#376: The Rock n’ Rasslin’ Connection

“Piledriver” by Koko B. Ware

RECORD STORE TALES MkII: Getting More Tale
#376: The Rock n’ Rasslin’ Connection

My dad turned me on to wrestling.  He grew up with golden age greats — guys like Mad Dog Vachon, Sweet Daddy Siki, Little Beaver and many more.  I was raised on re-runs of those old matches (on the rare occasions they were on) and of course Vince McMahon’s WWF.

For me, it all began around 1985.  McMahon had been boosting the WWF with cross promotions into music and movies.  Hulk Hogan became pop star Cyndi Lauper’s “bodyguard”, and she began making appearances at WWF events, until “Rowdy” Roddy Piper assaulted her, kicking off a feud with Hogan that culminated in Wrestlemania I with Mr. T!  It was a fun time to watch wrestling.

WWFThe wrestling characters looked like rock stars.  Some, like the Demolition and the Ultimate Warrior, didn’t look too different from bands like Kiss.  Most of the guys had long hair.  It was easy to see the visual connection.

McMahon released The Wrestling Album in late ’85, capitalizing on his music connections.  Wrestlers were given the chance to sing campy theme songs, while rock star Rick Derringer contributed a legitimate rock track called “Real American” for Hulk Hogan, for which a music video was made.  This was followed by a second album called Piledriver, on which Derringer recorded a heavy metal theme song for the tag team Demolition.

“Real American” by Rick Derringer

Ozzy Osbourne appeared in Wrestlemania II, by the side of the British Bulldogs for the tag team championship. Wrestlemania III, even bigger than the first two, was attended by Alice Cooper in the corner of Jake “The Snake” Roberts. Roberts was facing off against a music-based character, an Elvis impersonator called the Honky Tonk Man. While Roberts lost the match, he and Cooper exacted revenge by dumping a huge python named Damien all over Honk Tonk’s manager, “Colonel” Jimmy Hart (himself a musician – Hart had a Top 5 hit in 1965 with the Gentrys on a song called “Keep on Dancing”).

PILEDRIVERThe next step was a Grammy-style WWF awards show called the Slammy Awards. I caught the 1987 installment, billed as the “37th Annual” even though it was only the second. The wrestlers were given the chance to lipsynch their songs while chaos ensued backstage between “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan and “King” Harley Race. It was plenty stupid, obviously completely fake, and a lot of fun.  I actually watched it again not too long ago and made it all the way through!

The family went to WWF events about once a year.  They were held at the Auditorium, and the seats were shitty, but we did get to see Randy “Macho Man” Savage when he was the champion of the world!  It was Boxing Day, Dec 26 1988.  All my shitty camera captured of him was a red and black sequinned blur.  You can see Miss Elisabeth’s hair and arm holding the ropes for him.  Both these stars are dead now.  Savage was facing off against Akeem (formerly One Man Gang) in a non-title match.  I also have some pictures of “Canada’s Greatest Athlete” Iron Mike Sharpe, and Axe and Smash (the Demolition with manager Mr. Fuji) from the same night.  A magical blur, these pictures are!  Emphasis on the blur.

I don’t follow wrestling anymore, and I haven’t since the 80’s.  If I see an old match from my day, I still stop and watch it.  Just like a good song, an old classic wrestling match sure can bring back the memories.

Who was my favourite, you ask? André Roussimoff, better know as André the Giant. Known for his huge size and equally huge heart, the Giant used to wrestle and defeat multiple opponents at the same time. Author of the Princess Bride, William Goldman said, “André was one of the gentlest and most generous people I ever knew.” For those reasons, he always will be my favourite wrestler.  Second to André would be his friends in Demolition, Axe and Smash, who you can see in the pictures below battling the Powers of Pain.

“Demolition” by Rick Derringer

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34 comments

  1. Ah yes! The golden age of rasslin’. I was a big Hogan fan back in the day. I also really liked Koko B. Ware. Did you know that they are reissuing both of those albums on vinyl for Record Store Day this year?

    Liked by 1 person

        1. It’s a strong force, my friend. Some of my favourite songs to this day are songs that I know haven’t aged particularly well but due to nostalgia, I listen to them as if they were released yesterday.

          Liked by 2 people

      1. Dad just told me that story.
        Unfortunately, there are a lot of tragic stories with wrestlers. Just look at the Hart family alone. Wrestlers being killed, wrestlers ending up crippled…..not a nice story.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. No but it is nice to see some of the survivors from the era still doing their thing and looking great. I saw a recent video of George the Animal Steele. He sounded like the sweetest possible guy! Hahaha.

          Like

  2. From the look of those pics, those were not shitty seats!

    Ah wrasslin’, I was into it as a kid (in the 80s), but I wouldn’t get to see a whole lot of it – we didn’t get cable TV in my town until I was 15 and by then I was long gone from watching this stuff. But what I did see was fun for my young self. My favourite was always Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat, he was real quick and still very strong and didn’t seem to come loaded with a lot of the bombast the rest of them needed to boost themselves up. He was a bit closer to the old school, maybe.

    Good call on Andre The Giant, he was cool. Did I tell you I got a t-shirt with Fezzik’s face on it? I love it. Also, there’s an excellent graphic novel about his life, I read our library’s copy and liked it very much:

    http://www.amazon.ca/Andre-Giant-Legend-Box-Brown/dp/1596438517/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1426512735&sr=8-1&keywords=andre+the+giant+graphic+novel

    You know who would really love this post is James. He’s a wrasslin’ fan big-time, I’m gonna forward this post to him in case he doesn’t see it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was a big fan of the Dragon and I liked him for the real you pointed out. I recently watched one of his first WWF matches if not the first, and he was fast and mighty!

      Unfortunately those pics are not from our seats. I was trying to move around and get closer.

      Like

      1. I should youtube him, that could be fun!

        Gotcha, we used to do the same thing at Blue Jays games. Get seats way up in the lower bowl, wait a couple of innings, then move down when there were obviously empty (corporate-held) seats. :) Shhhhh don’t tell anyone…

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Now you’re bringing back the memories dude. I remember that rock and wrestling very well. Like when MTV showed Wendi Ricther, managed by Cyndi Lauper end the Fabulous Moolah’s 27 year reign as women’s champion. Me, I was always a fan of the Nature Boy, Ric Flair, wwhhhhooooooo!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This was fun back then. We watched all the time, even went to about 4 matches here. I have some similarly blurry hazy pics from sitting fairly close. We even once made a sign for Jake the Snake that was hecka rad!!

    those were back in the Early Wrestlemania days and we bought #3 on PPV. We took that stuff so seriously even though we knew it was fake. That never stopped us from busting moves on each other. No we never did any roof stunts, we were all too smart for that.

    Good times.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No roof stunts here either. But we did have a back porch that was square and perfectly sized to use as a wrestling ring. We’d use the railings as ropes.

      I knew it was fake but I took it seriously too! They came up with good storylines for us kids.

      Like

      1. I attempted to come up with a card game with stats and vitals that my friends and I could play (similar to APBA if anyone knows what that is). I worked hard on the cards but everytime we tried to play them we just ended up in the yard or breaking out the videos and watching them instead. I used to have an aptitude for this. Haha

        Like

  5. Used to watch the wrestling myself – partly due to my grandfather’s fondness of the old British stuff and the introduction of Sky in our household. Macho Man was my favourite …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was never the biggest Macho Man fan, but full respect for him creating his own original character that we remember today. I remember one early TV match where Macho Man, still in his jeans, ran into the ring and beat his opponent in a matter of minutes.

      Like

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