Wrestling Then and Now

by J.C. Diese

J.C. DIESE: Perhaps in short, you could sum up your career for us?

THE TIME TRAVELER: I started in 1979 in Phoenix and worked mainly the west until 1999, after I moved to Ohio. I packed it in until 2003, when I got suckered back in and am still active now. I have done everything at one time or another, including booking, promotion, managing people, referee work, and wrestling. I have always considered myself a fantastic manager but a medicore wrestler at best. Managing was and is my strongpoint, and it is all I do now, this go around. I also appeared in Mexico and Canada, plus for varied indys in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, and some other states, but California and Arizona were my longterm base. Now Ohio is my base.

JCD: Then you definately prefer managing?

TTT: Yes, but it is not as easy to do as some people might think. Managing was what I wanted to do when I started, and that was it. I had no real desire to wrestle but often had to when they needed bodies on a card, or where I had to wrestle in order to get booked, as the promoter had no room for managers.

JCD: As an actual wrestler, where would your best stint have been?

TTT: Nowhere, as I do not consider myself much of a wrestler. The AIWA out in California had me wrestling for a long while. In spite of myself, I managed some good matches with Galeno, Thrillseeker, and Spike Cantillo. These were mainly brawls rather than true wrestling bouts.

JCD: Whom all have you managed over the years?

TTT: I did a brief shot managing "Superstar" Billy Graham in Phoenix when he wanted tune-ups before returning to the WWF, and also Dr. Jerry Graham during the last days of his career in California. Others have included or include Lones Oaks, Dirty The Clown, Mr. 8x10, The Lumberjacks, Steven Gator Wolf, The Heartbreakers, Mike Dupree, Joey Rossi, Eddie Sullivan, Rip Tyler, The Mongolian Stomper, Malcolm Monroe, Hans Mueller, Sergeant Shultz, The Black Mamba, The Illustrated Man, "Maniac" Mark Mustang, "Maniac" Mike Gordon, Bestia 666, Enigma, Eruption, Tom Ramirez, The Grim Reaper, John Ringer, Special Forces, Donna Day, "Bad" Bob Elliot, and more. I can't recall them all.

JCD: You quit and stayed out of wrestling for a long time. Why?

TTT: My wife and I did not like the changes going on in wrestling. My wife got fed up and quit after Owen Hart took his fatal fall, and me, I got sickened when I saw Pat Patterson doing his dirty underwear thing on cable TV, as I just shrugged, thinking of how far down the tubes wrestling had gone. I figured if I wanted to look at dirty underwear I would look at my own! Likewise, I didn't like the people creeping in. The new guys were all punks, the old guys were old fossils clinging to a past that could never be brought back. The fans were all a bunch of noisy know-it-alls. I got sick of the whole thing and packed it in. I stayed out for a long while. Then the pendulum started to swing back, with the hardcore garbage drifting out, the punks all quitting, and things going back to basics. That's why I came back. Some sanity returned to wrestling.

JCD: What exactly brought you back?

TTT: A couple fans doing a news sheet called Turning Heel asked me to go with them to a few matches, and I figured it would be no big deal, that I would see what garbage the cards were, laugh at it all, remember why I hated the wrestling world as it had changed, and no harm would be done. Anyway, they had good cards, and it got the sickness going. My first words when I met the people running were, "I don't want to work." Two weeks later, here we go again ... I'm back managing in Massillon, Ohio, in the corner of Dirty The Clown.

JCD: Among the new faces, what wrestlers on the indy circuits do you think are worth watching?

TTT: A lot of current guys. Shark Boy, Brock Tatum, Virus, The Unknown, Stormtrooper, The American Eagle, Lones Oaks, Wilbur Whitlock, Joe Joe Little, Shane Sensation, and Brandon X are a few. Among the older guys who have been around, Navajo Warrior, Joe Rules, Rick Silver, Dave Desire, and Travis Lee are some who deserve better breaks than they have gotten.

JCD: Do you have a Web page?

TTT: No, but various pages that deal with me include Wrestling- Then & Now, obviously, plus http://www.prowrestlingohio.com, http://www.turningheel.tk and https://www.angelfire.com/oh/nmpw for starters. There is a site called Arizona Wrestling Legends which has my bio, for whatever that is worth on it, but I do not recall the URL offhand.

JCD: Do you have interesting stories to tell?

TTT: Too many to list. In the indy world, you run into some weird characters, and this builds for some weird stories. Some may be better off unsaid.

JCD: Is there any manager in wrestling you patterned yourself after?

TTT: No, not really. If anyone came close, it would not have been a wrestling manager, but a little Grand Wizard clone called John Guitarri, who managed as a villain in roller derby in the 1970s. He was forever trying to outsmart the Los Angeles T-Birds.

JCD: What wrestlers did you grow up watching?

TTT: My father was a designer for aircraft, so we travelled a lot. I grew up watching wrestlers in different parts of the country and loved the rulebreakers. George Steele, The Sheik, Abdullah The Butcher, Jody Arnold, The Comancharos, The Tolos Brothers, Hans Schmidt, and so on. I always wanted to be bad, never a fan favorite. I watched and waited and finally got involved. I was like 20 or 21 when I started.

JCD: You have always been outspoken. Perhaps you could give your feelings on some wrestlers you have known. Let's start with yourself.

TTT: Great manager, rottten wrestler, but a person who always tries no matter how large or small the crowd. If you have 15 people in the crowd, those 15 paid for a show and you give it to them! That's my attitude.

JCD: Billy Graham.

TTT: Really goofed up on roids and pain killers. When we did our brief manager stint, he seemed out of it even then and a lot of us didn't know what the hell was wrong with him, as we had never seen the effect of roids kicking in before this. He went from being a top star to a physical wreck, but has the nerve at least to admit it and warn people, as a living example, of what this stuff can do to you. He is big on religion now, and while I think a lot of wrestlers are running a religious scam for money, I think Billy truly believes it. My only question is, if God is on his side, why have so many bad things continued to happen to him?

JCD: Dr. Jerry Graham.

TTT: A master villain and great guy if you caught him in a sane mood. He went out and could provoke a crowd, even at advanced age and rotten health, by doing little, simple things, as opposed to the triple moonsaults and table breaking everyone else was doing. His end was slow and sad. He battled booze and mental problems most of his life, and this is a commonly known fact. As much as I dislike Dave Meltzer, the Tributes bio of him is pretty accurate. Sad but true. We saw him in the hospice a few months before he died, when I was in california for a show, and he was out of it pretty much. A tragic case for those who know behind the scenes.

JCD: Navajo Warrior.

TTT: One of the best of the newer wrestlers to come out of Arizona. A man of incredible charisma and know-how. Oddly enough, we have been on cards together but never been involved in matches with each other.

JCD: Louie Spicolli.

TTT: Knew him when he was just starting out and Billy Anderson was bringing him into Arizona for extra matches and experience. He was a good kid who fell into the "lifestyle" in the big time, and it took its toll. He died a fool. Here he is, getting the breaks a thousand guys would kill for, and he not only blows it with the drugs and partying, but dies from it. A waste of talent and a waste of life. What pissed me off, but I could see coming, was how the very same smark fans who were running him down in the sheets and on the Net, all rushed in to praise him and say what a great loss his death was, when he up and died.

JCD: Candi Divine.

TTT: She started out rather clumsy. I remember one early match in Tennessee where she actually fell backward on a lockup and looked like a fool. She later became one of the best wrestlers in the game as far as women go. It is a pity the WWF or WCW never picked her up after her AWA run, as she is no spring chicken now, uh, like I am, but anyway, the point is, some of the looks may have faded, but the talent is still there. Easily one of the best of the girl wrestlers and sadly becoming forgotten by the fans as time moves on. She had some tremendous matches with Sherri Martell and others. She had a feud with Donna Day when I was in Tennessee with the indys. Those matches might not have been the bets, but, God, were the fans hot! Don't know whatever happened to Donna. I think Divine is still wrestling for indys now and again.

JCD: Mongolian Stomper.

TTT: Was only paired to manage him for a couple of shows when he was living in Tucson, and Betty Clarke was using him. Big guy, nice fellow, and very talented. I remember just how much bigger he was in real life than in the photos in the magazines. A tremendous villain.

JCD: Eddie Sullivan.

TTT: Deceased now. I learned a great deal about managing and about ring psychology from Eddie Sullivan. He helped a lot of people in the west learn things. He was a great guy.

JCD: Hans Mueller.

TTT: We caused the riot to end all riots in Akron in the early 1980s. That wasn't his real name though. He wrestled as something else and I think is still around now in Indiana. Great wrestler, very underrated, and I am surprised the German thing didn't go further. It got heat alright. Nearly got me killed by a bunch of fans when he was wrestling Domenic Denucci.

JCD: David Flair.

TTT: Never thought much of him when he started out, but became a decent wrestler when he started that thing with Daffney and Crowbar. Learned the ropes and now making the indy circuits part-time. We were on a card together in Bridgeport, Ohio, a while ago, and I was more impressed than I thought I would be. In fact, he did damned well out there. I thought he would have this massive ego, being Ric Flair's son, but he was pleasant and somewhat laid back. The guy left an impression on me. Being the son of a big name can be a blessing or it can be a curse, and in his case it was a little of both I think. Whatever negative feelings I had from early observations of him were erased the night we did the tag bout, with me managing his opponents.

JCD: Malcolm Monroe.

TTT: One of the best encounters I was ever involved in was with him and me, against Larry Winters in Akron. I was shocked to hear he died. He was a great wrestler and a good guy. Many people will tell you the same thing.

JCD: Shasta.

TTT: Interesting promoter and wrestler. Did my comeback for his promotion in 2003 and have been sticking with him since. Great hardcore brawler, but also rhyme and reason to what he does. Has trained a load of good guys.

JCD: "Maniac" Mike Gordon.

TTT: Not a well known name outside the southwest and among Ohio indys, but he is the guy who started me out, so what can I say? He was one of the most underrated wrestlers around. Did a great reverse neckbreaker.

JCD: You are married to lady manager Rainbow. Will she ever make a comeback like you have?

TTT: No, I think she is jaded for good on wrestling. She was not really pleased to see me make a return, but has accepted it. Destiny, I guess. I would like to see her back in. Others would like to see her back in. I do not think it will happen though.

JCD: Why did you leave your longstanding Arizona homebase for Ohio?

TTT: Nothing to do with wrestling. I was born in Ohio. Phoenix was turning into a hellhole. We got tired of the crime, pollution, gangs, overcrowding, and such and headed for Smalltown, USA!

JCD: What was it like when you broke into wrestling as opposed to now?

TTT: Different, as there weren't all these schools like now. To get into wrestling, you had to know someone who was in who would get you in, and when he did, he was essentially responsible for you. It was like something from the Sopranos. Now you have a school everywhere, everybody and his brother thinking he is the next Buddy Rogers waiting to happen, and a bunch of teenagers thinking they can do pro shows and make millions, just because they wrestle in a backyard and hit each other over the head with lightbulbs. It was more difficult to break in when I started.

JCD: What do you advise people wanting to get in today?

TTT: Well, it is almost essential to find a good school nowadays, for the nature of the wrestling world has changed, and so have the ways to get in. Just be careful where you go and who you deal with if you go to a school for training, or you might end up paying a load of money and go no place fast. Don't believe everything you are told, and keep an eye on everyone. It can be a cut-throat business behind the scenes, with every man for himself, and if you approach it on guard, you will find yourself having an easier time of it. Use your head at all times. That is what I would say. Be careful who you deal with, and keep your eyes open. The wrestling world can be a great place to be, and it can be a living nightmare. Don't come in with unrealistic expectations, and you will do okay. Like me, I love the indys and am happy where I am right now. This is what I want. I do not expect a great deal out of wrestling anymore and am getting what I want from it, so I am happy. You have to keep your head on straight and then the business will be okay for you. Hey, it can be what you make of it, pretty much, but you have to be wary at all times.

JCD: What groups are you with now?

TTT: For now, I am involved primarily with XWF and MCW in Ohio and am happy with this. I do occasional shows outside the area but don't have the enthusiasm for travel anymore. People are trying to get me to return to the west, but I do not know if that will happen. I would like, maybe, to do a final swing there, but who knows. I would like to go to the Mexican border again, as places like Nogales and San Luis Rio Colorado were always interesting. Anything could happen there, and it usually did!

JCD: How long do you think you will stick around this time?

TTT: Who knows? As long as I physically can, as long as I do not get tied down with my other business doings in my real life, so to speak, and as long as I am in demand. The pendulum has swung back. I have fans loving me for some of the same things I was doing a decade ago, these same people were running me down for, so go figure. I didn't change any. I just waited for the wrestling world to change back again, and I would be able to fit in. I don't know how long this run will last. Time will tell. That's a funny one. Time will tell....

JCD: Have you ever had any major injuries?

TTT: No back or knee problems, but a broken nose, broken foot, and various cuts. Nothing major like a lot of people who can hardly walk any more. Being a manager more than a wrestler helped save my body somewhat I think.

JCD: What is you impression of Wrestling- Then & Now?

TTT: Evan Ginzburg, who runs it, is a good guy, obviously loving the wrestling world, but a traditionalist wishing the bygone era would return, which I do not think it ever completely will. There is no way it can, even though the pendulum is, as I said, swinging back and traditions are starting to be reborn. In real life, Evan Ginzburg bares a striking resemblance to the guy who plays Joxer in the old Xena show.

JCD: Some of your Arizona guys have also said this in their interviews. Are YOU the one who put them up to it?

TTT: Maybe.

JCD: Closing comments?

TTT: None, really.

Home Page | Nikolai Volkoff | Johnny Valiant | Light Show | Galleries | Columns | Indys | Interviews | Sample Articles | Merchandise | Message Board | Yahoo! Group | Links | Plugs | Contact Information | Sign Guestbook | View Guestbook