Friday, July 29, 2011

"Pretty Boy" Ripper Collins, Greenwood, Ms. TV, What Could Go Wrong?

L-R Superstar and "Pretty Boy"
So far I have talked on the serious side about the background of ICW Wrestling and given my opinion, for what it's worth, on a few folks and a couple of promotions, and I want you to know that anything I write about will be from my own personal experiences and not from the many things I have heard or know of. That being said, I am going to switch to the lighter side of behind-the-scenes incidents that can and do happen in the wrestling business which the fans never see, or, in this case, lots of folks in the Greenwood, Mississippi TV viewing area DID see! If you were one of those lucky ones, you will never forget. I surely will not! True Story - "Pretty Boy" + Johnny Cascio + Channel 6 + General Manager on the phone + Christmas Time + Decorations = A Night To Remember! Let me tell you, if you did not know and had not been around "Ripper" Collins, or were not there at the TV studio that night, there is no way you can fully appreciate the scene, but I will do my best to give you an idea of the chaos!
Johnny Cascio was the sports commentator for Channel 6 TV in the Greenwood/Greenville area. When we started filming our weekly ICW Wrestling Show live from the Sportatorium each Friday night in Greenwood, we had recruited Johnny to be "the voice of ICW", calling the matches from the commentary position. Johnny was a natural! He called the matches with excitement and enthusiasm in a very serious manner, such as the Jim Ross of today. Excellent at what he did!
"Pretty Boy" Ripper Collins was one of the wrestlers we brought in during that time who had been around different areas but not really known to the fans in the South. Well, it did not take him long to get their attention and realize that this was a wrestler that was "outrageous, flamboyant and, very unpredictable! His wardrobe was usually very bright and  outlandish and especially for Friday "TV" nights, he would go get his hair 'done', nails polished, and usually a bit of make-up. Now here is what happened this particular night; It was after our live TV taping at the Sportatorium and we were at the Channel 6 Studio to cut interviews. It was at Christmas time. We were waiting for Johnny to finish his late broadcast. During this "waiting", Pretty Boy had been wandering around the set out of view and had come across their Christmas Decorations. Nobody had really paid any attention to what he was doing because he was always into something! Johnny was wrapping up his broadcast and, to Ripper's defense, I guess it did seem like it was over when Johnny said "goodnight". Well, about the time the words got out of his mouth, here comes...(you have to try to picture this in your mind) "Pretty Boy" - dancing, prancing and skipping onto the the set, with all sorts of ornaments and garland in his hair and pinned on his outfit, throwing glitter and whatever into the air, singing "Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas" in a high pitched voice, then at Johnny's side at the chair with a piece of mistletoe in his hand, held it over Johnny's head (who was still looking straight ahead), then leaned over and gave Johnny a big kiss on the cheek! It was hilarious! Camera crew was cracking up, Johnny turned red in the face and then - Here comes the problem! The cameras were still rolling! The phone is ringing - for Johnny - and it is the General Manager of Channel 6! He not only demanded to know what was going on and Who was that, but also WHAT In The Hell WAS that?!! By then the rest of us realized what was happening. Johnny was still red, still on the phone with the boss, somewhat speechless, our Booker Frankie Cain, The Great Mephisto was chewing Ripper up and down, and as far as I remember, I was standing there speechless like Johnny, but at the same time trying to hold back the laughter! The rest of the crew at the station were still rolling on the floor. Needless to say it took a bit of talking and a cooling off period for the General Manager. So, I never will forget the night that "Pretty Boy" Ripper Collins, the big dancing Christmas Ornament, invaded Channel 6 TV in Greenwood, Mississippi! I could write a book about this man! There were so many more "incidents" with him! Felt like strangling him sometimes but yet, couldn't help but love the guy - Never a dull moment!! Great memories! Thanks for reading and, Stay Tuned!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Loyalty - The Spoiler, Don Jardine

In my last 2 posts I talked about false loyalty. Tonight I want to talk about true loyalty. At the time we formed ICW Wrestling in Mississippi, going head-to-head in competition with Mid-South Wrestling, it was not an easy task getting wrestlers to come in and work for us, so we mainly started out with a few "old timers" and brought in some young talent from different areas who were not yet known here in Mississippi. One wrestler who did come in for us later was The Spoiler, real name Don Jardine. For those of you who have followed wrestling to any degree there is no need to say that The Spoiler was a main event card throughout the country and to this day is still considered by many as one of the greatest Masked grapplers of all time. He had worked for Leroy McGuirk and then for Bill Watts here in the South drawing huge crowds all over.
Now here's where the loyalty came in. Of course Bill was running Jackson and some other towns against us where he could, The Spoiler would come in for us on some of our cards but NEVER worked for Bill in towns against us during that time. How he managed to do that, I don't know. Maybe because he could pretty much do whatever he wanted to.
His reason for doing this? I don't know, because he didn't have to work for us, or for Bill. This man could have easily gone to any big territory anytime he wanted to, and make good money. It wasn't for the money. It wasn't for the exposure. I really think it was something more than loyalty. I think a better word would be RESPECT. Respect for my father.
RIP Don.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Loyalty? Grizzly Smith - The BIG STOOGE - Part 2

Jackson, Mississippi. Huge crowd at the Coliseum. The night of the big Cage Match. Grizzly Smith vs The Great Mephisto! (If you didn't read my last post, you may want to scroll down and get the lead-up to this true incident).
I can tell you that one of the worst things that can happen in a promotion is substitutions, especially in the main event. I can say that we were very fortunate to have only a couple of these incidents in our many years of promoting wrestling, and those few times were legitimately unavoidable, either injury or travel problems. We NEVER, EVER advertised a big name to draw a crowd knowing that we did not have them signed and booked. Unfortunately, there were a few promotions that would do just that. So, here we are, after the big street fight, the pictures and story in the Clarion Ledger, both men bloodied and arrested, the time has come! Lock them in a 10' steel cage and let them fight until the toughest man is able to walk out, leaving his defeated opponent lying in the ring!
Time has come after the other great matches for the Cage Match! The cage has been set up. The crowd is ready, and loud! Mephisto has been there from the beginning. Grizzly Smith? Has not been seen or heard from. Only one thing to do. My father goes to the ring and announces "Ladies and gentlemen, we do not know if Mephisto has attacked Grizzly again in the alley or what has happened, but he has not shown up and is not here tonight". You can imagine the crowd's reaction! By the time he has finished this announcement Mephisto has hit the ring, grabs the mic and says "Grizzly Smith, I have bailed myself out of jail, I am here, and if you have a single ounce of guts and courage in your body you will do the same and hit this ring RIGHT NOW!" No Grizz.
So, did Bill Watts' plan work? To plant Grizzly as a stooge, keep him informed of everything we were doing, build up to a huge main event then not show up, therefore killing our territory?
Well guys, it did not. They under-estimated the talent we had working for us and the loyalty and desire of the fans in Mississippi to see great wrestling! A challenge was issued to Mephisto that night by another great wrestler in the dressing room, we had a great cage match, the crowd popped, and by the time they left the arena they had forgotten all about Grizzly Smith! Not one person asked for a refund. The crowd got what they came to see. International Championship Wrestling. And, we continued to outdraw the Mid-South group in every single town they came into to run against us!
Bill Watts? I know this killed your huge ego and you will have to admit to anyone today if you are truthful that we out-promoted, out-booked, and out-wrestled you!
Grizzly Smith? Rest-in-peace my friend. You were looking out for yourself. Hope you were paid well for it because it was a helluva ride!
Next time - Real Loyalty - The Spoiler, Don Jardine! I welcome your comments!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

LOYALTY? Grizzly Smith - The BIG STOOGE!

During the time  in the 1970's when we pulled away from the Bill Watts promotion, Mid-South Wrestling, and formed International Championship Wrestling in Mississippi, we had many wrestlers that were loyal to us and willing to take a chance on our promotion. I will forever be grateful to these guys. On the other hand, there were those that truly wanted to see us fail, whether it was for fear of "bucking" the big established group, fear of being "blackballed" if they came with us and we failed, or greed and the desire to dominate and intimidate. Yes Bill, talkin' bout you. So, here comes the big plan and the attempted screw job. Enter the Big Stooge Grizzly Smith. Grizz' had come to us claiming to be fed up with Bill and wanting to be a part of ICW. Although we had doubts in the back of our minds, he was very convincing and we decided to give him a chance. Things were going great, Grizz' was always there on time and wanting to help in any way. A big feud developed between him and The Great Mephisto (Frankie Cain) that led up to a big upcoming cage match at the coliseum in Jackson, Ms.. Just prior to this, these two ran into each other while Christmas shopping mid-day in downtown Jackson, a street fight erupted, police were called, a newspaper photographer showed up on the scene, and the two bloodied men were handcuffed and arrested. So, what happens the night of the big Cage Match?? Stay tuned for Part 2!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

My Thoughts on TNA Impact Wrestling

I posted my thoughts earlier on WWE and tried to be fair and give credit where credit is due, and even pointed out 2 wrestlers that, in my opinion had actual wrestling ability. I will do the same for TNA. This will be short and sweet.
Production - Fair
Honestly, that is the only credit I can give this group.
I am not even going to give the couple of wrestlers that I consider capable, of any credit at all. Reason being, they have sold out. Period!!
The last show I tried to watch, in the first 6 minutes, I heard "Ass", which I can deal with occasionally in a heated interview, (IN THE FIRST 6 MINUTES!) but was followed by "J***Off", "Sc**W", and "C**P". I switched channels at that point but if they followed their usual pattern, there was probably some bleeped words such as "Bi***h", "C**nt", "A***ole", "P***Y" and others. Fill in the blanks if you want to.
Plus, when you have one of your top guys being billed as "The Whole F''ing Show" and a fat, tattooed lady wrestler constantly grabbing her breasts, rubbing her crotch, and hunching on an opponent, it is disgusting!
Hulk Hogan, you have never been a wrestler, never could be, never will be. Just a character.
Sting, Steiner, Angle - Shame on YOU!!
Jeff Jarrett - I guess you disappoint me more than anyone. You come from a great wrestling family. What happened to your pride and respect for the wrestling business your family worked so hard in and where they were respected?
Jeff, a word from me for what it is worth: Can't you look back and see that Vince started out like this and almost lost all his sponsors and viewing audience? Almost went under? Why in the world would you try to go back to that? The wrestling fans deserve so much more!!
Ok, I have tried to be fair. This is how I see it. And, if any of you guys I mentioned don't agree, "Get over it Princess".  I don't think there is anything that would change my mind at this point.
Enough of that. My next 2 posts will be on LOYALTY! Stay Tuned!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Some Great Talent on the 1970"s ICW Wrestling Cards in Mississippi

Fans remember the great cards we had in Mississippi after pulling away from Watts and forming International Championship Wrestling! This is from a fan, posted some time back on one of the big wrestling forums out there on the internet. Just check out the names! (Thanks to Mississippi Fan)
"I got to looking through some of my old stuff about Percy Pringe and Izzy Slapowitz during their run for the Culkin's Mississippi promtion in 1978 and thought I would list a portion of that week's cities, dates and cards?
Saturday, April 29 (TV card on Channel 12 WJTV Jackson)"
1. Lord Michael Hayes draws Johnny Mantell.
2. Hair vs. $500 challenge tag team match. Tom Shaft and Terry Gordy beat the Great Mephisto (Frankie Cain) and "Hippy" Troy Graham. Graham gets his head shaved. During the tag match, Mephisto refused to tag Graham several times and Troy finally hit him. Mephisto put the old boot to Troy and Shaft pinned him. This set up a real good feud between heel Mephisto and new babyface Graham.
3. Tag Team Match. Percy Pringle's Mongolians beat a 'bloody' Ricky Fields and Terry Latham 2 out of 3 falls after Percy hit Fields with his cane ringside.

Vicksburg, Monday May 1, 78
1. Tag Team Match. "Hippy" Troy Graham & Ricky Field vs. Great Mephisto & Mongolian 1#.s
2. Tom Jones vs. Jim "Hamgman" Starr.
3. Terry Latham vs. Lord Michael Hayes.
4. "Ripper" Roy Collins vs. Ed Flukett.

McComb, Tuesday Mar 2, 78.
1. Six Man Tag Team Match. "Flying' Phil Watson, "Ripper" Collins & Mongolians w/mg. Percy Pringle.
2. Four Man Tag Team Match. Tom Shaft & Tom Jones vs. "Hangman" Jim Starr & "Hippy" Troy Graham.
3. Johnny Mantell vs. Nikita Alexiv.

Jackson, Wednesday May 3, 78
1. Six Man Tag Team Match. Tom Jones, Terry Latham & Ricky Fields vs. Manager Percy Pringe & the Mongolians.
2. Grudge Match. "Hippy" Troy Graham vs. The Great Mephisto.
3. Women's Match. Donna Star vs. Masked Beauty.
4. Johnny Mantell vs. "Hangman" Jim Starr.
5. Ray Hudson vs. Lord Michael Hayes.
6. Larry Harden vs. Nikita Alexiv.

Hattiesburg, Thursday May 4, 78
1. Four Man Tag Team Match. Doctor X (Jim Osborne) & Tom Shaft vs. Mongolian II & the Scorpion (Jack ? Graham).
2. Terry Gordy vs. "Hangman" Jim Starr.
3. Lou Thesz (THE ONE and ONLY) vs. "Bad" Bill Ash.
4. Phil Watson vs. Lord Michael Hayes.

"During this time, they may have been promoting two different cards nightly so I am not sure who else was wrestling where on the same night as others."

Hope some of you found this interesting

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My Thoughts on WWE Wrestling

WWE - This is exactly what they say it is - ENTERTAINMENT - Nothing More - Nothing Less.
As far as production, it is a multi-million dollar show which is impressive. As far as characters, there are many. Some good, some bad. As far as actual wrestling talent and ability? Very little. My opinion on which guys may actually have a bit of wrestling ability? I will name 1 from each group; Babyface (good guy) and Heel (bad guy). This may surprise some of you but this is my honest opinion:
Babyface - Daniel Bryan (Bryant?)
Heel - CM Punk
The reason I chose these two is because from watching their work in the ring, it appears that these two may actually have the ability to work a 30 minute, 45 minute, or even one hour match and have one that would show their ability and never lose the attention and excitement of the crowd. They actually know how to wrestle! BUT, the only way this would work is to leave out the damn script writers in the back, whoever they are, trying to lay out a match move-by-move,  and let these guys go out and do what they know how to do! WRESTLE! I welcome your comments.