Brian Wheeler

May 20

No Faking A Real Love Of Wrestling

By Brian Wheeler Posted in: AndreMiller, ArmonJohnson
I was thinking of this as I was watching that debacle of a boxing PPV recently.  You know the one I’m thinking of…the title “fight” between Manny Pacquiao and “Sugar” Shane Mosley.  These guys danced around for 12 rounds before Pacquaio won a unanimous decision.  And by unanimous, I mean he won nearly every round on each judge’s scorecard.  Mosley looked like a washed up fighter that was hoping for one more big payday.  He wasn’t interested in mixing it up with Pacquiao.  He was more concerned with self-preservation at this stage of his fading career.

What I was thinking about was the fact that the boxing PPV I had just watched was not that unusual.  Many times I’ve regretted spending the money on a card that didn’t deliver, especially the main event that was the reason I bought the PPV in the first place.  Yep, about the only time I seem to feel my money is well spent on a PPV is the monthly stipend I put down on a wrestling show.  That’s right…wrestling!

And you don’t have to tell me…the results are pre-determined.  But these guys and girls are in most cases great athletes, and the storylines are usually well thought out.  It’s the classic good vs. evil, and when has that story ever gotten old, especially if it’s told well?  

At one time of course, Portland was the home of some of the best regional wrestling in the world.  Our radio engineer, the one and only Captain, Rich Patterson, has an unbelievable collection of some of the classic TV shows of “Portland Wrestling”.  Many of the sport’s greats over the years frequented the area like “Playboy” Buddy Rose, Billy Jack Haynes, a young Jesse “The Body” Ventura and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, just to name a few.  In the last few years of his life, Rich introduced me to Buddy Rose, who was a big Blazers’ fan.  Rose had some fascinating stories to tell of his life in the business.  I’ll say this much.  In the years I’ve hosted a talk show on the radio here in Portland, I’m not sure we ever took more phone calls for a guest than we did for the “Playboy”. 

Wanted to write a little something about the recently departed Randy “Macho Man” Savage. He was a big key to the WWF’s success in the 90’s.  He was Scottie Pippen to Hulk Hogan’s Michael Jordan.  Since he was in Hogan’s shadow for much of the time, perhaps he wasn’t as appreciated as he should have been.  And if you believe in a wrestling heaven, he’s gotta be up there with his former wife in the ring and out, the lovely Miss Elizabeth!

In the modern era, the Rose Garden has hosted many a WWE show, be it a PPV or “Monday Night RAW”.  WWE knows how to promote a product, and regardless of what one might think of Vince McMahon, he’s reinvented himself and his organization many times over.  A lot of competitors have tried to challenge the dominance of WWE over the years, and McMahon has always come out on top.  And while he promotes more entertainment than wrestling on some nights, his guys and girls still know how to deliver in the ring.

Some people find it hard to admit they’re a wrestling fan.  But I’ll tell you.  Athletes in other sports aren’t in that category.  When we played in Philadelphia earlier this past season, we had a free night on a Monday and it just so happened that RAW was taking place in town that evening.  We had guys on the team asking for tickets to go see the show live.  On the current Blazers, Andre Miller and Armon Johnson are huge WWE fans.  Joel Przybilla was too before he was traded.  And going back even further, Rasheed Wallace might have been the biggest WWE fan amongst former Blazers.  You might remember when the Pistons won the NBA title with Rasheed as one of their players, he bought each member of the team a replica WWE championship belt to symbolize reaching the pinnacle of the basketball world.  If ever I wanted to start up a conversation with Rasheed, I knew better than to lead off with basketball.  But if I asked him what he thought of The Rock’s latest PPV match, you couldn’t get him to stop talking!  In fact, many of you might remember that Rasheed found out about his trade from Portland while he and his teammates were in the audience at the Rose Garden for a Monday Night RAW show.

Take a look at any wrestling PPV or weekly TV show and see how many athletes from other sports are in the crowd having a grand old time.  And entertainers from the music and movie world also cross over frequently to enjoy a night out at a wrestling show.

Since so many NBA players gravitate towards wrestling, I thought it might be appropriate to think about some traditional matches that maybe some of them would be suited for.  See if you agree.

LOSER LEAVES TOWN MATCH:  This would have been perfect for Jerry Sloan and Deron Williams before Sloan resigned as Utah Head Coach.  The word was that the two weren’t getting along in a big time way.  Well in wrestling that type of score gets settled with a match where one guy gets to hang around, and the other is forced to leave town.  Although sometimes the loser would come back to town under a mask hoping nobody would recognize him, but that’s a whole different story! I would have bet on Sloan, who was considered one of the league’s toughest and dirtiest when he was a player.  I bet he watched Dick The Bruiser growing up in Indiana!

STEEL CAGE MATCH:  Often used when one guy would be so evasive that his opponent would need to corner him in a cage so he couldn’t escape.  This would have been ideal for Andrew Bynum vs. J.J. Barea.  Bynum’s cheap shot would have been fine in a wrestling ring, and the only reason he did it was because he was so frustrated with chasing Barea around he couldn’t take it anymore.  Well, in a cage Barea could run, but he couldn’t hide, although he could probably climb the cage and get to the ringside floor before Bynum could ultimately catch him!

LAST MAN STANDING MATCH:  This match continues until one man is so beaten that he can’t answer a count of 10.  Perfect for Tyson Chandler vs. Joel Przybilla.  They’ve never liked each other.  Joel would probably throw in some of his MMA moves to confuse Chandler.  Overall, it would be a terrific battle!

SICILIAN STRETCHER MATCH:  When a feud reaches maximum proportions, this match is employed to put an end to it once and for all.  Anything goes, and the match doesn’t conclude until one man is so incapacitated that he needs to be carried out on a stretcher.  Many personal rivalries in the NBA could be best settled this way, like how about LeBron James vs. any member of the Cavaliers?  If they held the PPV in Cleveland, the crowd would be calling for James to get taken out more than they ever cheered for him as a member of the Cavs.  Or from the recent past, how about Mark Cuban vs. Don Nelson?  Probably not as athletic as some of our suggestions, but at the end of Nellie’s time in Dallas, he and Cuban were not exchanging Christmas cards. Cuban is a big WWE fan and has even been used in a storyline or two so you’d have to make him the favorite in any encounter with his old coach.

I could go on with a few more I’m sure, but you get the idea.  Just as the NBA is a good entertainment value, so too is wrestling.   It’s good, clean fun and won’t leave you feeling cheated like boxing does most of the time.  I mean, when’s the last time a boxer took a foreign object out of his trunks to win a match from his opponent?  Now if Pacquiao had done THAT in his fight with Mosley, we would have really had something to talk about!  And there would have been nothing fake about that!

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  1. I remember meeting Hulk Hogan & Billy Jack Haynes at the O.C. Hilltop Mall back in the 80's. We had a several hundred person line to wait behind. the line took an eternity to get through. We soon found out why. Hulk and Billy took about 3 minutes to sign a autograph. They actually spoke with each fan got to know 'em for a brief minute. I think the Pro-Wrestlers treat their fans with real class. I'm sure most of the men/women in wrestling are still that attentive today. Other pro athletes and entertainers could take a page out of the Pro-Wrestling hand book. These folks realize fame is fleeting.

    by Anthony West on 5/20/2011 1:40 PM
  2. Me and a couple friends went to SmackDown when it was last here before the season started. We had seats on the floor next to one of the two floor entry points and saw Andre and Joel come in with their families. Thought that it was pretty cool. I think it's one of those things that seems to draw in everybody from all different areas of life.

    by Kung Fu Janitor on 5/20/2011 10:43 PM
  3. I remember the days of Portland Wrestling and particularly "Dutch" Savage and Roddy Piper and Sandy Barr. Man, oh man! When I was 12 years old, I attended a Seventh Day Adventist Christian school and we had a huge assembly one day and the guest speaker was none other than "Dutch" Savage. He had given his life to Christ and was going around sharing his message and brought with him a bunch of old Portland Armory days videos and showed all of us the scars on his head and back and shoulders from the ring buckles. It was an amazing thing for all of my friends and I, because wrestling shows were kind of taboo for us and we loved sneaking out on Saturday nights and finding somewhere to watch Portland Wrestling on TV. I second Anthony's comment about the wrestlers treatment of fans. Genuine, and heartfelt enjoyment of their "15 minutes". Thanks Wheels for posting this. RIP 'Macho Man" We're sure gonna miss ya. OOOOOHHHH YEAHHH!

    by bigjeff911 on 5/23/2011 1:04 AM
  4. great timing, Wheels, as WWE Raw is filming TONIGHT's (may 23) episode from the rose garden! i hope we can still see the blazer banners in the stands like we did last year. how about an "i quit" match between Crash and Artest?! oh, btw, a girl doesn't grow up in a house with four brothers without liking the wwe a little bit!

    ~ Kassandra

    by Kassandra on 5/23/2011 12:19 PM
  5. I watched as a young boy and thought "What amazing performers!" Today, schlock cannot be assigned to such dedicated professionals. Charity, compassion and courage are more fitting terms to describe the men and women that work the WWE. Nicely written piece, Wheels and thank you for it.

    by Patch on 5/23/2011 6:09 PM
  6. Fake is fun for younger viewers.

    by mbmurr1 on 5/30/2011 9:13 AM
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