A Bad Florida Memory

In my 25 plus year career in sports entertainment, I have never been involved in a physical dispute with any of the boys except once. That one time was enough for me, my friends.

While working in Championship Wrestling from Florida, I was managing a stable of wrestlers that I called “The Pringle Dynasty”. The cornerstone of my group was the late “Ravishing” Rick Rude.

As I mentioned in an earlier story, I shared Jimmy Garvin’s Tampa home with Buddy Roberts and his wife Janice, Michael Hayes, and Mike Golden. By the way, Janice Roberts was, and still is a sweetheart. I always called her “axe woman”, because she was from Louisiana and had that wonderful Cajun accent. Instead of saying, “ask”, she would say, “axe”. Well anyway, she needed an axe to keep Buddy and his Freebirds in line sometimes.

Florida was my first territory back in the business after a few years break, when I returned to college. I left my family back home in Mobile when I started in the Sunshine State, because I wasn’t really sure how things were going to work out. I managed to go home about every six weeks, but it turned out to be some of the hardest times ever on my family life.

After a few months The Freebirds left Florida and returned to World Class in Dallas, Texas. I found a cheap hotel in northeast Tampa near The Sundome for about $90 a week, with just a bed, bathroom and kitchenette. I picked that area on purpose because many of the boys lived near there and I could hook up easily with rides to the towns. Most of the time I rode with “The Missing Link” Dewey Robertson and his wife “Sheena” Gail. There are a few stories there too. They lived in a nudist colony, which is another story or five in itself. Fortunately, Florida was a very fan friendly territory, and I never had a problem hitching another ride if I didn’t go with “The Link”.

It was hot on July 8, 1985, and we were working in Punta Gorda, Florida. Rude was involved in an angle with Billy Jack Haynes. Billy Jack has quite a history in our industry, and was known to “go off” at the drop of a hat. We were doing basically the same match in every house show around the state and this night was no different.

When it was time to finish the match, Rick would take the referee, I would jump up on the apron and draw Billy Jack’s attention. Billy was supposed to slingshot me over the top rope, back me into a corner and threaten to hit me. However, he never threatened, he always punched me a few times, which was really no big deal. Except it happened night after night, after night. Needless to say, his “hits” were pretty stiff to say the least.

When the match was over and we were back in the dressing room, Rick asked me how things went. I guess it was a bad night for me, and I remember being really homesick and in a foul mood. I said, ‘The same old s**t! Billy beat the hell out of me again.”

About that time, I heard Billy’s voice coming from behind, “Beat The Hell Out Of You! I’ll Show You Beat The Hell Out Of You!” SLAP!!! I felt his right hand hit my face knocking my glasses across the dressing room. Before I could say… SLAP!!! I felt his left hand hit the other side. Then… SLAP!!! The third and final blow caught me again.

I was more shocked than hurt because it happened so quickly, and it caught all the wrestlers off guard as well. He was in and out of our dressing room in seconds, and that was that. I really couldn’t believe it happened, and Wahoo McDaniel who was booking at the time wasn’t very happy about it either. The next day, Wahoo called to see if I was OK, and asked me to come to the office where I met with him and Billy Jack. Billy did his best to apologize, and gave me $100 to buy a new pair of glasses. I gladly accepted both the apology and the cash. We had a number of matches after that, but I have to say Billy Jack never jackked me again, Thank God!

I have many memories of time in Florida that I will be sharing with you as time goes by. Take care!