Tales of the Road

Rubber Bands and Red Devils
by Eddie Blanks

Most of my wrestling was for Bill Lewis in Norfolk (VA) during the World War II years. Sailors, after a few drinks, would yell "Fake! I can whip any of them." Bill was always alert for this attitude. He'd seek those sailors out, get their name, and the address of their outfit. When the bout in progress at that time was over, Bill would step into the ring and announce something like, "Ladies and Gentlemen. Sailor so-and-so has just challenged any wrestler here. I've just matched him with my smallest man, Eddie Blanks. Be sure to buy your ticket early, because we're expecting a full hour next Thursday." Then Bill would go to his office and lock the door.

Now the poor guy is trapped.  He will either have to wrestle me or lost face with his sailor buddies.  During those days, I weighed 185 to 190, but I could really wrestle and would use amateur holds to pin them.  You'd be surprised at the number of them who would ask me not to hurt them ... or ask me to let them look good to their buddies.  Most of the time I complied, but I'd never agree to put one of them over.  I don't want you to think I'm bragging, but Bill's wrestlers used to call me The Little Shooter.

When I first wrestled in Richmond, the shows were held in the (Richmond) City Auditorium.  It was dangerous, wrestling in that old auditorium, because a group of boys would sit in the balcony and shoot us with staples, propelled by rubber bands.

The company never asked me to stop wrestling, but in certain subtle ways, they let me know that they thought I was wrestling too much.  I didn't understand what their objections could be, since I was doing an excellent job for them.  The company's insurance carrier also let it be known that, they too, took a dim view of my wrestling activities.  I could make as much money wrestling once as I could make working two to three weeks, so I hated to give it up.  So, Louise made me a mask out of a red stocking cap.  I bought some red wrestling trunks, wore white socks with red stripes on them, and wrestled as 'The Red Devil'.

Soon after my oldest son, Eddie, was married, his wife Phyllis, an excellent cook, had her parents and Louise and me over for dinner.  During the 'get to know one another better' conversation after dinner, her dad, who is considerably younger than I, asked me if I had ever wrestled in Richmond, had I ever wrestled in the old city auditorium, had I ever known a wrestler whose name was 'The Red Devil'?  Upon receiving positive answers to all three questions, he told me that when he was a boy, he and some other boys used to sit in the balcony and shoot staples at 'The Red Devil' with rubber bands.  I don't believe I ever saw a more embarrassed person than he was when I said "I was the Red Devil".  Some day, I'll attempt to calculate the mathematical probability against the above situation happening.

Funk 'n Lothario
by Dotty Curtis

John and Chris Tolos were doing an interview for television in Texas.  The interviewer asked them to comment on their upcoming match against Dory Funk Jr. and Jose Lothario.

Chris Tolos, in his low, gruff voice says, "When I get that Funk n' Lothario ..."

The studio engineer immediately cut them off.  "STOP!  ... er, can we do that over again?  And would you please say Lothario and Funk!"

Buddy Rogers Loses Two Straight!
by Gorgeous George Grant

Jack Pfefer was more or less opposition to Al Haft, because there was a man named Cliff Maupin that owned the booking office in Toledo, Ohio.  Pfeffer always loved to irritate the established promoters.  Lillian Ellison (Fabulous Moolah) will verify this.

There were two burlesque houses in Toledo -- one down on Front Street and one on River Street.  Every wrestler that worked for Pfeffer would go to the burlesque houses free of charge.  There was a girl stripper that worked at one of those houses -- an Indian, Princess Bonita.

At that time, Pfeffer brought an Indian named Indio Cherokee into Toledo and booke dhim as Lone Eagle.  He got Bonita to work in his corner and beat the drum for him.  Bonita and Lone Eagle eventually got married.

At the time, Pfefer was billing Buddy Rogers as his World champion, and we were drawing tremendous crowds at the Sports Arena in Toledo.  One night, Pfefer was giving Rogers and Lone Eagle the finishes.  He told Rogers that he'd be getting the best of Lone Eagle in the third fall.  Bonita would start beating the drum and that was the signal for Eagle to make the comeback and beat Rogers.  Rogers got very indignant and said, "Alright, Jack.  You want me to put your Indian over?  I'll do it."

Rogers got in the ring and mopped the ring up with Lone Eagle.  After slamming him four times, he picked him up the fifth time and fell over backwards with the Indian on top of him for the three count.  In the second fall, Rogers did the same thing.  He put Lone Eagle over two straight.  Rogers stood up in the middle of the ring, dusted his hands off, went back to the dressing room.

Pfefer was screaming and hollering the whole time.  Pfefer could cuss more vile than anything you ever heard.  Rogers just ignored him, got his bag, turned to Billy Darnell, and said, "Come on, Billy.  Let's go."  They walked out and went over to Al Haft.

$10,000 ... Wasted!
by Ox Baker

Hiro Matsuda spent about ten thousand bucks with Karl Gotch to learn all the shooting holds, the wrestling holds.  He wanted to try Danny Hodge out.  After about five minutes with Danny, Matsuda looked up and said,"I just wasted $10,000."

Show Business
by Killer Karl Kox

They had matches here in town recently, so I took my boys down to see Jerry Lawler and them guys. I hadn't seen them in a long time.  I was talking to Lawler and I said, "Damn, man!  Is there any kayfabe in this business any more?"  "Hell, no," he said. The heels and babyfaces were all huddled up together ... all the security people were down there with 'em ... women walking back and forth through there.  I couldn't believe it.

Everyplace I go, people recognize me, and they tell me, "Ah, it ain't like it used to be, is it Killer?

I say, "Things are different.  They have more show business in it now."

"What you were doin' was all real."

"Mmm, hmm."

Cheaters Never Win
by Buddy Colt

In Orlando, a wrestling fan took a shot at me in 1972.  I think I was wrestling Bearcat Wright.  The bullet missed me and hit a wrestling fan in the neck.  The cops wrestled him to the ground and took the gun away from him.  I get out of the ring and I see the cops have this black guy in handcuffs.  I had no idea what was going on.  By that time, here comes the ambulance screaming up and they run up with a stretcher.  I asked, "What happened?"  They told me the guy took a shot at me and was trying to get up closer for another try.

They take the guy to the station house.  He was a local guy, so they released him on his own recognizance.  He went to court for a preliminary hearing a couple of weeks later and the judge dismissed all charges against him.  The judge then blamed it on me and said I incited a riot because I was cheating!

Everything Except Pink Elephants
by Dano McDonald

I don't know first hand about this story, but it went around the Midwest for a long time, so I'm sure it is in part true.  Lou Klein was the booker for the wrestling midgets.  In fact, I think he was the founder.  As you probably know, there were several groups on the road at all times.

Most years, they would all gather at Christmas at the booking office in Detroit, Michigan, to review the coming season.  Well, it seems that some social club nearby wanted a battle royal with as many midgets as available.  Lou put it to the group as a good easy payoff and all agreed.  He loaded them all in a van and headed out for the shot.

It was a cold, icy evening.  On the old two-lane road they were on, up in front of them was a drunk who was driving all over the road and eventually ended up in a ditch in the snow.  They stopped the van and could see that the driver was okay.  Lou suggested to the group, we could have some fun with this guy.

He told them to put on as much of their gimmick clothes as they could and help him out of the ditch.  Well, I guess it was a nightmare to the drunk to see little Indians, cowboys, little black chiefs, arabs, a little gentleman in a beautiful suit and fedora, a little Englishman in a derby, and others, all climbing in and out and over this man's car, and Lou telling him it was all in his mind -- that there was only Lou and him there.  They got the car on the road and made him promise to sleep it off.

Lou left his jewelry business card in the drunk's car.  One year later, he got a letter from this person thanking him for his help and to say he has had nothing to drink in a year.

Heart Attack
by Les Thatcher

I remember one time when Dick Steinborn called Johnny Doyle in Detroit.  They had a sell-out in Cobo Hall, and Wilbur Snyder and Dick Afflis (Dick the Bruiser) were the main event.  Of course, they were riding together.  Steinborn imitated Jim Barnett and told Doyle that Bruiser and Snyder had been in a car wreck.  He said they were in the hospital, so Doyle would have to cancel the show and give back all the money.  Doyle almost had a heart attack.

Chico the Shooter
by Gorgeous George Grant

One night in Blytheville, Arkansas, all of us got in the ring for a battle royal.  There was a guy in the audience who was working on the pipeline.  Big arms, beefy build, the typical small town tough guy.  He jumped up and yelled, "You bunch of phony wrestlers.  I can beat any of you bums!"

Now, the promoter was a guy named Mike Meroney.  He was in his 70's, half his face was eaten up with cancer, and he didn't weigh 100 pounds.  He said, "I'll tell you what you do punk.  Get up in the ring.  If you can beat any of my boys, I'll give you a hundred dollars."  That guy jumped in and we all started getting out of the ring.  We figured on leaving him in the ring with Lester (Welch).  Lester could get in there and work with him the best he could and still half kill him.  I'm just kidding.  Actually, to be honest, Lester was the best worker of all the Welch boys.

  Anyway, the guy says, "No, no.  I get to choose my opponent."  Meroney said, "Alright, anyone you want."  The punk says, "I'll take Chico Cortez."

Now Chico's sitting there thinking, "What am I gonna do?"  He got in the ring and said, "The guy has to take those big boots off."  So while the guy is unlacing those big boots, Chico is psychologically blowing him up.  He's saying to the crowd, "Hey, everybody.  I'm gonna take his left arm off and stick it (where the sun don't shine).  I'm gonna tear his right arm off and stick in in his left ear."  So, by the time that guy started unlacing that second boot, he's slowin' down a little.  He's starting to think about this stuff.  Come time to ring the bell, that guy's standing in the corner with his hands up on the ropes, lookin' at Chico, who's acting like a man possessed.

  Chico was blind in one eye.  He had an artificial eye for many years.  And he used to wear his hair just like Buster Brown, bangs down to his eye brows.  You ask Lester Welch.  He was there and will tell you this is the truth.  Chico came running out of the corner, jumped straight up in the air, screamed as loud as he could, pulled that black hair straight down over his face, and the guy fainted dead ... fainted!

Now little old Mike Maroney got up there with his shoes on and said, "Why, you SOB.  You mess with one of my wrestlers.  I'll kick you right out of here."  He kicked the guy right out of the ring onto the floor, cussing him and calling him all kinds of names.  The funny thing was, Mike forgot the microphone was still turned on.

Crashing the Party
by Roger Kirby

We crashed one of the heels' parties in Denver.  They put all the wrestlers on one floor in the Executive Inn, where there's only wrestlers on the floor.  One night, Greg Gagne and I closed up the bar and we're on the elevator together.  The arena was just across from the hotel and we had just worked against each other.

We're on the elevator heading for the 13th floor, or whatever it was, and Greg starts taking off his clothes.  I said, "What the hell are you doing?"  He said, "We're going to go crash Heenan and Bockwinkle's party."  I said, "Greg, we just worked ...!"  He said, "So what.  I know the boss."  So I said, "If you're going to, I'm going to."

The door opens and Greg and I walk out holding hands, totally nude.  All the heels and their girls were in the room.  For some reason, nobody went back to the office and ratted on us.

Who Makes the Rules?
by Mark Nulty

I went to the Armory in Tampa the other night for Howard Brody's NWA show.  During the first intermission, Sabu was walking around with Bill Alfonso, peddling his pictures.  Steve Corino, who is one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet, was in the back selling pictures.  I look to the rear of the arena and there's a long line of people for Buddy Colt, who hasn't wrestled in Tampa for over twenty-five years!  Buddy, of course, is the Commissioner for NWA wrestling in Tampa.

I walk up to Buddy and start talking to the fans in line.  I said, "So, do you guys think Buddy Colt does a good job as Commissioner?"

They said, "Yeah!"

I said, "Do you think Buddy Colt does a better job of protecting the rules now as the commissioner, or back when he was a wrestler?"

Everybody said in unison, "Now!"

Buddy didn't miss a beat and chimed right in.  "Well, Mark.  It's like I say.  I'm the one who makes the rules.  I make the rules as the Commissioner, and when I wrestled, I made my own rules then, too."

White Guys
by Butch Malone

I was wrestling in a tag team match (I forgot who my partner was) on Mobile TV against Leon Baxter and Dick Dunn, who were wearing matching white outfits and masks.  The finish required them to switch outside the ring and beat my partner.  Burrhead Jones was the referee.

I grabbed him in the ring after Baxter and Dunn had left and said "What's the matter with you, ref?  Didn't you see they swapped outside the ring?"

Burrhead's reply was "Hey, all white guys look the same to me!"

Victor the Bear
by Steve Yohe

When Victor wasn't wrestling before thousands, he and his trainer Tuffy would perform in used car lots and such.   Anything to make a buck.  I remember watching him wrestle in downtown Montebello in front of a gas station when I was just 15 years old.  I watched him for hours and wanted to jump on him, but Tuffy wanted five or ten dollars for anyone to get into the ring with Victor.

My brother worked in a used car garage on Atlantic in East LA.  When Tuffy and Victor began doing their act at his place, my brother let Victor sleep overnight in his stall or work area and asked Tuffy if his little brother could wrestle the bear. He said, "Sure."

  So my brother & his girlfriend drove me to East LA for the match.  Victor was a gentle bear and Tuffy told me the only thing to worry about was getting my fingers in his muzzle.  I wanted to be friends with Victor, but when I tried to pet him on the head, Victor pushed my hand away and lunged at me.  We locked up standing and we just danced around ... like Stecher and Lewis in the five-hour draw.  After a few seconds, I realized my fingers were in his muzzle.

  He only had one or two takedowns.  His major move was a half-nelson throw.  The other was to back his opponent into the fence and push him through.  So I just kept my balance (like Lou Thesz always did) and he couldn't do much with me, even though I was only 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds.  I got behind him, but couldn't budge him.  We went to the mat a few times, but he couldn't hold me down because he didn't have fingers.  I remember him standing on his rear legs at one point and thinking I could knock him off his feet, but even then, I couldn't move him.

  What I remember the most is that he smelled like crap (probably his own).  After several minutes, Tuffy called it a draw and put an end to our match.  My t-shirt, which had been bright white when I got there, had changed to a dark brown, and my pants had both knees ripped out.

  On the way home, my brother made me sit in the back seat with the window down because I smelled like bear sh– ... but I got a draw.

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