Over the Top Rope

Rock Riddle's
Wrestling Revue

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

Original Date of Publication:   August 10, 2006

Click on any of the smaller photos to enlarge

Professional wrestling has always been an exceptionally dangerous sport.  I was lucky.  Although I received over one hundred injuries, I was never out of the ring for longer than five weeks during my entire career.  And, I never missed a booking.

I was hosting a Hollywood networking event recently, when a thin, balding 40-something film producer asked, “What was that ‘pop’?”   “I think that was my knee,” I admitted.  “It’s an old wrestling injury,” a lady-friend, standing nearby, pointed out.  “Oh,” said the producer, “so you were a wrestler.  What a coincidence.  So was I.”  I tried not to smile too broadly.  The man stood about 5’5” and may have weighed as much as 140 pounds.  It was obvious that he was referring to high school wrestling and that he had no idea who I was.  “Rock was a professional wrestler,” my friend added, “He’s the original ‘Mr. Wonderful.’”  “Really?” asked the surprised producer, “Did you ever get hurt?”  That was like asking, “Is a five-pound canary fat?”  My friends smiled.  They knew they were about to hear some Rock Riddle injury stories.

“Well,” I began, “Let’s just start at the top of my head and work down.”  I pointed about two inches above my hairline and slightly to the left.  “Put your finger there,” I said, “Can you feel the indentation and where the stitches were?”  The look on his face told me that he definitely could.  I directed his hand to the back of my head.  “Now, feel the big one, right there.  I wasn’t born with a hole there.”  He asked me how these injuries “happened.”  “Well, the one on the top of my head came as a result of a riot in Mobile, Alabama,” I began.  “I was rescuing a wrestler who was trapped in the ring.  The fans got me.  They were hitting me with anything they could find.  The doctors who stitched me up in the emergency room couldn’t understand why I was smiling and laughing about it.  I was laughing because I got away.  I left my mark on the fans – in a couple of instances, in more ways than one.  I won, they lost.  And, they kept coming back, paying their money over and over, week after week, hoping to see me get beaten.  I kept disappointing them, and they never got to me physically again.  It was great.  The arena was selling out every week.  I grabbed the microphone and taunted the fans.  I said, ‘Go ahead and boo me.  I got your money!’  I wanted them to know that not only did I cause them to intensely dislike me, but they also had to pay to have me anger and disappoint them – and that the money they paid to see me was now in my pocket.”  “Rock was a ‘bad guy,’” my friend added.  I smiled.  “I really miss those days,” I admitted.  “Okay,” said the producer, “It’s obvious that you were dropped on your head more than a few times.”  He was trying to be clever, implying that only a totally insane person would subject himself to injury and danger willingly and then laugh about it -- but I responded to him in a serious tone.  “You’re absolutely right,” I acknowledged.   “That’s how I got the big dent in the back of my head.  I think I was thrown out of the ring backwards onto the steel ring steps.”  I grinned.  “I don’t really remember it clearly.”  I think he got the joke.

“So, now, let’s work our way down a bit,” I continued.  “Look closely at my forehead.  Here, I’ll stretch the skin a little so you can see it better.  There are over a hundred scars here.”  “They don’t look very bad, though” commented the producer.  “You’re right,” I said, “Every time my skin was split; I closed it with butterfly closures.  Butterflies work much better than stitches.   I used Vitamin E oil internally and externally.  That’s why I have considerably fewer noticeable scars than a lot of the wrestlers.”  I looked directly at the producer.  “Do you see this huge dent in my forehead?  That came as a result of having my head slammed into the turnbuckle.  I had tasted blood many times, but that time was different.  It was spurting out, and it had a ‘sick’ taste about it.  I lost more blood from that injury than any other.  Can you see the scars in my eyebrows and under this eye?” I asked.  He could.  “Now,” I continued, “you’ll notice that my face is pointed directly towards you, but my nose points just slightly to your left.  That’s because it was broken seven times.”  I paused.  “I’m giving you the short version, you know.”  He didn’t know whether to smile or not.  “I’ve had both eardrums ruptured.  Thankfully, I lost less than five percent of my hearing.  Like I said, I’ve been very lucky.”

I raised my upper lip.  “Notice anything about these teeth?”  He hesitated for a moment before he answered, “Well, two of them are a little different shade.”  “You’re right,” I said.  “Those two were knocked out with a metal chair.  I think the wrestler’s name was Lyons.  He hit me so hard in the face with that chair that my two teeth were literally pulverized – like powder!”  As something of an afterthought, I added, “Oh, and of course, my mouth and lips were all cut up and there was a lot of blood – but what really irritated me was that I had needlessly lost those perfect teeth.”

I turned my head to the left and pointed to the back of my neck.  “Put your ear close to this spot,” I suggested.  “Now, listen as I turn my head to the right.”  He cringed slightly when he heard the popping tendon.  “Want to hear my left shoulder pop?” I asked.  “I’ll take your word for it,” he said.  I smiled, moved my arm, and loudly (and a little painfully) popped my shoulder anyway.  “I had a little minor surgery on my left elbow to remove a bone fragment that had broken off,” I related.  “And, I’ve had both thumbs broken.”

“I was wrestling Wild Bill Irwin in Texas,” I continued, “when I received one of my most painful injuries.  He picked me up and body-slammed me onto the steel cable near the ring post.  My ribs in the rear on my left side were cracked.  I was in a lot of pain.  I drove myself to the local emergency room that night.  I told the doctor I needed a prescription for pain pills and muscle relaxers.  I told him that I had to wrestle for the next five nights.  He held his arms straight out with the palms of his hands gently touching my upper rib cage just under each of my arms.  He applied slight pressure inward.  I yelled in pain.  He tilted his head sideways and said, ‘And, you think you’re going to wrestle.’  He taped my ribs and gave me a prescription for a mild pain killer.  He wrote out the directions.  They said, ‘Take one tablet twice daily by mouth for pain,’ and then in very large, triple-underlined letters were the words, ‘NO WRESTLING!’  Those next five nights were quite challenging.”  “You wrestled with broken ribs?” the astonished producer asked.  I looked at him seriously and matter-of-factly replied, “Of course.”  He looked around for a way to delicately end the conversation.  “Thanks, Rock, but I have to get something from my car.”  “Wait,” I said, “I’ve only talked about the upper third of my body.  There’s a lot more.”  “I’m sure there is,” he said, as he turned and cautiously walked away.  My friends and I looked at each other and smiled, knowing that the conversation would be continued later.  Until next week, keep those emails 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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