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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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Tag: Eddie Sharkey

Twenty years ago today, I walked into a place called the Peacemaker Center in Northeast Minneapolis, MN for my first day of pro wrestling training camp with the “Trainer of Champions” Eddie Sharkey. The building was used to teach some Native American studies, but it also doubled as a youth center. The wrestling ring was set up in a corner of a large, open room that also housed a boxing ring, heavy bags, and other workout equipment. Several teenagers and young adults were there learning to box. While we were at this location, I was the only trainee. Billy Blaze and Marty Hamilton (a.k.a. The Joker/Jokester) were helping Eddie out with the training. I also had a boxing trainer that went by the name of General Chang as my (inexperienced) wrestling partner. Occasionally we were getting a couple of guys from the northern part of the state, but they had a three hour round trip so eventually they stopped showing up.

Within a couple of months the place closed- I don’t remember the details of why. Eddie then teamed up with wrestler Terry Fox to restart the camp in Coon Rapids, MN. With Sharkey, Fox, additional trainers “Thunderblood” Charlie Norris and Sam Houston, and a bunch of new talented recruits, it turned out to be a very good summer.

In the late fall, we moved the ring to St. Louis Park, MN so that we could be inside Terry’s garage. And that’s where the camp remained the rest of the time I was there. In the winter the ring was in the garage, and spring through fall it was outside.

In the years that I was there, the trainees that I can recall were Robbie and Mike Thunder, Hellraiser Gutz (a.k.a. ECW’s Bam Neely), PrimeTime, “Opera Man”, the Mighty Angus, referee “Diamond” Joe, Hellraiser Blood, Thor Tyler, “Playboy” Pete Huge, Big Daddy Hoofer (Brody Hoofer), Ultimate Fighter Brad Kohler, “Andy” (forgot his ring name), Mitch Paradise, Shawn Daivari (a.k.a. Sheik Adnan Bashir in TNA), “City Slicker” Jake Ricker, Ian & Ashley Xavier, K-Train, Scott Free, The Sheriff, Shifty, Lacey, Crystal, Ladyhawk, Cynnamon, Sandy from FL, Morgan P.R., “Ray” (don’t remember his ring name), Austin Aries, Helmut Von Strauss/Justin Lee, Smilin’ Jack Daniels/Devin Nash, Black Stallion, Drej, Travis Sharpe, Storm Wolf, “Stone Cold” Doug Johnson, Troy “Don’t Call Me Goldberg” Steel, Chuck Diesel, “Superstar” Steve Stardom, some kid from China (?), and the High Rollers.

At one point I remember counting 17 people training all on the same day. Crazy. Some doing in-ring drills, some on mats outside the ring, some working on punches and other holds. Then “musical chairs” and everyone rotates.

Besides the camp regulars, on Fridays we sometimes had wrestlers from out of town including neighboring states (mostly Wisconsin and Iowa) work out at the camp. They usually were coming in to work a Saturday show and got in a day early to get a little extra ring time. Guys like Travis Lee, Red Lightning, Jay Hanna/Mr. Destiny, T.S. Aggressor, Kamikazee Kid, Rain/Payton Banks. Some former Sharkey trainees like Red Tyler and Lenny Lane would also stop by occasionally, along with local wrestling “celebrities” Tim Larson and “Capital City” Kyle.

I wrestled for five years, working for MIW, PWA, FLWA, SPCW/SDW, WrestleAmerica 2000, WTW, NWF, IWA (Canada), and several others I forgot. Then I broke away from the business for six or seven years (longer story). I ended up getting pulled back in at the beginning of 2009 when K-Train was making a return to the ring. He asked me to come out to the show at Roberts Sports Bar, and I showed up… with my gear in the trunk (just like Terry taught me). I got put into the “Roberts Rumble”, similar to the Royal Rumble where combatants enter the ring at fixed time periods, and at one point the last few guys left in the ring were me, Robbie Thunder, Pete Huge, Mitch Paradise, and I think Hoofer. It really brought back a lot of memories of those days in the backyard at Terry’s.

After that, I started refereeing again and have reffed for MIW, SDW, PTW, and Battleground. At the end of 2014, I got back in the ring as a wrestler and wrestled Pete Huge, Rob Justice, Chris Jordan, James Dawson, Scott Story, PJ Thorn, and Mitch Paradise over the course of a year.

I don’t know exactly how I expected my wrestling career to go, and my expectations have certainly changed over the years. I know I thought I would wrestle for a much longer period of time. I thought when I took a break in early 2002 it would be for six months to a year, not for thirteen years (til the match in Dec of 2014- I’m not counting wrestling in the Roberts Rumble in 2009). Some of that I had control over and some I didn’t. I know that I’d like to wrestle a few more times before hanging it up for good (if there is such a thing as “for good”). But it’s a race against Father Time and it can be at odds with some of my other interests and priorities. And, to be honest, there are a lot of younger, hungry, talented guys (and gals) out there that deserve one of the limited spots on a show more than I do.

I’m really glad to see that the local independents are still going strong today. And that I had the privilege of working out at Terry Fox’s MIW training camp (up in the orginal Coon Rapids location) during the summer of 2015 and getting some ring time with trainees Scott Story, JD Bandit, Aiden Wake, “Stonehenge” Joseph Wayne, referee/manager Tom T. Butterman, and occasionally “Rock Solid” Ross. It makes me feel good about the future to know these guys are going to be carrying the torch.

Overall I can look back and really appreciate the time I had as part of the business and working alongside of, or across the ring from, some really great people (and a few assholes). Thanks to all my fellow wrestlers, referees, promoters, and fans that made all the years worthwhile.

Darin

FYI, I posted a more in-depth account back in 2008 about on my wrestling training experience. If you’re curious to find out more, start with the first part called Wrestling Training and it should also take you to Part 2 and Part 3.

Eddie Sharkey Lifetime AchievementI’ve had several previous posts (start with Wrestling Training Part 1) about going through training camp run by Eddie Sharkey and Terry Fox.

On July 19th, local wrestling promotion Steel Domain Wrestling (SDW) presented Eddie with a long-overdue Lifetime Achievement award during their annual show at the Raspberry Festival in Hopkins, MN. The following week, I attended a dinner held at Poor Richard’s Commonhouse in Bloomington, MN to honor Eddie’s accomplishments and share stories about his long career in wrestling.

Eddie started wrestling back in the 1950’s on the carnival circuit. He was trained by Boris Malenko, Bob Geigel, and Joe Scarpello. He made his wrestling debut in the AWA in 1961. Eddie wrestled Harley Race and had memorable feuds with Danny Hodge, Bob Boyer, and Jack Donovan.sharkey14

After ending his relationship with the AWA due to a “disagreement” (a more interesting version can be found here), Sharkey got out of the wrestling business to spend more time with his wife and kids.

In 1982, two young bouncers approached him at the bar he tended in Minneapolis and asked if he would train them to be professional wrestlers. Sharkey agreed, and they would become the hottest tag team of the 80’s – The Road Warriors.

He continued to train wrestlers and run wrestling cards on a regular basis with his Pro Wrestling America (PWA) promotion. Wrestling historians and fans alike would say he was responsible for the 80’s boom of professional wrestling. The talent he trained is a who’s who of the big names of the time. Besides the Road Warriors, there was Jesse Ventura, Bob Backlund, “Ravishing” Rick Rude, Barry Darsow (one half of the tag team Demolition), the Destruction Crew (Wayne Bloom and Mike Enos), Nord the Barbarian, and Nikita Koloff. Later years would produce Rick and Scott Steiner, Sean Waltman, Jerry Lynn, Charlie Norris, Lenny Lane, Ricky Rice, Derrick Dukes, The Warlord, Tom Zenk, J.W. Storm, Madusa Miceli, Josie, ODB, Austin Aries, Shawn Daivari, and Bam Neely.

On the local scene we can also thank him (and Terry Fox) for such independent wrestlers as Horace the Psychopath, Mitch Paradise, the High Rollers, “Playboy” Pete Huge, “Big Daddy” (Brody) Hoofer, Black Stallion, Lacey, Rain, Robbie and Mike Thunder, Ian Xavier, the Mighty Angus, K-Train, Scott Free, Helmut Von Strauss/Justin Lee, Travis Sharpe, and Storm Wolf among others. Oh, yeah… and Darin Davis.

Eddie is still involved with Prime Time Wrestling (PTW) and running occasional shows under the Pro Wrestling America name.

 

Sharkey Appreciation Group Photo B/WAt the dinner, hearing Eddie and his longtime friends tell stories was very entertaining (some of the stories are referred to in a City Pages article from the early 2000’s that I’ll post about separately). It was clear that the older days in wrestling were a more dangerous time for the talent (i.e. less security in arenas), but they also managed to have a lot of fun. And it was great to see a lot of the boys I used to work with show up for this event, some of which are pictured in the group photo above.

To Eddie, I’d like to say thank you for all your wisdom and encouragement while I was going through training camp with you and Terry, and while I was working for your promotions. It probably was the best experience of my life.

darin_davis_eddie_sharkey

As I am still somewhat involved on the local scene, hopefully there are still more of these moments to come.

Congratulations to Austin Aries for becoming the TNA Heavyweight Champion after defeating Bobby Roode at the TNA Destination X pay-per-view on July 8th, 2012. Aries chose to end his 298 day reign as TNA X-Division Champion to get a shot at the World title, and it paid off.

Of course, you’ve probably known this for quite awhile before reading it here, so I’ll get to something you may not have known. Aries trained with Eddie Sharkey and Terry Fox (and later with a different wrestling camp) when he made his debut in the Minneapolis,Minnesota area. This was the same camp I was a part of (which I have described in a few previous posts, starting with Wrestling Training).

It was at the same time that Sheik Abdul Bashir (Shawn Daivari) and Bam Neely (Hellraiser Gutz) were being trained. Daivari would later go on to work for the WWE, TNA, and ROH. Neely would work in ECW and the WWE.

I still remember a conversation that occurred when Aries first got into the business. I was talking with some visitor to our wrestling camp – I don’t remember if it was an out-of-town wrestler or a promoter, but it doesn’t matter. It started with a single question.

This guy is really good. How long has he been training?“, the visitor asked.

I pretended to look at a wristwatch I didn’t have and said, “About 45 minutes.

He kind of chuckled and responded with, “No. I don’t mean low long today. I mean how long, in total, has he been in wrestling training.

I looked at him with a straight face and said, “About 45 minutes.

We just looked at each other for a few seconds as if we both knew we were witnessing something special. That this guy, barring injury, would go on to become something great. That he had shown enough talent in less than an hour to convince any promoter that his 5’9″ frame didn’t matter.

Aries has a current tag line of “Austin Aries- The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived“. In the context of professional wrestling, that may turn out to be completely true.

 

Last month, Brody Hoofer had what is believed to be his final professional wrestling match (I always need to qualify these things when it comes to pro-wrestling). I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at an interview he did back in  July of 2000 (about 18 months into his 12 year career).

The following interview was conducted by Tim Larson, who used to publish the Upper Midwest Wrestling Newsletter. Other issues of the newsletter can be found at the UMWN Archives page.

You can also find various interviews and pictures of Hoofer at Wayne McCarty‘s site: http://midwestindywrestling.blogspot.com

On to the interview…

Big Daddy Hoofer

20 Questions
July 22, 2000

1. How and when did you get in the wrestling business?

Towards the end of summer in ’98, I was working at my job and noticed a customer wearing an obscure ECW shirt.  Being an established ECW mark, I commented on it and sparked a conversation.  The customer was Marv Rubin and he was on his way to coffee with Eddie Sharkey down the street.  Marv asked if I ever wanted to be a part of the business.  I did, so I went for it.

2. Describe Big Daddy Hoofer, the wrestler, to us.

BDH is a loving man – well, he loves himself.  He has great disdain for nearly everybody else.  BDH is an attacking wrestler who will take three stiff bumps to get one in.  The high-flying is working it’s way into his repertoire.

3. What are your strengths in the wrestling business?

I really work to involve the crowd in the match.  I was trained to have good pacing, which as I mature in the ring has been crucial in having solid matches. I am always eager to learn and never ignore feedback.  Also, you won’t catch me whining about someone working stiff.

4. What have been your top athletic accomplishments other than professional wrestling?

I used to play a lot of volleyball, getting involved in and having some success in 2-on-2 beach tourneys.  I also placed second in the 1992 4th of July three point shoot-out at NERCC.

5. Who is your favorite all-time wrestler?

I loved Ric Flair‘s character, and marvel at Eddie Guerrero‘s ringwork, but if I was pressed to name one (with no fear of being cliche), it would be Mick Foley. I noticed Cactus Jack during his first WCW run and he just stood out
to me. I actually met him after SuperBrawl 2 in Milwaukee, so that added to my attachment to him.  His wild bumps, his fantastic promos, and his long climb to success are all things I admire.

6. What is the best match you’ve ever had?

Last summer’s North Dakota State Fair in Minot, Playboy Pete Huge and I opened the show in front of a huge crowd and tore it up for 19:58 in the 100-degree sun.  The crowd was really into us and was completely pissed when I went over.  All the boys were very complimentary and Pete and I were proud.

7. What is the first card you ever saw live?

An AWA show at the Duluth Arena in like 1983.  The main was to be Road Warriors-Hennigs, but the LOD no-showed and a near-riot ensued.  I even wrote a letter to the promoter to express my disappointment.  I did get Buck Zumhofe‘s autograph though!

8. What is the best wrestling match you saw live?

Probably Pillman-Liger at Superbrawl 2.  Right before I met Cactus after the show, I met Gordon Solie and Lance Russell.  Gordon and I spoke about that match, and I remember him commenting that the referee in that match never had to scold the participants for rule-breaking.  I thought it was cool that somebody who had been inside the business that long would look at a match that way.

9.  Quick comments…

a) Playboy Pete Huge … Pete and I cut our teeth together in the business. We helped each other learn and logged a lot of road time together.  Good guy, good worker, and I look forward to stomping his ass again sometime soon.

b) Ed Sharkey … Ed rules.  Just a tremendous asset to the Minnesota scene. A million stories, a million holds, and a fun guy to be around. I am very lucky to be under his tutelage.

c) Terry Fox … The guy can wear every hat imaginable in this business: ref, ring-man, worker, commissioner, promoter.  He loves the show and I look at him as the grease in engine, keeping it running smooth.

d) Sheriff Johnny Emerald … As many of my legendary one-liners have targeted the Sheriff,  I have a lot of respect for the old guy.  His work has improved tenfold in the last year, and is a very fair man on the promoting end.  I was proud to put him over for the WA2K cruiserweight title recently – we had a hot match.

e) Shifty … I don’t know Shifty well, but I sure like to watch him work. Great moves and charisma.  We hooked up a bit in a tag match, and I would like to see more of him inside the ring.

f) Dr. Darin Davis … A very good worker with a hot gimmick.  He helped me a lot in my early days of camp.  I like the Doc a lot, and am inspired by his gutsy comeback.

g) Helmut von Strauss … Helmut is just breaking in, but his matches have had the look of a more veteran grappler.  I’d like to mix it up with him, particularly because I think it’d be fun to stiff a Utah Jazz fan.

h) Scott Free … Scott is another who tutored me quite a bit in camp. Has a good head for the game, has a sweet arsenal of moves, and can go hardcore.  I appreciate his help.

i) K-Train … Kraig is kool!  He’s real solid in the ring, and I’d like to see him on more shows.  Key cog for the Main Event shows.

j) Ian Xavier … My partner in crime and a damn good one at that.  His 30-minute Broadway with Mitch Paradise blew me away.  Got a lot of skills in the ring and a knack for the business.  He’s the driving force behind Cruel & Unusual and I’m fortunate to have him as my ally.

k) Cynnamon … A real sweetie who loves the business.  I’ve enjoyed having her by my side and she’s got real potential.  Hope we’re back together soon!

l) Hellraiser Gutts [a.k.a. Bam Neely]… The best around here right now, and surely on his way to bigger and better things.  Has got it all and I hope he takes it far.

m) Hellraiser Blood … Blood knows his craft inside and out. I’ve always enjoyed watching him draw heat from the crowd.  The guy can tell a great story and crack me up too.

n) Primetime … I was always impressed with his spots, but I remember one time when Blood stated that no one had better psychology in his matches than Primetime.  I paid better attention next time, and I found him to be correct. That’s why his matches are so memorable.

o) Mitch Paradise … Mitch and I started with Eddie about the same time, and I’ve seen his skills skyrocket firsthand.  Probably the nicest guy in the locker room too.  Should be on his way to stardom.

p) Steve Stardom … A newcomer to the local scene with plenty of skills. A hard worker who scares some, but not me!

q) Kenny Jay … Helluva friendly guy, and I’m not afraid to mark a little about meeting guys who I’ve seen on TV for years.

r) Buck Zumhofe … Pretty cool to go through getting his autograph in ’83 to doing an angle with him in ’99.  Always entertaing to be around and can fire up the crowds still.

s) High Rollers … Great, fun guys.  They’ve always treated me well and I dig working with them.  Among the tops at working the crowd.

t) Lenny Lane … Great talent and always been very cool to me.  It means a lot to the younger workers when a guy in his position comes back to lend advice.  I hope he ends up somewhere good.

u) Scotty Zappa … This guy gets plenty of props, but I would still say he’s underrated.  All the tools you could ask for.  One of my best learning experiences early in my career was reffing a match between him and Lenny.

v) Chi-Town Thug … Talented, well-rounded worker.  I’ve seen him wrestle numerous types of workers and adapting to them all well.  I like his manager too!

w) Robbie Thunder … This guy has loads of skill.  I’ve been lobbying to get booked versus this guy – I think we’d be great together.  GET SOME GEAR!

x) Mick Karch … The key guy in getting the boys over.  I’m kind of baffled as to why he’s not featured in the big three but amglad to have him here. Loves what he does and is a wealth of knowledge.

y) Jerry Lynn … One of my favorite wrestlers to watch period.  I’d met him just as an ECW mark, and when he was hurt, he’d be popping up at the local shows.  Cool guy with good taste in music and a deserving star.

z) Stormwolf … Stormwolf can really go and we’ve had some good battles. Has been too busy for camp lately, but when he’s in there, he’s put together a good array.  Major league dropkick.

10. What has been the highlight of your wrestling career so far?

The Minot show referenced in question #6

11. What has been the lowpoint of your career?

Landing on my nuts on a top rope legdrop was quite unpleasant.

12.  Who would you really like to work with locally and nationally that you haven’t?

Locally, I’d like singles bouts with Shifty, the Doctor, and Rob Thunder. Nationally, I would really enjoy working an ironman match with Lita.

13. Who has been the biggest influence on you in the business?

Ed Sharkey and Terry Fox have shown the way, and seeing the way the Chicago guys (Pearce, Dominion, Steel, etc.) handle themselves has influenced me as well.

14.  Compare/contrast yourself as a singles and tag team wrestler.

It is easier to focus on a singles match just because the are fewer people involved.  I was hesitant to be in a tag team just because I’m a spotlight hog. In a tag battle, with rest time on the apron, I have time to work the
crowd a little more and that also gives me a bit more time to think of what I want to do next.

15. How much time do you spend on wrestling each week?

I would say about twenty to twenty-five hours.  I wish I was getting paid well to do this so I could lose the day job and focus even more on my craft.

16. What is the one thing that surprised you most about the wrestling business?

Probably the brotherhood that is ‘the boys.’  Even though large egos are involved, most everyone is in this to make their co-workers look good.

17.  Give us a brief summary of your career.

Debuted 2/99 in Spooner, feuded with Pete Huge for that summer. Formed Cruel & Unusual in the fall of ’99 and became MIW I-C tag champs.  Won the WA2K cruiserweight title from Sheriff Emer-old, held it for a couple months, dropped it back to him.  Undefeated in cage matches to boot.

18. What is the one thing you would most like to improve on?

My body. I just need to find the time to dedicate myself to the weights. If I get some muscles, I think I bring a pretty stellar package to the table.

19. If you could book one match, what would it be?

Nationally, I would like to see a six-man elimination tag match pitting Dean Malenko, Chris Jericho, and Lance Storm vs. Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, and Jerry Lynn. Locally, I would pit Mitch Paradise against Johnny Emer-old in a shootfight.

20. What are your goals for 2000?

Besides adding bulk to myself, I’d like to see C & U hit the road and become known over a more vast area. Also, I’d love to go work for Michinoku Pro or something like that.

On Saturday Jan 8th 2011, I helped out as a referee at the MIW show in Chanhassen, MN. Luckily, I got to work the main event of the night (actually, it was a request, not luck, but I felt privileged that they wanted me for their match).

The main event that night was Brody Hoofer vs. “Playboy” Pete Huge, with the stipulation that the loser had to leave MIW (and presumably wrestling).The event ended up selling out at the American Legion, with more than a dozen fans being turned away due to the inability to squeeze anyone else into the room (a.k.a. fire code).

Back in 1998, when I was still in the Eddie Sharkey/Terry Fox wrestling training camp near Minneapolis, MN (see Part 1, Part2, and Part 3), two of our new trainees were Pete and Hoofer (I think Pete started first, but I don’t know what the gap was between them). They ended up being ready for a card in the bright lights, small city of Spooner, WI around the same time, so they had their first match against each other there in Feb 1999. At the time, I think Pete was going by the ring name Damien Navarro, and Hoofer was Big Daddy Hoofer. I was on the card also, probably against the Mighty Angus, and I’m almost certain I witnessed their first match. After a twelve year feud, I may have also seen their last match.

At the end of a great contest that included some of the moves and counter-moves used in their very first match, with the crowd exhausted and getting more than their money’s worth, with a long string of false finishes behind them, Pete was victorious and Hoofer was forced to leave the world of professional wrestling.

Although he didn’t get the win, he got the girl (Pete’s valet Allison Wonderland), and he got even more respect than he already had. Besides the great reputation he has built over the years with his fellow trainees and his many opponents, tag team partners, and friends, and he has also earned the respect of many of this industry’s greatest veterans like Honky Tonk Man, “Wild” Bill Irwin, and Road Warrior Animal, just to name a few.

It’s the end of one road, and the start of another. Good luck to Hoofer in whatever dangerous hobby he decides to pursue next. I’m just happy I got to participate in both the beginning, and in the end, of Hoofer’s career in professional wrestling.

Sean WaltmanI happened to think of this after hearing about Sean Waltman coming back into town for a show at First Ave on 6/19.

Back in the early 2000’s there was a local independent wrestler from the Hibbing area named Jeremy Halberg. I can’t say that Jeremy’s gimmick was the same as Waltman’s X-Pac gimmick, but the look was almost identical. Same long dark hair, similar beard, same dark blue or black headband, same sunglasses, same leather jacket, etc. You can find a couple of pictures of Halberg in his gear on an outdated website that was from before he started taking bookings in the area.

Over the next year or two, Halberg was getting a lot of bookings down here, so I would see him a lot at the shows. He generally came into the building looking close to what he wore in the ring (headband, sunglasses, etc.).

At one afternoon show at the Main Event sports bar (one of my all-time favorite places), I was standing outside the service entrance in the back of the building with another worker (can’t remember who offhand, let’s just say it was Thor Tyler to give him a plug). All the boys usually came in the back way whether you were working on the show or just visiting. The “locker room” was back in a storage area next to the walk-in cooler.

A few minutes later a car pulls up, “Halberg” gets out,  and walks up to us on his way in the building.

Hi guys,” he said to us.

Hey, how’s it going man? Good seeing you again“, I said. Thor just had his mouth open- I don’t think he said anything. “Halberg” then walked into the building.

Holy Sh*t! Do you know who that was?“, Thor said to me.

Yeah… that was Halberg“, I said.

No way, that was Sean Waltman“, he said.

I started laughing hard and could barely catch my breath. “No it wasn’t. It was Jeremy Halberg. He works the shows down here a lot.“, I said.

He looked exactly like Waltman“, he said.

I know. They’re pretty close. But Waltman isn’t as tall as Halberg is. And if he wasn’t wearing those shades you’d be able to tell right away.“, I said.

Are you sure?“, he said.

Yes I’m sure. He just dresses the same. What would Waltman be doing here?”, I said.

He was trained by Sharkey“, he said.

Yeah… you think the Road Warriors are going to show up next?“, I said, laughing again.

And besides, you can’t just “mark out” and yell Holy Sh*t everytime you see someone famous“, I said. “That was definitely Halberg. Come on, I’ll prove it to you.“, I said as we walked back into the building.

As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I saw “Halberg” standing next to Eddie Sharkey. He had his sunglasses off, and I could now see clearly that it was not Jeremy Halberg at all. It was THE Sean Waltman. Sean “Lightning Kid” “1-2-3 Kid” “X-Pac” “Syxx-Pac” “Syxx” Waltman.

Holy Sh*t! That is Waltman!“, I said.

Told ya!“, Thor said.

I said ‘Good seeing you again?’ to him. He must have thought ‘Who’s this clown?- I never met this guy before’.“, I said.

Yep“, Thor said.

I don’t know why I was so surprised, since Curt Hennig, Nick Bockwinkle, and many other famous names had shown up at this particular location over the years for wrestling events. Every time I saw Halberg (the “real” Halberg) after that, I always paused a few seconds and sized him up before saying anything.

I’m still not sure who’s taller.

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“.

Below are links to some wrestling-related blog entries & articles that I found interesting during the month of April 2009.

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.

Girly ScreamI was doing some trivial thing a couple of days ago (I think it involved taking out the garbage or putting something into the garbage can) when all of a sudden I let out a loud scream as I accidentally dropped what I was carrying. You would have thought I’d been shot. Right after the shock of hearing myself wore off, I started laughing and thought about something that happened back in the Sharkey/Fox wrestling camp several years ago.

I don’t remember what year it was (2000?), but we were in the St. Louis Park, MN location. It was summer so the ring was outside. When it’s outside you take advantage of the extra room above and around the ring to practice and do some drills that you wouldn’t be able to do when the ring is in the garage. One of the drills we would go through is getting thrown through, and over, the ropes.

Getting thrown through the ropes happens almost every match to at least one of the wrestlers. When someone is tossing you out, you need to be able to grab the middle rope with one hand, plant the other hand down on the apron, and make sure your legs (and especially your feet) don’t get tangled up in the ropes on the way out. Getting into the ring through the ropes also needs practice, but it’s a little less critical because the heel is always going to nail you as you’re getting back in anyway 😉

The drill for this was to have one person in the ring and all of the other trainees standing outside. One by one each person would climb into the ring and then the person in the ring would grab you and throw you out through the other side. Then you’d go to the end of the line and do it again. After the person in the ring through everyone out once, the next person would take over as the thrower. This continued until everyone had a turn at tossing guys out.

A similar drill was going over the top rope. One person in the ring, everyone else comes in one at a time and then gets thrown over the top rope on the opposite side. There was more chance for injury because the top rope is at least 7 feet above the floor- more for the taller rings which I think were 42 inches from the floor to the top of the mat.

In a lot of cases, guys would wrestle their first time in a battle royal. Unless they were winning (unlikely), they were going over the top rope.

As long as we were outside, we might as well work on one other over-the-top-rope move that occurs less often (not every match) but is also good to know. That move is going over the top rope backwards. This would happen if someone gave you a clothesline over the top rope (e.g. every match I had against Mitch Paradise), or a cross body, or something similar. This one isn’t extremely difficult, but there is a mental hurdle to overcome to be able to do it. To help with this, you start out with one or more spotters to guide you over.

We had a guy in the camp that was very nervous about going over the top rope backwards. For the sake of the story let’s call this guy “Ray“. Ray was a very muscular guy. Ray was in his 40’s when he started in wrestling. Ray had competed in several Mr. Minnesota bodybuilding competitions. And it turned out Ray could scream like an 8-year-old girl.

It took quite a while to convince Ray to try this move. With a couple of spotters in place, Ray backed up against the ropes. One of the guys in the ring was ready go give him a clothesline over when Ray said he was ready.

“You ready Ray?”

“I’m ready”

Clothesline- starts going over the top…

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaagh!” (high pitched horror movie scream)

“Ray, are you okay?! What happened!?”

“I don’t know, I thought I was going to land on my head! The scream just came out of nowhere.”

“Ok, let’s try it again”

He gets back into ring and in position against ropes.

“Ready Ray?”

“I’m ready”

Clothesline- starts going over the top again…

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaagh!” (same high pitched scream)

“Ray, I thought you were ready!”

“I keep thinking I’m going to land on my head”

“Ok, let’s try it again”

Gets back into ring…

Repeat that whole sequence another 5 times or so and you get the idea. At that point we had to stop because everyone was exhausted. Ray was tired from screaming. Everyone else was tired from laughing.

I don’t think he ever made it over the top rope that summer, or ever for that matter, without screaming hysterically (he had some injuries that ended his career before his first match- none of them involved the top rope).

If it makes him feel any better, I have no idea where my blood-curdling scream came from either.

Below are links to some wrestling-related blog entries & articles that I found interesting during the month of January 2009.