Frankie Cain was better known to wrestling fans under other names. His career skyrocketed in the mid-60s when he and Rocky Smith, together with a young referee from Tennessee named J.C. "Jimmy" Dykes as their manager, joined forces to form a tag team known as The Infernos. The Infernos are a legend in wrestling circles and considered by many as the most famous masked tag team in the history of professional wrestling. In the early '70s, Frankie removed the mask and began wrestling as The Great Mephisto.
In Australia with the Missouri Mauler and Terry Garvin
The Missouri Mauler was real macho. He borderlined on a severe redneck-type guy. He couldn’t stand gays and he couldn’t stand foolishness. He was all business. A big man, about 6-foot, 4, 325 pounds. He was a tough guy, too.
He hated flying every day, so Terry Garvin zeroed in on him with all kinds of ribs. One night, we’d been out partying and we had to leave the next morning about six o’clock to catch the plane to the next town. Garvin waited outside the Mauler’s room until he heard the Mauler snoring, then banged on the door and started kicking it. "Come on, Larry. Let’s go. The cab’s waiting. If we miss this damn flight, we don’t get to the next town. Come on, come on! Let’s go, Mauler." Bang, bang, bang!! He’s kickin’ the door. Mauler got so damn mad that he jumped up, grabbed his clothes, grabbed his bag, put his shoes on, and his underwear ... and goes out in his underwear and undershirt. He runs down the hall. "All right! You want to go, you crazy, damned poofter bastard? Let’s go!" We’re watching from upstairs on the second floor. Mauler runs out in the middle of the street with his bag and those shorts on ... and there’s no cab, no nothing.
Mauler had a party one time in Sydney and he started talking about blacks. He said, "You know, we caught a no-good, dirty black bast–d that raped a girl. First, we plucked his eyes out, then we cut his ears off, then we hung him." Terry Garvin says, "Well, you know what I think? Anybody that would do something like that is a bunch of damned, no-good rednecks." Now, you had to order your sandwiches early because the kitchen closed at ten o’clock. Mauler ordered a bunch of guacamole ... twelve of ‘em. It took us three hours to get those sandwiches. We were starving. When they finally came up, (Mauler) was mad. He was so infuriatred at Garvin that he says, "Well, I’d rather be a red neck than a damned queer!" He picked the whole stack of sandwiches up and threw it at Terry. The sandwiches stuck on the wall. It looked like a Picasso painting. What made it funny was there were no more sandwiches. You couldn’t call down. The kitchen was closed. It screwed up the whole party. And the Australians didn’t make sandwiches like they do here, where they have a lot of meat. It’s like one slice in each. When we got the platter, it was huge, and there was several of us waiting to eat. We were starving. Mauler started picking the sandwiches up and peeling the bread back, putting all the meat on one piece of bread.
The Mauler was sitting at the airport and had his newspaper in front of him. He says to me, "If you don’t keep that poofter away from me, I’m gonna kill the bast–d." Him and (Steve) Rackman both are gonna kill him. I said, "Terry, you’ve gotta cool it because you’re driving both these guys nuts." He says, "Alright! The rib’s off. If they don’t want to talk to me anymore, the hell with ‘em. I ain’t talkin’ to them. You go tell them not to talk to me." Here I go, telling Mauler. "Alright. Don’t talk to Garvin. He’s not gonna talk to you guys. Just business only." "Okay, that’s fine." The Mauler goes back to reading his newspaper and Terry gets on his hands and knees. He crawls around to where Mauler’s sitting and lights the bottom of the newspaper. (laughs) Can you imagine this in Melbourne Airport?
Terry Garvin did something one time that put me in shock, and I seen Terry do everything. This waiter that we knew named John ... he was a gay guy. There was like a bunch of couches and tables in the lobby. They ordered a bunch of drinks and stuff and he (the waiter) came off that elevator with his hands like this, with his hands turned up (at shoulder level) holding two trays full of drinks. Terry goes over, unzips John’s pants, and takes his doucher out. (laughs) The guy couldn’t do anything. People are coming off the elevators and he’s standing there ... (laughs)
One time in Tasmania, a guy was finishing a table. He was a mason, like an artist. He’d step back and look at it. We’re about six stories up. He’d look at it from all angles. Finally, he went inside and came back out with five people ... business people with suits on. While he showed ‘em this table, Garvin takes three towels, wet ‘em, wadded them up, and threw them right in the middle of that table. Concrete dust flew all over the place.
There was an old-time English actor named Robert Morley. A very distinguished actor. When we stayed in Melbourne, he was in a play down the street. Garvin found out he was only two doors down from him. He’d wait until Morley got in there, the same way he did with Mauler. When Morley started snoring, Terry would damn near kick that door down. WHAM, WHAM!!! Morley had a long gown on and a stocking cap. Terry would run three doors down, cut out the lights, and peep through the crack of his door. Morley would run out and he’d see Terry. "I know you, you poofter bast–d. You bloody fool!" He would see him in the lobby and Terry would swish by. Morley would glare at him. Oh, he hated Terry! (laughs) He told me one time, "You know? The guy’s mental. He’s really mentally ill."
I hope this finds you and the family all well and happy. I want to congratulate you on the new website. I enjoyed your last edition of "Whatever Happened to ...?" so much. We're fortunate to have you.
The series of the AT Shows is wonderful! The stories of the AT shows were great and brought back a lot of memories. They had beautiful banners and huge ballys to promote the shows. The pros would come up ... big, old cauliflowered ear guys. They'd say, "I've wrestled around here for years and I'll take you on!" The people would cheer. You'd go in and, of course, they would work. On the other hand, the old middleweights were really tough. They'd come around to the AT Shows and try to knock the AT Show boys off for the money.
But we'd love to get a shoot with a local guy that looked tough. I read where John Buff made the comment that shoots killed the show. That might have been true in certain parts of the country, but it certainly wasn't true in the AT Shows that I knew. You'd get some of the marks you'd wrestle who were half smart. We'd ask 'em, "Do you want to shoot, or do you want to show?" On the other hand, we had a LOT of challenges from guys who thought they were tough, and they wanted to prove it. Even with the shoots, though ... we'd sometimes let them go through. We'd put them over a little ... let them think they could win. Then we'd come back the next night in a return match and you'd beat them ... or go through again and come back again. By tear-down night, which was usually on Sunday, you'd have a big tip and would stretch him. You had to get a mark to referee, though, or the people would want to tear your tent down.
It's funny, but I have never worked with Tony Borne. In fact, I told Treach Phillips that I had never met Tony, but he swore that Tony used to work out with us at the Toe Hold Club when we was kids. He says Tony broke in with us. Isn't it strange that I don't remember that? I told Treach that I couldn't understand why I can't remember the guy. I didn't question Treach's memory, but (laughs) ... I guess it's a two-way street. I don't know how Treach could be that wrong, but I also don't know how I could be that forgetful.
I was thinking about the real pros. What I call a professional is ... well, it's a guy who works for money, of course. But we used to go out and wrestling was our whole life. We stayed in one flophouse after another. When we was separated from it, our whole life was turned upside down. There was nowhere to apply the knowledge that we had accumulated. It was like when vaudeville closed down. There was nowhere to ply your trade. And it was hard to talk to outsiders when you quit. You lost contact with your close friends. I'm not talking about guys that stayed in one territory for twenty million years. I'm talking about the real troopers that traveled all over. When I think back about those guys ... what lonely lives they lived. But it was the only life they knew. They'd meet a girl once in awhile and spend some time with her ... then off they'd go.
It's sad to hear that so many of the boys are dying. Every time Antone Leone heard about an old-timer dying, he'd call up and he'd say, "Oh, Frank. I'm next." He called me up at three o'clock in the morning once. This was when I had the club. He said, "I'm next, Frank." I said, "What are you talking about?" "Oh, so-and-so died. I'll be next." (laughs)
We called Antone "The Senator." He was a hell of a speechmaker. He'd take the phone at the hotel desk and start talking. "Yeah. Senator Leone here." He'd start talking about white supremacists and the trouble the blacks were causing. Pretty soon, people in the lobby start gathering around him to hear him talk. He'd go on and on and on and on. He'd ask the desk clerk, "Excuse me. Could I have a glass of water?" Ripper was the greatest swerver in the business.
I also enjoyed the stories on Mario and Sputnik. Sputnik was so funny that I laughed right out loud. We got a hell of a kick out of it. You are really wonderful to work so hard at recording these stories. It's such good reading. You take the stories, blend it all together, and it all flows beautifully. I would love to get back into the business. I was never happy out of it. It was the only thing I really know how to do. May God bless.
Terry Funk Goes to Jail
When we (Infernos) first went to Amarillo, Dory (Funk Sr.) says, "Frank, I need something right away since you guys are here. Not to just go out and get a win. I need something to really get the people excited." So I said, "I just got here and I don't know what to do." He says, "Figure out something and I'll be back pretty soon." This is the old man.
I come back and I'm out there looking around. I see where our car was at, and the camera, and this and that. I say, "Alright. I've got something for you. We'll park our car outside the exit door there. Can that camera swing around and film outside?" The cameraman said, "Yeah. I can do anything you tell me to." I said, "Alright. We'll go out (into the ring) and beat our guys, then get in a confrontation with Terry.
Terry was just a kid. Bockwinkel was there, Ricky Romero. I say, "Get some bricks and stash ‘em outside. Terry takes after us with something and we go right out the exit. We go out and jump in the car. Terry takes a brick and he goes over and smashes a window." (laughs) Dykes liked to have died. He had a brand new Lincoln. "What? My window? Oooh!" I said, "Yeah, don't worry. Senior will pay for it." Senior's listening. "Oh, okay. I'll go for that."
I go on. "Dykes will make it out when Terry runs out of bricks, makes a getaway, and goes and calls the cops. The cops come down, Terry goes back with the old man to the commentary position, Dykes waits for the cops to come, and we'll get Terry arrested." The old man goes, "Whaaaat!?" I told him that again. He says, "That's wild. Man, I don't know. How do you know it's going to work?" I says, "They'll have to arrest him. The damn car's all tore up." So he says, "Alright, let's try it."
At ring time, we go in and beat these two guys, Terry jumps in the ring, we work some deal, we got after Terry, then Terry gets some prop and chases us out the side door. We went out the side door and the cameraman, on cue, swung around and filmed outside. We all jump in the car and Terry grabs the bricks. Instead of going over and hitting the window, from where he was standing, which is about fifteen feet away, he starts throwing the bricks. They was hitting the window and bouncing on the hood of Dykes' new Lincoln. All the paint is chipping and Dykes is crying, "Oh, my God, oh!" BANG! Here comes another one. Dykes gets out and BANG! Here comes another one. Finally, Terry runs out of bricks.
Dykes goes, "I'm gonna go call the cops!" He runs to the switchboard and calls ‘em. The cops are there in about five minutes. Terry's screaming and kicking the doors. (laughs) Oh, that Lincoln took a hell of a beating. I think it cost about $2,000 to fix. (laughs) Terry's with his dad on the set and the camera is back inside. The door's closed. Dykes tells the cop, "Look at my car! That Funk did it and I want him arrested."
The cop walks in and he's looking. The camera is on the action in the ring. The cop says to J.C. "Is that camera on that boy where he's sitting?" He says, "No, they're filming the ring." That cop walks up and the camera switched right on him. It left the action in the ring and switched to the commentary position. The cop walks up and he's going like this to Terry. (Terry has his back to the cop, who taps him on the back) Terry won't turn around and look at him because he wants to make sure the camera catches him. He's talking to his dad and he's going like this. (Flicks his hand back over his shoulder in a gesture of dismissal) The cop says, "Hey!" Terry turns around and says, "What is it, officer?" He says, "I want to talk to you." Terry's pretty smart. He says, "About what?" The people are all looking. He says, "About tearing this guys' car up."
So Dory, the old man, jumps up and says, "That's all right, Terry. You go with this officer. There's never been a Funk in trouble." (laughs) Terry was always getting speeding tickets. (laughs) We got Terry a crash helmet one time because he was always wrecking cars. "There's never been a Funk in jail. This is a great humiliation to the Funk name. Me and my boys was gonna buy all these Army barracks over here and call it Funk U. We were gonna put up a college for underprivileged children." (laughs) He said that on TV! I couldn't believe what I was hearing. (laughs) Oh, yeah. The old man was something else. He says, "Go on, son. I guess now there won't be no Funk University. Funk U won't be opened. It's a great blight on our name."
They took Terry away and the old man started crying. (laughs) Funk was bald-headed and didn't have a cowboy hat, so Terry got a beanie hat. Funk had that beanie hat on his head, standing there bawling. I think that was on a Saturday.
We left town and, when we got back at the end of the next week, there was a line queued up way down the street. The tape bicycled through the territory and really kicked things off. It was a fast getover. It was such an unusual thing. In the peoples' minds, we had gone from a work to a shoot.
The Boys, Part 1
In this ongoing featurette of "Mephisto's Musings", Frank shares his memories of the people he met and knew in the wrestling business.
At the time, TV wasn't in all the towns, so Brute used to ride with us heels. We come up on the outskirts of a town and we'd say, "Brute, put your hat on, because TV comes in here and we don't want people to recognize you riding with us." He'd put the hat on. The next small town we came to, "Brute, take that hat off." We did that all night long. "Put it on ... take it off ... put it on ... take it off." Later on, he started working as Mr. Kleen. The Mr. Clean commercial was real popular then. He wore the long white pants and an earring.
The Boys, Part 2
In this ongoing featurette of "Mephisto's Musings", Frank shares his memories of the people he met and knew in the wrestling business.
Billy Two Rivers
There was a rooster that used to come around and crow. Billy Two Rivers had a bow and arrow and shot that rooster. It went through his neck, but didn't kill him. When he'd run around and crow, it sounded like the weirdest damn thing ... like it was in an echo chamber. (laughs) It must have damaged its' voice box. It ran into the woods, but would come back out every so often to find something to eat. Every morning, it would do that crowing, and it like to have drove Billy Two Rivers nuts.
I remember the guys going over to Doug's trailer in the dead wintertime. There was a valve outside that would shut the heat off. Terry and I, Sandy Scott, some of the other guys would go over and close that valve. Doug would come outside with a monkey wrench. He'd crawl under the trailer and would pound on them pipes, thinking they had froze up. He'd go in and we'd slip back and turn it on. The heat would be alright, and "bang," we'd turn it back off. It liked to drove him nuts.
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