Over the Top Rope

Rock Riddle's
Wrestling Revue

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

Initial Publication Date:   June 21, 2007

Click on any of the smaller photos to enlarge

They're going to laugh at this introduction ...

It had been an extraordinary three-day event.  Four hundred professional wrestlers, including dozens of living legends, had gathered for the Forty-Second Annual CAC Wrestlers’ Reunion and Awards Banquet in Las Vegas, Nevada.  We had been joined by dozens of devoted wrestling fans, paparazzi, reporters, videographers and a contingent of national and international press people.  The first two-and-a-half days of the event built toward the “main event” – the actual awards banquet.  This was the highly anticipated event that professional wrestlers and fans alike had looked forward to for the past year.

Several professional wrestling legends were to be honored that evening.  The honorees included the late and great Owen Hart (his brother Bret “The Hitman” Hart accepted on Owen’s behalf), Don Leo Jonathan, Bob Geigel, Danny Hodge, Tito Carreon, J.J. Dillon, my old friend Cowboy Bob Kelly, and the late Yukon Eric.  Oh yes … and me, Rock Riddle.  My long-time friend and wrestling legend, Pat Patterson, presented my award, the “Reel Honoree” award.  “He’s a kid who always loved the business,” Pat began.  “He respected the old-timers.  He really enjoyed his trade … I give you Rock Riddle!”  I walked up the stairs to the stage and approached the podium.  As I was about to take the microphone, Pat said, “Hold on, Rock.  They don’t know the whole story.”  At that point, Pat proceeded to set me and the audience up for a two-minute joke (which I shared with you in last week’s column.)  I responded to Pat’s joke with laughter.

I took the microphone and surveyed the famous faces that filled the sold-out event.  I began my improvised twelve-minute acceptance speech in a serious manner.  I talked briefly about my introduction to the sport as a fourteen-year-old fan and my determined journey that led me into the ring as a professional wrestler six years later.  I talked about the wonderful feeling of family that we all shared in the business.  I talked about pride.  I let the audience know how proud I was to receive this honor and how proud I was that the CAC board of directors were unanimous in their voting.  I was honored to be receiving an award that encompassed both the world of professional wrestling and that of the Hollywood film and television industry.   I talked about the award briefly and mentioned a few of the past recipients – David Carradine, Kirk Douglas, Jimmy Cagney, Sylvester Stallone, and Mickey Rooney.  I mentioned my “Hollywood Marketing Machine” for professional actors, APS Entertainment and HollywoodSuccess.com.  “We have helped hundreds of actors to achieve their dreams, including several who are starring in feature films and on TV series.”  I spoke for a few more minutes before I directed my attention once again to Pat Patterson.  The expression on his face told me that he thought I was about to do a joke at his expense.  I think he was pleasantly surprised.

“I am honored,” I said, “to be here with you.  I am honored that so many people thought enough of me to present me with this award today for the work I’ve done in those two industries. [Film/TV and Wrestling]  What makes it even more special is the person who presented my award to me.  And, that is a living legend in a room full of living legends and someone I have admired for so long.”  I held out my arm as though I were pointing him out to the entire audience.  “He is the former United States Heavyweight Wrestling Champion,” I continued, “and a man with whom I had such beautiful matches.  And, I must share this fast story with you:  It was at least five years ago at a CAC convention just like this one …” I stopped in mid-sentence, once again looking intently at my audience.  “Do you realize how lucky we all are to have this, to be a part of this?” I asked.

“Five years or so ago,” I continued, “I was here.  Pat Patterson and I were talking.  I had not seen him for years.  There were A LOT of people around us.  After all, Pat’s a major living legend and a top superstar in the wrestling business, so lots of people wanted to talk to him.  I had been talking to him for about twenty minutes, and I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh.  Maybe I’m monopolizing his time.  Maybe I should back off a little and let these other people have a chance.  Who am I to think that I should monopolize his time?’  And, when I began to back away, Pat looked at me and said, ‘No, no, no, Rock.  Stay here.  I want to introduce you to some people.’  And, he said, ‘Rock, this is …’ and he introduced me to several people whom I had not met who had no idea, as far as I know, who I was.  Then he looked at them and he said, ‘Guys, I want to introduce you to Rock Riddle.  This is Rock Riddle.  This is the original Mr. Wonderful.  I had some of the best matches of my career with this man.’”  I took a moment to relive the moment and share it with the audience.  “I’m standing there,” I continued quite seriously, “waiting for the punch line.”  My eyes widened as I looked at Pat and then back at the audience.  “Only there was no punch line,” I said with a vulnerable look of amazement showing on my face.  “So I’m looking for something to hold onto, and I’m wondering if a tear is actually going to show itself rolling down my face.”  I directed my attention towards the side of the stage as I continued.  “I just want to say publicly:  Pat Patterson, that is the most amazing, wonderful compliment I think I have gotten in my entire life – coming from a brilliant person like you, a master in this industry, one of the most knowledgeable people there is in this business.  You made my day.  You may not even remember it, but you made my day.  You made my week.  You made my year.  You made an impact, at that moment, on the rest of my life.  And, you continued to introduce me to people in that manner.  I am so honored that you did that.”  I directed my attention back to the audience and continued.  “I am so honored to be here with all of you.”

A thought came to me as I was about to conclude my speech.  “I want you to also know,” I continued, “that I write a weekly newspaper column, mostly about late 1970s, early 1980s professional wrestling.  You can read them all on my website,
www.HollywoodSuccess.com.  You’ll see stories about Pat Patterson.”  I looked around the room, my eyes locking onto one of the best-known former World Heavyweight Heavyweight Champions.  I extended my left arm pointing him out as I said, “You’ll see stories mentioning the amazing legend, Harley Race.  And, you’ll read stories on so many of the other legends in this room.  Because, you have been and you are so important in my life.”

I knew it was time to conclude my speech and allow the next presentation to begin.  I concluded with these words:  “I am honored and I thank you.”  It dawned on me that my entire speech had been serious, heart-felt, and sincere, which was quite a departure from my public wrestling “bad guy” persona.  I smiled slightly.  “You haven’t seen me humbled before, have you?  Tonight you see me humbled, because I am standing here with giants.”  I gestured once again with my outstretched arm including the hundreds of wrestlers in the audience.  A respectful partial bow accompanied my closing words, “Thank you very much.”  I had just begun my journey from the stage to the press area when an approaching enthusiastic “Wonderful!” was clearly heard above the applause of the room.  The voice was that of the approaching Pat Patterson.  As we met, we respectfully hugged each other and Pat kissed my cheek.  “That was amazing, Rock,” he said.  “I didn’t know you could do that!”  Pat had heard me do many wrestling interviews, but this was the first time he had ever heard me speak on stage, seriously and respectfully, as “myself.”  Pat and many others in the audience were impressed.  It was obvious that Pat was also flattered and appreciated hearing my public acknowledgment of him and his extraordinary accomplishments in the wonderful world of professional wrestling.  As Pat and I stood posing for the dozens of photographers and press people, I could not help but smile.  I knew that I had achieved another milestone in my life and that I would remember the experience forever.

                                                                                          Photos: WRealLano@aol.com


Pat Patterson introduces Rock Riddle


Rock Riddle thanks Pat Patterson

Riddle and Patterson Pose for the Press

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.

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