Over the Top Rope

Rock Riddle's
Wrestling Revue

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

Date of Original Publication:   July 13, 2006

Click on any of the smaller photos to enlarge

June 10, 2006 – Las Vegas, Nevada – Part IV:  Saturday night, the third and final day of the 41st Annual CAC Wrestling Convention & Reunion – the largest and most prestigious event of its type in the world.  Hundreds of professional wrestlers and wrestling aficionados were in attendance.  The highly anticipated CAC Awards Dinner had begun.  First, those who had passed away during the last year were remembered.  Next, two of wrestling’s best were honored posthumously – Vivian Vachon and my dear friend Bobby Shane.  We all wiped away our tears and did our best to put the sadness behind us.  We looked around the room at present friends and smiled.

Now, finally, it was time to move on to the more enjoyable portions of the awards ceremony.  We all breathed a collective sigh of relief.  This year, twelve more of our colleagues would be honored.  First would be the “Reel Member Inductee” Award.  This is an award that is given to outstanding people in the film and television industry.  In many cases, the honoree also wrestled, portrayed a wrestler in a film or TV project, or simply had a special place in his or her heart for the wonderful world of professional wrestling.  Just over sixty people had received this award during the first forty-one years of the CAC organization.  They include Roddy Piper, Mimi Lesseos, Don Stroud, Joe Don Baker, Marion Ross, Robert Forster, Elliot Gould, Tommy Sands, Terry Moore, Fred Williamson, Denver Pyle, Beverly Garland, Norm Crosby, John Saxton, Harry Carey Jr., John Agar, Guy Madison, John Phillip Law, Woody Strode, Charles Bronson, Pat Buttram, James Cagney, Rory Calhoun, David Carradine, Robert Conrad, Kirk Douglas, Alex Karras, Gene LeBell, Karl Malden, George Raft, Aldo Ray, Cesar Romero, Mickey Rooney, and Sylvester Stallone.

I was scheduled, along with wrestling legend Jack Armstrong, to present the “Reel Member Inductee” Award for 2006.  Joining us as a special surprise guest presenter was ex-professional wrestler and internationally-known martial arts master, Gene LeBell.  The recipient of this prestigious award was the 6’10”, 300-pound professional wrestler-turned-movie-star, Scott L. Schwartz.  You’ll probably remember him from his portrayal of the character “Bruiser” in both “Ocean’s Eleven” and “Ocean’s Twelve.” 

First, Jack Armstrong took the microphone.  He had some wonderful words for his friend Scott Schwartz.  Then it was my turn.  “I am a man of very few words,” I began.  There was sporadic laughter from the audience.  “For those of you who are timing me,” I continued, “please let me know when forty-five minutes has passed.”  I smiled.  The audience groaned.  I’m sure each of them silently applauded when they discovered that I actually spoke for only about two minutes more.

Penny Banner and Lisa Haynes were the scheduled award presenters for the next recipient, Jessica Rogers.  Unfortunately, Penny Banner was unable to be at the event this year due to a battle with cancer.  I’ve known Penny Banner since I was fourteen years old.  She is one amazingly tough lady and she doesn’t lose important battles.

I was delighted to see my friend Dr. Ken Ramey receive an award.  What an amazing wrestling manager he was.  I was a fan of his before I got into the business.  It was a thrill to work with him and even to travel occasionally with him and his masked tag team champions, the Interns. 

Dick “The Destroyer” Beyer presented an award to Mil Mascaras.  I wrestled Mascaras many times, and it was good to see him honored.  This man was born in 1942, he’s in great shape, and he is still wrestling!

My former wrestling partner and Americas Tag-Team Championship Co-Holder, John Tolos, was scheduled to present the next award.  John, we discovered, had suffered a pretty severe heart attack only a few days earlier, and was not able to perform his duties that night.  Still, it was wonderful to see my friend, Pepper Martin, whom I wrestled many times, honored as one of wrestling’s best.

In the history of the CAC, only four people were honored in the martial arts category:  Benny “The Jet” Urquidez, Mimi Lesseos, Gokor Chivichyan, and Juan Hernandez.  For 2006, a fifth martial arts honoree was named:  Mike Martelle.  Gene LeBell and Jake Shannon presented his award.

The legendary Les Thatcher presented Scott Casey’s award.  My former tag-team partner Killer Tim Brooks received his award from another friend, CAC President Red Bastein. 

Former World Champion Verne Gagne was unable to appear in person to accept the “Lou Thesz Award.”  This prestigious award went to Antonio Inoki in 2004 and to my friend, the amazing Jack Brisco in 2005.  Nick Bockwinkel had the privilege of presenting Verne’s award to an unsuspecting and reluctant Larry “The Ax” Hennig.  This was a very interesting and highly amusing presentation.  Let’s just say that Hennig and Gagne did not always see eye-to-eye on things and were not the best of friends.

George Schire presented the “Art Abrams Lifetime Achievement Award” to Eddie Sharkey.  Former recipients of this award were Penny Banner (1997), William Papas (1998), Dan Gable (1999), Fr. Bill Olivas (2000), Ted Lewin (2001), Mike Chapman (2002) Angelo Savoldi (2003), Danny Hodge (2004) and Les Thatcher (2005).

The most prestigious award presented by the CAC is the “Iron Mike Mazurki Award.”  Former recipients were Woody Strode, HB (Hard Boiled) Haggerty, Vic Christy, Gene LeBell, Dick “The Destroyer” Beyer, Tom Drake, Lou Thesz, Jesse “The Body” Ventura, Ray “Thunder” Stern, Stu Hart, Killer Kowalski, Mad Dog Vachon, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and Terry Funk.  The CAC Board of Directors presented the 2006 Iron Mike Mazurki Award to former World Wrestling Champion, Harley Race.  What a great way to end a wonderful 3-day event – by honoring one of the greatest wrestling legends alive today, Harley Race.

I was honored to be a part of the event.  I was delighted to discover that I would be “honored” at the 2007 event – this time as a recipient.  Yes, it was a VERY good event.  Until next week, keep those emails 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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