|Me in the ring Feb. 16 1991|
Talk about a Throw Back Thursday. Today marks the 26th Anniversary of the first Southern States Wrestling event. My friend for life Krunch and I spent that cold morning digging a wrestling ring out of a small barn. To take it to an even colder Community Center to spend the afternoon trying to figure how this ring went together. The ring was built by a legally blind man out of steel that was once a bridge on a state hwy.
That was the beginning of wild ride. Thank you Lord for the amazing journey. SSW was the first area promotion to be covered by local papers, TV and national magazines since Ron Wright's promotion.
It opened doors for me and lead to me doing things I never thought about like becoming a multiple time published author, TV producer, working in promotions for a National Wrestling Company, and many other side jobs related to Pro Wrestling.
I have had so many people pass through my life the last 26 years. Some who are gone now and I dearly miss. Some I still have a bond and strong relationship with till this day. Some I can't remember for the life of me and some who I wished I never met. Let's not forget one who became my wife.
At times in my life S.S.W. was the only reason I got out of bed. It kept me running. It was a daily battle to prove I can do what I say. It has been a curse and a blessing to me. I have flown with eagles and scratched with chickens on the ups and downs with S.S.W. It is not what it once was. I'm the first to admit that mainly due to many priorities in my life have changed the last several years. I get messages all the time from people who watched online, read about us in magazines, and were faithful in attendance wanting to know when we are making a return to full time operation.
I'm not sure that it will ever be back to what it was. I still do all the same jobs and responsibilities that I did with SSW when it was a full time promotions. The difference now is I do it for others who reward me and I don't have to take the gambles I did on my own dime. I will always be involved in wrestling one way or another. My dime or me being paid to do it. I still love every aspect of running live events. The nerves are always there before the door opens. The excitement is always there watching the crowd react the way you wanted them to. The disappoint is also there when it does not work out as you imagined.
I love the story telling and putting stories in my mind into action in the ring. Then on to video and into a TV program. Tuesdays for me mean TV day. They have since the 90s. They were originally spent on the phone with David Thompson or in the editing booth with him. Then as I learn how to edit I was doing it all on my own. Now I spend it either editing or helping Nathan Lyttle get the Appalachian Mountain Wrestling program ready.
One of my true loves in life is hitting a town with posters and flyers and covering the town promoting. You learn many life lessons, meet all kinds of people good and bad, and see places and evenst you can't from home by just walking the streets.
To those who ask me about S.S.W. I have good news. To those of you who hate me and my promotion and want us to die a fast death. I have bad news for you. We aren't done yet. I have dates booked for later in this year in Kingsport, Greeneville, and Gray Tennessee. We have other dates in the works for other towns in Tennessee and West Virginia. A brand new Southern States Wrestling website has been being built the last couple weeks.
Today as I write this blog theses words ring in my ears
"Sometimes the light's all shinin' on me,
Other times I can barely see
Lately it occurs to me what a long, strange trip it's been"
If it was not for that cold Appalachian day 26 years ago today none of this would have happened.
Memories of that night S.S.W. was born from my first book "Do Ya Wanna Be A Wrestler, Kid? on sale now right hand side of the page.
January of 1991 came, and not one event was booked in
the Tri-Cities area. I was talking to Stan Lee on the phone and
he said we should run something ourselves. I suggested we
could do like the other guys had been doing: pay the rent on
the old Gap Creek Community Center and run there on
Saturday night. We both agreed we would do that, but we
wanted our event to be different than what they had been
doing up there. We wanted to make a card, advertise it and
stick to the matches on the advertisements. We also didn't
want to use just anyone who showed up, or be pressured into
using someone we felt should not be in the ring.
I called Jimmy McKeeian and asked if he knew who
was in charge of the building, and what we needed to do to
rent it. He told me that he did and that he would take us to
meet the man. We met with the man the next day and he told
us the rent was $50, and he got the concessions. We agreed
and the date was set for Saturday, February 16, 1991.
The next day I started calling around to find out where
the ring was that the PWA guys used. I found out that George
Hyatt had it. He told me that it was in his backyard in a
storage building. He had been waiting for someone to come
pick it up for a couple of months, and he asked me to please
come get it. Next, Stan and I worked out a card and started
calling and booking the wrestlers. I called Krunch to tell him
about the event, and he told me he was trying to find the ring
because he and Al had a card at the end of February in
McPheeter‟s Bend. I told him that I knew where the ring was
and could get it anytime; I was just trying to find a truck.
Krunch said he would go with me to get it, that he would take
it to Gap Creek for me and then just take it on to his house to
have it for their event.
In the next few days, we called and lined up the card
we wanted. I was thinking, “Man, this is not hard at all.”
Everyone I talked to was so nice and willing to help. All I
heard was, “If you need anything, just let us know”or “I‟ll be
there to do whatever is needed.” My first big learning
experience dealing with pro wrestlers came February 16, 1991.
It was a fast and easy lesson in many problems that I still have
to deal with to this day.
On day of the event, Krunch picked me up in his big
truck and off we went to get the ring. We got to George
Hyatt's house and found the ring right where he said it was.
He had it laid out easy to load. On the way to the building,
Krunch said, “We will be dead tonight after loading and
unloading this hunk-of-junk ring twice plus setting it up,
tearing it down, and the matches.” I told him, “No, don‟t
worry. Some of the boys are coming to help us.” He just
laughed out loud. I did not understand why.
We got to the building and no one was there. Even the
man with the keys to the building was late. We had to wait on him for an hour. He finally showed up and we got to work.
No one else showed up to help; it was just me and Krunch.
We set the ring up, and as soon as we started tying the ring
aprons on, then the wrestlers started showing up. It was like
they had been hiding somewhere watching us until that point.
First I saw wrestlers I had called, then wrestlers I had
not called, then wrestlers I had never met. I went down to the
dressing room and it was full. I looked around and hung up a
poster and said, “Hey, guys, here is the card. If you‟re not on
it, stick around in case there is a no-show or something.”
Some guys laughed and others said, “Who is he to tell us
anything?” As I started to get dressed, people that I had
booked walked over and started telling me who they were
going to wrestle and what they were going to do. One after
another I told them no, that we were going to do what was on
the poster. As the night went on, the boys who had only
worked for the PWA started getting mad. The guys that I
would not let wrestle got even worse. Most of them left, but a
few stayed around to run their mouths. By bell time, you
could see the line drawn in the dressing room. The only boys
from the old guard that were willing to do business and had
no problems were Krunch, Al Bass and George Hyatt. All the
other guys either argued with what was asked of them or tried
to change things in the ring.
I also had a few wrestlers just outright no-show the
event, one of whom was supposed to bring the P.A. system.
When I saw them a few weeks later, they all had valid
excuses, but I found out over time that it was all an attempt to
sabotage the event. I had only agreed to run that event
because I wanted a booking and wanted to help some of the
younger guys like myself. I had no idea what started that
night would grow into a full-time promotion: Southern States
Wrestling. I could never imagine the life lessons, problems,
and battles that I would face in the next few years.
1991 Videos now on DVD left hand side of the page.
Thanks for reading
sinner saved by grace, pro wrestler