August 15, 2013
Life in General!, Wrestling
high card, high vs low, Iceman, Johnny Mantell, low card, Medford, Piper, Portland OR, professional wrestling, road trip, Roddy, rookies, Rowdy Roddy Piper, sports, Steve Pardee, Territory days, travel, van, veterans, Wrestling
As I get ready to travel to California for my brother’s 50th Wedding Anniversary, I’m going to get to see a young man that my friend Red Bastien introduced me to back in 1979 and I’m still proud to call him my friend to this day; Seeing Steve Pardee after all of these years will be out of this World!!
So today in celebration of going to get to spend a few days with a dear friend I’m going to tell a story of Steve from back in the Portland Territory days. We had 1 overnight trip in this territory and it was to Roseburg and Medford, OR. We always seemed to drive down, wrestle, drive to the next town, and spend the night, wrestle there and then drive back home. In those days Stan Staziak had a van so we would load up as many as we could and set off on our Road Trip.
On this one particular Road Trip, I believe it was Stan, Roddy Piper, Iceman, Steve Pardee and I. We had a great time but the ride back to Portland is where the story gets pretty good… You see a van full of testosterone causes competition!! Well a deck of cards was all that was needed for just such a Testosterone Filled Competition. You see that Deck could create a game of Poker or Black Jack but those games weren’t hands on enough for us, so we decide that Piper and Pardee are going to draw cards and low card gets Thumped on the forehead by the high card hand. Now this trip home is 250 miles so someone is going to have a horribly red forehead by the time we get home. They start to play and Steve decides that the cards should be handled by uninvolved hands as Steve and Roddy are watching each other handle the cards, each one thinking one was taking advantage of the other!
Roddy had really worked out with me quite a bit and gave me the “office” to control the cards; so they agreed that I would be in control of the cards. I would shuffle them after each person would pick their draw. The Loser would draw first each time so after each draw I would shuffle again and make sure that there was a King or Ace on the bottom of the deck.
So now that I had control of the deck, let the competition begin. If Steve’s card was a 5 or under I just drew a card for Roddy; if Steve drew a 6 or up, I used the card off the Bottom I was holding. You see Steve didn’t win much and the thumps started to add up especially when they went from sitting next to each other giving thumps to taking a step or two to deliver the thump.
We all had a good time and I hope that Steve remembers that story and appreciates the veteran and the rookie education that was often a part of wrestlers’ everyday life in those days!
God Bless, CJM
July 30, 2013
Life in General!, Wrestling
age, air, BC, British Colombia, Don Leo, Don Leo Jonathan, experiene, inexperience, life, life lessons, lungs, OR, Portland, Portland territory, professional wrestling, Snapmare, Vancouver, Wrestling, youth
Today’s story is a great story of Life and being at the right place or maybe the right spot in Life’s great journey or some of you may see it as being in the “wrong spot” either way it was a “Life Moment”.
Vancouver, British Colombia – The Portland crew went there to work about once a month. Sometimes we flew; a few times Ron Starr and I drove. In these days, 1979, crossing the border was not like it is today. The flight this day got me into Vancouver way early, so I sat at the building wasting time for a few hours before more of the crew came in. My dad was in Texas with Ken working the truck stops they had just purchased and my mom was in California getting that house ready to move to Texas. I called my Mom and checked in on her; then I called my Dad at Ken’s house. I talked to Dad about the stops, the horses, Mom and the move; then Ken got on the phone and asked “Who’s all there?” Well, Bobby Jaggers, Roddy Piper, Buddy Rose, Adrian Adonis, Ron Starr, Stan Staziak, Rip Rogers, Dutch Savage, Gene Kiniski, Johnny Eagles and Don Leo Jonathan! Well, Ken had “Hello’s” for each of the boys and wanted me to ask Don Leo Jonathan about some match where he (Ken) took Don Leo “down in Japan?”
Now here is that Moment in Life where youth, inexperience take hold and mold you, as I am not sure when I talked to Ken that I told him that I was working Don Leo (and at this point if you don’t know who Don Leo Jonathan is in the business of Professional Wrestling, Google HIM – He scared even the WWE, with his true Athleticism). I’m pretty sure I did tell Ken, because I’m just sure he knew what the outcome would be and had me say something to the rest of the crew for the same outcome!!
The show and matches were moving along, Don Leo and I talked briefly about our match, and my good sense must have left me right there, as after we talked I said “Hey, My brother said Hi, and to remind you about the match in Japan where he took you down!?” A small grin, and a pat on the shoulder and he shrugged something like “yeah kid, let me finish getting ready!” Again, again youth and inexperience had me shake it off and finish getting ready for the match! I should have seen the Big Danger Sign…
Mr. Don Leo Jonathan – It’s NOW MR. because you see the match was going GREAT, marvelous, moving along like we belonged together; until he snapmared me out of the corner turnbuckle towards the middle, my arms went above my head, he came down behind me and Immediately ALL the air surrounding my head left! I could not breathe, my lungs were screaming. My mind was racing, what happened, what was going on, what did I do??? My eyes were open, I can’t see Mr. Don Leo but I know he’s got me and he’s got me good. He leans down and whispers in my ear…. “Tell your brother, I Do remember!”
All of a sudden, the air came back to the building, into my lungs and I’m sure the look of fear was gone. The match continued on without issue and until I tell my tale no one other than us, the wiser!
Mr. Don Leo Jonathan and I never spoke of the take down in Japan again. And any message my brother asked me to deliver to anyone, were completely thought about and analyzed thoroughly for any Danger before they were delivered!!
Youth and Inexperience VS Age and Experience….
July 24, 2013
Life in General!, Wrestling
bed time, Cowboy Johnny Mantell, environment, flirting, girls, hotel, Jackson, Jerry Oats, Johnny Mantell, jokes, life, Mike George, MS, parking lot, professional wrestling, ribs, rookie, trucks, veterans, Wrestling
My stories have gotten to the point that everyone now wants to hear about a Rib that was played on ME!! And me being a kid just 18-19 years old in the World of Wrestling, especially in the late 1970s, well all I can legally say is WOW! And with the way wrestling was in those days it was hard for a young man of that age to not let some of that popularity get to your head.
So this particular night in Jackson, MS Jerry Oats and Mike George saw an opportunity to get the young punk to the group. The rib started at the matches where this hunk of a woman (in my eyes) flirted with me all night! We talked about lots of things and eventually about where I was staying. Most of the boys stayed at a hotel off Hwy 55 were the building faced the huge parking lot. You see all the outside rooms facing the lot were cheaper so that’s where most of us stayed! I’m sure at some time during our flirtatious conversation I gave her the name and number of the place where I was staying, told her to call me and we would go out. In this area of Jackson near the reservoir, there were clubs open late. And let me just say during this flirting she was being way more aggressive than normal and not what this young buck was used too. That sounds really bad now being so naïve, and I guess I really didn’t know what normal was in those days. Anyway she said she would call so after the matches I went to the hotel with some Popeye’s Chicken and waited for her to call.
She finally called and we agreed to meet in the parking lot and go somewhere. Let’s say for story sake, that we were going to meet at 11:30pm so I went out to my truck and sat. At Midnight, I decided she wasn’t coming, so I went back to my room. At 12:30am I got a call, she says “Where were you?”; me “I’m in my room!”. The gal says at 12:05am she drove through the parking lot, saw my truck but I was not in it and she was not coming up to my room because “she was not That kind of girl!!” So now to someone with a Very High competition level (Me), that sounded like a challenge!! We agreed to try again; she said she would come back. Awesome! So about 1-1:15 am, back out to the truck I went. Remember its summer, June-July, in Jackson, MS. At 1:30am, no one has shown, so I go back up to my room. Just a few minutes after getting to the room, the phone rings; “I’m sorry. I ran out of gas. I’ll be right there, give me 20 minutes. I really want to come see you. I’ll be there!”
So at 2:00 am back out to my truck I go. By this time, I’m exhausted and I fall asleep in the truck. About 3:00 am, Mike and Jerry knock on my window, wake me up and want to know what I’m doing sleeping in my truck when I have a perfectly good room and bed just steps away. So I tell them the story. Then I ask them what they’re doing out so late. They tell me they are coming in from partying with a girl, then turn around and start to wave at a car leaving! The car pulling out of the hotel parking lot was the girl that had been flirting with me all night. WOW, they got me…. Those two had sat in their room across the lot and laughed at me all night; to the truck, back to my room, back to my truck, to room, to truck! You get the picture.
The moral of this story; the two Veterans were showing me, the young buck Rookie, that I wasn’t all that I thought I was!!
July 18, 2013
Life in General!, Wrestling
Johnny Mantell, knowledge, lessons, life, life lessons, life moments, MIssissippi, moments, Oki Shikina, Pork Chops Cash, professional wrestling, story, Wrestling
You know I got a call a couple days ago from my dear friend Pork Chops Cash telling me about another from our fraternity had passed, Tom Shaft. Tom had been a pro boxer turned Pro Wrestler. Boy, let me tell you as a 20 yr. old young man sitting there listening to his stories of sparring with Muhammad Ali were just awesome!!
But this story is about life moments; those stories that Tom told me where just that, Life Moments. When Chops called with the news, he also told me about going to spend the 4th of July holiday with a mutual friend, Noble Curtis and his family. They had one big family dinner during his stay and of course the stories from this Mississippi family about wrestling were about an evening maybe lost to some but on the front burner for others.
The story they asked Chops about was the one of Oki Shikina and Johnny Mantell one night in Greenwood, MS. You see George Culkin had bought a piece of property right on Hwy 49 and built a Sportatorium type building for filming TV. So that was the weekly building when he pulled away from Bill Watts and Mid-South and opened up a AWA company in Mississippi.
I had not been in MS on this trip very long. I went to live with Tom Jones where we worked out in the gym 6 days a week (Sundays off) and learn from booker Frankie Cain. This night in history would be my first lesson and education on building an angle. At the age of 20 you’re more piss and vinegar than knowledge and giving me to Oki was again a class with a great professional.
This night was going to start a fight that would take about 6 months to finish, that’s right I said 6 months! So the fight this night HAD to be good. My instructions were to shut up, listen and fight until Frankie and George sent help to pull us apart and then still stay after it until we got all the way back to the dressing room.
Well this match started in the ring, went to the floor, out the front door through the parking lot across Hwy 49 stopping traffic along the way, back across 49 through the parking lot back into the building and into the ring. The action never stopped and the fans followed this fight outside then back inside. And much like the Von Erichs and Freebirds fights of the 80s, this fight in 1978 was brutal. Frankie and Oki said we “must make them believe”. We must make them believe!! The blood flew, the back drops outside in the parking lot were high, running into the building everything was full speed. Sitting here today in 2013, 35 years later this life moment still sticks with me and fans that were there. So the fans did believe! The impression and education it left on me still sticks today. That’s why this fraternity is so special because we cared for each other and if you left the dressing room together you came back together. Nobody was left behind; we all wanted everyone on the card to make a living. After all, isn’t that the purpose? The promoter, the booker, the boys all wanted to make more next week than we did this week and we worked to make that happen! If you’re in this business and not in this situation, then I feel sorry for you because you’re not getting the best opportunity to learn and be involved in this business that has made it so much fun for me.
You might not believe you are making an impression on someone but you might just be making a lifelong impression, a memory or moment in time that will be remembered around their family table for a lifetime!
God Bless, CJM
From the Oki Shikina / Johnny Mantell angle for George & Gil Culkin
July 8, 2013
Life in General!, Wrestling
down pour, Dr. Tom Prichard, Johnny Mantell, jokes, lemmons, lessons, life, moments, professional wrestling, rain, ribs, talk, Tom Prichard, Wrestling
Let’s talk about Ribs… Not the kind we eat, although that kind rib has been used for this kind of Fun! Of course, I have pulled a rib on a few people and today’s story is one on Dr. Tom Pritchard; He’s definitely not a Dr. of Horticulture…
Now this little story takes place just outside of Los Angeles, the LA territory in 1980 where I was wrestling as The Hood. I had not yet moved to Texas so our home place was intact, the original Lusk Ranch. I lived in what is known today as Chino Hills on a 6 acre place that was very homie! I tried to invite the boys over as often as I could since I lived at home and most guys were living in apartments. My family always wanted to give the guys that were by themselves and away from family a good home cooked meal and fellowship.
In Los Angeles we worked 6 days a week every week and 7 days most weeks, so a day off was well deserved. This particular day off was a barbecue and Tom was excited about coming “out to the country”. The food was great, the fellowship even better. We both learned things about each other that I think even made our work in the ring better. But by the end of the day the weather turned to rain. Tom then informed me that his windshield wipers did not work. I offered for him to spend the night but I believe he had a pet to attend to back at his apartment. Now my house was about 45 min. to the Olympic (the Main bldg. we worked) and since we worked there Wed. and Fridays, most guys stayed within 15 to 30 minute from there. Tom said it would be about an hour to drive home and he could wait for a break in the rain.
I told him that there was an “old trick” that he could do so he could get home if he just had too. Well he jumped right on it! I told him that he if he took Lemons, cut them in half and rubbed them all over the glass of his car; the rain water would bead up and roll off so he could see to get home. He thought that sounded like a great idea. Even better that there was a store just about 2 miles from my house; he could fix the problem before he got on the highway to go home.
So we said our Goodbyes and Tom headed off. Well so did I, about a minute or 2 after him so I could watch him “lemonize” his car! You see I told him it would take at least 15-20 lemons to fix his car up just right for the ride home. When I parked across the street from the store, Tom was coming out with a big bag of Lemons. 1 by 1 Tom preceded to cut the Lemons in ½ and rub them on his car; the windshield, the back window, the passenger windows, the drivers windows and even the side mirrors. Now you know I am laughing my A$$ off watching all of this. He finishes up and puts the bag of lemons in his car and off he goes… I go back home thinking “Now that’s funny!!”
The next day we meet up in the dressing room, I ask him if he got home OK? He then told me that the lemon trick for rain didn’t work very good and he had to drive with his head out his driver’s window most of the time to see to get home. So I asked him if he got Florida lemons or California lemons? He said he didn’t know, just the kind from the store, he didn’t know there was a difference. I told him “O’ yeah there is. The air (smog) is different in each state, so when you’re in CA, you have to get CA lemons. They are the only ones that will work.” So I am sure that the next time he had this problem he asked for California lemons unless that situation didn’t happen again till he was in Florida and then I hope he bought Florida lemons!!
Sorry Tom, had to tell the tale!! God Bless.
July 3, 2013
Life in General!, Wrestling
Johnny Mantell, lessons, life, MIssissippi, professional wrestling, story, winter, woes
My life in this business has been fun, exciting, dangerous and sad, but it has been and continues to be Rewarding!
Today my story is from my Mississippi days with George & Gil Culkin. It starts the Summer of 1978. What a crew we had; Frankie Cain, Oki Shikina, Terry Gordy, Jody Rossi, Pork Chops Cash, Tom Jones, and cast of other characters. One of our regular shows was in an Armory in Greenville, MS. This building had a large room for the ring and audience, and a large room for dressing room with two doors in and out of it. The building had only one set of restrooms, and to get to them from the dressing room you had to walk through the crowd of people. Now if you had to us the restroom and waited till the building was full, you would leave the dressing room, walk around the outside of the chairs and by the time you got to the restroom there would be an entourage following you and a paparazzi like crew ready to watch!
Now I’m not shuffling the heat but I don’t really know which came first, the idea of pee’ing somewhere else on those hot summer nights, or the hole in the floor in the dressing room. Little did I realize or did anyone else, at the time, that this hole was part of the heating system / duct work for the building. You know I say this but it was summer and maybe those that I was following knew it took care of our little problem today and it would be a while before it was discovered!!
Well Winter arrived. Someone had to check the heat in the building. Now June, July and August in Mississippi will make anything spoil. So just imagine urine sitting for months in a metal duct in the ground, then to turn that system on forces those fumes out with forced air. Whatever the day was when the caretakers of the Armory found this problem, Mr. George Culkin got a call. They said the building was not usable for some time due to the stench. Boy did ALL OF US in the dressing room that night get a Butt Chewing!!
I know we moved to a Skating Rink in Greenville right after that. I hope we didn’t get Mr. Culkin in any Big Trouble!!
Urine know what I mean???
Sorry George & Gil but it wasn’t just me!
June 25, 2013
Life in General!, Wrestling
Cowboy Johnny Mantell, Culkin, experiences, George, Gil, International Championship Wrestling, Johnny Mantell, life, life lessons, professional wrestling, World Class Championship Wrestling
While working for George and Gil Culkin in 1978-79 in Jackson, MS. The Life-long Lessons about Fellowship and breaking bread was just how we rolled and didn’t think twice about it! The Territory was full of Legends and Diamonds in the Rough…. Frankie Cain, Lou Thesz, Oki Shikina, Tom Jones & Dr. X to a young Terry Gordy, Percy Pringle, Michael Hayes, Kimala, myself and one wrestler Gene Lewis (Gene Kelly in the NW-Oregon days, The Mongol during WCCW days, Cousin Luke in WWE); Where our Lifetime Relationship grew to a brother like love! You see I had gone to Mississippi to live with Tom Jones and train in the gym. I was told that I had what was known as Buggy Whip arms and Tom could fix that! So training and eating right took place 6 days a week (Mon-Sat). You see in those days there was what was known as “the Blue Law”, where EVERYTHING had to be closed on Sunday. So we got a day off and Tom would kick me out of the apartment for the day. And to TRULY explain that I must save that story for another day…
So Gene and I decided that Sunday was our day to each Pizza, Play & Party, that thing Tom didn’t allow time for during the week. So we went out to the reservoir there in Jackson and had a great time. We rented a boat, took a cooler with food & adult cocktails and found the relaxing times of some of the sand bars in the secluded coves along the many miles of the Coast Line.
Well my memory isn’t the Best anymore, but Gene and I saw a yellow Trihaul 16′ with a 150hp outboard motor and decided we had to have it! Let the Good Times Roll… So EVERY Sunday instead of get up and go to the gym at 8am; it was hook up to the boat and head to the boat launch! Sometimes Gene’s wife and family would come along or Tom might go for a spin but again he was “busy” a lot of the time. So lots of the time, it was just me and Gene. This particular Sunday we were by ourselves so that meant: No Adult Supervision!
We sped around the Reservoir for a while then decided to anchor right in the middle and sun ourselves. We would jump in, get wet, float around and get back in the boat. Well this went on for a while and we were lying in the boat sunning when we heard/felt a thump on the side of the boat. It was a dead Alligator Gar!! About 4 ft. long and a mouth full of teeth that looked 6 ft long, you know what I mean. It’s hot, the Sun, the adult cocktails… So we decided to get out of these dangerous waters so we went to one of our secluded sand bars. I guess I thought that shallow water would not have this danger so off we went. We pulled up on the beach, made our little camp, ate, drank and then decided it was safe to get back in the water. It’s been 6-7 hours now at this point for two unsupervised young “studly” wrestlers, so we both decided that we were going to put life jackets on and just float in this little cove next to our camp and boat. A few minutes into this relaxing float, I feel something touch / bump my feet, legs then my ribs then back to my foot and then I see a fish break the water. My mind doesn’t care the size of the fish, my mind sees Teeth!! Gene says I looked like a cross between Fred Flintstone and Jesus, because I came up out of that water in a combination walk/run across the top and out of the water to the sandy beach. My heart and mind a racing…
After the laughter stopped I realized it was just a group of minnows that I saw and felt. WOW! Amazing, my mind played tricks on me back then too…
See ya, CJM
Front of one of the Programs from the Culkin Promotion