Over the Top Rope

Rock Riddle's
Wrestling Revue

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

Scheduled Publication Date:   November 30, 2006

Click on any of the smaller photos to enlarge

I had completed my “tour” for Georgia Championship Wrestling and I was heading to the prestigious Minneapolis-based AWA, the American Wrestling Association.  I knew that the trips would be considerably longer there.  I also knew that the money would be considerably better.  I enjoyed traveling, and I was looking forward to the journey.  The drive from Atlanta to Minneapolis would be a very long one.  Thankfully, the AWA promotion came through for me even before I “officially” began wrestling for them.  “Rock,” the booker (matchmaker) said, “Let’s split that drive up for you.  How about you work the Amphitheatre in Chicago for us on your way here?  Then you’ll have two more days to get here and to find a place to live before you’ll be wrestling again.  How does that sound?”  I thought. “Fantastic!  Yes!  Chicago’s International Amphitheatre will be a major payday!  And, two days off?  Cool!”  I maintained my business-like composure and replied with a relaxed, “Sure.  That’s fine.  I’ll see you in Chicago, and I’ll check in with you at the wrestling office when I get to Minneapolis.”  This was going to be great!

Ms. Pamela (my valet for over a year in the professional wrestling business) and I left Atlanta in the wee hours of the morning, heading for Chicago.  We made very good time, arriving in the afternoon.  We checked into a hotel and had some of the best pizza I’ve ever eaten, at a little mom-and-pop place in the northern suburb of Highland Park.  I left Ms. Pamela at the hotel.  After all, this was my introduction to the AWA and I wasn’t sure of their “official guidelines.”  Many wrestling promotions had a “no-guests” policy.  “Look,” they would say, “this is your job.  You wouldn’t take your wife or girlfriend or friend with you if you worked a construction job, and you shouldn’t do it here, either.”  I didn’t want to begin my relationship with a major wrestling promotion by making mistakes.  It was a good, safe decision, I thought, to leave Ms. Pamela at the hotel.  Now, I was on my own, heading for the “big time” – Chicago’s International Amphitheatre.  I drove into one of the main parking entrances.  I looked at the attendant and said the magic word:  “Wrestler.”  Immediately I became royalty.  The attendant guided me to the private VIP parking area.  I resisted the urge to smile.  After all, I was a “bad guy.” 

The procedure was pretty much the same as with every other arena.  As soon as I entered, I was met by an official greeter, who showed me to my dressing room.  I asked, “How does it look for tonight?”  The gentleman stared momentarily at me with an “oh, this really must be your first time here; you really don’t know?” look.   Then he said, “A sell-out.”  “Oh, good,” I commented matter-of-factly.  Inwardly, I thought, “A sell-out!  Fantastic!  I’m going to make more money tonight than most people make in a month – maybe two months!”

The local wrestling promoter came in.  “Hello, Rock,” he said.  “Have any trouble finding the place?”  I smiled and began to answer as he cut me off.  “You’re on third.  So, your valet wrestles, too.  Must be rough getting two paychecks.  She’s on second.”  My jaw dropped, and I must have turned chalky white.  “You got a problem with that?” the promoter asked.  I hesitated for a moment before I spoke.   “She’s not here.  She’s at the hotel.  Nobody told either of us that she was booked.”  “Oh, #%$^, #@&%**&!,” he said.  “Stupid lousy scum-sucking *$#*@* b*stard help doesn’t do anything right!”  “I’ll call her at the hotel and tell her to get a taxi here,” I suggested.  I was envisioning that double paycheck.  “No,” the promoter said.  “There’s not enough time for that.  I’ll use the local girl instead.”  He continued his colorful language as he began to walk away.  I wanted to save the situation.  I looked towards him and asked, “Are you sure you don’t want me to have Ms. Pamela take a taxi in?  She could be here within …” That’s as far as I got when the door slammed very loudly behind him.  I looked around the dressing room with slight bewilderment on my face.  “Consider yourself lucky,” said Bobby “the Brain” Heenan.  “He’s in a really good mood tonight.”  Slowly I smiled.  It was time for me to get ready for my match and earn that big paycheck.

It was my first time wrestling at the Amphitheatre, so I knew the promoter would be watching.  I was determined to “wow” him and every single person in that sold-out arena.  “That promoter will be amazed and he will tell me how fantastic the match was,” I thought as I headed to the ring.  After fifteen minutes of one of the best matches I had ever had, I headed back towards the dressing rooms.  I noticed several of pro wrestling’s biggest stars had been watching – along with the promoter.  When I entered the dressing room, the promoter was there.  I stared at him for a moment, hoping for a response.  Finally, with an expressionless look on his face, the promoter said one monotone word to me on his way out:  “Nice.”  This time, the door closed much more quietly behind him.

I was a little disappointed.  In a low tone of voice, I said “’Nice?’  Okay.  I was expecting a little more than ‘nice.’”  Bobby Heenan heard me.  “Hey, that’s the best compliment anybody’s ever gotten from that guy.”  “Really?” I asked.  “Yah,”  said Baron Von Raschke.  Horst Hoffman and two of the other wrestlers showed their agreement by nodding.  My smile became a big grin that didn’t go away until the wee hours of the next morning.  I was really going to like it here in the AWA!

I said goodbye to the other wrestlers, several of whom would become lifelong friends.  I made sure the promoter didn’t need me for anything else, and I headed out of the arena.  I enjoyed wrestling “mid-card.”  It gave me the opportunity to shower, dress, and leave the building before the fans.  After I had driven a block of so away from the arena, I said what had become my habit in that situation over the years:  “Ladies and Gentlemen, Elvis has left the building!”  I liked the feeling.  It was a feeling of accomplishment, effortless escape, safety, serenity and satisfaction.  It was infinitely more desirable than the alternative; being a highly-recognizable, bleached-blond, hated “bad guy” wrestler attempting to make a getaway through 15,000 waiting hostile fans.

On my way back to the hotel, I stopped by the little mom-and-pop Italian restaurant, bought an extra-large pizza, and headed back to the hotel.  It was a good night.  The next morning, I would be heading to Minneapolis for the official beginning of my “8-month AWA tour.”  --- To be continued next week.  Until then, 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.

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