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protecting the business


delacroix
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just seeing if anyone can help me with this, or point me in a direction- i've been arbitrarily searching through old observers and it's not getting me anywhere except sidetracked. i'm working on a short paper about the idea of "protecting" the wrestling business, looking the nature of kayfabe and how it's evolved now that it's pretty much universally admitted that wrestling is worked.

 

what i'm looking for is very specific, sort of. i believe i read a story about bill watts' mid south territory, and him telling guys that if they were out in public and got into a fight with a civilian, whatever the situation, they better win, and if they didn't then they shouldn't bother showing up for work in his territory after that. this is what i remember. i might be mangling the story, i might be attributing it to the wrong guy, i may have made it up entirely in my own little head. i'm hoping someone here can point me to an issue of the observer, a book, whatever (something i can cite) where i can find this story, or, if i did indeed dream it, suggestions of similar stories that hit the same note (seemingly insane codes of conduct enforced to protect the business).

 

actually, similar stories would be awesome either way.

 

thanks.

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Bret Hart's book has the story about Stomper coming to Hart house which is probably one of the most famous stories along these lines. You can probably find the story online somewhere too.

 

Kayfabe commentaries has a DVD w/ Larry Hennig that apparently has extensive detail about working schoolteachers and stuff.

 

Tributes II has the Tim Woods bio w/ the shoot fan challenges and the lengths he went to so that people wouldn't think he was George Woodin, plane crash victim riding with heels.

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the tim woods story is definitely going to be used, with the quote from flair about how woods "saved" wrestling in the carolinas by showing up and wrestling when he had just been in a plane crash.

 

with the bret hart book, are you talking about the stomper coming over to the house, and the kids being scared because they hadn't been smartened up to the business yet, thinking he was coming to kill their dad? (sorry, my memory for this stuff isn't too great) i'm kind of looking for more "codes of conduct" type of things. that one seems more like "stu hart is a crazy guy" because he didn't clue his family in. unless this was a common, expected practice, that you were discouraged from even letting your family in on the secret. i didn't get that vibe, though. am i mistaken? because if so, that would be great, as it's absolutely outrageous. the other one i keep thinking of is the story about fritz von erich, when he put the claw on a tv reporter interviewing him, and the guy freaked out and clamped onto his testicles, and fritz had to pretend it wasn't killing him because the camera was still rolling. again, a great story, but it's more of a funny anecdote about this thing that happened to this one guy than it is displaying a specific rule.

 

i'm thinking of common practices in wrestling culture that relate to "protecting the business" that, to an outsider, would seem ridiculous or unnecessary. that's why the watts thing (which i guess i dreamed up) seemed so perfect- that he wouldn't be telling guys "don't get in fights" so much as he was telling them "you better win fights or you're fired" because the illusion of legitimacy is always the biggest concern, and it would be actually verbalized as a rule. and i realize that that would have been an extreme example, but i felt like it would have been perfectly acceptable to present it as representative of the nature of kayfabe, and the intense pressure to "protect" wrestling.

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the other one i keep thinking of is the story about fritz von erich, when he put the claw on a tv reporter interviewing him, and the guy freaked out and clamped onto his testicles, and fritz had to pretend it wasn't killing him because the camera was still rolling. again, a great story, but it's more of a funny anecdote about this thing that happened to this one guy than it is displaying a specific rule.

There are plenty of World Class stories that could be included. The cover up of the circumstances around David Von Erich's death, Fritz's cover up of his sons' indiscretions, treating the fake blinding of Chris Adams to be a bigger tragedy than the real death of Gino Hernandez, Fritz's fake heart attack angle, the cover up of Kerry's amputated foot - even denying it after it came off during a match, etc.

 

Ironically given the lengths Fritz went to protect the business and his sons, he once exposed kayfabe on TV by revealing that Lance Von Erich wasn't really related to him, because Lance had left the promotion and was working for a competitor.

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wasn't there also a story about one of the von erichs being seriously injured in the ring, and fritz getting mad at someone for giving him cpr? like he would rather let one of his sons die than look like they needed to be saved? some of that von erich stuff would probably be mentioned if this turns into a bigger project, which may happen.

 

but, at the same time, even people in wrestling thought fritz von erich was nuts for that stuff, right?

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the tim woods story is definitely going to be used, with the quote from flair about how woods "saved" wrestling in the carolinas by showing up and wrestling when he had just been in a plane crash.

 

with the bret hart book, are you talking about the stomper coming over to the house, and the kids being scared because they hadn't been smartened up to the business yet, thinking he was coming to kill their dad? (sorry, my memory for this stuff isn't too great) i'm kind of looking for more "codes of conduct" type of things. that one seems more like "stu hart is a crazy guy" because he didn't clue his family in. unless this was a common, expected practice, that you were discouraged from even letting your family in on the secret. i didn't get that vibe, though. am i mistaken? because if so, that would be great, as it's absolutely outrageous. the other one i keep thinking of is the story about fritz von erich, when he put the claw on a tv reporter interviewing him, and the guy freaked out and clamped onto his testicles, and fritz had to pretend it wasn't killing him because the camera was still rolling. again, a great story, but it's more of a funny anecdote about this thing that happened to this one guy than it is displaying a specific rule.

It was very common for one's family to be kayfabed. The Stomper situation is especially notable/colorful/etc because during a promo he specifically threatened to come to Hart House and piledrive Helen into the sidewalk. Bret ran and hid under a table, getting very confused when Helen greeted Stomper like he was her best friend.

 

As far as family stories, one of the most famous is from when Peter Maivia was wrestling in England. Jackie Pallo was getting heat on him, and Peter's wife, Lia, not yet smartened up, ran into the ring and beat the everloving hell out of Pallo, the top heel.

 

i'm thinking of common practices in wrestling culture that relate to "protecting the business" that, to an outsider, would seem ridiculous or unnecessary. that's why the watts thing (which i guess i dreamed up) seemed so perfect- that he wouldn't be telling guys "don't get in fights" so much as he was telling them "you better win fights or you're fired" because the illusion of legitimacy is always the biggest concern, and it would be actually verbalized as a rule. and i realize that that would have been an extreme example, but i felt like it would have been perfectly acceptable to present it as representative of the nature of kayfabe, and the intense pressure to "protect" wrestling.

As far as Watts, he did end up firing Bob Orton Jr. after the latter got in a fight because there were no bruises on Orton's knuckles so it appeared that he didn't fight back and lost (though it seems like a strange story since Orton's had a super tough guy rep).

 

There's a similar type of story that would be a good fit: Rey Mendoza, who was a very tough guy, was known for going into bars and starting fights (which he always won) because word would spread about how tough the wrestlers were.

 

As far as Kevin Von Erich's collapse (which Gary Hart says was a seizure due post-concussion syndrome), Bruiser Brody gave him chest compressions and Tommy Rogers gave him mouth to mouth recessitation. Rogers has said that Fritz was angry at him for making Kevin look weak, but yes, generally speaking, that sort of conduct on Fritz's part was frowned upon.

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There's a similar type of story that would be a good fit: Rey Mendoza, who was a very tough guy, was known for going into bars and starting fights (which he always won) because word would spread about how tough the wrestlers were.

 

i'm not super familiar with mendoza, was he just a mexico guy, or is this stuff that happened in the us? (this paper is focused on this country) that does sound really great, though, since i'm assuming that his actions were not only condoned, but lauded.

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Paul Bearer once told a story about Kamala, during his Sugar Bear Harris days, being hit and berated every week by his wife for losing matches since she didn't know it was a work. This continued until he finally won a $10,000 battle royal on TV. Expecting his wife to be proud of him for once, Kamala caught hell from her for not bringing the money home. At that point, Kamala decided it was time to smarten his wife up.

 

I don't know if that really fits this thread but I think it's a story worth retelling.

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There's the story from the Pick Your Poison DVD, where Grizzly wore a neckbrace around the house and everywhere after Harley Race injured him. Jake and his siblings were scared that Race was going to kill him.

 

Also, the Sandman staying at home for a month after Tommy Dreamer 'blinded' him to make it seem legit.

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I would highly reccomend the Scott Teal Bob Roop shoots. You can probably find them in easily uploadable format on the web somewhere.

Bob Roop was an Olympic athlete who promoters wanted to use as guy who would hurt non workers to prove legitimacy. Roop is really disdainful to that whole mentality…”real athletes win contests they don’t deliberately hurt opponents”…yet he’s sympathetic to the rationale behind the whole thing. Most of your protecting the biz stories are told by guys who are fully indoctrinated in that mentality. Roop is interesting in that he understands but doesn’t agree with a lot of it. As a result he comes across as a more reliable narrator.

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wasn't there also a story about one of the von erichs being seriously injured in the ring, and fritz getting mad at someone for giving him cpr? like he would rather let one of his sons die than look like they needed to be saved? some of that von erich stuff would probably be mentioned if this turns into a bigger project, which may happen.

 

but, at the same time, even people in wrestling thought fritz von erich was nuts for that stuff, right?

The Fantastics describe this story in their Straight Shootin' Interview if yo ucan get a copy of it.

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Bob Roop was an Olympic athlete who promoters wanted to use as guy who would hurt non workers to prove legitimacy. Roop is really disdainful to that whole mentality…”real athletes win contests they don’t deliberately hurt opponents”…yet he’s sympathetic to the rationale behind the whole thing. Most of your protecting the biz stories are told by guys who are fully indoctrinated in that mentality. Roop is interesting in that he understands but doesn’t agree with a lot of it. As a result he comes across as a more reliable narrator.

that makes me really interested to hear him talk about it. one of my main points is this idea that, to outsiders, this stuff seems so outlandish, but for those who are part of the culture, it's completely natural and unquestioned. a person who can actually function fully as a member of the culture, while at the same time retaining the ability to think about it critically, is rare.

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There are actually a couple of stories in the new Observer (10/14--the Roy Shire bio) talking about how Shire once fined Watts and Ray Stevens for being seen together...outside the territory where nobody would have found out anyway.

 

Shire was also the origin of Watts’ mentality when he was

running a territory regarding being strict about faces and heels not socializing together in public. Once, Watts, who was a

babyface, and Stevens, a heel, went out carousing together. Now, Stevens understood where his bread was buttered,

and if they were going to go out together, they went to Los Angeles to do it which was out of the territory. Still, somehow

Shire found out and fined both of them.

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And then when he started using LA headliners in his main events, he booked them differently (Piper and Mayne as heel allies in LA, heel and babyface respectively engaged in a feud) even though NorCal fans watched the LA TV show via the local Spanish Independent Network (now Univision) affiliate.

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