YOU CALLED THE COPS FOR WHAT? ROAD STORY WITH DIBIASE…

21. January, 2013

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As I write this, I just heard about an independent wrestler in Florida calling the police after a match because he got punched in the eye.

WHAT???

This is only one of the things wrong with wrestling today.

Steelhorse Vachon. I only mention this name because it’s all over the Internet. A 6’5″ 280 lb. “monster” got punched in the eye by a hellova wrestler from England by the name of Tommy Taylor. After viewing the match and watching you drop all your weight carelessly on the guy’s back, you’re lucky he didn’t take your eye out, “Steelhorse.” I’ve seen this guy before. I could have sworn he was in FCW at one time. It’s no wonder he was cut. (After further review, he did come in for a couple try out camps but was a complete goof!)  Tommy Taylor was in FCW as well and is extremely talented. I wish I could give you a reason why some talent is released and others continue to ‘take up space’ but it is something that confused and befuddled some of us for a long time…

But to call 911 after you stiffed the guy and he gave you a receipt? You’re DONE in the hopes of earning or getting any respect or dignity in this business. Anybody who books ol’ Steelhorse is either a complete idiot or mark. And you will get what you deserve. I still have a hard time believing this even happened. At the same time, after seeing and hearing what is out there today I’m really not. It’s amusing and justified that Steelhorse got his ass kicked by a guy he had no respect for.

GIVE, EARN, GET RESPECT. Read it, learn it, memorize it. You don’t get one without the other.

I have never heard of anybody calling the cops after a match when they got ‘potatoed.’ It was always handled between the guys in the back. Especially when you’re 6’5″ and 280 lbs! Times have definitely changed! Now I’ll move on to what I originally intended to write…

Years ago, before there was such a thing as a “Developmental system or territory” you broke into professional wrestling the best way you could.  I can’t think of anyone who broke in the same way.  But once I got in, I met some of the greatest characters and personalities in the world!

I had (and still have) enormous respect for those who came before me and blazed the trail in this business.  I used to be pretty quiet and not want to say the wrong thing or come across as a little too eager, so I basically kept my mouth shut in the beginning.  I’ve been a loner most of my life and have very few people I call ‘friend.’  I can name them on one hand.

I’d been wrestling just about five years when I came to Louisiana after a year in Oregon.  Brad Armstrong and Tim Horner shared a one bedroom apartment and they said I could live with them.  They lived in Baton Rouge and the trips were long and we were working no less than six days a week so it was a basically a pit stop and place to keep clothes and base out of.

I came in as a babyface or ‘good guy.’  I was going through a difficult time personally and keeping busy was a good thing for me.  Besides Brad and Tim, the territory was filled with top talent like Ted DiBiase, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Jake Roberts, John Nord (The Barbarian), “Dr. Death” Steve Williams, Buddy Landell, The Rock and Roll Express, Midnight Express, Kimala, The Dirty White Boys, Eddie Gilbert, Butch Reed, Bill Dundee and many others provided a great base and depth to keep things interesting.

I’ve always thought the best characters are just an extension of the real person and a culmination of life experiences.  I wasn’t feeling much like being a baby face or ‘nice guy’ while in Louisiana.  I’ll never forget the night Bill Watts came up to me after a match I’d had and asked me if I ever “thought about being a heel.”  My reply was, “Every day!”

The next TV taping at the Irish McNeil’s Boys Club in Shreveport, we shot an angle where I turned heel on Tim Horner.  The execution wasn’t as smooth as I would have wanted but it got the point across.  I was now getting to be a heel and set the tempo.  The rule of thumb back then was you worked at least five years before you said a word in the ring.  The heel led the flow and tempo.  Now I was getting the opportunity.

I truly felt more natural as a heel. For whatever reason…

The night I turned on Tim I was invited to the heel’s bar at the heel’s hotel.  In those days babyfaces and heels were not allowed to stay at the same hotel or ride together. I knew a lot of the guys in the territory but I was with the babyfaces and now I’m getting a feel for the way the ‘bad guys’ like to unwind after the matches.  I was going to like this crew just fine!

I had to get a ride with someone to New Orleans and Brad suggested I ask Ted DiBiase.  I didn’t know Ted that well at the time and I really didn’t want to impose or say something stupid during  the ride but Ted was easy and it was cool.

He just bought a brand new red 280 Z and I met him at our scheduled meeting spot and we were off for a short trip to New Orleans from Baton Rouge.

We made small talk and listened to music and were there in no time.  I’ve since come to know Ted, Melanie and their two sons Ted Jr. and Brett fairly well.  That trip to New Orleans is one I’ll  never forgot!

I knew the Louisiana territory was notorious for rowdy, hard core wrestling fans and many heels have had to fight their way to and from the ring and buildings.  I wasn’t a top guy and I’d just turned a week ago so I wasn’t that concerned.

But now I’m riding with THE top heel.  And he’s been established as the top heel for a while.  No problem.

Ted and I pulled into the New Orleans Coliseum parking lot. There’s about 20 people milling around as usual.  As we get out of the car, the people start yelling and booing.  I had no worries because DiBiase is a big guy and there’s no way anybody will mess with him.  And since I’m WITH him….

As we get our bags and start walking, somebody said something to Ted behind his back.  I thought we would just keep walking but Ted stopped, turned around with his bag in hand and asked the guy “What did you say?”  I turned around as well as the crowd began to close in.

Ted didn’t give him a chance to answer.  He took his hand (which was about the size of a bear’s paw) and slapped the guy down! Ted slapped him so hard when he went down, the crowd immediately scattered!

Now I’m thinking “Uh oh…I’m about to find out if I can fight these crazy Cajuns for real!”  Ted looked at the guy who was now on his back, back peddling as fast as he could, then turned to me and said “Let’s go.”

The people were still yelling but they kept their distance.  New Orleans was a dangerous place.  People were known to attack the wrestlers, get drunk, rowdy, fight each other, cops and whoever else they felt like and get so out of control that New Orleans finest would take some unruly fans to the back dressing room area and deal out justice of their own if they saw fit.

I’m sure I worked with Horner that night.  Ted was on last and we had the police walk us to his car.  I told him on the way home I thought we were going to get jumped by the crowd walking in earlier.  He told me the only way to make sure that didn’t happen is “strike first and that will usually stop anybody else from being a ‘tough guy.’ And you better make sure they hit the ground too!”  We laughed about it and I’m glad I rode with Ted that night.

As time went on and I honed my craft as a heel, there have been a few hairy instances.  More than a few times walking to and from the ring with Jim Cornette there was taking a chance on getting the stray fist or kick from the crowd.  One night while wrestling Brad Armstrong in Birmingham Alabama, I left the ring as Brad was kicking my ass.  An older gentleman with a cane hit me on the side of my head as my back was turned!

As I turned and saw this grey haired man with a cane I thought there’s no way I can be justified by hitting him. Even worse, what if I did hit him and he just stared at me!  The cops were there taking him away anyway and that enraged people even more because in their eyes I deserved it.  After the match the cops asked if I wanted to press charges.  No, I didn’t.  This guy came every week and if I got him mad enough to want to hit me then I did my job.

But the next Monday afternoon I got a call from Ron West (one of the best men to ever run things behind the scenes) who told me this old man was giving the cops trouble and mouthing off to them last week and they wanted me to press charges and at least show up in court to “scare” him.

Come to find out the cops told this man that I was going to press charges and he had to appear at the courthouse that Monday afternoon!  Which meant I had to be there that afternoon as well before the matches.  I arrived and talked with the cops.  They told me they just wanted to scare him so he didn’t do anything like that again.  All I had to do was sit in the court room.

When the judge called his name and read the ‘assault’ charge, this man stood there and then apologized in front of the court.  I told the cops and prosecutor (I think) I didn’t want to press charges and just wanted to go to the building.  But they got what they wanted and so did I.

I’ve been pretty lucky through the years. I’ve hung out with Manny Fernandez when all he wanted to do was fight.  Brian Lee and I went to a popular C&W bar in Knoxville one night and 6 football players wanted to kill me.  Brian was a wildman and the bouncers liked us so thank God they took care of trouble before anything got out of hand.  I’ve been fortunate enough to hang out with some colorful characters and had great experience at the same time.  There would be the occassional “wanna arm rassle?” to an all out “why you lookin’ at my girl friend, boy!” which would lead to complete mindless and sensless bafoonery. I’m glad those days are over…

Those days people weren’t so sue-happy.  Today, if you even look at somebody wrong there’s a lawsuit.  Or you’re opponent might call the police because you gave him a receipt in the ring! Unbelievable…

Thanks for reading.

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