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Dr. Darin Davis

Minnesota independent pro wrestler discusses past experiences and the current state of pro wrestling

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Category: Video

Last week on TNA Wrestling, Mick Foley fought a “match” against a cardboard cutout of Rocky Balboa.

That reminded me of the Sharkey/Fox wrestling camp back in the late 1990’s when someone introduced “The Dummy” to the roster of wrestling trainees.

“The Dummy” was sort of like a mannequin, except that it wasn’t the hard plastic kind you would normally see in an unnatural pose in a store window. This one had some kind of a wire-frame skeleton that was covered in padding and wrapped in a skin of fabric. Not quite burlap, but something close. I’m not sure what the official name of this contraption would be, but it looked like it was something that fabric could be pinned to. An oversize pincushion in human form. It had a torso, a head, and some skinny arms and legs that were sort of posable.

The Dummy was ranked just below “the rookie” on the seniority scale of the trainees. If someone was working on perfecting a new move, they might work it into match with one of the “veterans”. If it was the first time trying the move out, the veteran could tell them NO (possibly running the risk of being called a pussy). If that happened, then the move would instead be tried on a rookie. The rookie already got to do fun things like setting up the ring before the shows and tearing it down after (and of course doing the same at the wrestling camp if the camp ring was being used at the show). Why not inflict more punishment to make them “pay their dues” for the privilege of someday also being able to say NO (and also possibly being called a pussy).

However, there was some fine print and a hidden clause in the unwritten rules of the wrestling camp. If the move was potentially too dangerous even for the lowly rookie, the move would be attempted instead on The Dummy.

When wrestling The Dummy, the only person at risk for getting injured was yourself, which was acceptable since you were the one trying to do this crazy thing in the first place. The Dummy could take a punch, although he wasn’t the best at selling.  He never refused a beating, probably because he didn’t have a mouth or the ability to do hand gestures.

Some of the better guys, like Austin Aries, could have a pretty entertaining match with The Dummy. It always reminded me of a quote that people had said about Ric Flair 15 or 20 years ago: “Ric Flair could have a great match with a chair.

The Dummy couldn’t refuse, but that also meant that he couldn’t tell you how much it hurt. That part seemed to be the job of Terry Fox. If you tried a move with The Dummy and it looked like it was really stiff, Terry would shout out, “You kiiiiilled him!“.

Nobody wanted the reputation of working stiff. You wanted to work “snug”. There is a big difference. If you ended up “kiiilling” him, good luck finding someone to take that move in a match. Now would be a good time to look around and see who didn’t show up to camp that day. Maybe they would be willing if you told them, “I worked on it in camp- the guy didn’t complain“.

After forming what wrestling critics were calling “The Tag Team of the ’90s”, and what wrestling fans across the world were comparing to the “classic” tag teams of the Orient Express, The Dynamic Dudes, and the Ding Dongs, the team of Double Penetration (pictured below) split apart when “Playboy” Pete HUGE decided he would be more successful on his own.

The breakup lead to a singles match between the two for the St. Paul Championship Wrestling (SPCW) promotion in the West St. Paul, MN armory on March 25th of 2000. The nine year anniversary of this historic event will be commemorated next week by a three bell salute on WWE Monday Night Raw, just before they go to air.

Tag Team of the 90's

Tag Team of the 90's

Notice that even in the video Davis is clinging to the tag team picture that he had just ordered 500 copies of.

—–

The video is in two parts since I couldn’t bear to trim out enough to make it under the YouTube 10 minute limit. Enjoy.

*Video, commentary, and photograph credit:  Tim Larson

Below are links to some wrestling-related blog entries & articles that I found interesting during the month of February 2009, with a special highlight at the end.

Okay, now for the “special highlight”. Let me start by saying that although I like a good comedy spot now and again, I really like the kind of match that makes me “believe”, regardless of the fact that I was actually in the business and know better.

However, I found the clip of the match below from the CHIKARA promotion very entertaining. Forget that it blows the “suspension of disbelief” clear out the window and into the next county, and just enjoy.

This was the Wrestling Video of the Week #3 at Project126 (they also have another video like it in their post), and what they mentioned there I’ll say again: the video itself has not been slowed down. It will take you a few seconds to realize this, but when you do you should get a kick out of it.

As I run across things, I’m also going to be adding them to my Delicious bookmarks page (http://delicious.com/drdarindavis). You can also find the last 10 of them on the right side of the page towards the bottom.

I could talk a little bit about how I thought that the WWE was making a mistake by releasing Bam Neely a few weeks ago. I could also talk about them releasing Scotty Goldman (Colt Cabana) last week. My opinion would not be based on what you saw on TV, it would be based on what I personally saw of their work on the independent scene several years ago, not what we all saw on WWE TV.

If you have two guys that are really good, and how good they are isn’t perfectly clear on your television screen, then I think most of the blame has to lie with the promotion. Enough said.

TNA recently made an even worse decision by deciding to release Petey Williams after he worked his ass off for five years with that company. Some reports said that TNA “wanted to get in some fresh faces” so they didn’t renew his contract. They say that while half of their roster has been recycled from the “good old days” with Steiner, Booker T, Sting, Foley, and Jarrett (I think Angle is still at the top of his game so I didn’t list him along with the others).

Project126 has both the emotional ending of his final TNA match (also shown below), and a tribute video as their “Wrestling Video of the Week #4“.

In addition to that, TNA could not come to contract terms with Sonjay Dutt, one of the other great cruiserweights and one of the reasons why I started watching this promotion in the first place. Not clear if he was making unreasonable demands or if management was being cheap (I’m assuming this is all over money and not time off), but I’ll assume that management is cheap.

With both of these guys gone, I’ve got two more reasons why my TNA viewership will most likely take a dive.

Tuesday December 9th is the much-anticipated DVD release of the second installment of the revitalized Batman movie series. While millions are getting ready to watch The Dark Night, I thought It would be a good time to remind people that Christian Bale wasn’t the first one to battle the Joker. No, I’m not talking about Michael Keaton or Adam West either. I’m talking about Minnesota’s own Hellraiser Gutz, who is known in the WWE as Bam Neely.

Back around the spring of 1998 (I think), Gutz fought Marty “The Joker” Hamilton at Club Cancun in St. Paul, MN. After working the Joker gimmick for awhile, Marty ended up changing it to “The Jokester“, and then to “The Practical Joker“. I had heard the reason was pressure from DC Comics, that owns the trademark to the name, but I have a hard time believing Marty had enough fame to call the attention of their team of lawyers. Then again you never know.

It’s not the best of Gutz’s matches, but I thought the timing was appropriate. You also get to hear a little bit of his tag partner, Hellraiser Blood, complain about a lack of competition. Sounded like it was originally going to be a tag match, but whoever Marty’s partner was didn’t show up. The Penguin must have been knocking off a bank or something.

Part of why I like watching it is that having wrestled Marty myself, I know how hard it is to “sell” the silly string during a match. Couldn’t have done it better.

This video originally aired on WTW‘s wrestling show. Commentary by John Lloyd and “Slick” Mick Karch. The referee is Eddie Sharkey

Ed Sharkey

Ed Sharkey

Back when I was still participating in wrestling camp, a crew was filming a documentary about one of my trainers, Eddie Sharkey, and about a few other wrestlers in the Minneapolis area. I had forgotten about this, but I just stumbled across it recently.

You can see excerpts of the short film and hear audio clips at the documentary site. It doesn’t look like the film is available for sale or rent, unfortunately. The film is called The Minneapolis Wrestling Club.

You can find an audio clip of Sharkey on their site, where he talks about Harley Race and himself getting in a fight with a couple of people from the crowd in Denver, CO.

Eddie’s bio on the site:

Eddie Sharkey wrestled from the early 1960s to 1972. He retired and stayed out of wrestling for a number of years. Eventually he was lured back into the business by some younger wrestlers who asked if he would train them. These wrestlers – Jesse Ventura and the Road Warriors – eventually went on to some success. Sharkey still runs a wrestling school in the Twin Cities and referees matches throughout the Upper Midwest [at the time the documentary was filmed].

There is also a short video clip of Sharkey available in the excerpts (QuickTime). In the background you can see me wrestling Terry Fox in our training ring. The referee was “Rough Rod”. Over on the far right of the screen you can see Scott Free and Hellraiser Gutz (who is currently in the WWE as Bam Neely) standing on the apron.

The second part of the clip shows a battle royal. If you don’t blink, you can see me for a few frames wrestling in a black tank top. Eddie is the ref in that match.

Also part of the documentary is a profile of “Sodbuster” Kenny Jay. I wrestled Kenny twice. The first time I wrestled him he was 63 years old (that is not a typo). That was back in 1999. Wayne McCarty has pictures on his blog of Kenny wrestling in June of 2008! Do the math on that one!

Next WWE Japan Champion

Next WWE Japan Champion?

There have been a few stories going around lately about the WWE pushing harder to get into Japan. The WWE sees Japan as one of the most important overseas markets.

Here are a couple of quotes from a USA Today article:

“Japanese fans are changing,” [Funaki] told The Associated Press. “The key is to give them more opportunities to watch WWE. If they see it, they’ll get it.”

and

“Even if you’ve never watched it before, you can jump in and start watching because it’s good vs. evil,” said Ed Wells, Vice President and General Manager and WWE Japan. “We always refer to ourselves as sports entertainment. We created that genre in the U.S. And it’s something that we are now, as of this year, taking really worldwide.”

Is this a good thing?

There have been many times over the years that the WWF/WWE has steered toward the ridiculous, whether it was a particular storyline or a particular character, to the point where I just didn’t want to watch anymore. Not that other national promotions haven’t done some really stupid, embarrassing stuff as well —

Robocop in WCW, I’m talking to you brother!

When you got to the point where you thought American professional wrestling was just unwatchable,  you could always get a hold of a Japanese tape and see some great wrestling action without all of the soap opera, crazy product tie-ins, kiddie-safe fare, or black-and-white storylines (e.g. “good” vs “evil). The WWE of late seems to be going back to the ’80s, where apparently everybody had to have a second job to make ends meet. They had garbage men, dentists, clowns, undertakers. Now we’re getting a carny. [Coming from a “doctor”, maybe I shouldn’t be too critical about that part]

With the WWE trying to become a bigger fixture in Japan, I’m getting a little heartburn. Will it become popular enough in Japan that the other promotions will have to adopt some of the WWE’s format and storylines to compete?

How long before we see Godzilla wrestle Rosie O’Donnell in a “King of the Monsters” match?

The good news: we got to see Lenny Lane on ECW this week.

The bad news: it was a squash match

Rather than let the memory of Lenny in a squash linger, or to let the words of color commentator Matt Striker,  saying Lane was “…trying to make a name for himself here in ECW…” , be the most recent ones people remember, I dug out a video from more than 10 years ago to share with everyone. I guess Striker “forgot” that Lane had competed in ECW in the past, or that he had been a champion in WCW beating the likes of Rey Mysterio (jr.) and Ultimo Dragon.

This is a match between “Luscious” Lenny Lane (with manager Mortimer Plumbtree) and the Kamikazee Kid. These two had a great feud back in the Northern Premier Wresting (NPW) promotion.

The match takes place in Austin, MN, which is the hometown of Kamikazee and it originally aired on “Slick” Mick’s Bodyslam Review. The match was already joined in progress, so rather than editing it further to try to get it under the YouTube 10 min limit I broke it into two parts.

A note for the squeamish– “There Will be Blood”.

Part 1

Part 2

Commentary: “Slick” Mick Karch & Tom “The Bear” (and J.B. Trask)
Referee: Mike Diamond
Producer/Camera: Al Pabon

I watched a documentary last weekend about women’s wrestling in the 1940’s and 50’s called Lipstick & Dynamite.

I won’t give a full movie review about it (for that you can check out Roger Ebert‘s 2.5 stars). Not a great documentary on wrestling itself, but it did give you a feeling for what the first females had to go through starting out in a sport dominated by men.

There were probably at least half a dozen women interviewed, all of which had worked for a promoter named Billy Wolfe, but the focus of the movie was on three particular women. One was an 84-year-old with the mouth of a sailor named Gladys “Kill ’em” Gillem. The other two were The Fabulous Moolah and Mae Young, who are known to younger fans due to their ongoing appearances in the WWE.

A few things I thought were interesting:

  • Unlike the men, who could work a particular territory for months at a time, the women had to constantly be on the move and were not able to stay in a territory for more than a match or two
  • Many states (like California and Illinois) had a ban on female wrestling
  • Many of the women interviewed had careers that spanned more than 20 yrs
  • Moolah claims to have been the women’s champion and undefeated for 29 yrs. Some of the other wrestlers disputed this, saying she had her own belt.
  • Moolah, Mae Young, and midget wrestler Diamond Lil were living in the same house together (??)
  • All of the women said that they don’t like the “T&A” shows that women’s wrestling has become. Promoters put women in the ring that look good and have no talent. Most of them also thought that the recent “gag” appearances of Moolah and Young in the WWE tarnished their reputations.

With many of them in their 80’s at the time of filming, and some that have since passed on (Moolah), the movie gives us a glimpse at some really “tough broads” that were pioneers in the industry.

Lipstick & Dynamite theatrical trailer:

I came across this as I was looking through my old tapes for some Bam Neely (a.k.a. …) footage. This was a portion of a great matchup between Minnesota wrestler Lenny Lane and internationally known Japanese wrestler The Great Sasuke (pronounced Sas-kay, I believe). Lane had worked for Michinoku Pro Wrestling in Japan, which was owned by Sasuke. Being in the US for some reason, Sasuke agreed to work a match for Sharkey’s promotion. The fans definitely got their money’s worth.

This match has a lot of significance for me for several reasons:

  • I started getting into the local scene as a fan around 1995, about the same time that Lane started wrestling. I thought it was great to see him get some national and international exposure (this was before he was in WCW).
  • I was there. If you look for the guy with the camera and the greenish colored sweatshirt, that’s me. I had watched a few tapes of Sasuke in action and was amazed by his skill. I couldn’t believe that he was actually wrestling locally.
  • The program I received from this event (see below) had a phone number on the back of it. The number was for Eddie Sharkey‘s wrestling training camp. This is the number I called to become a professional wrestler. The ad looks pretty cheesy by today’s standards (or by any standards for that matter) since it was mostly for a 1-900 wrestling “hotline” with a couple of sentences at the bottom about Sharkey (I have a better looking one, but it wasn’t part of this program). Had some trouble getting the thumbnail link to work, so you’ll need to click here to see it.

Great Sasuke

Within about a month or two of this match, I would be starting training camp with the “Trainer of Champions” in a boxing gym in northeast Minneapolis, MN.

But I’ll save that for another time. Enjoy the match.

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This match originally aired on “Slick” Mick’s Bodyslam Review, hosted by Mick Karch and produced by Al Pabon.