Technically I could have made this two posts. The first would most certainly have qualified as a Barbie Fails story. The second is more an insight to the shock she received when I took out with a bunch of veteran wrestlers.
For those unaware I spent a good amount of time wrestling on what is called the ‘indy’ circuit, meaning independent…basically independent of WWE. I had stepped away back in 2004 for various personal reasons but as of late have become reacquainted with the scene. One of my favourite promoters was retiring due to health issues and I agreed to slap on the boots, and according to Barbie way too much spandex, for one final hurrah.
A few weeks later we had a team meeting at my place of work and on the final slide, entitled questions, was a picture of me from that final match laying a beating on my opponent. So when I came home I told Barbie all about it. I mentioned that they had the photo up from the match where I was performing a move, made famous by The Iron Sheik, called The Camel Clutch. This is where the Barbie-ism began.
“Is that the move where you grab him between the legs?” Barbie asked.
“Uh? Ok, first off I never grabbed that guy between the legs in that match and secondly it was the move where I sat over him and arched his back by pulling up on his chin with his arms trapped between my legs and my arms. It’s a Camel Clutch not a Camel Toe Clutch.”
Now a few months after this there was a fundraising dinner for the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in Amsterdam, New York. This is an actual physical building with great artifacts and exhibits and is controlled by a board. Don’t confuse this with the WWE Hall of Fame that you hear about during Wrestlemania. This dinner, and one year it was a breakfast, has been going on for about 7 years and I’ve been asked to attend from guys past and present just to hang out. Lord knows I didn’t make enough impact to be inducted lol.
So I agreed to go this year and bought two tickets. I had never been but based on the few photos I had seen it looked to be a semi-formal affair so I pulled out my suit and Barbie found a dress. Turns out we could have stepped it down a notch…or three. Some folks were dressed up, others in a more casual attire.
As we were talking to a few guys I’ve had the pleasure of working with and for I could see Barbie staring around the room in disbelief. So I asked her what her impression was.
“That guy has a mask on. And isn’t that guy the one you helped with the ring? And why does this dude have ruby-red cowboy boots?”
“Yes that would be Mac and the guy with the masked is Dick Beyer, better known as The Sensational Destroyer. The guy in the boots is Bobby Bass, or No Class Bobby Bass when he wrestled.”
“But why does he have a mask on?”
“He wrestled in a mask so its his ‘gimmick’.”
“But why does he still have it on?”
“Simple, fans are here too and they’ve never seen his face so the only way to recognize him is through the mask.”
“And this guy? That’s The Rock’s uncle right?”
“Yes it is. And his name is Ricky Johnson. Beside him is his brother, Rocky Johnson.”
This seemed to sate her appetite of curiosity. Well until dinner time started. The caterers at the event started bringing out items like ketchup, sour cream and cheese curds. Barbie’s interest in the meal suddenly peaked, because I thought it would be standard fare like a roast dinner.
“Please tell me I didn’t get dressed up for poutine?”
“Honestly, we might have.” I was laughing as I said it.
So dinner came out and there were chicken skewers, roast beef, potatoes and two items Barbie found hilarious – perogies and macaroni with cheese. As dinner began you could see her scouring the room taking in this little soiree because she knew it was like nothing she’d ever been to or seen. To her credit she stayed pretty calm despite having two super-fans beside her just rambling on about wrestling, the shows they’ve seen and stars they’ve met. I’d admired her restraint because I’m not sure I’d have been as accommodating if it was a big figure skating affair we went to and I got stuck beside two folks that would ramble on about meeting Elizabeth Manley or Toller Cranston.
“Um, that guy still has his mask on.”
“Yep. I’m not surprised”
“But he’s eating. Why can’t he take it off to eat?”
“Again there are fans here and he doesn’t want to show his face. Hell, back in the day these guys came to the arena in a mask, wrestled and then showered in their mask. They had different masks for each task.”
“Shut up! They did not!”
So at this moment I leaned over to my trainer, Smith Hart of the famous Hart family, and said to him “Hey, she doesn’t believe me that these guys showered with their masks on”
Smith proceeded to tell her about guys who came and went from Calgary wrestling for his father Stu that Smith had never seen their faces despite wrestling them and sharing locker rooms with them. You could tell she didn’t approve but accepted the answer despite it’s weirdness. We proceeded to finish our dinner and then listen to speeches from Rocky Johnson and Sweet Daddy Siki, whom they were honouring, as well as the fine emcee skills of author Greg Oliver.
Afterwards we mingled around and talked to legends I haven’t seen in over a decade. Guys like Siki, Destroyer, Chuck Simms, Terry Dart and Wolfman Willie Farkas. I introduced Barbie to Rocky Johnson and Willie Farkas. Willie used to take my 15-year-old son, who would have been 3 or 4 at the time, and teach him how to wrestle before the shows would start. I also got to meet Tim Gerrard and a personal favourite of mine ‘Silent’ Brian Mackney. Brian was nicknamed silent because he was legitimately deaf. After trying this career I realized just how much harder he had to work to be good because of his condition. However the best conversation I had that night was with High-flying Bobby Marshall. Marshall, a Hamilton boy, wrestled in the 60’s and was a friend of another guy I used to train with ‘The Executioner’ Ernie Moore and we spoke for about 15 minutes about nothing but the great Lou Thesz.
When we left to go home, from a night I completely enjoyed but Barbie not so much, the first thing I heard was “You owe me big time. Fancy restaurants, chick flicks, spa days…you can’t say no after this”
Pretty sure she was laughing maniacally once she said this too.