Norm Conners was a notorious manager and promoter in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania independent wrestling scene for more years than most can remember. I’m sure Norm could bore us all with exact numbers but this is more about a booking that came from the famed Steel City Wrestling (SCW) days when the promotion was one of the few independents that had a legitimate weekly TV program for more than a minute.
At the time, Mike Quackenbush and Christian York were Steel City Wrestling’s main babyface wrestling. I believe my character, Reckless Youth, served as more of a tweener and Don Montoya was a full blown out heel. It was normal for Quackenbush, Montoya, and myself to travel together to many shows at the time and would regularly hook up with York during our travels. Norm Conners’ TV taping shows ran in a little town of just outside of Pittsburgh called Irwin. During this time, it was not uncommon for our group to get bookings on other nearby independents because of the strength of the SCW TV product. One such town that will always stand out in my memory is that of Uniontown, Pennsylvania.
Uniontown was home to an independent promotion that I have no idea of the name at this point after several drops on my head throughout my storied career. The promoter had originally booked Quackenbush, York, and I in a triple threat match. Montoya was scheduled to wrestle some local guy. I was infamous for showing up to shows and rebooking my match and or others to a more agreeable form to me. In my opinion, most promoters had little sense of booking a show. They may have had a handful of cash to have a show but that is about where their brains stopped. Contrary to popular opinion, my changes were not about selfish wants but more about a concern to entertain the people that paid a ticket to the show. These changes eventually led to the triple threat match being reorganized to a tag match pitting Montoya and I against Quackenbush and York. This match would later become known as the greatest tag team match ever wrestled at least in the minds of Quackenbush, Montoya, and I. We weren’t sure where it stood in York’s mind more so because he seemed to be a in a drug related daze before, during, and after. If the event was captured on video, I’m sure it would not be as perfect as it was in our minds. As usual though, nothing went without a hitch.
It was no different than any other wrestling venue that we normally worked but there was not a worker on the show other than ourselves that we knew. This was very uncommon since I could easily run into someone I knew in a locker room across this country because of the lengthy travel time I put in. The promoter was not too receptive to me changing the main event more so because he did not know or care much for Don Montoya. Don hadn’t really been on the uphill swing yet on the SCW TV so the promoter didn’t really know who he was and looked at him as nothing more than a huge fat guy. Montoya was tipping the scales over 350lbs. and most people didn’t think much of him unless they worked him. The local guy he was supposed to work thought him too fat to do anything with so he really didn’t want to wrestle him at all. Montoya always had an uphill battle anywhere he wrestled because people initially judged him only on his size. Those that knew his work knew he had one of the best cardio conditioning compared to anyone in wrestling and moved like a lightweight in the ring. He was able to easily adapt to various different styles and could judge his opponent or crowd to gage a match. Unfortunately, this particular night his ego was terribly bruised after the repeated assault by the promoter and the wannabe wrestlers in that locker room.
You would think things couldn’t get much worse but like typical indy wrestling they did when the ring broke a handful of matches prior to the main event. Now the promoter was walking directly up to Montoya and specifically telling him not to bump because he would make it even worse with his size. Don was easily the biggest guy on the show and bore the brunt of the promoters ring breakage issues.
Montoya was really upset and pacing back and forth in the locker room. He was going on about just sitting in the car until everyone was done and that he just didn’t feel good about competing. I can remember within the minute prior to us going out of the gorilla, I looked at Montoya and told him to channel all his pain and aggression from tonight into a killer promo that none of these goofballs would soon forget. I could see his mood change and it was almost as if I unleashed the beast. I more of less believed that we would never be wrestling in that venue ever again and took it as “gloves off” when I hit the ring. My promos were never a work. They were always a shoot especially when I was cutting someone down terribly prior to working them. As we were the heels out first, typically you run down the town a little and talk down your babyface opponent. I took the opportunity to run down each and every wannabe wrestler in the locker room and rip to the promoter on how low budget the promotion was. When Montoya took the microphone, the beast was unleashed. He cut a promo the likes of which I have never seen to this day from anyone. He systematically ripped apart the promotion, wrestlers, and town completely in a 10 minute promo that had me laughing and clapping at the end. Always leaving on a high note, Montoya pointed to the promoter’s wife, mother, and sister, thanking the hooker population of Uniontown for taking the night off to come see wrestling. They were on the balcony and I was sure each of them was considering jumping over the edge as they railed him profusely after Montoya’s tirade.
The match itself had a beautiful opening exchange, a classic turnaround that drew major reaction from the crowd, a nice swerve with a rarely seen double heat, and an escalating finish that ended with a thunderous reaction from the crowd when the babyface team went over. The match had all the elements of a classic and the night embodied the spirit of independent wrestling. Despite that, I fondly remember more so to this day to how the hookers of Uniontown took to the balcony’s edge as they were called out by one of the original microphone riot inciters.
Next Time around: Connecticut rings hurt.