"A Snug Fit"
The cab ride from the airport to the Fleet Center seemed to take much longer than it should. Part of the insufferable amount of time it took was caused by the fact that Wilson, his face buried behind a map of the Boston area, had talked endlessly about some of the bizarre facts about the New England area.
"Detective, I just remembered another one!" Wilson started again, having remained silent only momentarily. Holmes buried his head in his hands as the cab driver closed the sliding glass between the driver and passenger areas. Even he had had enough .
"Did you know that name of Paul Revere's horse was Lucky? The odd thing is that it was also Mrs. Revere's nickname."
"ENOUGH! Do you have to bore me this entire cab ride by repeating all these nauseating facts? We have a case to consider, not some horse's name!"
"Why Inspector, I was just trying to lighten your ride with some typical American nostalgia. I often talk of these things with my neighbor Tim...however, he does tend to get the stories completely messed up."
"Let's just consider the facts as we know them at this time", Holmes said. At least Dr. Watson was never this obnoxious he thought silently.
"This Burma Shave character has never been seen, never been photograhed, and has never called the Psychic Friends Network.
"Plus", Wilson interrupted. "We know he has been rumored to be attending Wrestlemania. A quick check with TicketMaster indicated that someone by the name of B. Shave did indeed buy a ticket."
"Yes, now Leonard has arranged for us to get backstage passes and from there we should be to locate this chap Burma Shave." Although pieces seemed to be falling into place, Holmes could not escape the fear that something really bad was going to happen to them shortly.
The cab finally arrived at the Fleet Center, about a half hour before the event was to begin!
As they made their way through the security guards back stage, Holmes
could see that most people everybody was concerned about something.
Holmes felt a tug at his shoulder.
"Hey buddy", the squad ex major league baseball player said. "I've got a sure thing in the sixth match, have you got $50 I could borrow so I can make a bet?"
"I will tell you like I told that Flowers woman when we first walked in here...NO, I do NOT have $50 for you!"
A dejected record holder in base hits turned away from the duo and looked for another pigeon to fleece. Holmes and Wilson continued their pace through the crowd backstage, looking for someone who may be in charge.
"Well...WHERE are they?" Gerald Brisco said into his portable cell phone. Since it appeared he was handling things at the moment, the detective and his new assistant, his face covered behind an official Wrestlemania program, waited.
"We need 15 teams!" Brisco put his hand over the phone. "Who the hell are you guys?"
"I am Sherlock Holmes and this is my assistant, Dr. Wat...I mean Wilson" the reknowned sleuth replied. "We're here in search of Burma Shave."
Brisco's eyes brightened and a slight smile escaped his lips. "Never mind...I've got my 15th team right here" he said into the phone. "Guys, I'm SO glad to see you! Why don't you come with me and we'll go back to the dressing room area...I'm sure Bermuda is back there somewhere."
"That's BURMA Shave", Wilson interjected.
"Yeah...right, what could I have been thinking!" Brisco took both men's arms and began to head back to the dressing room area. "Manuel...Franc....we've got a QUICK fitting to do here!" he yelled to two men trying to stuff Goldust into his outfit. "Hawk and Animal got stuck in traffic...fit these guys quickly...the show starts in 10 minutes!"
"You always expect miracles from us" Franc said while dropping the greased crowbar being used on Dustin. "Very well, Manuel...you handle the fossil, I'll dress the other one."
Several minutes passed, as the Free For All TV promo was approaching it's end and the show was about to begin. The dressing room door opened and out came the duo...dressed in tights that said OLD 2000 and with helmets on their heads. Wilson's helmet also had a front face plate that covered from the nose down.
"We can't go in there!" Holmes protested as Brisco began to drag the two to the entrance way. "Leonard SPECIFICALLY said, "Whatever you do...don't get in the RING"!!"
"Listen...the fellow you are looking for is...uh, yeah, he's going to be in the ring. You'll have no problem spotting him."
"How hard can it be inspector?" Wilson interrupted. "After all, there's just us and the other team right?"
"Other team? OH Yeah, right...no problem!" Brisco said as the familiar music started to play. "That's your cue guys...have "fun"! "
Holmes was still unsure, but it did sound more sensible than going from seat to seat trying to discover where Burma Shave was located. The two men walked out as the fans rose to their feet with thunderous applause!
It was deafening! Holmes had never received such a welcome, even after he had solved the "Hound of the Baskin Robbins" case.
Climbing through the ropes, Holmes almost slipped twice. "Well, we should be able to determine which person on the other team is Burma Shave in just a minute." Wilson yelled in Holmes ear as the crowd continued to cheer!
Suddenly, the other 28 members of the 15 team battle royal came out of the dressing room area and headed to the ring. As the ring filled to capacity and beyond, Holmes, who was afraid he was about to lose control of all his bodily functions, turned to Wilson.
"...Somehow I don't think it's going to be THAT easy!" the nervous Holmes said as the bell rang and 28 huge, mad wrestlers turned their attention to OLD 2000..........
"Wild Bill" Rawlings is a longtime friend of Solie's and an occasional contributor to the newsletter. He also regularly enlivens the Solie's Readers' Forum with his wit and insight.
Conducted by Jeremy Hartley for TWC Online
Transcribed by Earl Oliver
This is the second of a three part interview conducted on Feruary 10, 1998 by telephone with the former Mid-South and NWA star. One of three wrestlers known as "the Nature Boy" (along with Ric Flair and Buddy Rogers).
Jeremy Hartley: Okay, so you had a couple of stints in Mid-South...
Buddy Landel: Yeah, actually 5 or 6, I was in there from 1980 to '86 off and on.
Jeremy Hartley: I kinda want to get into this because a lot of people I've talked to, they mention Bill Watts as being probably one of the greatest promoters, bookers - a really good judge of talent, and someone who could really run a territory.
Buddy Landel: Bill Watts was unlike a lot of promoters, he was unlike a Jim Crockett or anybody else, he was actually a wrestler, he was a main event wrestler. He had a mind for this business, he was student of Eddie Graham's, who had probably the greatest mind ever in this business. But BIll Watts surrounded himself with actual athletes. He allowed guys who were amateur wrestlers and football players, the Ernie Ladds and Steve Williams - you gotta realize that these guys, by the time that they were with Bill Watts, they had been under coaches who pushed and pushed and pushed them, understand, to be Champions...
Jeremy Hartley: Right...
Buddy Landel: And Bill Watts was like a father figure, he was like a coach, he could be a tyrant, you know, he could be a lot of things. But he pushed you and he could see you, and I'm not putting him up there with God, but God don't look at you and see what you are - he sees what you can be, and that's the greatest thing about the Lord, and that's a lot like what Bill Watts did, he looked at what he thought he could mold us into and he was just a great creative genious. Of course, he had to have something to work with, and back then you either carried the ball, or if you fumbled you were out. But if you could run with the ball, if you worked hard... I'd never say that you had it made, because there was just no such thing...even the Dibiasis and the Junk Yard Dogs, we all worked hard. I mean, in our territory you could do a 100,000 miles a year in a car, I mean it was rough...you never had any highways except for Interstate 10...your talking about wrestling in New Orleans on a Monday night and the next day you had to be in Shrieveport to do interviews at 9:00 in the morning - your talking about 250 miles of back roads - it was treachorous.
Jeremy Hartley: We'll get back to Mid-South in a minutes, but I kind of want to get into the various Titles you've held. What was the first Title that you held?
Buddy Landel: The first Title I held was when I first turned heel, it was in 1984, it was the North American Heavyweight Championship. As a matter of fact I had three Titles at one time - it was for Capitol Sports in Puerto Rico, I was the North American Heavyweight Champion, Terry Gibbs and myself were the North American Tag Team Champions, and we were also the Carribean Tag Team Champions. It started because I remember having all three belts in my bag one time, and my wife said, "Why don't you get a picture of yourself with all three of those belts so that way you'll have them forever." Of course one went then the other one went then the other one went and to this day I regret not taking a picture with all three Title at one time...
Jeremy Hartley: Wow! That's got to be some kind of record...
Buddy Landel: Well, I don't know about that but pretty close to it.
Jeremy Hartley: Who did you beat for the North American Title?
Buddy Landel: I believe I beat El Gran Apollo.
Jeremy Hartley: Okay, so what was the Title you were holding when you faced Ric Flair at 23?
Buddy Landel: I was the National Heavyweight Champion. I beat Terry Taylor at Starrcade for that.
Jeremy Hartley: And that was in the Georgia area..?
Buddy Landel: No, that was the nationwide (NWA) National Heavyweight Title, actually Magnum TA was the US Champion and I was the National Heavyweight Champion, that was the big thing, who was the #1 contender. I used to get under his skin about that 'cause Magnum was easy to rib...
Jeremy Hartley: (laughs)
Buddy Landel: I was just kind of blase about everything, by that time I had learned, "Hey, just have a good time day to day." Magnum was like, "This stuff is real, by God, and I'm a Champion..." and, you know, I had to say, "Hey, no man, it's a work...if it was real, none of us would be in it..."
Jeremy Hartley: (laughs) I know that you worked for a while with the late Eddie Gilbert, and there's going to be this memorial thing that's going to be coming up for him, I think it's the 3rd Annual..?
Buddy Landel: Right...
Jeremy Hartley: So what was it like to work with or for an Eddie Gilbert?
Buddy Landel: Eddie was a very quiet guy, he was a very humble man, he was way before his time, a super-super talented individual. He had a mind for this business. I mean, any time that Bill Watts makes you a booker, that's the ultimate. Of course, there's all the rumors of drug abuse, the alcohol and all of that...which a lot of it's been said about myself also. Eddie Gilbert and I had a lot in common, we were both born the same day, the same year a couple hours apart, August 14, 1961. But I never one time, my right hand to God, never even saw Eddie take a drink of beer, never mind drugs. And I say that a lot of times to people because it sticks out in my mind. I think a lot of people were jealous of Eddie, and rightly so, he was a super talented guy. There'll never be another Eddie Gilbert.
Jeremy Hartley: Especially in the Bill Watts territory, you were a part of a very talented group of guys, as you said...
Buddy Landel: 1984, I considered the best pool of talent ever assembled in a territory, bar none.
Jeremy Hartley: Shoot, lets see, just real quick on the roster you probably had at that time: you still had Dibiasi at that point, Williams...
Buddy Landel: ...Junk Yard Dog, Mr. Wrestling II, Jerry Stubbs, myself, Butch Reed, the Midnight Express, Jimmy Cornette, Magnum TA, Bill Dundee was the booker. Oh my God, I mean I could just go on and on and on. Hector and Chavo Guerrero, Jim Duggan, Kamala, Sonny King...
Jeremy Hartley: Wow! And the thing is that Bill Watts and that whole territory developed guys and I think that that's important for people to understand. I mean you were there when Ted Dibiasi turned from this total face to, by the end of his career one of the top heels ever in the business.
Buddy Landel: Right...
Jeremy Hartley: Did you wrestle him much..?
Buddy Landel: Sure, also Paul Orndorff was there. Yeah, I wrestled Teddy a hundred times and they don't come any better. I mean usually you got to take a guy who was really good and use him as a crutch. Nowadays they do that kind of thing but to make the not so talented guys look good they have to have great gimmick. Back then you could take one of these guys who was really good and put him with anybody and you have a program.
Jeremy Hartley: Besides working with Flair, which was probably your greatest feud are there any other memorable programs that stick out in your mind? I always like to ask... did you have a match where, regardless of it being a work, you went back to the hotel that night and thought, "I am going to remember this match for the rest of my life", whether it be a beating that you took or just the way that the program was worked?
Buddy Landel: Well, all the stuff we did in Memphis. The last time that Jarrett's promotion sold out in Memphis, I was the main event. It was in 1986, the match I actually had was a Texas Death match, it was Bill Dundee and myself against Dutch Mantell and Jerry Lawler - we went 26 falls in 90 minutes...
Jeremy Hartley: (laughs) oh man...
Buddy Landel: They had 2000 people rioting outside, it was a great time. You know Jeremy, I have really been blessed, man. I have had the opportunity to be in situation where I've worked with the greatest talent ever in this business in the modern day era.
Jeremy Hartley: You certainly sound like you were blessed but do you ever have occasion to stop and think, "Dang, if I had only been in a few years earlier, at a different time where...I mean, when you broke in the talent was thick, nowadays your lucky, if your a promotion like a WCW or WWF and you have a select handfull of guys that are your drawing cards, but back then, everybody was your drawing card.
Buddy Landel: Everybody, top to bottom. And I was fortunate enough, the promoters thought that I had what it took and I was the main event a lot of times. Looking back, everything that happened to me, happened to me at a really young age, and then I got into some personal problems, and now I look back and I go, "Wow, I wish that I could have not done those things and been where some of these guys are today. But you know what, I lived through it, my God stayed with me, I've raised two healthy children, I certainly have a nice home, I have nice things and nobody can take away from me what I accomplished there, you know, nobody can take away what I did. You know, for a long time after some bad things happpened to me, I blamed wrestling. And after a lot of counselling with pasteurs and people that I really opened my heart to I realized that it was Buddy that was bad for Buddy, wrestling was great to me, it actually was great to me. Then I started asking myself "Well, if I get back into the business will I ever measure up to what I used to be?" And that's a heavy statement because I was at the top. A lot of people don't realize this, but in 1986 I signed a $200,000 contract with Bill Watts, this is when Eddie Gilbert, Sting and Rick Steiner were making $50,000.
Jeremy Hartley: Wow..!
Buddy Landel: When I went back to Crockett later in '86 and we had our big blow-up thing and that's when they brought Sting in - actually Sting filled my space when I screwed up. Now I'm not saying that I could have done as well as Sting, I'm not saying that at all. I'm just saying that by my screw-up that's what gave him the opportunity to come in. And a lot of people don't know that, but if people would go back and do their history, I mean I was riding high. There was nothing that I touched that didn't turn to gold in the mid 80's.
Jeremy Hartley: Speaking of gold, if you could just sort of capsulize a bit of your Title history for us, for people who don't know necessarily.
Buddy Landel: Okay, well the North American Heavywight Title, North American and Carribean Tag Team Title, Mid-South Television Champion, (NWA) National Heavyweight Champion, Tri-State Heavyweight Champion, Tennesee Champion, Mid-American Champion, Southern Heavyweight Champion, IWA Heavyweight Champion, USWA Heavyweight Champion, Continental Heavyweight Champion, USA Heavyweight Champion, Smoky Mountain Heavyweight Champion, Smoky Mountain Television Champion...just on and on and on.
Jeremy Hartley: I'll be darned...
Buddy Landel: A lot of those were multiple-multiples, I was 6 times Mid-American Champ, I don't want to bore everybody, it goes on and hits about 24 or 26 somewhere in there.
Jeremy Hartley: I don't think it's a matter of boring anyone, I think one of the misconceptions is that is when guys make it, lets say when guys go to certain big federations, either like the big two, lets say for example WCW or WWF, a lot of them have been legends previous before going to the big two but most people don't know it. And then they go to the big two and they're getting lost in the shuffle.
Buddy Landel: Right, that happened to me in 1990 when I went back...
Jeremy Hartley: Yes...
Buddy Landel: It was funny because here you've got Ricky and Robert, the Rock & Roll express, 5 times NWA World Tag Team Champions, or you've got Tommy Rich, former NWA World Heavyweight Champion, Bobby Eaton, probably one of the best workers ever...when I came back to WCW in 1990 I thought, "Hell, the last time I was here I was wrestling the World's Heayweight Champion, it ain't going to be no time before I'm back on top - well to my surprise, and to the surprise of the rest of the guys I just mentioned, we were no more then just job guys...
Jeremy Hartley: Yeah...
Buddy Landel: Just to let you know how much the business had changed. They were using our talent to put over the guys they thought were going to bring the new millenium in...
Jeremy Hartley: Yeah... BL ...which I didn't mind at all because after all I had a nice house in Florida with swimming pool, driving a Mercedes, I mean I could care less 'cause like I said from the outset, I don't have an ego, just pay me my money, I got kids to raise.
Jeremy Hartley: So, would you say that was sort of the sentiment, the feelings of most of the guys in your position at the time?
Buddy Landel: I can't answer for anybody else, I mean I had been in the business long enough that I understood the game. I was a student of the game and I was just happy to get my money. At that point I saw that I was fighting a losing battle, you know, why not just sit back and collect the money? Go do your ten minutes, get your money go put it in the bank. Maybe they might come in one day and go, "Hey, we forgot, there's Buddy Landel..."
Jeremy Hartley: That's why I think it's important to have shows like this, shows on the Internet, because most of the Internet fans are the younger generation. I remember the first time I saw Buddy Landel, it was in 1990, as you said, the NWA or WCW - at that time they were making a transition...so I was watching one of the late night shows. They said, "The Nature Boy Buddy Landel is back..." and I thought, "...who is that guy?" And I watched it and your marching around the ring going, "I'm back! I'm the Nature Boy..." and I thought, "Well, that's kind of cool but why does he lose matches..?" Meanwhile I had only been a fan for the last four years previous to that and so just didn't know and I can honestly tell you that there's probably many of theose people out there who don't, so when I ask questions about Title histories and other things it's not only for my own benefit but it's also for the benefit of those who don't necessarily know...most people don't know of Harley Race unless you do your history...but, huh, lets see...talk a little bit about that program you worked with Ric Flair.
Buddy Landel: It's really fascinating, you know Flair, at the time...I was over in Louisianna and Dory Funk was booking, and the territory was really down in Charlotte. Flair flew over to do some shows, to work with Kerry Von Erich over in Dallas when Watts was loaning Butch Reed and myself out. Butch Reed had just switched babyface and I was wrestling him, and I was on the same card in Dallas. By this time I'd already been the Nature Boy for about a year and a half, with Flair's blessing, and Flair said, "Would you consider coming over to Charlotte?" I said, "Well, I don't know man, Watts usually sends me where he thinks it will be best for me.." He says, "Well, how much are you making now? If you come over I'll make sure it's doubled." But see, at that time money didn't really matter to me, what I really wanted to do was go to Florida and meet Eddie Graham, I wanted to learn from the guy who taught BIll Watts..."
Jeremy Hartley: Right...
Buddy Landel: Well, within about a week's period of time, not even that, within a very few short days, I'll never forget it - I was in the dressing room with Baby Doll, Tully Blanchard and Gino Hernandez, somebody walked in and said, "Eddie Graham just blew his brains out..." and that was the deciding factor. I was not going to go to Charlotte, I was going to pass up working with Flair to go to Florida to work for Eddie Graham...so that kind of made my mind up for me. I went to Charlotte. Really the thing of it is, our program consisted of JJ Dillon and myself walking out and saying, "Flair's bogus - I'm the real Nature Boy..." With Flair, at first not even acknowledging me, and I was beatin' guy after guy after guy...Flair and I never had a program, we never worked a program, we never shot the first angle, that's what was so unique about it. That's what was so great about it. Flair and I never shot the first angle and yet it sold out. (Editor's Note: I remember this very well - it was such an unusual angle because it went for quite a while but they never actually met in the ring)
Jeremy Hartley: (laughs) Wow! And that's unheard of now...
Buddy Landel: Take for example, in forty years of Jim Crockett promotions, the biggest house they'd ever done was Raleigh, North Carolina. Now you could go down the roster: you're talking about Buddy Rogers, Malenko (Sr.), your talking about Flair, Steamboat, Wahoo, you're talking about the Valiants, the Valentines everybody that had ever been through there for forty years, the biggest house they'd ever done was 24 grand. Flair and I, our very first night in Dorton Arena, Raleigh, North Carolina did $48,000. We broke Elvis Presley's attendance record. It was mind-boggling, man. I'll never forget it, when we pulled up in the parking lot, JJ said, "We're screwed, there's a fair tonight..."
Jeremy Hartley: (laughs)
Buddy Landel: That's how many cars there were in the parking lot.
Jeremy Hartley: (laughs) And it's funny that you mention that JJ was part of this because, as a lot of the fans know, he ended up working with Flair for many years after that...
Buddy Landel: Right...
Jeremy Hartley: ...'85-'86 to about '89-'90, something like that (Editor's note: actually, Dillon bowed out in '88)
Jeremy Hartley is a longtime friend of Solie's and a regular contributer to the newsletter. His "EYE on Wrestling" columns can be found in the "Articles" section of the web site. His previous interviews with Bob Blackburn and Lou Thesz are currently to be found in the "Interviews" section.
Thunder was pre-empted tonight.
The new WrestleManiacs web site went on line Sunday night. This new venture is a combination of the former MiCasa and Online Onslaught (News from Dayton) sites. I was asked to join them by my friend Mike Samuda at MiCasa but chose to remain independent for various reasons. At any rate, Solie's wishes Mike and Rick Scaia all the best with their new joint enterprise.
Online Onslaught ran an April Fools piece which purported to report on a WWF RAW taping during which Ric Flair was said to have appeared and vowed to re-form the Four Horsemen in order to do battle against the Degeneration-X thugs. It had a few people going including one who will remain nameless who posted on the Solie's Readers' Forum in a very excited tone concerning the alledged incident.
A few words about Sean Waltman's appearance on RAW the other night. From the content of his speech it would appear that DX is ready to take a turn further into the X-Rated area, not unsurprising considering that the very potty-mouthed HHH is now in charge. Personally, I don't find Waltman all that appealing, never really have. I have my doubts about the staying power of the DX stable without the "Show Stopper" at the helm.
Waltman's comments seemed dorkish at best, and of course we know that he is incapable of wrestling at the moment because of his previous injuries, so the question in my mind would be, "so what..?" His last heel tour in the WWF was pretty pathetic - all that baby bottle stuff - and I don't recall that he was ever really that over with the fans in WCW - so what, other than a heavy handed tweak of the competition, does he really add to the mix?
As far as having Helmsley as the leader of DX is concerned - there's another dubious factor in my opinion. Maybe it's just me but I have never been able to figure out what he has going for him. He's a big guy with some reasonable ring skills, but his personality has all the impact of a dishrag. He may be one of the most uninteresting wrestlers I can remember - so how is he going to fill the considerable shoes of Shawn Michaels? With room to spare I'm afraid...
At least that's the way I see it...
Editor, Solie's Wrestling Newsletter
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