Over the Top Rope

Rock Riddle's
Wrestling Revue

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

Initial Publication Date:   August 2, 2007

Click on any of the smaller photos to enlarge

I enjoy talking with creative people.  Recently, I had a conversation with a gentleman who is a master craftsman, a creator of fine furniture and a set designer/builder for the film industry.  He asked me about professional wrestling, and I asked him about carpentry.  “So, Jonas,” I asked, “what would you need to build a beautiful rosewood dining room table for me?”  “Well,” he began, “of course, I would need …” I interrupted.  “I mean besides a big block of wood for the table top?”  He had a slightly surprised look on his face.  “Well, four legs would be nice,” he offered.  I felt that a potential comedic opportunity was unfolding.  I stared at him as though I didn’t understand.  “I couldn’t build a dining room table with less than four legs,” he revealed, knowing that the answer should have been obvious.  “Because …?” I asked.  “Because,” he explained with what seemed to be a slight irritation, “with less than four legs, the table would fall down.”  I acted as though I were deep in thought, attempting to understand the complexity of his statement.  After a couple of seconds, he must have noticed that I was holding back a smile.  “This is the famous wrestlers’ sense of humor, right?” he asked.  “Yes,” I admitted.  “But,” I continued, switching to a more serious demeanor, “a great wrestler, just like a great table, also needs that solid foundation.”  He looked somewhat relieved that I was finally going to answer a question that he had asked near the beginning of our conversation … and give up my “lame” attempt at humor.

“Major success in the professional wrestling business,” I explained, “consists of four elements.  And, like the four legs of that table, all must be in place for a legend to be born. What do you think those necessary elements are?”  “The look?” he asked.  “Well, the look is the tabletop itself,” I replied.  “Obviously, it must look amazingly beautiful for people to want to pay outrageous amounts of money for it.  Without the look -- the tabletop itself -- there is nothing for the legs to support.  But, without the solid foundation, it doesn’t matter how beautiful the top is.”  Jonas nodded his head.  It made sense to him.  “So, what are the four legs?” he asked.  “To build this wrestling legend, to carry this heavy weight, we need four strong legs.  ‘Passion’ is the first leg,” I explained.  “Otherwise known as ‘drive’, ‘desire’, or ‘love of the wrestling business,’ we put it all together into the ‘passion’ leg.  The second leg is ‘personality.’  A great technically-skilled wrestler who lacks personality will never be a legend.  The third leg is ‘wrestling ability.’  You don’t have to be the best technically skilled wrestler in the world, but you must be a very good wrestler – you must know how to wrestle!  And, the fourth leg – the final leg without which the table cannot stand – is a very important and a decisive element that separates the stars -- the legends-- from the masses.  That fourth leg is ‘ability on the microphone.’

The set designer asked me a very interesting question.  “Obviously,” he said, “you were very good in all of those areas.  But, if you were to list them, in order of importance or mastery for yourself, how would that list read?”  That was a challenging question and one that required some thought.  “On the bottom of the list,” I hesitantly admitted, “would have to be actual ‘wrestling ability.’  I was very, very good in the ring, but I was never a great technically-skilled wrestler.  I didn’t need to be.  So, if I were to number the tabletop and the legs, ‘wrestling ability’ would be at the bottom at number five.  Number four would have to be ‘personality.’  Number three would be ‘look.’  I worked long and hard on creating the perfect package, based on a very good look.  I really excelled on the microphone, so I’m going to put ‘ability on the microphone’ as number two on the list.  So, that leaves the top of the list for the main ingredient that made it all possible – ‘passion!’  ‘Passion’ took me from a 16-year-old, 135-pound skinny kid to a muscular 236-pound main-event professional wrestler in just over four years.  Passion is what gives life meaning!”

Speaking of passionate professionals … A couple of years ago, I was interviewing my friend Playboy Buddy Rose in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Buddy and I were both considered outstanding “stick” men in the wrestling business.  That meant that we were very good on the microphone doing impromptu interviews, generally on live television.  This time I was asking Buddy questions on-camera.  It took place a couple of years ago in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Over the past two weeks, I shared excerpts of the interview with you.  If you missed either of those columns, they are reprinted in their entirety, along with seventy-two others, on the HollywoodSuccess.com website.  And, now, to conclude …

We had discussed living on the road, the terrible toll that wrestling could take on one’s body, and our extreme love of the sport.  Although I had never seen any drug use in my ten years in the business, apparently Buddy had.  “I went to rehab myself,” Buddy said.  He paused for a moment before he added, “for cocaine, as an outpatient.  It was a choice.  When we make the wrong choices and go down the wrong path, it’s either jail or death.  Fortunately, I’m still here, and I hope to be here for a lot longer.  The best thing I ever did was to go to that six weeks of outpatient rehab.”  He looked off-camera toward his wife for a moment.  “My wife has been with me since 1976.  She and I had a talk, and we decided the cocaine was a problem.  I could have lost her, so I did the best thing I ever did, and I graduated.”  “Well, give that lady a big hug for us all, Buddy,” I suggested, “because millions of us are very happy that you’re still above ground.”

We invited his wife to come up and be on camera.  “We call her Coco,” Buddy said, “because she has the best tan in Las Vegas.”  Buddy let us know that “she’s high maintenance.”  He looked to his wife and said, “Show the diamonds.”  “Yes see,” Buddy said, redirecting his attention to the audience and to me, “I don’t wear any jewelry.  She has it all.”  He talked about their “kids,” a couple of “wiener dogs” (dachshunds).  Then, once again, Buddy addressed both the live audience and the television audience.  “Rock Riddle was an influence in my career.  He helped me a lot.  He talked to me a lot about the business when I first started.  He told me what was right, what to do and what not to do,” Buddy said, placing his hand on my shoulder.  “I remember that, and I respect you for that,” he said looking directly into my eyes.  I smiled and said, “I told you not to do that cocaine.”  “You know,” he replied, “I didn’t.  And, I didn’t [then].”  He turned his head to the side, smiled, and said, “Damn that Roddy Piper.”  I deliberately turned away and covered my face.  Buddy added, “I love you, Roddy.  But, you see, it was my choice.  I made the choice, and then I made the choice to get off it.  And, I have my life and my wife and good friends.  Rock Riddle has been my friend for thirty years.”  “No, no,” I said.  “I tell people I’m only thirty.”  Buddy covered for me brilliantly.  “I met him when he was a baby,” he said.  “Yeah, when he came out, I spanked him on the butt and heard him cry for the first time.  I tried to cover him, but he kicked out.  But, I knew he was a boy when he came out.  I counted, “1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 – Eleven!  A big boy!”  I was laughing as Buddy concluded the interview.  “Rock Riddle, in all due respect,” he continued, “really did help me.  He helped teach me the ropes and he took the time.  And, he wouldn’t have done that if I didn’t listen.  So, I respect you, Rock, for giving me your time and helping me kick off my career.”  I couldn’t let the interview end without a smile, so I added, “So, Buddy, because I was so influential in your career that made you millions and millions of dollars, you simply wanted to thank me … with words?”  We smiled, shook hands, and walked off camera continuing our conversation.

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."

© 2007 Rock Riddle & Hollywood Success.

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