Over the Top Rope

Rock Riddle's
Wrestling Revue

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

Scheduled Publication Date:   December 21, 2006

Click on any of the smaller photos to enlarge

The Baron von Raschke interview – Part II.  We were at the Riviera Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, at the prestigious CAC wrestlers’ reunion, convention, and awards dinner.  Peter Redford (MindWorks Entertainment) was our director of photography, and we were taping interviews and conversations with several of my professional wrestler friends.  I was attempting to conduct at least a semi-serious televised interview with my friend and wrestling legend Baron von Raschke.  “So, Baron von Raschke,” I began, “is it true that some of the absolute best matches you had in your entire career were with me, Rock ‘Mr. Wonderful’ Riddle?”  It was a strange way to begin an interview, but I knew Baron would appreciate my extreme sense of humor.  Von Raschke and I were both career-long “bad guy” wrestlers.  We were in the ring together on several occasions, but we never wrestled one another.  The Baron tried not to smile, shook his head slightly, looked off camera, and acted as though he had not heard the question.

As the interview progressed, the von Raschke character we had all known and loved for so many years came to life.  Reverberating off of the walls of the enormous ballroom were the famous words bellowed by my living-legend guest.  “I am the Baron von Raschke.  Dat is all da people need to know!”  We talked about von Raschke’s infamous and amazing career.  Baron talked about watching me on “The Gong Show,” and we discussed Chuck Barris briefly.  We even got "serious" for a few minutes, reminiscing about all of the traveling in the wrestling business.  We talked about riding to different towns together.  We were proud that neither of us had ever missed a match – never missed a “booking.”

I asked von Raschke when he had last wrestled professionally.   “Oh, I suppose it was ’94, maybe ’92,” he responded.  Every professional wrestler, no matter how long past his prime, dreams of wrestling again.  I was well aware of that fact when I asked the Baron this question.  “Will you get back in the ring again?”  There was only a very slight hesitation.  “Depends on the circumstances,” he responded.  He thought for a moment, smiled slightly, and continued, “I don’t foresee it in the near future.”  “Do you feel like you’re in good enough shape to do it right now?” I asked.  “Well,” von Raschke answered, “my mind is willing, but my body is a little weak right now.  I’m a bit past my prime.”

I looked seriously at my friend.  “Baron von Raschke,” I began, “you could be WAY past your prime and you would still be better than the vast majority of the wrestlers in this business.”  I was serious, and von Raschke knew I was.  “You know, Rock,” he said, with only slight hesitation, “I think you’re right.”  Rather than allowing himself to become sentimental, the Baron went into his world-famous wrestling persona.  After all, he was in front of the television camera.  The bellowing voice came forth as he held his claw-like hand toward the camera:  “There’s always the claw!” he said in his wonderful deep, gravelly voice.  “They never knew when, where, or how, but the claw was coming – and it was going to take somebody down!”  He ended the segment with his trademark line, “Dat is all da people need to know.”

The camera had stopped rolling, and von Raschke and I were kidding and clowning around as usual.  Baron von Raschke is not generally regarded as a particularly good-looking man.  In fact, many people still have nightmares because they were scared as children by the evil (and evil-looking) Baron von Raschke.  I commented about all of the women who had gathered to watch the interview.  “It’s not often,” I said to my world-famous friend, “that women can drool in person over the two most handsome men on the planet.”  Baron and I looked at each other with a twinkle in our eyes and smiled.  Neither of us had to say a word.  We had both gotten the same idea at the same time.  I looked toward our director of photography.  “Mr. Redford,” I said in a hushed tone of voice, “Roll the camera!”

Simultaneously, Baron and I turned our backs to the camera.  Each of us was waiting to see if the other would begin.  I whispered, “You,” and the Baron began.  “Ladies and Gentlemen,” he bellowed, “I would like to introduce two of the most handsome men in the world.”  He paused for a second and said, “Let’s show them, Rock Riddle!”  I added, “And Baron von Raschke!” as we both turned and faced the camera.  “I am NOT Ben Affleck,” the Baron warned with the ugliest frown he could muster.  “So, stop coming up to me and asking for his autograph!  Dat’s all you need to know!”  We were slowly walking into the camera, out of the lights into the shadows, distorting our faces as much as we could.  “Can you imagine,” I asked as we came closer and closer to the camera, “all of the women all over the world who are watching us and fainting and wishing that they could be here with the two most handsome men on the planet?”  “Ah-ha,” the Baron continued as we blurred just before we actually touched the camera lens, “All of the California girls … to the Eskimos …”

This was our cameraman’s first up-close introduction to professional wrestlers.  For the balance of the interview sessions, I felt my challenge was to make his eyebrows rise and his jaw drop.  As long as I could look past the camera to see that constant look of astonishment and amazement on his face, I knew our interviews were going very well.

It is with a great deal of honor and respect that I dedicate my last two columns to the friend I know as Jim Raschke – the amazing living legend the world knows as Baron von Raschke.  He is truly one of the very best the wrestling business has ever known.  Until next week, keep those e-mails coming.

Coming Soon

A Tribute to and Interview with Bobby "The Brain" Heenan

Rock Riddle & Bobby Heenan

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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