Over the Top Rope

Rock Riddle's
Wrestling Revue

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

Original Date of Publication:   May 11, 2006

Click on any of the smaller photos to enlarge

The world-famous Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California.  Filmways Television was about to shoot a movie of the week for CBS-TV.  It would be called “Mad Bull” and would star Alex Karras and Susan Anspach.  It would be another wrestling movie produced, directed, and written by non-wrestlers.  In other words, we (the professional wrestlers) would eventually watch it and smile.  We would find it sadly laughable.  It would be obvious to us that the gentleman who wrote the screenplay had never been in the ring in his life and had no clue as to how our business operates.  We had grown to know what to expect from the non-wrestling public.  Amongst the actors ineptly “acting” like wrestlers in the film, the production company, to their credit, also hired real professionals.  They included Rowdy Roddy Piper, Jay “The Alaskan” York, Bull Ramos, H.B. Haggerty, Adrian Adonis, Tom Jones, and yours truly, Rock Riddle. 

"MAD BULL"
CBS-TV Movie of the Week

A ten-man battle royal was one of the high points of the film.  In the battle royal there were two female wrestlers, five male wrestlers and a few actors portraying wrestlers.  One of the female wrestlers had blonde hair.  She had been wrestling professionally for several years and obviously knew her way around the squared circle.  I asked her if she thought she could body-slam me.  She smiled and said, “Just let me know when you’re ready.”   It was a good solid body-slam that looked really good in the film.  The other female wrestler – the one with long dark hair – had also been wrestling professionally for a few years.  I didn’t have to ask her if she could body-slam me.  It was obvious that she could, because “she” was actually – are you ready for this? -- Rowdy Roddy Piper.  (Roddy is going to be sooooooo happy that I shared his little secret with you!)

We were ready to shoot the last half of the battle royal.  The producer, Richard M. Rosenbloom, and the director, Len Steckler, were sharing with us what they wanted.  Each wrestler would be thrown out of the ring until just two people remained.  One would be actor Richard Karron, who played Yapopotsky.  The other would be me.  Finally, I would be thrown over the top rope.  The director said, “Let’s rehearse it.”  I looked at him as though he were crazy.  “You want to rehearse me being thrown over the top rope to the concrete floor below?” I asked.  “No, I only do it once.”  I had been suggesting much of the choreography of the match already, so I basically took control, respectfully, of the situation.  “Okay,” I said.  “After all of the others have been eliminated, Yapopotsky will take be by the left wrist, like this.”  I demonstrated with the actor.  “He will pull me in this direction.  I will go over the top rope here.”  I looked at the producer, who was sitting in the first row of seats.  “Mr. Rosenbloom,” I said, “I will be coming down exactly where you are sitting.  It’s your responsibility to get out of the way.”  He smiled.  He thought I was kidding.  I wasn’t.

We did the extended battle royal scene in one long take.  Everything went perfectly.  Yapopotsky grabbed my left wrist and directed me toward the exact spot I had suggested to him earlier.  I went flying over the top rope, turned upside down in the air, and was quickly approaching the chair where the producer had been sitting a split second earlier.  The back on my left heel hit with such force that the entire front two-thirds of the seat was broken off.  I hit the concrete on my back, rolled to my side, and waited.  “Cut!  Cut!  Are you alright?  Get some help here,” yelled the producer and director.  Once again I looked at them as if they were out of their minds.  “You cut too soon,” I said, “you could have had a few more seconds of me lying there motionless.”  “We thought you were hurt,” the director said.  “That was an amazing fall.”    “I know,” I said, smiling, “That’s why I didn’t rehearse it.”

Later on in the week, we were about to shoot a scene with Alex Karras.  He and I were supposed to be “training” in the wrestling ring.  Before we shot, the director looked at me and said, “Rock, explain to Alex what you’re going to do.”  I began to tell Alex when he interrupted.  “I’ve wrestled before,” he said, slightly condescendingly.  “I know what to do.”  “Oh, sorry,” I said, “Well, then, this will be just a standard takedown.  We’ll tie up; I’ll shoot your left arm out of the way, drop down behind you and roll you up backward.  Simple and basic.”  Alex had somewhat of a blank look on his face.  Softly, he said, “Maybe you’d better show me.”  I had made my point, and we got along great from that moment on.  It was very nice working with “Mongo” from “Blazing Saddles” -- one of my favorite characters from one of my favorite movies.

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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