Over the Top Rope

Rock Riddle's
Wrestling Revue

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

Original Date of Publication:   June 8, 2006

Click on any of the smaller photos to enlarge

One of the most desirable wrestling “territories” was Roy Shire’s San Francisco-based promotion.  The trips were relatively short, the pay was good, and the caliber of wrestling talent was exceptional.  Wrestlers all over the world dreamed of one day wrestling out of the “San Francisco office.”  Most knew that they would never would.  “Shire only keeps a small number of guys,” the wrestlers told me.  “Too many people want to wrestle there, so it’s really tough to get in.”  I’ve been told my whole life what I can’t do.  Other people’s limited opinions never stopped me.  I set my sights on San Francisco, and, within six weeks, I was welcomed with open arms.  Roy Shire was happy to have me join his National Wrestling Alliance “territory.” 

I wrestled many of the world’s top stars there -- Pat Patterson, Ray Stevens, Rocky Johnson, Cowboy Bob Ellis, Kinji Shibuya, Red Bastien, Pepper Gomez, Pepper Martin, Terry Garvin, Lars Anderson, Superstar Billy Graham, Moondog Mayne, Ripper Collins, Dutch Savage, Dick Murdoch, Paul DeMarco, The Great Mephisto, Peter Maivia, Buddy Rose, The Samoans, Mando & Chavo Guerrero, Professor Toru Tanaka, The Great Fuji, Roddy Piper, Don Muraco, and dozens more.  I made very good money there, and I had a great two-year run.

Occasionally I would get phone calls from wrestlers in other parts of the country.  They wanted to know how I got booked into the San Francisco territory – and could I get them in?  I remember one talented young wrestler from the South.  “How in the world did you get yourself booked there?” he asked.  “I sent the promoter a couple of photos and a letter of introduction,” was my response.  “But, you never met Shire before,” he continued, “and you didn’t have another promoter make a phone call for you.  That must have been one amazing letter.  What did it say?”  “Well,” I answered, “I simply told Roy Shire that I was very good in the ring and on the microphone, and I knew he could make a lot of money with me.”  “Oh, wow, Rock,”  the wrestler responded.  “I could never say anything like that to Roy Shire!”  “I know,” I said with a smile, “That’s why I’m here and you’re still wrestling in Tennessee.”  Like everything else in life, success oftentimes comes as a result of simply having the courage to ask for what you want.

Roy Shire’s wrestling tapes were shown all over the world.  At that time, his “International TV Wrestling Network” was seen by more people in more places than any other promotion.  Fan mail poured in.  I “worked” the San Francisco territory well, and, as a result, received more mail than anyone in the history of the show.  That mail opened many doors for me.

Hank Renner was the TV announcer.  He was excellent at his job, and he was a great, likeable, funny human being.  All of the TV shows aired live in the Northern California area.  No six-second delay; the fans at home were seeing the matches at exactly the same time the fans in the studio were seeing them.  The best part of live TV was that the interviews were live.  For a professional wrestler, life doesn’t get any better than live televised interviews.  We could get away with just about anything.  And, believe me, very few people have more extreme senses of humor than professional wrestlers.

Hank Renner inadvertently gave me a great “gimmick.”  We were doing live TV.  I had just defeated my opponent.  As was customary, I came down to ringside to do a live interview after my match.  Hank said, “Rock, you’re getting an incredible amount of mail.  Here are just a handful of letters that came in today.  I think there’s a concerted effort by the fans to get you barred from wrestling on the West Coast.”  “Here,” I said, “Let me see those.”  I grabbed the letters from his hand.  “These are obviously more fan letters from women who have fallen madly in love with me.  You know, Renner, when I first came to this little dirt-farming village of …ahhh ...”  “Sacramento,” he coached.  “Yeah,” I continued.  “When I first came to this little pea-patch town of Sacramento, they finally put their three garbage trucks to use.  Those trucks followed me around just to pick up the so-called ‘females’ who fainted at the very sight of me.  They haven’t seen this much masculinity in their lives.”  “Yes, we know, Rock,” Hank interrupted, “But, I think you’ll find these are not fan letters; this is more like hate mail.”  “No, that's ridiculous, Renner,” I said, “I’ll open one.”

I opened an envelope and took out the letter.  It was, indeed, very similar to hundreds of others I had received over the past few weeks.  It called me a disgusting pig.  The words “Oink, Oink, Oink” were obvious.  There was even a pig drawn on the letter.  The language was pretty harsh.  I smiled, knowing that I had done my job well.  Then I held the letter up, faced the camera, and “read” it.  “Dear Mister Wonderful,” I began, “You are the most handsome, gorgeous, amazingly sexy man I have ever seen.  I never even imagined that it was possible to have such a muscular body adorned by such a ravishingly handsome face.  << oh, look, she misspelled ‘ravishingly,’ but that’s understandable – she’s from California.  I’ll continue reading her letter: >>  From the moment I first saw you on television, you became the man of my dreams, the man of my fantasies.  Yes, Rock Riddle, Mr. Wonderful, you truly are the diamond ring and Cadillac man.  You truly are the man who possesses the body that men fear and women love.  You truly are the ‘heavenly body’ and the ‘continental lover’  << okay, the letter goes on and on, but I’m sure you get the gist of it – and it’s signed Mary J. Williams, 422 Wellington Street, Sacramento.”  I would actually read the real name and city of the person who wrote the hate mail.  Just imaging what their faces must have looked like could keep a smile on my face for days.

Of course, very few of the fans saw the humor in what I said.  I kept telling the women to quit sending in those disgusting photos of themselves.  “If I want women, I’ll have them flown in from Florida,” was one of my favorite lines.  “Women in Florida have all of their own teeth.”  Of course, when I was wrestling in Florida, I changed it to “California women.”  I talked about all of the men being jealous.  I told them that it wasn’t my fault that their wives left them with the hope of somehow, someday getting my attention.  I talked about the big, fat, dirty, beer-bellied husbands watching wrestling and fantasizing that they could be me – and how ridiculous it was.

I thought my interviews were hysterically funny.  Apparently, the fans did not.  I had dozens of people pull knives on me, I had my life threatened numerous times, I was shot at twice, and the police took a gun away from an old guy in a wheelchair who said his intention was to shoot me.  Well, at least my readers understand me – I think.  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 8˝ 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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