Sylvester Ritter: 1953 - 1998
Sylvester Ritter came into my life in 1980, and as we walked together for a period of time, he was a diamond in the rough just waiting to be formed and polished so all his light could shine, and bring that special something that only a designated few unique people can ever do. I know because in my world at that time, I had that particular presence and position that allowed me to help develop and mold and formulate so many of the Superstars that rose above the rest. Some are still active. No one was ever bigger than JYD.
JYD and the dog-collars and music - those were just outer trappings. It was what was inside him - a powerful athlete with brilliant charisma and a heart as big as all outdoors. A smile that was joy and sunshine. A laugh that came from the heart. An attitude that was always willing and ready . . . that was what separated him from the pack. A black athlete that united everyone, that everyone could love and support and cheer. The stardom never went to his head and the times we were together, he transcended all demographics.
He was the people's hero.
The famous chant now shouted at the New Orleans Saints football games was actually originated with JYD in the old Municipal Auditorium there. The crowd would chant "Who's that gonna beat that dog? Who's that?"
A standing room only loyal crowd came every week to cheer him against Buck Robley, The Fabulous Freebirds, Super Destroyer, Ted Dibiase, The Masked Assassin, Skandor Akbar, Jim Cornette, The Midnight Express, Ernie Ladd, and all the legends of the Mid-South sport that were his opponents. Our TV ratings were constantly the highest anywhere in the US, and Jim Ross - our commentator, would verbalize all of it in the now lost art of true wrestling play-by-play
... now it seems so distant like a fairytale.
By Ervin Griffin, Jr. and Earl Oliver
(Author's Note: The title is not meant as an insult. For many years, JYD entered the ring to the theme "Another One Bites The Dust" by Queen. I named the article after that theme song.)
Sylvester Ritter, aka The Junkyard Dog, was a pro wrestler for at least 15 years and a former college football player. He debuted around the late 70's and held several important Titles in the Southern United States including:
In 1984, JYD made an appearance at the David Von Erich Parade Of Champions event in Dallas, TX. He fought the Missing Link on that occassion and won the bout on a disqualification.
Later, in 1985, he made his way to the WWF where he gained almost immediate fanfare. He appeared at the first four WWF WrestleMania's (1985-1988). He never held a title in the WWF but wrestled for the Intercontiental Title on several occassions against champions such as Greg "The Hammer" Valentine (including a title challenge at the first WrestleMania) and Randy "Macho Man" Savage. He also was the winner of the 1985 Wrestling Classic tournament (which was the WWF's first pay-per-view, I might add) defeating Savage in the finals. His most famous feuds in the WWF were with "Hardcore Legend" Terry Funk and Harley Race. He was, at times, the number two face in the organization, right behind Hulk Hogan.
SummerSlam '88 proved to be JYD's last appearance as he left the WWF soon afterwards. His opponent, by the way, was "Ravishing" Rick Rude and he lost that match by DQ when Jake "The Snake" Roberts (who had a hot feud going with Rude at that time) interfered after Rude unveiled tights with a likeness of Cheryl Roberts (Jake's wife) on them!!!
He went to the NWA for a brief stint in late 1988 but then disappeared again in mid-1989 after wrestling at Clash Of The Champions VI in New Orleans, LA. He reappeared in 1990 to help Sting, Lex Luger, Paul "Mr. Wonderful" Orndorff and The Steiners against the Four Horsemen (who were Sid Vicious, Barry Windham, Arn Anderson and Ric Flair). He also wrestled Flair in June of 1990 for the NWA World Heavyweight Title and nearly won the belt!!! Flair retained it when the Horsemen got Flair DQ'ed!!!! The Dog disappeared again in the fall of 1991 (by this time, NWA had become WCW) but reappeared at SuperBrawl II on February 29. He helped out future world champion Ron Simmons against an attack from Abdullah The Butcher and Cactus Jack!!!
In 1992, JYD competed for a time in Jerry Lawler's United States Wrestling Association promotion and won his highest honor by holding the USWA Unified World Championship in September and October of that year.
JYD was a charismatic performer. On a personal note, he was one of the first African-American wrestlers that I saw when I first started watching the sport in 1985. While Tony Atlas, Rocky Johnson, Butch Reed and Ron Simmons might have had more sculpted bodies, JYD was truly something special and he will be missed.
God rest your soul, JYD.
If you have a question, comments, criticism, or just want to talk pro wrestling, e-mail me at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Ervin Griffin Jr. is Solie's resident historian and also contributes to the Ringside Insider on a regular basis. Many of his previous articles are available in the Articles section of the website. Earl Oliver is the editor and publisher of Solie's Wrestling Newsletter
We go right the ring for an introduction from Michael Buffer. Nitro comes to us live from the Palace of Auburn Hills in Detroit, Michigan this evening. As soon as he finishes his Nitro intro, Voodoo Child strikes up and Hollywood Hogan appears with his guest, Dennis Rodman along with Eric Bischoff and the Disciple. Buffer introduces them as well. Hogan retrieves a sign from the crowd and hands it to the Disciple. It reads, "Hollywood is God!" Hogan rants about being the World Champ, and against Roddy Piper and Randy Savage. They are referring to Rodman as "Rodzilla". Rodman takes the mic (he is smoking a huge stogie) and makes a big show of not being able to talk over the sound of the crowd. Hogan takes it again and rants about, "where the power lies..." and ends with "nWo 4 life." Cut to commercial.
We come back to video of Stings defection to the nWo last week. Then we go to the opening montage.
Nitro Grrrls frolic as Tony spiels...
Mike Tenay talks to some of the fans outside the arena on tape from earlier today. They comment on Sting's joining the nWo and other matters.
The nWo music starts up but is cut off abruptly and replaced by the Wolfpack rap. The entire contingent comes down to the ring, including Hennig and Rude. Sting's expression is pleasant if a bit wolfish...his face is painted red but he isn't wearing the Wolfpack shirt. Kevin Nash pumps up the house with a rousing speech. He then calls on Diamond Dallas Page to come down and "...make the choice". He says the vote to invite him in was "almost unanimous..." but doesn't explain what that means. He then turns his attention to Hogan. His mic goes out in the middle of his speech and Hogan's voice comes over the PA telling the Wolfpack to, "...get outta Hogan's house." To demonstrate his power Hogan invites Rodman to set off some pyrotechnics around the ring then he dims the house lights and cuts to a commercial - apparently he has control of the light board and a line to the director's booth. So, I wonder if they're going to get around to having a match in the next segment...
Konnan accosts JJ Dillon in the backstage area about what just happened. JJ invites the Wolfpack to take care of the problem in their own way.
Jerry Lynn vs. Yuji Nagata (w/Sonny Oono) - here are two veterans of equal size and experience. Nagata probably holds the talent edge. Flynn wisely goes right to work with martial arts kicks but then gets tossed out of the ring. He is caught coming back in but recovers quickly. The match seems to be going his way for a moment then it begins to see-saw. Tony tells us that Chavo Guerrero has requested a match with Goldberg for tonight. In the ring, Flynn is in control for the moment but can't secure a pin. Nagata fires back with some good forearms and turns the tables. Tony says that they heard from the Public Relations office and there will be a major announcement on Thunder this week. In the ring Yuji has applied the Nagata Lock (a stump-puller type submission hold) and gets the duke.
Tony invites Chris Jericho down for an interview. Jericho comes down with an Airborne Express envelope which he claims contains a letter from Ted Turner praising Jericho to the heavens and saying that he (Turner) has reviewed the tape of the Cruiserweight Battle Royal and agrees that Dean Malenko shouldn't be the Champion...however, as Jericho continues to read he finds that the boss also says that he is tired of listening to Jericho's whining and therefore is allowing the decision to stand. Jericho is devastated...but lets go sell something just the same.
Horace/Reese (w/the Flock at ringside) vs. Juventud Guerrera/Van Hammer - Horace and Juventud are set to start but Horace decides to tag Reese in. Van Hammer immediately tags in to face the big guy. The match breaks down into a four man free-for-all right away. The two Flock members are driven from the ring. Both Juvey and Hammer then throw suicide dives onto them!! Back in the ring, Horace faces Van Hammer. They are pretty evenly matched but Horace takes control of things early on. Van Hammer reverses things with a cobra clutch slam. Juventud drops a Guillotine on him then takes over for a moment. He can't stand up to the size advantage of his opponent, of course, and soon is on the recieving end. He is still in it, however, and manages a roll-up and a pin attempt. The next moment he is overwhelmed again. Horace grabs a rear chinlock. He then picks up the smaller man who gets the chance to throw a Frankentsteiner. Finally he tags in Van Hammer who tries twice unsuccessfully to topple Reese - then the third time is the charm but he can't get the pin. He then makes the mistake of tagging Juvey back in. Reese catches him in mid-air and chokeslams him to get the pin. Cut to commercial.
We come back to Hogan and company in a skybox, partying down and surrounded by women. Hogan says he wants his money back for all the fines he paid because of Nash's powerbombs a few months ago, and he has his lawyer handy to enforce his will. He also announces that there is a new member of the Hogan team whom we haven't seen yet. Cut to commercial.
Tony has JJ Dillon on hand for an interview. Dillon elaborates on what happened last week in the Tag Team situation. He says he tried to stop the match from taking place but couldn't get through because of weather problems. He reiterates the Sting vs. Giant match to determine who the Tag Champs will be coming up at the Great American Bash.
Scott Putski vs. Eddie Guerrero - Eddie is still acting paranoid, looking over his shoulder as he approaches the ring. Putski is a putz. He has the strength advantage but that's all he has going for himself. Guerrero easily overcomes the size differential with deft wrestling technique. A large part of this match consists of Eddie dropping bombs on his prone opponent. Putski gets two gorilla press slams then goes for a third on and is reversed into a sleeper. Chavo is seen sneaking to the ring. He runs right in again and Eddie flees the ring. Chavo suckers Putski into turning away from a confrontation then lays him outwith a forearm smash.
Cut to Nash and Konnan in the back. Nash is defiant - he offers to cut Hogan in for a percentage on their t-shirt sales in lieu of the money Hogan wants from him... Cut to commercial.
Bischoff is with the Giant and a bunch of women as he rants from the stands. Giant has a rant of his own - neither of them really say anything...
Tony invites Konnan, Rude and Hennig to join him for an interview. Hennig is still on crutches. Rude rants about Goldberg. The crowd almost overwhelms the rant with it's Goldberg chant. Konnan vows to bring the US Title back to the Wolfpack.
Booker T vs Chris Benoit - 6th in the best of seven series - Booker has to win this one, of course. The fans would be let down if they didn't go the full 7 matches. They take their time locking up then Booker T demonstrates his superior power by throwing his opponent off. Benoit comes back and grabs a hammerlock which Booker has a little problem escaping from. After the escape they lock up again and Benoit goes right back to the hammerlock. Booker escapes with a suplex and then Benoit grabs a overhand wristlock. This test of strength goes against him and he is forced out of the ring. Back inside, Benoit takes a series of forearm shots and has a two count put on him. Now Booker is controlling the arm of Benoit. They criss-cross and Booker launches himself onto the ropes as Benoit ducks away. Now it is all Benoit. Booker ends up on the apron and gets swatted to the floor. Benoits grabs him as he re-enters the ring and whips him then downs him with a reverse elbow smash. Benoit is still in control. Booker is still strong and impossible to pin at this point. Benoit gets his flying head butt but falls short and hurts himself. Here comes Stevie Ray to add his 2 cents worth. He berates his brother, who is in serious trouble. He comes back to life for a moment then is downed by a German suplex. The next moment he comes back again, with a spin kick this time. He is moving slow but follows with a sidewalk slam then a pancake suplex. He tries for another attack but Benoit ducks and Booker hangs up in the corner. Benoit seems to be in control but suddenly Booker throws a surprise twisting sunset flip move and gets a roll-up for the pin. Stevie pulls Benoit off of his brother after the match and ejects him from the ring. The last match of the series will on Thunder, followed by a Title match against Fit Finley on Sunday.
More Nitro Grrrrls...
Nitro party video from Tulsa, Oklahoma then cut to commercial.
Hogan and Bret Hart are alone back in the Sky Box. Hogan taunts Randy Savage as Hart sits by and watches with a smirk on his face. Miss Liz shows up and sits between them, planting a kiss on each of their cheeks. Liz has jumped ship!! Right...that makes sense... Cut to commercial...please...
Norman Smiley vs. Fit Finley - TV Title match - Smiley is a talented grappler and gives Finley a few anxious moments. Finley falls back on brutality to keep his advantage through most of the match. At one point Smiley falls out of the ring and strikes his knee pretty hard. Back inside he is being driven into the mat with a series of submission holds. In the background the crowd is doing the wave. Smiley continues to sink and eventually succombs to Finley's Tombstone. Cut to commercial.
Tony interviews Sting. I can't remember the last time this happened. He "too sweets" (the hand gesture, I mean) with fans as he approaches the ring. He interrupts Tony's spiel to give us a big howl. He then rants at the Giant, telling him that he's been beating up "big guys like you..." since the very first Great American Bash. He then tells the Giant that he (Sting) has become a whole lot meaner and that he "owns" him at the Bash. Cut to commercial.
Roddy Piper comes to the ring to talk to Tony. He says he intends to put more moves on Hogan and Hart then Barry Sanders. He predicts a lot of underhanded dealing will take place this Sunday. He berates Rodman for wearing plaid and accuses him of burning the girls with his cigar. He calls Savage "nuts" - which brings the man himself to the ring. Savage says he isn't having a great day (that seems obvious), and that he still doesn't trust Piper. Piper says "Fine" or words to that effect. Savage then says, "Why don't we do it tonight?" Hogan interrupts from the stands saying, "I don't know if we can handle a cat fight tonight." Then he points to Liz and she starts sucking face with Bischoff. Savage seems unconcerned, he says he got over Liz a long time ago but he'll never get over Hogan. Then he says the same to Piper and decks him. Piper comes back with one of his own and knocks Savage from the ring. Savage is going for a chair on the floor and the Hogan troups are cracking up as we cut to commercial.
Review of Chris Jerichos trip to Washington and the results on Thunder.
Disco Inferno vs. Dean Malenko - Cruiserweight Title match - Disco gets squashed in the corner within seconds. Malenko is all over him before he can get in his usual aggressive assault. A double sucker into the corner gains Disco the advantage. Now it is all Disco for a moment or two but Malenko comes roaring back. A desparate struggle with his opponent eventually gets him the Texas Cloverleaf and the win. Malenko shows an unusual flash of emotion afterward as he challenges Jericho.
More Nitro Grrrrls...cut to commercial.
Hogan is back in the skybox with the girls (minus Liz) and ranting again. He rolls a video tape of him and Scott Steiner on the set of his latest movie. Big Papa Pump appears to be directing the film..? Back to Hogan with the ladies. He rants some more about Steiner then brings him into camera range. He refers to Scott as "Superstar" Scotty Steiner. Cut to commercial.
Goldberg vs. Chavo Guerrero - US Title squash - they show a Goldberg video before the match is announced. The soundtrack features the Goldberg chant that erupted last week and it continues to echo as we come back to the arena. Chavo acts looney as he goes to the ring. Goldberg makes his usual explosive entrance. The chant grows in volume as he approaches the ring. Chavo launches himself and is caught by the throat and tossed away. Goldberg manhandles his opponent with ease then spears him. 99 and 0, folks... The chant goes on and on.
In an ironic twist, an AIWA Sound commercial comes on featuring a hearse driver playing "Another One Bites the Dust" on his car stereo...
nWo Wolfpack comes out to the ring with a t-shirt for DDP. Sting and Luger are trading comments and grinning from ear to ear. Nash calls Page to the ring. There is a pause, then his music plays. He stops on the ramp to talk to Tony. There is no doubt about his feelings concerning Hogan, who he calls scum. He seems about to accept the offer when the Hogan faction erupts from the back and trashes him with chair shots!! The Wolfpack rescues him and he is writhing in pain on the ramp as we fade to black...
The program opens with a tribute to JYD.
Mr. McMahon is introduced at the top of the program. There is no snipe to tell us where the program is coming from and JR doesn't mention it (obviously it's on tape). McMahon and his synchophants come down to the ring in black tie attire. He makes a self-congratulatory speech stating that he is to be named "Humanitarian of the Year" tonight - by what organization he doesn't mention. He also says that Steve Austin will be on hand for the ceremony.
Ken Shamrock vs. Kama - KOR Qualifier match - NOD is not permittedd near the ring for this one. Kama should hold all the cards here - he's bigger, at least as tough, and much more experienced then Shamrock. After the first couple of exchanges, Shamrock goes for his ankle-lock submission. Kama is in the ropes and escapes to begin working on Shamrock's damaged leg. Momants later Shamrock gets the submission hold in the center of the ring and gets the duke. Again the Nation swarms into the ring and again Dan Severn makes the save. Of course these guys don't like each other..? (I don't know, that's what Ross said...)
Scenes from the recent MSG card dissolve into the Dorks drumming up business for KOR on the streets of the Big Apple. They clown with a Ted Turner look alike among other things and end the skit by getting a young woman to expose herself (properly censored of course). Cut to commercial.
Dubba J/Marc Mero (w/Tennessee Lee/Jaquelyn) vs. Faarooq/Steve Blackman - Mero starts out with Faarooq - going to fisticuffs immediately. Faarooq throws him into the ropes and runs right through him. Blackman comes in and Mero goes to the eyes then tags in Jarrett. Jarrett is all over the rookie. Blackman gets a powerslam which brings both of the partners into the ring for a moment. It sorts out to Jarrett and Blackman as Mero stands on the apron admiring Jaquelyn. He gets knocked to the floor, Jarrett backs up right into a rollup and gets pinned. We see that it is a Minority organization which is giving McMahon his award.
More Dorks do New York...the fun-loving boys clown around with New Yorkers young and old...cut to commercial.
Still more New York madness...DX helps an elderly woman cross the street and then get another young woman to lift her sweater.
Scorpio vs. Owen Hart - KOR Qualifier - NOD is prevented from accompanying Owen to the ring for the second time tonight. These two are both good technicians - Owen has the better mat technique - 2 Cold can really fly. Scorpio seems to have his opponent's number in the early going. Owen finally recovers and goes to work. Moments later he launches himself right onto Scorpio's upraised boot. Scorpio is on fire as he gets a powerbomb then throws a moonsault...and misses. He hurts his knee and Owen goes right to it. In no time he has the Sharpshooter and the win.
The Undertaker is seen arriving and he looks pissed as we cut to commercial.
We see the Undertaker invading Vince's office as we return.
Puke vs. Chainz - Drozdov is shown throwing up on the football field in a video before the match begins. The match itself is interesting. Puke is a natural athlete and seems to have come quite far in his short career as a wrestler. Chainz is a seasoned veteran and manages to sucker the younger man into launching himself into the corner. He takes a fairly easy pin...then UT shows up. He is still in street clothes, runs right through Chainz then devastates Puke. He paces in the ring yelling, "I want McMahon!" as we cut to commercial.
UT is still in the ring as we return. Vince and company are shown on the TitanTron in the back, which is where the Untertaker heads as DX makes their entrance. Conveniently, the nature of DX's entrance video makes it very hard to tell how much reaction is actually happening in the arena, but they do seem to get a pretty good pop this time. HHH does his tired routine. The crowd reacts (yeah, yeah), then they go silent. Road Dog recites his standard speech and the crowd follows along. Billy gives the teenage boys their chance to yell "Suck It!" and then (before the crowd gets a chance to clam up again) the LOD make an entrance to demand a Tag Team Title shot. Helmsley agrees for his friends. Now it's the DOA coming down. Of course they want a Title shot too. HHH takes back his offer. So Commissioner Slaughter shows up and orders a Triple-Threat match for the Titles later tonight.
Backstage the Undertaker is throwing furniture. Cut to commercial.
Mark Henry vs. Vader - Vader tries twice to pick Henry up without success then Henry gets the slam. The match is a see-saw affair for the next several minutes culminating in Vader getting the slam at last. The match is swinging back to Henry when UT walks into the ring and chokeslams both of them then walks away. Cut to commercial.
In video replay we watch Mark Mero dupe his former valet. Maybe she'll come back in a mask or something...
D'Lo Brown vs. Dan Severn - KOR Qualifier - Severn carrys a water bottle to the ring and douses himself before entering the ring. D'Lo slaps the "beast" right off the bat. He takes a few shots and then does it again. Actually he fares quite well in this match...for a while, but Severn is too good a wrestler to be taken out easily. After Severn takes the win, Owen Hart runs in to attack him. This brings Shamrock limping down. He chases Owen away and we go to a tribute to the dearly departed Sable then to commercial.
Dustin Runnels vs. Val Venis - The Wrestler Formerly Known as the Artist Formerly Known as Goldust takes on the Cheese Man. Venis makes a cheesy speech comparing himself to Dennis Rodman. I can't see Mr. Limburger winning this one but stranger things have happened. Dustin is outwrestling this clown from the get-go. Then Venis turns it around. He gets a long flurry and Dustin ends up in a reverse chinlock. Dustin reverses it to a sleeper but Val gets a jaw-breaker then slaps on a rather clumsy camel clutch. Dustin escapes and comes back with an atomic drop and then slips in his sneaky uppercut. A clothesline from the top almost gets him the pin. A running bulldog gets him another 2 count. Jeez - here comes the Undertaker again. He knocks Dustin down, chokeslams the Cheese Man, then ditto on Dustin. Jim Ross is trying to get him to notice Lawler when we cut to tape of Dok Hendrix getting soaked by DX - its a commercial for the Super Soaker. The tag line - "Soak It!"
DOA (8-Ball/Skull) vs. NAO vs. LOD 2000 - Triple Threat Tag Team Title match - UT attacks Slaughter in the back as the teams get ready to square off. Cut to commercial.
Billy is busy making signals toward his mates in the stands and gets clotheslined out of his boots by Animal. Not an auspicious beginning. Road Dog comes in without the benefit of a tag and gets ejected. 8-Ball is tagged in and then Road Dog. DOA takes the advantage with some good teamwork. The Dog fingers his opponent's eye to escape and tag in Hawk. Skull doesn't fare well and gets his partner in right away (or maybe it's the other way around). The Outlaws pound Skull into the corner then bring in Animal who gets in a couple of shots then tags the Dog back in. Skull and 8-Ball subdue the Dog and start to isolate him. But soon he tags in Animal again and we see that the Champs are engineering things so that DOA and LOD face each other most of the time. Somehow the tables are turned when Road Dog and Billy get tagged in at the same time! So the Dog lays down and lets Billy cover him! NAO both wins and loses...
In the back a massive display of police manpower shows up as we cut to commercial.
Al Snow and the head show up at the broadcast position as we return. Police officers escort him away. Kevin Kelly introduces Vince McMahon who arrives flanked by his flunkies. We see the cops headed to a confrontation with the Undertaker. Next Steve Austin is introduced. He shows up in shorts, a leather vest and a black necktie. Kelly introduces George Martin. Martin says the contribution they got was less then had been promised and that the check failed to clear a couple of times - he calls it a dubious honor to present the plaque and announces Austin is his favorite WWF wrestler. Next Darnell Autry presents the Hallis/Peyton Humanitarian Award but says that they didn't receive a check from McMahon - and by the way, his favorite wrestler is Steve Austin as well. McMahon is humble and arrogant at the same time in his acceptance speech. The presenters roll their eyes as he heaps priase on himself. Austin grabs a roll of bills out of McMahon's pocket - there's $1200 - which he hands over to George Martin as a further donation. The Undertaker's music plays and the lights go out. The Druids appear carrying a casket and advance to the ring. They place the casket at the edge of the ring. Suddenly Mankind attacks from behind as Kane comes out of the casket. They put Austin into the box and we fade to black...
Well, that was interesting...
At least that's the way I see it...
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