Over the Top Rope

Rock Riddle's
Wrestling Revue

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

Original Date of Publication:  May 4, 2006

Click on any of the smaller photos to enlarge

Nick Goulas was the wrestling promoter for Tennessee and the surrounding states.  The trips for the wrestlers were very long, and the pay was bad.  The common belief was that Nick Goulas would pay the guys barely enough so they wouldn’t starve; and not so much that they could afford to leave.  Add the fact that he bragged about paying over a million dollars a year in taxes on his promotion, and you can understand why Nick Goulas was almost universally hated.  Ex-professional star Dickie Steinborn said, “He was the worst wrestling promoter ever.  His 8x10 picture hangs in my gym -- with a toilet seat for a frame.”

I got along with everybody in the wrestling business.  I didn’t particularly like Nick Goulas, but I didn’t dislike him either.  He was the wrestling promoter, and I had chosen to wrestle for his promotion.  So, I accepted him for who and what he was.  Even though everyone complained long and hard about the lousy money, some of the biggest stars in the world of professional wrestling were there.  I was happy and considered myself lucky; I learned a lot about wrestling in Tennessee.  For example, I wrestled the former World Champion, Lou Thesz, there.  And, what a tremendous wrestling lesson that was.  It was scary, but I loved it. 

Nick Goulas based his promotion out of the Sam Davis Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee.  I stopped by the wrestling office to “check in” and get my “booking slip” for the upcoming week.  I said hello to some of the wrestlers in the lobby on my way out, and I headed to the parking lot.  I was about twenty feet from my car when I heard a voice behind me.  “Hold up a minute, there, Rock.”  It was Sam Bass, one of the greatest wrestling managers of all time.  “Where you wrestling tonight?” he asked.  I looked at my booking slip.  “Bowling Green, Kentucky,” I replied.  “Oh, Man,” Sam continued.  “They must love you.  That’s a short trip, only a couple of hours away.  But it’s a little tricky to get there.  You got a map?  I’ll show you how to go.”  I grabbed a map from the glove compartment and began to unfold it on the hood of my car.  “No, Rock,” Sam said.  “Bring it over to the table there, next to the hotel.  It’ll be easier to see.”  I could see it fine on the hood of my car, but maybe Sam wanted it on a flat surface.  So, I took it over to the table, which was against the outside wall of the hotel.  Sam helped me flatten out the map.  He pointed to an intersection.  “That’s where we are right now,” he said, “Now, what you want to do is go straight up that way to the I-40 West.”  Sam was backing away from me as he was talking.  “Then you want to take the I-65 North.”  Sam was now about 15 feet away from me with a little grin on his face.  I started to ask him why he was “standing over there” when I heard a very loud KER-SPLASH!  Fifty gallons of water had just hit the pavement at high velocity – about five feet from me.  I looked up to the top floors of the hotel.  There was Jerry “The King” Lawler, hanging out the window laughing, holding a large now-empty garbage can.  Sam Bass was grinning.  “I think that’s the first time he missed,” Sam admitted.  Jerry Lawler was scurrying around on the hotel’s upper floor.  He yelled down to me, “Hold on, Riddle.  I got a message for you from the office.”  The first “message” had missed, and I certainly wasn’t going to stand around waiting for Lawler to “re-load.”  I smiled and waved to him from my car as I left the parking structure.  He would eventually succeed with a few of his other jokes, but he would never get me with his “extreme water bomb.” 

The more dangerous the occupation, the more extreme the sense of humor.  Professional wrestling was (and is) an exceptionally dangerous profession.  Dozens of my fellow wrestlers were seriously injured, paralyzed, and even killed in the ring.  It’s only natural that our humor is a bit extreme.

About a year later, we were wrestling outdoors at a racetrack in some small town in Alabama.  After my match, I showered, dressed, and headed to my car – only my car was missing.  I finally located it on the other side of the building, about a block and a half away.  I went back to the dressing room and made an announcement.  “Jokes are fine.  ‘Ribs’ are fine, but not when someone goes through your clothes to get your car keys.  That’s not funny,” I said.  “Then, you should laugh,” said one of the wrestlers, “because nobody went through your personal stuff.”  It finally dawned on me.  “These are professional wrestlers, Rock.  They physically picked your car up and moved it.”  I smiled.  “Yeah,” I said, “that was a good one.”  One of the guys pulled a newspaper clipping from his bag.  “Want to hear a funnier one?” he asked, “Read this.”  The newspaper story reported on an “impossible” situation.  An automobile had appeared on the top floor of a hotel.  The car was a little too long to fit in the elevator, and there was no way it could have been driven in anyway.  The newspaper had no solution.  The wrestlers did.  “Oh, gee,” said one of the guys, “It doesn’t seem possible, does it?  I don’t guess someone might have turned the car upside down, holding the rear end up in the air – so it might just barely fit in the elevator – and, then, 22-stories later, remove the car, turn it right-side up, and put it at the end of the hallway, huh?”  It took four of them to do it.

Next week:
Bound and Gagged Midget Wrestler Signals Cops at Tollbooth
New Wrestler Screams ‘Let Me Out’ at 200 mph
The Shotgun in the Suitcase
“The Lady Was a Guy”
and more "wrestling ribs."
 

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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