Florida Memories - The Beginning...

Championship Wrestling From Florida bookers Michael Hayes and Dutch Mantell did an excellent job of pre-conditioning the fans for my arrival into the territory. For several weeks prior to my first appearance, they played the vignettes that I had taped. The PYTs – Pretty Young Things, composed of KoKo B. Ware and Norvell Austin, talked about their mysterious “Bossman” coming to town.

In what I consider to be the most classic piece of business that I did during my CWF tenure, was the day that “The Bossman” finally arrived. Believe me, my description cannot give the scene the justice it deserves. KoKo and Norvell were waiting at the airport on the tarmac, along with their trusty boom box and a long black limousine. I was scheduled to arrive by Learjet, and they were going to whisk me away to the live TV show at The Tampa Sportatorium. Between every match Gordon Solie would go via satellite to the air center to see if I had arrived. Everyone began getting nervous as the show was almost half over, and my private jet was obviously late.

As Gordon went back to my waiting tag-team another time, they were interrupted by an old, noisy, smoking, Cessna propeller airplane that came to a stop right on the spot where “The Bossman” was scheduled to arrive. (By the way, the plane that we used was actually owned by promoter Lester Welch). The PYTs were extremely upset because they wanted everything perfect for my arrival. All of a sudden, Rick Rude appeared out of the co-pilots door. “We’ve got trouble.” The Ravishing One said as he stood on the wing, “The Bossman” is mad. They pulled his jet for an overdue inspection and this is all we could get to fly him here.”

All of a sudden you could hear some banging in the background. As the camera panned back to the plane, there I was in the backseat with my ugly face pressed against the window, hitting it with my fist. Rude jumped down off the wing and joined The PYTs on the tarmac as they helped me squeeze out of the baggage door of the plane, with my fat butt being the first thing to appear. I raised holy hell, telling Gordon Solie that we were on our way to the Sportatorium. The Pringle Dynasty had arrived!

The original Pringle Dynasty was composed of Ravishing Rick Rude, The PYTs, and The Missing Link (Dewey Robertson). Eventually Jack Hart (Barry Horowitz), Rip Oliver, The Grappler (Len Denton), Jesse Barr and The Assassin (Jody Hamilton) joined my stable. To say that I was in heaven to be back in the business is an understatement. Florida always had the reputation of being a party territory, and The Pringle Dynasty didn’t want to do anything to take away from that tradition. You must remember that I left my family in Mobile, and I was there all by my lonesome. Go figure.

My dear friends The Freebirds did everything in their power to make sure that I never had a lonesome feeling for too long. Terry Gordy and his wife had an apartment in North Tampa. However, Michael Hayes and Buddy Roberts invited me to move in with them. Jimmy Garvin was working for WCW in Atlanta at the time, so we all shared his empty house near downtown. Buddy Roberts and his wife lived downstairs, and Michael Hayes, Mike Golden and myself took over the upstairs. This gives you the setting for the most repeated story of my Florida wrestling days, the morning the house caught fire.

There wasn’t any access to the upstairs apartment from the living quarters downstairs. There were stairs on the outside of the house going to our apartment. The backyard was surrounded by a high privacy fence, and included a swimming pool. There was also a deck with a set of French doors that opened into the master bedroom where Buddy and his wife slept.

This particular morning a strange smell woke me up, and I immediately noticed that my bedroom was filled with smoke. I tried to wake Mike Golden up, to no avail. I couldn’t find Hayes, and figured he hadn’t made it in yet, as it was just daybreak. I frantically went through the apartment looking for the source of the smoke, finally locating it coming up through the area under the sink in the bathroom. It didn’t take a genius to figure that the downstairs must be on fire!

I ran downstairs around by the pool, and saw that the French doors were open. There on the bed, with smoke pouring out of the bedroom, sat Buddy Roberts and his wife. “What the hell, Buddy?” I screamed. “Don’t get excited.” Buddy answered. I knew that I wasn’t going to get any answers out of him. So I ran around to the side of the house, and as I stepped into the front yard there stood the late Terry “Bam-Bam” Gordy. I’ll never forget this picture as long as I live.

Terry was wobbling, garden hose in hand, spraying water onto a smoking chair from the living room. As soon as he saw me he said calmly, “Awww…Percy, I think the house is on fire.” Later we determined that “Bam-Bam” fell asleep in the chair with a lit cigarette, and set the chair and carpeting on fire. You just had to be there to appreciate it.

Join me right here next time, for more of my precious memories from Florida!