Craig Wilson, Jamie Lithgow, John Carbery, Brian Damage and Earl Marx
A fun themed Sunday Sermon this time around discussing some of the wrestling talents we have managed to meet during our time following the business. Whether it is signing sessions, random meetings or waiting outside in the cold and rain for a glimpse of our heroes, all of these are covered in this latest Sunday Sermon.
Craig: A great shout from John for this week’s Sunday Sermon and it’s really got me thinking. I didn’t attend a WWE show until my teenage years – which is a wee bit longer ago than I’d like to discuss – so I never got the chance to wait for ages for signatures during my formative years following the business but I’ve still got a few tales to tell here.
Many moons ago I spent a few hours queuing to meet Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart as he signed copies of his autobiography over here in Scotland. The excitement was off the scale as I waited to meet a hero from my childhood. As a result, you’d expect, when I got to the front of the queue, I’d have thought up plenty of things to say to Hart, right? Well, yes I had but by the time I got there all I could say was “thanks” and, when he said “I hope you enjoy the book” I replied by saying that I would but in a pitch of voice I didn’t recognise…
More recently I had the absolute pleasure of meeting William Regal as he did a spoken word show in Glasgow. He took a lot of time before the show to speak to those in attendance and sign various items of memorabilia. A top, top guy. I also had the chance to meet Johnny Saint and Marty Jones – two of Regal’s heroes – a few years ago when they visited Glasgow. Two legends of the British wrestling scene that were in near awe at the state of British wrestling in the modern era.
Oh, and I once had tickets for a WWE house show that were next to the aisle so I managed to get my hand slapped by Kevin Nash during his 00s return to the WWE…
So, what are some of your favourite moments meeting wrestling talent and what are some of your least favourite?
Jamie: I’ve not got too many tales to tell here, but as a youngster at my very first wrestling show myself and a couple of pals met Giant Haystacks aka Loch Ness from The Dungeon of Doom. I would have been 8 or 9 years old and during the intermission we were allowed at ringside to touch the ropes, canvas etc. Anyway, a very large angry man came out and gave us the runaround. He was still in character, I presume, which made it great fun for us. He didn’t have to come out and humour us but the fact that he did has created one of my earliest wrestling memories. Haystacks has since passed away, but I always warmed to him after this whenever I saw him on TV.
John: One of the nicest wrestlers I’ve ever met was Dragon Kid from the Dragon Gate Promotion. First off he wore his mask into the building so nobody in the line outside could see his face, top marks for kayfabe from me. After his match I went to the gimmick table in the hope of picking up some of his merch. There was some random scrub manning the table who I was buying a DG dvd off of when Dragon Kid emerged from the back and was elated to see I’d been impressed enough to buy something. We communicated as best we could then he reached out to shake my hand and thanked me for being a wrestling fan and coming to the show.
I recently had the good fortune of meeting Chris Hero before a show here in Galway and he was one of the most pleasant people I’ve ever met. We chatted for a few minutes about his days in Chikara and he told me stories about travelling with Mitch Ryder and other IWA misfits. He tore the house down in his main event match also and I was happy I got to tell him how much I appreciated his efforts on my way out of the building.
One of the strangest encounters I’ve ever had was with Renee Dupree, who just happened to be on a show I was attending as I certainly didn’t pay to see him. A friend of mine was outside the building smoking before the show so I went out to have a chat with him. We were there a few minutes when Dupree stomped off the tour bus, started smoking himself and basically started mean mugging me and my pal. We were just standing there, minding our own business and talking among ourselves while he was off to the right looking like he wanted to kill us. Eventually we just burst out laughing at him and the situation and went back inside. He had the look of someone who was chemically enhanced so maybe it was roid rage or something similar? If he had’ve started a fight with us it would’ve at least been a fun story to tell.
Brian: This could be very dangerous for me, but I have had several interactions with wrestlers some good, some really bad. First off, I have a few friends who are/were wrestlers that are dear to me. ‘The ECW Zombie’ Tim Calkins was a very good friend of mine that I loved like a brother. Lowlife Louie Ramos is another wrestler who I love and respect personally and have known for years. The same goes for ‘The Kodiak Bear’ who I think the world of and have the privilege to work alongside for years, in a different industry.
I met Mick Foley (then known as Cactus Jack) at an indie show in Brooklyn many moons ago. We talked for a while about his wife, his career for about 10-15 minutes. He was very cordial and nice. Fast forward to about 10 years later and I am running a wrestling hotline and he actually remembered me from all those years ago and was kind enough to do an interview with me and my partners on the hotline. This is after he became a big star as Mankind and wrote a couple of books. He was still extremely nice and very down to earth.
I won’t go into all the details, but while running that same wrestling hotline my friends and I got into a bit of hot water with some ECW wrestlers namely the Dudley Boyz and Tommy Dreamer. We were locked in the Queens Elks Lodge bathroom with them and while Bubba and D-Von played bad cop, Tommy Dreamer was genuinely a good cop and was nice, even when he didn’t have to be.
I have met Missy Hyatt a few times and she was always nice to me. I had her booked for a radio show back in 2000 and she no showed it without a call or anything. Her niece finally got in touch with me to say she had passed out on her bed while smoking a cigarette and had to go to the hospital.(At least that was what was told to me.) Al Snow I met at a wrestling convention and was super nice.
Balls Mahoney was a nice guy who I met backstage at independent shows in NYC a few times. Juventud Guerrera. boy do I have stories about him but can’t share on here. Paul Orndorff was a hero of mine growing up and while I admired his career…he came off as super bitter and angry at the world. Jeanie Clarke is one of the sweetest ladies you will ever have the privilege to talk to. Very open and honest and such a wonderful human being.
Jamie: Well I can’t top that, but I have briefly met Chavo Guerrero Jr. and he was a nice guy. I also used to live around the corner from ICW’s Jack Jester. I saw him all the time but the only time I spoke to him was in the early hours of the morning when an adjacent block of flats where on fire. He was as pleasant as anyone could be in that situation.
Craig: Last year when CHIKARA toured the UK, I got speaking to the then tag team champions Hype Rockwell and Race Jaxon, who, somewhat amazingly, dressed like Owen Hart and Jim Neidhart dressed in the early 90s. I liked that. They were also really cool and let myself and my girlfriend pose with their tag titles. A neat touch as a really cracking company played a small venue. We also spoke with Officer Warren Barksdale after he had competed. My girlfriend asked him if it wasn’t too warm to still be dressed as a cop. Kayfabe, lads. Kayfabe.
My next wrestler meet also involved my girlfriend when we met Vader a few years back when he did an indy date in Scotland. My girlfriend bumped into him in the foyer when he was warming up and said hi, he replied “not now” and got back to stretching! I had a much more enjoyable experience, posing with him in the ring and getting his pictured signed “Vader Time” is how he signs, if anyone is interested. Oh, it was time…
Earl: I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading these stories! I’m a big Vader fan so I probably would have marked out meeting The Man They Call Vader.
Over the last 6-7 years, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a few personalities. The two that may stick out the most will happen to be Kevin Nash and Sunny. They were at an indy wrestling show in my neck of the woods a few months before WM25. I got to go to a meet and greet with Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and Sunny. Sunny was THE diva for me when I first started wrestling. At that point, she seemed to be slim (like she was ready for competition). I asked her if she was going to be at WM25 and she said she was unsure at the moment. She was really nice and, even now, it kinda shocks me to see what has happened to her since. Kevin Nash just put me in awe at his size! Ha! He was really tall and his hand pretty much engulfed mine. He was pretty cool too.
At that same show, unfortunately, I met Scott Hall. I think this was one of his lower points in life. He was ok but didn’t seem like he really wanted to be there. It became sadder as he wrestled in the main event in the same outfit he did the meet and greet in (jeans and a hoodie with his wallet sticking out). I am glad he seems to have turned things around,
Oh – and I did just meet The Honky Tonk Man a few weeks ago. He was really nice although he moved slow as molasses stored in a freezer.
You can read all previous Sunday Sermons here.