I came across a
great little quote in a newspaper article that had a connection to
my glory days of wrestling in the 1970s.
The article ("Pro
Wrestling Makes Millions as other Sports Fight to Survive" by James
Warren of the Chicago Sun Times, Nov. 9, 1977) focused on the
success of pro-wrestling in tough economic times.
Many promoters were
interviewed for the story, including our guy Jim Crockett, Jr.
who opined on the need to keep his top talent happy:
The wrestler thus has an
enviable freedom...... Jim Crockett, Jr., who promotes in Virginia
and the Carolinas, realizes this can put pressure on the promoter.
"I guard my top 10 wrestlers with my life. I've got to make them
happy or they'll take off."
One of Crockett's stars,
Wahoo McDaniel, a 39-year old former Miami Dolphin
linebacker, earned $200,000 last year. "I'll perform as many
services for Wahoo as possible," says Crockett, "like helping him
with his taxes or getting him a starting time at the best golf
course if he wants to play golf. I want to keep Wahoo happy."
Ah yes, Wahoo did love
his golf. And Crockett knew the way to keep Wahoo doing his famous
war dance in Mid-Atlantic rings.
Somebody Take The
Recently Jason Jones told us about showing an
online video to Harley Race while kicking back one afternoon
in the World League Wrestling office.
Jason is a great
young wrestler who deserves a break. He was trained by George
South back in the early 2Ks, and has wrestled for NOAH in Japan and
had a few appearances in the WWE. He currently is the World League
Wrestling Champion for Harley Race's WLW group in Missouri, and is
heavily involved in running the front office for that company.
Back in 2005, George
South was involved in a feud with Brad Anderson (son of the
late great Gene Anderson of the Minnesota Wrecking Crew) over
the EWA championship in North Carolina. George put a bounty on the
head of Anderson in hopes that he wouldn't have to put the title up
against him. We got the idea at the time to do a video about the
bounty and copy the memorable video Harley Race did in similar
circumstances back in 1983 with Ric Flair. Then for fun, we
took both videos and blended them together.
it was that video Jason
showed Harley a few weeks back:
Harley is like a lot of
the veteran stars from days gone by - he appreciates the respect
shown him by the younger generations. Harley had a smile on his face
as he watched the video, and seemed to appreciate the tip of the
But he also had one
more comment to Jason about George:
"That kid is nuts."
* * * * *
A few trivia notes: (1) In
this video, George is wearing a mid 1970s-era sport coat given to
him by Paul Jones. (2) No one was able to collect the bounty and
Brad Anderson won the EWA title in Statesville NC on 6/18/05. (3)
Both Brad Anderson and Jason Jones are
former EWA champs along with other great names like Brad
Armstrong, Ricky Morton, Ivan Koloff, Jake "the Snake" Roberts,
Masked Superstar, Buddy Landel, the Barbarian, Bobby Houston and
others. (4) Jason Jones wrestled Brad Anderson in a great
match at the Night of Legends II event in Spartanburg SC in February
2005. Both won the EWA title later that same year. (5) And yes, that
is really 25-grand in that EWA brief case. At least that's our
story, and we're stickin' to it.
A great Gene Anderson
story told by Roddy Piper, including the best compliment Piper says
he ever received.
One of the greatest
wrestling t-shirts ever designed hit the NWA Wrestling Legends
Fanfest in Atlanta earlier this month. It photographically depicts
the various emotions of the one and only Ole Anderson,
except that each photo shown above each listed emotion is the exact
same photo. Joy, sorrow, excitement…same photo of Ole. It is
brilliant and captures Ole Anderson to a tee.
Scott Teal of
1wrestlinglegends.com and crowbarpress.com designed the shirt. Scott
co-wrote Ole Anderson's auto-biography a few years back.
recently saw a photo of the shirt on Facebook and loved it. Brad is
the son of Ole's long time Minnesota Wrecking Crew tag team partner
"That's so great," Brad
related. "Ole not selling anything!"
Brad was reminded of
something his father taught him, both as it related to wrestling,
and everything else in life. "Never let 'em see you sell, kid," his
Dad taught him.
On a recent independent wrestling show
in Lincolnton NC, hardcore wrestling/ECW icon Tommy Dreamer
made a special appearance. As he was coming in at the back of the
building, he came across George South, who had just finished
unloading and setting up the ring for that night's show. As he was
just getting ready to say hello, he noticed the large photo of
legendary wrestlers on the side of George's ring truck.
"Holy cow!", Dreamer uttered, as he
stared at the photos of the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling legends. "I
remember all those guys!"
Turns out that Tommy Dreamer grew up
watching Mid-Atlantic Wrestling and was a huge fan of that era. At
the tender age of nine years old, he saw Enforcer Luciano, the
mobster wrestler hired to
a bounty on the head of Blackjack Mulligan, chew lightbulbs on TV
during an interview with Bob Caudle....and he was hooked.
"Bet you can't name them all," George
"I'll take that bet," replied Dreamer,
and he rattled every one of them off without hesitation. "Blackjack
Mulligan, Gene and Ole Anderson, Wahoo McDaniel, Masked Superstar,
Jimmy Valiant, Greg Valentine, Ric Flair, Paul Jones, Ricky
Steamboat.....I even know THAT guy!", Dreamer laughed pointing to a
1984 photo of a rookie George South.
George was pretty impressed, having no
idea Dreamer was such a fan of the lost era we all love most.
"Oh, I'm serious," said Dreamer, "I
loved those guys. And it was those
guys who paved the way. I have so much respect for all of them."
Photo above: George South looks at the
wrestlers emblazoned on the side of his truck in early 2009.
For Non-NFL fans,
Wrestling Puts the Superbowl in Perspective
I'm a big fan of the National Football
League, and although neither of my favorite teams made it to the
Superbowl this year, I'm guessing the game between the Pittsburgh
Steelers and the Green Bay Packers is going to be a good one.
My friend Peggy loves college football,
but barely pays attention to the NFL until the Superbowl rolls
around. Non-NFL fans typically need a hook to get them interested in
the big game or to perhaps understand the back-story to the two
teams facing each other. Friday morning before the Superbowl, her
local sports station gave her that hook.
to WCCP "The Drive" 104.9 FM, morning host Mickey Plyler and
guest offered this about the Superbowl on their show "The Rush Hour" (roughly quoting):
"The Pittsburgh Steelers are like
'Nature Boy' Ric Flair – the long time champion. The Packers are the
'young lions,' as Bob Caudle of the Mid-Atlantic wrestling show used
to call Ricky Steamboat. Now, Steamboat eventually beat Flair – can
the Packers do it to the Steelers?"
And suddenly, it all made sense. And if
you know Peggy, you know she's a fan of the bad guys, and always a fan of
the long time champ Ric Flair. Her choice was clear - Go Steelers!
I recently received a cool note from my
friend (and long time Charlotte area wrestling fan) Barry Caldwell.
I thought some of you would enjoy it, too.
* * * * *
Sometime I sits and thinks and
sometime I just sits. Today I was doing both.
I got to thinking about some music that
I remember from the 1950s. Anyone that is old enough to remember
Arthur Smith and the Crackerjacks would also remember Tommy Faile.
Tommy was a good all round entertainer that played several
instruments and sang a good song. He can also be remembered for the
songs that he wrote. "Phantom 309" was a big hit with the truckers.
"The Brown Mountain Light" was a money maker for him.
I think it was in the late 50s that
Tommy decided to record some songs under an assumed name. I believe
he was maybe trying to attract a younger audience with his new name.
It was a one time thing.
I was big into wrestling at the time
and later on in the early 1960s some new wrestlers came to Charlotte
and one name jumped out at me.
"Heck, I've got a record by him,” I
told my brother. He said, “No, listen to the song. You know who it
is singing. That’s Tommy Faile.”
It was more fun at that moment to think
this new wrestler had made a record. Tommy Faile had chosen the assumed name
. . . . . . Sandy Scott.
* * * * *
Thanks for sending me a little
Crackerjack to go with my Coca-Cola and popcorn, Barry. I love stuff
So let's hear the tune:
Also listen to "Shake
It Up" by Sandy Scott (Tommy Faile)
Sandy Scott's Last Rib
Ron Garvin and Tim Horner were visiting
Sandy Scott in the hospital, and while there, Sandy received a phone
call. Sandy’s wife Sandra, right by Sandy's side, answered the
“Hold on Jim, here he is,” Sandra Scott
said and handed the phone to her husband. “It’s Jim Crockett.”
Ronnie and Tim briefly looked at each
other, somewhat surprised. Sandy sort of smiled and said “Hold on
boys, Jim Crockett’s on the phone. Let me put this on the speaker
Sandy pushed the speaker phone button
and placed the receiver down on the phone. He looked at his
visitors. “Say hello to Jimmy, boys.”
Ronnie Garvin looked halfway
uncomfortable, but said “Hello there, Jim!”
What Sandy hadn’t told Ronnie and Tim,
of course, was that it was his minister on the phone, not former
promoter and head of Jim Crockett Promotions.
In a somewhat more-than-ironic twist of
fate, the minister of the Westhampton Christian Church in Roanoke VA
is named Jim Crockett. This Jim Crockett, however, might have
better odds of being related to Davy Crockett of the Alamo than to
Jim Crockett of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling. The Rev. Crockett is a
native of San Antonio and served congregations both there and in
Oklahoma before being called to Westhampton Church in Roanoke.
When Ronnie and Tim heard the Rev.
Crockett’s voice, they immediately knew it wasn’t their Jimmy
Crockett, and it was all Sandy could do to hold back laughter.
“Son of a gun got us again,” Garvin
They all had a good laugh about it after
Sandy’s call ended. What were the odds that one of the area’s most
veteran stars, who had worked for the Crockett family for over 25
years would have a minister named Jim Crockett?
That rib got all of us in a way, though.
After Sandy had passed away and arrangements were announced and
published for his funeral, dozens of long time wrestling fans and
Gateway visitors wrote the website asking if that were some kind of
a joke. Or perhaps – could it possibly be – that promoter Jim
Crockett had gone into the ministry?
Yep, Sandy was still ribbing us.
* * * * *
This story is actually a blend of
stories related to me by Sandra Scott and Jim Nelson, related to Jim
by Tim Horner. Like all good stories, it is slightly embellished.
Some the dialogue is how I imagined it might have taken place. The
general circumstances, including Sandy's love of a good rib, are
just as they happened.
Welcome to the Territory
When Ole Anderson first came to the
Mid-Atlantic area, "the Charlotte territory" as it was known then,
he would go to the gym each day with Gene and Lars Anderson to work
out. Ole was hitting the weights hard at the time. There was another
fellow working out at the gym each day who Gene and Lars warned Ole
about. Ole might want to stay away from this fellow, he might be a
little too interested in the new arrival to the area.
One day while Ole was lifting weights,
the man came over and touched Ole gently his shoulder. "My, my,
aren't you big and strong!" Ole never said a word to the guy,
but moved over to the other side of the gym. Gene caught Ole's eye
and nodded, as if to say "this is the guy you need to look out for."
So Ole tried his best to avoid him.
A few more times that week, the same man
approached Ole. "My, my, you're the biggest of the Anderson
brothers, aren't you? You're soooo big and strong!" Ole was
ready to pound the guy, but each time Gene would convince him to
just let it go.
One of the first matches Ole had in the
territory was a 6-man tag team match with his partners Gene and
Lars. Ole's three opponents were across the ring, one of them with
his back turned and his foot on the bottom ropes. In those days, you
got your start date in the territory and you were given your
bookings and you might be working against guys you had never
wrestled before, and some cases, being new to the territory, not
even have met yet, as the good guys and bad guys didn't travel
together or hang out with each other. So it was in this case, Ole
wasn't familiar with all of his opponents that first night. When the
bell rang, Ole started the match, and as he came to the middle of
the ring, there was the friendly fellow from the gym ready to lock
up with him! That man was none other than Sandy Scott.
Gene, Lars and Sandy had successfully
pulled a huge rib on Ole. Over the course of his career in
wrestling, and certainly in those early years in the Charlotte
territory, Ole learned to have a great deal of respect for Sandy
Scott as a wrestler. The Anderson Brothers had a big rivalry with
Sandy and George, the Scott Brothers in the late 60s and early 70s.
But on that night in the summer of 1968, Ole quickly gained a great
deal of respect for Sandy as one of the best ribbers in the
The two remain good friends to this day,
enjoying fellowship in recent years at the Gulf Coast Wrestlers
Reunion in Mobile AL and the NWA Wrestling Legends Fanfest events in
Charlotte, and speak regularly on the phone. Ole even tried to sell
Sandy a copy of his book while in Mobile; after all, Ole doesn't
give anyone a book for free. But by the end of the weekend, Ole gave
way to Sandy's relentless pressure and gave Sandy a book. "All these
years later," Ole complained, "and the son of a gun is still
Postscript: This story was originally
published on the Gateway 3/9/10, less than 48 hours before Sandy
Scott passed away in Roanoke VA on the morning of 3/11/10. Sandy
will be greatly missed by all those who knew and loved him.
Don't Mess With Brisco
Jim Nelson and I were recently lamenting
the untimely death of the great Jack Brisco. Jim got his first big break in the
business in early 1982 as Pvt. Jim Nelson, one of Sgt. Slaughter's two Marine
right around the time that Jack and Jerry
Brisco returned to the Mid-Atlantic territory. Jim told me this
great little story about the respect that Jack had from the boys as
one of the real tough guys in the business.
The Brisco Brothers
were set to wrestle Gene and Ole Anderson in a tag team main event
at the Township Auditorium in Columbia SC. Jim was on the card that
night as well, and in the same locker room as the Andersons. Jack had been suffering from the stomach
flu and sent word to the Andersons in their locker room via referee
Sonny Fargo to go easy on him that night. Ole, sensing an
opportunity to make Jack miserable (as was apparently Ole's tendency to do to
everyone) just laughed and said "We'll see about that." But Gene,
one of the legit toughest guys ever himself,
"Don't mess with Brisco, Ole," Gene
said. "You mess with Brisco,
you're on your own."
Ole, who probably really knew better,
decided not to heed Gene's warning and when the match began, Ole started going after Jack pretty good. The word
had gotten around, and Jim said all the boys in both locker rooms
had their heads sticking out the door to watch what was about to
The match got underway and Jack had
soon had enough of it, and started stretching Ole - bad. Ole tried to tag
in Gene, but Gene would short-arm him. "You pissed him off, you deal
After the match Ole came back to the
locker room all worked up. "How can a guy with arms that little
make me hurt so bad?"
Who's Your Friend?
Even though I don’t watch wrestling
anymore, I have a certain amount of respect for John Cena having
nothing to do with him inside the ring, but rather based on
something that happened a few years back at a gathering of old
timers having lunch in Florida. Paul Jones related the story. It was
the monthly get-together in Tampa of some of the guys who live in
the area….Buddy Colt, Brian Blair, Jack Brisco among others. Paul said
Jack brought a kid with him that day and Paul, who doesn't watch
today's wrestling product, didn’t know who it
was, although everyone else seemed to. Paul said the kid was very pleasant, but sat quietly and wasn’t
Paul finally asked Jack, “Who’s your
friend?” Jack smiled, and asked, “You don’t know who this is? This
is Vince’s champion,” and introduced the two. Paul said Cena stood
up, extended his hand and said “Mr. Jones, it’s an honor to meet
you.” He said Cena could not have been more polite, more respectful
of all the guys at that table. He sat, listened, and laughed with them;
never once would Paul have guessed this guy was a big deal.
That was good to hear and said a lot
about Cena, at least as it regards how he looks at the business and
those that came before.
Old Wrestling Makes New Friends in Line at
Peggy's father, Dick Lathan, still works part time and goes every
morning to Hardee's for breakfast. One morning, he was standing in a
long line waiting to place his order and was wearing the
2008 Fanfest t-shirt
(with the Anderson Brothers and Thunderbolt Patterson on the front) Peggy had given him. There were two old men in line
behind him and he felt fingers on his back and turned around
thinking he was in their way. They told him no, they were just
reading his shirt. The shirt listed on the back all the wrestlers
who were part of that year's Fanfest event. The men said they were familiar with almost every
name on the shirt and that they were big wrestling fans. Mr. Lathan asked
them who their favorite was, and they said Ole and Gene Anderson. He
turned around and showed them the front of the t-shirt with the
picture of Ole and Gene and Thunderbolt and they just loved that.
They all talked
for 20 minutes about wrestling. They didn't know Gene had died and
they shared some memories of going to wrestling at the Greenville
Auditorium and seeing the Andersons wrestle and they remembered when
Ole was stabbed there leaving the ring after a match.
It's nice when
things like that happen, to make connections with old fans like us
who remember and have great respect for those great days and those
Ole Andersonwas in
the hospital for a few days over Christmas 2009. Among other
problems, he was suffering from kidney stones, and confided to the
nurse at the hospital that he hadn't been in that much pain in some
"Have you ever
felt worse pain?", she asked him. "Sure I have," he told her. "What
could have possibly caused you more pain than a kidney stone?" she
Ole replied -
didn't get the joke, but Ole felt better for setting the record