Over the Top Rope

Rock Riddle's
Wrestling Revue

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

Scheduled Publication Date:   September 21, 2006

Click on any of the smaller photos to enlarge

All of us worked with “open contracts.”  When we received our weekly booking slips we knew where we would be wrestling, but we never knew with whom we would be wrestling. The promotion decided what the matches should be but very seldom felt it necessary to let us know their decisions.  Quite frankly, we really didn’t care.  Many times, I learned who my opponent would be as I watched him approaching the ring for our match.  We accepted the reality of how the wrestling business worked.  “If you’re a professional,” we surmised, “it doesn’t matter who your opponent is.  You can handle anything and anybody.  And, if you can’t, you shouldn’t be in the business.”  That was our attitude.  

My friend Dandy Jack Donovan and I were sitting in the dressing room, telling jokes, at a medium-sized arena in Alabama.  Jack was just finishing the punch line when the promoter walked in.  We were laughing.  “You guys talking about me again?” the promoter snarled.  “No, Sir,” replied Dandy Jack.  “We only do that behind your back.”  The promoter was not amused.  “Okay, smart guy,” he continued.  “You and Riddle are on third.”  That sounded good to me.  I had teamed with Dandy Jack Donovan only a few times before, but I thought we made great tag-team partners.  I looked at the promoter.  “So, who are we wrestling?” I asked.  He cocked his head, gave a bit of a condescending sneer, and said, “Each other.”  Jack and I simultaneously gave the promoter “Are-you-out-of-your-ever-loving-mind?” stares.  The promoter was apparently not having a good day.  “Is there a problem with that?” he asked.  “Because, if there is a problem, you two could probably find work in the fast food or hotel hospitality industries.”

“We’re both ‘bad guys,’” Dandy Jack pointed out.  “We’re both ‘heels.’  I absolutely do not want the crowd cheering for me.”  The promoter was walking out of the dressing room.  He stopped momentarily and looked back.  “Got a quarter, Donovan?” he asked.  “Sure,” Jack replied.  “Then call somebody who cares,” the promoter quipped as he walked out the door.  “You’re both professionals.  Figure it out.”  The door closed behind him, and his final muffled words were, “ … and it better be brilliant.” 

Dandy Jack was shaking his head.  “Rock,” he said, “we have a situation here.  We’ve both built a career being ‘heels.’  Both of us are known as ‘the man you love to hate.’”  “What’s your point, Jack?” I asked.  “I have to make sure the crowd boos me” was his response.  “I have to be the heel in our match.”  “Yeah, right,” I thought.  “Fat chance you can out-heel me!  You’re in for a surprise, Mr. Dandy Jack.  You’re about to become the crown favorite – at least for this match.”

I scratched my head and looked at Jack.  “It’s not a problem,” I began.  “I have the solution.”  Jack leaned in as if to hear my idea more clearly.  I certainly had his full attention.  “I know you have to be the bad guy, Jack.  And, I know we have to establish that quickly with the fans.  I have an idea.  How about this?  When we’re in the ring, just before the bout officially begins, just as the instructions are being given – attack me.  Be vicious.  The fans will instantly hate you for attacking me before the bell even rings.”  “Wow,” Jack responded.  “That’s a great idea.  That’ll work.  Thanks.”  I smiled.  Jack backed away, eyeing me somewhat suspiciously.  “Why are you smiling?” he asked.  “Oh, gee, Jack.  I don’t know,” I responded.  “I guess I just like figuring out manipulative solutions.”  My smile broadened.

An hour passed and it was now time for the third event of the evening.  Jack Donovan had already left the dressing room and was on his way to the ring.  He wanted the fans to see him first and boo him.  I ran out of the dressing room, around one of the snack bars, and down another aisle towards the ring.  It seemed that both of us were approaching the ring at about the same time.  The crowd was booing.  Jack was happy to hear the roar of the crowd until he saw that I was also on my way to the ring.  So far, the crowd had not picked a favorite for the match.  We entered the ring from opposite sides.  He looked at me and, under his breath said, “Very sneaky.”  “Thank you,” was my immediate response.

The referee had just finished giving us our instructions.  As I turned to go to my corner, Jack attacked me from behind.  I could tell that he was enjoying this “golden opportunity” to become the bad guy/heel of the match.  But Jack had underestimated me.  He had seen me smiling during the past hour.  He thought that there might be something up, but he hadn't thought it through.  Wrestlers know that there is something the crowd hates more than an opportunist who attacks his opponent from behind.  What do you think that might be? 

When Jack attacked me from behind, I ran from him and jumped out of the ring.  Immediately I became the ‘heel’ and Dandy Jack became the dreaded crowd favorite, the ‘baby face.’  When I ran out of the ring, I demonstrated cowardice and the fans hate an opportunist coward more than anybody.  As I pointed to my temple in a gesture to the audience as to how I outsmarted my opponent, the boos became deafening.  I looked back to the ring just in time to see Jack mouthing the words, “You son of a …”  It took all I could do to keep from smiling.  I had pulled a great joke (a "rib") on my friend and I had maintained my "heel" status. Now, all I had to do was survive the next twenty minutes in the ring. 

I had never heard such colorful language coming from Dandy Jack Donovan.  I had also never witnessed such superb wrestling ability from my friend as he demonstrated in our bout.  He more than kept me on my toes.  We had an extraordinary match – absolutely extraordinary!  I don’t remember whose hand was raised in victory, but it didn’t matter to either of us.  Afterwards in the dressing room Dandy Jack, being the true gentleman that he was, shook my hand in front of several of the other wrestlers while whispering in my ear, “You’re going to love the payback.”  He left with a very big grin on his face.  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 8˝ 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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