Vol. 36: Pat Patterson (1941-2020)

Pat Patterson, widely considered one of the most influential men in wrestling for the 20th Century, passed away on December 2nd, 2020. He was also looked at as Vince McMahon’s best friend and right-hand man from the WWF Expansion through the Attitude Era and into the 21st Century. His contributions over many decades are too numerous to name. No matter what style or era, Patterson had some level of impact on the wrestling world.

Modern fans will likely remember him most as being one of Vince’s “stooges” along with Gerald Brisco. The previous generation would remember him as the first-ever WWF Intercontinental Champion. The generation before that would remember his legendary tag-team with Ray Stevens as The Blond Bombers in Roy Shire’s Big Time Wrestling. And the generation before THAT might remember his run in Portland for Don Owen’s Pacific Northwest.

Pierre Clemont was born in Montreal Quebec in 1941 and started his wrestling training as a teenager. He was inspired by Buddy Rogers and Killer Kowalski, so he took the bleach blond hair and moveset of Rogers, but also wore Kowalski-like purple tights. He quickly developed a reputation of making others look great in the ring, which impressed a young Mad Dog Vachon.

Patterson moved to The States where he first worked for Big Time Wrestling in Boston, not to be confused with Roy Shire’s San Francisco promotion of the same name. There he met Louie Dondero, who became his real-life partner. He also had a rendezvous with Johnnie Mae Young.

Pacific Northwest

After spending a year in Boston, Pat got a call from Vachon, who told him to go to Oregon and work for Don Owen. Pat was not asked about this beforehand and no-showed the tryout. This angered Vachon, who called him again and threatened to beat the hell out of him if he did it again. All you have to do is look at a picture of Maurice Vachon and you can see why that would be scary. Pat was not a shooter.

Would you want this man angry at you?

Pat and Louie moved to Oregon where Pat started working for Owen. Over the next few years, Pat would work in other territories as part of a talent exchange, which was common on those days. In these other states (Washington, Texas, Oklahoma, etc.) Pat started using effeminate stereotypes to enhance his gimmick. Things like lipstick, cigarette holders, and flashy attire. Louie worked as a valet.

By the time they returned to Oregon full-time, Pat was a bonafide main-eventer. He stopped using the effeminite gimmicks and became more serious. He won several titles over the next few years before starting the next chapter in his career.

Fellow wrestlers in Portland recommended he move to San Francisco and work for Roy Shire’s Big Time Wrestling. Patterson did the common practice of losing matches before he left the territory. One such loss was to a young Antonio Inoki. Another was a Loser Leaves Town Match to his rival Pepper Martin. After that loss, Pat and Louie packed their things and moved to San Francisco

San Francisco

Shire told him was if he was going to be a top guy, he had to look the part and get his body into shape. Pat hated working out, but the philosophy of looking like a main-eventer stuck with him for the rest of his life. It was also something he passed on to the next generations of wrestlers.

One of his first matches in San Francisco was at the legendary Cow Palace. At the time, circa 1965, The Cow Palace was one of the premiere venues in the country. It was like the Madison Square Garden of the West Coast. Patterson wrestled, and impressed, Red Bastien that night. So much so that Bastien sang Pat’s praises backstage over how good Pat made him look. That vote of confidence massively helped Patterson’s reputation backstage.

Big Time Wrestling held an annual battle royal every January as one of its major events. Shire would call in talent from several territories to be part of the all-star match. One year, Shire wound up on the wrong end of a fight and was out of commission. Pat stepped in and booked the match, which he had the clout to do as one of the top stars for the company. Pat would then help Roy book the battle royal every year after. These January battle royals would be the main inspriation for the Royal Rumble event WWE holds to this day.

The Blond Bombers

Eventually, Patterson did start teaming with Ray Stevens. The duo adopted the name The Blonde Bombers, which was previously used by the team of Rip Hawk and Swede Hanson. This began what was probably the biggest run in Patterson’s career. The Blond Bombers won the tag titles and held them for the better part of two years until Pat left to go on a tour of Japan.

By the time Patterson returned to San Francisco, Ray Stevens had turned babyface. The team split and the two men feuded over the territory’s United States title. Pat started to wear a mask. His cover story was that he was too good-looking for the audience to see his face. In reality, the mask was loaded, which allowed Patterson to knock out opponents with a devastating headbutt. Stevens ultimately won the title in a Texas Death Match.

Pat turned babyface after Ray Stevens left the territory to work for Verne Gagne’s AWA. He did away with the mask and feuded with top heels like Lars Anderson and Ernie Ladd. He also teamed with fellow babyface Rocky Johnson to win the tag titles. Stevens flew in on occasion to team with Pat as a babyface team for big matches. Patterson returned the favor by teaming with Stevens as heels in the AWA.

During all this time, Patterson was helping Shire book the territory in addition to being pushed as a top star. Pat asked Roy for partial ownership of the promotion. Shire refused, and Pat left the territory. He spent the following year in Florida working for Eddie Graham.

The Blond Bombers reunited in the AWA as a heel tag team, this time with Bobby Heenan as their manager. They were awarded the AWA Tag Titles after The High Flyers vacated them and held them for approximately eight months.

World Wrestling Federation/WWE

Pat Patterson was the inaugural Intercontinental Champion

Patterson began working for Vincent J. McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation in 1979 where he ultimately would remain for the rest of his life. It’s worth noting that he was still working for The AWA at the time. He defeated Ted DiBiase for the WWF North American Title and took that belt on a tour with New Japan Pro Wrestling.

This is also around the time Pat infamously “won” the newly christened Intercontinental Championship in a fictitious Rio De Jeanero tournament. It is a common misconception that the North American Title quietly became the Intercontinental Championship. What actually happened is Patterson lost the North American Title to Seiji Sakaguchi. For whatever reason, New Japan simply stopped using the belt.

Another little known fact about the Intercontinental Championship is it was created to give Patterson heat for his feud with WWF Champion Bob Backlund. He did not win the World Title, of course, but the matches drew big for Madison Square Garden.

Patterson also had a legendary feud with Sgt. Slaughter that culminated in the famous Boot Camp Match. Even by today’s standards, that match very violent and bloody.

Backstage Influence

The 1980s saw Pat transition from in-ring competitor to backstage office worker. He became heavily involved with booking major events, helped talent develop their characters, and also created inventive gimmick matches. He is perhaps most known for creating the Royal Rumble concept based on his experience booking battle royals in San Francisco. In addition to helping book matches and work with talent, Pat also headed up talent relations. This was the job JJ Dillon, Jim Ross, and John Laurenitis did in later years.

Perhaps the biggest story involving Patterson in the mainstream news was a scandal in the late 1980s involving young male ring crew complaining of sexual harassment. While Pat was never formally implicated, nor was he tried for any crimes, he was let go from his job because of the scandal. Vince McMahon hired him back sometime later after the controversy had died down.

Just about any wrestler or personality that worked in WWE over the last 40 years likely has some personal story or memory of Pat Patterson. His fingerprints were all over the creative direction, especially when it came to finishes for big matches. His influence on the wrestling world is unparalleled and will continue to be felt for generations to come.

Vol. 35: The Armstrong Family

There are many famous families in the world of pro wrestling. The Harts may be the most well known, The Anoa’i family may be the largest. But the focus of this volume of Classic Wrestling Memories is dedicated to The Armstrong Family: Bob, Scott, Brad, Steve, and Brian.

Bob Armstrong was born Joseph Melton James in Georgia in 1939. He first saw wrestling as a child and trained to wrestle as a teen. After serving as a United States Marine in the early 60s, Bob became a firefighter. Bob Armstrong retired from full-time wrestling in 1988. He would still wrestle on independents for another 30 years and acted as commissioner for Jim Cornette’s Smoky Mountain Wrestling. He was inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame in 2010. He passed away from cancer in 2020.

Brad Armstrong was born Robert Bradley James on June 15th, 1962. He made his in-ring debut in 1980 and quickly found success teaming with his father Bob in Southeastern Championship Wrestling. In the following years, he also won tag team championships with Magnum TA and, of course, with Tim Horner as The Lightning Express.

Scott Armstrong, born Joseph Scott James in 1961, is the oldest of the Armstrong brothers. Like his father, he started wrestling in the Georgia territory. He wrestled in mainly preliminary matches and in lower card tag team matches with his brother Brad.

Like the rest of The Armstrong Family, Steve started out in Southwest Championship Wrestling. His first major program was teaming with Johnny Rich against Ron Fuller’s Stud Stable, which included a young Arn Anderson. Steve teamed with Tracy Smothers as The Southern Boys and won the tag team titles in Eddie Graham’s Florida Championship Wrestling. The two also won the tag titles in Fuller’s Continental Championship Wrestling.

Brian and Billy Gunn formed the very successful tag team that would become known as The New Age Outlaws. They spent the next four years at the top of the WWF card as part of Degeneration X where they held the WWF Tag Team Championship four times.

Vol. 33: Mr. Wrestling I and II

Seth and Train talk the two men that donned the mantle of Mr. Wrestling, Tim Woods, and Johnny Walker.

3:15 – Mr. Wrestling

Woods went to the Omaha territory where promotor Joe Dusek gave him the name Mr. Wrestling. Dusek wanted Mr. Wrestling to wear a mask, despite most masked wrestlers in America were villains. He gave Woods a white mask and white singlet to wrestle in because he wanted Mr. Wrestling to be a babyface. The gimmick worked, and Mr. Wrestling was born. Mr. Wrestling would see his greatest success in the south and southeast territories. Leo Garibaldi promoted for months ahead of time that this mysterious man who was such an accomplished wrestler, no major star would be willing to face him if they knew his identity.

44:42 – The Famous Plane Crash

In 1975, Woods boarded a private plane with Johnny Valentine, David Crockett, and a young Ric Flair. The plane crashed breaking the backs of the other three wrestlers and killing the pilot. Woods gave his real name of George Woodin to the authorities and claimed to be a promotor. This was to cover the fact that he was the only babyface on the plane because if word got out that a babyface was in the same plane as heels, it would hurt the image of pro wrestling being legitimate. Especially if people learned that Tim Woods and George Woodin were one and the same.

40:18 – Mr. Wrestling II

Johnny Walker began his career as “The Rubberman” due to his flexibility. Unfortunately, he physically looked older than he was. So much so that he retired at the age of 30 because he looked like he was in his mid-40s. But if you put a mask on him, his aged look went away. He and Woods formed a team for a while. When he started work in Mid-South, he turned heel against top babyface Junkyard Dog. This brought about the infamous botch where II was supposed to pin JYD with a kneelift. II unfortunately missed by a mile with the kneelift but JYD still sold it like it killed him. This infuriated the crowd and caused a massive dip in business. He also teamed with and feuded against Magnum TA for The Crocketts.

1:07:00 – Wrap Up

Mr. Wrestling II retired in the early 80s and simply went home and returned to the life of Johnny Walker. Legend has it he didn’t acknowledge his past in wrestling and simply went by his name. His wife also had a knack for making flashy robes and suits for wrestlers and entertainers.

Vol. 29: Harley Race, The Greatest Wrestler On God’s Green Earth

There are a lot of cliched names for all-time greats, and many of them apply to Harley Race. A Man’s Man. A Champion’s Champion. A Hall Of Famer’s Hall Of Famer. And so on. There’s a reason why on The Wrestling Brethren shows the term “WWHD” (What Would Harley Do?) comes up from time to time. Harley Race was one of the biggest stars in pro wrestling during the 1970s. He won the NWA World Championship A total of four times during that decade, and with the exception of a few short-term losses he held it for over four years.

The Beginning

Unlike a lot of other wrestlers, Harley Race was not a stage name. It was his genuine birth name. Many fans may not know that Harley had a bout with Polio as a child. Fortunately, he was able to make a recovery. The stories of how tough he was date back to his childhood. He may not have ever truly finished a high school education. In fact, Harley was expelled from High School for getting into a fight. When the principal tried to break up the fight, Harley attacked him too.

Early Career

Harley found training with the Zbyzsko brothers, Stanislaus and Wladek. If that last name sounds familiar, these were the men Larry Zbyzsko took the last name of as a tribute. Harley also worked as a chauffeur for Happy Humphrey, a well-known wrestler at the time who weighed approximately 600 pounds. His first matches were in Missouri under the name Jack Long for promoter Gust Karras where he worked tag matches with an onscreen brother John Long. Harley was involved in a serious and tragic auto accident that killed his newlywed wife and unborn child in 1960. Doctors believed Harley’s injuries were so severe they required amputation of his leg. Karras visited the hospital and convinced the doctors not to amputate the leg. Harley was told he would not walk again, let alone wrestle. After many long months of training and physical therapy, Harley returned to the ring under the name The Great Mortimer in 1963. Shortly after this, Harley went to Texas to work for Dory Funk, Sr. There he permanently started using his real name because “Harley Race” was a much better name than “Jack Long”. This was also where he met Larry Hennig and formed a friendship.

AWA

Race and Hennig started working for Verne Gagne’s American Wrestling Association (AWA) where they were known as Handsome Harley Race and Pretty Boy Larry Hennig. Of course, neither man was thought of as particularly good looking so it was a perfect gimmick for a heel tag team. They won the AWA Tag Team Titles on three occasions and had a memorable feud with fan favorites Bruiser and Crusher. In fact, they frequently wrestled Verne Gagne himself, who would team with various partners.

The NWA Territories

Harley Race is regarded as one of the greatest NWA Champions of all time. What is ironic us his first run with the title was not planned in advance. It came about due to friction between then Champion Dory Funk Jr. and top contender Jack Brisco. In the early 1970s, Dory Funk Jr. was the NWA World Champion and had been for many years. Jack Brisco, who was then an up-and-coming babyface challenger, faced Junior for the title in multiple territories. Paul Bosch in Houston, Eddie Graham in Florida, and Sam Muchnick in Missouri all drew major crowds with a Dory Jr. vs. Jack Brisco main event. And they all knew that sooner or later there had to be the payoff of Jack finally winning the title. The plan was for Dory to lose the title to Jack Brisco on March 2nd, 1973 in Houston. However, one week prior to the event, Funk contacted the office and claimed to have been in a farming accident and would be unable to wrestle for six weeks. This upset a lot of people, including the promoters and Jack himself, because it came across as Dory simply didn’t want to lose the title.

Rise To The Championship

Since the highly-anticipated Junior vs. Brisco match wasn’t going to happen, The NWA board picked Harley as the man to win the title since Race had the reputation as a legitimate tough guy. The match happened on May 24, 1973 and Harley defeated Funk to win his first NWA Title. He would hold the title for approximately two months before dropping it to Jack Brisco on July 20th.

Race would not see another NWA World Championship reign until four years later. He spent those years traveling from territory to territory and winning several regional titles. Among those titles was the inaugural NWA Mid-Atlantic United States Championship, now known as the WWE US Championship.

Finally, on February 6th, 1977, Harley would finally regain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship by defeating Terry Funk in Toronto Canada. This began the reign that he is probably best remembered for because outside of a handful of title losses that lasted less than a week each, Harley effectively had the title until the early 1980s. All but one of those losses were business. The one exception was the loss to Tommy Rich in Augusta Georgia on April 27th, 1981. Depending on who you listen to, it was either an accident or a power play by promotors.

Starrcade and return to AWA

Perhaps the most famous match of Harley’s career happened on November 26th, 1983 when Ric Flair defeated him in the main event of the original Starrcade. Harley cut the iconic “Take the damn money!” promo during the buildup to that match.

Vince McMahon, who had recently purchased The World Wrestling Federation from his father, actually approached Harley with an offer to no-show the event and jump to WWF. Race refused the offer because he gave his word that he would pass the torch to Flair at Starrcade.

Race actually regained the title briefly in New Zealand and lost it back to Flair a few days later. That short reign went unrecognized for several years due to the change happening without the approval of the NWA.

Harley returned to the AWA after his final NWA Title run. There he faced the likes of Curt Hennig but never achieved the success he had in the 1970s. Within a few years, he would begin his final run as a full-time in-ring competitor.

The WWF

Vince McMahon was finally able to sign Harley to work for him in 1986. For the first several months Race worked as Handsome Harley. He won the second-ever King Of The Ring tournament and began wearing a crown and scepter to the ring. Some fans found it very odd that a wrestler who took himself so seriously would start using an over-the-top gimmick like a “King”. This run was also notable for the familiar entrance music (“The Great Gates Of Kyiv”) that Jerry “The King” Lawler would use years later.

Race had his first of two WrestleMania matches at WrestleMania III where he defeated The Junkyard Dog. After that, he began a feud with Hulk Hogan over The WWF Championship. He suffered an injury during Saturday Night’s Main Event when he tried to hit Hogan with a diving headbutt on a table. Hogan moved and Harley crashed into the table. This was long before ECW made table bumps a common occurrence.

Retirement and WCW Manager run

Harley showed up in WCW around 1990 and began a new run as a manager. His first major program as a manager was working with Lex Luger during Luger’s first reign as WCW World Champion. He also had a successful run managing Big Van Vader to several WCW title reigns. He was inducted into the WCW Hall Of Fame in w994 and the WWE Hall Of Fame in 2004.

Vol. 28: “The Destroyer” Dick Beyer

There are wrestlers, and there are champions. Then there are champions, and then there are Legends. Finally, there are Legends, and then there are people like “The Destroyer” Dick Beyer.

They say never meet your idols because you’ll end up being disappointed. Whoever said that never met Dick Beyer.” – Mike Tenay

Early Life

Dick Beyer was born July 11th, 1930 in Buffalo New York. He attended college at Syracuse University, where he was a varsity football player, as well as a wrestler. He co-captained the Syracuse Orange football team in 1952 and played in the Orange Bowl that year. Also in that same year, Beyer made the Eastern Regional Second Team. Those accomplishments helped with Syracuse University’s Athlete Of The Year. Beyer graduated with a degree in education and spent years as a teacher. Beyer coached several sports, including swimming and football. Fellow Syracuse Orangeman Jim Brown was on a team that Beyer coached during this time. Some call Jim Brown the greatest running back in history.

Breaking Into Wrestling

Beyer began what would become a 40 year pro wrestling career in 1954. He wrestled as an athletic babyface, who often would wear a Syracuse jacket to the ring. Rookie Of The Year in The readers of Wrestling Life magazine voted him Rookie Of The Year In 1955.

One of the first territories he worked was Hawaii, where he met and helped train Harry Fujiwara. There he got noticed by WWE Hall Of Famer Freddie Blassie, who was a top heel in the Worldwide Wrestling Associates in California. Blassie contacted the WWA office and told them he saw greatest babyface in the country. Blassie returned to Hawaii for a match against Neff Maivia, and Beyer was in his corner for that match. After the match, Blassie contacted California again, and told them he just saw the best heel in the country.

As if that wasn’t enough, Don Owen was at the match as well. Owen was the promoter for Pacific Northwest Wrestling in Portland Oregon. Owen offered Beyer a job when his time in Hawaii was done. A little while later, WWA promoter Jules Strongbow contacted Dick and also offered him a job in California. This put him in an awkward spot, as he had previously agreed to work for Owen and didn’t want to back down from his word. In the end, Beyer agreed to work in California, and promised Owen he would come to Portland when his time in WWA was done.

Donning The Mask

Beyer came to Los Angeles to work for WWA. Strongbow told him that he would be a masked heel under the name “Destroyer”. Beyer hated the idea and refused to do it, believing that his status as a sports star got him over and he didn’t want to use a different gimmick. Whether it was Strongbow, Blassie, or some mixture of them and other promoters that convinced him, Beyer eventually agreed to be The Destroyer.

On his first night (4/27/62) as The Destroyer, Beyer wrestled Seymour Koenig in San Bernadino California. According to Meltzer, there were 773 fans in attendance. Beyer found the mask to be uncomfortable, and difficult to work with as it restricted his vision and head movement. After the match, Beyer said he would never wear a mask again.

Ox Anderson, another wrestler Beyer knew from Texas, gave him a more proper wrestling mask. This one was much more comfortable and did no restrict his movement. Beyer and Strongbow agreed that he would continue wrestling as The Destroyer for four weeks. After that, he would be free to do what he wanted.

Rise Of The Destroyer

Over the next few weeks, The Destroyer wrestled several matches, with one of his notable opponents being a young Johnny Walker. By the end of May, the attendance had skyrocketed, and Beyer was making more money than he ever had before in wrestling. He then told Strongbow that we would continue wearing the mask.

As The Destroyer, Beyer would sometimes refuse to wrestle until he was introduced as The Sensational Intelligent Destroyer. He.claimed that nobody could escape the Figure Four, and that nobody could unmask him. If somebody managed to get out of the hold, Destroyer would claim that he hadn’t fully applied it yet/ If somebody unmasked him, he would be wearing a second mask underneath.  In just under eight weeks, attendance had risen from under 700 to over 10,000, The Destroyer had become so popular that masks and T-Shirts were sold to fans. It was around this time that Mike Tenay, as a young boy, saw Dick Beyer for the first time. To this day, Tenay calls The Destroyer his favorite wrestler.

Japan and Superstardom

Blassie defeated top babyface Rikidozan on July 25th, 1962 to win his second WWA Title. In real life, this was done because Rikidozan was traveling back to Japan and needed to drop the belt. A mere two days later, Destroyer submitted Blassie with a Figure Four to win the title. He would continue to hold the title for ten months and wrestle the likes of Dick Hutton, Lou Thesz, and Giant Baba. Even the returning Rikidozan was unable to defeat The Destroyer. Blassie finally won the title back in May of 1963.

The next few years were exceptionally big for Destroyer. His success in California and Hawaii spread around the world. The Destroyer traveled to Japan to wrestle. Despite losing the title to Blassie, he was still billed as WWA Champion. He faced names like Giant Baba and Rikidozan, who undoubtedly were the most popular wrestlers in Japan at the time. The Rikidozan match was watched by 70 million people. To this day it is one of the most-watched broadcasts of all time, let alone wrestling matches. He became a true megastar. So much so that the word “Destroyer” got incorporated into the Japanese language.

Pacific Northwest

By Summer 1963, Strongbow believed the time had come for The Destroyer to be unmasked. Beyer, on the other hand, was now against unmasking since the gimmick was still drawing well. Still, Strongbow booked Destroyer against Herculez Cortez in a Lumberjack Match in August of 1963. Rather than follow through with the finish, Beyer faked an injury when he was thrown to the outside, and when the other wrestlers stopped to see if he was OK, he sprinted to the back and rode off in a getaway car.

Through a previous phone call, Beyer arranged to finally fulfill his promise to work for Don Owen in Portland. He held several Pacific Northwest titles and faced the likes of Mad Dog Vachon and Danny Hodge. A few months later, Strongbow contacted Beyer and asked him to return to work in Los Angeles, and that he was wrong to suggest losing the mask.

Tragedy Strikes

However, November of 1963 brought very bad fortune. Destroyer faced Rikidozan in a pair of high profiles matches while on another tour of Japan, . Riki had asked Beyer to stay for a day and join him for some parties. Beyer refused and boarded a plane for home.

By the time Beyer made it back to his home, he was notified that Rikidozan had been stabbed in a nightclub the previous evening. Beyer took this very hard, because he knew Riki wanted him to stay. One week later, Riki passed away from his injuries.

Some time later, Strongbow called Beyer to reconcile, and apologized for wanting to unmask him. The Destroyer returned to California and had another run with the WWA Title.

Dr. X

After the superstar treatment in California and Japan, the next stage in Dick Beyer’s career was an unexpected one. Beyer was approached by Verne Gagne, owner and promoter of The AWA (American Wrestling Association). Gagne offered Beyer a top heel run in the territory, but with a catch: He wouldn’t be The Destroyer. Gagne believed everybody knew The Destroyer was Dick Beyer, even though virtually no fan did. Still, Gagne billed Beyer as “Dr. X” instead of The Destroyer, with the belief that he’d be seen as a different person. To his credit, Beyer furthered that gimmick by switching to a brawling based stye as Dr. X, instead of the scientific based style of The Destroyer.

In The AWA, Dr. X feuded with top babyfaces Might Igor, Bruiser, Crusher, and others. He even beat Gagne for the AWA Title in 1968. Wrestling magazines had ads for Dr. X masks and T-shirts. Perhaps you saw one of the infamous pictures of Deborah Harry of Blondie sporting a Dr. X shirt in the 70s.

Debbie Harry of Blondie fame wearing a Dr. X t-shirt

Unmasking and Semi-Retirement

By the time the 1970s Dick Beyer/The Destroyer/Dr. X had achieved all the success that could be expected. He had won three of the top five world titles (AWA, WWA, and IWA), and the remaining two (NWA and WWWF) couldn’t be won by masked men. Though Blue Demon Jr. would break that NWA rule in the early 2000s.

Dr. X got unmasked after losing a match to Blackjack Lanza in the 1970s. “Dr. X” revealed his name to be Bruce Marshall. Of course that was a pseudonym since Dr. X was supposed to be a different person than The Destroyer anyway.

Beyer dedicated the next year touring the world with his family. He used his name as a wrestler to craft a custom championship belt that he would defend in other countries. He took his family to Mexico, Japan, Australia, Europe, etc…

Return To Teaching and Retirement

Beyer would spend the rest of his life mainly as a teacher and sports coach. He still wrestled on occasions going to the 1990s. He also became a regular at the Cauliflower Alley Club. It became an annual tradition where Mike Tenay would address the gathering, and state how much of a privilege it was to have the greatest masked wrestler in the world. Destroyer would start to stand and act proud, only to scowl when Tenay would say “…and Mil Mascaras will be joining us shortly”

Vol. 25: “Mean” Gene Okerlund (1942-2019)

2019 has begun on a sad note. The Wrestling World lost another legendary talent with the passing of longtime interviewer and personality “Mean” Gene Okerlund. Seth “Zandrax” Zillmann and “Crazy Train” Jonathan Bolick return to pay tribute to the man some call the greatest interviewer of all time.

While millions of fans know of his work in The Wrestling World, many are unaware of his pre-wrestling days. Eugene Arthur Okerlund was born in South Dakota in 1942. He worked in radio as a disc jockey, and in TV production in Minnesota. Then in the early ’70s, he became part of the AWA and began the career he would be associated with for the rest of his life. Over the next 30 years, he would appear regularly on TV for The AWA, WWE, and WCW. Often, he would have multiple segments where he interviewed wrestlers for upcoming matches or shows. He would also host the infamous PPV pitches on syndicated shows. Occasionally on WWE programming, Gene would wind up singing on camera. Perhaps most prominently performing The Star-Spangled Banner at the first WrestleMania. What a lot of fans may not know is Okerlund did have a musical background. Sometime during the 1960s he was part of a band “Gene Caroll And The Shades” and recorded a few songs. You can tell it’s him singing here in “Is It Ever Gonna Happen”.

Do you have any favorite memories of “Mean” Gene Okerlund? Let us know in the comments below.

Vol. 23: Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart (1955-2018)

The wrestling world mourns the lost of another great. Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart passed away earlier this week at the age of 63. Join Seth and Crazy Train as they cover Neidhart’s career from its beginnings in Stu Hart‘s Stampede Wrestling up through his multiple stints in the then World Wrestling Federation in the Monday Night Wars. Neidhart was born in Florida, but went to high school and college in California. He held a shot put state record for over a decade. When you think of the size and population of California, that is quite an accomplishment. Jim initially sought to play in the NFL. While he participated in several pre-season activities with The Oakland Raiders and The Dallas Cowboys, he never formally made any NFL roster. However, his athleticism caught the eye of the legendary Stu Hart. Neidhart began training at the Hart Dungeon for a wrestling career in the late 1970s. He also met and married Elizabeth Hart around this time. After completing training, Neidhart wrestled for Stu’s Stampede Wrestling in Calgary. He then worked in Georgia Championship Wrestling, Bill Watts‘ Mid-South, Jerry Jarrett‘s CWA, and Eddie Graham‘s Florida territory before getting work in Vince McMahon‘s World Wrestling Federation. At first, Neidhart was paired with Mr. Fuji as a singles wrestler, and worked matches against his now brother-in-law Bret Hart. Shortly afterward, the plan changed and the two were paired together with Jimmy Hart as The Hart Foundation, where they were staples in the WWF tag division for the rest of the 1980s. The Anvil would have several memorable, and maybe not so memorable, runs with the WWF for the next decade, and would make indie appearances into the 2000’s. We here at Classic Wrestling Memories extend are deepest condolences to the Hart and Neidhart family 

Vol. 20: Chief Wahoo McDaniel (1938-2002)

This episode of Classic Wrestling Memories is devoted to a true legend. In fact, a legend that other legends look up to. Wahoo McDaniel was a trailblazer in the 1960s as a star in both Pro Wrestling and The NFL. Join Seth and Crazy Train as they discuss the in-ring and football career of the NWA Hall Of Famer. Wahoo was a star in the NFL, playing on four different teams from 1960-1968. During this time, he wrestled in the offseason due to NFL players not having nearly as large of a salary as they do today.

After 1968, McDaniel was making more money wrestling in the off-season than he was playing professional football the rest of the year. During his in-ring run, Wahoo was a star in every territory he wrestled in. He held the NWA United States Championship (now recognized as the WWE United States Championship) on five separate occasions. During those reigns, he feuded with up-and-coming stars like Ric Flair and Greg Valentine. This is a show with content you won’t hear in many other podcasts because Train opens up about knowing and working with McDaniel throughout the years and shares some personal stories from behind the curtain. All this and more in a must-hear edition of Classic Wrestling Memories!

Vol. 19: “Number One” Paul Jones (1942-2018)

Paul Jones may not be the first name that rolls off a wrestling fan’s tongue, but his contributions to the wrestling world were quite substantial. Join Seth and Crazy Train as they pay tribute to the man who had a 20+ year in-ring career, as well as a memorable run as a villainous manager. Paul Jones’ career lasted over thirty years in five decades. He had worked both babyface and heel as a wrestler and worked almost exclusively as a heel during his manager run in the 1980s.

Arguably his most memorable run as a wrestler was in the 1970s as a babyface in Mid-Atlantic for Jim Crockett Promotions. There he held numerous tag team titles with a young Ricky Steamboat. However, he also had a successful run in Florida where he held the NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship, a title that has been held by far too many Hall Of Famers to list here. In fact, he held the Florida Heavyweight Championship, the NWA Florida Television Championship, and the NWA Florida Brass Knuckles Championship at the same time.

Perhaps his most known role to fans who grew up in the 80s was as a heel manager where he was the head of The Paul Jones Army. There he again managed several legends and Hall Of Famers. And of course had that legendary years-long feud with “Boogie Woogie Man” Jimmy Valiant, which lead to a lot of head shaving, and a lot of BALD HEADED GEEKS! Do you have any memories or stories of Paul Jones? We’d love to hear them. Sound off below or on Twitter @twbpshow!

Vol. 18: “The Living Legend” Bruno Sammartino (1935-2018)

We lost a true legend this week with the passing of “The Living Legend” Bruno Sammartino. Join Seth and Crazy Train as they pay tribute to the life and career of The Hall of Famer from his amazing and tragic beginnings in Italy during World War II to his two record-setting reigns as WWWF (now WWE) Champion. Not only that, you’ll hear why Bruno Sammartino’s character was just as strong as his in-ring accomplishments. Plus you’ll understand why Bruno was an all-time great babyface. If you are a fan of Bruno Sammartino or even a fan of the 1970’s World Wide Wrestling Federation, this is a fun must-listen show. Do you have any favorite Bruno memories or stories? Sound off below, or tweet the show @twbpshow. Co-host Crazy Train can be found @crazytrain_jb. We would love to hear from you!