Wrestling Fans and Conventions

Cynicism is a pretty common feeling after a while in this business.  I haven’t been to a wrestling convention in a long time and I have to admit, with the economy and overall feeling in the country today, I was curious how the turnout would be for The Legends of the Ring Convention in Monroe, NJ this past Saturday.

Friday I was booked in Rahway, NJ for PWS to sign autographs and have a match against a rookie and best friend of Zach Ryder named The Big O.  Dave Chudy with Extreme Autographs set me and some others up to be at both events and I have to say Dave and his team did a great job and were professional and a pleasure to work with all weekend. 

When I started this blog I didn’t want it to be or become a “this is what I did today” type deal.  But this weekend is one of those that warrants almost a ‘journal entry’ if you will….

I got up at 4 AM Friday morning to catch a 6:15 flight from Tampa  to Newark.  I packed the night before, printed my boarding pass, made sure I had what I needed and all I had to do was shower, dress and go.  My wife dropped me off and I planned it just right.  I got thru the first TSA check point, took the tram to the terminal, got in line and as I get to the “take everything out of your pockets, make sure you take your lap top and liquids out of your bag” part of my journey, I realized I forgot my phone.

I have all my numbers in my cell and haven’t dialed one in years!  How did anybody exist or function without a cell phone?? Very nicely, thank you. 

But now I’m panicking because I know there will be a point this weekend that I’m going to need my phone! I got through security, went right to my gate and asked “Does the airport even have pay phones anymore?”  The ladies behind the desk didn’t know if they did or didn’t (they do) but they let me use the phone behind the counter to call my wife and bring me my cell.

Now I have to go back to security and explain what happened. The flight will be boarding in about 30 minutes and the line is starting to pile up. I get back on the tram, go down to departing flights and wait for my wife to bring my phone.

She hadn’t had a lot of sleep either and had to be up early but she (being the greatest wife in the world!) brought my phone to me with a smile. She really is the best wife in the world!

Anyway, I went back to the express line and got to the gate as everyone was boarding.  Jimmy Hart was on the same flight and even though he had been up since 2 AM, we still talked the majority of the way there and took about a 30 minute “power nap.”

Dave Chudy picked us up along with Armando Estrada and took us to the Crowne Plaza in Monroe, NJ.  The show that night was in Rahway for PWS and he was coming back to get us around 4.

Jimmy decided to go help Dave set up while Armando and I went to the restaurant.  I hadn’t seen Armando in a long time but we picked up the conversation like  we just saw each other last week.

We ordered breakfast and began reminiscing when Shane Helms walked in and joined us.  The conversation never stopped or lagged.  We seemed to find something to talk about for about an hour and then decided we would get some rest before the show.

I’ve known Jimmy Hart for years.  He’s always been upbeat, energetic and has an  infectiously positive attitude. I don’t think I’ve heard Jimmy say a bad word about anybody in the business.  He will go the extra mile to help promote or set up a show or event. He’s always entertaining and makes every event he’s at something special with his energetic style and charisma.

Last time I saw Paul Bearer was at Wrestlemania in Miami.  He flew into Philadelphia and drove to Monroe for the matches Friday and convention Saturday. Dave was on his way to pick us up but I decided to jump in with Paul and go to the show.  Again, the conversation picked up like we just got off the phone yesterday. 

Of course New Jersey has tolls and traffic that isn’t as prevalent in Mobile Al. and we were following one of PB’s favorite people and agent/manager of the Iron Sheik who kept weaving in and out of traffic, so the conversation was sprinkled with colorful language that would have made Jim Cornette proud! This agent had to stop to pick up the Sheik so we pulled in as well.

The Iron Sheik is the guy who trained me when he was in Texas in the mid 1970’s so he has a special place in my life and my heart.  It was good to see him. His agent had him in a wheel chair though and when he saw us and had to walk all the way to our car to say hello, hug and stand in the cold for about 15 minutes! 

Traffic at 4 PM on a Friday anywhere is crazy but the northeast takes it to another level!  We were supposed to be at the venue at 5.  It’s about 4:45 at this point and planning isn’t one of this agent’s strong points.  But we eventually got the Sheik loaded up and we were on our way. (I’m leaving this “agent’s” name out to protect the innocent!)

So far I’m feeling pretty good about the way things are going.  I’m seeing people I haven’t seen in a long time as well as new, eager wrestlers who are just as  excited seeing some of the legends backstage.

DDP gave me a yoga DVD a while back and I just recently started using it.  I told him how great I thought it was and I recommend anyone who wants to get more flexibility or just feel better to try it.  He helped me stretch before my match. 

The show that night was with PWS ran by Pat Buck.  Pat is someone with passion and works hard.  It was obvious by the turnout he had. You can tell how hard a show is promoted usually by the amount of people in the stands and this was a packed house.  I’ll ‘guesstimate’ around 800-1,000 people.

  I had a match against Zach Ryder’s best friend, The Big O for the Texas championship.  Big O was accompanied to the ring by Becky Bayless and I came out on the losing end. The kid looks great.  He’s green and just needs some experience.  I met Becky in Florida a couple years ago and have seen her wrestle.  She is a class act and very nice lady. The only way to get better is get out there, travel, get yourself booked in different places, make contacts and network where and when you can.  The Big O is a powerful guy with a lot of potential. He has passion.  I hope he gets the opportunity to learn this craft traveling and making contacts. I also hope I get to work with him again soon.

I got to see some old friends and even some former FCW alumni like Bill Carr (AKA Bobby Dutch) and Curt Hawkins.  There were a lot of guys I wanted to visit with but figured I’d see them at the convention Saturday.  There were people all over the place!

 I thought the convention was a success.  I got to see some old friends and people I knew but hadn’t had the opportunity to meet.  But for the most part I stayed at the table as we had a steady stream of people so I couldn’t make my way across the room and say hello to some of the guys.

This was the first time in a long time that I went to a show and convention where it was fun, organized (from my perspective) and I enjoyed being around everyone.  Jimmy Hart and Paul Bearer are two people that represent this business with class and dignity.  Both are quality people who realize how fortunate they are to be able to do what they do and appreciate it.  It appeared to me that the majority of the guys there got it and were appreciative that there are people who will still come out to see them, want to talk with them, and reminisce about their “glory days.” 

I know I appreciated every person who came to the table even if it was just to look and say hello.  There were fans who gave me some old pictures from Alabama, Houston and St. Louis.  Some just wanted to ask general wrestling questions.  One lady came all the way from Italy.  She told me her brother bought my book and she came to the states to pursue a wrestling career.  She wanted me to clarify something in the book so we went to the page and I explained it. 

There was the young man named Shawn Sixsmith who made me my own “action figure” and I couldn’t thank him enough.  He made other action figures of various people there and that to me says a lot about the passion, commitment he has for pro wrestling/sports entertainment.  I think the majority of us ‘old timers’ were wrestling fans growing up and I for one, can appreciate when someone takes the time to give one of their favorite performers a picture, ‘action figure’ or just come over and talk about a childhood memory  that was special to them.

I grew up a wrestling fan.  Not everyone who becomes a wrestler was a fan growing up and there’s nothing wrong with that.  I was fortunate to live my dream and do what I wanted to do.  We all dream about being the world champion.  I was co-holder of the WWF World Tag Team Championship with Chris Candido.  While it wasn’t a singles run, at least I can say I was held a “World Championship” with the premier organization on the planet.  That and $5 might get you a Starbucks coffee.

But I was and still am a wrestling fan.  I know how I was treated as a fan and a rookie when I broke into the business.  There were some nice and no-so-nice guys that I crossed paths with. I appreciated the help from veterans and people over the years.   I hope I treated people the way I want to be treated.  Professional wrestling had a bad rap for years.  The fans of pro wrestling get a bad rap at times (some justified, some not).  There was nothing like this as far as getting up close and be in such an intimate setting with wrestlers when I was growing up.  The closest thing to it was a Fan Club convention called the Wrestling Fans International Association (WFIA).  The president at that time (Don Wilson) would get a local territory to host their conventions every year and a few of the wrestlers would show up for a brief time.  But it was nothing like it is today, up close and personal!

The majority of  wrestlers there this weekend were gracious and enjoyed talking with fans. Being a fan growing up I know how it feels when you meet or stand in front of someone you’ve watched and followed on TV or appear “larger than life.”  It can be surreal and a really cool experience.  Or it could be a let down and the biggest disappointment in the world.

We tend to forget that just because someone is famous or on TV doesn’t mean they aren’t  human and have good and bad days. At a convention like this I think the guys enjoy being remembered and appreciated. No matter what anybody says, it’s nice to have people remember things that they related to as a fan and take the time to come and see that man or woman who impacted their lives or at least gave them some enjoyment watching you perform over the years. 

I was a heel most of my career  and as a rule back then, heels weren’t supposed to be nice or talk with fans.  I preferred not talking to people and of course that made me an even bigger a$$ in my personal life as well but I could live with it.  Conventions like this where people have the opportunity to meet and actually spend some time with one of their favorite wrestlers or just someone they might have heard about over the years are great and work out for everybody for the most part.  Sure, you might get the “cranky” Superstar or the “over-bearing” fan but as an over all positive experience you can’t beat it! 

I look forward to doing more conventions and appearances in the near future. 

October 20, I’ll be in Staten Island doing a camp and celebrating my in ring debut 33 years ago.  The following week (Oct. 27) I will be in Pell City, Alabama.  Check the Appearances section on the right for more information.  These days I’m happy there are still some people who remember and even more so care to have me at their events or on the card!  I have no illusions about what I did (and didn’t) do in the business.  I’m still a fan.  I’m more a fan of people who pay their hard earned money to mingle in a room of men and women they got to watch perform over the years, show their appreciation, share memories and leave satisfied at the end of the day. 

To any independent wrestler that might read my blogs, you know I can be critical of “play rasslers.”  I’m also critical of anybody who doesn’t understand that people who go to watch independent cards are the real passionate ones who not only deserve to be treated to a good show, they should be treated with respect as well.  They are paying to see a live wrestling event and you should deliver the best product possible. Don’t dog it because there’s a smaller than anticipated crowd.  Those are the people you should appreciate more because they are there supporting your event!  Heels be heels. Good guys be good guys.  It is different these days.  You want people to come back and you want them to tell their friends, get the word out and develop a following. 

Treat people the way you want to be treated.  Some people can be jerks and it can be hard to bite your tongue.  Boy, do I know that feeling! But you can pretty much tell if someone is being sincere or just busting your chops.  Either way, you’re supposed to be the “pro” so act like one.  Real fans will appreciate that. 

Thanks for reading.

OCTOBER SURPRISES AND CHANGES ARE COMING….

As I write this I’m thinking about this weekend.  Friday night I will actually be wrestling in Rahway, NJ for Pro Wrestling Syndicate against The Big O.  Saturday I’m doing an autograph signing in Monroe, NJ for www.legendsofthering.com.

The Real “Big O”

This might come to a shock to some but I remember seeing the original “Big O” AKA Bob Orton Sr. wrestle when I was a kid.  Yes, Randy Orton’s grandfather.  I understand that the Big O I’m facing is young, in great shape and is close, personal friends with Zach “Woo Woo” Ryder.  Impressive credentials to say the least.  And of course, that is the least I will say.  I am looking forward to it as there will be many former associates and friends there as well.  Pat Buck and PWS are a class act and I’m sure this event won’t disappoint. Check out www.bedofnailz.com for more info.

Hawk

Looking ahead to a lot of changes.  Also have to take a look at the past for a moment.  October 19 will mark 9 years Mike Hegstrand AKA Hawk of The Road Warriors and Legion of Doom passed away.  It almost seems surreal that it’s been 9 years but time keeps marching on.  Hawk was a friend and one of the nicest, funniest, caring people in the world.  He was lean, big and bad no doubt; but if he was your friend he would do anything in the world for you. 

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Nick Kozak

October 20 will mark my 33 year wrestling debut in Bryan, Texas.  I started working in the Houston wrestling office for Paul Boesch during the summer of 1975-76 and then full time from the time I graduated high school in 1977.  Paul let me go down to the coliseum with the Iron Sheik (who was wrestling as Muhammid Farouk at that time) Friday afternoons before the matches started to work out. Finally in 1979, a local wrestler and his partner (Nick Kozak and Joe Mercer) booked a show in Bryan, Texas with former Pittsburgh Steeler Ernie Holmes in the main event.  I had been training at Nick and Joe’s wrecker service after Sheik left the territory and Paul gave me his blessing to do the show.

With Paul Boesch 1980

I was in the opening match against the evil, masked  “Satanico # 2.”  I think Santanico # 1 had to babysit while his wife worked the late shift.  Anyway, # 2 was one of Joe’s wrecker drivers and he’s had a few matches ‘here and there’ (always suspicious of that term), and made sure he laid everything in and was stiff as he could be.  I knew I was going to take a beating and I gave receipts back.  I won my first match!  And I got $12!  I was on my way!  I wouldn’t have traded that experience for anything in  the world.

Ring Announcer Boyd Pierce

It was the “wild, wild west” back then. I’d been working in the office, Paul Boesch’s assistant at the matches on Friday nights and got to know the wrestlers.  I was working out with Mark Lewin and would pick him up to go to the gym at his small apartment on Telephone Road.  Once I got that first match under my belt Boyd Pierce helped me get booked in Louisiana,Oklahoma and Arkansas.  I would still work at the office and make my shots on the weekends.

Eventually Paul got me booked to go to Portland, Oregon for Don Owen.  Gary Hart booked me in Los Angeles at the same time.  I went to LA first and eventually made it to Portland in 1984.

It’s been a long road.  I made some good calls and some horrible ones as well.  I think they call that “life.”  Nobody’s perfect. 

There was no Internet when I started.  No VCRs.  Promoters taped over their shows to save money on stock.  But there are a few early matches out there that make me cringe. I’ve kept a lot of stuff from my days as a fan.  Hell, I’m still a fan!  I recently found autographed pictures of Bobby Shane (a good one to look up), Tim Woods, Red Bastien, Harley Race and me together when I was 16 working in the office and that’s just the tip of the pictures, programs, posters and clippings I’ve managed to keep through the years. 

One of my most treasured possessions came from Paul.  One day as I’m answering phones and selling tickets, Paul walked out of his office and placed something in front of me.  I looked at it and saw it was a wrestling license.  HIS wrestling license.  On the back he wrote “To Tom Prichard. This is my last wrestling license-Save it along with your first.” 

Needless to say I did and still have it after all these years.  It might not mean much to anybody else but Paul was always trying to discourage me from getting into the business.  Maybe because he understood the other side and didn’t want me to experience that.  I don’t know. But that day I think he realized I was bound and determined and there was no stopping me from fulfilling my dream. I wouldn’t trade my life for anything in the world.

I got to live my dream.  Travel. Wrestle. Have fun.  I never envisioned wrestling in the mecca, Madison Square Garden.  But I did.  Many times.  Chris Candido and I defended and also lost the WWF (before the “E”) tag team championship in the Garden.  I wonder what would have happened if I REALLY tried!!

Great times lie ahead.  I’m not done by a long shot.  The day I’m writing this (Oct. 11) is “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes birthday.  I got to know The Dream over the last five years and while we haven’t always agreed, I can’t deny my respect for him and all he’s done for this business.  He is the definition of “STAR”.  Happy birthday Dream and many, many more.  I wish I could’ve got that shot in Charlotte with ya!

True legends are extremely rare these days.  The American Dream is one of those rarities.  A new day and era has been slowly creeping in.  Look how things have changed in just two short years.  I hope the wrestling/sports entertainment business learns from the past.  Both good and bad.  I don’t know if one outweighs the other.  But I do know that hard work and perseverance pays off.  Nobody knows it all.  But there’s a few that can definitely help the young men and woman who are the future of this business become better and more prepared at their craft.

It’s going to be a crazy month. Some new adventures and can’t wait to see what is ahead.  That old “One door shuts and another one opens” saying is true more times than not. 

Don’t believe the hype.  Look at the facts.  Results.  Don’t resign.  Get working on something to breathe life back into the patient, AKA the WRESTLING….There’s still a few out there that understand a great story can be told by two masters of psychology and timing.  Body language.  Emotion.  Feeling.  Getting an audience to “believe” their really, truly is an American Dream….

Thanks for reading.  

A Road Trip; Been a long time since I Rock and Rolled…

First of all, RIP Bobby Jaggers. 

Bobby Jaggers

I took a road trip this week and learned Tuesday night that Bobby had passed away on Sunday, Sept. 30.  This week marks the birthdays of Michael McGillicutty (Joe Hennig) Oct. 1 and Hall of Famer “Bullet” Bob Armstrong Oct. 3. It is also the 15 year anniversary of the death of Brian Pillman Oct. 5 and Gorilla Monsoon passed away 13 years ago Oct. 6.

I knew Bobby from my time in Portland during 1984.  He was known as one of the more creative story tellers on the road and in the dressing room.  If you did something, he did it bigger and better.  Everyone understood that was Bobby and he was a character.

Gorilla Monsoon

????????I got to commentate with Gorilla Monsoon and Michael Cole during WWE Metal many years ago and he was always a gentleman and classic performer.  He was a kind and entertaining guy off camera as well.

I got to know Pillman briefly during his short time in WWE.  He was the kind of guy I would have like to hang with but he was with a different crew and stable.  No doubt Pillman was a star that burned out too soon.

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Brian Pillman

I watched RAW from a comfortable hotel room and no matter what anybody might think about Good ‘ol JR, it was nice to see the outpouring of genuine love and respect from WWE and its talent.  I worked for JR when he was head of Talent Relations and there’s no doubt he loves his job.  Many times I would get the impression or hear others say how “grumpy and miserable JR was” or “Man, what’s wrong with JR?  He just bit my head off!”  I don’t think anybody can judge someone until they walk in their shoes. JR can be stern and adamant in his beliefs.  Some say he can be down right stubborn.  Wow.  Where have I heard THAT before? 
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Good ‘ol JR

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But there is no denying the passion, hard work and long hours JR put (and still puts) into WWE.  Only those who work the long hours, don’t take breaks or vacations and overall dedicate their life to this business can understand there might be times when your frustration is hard to hide.  But you have to keep keeping on.  And JR has kept keeping on for many years.  It was nice to see the aftermath of Vince making a public declaration that JR has surpassed the great Gordon Solie as the greatest wrestling announcer ever.  Recognizing JR as “The Voice of WWE” moved him with genuine emotion and after all the trials and tribulations he’s been through in life it was fitting. 

Congratulations JR.  No matter what the feelings are between you and I, there was always respect and admiration from my end.  You might have ate my ass out or been short and to the point at times but I realized what you had to deal with and who you had to answer to wasn’t always a walk in the park.

I made a 10 hour trip by car on Sunday and forgot how much time you have to think and observe various “activities” on the road.  I’m a big talk radio/news talk fan but there were points along the way where my best friends were CDs.

In the old days I might have been “tokin’ on a number and diggin’ on the radio” (Charlie Daniels reference for you ‘kids’ out there.  Uneasy Rider..helluva song!), but I found myself with some real ‘gems’ that some people wouldn’t be caught dead admitting they owned.  But some David Lee Roth, a few CD’s with various songs and artists, a little Hank Jr., Lynard Skynard, Aerosmith, Zeppelin and classic 70’s music set me right for the ride.  No ‘numbers’ these days.  Riding down the road with the boys was some of the greatest times ever!  Getting to and from the town was part of the journey, fun and experience in this business.  Especially if you found some good riding buddies that shared the same tastes in fun and music that you did.

So I had a lot of time to think.  Listening to DLR tell his ridiculous but poignant stories through his songs, Hank Jr. telling his stories with that ‘I don’t give a damn attitude’ and Lynard Skynard talkin’ ’bout “That Smell” and “Give me three steps” reminded me of many road trips I took around the Southeast with some of my rowdy friends.

But now I’m driving alone and my mind is wandering.  Not wondering.  Wandering.  I’m re-playing things I’ve done, said and been a part of over the years.  And I thought “Ya know, at one time I was a pretty nice guy.  I mean, I didn’t think I had a problem with anybody!”  Sure I did things my way but for the most part I did my job, lived my dream, was passionate and dedicated.  I arrived early and stayed late.  Hmmm.  In the end, does any of that really matter?  I mean, if you’re really good at what you do, it doesn’t really matter what you do…does it??

The answer is no.  No, it doesn’t.  I did some good stuff over the years.  I trained some good people and think I ran a pretty good developmental system.  I didn’t do it by myself.  But I was the Head Coach so I take the heat no matter where it comes from.  Was there anything I could have or should have done differently?  I’m sure there is.  But I did what I thought was best at the time.  DLR’s “Sensible Shoes” rolled on the speakers as the doubts started hitting…

I thought about wrestling always being sports entertainment.  The Sept. 27 edition of Rolling Stone has an article about how ‘TV reinvented the NFL.’  All sports are meant to be entertaining!  Some of the ideas and camera angles were used in the XFL but now owners and TV executives are understanding it’s not just a game!  You must make it an event.  And it has to be exciting, interesting and easy to follow! How great was it to have scab referees blow major calls?  What press!  What attention!  Hell, it’s show-biz!!

Thoughts going in and out of my head about the old days.  Those days are gone!  So what’s left? Whenever JR got fired or released, he called it “an interruption of service.”  I like that.  That’ll work.  I am in the middle of an “interruption of service.” 

Ronnie Van Zant just took me into “What was your name?” and I forgot about the present and reverted back to the past.  Screw it.  What’s done is done.  I know what I did.  And I know what I’m capable of doing. 

I didn’t cause many waves when I was wrestling.  I let the pieces fall where they may.  I didn’t really take an active role in guiding my career.  I was living the drugs, sex and rock and roll life style.  Didn’t care if I lived or died.  I wasn’t planning on hitting 30.  Dammit!  But I don’t think I did anything too outrageously wrong.  I was wrestling and having a good time.

Then when I started training people in 1996 and had an actual office in Stamford on the 4th floor I started seeing the business from a different side.  Now I can understand the pressure or stress JR and others were dealing with a little better.  It was a great job and lots of fun but JR handled the executive decisions and made some difficult ones at that.  Things aren’t always what they seem.  So if JR happened to be in a less than stellar mood that day, I could only imagine what or who he was dealing with.

Rod Stewart’s “Every Picture Tells a Story” took me back to realizing no one, and I mean NO ONE can judge me for what I’ve done, where I’ve been and what I’ve been through.  You see something on the outside and make a judgement call. I’ve been just as guilty of being judge, jury and executioner myself.  But looking back on the way things went down whether it was my life or career, I did it myself.  I brought it on. 

I know what I did and I know who I helped.  I know WWE people read this.  I’ve heard from them.  That’s OK.  WWE is a great company.  But business is business.  They…wait.  Who are “they”?  Well, “they” know who they are and wanted business run differently.  The “we’re going in a different direction” is the old stand by line but I get it.  Then word was I was “too negative.”  Really….

Well I would like to see the guy in charge and did the deed walk in my shoes on a daily basis.  Not just opening and closing the school but dealing with everybody else’s problems and issues too. More kids from developmental came to me with personal and professional problems that I did everything I could to help, because they knew if they came to me I would help.  It didn’t matter if it was putting gas in their car or hearing about a family member with cancer and they needed some time away. 

But again, that’s business.  20 hours (10 up, 10 back) is a long time to ride by yourself and think.  I don’t hate anybody. I’m not a negative person. I’ve said before I will do something absurd to demonstrate how absurd looks.  I call it “performance art.”  Those that got it, got it.  Those that didn’t, never will.  I accept that.   People like to talk about being so honest and real.  Some like to talk about being “born again” and how they changed their ways.  But when you question them on their values or ask them to explain themselves, they’re not so quick to turn the other cheek or explain their ‘questionable’ actions.  I know judge not and ye shall not be judged, right?  Well if you’re actions don’t match your words, I have questions.  I know people of faith that don’t mind being questioned.  I know others who claim faith that become irate and defensive when you ‘dare’ challenge them or their faith.

I’m no angel or saint.  Don’t claim to be and never have.  And when you’re in an environment with stress and underlying agendas, you tend to pick up on certain things.  I’ve been around long enough to smell discomfort and BS.  Again, part of this business.

People have asked me a lot of questions.  None of the questions or  answers matter.  I am a wrestler and trainer/coach.  I’ve been up and I’ve been down.  I would NEVER compare myself to Jim Ross.  He’s one of a kind.  Period.

But I put my heart and soul into this business and will continue to be what I am.  I am a positive, can do and will do person.  No matter WHAT it takes.  I’ve heard and listened to all the rumors and statements and it’s time to stop.  It is what it is.  Change is the only constant.  This is my time of “interrupted service.”

“Wanted Dead or Alive” followed by “Freebird” brought me back to nothing matters in the end.  The King had a heart attack, Bobby Jaggers just died. I started thinking “Who’s next?”  It doesn’t matter. We’ll all say what a great guy or ass he was and move on.  Life goes on.    I had a few hours to go and only want to think about the good times.

Congratulations and best of luck to JR.  If anybody deserves recognition, he does.  Talk about walking a mile in somebody’s shoes…I don’t think I could even lace his….

Thanks for reading

AGE IS JUST A NUMBER…OR IS IT?

Kevin Sullivan

Years ago I remember Kevin Sullivan telling me he wanted to wrestle into his 60’s, just like the Sheik.  The original Sheik, Ed Farhat.  Not The Iron Sheik!  I thought about that as well and have to admit it did sound like a great way to live out your “senior years.”  Traveling with your friends and still having fun doing what you loved the most; professional wrestling.

Freddy Blassie didn’t become a main event star until he reached his 40’s.  Eddie Graham (and other ‘old timers’) told young guys that they wouldn’t really earn the people’s respect until they got to be in their 30’s.  Back then I guess it made sense.  I can recall watching guys like Johnny Valentine, Wahoo McDaniel, Jose Lothario, Red Bastien, Bull Curry, Fritz Von Erich and many others who were seasoned veterans in the main events in Texas.  Dory Funk Sr.  had two grown sons wrestling and he was still competing himself, usually in the main event or pretty high on the card in West Texas!

Lou Thesz

I believe Lou Thesz won his first NWA world championship when he was 21 during a period in wrestling when you had to understand and know how to actually wrestle.  I saw Lou wrestle much later in his career and while he was considered a great wrestler by many, I never got what the appeal was until after doing some research and asking questions about his title runs.  In the 1900’s the wrestling business wanted “credibility” and Lou Thesz seemed to be the guy everyone had faith in to be a credible champion. And no doubt he was, otherwise the NWA board would have chose someone else to carry the title.
??I understood what Kevin meant.  The Sheik had a successful territory for years in Detroit and he remained the top guy.  But from my understanding the people got tired of seeing the same guy on top for over 20 years, doing the same thing every week.  Sheik would go out and have maybe a five minute brawl in the main event with blood and guts and shoot another angle the next week on TV only to repeat the same thing; short main event with blood and guts with no real rhyme or reason. 

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The Sheik

I’ve seen The Sheik along with guys like Abdullah the Butcher and Mark Lewin have some wild, bloody brawls but they lasted longer than five minutes and they had a solid story and compelling characters to back it up.  And while I did realize these guys might have been in their late 30’s to early 40’s, it didn’t matter because they always worked hard and produced quality, action packed matches.

Granted, the style was a lot different! There was selling, getting the most out of doing less… in other words if Mark Lewin gave Jose Lothario or Dusty Rhodes a piledriver, they didn’t pop right up as if nothing happened and made a “Herculean comeback” right away!  It was that very different time and place so very long ago…

There was no MMA to compare pro wrestling with.  There was boxing.  But boxing has always been suspect too.  We can’t put the genie back in the bottle and now tell everyone “OK, THIS is the entertainment portion of our show, but THIS RIGHT HERE, well THIS is the REAL DEAL!” What  people don’t know was there might have been more times than not that an actual conflict or struggle did occur in the ring.  A lot had to do with ignorance, inexperience or just plain pride.

I remember working in Houston for Paul Boesch in what was to be a three day tournament for a huge trophy Paul had made celebrating his fiftieth year in professional wrestling.  Paul brought in stars from all over the country including the AWA and WWWF.  Verne Gagne had been the AWA world champion forever and had to be in his 50’s at this time.  Nick Bockwinkel was the champ now but Nick was around 45.  Paul booked the Sam Houston Coliseum Friday, Saturday and the finals would be Sunday.  New as well as established stars would be featured from the various national promotions.

Paul was using the Southwest Championship Wrestling booking office out of San Antonio and Dick Slater was the booker.  I wrestled Slater quite a few times and never had a problem.  I knew my role and job.  But Verne Gagne had sent a young kid to start at the same time Paul’s tournament was happening. His name was Evan Johnson and was supposed to be a pretty good amateur wrestler from Minnesota.  In addition to being the booker, Slater was the Southwest heavyweight champion and the top heel.  So Dick booked himself against Evan Johnson the first night of the tournament.

Dick Slater

The dressing room was full of people from everywhere and while the boys are catching up the matches are going on.  I vividly remember talking with Manny Fernandez, Chavo Guerrero and Tiger Conway Jr. near the dressing room door when we saw Slater slam the door open.  It was apparent to everybody that Dickie was HOT!  We didn’t see the match but as soon as Evan walked through the door, Slater said “What the f**k was that out there?”  Evan’s reply was “You were trying to eat me up!”  That’s all it took.  Slater said ” You mother-f***er! I’m going to eat you up right here!” and he blasted Evan twice in the face, knocking him into the wall and into a confined dressing space (best I can describe) used for the Houston Areos hockey team at that time and looked like he was about to take his eye out! 

Manny, Chavo, Tiger and I grabbed Slater and pulled him off this ‘kid’ who now had an immediate shiner and blood running down his face.  The other boys took Evan to the opposite side of the room and into the showers.  At that time I was running with Manny, Chavo and Tiger.  They dubbed me their “rookie” and helped me out a lot.  I knew Dick Slater by reputation and working with him.  I was helping pull Slater off because we all knew if we didn’t it was going to be a bad scene.  It was already bad, but Evan had no clue what he was getting into.

Eventually Dick calmed down.  Evan got his stuff and left.  He didn’t shower or say goodbye.  Just got his stuff and left the building.  Verne would be in Saturday and everybody knew it would be handled then. 

It was a classic case of an amateur wrestler not being smartened up and understanding the business.  Verne and guys like Verne believed amateur wrestlers were great and added credibility to ‘their sport.’  The problem was Dick Slater was a fairly capable amateur wrestler himself but more importantly, Slater was a legitimate tough guy who didn’t mind kicking somebodies ass if they deserved it!  None of us saw the match that night and while Dick didn’t want to talk about it we all had an idea what happened..  When we saw it, it was obvious that Evan wasn’t smart and had no clue what he was there to do.  Even though it was explained to him before the match, this amateur wrestler couldn’t grasp what was going on.  Here was the booker and more important (in the people’s eyes) the Southwest heavyweight champion struggling with a guy who was obviously green and not in Slater’s league, trying for take downs and not selling or registering anything Dick is doing to him! So instead of twelve minutes, it’s cut to four.  Slater’s frustration is evident on the replay and the dressing room incident made even more sense.

The next night Verne came in and the powers that be (Slater, Evan, Verne, Paul and Joe Blanchard) had a meeting away from everyone.  I don’t know what was said but I do know Evan Johnson was gone after that weekend.  I believe he worked for Verne for a short time but eventually figured out this wasn’t for him. 

That wouldn’t be the last fight I witnessed in the dressing room.  But it probably will be the last time I witness the gathering of people who have been in professional wrestling for over 50 years, or celebrate their time in the ring by having another match!  I believe Lou Thesz had his last match at age 74.

74 years old.

  Lou wrestled Maso Chono in Japan at 74 years old and still took a few bumps and did his best in about a five minute exhibition match.  Only in Japan do I feel that the fans could even come close to appreciating that,  A: Lou Thesz was actually in the ring wrestling and B: They actually BOOKED Lou Thesz in the ring to wrestle! Granted it was against one of Lou’s last students Maso Chono, a former world champion and true pro so he was entrusted to someone he felt comfortable with.  But as great as Lou once was or might have been I don’t think this could have (or should have) been done anywhere else.

When I saw matches of the Sheik in even later years I often thought about what Kevin said about wanting to wrestle into his 60’s.  Then maybe his 70’s.  It’s been done obviously.  Fabulous Moolah won her last title at 76 years old!  They say age is just a number…

Harley Race won his first NWA world championship at 33.  There’s certain guys I wouldn’t mess with then or now and Harley’s one of them.  Bob Armstrong’s another.  Hell, I wouldn’t mess with any of the Armstrongs!  Well, except for Brad maybe…

Anybody who’s been wrestling for a while will have a lot of the same injuries.  Back and neck being the most common.  Looking back on it, the Sheik didn’t take a lot of bumps.  Neither did Kevin Sullivan for that matter!  I think Lou Thesz was more of a “mat technician” as well.  Maybe there’s something to that and wrestling at 74 years old!

I saw Jerry Lawler interviewed on RAW and he looked great!  But the King doesn’t know how to ‘dog it’ in the ring. He has too much pride and work ethic.  It’s going to take someone to convince him to cut back his schedule or at least learn to take better care of himself.  There’s a shortage of knowledgeable veterans out there.  The King needs to stick around for a while.  You can’t teach experience.  The King still wrestles better than a lot of the younger talent and  can cut a promo on any topic any time.  Age is just a number.  But you still need to take of yourself!

Pat O’Connor

I talked to Kevin Sullivan briefly last year.  He seems to be just fine and content relaxing between Washington state and the Florida Keys. One thing we can always count on is change.  Change in attitude, ways of thinking and sometimes overall life and surroundings.  I didn’t ask Kevin if he missed the business or still wishes he was working.  He sounded happy and that’s all that matters.

I heard from some old friends of mine who stumbled across this blog and made me realize we all loved the business for the same reason.  It was an escape and a great way to make a living.  As we get older some of us are looking for that fountain of youth.  At the same time we know it’s a young man’s sport and we can only help where needed.  The presentation and production may change in some way, shape or fashion but the fundamentals will still be the same.  If you don’t have a strong foundation to build on your house will crumble. 

Buddy Rogers

I always advise rookies to see who came before them.  Find out what they did and how it worked or didn’t.  You might find the way Pat O’Connor applying the arm bar to Buddy Rogers at Comiskey Park on the way to losing the NWA crown, a new and interesting way to do it and then people will be talking about how ‘unique’ and different you are. O’Connor threw a punch different than anyone else back then or now for that matter.  Watch the way Buddy Rogers moves, sells, reacts.  Watch O’Connor have the match won only to get beat.  Watch and study both men’s body language. The date was June 30,1961.  But you might be surprised at what you can pick up and learn. Then again you might get bored due to the lack of moonsaults, have-a-coronas or toupes’.

Thanks for reading.

PORTLAND OREGON, THE BOMBER, DON, BARRY, ELTON: I MISS THIS PLACE!!

Watching the matches at the Portland Sports Arena

Scott Ferris in (short trunks)

PNW Tag Champs. (Sandy Barr, ref)
Kicking Mean Mike Miller, Portland

THE KING, JERRY LAWLER

It’s easy to jump on the bandwagon, but I feel the need to at least comment on King Jerry Lawler and what happened Monday in Montreal. It was a tense night for those at home watching but I can only imagine the stress and anguish felt by those watching in person.

The King

I was watching along with everyone else when I got a phone call about an hour into the show.  I went outside to get better reception.  When I came back, I wasn’t hearing any commentating.  It was odd until Michael Cole did the on camera explaining what happened.  I missed the tag with King and Orton against Ziggler and Punk.  I record RAW every week just in case I do miss something and want to watch it the next day. 

Just like everyone else, I was in shock.  I could tell the tone in Michael’s voice that this was a real life situation and I was going to wait until the show was over and then watch what I missed.

Nothing seemed out of sorts or like anything was wrong with the King.  I did notice after the Kofi/R Truth VS. Cesaro/Miz match, Michael and King did an on camera and King coughed and sold his chest as though he had “heart burn.”  I wouldn’t have thought twice about it.

Watching and listening to the replay I didn’t hear or see a man about to have a heart attack.  The King was his same upbeat, full of energy on commentary self.  He sure didn’t wrestle like a man getting ready to have a heart attack!  At 62, Jerry Lawler still wrestles better than half the roster!  He threw a drop kick, did his signature fist drop off the second rope and showed no signs of feeling ill.  That’s what made this even more disturbing as I was watching the replay.

I got all kinds of texts and I sent some texts asking what was going on.  Some of the boys I knew had their phones off while others got right back to me.  Everyone was concerned and it seemed like a chaotic scene.  I got texts throughout the night and at least one unexpected phone call that I greatly appreciated.

I’m not going to sit here and write about what great friends and best buddies the King and I are or were.  I worked for the Memphis office many times in my career.  I wrestled King in the Memphis territory, even tagged with him when his regular partner had a bad back and didn’t care to work against the Moondogs.  The Moondogs were doing hardcore matches before they were called hardcore matches.  They would consist of coming to the ring with chairs, trash cans and anything they could get their hands on.  Lawler took every shot full on (as did I) and gave it back without one complaint. 

Undisputed World Champion

He wasn’t always the most popular guy with some in the crew, but no boss ever is.  He led by example and worked hard if not harder than anybody on the card.  He wasn’t the top guy because he was part owner.  He was the top guy because he IS a top guy.  I and many others don’t call him Jerry.  He’s King.  I can’t remember calling him anything else.

On one of the handful occasions I traveled with him, I asked him to tell me the real story about him and Andy Kaufman on Letterman.  He didn’t want to talk about it but I finally prodded him until he went through how they came up with the scenario.  That’s one of the ingredients missing in the business today in my opinion.  The mystery, the ability to not let everyone in on your business and keep a secret.  Only the King, Kaufman and his agent knew what was going down that night on the David Letterman show. 

Andy Kaufman, The King, David Letterman

After that night, King got calls, telegrams and offers from promoters all over the country wanting to book him.  He told me he couldn’t “smarten them up” if he tried!  And it really didn’t matter in this smoke and mirrors game anyway.  The more that believed, the better!  That’s a lost art today and that’s why the King is still the go to guy when you want something real to get over.

I’ve always felt the greatest wrestlers were the ones who were fans growing up and understood how it felt when watching a match and getting caught up in the action in the ring.  Understanding what it felt like and just knowing in your heart “THAT wasn’t supposed to happen! THAT was REAL!” 

These days all too often, everybody thinks they’re “in the know.”  They’re “smart” and can tell you what’s real and what’s not.  Even when Memphis was known for doing some crazy, hokey stuff, The King would try to put some reality or at least doubt or mystery back into the viewer’s head.  I don’t know too many people who would volunteer to get hit by a car!  For those that don’t know what I’m taking about, I’m sure you can find Eddie Gilbert runs down Jerry Lawler on YouTube. (Check out the video below)

The King is the last guy I would think would have a heart attack.  Because he was so active and didn’t smoke, drink or do drugs.  He still wrestles like he’s in his 20’s!  But reality is we are all human and there comes a time we have to look at what we can, can’t or shouldn’t be doing.  Yes, age is just a number.  But as we get older it does matter what we eat, drink and do. 

I just turned 53.  Earlier this year somebody called me an old man.  He was joking around (I think) and meant no disrespect (again, I assume) but the hair on the back of my neck stood up.  I challenged this 30 year old “kid” to a one hour match!  Brilliant idea!  I’ve done one hour matches at developmental practices before as a teaching exercise, talking and slowing the “less experienced” talent down.  It had been a while since I’d been in the ring.  I have a bad back and neck.  We ALL have bad backs and necks!  It comes with the territory!  But once I made this stupid “challenge” in front of everybody, there was no backing out!

I had the match.  I even ended it with a moonsault off the top rope in front of a handful of developmental students.  Why?  I don’t have anything to prove.  But to be considered an “old man” and I can’t “go” anymore??  Right, wrong or indifferent, I felt the urge to test myself and prove I’m not an “old man.” 

The King of Memphis!

Well, if you don’t wrestle on a regular basis your body isn’t in “ring shape” and I felt every bump and shot I took.  There’s not that many left who are able to get in the ring and help young talent slow down and relax. That’s why Jerry The King Lawler was and is such a valuable part of WWE and developing young talent.  Timing, psychology and feeling are something that takes time to learn.  Having a guy like Jerry Lawler who has literally done it all was invaluable. 

I don’t think the King would take too kindly to being called an old man.  But human, yes.  The schedule he kept over his career is enough to wear down anyone.  Athlete or not, the body can only take so much.

I’m hoping along with King’s many friends and supporters that the fact he did stay so active will help in his recovery.  There is only one Jerry Lawler.  There is only ONE King.  That’s how I and many others address Jerry Lawler.  Make no mistake about it, he’s a tough guy.  He’s a smart guy. He’s been the “go to” guy more times than anyone can count.  I believe and hope that what’s kept him going all these years continues to help him fight this battle he’s facing now. 

???

MC holding up in a horrible situation

I can’t explain why some things affect me and others don’t.  I’m sure Michael Cole was shaken to his core and affected like none of us can grasp.  Kudos to him and everyone who handled themselves as best they could in a horrific situation. 

This has been on my mind since it happened. I know I’m not alone.  I have to believe  The King will pull through and come back.  It might take some time.  Timing is everything.  Thank goodness he was near qualified medical personnel when it happened.  I’m getting updates just like everyone else.  Not much news at this time.  I planned on writing about my time in Portland this week.  I’m sorry if I feel the need to do something else I can’t get off my mind. 

Sending good vibes and thoughts to the King.  Jerry Lawler.  Jerry “The King” Lawler. Get well and come back soon.

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The ONE and ONLY King, Jerry Lawler

"IT AIN’T YESTERDAY NO MORE" (And there’s more where that came from!)

It’s amazing. I actually had an epiphany last night.

“It ain’t yesterday no more” sounds like a country song that’s already been written or just waiting to be wrote. Looking back on the last couple months and dealing with individuals who don’t have a clue or the first idea of what the foundation of professional wrestling is made me stop and think.  What does it really mean?  For that case, what does it really matter?

I never wanted to go on Twitter, Facebook, much less do a WEEKLY blog or write articles about relevant or interesting things concerning wrestling/sports entertainment.  I used to write and take pictures for various wrestling magazines growing up in Houston.  I sent pictures to Gong magazine in Japan and I enjoyed writing about the matches and the stars I watched back then.  It was a different time, place and attitude for the business.  These days it seems if you’re not connected somehow with social media, you don’t exist! Different time, different place, different attitude.

After working for the leader and standard bearer of the industry (WWE) for so long, I became accustomed to “here’s the job, your assignment, get it done.  Don’t stop until it’s done and done right.  If a mistake is made, fix it and move on.”  We all make mistakes.  We’re all human.  Nobody’s perfect.  But one of the  great things about WWE is the work ethic is second to none.  Everyone understands their role and pulls their weight.  If they need help, they ask and those around will oblige because everybody is working for the same goal. 

I believe I have a solid work ethic and if given a job or  project, I’m going to do it to the best of my ability.  And if I feel like I need help or don’t understand how to accomplish the goal or final action, I’m going to ask someone for clarification.

I guess when I saw some of the independent “wrestlers” who claim to be working for X number of years I was shocked at what little they knew.  I shouldn’t be, I know.  But another shock was the total lack of wanting to learn as well as  the ability, desire or willingness to take constructive criticism.  And because some people who “play rassler” these days don’t realize there was actually wrestling before Hulk Hogan or John Cena, they look at anybody who came before that time period as ancient and out of touch.  I   understand that to a degree.  At the same time if someone has more experience than me and actually made a living as a “professional wrestler”  I would listen and at least pay them respect by paying attention to what they had to say. 

It might be the biggest load of crap you ever heard.  Then again, it might be something useful that makes sense and a different if not better way of having a match.  It is a new day and age and smart “veterans” understand you can’t have the same match style in 2012 as you did in 1984! But the fundamentals and foundation hasn’t changed.  We are still telling a story in a 20×20 ring with the ultimate goal to draw people to the event, make money and entertain those that came so they want to return.  It is about two wrestlers trying to win a match.  And there are many ways and scenarios to tell that story and have fun while allowing your audience to have fun right there with you.  Obviously the ring will vary in size and some use rope while others prefer cables.  There are tag matches, special stipulations and other elements you can introduce and use, but I think you get my point.

I am going to try and leave the guys who want to “play rassle” or do this as a hobby alone going forward.  I am really going to try.  But one thing that does irritate me is the lack of respect or knowledge by some “play rasslers” out there.  Recently I was made aware of a situation where a friend of mine (who’s been in this business over 30 years) was asked by a local promoter to help book his shows.  One of the first things this veteran had to do was make a decision who he was going to use and who he wasn’t.  He had a meeting with the crew and explained that he was going to cut the shows down to 6-8 matches and there would be a card made out prior to the day of the show.  The show would start on time and you will be given a time that they need to abide by and there will be no more friends, family, kids and those who were not working on the card that night allowed in the dressing room.  He told everyone to keep in touch with him and gave them all his phone number.  If they weren’t on the card that week, maybe he could use them the following week.  But that wasn’t good enough and they wanted to play by their rules!  Obviously the promoter was looking for guidance.  When he got it, it upset some of his friends and this “promoter” was caught off guard.  Therefore all the “rasslers” who had been there forever each and every week performing in front of momma, daddy and the rest of their families now had to tell those people they weren’t “rasslin’ this Thursday night because that mean old rassler don’t like us!”

That seems to be a re-occurring theme in a lot of places; 30 guys show up randomly or you never know who’s going to show up and the “promoter” doesn’t have a card already put together and it’s like a social get together or weekly softball game where they use all their friends. So they won’t start on time and they will have 16 matches with their buddies, their wives, kids, friends and god knows who running around in the dressing room.

So this veteran who was asked by the owner of this company to come in and make changes, goes ahead and makes changes.  Nobody just shows up and gets on the card.  There are only 6 or 8 matches at the most. And the guys on the card will understand their position and do as they are told.  If I’m running the show you can ask questions.  I welcome questions as well as suggestions.  I might use your idea and I might not.  Somebody has to make a decision and take responsibility.  Unless it’s your company and your money, do your job to the best of your ability.  Suggestions are welcome.  Questions need to be asked to understand the direction clearly.  But the night of the event is not the time to argue!  Especially on this level!

Well, wouldn’t you know it, the guys left off the card took to Facebook and proceeded to bitch and complain about “that old rassler” not booking us and he ain’t never done nuthin’ anyway!  They basically buried themselves by making such an ignorant statement  because any search will show what this guy has done, where he’s been and who he’s worked for through the years and consequently, he actually increased attendance and the quality of the shows.  Nobody knows all the answers but if you open your ears and have an open attitude as well you just might learn something.  It’s too bad there’s more that think they don’t have to learn anything new (or learn an old trick or two that might not have been seen in a while and used creatively could become new again) and they pout via Facebook or Twitter.

And I was guilty of airing my gripes and complaints as well.  I told everybody, and I mean EVERY and ANYBODY who kept telling me I had to do twitter and FB that I didn’t want to get caught up in that crap and start with the mundane “I’m eating some great sushi right now. Now I’m going to the bathroom.  Wow, what an AWESOME red light I just sat through.” 

I started this blog as a vehicle to help sell my curriculum and my second book (hopefully out by December) and this would also be a place to be reached for camps/seminars and appearances.  I have to have something to write about and I have some cool old school pictures, programs and stories that I need to save for my book and balance what I put out here and in there!  Sure I want to draw traffic to my site and sell merchandise.  I also want to write a weekly blog that people would read and keep coming back. 

3 time World Champ Dusty Rhodes

Unless there’s just something I can’t stop myself from commenting on, I will leave the “play rasslers” and “hobbyists” to do what ever it is they do.  That doesn’t mean I won’t call attention and call BS if I see it and they are disrespectful pieces of trash!  I’m not going to fold and let some jabroni get away with passing himself off as something he’s not, but I will do my best to keep a “civil discord” going forward.

The Dream and I

I had the pleasure and opportunity to work closely with Dusty Rhodes for nearly four years in FCW.  We had spirited discussions as well as a lot of fun and good times.  The American Dream gets a bad rap at times and has a reputation for being a master manipulator.  And he makes no bones about it.  The Dream is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met in this business on so many levels.  Until you’ve walked in his shoes or watched him “work his magic” you cannot judge him.  I watched him work and do what he does best.  Dream has stayed relevant because he continues to make himself relevant.  Dusty Rhodes is not “playing a character.”  He is The American Dream.  I’ve heard some talk like he doesn’t know what he’s doing in this day and age and they couldn’t be more wrong.  Whether he knows it or not, I consider him a mentor and a teacher.  I learned a lot from The Dream.  I didn’t always apply what I learned and that’s my fault.  But to be where he is and to do what he’s done in his life is inspiring and a lesson in itself. 

There were days I drove Dream crazy!

It goes back to none of us should ever close our mind and stop learning.  We can learn from everyone we come in contact with every day.  Good and bad.  I would hope eventually the independent wrestlers out there working for some of the fly by night companies find their way to their own path of success.  It will take time and there will be struggles along the way.  If you want to go beyond the back yard or weekly “social gatherings” you will find a way.

Until then I will live and let live.  I hope.  I’m going to try.  I can’t promise I won’t come in contact with a character that is in dire need of being exposed for being a fraud and taking people’s money for nothing.  I know they’re out there. But hopefully they will get exposed before I meet them.

I was panning to write a blog about my time in Portland, Oregon.  I’ll save that for next week.  The summer of 1984 in Portland was a blast!  Pensacola, Birmingham, Portland along with SMW in Knoxville rate as my favorite territories. I found some pictures from Seattle and the old Portland Sports Arena that jogged some memories from the cobwebs of my brain.  Hopefully you’ll enjoy them as much as I did.

Until then…

Thanks for reading

Brad Armstrong (and his "Dad" Neil), Luna and Killer…

Brad’s Dad?

Brad & Bob Armstrong

Luna

Luna at her towing job

TRYING TO PUT IT ALL IN PERSPECTIVE. You just never know…

Wow. I really did it now…

All I planned to do was go to Mt. Carmel and Waynesboro, do a camp, come home, write a blog, get caught up and do it all over again. Things don’t always work out the way we plan them. Come to think of it, very rarely has anything turned out the way I planned.

I wrote a blog after my experience at a camp I did for promising hopefuls looking for direction or wanting to learn and given proper instruction. At least I was under the impression they came to learn something they might not know or could use when they went back to from where they came.
I named names. I responded to comments and emails. I heard everything from “thank you for exposing these hacks” to “that was a bit strong, you don’t know what you’re talking about, you’re a racist, bitter, angry, has been, that is smearing three upstanding people through the mud for no reason.” I won’t rehash the blog. You can read it yourself and make your own call.

After a couple days Tyger Smith emailed me and asked if we could speak. At least he wanted to get to the heart of the matter and straighten out any “misunderstandings” or mis-perceptions about what happened or was said over the weekend. I can appreciate that. Nobody else contacted me wanting to clear the air. I will tell you I talked personally with Tyger Smith and in the course of our conversation I told him the way to make things different and better for everyone in that area was to actually make things different and change things in that area! Lead by example. Prove and show people that you really do want to make a difference and you have passion for professional wrestling. Change the perception of what is out there right now. Because I got so many emails and hits on this blog alone it was mind boggling. 95% were thanking me and relaying their experiences with the guys I mentioned, but there was a small contingent of supporters that took me to task for what I wrote.

I was prepared to take the heat. I was prepared to be bombarded. I got over 8,000 hits from Tuesday night to Friday morning. I don’t know if that’s good or bad but it was definitely a hot topic for a lot of people. I was called unfair, bitter, out of touch, angry, jealous and a few things I really can’t print. And I did answer some in the comments section. I emailed some back. The blog did evoke emotion and passion from a lot of people. I had a feeling it would.

Some thought I was too harsh. Naming names, responding to trolls, “arguing” or even answering baseless comments. Others said I didn’t go far enough. You can’t (and never will) please everybody. I stopped trying to please everybody a long time ago. I’ve said it many times, “Show me a man who never had heat in this business and I’ll show you a man who’s never been in this business.” I put it out there, attached MY name to it and I better be able to take as well as give….

Independent wrestling is in pretty bad shape for the most part across the country. I would hope it gets better and that I helped shine a light on some of the scammers out there but I know better.

I would like to think if someone gives me their word, they will follow through. But again, I know better. I believe in second and even third chances. I think Tyger Smith genuinely reached out to straighten things out from his end and only time will tell. As I said, this problem is not exclusive to Rochester, Buffalo or New York state. There is an infestation of so called “rasslers” all over the country that don’t have a clue and the only way they should be let into a wrestling event is through the front door, buying a ticket!

There should be a way to tell the difference between a good school from a bad school, good trainer from bad trainer, but there’s really not. Until you train at a school or with someone for at least three months, you can’t tell what you’re going to get.

This week did make me somewhat introspective on the wrestling business from starting as a kid to the business it’s grown into.

When I first started I just wanted to be a wrestler. Now, it seems everybody wants to be a celebrity and be on TV. I would go to building where the toilet was in the middle of the dressing room. No stall or walls around it. Just a toilet in the middle of a small, cramped dressing room. Some buildings and towns were nicer than others but for the most part, it was show up, wrestle and go home or the next town 7 days a week. And yes, in Louisiana, we worked twice on Saturday and Sunday as well. That system no longer exists.

Vince McMahon took wrestling out of the “dark ages” and made it possible for everyone to make a bigger and better living. He called it what it was…”entertainment.”

Professional wrestling has always been about entertainment but you had the tough guy veterans, shooters, hookers and con men during that time as well, who would defend it to their death if you claimed it was anything but a true, legitimate sport or contest! The only difference is the world wasn’t as connected as it is now. That’s good and bad in my opinion.
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Muhamid Farouk AKA The Iron Sheik 1978

Two incidents immediately came to mind. I was slapped by The Iron Sheik during training and Les Thorton after a match in Fort Worth, TX. I screwed up and potatoed Sheik and he slapped me down. I worked with Les in one of my first matches and was nervous as hell and screwed up the match. He came back to the dressing room and in showing me how to take his arm, he slapped the hell out of me I think partly as a receipt and partly because he was angry he was booked with a young, green punk!

My trainer/Coach Iron Sheik, 1977

??????I had my debut singles match against Les Thorton in my hometown of Houston, TX. I’d been wrestling a couple months and Paul Boesch didn’t want to book me too soon before heading to the west coast. Les Thorton was campaigning for a run with the NWA Jr. Heavyweight Championship and was in no mood to be in the opening match in Houston against a kid who had been the promoter’s assistant (gofer) and have to go 15 minutes with him to boot!

Me VS. Les Thorton, Houston 1980

I was nervous beyond belief and between that, Les’ English accent and my inexperience, it was the longest 15 minutes of my life! Les picked me apart in the dressing room after the match for a good 45 minutes! I wanted to be a wrestler my whole life and now here I was, going 15 minutes with the next World Jr. Heavyweight champion in my home town and he’s ripping everything I did apart in front of the entire locker room! He showed me the correct way to reverse a hold, when to relax, how to slow down, stressing TIMING was everything and there were a lot of four letter words uttered with telling frustration!
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Danny McShain looks on as Les is begging me to relax!

?Sure, I had trained with the Iron Sheik and Nick Kozak. Sure, I worked with Les in Fort Worth and he had been over my mistakes before and I should have learned then. But I was green as grass and even though I’d trained, worked out and watched my whole life, I had a long way to go. That’s why it was advised if you wanted to get better and learn how to wrestle and learn the business of professional wrestling, you had to be willing to travel to different territories where you would learn different styles, work with different people and learn how to make a living on the road.
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Wonder why Al was so mad all the time?

When I went to California I was put in a tag team with Al Madril. Al was ten years older than me and I watched him when he worked in Texas and won the NWA Jr. Heavyweight Championship from Nelson Royal. But my god! What a miserable guy! I couldn’t understand how he could be in such a bad mood ALL the time! We were the America’s tag team champions for goodness sake…..What a mark, what an IDIOT I was!!! Now I understand a little more about why Al was the way he was.

Houston Wrestling Office 1978

I was so fortunate to be able to sit ringside and be Paul Boesch’s assistant on Friday nights to watch, listen and learn the business up close and personal. Working in the wrestling office was an invaluable experience as I learned everything from answering the phone to selling tickets.

In Texas at that time they had official “seconds” who accompanied the wrestlers to and from the ring and took the jackets to the back. I was able to referee and learn and listen in the ring.

Paul & I ringside

That learning process doesn’t exist today. It’s not the young guy’s fault. The business has changed and continues to evolve. The problem is there are so many people out there who want to wrestle and be on TV so they can buy a ring, have a belt made, open their own company and run shows. They watch and try to mimic what they see on TV without knowing or understanding the reason or key to what’s happening. Therefore, we find the state of independent wrestling today filled with guys just “playing rassler” with no idea how or where to go to get better.
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Jack Brisco’s second 1976

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Paul’s assistant 1977

There are some good trainers out there. But you have to search and then investigate. Don’t just “settle” for something because it’s close or convenient if you believe in yourself. But you must be honest with yourself too. The odds are against you making it to developmental, much less a major company.
Professional wrestling is the entertainment business. It can be a self centered, cut throat, heart breaking, vicious, dog-eat-dog BUSINESS. Where do you fit in? Why would anyone pay to watch you perform?

To get better you have to find someone who’s better than you and knows more. There’s a small minority of people out there that understand how to teach the basics and fundamentals. But they are out there. If you can’t seek them out, then you will stay where you’re at. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’re going to keep getting what you’re getting!

I’ve been accused of having a “negative attitude.” If trying to save you from driving your car (or company) off a cliff is having a “negative attitude” then I’m guilty.

To paraphrase former president Clinton; “It depends on what your definition of “negative” is.” Did I take pictures and posters off the wall and sling them to illustrate a point and demonstrate how absurd it is when someone wants to rip down a list of rules that have been up for years without asking why they’re up, I’m guilty! But everyone (OK, not everyone) but the majority of people there knew what I was doing; I was “performing” absurdity! It was a work and those that didn’t get it, never will.

But I will stand by my record of how I taught, mentored and helped anybody I trained in FCW or any place else I held a camp. Every coach has his style. Bobby Knight threw chairs… Was HE negative or passionate? I know we had a winning team while I coached and trained at FCW. When someone comes in and doesn’t have a clue about what I do or how the business works on a training level and tries to tell me how it needs to be run, I will do the best I can to follow through with their direction. That’s one reason I am so passionate about people who get in this business being trained properly and not abused or taken advantage of.

So, if exposing con men, cowards and people who have no idea what they’re doing is negative, I’m negative. If caring and teaching how absurd something is by demonstrating the absurdity of it all, I’m negative. But I’ve been around long enough to read the signs and see the writing on the wall. Independent wrestling is in big trouble and has been for a long time!

This is a dying art. And I can only imagine what it will look like in five years. I am not a negative person! I believe in positivity. I think it’s a positive thing if just one coward hung up his boots and tights this week due to my blog. That’s one less idiot anybody has to worry about getting hurt by.

Now, I hope we can all move on…

It’s been a helluva week. In addition to stirring up the Independent scene up north and getting the most hits ever so far on my blog, an event happened that put things into perspective.

Dutch Mantell

I’ve known Dutch Mantell and wife Cathy close to 30 years. I knew their daughter Amanda as a little girl. Dutch, John Layfield (JBL) and I travelled together when we were all in WWE and usually “heeled” a room together. I met Dutch during my first run in Memphis in the early ’80s. He was a great story teller and trips were never boring.

Amelia Keown

On Tuesday afternoon (Aug. 14) Dutch’s 16 year old granddaughter, Amelia Keown was hit head on by a man speeding trying to run from a state trooper. She was killed instantly. I heard the other driver lingered in critical condition before he passed away around 1AM.

In an instant, Dutch and his family’s lives changed forever. All the wrestling, indy crap and out and out BS that happens in this business means absolutely nothing in the end. It comes down to what’s most important to you. And I can’t imagine the sadness and grief Dutch and his family are experiencing at this time.

What do you say? How do you reach out? I don’t know. But I sent an email just to let them know I didn’t know what to say but I’m here if they need to vent, scream, cry or talk. Kind of made me think about all the times on the road and all I worried about was getting to the town and wrestling. It could have been my daughter. I don’t know how I would handle it.

There are a lot of people who love and support Dutch, Cathy, Amanda and Amelia’s little sister. There are some trying to help with donations and trying to put together a benefit show. If you want to help and have a paypal account you can send donations to dirtydutchmantell@gmail.com.
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General Skandar Akbar

I also realized that two years ago on Aug. 19 we lost two other respected members of the wrestling community. I worked my first match in the Dallas Sportatorium against General Skandar Akbar. He passed away at age 75. The General was a good, kind man and explained what I did in a calmer manner than Les Thorton! I think you would be hard pressed to find any negative comments from anyone in the business about Ak.

Ted Allen

I worked with Ted Allen many times. He was getting ready to make a town to wrestle and was found not breathing on his bed after getting out of the shower. Ted was a solid worker and a great guy. He helped Arn Anderson early in his career and has helped a lot of the young guys when he was around. His most recent protege is a kid named Kyle Matthews who wrestles everywhere he can and goes to Japan for Noah thanks to Ted’s recommendation. Ted was also a partner of Danny Davis in the original incarnation of The Nightmares. He was talented and while he traveled extensively down south, Ted was happy being home around Georgia. He was 54.

I turned 53 Aug. 18.

Chris Candido, NWA Champ 1995
Hated the gimmick. Loved Chris.

One death affected me more than others was Chris Candido. At 33 years old, Chris wrestled a tag match for TNA at Lockdown in 2005. He broke his ankle on a freak bump from a drop kick. Four days later, he passed away from a blood clot. He flew from Orlando to New Jersey and apparently the altitude is what caused it. On April 28 I got a call from Tommy Dreamer telling me Chris had died. I was in shock. I had just talked to him Monday afternoon and he was on his way to the doctor and was going to call me when he got out. That was the last time I spoke to Chris. I cried for days and still think about him. He grew up in the business. His grandfather was Chuck “Popeye” Richards and Chris was incredibly talented. While I hated the Body Donna gimmick, I loved working with Chris. He was smart and made an insufferable gimmick a little more bearable.

After causing such a stir in some places last week and the events that happened, I got to thinking.

I wish there was a way to help make things better in the business. That was my goal when I wrote my blog. Believe it or not. By exposing those that need exposing, maybe that will change just a bit.

Dutch Mantell and his family suffered a tragedy I wouldn’t wish on anybody. It shows how fragile life is and how much your last words mean something. And none of us know exactly when we will utter our “last words.”

I wrote what I wrote and I’m passionate about the subject of con men, cowards and bullies.

I’m also aware that wrestling isn’t the most important thing in the world when it comes right down to it. I’ve met some good people in this business. And it hurts when they are hurting.

I hope there is some change in Rochester and Buffalo. Time will tell. I went on a rant and I stand by it until I’m shown it’s no longer the way I described. I know I affected some people because I got emails and comments and more pageviews than ever. If what I wrote makes a difference, great. I’m not so naive to think I will change the world. But getting rid of just one cancer is a good start!

At the same time, while trying to think of what to write about next, tragedy struck a good friend of mine. I can’t say I know exactly how he feels. I hope I never have to find out. After all is said and done, it’s just wrestling. Entertainment. Have fun with it, enjoy yourself and be safe. Protect you and your opponent. But don’t take yourself too seriously. It could all be over in an instant.

I am going to attempt to keep things in perspective going forward. I’ve been extremely fortunate and really do want to help. But right now, all I can think about is Dutch, Cathy and their family. There is nothing I can write or say to bring Amelia back. But I will be there if Dutch or Cathy need anything. They are in my thoughts and prayers.

Thanks for reading.

BOGUS WRESTLING SCHOOLS AND CON MEN; TYGER SMITH, SHAWN COOPER AND RIK MATRIX, AKA MATT HENRIE

I want to say right off the bat, I don’t know everything. I’m sure there are better trainers than me out there somewhere who know a lot more holds and possibly better storytelling.

I won’t post my resume, this being the Internet age you can look up what I’ve done in this business as far as my career, where and who I trained or helped train, if you care to. Best way to find out is ask. I was the first trainer/coach for WWE’s developmental system from 1996-2004. I was released and returned in 2007. I was released again in May 2012. The only constant in this business is change so being the head coach of any sport or organization is going to put you in the line of fire when any new administration or owner takes over. I am still confident I am qualified and know what I’m talking about as far as coaching and training someone to work in professional wrestling /sports entertainment.

My stats and reputation, as well as the list of people who trained with me speak for itself. I can be outspoken and opinionated. That didn’t always sit well with some. I am passionate about what I do. I’m not perfect by a long shot. I think I’ve been fair and tried to not only teach, coach and mentor people who trained with me but I believe I did my best to help them if they were going through a rough time, be it mentally or physically worn down.

Of course I know not everyone will see it that way. Everyone has an opinion and I know not everyone will agree or see things my way. This business and the approach to professional wrestling really comes down to someones opinion anyway.

And no doubt, I’m about to offend and upset some people in this column!

I did a camp this weekend (Aug. 10-12) in Mt. Carmel, Tn and Waynesville, NC. I came in for Southern States Wrestling (SSW) run by Beau James. I’ve know Beau since he was a teenager from my days working for Continental Wrestling in Alabama. He’s done everything in the business from street teams (putting up posters and fliers), setting up the ring, referee, wrestle, promote and run shows.

You can check out Beau Jame’s SSW TV Saturdays at 4 PM on Tri Cities CW 4, Online, youtube.com/kingofkingsportblip.tv/sswpowerhalfhour.

Beau became good friends and is considered family by a lot of the old school guys like Handsome Jimmy “The Boogie-Woogie Man” Valiant (and many others) due to his respect and love for the business. Beau has a Crusher Jerry Blackwell physique and was born about 20 years too late. By that I mean Beau never had ambitions of going to WWE or anywhere other than the southern territories like Memphis. And there’s nothing wrong with that. The Memphis territory was a stop for basically every major name in the business as it was a place to learn and develop.

You had better love the wrestling business if you were booked in Memphis because you sure weren’t going to make a lot of money! But if you could survive in Memphis, you could pretty much survive anywhere! Beau came to know and become friends with a lot of people in the business and earned respect by giving respect.

I’ve told people for years to shake hands with everyone as they walk in the dressing room or building. Treat everyone, from the guy (or gal) that sweeps the place, the office staff, TV people and camera crew, all the way up to the owner, with the same respect you want to be treated with. It’s not only common courtesy, but you don’t know who knows who or who might be related to the person who makes the decisions or signs your check! Give respect, earn respect and you will get respect!

Doing a camp for independent wrestlers is always interesting and challenging. I’ve done a lot of camps over the years and have come across novice, mid level and potential star quality workers. I hadn’t done one in a while, so I was really interested and anticipating the ability level I would see. We had 17 total with 9 coming from the northeast. I believe 2 came from Canada and the rest made two vans full from Rochester, NY. That’s a LONG drive to Mt. Carmel on Friday to do a live event and then drive another 80 miles to Waynesville to begin a camp with registration at 8:30 AM.
As I do with all my camps, I start out with the introductions and explain what we will be covering the next couple days. This particular camp had the caveat that if you came to the Friday show in Mt Carmel, Beau would put you on the card to work a match with one of his (SSW) guys for his TV show. So everyone worked the card Friday and drove to Waynesville that night.

Bright and early Saturday morning, after I do my introductions, I critique the rest of the matches from Friday. I’d talked to some already so I just had a few to follow up on. I went over and explained what was expected and how we would go over some basic drills and moves. Depending how that went, we would progress to the next step.

A basic lock up and footwork are two of the most important of fundamentals that any competent coach or trainer should know and teach. Balance. Without it, you have nothing!

There are certain “rules” to follow in the ring. If you’ve ever attended a credible school with a credible trainer, you understand what those “rules” are. One is if you apply a headlock, your feet are like they are on a railroad track, approximately shoulder width apart, knees bent where you have balance. Your opponent’s feet are facing you. You should be in a “T” formation. It’s easier to show than type.

Time after time, these guys were grabbing headlocks and the man applying the hold would turn toward his opponent, with his feet FACING him so that they are facing each other! What?? OK, I understand being green and not knowing. Even if you’ve been training 3 years, that probably means you haven’t had a lot of matches. So I just kept making the same corrections over and over. Until…

Someone asked “How is the correct way to stand in a headlock? Because we were taught to ‘mirror’ your opponent.” What? Explain what that means. “We were taught to grab a headlock and then face him with our feet facing his.”

Would anyone care to show me how that works? And then show me how you shoot your opponent to the ropes in that position. They showed me what they were taught and it made NO sense, any way you sliced it that it can work the way they were shown.

I went ballistic! I wanted to know then and there WHO taught and showed them that? Nobody wanted to say anything. I understood why later. But eventually, someone said, TIGER SMITH and SHAWN COOPER. And guys, I’m sure this is the most publicity you ever got or ever will get. If not, show me and prove me wrong! If you or your so called “Head Trainer” didn’t show them this way, get in touch with me and explain what you do when you train at your “school.”

Well, we had various degrees of experience levels from one year all the way up to a guy who said he had been doing this for 18 years and was just wanting a shot, just one break and…..wait a minute. 18 years and you never had an opportunity, sent in a DVD, made a phone call? Who trained you?? “Al Snow trained me 18 years ago.” Oh no, wrong thing to say to me… I just happened to know Al Snow.

I watched this so called “18 year veteran” trained by Al Snow go out and stink the joint out on Friday night against a talented cruiser weight named Kyle Matthews. This “vet” was 6’3″ 275 lbs. I would think he would know how to tell a story and have a credible match with a smaller guy. What does he do within the first 3 minutes of the match?? He POWER BOMBS a 175 lb kid and covers him for a 2 count! Kyle kicked out!!! Then this “vet” continues to do big moves that make no sense, out wrestles his smaller opponent with no rhyme or reason and gets beat with a school boy!

Saturday morning as I gave my thoughts on the match, he sat there like he wanted to cry. I explained how Kyle kicking out of all these big moves and him out wrestling a smaller guy made NO sense. I gave him a scenario I thought would have worked better he just shook his head but didn’t say a word. If someone tells me they have “18 years experience” and drops Al Snows’ name, I’m going to watch very close what they do and how they handle themselves. It didn’t take me long to figure out something wasn’t quite right here.

Saturday after practice, this 18 year veteran, trained by Al Snow wants to talk to me. His wrestling name is RIK MATRIX, real name MATT HENRIE. I ask all the usual questions of most guys that say they’ve been around for a while; “Why haven’t you tried to get with one of the major companies?” Come to find out, he did jobs for WCW, try out for TNA in 2007, hurt his knee and had to have surgery. They liked what they saw but there just wasn’t a spot right now for him, yada, yada, yada. Well, did you ever follow up with a phone call? “No.” Why? “I don’t know, I guess I’m just bad about that.” That’s not the ONLY thing you’re bad about, kid!

Well, Saturday night Beau put RIK MATRIX in the main event against a guy more his size to see if he can tell a better story or have a better match. I don’t know how much worse it could get but it was pretty bad. No rhyme or reason. No story. Here’s this big, bad “18 year veteran” who had no idea how to get from point A to point C. CLUELESS! Now I have a pretty good idea why he never got called back or made any calls.

Sunday was the last day and everyone worked hard the day before in a hot building. Last day of practice with an afternoon show and Mr. 18 year vet, RIK MATRIX is hurt. He hurt his sternum from the day before and wasn’t feeling good. Come to find out, he was laughing and drinking with everybody Saturday night in a room and nothing seemed wrong then!

I ran a drill and we finished up an hour before bell time. The entire card was made up of the guys from the camp. Both night the houses were horrible. But it was a great experience for these guys to say they worked in front of 6 then 11 people. That sucks but it should inspire you to want to get out and work in front of 6,000 and 11,000 people.

But the 18 year vet, RIK MATRIX sat by me during the show trying to see my critiques. I was going to review the matches after the show anyway so I didn’t care.

After the show I went to the back and thanked everyone for coming down and working hard. I was brutally honest with everyone, ESPECIALLY Mr. “18 year veteran” RIK MATRIX.

I told Rik he had no clue and couldn’t have a match with a small or big man. I said in front of everyone that he needed just as much if not more training than anyone here! I gave everyone my thoughts and critique and expressed how pissed and disgusted I am by people who run “Rasslin’ schools” and rip people off. I told the Rochester crew that TIGER SMITH and SHAWN COOPER don’t know SHIT if that’s what they taught them. I told them to deliver that message from me to them.

Well, I’m delivering the message myself. SHAWN COOPER and TIGER SMITH, I’m CALLING YOU OUT, BOYS. What are your credentials? Who trained you? Where have you ever worked and made a living in professional wrestling besides conning people, young kids and single parents with 3 kids to feed, out of their money when you don’t know a wrist watch from a wrist lock??? What have you EVER done, where have you EVER BEEN and who the F**K do you think you are???

Oh yeah, and this is the kicker. This is the icing on the cake. RIK MATRIX, AKA MATT HENRIE, THE “18 YEAR, I WAS TRAINED BY AL SNOW VET” IS SUPPOSEDLY THE TRAINER FOR THESE TWO JACK OFFS!!!!

There are so many con men and thieves out there everywhere that can buy a ring, say they got a “try out” with WWE in the afternoon before the show or did a TNA “gut check” and buy a ring and start “training” people! YOU ARE PATHETIC!

Don’t think for a minute I’m not going to tell Al Snow about my experience with you MATT HENRIE. I heard you invoke Brodie Lee and Colin Delaney’s name as people who came from your “school.” I know Delaney had a brief run in WWE but don’t know him personally. I know Brodie Lee. And after you showed him how to bump he was smart to your shit and got as far away from you as he could! Yes, I did check with Brodie and he did re-enforce that you all are con men and belong nowhere near the wrestling business! YOUR NAME IS MUD!

If I were you, RIK MATRIX AKA MATT HENRIE, TIGER SMITH AND SHAWN COOPER,
I WOULD QUIT NOW!!! I can’t stand people taking advantage of someone coming off the street chasing a dream being taken advantage of and being lied to and taught by people who don’t know what they’re doing, have never done anything in this business and never will!

And it’s not just in the northeast! It’s all over the country.

Some advice: If you are planning to go to a wrestling school, check them out. I mean REALLY check them out. Who are their trainers and coaches. What are their backgrounds. Who trained them. Do they have contacts with anybody that could help you get booked somewhere and help you accomplish your dream? Maybe it’s a pipe dream. Only you can make that call. This isn’t for everybody. But you don’t want someone telling you how “great you are” just so you keep coming back paying your hard earned cash just so they can pay THEIR bills!

They majority of wrestling schools out there are bogus rip offs. If you hear something that sounds too good to be true, chances are it is. If someone tells you they can make you a TV star in one or two weeks, RUN!!

Running a wrestling school is a hard job. You have to rent a building, keep the electricity on, pay rent, upkeep and never ending problems from somewhere. How can anybody keep it up without having students come in? They can’t so they have to resort to telling everybody how great they are and dangle the carrot as long as they can until that person smartens up and leaves. Some have potential and will find a way to make it happen. Others are living on a hope and a prayer.

When asked about credible and REAL wrestling schools in the country, there’s slim pickins’. My opinion is there are very few. OVW in Louisville Kentucky and FCW in Tampa, Florida. There are no guarantees in either place but at least you will be in a place visited by WWE and TNA officials. If you have something they’re looking for, the trainers there will let them know. They ARE connected. Lance Storm in Calgary has a good school from all reports I’ve heard. Kevin Knight used to have a great school in New Jersey that many WWE and former WWE talent visited and a few talent was signed from there due to Kevin’s professional demeanor and he reached out for help and advice on how to do things the right way. Darren Young is a product of the now defunct IWF as is a young Dante Dash, now training in FCW.

Harley Race still runs a school located in Eldon, Missouri. It’s in a small, sleepy town and you would have to find a job to live and support your wrestling habit. But Harley is respected by the wrestling community and major companies keep an eye on his talent because if Harley says they’re ready, chances are they’re ready!

Pat Buck is now running PWS in Rahway, NJ and can be found at www.bedofnailz.com/school.html. Pat trained with us at FCW and comes highly recommended and has a healthy respect for the business. He is in the northeast and you can get more information by going to the website. Google Pat Buck and find out what he’s done in this business and the connections he’s made.

I’m sure there are some more legit schools out there that are doing their best and aren’t complete rip offs. But before you give your money to anyone, find out what they’ve done, where they’ve been and what connections they have. Also know and understand what your goal is. Be realistic and know the odds of becoming a Superstar are not in your favor!

This weekend was an eye opener for me. What prompted me to write this was when one of the guys who worked hard came to me on Sunday after everything was over and said “I’m going to have to give this up. I have 3 kids and I can’t travel right now. That sonovabitch (MATRIX) has been taking my money and I haven’t learned shit. This weekend was an eye opener.”

I wondered why MATRIX left pretty quick after my post show meeting. He was exposed like a cockroach when the light comes on and he ran like a coward. He wouldn’t train the last day because I called him out and critiqued him in front of the people he trained. Now he looked like the goof and idiot he really is. A con man. The worst kind. He cried when he was told he did something wrong instead of manning up and trying to learn, he quit. Good.

If I were you, I’d pack up shop and stop now. I will do everything in my power to expose all 3 of you phonies and con men for what you are. You are the scum that somehow infiltrated the business I love and have been in most of my life. You give this business a bad name by just trying to attach yourself to it. I talked to other people you claim came from your school before I wrote this and I heard the same thing from every one of them: “Please expose those low life’s for what they are! They have given the Rochester wrestling area a BAD name!”

If you see or hear of any of these people RIK MATRIX AKA MATT HENRIE, TIGER SMITH OR SHAWN COOPER, DO NOT SUPPORT THEM! THEY ARE SCUM CON MEN THAT SHOULD BE RODE OUT OF TOWN ON A RAIL! They make me sick!

Any questions or comments, PLEASE email me at bookdrtom@aol.com.

Thanks for reading.