Category: Pro Wrestling

R.I.P. Virgil Riley Runnels Jr. aka Dusty Rhodes

Virgil Riley Runnels Jr. passed away today.  Perhaps you knew him better as Dusty Rhodes aka  The American Dream.

Pro Wrestling fan or not, I’ll bet you knew of him.

Dusty began his career in 1968 in the AWA as a bad guy.  That’s when I first saw him wrestle on late night tv.  Dusty was a bad guy and partnered with Dirty Dick Murdock.  They were a couple of cowboys chasing the tag team title.

I was a kid living deep in WWA territory that was run by Dick the Bruiser and we considered the AWA a lesser organization.  I knew who Dusty was but since I never saw him in “my” territory, going against my champs, I didn’t give him much thought.

In 1973, I moved to Florida and into NWA territory.  Remember this was when pro wrestling wasn run by several smaller organizations with no national company like the WWE Dusty showed up as a singles wrestler.  He was still a cowboy but definitely a more modern man of the people.

Given the mic, Dusty shined.  He didn’t look like the typical champion, but once he dropped his atomic elbow and did a little victory dance, he became the people’s champ.  Dusty’s career flourished and he went on to great success not only in the NWA, but also Vince McMahon’s WWF (later the WWE), the WCW and ECW.

Dusty Rhodes was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on March 31, 2007 and continued to be a force behind the scenes as a writer and creative director.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dusty Rhodes’ family, friends and fans.

Oral History of Pro Wrestling’s 1995 Historic Excursion into North Korea

In 1995, Muhammad Ali joined Ric Flair, Eric Bishoff and other WCW superstars to journey to North Korea to take part in the “International Sports and Cultural Festival for Peace.”

The trip had highs (wrestling before the largest crowds in professional wrestling history – a record that still stands, traveling with Muhammad Ali) and lows (tapped phones, terrible food and US pro wrestlers getting into a real fight) but remains largely unknown to fans who haven’t read… Dan Greene and Sports Illustrated’s an Oral History of Pro Wrestling’s 1995 Historic Excursion into North Korea.

Mick Foley’s Countdown to Lockdown

Did you know that Mick Foley has a new blog?  Well, he does.  He calls it Countdown to Lockdown and if you’re still reading this, then you should be interested enough to check it out.

We all know that Mick’s an excellent pro wrestler, has mad mic skills, and is a best-selling author [Have a Good Day] so my guess is that his blog is going to be a blast.  [And I’d have said that even if Mick didn’t hook me up at Heroes Con.]

RIP – Randall Poffo aka Randy “Macho Man” Savage

Randall Poffo aka Randy “Macho Man” Savage, a true professional wrestling superstar, died today following a car accident.  TMZ reported that, according to Lanny Poffo [Savage’s brother and a former wrestling superstar in his own right], Savage had a heart attack that led to him losing control of his vehicle and crashing.  Savage’s wife, who was traveling with him survived with minor injuries.

Randall Poffo was a true athlete.  He almost had a career as a professional baseball player, but luckily for fans of professional wrestling, opted to follow in his father, Angelo Poffo’s footsteps.  Rather than use his father’s famous name, Randall opted to take on the persona of Randy “Macho Man” Savage.  His success is evidenced by the fact that both professional wrestling fans and those who hate the sport, all know The Macho ManRandall was one of the first superstars to cross-over to the main media and could be seen in movies, tv shows and commercials.

I had the great fortune to meet and spend some time with his brother, Lanny Poffo [a professional wrestling superstar in his own right],  Lanny shared some stories and history with me, but what I remember most from talking with him (other than what a truly decent human being he is) was his love for his father and brother.  Lanny made sure to tell me what a great man he thought Randall was and not because of the things that he did in the ring, but more importantly because of the things that Randall did outside of the ring that no one knew about.   I was truly touched.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends and fans of Randy “Macho Man” Savage and Lanny Poffo.

The Greatest Pro Wrestlers of All Time

Recently UGO listed their choices for The Greatest Professional Wrestlers of All Time.  Using just their list, here is my top ten:

  1. Hulk Hogan – Without a doubt one of the worst “wrestlers” to make the list, but also without a doubt one of the most popular of all time.  Hogan at the top of his game could sell out any arena no matter who he was wrestling.  Everyone knew who Hulk Hogan was and he was one of the first wrestlers to successfully move into movies.
  2. Ric Flair – The “jet-flying, limo-riding, kiss-stealing, dirtiest player in the game.”  Flair wrestled for so long, for so many organizations and always at the top of the card that he became a fan favorite despite his bad guy image.
  3. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin – came in and changed the face of wrestling at a time when it was fading.  Austin had “tried” other personas with limited success, but his no-nonsense, take no guff from the boss attitude struck a chord with fans.  Austin has made the transition to movies.
  4. Bruno Sammartino – one of the most popular wrestlers of all time.  Because of his popularity, Bruno held the title for over ten years in two runs [something unheard of in the last few decades] and at one time held the record [perhaps still does?] for selling out Madison Square Garden.
  5. Dusty Rhodes – After a run in the midwest as part of a “bad guy” tag team, Dusty came south and became a literal Superstar.
  6. Mick Foley – has had more wrestling personas than most, but it’s Mick Foley the fans love.  His “hell in the cell” match with the Undertaker made him a legend.
  7. The Undertaker – Biker or Spawn of Hell?  “It doesn’t matter!” said in the best Rock voice.  The fans love him.
  8. The Rock – had the Rock stuck with wrestling he’d be higher on the list.  Actually I’m glad he didn’t since I dig most of his movies.
  9. Andre the Giant – a living legend.  Fans came to see Andre.  It didn’t matter who or how many wrestlers he was wrestling.
  10. Superstar Billy Graham – Paved the way for Hulk Hogan and all the musclebound, roided wrestlers of the 80’s and on…

UGO’s list is very limited.  Where was Dick the Bruiser [my personal choice for #1], Mil Mascaras, Blackjack Mulligan, Wilbur Snyder, and so many others.  And yes. Andy, I did see Moose Cholak wrestle many times, but he wouldn’t have made my top 50.  Sorry Moose.

Hero, Dynamite and Henchman

That’s the cover above to Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #1.  I can remember buying the first issue off the stands [cover date June 1972].  Lucas was sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit.  In an effort to get early release, Lucas agreed to an experimental treatment designed to boost a person’s immunity to illness.  Instead it gave him super-strength and steel hard skinLucas used his new powers to escape prison and take on the identity of Luke Cage, Hero for Hire.

I loved the idea of a hero who took on cases like a private eye.    And although Cage was a “Hero for Hire” he often took on cases for no pay when the cause was right.  I really got into the comic.   In “shop” class we had to create business cards, so while other kids were creating cards as lawyers, plumbers and the like, I created cards that read “Blackjack Joey, Hero for Hire.” I explained to the teacher that “Blackjack Joey” was my secret identity [taking the moniker of my favorite professional wrestler, Blackjack Mulligan, and combining it with my middle name Joseph].

That was over 38 years ago.  So you can imagine my amusement when looking through the December issue of Previews to see these two comics coming out in the early months of 2011.

That’s the cover to Black Dynamite: Slave Island coming from Ape Entertainment.  It’s a 48 page full color graphic novel based on the “Black Dynamite” movie which starred Michael Jai WhiteBlack Dynamite: Slave Island was written by Brian Ash with art by Jun Lofamia.   The book is suggested for mature readers and will set you back $5.95.

Harry Walton: Henchman for Hire is a 62 page full color graphic novel [$9.95] from Arcana Studio.  Written by Zak Sherman with art by Tom Martinek and Jason Worthington, it is the story of a “disenfranchised ex-super-hero sidekick” who decides to “work his way up the ranks” and become a super-villain.

I’m not sure either of the two books are my cup of tea, but they did make me want to go back and re-read Luke Cage, Hero for Hire.

Beatty: World’s Most Dangerous Sketch Artist / Bellathon

Since you’re reading this post, there’s a good chance that you know my buddy, John Beatty.  That’s not really John in the photo above.  John’s actually a little more intimidating.  Ah, but I kid.  I kid because I care.  The truth is I do care.  John is my oldest and closest friend [outside of my wife who is actually a little older and much closer], but I think you get the idea. Anyway…

John’s cat, Peepers got sick not too long ago.  The medical bills were unexpected and fairly expensive.  The good news is Peepers got better.  The bad news is that John and Bella [John’s wife for those keeping score] had to dip into money that they’d been saving for Bella to take a trip back to the Philippines to see her family.  They did it without second thoughts and figured that they’d both work a little longer/harder to make up the money spent.  And that’s exactly what they’ve been doing.

From time to time, I join John when he’s sketching for fans on U-StreamJohn always likes when I show up to “co-host” because it allows him to spend more time looking at what he’s drawing since I moderate the typed in questions and can interact with the fans.  There’s always a lot of laughter, convention stories, trivia, movie, tv and pop culture talk.  And it’s always interesting to see who pops in to join the fun — other artists, friends, and strangers… not to mention [but I’m going to] John’s regulars aka The Corduroy Mafia.

So I suggested to John that we do a “Bellathon”. “What?” was John’s response and probably yours too.  I explained.  We’d do a U-Stream sketch session to help raise money for Bella’s trip to see her family.  At first John was hesitant.  Some fans had already purchased sketches [and even donated some bucks] when they first heard about Peepers being sick.  I countered that the Bellathon would simply be another U-Stream session with me, but the proceeds would go towards Bella’s trip.  Fans would still get great deals on art and they’d know the money was going to a specific cause.  I felt it was a win-win for all involved.  John thought about it and agreed.

So here’s the broad strokes – John and I will be U-Streaming our BELLATHON this SaturdayJohn will be offering a variety of sketches.  All the details can be found at John’s site.  I hope you can attend, even if you don’t plan to get a sketch.  It’s going to be a blast… and for a great cause!

The Truth about Undertaker/Lesnar Confrontation?

As Brock Lesnar was walking back to his lockerroom after his loss to Cain Velasquez, he was confronted by the WWE wrestler known as the UndertakerAccording to this report

  • WWE wanted Brock to win the fight.
  • Brock/Undertaker were supposed to have a confrontation at the post-fight press conference.
  • Brock didn’t attend the press conference because he felt he would be stealing Cain’s moment.
  • Undertaker was waiting at the press conference, and when he got word Brock wasn’t coming, he left.

I wonder how Dana White will react if this turns out to be true.

The ‘Taker Calls Out Brock Lesnar

This video of a minor “confrontation” between WWE’s The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar after his defeat at the fists of Cain Velasquez is popping up on the major MMA sites.  So when the ‘Taker asks Brock

“Ya wanna do it?” …

…what exactly is he talking about?  It’s a safe bet that the Taker’s not suggesting a real MMA match.

So could The Undertaker be trying to lay the groundwork for a Lesnar return to the WWE? The folks at Cageside Seats make a pretty good case that it was a Vince McMahon plan coming together.  It makes me wonder two things:

  1. Did Brock know it was going to happen?
  2. How will Dana react when he sees the video?

Mick Foley and… Me

The other day I posted about Mick Foley being at Heroes Con this year.  One of my goals for the show was to meet Mick and get him to autograph my copy of Have a Good Day.  As I wrote here, it wasn’t to be… or at least that’s the way it appeared.

It was about an hour or so before the show was to end for the day.  Several of us were going to go to dinner, so I decided to head back to the room at bit early to freshen up.  As I was leaving the convention center to go to the escalator Mick Foley and I crossed paths.  There was only one other person around so I decided to go for it.

“Hey Mick, any chance I could get an autograph?” I asked.  Mick answered, “I’m going to the table to sign now.”  “Ok, I’ll head back in,” I replied.  Mick then asked, “Are you a guest of the show?”  “No, my buddy is.  I’m here with him.”  Mick smiled and said, “Yeah, I’ll sign for you.”  I thanked him and pulled out my copy of Have a Good DayMick asked me my name and signed it to me.  He then posed for the photo above.

It was a great ending to a great day.  So thanks to Mick Foley for being so cool and thanks to John Beatty for having me as his guest.  Good times.

Heroes Con 2010, Part 5

I can’t think of a better way to jump start Part 5 of my 2010 Heroes Con report than with a photo of Dave Wachter holding a commission of Sly from The Expendables that he did for me at the show.  I first met Dave at Heroes Con 2009 and got a head sketch from him.  Since then I’ve been back for several other sketches.  As you can imagine, I hope that the one pictured won’t be my last.  You can bet I’ll post a scan of it soon so you can see it in all it’s glory.

Mick Foley was a guest at Heroes Con this year.  I took along my copy Have a Good Day so that I could get Mick to autograph it.  Mick was only going to be at the show on Saturday.  Since he’d never been at any convention I’d ever attended, I wasn’t sure what kind of crowd he’d draw.

Saturday rolled around and still no buzz about Mick being at the show.  Perhaps getting his autograph would be a piece of cake.  I went by the booth where Mick was going to sign and asked when he could be expected.  They said he had just arrived in town, was getting lunch and should be at the booth around 1:30.  They said if I showed up then, I’d be right on time.  I checked my watch and saw that I had time to run across the street, grab a bite and still be back before 1:30.

So that’s what I did.  In fact I got back about 1:25.  I headed over to get in line and was surprised to find Mick already signing.  I started back tracking the line which wrapped around a corner and then down a long aisle and then out of sight.  Before I had taken 3 steps I was stopped by a young lady working at the show.  She said, “If you’re wanting to get in line for Mick Foley, you’re too late.  The line has been capped.”

I was stunned.  She repeated herself.  I explained that I had checked at the booth and was told if I returned by 1:30 I would be okay.  She said the demand for Mick was more than anyone anticipated and the line was capped.  I thought about arguing my case, but realized it would do no good and it wasn’t her fault.  The line was huge, by far the biggest I’d seen at any show for any guest.

I hought, “Good for Mick Foley.”  I was happy that so many people wanted to meet him and get a photo or autograph.  Perhaps I’d meet him at another show.  How could I complain?  The day before I had gotten the most amazing sketch from Brian Stelfreeze for my Stallone art collection.  I’d also received a call from my boss saying that I was getting a promotion!  Heck, maybe I really would get a chance for Mick Foley’s autograph at another show… little did I know that my good luck wasn’t over (and I’ll tell you about that in another post soon)!

I wish I knew more about this piece.  It was donated to the HEROES CON art auction.  I don’t know the artist or who won the art, but I did think it was a pretty cool piece.  Hope you like it as well.

What’s More Suprising?

Today’s post is about a few things; one of which you may find surprising.  But first, some introductions, the handsome fellow on the left is professional wrestler [and best selling author] Mick Foley aka Mankind, Cactus Jack, etc.  The lady on the left is Linda McMahon, wife of billionaire and WWE owner, Vince McMahon.  There will be another post, later this week, about Mick Foley.  Today’s post concerns Linda McMahon.

Last year Linda McMahon stepped down as CEO of the WWE.  It wasn’t part of a storyline or a gimmick to do with the professional wrestling company. Ms. McMahon decided to run for the US Senate.  Really.  Here’s her website.  I kid you not.  Kinda surprising, right.

Today posted this piece on Ms. McMahon’s campaign ad that calls professional wrestling,,,

“a soap opera that entertains millions each week”.

TVGuide says that in the ad Linda McMahon

…lets it slip that the wrestling “isn’t real.”

The article goes on to say…

That sound you hear is grown men all over the country weeping.

Will someone please send Gina DiNunno, the author of the article, word that pro wrestling fans have known for years that professional wrestling is scripted.  Make that decades.  If this was the 1950’s, 60’s or even the 70’s, perhaps some fans would think that pro rasslin’ was real, but c’mon, let’s get real.  Professional wrestling is scripted.  Anyone who doesn’t know that probably doesn’t have the intelligence to read the TVGuide article.

So what’s more surprising:

  1. Linda McMahon is running for the US Sentate
  2. Linda McMahon called professional wrestling a “scripted soap opera”
  3. TVGuide and Gina DiNunno think that Linda McMahon’s statement is a “Shocker”

My vote is for #3.

Tampa Comic & Toy Convention

This Saturday, I’ll be joining my buddy, John Beatty at Tim Gordon’s Tampa Comic Book and Toy Convention.  If you’re a regular ZONE reader, then you’ve probably read about Tim’s shows  many times.  We try to attend as many as possible because they’re always a blast.

This one should be no exception.  In addition to Big Beatty, you can also meet Todd Nauck, Billy Tucci, Tommy Castillo, Dick Giordano, Alex Saviuk, Gene Gonzalez, “Leaping” Lanny “The Genius” Poffo, Santa Claus, and a whole bunch of other talented folks.  There will be a film room, give-a-ways, artists sketching and more.