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Ricky Jackson

"The Unpredictable" Johnny Rodz (aka The Jobber Thread)

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Heeeeeee's Baaaaaaaack!!!!

 

I'm on vacation, resting up from a ridiculous move and my physical job, lying on the couch spending the day listening to 60s garage rock bands (The Seeds!) and watching random wrestling. Life is good.

 

First up is a revival of my Johnny Rodz retrospective. Today's theme: Titans of Tag Teams Back Again Wrestling

 

Johnny Rodz and Tor Kamata vs Tony Garea and Larry Zbyszko - 4/12/1977, Philadelphia Arena, Championship Wrestling (aired 4/23/77)

 

Titans dream team right here, with Rodz and the legendary Tor Kamata. Tony G and Larry Z a rockin' combo themselves. Rodz Fashion watch is off the charts here, as Rodz is decked out in a beautiful multi-coloured vest AND a green singlet. Kamata is wearing pajama bottoms apparently. Larry Z looks like a virginal 19 year old. Tony G's hair outshines everything, of course. Bump-fest to start. Rodz at one point with a great corner bump where he launches himself in the air and comes down headfirst on the top turnbubkle. Faces beat the shit out of the heels to start, but soon enough Rodz and Kamata take over and both Larry Z and Tony G take turns playing face in peril.

 

*A note about the Garea/Zbyszko team: Garea of course is known for having multiple WWWF/WWF tag title reigns with multiple partners in the 70s and early 80s. We just finished reviewing his fantastic run with Rick Martel on Titans of Wrestling. Garea's team with Larry Z is not as well known, but it was actually the longest partnership of Garea's career. They first started teaming in March 1977, and had to bide their time for months as Chief Jay Strongbow and Billy White Wolf (the future Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie/General Adnan) reigned as champs for 237 days. That reign ended when Ken Patera broke White Wolf's neck in storyline, with the belts becoming vacant. However, it still wasn't Tony G and Larry Z's time, as they fell to Mr. Fuji and Toru Tanaka in the tournament final for the straps in September 1977. They continued to team into 1978, repeatedly coming up short as challengers, took a couple months break, and then resumed their chase in July, this time with the Yukon Lumberjacks holding the gold. Finally, on November 21, 1978 in Allentown, they captured the straps from the Lumberjacks, nearly two years after first teaming. Their long-sought reign was relatively short-lived though, as they dropped the straps to the Johnny and Jerry version of the Valiant Brothers on March 6, 1979. They teamed for a few more months before calling it quits. Both men left the territory, with Larry Z returning in the fall to begin the build towards his legendary heel turn and Garea not returning until mid-1980.*

 

Back to the action, and Rodz unleashes a running legdrop on Garea. So now we know who the Hulkster stole that move from. ;) The finishing sequence is totally botched. Kamata is supposed to accidently chop Rodz after Garea ducks, but instead he mistakenly chops Garea as he is attempting to duck. Kamata realizes he fucked up and proceeds to chop Rodz as well, but now it doesn't look like an accident to anyone watching. No audible is called, and they immediately re-do the spot with the correct outcome, hitting the fans over the head with "THIS IS FAKE". Yes, Kayfabe died April 12, 1977, folks. Rodz takes the pin and post-match Kamata attacks him after he complains about the screw up. Rodz is carried away by officials.

 

This was ok. Rodz and Kamata made the good guys look decent with their bumping and stooging. Average TV bout for the time. Tor Kamata lovers be sure to check out the post-match promo he cuts on Bob Backlund!

 

 

Johnny Rodz and Rene Goulet vs The British Bulldogs - 4/22/85 MSG

 

Rodz' last MSG match is the Bulldogs first. In the dubbed voice over intro, Vince puts Rodz over and explains he is known as "Unpredictable" because of his unusual in-ring behavior and penchant for turning on his tag partners. Match opens with Rodz and Goulet in textbook ass-showing mode for the debuting Bulldogs. Both bump like madmen for the newcomers and the MSG crowd is in love with the Brits from the get-go. Heels eventually take over and maybe take too much of the match. Considering the circumstances of the Bulldogs as the hot new team on the block, from a booking standpoint they probably should have wasted these jabroni's in 4-5 minutes. Once the Bulldogs regain control the crowd is in absolute awe of their fresh, high-impact offense. The finish with Dynamite launching himself off of the back of Goulet as he rests on Davey Boy's shoulders for a headbutt on a prone Rodz is super cool and receives a big pop from the crowd. Fittingly, Rodz bids adieu to MSG by doing the job for his team and putting over new stars making their first appearance in the arena.

 

 

Next Time: Once again, not the thrilling conclusion to the Java Ruuk Saga (anyone with more details of his time in Montreal circa 1980 than I can find online please let me know), but instead a look at Rodz in some Unpredictable settings!

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Lounging on the couch, as it snows outside in Vancouver, watching 1975-76 WWWF for fun and I came upon this little gem...

 

Johnny Rodz/Baron Scicluna/JoJo Andrews vs Andre the Giant/Johnny Rivera/Jose Gonzales - 3/31/1976, Hamburg, PA (televised 4/10/76 All-Star Wrestling)

 

do2ltz.png

 

What an awesome collection of JTTS talent on the heel side! Andrews was only 19 years old here. He would go on to play Kasavubu in 1978 Stampede (featured on the recent Network tease footage) and would die tragically when he was only 26 in 1982. He has a great look, like someone taken straight from a Blaxploitation crime movie. He bumps pretty well too. Pre-match, Andre posing with his partners is one of the best wrestling related things I've seen recently (and I've seen all the big WWE moments of the last few days).

 

20u8prt.png

 

As far as the action goes, Baron is in full "phoning it in" mode here. Rodz is decked out in some nice, festive-looking green and red full-length tights, but his punches early on are embarrassingly light. Andrews displays some nice comedic selling. Andre is so young and quick, I love it. He isn't tagged in during the first 5 minutes or so, building anticipation. Finally, he gets the hot tag and we get a marvelous Andre House O' Fire! Finish sees the faces make a pile of the heels and all three make the cover

 

2n20aq9.png

 

Great, silly fun from the mostly lazy 1976 WWWF crew. I could almost smell the cigars and musty atmosphere through the screen

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It's a fun read, but Rodz comes across as an abusive asshole and a complete embarrassment to wrestling. Of course, there's a myriad of other clueless clowns that help keep rasslin's black mark rolling right along.

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I didn't get that impression at all

 

Really?!

 

Let's examine all the ways Rodz comes across as an abusive buffoon:

 

(Excerpts from the Deadspin article.)

 

- Johnny Rodz is giving me shit because I told him I like The Wrestler. “Is that what you really think wrestling is?” I’m repeatedly asked in a condescending tone.

 

- “If you call this is a school one more time, I’m gonna fucking kick you outta this place,” Rodz growls at me.

 

- The glory days are long gone, though, and now Rodz spends a lot of his time dealing with people he calls nincompoops.

 

- Many of Rodz’s replies to my questions are punctuated with “but you’re not a wrestling fan,” even after I’m able to recognize the face of Al fucking Snow on a signed photograph hanging in his office.

 

- Earlier in that very same office, a student came in wincing and pointing at a quarter-sized patch of skin missing from his elbow. He told Rodz the mat gave him rug burn. Rodz told him to quit putting his elbow down when he falls and rolls. Instead, push the arm out, and do a sweeping motion to take the bump more smoothly and spread the pressure across more surface area. There was Johnny Rodz, a master of his craft, imparting a small but important piece of knowledge onto one of his students. Rodz then politely told the student to put ointment on the wound, and to cover it with tape. After the guy left, Rodz turned to me and said, “That’s what we call pussy. Ain’t no fucking way he’s gonna be a professional wrestler. You have to go through hell to be a pro wrestler.”

 

The real "pussy" IMO is Rodz, who acts one way toward the student and then berates him behind his back - all while continuing to take his money. He's a dick.

 

It constantly amazes me how many wrestlers - and wrestling fans, apparently - consider abuse to be "normal" and "okay." I remember Vince Russo once writing that he was "grateful" Jeff Jarrett legitimately kicked his ass just for asking a valid question.

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No we live in a humane world where that sort of abuse is no longer tolerated. It's why pro wrestling is what it is, it simply hasn't evolved in pace with society in this country.

I really wished the "like" button worked here, because I'd "like" the fuck out of this post.

 

Wrestlers, especially old-school wrestlers, have no clue how poorly they come across.

 

And why should they? They'll have sycophantic fans eating their shit and thinking it tastes like birthday cake.

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I don't get "complete embarrassment" from that article at all. If you make it as a wrestler you could potentially be in there with trained MMA fighters, legit UFC champions, 400 lb monsters, former NFL players, etc. You need to have thick skin and you need to be able to take care of yourself and I don't see anything wrong or unusual about enforcing that kind of mentality at the beginning stage.

 

Rodz is a very well-respected guy within the business and his school does have a track record of guys who made it. He must be doing something right.

 

 

We live in a world of pussies now.

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I don't get "complete embarrassment" from that article at all. If you make it as a wrestler you could potentially be in there with trained MMA fighters, legit UFC champions, 400 lb monsters, former NFL players, etc. You need to have thick skin and you need to be able to take care of yourself and I don't see anything wrong or unusual about enforcing that kind of mentality at the beginning stage.

 

Rodz is a very well-respected guy within the business and his school does have a track record of guys who made it. He must be doing something right.

Wasn't aware that his stellar wrestling training included bullying outside reporters for no reason whatsoever, not to mention talking bad about the trainees lining his pockets behind their backs.

 

Nothing wrong with being a tough disciplinarian, but that isn't what I was criticizing at all. His hypocrisy and lack of class are complete embarrassments IMO. Okay, some of it is because he's from a different era, didn't have much formal education, etc., but those excuses only go so far.

 

Yeah, he's a great trainer with a great track record of talent, and like everything else in 'rasslin, those skills give him a free pass with the fans.

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Johnny Rodz vs Mac Rivera - 2/19/1983, Philadelphia Spectrum

 

Dick Graham and Gorilla Monsoon ("We want Kal! We want Kal!") on commentary. Ring announcer Dave Zinkoff with great introductions for the wrestlers and referee Dick Woehrle in the old timey, over-the -top manner straight out of 1927. Rodz is the babyface for a change and receives a decent pop from the Philly faithful. Mac Rivera is in full heel mode, Pear Harboring Rodz at the bell. Parv and I watched a Rivera match from April 1983 on the first Mystery Titans Theatre, and he was horrible there. Here, two months earlier, he looks much better. The guys cut a decent pace and engage in a slugfest in the early going. Not the Greatest Wrestling Ever, but solid stuff. But hey, everyone knows I revel in garbage, inferior wrestling, so don't take my opinion too seriously. Things slow down a bit, but Rodz heats things back up with some Lawler-esque punches. Rodz isn't bad as a fired up baby and South Philly loves him this evening. However, there are a lot of sloppy spots from both guys, so don't worry, neither man will be a threat to the 2026 GWE poll. The match just drifts aimlessly, as many WWF undercard matches from the era tend to do. We get a nice finish, with a well-timed rope running exchange ending with Rodz hitting Rivera with a sweet back elbow. Rodz covers Rivera. 1, 2, 3...Rodz wins! Rodz wins! Rodz wins!

 

I love pro wrestling

 

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I'm really glad this thread exists, but it's kind of breaking my heart. After Stan Hansen gave his shout out to "the carpenters" in his HoF speech, I found this article online:

 

http://www.prowrestlinghistoricalsociety.com/hg-carpenters.html

 

The author, Harry Grover, is really effusive in his praise of Johnny Rodz, and after reading that I was all fired up for watching him work... but so far I just don't find myself agreeing with Grover's assessment at all. I mean... no doubt Rodz is a decent veteran hand... but he's sometimes sloppy, his selling is often goofy as all hell, he doesn't seem all that interested in telling much of a story in there... Whatever flaws RJ points out in his write-ups are really apparent when you watch the footage (as is the good stuff, such as it is).

 

The perils of high expectations, I guess.

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Yeah, as much as I love Rodz, I've really only seen him shine in that SD Jones match from March 81 MSG. He's had some good moments, but nothing special. But his role wasn't really so much to put on an entertaining match as it was to make his opponent look good and report back to Vince Sr on a wrestlers potential. Milage varies as to whether he was good at the former

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2s7z47d.png

 

Brothers in Arms: Johnny Rodz and Jose Estrada

 

These two men worked together hundreds of times in the 70s and 80s. Rodz likely teamed with Estrada more times than any other wrestler during his long career. Their story together is a tale of two teams. In the Northeast, they were purely an enhancement team, losing about 85% of the time. In Puerto Rico, as the masked Medics/Super Medicos, they were a top team, holding several titles over a 8-year span.

 

Estrada was from Puerto Rico, born in 1946 according to Wikipedia. Also according to that site he got into wrestling in 1975. Wrestlingdata.com has him first wrestling in the Northeast on 3/10/76, losing to Johnny Rivera at a TV taping in Hamburg, PA. He first teamed with Rodz as the Medics in Puerto Rico in 76, winning the North American tag titles on Christmas Day, and holding them until 3/4/1977. He was the first WWF Junior Heavyweight champion, supposedly defeating Tony Garea in a tournament final 1/20/78, but this appears to be fictitious. What is certain is that he dropped the belt to Tatsumi Fujinami 1/23/78 at MSG. Like Rodz, Estrada was a jobber/JTTS for many, many years in the Northeast. There, they teamed together frequently between 1977-1983, with the peak being 80-83. They wrestled each other on occasion over the years, with Estrada apparently failing to go over the elder Rodz a single time. The Medics returned to Puerto Rico in 1981 and feuded with Los Pastores (The Sheepherders/Kiwis/Bushwackers). In 1982, Estrada toured Japan for the first time, wrestling for New Japan and teaming with a disparate array of talent, including Jim Neidhart, Perro Aguayo, Black Tiger (Mark Rocco), Bad News Allen and Buddy Rose. He occasionally wrestled under a mask in 1982/83 as the White Angel in WWF, wearing his Medic gear. 1983 saw the Medics return to Puerto Rico and arguably achieve their greatest success as a team. On 7/10 they won the North American titles once again. Then, on 9/10 they defeated the super team of Carlos Colon and Pedro Morales for the World Tag Team titles. Perhaps inspired by this success in late-1983 they renamed themselves the Super Medicos. They also added a third member around this time, Don Kent, who was most notable for being a member of the Fabulous Kangaroos in the late-60s and 70s. At some point in 1984 Kent replaces Rodz, and by 1985 Estrada is solo as the only Super Medico. He would continue to work in Puerto Rico off and on over the years, eventually teaming with his son, Jose Jr. ( part of Los Boricuas in late-90s WWF) as a new incarnation of the Super Medicos in 1990-91. Another son, Julio, would wrestle mostly in Puerto Rico as Rico Suave. Back in the WWF, Estrada had one last run, appropriately under a mask, teaming with fellow longtime job guy Jose Luis Rivera, as the Conquistadors from 1987-1989. He retired in 1992, making sporadic returns in Puerto Rico over years, as late as 2007.

 

I was inspired to look at the Rodz and Estrada team because of a match we reviewed a few months back on Titans of Wrestling. Rodz/Estrada vs Tony Garea/ Steve Travis best 2 of 3 falls from 9/18/82 in Philly is an awesome match, finally supplanting Rodz vs SD Jones 3/16/81 MSG as the best Rodz match I've seen. So I thought I would see what else is out there. I couldn't find any footage of the original Medics/Super Medicos online unfortunately. I did find a few WWF matches though. Last night I watched a pretty good Rodz/Estrada vs Martel/Garea bout from 9/21/81 MSG. Today I will examine a couple more

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqZyeawlj14&list=PLV6RCTo_Cd0CJA6wxD_Y_EpgpVQQEW9Ij&index=24

 

Rodz/Estrada vs The Samoans, 9/9/1980 Allentown (aired 9/27 Championship Wrestling)

 

Estrada is balding here. He would eventually go with the bald-with-beard look, appearing very similar to Bad News Allen. They teamed together during that 82 Japanese tour, and I really want to believe that Allen was inspired by Estrada to adopt his signature look. Samoans were the tag champs at the time. Vince puts over Rodz/Estrada as a "very aggressive tag team combination". They are in full babyface mode here, which was rare, and they get a decent shine in early. At one point Afa gets tangled in the ropes and Rodz taunts him by stretching out on the top rope and relaxing. Samoans take over and pummel Rodz. Rodz does make a tag, but it isn't hot, and Estrada comes in for a brief House O' Fire. He's cut off and destroyed by a Samoan drop for the pinfall.

 

Not a bad little TV match. Cool to see Rodz/Estrada work babyface.

 

Rodz/Estrada vs Dom DeNucci/SD Jones, 10/19/81 MSG https://youtu.be/1Za3I1oibMU?list=PLV6RCTo_Cd0CJA6wxD_Y_EpgpVQQEW9Ij&t=5632

 

Estrada rocking the full Allen (or full Estrada) look here. The boys have matching green tights. Together, this is a very impressive collection of JTTS talent. In a way, SD was the Dom to Rodz's Baron, eternal enemies in the ring, with the added wrinkle that Rodz trained Jones. This match was disappointing though. No heat, which isn't surprising given how low these guys were on the totem poll at the time, but it was also a sloppy match with little structure. There were some nice spots between Estrada and Jones. Rodz threw some nice punches and took a wacky bump over the top rope at one point. Mostly a meandering affair with multiple messed up four-man spots. Nobody really builds any heat, and Dom in particular seems to be just going through the motions, sadly. Jones pins Estrada with a sunset flip.

 

A rather typical dull WWF undercard match from the time, unfortunately.

 

Just watch the Rodz/Estrada vs Garea/Travis match!

 

https://youtu.be/RHC3z2Hnohw?list=WL&t=2271

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This time, a rare look at babyface Rodz. This is also the match I alluded to earlier as one that looked promising due to Rodz's opponent.

 

Johnny Rodz vs Mr. Saito - 5/22/82, Philadelphia Spectrum

 

While he was usually a heel in NYC, Rodz did play face from time to time. Basically, a lot of WWWF/WWF job guys went back and forth between heel and face - Jose Estrada is another who comes to mind - with no rhyme or reason, and often switching from month to month and show to show. Rodz himself wrestled heel the previous month in Philly. In general, it seems Rodz played face more often in Philly than he did at MSG, fitting for a traditionally heel-loving audience, wrestling guys like Tor Kamata, Larry Sharpe, The Baron (only days after teaming with him in a tournament for the vacant tag straps), Frank Savage and the Hangman (from Titans #28).

 

Also, to build upon research from last time, Rodz jerked the curtain 22 times at the Spectrum between 1976 and 1985. That is less jerks than MSG, but he appeared on far less Spectrum shows overall, as the venue didn't host wrestling cards until 1974 (Rodz began wrestling at MSG in 1967), so the ratio is higher.

 

The video starts with an absolutely ancient ring announcer introducing the match. We haven't encountered this man before on Titans, as this is usually Cappetta's turf, but it turns out it is legendary Philadelphia sports public address announcer Dave Zinkoff. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Zinkoff

 

Dave_Zinkoff.JPEG

 

This guy is awesome. He gives Joe McHugh a run for his money in the "guys who have been announcing since the Roaring Twenties" department. His voice is great, and he introduces the ever fashionable Rodz as wearing "Kelly Green trunks". The referee is slightly younger than Zinkoff, only being active since the Great Depression. Anyway, Dick and Kal are of course on commentary and have nothing but praise for Rodz. Warning for those easily offended: the Japanese wrestler delivers a "Pearl Harbor" attack on Rodz to start the match. Rodz unloads a fired up comeback with the crowd loving it. He still fights dirty - blatantly pulling Saito's hair - and the match is actually more a battle of heels, with Rodz as de facto face, which makes things more interesting. Rodz does the row-row Backlund-style headlock spot, and both men work the headlock well. I've come to really be a mark for a well-worked headlock spot. Man, I MUST be getting old. Saito sells great for Rodz, making him look like a world beater. Rodz lays in some pretty good punches, and for a brief moment this was looking like a possible contender for Best Rodz Match. Unfortunately, after a hot start, things slow down a bit, and then they rush to the finish, which has no impact. (SPOILER: Saito wins, if there was any doubt)

 

Man, this was kinda frustrating, as the match had promise at first, but then went nowhere. Honestly, I really wanted to discover a hidden gem with this one and have people be like "Hey, you need to check out this Rodz match, man". Oh well. The first few minutes were fun and seeing babyface Rodz is pretty cool, but still nothing to recommend. The search continues...

 

 

I remember that match as it was yesterday, watching it live and in living color on PRISM TV. It was cool that Johnny was a face for a change and he seemed to be enjoying himself out there. The Philly crowd always loved them some Johnny and he always received a reaction anytime he was on the card.

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Johnny Rodz vs Carlos Colon - 8/1/1977, MSG

Random review here, as I'm watching the whole card just for the hell of it. Some people love puro, some love lucha, I love the 70s. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Colon wrestled in the WWWF in the late 60s, and last appeared at MSG 2/17/69. He was a frequent opponent of Rodz during that stint. Here though, the King of Puerto Rican wrestling enters the ring to silence. Vince Jr says "the fans here don't know much about Carlos", and to add insult to injury ring announcer Jack E. Lee announces him as "Carlos Ca-Lon". Rodz sucker punches Carlos at the bell and gets heat. Colon out fashion watches Johnny with a wonderful floral design singlet. To his credit, he is able to win the fans over when he makes his comeback, busting out not one, but two hurricanranas(!). Rodz bumps like a madman, which meant he respected Colon, as he wouldn't leave his feet for just anybody. After nearly 7 minutes, Colon wins with a victory roll.

Not a good match overall. Nothing really in the way of psychology or heat. Rodz makes Colon look good if nothing else, and bumps more here than in most matches.

Merry Christmas everyone. And remember, at the end of the day we all love wrestling, it is the most awesome form of entertainment ever created, and it comes in all shapes and sizes. With the 70s obviously being the best

 

First match on the card

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFTB7fZOPNY&t=25s&list=PLV6RCTo_Cd0BXlaewfw9iR2lIqGUQqfdl&index=11

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Johnny Rodz vs Carlos Colon - 8/1/1977, MSG

 

 

 

Merry Christmas everyone. And remember, at the end of the day we all love wrestling, it is the most awesome form of entertainment ever created, and it comes in all shapes and sizes.

 

Merry Christmas to you, too, and lots of happy wrestling watching in the new year.

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