Over the Top Rope

Rock Riddle's
Wrestling Revue

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

Original Date of Publication:   August 24, 2006

Click on any of the smaller photos to enlarge

I kept to myself most of the time when I was a kid.  I never wanted to be a part of the “crowd,” and I had very few friends.  I was actually quite proud of the fact that I didn’t “fit in.”  “Why would I want to lower myself?” I thought.  “I have the intellectual capacity to express myself without using vulgarity, so why should I have to associate with mental morons who can’t put a sentence together without unnecessary and meaningless curse words ineptly and haphazardly inserted in every sentence?”  Until I was fourteen years old, I thought all sports were “stupid.”  I surmised that school sports were offered so the “really stupid” people would have something to do.  Let’s take football, for example.  The football players were given passing grades because they played football, not because they had any understanding of their academic subjects.  My perception of those on the football team was that they were big and stupid and so insecure that they spent most of their spare time harassing intellectually superior students (like 97% of the school).  I remember a classmate suggesting that we go to a “pep rally” for an upcoming football game.  “A pep rally?” I asked, “What is a ‘pep rally?’”  “That’s where the cheerleaders get the crowd all revved up about the upcoming game,” my classmate explained, “They have the band playing and everything.  It’s like to build team spirit.”  It made absolutely no sense to me at all.  I passed on the “opportunity.”  And, my respect for the “cheerleaders” who participated in the “pep rallies” was even less than that for the players.  I never went to dances or proms or sporting events.  Little did I know, that all during my formative years, I was building the foundation for my upcoming professional wrestler “image.”

At the age of fourteen, I found my “calling” – I discovered professional wrestling.  I studied the top people in the business.  I borrowed some of the best qualities from the best wrestlers, added many concepts of my own, gave a giant push to my already developing “I’m-better-than-99.99%-of-the-people-on-this-planet” attitude, and created what became an original character, Rock “Mr. Wonderful” Riddle.  Not only did I live my cocky, arrogant, condescending image in the ring, I also lived it in my daily life.  Let’s just say that it made life very interesting.  It took a few years before I was able to separate the private person from the public image.

In the early 1980s I did several short wrestling “tours” in Texas.  I remember wrestling at Dallas’ famous Sportatorium, then going to dinner afterwards.  The waitress was very pleasant.  When she returned to my table for the second time, she said, “I thought I recognized you.  You’re Rock Riddle, aren’t you?”  I hesitated.  She continued, “I was at the Sportatorium earlier.  I saw you wrestle.  You’re very good.”  Realizing that I had been recognized as my wrestling character, I immediately pushed my chest out, pulled my shoulders back, cocked my head a little to the side, lowered my voice, and cautiously said, “Thank you.”  The waitress noticed my obvious new “moving-back-into-the-‘bad-guy’” persona.  She smiled, gently placed her hand on my shoulder, and said, “Rock, its okay to be nice.  You can be yourself here.”   It was an interesting new concept that worked well for me from that time on.

Speaking of restaurants, in a recent e-mail, reader Jimmy Brandon asked what it was like to be recognized in public – especially as a not-terribly-well-liked “bad-guy” wrestler.  It’s a great question.  Because I did my job well, many fans did not care for me and would have celebrated any harm that might have befallen me.  I had knives pulled on me many times, I had my life threatened on more than one occasion, and I was shot at twice.  With my long, very blond hair, it was difficult for me to go anywhere without being recognized.  When I went to restaurants, I would always sit with my back against a wall.  That way, I could see who was coming into the establishment and no one could sneak up on me from behind.  I made it a point to make friends with the server; if I could not do so, I would simply leave and eat somewhere else.  Even though I was the “bad guy,” I was usually received quite well by the general public.  Most people wanted autographs.  In shopping centers, people would run and buy cheap cameras so they could have their pictures taken with me.  I was recognized everywhere I went, and I appreciated the recognition.  About ninety percent of the people were civil.  Ten percent had nasty things to say.  And, of course, there were always one or two who wanted to impress their friends by challenging me.

“You’re a dirty #@*&*,” they would say.  “You’re a phony piece of *&#@ and I could kick you’re *#% %$#^$*.”  Generally, I would take out my little pocket notebook, write a name and phone number on it, tear the page from the book, and hand it to the “challenger.”  “That’s the name and phone number of the wrestling promoter,” I would say.  “Call him.  Tell him you want to climb into the ring with Rock Riddle.  Bring a doctor’s certificate stating that you are in good health, sign a waiver stating that you will not sue the promotion when I hurt you in the ring, and I’ll see you next week at the arena.”  Usually they would play the “big guy” at our initial meeting but they would never show up at the arena. 

When I decided to conclude my initial 8½ years of full-time wrestling, I dyed my hair and eyebrows brown and began dressing like a “regular” person.  It was not easy making the transition.  It was very strange going to a new restaurant, not getting preferential treatment, and not being asked for autographs.  I currently run Hollywood’s top marketing company for professionals in the film and television industry.  Occasionally, when interviewing an actor, I’ll hear, “Oh, I just want to work in small roles in movies and TV.  I don’t want to be a star.  I wouldn’t like being recognized and having to sign autographs everywhere I go.  I want to keep my private life.”  To those people, I usually say, “You never have to worry.”  In other words, their belief system will keep them from attaining anything other than minor success anyway.  For those who are open to success and want to hear the truth, I share this information:  It is much better to be recognized and acknowledged for your work than to be another nameless face in the crowd.  Be grateful that people recognize you, want to have their picture taken with you, and want your autograph.  You had the courage to go for your dream and you achieved it.  They did not.  But maybe, simply by meeting you, others will be inspired to face their “fear of success” and actually go for their dreams.  Until next week, I wish you success in every area of life.  May all of your dreams come true.  Please remember to enjoy the journey.  And, of course, keep those e-mails 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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