Over the Top Rope

Rock Riddle's
Wrestling Revue

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

Scheduled Publication Date:   December 7, 2006

Click on any of the smaller photos to enlarge

Something mechanical was buzzing.  I peered out from underneath the blanket.  I was in another darkened hotel room.  After a while, they all looked alike.  I reached for that irritating plastic radio/alarm clock.  It read 4:32 a.m.   “Why would anyone have the alarm set for 4:30 in the morning?” I wondered.  I pulled the blanket and the sheets back over my head.  “Wait a minute though,” I thought.  “Where am I? … I know I’m in a hotel room, but where? ...  I don’t think I’m still in Georgia …. Where am I wrestling tonight?”  I had no idea.  I sat up on the side of the bed, turned on the little table lamp, and walked over to the window.  It must have been very cold, because all I could see were the ice-covered window panes.  By that time, however, I had regained enough awareness to remember where I was.  I had wrestled at Chicago’s famous International Amphitheater the night before, and I was in a hotel room only a dozen or so miles north of there.  Today, I would be heading to Minneapolis to begin my 8½-month AWA (American Wrestling Association) “tour.”  It was about 440 miles from the hotel room to the wrestling office in Minneapolis.  I had wanted to get an early start so I could survey the area and find a nice place to live.

Ms. Pamela, the lady who worked with me as my valet for well over a year in the wrestling business, was still sleeping.  “Wake up,” I said.  “We’re going to be on the road in twenty minutes.  She made a guttural sound of discontent and pulled the covers over her head.  “Get up,” I repeated.  “Oh, mmm, uh, five more minutes,” was her response.  “In thirty seconds,” I said, “your mattress goes vertical.  Be sure to keep your chin on your chest when you hit the floor.”  She knew that I knew she could take a fall.  She wasn’t entirely sure whether I was joking or not, so she arose fairly rapidly.  At that time in my career, I probably would have lifted the mattress and laughed as she rolled onto the floor.  The thought of doing so even brings a smile to my face today.  Obviously remnants of my extreme sense of humor have survived.

Ms. Pamela was carrying the large orange suitcase, my wrestling bag, and a shopping-type cloth bag to the car.  She was complaining about the cold.  “I’m f-f-freezing,” she said.  “Couldn’t you at least carry the suitcase?”  I half-smiled as I held my forefinger to my lips and said, “Shhhh.  Someone might hear you.  No, you’re my valet, so you need to carry everything.  Otherwise, someone might see us and it would blow the ‘gimmick.’”  “But it’s five o’clock in the morning, Rock.  Nobody else is crazy enough to even be awake,” she countered.  “Ah, yes,” I said, now with a full smile on my face, “but we can’t afford to take that chance.  It’s always about ‘protecting the business.’  You see, it’s totally appropriate that you are ‘wrestling’ with those bags.”  Ms. Pamela wasn’t terribly amused.  “Could we just please get in the car now?” she asked.  My sense of humor told me that it would be fun to say, “No, let’s just enjoy this nice crisp fresh air for a while.”  As badly as I wanted to say it, and as funny as I thought it would be, I wanted to get on the road more.  We loaded my little green 2-seater Karmann Ghia, and we were off to Minneapolis.

The journey took us into colder and colder conditions.  I had installed an auxiliary heater in the car in anticipation of the cold.  With both the regular and the auxiliary heater on, the trip was only a little on the cool side.  I enjoyed the journey, especially after the snow began.  The little sports car had tires that were great in the snow.  We watched other cars slide off the road.  We witnessed an 18-wheeler going sideways for fifty feet or so before the driver regained control.  I maintained my 70 mph speed as I made fun of the “wimps” who were slowing down.  Further down the road, Ms. Pamela was totally unaware of why my eyes widened and I slowed down a bit myself.  I was glad she didn’t realize that, for a few moments, even my little Karmann Ghia was not totally under my control.

We made very good time, especially considering the weather conditions.  It was snowing quite heavily by just after noon when I “checked in” at the Minneapolis wrestling office.  Wally Karbo, a partner/promoter for the AWA, greeted us and handed me my booking slip for the upcoming week.  My next match would be two days later in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  “Be sure to leave early,” Wally advised.  “We’ve got a blizzard coming in, you know.”  “Yes, we know,” I responded.  We had been hearing about it on the car radio for the past seven hours.  “And you know to have survival stuff with you, right?” Wally asked.  “Absolutely,” I responded.  “I always have survival ‘stuff’ in the car.”  I smiled and said, “I was an Eagle Scout, you know?  ‘Be prepared.’”  Wally looked sternly at me.  “If that’s true,” he said, “don’t ever mention it again.  That’s all we need – for one of our ‘heels’ to be an Eagle Scout.”  I looked Wally square in the eyes and said, “A what?  I don’t know what you’re talking about.”  “Good,” he responded.  “I’ll see you in Green Bay.”  He turned his back and walked out of the room.  I looked at Ms. Pamela.  “I think that’s our cue to leave,” I said.

The snow was coming down harder.  I liked it.  We ended up finding a very nice apartment in the Brooklyn Park suburb of Minneapolis.  We made several trips to the supermarket to stock up on supplies.  Since I wasn’t wrestling that night, we had time to take in a movie and dine at a nice restaurant.  Every time we came back to the car, there were several more inches of snow on it.  “Gee,” Miss Pamela joked, “I hope we don’t get snowed in.”  Entry to the apartment was through its own street-level front door.  The next morning, sure enough, the door seemed stuck.  A “Rock Riddle shoulder block” opened it enough to see that accumulated show was now covering the lower five inches.  “Wow, this is cool,” I thought.  “Tomorrow should be great, since the blizzard is supposed to really hit tonight.” 

I was up early the next morning, knowing that it would take considerably longer to reach Green Bay with the heavy snows.  It was only about a three-hundred-mile drive, but I allowed twelve hours to get there.  This time the shoulder block on the front door did not work at all.  I really was snowed in.  Not only had snow blocked the door, but it had also covered a couple of inches of the bottom of the bedroom window.  I thought it was great to be able to crawl out that window and be on top of a four-foot snow drift.  Luckily, I was dressed warmly, especially since the temperature, with the wind chill factor, was equivalent to forty degrees below zero.  My hair must have been less that totally dry, because it froze.  The moisture from my breath froze the bottom of the ski hood I was wearing.  Other people’s cars wouldn’t start, even though they had been plugged into heaters all night.  I dug through the mound of snow that totally covered my little Karmann Ghia.  I smiled at the other people when my little non-preheated car started right up.  After a little more snow removal, I was on my way.  I arrived at the arena in Green Bay, Wisconsin early.  It was a Sunday, the snow was very deep, and the weather conditions were not pretty.  I was disappointed.  “Nobody will come out in this weather to see a wrestling match,” I thought.  “This trip will be a financial loss.”  I never bothered to leave my dressing room to look at the crowd.  I thought it would be too depressing.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered a totally sold-out arena!  Yes, I loved the AWA!  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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