THE SUPERDOME, BILL DUNDEE, BRUNO, VINCE..THERE’S STILL HOPE!

5. February, 2013

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I used to be such a sweet, sweet thing
‘Till they got a hold of me
I opened doors for little old ladies,
I helped the blind to see.
I got no friends ’cause they read the papers
They can’t be seen, with me and I’m gettin’ real shot down
And I’m feeling mean…

No more Mister Nice Guy
No more Mister Clean
No more Mister Nice Guy
they say, he’s sick he’s obscene

Ahh, Alice Cooper had it so right.


I make no claims of being a huge football fan.  My wife is an Alabama fanatic and attended the Iron Bowl in Tuscaloosa last year with our daughter.  I watched the game on TV.  My good friend Kevin Kelly used to rib about who knew less about sports; Me or Jim Cornette.  My response was “If they didn’t win the North American Championship or beat Dusty Rhodes, I don’t care!” (Cornette knows more BTW)

I like watching other sports sometimes.  Football is a great sport finding itself in a swirl of controversy with concussions and the moral police wanting to decide for everyone what is best for all.  I’m all for laws and sensible regulations but when the government starts telling us what we can and can’t do, what sports we can and can’t play in the name of justice or safety by people that don’t understand…I take issue.  Concussions are serious, yes.  WWE has IMPACT testing and does so on a regular basis and even if there’s a hint of concussion, an athlete is brought out and tested. At least that’s the way it was.  I can’t speak about what’s happening today necessarily.

I watched the Super Bowl and thought it was a great game.  The lights going out made me think about the time I wrestled Bill Dundee there in June, 1985.

I was supposed to be a baby face in the opening match.  This night saw famed boxer Muhammad Ali second The Snowman against Jake Roberts with John Nord (The Barbarian) in his corner.  I know, I know…I have no idea where the “Snowman” is today.  Nord was a great guy and last I heard he was in Minnesota selling cars.

Anyway, Dundee was booking and he wanted to wrestle on the big Super Dome card.  Well he booked himself against me. That’s cool. I’ve always liked Bill and he was the one who got me into the territory in the first place.

Right after Boyd Pierce made the introductions, one of the ring lights exploded.  I remember hearing a loud pop and seeing a flash out of the corner of my eye. That set the tone for me.  The match went maybe 6-8 minutes and was unremarkable at best…

Watching the Super Bowl reminded me that building has seen a lot over the years from the Mid South Wrestling days, Katrina, football games, concerts and general wear and tear. Other buildings its age have been demolished.

I had a lot to be grateful for, really.  I was on the card.  In the Super Dome.  And I was sure to get a decent payoff even being on the first match.

But I was dealing with things everyone deals with at times. Life has its ups and downs and this was one of my ‘down’ periods.  Louisiana had one of the more brutal travel schedules and we did the majority of those trips on two lane highways by car.  It was good when you had good traveling partners.  It could get old real fast when you didn’t.

One night in Lafayette, I wrestled Edcar “Boo” Thomas in a singles match and we all had to come back for a Battle Royal.  Boo was a nice enough guy.  He wrestled at OU and I understood Bill Watts had an affection not only for ‘real athletes’ but athletes that came from his Alma mater.  I was married to Boo, working with him across the territory and it was getting old.  Boo had his amateur wrestling background and no clue what professional wrestling was.  I was literally fighting for my life every night!

In the Battle Royal I decided I was going to assert myself and have a little fun with the booker (Dundee).  I grabbed and slammed him.  I then proceeded to kick him, each time saying “This is for booking me in  (whatever towns were running that week), and this is for booking me with Boo!”

It was a half rib…

But Bill rolled to the ropes and somebody grabbed me.  Dundee came back in, turned me around and yelled to Ricky Morton who was close by, to “Grab him Ricky and let’s get this sonovabitch!”  Bill had one arm Ricky grabbed the other and WHAM!  Ricky nailed me on my chest and Dundee came straight down on my nose!  Blood immediately started gushing and Ricky told me to come with him…

I pushed Ricky away and looked for Bill.  He was gone!  I knew I was ribbing (probably on the square) but I felt it was appropriate.  When I came back to the dressing room to talk to Bill he had left the building!

Now in my younger years I was pretty quiet and tame. I never invoked my thoughts or feelings because I didn’t want to “make waves.”  This was a time when giants ruled the business and I was just happy to be there.  There came a time when I wasn’t just happy to be there. In fact, I was becoming miserable.  But I genuinely like Bill Dundee!  I was just having fun.

The next night Bill asked me “what the hell got into you last night?” I looked and asked him the same question!  He nailed me with a pretty good shot to the nose while he and Ricky Morton held my arms and all I did was throw a few working kicks!  I told Bill I was letting off steam and I apologized if I did anything out of line.

I went back to saying nothing and being laid back.  I loved wrestling and didn’t want to do anything to screw up or wind up getting fired. I knew there were politics but I didn’t want to get involved with any of the back talking, back stabbing BS of the business.  Nope. I was going to do it on MY terms!

Big mistake.  A couple years later I asked Bill Dundee what you had to do to get a break in this business.  His response was “First, someone has to LIKE you!”  Ohhhhh, you mean you have to have someone in ‘power’ like you….

I kept my mouth shut, showed up for work, did my job and never gave anybody grief.  I did what I was told while other guys bitched about doing a job, payoffs and talked behind people’s back.  And they seemed to be most of the TOP guys.  Hmmmm….

JJ Dillon’s book title says it all; Wrestlers ARE like Seagulls.

Sometimes you have to agitate to get noticed.  The trick is getting the person in power to like and want to work with you and then you can be a pain in the ass all day long.  As long as you produce…

I’ll never forget a meeting Chris Candido and I had with Vince McMahon at Madison Square Garden.  Vince told us he had a “Great idea” to turn us baby face.  He was taking Sunny away from us and we in turn would have a male transvestite named ‘Cloudy’ with us.  My stomach sank.  I was in my “don’t say anything, just keep my job” mode and Chris just didn’t care.  When Vince got done and asked us what we thought, Chris said “That’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard!”

Chris was RIGHT!

I thought we were going to be fired on the spot. We were not in the mix politically and Sunny was ready to move on.  I knew it didn’t feel right. The whole Body Donna gimmick didn’t feel right.  I hated the gimmick and I’m pretty sure it showed every time I went to the ring with a blond crew cut, trying to be a ‘fitness guru’!?!

But I had a job!  One I wasn’t too happy with granted, but I was wrestling and that was better than the alternative.  Or so I thought…

I’ve seen and heard people “go off” without any repercussions.  I guess people in power liked them.  I’ve seen enough to understand and know what to do and what not to do.  As I said in an earlier post, I have a terrible disease and can’t keep my mouth shut.

One of the hardest things to learn in life is knowing which bridge to cross and which bridge to burn…

I held it in for a long time.  I likened my experience to having the politicians in Washington trying to run the war in Afghanistan.  They think they know what to do and how to do it but they aren’t in the theatre experiencing live fire. They don’t know the lay of the land. It’s easy to relay orders from far away and say “get it done.”

As time goes on nothing shocks me.  While writing this, I heard the news that Bruno Sammartino will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

Finally.

After all the years of bad blood and harsh words, Bruno will take his rightful place in the HOF. Students of the game would serve themselves well to learn about the true history of how this man became such an icon.  Bruno has been outspoken for many years against things he believed to be wrong and distasteful.  But this just goes to show that time does heal hard feelings and grudges. Congratulations to WWE and Bruno Sammartino for coming to an agreement that will add credibility to the HOF.

I think everybody gets a little grumpy or edgy going through life.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s done or said the wrong thing at the wrong time to the wrong person.  Show me someone who’s never had heat in this business and I’ll show you someone who’s never been in this business!

I’d like to think I’ve reverted back to being a nice guy.  Everyone handles pressure and stress differently.  That’s life.  If Bruno and Vince can make a breakthrough, sit down and have a civilized conversation, there’s still hope…

Thanks for reading.

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