Over the Top Rope

Rock Riddle's
Wrestling Revue

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

Original Publication Date:   November 16, 2006

Click on any of the smaller photos to enlarge

Prior to the mid-1980’s, most automobile odometers were of the five-digit variety.  They could register a maximum of 99,999 miles.  Drive the vehicle another mile, and the odometer would reset itself to zero.  Wrestlers usually bought new cars every year.  Spending six or more hours per day driving meant that the odometer would turn over at least once during that year.  Many of the wrestlers would sell their “current model new car with only 38,000 miles on the odometer,” for example, without always pointing out to the buyer that the car had actually been driven 100,000 miles, or, in a couple of cases, 200,000 miles more than was indicated.  “Oh, I’ve been selling my cars for the past seven years,” said a particular main-event wrestler in Tennessee.  “Nobody ever asked me if the odometer had turned over a time or two.  If they don’t ask, I don’t tell.”

I went through a lot of cars in my wrestling travels.  A used Canadian Rambler lasted for about a month.  I sold it to an immigrant family for $100.00.  They drove it away, but came back a few days later to complain that I overcharged them.  I drove a new Ford van for a year before it died.  It was useless after a year, so I gave it away.  I had a great Cadillac “land yacht” that I drove for nearly two years.  It may have lasted even longer, had the fans not destroyed it.  Yes, I did such a good job as a “bad-guy” wrestler that they actually torched my car!  My Lincoln Continental looked and rode like a limousine but lasted for less than a year.  I had one car, however, that kept going and going and going – for nearly half a million miles.  It was a Volkswagen Karman Ghia.  At seventy-plus miles per hour, that little 2-seater sports car maintained a consistent 36 miles-per-gallon.

Shortly after I purchased the Karman Ghia, I bought a maintenance book.  I saved a lot of money doing the routine maintenance myself.  And, of course, when I did the tune-ups and oil changes, I knew they were done correctly, and I never “overcharged” myself or did “unnecessary repairs.”  I enjoyed traveling alone, and this was the perfect car for “single pilot” operation.  Occasionally, one of the wrestlers would ask, after a match, if he could ride back to the base town with me.  “Of course,” I would answer, “but my car’s pretty small.”  “Oh, I don’t mind,” the 285-pounder would say.  “It’s only a six-hour ride.”  Then when the wrestler saw how small the car actually was, he would usually say, “On second thought, Rock, I think I’ll ride with one of the other guys.”  That worked out well, because I usually preferred to travel alone, and I never had to directly say “no” to a ride-along request.

The Karman Ghia, like the VW bug, had its engine in the rear.  I purchased a large orange suitcase that fit perfectly in the car’s forward trunk.  I customized the suitcase by creating compartments for its contents.  Those contents included a two-burner camping stove and extra fuel, a toaster-oven, pots and pans, dishes, silverware, spices and non-perishable food.  If I were going to stay over in a wrestling town, I would usually stop at a grocery store before the matches.   I had a small ice chest behind my seat.  I would buy any additional food items that I might need for dinner and breakfast – steak or chicken, butter, eggs, cheese, bread – those sorts of things.  Most of the motels had “No Cooking in Rooms” signs, but I knew those signs were meant for other people, not me.  On a number of occasions the motel manager would call my room.  “Mr. Riddle,” he would say, “somebody’s cooking in one of the rooms.  We can’t have any cooking in the rooms.  You’re not cooking in your room, are you?”  “Oh, you smell that, too?” I would respond.  “Whatever it is, it smells great -- like garlic cheese bread.  Mmmm. Actually, it’s making me hungry.  Are there any good restaurants around here?”  That usually worked, except at one particular motel in Georgia.

It was a little motel in the southern suburbs of Atlanta.  I stayed there while wrestling for GCW, the NWA-sanctioned Georgia Championship Wrestling organization.  I cooked in my room fairly frequently.  The managers, a not-terribly-trustworthy-looking, overweight, unattractive man and wife (I think) strongly suspected that it was me, but they could never prove it.  The fact that I cooked near an open window with a fan blowing the smell outside helped.  It was an interesting cat and mouse game that was about to end.  I had completed my Georgia Championship Wrestling “tour,” and I would be leaving in the wee hours of the next morning for my match at Chicago’s International Amphitheater.  I had accumulated more “stuff” than would fit into my little car.  The nosy motel managers suggested that I could fit everything in if I left my valet, Ms. Pamela, there.  I pondered the possibility briefly, but decided, instead, that I should ship a couple of boxes and take Ms. Pamela with me.  After all, I was heading to the prestigious AWA, and the American Wrestling Association had booked Rock Riddle AND his valet, Ms. Pamela.  I could never disappoint a wrestling promotion.

I carefully packed two large boxes with publicity materials including hundreds of photos, wrestling programs, magazines, newspaper articles, and even posters featuring Rock “Mr. Wonderful” Riddle.  Since I did not have a forwarding address yet, I decided to ship the seventy-plus pounds of publicity materials and memorabilia to my parents in North Carolina.  I called UPS.  They told me what the shipping charges would be and they scheduled a pick-up from the motel’s office around nine o’clock the next morning, about five hours or so after I would have left for my match in Chicago.  I put the two boxes behind the counter at the motel and handed the managers enough cash to cover the UPS bill.  I called my parents to tell them to expect a delivery.

A week later, I called to check that the boxes had arrived.  They had not.  A week after that, I called again.  They had still not arrived.  Another week went by.  No boxes.  I called UPS.  I was told that the UPS driver, indeed, had arrived at 9:00 AM for pickup at the motel lobby, as had been prearranged, but there were no boxes.  I went into detective mode and discovered that there were also no managers on that fateful morning.  Apparently, Ms. Pamela and I were not the only people to leave in the wee hours of the morning.  The “managers” had also left, along with a large amount of the motel’s money, my UPS-assigned money, and my two boxes.

I lost several years' worth of publicity materials and memorabilia.  Gradually, over the years, I have been rebuilding a small portion of the collection.  The photographs, of course, can not be replaced.  But, wrestling fans who know this story and who have Rock Riddle programs, magazines, newspaper clippings and the like, have been kind enough to send some of those items to me.  If you know anyone who might have additional materials concerning my wrestling career, I would greatly appreciate it if you would have them contact me.  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."

© 2006 Rock Riddle & Hollywood Success.

Previous Column Wrestling Revue Home Page Next Column

Copyright © 2015 -- APS Entertainment, Hollywood Success Marketing and Public Relations and Rock Riddle -- All Rights Reserved
APS Entertainment, 6464 Sunset Blvd., Suite 740, Hollywood, CA  90028
Serving the Entertainment Industry Since 1978 -- Same address and phone for over 30 years
(323) 462-2777  --  e-mail:  Rock @ HollywoodSuccess.com

Home ] Up ]