With the recent surge in popularity of journeyman wrestler James Ellsworth in the WWE, it makes me want to look back at another particular journeyman. While this jobber never had his own line of T-shirts or get a shot at a world title, his story is no less impressive. This is the story of Jake ‘The Milkman’ Milliman.
Jake Milliman for years was a “jobber to the stars” in places like the NWA, WWF and AWA. The Milkman, as he was nicknamed, hailed from Tennessee and jobbed to the likes of One Man Gang, Adrian Adonis, Nick Bockwinkle and countless others. His biggest claim to fame before his sudden rise in popularity, if you can even call it that, happened in 1988. He was the jobber who lost to ‘Ravishing’ Rick Rude that night Rude would flirt with Jake ‘the Snake’ Roberts wife Cheryl, starting a hot feud between the two superstars.
Other than that, Milliman was most notably known for getting beat by bigger named stars. Milliman was to the AWA what Rocky King was to the NWA or Barry Horowitz was to the WWF. He was a well-known jobber who you knew never had a chance in the world of ever winning a sanctioned wrestling match. That is, of course, until 1990.
By the time the year 1990 rolled along, the American Wrestling Association (AWA) was on its last legs. Most of the promotions biggest names had fled the company for greener pastures in either WCW or the WWF. With a completely depleted roster, AWA head honcho Verne Gagne needed to create new stars and create them fast and on the cheap. That’s where Jake Milliman comes in.
While Jake wasn’t good looking, wasn’t a silver tongued devil on the microphone and didn’t have a physique of your prototypical pro wrestler. One thing Milliman could do was work a match. In the land of the AWA, that went a long way in the eyes of Verne Gagne. So in 1990, Jake ‘the Milkman’ Milliman was pegged to get a golden opportunity by a wrestling company that was quickly dying.
Jake would begin by working longer, more competitive matches, even though the end result was the same. But Milliman was about to shock the world. One of Gagne’s last ditch efforts to attract fans was the creation of the Team Challenge Series. The Team Challenge Series was a group of 3 teams that wrestled a series of different matches that if you won or went to a draw, you earned points. The teams were captained by Baron Von Raschke, Larry Zbyszko and Sgt. Slaughter. Jake Milliman was assigned to Zbyszko’s team called “Larry’s Legends.”
Jake Milliman would become the shining star of Larry’s Legends winning matches like the ‘Great American Turkey Hunt’ against Col. Debeers. Basically, it was a raw, uncooked turkey on a pole match. The first person to grab the turkey from the pole won. Debeers initially got the turkey, but the referee Scott Ledoux was knocked out so he didn’t see him getting the bird. But when the ref finally came to, Milliman grabbed the turkey from the Col. and won the match.
It started a feud between the “South African” Debeers and the jobber turned hero, the Milkman! Milliman would in later weeks come down during Debeers matches and taunt him with winning the turkey match. It wasn’t the only victory Milliman would get in his AWA career, he would defeat fellow enhancement talent at TV tapings. He also won a battle royal, last eliminating Col. Debeers to secure the Team Challenge Series for his team and in the process winning the “one million dollars” cash prize.
The heroics of Milliman in 1990 didn’t last that long because the company would soon fold and go out of business. Jake Milliman would return to wrestling in the independent organizations and return to jobbing on WWF television. While his star probably didn’t rise like James Ellsworth’s has in the WWE, in no small part to no social media back then. But for those who can remember him, for a brief time, at least for AWA standards, there was Millimania!