Over the Top Rope

Rock Riddle's
Wrestling Revue

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

Original Date of Publication:   December 28, 2006

Click on any of the smaller photos to enlarge

I’ve competed and worked with hundreds of the best of the best that the wonderful world of professional wrestling has ever produced.  I’ve shared dressing rooms dozens of times with the top stars of our sport, and I’ve traveled with dozens of the icons of professional wrestling.  There was a wonderful feeling of community in our sport; most of us considered our fellow wrestlers to be close family.  I’m proud that many of them became lifelong friends. 

When I was informed that I would be one of only twelve professional wrestlers to be honored at the 2007 CAC Reunion/Convention/Awards Dinner, I was flattered.  After all, the CAC Reunion is the largest and most prestigious yearly event for professional wrestlers in the world.  It attracts international press and is attended by hundreds of professional wrestling stars including dozens who were world champions!  Those who have been honored at past CAC events include such greats as Harley Race, Terry Funk, Gene LeBell, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, Mad Dog Vachon, Killer Kowalski, Stu Hart, Jesse “The Body” Ventura, Lou Thesz, Dick “The Destroyer” Beyer, Hard Boiled Haggerty, Verne Gagne, Jack and Jerry Brisco, Les Thatcher, Danny Hodge, Johnny Valentine, Classy Freddie Blassie, Larry “The Ax” Hennig, Curt “Mr. Perfect” Hennig, Chris Benoit, Kurt Angle, Exotic Adrian Street, The Fields Brothers, Bob Roop, Sputnik Monroe, Mil Mascaras, Bobby Shane, Ernie Ladd, Sir Oliver Humperdink, Playboy Buddy Rose, Baron von Raschke, Percival “Paul Bearer” Pringle III, Don Leo Jonathan, Buddy Roberts, Tim “Mr. Wrestling” Woods, Jimmy Valiant, George Scott, Bill Watts, Crusher Lisowski, Ken Patera, Dandy Jack Donovan, Dory Funk Jr., Ted Lewin, Jimmy Cornette, Stan “The Big K” Kowalski, The Dudley Boys, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, George “The Animal” Steele, Capt. Lou Albano, Pat Patterson, The Sheik, Ray Stevens, Gorilla Monsoon, Pedro Morales, Billy Robinson, Red Bastien, Buddy Rogers, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Professor Toru Tanaka, John Tolos, and dozens more.  A complete list of honorees is available at www.CauliflowerAlleyClub.org.  

“Wow!” I thought while pondering the list of past honorees.  “I’m now going to be recognized along with the greatest the sport of professional wrestling has ever known.  What an amazing honor!”  I was sharing the news with my longtime friend and wrestling aficionado Bobbie Thompson.  “That’s great!” she said.  “You deserve it.  So, who would you like to have present your award?”  I thought for a moment.  “I don’t know,” I said.  “That’s like asking, ‘Who do you want to be best man at your wedding?’ or, ‘Who do you want to be the executor of your will?’  That’s a tough decision.”  “Well,” Bobbie said, “when you presented an award at the 2006 convention, you actually co-presented with Jack Armstrong and Gene LeBell.  So, consider that you could have several people presenting your award.  Who would be on that list?”


“There were so many people who inspired me, motivated me,” I replied.  “I have so many friends in the wrestling business.”  I hesitated for a moment.  Several of the names that came to mind were no longer with us.  My friend Bobby Shane was killed in an airplane crash.  Professor Toru Tanaka, my friend whom I had introduced to the film and television industry, had passed away.  Hard Boiled Haggerty was gone; I had been one of his pallbearers.  “It’s probably better to consider those who are alive,” Bobbie suggested.  I forced a smile.  “You’re right,” I said.  “This is going to be a happy time.”  I thought of my friends and those in the business who had influenced my life.  I thought of Rip Hawk, the living legend who had inspired me and encouraged me to follow my dreams.  “Rip Hawk would be great!” I said.  “He was probably the most influential person in my life.  Had it not been for him, I never would have gotten into the business.”  “Okay,” my friend said.  “Who else?”  I thought of my old friend, Rowdy Roddy Piper.  “Roddy would be great,” I said.  “Remember when he wore that gigantic sombrero?  It was a Mexican holiday – their Independence Day, I think.  Roddy did an interview at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles.  He wore that sombrero to the ring.  He asked the mostly Hispanic audience to stand, because he said he was going to play the Mexican National Anthem on his bagpipes.”  “Yes, I remember that very well,” Bobbie said.  “With all of the Mexican fans standing, Roddy began playing … ‘La Cucaracha’ … and a riot broke out!”  “Do you know what happened to that giant sombrero?” I asked.  My friend shook her head.  “He gave it to me.  I wore it on ‘The Gong Show.’”  I did seven shows for Chuck Barris.  In one, I played El Magnifico, a “famous” singing escape artist who could not escape from a strait jacket.  In column #43, there’s a photo of me as that character taken from “The Gong Show.”  The sombrero I’m wearing is the one given to me by my friend Rowdy Roddy Piper. 

“Okay,” Bobbie said.  “Now we have Rip Hawk and Roddy Piper on the list.  Who else would you like to have present your award?”  “How about Terry Funk?” I asked.  “I’ve known Terry forever.  He would be great!”  “Who else?”  “Maybe Sly Stallone,” I responded.  “Sly is a huge wrestling fan.  In fact, the CAC presented him with a special award, so he’s actually a member.  Although he’s not actually a wrestler, most of us think of him as ‘one of the boys.’  Yes, Sly is on the ‘short list.’”   “Who else?”  “Well,” I responded, “Pat Patterson, obviously.  Wouldn’t it be great if Pat would present the award and say publicly what he said to so many of the guys?”  “Do you mean what he said when he introduced you?” Bobbie asked.  “Yes,” I responded, “Over the past few years whenever Pat Patterson would introduce me, he would say, ‘This is Rock Riddle, the original Mr. Wonderful.  I had some of the best matches of my career with this man.’  That’s one of the best compliments I’ve ever received in this business.  It would be great to have Pat Patterson, Vice President of Vince McMahon’s WWE presenting.”

Bobbie smiled.  “Who else?” she asked.  “Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan would be perfect,” I said.  “He’s the funniest, wittiest guy in the business.  And, he’s been a friend for a long time.  I’d really like to have Bobby present.”  (Next week’s special column will focus on, and be a tribute to, the amazing Bobby Heenan).  “Kurt Angle would be a good choice,” I added.  “The CAC presented him with The Future Legends Award back in the year 2000.  Wow, did they call it!  Let’s keep Kurt on the list.”  I smiled.  “I think I should be the first award recipient to have twelve superstars of professional wrestling co-present my award,” I proclaimed.  “And, I suppose,” my friend Bobbie said, “you want everybody there – 500-plus professional wrestlers – to give you a standing ovation, too, right?”  “No,” I responded as I pushed my chest out and cocked my head to the side, “I want my fellow wrestlers to make me feel at home.  I want everybody in the building to boo me.  Now, that would be absolutely perfect!”  We both smiled and nodded in agreement.  Until next week, 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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