RANDOM THOUGHTS: Harley Race & Trans South Wrestling Camps, Manny Fernandez, Ric Flair

25. November, 2013

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“I’d rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not.” Kurt Cobain

“I don’t want to belong to any club that will have me as a member.” Groucho Marx

Never say never.  One day at a time.  Hey, you NEVER know…

Clichés, yes.  True nonetheless. 

So much has happened since my last blog. In one weekend, I did a camp for Derik Vanderford’s Trans South Wrestling in Union SC and Harley Race’s World League Wrestling in Eldon, MO.  The more things change, the more they stay the same…

It’s always great seeing Derik and his crew in Trans South work hard.  One of my mentors in this business was Manny Fernandez.  Manny was a solid wrestler and not always an easy guy to know.  Once you got past that gruff exterior, there was a wealth of knowledge and compassion. He’s been a mentor to Derik and Trans South Wrestling for a while now.  Manny lends his knowledge (and even his influence by getting Terry Funk to do a camp in Union a couple months ago) to anyone who asks.  There are not many veterans left who know how to tell a story and relate to talent.  I’ve always liked and respected Manny for helping me.  Terry Allen (Magnum TA) and I were rookies in the early 1980’s when Manny, Chavo Guerrero Sr. and Tiger Conway Jr. took us under their collective wings and helped us in ways we both never forgot.

Harley Race was one of the greatest NWA World Champions of all time.  He’s in the breed of Jack Brisco, Dory Funk Jr and Ric Flair.  It was different time and place, when the NWA champ had to be tough and credible.  Harley is paying for the sacrifices he made during his 8 reigns as champion but he wouldn’t change a thing.  Special thanks to Jason Jones (Leeland Race) for being the glue and making it all happen.

Some random thoughts:

I really don’t mind non-wrestling people who are now in the role where a wrestling person would be.  I understand not everyone is cut out for Talent Relation or Talent Development.  Just because you were a wrestler doesn’t automatically mean you know how to move into an office position.

I know a few people who made an attempt at being a producer or road agent that didn’t work out for one reason or another.  WWE is an entertainment company and they need business people running the business end. 

But it would be beneficial if the non-wrestling office people knew something about the talent they are now in charge of. 

Especially a guy like Ric Flair.

And this goes not just for WWE.  If you have Ric Flair at a function and you know he’s going to be “Ric”, know what that means, understand and process it and make sure you are there to handle anything that might arise.  Is Ric Flair a “special” case?

Yes.  He is.  Hate him for what he is if you must but don’t cry “foul” when he is vintage Flair…

 And there are other “special cases” in WWE and around the wrestling community that need special attention when doing appearances.  Don’t book Ric Flair for an appearance and then get upset when he’s RIC FLAIR!  And if you aren’t familiar with whom Flair is (and was); don’t take the chance of putting yourself (and Ric) in an awkward situation.

I’m not saying Ric deserves any more special treatment than any other two time Hall of Famer or 16 time world champion that the COO of WWE grew up wanting to emulate.  I’m saying cut trouble off at the pass by eliminating problems and be ready to put out the inevitable fires that will arise.  Some legends understand it’s a new day and you can’t act the way you did 20 years ago.  Others don’t…

WWE takes a lot of flak from people on the outside looking in.  Sometimes rightly so.  Other times, not so much.  There have been more than one occasion during my time there that I heard “this conversation never took place” and understood why. 

The “mandate” for bigger talent is nothing new.  There was a time when we had to recruit and look for talent with a minimum height of 6’ 1” and 230 lbs.  I get it.  But they found out soon enough that you’re limiting and confining your talent pool considerably. 

Sometimes I believe they have to make rules and mandates because they truly believe it will help business.  They soon find out talent doesn’t grow on trees and can be manufactured in a sterile environment.  “Daniel Bryan’s too small.  He’ll never get over!” He now belongs to the World Champion club and it appears other members don’t appreciate it.

Never say never.  This too shall pass…

JR retired?  Really?  OK. 

I used to drive Abdullah the Butcher to the airport after the matches in Houston and he was the first person who told me “Life is a work.” I knew that already but Abby put it succinctly… He told me “Once you get in this business, you’re going to think everything’s a work…”   

Batista won’t come back to a PG WWE?  Oh yeah?  WWE isn’t interested in even entertaining the idea of Goldberg or Sting coming on board? WWE (Vince) will do whatever he feels is right for business. 

Why wouldn’t Hulk Hogan be at Wrestlemania 30?  Without Hulk there might have been a Wrestlemania.  WWE might have been just as successful.  Woulda, coulda, shoulda don’t count… The Hulkster was the driving force along with Vince McMahon in changing professional wrestling forever.

Finally, after watching a couple episodes of Total Divas I can understand the need for even more larger than life, eccentric personas.  They come in all shapes and sizes.  Male and female.  The show gives everyone a glimpse behind the scenes of the various, intriguing personalities in WWE.  Sure it’s reality TV.  But there’s just enough truth sprinkled in that you can’t always tell where the script trails off and a true dose of reality sets in…

Remember, it’s show biz.  World Wrestling ENTERTAINMENT…

Thanks for reading.

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