-OK, before we go any further, what does Cage and Rory and Togo...
-Satoh right. What does that have to do with Mickey Von Hess’ murder?
-A lot. Well, it explains why Cage wasn’t around when Mickey was murdered. Because if Darryl hadn’t become a move doctor, Mickey wouldn’t have been alone in Montreal when he got stabbed.
Look, I know that I have been teasing you a bit with this stuff, but you have to understand that this is how wrestlers always tell stories. In the ring and outside. We tease you with a match, a story, two guys that you know are going to get it on, than we deliberately hold back that match and we build up the anticipation and the hatred and the suspense, but the two guys never touch each other or maybe just the heel gets to attack the good guy but the hero never gets to fight back. That way, when the match finally happens the moment that the hero gets the first shot in, the crowd explodes in a way that would never happen if the match had just happened in the first place with no build-up at all. So, it’s a habit. But we don’t have far to go now.
When the boys get back to St-Louis, Bill Jr. is pleased as punch because he’s got this great match between Satoh and Darryl that he figures that they can use to make tons of money. Old Man Clancy is not impressed. He tears a strip off Junior explaining that the whole point of bringing Satoh in and having him beat a bunch of guys with wacky Jap submission wrestling is so that one of his brothers can be the guy to beat Satoh. It wasn’t to put over Darryl, who is being groomed to fight Donny in a cage match blood bath, not to beat another heel in a technical match. Now, the fact that the match took place in the back of beyond means that those two builds aren’t ruined, but it was still a stupid fucking thing to do.
This chewing out is taking place more or less in public at the Clancy’s rehearsal gym. Darryl’s not there because he is busy talking with Mickey and Von Hess about Mickey’s rehabilitation because Darryl’s helped put together Mickey’s training regimen which is very carefully rebuilding the muscles around his back to protect and strengthen his back as much as possible before he starts active wrestling again. Since Darryl can’t be there in person, on the road he usually calls in a couple of days a week and goes over how Mickey is responding to the training regimen. So Darryl’s not at the gym. Rory and Satoh are though. So when Junior weakly responds that it was a hell of a match, it comes as a bit of a shock to everyone when Rory offers to demonstrate with Satoh what the match was like.
Now, Rory hadn’t quite reached his full height yet, but he ended up being the tallest of the Clancy brothers, although Donny always looked bigger because he was much broader in the shoulder, but where Donny was built for a fight, built for power, Rory was built for speed. He had the physique of a swimmer, muscled but nothing that would slow him down. So, he didn’t look anything like Darryl who like Donny was built for a destruction. But the match that Darryl and Satoh and was not based around brawling and strength, it was built around skill and technique and leverage. So, Rory could substitute for Darryl and do all the moves that Darryl had used in the match.
The astonishing thing to everyone but Rory was that Rory was able to do the exact match that Darryl and Satoh had had having only seen that match twice. What people began to realize at that point was that Rory was an amazing physical mimic. He had the wrestler’s equivalent of a musician with perfect pitch. In the same way that there are some musicians who can hear a piece of music just once or twice and then play it back note by note perfectly, Rory was a guy who could see a match and then redo that match move by move - assuming he was physically capable of doing the power moves involved of course but Rory had surprising strength.
Rory was a sweet kid, so he wasn’t thinking further than that he could show his Dad how good the match was but doing it with Satoh. What was obvious to everyone else though was that this was the match that they could do with the face/heel dynamic properly restored. So, by the time that Darryl got to the gym, Rory had essentially stolen his match without quite realizing what he had done.
Darryl never complained about this. I think he realized that the match with Satoh was never going to be used on the main stage. And things worked out quite nicely for him out of losing the match with Rory. Everyone knew that the match was his and the word spread. It wasn’t long before guys started calling Darryl, “The Move Doctor”. Partly, this was because Darryl was the guy to go to for suggestions on how to improve your moves, on how to finish a match, that sort of thing. They could just as easily gone to Satoh, only Satoh’s English wasn’t that good and Satoh’s stuff always seemed too high-end, too complicated for its own good. Darryl’s stuff always seemed down-to-earth and feasible. And Darryl was always willing to help out on stuff like this whether you were a twenty year veteran or a rookie.
The other reason that Darryl was known as the Move Doctor was because of all the work that Darryl was doing helping to rehab Mickey. Every new town or territory that Darryl would hit, he would go out looking for new ways to help people with back pain. Chiropractors, Acupuncturists, Masseurs, whatever. Before people started talking about holistic medicine, Darryl had already been involved in it for literally decades. Darryl already had his degree where he had focused on joints and muscles and bones, so he had the scientific background to weed out the frauds and the junk, but he also was open minded enough to try anything as long as it worked. And in any wrestling locker room, there are enough sprains and pains and aches and contusions and all the rest for Darryl to try all this stuff out on. Plus, you have to understand that your average wrestle will undergo damn near anything to fix an injury no matter how hideous it is. If fixing your back means drinking a bitter tea of snake penis and bear liver, they’ll chug that mother-fucker. If it involves an ninety-pound, eighty year old Chinese woman walking on your spine, then bring on Granny. So when guys in the locker room couldn’t move anymore, they went to Darryl, they went to the Move Doctor.
All of which meant that Darryl was hands down the most popular guy in the locker room, which by default made Rory pond scum. Didn’t help matters much that Rory became a star using Darryl’s match against Satoh as a spring board. Darryl and Satoh would work new stuff up in the back, Rory would watch and then use it against Satoh in the ring and the crowds in the Checker would just eat that shit up.
The colour mags played up Rory of course. He was good looking kid, looked good on film, beating the evil foreigner, they lapped that stuff up with a spoon. But the colour mags also listened to the rumbling in the locker room, so as time went on the reporting on Rory got a little darker - “Million Dollar Body, Ten Cent Brain” that sort of thing and they started insinuating that Rory could only imitate, he couldn’t create.
I always felt that was bullshit. I mean no one ever attacked Sinatra because he didn’t write “I Did It My Way”, he just covered it. Rory had a gift, an ability in that ring that no one else could duplicate. He could take ordinary moves and make them special and he could extra ordinary moves and make them his own. But he heard the whispers that all he was was a move thief. I don’t if that was why he started drinking, I don’t know if that was why he became self-destructive. But those ugly whispers couldn’t have helped. I only know that by the time I got to St-Louis in Seventy Nine, Rory was a mess. Still great in the ring, still able to deliver an amazing match, but self-destructive as all get out - outside the ring. A little too wild, a little too crazy. All of which ended with him driving his Camaro straight into a concrete divider a hundred and fifty miles an hour pissed drunk out of his mind. I’ll always wonder if that last ride, that crash was an accident or deliberate, because even blasted out of his mind, Rory had the physical reflexes of a cat.
The one thing that I am certain is that when I met Rory, he was well on his way on a path that led to oblivion and that path began the day that he showed his Dad that he could replace Darryl in a match that Darryl created.
For Darryl, like I said, this didn’t turn out badly, and once he was “The Move Doctor” he made himself such a valuable member of any locker room that it would take a fool not to hire him. Old Man Clancy was no fool and he did his best to convince Darryl to stay as long as possible, but Mickey was almost ready to return to the ring and Darryl needed to go home to Georgia to be there for the Centennial and the big Centennial show. So Darryl and Donny had their big blow-off match in the cage at the Checker and Darryl hits the road back to Georgia.
God, that was funny. Seriously, that was fun to read. I loved the Lawler line. Keep up the good work. Your sense of humor enlightens us all...err...some other inspirational words from the guy who just quit.