Welcome to The World of Dutch! "Where the bullshit just keeps on rolling"
By: Dutch Mantel
Dirty Dutch Returneth!!!
Dirty Dutch's Stories for Wrestling Junkies
OK lets get right into the meat of things. In other words...... "let the bullshit begin".
Dirty Dutch and the Undertaker with the cops.
When I was with WCW several years ago we wrestled in Knoxville at the Coliseum on a Saturday night. We had been on the road for close to two weeks and we were getting tired. It was the same thing every night just a different town. It was Charleston, West Virginia then it was Fayetteville, NC then it was Lumberton, then Greenville, then Asheville, NC and on and on. We were not only tired as hell of the road grind... but irritable as hell too.When guys stay out there for too long tend to get on each other nerves.. so you can imagine what regular people do to us. So we get to Knoxville..it's a party town.. and it's time to kick back and have some fun. Or so we thought.
If you've ever been in Knoxville its really a partying town partially because of the University of Tennessee is located there and if you've been paying attention I also included it in Dirty Dutch's Top Five Little Ladies of the Evening list. So while still at the building UT declared that we were going out to do some drinking. Well that kinda made me happy. So after the matches, off we go. UT (this was actually pre-UT days) and I go into this huge country western bar and immediately we order two tequilas straight up.
People recognize us and word spreads in the bar that Dirty Dutch and Mean Mark are there. People start coming up and saying hello and doing the regular routine. Sometimes though you have to watch yourself in a bar because there's always some a**hole who has had a little too much alcohol or who's trying to impress some girl he's just met who wants to be a smartass. But early on everybody is pretty cool with us.
This bar was called Desperado's or something like that and it was a nice place not some dive with all the pickup trucks with gun racks in the parking lot and on this night it was jammed packed. So we order a couple more drinks...and we slam them. Now here's a funny thing about me and tequila. I can drink tequila all night and be fine (in moderation of course) but in relation to beer I can't. I can drink 10 tequilas and walk out the door without any problem but give me three beers and I swear I'm bouncing off the wall. We hadn't been there long and I notice that Mark is gone. I can't see him anywhere in the crowd and he's 6'10".I mean how do you lose a guy that 6'10" tall and stands out like a six pack in a dry county?
Then I heard a commotion way over on the other side of the bar and from intuitive experience I knew that something was going down. I felt it. So I picked my way through the crowd and sure enough... Mark is standing there with a couple bouncers talking to him and I look and there's this guy just laying up against the wall...knocked completely out. I mean he wasn't moving...his girlfriend was all upset...she was crying.One of the guys there told me that Mark absolutely drilled the guy. The bouncers who let us in FREE (exactly my price range) told us we needed to be moving on.
So you don't need a blow by blow description to figure this one out. It's apparent that Mark, while moving through the crowd, came up on some stupid guy who thought he'd try a wrestler out. Well, he tried Mark on for size; and lost. I grabbed Mark, who by this time was pretty well hammered and out the door we flew. On the way to the car I bet we missed Knoxville's finest by 30 seconds.I could hear sirens in the distance when we went through the door and we barely made it to the car when the police cruisers pulled up. Somebody had dialed 911 pretty quick. Mark was actually in a great mood and was laughing about it when we pulled away. I asked Mark what had happened he said that the guy told him he didn't look so tough... got in his face.... kept on and on... pushed him a time or two and *WHAM!*...Mark bitch- slapped the guy one time and the guy folded.
It never ceased to amaze me why anybody who wanted to try a wrestler out picked a beef with the biggest guy around. I mean, he could have tried me... (hey, I would've killed him!)... but he chose UT. Go figure.
What Goes Around Comes Around
I remember early in my career I went to wrestle in Tennessee. I didn't know diddly and I made no effort to hide that fact. I came in strictly to learn but I also learned that green guys sometimes get taken advantage of. I found this out the hard way. There was a wrestler who was a legend in Tennessee who I was booked against almost every night...
Tojo Yamamoto. Tojo was a cold hearted, mean little bastard who had a history, I found out later, of literally beating the hell out of unsuspecting green guys. Hey, that was the category I was in!... surprise, surprise. Well, it didn't take Tojo long to start with me. Every night he chopped me hard... so hard in fact that sometimes I had blood blisters on my chest.
I was too low on the totem pole to say anything and if I'd returned his hard shots then I would have been fired and getting fired wasn't exactly my idea of moving up. But like the good little boy I was, (and still am, I might add) suffice it to say that I took all his shots without complaining, and it hurt like hell. G** Damn those chops hurt. I distinctly remember one night when I came back from a mauling with ToJo... an old veteran who had watched the match said to me, "hey kid...what goes around comes around". I didn't know what he meant... I was still recovering from the beating that ToJo had subjected me to. But to make a short story longer than it needs to be...
I left the territory and came back a few years later but this time I came back with more experience, more self-confidence and much more talent. I could take care of myself now not, only physically, but politically as well. And who do you think I got booked against? Yep. ol' Mr. Sadistic himself.But this time, I had a little companion that I'd picked up along the way; A bullwhip that I affectionately had named Shoo-Baby. Well, since Tennessee had a history of booking bizarre matches...it didn't take long for them to see that some money could be made with a match that featured a Bullwhip.
Invariably...sometime in a match I would end up with my bullwhip in my hands and remembering those blood blisters that ToJo gave me a few years earlier...I made sure that ToJo reaped what he had sown. People....a bullwhip can stop a 1,200 pound bull, so imagine what it can do to a human being. Ask ToJo. So now you know the rest of the story...what goes around comes around and it came around for ToJo. I eased off on him after a couple of matches but I do remember that I cut him a few times with the whip and I figured I'd got even enough. But I let that be a lesson to me.
I never took advantage of someone who didn't know what they were doing just because I could and just because they were green.I always tried to be professional and I tried to treat people the way I would have liked to be treated. There's an old saying in wrestling;"be nice to the people on your way up because you're gonna meet the same people on the way down."
I remember ToJo well. He's dead now due to a self inflicted gunshot wound to the head, but that's another story for another day.
<> Dirty Dutch saying of the day: "I'm naked underneath my clothes".
Time for a Dirty Dutch Top Five list. When wrestlers are on the road and there's a basketball handy you can rest assured that somebody will challenge somebody else in a game of horse. Wrestlers are a competitive bunch whether its shooting hoops or playing cards. Here is the Dirty Dutch's Top Five Basketball Shooters. Margin of error...100%. Enjoy.
(1) Ron Harris... (DOA, Bruise Brother)
Ron could shoot the hell out of a basketball having played college ball at Austin Peay University. Ron transferred to some college in Florida his junior year and had a chance to play some pro ball. If you're a country music fan Ron played with Mark Miller of the country group "Sawyer Brown" in high school. Actually Mark Miller is a huge wrestling fan who got Ron and his twin brother Don into wrestling in the first place. But Ron could really play some ball. But he cheated a lot.
(2) Undertaker ...
One time we were wrestling at some out of the way high school here in Kentucky and they had a gym adjacent to the building where the matches were being held.I found a basketball and challenged UT to a game. Well I along with Action Jackson challenged him; but we said we'd have to have some SPECIAL rules to play him, like he'd have to play both of us in a handicap match because he was so tall. UT said "Okay". It was two versus one and we made up some more rules like UT couldn't dunk on us...he couldn't muscle his way to the basket and then lay it in.. and he had to shoot from outside the paint. I mean, we stacked the deck against him pretty good. I called that "Memphis rules"...you just make 'em up as you go along. UT still said he'd play us. I knew UT was a pretty good player but hell....he couldn't beat two guys... I thought. I mean, get real! So the game started (for him it started... I don't think we ever did get started) and it ended embarrassingly several minutes later when the score was UT 21... Action Jackson and I ...2. An ugly score.He killed us. Of course I blamed the loss on my partner.
(3) Don Harris..
Much like his brother...a great outside shot. Don cheated more than his brother Ron.
(4) Hillbilly Jim..
Hillbilly played for something like 6 junior colleges. He kept getting scholarships to play then got kicked out for various reasons like GPA, drinking, raising hell and other things. But a good shot with the roundball. He also cheated.
5. Justin Bradshaw...
loved to win..hated to lose. Bradshaw had a great touch on the ball and could play under pressure. But he hated to lose. I played him lots of times and I did manage to win a couple times. I loved it when I won...I would talk about it the rest of the day. I cheated when I played Bradshaw.
The Hardest That I've Ever Been Hit in a Wrestling Matc (including dressing room fights)
Last year I wrestled ECW's Tommy Dreamer in Memphis. Now I was fully aware that ECW guys tend to beat the living sh*t outta each other and I didn't expect Dreamer to change his style but I at least thought he wouldn't try to kill me. During the match Dreamer picked up a chair and headed my way to give me a good whack with it. I watch (like an idiot) as he drew back and G**D**n....WHAM!!!! F**k he hit me so hard I felt like a baseball that McGwire just slapped over the fence. Well, I dropped liked I'd been shot, mainly because I didn't think I could survive another chair shot.
Luckily I got my hands up in time to partially block the chair and not only did I get a deep cut in my finger....but he broke my finger too. OK...I decided that this could not go unchallenged so I poked Dreamer in the eye and picked up the same chair that he'd whacked me with. I then proceeded to break a METAL chair over Dreamer's back. The chair just exploded. At least I didn't go to the head with it. But in fairness to Dreamer; I'll have to hand it to him. He didn't complain, bitch, moan and groan...we just went on with the match.
But I think Tommy Dreamer hit me the hardest I've ever been hit in my life and to tell the truth. I don't want to get hit like that again. In real life.... a shot like that could get you 5 years in the joint for attempted murder or at least aggravated assault.... Which got me to thinking....how long do those ECW guys expect their longevity to be if they work like that on aregular basis? Good luck to all of them and God Bless 'em.
Top Three Things that Scared Me in the Wrestling Business;
Sometimes you get asked to do certain things in the wrestling business that you really don't want to do but for a variety of reasons you do them anyway in spite of your personal fears or preferences. I'm only going to list a few here but believe me; they were memorable.
(1) A Scaffold Match - 1982 - Memphis Mid South Coliseum
Dirty Dutch vs Bill "Superstar" Dundee....Memphis was noted for being a forerunner in all types of gimmick matches from Rage in the Cage to barbed wire matches, double bullwhip matches and matches on flatbed 18 wheelers. Jerry Jarrett (the booker and owner) had this brilliant idea about a match on a scaffold and booked me into this match and brother I hate anything that requires me to get higher than 6 feet off the ground. I really didn't want to do this... but business was going big guns and Dundee was all for it.
The fans loved this particular match but I have a fear of heights. The object of the match of course was for us to climb up the scaffold and wrestle on a rickety constructed walkway suspended 20 feet above the ring floor. Dammit... where in the hell is OSHA when you need them? The scaffold was so high that when I got to the top I could look over right into the top deck of the Mid-South Coliseum. Hell, I almost got nosebleed I was so high.
Anyway I got through this match without breaking any bones but this is the kicker. Wrestling in those days wasn't anything like it is today. Today this match would only be on a PPV..but in those days it was placed in every major town.
So not only did I get to do this "wonderful" match in Memphis... I also HAD to do it in Louisville, Ky., Evansville, Ind., Lexington, Ky., and Nashville, Tn. And every scaffold was different than the last one. I was f**kin glad when that little run with Dundee ended.
(2) Wrestling Bears
Yep...I've done that too. Now there's something eerie about wrestling an animal that naturally should be in the wild. But at one time there was a bear...a female bear named Ginger that used to travel all around and wrestle. I mean she didn't travel by herself....she had a trainer guy take her.
I don't think Ginger could get a driver's license.But anyway...I was wrestling in Knoxville and whoever the boss was then had booked Ginger to come in. Ginger wasn't that big of a bear....but she was a BEAR. She weighed like 600 pounds but who the f**ks counting.She was a BEAR. So who got the nod to wrestle the Bear? Need I say more?
Anyway I wrestled Ginger about 20 times and I was scared every time I got into the ring with that bear. Hell bears are strong and don't take too kindly to being tugged around on. I finally found the answer to having a match with Ginger.Before the match I would go out to her cage and give her candy or Coke or something and just let her get used to me. So when we got into the ring... she would know me as the "person" who gave her something to eat. I also made sure that none of the other guys could get out there and mess with her to get her all riled up. That's all I needed...a riled up mad ass bear that weighed 600 G**D**n pounds beating the Sh*t outta me. It finally got to the point where Ginger kinda liked me though.
In the match I could put my foot down close to her paw and she would "gingerly" (get it? Ginger being gingerly....) just wrap her paw around it and not pull or yank. Actually the bear would put equal pressure on you that you put on her. The bear was a natural worker. But I never could get over the feeling that this bear could kill me if she so desired. And she could've too...
(3) Snakes....(I hate snakes.)
One time while I was with WWF.... Justin Hawk Bradshaw who I was managing had a match with Jake the "Snake" Roberts. Jake, of course, had Damien.... I think that's what he called that evil serpent he carried around with him (I think the new one was "Revelations" - ed). Somewhere in the match I was to have that snake laid on top of me. Now that's my idea of a good Saturday night!.. Just let me lay around with a man killing boa constrictor on my chest.
Hell that snake had to weigh over 200 pounds. I thought, "why don't they just stick a hot poker up my ass at the same time?"But when it came time for that snake to lay on me...I felt that cold, clammy snake on my skin.... whooo.... hoooo..... I had to get up and get out of there. Man...it still makes my skin crawl to think about it. Anyway...that snake scared me
A Bullshit Story ?
An ECW wrestler(I won't name, names) had been hit with so many chair shots that he found himself having trouble remembering things. He couldn't remember anything at all at times. So he went to a highly trained, expensive neurosurgeon to get checked out.
When he walked into the doctor's office... the doctor asked him what the problem was. The ECW wrestler said "Doc,I've been hit with so many chair shots that I can't remember anything. People tell me things and I just can't remember them. What are we going to do? Its really becoming a problem".
The doctor thought a moment and then said... "how long have you had this problem?". The ECW wrestler replied..."what problem"?
Another Bullshit Story ??
One time in the summer in Memphis this new guy came into the territory. I think his name was "The Beastmaster" Rick Link. His gimmick was he would come out on LIVE Memphis TV and eat raw chicken or raw fish or something like that hence the term "BeastMaster", I guess. He would also do this on the house shows too.
So one Saturday night we go to a show in Parsons, Tennessee at the high school gym. The BeastMaster did his match complete with the whole raw fish eating routine and then finished his match. Finally the night was over... everybody was happy and in a good mood. Then we all took off for home.
The local sponsor locked the building up but BeastMaster had forgotten something. He had forgotten to dispose of the RAW fish. So the fish stayed behind inside the unairconditioned building, unbeknownst to anyone. The building, I found out later, stayed locked for three weeks.
It was a real hot summer that year and temperatures reached 95 and higher for several weeks leading into September and the start of school. No one obviously checked the building for anything. So imagine the surprise that greeted the building's custodian when he finally opened the building for the start of school a few weeks later?
I heard that the custodian actually threw up the smell was so bad. The fish had rotted, flies were everywhere and the smell would gag a maggot. It was so bad that the school doors, windows and anything else that could be opened to let air in was opened to allow the building to fumigate itself. I think the building was uninhabitable for 10 days. Unless my memory fails me... I think that was the last time a pro wrestling match was ever held in that town to this day.
Dirty Dutch's Top Five Ribbers
Ribbers are guys who like to pull tricks on one another...and it's the creativity of the ribber that sets him apart from the rest. Listed below are the Dirty Dutch Top Five Ribbers in the wrestling business notwithstanding the amusement or the severity of the rib.
Margin of error...100%.
(5) Davey Boy Smith...
ribs often included human waste...such as depositing said material in head wear...such as King Crowns.
(4) Dynamite Kid..
often accompanied Davey Boy in his ribbing exploits
(3) Dory Funk Sr....
once booked a green guy and called him Hans Shitz from Munich, Germany. After several weeks...Hans Shitz complained to Funk Sr. telling him that when he was introduced the fans would laugh at his name.Funk Sr. told him that it was a rib and not to worry about it that they would change his name right away. They did change the name when they introduced him the next time. His name was changed from Hans Shitz....Helmut Shitz.
(2) Mr. Fuji....
rumor or folklore has it that he once barbecue a fellow wrestler's dog to get even for a former ribbing.
(1) And the number one Dirty Dutch Ribber of all time is none other than Johnny Valentine....
example... read ensuing story below.
A Rib That Almost Turned Violent
To those of you who don't know what a rib is...it's a joke or a prank played upon, of course, an unsuspecting target. This is a story that I was not present to witness but it was passed on to me by several older veterans when I first broke into the business... a kind of wrestling folklore story. It's a story that unless its passed on will surely die from extinction. So here's the story and I will say from the outset that the accuracy is skewed but its been years since I've heard the story. But the tale involves Johnny Valentine one of the top stars of his era. Johnny was notorious for his ribs. But Johnny was a strange guy.
He was quiet but he was brutal not only in the ring where he brought realism to a new plateau but he was brutal in his ribs. A good rib is one where there's maybe a little embarrassment involved and everybody has a good laugh; but Johnny left that distinction at the front door of the arena. Johnny's ribs had no rules. Some of Johnny's ribs went so far over the line that if pressed could be considered criminal. One such rib occurred one night against Jay York....one of the Alaskans tag team.
Jay York suffered from asthma... a breathing condition. It was almost a ritual that whenever Jay York would wrestle, he would return to the dressing room and inhale his asthma medication through an inhaler.
So on this particular night....York went to the ring to work and allegedly Johnny Valentine took his asthma inhaler which held York's medication...and refilled it with lighter fluid. When Jay York returned to the dressing room about 15 minutes later... he immediately went to his inhaler and placed it in his mouth and nose and inhaled.
Needless to say..Mr. York's respiratory system went into almost total shock. Now what happened next is unclear, but somehow somehow Jay York survived the incident. But he did not forget it. I mean that would be something that you would remember for a while I would think. But either someone told Jay York who did it or he had a feeling that Johnny Valentine was the one responsible so he made plans to retaliate.
A couple nights later Jay York walked into a dressing room housing Johnny Valentine and other wrestlers with a 16 gauge shotgun in his possession. Everybody thought that Jay York was going to kill Johnny Valentine on the spot and the dressing room area emptied. And with Valentine sitting, looking right at him.... Jay York raised the gun... pulled the trigger..and completely blew away Valentine's wrestling bag.
The report (explosion) from the gun was deafening and then York faced Valentine and said "if you ever do anything to me again... it won't be your bag next time"
. This incident could have had far more serious consequences than it did quite simply because Johnny Valentine went too far in his ribbing. But I don't think that Johnny ever pulled another rib on Jay York.
Post note ~~~~~~~~~ I have made a few trips with Johnny Valentine while we both were in Florida. This was after his career ending plane crash in North Carolina (the same plane that Ric Flair was on) and he walked with the help of a cane and walker. Since I was still green in the wrestling business I never had the courage to ask him about the incident nor did he volunteer to tell me.
Years ago in Tennessee there was a family of wrestlers who more or less founded Southern wrestling. A clan by the name of Clampett. Oops...sorry, been watching too much TV lately; A clan by the name of Welch. There was the old man, Roy Welch and he begot three sons Buddy and Herb and Lester. Buddy was more known as Buddy Fuller and he begot Ron and Robert Fuller and Herb begot some more.
Then Lester begot Roy Lee and so on. You know the old horny southern wrestler syndrome... just begetting all over the place, But the son Herb was a chip off the old block. Herb was just like his dad....a tough, kinky old bastard. This one particular time Herb was wrestling in a tag match in Dyersburg, Tn. against a team one of which was an Indian. No not from India...a Native American.
All tag team matches in those days were 2 out of three falls and after every fall the teams would retire back to the dressing room for a short intermission. I know that sounds a bit odd but hell... I didn't make the rules. I'm just telling the god damn story. But this Indian had a bad problem with body odor. He was notorious for stinking to high heaven.
He had been warned and told a couple times to clean his nasty self up. Needless to say on this particular night... he was in rank form. Folklore has it that you could smell him from ringside. Herb, I am told, was getting pretty fed up with this Indian guy because Herb had to wrestle this stinking bastard every night.
But on this night, to his credit he made it through two falls. After the second fall was completed Roy went back to his dressing room. While he was in there... he had a sudden urge to go to the bathroom. And it was here that Divine Inspiration occurred and Herb concocted a plan to extract a measure of revenge on Chief Stinkin' Ass. If you have a queasy stomach read no more. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED...........
Still here? OK just can't help yourself can you? Anyway....back to the story...while on the "throne"... Herb decided that he'd teach this Indian a lesson and give him a dose of his own medicine.So Herb (I said he was a kinky bastard, didn't I!)reached down into the bowl and pulled out a nice little nugget...smeared it under his armpits, and without saying a word to his partner or anybody else, went back to the ring.
The Indian was supposed to start the third fall so Herb locked up with him....grabbed him in the Mother of All Headlocks ...rammed the Indian's nose right up into the vortex of his armpit and just laid down on that Indian and held him as tight as he could.The Indian got a whiff of what Herb was cooking and tried to hold his breath, but after a while had to come up for some air, and when he did;...it was powerful.
The Indian had to have oxygen, but he got a huge dose of Nature's Best along with it. Herb held his prey down for a good long while, and when Herb finally let him up... the Indian rolled out of the ring...promptly threw up and headed to the dressing room leaving his partner to go solo. How did the match end? Well Roy wasn't pissed at the other guy but the match needed a conclusion. So Roy took the opportunity to get this "stinkin'" match over with and just threw the Indian's partner over the top rope thus eliciting a disqualification.
Did the Indian get the message? Nobody ever found out. Apparently ol' Chief Stinky packed up his teepee that night, and as far as I know, he never came back.
Asking for Directions?...Don't Bother
Go to The People's Republic of the Most God Awful Place on Earth..then you would be required to ask directions to where the matches were being held. Usually we'd stop at a convenience store because, well...it was "convenient". Just looking at the town, surely someone would know where the matches were being held. I know now why they have minimum wage laws still on the books. Some of those idiots didn't know what planet they were on let alone where the goddamn high school was. That used to piss me off more than anything else. People who have lived in a teeny-tiny town all their lives can't give you proper directions to a school that they should've gone to.
But taking into account their blatant stupidity...that's why they were so stupid. Hell, they didn't go to school. So probably in reality....I was asking them directions to a place they'd never been!!! Go figure. So then we'd ask if anyone knew where the wrestling matches were being held and we would always get referred to "ol' Bubba" (there was a designated "Bubba" in every Southern town). "Ol' Bubba" would just scratch his head and say, with a rather puzzled look on his face (looked natural to me)
; "Rasslin matches???...rasslin matches???.... I ain't heered of no rassling matches'". It didn't take a biochemist to figure out how we'd draw that night. You know....if I didn't know better, I would surmise that there has to be evidence of incest in some of those towns. Maybe I Misunderstood?
Dutch in Japan
I've been to Japan several times but early in my career I went for a brand new group the UWF. Terry Funk called me and said that he was booking all the American talent for this new group. So they sent me the contracts and I sent them the passport information... all the legal things you have to do to go over there. I flew to LA and then on to Tokyo via Japan Airlines. It takes 9 or 10 hours flying time to reach Narita International Airport.
Funny thing about going to Japan.. we left at 1PM in the afternoon and 10 hours later we arrived you arrive and it's still 1PM but the next day. It's f**ked up. 10 hours on a plane is brutal. The flight was so long I got drunk and sobered up again twice before we touched down. We chased the sun over the Pacific all day long so you can imagine that by the time we landed I was completely tuckered out. But no sooner do we land...grab our bags and clear customs....we're on our way to a match. The first night I found myself booked in a title match against Maeda for the belt.
Hell I didn't even know the name of the group...didn't know the name of the belt...hell, I didn't even know who Maeda was. But I found out. Quickly, I might add. Maeda delivered a spinning heel kick and damn near knocked my silly ass out. He bloodied my mouth and cut my eye. Damn, what a shot that guy gave me. I thought "damn...this guy needs to loosen up a little bit. Or take a f**kin valium!" The next night my opponent attacked me like I called his mom a gutter slut or something....and I literally had to beat his ass down.
Next night the same thing. I knew this was a new group...and I thought to myself that maybe this is how they work. So about a week goes by and I was talking to another American guy on the tour with me... Scott Casey and, I just oft-handedly remarked to him "that these guys can't work". Casey looked at me like I'd spit on the Pope and he replied "can't work? This is a shoot group"!!!
A *shoot* group I said "You gotta be s***ing me!"... Funny thing that Terry never bothered mentioning that to me when he booked me. Then it hit me. No wonder these guys were so stiff. They were trying to kill me! And all this time I just thought they couldn't work worth a shit.
It wasn't a 100% shoot group but it was damn close to it. Thinking back on it now...you know...I think I could've won some of those fights....had someone told me I was in one.
Top five best Referees; The Forgotten Soldiers
Most times referees go unnoticed by the fans, but to the guys in the ring they are a very important ingredient. As with everything, there is an art to the science. Some referees just go through the motions, but some of them have extraordinary talent.
All of them have a love for the wrestling business,and while most of them are much too small physically to wrestle...they added the spice to the stew. Below I list the very best that I've ever worked with; and to all those who've ever donned the "striped shirt"....Thanks.
(5) Jerry Calhoun
Famous long time Memphis referee who at one time was Jerry Lawler's brother in law. Not any more though. Ugly breakup; But that's a story for another time. Great ref.
(4) Tommy Young
NWA ref who worked his ass off every night. He got bit temperamental sometimes...like the time I set his car on fire. No, I'm only kidding. It was his house. Vey good ref.
(3) Brian Hildebrand
A natural. I met him first in Smokey Mountain but I was always impressed with his timing and natural ability. Cheated at cards though.
(2) Ronnie West
Ronnie did most of his work down South with Ron Fuller's groups, Continental and Southeastern (Alabama and Knoxville)....but great in the ring, and his timing is excellent.
And the number one ref I ever worked with is WWF's....
(1) Earl "the Pearl" Hebner
When the important matches come along in the WWF....look for the Pearl to be at the helm. Plus he's funnier than hell....not as funny as me...but the bastard makes me laugh. One thing about refs. You depend on them when things get out of hand, especially with unruly fans. Also, the refs have all night to check out the females in the crowd. Horny little bastards too.
And remember....if you can't dazzle them with brilliance.... befuddle them with Bullshit.
Dirty Dutch Top Five Cheapest with a Buck List *Margin of error...100%*
Wrestlers have been known to stretch a buck or two in their day mostly out of necessity but some have risen to the top of the field and have given new meaning to the word "miser". After several weeks of carefully screening candidates for this overly crowded list.... I have come up with the "creme de la creme" of the tightwads. Enjoy.
(5) Barry Horowitz...
Barry has a routine on the road that you can set your watch by. He not only watches his money carefully... he's on a schedule. By last count... he has eaten over 10,000 Subway sandwiches and stayed in more "Red Roof Inn"s than Tom Bodet has stayed in "Motel 6"s.
(4) Lanny Poffo...
Cheap on the road but it paid off for him. Last time I saw Lanny he was driving a brand new Mercedes-Benz;but he still put 89 cent gas in.
(3) Skandor Akbar...
Akbar is so tight...when he walks he squeaks. Akbar used to walk around the dressing room and pull out a wad of money and tell the young guys.. "hey I saved my money". He probably had a couple grand on him at all times. But that's why he had it...he never spent it on anything.
(2) Downtown Bruno...a.k.a. Harvey Wimpleman
Bruno wouldn't buy a glass of water if he was on fire. Bruno has taken tightness to new levels.
And number one...the man who puts all the others to shame...ladies and gentlemen... I present to you the numero uno...the Big Cheese...the head honcho...
(1) The Brooklyn Brawler...Steve Lombardi.
Nobody tops the Brawler. He could file bankruptcy and save money.
Bruno and Brawler are best buddies when they're together and that just means they save twice as much. Now in fairness to all these guys...the wrestling business can be brutal.
It is volatile in nature and nobody knows when you're going to get hurt...fired...laid off or just basically forgotten. They've been down this road before (as a lot of wrestlers do) and they just handle their money with care.
But I have to add an honorable mention here. There's one guy I know who has eaten more FREE meals than anyone else in the wrestling business. This guy would eat a meal.... and when it came time to pay would complain about the food...the service...the air conditioning... the cleanliness....it didn't matter what it was..he would bitch about something. He would take his time doing his bitching and usually the manager to shut him up would make an adjustment on his bill but more often than not...he got his meal free.
I've been with him lots of times when he did this and he had it down pat. I would be remiss if I didn't at least give him an HM here.Frankie "the Thumper" Lancaster ...the King of the FREE MEAL.
Some guy emailed me a week or so ago and he said "well I guess kay fabe is dead". Dead? Hell I didn't even know he was sick
Wrestlers spend a lot of time traveling and what drives them nuts is "time". Enjoy the story below.
Ever spend an inordinate amount of time in a car going somewhere you didn't particularly want to go? I'm sure not many of you have, but unfortunately, I have. Lots of times. Many times I would rather take a bullwhipping at sun-up than make some of those trips those brain surgeon promoters would send us to.
We used to have a standing joke that the promoters would stand in their offices blindfolded and throw darts at a Rand/McNally road map and wherever the dart landed...that's where we ended up wrestling. I mean I've wrestled in towns that had a population of 100 people. It's kinda disheartening to drive to a town and read the population on a sign at the edge of town;
"Blow Hard, Kentucky...population 112." I tried to make logical sense of that once. That was an exercise in futility. How can you make logic out of an illogical business? I used to think that nobody in their right mind would voluntarily book some of the towns that they had us wrestle which lent more credence to my dart throwing theory. Now I'm not a god damn rocket scientist but it would appear to me that to get paying fans to come to a show... wouldn't it be easier not to mention "wiser"if they were actually some god damn people LIVING THERE?
I've gone to some towns where the ring didn't show up. We wrestled on mats. I've gone to towns where most of the wrestlers didn't show up. I wrestled 4 times. And I've gone to towns where the FANS didn't show up. We canceled.
But not always. I've wrestled in front of 15 people one time. Now that's a f**kin eerie feeling. Hell I was on a first name basis with 10 of 'em before the show even started. So as you can see wrestlers by and large don't know what to expect when they head out for show. Invariably every day off I'd go on another Oddysey of Fiction usually with some other equally clueless wrestlers in tow. Most trips were...well trips...some longer, some shorter.
Trips can be enjoyable or totally miserable depending on the company that you've selected to make the trip with. But the one thing that can't be denied is time. It takes time to complete these trips. Actually that's when I first conjured up the idea of marketable bullshit. Yep, it was bullshit...
So on these late night journeys... sometimes deep thoughts eminate from deep within the recesses of the mind and birth themselves in conversation. Especially on really long trips. One such thought came to life one night on some God Awful Trip from Hell like from West Virginia to Memphis and I gave it a name. I called it the Night of the Ultimate Gimmick Trip.
Somehow the conversation in the car got around to who had or has had the best gimmick ever in the wrestling business.
That takes in quite a bit of history. Now wrestling has always had gimmicks. Gimmicks from the past like the dastardly evil Nazi German or the sneaky, treacherous Japanese (which of course found their existence due to the xenophobic tendencies following World War ll). Or the cowboy and his arch-nemesis the Indian from the days of Gene Autry and the westerns. Or the masked man.
But what if you took all these gimmicks and made them into one? Hence the term the "Ultimate Gimmick". "Hey, not a bad idea" we thought. Hell, this might keep us awake not to mention alive. So we began to ponder....not "to think" mind you... we pondered.
To ponder means to give some serious thought to the subject matter at hand. So as we pondered our idea began to come to life. We needed a starting point. We somehow started out with a black guy. Not a lot of black guys in the wrestling business, right? Right, so we agreed with ourselves.
So we took a fictional black guy....but he had to have a gimmick....so we dyed his hair blond. You know the old Butch Reed gimmick? But this was years before "The Natural" gimmick, so we were already in the future. But we thought... let's take that a step farther...lets shave half his head. Now we had a blond, bald-headed black guy. But he needed more.
OK....now we had it. We'll put a mask on him. "Hey...you won't be able to see his head" someone said. Oh yeah...good point but, then I shot back... "yes you will, because we'll put holes in his mask... one in front showing his bald head ... and one in back showing his blond hair".
But we weren't through yet. "Let's give him a cowboy hat and make him a cowboy..." And on top on his cowboy hat... "hey...let's put an Indian headdress. Now we had a black, baldheaded, blond masked Cowboy/Indian. Then we gave him another gimmick....we'll let him throw the fireball like the legendary Sheik.
Plus we'll let him carry a Japanese flag to the ring and give him a Nazi monacle eyepiece for his eye. Hey...I forgot...he's not a he...he's a SHE. But there's more.
She will also be a midget....and a lesbian. So the end result is a black, blondheaded, bald, Cowboy/Indian Japanese/Nazi masked ...midget lesbian that throws the fireball...and is a crowd favorite. This whole scenario had to take at least an hour to come up with and we were just so proud of ourselves. Plus it kept us awake and entertained.
We never got around the what the actual name of the Ultimate Gimmick would be be because by this time we were so enamored with our creation that we forgot to name her. BTW.... we never did bring this up to the "powers that be", mainly because we surmised that they thought we were nuts to begin with and we didn't want to reinforce that belief.
Now you know a little bit about why most wrestlers need psychiatric help at the end of their careers. At the end of their careers? We probably needed some help then. Hell...Sigmund Freud would've had trouble with us. See what long trips to do to the mind
Seriously though...I've made trips that I don't even recall making and I know what they mean when I hear someone talking about "being in the zone". I've been there. We never advanced to the stage where we could call it by it's technical name.We just called it what the truck drivers call it...White Line Fever.
The Worst Show I Was Ever On..
I've made thousands of observations in my years in wrestling and this is but one of them. One time I was on a show in Mississippi (that's an Indian word meaning trailer park) and by the end of the show I had deduced that wrestling was one business that can never die.
If it could...that night it would have been deader than Kelsey's nuts within one minute of the first match bell. Now I don't really expect a lot from indy shows but this one had me bamboozled.As a rule you never know anybody there (they all know Dirty Dutch though)
but I swear...this bunch made a chain gang look good. Some of these guys looked like they just got out of jail. And smelled like it too. It was the only show that I've ever been on where the other guys made me look like Arnold Schwarzenegger.
I was sitting around getting dressed when one of the "other guys" started a dialogue of what was wrong with the wrestling business.
Now that's like me talking about what's f**kin wrong with god damn open heart surgery.Now how in the hell would he know what's wrong with the wrestling business? Of course I didn't allow those syllables to escape my lips but by God...I thought it.
Hey...he had some Nazi tattoos on his left arm and some KuKluxKlan white supremacy tattoos on the other ...and I had a good tan then..so I kept my mouth shut. I can't even remember the name of the town... I just wanted to get out of there before I came down with a disease or something. Or got lynched. One thing I do remember was I couldn't even watch a match...it was that embarrassing.
Yep...the wrestling business can never die. It can be put on life support... it can go into a coma... but death.... it'll never happen. If those fans can sit there and watch that rubbish...then they'll watch anything.
But again... this was in Mississippi..maybe those folks just have a different slant on things.
I don't know what it is about Puerto Rican fans that make them so damn excitable. Maybe it's that famed Captain Morgan rum that does it to them; but back to the story. On this particular night as I proceeded to kick the living tar out of Carlos Colon the fans rushed the ring. As per custom in PR there are no ring- side seats and I bet there had to be close to 300 wild, out of control fans surrounding the ring.My security was basically use- less as there were just too many fans to control.
They started throwing ice and whatever they could find and at close range. I got hit right dead center in my left eye which caused it to start bleeding, which then got me to thinking that maybe I needed to leave...and fast.
I dodged, ducked, slithered, punched and kicked my way back to my dressing area after taking a helluva shot to the ribs. One of the fans shattered a plate glass door window which cut a security guard's arm which took 14 stitches to patch up. It was over an hour before we could leave the building. Man, it's really fun to be the center of attention!!!
On a scale of 1 to 10 it was probably a 5. Actually, for Puerto Rican standards it was just another day at the office. I've been in much bigger melees before but before I make too much light of it, it is a dangerous situation and one that every wrestler who works there must be prepared for. But pondering on that thought...
I don't think they teach "How to Avoid/Prepare For A Riot" in Wrestling 101. Maybe they do....I was probably asleep at the wheel during that class.
The Tale of the EverChanging Father.
Here's a story that you may like. It involves a young lady in St. Joe Missouri who for lack of a better description was a big wrestling fan with a penchant for trying to date wrestlers.I never did see her with one but not for lack of attempts. I had just arr- ived in the Kansas City old NWA office and didn't know the routine, fans, arenas etc. St. Joe was a regular Friday night town and this girl was always there (or she was every time I was there). I can't remember her name but one Friday night after the matches as I was leaving the arena she came up to me and said "hello". I spoke back, and somehow in the course of conversation she brought up the fact that she was pregnant.
How that came up I don't know but obviously it was something that she wanted to tell. She started to tell me who the father was but I cut her off to tell her that I didn't really need to know, nor did I want to know; but she told me anyway.
She said the father was Ed Wiskowski, who later went on to become Col. DeBeers in Vern Gagne's AWA office. Well, I thought to myself "that could be possible I suppose", but I didn't think much about it until the next night in Wichita, Kansas when I mentioned it to Ed. Ed let me in on a little secret.
Seems like this girl had been in permanent pregnancy for at least 36 months. Ed told me that this girl had been coming around the matches for several years and she always told the same story about being pregnant.
But she never got any bigger and she never prod- uced a baby. Even stranger than that...the daddy kept changing. Ed said that a couple of months previous to this happening the father had been Terry Funk. At other times it had been (in no random order) Harley Race, Ric Flair, Nick Bockwinkel, Ray Stevens, Red Bastien, etc.
Obviously this girl changed her father of her non-existent baby according to her whim at the time. Ed then told me not to feel slighted by not being on the list; I would be.... before too long, he surmised. I didn't stay long in that area, but I wonder if I ever did make the list?
Talking of Kansas/Iowa...
I remember once up in Iowa asking a farmer directions to a building where wrestling was scheduled to be held. The farmer looked like that guy in the painting "American Got- hic" complete with big overalls and a bald head.All he needed was a pitchfork. But I digress. These are his directions;
"Go down this here road awhile (awhile? how long is awhile?) till you come to a red barn. Turn left and go for another while till you git to the next red barn and turn left again and then you'll be there". Man, I really love detailed directions.
Red barns and awhile...how could I miss those specific instructions? In Iowa there's a red barn every 15 feet. I ended up on a dirt road and ended up chasing a city cop down who was kind enough to let me follow him to the place I needed to go. I ended up hoping the farmers crop the next year would fail.
I don't even think this needs to be said but in my humble opinion it's hard to be a wrestler and be a religious person at the same time. This is not to say, however, that it can't happen,but to me it would be a contradiction of sorts.Why? Well I have a mistrust of evangelists to begin with and I don't think that PRO wrestlers were ever mentioned in the Bible.
But let's not waylay my story
My story has to do with a territory that has been long gone but not forgotten. For all of you out there who are too young to know what I'm talking about I'll do an article on the hey-day of pro wrestling where there were over 30 different companies operating 6 nights a week. What happened to them you might ask? Well you'll have to keep reading here to find out.
In 1986, I booked myself in the old, now defunct Mid©South territory owned by Bill Watts. Cowboy Bill. He's a chapter all unto himself. A lot of people have a lot of opinions on Bill, but to me, he was always fair, although he did lean toward the totalitarian side of rule... which, simply put, meant it was his way or the high- way. Which was fine with me.
I always thought that I had two choices if I didn't like a company. Choice number one would be just to leave. Choice number two would be to buy the company. It was always much cheaper to leave.
Bill Dundee was the booker and he had replaced the Big Cat Ernie Ladd. Ernie still held a position with Mid©South but nobody knew what his job title was. He just hung around and I suppose drew a paycheck from Watts.
Mid-South at the time I came in was just cooling off after a red hot run with the Midnight Express vs. the Rock and Roll Express angle. Things were slow at this point. Jimmy Cornette and the Mid- night Express had already left the territory and Rock and Roll had plans to go to Mid-Atlantic. Junkyard Dog was gone...Jim Duggan was gone. Hell, everybody was gone.
When I booked myself into Mid©South, I was unaware that both Watts and Ernie had undergone some type of religious transformation just prior to my arrival. There were some signs that couldn't be overlooked however. I noticed that when I spoke to Watts, he would always end the conversation by adding in the phrase "God bless you". Ernie would say the same thing except he was more into the revival- ist style of rhetoric. Ernie would always say "God Bless you SON" with that booming voice of his that could cut fog.
I thought "What the hell is all this religious talk all of a sudden?"All this took me off guard as this was truly a new experience for me in the wrest- ling business. The only one not talking in a religious vein was Jim Ross. And me. TV tapings were held every 2 weeks in Shreveport, Louisiana and before the tapings would begin, traditionally Watts would call a meeting of all the wrestlers.
At these meetings, Watts would individually blast the guys for messing up this or that and generally lay down the law which we all referred to as the "Law of Watts".I couldn't help but think that maybe Watts one night would part the Mississippi River or you know something Biblical, but he never did. I halfway expected a burning bush though. So Watts would bring down the fire of hell on all the wrestlers then tell everybody that God loved em.
I had only been there for a couple of weeks when Watts one week concluded the meeting by saying "let's all pray". What? Let's all pray? Did I hear that right? I'll have to admit that this was the first time I'd ever heard that in a wrestling dressing room. And then Watts led us in prayer. Later on, he would pass off the honor to Brother Ernie and even one night he asked Brother Ted (DiBiase) to lead the prayer.I got to thinking during one prayer that maybe Watts believed that I may have read the Bible at one point and ask me to lead the prayer. Man I don't know what I'd have done if he had asked me.
Actually, I did practice saying a prayer or two just in case he did ask.I couldn't wait for him to ask Jake the Snake to lead us in prayer but even that was too much for Watts. At the time, business wasn't so hot so during the course of the prayer I added my own little personal request. I prayed that some people would buy some tickets to come see us wrestle too. Amen.
-== I Just Have to Share ==
Paul Bearer told me this one...its a mortician's joke)
An old time wrestler's wife had just died and a funeral service was being held for her. At the end of the service the pall bearers were carrying the casket out of the chapel when they acci-dentally bumped into a wall,jarring the casket. They heard a faint moan. They opened the casket and found out the woman was actually alive.
She lived for another ten years, and then died.
A ceremony is once again held at the same place, and at the end of the ceremony the pall bearers are again carrying out the casket. As they are walking, the old wrestler cries out "Watch out for the f**king wall"!!!
~One In A Million Shot......
PsYcHo MikE Storiez
I was wrestling Krusher Klebanski in Lorain Ohio.
We had just finished a Decent North American championship match(Which I Won by the way).
I was on the microphone thanking the fans. my back was to the krusher who was leaving ring, When he decides he's going to throw a chair over his head (with No real intention of Hitting me with it.)
Well he lobs this chair over his and I'm in the middle of a sentence, Next Thing I know is I'm Now Asleep, this s.o.b. Knockz me out cold.
He couldn't Lob That fucking chair with that kind of accuracy in a million years... Good Thing Dave "Krusher" Kelbanski's a Great Guy & Friend....because not only did it Hurt, I was Pissed.....
YOU KNOW YOU'RE AN OLDTIMER....
--when you pray you're on first
--you are happy being the first out of a battle royal
--you don't let the fans call the match-you do
--you smile when the fans chant boring-you know they're watching
--you haven't locked up, and the time keeper announces 10 minutes gone
--you get handed your payoff and don't even count it. YOU KNOW HE KNOWS.
--when the kid you're working with tells you his 20 high spots, and then asks what you want to do. your reply-not get hurt.
--you've forgotten more holds than your opponent knows
--you say, let's call it in the ring
--you have boots and trunks older than half the locker room
--you remember when mae young's puppies weren't frightening
--you remember when moolah was a hottie