Pro Wrestling Revisited

Saturday December 3rd, 2011 – Waukesha, WI

I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for old school professional wrestling. I loved the showmanship of it as a kid, and when I found out it was prearranged I loved it even more. It’s live theatre, and growing up in Milwaukee I got to see some of the best to ever put on a pair of tights. It was a golden era, and the American Wrestling Association was king.

There was Nick Bockwinkel, Mad Dog Vachon, Baron Von Raschke, Black Jack Lanza and of course the king of the ring himself – Milwaukee’s own ’The Crusher’. I used to go see the matches live with my best friend Timbo, and we were hooked. The wrestling term for that is a ‘mark’, which comes from a carnival process of chalk marking scam targets.

Times have changed dramatically and so has the wrestling business, but tonight I got to revisit a unique page in my personal history. I used to be a ring announcer for a wrestling organization based in Milwaukee, and I eventually bought the ring and ran shows myself.

The first show I was in charge of was at the Waukesha Expo, a nice little building with a lot going for it except one thing – location. People had a hard time finding it if they had to come in from Milwaukee, which was where I tried to get them to drive in from. I put a lot of time and energy into promoting that first show, and we ended up doing pretty well.

To this day, it was THE most satisfying feeling of accomplishment I’ve ever felt. At the end of that night, I flopped into my bed totally exhausted. I gave all I had, and it was a big learning experience all around. A lot of things went wrong, but a lot of others went right.

That first show was in October of 1992 and I called it ‘Fall Brawl ‘92’. I printed posters and tickets and my friend Mike Moran (better known as ‘The Texas Hangman‘) served as the booker for the actual wrestling itself. We were a team, and we both gave it all we had to make sure we put out the best product possible. A lot of things have to come together.

We drew around 900 people, which just about broke us even for the night. I wasn’t able to put the time and energy I needed into doing it full time, as I had to earn my living – just like I do now almost 20 years later. I was in the right place, but it was the wrong time. I’m glad I tried it, but I was several years too early. The market hadn’t caught up to it just yet.

The guy who does it now is named Dave Herro, and he does a fabulous job. He booked a show tonight called ‘Blizzard Brawl’, and I drove up to see my old friend The Hangman along with a few more of the boys that wrestled for me back in ‘92. They’re still doing it.

Dave brought in some old school names like Mean Gene Okerlund and Superfly Jimmy Snuka to make appearances, and that’s exactly the kind of thing I would have done. They had a receptive crowd at the Expo, and the matches brought back memories of Fall Brawl.

Mike lives in Florida now, and appraises houses. Most of the guys who worked for me have moved on as well. But for one night, I got to go back in time and be a mark again.


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