Wrestling Then and Now

by Dale Pierce

DALE PIERCE: At the age of 54, you are planning a comeback. Is this wise?

BESTIA 666: I am in as good a shape as a lot of people who are younger than me. With the mask and body covering, I do not think anyone will suspect my age. People older than me have wrestled or are wrestling, so where does age come in? It's all in the mind.

DP: Where did you start wrestling?

B6: I was born in Nogales, Arizona and grew up on the border where I did my training. The late Pedro Gonzalez in Nogales, Mexico and some of his crew was of big help to me. Also the late Paavo Ketonen who used to run Top Level Gym in Phoenix and the late Monty Ladue, were of help to me. Henry Pilusso also showed me some things. He was very underrated. He looked kind of like a Mexican Brute Bernard and wrestled much the same way, not a typical luchador.

DP: Who all have you had good bouts with over the years?

B6: Zombi Palacio, Anibal, Siberiano, Flama Azul, Flama Negra, Agua Caliente, Peter Pan, Tamba, Pedro Romero, Cowboy Claw, Frankenstein, El Mustang, Cobra, El Estudiente, Buddy Jones, Johnny Kostas, Gallo Castro, Rudy Navarro, XXX, Demon Verde, others. I think i have had several good matches, and I am sure there is some old TV tape from someplace on the border out there someplace which I would love to get put on DVD.

DP: Where did you wrestle?

B6: Smaller western promotions and for varied groups, especially on the Mexican border. I always wanted to go to Los Angeles and work at the Olympic Auditorium, but those jerkoffs never responded to my mail. I wrote to Labell and was ignored, yet he took other people, including many Mexicans who I thought were not as good as me, and used them, especially when he was on his last legs as a promoter before selling the office to the WWF. That's the truth about wrestling; it is NOT how good you are, but who you know, and anyone telling you different is a liar. That's why so many people are pushed in the big time who do not deserve it, and everyone knows is no good. It is all about who you know. Talent is secondary, and again, anyone who says it is not is lying.

DP: What do you think of the WWE?

B6: They are making great money and drawing great crowds, so more power to them. I am glad many people can make good money with them, but again, it goes back to politics. You get in with them if you know someone who is in, pretty much, and the rest have no chance. It is all a big work.

DP: Where would you wrestle now?

B6: For various indys. I live in Yuma, Arizona and no one runs here, though they do wrestling across the border in San Luis. I would like to run in Yuma myself. There was also a new lucha group, or they were new in the early 1990s, running in Los Angeles, and if still there, I would like to work with them. The people they used included Al Murrieta and some others. I do not know if they still run, but I would like to work with them. Also the AIWA in California, as they used some people I know.

DP: What would you say to the people who run the Wrestling- Then & Now site?

B6: I like it. I was told by a friend to say the owner, Evan Ginzburg, looks like Joxer from Xena, but I will not say that, as I do not know him. It is a good page. Too much is out there on the Net now, and it only covers modern stuff, not the past. I logged on the site with a friend who has a computer, as I do not use the computers myself. I still write letters by hand and talk by the phone.

DP: What would you like to share with the readers?

B6: Without his hood on, La Parka is the ugliest man this side of Dick Beyer, The Destroyer.

DP: What was training like then and opposed to now?

B6: In Mexico, they did not make you wise right away to any fakery or staging at all, but pounded the hell out of you, then let you in on when and if a bout was to be staged. They beat the hell out of you to see if you would stick it out or not, and you had to know how to fight to be let in. It was not the world for some damned maricon or mariposa, if you understand me. You had to be tough. It was a lot harder to get in years ago. You didn't have marks training marks at some damned school like everyplace now. To tell you how it was different, I will tell you a story what happened to someone else I knew, Tom Ramirez, and how he got in.

DP: How's that?

B6: He was a teenager in Mexico and went to the gym when he saw an open door, and there was the wrestlers working out, so he sat down to watch. All of a sudden they stopped and asked, "What are you doing," and he said, "I'm watching." They told him, "Oh no, if you stay, you work out. Otherwise get your ass out of here. Ass out of here or ass in the ring. One way or another."

So he got in the ring and they pounded him good and laughed at it, but they were surprised to see he came back the next time the gym door was unlocked and said he wanted to learn more. So they pounded him more, and when they saw he would stick it out, they made him a wrestler.

DP: Aren't there a lot of fan attacks in Mexico?

B6: Yes, security is a big problem, and people always throw stuff. This one American, Sicilian Slammer, got his head laid wide open by a woman swinging a chair in Juarez and came back with his head swelled and sewed up where he looked like The Elephant Man in the movie. There, wrestlers will pound the shit out of fans who attack them, and there are no lawsuits. You hit a wrestler and he catches you, you take the chance of having him kill you, then you get arrested for attacking him. That is the way it should be. Fans who throw shit or want to swing at a wrestler deserve what they get. Since no one in America takes wrestling seriously anymore, you don't have that here too much like you used to, but Mexico is still crazy, where fans get into it and go crazy on you. You still have riots there. They throw crap, they fight, they attack. It's like a war zone sometimes.

DP: Is there anyplace where you would not wrestle?

B6: Puerto Rico. Not after the Bruiser Brody thing.

DP: What was Paavo Ketonen like?

B6: A very tough old man, more into training boxers than wrestlers. He tried to run cards in the 1980s but bombed as he was too old fashioned, and his product wasn't what people wanted. In the ring, even as an old man, he could tear you apart. I would have felt sorry for a mugger who figured him an easy mark and tried to rob him on the street, as Paavo would have killed the bastard with his hands. He is now dead. He died about ten years ago and was not in good health or finances. His wife died before him, and that heartbroke him. Then he shut down his gym and I think did not want to stay alive, so he just died. I heard he was living with a local boxer who cared for him but do not know if it is true. You see, the business takes more than it gives. . . .

DP: What do you think of the young wrestlers today?

B6: Many would not have lasted in earlier days because of their mouths or attitudes. Some do great things older people cannot or will not do, such as sensational flying moves, but some of these people, their attitudes are unreal. Times have changed. There was a newer kid I saw, The Prototype. He is in the WWE now, but I think they are calling him something else. Horshu was another man out west who was in WCW but had personal problems I heard, which he now beat and is working again. He is going to WWE, I think, and I think he will do well. The Ballards out of California are very good.

DP: Any of them you would like to wrestle yourself?

B6: That depends. Some of these people I have seen, I would get pissed off at, and then they would learn the true meaning of wrestling. It is not all a work like fans now think and not all a game. I am serious about my profession and do not like those who do not take it seriously.

DP: Where did you come up with the name?

B6: Many wrestlers use or used Bestia, which means The Beast. I added the 666 from it, as it came from the Bible. There was someone else, a white man I think, going as Antichristo or Antichrist in the Mexican interior, but he was not me.

DP: Who would you say to be the most underrated Mexican wrestler ever?

B6: Ariel Romero, a super heel. He had heat like you would not imagine. In Juarez, he hurt Aluche, who was this midget valet to Tiniemblas in a monster costume, and the people wanted to kill him. The thing nearly backfired on him, and while it packed the building for a feud because of what he did, pitting him versus Tiniemblas, the man was lucky to have not been shot or knifed by angry fans. He was a tremendous talent and a great villain, but I think he finally quit.

DP: Who is the most overated wrestler of all time?

B6: Ric Flair, maybe. Or that new Brock in WWE.

DP: What do you advise people starting in wrestling?

B6: Be very alert on who you deal with, as many promoters are liars and cheats. Also NEVER tell a promoter you will work for free for the exposure, as he will use you, laugh at you, and keep you working for free. A lot of new guys think it is a good way to make a name for themselves, and it does--it makes a name for them as a fool to be suckered. Never wrestle for free. In professional wrestling you want to be a professional and want to get paid.

DP: Who were your favorite wrestlers when you were growing up, before you started?

B6: Santo, Blue Demon, Fritz Von Erich, Dory Funk Sr., Mike Dibiase, Pasquelin, Nathaniel Leon. . . .

DP: Is there any promoter you would not work for?

B6: The late Betty Clark, if she was still alive. She ran a show in Arizona years ago at a rodeo ring/dance hall, bringing in people from California, Nevada, and Mexico because she wanted to spite a lot of the local people she didn't like. Well, her glorious card drew 15 people and was cancelled, with a bunch of wrestlers, including Jack Armstrong, who came all the way from Los Angeles and this Mad Cat Aaorn guy who came from Vegas for nothing. I was one of the ones who came for this too, from the border, and it was bullshit. A lot of people spoke highly of her, and she took care of you if you were in her clique, but I did not like the woman from the start and that settled it. She tried to run other cards and always bombed. As another wrestler put it, the late Eddie Sullivan, "She was the kiss of death for any promotion." She was not a promoter and from what I saw, not much of a wrestler either, but a woman with a big mouth and a big ego. I do not wish to speak ill of her being she is dead now, but what else can I say? If she was living and running, I would tell her where to put her promotion.

DP: Do you have any other old school trivia to drop on us?

B6: Did you know from the 1940s through the 1970s when promoters were using Nazis and Japanese villains, most were neither Japanese or German? The Germans were usually coming from Canada. Hans Schmidt, Otto Von Heller, and others were Canadian. The Japanese were either Hawaiian or Mexican. Yashinomi Fuji was Nano Ortega, Senji Yamamato was Phil Sapien, Tor Kamata was a happy Hawiian type named McRonald "Mac" KamaKa with a K, not a T, Tojo Yamamoto was Hawiian. . . .

DP: Who was the weirdest person you ever met in wrestling?

B6: The aforenoted Betty Clarke, and Princess Tonah Tomah next. The funny part is these two old battleaxes hated each other. Tomah I think would have killed Betty Clark in a shoot fight. They were both very strange people.

DP: Who was the toughest man you ever met in wrestling?

B6: Paavo Ketonen. Also Cornelio Hernandez and Chuck Karbo. Johnny Kostas, also. Ray Gordon was a superman with super strength who would fool you. Erioc Froelich was tough. Dr. Jerry Graham was tough and crazy in the head, which made him even worse.

DP: Who was the worst wrestler ever?

B6: Ernie Muhammid, a good promoter who decided all of a sudden that he should wrestle too, and he was awful at it, but no one would say anything because he ran shows. He ran a big steak house after he retired. He was a good promoter, but a bad wrestler, and I do mean bad.

DP: Why do you think Yuma, Arizona would be a good place to run?

B6: You have a community college, a military pool to draw from, wintertime tourists from the east coast, a way to pull wrestlers from Mexico and southern California, and many buildings for rent for cheap, plus no athletic commision to deal with. I hate states with athletic commisions, as these people are nothing but bloodsuckers and assholes. So I think Yuma would draw well, but no one ever does it here. I would also like to go back to Nogales, Arizona where I am from, and to the very south of California, like say La Jolla, Tecate, and Campo. I think people are missing by not running here. I think it will draw.

DP: What is your biggest drawback?

B6: I think the big layoffs and spurts of nonactivity thoughout my career when I was between promotions or just not into wrestling for a while. All wrestlers have a love/hate affair with the buisness and will tell you that. Many do not enjoy it after a long time and try to retire but get hooked on it and cannot. So that is a problem. Many times I have wanted to quit but could not stay quit. Look at things right now. . . .

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