Over the Top Rope

Rock Riddle's
Wrestling Revue

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

Original Publication Date:   March 1, 2007

Click on any of the smaller photos to enlarge

Today marks the first issue of the second year for this column.  Many thanks go to you, the wonderful readers, for making the first year an unqualified success.  During the unfolding of this second year, you are encouraged to submit questions and comments via e-mail.  My assistant and I will answer as many as we can, and the more interesting questions will be answered in future editions of “Over the Top Rope.”

Although I was introduced to wrestling when I was fourteen years old, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to actually become a professional wrestler until two years later.  I remember the moment I made the decision and, therefore, the commitment.  I had just turned sixteen.  I absolutely knew that I would turn pro before my twenty-first birthday.  The vast majority of my waking hours were spent planning, plotting, and preparing for that eventuality to come to fruition.  Many of my non-waking hours were filled with dreams of my upcoming life in the wonderful world of professional wrestling.  There was never even a trace of a doubt in my mind that I would succeed.  Not only was failure never an option – failure was never even a thought. 

Because I had played my wrestling career over so many times in my head before it became a reality, I took the reality in stride.  I was recently asked a question that I had been asked dozens of times before.  “Who trained you?” was the familiar question.  “I trained myself,” was the response, which resulted in now-to-be-expected laughter.  Although my sense of humor is somewhat extreme, my answer was not given to provoke laughter; it was given because it was true.  I studied the moves of the best of the best in the wrestling business.  I dissected those moves, studied them from every conceivable angle, and put them back together again.  When I tried the moves for the first time in the ring, they generally went quite well and looked good.  I expected them to look good.  I had practiced them in my head hundreds of times.  When I received compliments on many of my first-ever moves, I simply said, “Thank you.”  Nobody ever knew that I had just executed a particular move for the first time.

I also learned the business of wrestling by making a study of it.  Gaps in my understanding were usually filled in by other wrestlers, but the vast majority of my understanding of wrestling, the business of wrestling, the psychology of wrestling, and crowd psychology itself was learned before I ever stepped into the ring.  In fact, the first time I actually stepped into a professional wrestling ring was when I wrestled my first professional bout.  Because I had wrestled so many times in my mind, I wasn’t surprised that my first professional wrestling match took place when I was twenty years of age.  I wasn’t surprised that I wrestled in the main event of the evening.  I wasn’t even surprised that I was victorious in my first-ever match.  I thought, “Well, that was cool.  You won your first match and it was a main event.  Now, let’s move on and concentrate on tomorrow night’s match.”

I seldom reflected on my past matches.  When I thought a match could have been better, I replayed the match in my head a few dozen times.  But, generally, once a match was over, I moved on.  I took my entire career in stride.  At the time, I didn’t place much importance on any one given match or on any particular series of matches.  I wrestled hundreds and hundreds of people -- from semi-known “names” to major internationally known and adored World Champions.  I wrestled literally thousands of individual matches in my career.  I wrestled so many people that I didn’t keep track of their names.  Because I had programmed myself for success, I expected it.  Because I expected it, I took my career somewhat nonchalantly.

After I had been in the profession for a few years, a friend asked me who I had wrestled the night before.  I remember shrugging my shoulders and saying, “I don’t know.  ‘Last night’ was more than ten minutes ago.  I don’t remember.”  Although I added the “ten minutes ago” remark to instill a little humor in my answer, I really didn’t know.  I probably wasn’t paying attention when the announcer gave my opponent’s name, and, quite honestly, I generally didn’t care.  Besides, most of my opponents tended to blur and run together after a while.

I loved my work, but I didn’t realize how incredibly amazing the details of my wrestling career would become.  Last year, I was asked if I had ever wrestled Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka.  “I don’t think so,” I answered.  “I wrestled hundreds of guys.  With a lot of them, I never knew or don’t remember their names.  But I don’t remember ever wrestling Snuka.”  I mentioned this to a wrestling buddy who said, “Sure you did, Rock.  I remember watching you and him in the ring together on more than one occasion.  You had some really good matches with that man.”  I still didn’t remember.  I did a little research and discovered that I had, indeed, wrestled the amazing Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka.  I was certainly happy that my career was going well as it was unfolding, but I wasn’t totally impressed with my success until over a dozen years later.

Now, as I look back on those eight-and-a-half-plus years as a full-time professional wrestler, I am sincerely impressed!  I wrestled, for example, the legendary Lou Thesz, and I wrestled him a number of times.  How many people alive can say that they ever climbed into the ring with “The Legend” himself?  Not that many!  How many people can say that they wrestled Andre the Giant, Pat Patterson, Jerry Lawler, Haystacks Calhoun, Ric Flair, Harley Race, Vern Gagne, Red Bastien, Jack Brisco, Dory and Terry Funk, Ted DiBiase, John Tolos, The Iron Sheik, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, "Judo" Gene Lebell, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Gorgeous George Jr., Greg Valentine, Dusty Rhodes, Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, Ray Stevens, Pedro Morales, Superstar Billy Graham, Mondo and Chavo Guerrero and so many more?

Writing this column has allowed me to research my own career.  As I continue to discover more details, I become more impressed and proud.  Where was Tony Robbins when I needed him?   He said, “If life is worth living, it is worth recording.”  And, so, I leave you with this suggestion:  From this day forth, document your life.  Years down the road, you may look back and be amazed!  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."

© 2007 Rock Riddle & Hollywood Success.

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