Over the Top Rope

Rock Riddle's
Wrestling Revue

by Rock Riddle, the Original "Mr. Wonderful" of Professional Wrestling

Date of Original Publication:   July 6, 2006

Click on any of the smaller photos to enlarge

June 10, 2006 – Las Vegas, Nevada – Part III:  It was Saturday, the third and final day of the 41st Annual CAC Wrestling Convention & Reunion – the largest and most prestigious event of its type in the world.  Hundreds of professional wrestlers and wrestling aficionados were in attendance.  It had been a wonderful two and a half days.  The culmination of the event was to be the highly anticipated CAC Awards Dinner.  It would be the “grand finale” -- the “main event” of the affair. 

The doors (and the bar) opened at 6:00 p.m.  Wrestlers who had just flown in were eagerly met by those of us who were enjoying our third day of the event.  It was another amazing opportunity to reunite with friends whom many of us had not seen for years.  At 7:00 p.m., the announcement was made for everyone to take their seats.  We all wanted to continue our reminiscing, but we reluctantly complied, knowing that the actual awards ceremony would begin after dinner. 

The meal was exceptional, made even more so by the company of hundreds of our professional wrestling family members. These events attract a lot of press, and we were fully aware that most of our actions and words were being recorded.  That made it even more fun.  The awards ceremony was about to begin.  A hush fell over the room.  We all knew how it would start.  It would be the “ten count,” a reading of the names of our fellow wrestlers who had passed away during the past year.  None of us looked forward to this part of the ceremony.  The looks on the faces of the wrestlers were those of dreaded anticipation.  Most of us looked as though we were afraid to move, hoping not to hear the names of any of our closest friends.  It was as though the entire audience held its collective breath as the names of our deceased comrades were announced.  Tears were already rolling down many cheeks.  Many of us were aware of at least some of the names that were coming.

“Maria Bernardi” – “Oh, gee,” I thought, “She was a legend in the business, one of the original founders of the CAC, and a friend.  How sad.” “Black Angus Campbell,” the announcers continued, “Chris Candido, Bill ‘The Great John L’ Clark, Ron Dobratz, Mike ‘Johnny Grunge’ Durham.”

In my mind, there seemed to be a short pause.  I knew the name that was coming next.  Tears were already rolling down my cheeks.  “Eddie Guerrero.”  Wow, that was a tough one to hear.  I had been friends with the Guerrero family for thirty years.  I was particularly close to Chavo (aka “Chavo Classic”) and Mando, Eddie’s older brothers.  I knew Hector and Chavo, Jr.  I even knew Eddie’s father, Gory, before he passed away.  Most of the wrestlers were like family to me, but the Guerreros were very special friends.

The wrestling business lost a major international superstar and a beautiful friend on November 13, 2005.  Eddie Guerrero was unquestionably one of the absolute best the sport had ever seen.  Eddie was unique, and he was universally loved.  It is only natural that those of us who knew him would morn his death.  But, this man was unlike anyone else.  He was such an exceptional, amazing, wonderful man that literally tens of millions of people, who had never met Eddie Guerrero, cried when they learned of his death.  In the history of professional wrestling, I know of no one who has received more tributes, more recognition, and more love than Eddie Guerrero – and I know of no one who deserved it more.  The chants that are still heard at wrestling events tell it all, “Thank you, Eddie!”

The “ten count” continued:  “Emory Hale, Lord Alfred Hayes, Al Kashey, Bob ‘Legs’ Langevin, Reggie ‘Crusher’ Lisowski.”  Gasps were heard when wrestlers heard the name of a friend whom they did not realize had passed away.  “Sam ‘Steamboat’ Mokuahi Jr., Kay Noble, Jose Miquel Perez, Calvin ‘Prince’ Pullins, Victor Quinones, Dan Quirk, Bull Ramos, Ricky Romero, Peter ‘Slick the Butcher’ Smith, Gene ‘Mr. America’ Stanlee, John ‘Earthquake’ Tenta, Rob Trongard, Cowboy Bob Yuma.”

The bell tolled ten times.  Some of the biggest and toughest wrestlers in the world wiped the tears from their faces.  “You might want to save some of those tissues,” I said to the people at my table.  I knew what was coming next.  It would be a tribute, in song, beautifully sung by Mr. Karl Roach, for two wrestlers who were to receive posthumous awards.  I had known them both, and one was a very close friend. 

Vivian Vachon was a wonderful lady and an outstanding professional wrestler.  The movie, “Wrestling Queen,” was named for her, and, of course, she starred in the film.  Vivian and her young daughter were killed by a drunk driver in 1991.  Accepting her award were her big brothers, the wonderful Mad Dog and Butcher Vachon.

Bobby Shane was also honored in song.  Bobby was a good friend.  He had been trained, at least in part, by my “idol,” Rip Hawk.  Bobby was one of the best to ever enter the squared circle.  The head of Bobby’s fan club, Alfred Ticineto, Jr., presented the award.  In his speech, Alfred said, “Two years ago, Rock Riddle summed it up beautifully when he said Bobby Shane was a genius.”  Yes, Bobby Shane was a genius.  He understood the psychology of professional wrestling better than just about anybody.  He was a master showman and he enjoyed pushing the envelope.  I loved to watch him wrestle.  In addition to being a friend, I was also a fan.  Had he lived, Bobby Shane would, undoubtedly, have become one of the top legends of professional wrestling.  Bobby was killed in a plane crash just as his career began to skyrocket.  He was 29 years old.  

Next week, I’ll take you to the fun part of the awards dinner – and way beyond!  Until then, thank you for the cards, letters, and emails.  Keep them coming.

This column welcomes your wrestling-related questions.  You may contact the author via email: RockRiddle@hotmail.com or Rock@HollywoodSuccess.com.  Be sure to put "Wrestling Question" in the subject line.

About the author:  Rock Riddle wrestled professionally for over 8½ years and helped sell out major arenas all over the country.  He held numerous titles including the Americas Tag Team Championship (with John Tolos) and the East Coast Tag Team Championship (with Rocky Montana.)  At the height of his career, he was given top billing over the heavyweight championship of the world.  He is extremely well-connected in the world of professional wrestling and knows the business exceptionally well.  His fascinating biography, complete with over 100 photos and lots of additional information, is available at www.HollywoodSuccess.com – just click on "Rock Riddle Bio."    If you have missed any of Rock’s columns, they are all available on the website by clicking "Wrestling Revue."

© 2006 Rock Riddle & Hollywood Success.

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