THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) PAPERS No. 271-2002
LUBBOCK WRESTLER, PROMOTER DIES
(Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2002)
By Ted Dunnam
Nick Roberts, a former professional wrestler and wrestling promoter in Lubbock since 1962, died from pancreatic cancer Saturday afternoon at his home.
No other details about his death were available.
Roberts booked hundreds of matches, most of which were held at the Fair Park Coliseum. Roberts once described his favorite wrestler as a "good, clean athlete who minds his own business, pays his bills and has drawing power."
Roberts once recalled the time Dory Funk Sr. wrestled bad guys such as The Viking.
"You were just supposed to like the good guys and hate the bad guys," he said.
Of professional wrestling, Roberts said in a July 1988 Avalanche-Journal interview:
"The pace has been accelerated greatly and I believe the TV has hurt some of the men — they've developed these egos which make me want to regurgitate."
At the time, Roberts praised Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan as the best in the business.
Sam Arnett III, a friend of Roberts since the mid-1960s, said he talked to Roberts Friday afternoon.
"He was in good spirits," Arnett said. "He said 'I'm going to beat this thing."'
Arnett maintained a close relationship with Roberts since the two first became acquainted.
"He was a gentleman in every way," Arnett said. "We hunted together all over the place — British Columbia, Alaska, Montana, Wyoming.
"Not too long after he got out of college, he bought out the promotion here and ran it there at Fair Park Coliseum. He had a real passion for wrestling."
Burle Pettit, editor emeritus at the Avalanche-Journal, fondly remembered Roberts during Pettit's 1960-73 stint in the A-J sports department.
"A part of Nick a lot of people didn't see was not his performance as a wrestler, but his performance on behalf of his fellow man," Pettit said. "He gave up endless time helping people do everything from fight addictions to providing them food and handouts.
"When Nick was a wrestling promoter, he kept that operation on an upper plane. I don't think he would have put up for five minutes what they do today. His shows were one you'd gladly take your family to."
Roberts, in an A-J interview, also said he defended the authenticity of the matches.
"As far as I know, they are perfectly legitimate," he said. "I've seen some matches that were so damn bad that I wished they had been scripted, though."
"If you like wrestling, you like it, and if you don't you don't," Roberts once said. "It don't hurt my feelings none either way. My job is to book matches."
LONDOS TO MEET SAVOLDI TONIGHT
(Associated Press, Friday, April 7, 1933)
CHICAGO – Jim Londos of Greece risks his claim to the world’s heavyweight wrestling championship against the rushes of Jumping Joe Savoldi of Notre Dame football fame tonight. A crowd of 20,000 was expected to jam the Chicago Stadium to watch the match.
Some of the so-called "wise ones" of the wrestling game predicted that Savoldi would win or hold the Grecian Adonis to a draw.
SAVOLDI CAPTURES LONDOS CLAIM TO TITLE
(Associated Press, Saturday, April 8, 1933)
CHICAGO – Jumping Joe Savoldi, who used to shatter football lines for Notre Dame, had one big area of the wrestling world rocking with claims and denials today.
Joe strode into the Chicago Stadium ring last night to tackle Jim Londos, claimant of the championship. To the amazement of 8,000 customers, he walked out with a one-fall victory after 20 minutes and 26 seconds of rough-and-tumble grappling. The match attracted a gate of approximately $12,000.
Ed White, manager of Londos, claimed that the match, limited to one fall with a ninety-minute limit, was not a championship affair because of a ruling by the old Illinois State Athletic Commission that all wrestling matches were merely exhibitions. The spectators howled White down.
Londos issued a statement in which he denied that Savoldi had thrown him and blamed referee Bob Managoff.
"It was not a fall," Londos said. "I had a Japanese scissors on Savoldi from an underneath position. I was partly on my side and on my shoulder. Managoff tapped me on the shoulder with orders to break.
"I understood from that we were to start wrestling all over again from a standing position, because Savoldi’s feet were tangled in the ropes. I let go and the next instant the referee tapped Savoldi."
In the three years he has been claiming the title Londos has been thrown three times before tonight, but each match was a two-out-of-three-fall affair, each of which Londos ultimately won. Ray Steele, Jim McMillen and George Zaharias were the throwers and losers.
Results of the preliminary matches:
Jim McMillen, 220, Chicago, threw Zaharias, 235, Pueblo, Col., with a crotch hold in 20:28.
Joe Stecher, 226, Dodge, Neb., threw Blue Sun Jennings, 212, Seattle, Wash., with a body scissors in 12:32.
Gino Garibaldi, 215, Italy, threw Tom Marvin, 202, Oklahoma, with a cross body hold in 16:40.
Abe Coleman, 205, Los Angeles, threw John Katan, 240, Toronto, with a flying tackle in 13:55.
JOE SAVOLDI’S SURPRISE WIN OVER LONDOS UPSETS MAT INTERESTS
(Associated Press, April 8, 1933)
CHICAGO – Professional "rasslers" may go on a long vacation as far as further competition in Illinois is concerned.
That appeared to be certain tonight as Joseph Triner, aggressive young chairman of the Illinois State Athletic Commission, began to assemble the bewildering facts surrounding the victory "Jumping Joe" Savoldi scored over Jim Londos in their match advertised as for the world’s heavyweight championship at the Chicago Stadium last night.
If there is any proof of wrong doing, or any suspicion of it, punishment will follow with the possible suspension of wrestling in the state, chairman Triner indicated tonight. Triner will make his findings known on Monday, when he and other members of the commission, Packey McFarland and George Getz, finish their investigation.
There also will be a ruling Monday whether Savoldi’s victory entitled him to whatever claim he had on the championship, so far as Illinois is concerned. The match was advertised as a championship affair but on whether the Illinois commission recognized Londos as the titleholder depends upon the decision of the athletic board.
Ed White, manager of Londos, insists the match was not a championship affair, because Londos was not recognized as the titleholder in Illinois and therefore not title was at stake. General John V. Clinnin, former chairman of the Illinois commission, ruled several months ago that because Londos had refused to meet Ed "Strangler" Lewis, Illinois would no longer recognize him as titleholder. Then Lewis was granted recognition, but later the commission withheld recognition from any wrestler as champion, ruling that the bouts were merely exhibitions and not contests.
Savoldi, who used to gallop the nation’s gridirons as a backfield star for the late Knute Rockne’s Notre Dame elevens, became a very important individual today proclaiming himself a champion. He sent telegrams to sports editors asking them to call for a statement on how he defeated Londos.
The swarthy, black-haired, muscular Savoldi said: "The referee held up my hand and that makes me the world’s champion, doesn’t it?"
To which the interviewer responded: "You can search us."
"What? Has that got you down, too," Savoldi exclaimed. "Don’t let it worry you.
"I think I won fairly and squarely. I held him to the mat for the required time. Londos says he was tangled in the ropes. He was not."
Savoldi, who says he has been managing himself in recent weeks, is at his home in Three Oaks, Mich., before starting a campaign. He says he will wrestle them all, including Ed "Strangler" Lewis.
"I won’t ask for no $250,000, either," Savoldi said, "like some of those so-called champions. I’ll take mine in the percentage."
The former Notre Dame football star said he would give Londos a return match, but not right away.
A few predicted there would be a return match at Soldiers Field, during the World’s Fair, with a tremendous gate in prospect.
Wrestling is that way.
GEORGE-SAVOLDI MAT BOUT LOOMS
(Associated Press, April 11, 1933)
BOSTON – After endorsing the Illinois Athletic Association’s moratorium on wrestling, president Thomas Reardon of the American Wrestling Association tonight said his organization would recognize the winner of an Ed George-Joe Savoldi match as the world champion.
Reardon, who stressed the fact that his organization was not affiliated with the National Wrestling Association, predicted that the Illinois commission’s ban on the mat sport, which followed the Jim Londos-Savoldi bout in Chicago, would help to clarify the wrestling situation.
Paul Bowser, Boston wrestling promoter, said he has started negotiations for a George-Savoldi bout in this city.
SONNENBERG REFUSED PERMIT TO SELL BEER IN RENO
(Associated Press, October 24, 1933)
RENO, Nev. – "Dynamite Gus" Sonnenberg, former champion of the heavyweight wrestlers, was wondering today how the Reno divorce colony would enjoy his pork and beef sandwiches without the 3.2 per cent beer he had planned would go with them.
The City Council refused Sonnenberg a permit to
sell beer in his recently opened barbecue shack, after pastors of churches in
the neighborhood had protested "we want this particular district to remain
Said the Rev. Brewster Adams, of the Baptist Church, to the council:
"We are not dumb. We know that the granting of a beer permit to this place is just incidental to an invasion of this district by similar hurdy gurdy establishments.
"We have been tolerant in the past, but if the council should see fit to grant this permit it would constitute a direct challenge to us to clean up the rest of this town. You will just turn Reno upside down for a pork sandwich."
Other ministers spoke in similar vein, whereupon the council, by a 4 to 3 vote, with Mayor E.E. Roberts casting the deciding ballot, turned down Sonnenberg’s application.
THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) PAPERS No. 272-2002
O’SHOCKER CLAIMS OFFER TO ‘FIX’ WRESTLING BOUT
(Associated Press, Tuesday, April 11, 1933)
ST. LOUIS – Pat O’Shocker, professional wrestler, stated here today that last September in New Haven, Conn., he had been offered $15,000 and then $25,000 if he would agree to have his match with Jim Londos, title claimant, fixed so he, O’Shocker, would win.
O’Shocker’s charges were inspired by the mystifying conclusion of last Friday night’s Chicago match in which Joe Savoldi, former Notre Dame football star who had not been given an outside chance to win from Londos, was awarded the winning fall by the referee.
O’Shocker said he refused to join in the deal at New Haven even when the $15,000 offer was raised to $25,000 and that the match went on with Londos winning.
ILLINOIS TAKES REST FROM MAT SHOWS
(Associated Press, April 12, 1933)
CHICAGO – Wrestling throughout the commonwealth of Illinois was finally laid to rest today after a posthumous exhibition in the Coliseum last night in which Jim Browning pinned Ed "The Strangler" Lewis with a scissors.
The Illinois athletic commission suspended the grunt and groan industry for an indefinite period Monday after investigating the surprising victory which Joe Savoldi scored over Jim Londos, the so-called heavyweight champion.
Promoter John (Doc) Krone was allowed to hold the Lewis-Browning show last night only because he had been granted permission before the statewide ban was pronounced.
LIMELIGHT BEATS ON SAVOLD; TALK OF $100,000 CONTRACT
(Associated Press, Friday, April 14, 1933)
By Edward J. Neil
NEW YORK – "Jumping Joe" Savoldi, the Notre Dame line-buster who suddenly started "taking out" wrestlers and wound up flooring Jimmy Londos, is taking his claim to heavyweight championship laurels very seriously indeed. So seriously, in fact, that he has bought himself an overcoat.
"It was all right," he says, "to go around without a coat or hat when I was just a wrestler. Cold never bothers me. Now it’s different. You’ve got to look like something when you’re champion."
This naïve youngster, who would have been an all-America fullback if he hadn’t married in his senior year as Knute Rockne’s star pupil and thus eliminated himself from South Bend football near the close of the 1930 season, already has a crick in his neck from looking at New York’s tall buildings.
Joe has been here before, as a preliminary wrestler in the Londos troupe, but never amid the attention that now surrounds him, and with free time to take in the sights. He said he accepted yesterday the "$100,000 offer" of a Toronto syndicate headed by Percy R. Gardner for a share in his managerial contract. Then, feeling he could afford it, he bought his new overcoat and hat before taking in the ball game.
He’s a big, handsome, curly-headed fellow with 205 pounds of splendid physique. Apparently he has withdrawn from the Londos array and will ally himself with the rival camp of Jack Curley of New York and Paul Bowser of Boston, which already boasts a couple of champions in various sections in Jim Browning and Ed (Don) George.
"I threw Londos fair and square in Chicago," he said, "and I won his title. Now I’ll wrestle anybody, I’ll take George and then Browning. I’d like to help get wrestling out in the open and take all this mysterious business about champions.
"Then," he concluded, "I’m going to get married again and have twelve kids – all boys – like that."
He waved his hand in front of him, indicating a steadily rising line.
"I’ll send them all to Notre Dame. Someday they’re going to have a football team there that’s all Savoldis."
NATIONAL WRESTLING ASSOCIATION STILL RECOGNIZES LONDOS
(Associated Press, April 15, 1933)
He made public results of an investigation into the April 7 match at Chicago in which Joe Savoldi, title claimant, was awarded a fall on Londos.
Col. Landry said that "information revealed that Londos was not pinned" in the Chicago match, although referee Bob Managoff raised Savoldi’s hand, and that the match was not recognized as a championship one "and the title was not at stake."
The national president added further that Savoldi had been indefinitely suspended by the association’s affiliated Indiana state athletic commission for failure to meet Pat O’Shocker at Evansville, Ind., on April 10.
‘I’M THE CHAMPION,’ SAYS JOE SAVOLDI
(Springfield MA Union, April, 1933)
"I am the wrestling champion of the world." Without the slightest inflection in his voice to denote unusual excitement or an attempt to ballyhoo, "Jumping Joe" Savoldi, former Notre Dame football star, tells the world that he is the king of grapplers. The black-haired young Italian, who helped make football history as a backfield member of the late Knute Rockne’s elevens, can see no good reason why there should be any mystery to his claim following what he maintains was an absolutely fair and square victory on a fall over Jim Londos at Chicago last Friday night. "I wondered how long it was going to take that referee to tap me on the shoulder," declares Savoldi. "I had Londos pinned all right and it seemed to me that the referee wanted me to hold him down forever. I see where Londos says my feet were tangled in the ropes and that he thought the referee had ordered us to break. Why, I threw him in the center of the ring. There were 8,000 witnesses. Those fans know I threw Londos. I threw him. I am champion. Londos knew the bout was to be for the championship. I have newspapers in my possession that advertised it as such."
Judge Bernard P. Barasa of Chicago, close friend and legal advisor of Savoldi, also sets forth reasons why Joe should be recognized as champion of the groaners and grunters – that is if victory over Londos carries such distinction. "No, I am not Savoldi’s manager," says Judge Barasa, "but I have been his friend for a long time, dating back to football days. I am going to lend him all legal advice at my command o protect his interests in the matter. Joe beat Londos, threw the Greek legitimately in 20 minutes, 26 seconds. Not only that, but from the time the bout started there was never any question in my mind but that Savoldi was going to win. Londos couldn’t keep a hold on him. Savoldi broke them all." And Savoldi, he says the same thing. "He had a hold on me, then I turned on him and pressed his shoulders to the floor and held him there. Yes, I really beat Londos. Any commission that recognized him as champion prior to that Chicago bout should now hail me as titleholder. That’s all there is to it. I am not affiliated with any wrestling cliques. I’ll wrestle for any promoter in the world. Sure, I’ll grapple Londos again, but not right away. When the proper time comes I’ll wrestle him. I’m going to take a rest for two weeks. Then I’ll be ready for Jim Browning or Henri Deglane. I want to clean up this involved wrestling situation."
DENY SAVOLDI CLAIM OF TITLE
(Associated Press, April 26, 1933)
PHILADELPHIA – The claim of "Jumping Joe" Savoldi to the world’s heavyweight wrestling championship was denied today by the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission which ruled that Jim Londos retains his title ranking in the Keystone State.
BROWNING WINS NOD FROM SAVOLDI AT STADIUM
(Associated Press, Monday, June 12, 1933)
Yankee Stadium, NEW YORK – It took Jim Browning, champion of one wing of the wrestling party, almost two full hours tonight to gain a decision over Joe Savoldi, title pretender from Notre Dame, in a rain-soaked ring in the American League ballpark. The match went one hour, 58 minutes, five seconds, before the curfew law brought relief to 6,000 drenched spectators and the decision to Browning.
Hailed as the match that would bring forth one generally recognized king to rule the heavyweight groaners, the affair started to peter out as soon as a sudden squall of rain descended on the park a few minutes before 9 p.m. As the ringside customers rushed for the covered stands, Browning and Savoldi rushed for the ring.
It was several more minutes before they were discovered in there, locked in each other’s arms. Then, alternately, through the remainder of the show, until the bell stopped proceedings at 11 p.m. in accordance with the state law, the crowd raced from the field to the stands and back again, dodging a series of sudden downpours, while newspapermen tried as best they could to find out what was going on from dry spots under the ring.
Savoldi, who threw Jim Londos suddenly and unexpectedly a couple of months ago and thus succeeded him as the perennial heavyweight championship claimant, had much the better of the early going. He rolled Browning, recognized as titleholder in New York state, around the sodden ring in a series of arm locks, gave him the old flying tackle that worked so well for a couple of Knute Rockne’s last Notre Dame elevens, and wound up kicking the Missouri farm boy in the face. This maneuver, a new hold christened a "drop kick," was wildly hailed by the dripping crowd.
Browning then took charge of the proceedings and punished Savoldi with a variety of scissor holds, including his own invention, the "airplane scissors," in which he lifted Joe with his legs and threw him here and there about the premises. They punched each other freely and repeated themselves several times during th second hour. Browning had a slight edge in throwing Savoldi from the ring with an even dozen while Joe, though he bounced the local champion through the ropes only a half a dozen times, knocked him down oftener, the last few times, as the hour grew late, with well-timed rights to the jaw. Savoldi also was the "louder" of the two in punishing holds, and the crowd booed the decision heartily, believing it should have been a draw.
Jacques Curley, promoter of the show and master of all the wrestlers, promised that the two would meet again, when the weather was better and the crowd larger, warranting a more conclusive ending. Browning, whose title claim comes down through victory over Strangler Ed Lewis, weighed 220 pounds, Savoldi 202.
There was time for only three preliminaries. Paul Boesch of
Brooklyn threw Steve Znosky of Poland in 10:05 with a body slam; Benny Ginsberg
of Chicago won a 20-minute decision over Sid Westrich of Hungary, and Stanley
Sokolis, former Pennsylvania football captain, threw Cy Williams of Florida in
10:03 with an arm lock and body hold. All are heavyweights.
THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) PAPERS No. 273-2002
VERNE GAGNE, TV MAT ACE, HERE TONIGHT
(Atlanta Constitution, February 19, 1954)
Verne Gagne, former University of Minnesota athlete and now the rage of TV wrestling fans, will make one of his few Southern appearances here tonight at the Municipal Auditorium. The program opens at 8:30 p.m. The sturdy Gopher is booked for a one-fall, 60-minute time limit feature bout against another TV mat star, Art Nelson or Montreal Canada. Promoter Paul Jones, who spent several weeks trying to get Gagne away from the big city promoters, says it will be one of the best matches staged here in several months. Nelson, a roughhouse battler, has promised to work the popular Gogpher over in this match. Jones says advance ticket sales indicate a sellout by the 8:30 p.m. starting time. Supporting the big match will be Leo Numa against Frank Taylor, Omar Kyam versus Red McIntyre, and Walter Kameroff vs. Tinker Todd.
RETURN OF THE PIPER
(Charleston SC Post & Courier, January 13, 2002)
By Mike Mooneyham
Hunter Hearst Helmsley, coming off a torn quadriceps, major surgery and several months of extensive rehab, may be an early candidate for comeback wrestler of the year. But he has a long way to go to top former mat great Superstar Billy Graham. Graham, who has spent the past 15 years battling the painful results of steroid abuse and the past year fighting the effects of hepatitis C, has experienced more near falls than a Ric Flair-Ricky Steamboat broadway, but has continued to amaze family, friends and doctors with his resiliency and recuperative powers.
Graham (Wayne Coleman), 58, who now suffers from cirrhosis brought on by hepatitis C, recently survived his latest near-fatal situation when five veins burst, causing considerable blood loss. Graham underwent several transfusions at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, and made nothing short of a remarkable recovery. But he's far from out of the woods.
Without the aid of a new liver, prospects for survival are bleak.
"He was very close to death, but praise God, He once again spared my husband," said wife Valerie Coleman. Graham's veins burst because his liver wasn't functioning properly, and pressure began building until they exploded, she explained.
"When one goes, the first can bleed out completely in 60 seconds. A few of the doctors and nurses called it a miracle. Not only did he live, he came through basically unscathed. He wasn't in a coma, which was a miracle in itself, and he didn't have kidney failure or system failure."
Complicating matters was that all the blood in Graham's veins had seeped into his tissues. He lost so much blood that he was in danger of losing his fingers and toes. "He only had six units of his blood left," she said. "They finally had to put a PICC line in him because there was nothing in his veins. The hard part was balancing things and getting things to stay in the veins."
Graham, a former WWWF world champion who was once billed as one of the world's strongest men with an unofficial bench press of more than six hundred pounds, was hospitalized for nearly two weeks last month due to gastric bleeding and edema. At that time he was informed he was in need of a liver transplant. The situation worsened when Graham suffered his latest setback. Since then he has battled pneumonia that he contracted after leaving the hospital.
"They wanted him out before he caught pneumonia or something else in the hospital," said Valerie. "The pneumonia that he does have is aspiration pneumonia because he threw up a lot of blood into his lung. He basically lost his voice for several days. The coughing has been wearing him out and causing rib aches and headaches."
The major task at hand is seeking a matching living donor for a liver transplant. Graham was scheduled to be placed on a waiting list late last week.
"He's got the most perfect blood pressure of anyone on the planet," said Valerie. "But they want it lower because they want to decrease the pressure in the abdomen and throat. The good thing is that he can take O positive or O negative, and also an A if it has a subtype 2. That broadens the scope of things."
Donors, she said, normally give 60 percent of their liver to the recipient. Within 30 days the donor's liver will regenerate and grow back to its normal size. But, she adds, the livers have to be roughly the same size.
"His daughter and son-in-law, every member in my family has volunteered, but none were the right size," she said. "The donor will have to be 225 pounds or more to be a match."
A fund is being started to raise money to cover the expenses of the future donor while he is recovering from the procedure. Although their spirits remain undaunted, they both realize that time is of the essence. Graham needs a liver to survive.
"Now we can start having people tested," said Valerie. "But we have to get him a liver soon. The quality of life is not good. This is a very progressive disease."
Financial donations can be sent to Superstar Billy Graham at 15402 N. 28th St., #105, Phoenix, Ariz. 85032. Get well wishes can be sent email@example.com.
For more information on living donor transplantation, go towww.unos.org
MIGHTY IGOR SYBOL OF AN INNOCENT ERA
(Charleston SC Post & Courier, January 13, 2002)
By Mike Mooneyham
Richard Garza, better known in wrestling circles as The Mighty Igor, died of a heart attack at the age of 70 Monday in a Detroit hospital. Garza, a former Mr. Michigan who parlayed his bodybuilding background into a successful mat career in which he was billed as the world's strongest wrestler, had battled heart problems in recent years, and had been in the hospital for a number of weeks.
Garza was a symbol of an innocent era in professional wrestling. One of the profession's enduring images will be the friendly, shaggy-haired, Polish strongman Igor Vodik, wearing cutoffs, a white singlet and a black beret, waving a huge piece of kielbasa (Polish sausage) that he would share with his fans.
Sometimes he would bring a stuffed animal or a children's toy to the ring, and along the way would plant a kiss on the foreheads of as many fans and ring personnel as he could. After a few weeks in a territory, he would amaze audiences with his feats of strength.
The Mighty Igor was the ultimate babyface. His gimmick was simple but successful. A star in every territory he appeared, Igor was best known in the Carolinas for his mid-'70s feud with The Masked Superstar (Bill Eadie) and manager Boris Maximilianovich Malenko (Larry Simon).
A memorable angle in which The Superstar smashed Malenko's lit cigar into Igor's eye not only spurred one of the top money-making programs in the territory, but it also led to a long, lucrative run in Japan for Eadie.
"The angle was so successful that I took it to Japan and got a 14-year career out of (Antonio) Inoki from it," Eadie told The Post and Courier.
"I was the first guy to ever do anything like that to Inoki. We were supposed to have a blowoff match after about the first six weeks at the Tokyo Dome, and there was so much heat they had to send me home. They finally brought me back, and I rode 14 years out of that thing."
Eadie, as The Superstar, rode the same angle with Dino Bravo in the Montreal territory into a five-year run. Eadie remembers originally coming up with the idea as a rib.
"We needed some kind of victory celebration. Boris didn't smoke. We got these big, stinky cigars, and every time we got a victory, Boris would have to light up a cigar. Boris would actually almost throw up every time. In this case a rib turned out to be a good thing. Once fans saw him light up that cigar, they thought it (the match) was over. And then when I had the best of Igor at (Charlotte's) Park Center, Boris jumped the gun and lit the cigar, stood up on the apron and turned around with a big smile, and there I was with a bear hug on me. I just grabbed the cigar and stuck it right in Igor's eye. It did get him a little bit in the eyebrow, but he sold the heck out of it."
Igor sold it so well that his vision suffered as a result.
"Even when it got better, he went and got sandpaper and scarred up his eye. He wore this big patch to the extent that it almost cost him his vision. He wore it for almost six months. But people sure remembered that angle."
Garza's "Mighty Igor" character was childlike, simple and innocent.
"He lived the gimmick," said Eadie. "When he was out in public, he was Igor. When he was in the ring, he was no different. I have nothing but good memories of him. He was a very good businessman. We didn't have that much time to talk, but I know that over the years he made some good purchases in Florida. He made quite a few good investments and bought up a lot of property."
"He was a very gentle man," Garza's wife, Donna, told the Detroit Free Press. "Kids just loved him. When he was down in the Carolinas, there was a young boy who had leukemia and was dying, and his big wish was to see my husband. Richard went up to the hospital to see him, and they said it helped make the boy live longer."
The Dearborn, Mich., native started bodybuilding as a teen-ager in Detroit and was named Mr. Michigan in 1954. He got into wrestling after punching out Brute Bernard while working out at a gym in Detroit. Promoter Burt Ruby heard about it and signed him.
"He was working out in George Jacobs' gym on the incline bench with 120-pound weights when Brute Bernard walked past a couple of times and finally whacks him (for no reason apparently), despite Garza's warning," wrestling historian Mike Lano recounted of a 1998 conversation with Garza.
"Garza did not like Brute. He was a bully who'd spit on guys' steaks if he wanted to eat it. At any rate, Garza rose and clobbered Bernard on the jaw, laying him out. 'He's layin' there and he don't get up,' recalled Garza in his heavy Michigan accent. 'I thought I'd killed him.' Evidently, Bernard lay unconscious for five minutes until Jacobs got him to come around. When he did, Brute was furious and demanded Jacobs get that 'SOB to meet me at the Park Avenue Hotel.' Garza showed, Brute never did."
THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) PAPERS No. 274-2002
INTERVIEW WITH JAKE THE SNAKE
January 21, 2002)
Talksport presenter James Whale, who is usually involved in some sort of controversy (cutting off guests, having orgasms on air and so forth), and is not one to hold back, played host to Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts and his ‘entourage’ of Sweet Saraya (who was introduced as the British Womans Champion) and her husband, an unnamed big dude with even bigger arms. The host James Whale gave Jake a big introduction, citing him as one of the most well known wrestlers of all time, and a former North American Champion, a ringmaster and the inventor of the now commonly used DDT.
The two begin talking about ‘Beyond the Mat’, which Jake immediately calls "a real mess". Jake says he’s never seen it, and would never watch it fully. Jake accuses of what he’s seen, as having lies throughout, but doesn’t regret it since the reason he did it in the first place, was just to help children. Slightly perplexed that he wasn’t paid for it, nor was his daughter, since he believes they are the only people in the film who didn’t get money. He also wasn’t invited to the premiere, and feels Barry Blaustein knew what he was doing, in keeping Jake away from the hyping of the movie. Jake says however, he’s not ashamed of the movie, or his life, but sadistically finds it funny that he can’t even kill himself, as he has attempted many a time to do. If the distorted representation of his life through ‘Beyond the Mat’ helped any children, it was worth it. Gets across the point that he loves children, but not too keen on adults.
Supposedly some 48 years old, and has been wrestling for around 27 years. James Whale questions whether his body can still take the punishment, but Jake says "once your out there (the ring), you don’t feel a thing" because of the adrenaline, the environment, the arena and the people. He acquaints wrestling to making love to the perfect woman, and how you can get better with age, even if your body can’t get into certain positions. Reiterates the fact that his body hurts a lot, but never in the ring.
Jake Roberts briefly passes comment that past British Wrestlers such as ‘Big Daddy’ weren’t great wrestlers, but were great performers. Says in general, but specifically in the USA and the WWF, wrestling is all visual, and there’s not as much talent now, as oppose to the wrestling 15 years ago. Says wrestling is "an art". Hates how kids now sacrifice their body to make a good match instead of emotional connecting to and with the fans
James Whale is astonished when Jake Roberts explains he has 2 ex-wives and 7 kids. Says he doesn’t have much money, because he either lost his money, gave it away or got in trouble. Notes he got sued a few times, but its not about the money, its about the match, and the moment.
They predictably get onto the subject of Jake’s tragic past. Jake Roberts explains how his mother was raped when she was 13, and he was the result. Always had a tough relationship with his mother because of it (understandable really), but recently learnt "You can’t make people love you the way you want". Started wrestling when he was a tall and thin 19 year old, to gain the love of someone (probably his father, but he never said). Doesn’t necessarily like the attention, but likes talking about his life, hoping it will help someone. Tells another tragic story of his life, of how his sister was kidnapped when she was 21, and was never found. He doesn’t see much of his other brother, and is not very close to him.
He’s been in the UK for 3 months or so, and plans to stay for "a few years". Loves the architecture, the buildings and the history, and since he wanted to be an architect when he was younger, and so feels at home somewhat. And also later states that he feels he can escape some bad memories living in the UK, even if he hates the whether. The host agrees. Would love to get a promotion to challenge Vince’s monopoly, which even effects the UK. Feels there’s a big market unexplored.
They stop concentrating on talking about Jake ‘the Snake’ Roberts as the host James Whale continues his on-going feud with fellow presenter Tommy Boyd, saying he might get Jake to sort out Tommy Boyd. Tommy Boyd is a cult hero to many in the UK, and is running his own show under Tommy Boy productions called ‘Revival’ which will crown the ‘King of England’, which will include the likes of Grandmaster Sexay, Alex Shane and Eddie Guerrero.
Back to the show, they start talking about a guest Jake brought with him, Sweet Saraya. They brush over Sweet Saraya;s injuries in the past, including going blind for 6 weeks after a kick to the face which lead to infection. Which prompts James Whale to ask Jake Roberts to canvass his past injuries. Jake literally says too many to keep up with, but highlights knee surgery and having two disks in his neck removed as his worst.
They then discuss Lita, since she has recently been promoting the WWF in the UK. Jake says she’s an amazing athlete, and well-built, but "she won’t be walking in 5 years", along with the Hardy Boyz. Doesn’t think the body is meant of the punishment those guys go through, and thinks "the whole trying to top the last guy is stupid", and will end careers. Would love to have a chance to teach The Hardy Boyz and Lita wrestling psychology, but doesn’t think they’d be interested.
They do a mildly funny stint where James Whale volunteers his producer to be on the end of some wrestling moves. We hear some crashing in the background, and Sweet Saraya demonstrated how to do a Nelson and a Grobit. James Whale wants to get Sweet Saraya to train his wife, and thinks she’d be a good draw, and Sweet says she’d teach her some great karma sutra positions as well. The host says his wife knows ‘everything’ already. Jake Roberts just chuckles along to all the shenanigans.
Jake Roberts explains that Andre ‘the Giant’ was "the best man ever", "and a great athlete". Says he wrestled him for 6 months straight for punishment or something. Enjoyed it a lot, but "sure got hurt a lot". He also clarifies to a caller the 3:16 slogan, which was a reference to Roberts comments about John 3:16 and so forth.
Explains one of the lies in ‘Beyond the Mat’, the story about him not turning up to an interview unless he was given crack was a complete lie, and he wouldn’t rely on promoters to get him drugs, he’d get it himself. Says at first the lie really got to him, but now he couldn’t care less. He doesn’t dispute he’s had drug problems and taken the wrong step many a time, but blames it on his addictive personality. Thinks Cocaine is a punishment to rich people. Thinks if you don’t want to get into trouble in life, don’t take the first step.
A caller asks for Jake Roberts favourite workers to work with. Jake mentions Andre ‘the Giant’ again, and Rick Martel, Rocky Steamboat and Randy Savage (who he mentioned he used to play mind games with in the ring regularly). Also mentions that he had a lot of fun with The Undertaker, who "was" a great student.
Mentions at WrestleMania 7 in the infamous blind fold match, he could actually see, if only slightly.
A caller brings up Owen Hart, and his death. Jake says how he doesn’t want to talk about it because he’d probably get into trouble. He mentions how he knew Owen since he was 9, and was very sad at his death, especially under the circumstances.
Caller asks whether ‘has he burnt his bridges with WWF?’ Jake says he doesn’t like the demands of the company, using Vince’s butt kissing angle as an example. In big business, there’s no such thing as burnt bridges, because money is the be-all and end-all. Says the WWF have actually asked him to come back, not necessarily for wrestling, but for writing. Its later clarified in the interview that he was wanted as an agent, or booker, but had no interest in writing what they wanted him to write. No time-line was given.
A caller then requests Jake Roberts to explain psychology. Very interesting segment, since Roberts pretty much was the king of psychology. He says it’s all about getting inside the fans heads, letting them getting inside your head. Being your character, and "masturbating peoples emotions". The same caller brings up the story in Dynamite Kid’s book, where the Kid stated Jake Roberts gave him Speed. Jake doesn’t deny it, and says probably but he can’t remember.
Jake thinks English fans are better than American fans. Thinks the fact that the WWF caters to the smarts is stupid. Thinks they ruin it for themselves and for others. Doesn’t like the smarts in the business. Thinks 60% of American fans don’t get it.
Jake and entourage plugs WAW shows, starting at the beginning of Feb. Talks about how WAW is more of a family fed, as fans get to meet wrestlers afterwards. Sweet Saraya then claims the WAW is the first English fed to brake away from the big daddy guys, first British fed to do Cage matches and TLC. (Bit hypocritical that Jake was just condemning that, now his a representative of the company his promoting is advertising it? Maybe)
Jake thinks the biggest difference between WWF now and then… "Lack of talent". WWF started out by taking the best talent from everywhere, which Vince caused a bunch of great promotions to go bust. Says Vince could sell anything, even poop. Jake cuts a promo on pop. Says the problem with wrestling is that it isn’t the chess match it used to be. And the WWF promote a product on television they can’t produce in the arenas.
About Japan, Jake’s had 8 or 9 tours there. Hates the food. Hates the small beds. Doesn’t like Japan.
Spent 4,000 a week on alcohol and crack at his worst. Says the devil can justify anything, but there’s no reason for his past actions. Compares the Rock to Hulk and Warrior. Hulk is a marketing ploy, Rocky is a smart business man that knows what he’s doing.
A caller asks ‘Would Jake go back to the WWF for one last match, for the money?’ Jake says "Nope". Says Mr. Perfect is a great piece of talent, and can understand him going back, but he wouldn’t. Says he wouldn’t for pride. Says wrestling is pretty basic, just good versus bad guys, none of the nudity and extra violence is necessary, and not good for the kids, and that’s the reason he’d never return to the WWF.
Then says about the industry: "Wrestlings real, people are fake"
Caller brings up Kurt Angle, who Jake Roberts is a big fan of. Likes his technical style, and thinks he had a great personality and is one of the bright spots in the WWF. Another caller brings up Goldberg, and Jake says he’s heard a lot about him from his good friend DDP. Agrees with DDP that Goldberg has a ton of potential, and Jake would like to get to know him, since he he’s never met him. Would love to tutor Goldberg and teach him the psychology of wrestling. Good friend of Mick Foley, gave him grief when he lost his ear, by calling him up in the past and calling him "irresponsible", and was it "irreversible". Likes Foley.
Caller brings up Relationship with father. He loves his father, but doesn’t have to like him. Doesn’t think he can judge his father. Didn’t find out the whole truth about his past, and his father until about a year and a half ago. Only recently accepted it, and loves his father, but doesn’t like him. Doesn’t blame his life up until now on his father, as he chose his own path.
His love for religion started for him after he tried everything else, and failed. When he was going through tough times with wife, and while watching a play, something clicked inside of him. Thought he was going to hell when he was young, so he partied, figuring he’d go to hell anyway, and he was a lost cause. Thinks God’s the only one whose stuck by him. Hide away from everything when he was young, but garbage doesn’t go away, and talking about it helps. Says he’s not squeaky clean, but he’s not a rapist either. Jake the Snake character is a little bit twisted, and kids can understand and associate with the character. Says his Jake the Snake is different from him, and that not many people know that.
Says god is not the most important thing in his life, and instead his relationships with his children is the most important and other children. Loves the honesty of children, and not the butt kissing of adults.
Thinks Vince Russo had to do with the downfall of WCW. Said Turner was stupid for allowing him to take over, and that Russo was stupid because he doesn’t know wrestling. Says American wrestlers now are lost, and that new wrestlers don’t want to learn, they just want the paycheck.
Jake taught Raven a lot, and is a tremendous talent that should be used better.
THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) PAPERS No. 275-2002
GLOSSARY OF INSIDER WRESTLING TERMS
(Pro Wrestling Torch Yearbooks ‘92-’95)
By Wade Keller
The following is a list of over 200 wrestling terms, many of which are insider terms (i.e. "jargon") or are mainstream terms with their insider definition, which generally have been exclusive to the behind-the-scenes aspects of the wrestling business for most of this century. In recent years, as the inner-workings of the wrestling industry have become more open, many terms have been adopted by staunch fans and journalists who cover professional wrestling.
Many of the terms date back to pro wrestling's carnival days in the early-1900s. Basic wrestling terms such as bodyslam and turnbuckle are not defined. (A term which is defined elsewhere, but used within a definition is denoted with "[dfn.]" in case cross-reference is desired.)
This list was originally published in the 1992 Torch Yearbook and amended over the next several yearbooks. We also republished the terms in booklet form and offered it as a bonus to new subscribers in the mid-'90s. It was originally published on the website in April 2000.
It has now been updated and amended with over 50 new terms and definitions.
If there are any terms that you see used on this website that aren't on this list that you'd like to see added to this list of definitions, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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A-Show (n) A wrestling event featuring the biggest name stars on a given night when another card is being run that same night by the same promotion in another town with lesser perceived wrestlers. B-Team [dfn.] and C-Team are how lesser shows are referred to.
A-Team (n) A group of wrestlers who are currently participating on A-shows [dfn.].
Abortion (n) A failed angle [dfn.], match, or feud [dfn.]; a flop. (Term being phased out in some circles due to emotions associated with that word; considered in some circles a tasteless term.)
Angle (n) An event or series of events, usually a confrontation of some kind among wrestlers and managers, that begins or intensifies a feud.
Apter Mags (n) 1. Used to describe family of magazines of which Bill Apter is part of the staff. The magazine group, most prominent of which is Pro Wrestling Illustrated, came to be identified with editor Apter in the '70s. 2. Sometimes used to describe all magazines that contain fictional articles rather than straight journalism.
Arm Color (n.): A bleeding arm, usually through blading [dfn.]
Around the Horn (n.) The road trip to each town or a series of towns in which a promotion runs events.
Around the Loop (n.): See "Around the Horn."
B-Show (n) A wrestling event featuring the secondary team of lesser name-value wrestlers when on the same night in another town a group of bigger name wrestlers are putting on an event. The other show is the A-show [dfn.].
B-Team (n): 1. A group of wrestlers who are currently participating on B-shows [dfn.]. 2. The second tier group of wrestlers who aren't seen as being as big of draws as the top wrestlers or aren't as skilled in the ring.
Baby (n) Short for "babyface" [dfn.], although "Face" [dfn.] is more commonly used as short for "babyface."
Babyface (n) The "good guy" or "hero." The performer whom the promoter books [dfn.] in the position of being cheered.
Beatdown (n) When a wrestler or other performer is given a massive beating, often by a number of other wrestlers.
Blade (v) To cut one's self, usually with a small portion of a razor blade with tape wrapped around all but a fraction of a millimeter of the cutting edge. The exposed portion is then run across the skin to cause a clean, shallow slice in the skin which bleeds.
Blow Off (v) To end a feud [dfn.] or marriage [dfn.] at a wrestling card, usually a pay-per-view, with a decisive finish to a match between two feuding wrestlers; each wrestler usually moves on to feud with someone else although at times it is one or both wrestlers' final match for the given promotion.
Blow Up (v) To become cardiovascularly exhausted during a match.
Blown Up (n.): Out of breath, lacking the cardiovascular endurance to keep up in a match at the pace it has been going.
Book 1. (v) To schedule a wrestler for a card. 2. (n) Slang for booking position.
Booked (n) Past tense of book [dfn.], to be scheduled for a card.
Booker (n) One who books [dfn.] and hires wrestlers, decides who wins and loses matches and in what manner those finishes occur, plans the long-term direction of the company, and organizes and plots television programs.
Bootleg (adj.) Describing an item that is illegally duplicated and sold or traded, usually copyrighted tapes, either wrestling broadcasts or commercial tapes, traded among wrestling fans around the country. Also describes someone who deals in bootlegged material. (There is also public domain selling and trading that takes place which is legal and not considered "bootleg" dealing.)
Boom Boom Boom (n): Shorthand for "the meat of a match," often done right before the finish [dfn.], where the wrestlers do their key signature spots. In planning out a match, a wrestler may say to another: "We'll start out with a test of strength, then..., then boom boom boom, and the heels run in for the DQ."
Bounce (n) Old, rarely used term for the move that leads to the pinfall.
Boys (n) Wrestlers.
Bozark (n) A female wrestler; a rarely used old carney [dfn.] term.
Brass (n) Management.
Bull (n) Old, rarely used term for the promoter.
Bump (n, v) To fall to the mat after being on the receiving end of a wrestling maneuver or blow to the body. Common throughout a match, and can be executed by a referee late in a match in order to create circumstances where a heel can get away with cheating without the referee seeing it and disqualifying him.
Bump Ring (n.): A ring with a greater than average padded surface or bounce to it that allows hard bumps [dfn.] to be taken with less impact upon the bump taker. The opposite of a Lucha Ring [dfn.]
Bury (v) 1. To criticize or attempt to defame someone. 2. To lower someone in the eyes of the fans or their peers.
Broadway (n) A draw, called that because years ago it was considered a positive by both wrestlers.
Business, The (n) The wrestling industry.
Call a Match (v) Inform opponent throughout match of upcoming moves or spots [dfn.]; i.e. to "lead the dance."
Canned Heat (n) When crowd cheering and booing is added to a wrestling TV show in post-production.
Card (n) A line-up of matches.
Carney (n.) Short for "carnival language," the root of many insider wrestling terms where professional wrestling has roots in the early-1900s, including Kayfabe [dfn.] and mark [dfn.]. The language of carny was once common inside the ring among wrestlers and referees, similar to Pig-Latin where a syllable or more is added to any word. such as "finish" being turned into "fee-ya-zin-ish" or "gimmick" being turned into "Gee-ya-mimmick." Sometimes used by people on the fringe of the business who want to appear "insider," often resulting in snickering as soon as they leave the room. Use of Carny alone won't lead to instant acceptance among wrestlers and promoters.
Carry (v) 1. To "call a match' [dfn.]. 2. To make a lesser opponent look skillful in the eyes of the fans.
Chairshot (v) The act of hitting someone with a chair during the course of a wrestling match or brawl.
Cheap Heat (n) Usually referring to heel [dfn.] fan heat [dfn.], although can refer to any form of fan heat, to achieve heat through means that do not take polished and respected skill, such as swearing at fans, using racial epithets, making lewd hand gestures, or exploiting a political situation (i.e. a hostage crisis, war, or natural disaster).
Closet Champion (n.): A title holder who defends his title less often than average, usually a Heel [dfn..] who is considered a coward for protecting his title rather than honorably defending it often.
Color (n) Blood.
Comeback (n.): The point in a match where a wrestler, usually a babyface [dfn.] begins to show signs of life by taking over offense after the other wrestler, usually a heel, has been dominating offense for several minutes.
Copout Finish (n): A finish to a match that is in indecisive or controversial, a often considered unsatisfying, in an effort to avoid having one of the top stars involved in the match suffer a clean pinfall or submit.
Cut a Promo (v) 1. To be interviewed or give promotional speech on upcoming match in order to arouse fan interest in match. 2. (slang) To brow-beat or demean someone skillfully.
Dagger (n) A prepared blade with more of the razor exposed than necessary.
Dark Match (n) A match that is not taped for television at a television taping or live broadcast. Also can refer to a match that is taped merely to be used for review by promoters at a later time to evaluate the skill of a young wrestler, but not meant to ever air on TV.
Dead weight (n): When a wrestler goes limp in the middle of a move to make his opponent look weak or to just rib [dfn.] him. Similar to sandbagging [dfn.]
Deal, The (n) A title belt may sometimes be referred to as The Deal.
Do Business (v.): Do a job [dfn.] or angle when asked regardless of whether it helps you look good. A wrestler is known as "doing business" if he cooperates with what is requested of him. Two wrestlers "do business" together when they work together to get a match or angle over.
Doing Business on the Way Out (n.): To do jobs [dfn.] before one leaves a particular promotion. By doing clean jobs to talent that is staying is considered good etiquette in order to give those wrestlers some added momentum or credibility in the fans' eyes at the departing wrestler's expense.
Double Juice (adj.) Means two wrestlers bladed [dfn.] during a given match. Can be expanded to "triple juice," etc.
Draw (n) 1. A time-limit match with no winner. 2. Insider term for cash payment night of show as an advance on the earned paycheck to be issued later; a per diem.
Drawing Power (n.): Having recognition with fans as a star, someone who fans pay to see. A wrestler with Drawing Power is considered a big enough star that when he is on an event, it draws more fans or viewers.
Dud (adj.): A poor match with nearly no redeeming value usually involving "Showing Light" and "Missed Spots," often the result of inexperienced wrestlers or lazy performances.
Dusty finish (n) To have an apparent pinfall in a match, usually counted by a second referee, only to have it overruled by the original referee, who usually was temporarily knocked out while the second referee counted a pinfall. (Although not a finish invented by Dusty Rhodes, it was used so often by Rhodes during his booking reigns that the finish [dfn.] has taken on his name.)
Enforcer (n) A legitimately tough wrestler with shooting [dfn.] skills, usually tight with the promoter, who would help get out-of-line wrestlers in check through stiff work in the ring, or threats of a locker room beatdown.
Face (n) Short for babyface [dfn.].
False Comeback (n) The point in a match where the babyface [dfn.] begins to regain offense only to quickly be stopped by heel; done to arouse heat [dfn.].
Feeding (v.): The heel's [dfn.] role during a babyface [dfn.] comeback [dfn.] where he runs at the babyface only to be repeatedly fended off, with the hope that the series of bumps [dfn.] by the heel will generate positive fan heat [dfn.] for the babyface. Babyface wrestlers like a "good feeder" (n.). A babyface can also feed the heel in hope of generating fan sympathy.
Feud (n) A feigned battle, usually a series of matches, between two or more wrestlers or teams meant to draw fans to an arena.
Fighting Champion (n.): A champion who defends his title often.
Finish (n) The ending to a match; can include a series of stock events that lead up to the pinfall, submission, disqualification, countout, or draw.
Finisher (n) Move that leads to end of match.
Flair Flip (n): A move, popularized by Ric Flair, where a wrestler when whipped into a corner turnbuckle, flips upside down and often ends up on the other side of the ropes on his feet on the ring apron.
Flat Back Bump (n): A bump [dfn.] in which a wrestler lands solidly on his back with high impact, spread over as much surface area as possible. It's considered professional to take Flat Back Bumps for an opponent, rather than land softly on the side or just drop to a knee, which is easier on the body, but doesn't make the opponent look as strong.
Foreign Object (n) An object foreign to a match; a weapon to be used to injure an opponent. (Sometimes jokingly called an "international object" stemming from Ted Turner's policy in the late-'80s of never referring to anything as "foreign," but rather to use the word "international," on television stations he owned; although primarily aimed at CNN, it was picked up by TBS wrestling announcers.)
(to be continued in New WAWLI Papers No. 276-2002)
THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) PAPERS No. 276-2002
GLOSSARY OF INSIDER WRESTLING TERMS (Cont.)
Garbage Wrestling (n.): A term for the style of wrestling that incorporates frequent use of massive bleeding, foreign objects, gimmick stipulations, and brawling in and out of the ring without much traditional athleticism and ring psychology; a wrestling style that takes more "guts" and endurance for pain than practiced skill.
Gas (n) Steroids.
Gate (n) Amount of money generated from ticket sales.
Geek (v) Cut one's self.
Gig (v) To blade dfn.], to cut one's own forehead with a razor or another sharp object.
Gig Mark (n) A scar from blading.
Gimmick. (n) 1. The persona, usually artificially created, one has in order to draw fan interest. 2. Slang for a foreign object [dfn.].
Gimmicked (v) Slang for hitting someone with a foreign object [dfn.].(adj.) Indicates object has been altered, i.e. "gimmicked chair" would indicate it was altered to break easily when used as a weapon.
Gizzmo (n) Old term for gimmick [dfn.]
Glom (v) To stiff [dfn.] someone.
Go Home (v) Said by one wrestler to another, meaning to go to the finish of a match.
Go Over (v) To beat someone. (also, "put over")
Go Through (n): A time limit draw.
Going Bush (v) Moving from major league, full-time promotion to a regional or independent, i.e. "bush league"; an older term not used much today.
Good Hand (n): A wrestler who other wrestlers enjoy working with due to that wrestler being in total control during the match, not getting lost, and not working too stiff [dfn.] or too light [dfn.] Also called a "Steady Hand." Opposite is a "Poor Hand" or "Bad Hand."
Green Boy (n) Inexperienced wrestler.
Gusher (n) A deep, heavily bleeding cut, usually as a result of blading [dfn.]; severity of cut can be intended or unintended.
Handles (n) Names wrestlers use among themselves, sometime real names, usually not their ring names; an older term not often used today.
Hardway (adv.) A type of cut incurred without a razor blade, usually unintentionally.
Heat 1. (n) Crowd noise, usually means boos and jeers, although also refers to general crowd noise, including cheers and clapping. 2. (slang) To "have heat" is to be in poor standing with someone.
Heavy (n): A wrestler who is hard to lift, although not necessarily due to his size. A small wrestler who simply doesn't cooperate well in being lifted could be called heavy.
Heel (n) The "bad guy" or "villain." The performer whom the promoter books [dfn.] in the position of being booed.
Highspot (n) A move, usually aerial, that includes fast motion among two or more wrestlers; often risk is involved or at least perceived.
Hold Up (v) When a wrestler refuses to wrestle until he gets a payday bigger than originally agreed upon with the promoter.
Hood (n) Masked wrestler or the mask itself.
Hooker (n) A worker with legit wrestling and submission skills and a tough reputation, often an enforcer [dfn.] of a locker room. The title of being a "hooker" was earned only through years of proving ones self against other respected submission wrestlers. Antiquated term, replaced with the term "shooter."
Hope Spot (n.): While a babyface [dfn.] is being beaten on by the heel to generate heat [dfn.], he teases a comeback [dfn.] to raise fans' hope that he is making a full-fledged comeback, only to have the heel [dfn.] take over offense once again. A "hope spot" usually comes just a few seconds or minutes before a full-fledged babyface comeback.
Hot Move (n) A highspot (dfn.); a maneuver by a wrestler that is exciting.
Hotshot (n) When a promoter or booker rushes to a feud, a climax of a feud, or books a big match on TV instead of at a PPV or house shows, trying to get a short-term boost for business right away at the expense of greater revenues had patience been shown. Also applies to angles which are done for shock value rather than acting as part of a calculated ongoing storyline, also as an attempt to get a short-term boost in ratings or attendance, often at the expense of the long-term welfare of the company.
Hot Tag (n) When a battered babyface finally tags fresh partner.
House (n) Number of fans in building, can include non-paying fans.
House Show (n) 1. A card not taped for television. 2. An event in a town visited consistently by the given promotion.
Hype (v, n): The promotional efforts that are made to increase awareness and popular of wrestlers, organizations, or events.
Job (n) A planned, voluntary loss.
Jobber (n) Wrestler who loses, usually on television, to help image of pushed [dfn.] wrestler; preliminary wrestler; one who does jobs [dfn.]
Jobroni (n, slang) 1. Slang for jobber [dfn.] 2. Used to refer to wrestler with a push [dfn.] who has done several jobs [dfn.] lately. 3. A general derogatory term for someone, akin to calling someone a "loser."
Juice (v) To cut oneself in order to draw blood, usually from the forehead. (n) 1. Blood. 2. Slang for steroids or other muscle-enhancing drugs.
Kay Fabian (n):Slang term for a mark [dfn.] (See also, Kayfabe).
Kayfabe, Ka-Fabe (n, v, adj) Dating back to carnival days, this word is used in many contexts, generally referring to the protecting of industry "secrets." It's believed to originate from the word "fake" being inverted and turned into Carny [dfn.] The word is often said by one in the business to indicate everyone around him should stop talking openly because someone not privy to the inner-workings of the business just entered a room. To "kayfabe someone" is to withhold information from them. Originally in carnivals, the term was yelled to signal trouble.
Lead Ass (n., adj.,v.): A wrestler who is uncooperative in the ring. A "lead ass" wrestler will "lead ass" his opponent in the ring.
Lemming (n): A short-tailed, furry rodent known for its peculiar habit of committing mass suicide by hurling itself - along with hundreds of other lemmings - over steep cliffs and into the ocean, in essence committing mass suicide for no apparent reason other than every other lemming is doing it, too. In the world of pro wrestling, the term "lemming" began in the 1980s, referring to the WWF's large percentage of relatively uninformed, somewhat gullable, and blindly loyal fans unaware of other wrestling products in the U.S. and the world. In the 1990s, a "lemming" is a term bestowed on narrow-minded, blindly faithful fans for any promotion, not just the WWF.
Light (adv.): To work "light" or "lightly" is to give the appearance to the audience of not laying in one's punches and kicks hard or in general trying to be too easy on one's opponent. Considered derogatory.
Load (v.): 1. To place a foreign object to an article of clothing (boot, elbow pad, knee pad, boot, etc.) to give the impression that the subsequent move will inflict more damage on an opponent. 2. To use more top-name wrestlers than usual on an event to help increase the attractiveness of the event to customers, "to load a card."
Loose (adj.) To work loose is to be a wrestler who applies holds and moves with less force than average; considered a positive in most situations. Opposite of tight [dfn.]
Lucha Libre (v., adj.): Literally means "free fighting" in Spanish, now most often used as the term to describe the Mexican style of wrestling which consists of high-flying acrobatic moves, wrestlers often wearing masks, different tag rules than in the U.S. and Japan where tags aren't necessary to switch who is officially in the ring, and a preponderance of six-man tag matches as opposed to one-on-one matches. Traditional Lucha Libre wrestlers worked from the right side of the body rather than the left, which is used throughout most of the rest of the world. In order to be more compatible with the predominant world style, most of today's lucha libre wrestlers are able to Work from the Left Side [dfn.]
Lucha Ring (n.): Usually referring to a ring built for the Mexican style of wrestling in which hard bumps [dfn.] or flat back bumps [dfn.] aren't often taken, but acrobatic, low-impact moves are dominant in the match, so the surface is made of hard wood boards supported by steel bars with little give. This favors balance over padding. The opposite of a Bump Ring [dfn.].
Manager (n): A performer, most often a heel, who acts on air and at live events as a business associate for a wrestler. The manager is ostensibly in charge of the wrestlers business, contract, and travel matters, but is actually utilized by the promotion to cut promos for the wrestler and interfere on his behalf at ringside, thus helping him get heel heat [dfn.]. A manager is rarely actually involved in the off-camera dealings of the wrestler, although that's not always the case. For instance, Jim Cornette acted as a travel aid for wrestlers he managed over the years and Paul Ellering handled the business dealings of the Road Warriors early in their careers.
Mark. (n) 1. A person who believes wrestling matches to be real. Dates back to wrestling's roots in carnivals where the targets of carnival scams were referred to as "marks." Some sources say in the carnival days, when an operator of a scam spotted a real sucker, he would mark his back with a piece of chalk, thus literally "marking" the "mark." Other sources say the term comes from the idea of "hitting the mark" successfully, with the idea being the scam was aimed at the vulnerable sucker, and when it worked, it hit the "mark." 2. A fan of or participant in the wrestling industry who believes in whole or in part that any aspect of the wrestling industry is more important than making money (i.e. a wrestler could be referred to as a mark by a promoter or other wrestlers for being preoccupied with fan-perception (such as holding a title belt) more than being concerned with being paid what he is worth.); (n, slang) A person who believes they are an expert on the wrestling business based on limited knowledge of the inner-workings of the sport; derogatory.
Mark Out. (v, slang) To enthusiastically be into an angle [dfn.] or match as if you were "a mark"; to suspend one's disbelief for the sake of enjoying to a greater extent a match or an angle [dfn.].
Marriage (n) 1. A feud [dfn.] between two wrestlers or teams. 2. A series of matches that goes to each town in which a promotion runs live events, sometimes more than once in each town, until the feud is finished.
Marshmallow (n) A fat wrestler; old, rarely used term.
Mic Work (v.): The art of speaking, of giving Promos [dfn.]
Mid-Carder (n.) A wrestler who wrestles in the middle of events, is seen as being higher in seniority than a Preliminary Wrestler [dfn..], but less than a Money Draw [dfn.]
Missed Spot (n.): A move in which the timing is off and an injury could have or did happen or it Showed Light [dfn.]
Mizark (n, slang): The carny [dfn.] slang term for mark [dfn.]
Money Mark (n): A promoter who invests his own money in a wrestling promotion in order to get close to wrestlers and feel as if he is part of the wrestling industry. Wrestlers often pretend to be friends with the Money Mark, but snicker behind his back about fleecing him.
Money Match (n.): A match that is placed near the end of a live event which was most heavily promoted and is believed to be the main reason fans attended the event or watched the match on TV.
Monster Heel (n.): A Heel [dfn.] who dominates his opponents and is well above average in size.
Mouthpiece (n) An on-camera manager.
Novelty Acts (n.): Beginning in the depression era of the early 1930s, "usual" or "freakish" performers were hired to perform on events to add extra incentive for fans to attend, such as giant wrestler, midgets, "hillbillies," hairy beasts, grotesque or deformed people, or literally trained animals (such as "Man vs. Bear" matches). Novelty Acts rarely stayed in one territory for long since their appeal was seeing them in person once, but not repeatedly.
No-sell (v.): To stop selling [dfn.] a move or moves of your opponent in order to give the impression you are invincible at that moment (i.e. Hulk Hogan's "superman comeback" [dfn.] at the end of his matches, Jerry Lawler after pulling down his strap, Road Warrior Hawk throughout much of his typical match).
No-show (v) To not show up for a scheduled appearance, can refer either to a promoter falsely booking a wrestler or a wrestler missing a scheduled appearance.
Office (n) 1. The headquarters of a wrestling promotion. 2. Slang for the promoter and office workers, source of decisions that affect wrestlers on the road.
Outlaw Promotion (n.): A wrestling organization that runs against an established promoter in a certain territory. During the days where there were dozens of established territories, promoters outside a territory would often send a top wrestler to a fellow promoter to help him battle an Outlaw Promotion's attempt to compete in or take over his territory.
Over (adj.) Popular with intended audience.
Paper (v) To give away tickets to an event, often done to fill seats for television tapings.
Paying Dues (v) General term for gaining experience and showing respect toward veterans; includes in-ring experience, long drives, hard work for low pay.
Pencil (n) A booker [dfn.] or promoter.
Phantom Bump (v.): When a referee or wrestler takes a bump even though the move they are selling [dfn.] showed a bunch of a light [dfn.].
Phantom Foreign Object (n.): When a wrestler pretends to have a foreign object (see Shakespeare [dfn.])
Plant (n) A person - sometimes a wrestler, office employee, or friend or relative of employee - in audience who feigns being a fan and participates in angle [dfn.]. Can also be a star or athlete.
Policeman (n) A wrestler skillful or strong enough to enforce a promoter's wishes; able and willing to shoot [dfn.] to make a point with unruly opponent; somewhat outdated today.
Pop. (v) A rise, usually cheering or booing, out of the crowd.
(to be concluded in New WAWLI No. 277-2002)
THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) PAPERS No. 277-2002
GLOSSARY OF INSIDER WRESTLING TERMS (Cont.)
Popcorn Match (n.): The match right after intermission on a house show that is meant to provide the least incentive for fans to rush back to their seats and stop buying merchandise or concessions. Usually the match is filled with rest holds involving wrestlers fans don't currently care passionately about, or mid-carders who turn it down a notch. A wrestler with a nagging injury who can't work at 100 percent may be placed in the Popcorn Match position in order to give him an easy night of work to reduce the odds of aggravating the injury.
Post (v) To ram opponent's head into the steel ring post or similar object.
Potato (v) To legitimately, either accidentally or on purpose, hit or execute a move with force on opponent.
Preliminary Match (n.): A match held early on the card, usually not a Money Match [dfn.]. Often Dark Matches [dfn.] are considered Preliminary Matches.
Preliminary Wrestler (n.): A wrestler who wrestles early on events and isn't involved in Money Matches [dfn.], often a younger wrestler or a wrestler who is older but without Drawing Power [dfn.] and whose role is to help younger wrestler with potential to be Draws get better.
Program (n) Same as feud [dfn.] or marriage [dfn.], including matches, interviews, and angles [dfn.].
Promo (n.): 1. A speech, statement, or interview by a wrestler or other performer to try to sell his match to the viewing audience. 2. A vignette or short video hyping an upcoming match or highlighting a certain wrestler.
Promoter (n.) Usually refers to the head of a wrestling company, although can refer to regional promoters who help the head of a company promote events.
Promotion 1. (n) A wrestling company. 2. (v) Hype for an event.
Pullapart Brawl (n) A brawl involving an original batch of combatants and several more wrestlers from the locker room who intended to either take sides or break up the original brawl.
Push (v) The act of a wrestler being promoted on television and through other means in order to give that wrestler popularity or recognition, usually through victories, interviews, and television features.
Put Over (v) 1. To be "put over" is to get the pinfall victory. To "put someone over" is to get pinned. 2. To compliment someone.
Rat (n.): See "Ringrat."
Receipt (n) Used in the context of a shoot or a work, the act of gaining justified revenge, i.e. doing something that if it weren't a retaliatory tactic would be seen as being wrong.
Red. (n) Blood.
Red Means Green (phrase): A old phrase used to point out that wrestlers who bled would often get a bigger payoff from a promoter if he was willing to blade [dfn.] and bleed. Term made famous when it was featured on the 1983 ABC "20/20" story by John Stossell exposing the inner workings of pro wrestling.
Ref Bump (n.): When the referee takes a bump [dfn.] at a specified time in a match so a wrestler or manager, usually a heel, can commit an illegal move against his opponent. The referee usually remains stunned just long enough for the illegal act to take place.
Rest Hold (n) A hold that takes place during a match that gives wrestlers time to breathe between highspots, applied lightly, without pressure.
Rib (v, n): A practical joke, prank, or teasing aimed at a wrestler for laughs or to get across a point. A veteran wrestler may rib a rookie as a type of initiation, or a locker room leader may rib a disruptive force to send a message. Ribs can be light-hearted fun (common ribs are locking someone's bag handles shut with a padlock and rubbing hair removal cream on their eyebrows while sleeping on a plane) or serious (such as defecating in their bag while they are in the ring or at ringside).
Ring Rat (n.): A woman who hangs around arenas and hotels after wrestling cards looking to go to bed with wrestlers.
Rizat (n, slang): The carny [dfn.] slang term for "ring rat" [dfn.]
Road Agent (n) Employee who travels with wrestlers and oversees execution of house shows.
Run In (v) When a babyface Saves [dfn.] a colleague from an unfair attack by a heel or when a heel interferes in a match to save his colleague from being defeated fairly by a babyface.
Run-In (n.): The act of interfering in a match or running to the ring when you're not officially part of the match.
Sandbag (n.): To make another wrestler look bad by not cooperating as much with their moves, making your body "heavier" in an attempt to make the opponent look weaker and ineffective. A younger wrestler with a big push who is developing an ego problem may be sent a message by a "policeman" [dfn.] to send a message that their opponent and the promoter are truly in charge of the fans' perception of their power and skills.
Schmoz (n) A crowd of wrestlers during a pullapart [dfn.] brawl; general chaos meant to conclude an angle or match without having to book anything intricate.
Screwjob (adj.) A finish with controversial ending, usually upsetting fans, often inconclusive or unsatisfying; often a reversal against the babyface (derogatory).
Scripted (n.): A more mainstream term for Worked [dfn.], meaning preplanned, as in the case of a match, angle, or interview.
Sell (v) To act as if you have been on the receiving end of a legitimate wrestling or fighting maneuver, both in motion and in facial expression.
Shakespeare (v.): The lost art of pretending to have a foreign object that the wrestler "hides" on himself and keeps out of sight from the referee, which is "used" to inflect damage on his opponent when in fact there is no object. It was used decades ago to draw crowd heat [dfn.] and keep the referee busy, but it is rarely used today.
Sheets (n) Slang for industry trade journals, newsletters, results bulletins, fanzines, and fan club bulletins; often used in a derogatory tone. (Of those publications, those which contain "insider" information are also referred to as "kayfabe sheets." Derogatory terms include "dirt sheets," "rag sheets," and "scandal sheets.")
Shill (n): Term for a blindly loyal or biased fan or employee of a wrestling company whose inability to criticize or disagree with anything that person's favorite promotion does ultimately negates their credibility.
Shoot (n, adj.) 1. A work [dfn.] that becomes a legitimate wrestling contest or fight. 2. (v, slang) To legitimately hit or hurt one's opponent on purpose. 3. (adj.) A comment with some truth behind it.
Shooter (n) One who shoots [dfn.] using amateur wrestling skills.
Showing Light (v) Because of flawed execution, to unintentionally expose to fans that a maneuver did not connect, i.e. someone throwing a punch which the opponent sells [dfn.] when the punch did not come close to hitting the opponent.
Smark (n) A relatively new slang term for a fan who believes he or she is "smart" [dfn.] based on a certain amount of inside knowledge, but is perceived by someone else (usually someone within the industry) to be less informed than the fan himself or herself believes; combination of the words smart and mark [dfn.].
Smart (n) A person who has knowledge of the inner-workings of the wrestling business.
Soft (adj.) See "loose."
Spot (n) A wrestling move or series of moves.
Spot Show (n) A wrestling event held in a town not visited on a consistent basis.
Spuds (n): A slang term used to describe a match with a lot of potatoes [dfn.], i.e. "Spuds were flying all over the ring in that match."
Squash 1. (n, adj.) A mismatch, usually on television designed to put over [dfn.] a pushed [dfn.] wrestler who dominates offense and beats opponent, usually a jobber [dfn.]. 2. (v) To dominate offense and win a match.
Stiff 1. (adj.) To hit harder or execute holds and moves with more force than most; one who "works [dfn.] tight." 2. (v) When a promoter doesn't pay a wrestler or when a wrestler takes an advance payment and doesn't show up at the card [dfn.]
Stocking (n) Old term for masked wrestler.
Stooge 1. (n) Anyone who informs promoter of something wrestlers would prefer to be kept secret, often another wrestler or referee. 2. (v) To tell on someone. 3. (n.) An underling associate of a heel wrestler who does the "dirty work" for that wrestler.
Strap (n) Championship belt.
Stretch (v) To use a legitimate and painful amateur wrestling hold.
Stretched (v) To be injured, sometimes intentionally by opponent; also refers to a worked [dfn.] injury.
Stretchered (v) To be carried out on a stretcher while feigning an injury suffered during a match or an angle.
Strong Style Wrestling (n) A form of worked [dfn.] wrestling found in Japan that stresses realistic-looking action at the expense of highspots [dfn.]. Sometimes called "shooting," although that's rarely an accurate account of the matches it is referring to.
Submission Hold. (n) 1. A hold that fans believe can lead to the finish of a match via submission. 2. A hold that is meant to invoke high emotion due to being complicated and more devastating-looking than a common resthold.
Superman Comeback (n.): To begin no-selling [dfn.] your opponent's moves during your comeback giving the aura of invincibility in order to generate positive fan heat.
Swerve (n) 1. A joke pulled by one wrestler on another. 2. A false report by a wrestler or promoter to another wrestler or promoter or a member of the press.
Switch the Heat (v) To pass blame.
Territory (n) 1. The area in which a given promotion runs wrestling matches and airs its television show. 2. Slang for actual territorial wrestling promotion.
Tight (adj To work tight is to be a wrestler who applies holds and moves with more force than average; realistic. Can be a negative or positive quality, depending on the style the opponent prefers. Opposite of loose [dfn.], soft [dfn.]
Tope (v) Flying move over top rope from inside the ring to floor (pronounced toe-pay).
Trust (n) An alliance among regional promotions.
Turn (v) To change one's persona from heel [dfn.] to babyface [dfn.] or from babyface to heel.
Tweener. (n) One who is neither a babyface [dfn.] nor a heel [dfn.], or one who is in the process of turning [dfn.] from one to the other.
Work. (n) 1. A rationalized lie. 2. Predetermined outcome. (v) To lie, deceive, or mislead someone. 3. (v) To skillfully wrestle or act out storylines to make fans believe what they are seeing is impromptu genuine battle or arguing.
Work the Left Side (v.): The style of wrestling where most moves are executed on the left side of the opponent and to the opponent's left side. Originally wrestlers agreed to Work the Left Side so that when their opponent made their Comebacks [dfn.], they could do so believably with their right arm at full strength.
Working the Left Side is predominant worldwide now, but before the 1990s, in Mexico, it was most common for wrestlers to Work the Right Side. Because of problems adapting to international matches, most contemporary wrestlers out of Mexico know how to Work the Left Side, or work from both side.
Worker (n) Wrestler. Context is usually positive.
Workrate (n) The pace of a match and the skill level exhibited therein.
*** *** ***
Special thanks to many wrestlers who asked not to be named but helped with this list originally and who have since made suggestions (which have been implemented) to make the list more accurate or exhaustive.
Sources used for antiquated terminology:
-Wrestling Eye magazine's 1985 article on wrestling terminology history.
-"Fall Guys" by Marcus Griffin (1937, The Relly & Lee Co., Chicago).
-"Whatever Happened to Gorgeous George" by Joe Jares (1974, Prentice Hall International).
Thanks also to the following PWTorch.com readers for their suggestions on terms not listed in our original website publishing of this list in 2000: Travis Pawlium, Steve Slagle, John Stout, Octavio Fierros, Matt Smith, Clint Lehnhoff, John J. Junkins, and Brian Rathjen.
THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) PAPERS No. 278-2002
TORCH TALK INTERVIEW: ROAD WARRIOR HAWK
(November 22, 1992, published in Torch Newsletter No. 203)
Conducted by Wade Keller, Torch editor
Original Introduction -- The following is the first of a multi-part "Torch Talk" series with Road Warrior Hawk, formerly a member of the Legion of Doom with Animal. The two-hour interview with Hawk, real name Mike Hegstrand, was conducted Nov. 27, 1992 by telephone.
Keller: Let's start with the obvious question. What went into your decision to leave the World Wrestling Federation?
Hawk: The way I was being treated. The fact that I was on the road ten years, 250 days a year. And I know what I'm worth and I wasn't getting paid what I was worth. I do believe that Animal and I were and have been top proven talent - I don't mean to sound big-headed - but we're good. And you've got guys, more power to them, that make all the money, who can't wrestle a lick and I could out-interview them in a coma. So he (Ultimate Warrior) is getting paid all this money. He held Vince McMahon up for money before, I never did anything like that before. We went in and bitched about money before. And Vince made promises to me. He's very good at making promises, but he didn't keep them. And I got disgusted. Another thing is I wanted to do my own gig, which I'm doing now.
Keller: And now that you're not with the WWF you're mainly looking at Japan and Europe for work?
Keller: Anything in the States?
Hawk: If the money's right, I'll work for anybody.
Keller: Is there interest on WCW's part to bring you in either as a singles wrestler or to team with Kensuke Sasaki?
Hawk: I have no idea. They talked to me and said give me your Japanese schedule. But I'm not going to call them. If they want me, they can call me. I'm willing to work, but I'm not going to sign any contracts and it's going to be a nightly guarantee or I'm not coming in because I don't need them.
Keller: What was it about your stay in the WWF that you most enjoyed?
Hawk: They have a great production. They do good business. When you have a good crowd, that's good. Although business seems to be down, they still have better crowds than WCW. I like the professionalism they have, but I don't like to be lied to. I'm not a money-hungry monster in any regard, but I am in this business to make money. I do work my ass off and I expected to get paid accordingly. Vince McMahon seems to have a problem paying tag teams as much as he pays a singles wrestler. From what I understand from the marketing people, after Hogan left we were doing 23 to 24 percent of all sales. It didn't reflect in my merchandising checks. I paid my dues in this business. I didn't disrespect him. I didn't do anything wrong. So why stick it (to me)?
Keller: What were some of the promises Vince McMahon broke?
Hawk: Any promise he made as far as I'm concerned.
Keller: So you didn't find Vince McMahon to have much integrity?
Hawk: I think Vince McMahon is a very intelligent man. I don't have anything bad to say about him except I don't believe a word that comes out of his mouth. He's a promoter. Would you trust Don King with your child's piggy bank?
Keller: How was working for McMahon different from working for the NWA?
Hawk: It depends on whether you're talking about the NWA when Jim Crockett or Jim Herd ran it. Jim Herd don't know anything about our business. He hated guys like me and my partner from the get go because we were making five-times the money. But we bounced around the ring like superballs, not him. He's the guy that came up with the Ding Dongs. Let's get real. How can he tell me about the business. I told him, "I've been in this business before you got in and I'll be in it after you're gone." I don't know what the problem is with that organization. Vince McMahon has made his empire on wrestling. He tried the WBF and personally, nothing toward Vince, but I'm glad it bombed out because here we are working our butts off, travelling all over, we work out every day, but we weren't given guaranteed contracts. These guys were given guaranteed money to sit around and workout in a gym?
Keller: What about the difference in locker room atmosphere between WCW and WWF?
Hawk: Well, I think in WCW it was a lot less cut-throat with a lot less stooges and more camaraderie. I think there were more cliques in the WWF. When people call me - which since I've left a lot of wrestlers have because I'm a stand-up guy… I'm not bragging about myself but I tell the truth. Being a stand-up guy is what gets you heat in this business because that's a challenge to Vince McMahon. He also wanted to tame the tiger. Well, the tiger doesn't need to be tamed. There's always mind games there. The job's tough enough and we do our job well. And WCW with Crockett was very relaxed.
Keller: Was that partially because there were such strong guarantees through the final couple of years of Crockett?
Hawk: Even before the guarantees, that was the case. I'll tell you what, when I was under the guaranteed contract, that made me feel like a prisoner. We walked out of the last six months of guaranteed money which was a sizable hunk of money. We're men of principle. I don't care how much you pay me, if I ain't happy, it don't mean nothing to me.
Keller: Was money the major factor in leaving the WWF or was the grind of the schedule more important?
Hawk: It was the tons of rules and regulations. Too many for me.
Keller: For instance.
Hawk: I don't mind the drug testing, but why do I have to pee in a bottle because Vince McMahon brought it on.
Keller: What do you mean he brought it on?
McMahon: He was the one on the stand in the Zahorian trial, not me. I suffered. My reputation suffered.
Keller: What was it like being in the WWF during the Zahorian controversy with the New York Post stories on Pat Patterson?
Hawk: Pat Patterson, I don't have a bad thing to say about him. I got along with him fine. His name was always brought up because of his sexual preferences. Well, Elton John is great at what he does and nobody ever questions that.
Keller: If Patterson abused his power - be it through sexual harassment of women or men - did he deserve to be held accountable?
Hawk: All I heard is what was in the media and the papers. Everybody knows that he is gay, which I have no problem with. It certainly was obvious to him that I'm heterosexual and I'm not the kind of guy you want to go asking them kind of questions to. I had no problem with him. I also respect Vince McMahon. He's the most successful promoter.
Keller: Speaking of the scandals in general, what do you think about steroids being illegal in the first place?
Hawk: I think them testing is good a thing because it's gotten to this point that everybody is equal. That is the strongest, most rigorously tested company, period.
Keller: How did the usage of steroids change from when you were first there to when you left?
Hawk: Well, they ceased. There was no getting around it. But it's for the better.
Keller: You're in favor of the level playing field that ideally will be the result of vigorous testing?
Hawk: If someone's going to be tested, it should be everybody, but I don't necessarily know that that was a fact. Vince has his favorites and he treats other people differently. A hard thing for me to understand - I have nothing personally against the Ultimate Warrior - he stood up Vince at SummerSlam last year for money right before he was supposed to go out to the ring. He used my lawyer, so I know the whole situation. Okay. Call me biased, I'm not a braggart, but I could wrestle circles around that guy. In anybody's field, knowing you're better and more capable of your job than a guy who's not as capable or not as professional getting paid more (is frustrating).
Keller: Would you rather have been promoted differently, either as a team with Animal or as a singles wrestler? Should you personally have had a more prominent role?
Hawk: Yes, by far. Listen, it's always been with us, "Aw, these guys, we don't have to push them because they're so over." I always looked at it like this - and me and Animal have talked about this - we're very fortunate in this business, but you don't just end up at the top. If the door is opened, you either walk through it or it gets slammed in your face. Well, we ran through it and we were consistent. And we did more as a tag team than any other tag team has ever done. It's one thing to get to the top, it's another thing to stay there. I gauge what your value is by the response you get by the crowd. Another thing is also, if you're one of Vince McMahon's own creations or babies, it's a different story for you. We weren't his babies. I told him many times there were other things I wanted to do. I told him I wanted to commentate. Heenan, Ventura, and Gorilla are the best. I could blow their doors off. If I sound like a braggart, that's too bad, but I'm confident with myself. I mean, if I wasn't, I wouldn't be a professional in my eyes. I don't think a lot of people were used right.
Keller: What went into the decision for you and Animal not to stick together?
Hawk: Well, Animal didn't know I was going to quit. It was something I talked about a long time. I subtly let him know about it. I let him know it was time to stop talking and start walking. He said, "I stand to make more money here." I told him, "Let's see if you can," but it must've went right over his head. Nobody knew (I was leaving).
Keller: You called the WWF offices the day after SummerSlam to let Vince McMahon know you were gone.
Hawk: I called the day I knew Vince got back to the office.
Keller: What was his reaction when you told him.
Hawk: I didn't talk to him. I talked to his secretary. I told 'em the truth, "Due to mental stress and physical duress, I've had it." There's other things to life. I can work doing what I'm doing now, make a very comfortable living, get treated like a human being, have my expenses paid for, have the promotion be appreciative, and get some pride back in my work.
Keller: Did you see you and Animal growing apart, not as a tag team, but as friends over the last couple of years?
Hawk: No. I just saw that I wanted to do my own thing.
Keller: Have you been in contact with Animal since you quit?
Hawk: Some, but not much.
Keller: Do you see yourself possibly teaming with him again?
Hawk: Well, I don't know what he's doing. I've heard some stories. I've heard other people say he is going to become an agent for Vince which I find hard to believe. I don't think he's done any wrestling. I heard because of a tailbone injury he was going to collect Lloyd's of London. I have no idea what his disability is but I heard that and I had already cut my deal for Japan and he's calling me and trying to negotiate a deal with me in Japan, so I'm mixed up on that.
Keller: How much longer do you want to be in the wrestling business?
Hawk: I tell you what, I feel now controlling my own schedule working for the Japanese who I respect and who are honorable, there's no aggravation or bull. The promotion are my friends. I feel as excited about it as when I did about the second year in the business when I got a grasp and knew what I was doing in this business… I deal with Masa Saito and Brad Rheingans.
Keller: Do you ever get tired of the recognition factor? Do you ever wish you could go to the mall and not be inundated with autograph seekers and people recognizing you?
Hawk: First of all, I have a different philosophy than a lot of guys. And no it doesn't bother me. I see a lot of guys who are rude to people who ask for autographs. I'm the opposite. The reason for that is not to be a goody two shoes, it's because if people aren't coming up to you to shake your hand or ask for an autograph, that means you're not very good at what you do. It's a compliment when they do. They're your bread and butter and that's just part of the territory. I've met a lot of professional athletes, entertainers who didn't have the same philosophy I do. I think mine is right. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think that's morally right. If I see somebody, I don't care if it's Frank Sinatra or somebody else, and they're rude in that type of situation, I'll be the first one to tell them that I think they're a piece of shit as a human being.
Keller: What do you see yourself doing in 20 or 25 years?
Hawk: I don't see myself wrestling.
Keller: What are your other interests outside of wrestling?
Hawk: Acting. Voice-over business, which I'm working on now, but it's very tough to crack into. I find it very easy to do radio, very easy. If none of that pays off, I see myself doing charity and good things for people. It makes me feel good. I've been involved in that a lot in the past and it has been important to me.
Keller: How did you originally get involved in the wrestling business?
Hawk: Eddie Sharkey broke in Jesse Ventura and Bob Backlund. I met Eddie at a restaurant in Downtown (Minneapolis) with several large bouncers. He was impressed by our size. He said he hadn't run a camp lately. We said, "Would you do it again?" The first four that he took which started it all over again for him was my ex-partner, myself, Repoman, and Rick Rude. He has by far and away produced more top talent than anybody. Minnesota seems to be quite a hotbed for wrestlers. Must be the water.
Keller: How did you originally connect with Animal and Paul Ellering?
Hawk: Paul Ellering was another Minnesota native. I knew Animal working out in gyms before I got into wrestling. He was the original Road Warrior. Ole (Anderson) hired him and sent him down to North Carolina where (Jim) Crockett (Jr.) started him. Matt Borne got involved in rape allegations and he and Buzz Sawyer, rest his soul, were tag team champions. They got bad media on it, so they fired Matt Borne and Ole put me and Animal together.
Keller: Did you have any clue going in you were…
Hawk: I had no clue, period. I had three matches under my belt of which each one I was so nervous I threw up after each one.
Keller: Did you have any idea that you and Animal would turn into a major force in tag team history?
Hawk: We really didn't. It took two years before we realized it. We were hot from the beginning. It would have never happened without the guidance of Paul Ellering.
Keller: Tell me about what Paul did for your career.
Hawk: He was a legitimate manager who when we were independent, booked us, lined up flights, reservations at hotels, everything. He has a genius IQ. At the end of the year he had a computer print out of all of our expenses. He was a legitimate manager and the highest paid manager in the history of this business.
Keller: What is your relationship with him now?
Hawk: Three weeks ago I was up visiting him. You have to remember when we walked out of WCW, we walked out on a lot of money. Herd was gonna try to screw Paul Ellering out of his money, which I coerced him - maybe in somewhat an aggressive manner - that all he had to do was give us, me and Animal, a release and he'd save himself a lot of money, but he better damn well pay Paul Ellering. When Paul called me out of the blue when I was in the WWF and said he wanted to work, the next day he had a job. I think Vince McMahon is making a very big mistake, having him under contract and not using him right now. He is a great talker as a heel or babyface manager. I mean, he's very versatile.
Keller: What was the best part about working for the AWA?
Hawk: I was home. I enjoyed it very much. Verne Gagne was a very good payoff man, but it ended up the pay wasn't worth it. We were the only tag team there that worked for two major promotions at once and independents. So we called our shots. Promoters would call us and we would take what dates we wanted, which was a great luxury. The reason we had that luxury was because we brought people to the building. Even though Verne was a good payoff man, he was very tough to deal with.
Keller: In what way?
Hawk: It was his way or the highway. So when it was his way or the highway and we didn't agree with it, we simply took our wrestling tights off and dressed and started to leave.
Keller: In the AWA when you became so popular, the promotion began matching you against heels instead of babyfaces. It almost had to be done since the popular Fabulous Ones were being booed against you. Do you ever regret switching to that role of accepting fans cheers?
Hawk: We didn't switch nothing. The fans liked us from the get-go. The fans like Freddie Krueger and The Terminator. They respected our work in the ring and they liked that we did nothing but power moves.
Keller: Would you have changed anything about the way your tag team was portrayed by the AWA in your stint there, or were you happy with your role?
Hawk: Every promoter, from Vince McMahon on down, after they realized how over we were, they never concentrated on pushing us any further, which we realized we had to do on our own. At times, because of the promoters' egos, they tried to hold us down, but it didn't work because we didn't change a thing and the people liked it. Bottom line. The promoters want control. They want to be the boss. Big egos. Bill Watts, ego. Vince McMahon, ego. Verne Gagne, ego. Crockett, I wouldn't put in the same category. I mean, he has an ego, but he treated me fairly. He knew what we were worth and he paid us what we were worth. He knew our value. He appreciated us.
Keller: What do you think of Verne Gagne as a person?
Hawk: Not much.
Keller: How is his personality different from his TV personality to the extent that so many wrestlers I've interviewed dislike him?
Hawk: Because he's a bad person. Because at one time he told me when they begged us to come in, wooed us to come in, and when we had disagreements, he would make idiotic statements like, "Twenty years ago I'd have tied you in a knot." It's a dumb thing to say.
Keller: What do you think of him as a promoter?
Hawk: I think he stepped on too many toes and that's why he fell to the wayside and you ended up with two major promotions. He did not progress and change. He did not adapt with the changes in the business and go with the flow. He was too set in his ways.
Keller: What about Greg? Why didn't Greg Gagne pick up the AWA where Verne left off?
Hawk: Because he didn't have respect from any of the boys (wrestlers). Even his own father held him down. You have to earn respect. To get a friend, you have to be a friend. And I always had a hard time understanding why a promoter - virtually every one of them except Crockett - would put you in main events all the time, pay you well, but at the same time treat you like shit.
THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) PAPERS No. 279-2002
VINCE McMAHON vs. RIC FLAIR (Royal Rumble ’02)
By John Powell, SLAM! Wrestling
In another ludicrous booking decision (probably the bookers trying to kiss-up to McMahon), the "buff" Mr. McMahon is portrayed as some sort of unstoppable powerhouse or mini Lex Luger tossing Ric Flair, a wrestling legend who has forgotten more about wrestling than McMahon will ever know, around like a rag doll into guard rails, ring stairs and posts.
Astonishingly, the match is 75 percent McMahon beating the tar out of Flair and busting him open.
To rub it in, McMahon takes a camera held by Flair's daughter at ringside and snaps a picture of him and a bloody Nature Boy. McMahon even puts Flair in a weak figure four. Flair easily reverses it. Ten minutes into the match, Flair finally mounts some offence when McMahon retrieves the lead pipe he has hidden near the announcing desk. Flair low-blows McMahon and smashes him in the head with a television monitor.
This move busts McMahon open. Flair makes McMahon pose for picture with his daughter's camera to humiliate him. Back in the ring, Flair brains McMahon with the pipe and slaps him in the figure four. McMahon submits.
Viewers are left wondering if McMahon is such a formidable force in the ring, why the heck isn't he in line for a shot at the WWF World Heavyweight Title?
McMahon's unending need to be in the spotlight and more times
than not the top heel in his own company at the expense of others is another
reason why he should retire to the offices of Titan Sports ...for good.
Winner: Ric Flair at 14 minutes and 55 seconds.
ANOTHER VERSION OF THE SAME MATCH
By Kevin Gregg, RajahWWF
Ric Flair's music hit in the arena and he made his way out to the ring as the co-owner of the World Wrestling Federation for a Street Fight against his other co-owner, Vince McMahon! The fans went nuts in favor of Ric Flair, and his son and his daughter were shown in the crowd. Vince McMahon came out, and he was jacked up, big time! Flair stood face to face with Vince in the ring, and the fans yelled "Woooo!"
Vince and Flair exchanged words and the two locked it up in the center of the ring and Flair powered Vince into the corner and Vince shoved Flair down to the mat. Vince posed to show that he's more pumped than Flair and the fans booed.
The two locked it up once again and Vince got Flair in a side headlock and Vince wrenched away on Flair. Flair whipped Vince off the ropes and Vince came back with a hard shoulder block to knock Vince down. Vince once again posed and then the two locked it up once again and Flair took Vince down by the leg and then he stomped him as he was down. Flair backed Vince into the corner and gave him some body shots and then he strutted and Vince kicked Flair in the mid section.
Vince gave Flair some shoulder blocks in the corner and then he gave him a reverse elbow to knock him down. Vince picked Flair up and then Vince chopped Flair across the chest and then Flair backed Vince into the corner and Flair chopped the living hell out of Vince!
Flair strutted and then Vince raked Flair in the eyes. Vince whipped Flair into the corner and Vince knocked Flair down with a clothesline and then Vince whipped Flair into the corner and Flair flipped over the corner to the apron and then Vince knocked Flair down from the apron.
Vince then got out of the ring and grabbed a "KEEP OFF" sign and nailed Ric Flair with it a couple times. Vince knocked Flair into the security fence and then Vince went under the ring and got some weapons out. Trash can lid and a trash can. Vince then nailed Ric Flair with a trash can and then Flair did a nose dive in the aisle way and Flair has been busted opened! Vince gave Ric Flair some right hands and then he slammed Ric into the steel post. Vince then whipped Ric into the steel steps and then Vince gave Ric Flair a body slam at ringside. Vince then took the camera from Flair's daughter and then Vince took a picture of himself and then a picture of a bloodied up Flair.
Vince then tossed the camera back to Flair's daughter, and then Vince talked the trash as he kicked Flair's ass. Vince rolled Ric Flair back into the ring and then he knocked him down and grabbed one of his legs and gave him an elbow to the inner leg. Vince held onto Ric Flair's leg and he held him in somewhat of an ankle lock and Ric's shoulders were down and the referee counted a one count. Vince then pulled Ric Flair to the apron and slammed his leg into the ring apron. Vince pulled Ric to the ring post and he slammed his left leg into the ring post a couple times. Vince then pulled Ric Flair to the middle of the ring and he grabbed him by his right leg and then he put him in the figure four leg lock! Ric's shoulders were down, and Vince got a two count and Vince put more pressure on Ric and the fans got behind Ric Flair and Vince got another two count. Ric Flair turned Vince over and Vince crawled out of the ring and limped around the ring. Vince got a lead pipe and he brought it into the ring and he went to crack Ric Flair in the head with it, but Ric gave Vince a low blow!
Vince then rolled out of the ring in pain and Ric went after
him. Ric chopped Vince McMahon across the chest a number of times and then he
gave him a hard right hand. Ric chopped Vince once again and then he gave him
another hard right hand. Ric then slammed Vince's head into the security wall
and then he took the top off of the Spanish announcer's table and then he nailed
Vince in the head with a monitor and the fans went nuts! Ric then watched what
he did in the monitor and then Ric chopped Vince across the chest again and then
he gave him a number of hard right hands and then he rolled him back into the
ring. Ric then grabbed Vince by the leg and he pulled Vince in front of his
kids, and he bit Vince and his daughter took pictures! Ric then chopped Vince
and then he rolled him back into the ring. Vince begged off, but that's going to
do him no good. Ric gave Vince a number of hard right hands to the head and then
he gave him a low blow. Ric Flair then grabbed the lead pipe and he cracked
Vince right in the head with it! Ric then grabbed Vince by the leg and he put
him in the figure four leg lock and Vince didn't want to give up, but he tapped
out to the figure four!
AND YET ANOTHER VERSION
Flair's youngest son and daughter were ringside. His son looked like he was on the verge of tears as Flair entered the ring. Flair had a glow on his face. He actually looked really good in the face, as if he were ten years younger instead of on the verge of turning 53. Of course, Vince McMahon puts Flair to shame when it came to physique, although Vince doesn't have to adhere to the stringent Olympic drug testing policies.
Vince's knees must not be as "hot and sexy" as his biceps since he's always got those covered up, in this case by black jeans. Vince shoved Flair to the mat to start and then gloated to Flair. He put Flair in a headlock and Flair screamed in pain, but then shoved Vince into the ropes. Vince bounced off the ropes and checked Flair to the mat. Vince did the Flair strut mockingly. At 3:00 Flair gave Vince a series of chops to the chest and Vince grimaced in a cartoonish exaggerated way. Vince quickly took over with a clothesline.
A very, very tanned Vince began huffing and puffing. Flair did the face-first bump to the mat which elicited a noticeable pop from the long-time Flair followers in the crowd. Flair then did the flip into the turnbuckle. Vince clotheslined Flair again (Vince's move of choice, so apparently he's been studying Ultimate Warrior tapes to learn technique) and sent him to the floor. Vince nailed Flair with metal "Keep Off" sign. Vince retrieved a trash can and hit Flair, who came up bleeding from the forehead. Vince shoved Flair into the ring stairs. Vince got in the face of the Flair kids. He stole their camera and snapped a picture of Flair's bloody face close up. In the ring Vince worked over Flair's legs (he's been studying Ole Anderson tapes, too). Flair was bleeding heavily as he panted in pain as Vince twisted his ankle. Vince wrapped Flair's leg around the ringpost.
At 14:00 Vince applied the figure-four. Flair reversed it, so Vince broke the hold and went limping at ringside looking for a weapon. He retrieved a lead pipe from the time keeper's area. When Vince swung at Flair, Flair preemptively gave him a forearm uppercut between the legs. Flair caught up to Vince at ringside and nailed him with a series of chops. Vince sold them well, looking like a baby whose toy just broke. Flair began disassembling the ringside table and used a monitor as a weapon against Vince. Vince came up bleeding (he was able to secretly blade underneath the ringside table). Back in the ring Vince begged off.
Flair brought Vince to ringside and let his daughter take a picture of her dad biting Vince's bloody forehead. Nice addition to the family photo album, right next to the picture of the family cat after getting run over by a car and the picture of grandma in her casket. Flair gave Vince a mule kick between the legs, then hit him with the lead pipe. Vince went down like he was shot. Flair got energized as he put Vince in the figure-four. Vince screamed in pain and tapped out. Fun match. Everything it needed to be and was expected to be.
THE NEW WAWLI (Wrestling As We Liked It) PAPERS No. 280-2002
(Minneapolis Star-Tribune, February 19, 2002)
By Neil St. Anthony
It took Les (Buddy) Wolff -- a two-sport star athlete out of St. Cloud State in the early 1960s -- nearly four decades to finally make an Olympic team.
In fact, Wolff, whose journey to Salt Lake City meandered from semi-professional football to professional wrestling to restaurant failure, left Utah before the Games began earlier this month.
He was too busy wrestling with business to hang around.
Meanwhile, 8,000 of the aluminum and fiberglass "Banner Saver" brackets he invented in the 1990s hold fast some 2,000 "Salt Lake 2002" banners that colorfully adorn the windy, mountainous Olympic environs.
Wolff, 60, a soft-spoken man who lacks the pomposity of, say, one wrestler-turned-governor, is thankful for the Olympic fortune that allowed him to build a $500,000-a-year business from his home in Hackensack, Minn., and retire more than $50,000 in old debts.
"I think I've had some divine intervention mixed in with the sweat," Wolff said.
"That restaurant almost bankrupted me by the time I sold it in 1991. I owed about $40,000 to Uncle Sam alone," he said. "He doesn't forget. The banner-and-bracket business allowed me to pay off all those debts and build a business up here. I'm very grateful for that."
In Hackensack, a small town 50 miles north of Brainerd, Minn., Wolff is known as a quiet, hard-working man whose manner belies the theatrics of professional wrestling, where his ring earnings peaked at $75,000 in 1978.
"Les is not a boisterous man," said the Rev. Thea Monson of St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Hackensack.
"He doesn't brag. I didn't know about all his wrestling ventures. And I don't know a lot about his business dealings. He's just respected up here as an inventor and adventurer. He's had some failures. He accepts that. He's seeking his peace on this journey."
The journey started in earnest when Wolff, a southern Minnesota native, enrolled at St. Cloud State in 1960, determined to succeed.
After high school, he labored on the sweltering floor of a cast-iron foundry. That wasn't his future.
Wolff, a rock-solid, 6-foot, 220-pound heavyweight wrestler and all-conference lineman, qualified for the Olympic trials before the 1964 Games. But he doubted that he could beat the best in the land and opted to sign a semi-professional football contract for a few thousand bucks.
It wasn't the National Football League.
He also earned an education degree and taught school part time and coached. But the restless young father was looking for something a little more exciting and lucrative.
A teammate at St. Cloud, Larry Heiniemi, then masquerading as wrestler Lars Anderson, persuaded him to try pro wrestling.
For 20 years, off and on, Wolff wrestled around the country, usually as the guy who lost to the more charismatic -- or villainous -- louts.
He avoided muscle-building drugs, lifted weights and became a favorite match partner for the likes of Dusty Rhodes and Verne Gagne.
"I just tried to wrestle people and throw in a little bit of dirt," Wolff said. "I didn't do a lot of punching or gouging or kicking.
"I made good money in Florida in the late 1970s. Dusty Rhodes and I wrestled 13 times in a row in the Tampa Bay Auditorium. Mostly sellouts. Each match went the limit. It takes a very good performance to hold their attention for an hour. And I don't talk much."
In 1976, Wolff earned a bit of national notoriety when he knocked down Muhammad Ali in a three-round exhibition at the Chicago Amphitheater as Ali prepared to scrap with Japan's heavyweight rasslin' champ.
The bare-handed Wolff couldn't strike Ali. He took withering blows from the heavyweight champion's 16-ounce gloves while cutting the champ's legs from underneath him, twice bringing him to the mat.
"He was strong and a nice man," Wolff said.
By the early 1980s, the 42-year-old Wolff was weary of wrestling. Divorced with two daughters near St. Cloud, he had moved to a lake in the Hackensack area and was running three T-shirt shops in regional malls. It wasn't particularly lucrative.
Wolff also printed banners for a Minneapolis company and opened a restaurant in 1987, called Budros, in Hackensack. The restaurant drained him and he sold it in 1991.
One night that winter, Wolff, then 50, was driving through Brainerd, wondering where he could get a job that would allow him to repay his debts and start over. A creative inventor, he also had designed several weight lifting and other machines that had never taken off. He was eking out a living silk-screening canvas for a Minneapolis banner company.
He pulled over in downtown Brainerd and watched winds of 40 miles per hour tear apart beautiful canvas banners that he printed. An idea dawned: a bracket was needed that would flex with the wind, sparing the banners that brightened major streets and shopping malls.
Wolff spent the next several years printing and selling banners and designing the "Banner Saver," which he later patented. The rod-and-bracket contraption rotates and "hinges" in the direction of winds up to 75 mph, so that the banner does not tear.
Wolff can remember feeling sorry for himself one Sunday night in 1996 while producing early versions of Banner Savers in a work shed outside Hackensack.
Ali was interviewed on "60 Minutes." The former champ, a shadow of the man Wolff fought two decades earlier, was shaking with Parkinson's disease and could barely whisper.
"I quit grumbling to myself," Wolff called. "I was fortunate. An artist I know, Judy Meyeraan from Big Lake, had told me I had a creative talent. I wasn't just inventive. I kept working at it. Designing. Making. Selling."
Neighboring towns and business associations bought banners and brackets.
Wolff changed to a lightweight aluminum design, which sells at retail for $49. He began mass production at a Bloomington factory, and last year sold more than $500,000 worth in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
Wolff is now debt free and pays himself $100,000-plus in annual royalties.
It beats getting thrown around a ring by big mouths.
"Les has built a business from nothing and he's a good customer," said Mike Elsenpeter, Wolff's banker at the First National Bank of Walker.
Yet Wolff doesn't spend a lot of time watching the Olympics. He had to return to Hackensack last week to help package a bracket order for a British shopping-center company.
"I guess creative people, me included, have a lot of highs and lows," Wolff said. "We don't walk the middle of the road. Every day is something of a game. But I have more control of my situation than in retail or a restaurant. The harder I work, the more sales I make."
For that, Wolff gets the gold in hustle and banner technology.
(ESPN Classic Golden Age of Wrestling, aired Feb. 2, 2002)
By David Taub
Today it is "Wrestling Champions" from early 1960s Chicago, coming from the Marigold Arena (in Black and White).
Ring announcer Leonard Sterling informs us that tonight's action is presented by the NWA, sanctioned by the State Athletic commission of Illinois. The physician is Dr. Walter Bard. The Timekeeper is Mike Murphy. Our referees are Fred Liedeberg and Maury Freedman.
Up to ringside with George Bernard.
1. Moose Cholak pins Fred Atkins in 6:34.
Moose literally wears a giant moose head (eat your heart out Barbarian and Mantaur). He is a big guy, comparable to Vader's physique. Lot's of forearm chops and shoulder tackles. Good big man match. Cholak wins all of the sudden with a tackle and big splash.
Int. w/Bernard: Da Crusher
Crusher is a great interview. He throws out the word "bums" about 25 times in a minute. He is upset that Art Thomas is getting a title shot at Buddy Rogers and that referees are biases against him.
2. Angelo Poffo pins Jose Betancourt.
Poffo, of course, holds the world sit up record. He wins the match with a neckbreaker (aka Rude Awakening). Nice chain/mat wrestling throughout.
Int. w/Bernard: The Sicilians (Tony Altamore & Lou Albano)
What is this the Sopranos? Not much enlightenment. We challenge anyone, etc.
3. Seaman Art Thomas pins The Mighty Atlas in 4:48.
Thomas is a Tony Atlas clone. Mighty Atlas is some fat white guy. Atlas has Thomas in a full nelson. The Seaman then kicks the corner turnbuckle and traps Atlas on his back for the win.
Wrestlers Sound Off: Angelo Poffo is interviewed.
Bernard calls him Bronco Lubich a few times before finally getting it correct.
4. Carl Engstrom defeats Crusher Lisowski by DQ in 9:33.
Da Crusher is dq'd for a kick. It wasn't much, but hey, it was the early 1960s. Good rough match. Crusher has a body like Lex Luger, and Crusher's is probably natural. He would totally be over as a heel today or any era.
Int. w/Bernard: Art Thomas.
He also sounds like Tony Atlas!
Int. w/Bernard: Poffo, again
Poffo is coming off more like a heel. Engstrom comes and interrupts, wondering why Poffo has abandoned his scientific wrestling for a rougher style. They wind up slapping each other as announcer George Bernard kicks Poffo off the stage.
The show closes.
(ESPN Classic Golden Age of Wrestling, aired Feb. 23, 2002)
By David Taub
This week, the NWA and World Wide Sports present "Big Time Wrestling" (based out of Detroit, circa 1978). Bob Finnegan gives us a rundown of today's show in front of a blue screen.
1. Dory Funk Jr. defeats Denny Alberts in 5:11.
The referee is Ken Barber. This match takes place from the Lone Star state, with a local Texas announcer. The only offense Alberts can get in is a headlock. Dory continually takes a body part and tosses Alberts around. He finishes him off with an elbow smash.
2. From Indianapolis, The Sheik (w/Eddie Creatchman) defeats Sailor Art Thomas.
The fans are in a frenzy. At one point, Creatchman tries to interfere on the apron and is yanked down by a bunch of fans. Unreal! Typical Sheik match. He has control most of the way with a foreign object. Finally, when Thomas makes his comeback, the fans let out a big pop. Talk about using wrestling psychology to perfection! But, Sheik wins after a fireball, etc, etc.
3. From a Detroit area studio, Ox Baker d. Blackie Guzman.
The announcer (not Finnegan, but another guy who did Detroit wrestling back then, anyone know who this might be?) claimed Ox has killed three men with his heart punch, one of them being Enrique Torrez (I know that Ray Gunkel would be one, who is the other)? Not much of a match, Ox wins with the HP.
4. Nelson Royal, Luis Martinez and Captain Ed George d. Don Kent, John Davis and the Magnificent Zulu when Royal pins Davis.
Zulu actually sued promoters for racial discrimination. With a name like Zulu, I thought he might be an early version of Kamala, but he had hair, no face paint and white trunks/boots. But, his only offense was a leaping headbutt and a bear hug. Good match, Pat Shane was the referee. Royal wins with the bulldog.
During the match, they flashed the number and address of Mike Kilonis, who could help charities/fundraisers, etc. I'm surprised they didn't edit this part out. Can you imagine if someone actually called this number? On Game Show Network, they edit out the address/number of the original broadcasts for ticket info.
5. Crusher Verdu d. Frankie Laine in 7:23.
This match takes place at Cobo Arena in Detroit. Verdu claims to be the world's strongest wrestler. Maybe his strength is found within his rolls of fat. I'm surprised he went over Laine, who was in much better shape. Verdu wins with the big splash.
6. Dick the Bruiser d. Gary Fargo
Back in the studio for this last match. Allegedly, Bruiser is arguing with Ernie Ladd, but he is off camera. Bruiser demolishes the poor kid, finishing him off with a knee from the top rope (a highspot!).
(RETURN TO WAWLI PAPERS INDEX PAGE)