-Look, I don’t want to say that you weren’t betrayed, but, no offence, what happened to you doesn’t even rise to the level of a bad country song. I mean sure your wife left you and took the kids, but she did it because you were a drunk, and like you said a mean drunk. And as for your job that you lost, you were paid really well to do it for a dozen years, you had a huge house, I remember from back then reading stories about all the cars you owned. And you may have gotten fired when you came back from your injury, but at least you were paid while you were injured.
-Finished judging me?
-You ever heard that you shouldn’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his snake skin boots?
-OK, go ahead tell your story. I - look I have to ask this - why couldn’t you have gotten another job? I mean you could have sold advertising or used cars - traded off your celebrity status in this town the way that football players do. There are guys in those town who used five years of half-assed over-praised play for the Rams and traded that for cushy jobs promoting shit to drunken ex-jocks who like to rub elbows with guys who made it to the show. Compared to those schmucks, you could have written your own ticket. Probably still could with the right promotion.
-The thing that you have to understand is that wrestling is a disease. Once it gets in your blood, you’re infected, you can’t go back to the normal world. Add to that to the fact that I was a drunk and addicted to about six different kinds of pills - uppers, downers, pain-pills, anti-depressants, tranquilizers, anti-nausea medication. No, I had to keep wrestling. I wasn’t just addicted to the pills and the booze, it wasn’t just easier in the world of wrestling to get them, wrestling is all about enabling shit so that the show will go on, it was more than that...
What I was really addicted to was the glory. The glory of the spotlights. The glory of the roar of the crowd, whether they cheered for you or booed for you it really doesn’t matter, as long as you get a reaction. And see I was getting the biggest reaction on the biggest stage for wrestling. No matter where I went the stage was going to be smaller, the light less bright, the crowds less enthusiastic, the production less good, less helpful, the guys you would wrestle against less skilled. But none of that mattered as long as I got my fix of glory.
And that’s the other thing about wrestling. It’s a disease with stages - like multiple sclerosis. You fight like hell to stay on the stage that you are on, because once you slip down, once you degenerate down a level, you can, you never can climb back up.
So, I give Katy the keys to the house and I tell her to sell my cars and keep the money and I leave for St-Louis for New York and these are the guys who should have had it all and know that they blew their chance at the brass ring. I mean they did make a brief charge at the top, even beat St-Louis at the ratings game for a year in 1995, but then Old Man Clancy put on a great C and F, made some new stars and it was all over. But I wasn’t there for the good times, I was there when they were still pissed off that they should have been the capital of wrestling and they missed their chance. I mean they had Stormy, he was even in one of the Rocky flicks, they had Madison Square Gardens, but Clancy beat them to ESPN, he beat them to MTV, he beat them to PPV, he beat them to the national tours. Plus the problem with New York was that they relied on all these cartoony muscle-bound guys. Now we did some cartoony shit too. I mean look at me, I was basically doing the Joker from Batman crossed with the Robert Mitchum character from Cape Fear. I was cartoony, I was over-the-top, but here’s the key, I was also fucking dangerous and I could wrestle. I mean I was no Shooter Lou, but I could wrestle. None of the guys in New York could do that. I mean Stormy had the same damn match every night. Worked great the first night, but after a while it got boring.
So, I walk into New York, and you’d think those dumb fucks would know how to use me. I mean they’ve been doing this wrestling thing for three generations. The biggest bad guy, the most evil guy on the planet walks into their promotion. And the first night man, you could tell their fans were feeling it. The lights go down in MSG, Bad to the Bone kicks in and the crowd goes dead-quiet like they can’t believe what is happening and I step out and go “Tsss... Tsss... Tsss...” and there’s this huge roar... I mean the crowd knows that they are supposed to hate me and I’m out there insulting them and taking a bat to these two New Zealand goofs who are crowd favourites, but the fans are so happy to see me that they can’t bring themselves to boo me.
Now you would think that that would be a fucking hint to these New York cock-suckers. But oh fucking no. I have to “learn our style” - I have to go through “a humbling process”. What fucking style? The one that’s got you in second place? I mean you hired me because I was the best in the world. Maybe I should be the one asking your fucking cast adapt to me! And humbling process just means that your fucking ego is so god damn big, that you put all of your stars over me so that you can say to yourself that they are better than me. Fucking news flash: Wrestling is FAKE! You can have me look at the lights for six months straight, but that don’t mean that those schmucks are better than me. But all that enthusiasm from the fans gets pissed away so that by the time that you are ready to push me, the fans could give a rat’s ass.
And their ring is too fucking hard and their workers work too fucking loose, and my back is killing me so I’m self-medicating with booze and pills. And maybe I was crawled too far into a bottle to be able to tell these New York bastards how to run their business. So I have Darryl telling me to protect myself, protect my reputation, because no one else is going to.
-Friend of mine, I’ll get to him later.
Anyway, finally, the owner comes to me and tells me that they are repackaging me as a flaming homosexual in soft pink and blonde ringlets and a lisp, and it occurs to me that I have let him domesticate the Rattler. I mean, I’ve let him take the most dangerous man in the world and fucking tame him. I let him defang the Rattler. And just to make matters worse, he wants me to go out there and carry some tall, muscle-bound, good-looking bitch that he’s balling to a great match and put him over, lose to him, make this dumb fuck, who knows more about hair-styling products than about wrist-locks, make him look good in the ring and then lose to him. And then as a reward I get to get repackaged to look even more harmless. Fuck that noise. So I walked out there, and I carried the sorry dumb-ass and I made him look good and then when he was supposed to hit me with his sorry-ass boot to the face, I caught his leg and leg-whipped him to the ground and before anyone could do anything, I put him in a hook that had him screaming in pain. And the referee Hanrahan is trying to break it off, but I have a free hand to keep him off. The locker-room is about to empty out and all of this candy-ass cock-sucker’s friends are coming to save him, but before they hit the ring he taps legit. So I twist his knee so that he screams a little more and I back down his rescuers just by bobbing my head at them, and I walk to the back, punch the owner in the teeth and walk the hell out of New York, burning my fucking bridge while I am still standing on it. Son-of-a-bitch still owes me about ten grand, not that I’ll ever see that money.
And boom, I fall a level. And I walk out of New York and straight into a bottle. And three months later, I crawl out of the bottle and wake up in a dirt-bag hotel off the strip, and the room is filled with bottles of Vodka and Scotch and pain pills and uppers and downers and fucking horse tranquilizers and roaches, both real and paper, and crack vials, and there is a woman I don’t know in the bed and another I don’t know in the bath-tub, and when I stumble out the room, the sun-light blinds me like I haven’t seen day-light in a month and maybe I haven’t. So, I go check my bank account and I realize that at this rate the money that was supposed to last me my whole life, that money is going to be gone in less than a year.
And that scares me straight, well straightish for a little while anyway, and I do a tour of Japan to work on some new moves with the Japanese, because they’re real technical and they’re willing to help out a guy they consider a legend even if he is a fucking gaijin barbarian. And I spend six months working out how to disguise my style and myself. Once I’ve figured that out I make a call to Puerto Rico and I call in favour to get me booked in Mexico.
So, I go down there and I have a whole costume and mask and I call myself Monsieur Mystere and I use the French that I haven’t used except once or twice a year. And we play up all the history of the French and Mexico, and how many times France has fucked Mexico over, and we’re selling out stadiums as I fuck over the Spic’s heroes until the only one left is their National Fucking Hero - The Golden Mask. Actually it’s Hijo de la Máscara de Oro, the Golden Mask’s son who took over for his Dad when his Pops died. Was buried in his mask if you can believe that shit. So Hijo de la Máscara de Oro - sounds like a cookie, but the Spics take him real seriously - he has more prestige than their President. The Pope visits and he gets to kiss the Pontiff’s ring first before anybody else in the whole damn country, and nobody but me seems to think that this weird. Everybody just accepts that this is how it should be. So we do a few matches and I keep getting the better of him, until he finally declares that he will put his mask on the line against mine, at which point I nearly get killed because I rip his mask off and rub it in the crack of my ass, and for the second time in my life there is a riot in Mexico and it’s my fucking fault - only this time I get to watch it up close and personal. So we do the mask vs. mask match for the big payday for me which is the whole god damn point of the whole thing and I lose the mask, people go nuts and I attack Hijo de la Máscara de Oro after the match and bloody him up good, blood is pouring out of the holes of his mask. Apparently when people discuss how bloody people get in a match they call it the Oro scale after this match.
And the publicity for this match gets me some good tours of Europe and Japan, it even gets me a short two three month run back in St-Louis, the old man burying the hatchet but only so he can have a good C and F match and so I can put over some young Canadian technician that the old man has found in Japan who wrestles under a Unicorn mask and his finisher is a top-rope head-butt with the horn hitting his opponent’s chest. So, I beat this guy and take his mask to add some heat for the C and F match which I lose, but once that is done, I’m back out on the street.
-That would have been C&F 13 in 94 right?
-Something like that, those years were all a kind of blur. Then I go back to Mexico as the Rattler and I tear things up over there some more, refusing to face Oro and beating the shit out of anyone that I come in contact with. We do that for six months and make Oro jump through some hoops to get his hands on me, but when he does get his hands on me, I trick him and fuck him up with a kendo stick - that’s a Japanese thing, bunch of thin wooden rods taped together to make a weapon. So now, I’ve made him bleed twice and the only way to settle things is for him to his mask on the line against my hair. Which is another good payday for me and losing my hair is no big sacrifice for me because I know what my Dad looked like, I can already tell that I’m going to lose the hair that I’ve got left. Plus as a bonus losing my hair makes me look like a bald bad ass mother-fucker.
And that gets me another two, three month run in St-Louis putting over another bald bad-ass mother-fucker who was lost in New York as a simpering faggot doing the gimmick I walked out on. Naturally, this was a total disaster, but the dumb bastards blame the wrestler rather than looking in the fucking mirror. So he shaves his head, wrestles in a few indy promotions, does a tour of the South, and totally reinvents himself as a bald bad-ass beer drinking mother-fucker who just as soon beat the shit out of you as look at you.
-You’re talking about Max Power?
Yeah, his real name was Max Richards which is a perfectly good wrestling name, but someone else was using it, a real-life doctor who turned to wrestling because he was sued for malpractice. The reason his patients kept dying was because the hospital that he worked on was pinching pennies and the patients were being infected by air filters that weren’t replaced often enough. But he gets labelled the “Killer Doctor” and even though he wins the court cases when the truth comes out, he gets bankrupted in the process and no one will hire the “Killer Doctor” or even go to see him in private practice, so he ends up getting talked into wrestling as Max Richards, the Killer Doctor and uses a lot of technical moves and nerve pinches and shit. Nice guy but sad as fucking hell.
Anyway, so the other Max Richards chooses Max Powers as his name, and by the time the producers of the TV show come to visit, a friendly judge who’s also a wrestling fan rules that the Hollywood people didn’t do enough to protect the copyright - in return for a few blow jobs backstage.
-What was it you said about Wrestling? It’s sordid?
-Yeah, well, I get brought back thumping the bible 'cause the Rattler’s got religion, and they actually manage to make me turn face for a brief little bit in St-Louis which is its own fucking miracle, we even get Katy and the kids roped into it pretending for the cameras that we were back together, which was fucking hard for me because I knew in advance that once C and F was over, I was gone like a ghost. The thing that especially pissed me off about this is that Max has been calling me out for like six months before I show up, so the old man is making money off my fucking name when I am not even there.
And in the actual match at C and F, Max just let me beat the shit out of him.
-I remember that match. You actually won. You had him in this nasty submission move that you kept getting him into all night and you took off his knee brace to make it more effective and you even used his own knee brace to hit him in the face, so he was bleeding from his face and you had his knee all twisted up and he finally passed out from the pain.
-Yep, made him this huge face. Put him in the hospital for a couple of weeks, and I got to stick around and taunt him as I was back to being hated and spit on. And for a brief moment, I thought that that would me enough to keep around. I mean not as a head-liner, but I could still be of some use in the middle of the card. I even had Katy half-convinced to take me back, until I drove up onto her lawn at two a.m. drunk out of mind tearing up her rose bushes and knocking down her mail box. The next night the old man brought out Katy to slap me in the face and kick me in the balls and throw her wedding ring down on me. Total shoot, she called me a hypocrite, said that I would never change, said the whole bible-thumping thing was a total sham.
-I have the t-shirt from that night, “You hypocrite, you’ve been preaching to me for months about John 4:20, well Katy 4:20 says “Get the hell out of my life, you rotten son-of-a bitch!”
-She actually made more money off those shirts than I have ever paid her in alimony. Those shirts made her a wealthy women in her own right.
Anyway, Max comes out of the hospital, beats the hell out of me in a cage, and once the torch is passed, I leave town. The ironic thing is that Max and me are the same age, not that anyone would ever believe that looking at us.
So, I leave St-Louis, and I should have been able to make a decent living between Europe, Mexico and Japan, but I levelled fucking down. So I spend most of a year tucked in a bottle, ripping off European promoters for shows that I never show up for and I run a con game on some Jap who turns out to be in the fucking Yakuza, so Japan gets a little too dangerous for me, and then I fuck up Mexico by sleeping with the promoter’s wife. He had just taken over the company from his Dad. Fucking shock to me when it turns out that he’s straight and loves his wife. I figured she was just a beard, you know. But no such luck.
New York wants nothing to do with me and the NWA is reduced to a handful of pathetic territories who draw so few people that they can barely pay their dues to the head office. So, I’m reduced to slumming from one small territory to another. I get one good paying gig building up an independent pay-per-view to compete with New York and St-Louis with a bunch of guys like me who are just a bit past the expiry date. But the guy running is a fucking money mark who hasn’t the fucking clue what the hell he is doing, so the damn thing - Icons of Wrestling or some such thing is a fucking disaster - worst pay-per-view in history some say. And I don’t help matters much by showing up pissed drunk and having the worst fucking match of my life as Mongoose basically wrestles himself using me as a wrestling dummy.
Yeah, so after that fiasco, I level down into the lowest pit of wrestling hell working these tiny little sleazy promotions in these bum-fuck towns in the middle of nowhere. I thought I had hit rock bottom. I hadn’t but from where I was I could see rock bottom if I only knew it. And once again, I was running a hundred miles an hour with my hair on fire just to stay where I was. Only, I was a thousand bottles down a hole from the glory that I once owned.
Inside The Ropes – Countdown to Chanukah "Just when you think you have all the questions, I change the questions." -- Rod Roddy Piper, 1987 Welcome, everyone, to another EXCLUSIVE, JAM-PACKED edition of Inside The Ropes.