Archive for February, 2008

Beating up on women

February 11, 2008

I was deeply saddened to recently hear that the Fabulous Moolah passed away. She made great contributions over her storied years to not only the sport of women’s wrestling but to professional wrestling in general. She was well respected by her peers and served as a mentor to many people in the sport regardless of gender. I can tell you that I had a profound respect for her as a professional wrestler and as an individual. Those that know me will say that is significant considering the fact that I have very little respect for women in the business but that is a whole different issue left for another time. The sharpest memory of her that I will not soon forget was the time she gave me an unsuspecting kiss. 

Most remember the diabolical duo of Moolah and Mae Young taking on male World Wrestling Entertainment superstars in the not too distant past. Their storylines were more comedic in nature but they were able to garner strong positive reactions for the crowd considering their age and gender. However outrageous the parodies were, the pure entertainment value was considerable enough that they regularly appeared on broadcasts. Most don’t know that the proving ground for a lot of the entertaining ideas that eventually make there way onto national television were matured on the independent wrestling circuit. Such was the case with the team of Moolah and Mae Young several months prior to them appearing in such a role on a national syndication.

There is a promoter and agent still lingering around in the business today that goes by the name Mike O’Brian. Mike ran stellar events in the State of Connecticut on a consistent basis that regular independent wrestlers were eager to be a part. The complete product was first class with top stars from major companies performing in front of several thousand fans at any venue he choose. He was a class act and it was well reflected in his production. Mike made an investment in me and Don Montoya at the time which was a positive for both the company and us as individuals. He would position either or both of us into key positions on the shows against bigger name opponents. To my knowledge, Mike O’Brian was the first promoter to ever dare book Moolah and Mae Young against a male tag team. Don Montoya and his manager Paul Atamovic were the honorable first to compete against the ladies in the ring. I was not a part of that particular show but I did have the privilege to team with Montoya on what was his third tag team match-up against the tandem. 

Don was pretty comfortable since he had worked with the two on a few occasions and more or less gave me the ropes of how the whole match would play out. At the time, I had come from working matches that typically lasted somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty minutes including entrance and promo. So when Montoya started explaining where the “filler” went I just took it as we would have our usual control barring anything complicated or extraordinary considering our opponents. It wasn’t like I was going to expect to give a huracanrana anyway. I was only obsessed with giving one of them a knife edge chop during the heat. I know I sound like a complete heel for saying that but I had an odd feeling that if women were in the sport that they should be taking much if not anything that a guy would have to regularly suffer. I thought how appropriate it was that Chris Benoit gave a chop to Medusa Michelli when they faced on an old World Championship Wrestling broadcast. Montoya cursed me for even thinking about it but I was going to do it none the less. Between me and Don discussing how I would take the finish, I joked how I would convulse my legs during the spot like the old school WWE TV finishes. Sometimes you’ve got to just try to make yourself laugh to keep sane. 

With the match in mind and the knowledge that they had the ultimate control during the event, we began our trek out to the ring with Montoya garnering the normal heated reaction after his typical microphone work. The balance of the match saw the control on our favor since we were the heels and the crowd was behind Moolah and Mae Young. Mae Young took the heat which led to the corner chop stop by me. I made sure to do it right in the corner with Montoya looking at me and his eyes were opened so wide I thought they might fall out. Moolah didn’t take to kindly to that and definitely made me pay for it by coming in to punch me square in the face. I only briefly traded blows with Moolah during the match but she hit me harder than just about any man had ever hit me. She was a tough cookie. Somewhere close to fifteen minutes onto the match was when we started to wrap it all up. Mae Young could barely do what was required because of the lengthy heat she took at my hands. I later came to find out that their matches were usually only four to five minutes in length. Montoya was yelling at me afterwards about how I kept her in the heat too long. In my defense, I didn’t even realize it and had thought it was a relatively short match. It was not a malicious attempt on my part at all. Regardless, the match went without much of a hitch and the final sequence could have gone better but it was still rewarding to the crowd none the less. At the point of the finish with my legs jokingly convulsing and mouth wide open laughing at Montoya, Moolah took the opportunity to plant a very big kiss on me. 

After the match while being read the riot act by Montoya for the Mae Young heat, I was more concerned about Mae Young’s health than the kiss. Apparently, she requested a doctor after the show and I later left worried for the rest of the weekend if she was fine. It turned out that she was alright and they both expressed appreciation for us both treating them to more of a match than they had in quite some time. I take some solace in the fact that I walked away with a great story about how I was kissed by one of the true wrestling legends. If she’s not smiling down on me, I’m certainly smiling up at her.

Don’t take propeller planes

February 4, 2008

I really started my wrestling career in the Midwest territory. I had only wrestled about two or three matches at Larry Sharpe’s Monster Factory during my training period. I had an opportunity to train at Al Snow’s school in Ohio and wrestle on a more consistent basis out in that territory. The Reckless Youth character was actually born in that territory and the first match wrestled was in Kentucky. In the next year following my Midwest upstart, I would regularly travel back to do a handful of shows a month. Because I was young in the business, my travel was at my expense. On the occasion that I could fly, I would aggressively seek low fares to reduce my overall out of pocket expenses. During one such low fare exploration, I became intimately aware why you should not take a propeller plane. 

I very much enjoyed wrestling in the Michigan territory for various reasons but it was also the place that I first became aware of wrestling politics. The politics I’m referring to in this case is when a promoter tells wrestlers that they can not work for a rival promoter if they want to expect to work for them. This practice was going on for some time in the Michigan territory long before it made way to the East Coast. I assume that it became more prevalent on the East Coast once wrestling was de-commissioned in New Jersey and the enforcement became much more lacks in Pennsylvania and New York. Then you had company after company pop up competing within a few short miles of each other on the same night with the fans and wrestlers being the ultimate losers. Unfortunately, this process was going on for some time long before in the great State of Michigan. 

The City of Detroit was home to three independent wrestling companies that ran on a consistent monthly basis. They were respectful in the fact that they would run on different weekends on the month but they were very strict about locking talent down to each promotion. It was rare to find talent moving between companies unless they quit or were fired from another. I found this practice to be quite odd especially since the companies ran in sharply contrasting areas of the City with the attendance being very different at each. What was even more disappointing was that the promoters that didn’t want you to work anywhere else wouldn’t pay you to work anywhere else. I mean how fair is it for a promoter to pay you for one booking a month when you were offered three. I’m getting way off subject but you get the idea about the shadiness in this business that has seemed to engulf the independents across the whole country. 

Because of my friendship with D-Lo Brown, I was one of the few that were lucky enough to bounce around companies along with him. He had a just come off a good deal of success with Smokey Mountain Wrestling and he was considered a headliner on independent shows. He would get me work throughout the Midwest territory and I would throw his name at East Coast promoters in turn. The East Coast promoters were chomping at the bit to get in someone like D-Lo. He would get flown home to the east coast to visit family and make a few bucks wrestling. I would get shows in the Midwest that eventually led to me becoming well known throughout the business. It worked out for both of us well except the day the propeller plane got me. 

D-Lo had been home for a week with family leading up to a Friday show for Blaine Desantis’ Pennsylvania Championship Wrestling (PCW). He got me on a show in Detroit the next day for a company named Insane Championship Wrestling (ICW) run by a guy named Malcolm Monroe. D-Lo was supposed to fly back to Detroit on Saturday morning on a different flight than what I was leaving on. For some reason, D-Lo convinced Don Montoya to drive him back to Detroit. They left right after the PCW show and had planned to drive through the night because it was going to take somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 to 12 hours. My plane ticket was already purchased and I was not going to toss an opportunity to fly to drive all those hours especially because the plane was at my expense. It was funny because as they set off I was making fun of them and how silly it was for them to drive especially after he had a returning ticket that was purchased for him by the promoter. Little did I know that karma would haunt me for poking fun at them. 

 The next day I woke and headed down to the airport for my early afternoon flight. I was thinking that my timing on this particular trip could not have been better. I had a connecting flight through Cincinnati but I was still going to make it to Detroit in more than enough time without having to leave at a crazy time in the morning. I was well rested and ready for the trip. The first leg of the trip actually included a lunch which is a far cry from how things are done in the post 911 era anymore. Once I landed in Cincinnati I knew that I’d have to eat some food right before I jumped on the connecting flight because I would more than likely have no time to eat between the arrival and the show. I filled up again making sure to also splurge on a delicious chocolate chip cookie that was about as close to heaven as you could get. At this point, I began making my way to my terminal for departure when I came to a strange set of steps leading down and doors that opened to the runway. I immediately asked the representative at the counter where my plane was located. While looking at me confusingly, he pointed out the window to a tiny propeller plane way out on the runway. I was told that beyond the doors I would be bused over to the plane and board. I swear my full stomach started to churn right there. 

To be completely honest, the take off and general flight were not terrible at all. I have definitely been on city buses bigger than this plane and was a tad bit uncomfortable. The plane maybe sat twenty people with a single row on one side and a double row on the other. I’m not a Closter phobic person but the walls felt like they were closing in on me. The plane literally felt big enough to hold me, the stewardess on my lap, and a can of coke. I felt like I was in the clown car of planes. I was pressed up against the window in the single isle but it’s not like I really didn’t have a choice of seats since there was only 2 other people on the flight. Including the crew, there was a total of 6 people on this matchbox with wings. At one point, the stewardess actually got on the intercom to announce that she was going to start beverage service. I know the prop engines are loud but the space was so confined that she could have just told us sans the intercom that drinks are coming out. It was small enough that she could have passed us our drinks from the cockpit door without issue. I guess you’re getting the idea that this thing was small. Believe me when I say that the right steroid cocktail and I think I could’ve lifted the plane in the air. Despite all of the concerns, it was pretty easy flying until descent.  

I would have to say that Detroit should have been named the “Windy City” on this day instead of Chicago. You don’t have to be a math or physics major to figure out the impact of extreme wind against the paper mache airplane I’m trapped in at 20,000 feet above the ground. In general, people that have never been on a tic tac with wings on a windy day have never experienced true turbulence. I mean I feel for those that think they have but try my flight on an empty stomach and you wouldn’t be feeling great. So now couple the wind along with the fact that the plane is as big as my pinky toe and you have the never ending descent of doom into Detroit metro. The worse feeling is when the floor feels like it just gave out on you. You know that feeling if you’ve been on an amusement ride. The difference on a plane is you have no idea when it’s coming or how long it’s going to last. And when you start to feel a tummy ache coming on, it’s just makes 1 minute feel like 30 minutes. I’m not sure how long we were descending into the airport but I know I lost a piece of what little sanity I have up in those clouds that day. Right after the lady in front of me go sick in the airplane bag, the stewardess announced that we had arrived in Detroit in the intercom. Maybe a minute later after a slight push and shove out the door I got sick on the runway. The other guy on the plane later told me that he made it to the airport bathroom before getting sick but I don’t know if that counts because airport bathrooms alone would make me sick. After lifting myself off my knees on the runway, I staggered in the terminal doors where D-Lo and Montoya were there waiting for me. Upon their concern for how I looked, I explained about the wonderful flight. D-Lo replied with something about that he could have told me not to fly a propeller plane and then going into a similar story with him. I chalk that up to well if I knew I would’ve never got on one. 

In the end, I was not well enough to wrestle the show that night. We had to pull over multiple times on the way to the building so as not to get sick in Don Montoya’s car. The horn blowing by local Detroit residents as I repeatedly vomited into the wind were greatly appreciated. Thanks for the kindness Detroit. I’ll put you on my “list” along with Boston. The good thing was that if not for that incident Don Montoya would never have been introduced to Michigan independents. He took my place that night and was forced to take his first Frankensteiner off the top rope that he ever took. He also had the pleasure of being the only man to receive the most beautifully perfect twisting crossbody off the top rope from a wrestler known as EL Fuego. The building had no power due to a blackout and the show was held under construction lamps. Couple that onto the semi-automatic weapons fire across the front of the building and you have the makings of another story you will have to wait to hear. As far as this story is concerned, I didn’t learn my lesson because I jumped on a few since then but I have Dramamine to thank for not loosing any chocolate chip cookies.