You had your run, and it was a good one. –Willie Nelson, “Old Timer” from the inaugural edition of Randoms from Ringside.
2018 marks 20 years since I made my pro wrestling managerial debut. I had hair then. A lot of it. Now I can grow more hair out of my ears than out of the top of my head. Hey, laugh all you want now, Sport, you too will experience my pain some day soon, God willing. I had no idea what I was doing that night in Eau Claire, Wisconsin at Regis High School. I had been to training, which consisted of me being dropped on my head multiple times and being chopped half to death by most of the team. Nobody ever sat me down and told me how to be a manager. I knew how to do one fairly large piece of the manager puzzle. I knew how to talk.
I was a radio DJ, my first job coming at 17 while I was a Junior in high school. The promoter, Jim Gagnon, heard my radio show and had me do some ticket giveaways for some shows he was working on with Olympic strongman Ken Patera. Jim broke from Ken and put together his own promotion, All-American Wrestling. Jim called me and told me what he was up to and said, “And I’m bringing you in as a manager. You’ll be managing Hannibal from the Mendota Mental Health Hospital. I got this rubber zombie puppet head you stick your arm in and work the eyeballs and tongue, and that’s how you’ll be able to communicate with him.” If he’d have said I had to wear a jock strap and a sailor’s hat and manage a broom I would have been in.
I was a huge wrestling fan. My first live event was with my dad in 1987, headlined by Harley Race vs Junkyard Dog. I was a longtime subscriber to the Pro Wrestling Torch, I watched every single second of wrestling I could find. I knew all about pro wrestling, right? So, a manager. With a zombie puppet and a Hannibal Lecter knockoff. I was way too green and way too excited to realize that getting over a gimmick like that was going to take a minor miracle. Imagine that is the first gimmick a promoter gives you. In addition to that, I didn’t have a real “gimmick”.
I was the radio DJ managing a psychotic heel all while doing my best Jeff Dunham impression with a decapitated Halloween prop. And I was wearing khakis. The horror. A veteran in the locker room, instead of offering words of encouragement or a pointer, just laughed at me and said, “You’re really gonna get a lot of heat in that outfit”. Thanks. I put on my silver sunglasses, my tasteful loafers and in my khakis, I strapped that puppet onto my hand and stood by the curtain waiting for my cue. I cut a pretty decent first-time heel promo but due to nerves and the size of the crowd, after the matches, I had no idea what I had said. I had to wait for the public access channel to air the show before I could refresh my memory. I still remember that high. That first time high. I was hooked. For good.
Twenty years later I’m fortunate to not only still be at it but to still be learning and maybe sometimes even offering some helpful insight to younger guys and girls.
I currently reside in North Carolina, just a mere two miles from the ocean. It’s a big change from the never-ending winters in Wisconsin. I work for the Premiere Wrestling Federation based out of Hubert. I also spend a bit of time at the Carolina Wrestling Academy of which current WWE Performance Center guru, Steve Corino, is a co-owner. I am having more fun now than at any point in the last 20 years. I also make periodic appearances for Showtime Championship Wrestling back home. Twenty years on and I’m still having fun and I’m working for two companies that are delivering home runs show after show. Not bad for an old time manager.