Over the Top Rope

Rock Riddle's
Wrestling Revue

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

Initial Publication Date:   July 26, 2007

Click on any of the smaller photos to enlarge

I must have done at least a thousand live TV interviews during my professional wrestling career.  This time, however, at the world’s largest yearly gathering of “wrestling legends,” the tables had been turned and I was asking the questions.  My company, APS Entertainment (a Hollywood-based production company and “marketing machine” for actors and others in the entertainment industry) was shooting footage on location in Las Vegas.  As a producer for the upcoming feature film “When Wrestling Was Real,” I had the privilege of conducting on-camera interviews with several of my famous wrestler friends.  And, in anticipation of readers’ questions … No, the film will not be a documentary or a docudrama.  It will be a “period piece;” a feature film set in the world of late 1970s/early 1980s professional wrestling.  The screenplay is based on real people who made an impact in the wrestling world … the way it used to be.  The interviews were shot for possible inclusion for the opening and closing scenes of the movie. 

I was interviewing my friend, Playboy Buddy Rose.   Last week, I shared Part One of the interview with you.  Today, I’ll pick up where we left off.  We were discussing the “good old days” when we used to wrestle every single day, day in and day out, for months and months at a time.  We talked about the “double shot” days when we would wrestle two different opponents in two different towns in the same day.  We recalled how strange it was to have a day off.  We talked about the various wrestling “territories.”  We compared and contrasted those with “short trips” where you could be home just about every night and those with the very long trips where it was unusual to get back home at all between wrestling gigs.  We talked about the strain on the wrestlers who had wives and families, and we talked about our love of the business.

“I spent a lot of time in the Northwest because the trips were short and I could be home every night,” Buddy Rose explained.  “Traveling the world, of course,” Buddy explained, “and seeing the world; that’s one of the great things about this business.  You and I, Rock, have lived the life that probably most people who are eighty years old could only dream of.  The fact that we’ve been to all of the countries and lived in their cultures is more than most people could even imagine.”  Buddy had pointed out how lucky we were to have lived such an amazing life.  I smiled because I agreed.  “I have to say,” Buddy continued, “that there’s no other country anywhere like the United States of America.  After living in so many countries with all the different people and so many different cultures, the United States of America is the best place to be.”

I wanted Buddy to share more insight into the wrestling business.  “It was a wonderful business,” I said, “but it could also be a pretty tough business.”  “Yes, the business was tough,” he admitted.  “It could be very tough.  You worked [wrestled] when you were hurt.  Today, it’s different.  Today, if you get hurt – even if you hurt your pinky and the doctor says you’re hurt, you still get your contract money.  In our day, we were living off the houses [the amount of money from ticket sales at the various arenas], and our pay was based on how good the houses were.”  I agreed.  “And, if you did get hurt,” Buddy continued, “somebody else would take your spot – and you weren’t getting paid!  And, most of the time you had to pay your own doctor bills, depending on the promoter.”  I could only think of one promoter who ever paid for one of my doctor bills.  Promoters paying a wrestler’s doctor or hospital bill was almost unheard of.   And, like most wrestlers, I spent a fair amount of money on doctors.  I smiled and said, “Do you mean to tell us that you actually knew a wrestling promoter who paid?”  “Yes,” Buddy quickly answered.  “Promoter Don Owens paid.”  I was amazed.  “Really?” I asked, astonished.  “Don Owens would pay,” Buddy reiterated, “if you got hurt in the ring.  If you got hurt on your own, no.  I mean, if you got hurt stumbling off your step at home or something, no.”  Buddy had a mischievous look for a moment as though it would be really funny to spend the next fifteen minutes listing all of the ways someone could conceivably hurt themselves outside of the ring.  I smiled and shook my head slightly.  He raised an eyebrow which, to me, indicated, “Okay, Rock, maybe you’re right,” and he continued on a more serious note.  “But, if you got hurt in the ring,” he explained, “yes, he would pick up the doctor bills.  But, if you were off because of that injury for two weeks, you weren’t getting any checks, so you wanted to -- you had to -- keep working even though you were hurt.  That happened many, many times, and you know what that was like.”

Yes, I knew very well what it was like to wrestle while injured.  Flashing through my mind at that moment were the times I wrestled, against doctor’s orders, five nights straight with contusions and cracked ribs.  I thought of the times I had wrestled with a broken nose, a broken thumb, a ruptured eardrum and the countless times I had stepped into the ring with sprained ankles, sprained wrists, and multiple additional injuries.  I thought of friends who had wrestled with broken bones.  I recalled the one and only time that a promoter paid for my hospital visit.  I had fought my way, in street clothes, through a beyond-hostile crowd, to help get a trapped top-money-making main event wrestler safely back to the dressing room.  The fact that the fans were totally out of control and that I was risking my life to save the wrestler never was a serious consideration.  I was amazed that one of the promoters met me at the hospital and paid the bill for me to have my head stitched back together.  There were so many things I could have said in response to Buddy’s statements.  “But this isn’t the Rock Riddle Show,” I thought to myself.  “This is Buddy’s interview, and he has limited time.” 

Buddy had a serious expression on his face.  He was talking directly to me, but thanks to many years of doing interviews, he was “cheating” the camera.  For those non-Hollywood types, that means he was looking somewhere between my face and the camera.  That way, the viewers got to see all of his face, not just a profile.  “I don’t know how we made it through for all these years without a scratch [serious injury],” he said, now directing his attention fully to the camera.  Of course,” he continued, “even though I got banged up, and took, the same as Rock Riddle, thousands and thousands of ‘bumps’ in the ring, and bled ... I just don’t know how close we came, just trying to tuck in time, just trying to land in time … how close we came to becoming quadriplegic.  We must have had angels watching over us.”  I nodded, realizing how right he was and how lucky we were.  “We’ve lost a lot of wrestlers,” Buddy continued, with sadness in his voice.  “Some are because of scientific reasons, the modern day medicines that have come out.  We all know that those are some of the reasons.”  Buddy got even more serious.  “But, I’ve also learned …” There was a slight pause before he continued.  “I went to rehab myself … for …” Yes, dear readers, we’ll continue this most serious side of the Playboy Buddy Rose interview next week.  Until then, thank you!  And, 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."

© 2007 Rock Riddle & Hollywood Success.

Previous Column Wrestling Revue Home Page Next Column

Copyright © 2015 -- APS Entertainment, Hollywood Success Marketing and Public Relations and Rock Riddle -- All Rights Reserved
APS Entertainment, 6464 Sunset Blvd., Suite 740, Hollywood, CA  90028
Serving the Entertainment Industry Since 1978 -- Same address and phone for over 25 years
(323) 462-2777  --  e-mail:  Rock @ HollywoodSuccess.com

Home ] Up ]