963 when I went to Minneapolis. Mad Dog Vachon, who'd since become a friend of mine, booked me down there.
Verne Gagne was the promoter, down there, with Wally Karbo, and Verne gave me my name, Rene Goulet. And it was there that I really got started.
Bill: Didn't Verne Gagne start promoting in Minneapolis in the late 1950s?
Bill: So you were there pretty much in the beginning?
Rene: Well, like I said, he had done some promoting before that, but he really hit the big time in 1963. When I got there, he really didn't have that many towns. Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester...but every year it was getting better, growing and growing. And I grew with them. I worked with Verne up in Minneapolis for close to ten years. I'd work there, go to another territory, and then come right back in.
Bill: That's pretty incredible...I'd heard that in those days, you'd stay six months in a territory, and then move on and maybe never come back.
Rene: The first time I was in Minneapolis, I was there ten months. I was out about a month, and then I went to work for Joe Dusek in Omaha, Nebraska for about six or seven months, and then I went back to Minneapolis for another year or so. Then I went to Texas, and then I came back. Then I went to California, and then I came back. I went in and out like that for about ten years.
Bill: From beginning to end, how long were you wrestling?
Rene: My last match was in 1984, so that was 27 years as a big-time active wrestler.
Bill: Actually, while doing some research, I found that you were in a Legends Battle Royal in 1987.
Rene: Oh, yeah...that was in the Meadowlands, right? I didn't
count that one.
That was really something...all the guys...Lou Thesz, Gene Kiniski...all the guys from the past were there.
Bill: Did you ever get to wrestle Lou Thesz?
Rene: I wrestled him a couple times, but only in tag matches. I never got to wrestle him in a singles match.
Bill: Did you read his book?
Rene: Oh, yeah, I liked it.
Bill: I really enjoyed it, too.
Rene: You know why I liked it? Probably a regular fan wouldn't appreciate it as much, but for a guy like me who's been in the business so long, I know the places, people and things he is talking about.
You know, years ago, when you came into a territory, you had to prove yourself. And, with him as champion, not only did he have to prove himself, but he had to get respect as champion, and he had to take care of himself, too, you know?
You may not believe it, but everything he said in that book is true. I lived a lot of that stuff, and there's no BS in it.
Bill: When you look back at your career, who was the guy that you liked to wrestle the most...the "best wrestler" you ever faced?
Rene: Well, you know, that's a funny question. In my day, in my time, we wouldn't say a guy was a "better wrestler"...we'd say he was a "better worker".
You never really got a chance to have a guy you'd always have good matches with. You wrestled six nights a week, against six different guys. That's how you became good...you didn't go in as if it were a dance.
Sometimes, you didn't even know this guy standing in front of you. Some guys you'd go in against were horrible, and it wasn't just a matter of having a good match, it was a matter of protecting yourself. It was all ad-lib...there was no script. In my time, you went in the ring and you worked. You went from move to move, without having any idea what was coming next.
But, as far as the guys I liked...I worked against everybody. I really enjoyed working with guys like Harley Race, Larry Hennig, Reggie Park, Doug Gilbert, Crusher Lisowski. I had a lot of matches against Mad Dog Vachon...he was great. I wrestled Verne Gagne a lot in Minneapolis...I liked working with Verne. I liked working against the Funks. In fact, I had one of Terry Funk's first matches. Pat Patterson...Ray Stevens in California. Kiniski...Don Leo Jonathon. There's just so many.
When I was in New York the first time in 1971, they partnered me with Karl Gotch.
Bill: Tag team champions, right?
Rene: Yes...we beat Tarzan Tyler and Luke Graham. All those guys at the time were great.
Even though I spent so much time in New York, unfortunately I never had the chance to wrestle Bruno [Sammartino] in a singles match...only in tag matches. When I look back on my early days in New York, I think of Gino [Gorilla] Monsoon...God, what a powerful man.
Bill: When I read up on the history , everything says that he was "The Man" back then.
Rene: Oh, he was unbelievable. He was like 450 pounds. He was tough and powerful...very, very strong.
But, you know, you asked who I like...everyone in those days was a worker, if you know what I mean.
Bill: Did you ever go to Japan?
Rene: Oh, yeah. You go to wrestle there, every match is a battle. Those guys work pretty stiff, as well as the fact that they work different. But everything was good, though.
Bill: Did you know that, according to the record books, you are the first guy to beat Ric Flair? You wrestled him in his second match, and his first match was a draw.
Rene: Oh, yeah, I knew that. Ric started in 1972 in Minneapolis...he was about 275 pounds then.
Bill: I've seen those pictures from back then...he doesn't even look like the same guy.
Rene: Oh, yeah...it's unbelievable. You look back then and you look today...well [laughs], he's obviously older, but he looks like a different guy.
When he came down after Minneapolis, he got his first break here in North Carolina because they needed a lot of new talent. Ric was just a kid at the time. He'd been broken into the business by Verne Gagne, at his training camp.
There were a lot of guys who had their first, or one of their first, matches with me...The Iron Sheik, Jim Brunzell, Greg Gagne, Ken Patera. Ken Patera was about 335 pounds back then, too.
A guy who had his very first match with me was Chris Taylor, the bronze Olympian who became a wrestler and, unfortunately, died at a young age [Editor's Note: Chris Taylor died 6/30/79, at the age of 29]. The funny thing about that first match was that when, at the end, he picked me up and put me in a bear hug, the picture of me in the bear hug wound up being a full page picture in a story featured on the cover of People Magazine...and it was like their second or third issue.
Bill: Do you have a copy?
Rene: I used to, but I lost the damn thing.
Bill: It's interesting, because someone sent me an e-mail with a quote from Chris Taylor. Shortly after that match, Chris Taylor went on the "Tomorrow" show with Tom Snyder to discuss professional wrestling. Taylor said about that first match:
"If pro wrestling is fake, I sure wish somebody would have told that other guy [Rene Goulet]."
Rene: [laughs] I'll tell you a story about Chris Taylor. He'd just gotten out of the Olympics, and he was a big guy, like over 400 pounds, and, as a result, his pro wrestling matches wouldn't go very long. They would be like thirty or forty seconds...maybe two minutes.
So, his first battle royal was part of a two-ring battle royal. Verne Gagne invented the two-ring battle royal, doing it the first time in Minneapolis. He used to hold it once a year, in Chicago.
Anyway, this battle royal with Chris Taylor was on ABC's Wide World of Sports. [starts chuckling] I remember this because I was in the battle royal, too. The last two guys in it were Mad Dog Vachon and Chris Taylor. And, Mad Dog Vachon, you know, he was tough. Not the biggest man in the world but, boy, was he a tough son of a gun. Plus, he could wrestle...he went to the Olympics, the Empire Games, He was unbelievable.
So, it's Mad Dog and Chris. And Mad Dog is all over Chris Taylor...Chris is bleeding from the nose...the poor guy's been in the ring for over twenty minutes. And [starts laughing] Mad Dog starts biting Chris Taylor's nose, and Chris is bleeding everywhere!
Chris Taylor won the battle royal, but Mad Dog won the battle. I thought that poor kid was going to die!
(The Rene Goulet interview with DDT Digest concludes in New WAWLI No. 237-2002)
THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) PAPERS No. 237-2002
CONTINUED: THE RENE GOULET INTERVIEW
Bill: Now, you were pretty close to Andre The Giant, right? I remember seeing you interviewed for his A&E biography...
Rene: Oh, yeah...I first met Andre when he first came to Canada from France in 1971 or 1972. They'd just started a new promotion in Montreal, Grand Prix Wrestling, started by Maurice Vachon, Paul Vachon, and a couple other guys.
Andre was being billed at the time as Jean Ferré...he was not yet known as Andre the Giant. So, they brought him in when this promotion started up, and started to build up to a "Match of the Century" between Andre and Don Leo Jonathan.
So, that's how I first met Andre. I was working in New York, and I had four or five days off, and I went up to Montreal to wrestle and I met Andre in Quebec City, and from there we became good friends and remained good friends until he died. He was a very nice man...a very nice guy...
Bill: I didn't realize until watching the A&E biography what an effort it was for Andre to not really hurt people. I mean, as a fan, he's a big guy and all, but the biography really drove home that he was so big and strong that if he wasn't careful, he could have easily killed someone by accident.
Rene: Oh, yeah! You know, when I first met Andre in 1971 or 1972, he was not 500 pounds. He was like 350, and he was lean. Tall as he was, being that thin, he looked even taller back then. He still had the huge hands, though.
And he moved pretty damn good at that time, too. However, over the years, that disease really started to affect him and he really got big. That disease...I don't know what it is...
Rene: Yeah, I think that's it. He just kept getting bigger and bigger. When he died, I think he was well over 500 pounds.
Shit, a guy like that falls on top of you, that's the end of it.
Bill: A while back, you mentioned that you made $75 for your first match. Aside from getting stiffed, what's the least you ever made for wrestling?
Rene: The least I ever made for wrestling was $3.
Rene: Well, I said that $75 was for my first match as a pro wrestler...when I hit the big time with a real promotion. When I first wrestled, it was with the local guys, Sunday night in the basement of the church in Quebec City we got paid $3 for the match. [laughs]
But that's how I started...and we loved it. We had to love the damn business, to hang around through that. It was like any other sport, you had to starve to death before you make it. It's not like today...some of the guys today come up here and make $100,000 and they can't even lace their own boots. That's the problem.
Bill: One thing about Lou Thesz' book that he really went into over and over was what low-lifes a number of the promoters were. Was it the same in Canada, better, or worse?
Rene: Well, for him it was particularly bad because that was before my time, and it was worse back then.
But, sure, in my time they were bad, like that goddamn Nick Gulas in Tennessee...he was the worst. I never worked for him, and I'm glad I never did. He was robbing the wrestlers blind...he was a thief.
A lot of those promoters were starving the wrestlers...in Florida it was real bad. Eddie Graham, at the time, was the same way, too. Florida was bad because even though they were they thieves, the promoters knew the talent would come anyway because of the nice weather and the beaches.
What I did was I stayed away from the bad ones but, definitely, it was not as bad as the time of Lou Thesz.
Bill: Who were the honest promoters?
Rene: Verne Gagne was the best of them all at that time. And, after that, was in New York with Vince McMahon, Sr. He was really good. As a matter of fact, I made some of my best money there.
Out in California, I worked for Roy Shire and he was good.
Bill: I was looking through some of your match history, and I noticed that when you were in the WWF, you wrestled a lot in Madison Square Garden. I always imagined that wrestling there would be the ultimate for a wrestler. Was that your favorite arena?
Rene: Madison Square Garden was a nice arena. You know, when you first go to New York, you're like "Wow!" when you're wrestling in the Garden in one of the largest cities in the world. You feel like you've really hit the big time. It's a famous arena, and it was always great wrestling in the Garden when it was sold out.
It was a hell of a thrill but, you know, after a while, that particular place was no longer that big a deal. I wrestled Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, San Francisco, Minneapolis-St. Paul...as long as it was sold out, it was great.
Bill: Back in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, was it tough dealing with the fans? Did they give you a hard time?
Rene: It was different back then, because we didn't have the protection they have now. Today, you've got barricades around the ring. You've got an entranceway with barricades, so the wrestler's got a free path to and from the ring.
But in my time, there were some buildings, they were small, and you had to walk through the fans to get to the ring. Even if the fans liked you, they'd all be tapping you on the back, and they'd almost kill you on the way back. You had no protection...there were a few guards in the arena, but that's it.
You had your good guys and bad guys, but in some arenas, let's say you had a white guy wrestling a black guy. In those days, it didn't matter who was good or bad. The white people in the crowd would go after the black guy, and the black people in the crowd would go after the white guy. You had a hard time getting out of the building, and once you were out of the building, you had a hard time getting to your car.
Yeah, it was a lot tougher then than today. Sometimes, on the way out of the ring, you'd get cut with a knife. Sometimes, even in the ring. Like, one time in New York, Blackjack Mulligan got cut during a match against Pedro Morales in the Boston Garden. The guy cut him on the arm and the leg, real bad. And they never even caught the guy. He jumped in the ring, attacked Blackjack, and ran back out into the crowd and got away. Boston was a real tough town.
Another time, I was wrestling a tag match and someone threw a bottle right in the ring and it flew right by my head...and I was a good guy at the time! I could have gotten killed right there...the ring was a dangerous place.
There's a lot more protection today, and the reaction of the fans is totally different today than it was in my time. In my time, they were cheering for the good guys and booing the bad guys. They hated the bad guys' guts. They were ready to kill him, but now they love him.
Bill: Now, you were in New York when the WWF really went big in the 1980s, right?
Rene: Yeah, I was there for the beginning of Vince's new era in the 1980s. You know, the first match that Vince ever put on the USA Network was Tito Santana and me, because they knew we'd have a good match together.
Bill: In the 1980s, on the show Tuesday Night Titans (TNT), didn't you have a feature Cafe Rene?
Rene: You remember that?
Bill: Very vaguely. Could you refresh my memory?
Rene: We had the studio set up like a cafe...with tables, like a restaurant. I was Ché Rene, the restaurant owner. My wife was in the skit, like she was going to cook or some damn thing. We had a guy come out and do magic tricks...it was crazy.
We'd bring the guys out to interview them, and serve them wine and food.
I still have the tape with that on it. I haven't watched it in a long time...I need to pull it out and watch it again.
Bill: TNT was just so great. It was a set up like a regular talk show, and all the wrestlers would come out in character. It was so much fun.
Rene: Oh, yeah, that show was really wonderful...a lot of fun. It was done at Studio One in Baltimore. Do you remember those skits with Don Muraco and Mr. Fuji? They were great.
Bill: That's funny, because Don Muraco is one of the reasons I fell in love with pro wrestling.
Bill: Yeah. I wasn't much of a fan of pro wrestling, and a friend dragged me off to a live card. Muraco, who was a bad guy at the time, was in the ring. Some girl about eight years old in the front row held up a sign saying what a bad guy he was. He leaned over the top rope and blew a snot out of his nostril right at her feet.
I was hooked.
Rene: [laughs] You know, the first time I met Don Muraco, he was not even in the wrestling business. I met him in Hawaii...I was wrestling in Hawaii at the time, and he used to come to the gym that I was working out at there.
He looked great at the time. He was really lean and he was also a hell of a surfer. He used to bike to the gym, work out, and then go surfing. Then a few years later, he's in the wrestling business.
Bill: Who from the wrestling business do you still keep in touch with?
Rene: Right here in Charlotte, I've got my friend Tim Woods [Mr. Wrestling]. I keep in touch with Pat Patterson, we're still pretty good friends. Bobby Heenan calls me once in a while...we stay in touch, we're good friends. We actually just talked a couple of days ago. I talk to Gene Okerlund once in a while...we worked together when I was a road agent for the WWF. I see Ric Flair...I work out at one of his gyms. I haven't seen Arn in a while, probably not for a year or so...he used to go to the same gym I went to, but he goes to a different one of Ric's gyms now.
When the guys come into town, I go to the matches and get together with all of them. I went down to a golf tournament in Miami at Doral about two months ago for a golf tournament, and a lot of the guys were there...especially a lot of guys from the WWF. It was good to see them.
You know, really everybody I was friends with, I still consider a friend. But the wrestling business is kind of funny...once you get out of it, you lose touch with everybody in it pretty quickly.
Bill: What are you doing these days?
Rene: I play golf as much as I can. I played this afternoon. I'm not playing tomorrow but I'm playing the next two days after that. I play about four times a week.
I play in a lot of tournaments. Because I was a wrestler, I get the chance to play in a lot of charity tournaments. The one in Miami was really nice. I was recently at a two-day charity tournament in Pennsylvania. I've got three tournaments coming up in July. I do about ten or fifteen a year. They're really great...I get to meet a lot of different people.
Bill: Do you still have a lot of people come up to you and say "I used to watch you wrestle"?
Rene: Oh, yeah, especially up in your area. Pretty much anywhere on the East Coast I get recognized the most. When I was up in Pennsylvania for that tournament, everybody remembered me.
When I wrestled in New York, I got a lot of exposure but, over my career, I wrestled all over the country. No matter where I go it's "I remember you...the Claw!" They remember my finishing hold. It's always a good time when that happens.
Bill: Do you still watch wrestling on TV?
Rene: Oh, yeah. I still watch them. Sometimes, I don't like
what I see. I guess if you're not a wrestler, you can sit down and enjoy it all
but, for me, some of it is not what I remember, and it seems stupid. You see
these guys that are not wrestlers out there in front of the camera, and they
have no business being there. They are in charge of the show and in front of the
camera and, not only that, but they put themselves in the ring.
I mean, get in the gym and work out and at least get a build, you know? It's awful.
Bill: Who do you think has the better product?
Rene: I think that Vince McMahon's got the best show there is. He's got some tremendous athletes. The Rock is great, and his dad and granddad were in the business and he's a great athlete.
The other company...I don't know. You've got a guy like Goldberg and he is so over, and then he turns bad. Seems like it's ruining a really good thing.
So, I still watch...but I'm not sitting in front of that damn TV for three hours straight on Monday night...I'll tell you that much. [laughs]
Bill: Yeah, I used to do all the writing for my website myself, and it got to be too much.
Rene: When I used to work for the WWF as a road agent, every night we'd have to call in to the office and report and, it's funny, you guys on the Internet would write a better report than I could give over the phone.
Every night...back to the hotel...it's the same damn thing...you've got to go over every match from beginning to end. The Rock did this...the Undertaker did that...and on and on. Then I read the reports on the Internet and I think, "Shit...I should have those guys call in my report and save me the work!"
Bill: Yeah, we like to pretend we're sportswriters.
Rene: When you're a road agent, you run a show, usually with one other agent, and you are responsible for sending the guys to the ring and watching everything the guys do.
But, while you were doing that, somebody comes up and says there's something going on in the dressing room, and you've got to separate a couple of the guys. I had to break up a couple of fights in the dressing room as a road agent. You've got to get in between these two huge guys...holy cow. It's really busy at those shows...there's always something going on.
Bill: Mister Goulet, I could talk to you for hours, but I don't want to keep you.
Rene: It's been my pleasure. You know, when I was up in
Pennsylvania, everybody was interested in hearing my stories, and I think it's
really great that everyone likes to hear this stuff. I've got more than 35 years
worth of stories, and I think it's wonderful that people are interested.
THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) PAPERS No. 238-2002
What more is there to be said about one of the sport's all-time greatest grapplers. The New Mexico wildman is better known for his roughouse tactics, and his brawls with every major legend of his era, than for the numerous titles which he held throughout his illustrious career. Brody is arguably the greatest professional wrestler who never won a world Heavyweight singles or tag team title.
Background -- Bruiser Brody was born Frank Donald Goodish in Pennsylvania in 1946. Brody made his home in Alberquerque, New Mexico during his wrestling career. He stood 6-foot-7, and weighed 300 pounds.
Brody made his pro debut in 1973. Shortly thereafter (then using his real name), he first formed a successful tag team in the Tri-State promotion with Stan Hansen, winning the NWA Tri-State tag team titles in 1974. Brody would then go on to hold the Florida Heavyweight title that year, as well.
We first got a major glimpse of Brody on a nationwide basis back in the mid 1970s, when he mounted a very serious challenge to Bruno Sammartino's WWWF title. On many occasions, Bruno barely escaped with his world title.
However, Brody was recognized as one of the most feared villains in the sport's history. He stood 6-7, and weighed (exactly) 300 pounds. Brody also frequently traveled to territories throughout North America. By the late 1970s, Brody was already a legendary figure in Puerto Rico (where he feuded with the legendary Carlos Colon), and in Georgia (where he was managed by Gary Hart), as one of the most hated wrestlers of all-time.
Brody had by now become a tag team specialist, as well. he returned to Japan several times in 1981, nearly capturing the coveted NWA International Heavyweight title in a tournament in 1981, before being forced to miss the final because of injury. He would, however, go on to win the title (then All-Japan's top singles title) from Dory Funk Jr. (whom he would have faced in the finals of the tournament in April) in October, and again in April of 1982. Brody also teamed with Jimmy Snuka to win the 1981 All-Japan world tag team title tournament.
In the states, meanwhile, Brody worked as a face in Joe Blanchard's Southwest Championship wrestling promotion, winning its' world tag team title. Brody also engaged in a memorable feud with Blackjack Mulligan in Georgia. That was Brody. Top "good guy" in Texas, "bad guy" in Georgia, but never did he change his wrestling style.
In 1983 (between several trips to Japan), Brody reappeared in Fritz Von Erich's World Class promotion at "Star Wars", and upon his return won the American tag team titles with Kerry Von Erich. Brody also engaged in a memorable feud with the 400-lb. Ugandan giant, Kamala.
1985 saw Brody make a shocking switch from All-Japan (where he held the PWF tag team titles with Hansen) to its chief rival in Japan, New Japan pro-wrestling, where he faced Antonio Inoki for the IWGP title on several occasions. Back home, Brody returned to Texas and engaged in a very bloody feud with former Japan rival Terry Gordy, culminating in a barbed wire match in Texas Stadium, which saw Brody defeat Terry Gordy, but with neither man looking much like a winner.
This was a very busy time for Brody. Between 1985 and 1987, Brody worked for the following promotions (and many more) World Class, AWA, SCW, New-Japan, All-Japan, Georgia, Florida, Central States (Missouri), WWC (Puerto Rico) and Memphis.
In the mid-1980s, Brody was regarded as the uncrowned world champion. He would come within a hair of winning Ric Flair's NWA world Heavyweight title on over a half-dozen occasions, often in Saint Louis. In March of 1986, he also received a shot at Rick Rude's WCCW world title at Texas Stadium, as a result of a fan balloting, a testament to the respect that Brody had earned during his 15-year career. Brody was also voted as the number-one wrestler in the world in 20 crucial categories in 1986, edging out the likes of Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Ric Flair, & Dusty Rhodes. 1986 also saw Brody feud with Gary Hart, who managed a stable which included the likes of Killer Brooks and The One Man Gang.
Finally, the World Class officials decided to lock these two in a steel cage at the Cotton Bowl extravaganza in October of 1986, with Fritz Von Erich as the special referee. This was the usual bloodbath, with Abdullah resorting to his usual tactics, including attempting to use a spoon as a weapon! Thankfully for Brody, however, Von Erich would thwart Abby's efforts, and Brody was able to score a pinfall.
Then, World Class put together a loser-leaves-town match between the two, which was won by Abdullah with help from Gary Hart. However, Brody would return under a mask and in the March 1987 papade of Champions at Texas Stadium, got his revenge when he received 5 minutes with Hart, and delivered a brutal beating.
A month later, Brody would reappear in All-Japan's pro wrestling, and would win the NWA International Heavyweight title from Jumbo Tsruta in March of 1988. Sadly, this would be Brody's last major title.
On July 16, 1988, Brody was scheduled to wrestle later that night when he was stabbed in the dressing room of a coliseum in San Juan Puerto Rico. "Tell my son I love him...and my wife I love her, too" were his final words to Carlos Colon, according to PWI magazine. Brody would die the following day on the operating table of stab wounds to the abdomen, leaving behind a wife (Barbara) and son. Fellow wrestler Jose Gonzales was charges with Brody's murder, but was later acquitted (after Tony Atlas' refusal to testify against Gonzales, which was a crushing blow to the prosecution). Brody's murder remains "unsolved."
Frank "Bruiser Brody" Goodish was one of the wildest, most insane, and most impersonated men ever to step in the ring. The 6`8, 325 lb. New Mexican wildman, with long curly black hair, scraggly beard and furry boots brawled with such reckless abandon and fury that he is a true legend in every country he performed in. His style and image have been emulated more times than can be counted, which is more a tribute to his originality and uniqueness than blatant copying. Bruiser Brody is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, brawlers the sport has ever known. His story is also one of wrestling's most tragic...
Frank Goodish was born in 1946 in Pennsylvania, moved to New Mexico during his youth, and started his career as "Bruiser" Frank Brody in 1973. By September of 1974, he won his first championship -- the NWA U.S. (Tri-State version) Tag team titles with Stan Hansen. This was the beginning of what would be, from that point forward, a life-long friendship. By 1975, Brody was in main event title matches with the great Bruno Sammartino...not bad for only 2 years in the sport!
Among other tournaments and championship's, Brody won:
the NWA Western States title in 1975,
the Florida Heavyweight title,
4 NWA North American titles,
3 Texas Tag Team titles between 1977-79,
the Texas Heavyweight title,
the Texas Brass Knuckles title,
4 American Tag Team titles (3 w/Kerry Von Erich, 1 w/Ernie Ladd),
the Central States Tag Team title (w/Ladd) and
the Cenral States Heavyweight title in 1980,
3 NWA International Heavyweight titles between 1981-1988,
the Australian World Brass Knuckles title,
the World Wrestling Association World Heavyweight title,
the PWF Tag Team titles (w/Hansen),
the WCCW TV title in 1986, and
the last title he would ever hold, the NWF International Heavyweight title in 1987.
Brody wrestled with such unpredictability and force...he was banned (for real) from a couple of promotions for wildly swinging chairs and chains at anyone unfortunate enough to get too close to him -- including the fans at ringside! He was an instant success in Japan, and has been considered a "wrestling God" there since his Japanese debut in a tag match with (King) Curtis Iukea vs. Giant Baba and The Masked Destroyer in January of 1979.
During his 15 years in the sport, Brody wrestled both as a hated villian and a loved hero. He feuded with the best in the sport during his time in the ring...Dick The Bruiser (for the right to the name "Bruiser", which he lost...ever wonder why Brody was sometimes called "King Kong"?), Bruno Sammartino, the Funks, Ric Flair, Abdullah the Butcher, the Von Erich Family, Dusty Rhodes, Dick Murdoch, Harley Race, and many more. Probably his most remembered feud, though, was against Andre The Giant. At 6`8 and over 320 lbs., Brody was a legitimate physical challenge for Andre, and he gave the Giant some of the toughest matches of his career during their on-again, off-again 10-year feud. When Andre and Brody wrestled, the ring would literally move when one of them whipped the other's giant frame into the corner! It was one of the best feud's in wrestling history and of either man's career...
As was the case everywhere he wrestled, Bruiser Brody was one of the biggest stars/draws in the Puerto Rican-based World Wrestling Council. He had legendary feuds/matches there with Abdullah, Carlos Colon, and the Invader. But his feud with the Masked Invader (Jose Gonzalez, co-owner of WWC) proved to be the last of his career.
Frank Goodish aka Bruiser Brody was murdered in a Puerto Rican locker room on July 17, 1988, the victim of several stab wounds to the stomach. Jose Gonzalez was charged with the murder. The news of Brody's murder sent shockwaves through the world of wrestling, and everyone wanted to know just why someone would murder the well-liked (among his fellow wrestlers) Brody.
Tony Atlas witnessed the murder take place while in the same locker room. In a statement to police at the time, Atlas told the authorities that Gonzalez had approached Brody (after a series of real-life confrontations between Brody-Gonzalez) in the shower with a long, concealed hunting knife and stabbed Goodish in the torso several times. Atlas would refuse to testify at the trial though, and Gonzalez was eventually acquitted. Brody's family attorney was quoted at the time saying that Atlas refused extradition (he was allowed to do so on a technicality) and that the case had depended entirely on his testimony. Without Atlas, they had no case.
Unlike in the United States, the jury in a Puerto Rican murder
case does not have to come to a unanimous decision, and which ever way the
majority of the jury votes is how the verdict is rendered. Although Puerto Rican
law came to a different conclusion, most familiar with the case believe Brody's
murderer walked away a free man. The World Wrestling Council, once a wrestling
hot-bed, all but disappeared after the negative publicity and devastating loss
of American talent who refused to work in Puerto Rico after Brody's murder. But
the loss of the WWC pales in comparison to the loss the sport suffered when
Frank Goodish died. Wrestling lost a true legend on that steamy August night,
the likes of which we may never see again...
THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) PAPERS No. 239-2002
MORE FROM THE UNOFFICIAL BRUISER BRODY
Frank Donald Goodlish of San Antonio, known as Bruiser Brody, was stabbed in his dressing room minutes before a match and died on a hospital operating table, Sunday, July 17th, 1988.
Goodlish, 42, was stabbed twice, once in the stomach and once in the chest during an argument Saturday night just before a match with a wrestler known as Danerous Danny Spiver. The stabbing tooks place at 7:30 pm, Saturday night at the Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium in the San Juan suburb of Bayamon, Goodish died hours later as he was being operated at the Medical Center in the Rio Pledras sector of San Juan.
Professional Wrestling lost a true battle when Brody, the man
who many felt was indestructable was stabbed by Jose Gonzales, better known to
wrestling fans as Invader I. No one knows the real reason behind the incident.
Brody's Last Battle -- Friday night in Ponce was the night the fans were waiting for. The Battle of the Giants had begun. Carlos Colon and Bruiser Brody vs. Abdullah the Butcher nd his partner (for the first time), Dangerous Dan Spivey. For fans, it was nearly impossible trying to keep up with the action -- in and out of the ring. When the match finally ended, Brody and Spivey were rolling on the floor outside the ring. Abdullah had split Carlos' head open with a foreign object
without the referee's knowledge, and pinned him for a three count.
Pandemonium broke loose for the fans, who had seen one of the
wildest matches ever! Little did the fans suspect that they would never see
Brody's Career -- Brody began his career in 1973, right from the start everyone
knew he was something special. In 1974 Brody, along with his close friend Stan Hansen captured the U.S. tag team title in the now defunct Mid South Territory. From there, his career began to skyrocket. He traveled to Florida where he captured the Florida Heavyweight title, and after that, his next stop was the World Wide Wrestling Federation.
Before turning pro wrestler, Brody, at times carried as much as 320 pounds on his 6-foot, 6 frame, joined the now-defunct San Antonio Toros football team in 1968.
Brody's True Colors -- Many felt Brody was a loner, but he was actually shy and
reserved. While others laughed, joked and partied the night away, he would frequently stay in his room. It was during these quiet moments that the "real" Bruiser Brody, Frank Goodish emerged.
He would often talk about his early athletic endeavors, his love of football and baseball and his days as a sports journalist in Dallas before becoming a wrestler.
Brody in his death left behind a wife "Barbara and a son, Geoffrey who at the time was 8 years of age.
Brody's Death: A Cover Up?
Written by "Dirty" Dutch Mantell
It is already known that Jose Gonzalez was the man that stabbed and killed Bruiser Brody. He pleaded self defense, and partly due to a weak justice system in Puerto Rico, and partly due to the fact that nobody was at Gonzalez' trial on behalf of Brody, Gonzalez was acquitted. The controversy surrounds why the men that were subpoenaed never got to Puerto Rico to testify. Yes, it is true that certain wrestlers would not talk. But there were many who were very willing to talk. Unfortunately, they never got their chance.
I arrived in Puerto Rico for a two day run on a Saturday afternoon. After deplaning and collecting my bags, I made my way to the Lagoon el Canario, where I would be staying. The El Canario was a great hotel by Puerto Rican standards, because they had cable with a remote and in-room air conditioning.
That's almost a luxury. I met Bruiser in the lobby of the hotel where we were also to meet (Tony) Atlas. Bruiser told me that Tony had arranged a ride for the three of us with a guy who operated a local gym and who was a big wrestling fan. After a few minutes, Atlas arrived and we departed for Bayamon Loubriel Stadium around 6:00 PM. The trip takes about 20 minutes so we were very early for the show. Everything was fine; just small talk made in the car on the way over. We collected our bags from the trunk upon arrival and entered the stadium, headed for the dressing room. But, as we entered the dressing area, I felt tension in the air. I always felt tension in the air there, as it's an extremely dangerous place to work. But that night it was really heavy. Don't ask me why. I don't even know. I just felt it. As I entered, I was following Bruiser and I noticed Carlos (Colon) and Invader (Jose Gonzalez) sitting on a bench to my right. Invader was trying on his leather strap, that he wears on his arm, with his teeth. Neither spoke.
Thinking back on it now, I don't believe any acknowledgement was made to Brody either. I followed Brody to the rear of the room, directly in front of the shower door. There were other guys who were already there. The Youngbloods, TNT, Roberto Soto, and Castillo Jr. were in various stages of unpacking and getting ready. I have always hated dressing rooms, so I sat down briefly and, still feeling uneasy about the tension that I felt, decided to go check the crowd. The is a ritual with me; I always check out the crowd or arena when i get there just to familiarize myself with it.
Bayamon Stadium is a baseball stadium so I arose from my chair and headed through a tunnel to get to the field. It's only about 100 feet through the tunnel, and I stood, watching the crowd file in for no more than than three minutes, and I had not been gone from the dressing room longer than 5 or 6 minutes, at the most. But when I returned, my eyes met horror. The whole dressing room was chaotic. The first person I saw was Chris Youngblood. I asked him what had happened. He was almost hysterical as he said, "Jose stabbed Brody." I still did not know what he meant but as I looked deeper in the room, I saw Brody lying prone on the floor with several guys surrounding him. I thought that some guy named Jose had rushed into the room and attacked Brody. Everybody in PR is named Jose so I looked at Chris again and he said, "Invader, Invader stabbed Brody." It was bedlam in the dressing room. Now, everything started to move in slow motion. I remember walking over to where Brody was laying and just staring in disbelief. A doctor is always present in San Juan and he was crying.
Brody was conscious and as I looked closer, I could see a stab wound about an inch long and deep with air bubbles escaping from it. Much later, the doctor told me that meant that the blade had pierced the lung. Brody was telling promoter Carlos Colon to take care of his family. I didn't see a lot of blood but, again, later I learned that he was hemorrhaging internally. I believe that Bruiser knew he was going to die. "This can't be happening" I thought to myself. This can't be real. But real it was. I am not a very religious person but I eased over in a corner out of everyones way and prayed for Bruiser. I then found myself looking through a plexiglass door which led into the shower. The door was kind of translucent plexiglass that distorted images somewhat, but I saw the Invader and Victor Jovica screaming at each other in the shower room. Noise was everywhere and I couldn't make out what they were saying but even if I could've heard them, they were speaking in Spanish, (which they often do). But I could see that a struggle was in process.
Invader and Jovica were shoving each other. It seemed as though Invader was attempting to leave and Jovica was trying to stop him. Brody was still on the floor. The doctor was working furiously to do what he could to help him. A call went out for an ambulance. It seemed like an eternity before aid arrived. And they didn't even get the call through official channels. Victor Quinones called a local radio station and told them to broadcast that an ambulance was needed immediately at the stadium. A paramedic crew was eating at a nearby McDonald's and heard the request on the radio. Brody, by the time paramedics had arrived, had lain there for over 25 minutes. Atlas was in a state of shock as were the rest of us. While the paramedics were preparing Bruiser to take him to the emergency room, I witnessed Invader leave the shower, walk around the feet of Brody, grab his car keys and leave. Finally, after what had seemed like an eternity, Brody was loaded onto a gurney to be taken out. Brody, by this time, had been down at least 40 minutes. The paramedics couldn't lift him. I saw Tony Atlas, almost by himself, carry Brody up four or five steps and transport him to the ambulance. Tony went with Brody to the hospital. At this point, nobody knew what to say or even what had happened. But I knew enough to stand back and observe the situation.
Puerto Ricans basically didn't like the American boys coming down there and taking their money that they felt was rightfully theirs. And since I was in the dark as to what happened, I was watching to see what would happen next.
Chris Youngblood told me that Invader had approached Brody and requested that he accompany him to the shower to talk business. He said that Invader's hand was covered with a towel. Then he said he heard screaming and a commotion inside the shower and then seeing Brody stumble through the door holding his chest. Brody went down; he didn't collapse but went down under his own control. That was just before I got back into the room.
The guys in the other dressing room knew that something had happened, but were kept in the dark as to what it was. Atlas, by this time, had returned to the stadium and he kept saying that Brody was going to die. I told Tony to stop saying that, but Tony, by this time, was out of control completely. The whole situation was out of control. Some Police Officers entered the room and Tony began to tell them what happened, but they couldn't understand English. Strange thing about it though. They didn't take it seriously. They would smile and mutter to each other because they just thought it was another wild PR angle.
Time moved slow. Atlas was screaming by now. He was screaming at the cops who weren't understanding a thing he was saying. He tried to enlist an interpreter to tell them what happened. And the Invader reappeared. Nobody knew where had gone but I surmised that he went home, because he came back with a different shirt on. He came right back as though nothing had happened and started conducting business as usual. He completely ignored Atlas, who looked wild by now, Atlas pleaded with several PR boys to translate but they'd look at Invader and walk away. Finally, Roberto Soto said he'd interpret. It was to no avail. These cops grew up watching Carlos and Invader so, to them, they were big stars and they, just ordinary policemen.
I was on last that night and Atlas and I left the stadium and headed for the hospital that Brody had been taken to. El Medico Centro was the name of it and somebody had told me that it was the best medical facility on the island. As we were walking into the hospital, I met the surgeon who had already operated on Brody. I asked him about Brody's status and he just looked at me and said it was touch and go. Brody never left the operating room. They actually performed two surgeries that night. I always believed that if Brody had been in an American hospital, he would still be alive. What Brody actually died from as loss of blood. He literally bled to death on the table during the second operation.
When I got back to my hotel room, I told the desk clerk that if any calls came in for Brody, direct them to my room. I couldn't sleep. I was staying with one of the midgets, the Irish Leprechaun. The phone rang. The little guy answered the phone and told me it was Brody's wife. I looked at my watch. It was 5:00 AM. How would I say this without causing undue panic? I calmly explained to her that frank had been in an accident and she should get to PR as quickly as she could. I told her that it was serious, but I thought he'd be alright. I hung up the phone. Again, I looked at my watch. It was 5:20 AM. Brody dies at 5:40 AM.
After the call, I could not sleep. I tossed and turned and finally, just got up. I went down to the front desk around 7:30 AM and the girl on duty was an American from Chicago who spoke Spanish. I asked her to call the hospital and find out what room Brody was in. That's when i found out he was dead. No words can describe how I felt. The girl at the desk got tears in her eyes. She told me that she was sorry. I just went outside the hotel and sat down for a while. How could this happen?
While I was sitting there, Buddy Landell came over and asked how Brody was. It was all I could do to tell him and he said cut the BS. I guess he could tell by the look in my eye that I wasn't kidding. We were supposed to go to Mayaguez that sfternoon, but I never even packed my bag. I knew that I wasn't going. Miguelito Perez came to pick me up, but when I told him the news, he refused to go, too.
Most of the PR guys didn't hear the news until they got to town that afternoon. But after they heard of Brody's death, they refused to go to the ring. I heard thatit was a sold out $25,000 house. They sent the fans home telling them that they could use the tickets next week. I don't believe they told them the real reason why.
Later that afternoon we were all in Atlas' room. Present at the time was Atlas, myself, Spivey, Jaggers, Ron Starr, and Dan Kroffat. I had been waiting all day for somebody to contact me. But nothing seemed to be happening. I learned later that the WWC office was stonewalling information on the wrestlers whereabouts.
Atlas stated that we had to tell somebody. I then remembered the names of the detectives that the girl at the desk had given me when she made the call to the hospital that morning. Orlando Figueroa, Pedro Clanero, and Hector Quinones.
Atlas talked to one of the detectives on the phone and told him where we were. The detectives said that they'd be right over and they were, in about ten minutes.
They came into the room, asked a few questions, and then transported Atlas to Headquarters. Tony left the hotel around 5:00 PM. He did not return until 10:00 PM. I started to get worried about him, but when he came back he told them that they wanted to talk to me. Of course, I agreed. The station looked like something you'd expect to find in El Salvador, hot and stinking, with no air conditioning and a big overhead fan. I told them what I had seen, and afterwards signed a sworn deposition as to my testimony. I could only swear as to what I actually saw, but I did my part. As I was leaving, I saw TNT and Miguelito Perez there. I didn't ask them any questions and they did not ask me any either. So, I don't know what their statements said. I was told by the detectives that Jose Gonzalez would be charged with first degree murder and advised me that when the time for the trial came, I would be subpoenaed and transported back to PR to testify. They told me that airfare and hotel would be arranged for me and that security would be provided. That's what they said. However, that's not what they did.
I was depressed when I left PR and even more so when I got back to Birmingham. If you've ever been to Birmingham, you'd know what I mean. I told my wife in detail everything that had happened. She told me that nothing would be done to Jose Gonzalez. I got mad at her. How could something not be done? I told her to wait and see. I waited, and I saw that she was right. I got two separate subpoenas for the trial. The first trial date was postponed. The second trial was scheduled for January 23-26, 1989. I still have my subpoena. It was issued 1\3\89 but according to the post date was not mailed until 1\13\89. That meant that it laid on somebody's desk for a full 10 days. Remember the trial was to start on January 23rd? I received the subpoena on January 24th. I had already heard the verdict by the time I opened the subpoena. I never heard from the detectives again, not even to this day.
(Ed Coutu TNT is the WWF's Savio Vega, Castillo and Perez are also of the Los Boriquas.)
THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It)
PAPERS No. 240-2002
HULK HOGAN SUES ACCUSER IN SEXUAL-ASSAULT DISPUTE
(Minenapolis Star Tribune, Saturday, Jan. 6, 1996)
HULK HOGAN says a Twin Cities woman is trying to extort money from him. The woman, KATE KENNEDY, claims that she was sexually assaulted by the pro wrestler over Labor Day Weekend.
Hogan, whose legal name is TERRY BOLLEA, filed suit Thursday in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, alleging that Kennedy and her attorney, PETER JOHNSON, threatened to initiate criminal proceedings against Hogan unless he agreed to a large financial settlement.
Hogan had been in Minneapolis over Labor Day weekened for a World Championship Wrestling event at the Mall of America, where Kennedy was managing promotional merchandise for the event, Johnson said. He said she made no financial claims.
Hogan's lawyer, GEOFFREY JARPE, said his client denies breaking the law.
‘LISTEN UP, YOU PENCIL-NECK GEEKS!’
(Modesto Bee, January 30, 2001)
By Claire Noonan
Now his name is Donovan Morgan. But the professional wrestler used to be Andrew Vassos, 1994 Ripon Christian High School grad.
Professional wrestling takes sacrifice, he says. "Some people don't want to make the sacrifice, and you know what? I don't blame them. You have to sacrifice eating habits, relationships. You have to make time to work out in the gym, run, do the treadmill. It's a time-consuming thing, but it's an addiction."
He didn't play sports at Ripon Christian, but has put on 70 pounds -- up to 210 -- while trying to fulfill his childhood dream.
Q: How and when did you get interested in professional wrestling?
A: Ever since people asked me growing up what I wanted to do, I would say, "I'm going to be in pro wrestling." Since I was 7 years old I've had a passion for this business and nothing else.
At 18, I found there was a wrestling school in Hayward. Its owner, Roland Alexander, started All Pro Wrestling in '91. When I met him, I liked him. He was real honest. He asked if I was going to go to college and said I should get some college under my belt so I had something to fall back on. I started classes at Modesto JC, but after about a year, it was driving me crazy. I thought, gosh I could be doing this wrestling thing. I told my dad, "You've got to let me try this."
I ended up going to All Pro Wrestling about the time I turned 20. Their camp is a two-year program, the longest in pro wrestling. To learn the trade takes a couple of years.
I was trained by Michael Modest, who was in the movie "Beyond the Mat." He recently made his debut on "Monday Nitro" for World Championship Wrestling. So the school is pretty reputable.
I moved to Hayward, and every day I was down there at that school, just studying and trying to absorb. I'd get in the ring every day, go to dinner and lunch with all the wrestling veterans and listen to their stories. After about a year and a half, in mid-'97, I got a tryout with WCW.
Q: How did it go?
A: That was pretty much a dream come true, to wrestle at Arco Arena in front of 18,000 fans. At the time I was very, very small. They told me, ''Put some size on and we'll start looking at you. But the wrestling, you're solid. On the body end, get the body in shape."
It was a wake-up call for me. People don't turn on the TV and see skinny, scrawny guys. About a year later, I got to wrestle for the World Wrestling Federation, a dark match. When they're going to do Monday night shows that are live at 6, the dark match is before they go live on TV. It's a chance for them to look at you and see what you've got. I wrestled Mike Modest.
Q: Does a professional wrestler have to be huge?
A: When I liked wrestling in the '80s, it was a big man's sport, no little guys. I thought, maybe some day little guys will be accepted. Right now, more than ever, little guys are accepted. People want to see fast-paced action. I'm 6 feet tall, 215 pounds, not bad for cruiserweight division, which is anything below 225. WCW has a cruiserweight division. They're pushing their guys. Michael Modest will be part of it.
Q: How long does it take to make it?
A: Michael Modest has been doing it for 10 years. Pat Patterson from the WWF once told me it takes about five years to get your name out there, for people to recognize who you are. I'm pretty much on track. I'm getting ready to do about six dates in Chicago, and I'm going to Florida in April as well as St. Louis. I'm trying to delve into Japan.
I appreciate the fact that I got to wrestle for the WWF Jan. 8 in San Jose Arena at their show called "Metal." I wrestled K Quick. He's a backup dancer for MC Hammer. He's a guy who never even wanted to do wrestling. He's got the ability to dance, the ability to rap. When it comes to knowing a wrist lock from a wrist watch, he might not be there. But he can dance and sing better than I can. The match was good. Everyone backstage seemed to like it.
Q: Can you make a living at pro wrestling?
A: I've been making a full-time living at it for about a year. I'm the head camp instructor at APW. As a wrestler, promoters pay for travel and for you to wrestle and for lodging. People think, he's got it made. They're paying for this stuff and he gets to see the world for free.
I've had to make lots of sacrifices, call a promoter and say, "I'm Donovan Morgan. I want exposure. I'll pay for my own ticket." It's about making a name for yourself. Once you do it, things start to rolling.
Q: What's the best thing about it?
A: I get to do what I love.
Q: What's the worst thing?
A: Right now it's one of those businesses where if you have a body, a guy walks up to Vincent McMahon (WWF chairman), and he's automatically in, no paying dues. I set up wrestling rings for two years before I actually even got in. It made me want it that much more.
Now people don't learn their trade. It's more entertainment. If you can pull a sock out of your tights, get over a gimmick, that comes first. Wrestling comes second. It's sad to see wrestling turned into a movie, almost.
Q: On a scale of 1 to 10, how dangerous is pro wrestling?
A: If you don't know what you're doing, it's a 10. If you know what you're doing and you practice, probably an 8.
The thing people don't know is professionals go to the hospital, too. People think wrestling is fake, that it doesn't hurt. After the first day of camp, I was rattled. I thought the ring was like a mattress. It wasn't. It took me 2 months to build up a pain tolerance to the ring. I broke my hand in three places in a wrestling match and didn't even know it until six months later. I thought I'd sprained it and waited for it to go away.
I've broken a couple of ribs, landed on my head a couple of times. I would say professional wrestlers are the toughest athletes next to hockey players.
Q: What's a misconception about pro wrestling?
A: People think, well, its choreographed and the finishes of the match are predetermined. That doesn't make a bit of difference as far as the competition goes. It's predetermined who the winner will be, but the actual match and what guys do, they are athletes. You have to be an athlete to jump to the top rope from four feet and do a moonsault (backflip).
Q: Is it entertainment or a sport?
A: In America it's entertainment, in Japan it's a sport. The difference is in America, fans know it's choreographed. Sometimes wrestlers don't learn the trade well enough and they expose that fact. They look horrible. In Japan it's a grueling five-year training course. Fans there wear suits and ties. There's no yelling at the wrestlers.
Q: What does it take to be a good pro wrestler?
A: There's psychology to an actual wrestling match. You don't just lock up with someone and give them a power bomb, a big finishing move. There's a story to be told in every wrestling match: whether I'm going to work an opponent's arm in every match or his leg and he's going to work back. You don't just get in the ring and do moves.
Q: How do you handle it when you don't win?
A: A lot of guys get bent out of shape. You have to realize the outcome doesn't matter. If you put on a great match for 15 minutes, you've done your job. That's a true professional. If you're worried about wins or losses, you're in the wrong sport.
Q: What about backyard wrestlers?
A: When I was young, I did my share of backyard wrestling. I even built a ring. I saw kids jumping off the roof, hitting each other over the head. That never was and never will be wrestling. There's no real art to that.
You have to know how to go through a table, where it doesn't go beyond that. Being an instructor, I know that if you start practicing things you don't know how to do, you develop bad habits and they're hard to break.
I watched this thing on MTV on backyard wrestling. It was showing crazy things, kids jumping off tables, hamming it up for the camera. They were going beyond what they would do without a camera. Do you think these kids are going to stop now that they've been on MTV?
Q: What advice would you give someone who wanted to be a professional wrestler?
A: Instead of building a ring, go to the gym and work out. Work hard on your body. That's the first thing they look at. Work hard from 15 or even younger, until 20. You'll be so much further than everyone.
Definitely start eating right. Instead of fast food, a hamburger or french fries, eat a boneless, skinless chicken breast. Eat food that makes you feel good. If you eat good foods, chicken, egg whites, you feel good and have energy.
I recommend kids doing lots of exercises, a fair share of cardiovascular. Weight training gets to be bigger once you've trained for a little bit.
I tell kids, learn psychology, watch people like Chris Benoit with WWF or Shawn Michaels, guys who know psychology and can put a match together, tell a story. Learn the basic holds. Don't be jumping off the top rope doing things you haven't been taught how to do. You won't get to the big dance but you will get to the hospital.
Q: Does pro wrestling give you a rush?
A: Big time, still. People go, "Did you get nervous at the San Jose Arena in front of the fans?" I don't get nervous any more at big shows for the WWF. If you go out there and mess up, there's nothing you can do. Just go out there and have fun.
The best part is I'm not a huge, known name -- yet. To go into an arena like San Jose and get people excited and out of their seats for little old me, I look at it as I'm doing my job.
For more information, visit Morgan on the World Wide Web at www.allprowrestling.com or http://donovanmorgan.com.
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