Monday, March 28, 2011

Ernie Ladd vs. the Brisco Brothers in a REAL STREET Fight

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Video of the Day: 

Someone sent me the link to the following video of a match taped in the late 80's in a completely sold out baseball stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Puerto Rice was noted for their HUGE MEGA shows which sold out arenas all over the island and their wide open hard core style.  We were doing hard core eons before WWF finally picked up on it.  This video is a match of me versus the Wild Man From the Sudan,  Abdullah the Butcher where over 18,000 fans gathered to see this card.  Abdullah was a HUGE guy...400 lbs. and it was a challenge to wrestle him no matter what the situation was.  I actually wrestled Abdullah twice that night.  My first and last time we were ever in the same ring together in a singles matchup.  Needless to say,  that might have been a blessing.  As you watch the video...the ringside area was jammed...and ringside seats were a rarity in Puerto Rico but on this night,  it was completely full.   In years past, a sellout was a rarity unless its WWE.  Wow..this business has changed.  Enjoy.  Here's the link.

 My wrestling training facility,  the University of Dutch, is now accepting applicants for the spring training session.  The facility is housed in a 3.000 square foot training gym located about 20 minutes from downtown Nashville.  If you're interested in training to be a pro wrestler, contact us today. Flexible payment plans available.  Course runs for one year. is a complete chapter from my book...TALES FROM A DIRT ROAD in its entirety.  The complete chapter is here with no breaks and no come back tomorrow.   Enjoy.  

Ernie Ladd versus
The Brisco Brothers
In a ‘REAL STREET’ Fight

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away...well it wasn't that far away, it was Tampa, Fla., mid 70's or so. I hadn't been in the wrestling profession very long and I was still learning. 

This whole chapter is a legitimate fight between men that has been noted but never documented. It involved several wrestlers, who I knew and respected. This fight was not about money but it was about respect. It centered around a meeting in a parking lot in Tampa where the Brisco Brothers, Jack and Jerry, held a late night 'word of prayer' session with The Big Cat, Ernie Ladd over an incident that they had taken major offense to. I heard this story directly from Ernie Ladd but as a disclaimer, and in fairness to the Brisco Brothers, I never personally heard their side of the story. But I heard the story directly from Ernie and it was more or less the way I heard it from some of the other wrestlers as well.

Late summer...1977...Tampa, Florida

Ernie a legit 6'10 inches tall and 360 lbs, 
he wasn't much smaller that Andre. 

Ernie Ladd was a big man. A huge man. Andre the Giant was said to be the biggest man in pro wrestling but The Big Cat, Ernie Ladd, wasn't far behind. Ladd stood at a legitimate 6-foot, 10-inches tall and weighed in when he wrestled at about 360. When I stood next to Ernie Ladd, it was like a kid standing next to an adult. Ernie was freakishly huge and fast, which served him well in his professional football days when he played for the San Diego Chargers and the Kansas City Chiefs in the early days of the old AFL football league. He didn't get nicknamed the Big Cat for nothing.

Jack Briscoe...former NWA Hywt Champion
and former NCAA Amateur Wrestling
All American. 

Of course, the Brisco Brothers need no introduction, with Jack being a former NWA World's Champion and Jerry holding down an advisory/agent role with Vince McMahon's WWF/WWE for years.  A lot of younger fans might have trouble placing these men but suffice it to say that these three were in the top echelon of the wrestling business at the time. 

So what brought all these men together on a late summer night in August 1977 in a parking lot at 2 o’clock in the morning? Well that's why you're reading this.  Hell, it you knew what happened..then why would you read on?  If you have never heard this story before, it is one of those stories that unless its documented, it most likely will be lost forever.

So here we go. As I said, this is how the story was related to me. Fasten your seat belts and enjoy the ride, it’s a wild one….

When I was working in Florida, the Brisco Brothers had bought into the Florida promotion quietly, and no one knew they had any points in the office - or at least it was kept a secret from the boys. Wrestlers always referred to the other wrestlers as the 'boys'.  That was the accepted term.  At that time, Jerry was also one of the bookers with the main booker being Johnny Valentine and assisted by Eddie Graham.  

As was the custom in those days, bookers were always on the lookout for talent or wrestlers who could put butts in seats. This was years before Vince McMahon would boost the WWF into the mainstream consciousness of every wrestling fan in the world and most promotions, like Florida, were FREE to pick up whomever was on the market looking for work. Everybody was more or less a free agent in those days. In today's wrestling environment, the true free agent doesn't exist except on the independent circuit.  

The way it worked years ago was that talent would float in and out of territories with some of them staying six months to a year and then they would be replaced with newer wrestlers when they became stale or their novelty had worn thin.   This system worked quite well for a number of years and was healthier for the wrestling business in general than the system that is employed now. When fans stopped buying tickets, that told the promoter it was time to look for new talent. It was a simple concept. 

Ernie Ladd was one of those FREE AGENTS. Ernie was probably one of the first free agents in wrestling although we didn't use the term , free agent, in describing them then. A free agent would book himself into a territory for a few months anchoring all the main events for that period and when his run was up, he was off for greener pastures.

One of the most notable FREE AGENTS of all time were guys like Andre the Giant who would come into a promotion, stay one or two weeks and then be gone until a HUGE MEGA show would be promoted and then he'd be brought back to help anchor that show. Or guys like HayStacks Calhoun, or the girls or the 'midgets'. Yes, I said midgets because that is what they were called in those days. Today, with political correctness surrounding us, they would be called "LITTLE PEOPLE" or "LITTLE WRESTLERS".

Abdullah the Butcher would be another FREE AGENT as would Bruiser Brody, Stan Hansen and the like. All of these men didn't want to stay in a promotion long term but made better money by working in stages. But Ernie Ladd was one of those guys that made me marvel at how he made it work.

Ernie one time the biggest,
baddest man in pro football. 
Being a former All Pro AFL defensive lineman didn't hurt his chances of getting booked either. His professional football background played right into the hands of local sports editors all across the country and getting positive press in daily newspapers meant so much more back in those days than it does today. Everybody read the newspaper back then due to no Internet, limited cable and only 5 or 6 channels on TV. I know, contrasted with today, we were the equivalent of the stone ages. I never realized I was so deprived until I started writing this chapter.  Sports editors loved Ernie. He made them feel like they were talking to a bonafide STAR and the truth was, they were. Sports writers treated Ernie like royalty and therefore, he got the STAR treatment.

Ernie had a track record at the box office. He drew money as he was a gifted performer, a great talker, a great worker and he had the ability to get people into seats. Ernie had worked in Los Angeles, Detroit, New York and Atlanta where he worked in front of sellout crowds and in HUGE buildings. Its not like today where some small indy group runs a recreation center that will only seat 200 people. Ernie sold out Madison Square Garden, Detroit's Cobo Arena, LA's Sports Arena. It's hard to get younger fans today to really feel what it was like to be a fan back then. It was a different era. Wrestlers were perceived more along the lines of MMA fighters  today..but the difference was…pro wrestlers had real emotion behind them. 

So it was a stroke of luck that found both Ernie and I working in Florida at the same time. Ernie had always liked me and I have always loved the Big Cat due to having met him a few years earlier. When we both met up again in Florida, we renewed our friendship and we started traveling together. I also like Ernie because he always did all the driving. He told me that I drove too slow and he was always in a hurry to get to wherever he was going. Ernie drove like a bat out of hell most of the time. Once Ernie got stopped on I-4 as we were headed from Tampa to Orlando by a FLORIDA STATE TROOPER.  Ernie was doing 90 in a 70 mph zone. Guess what? The STATE TROOPER was such a huge wrestling fan…that he let Ernie go without even a warning. He walked up to the car…saw Ernie..put his book away and started talking wrestling. That was just one of the perks that came along with being on TV every week and fans knowing who you were. Fans knew Ernie and that trooper was delighted that he had stopped one of his heroes. He let Ernie go but not before he got a couple of autographs and Ernie gave him a couple of photos. The trooper even knew who I was and I was actually just a second or third match talent at the time. So I signed an autograph for him as well.  

Ernie was a very interesting man to travel with.  Ernie had played college football at an all Black college...Grambling University which was acclaimed nation wide as one of the greatest college football programs in the country.   His stories of Grambling University football and especially those of one of the greatest football coaches of all time, Eddie Robinson, held me in awe for mile after mile while we traveled to town after town. I was a football fan and a history fan too.   Ernie, I found out, was also very well versed in the history of the Civil War, and listening to him talking about the Civil War was fascinating.

In listening to him, Ernie gave me an education that I had never read from any history book or from any history lesson I had ever taken before. He gave me a history lesson but from a different point of view. Usually, Civil War history is framed by huge battles that pitted Union soldiers against Confederate soldiers such as the Battle of Vicksburg, Gettysburg or Bull Run or Robert E. Lee vs. Ulysses S. Grant, and white men vs. white men. But Ernie's view came from a more personal nature. It came from the Afro-American viewpoint.

Ernie told me things that I had never heard before, such as the term lynching or being sold down the river or Afro-Americans being sold at 'auction' such as cattle. Ernie told me some vicious stories and while there was no way to check the accuracy of what he was telling me, he told me with such conviction that I tended to believe it. He and all his other brothers, sisters and cousins had all heard the same stories from their grandmother or grandfathers as they all gathered around a fireplace on a cold January night and listened in rapt attention to the tales of yore.  Ernie told me they were mesmerized for hours with stories about slavery and the existence of black families during and after the Civil War as told in the voice of their grandparents. It was a fascinating time in history but a more fascinating time for me personally, as I was riding down the highway listening to an All Pro AFL player, tell me about a side of history that I never knew existed. He spoke of how the term 'lynching' came into popular use that I had never heard before. The term came from a man named John Lynch who used the practice as a way to keep slaves in line.

Ernie also told me the term 'sold down the river' came into vogue. Being sold down the river was a slave related term. Slaves were bought and sold like cattle…and when the term 'sold down the river' was used, it meant one thing. Slaves were put on Mississippi river boats and shipped 'down the river' to be sold at auction in New Orleans. It's simply amazing that these things happened in our country years ago and most people have no idea of how it used to be. I had never viewed the Civil War in such a brutal way before Ernie Ladd opened my eyes to it. Honestly, it was a view I had never seen written in any high school or college history book that I'd ever read up to that point. Needless to say, traveling with Ernie was like going to college because not only was Ernie a very intelligent man in relating these tidbits of world history, I could drink beer and listen to him on the way back home every night. For a young kid like me to have this experience was truly amazing. I was living a dream and having the time of my life.

Ernie had only been in Florida for a short period when I found out there was some sort of disagreement with management and Ernie that lay right underneath the surface. Ernie never told me the core issues involved or disclosed the nature of the problem, but I assumed it was monetary. Most things in wrestling were then. Even today, it still is.

I'm not positive of this but I think Ernie Ladd
was the first wrestler to call himself the King
of Wrestling before Jerry Lawler made it
more famous.   This is the Big Cat with the 
crown adorning his head.   

The issue carried over for a few weeks and as more time passed, Ernie would tell me that the problem wasn't fixed. Finally, after a couple of months, the parties reached an impasse. As a result, it was mutually agreed that Ernie would leave the promotion and lose a match to Rocky Johnson on the way out. Ernie was fine with it, Jerry Brisco was fine with it and for a time, even though the financial situation wasn't solved, at least there remained civility between the parties so that a future relationship could be revisited at a later date.

That's the way the wrestling business always worked in the past. If you left a promotion, you always wanted to leave on good terms so that door remained open in the future. You never wanted to leave under conditions that were less than honorable. If that happened, the departure was referred to as 'burning a bridge.' On a side note, I have left a few wrestling promotions in my time and I left 'burning a bridge.' Later on I amended that statement by saying, 'bridges can burn on both ends.' 

 It was agreed upon that Ernie's last match in Florida would be in Jacksonville, and he would do the time-honored favor for Rocky. But there was one final stipulation Ernie insisted upon and that no cameras be present recording the match. Ernie did not want the match taped or recorded. That request was accepted by the office.

Now a lot of you might say, what difference did it make if the match was recorded and shown back on TV because that would explain Ernie's absence? But one needs to understand Ernie and the wrestling mindset at the time. Wins and losses meant more back then. Since Ernie was a FREE AGENT, any match that showed him losing, undercut his drawing power.

Ernie had believed he had a certain deal with the Florida office when he came in to work but in reality, he didn't. The Florida office thought they had a certain deal with Ernie when they booked him into the territory but in reality, they didn't either. So it was either a misunderstanding on both ends or somebody was lying. I think the truth probably lay somewhere in the middle. But when the feelings of mistrust surfaced and the problem not being corrected, the best thing for both sides was to just move on. Ernie had no problem doing the favor for anybody but he didn't want any cameras around recording it. So far, everybody was fine with it.

When Ernie and I used to travel on some of the long trips in Florida, sometimes we would fly private airplane. There was a small entrepreneurial airplane pilot who was a huge wrestling fan and somehow, he had made contact with Ernie offering his services if Ernie needed to fly to some of the Florida towns. Ernie took him up on his offer and since we were traveling companions, he often asked me to accompany him on the long trips such as Jacksonville or Miami.

This was not the actual plane that we flew on
but its a very similar looking aircraft.  As you can see,
Ernie didn't really have a lot or room on
this aircraft.  But it was the best way to
Jacksonville was a three-hour drive from Tampa but we could fly there about an hour. The pilot gave us such a HUGE discount that really all we were paying for was the fuel. He was such a fan that he would have probably paid Ernie if he has asked. The plane was a four-seat Cessna, so on the flight there were only three people on the flight—Ernie, the pilot and me. With a nearly 7 foot guy onboard,  there wasn't any room for a 4th person.  Ernie took up all the space.  By flying, we could leave two hours later and get back two hours earlier. And the price was right. I could fly from Tampa to Jax, round trip, for $25. Today, its $25 to walk across the street. That was only $10 more than what it would cost me to car pool to Jax and back and four to five hours quicker.

We always landed at a small private airfield about 15 minutes away from the downtown Jacksonville Coliseum and one of Ernie's fans would pick us up and drive up to the building. Everything was fine...I had my match and I had time to take a shower and get ready to watch Ernie's match which was in the semifinal slot.

On Ernie's last night in Florida, the card that night was one of the better cards that I saw presented. The date was Thursday night, Aug. 11, 1977, as I've saved a few programs from that time. Both Brisco Brothers were on the card, and Jack and Jerry were over strong with the fans in Florida. The fans in Florida had been witness to watching the evolution of their adopted wrestling son, Jack, winning the NWA Championship which Eddie Graham used to convince the fans that Florida wrestling groomed champions.

This is the original program that documented this HUGE
card.  This was probably the biggest card I had been
on up to that time.  As you can see,  as you read
down the lineup,  I was in the second match and
I actually won.  In todays' world, this would 
qualify as a PPV.  But this was pre-PPV days
so we took the show on the road and every night.  
The card was packed. This card probably, at the time, would have qualified as one of the first SuperCards or one of the biggest cards I had been on at the time. I was just glad to be on it. Jack that night was facing SuperStar Billy Graham in the Main Event in a WWWF title match. SuperStar Billy Graham was the equivalent of the modern day WWE champion so the match was being billed as the first time in Florida wrestling history that a former NWA champion and Florida favorite, Jack Brisco, would challenge for the WWWF title.  
Ernie Ladd was facing off against Rocky Johnson in the semifinal and Jerry Brisco was working with Pat Patterson. With a card like that, Jacksonville was a good house. It was nearly sold out but not quite. In all the times I've been to Jacksonville, I've never seen it sell out.

I had my match that night and of course, I argued with an idiot fan in Jacksonville, Nesbitt, whom I had to settle a score with later on that year. When it came time for Ernie's match, I was late getting out to see it start. As I got in place on the stage to watch the match, I looked up to the second tier where I spied a camera with a red light on which meant that it was taping. I knew that Ernie had asked that no cameras be present during the match. I wondered what Ernie's reaction would be if he saw it. Not long after that, Ernie apparently looked up on the second deck of the Coliseum and saw the BIG RED EYE glaring back at him and not long after that, I witnessed Ernie Ladd walking out of the ring to the dressing room. The referee had no choice but to count Ernie out. Ernie had taken a count and had not done the favor for Rocky as laid out beforehand.

Ernie went into the dressing room, grabbed his bag and told me that we were leaving. I grabbed my bags and out the door we went to our car parked right outside the back entrance to the Jax Coliseum. We hopped back into Ernie's friend's car and out to the air field we had landed on just a few hours earlier. Ernie wasn't talking much and the airstrip was totally deserted. I remember it was a warm summer night and even the pilot commented that it was a beautiful night for flying.

The pilot had gone and purchased wine that Ernie always drank when he would fly, and I was just drinking beer. I didn't want to ask Ernie what had happened that night with Rocky as it was none of my business. But as we took off and got into the air, Ernie started opening up a little about what had happened. As he was talking, he pulled out a joint and fired that stogie up. Hey, people, it was the ’70's...everybody smoked dope. Even the ones who denied doing it. It was the Age of Aquarius and FREE LOVE and Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, Woodstock, Dr. Timothy Leary and mushrooms. It was actually the time where everything was still possible.

As we shared the joint, Ernie told me the whole story...about them screwing him on his original deal which meant his money, then not negotiating in good faith when he wanted to fix it and then reneging over not taping his match with Rocky. Ernie did most of the talking as I was a fly on the wall. This was Ernie's deal and I was merely a bystander. But I did learn something that night. Ernie had some pretty good weed. And he also had great taste in music. The plane was equipped with an eight-track audio player, which you can't even find anymore, and Ernie loved Aretha Franklin, and as we flew back, drinking and laughing and listening to Aretha, I sat back and listened to Ernie tell some of his favorite football stories.

We landed an hour later...and I thanked Ernie for the time we spent together and for the arrangement with the plane. I didn't know when I would see him again. I told him that I hoped to work somewhere with him again. He said the same. Then it was a handshake and we separated. actually shook hands years ago..instead of the body hug. I don't know when that thing started.

My phone rang early the next morning and it was Eddie Graham's son, Mike calling me. Eddie was the promotions owner and it surprised me that Mike would call me. I had never gotten a call from him before, even though I'd worked with him 100 times and been in the company for 8 8 months or so at the time. His call was unexpected but his reason for calling so early was that he wanted to know what happened last night with Ernie and the Brisco brothers. I told him the story about Ernie leaving the ring in Jacksonville and that nothing had happened between them.

Mike said, "I'm not talking about Jacksonville. I'm talking about last night in Tampa. What happened between Ernie and the Briscoes?" Hell, I don't know what happened I told Mike. Nothing that I knew of, I said.

Mike said, "Something happened between them last night because Ernie dropped them off at an emergency room at around 2:30 in the morning bleeding and left them laying on the sidewalk outside the hospital. So something happened."

I said, "Where did you hear this?" and Mike said, "Everybody knows about it." Apparently, everybody but me, I thought.

I didn't know 'nothing bout nothing' or not until Mike had called me that morning. But I was damn sure was going to find out. I hung up the phone and called the source, Ernie.

He answered 'Yo' and I asked, "Did something happen last night between you and the Brisco brothers last night?"

"News travels fast in this town, don't it." I told him it sure did, and Ernie commenced to telling me the story.

Ernie said that after he got to his place last night, he got a call from Jack and Jerry Brisco at about 1:30 a.m., who were upset over what had happened in Jacksonville and were not at all pleased with the way Ernie had handled the situation. Ernie told them that he was not at all pleased about how the 'office' had broken their word to him...first on the work agreement and then on the 'no camera' request. As Ernie continued, he said that Jack and Jerry had been drinking and they wanted to meet and discuss the issue so they could determine how best to correct the problem that Ernie had created.

Ernie said the he hadn't created the problem, they had.

Out of the blue, one of them asked Ernie if he could meet them at the office in about 15 minutes. Ernie said it would be better if they met the next day. But, according to Ernie's story, Jack and Jerry didn't want to wait until the next day, they wanted to meet THEN. Ernie told them he would meet them there in a half hour.

I asked Ernie, “why did you go down to the office at 2 a.m. to meet with them? Wouldn't it have been better if you guys had waited until today to meet?” Ernie said he agreed to meet them because he said that if he could talk to them, he could get them to see his side of the story and they could work on another exit plan for his departure which sounded kind of screwy to me. If I had put myself in the same position, I would have never shown up to meet with two guys like the Briscos at 2AM especially if I knew them to be a tad upset with me.

Long story made short...when Ernie drove up in the darkened sandy parking lot of the Florida wrestling office at 108 Albany Street, Tampa, he saw Jack and Jerry Brisco standing there waiting for him. The street was almost deserted and the lot was illuminated by one low-powered street light.

As Ernie pulled in and parked, Jack and Jerry met him at his door with beers in hand. Before Ernie could say anything, both brothers started unloading verbally on Ernie and started cutting a promo right in his face. They were saying what he had done in Jacksonville that night was wrong and how it was so unprofessional and low rent how they had both gone out on a limb just to get him to Florida and this is how he repays them? In short, they started chewing his ass out pretty good and since they were drinking, they were loud and very aggressive. It didn't take Ernie long to realize that he might have been better off staying at his apartment and dealing with this issue the next day. But, in Ernie's words, he was 'balls in deep' now.

According to Ernie, he tried to talk them off the ledge but they were getting more aggressive in their tone, and Ernie said he knew where this was leading. He knew the brothers well enough to know that they had hair-trigger tempers and he started feeling that this encounter had all the ear-markings of a physical confrontation. There were two Brisco Brothers, he told me and there was only one Ernie.

Ernie said he knew the Brisco Brothers really weren't interested in working out the situation, they wanted revenge. Revenge for the way that he had stuck it to them in front of everybody in the company. They were angry. Angry white men he said. And I knew where Ernie was going with he then played the race card.

Ernie likened the situation to the slave master and the rebellious slave and that when the slave got out of hand, or 'uppity' as Ernie put it, the slave master would have to put the slave back in his subservient place. Hearing these words from Ernie, I knew what was coming on.

Ernie told the Brisco Brothers, ‘let’s calm down...and smoke a doobie (joint) and talk about it.’ That seemed to slow down Jack and Jerry just a bit but Ernie told me he was buying time. Ernie then stepped to the back of his car to open up his trunk, where the joint was supposedly hidden. But what Ernie brought out of that trunk was not a joint. It was a short tire iron...that is used to loosen wheel nuts on a tire when it needs to be changed. When Ernie had that in his hands, he said the entire dynamic of the scene, Ernie said, there were two Briscos and two Ernies.

The scene moved quickly then, as Ernie told me. When Jack and Jerry saw that Ernie had been playing them, they surrounded him, with one trying to get behind him and one staying in front of him...and suddenly, Jack tried to leg dive Ernie in one of his amateur wrestling moves. However, as the story goes, Ernie caught him in the head with the tire iron knocking him silly. At exactly that same moment, Jerry came from the back and, as luck would have it, Ernie knocked out Jerry on the back swing as he was preparing to hit Jack on the front swing. It was ‘bam bam’ and both Jack and Jerry Brisco were down and out.

Ernie then told me that both of them were bleeding pretty badly and they were not moving on their own and the scene scared him. He told me he didn't dislike either Jack or Jerry and hadn't wanted the situation to deteriorate but he could see that they needed to get to a hospital. He knew they couldn't drive themselves to the hospital, which was about 10 minutes away, so he knew he had to get them there himself. A problem popped up right away...if he put them in his car, he ran the risk of one or both of them regaining consciousness which could result in retaliation against him as he drove, which wouldn't be good, he surmised. Plus they would bleed all over his seats. So the safest thing for him was to place them in the trunk area of his car and take them to the ER. That's what he did.

It took about five minutes to make the 10-minute drive to the hospital because Ernie was now freaking out. He was freaking out that if he got stopped by the cops, he knew he was going directly to jail. He was speeding down the main intersection of Tampa, Florida and he had not only assaulted two men and placed them in his trunk section, he had basically kidnapped them as well. He again took the entire episode back to the black/white racial thing as he told me, 'I'm a 7-foot tall black man with two bleeding white men in my trunk and the police aren't going to take my side. Especially in Tampa, Florida’.

I didn’t' tell Ernie that actually Jack and Jerry weren't really of 'Caucasian heritiage', they were of native Indian ancestry which made both Ernie and the Briscos both minorities. But I got the point.

Ernie said he pulled up in the hospital ER driveway, opened his trunk and pulled Jack and Jerry out and left them laying on the of an unknown hospital and drove away as fast as he could. He said that he had gotten a ton of calls that morning some calls that morning with one of them being from Eddie Graham who told him that Jack and Jerry were OK but they needed stitches and they would be out of action for awhile.

But Ernie did tell me that Jack and Jerry hadn't reported what had happened to either the hospital staff, who are required by law to report assault cases, or the police. I suppose that Jack and Jerry were operating under the ‘Wrestler Code of Honor’ which was the rule of thumb back in earlier wrestler days. It was an unwritten code but it basically said that 'whatever happened between wrestlers, stayed between wrestlers.' Ernie never heard from the police, Jack and Jerry recovered and the incident was largely unreported and forgotten. It was basically unknown except for those deep inside the wrestling business. There was no such thing as dirt sheets or the Internet in those days so the only circles that the news traveled in was only in insider loops.

I never spoke to Jack or Jerry or even heard any comments that they made regarding the issue so the total accuracy of the account I heard was told to me by one man and he took it to his grave.

But to anybody reading this...if you ever encounter a somewhat enraged Afro-American man who is around 7-feet tall, weighing about 360 pounds standing in front of you with a tire iron in his hand at 2AM in the morning, I would highly suggest that the best way to disarm him would not be a front side single leg dive. That move has been disproven to not work.

Ernie and Jack have both passed on...and gentlemen, my highest respects to each of you. It was a pleasure knowing you.

Ernie Ladd passed away 4 years ago but he is one of the
greats that I will always remember.  Not only for being a
great talent but for being a great human being.  It was
guys like Ernie who taught guys like me how
the wrestling business worked or didn't work. 
 My book,  TALES FROM A DIRT ROAD, is full of stories just like this one.  The wrestling business is full of them...and in my book,  I document a lot of them.    Hope you've enjoyed the story.

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Look for my next book, Wrestling Rulebook 101 or alternately entitled, Conversations with Idiots hopefully coming out in time for Christmas 2011.   I should have no trouble with material for that one.  I'm still debating on what stories should go in and what should stay out. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Dirty Dutch's Video Blog


a personally autographed copy is NOW being offered.

Details below!

TALES FROM A DIRT ROAD is my second book in under a year.  The book is 338 pages and 23 chapters where I tell the damnest stories 'you've never heard.'   The book picks up exactly where my first book left off..right in the middle of some great storytelling.  Just imagine that its just you and a car...headed somewhere and we're having a private conversation.   The stories never end...they just segue to another story.

To purchase a copy of TALES FROM A DIRT the photo IN THE UPPER RIGHT HAND CORNER of this blog. You know..where it says order the book here??? TALES FROM A DIRT ROAD is not your typical wrestling book.  Its a book that was not touched or influenced at all by a 'ghost writer'.   I wrote every word and its 100% true...if you don't factor in some of the lies that I tell.   But the book has a very human and down to earth approach about it and its a book that takes in more than just wrestling.  I enjoyed writing it and I hope you will to.

The book covers 30 some odd years, 3 continents, 7 countries, WWF, WCW, TNA, Memphis and Florida promotions, Undertaker, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Vince McMahon, Scott Hall, Iron Sheik, Mr. Wrestling 2, Vince Russo, Abyss, Ron and Don Harris, Dusty Rhodes among others. I also talk about a famous murder case, a suicide, being on a creative staff, going to Mexico, wrestling on small islands in the Caribbean and once meeting the Ku Klux Klan at a wrestling match down south. Order today and if you haven't read my first book, you can also order it too. Its all in the boxes on the right.


If you want a personally autographed copy of the book, you can obtain it for just $35 via PayPal or personal money order with FREE SHIPPING included!!!  Your book will be personally autographed and as an added bonus, you also get two FREE personally autographed photos along with your order. As soon as your payment is confirmed, your order will be packaged and mailed out immediately. 

To order a personally autographed copy, submit $35 via PayPal to:

We also accept personal money orders with prior approval. Contact us at the above addy.

If you're interested in training to become a professional wrestler, my training school is now accepting applications for the spring class.   Enrollment will be limited.  Financial aid is available.  Please contact us at:

The World of YouTube....means you can almost find anything to kill time or fill up a blog.   I'm sure most of you are like get on the computer and follow a routine.   With me,  I check my emails first and answer the ones I have a interest in answering,  read the Drudge Report because its simple and I don't have to wade through a ton of ads and just read whatever I want.  Usually,  I post a blog every two weeks or so but lately,  I've been so busy promoting the book and doing my other projects that I've neglected my duties here.   But I'm a huge YouTube fan as I think most of us are.  So I've found some weird wrestling videos so today,  its video blog day.     

These are just a couple of things that I found that just blow me away.   These are wrestling videos that I 'accidentally' ran across but nothing surprises my anymore.  These are what I call Dutch's Videos of the Week.

 The Most Illegal Thing Ever
in the History of Pro Wrestling

When I first saw this clip,  I thought that this is what is wrong with the wrestling business today.  But hey,  wrestling fans have seen it all anyway so what's one more little thing going to hurt.   I watched this several times and after awhile, I had to admit...that even though it went far beyond the 'suspension of disbelief',  the match and segment was well executed.  I didn't much care for the commentary but it is what it is.  Enjoy.   

Ken the Box...or
Ken the Tree

This is a little independent show presented in Japan and it looks just like a small independent show in the US or Canada.  The attendance wasn't good but sometimes, there is a certain match or segment that stands out. Much like the clip you just saw above, this segment stretches the 'suspension of disbelief' but I found it highly entertaining in its own way.  Actually, its so stupid and campy as to be actually, pretty good.  You be the judge.  

Ricky 'El Mesiah' Banderas vs. Slash Venom (Flash Flannigan)

Since I've shown a couple of 'silly' videos,  now let me show one that is as serious as a heart attack.  The match below happened in 2003 or so in the IWA in Puerto Rico. Our regular Saturday night venue was in a suburb of San Juan called Bayamon.   I had been booking there for three years when I booked this match. Banderas was a HUGE STAR in Puerto Rico and was noted for his wild and crazy antics. Slash or as most people in the states know him, Flash, was also one of the crazier guys that I brought in.  Flash could not only wrestle a conventional style but he could also do a wild, brawling style as well which was spot on perfect for the Puerto Rican audience. In Puerto Rico...they love wild brawls and emotion.

Not to spoil this for you, but this clip is another thing that is wrong with the wrestling business today but has been so accepted for so long, its now become the norm.  The wrestling business wasn't intended to inflict serious harm on the performers and when too much 'reality' seeps in,  that's why most wrestlers in ECW couldn't work 7 days in a row.   They were all too banged up after three days to continue.   Seriously, its a miracle that more guys haven't actually died while in the middle of a wrestling match. You'll know what I'm talking about when you click on the video.
That night in Bayamon,  it was a completely SOLD OUT crowd...which was 'a norm during that era' but sadly isn't today.   That night in Puerto Rico,  the attendance was about 4500 fans which packed the building.  The arena is OPEN air conditioning, just whatever the weather is what it is inside.  It was a great wrestling atmosphere and one that words can't describe.  You would have to be there to really experience it.    You don't have to watch the entire video but pay close attention at the 2:05 mark...then you'll see what I'm talking about.


Flash walked away from, I don't how but he did.  A little Guardian Angel must have been sitting on his shoulder that night.  Flash,  all I have to say is that you're one lucky man.
Habana vs. Avriella in Puerto Rico

Of all the things that I did in Puerto Rico,  this was one of my favorites.   I had two girl talents while I was there.  Neither one of them was very good in the ring...but I learned a long time ago,  to maximize assets and to minimize liabilities.  These two girls were former strippers on the island so what they lacked in wrestling expertise, they coule make up for it in other ways. 

I booked a match between these two and called it a BEAUTY PAGEANT...however that translated into Spanish because I couldn't call it a STRIP OFF.  One reason I couldn't is that, at the time,  Puerto Rico had a woman governor who had effectively shut down all the strip clubs all over the island. Why?  Hell,  I don't know...I wasn't an elected official but she probably thought that strip clubs demeaned women.    Since strip club aficianados couldn't go to the strip club,  I thought I would bring the 'strip club' to them.  

It was a great idea.  Business was great but when I added the girls in, we had a great run in our secondary towns.   A great show...and every night..not only was the arena full but they also sold out the curtain.  Selling out the curtain is an old wrestling term which meant that the entire dressing room came out to see the match.  Great show.  See it for yourself with a video created by my good friend, Moody, who was great at this job.  Judge for yourself. 

Leave comments below or contact me at:


Monday, January 17, 2011

Junk Yard Dog and the Killer Hurricane Full Story


a personally autographed copy is NOW being offered.
Details below!

TALES FROM A DIRT ROAD is my second book in under a year.   And the book picks up right where my first book left off...right smack dab in the middle of a great story.   
To purchase a copy of TALES FROM A DIRT the photo IN THE UPPER RIGHT HAND CORNER of this blog.   You know..where it says order the book here???   TALES FROM A DIRT ROAD is not your typical wrestling book.  Its a 338 page book of which I wrote every word and it's a book that takes in more than just wrestling.    Its a book that has story after story of unheard of events and incidents that 99.9% of wrestling fans have never heard before.  

The book covers 30 some odd years,  3 continents,  7 countries,  WWF, WCW, TNA,  Memphis and Florida promotions,  Undertaker, Stone Cold Steve Austin,  Vince McMahon,  Scott Hall,  Iron Sheik,  Mr. Wrestling 2, Vince Russo,  Abyss,  Ron and Don Harris,  Dusty Rhodes among others.   I also talk about a famous murder case,  a suicide,  being on a creative staff,   going to Mexico,  wrestling on small islands in the Caribbean and once meeting the Ku Klux Klan at a wrestling match down south.   Order today and if you haven't read my first book,  you can also order it too.  Its all in the boxes on the right.


If  you want a personally autographed copy of the book,  you can obtain that for just $35 with FREE SHIPPING!!!  Your book will be personally autographed and as an added  bonus, you also get two FREE personally autographed photos along with your order.   As soon as your payment is confirmed,  your order will be packaged and mailed out immediately.  

To order a personally autographed copy,  submit $35 via PayPal to: 
We also accept personal money orders with prior approval.  Contact us at the above addy.  


Last Saturday night marked a GREAT NIGHT in the storied and venerable history of Nashville wrestling events.   I was part of a huge card...and one that I predicted had  a chance to fill the building.  This is what I said last week here on the blog.

 As a matter of fact,  I think this card has a chance of actually SELLING OUT the FAIRGROUNDS ARENA!!!!

And it did.  Great night of action and this card would have been a great card anywhere in the country. Wrestling fans want to see WRESTLING and of course,  wrestling with a purpose.   The crowd was a LEGITIMATE 1707 FANS PAID...and I personally saw the box office receipts for the event which the proceeds went to benefit the Make a Wish Foundation which do great work for the kids.  I  personally conducted at least 6 interviews promoting this event including an appearance on Nashville's Channel 4, Channel 5 and Channel 17.  And the fans did not leave disappointed.  It was a trip back into the PAST  but also a TRIP TO THE FUTURE.  Wrestling never just changes form.  This should be a way to introduce new stars to the wrestling world.   I am presently working to help bring more shows of this type to the area.  Stay tuned. 


The view from the top balcony...floor area was sold out a week in advance which
is unheard of in Nashville for a wrestling event on a local level.   Little did
the promoter know that when he booked this card,  Jerry Lawler
would be one of the WWE's biggest stories.  So for long time
wrestling fans,  they got the past and the present all in one night. 

This photo taken with my cell phone camera...right outside the
dressing room area.  As you can see...every seat is filled with
the balcony in the background which is completely packed.  This photo
was taken about 15 minutes before the show officially started.  The final
attendance ended up at 1,707 OFFICIALLY PAID.  

This shot taken between the first and second match when the lights were dimmed,  show what
this arena looked like years ago.  It was a full house with REAL
WRESTLING FANS in attendance.  Seriously, the night was a surreal
experience and if someone had told me a couple of months ago that I would work on a card,
IN NASHVILLE that would sell out,  I would have not believed them. 

A view from right over the dressing room area overlooking the entire arena.
This photo was also taken about 15 minutes before the show began. 
I've seen this arena sold out a lot of times mostly years ago but this is the
first time I've seen it completely full since the late 80s.   This is the
 same arena that TNA used on their weekly Wednesday night PPV's
when they first came into existence.  But I never saw it sold out for TNA. 
Every person you see in the audience paid for their ticket...and only 25 comps
were issued.  The comp ticket section you can see at the bottom right
on the photo. That section was reserved for the Make a Wish people and the kids.

Pictured above is of my student trainees at my wrestling school
THE UNIVERSITY OF DUTCH.  Saturday night, she served as the OFFICIAL
GUEST RING GIRL and within the next week or so will be making
her first appearance as a wrestler.  Abriella has entered the WWE Tough Enough
Challenge and IMO, has a very good chance of making it.  Good luck
to her as she stands an excellent chance of doing well.  Also, on the show
was Jocephus Brody...and he did well.  I'm proud of both these kids.    


Author's note:  This is the second and final part to my story about the Junk Yard Dog and Hurrican Hugo.   Enjoy it....its 100% TRUE.   


The JUNK YARD DOG in one of
his signature photos...1983

The story today is a story about one of my old friends...Sylvester Ritter who was more commonly known by his wrestling name of the Junk Yard Dog. A little background on Dog..he was from a small town in North Carolina, Wadesboro, which is located about 45 minutes east of Charlotte. Dog played football at a Division ll school, Fayetteville State and actually received an honorable mention on the All American team that year. But he wanted to become a wrestler and he succeeded with his goal.

Dog ended up in the Mid South promotion which consisted of Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Oklahoma in the early 80's, which was booked and owned by Bill Watts. Watts was the original creator of the name, THE JUNK YARD DOG and it was here that Watts made the Junk Yard Dog a household name. Dog became legendary for taking on the biggest and baddest villains that the Mid South had to offer such was the Million Dollar Man, Ted Dibiase, Jake the Snake Roberts, Kamala and King Kong Bundy among others. Dog also headlined what was then billed as the the Louisiana SuperDome in New Orleans and all of those cards did tremendous business at the gate.

A very young JYD while he was still
in the Mid South territory
But there was another promotion starting up at the time and it was turning into a monster...the WWF and Vince McMahon was blind to what was available to him if he just waved a checkbook in front of people. Dibiase, Kamala, Jake the Snake an King Kong all took McMahon up on his offer and when the WWF offered Dog a chance to work with them, he had no choice but to accept the offer. He could not make anywhere close to the money that McMahon was offering him so Dog followed the trail of dollars an in 1984, Dog found himself in the WWF where he had a very successful run. But alas...all good things must end and Dog left the WWF in 1988 and returned back to Wadesboro.

But the Dog, due to his popularity not only in the Mid South but in WWF,  soon picked up another run  in 1990 when he signed with WCW and this is where I reconnected with him.  I was also working in WCW, at the time, cohosting a syndicated show with Tony Schiavone that aired in the international markets. WCW held a lot of their tapings at the time in Marietta, Georgia at the Cobb Convention Center about 20 miles north of downtown Atlanta. Those taping days were brutal...sometimes as many as 20 matches a day were taped and by the end of the night..not only were the wrestlers completely dead but the fans as well.

Here we see JYD being interviewed by the
always loquacious David Crockett on the
set of the WCW show when they
were doing TV on Saturday mornings
on the SuperStation Channel 17
in Atlanta. 
So one day, while Dog and I were in catering, subject of Puerto Rico came up in general conversation. When Dog heard Puerto Rico being mentioned, his ear pricked up and he told me he would never go back to Puerto Rico. Usually, when guys said that,  it was always an issue  it was with the fans or the promotion over money  but Dog told me he loved Puerto Rico and liked wrestling there. What he didn't like was the weather.  I said the weather was beatiful there and he said..not when its HURRICANE SEASON. 
Dog started his story by saying when he finished his run in the WWF,  he started making weekend tours in Puerto Rico and he was there in September of 1989 when a massive hurricane was bearing down on the island. As Dog explained, this was not just your regular
tropical storm..this was a MONSTER hurricane by the name of:


HUGO is a name that still strikes fear into the residents of  Puerto Rico and all the Caribbean.  Hugo was a dangerous Category 5 hurricane and folks,  a Cat 5 hurricane can't get any bigger.   A Category 5 hurricane packs sustained winds in excess of 160 mph and HUGO'S sheer mass was the size of Texas.  Plus it was moving slowly over water and not losing any punch.  Hurricanes pick up power while over water and the power only subsides when it touches landfall.    Hugo was headed on a direct path right into the heart of the island.   To compare it to a hurricane that is more familiar in size and deadliness, think KATRINA.

The date was mid September, 1989 which is exactly in the middle of hurricane season in the Caribbean.  Dog had come into Puerto Rico just a day or so earlier when it was broadcast that HUGO was headed straight for San Juan.   The wrestling office had provided a room for JYD a block off the beach and Dog knew that he sat at the very center of the storm.   Dog had wrestled one night and had two more nights to go when he learned that the tour had been cancelled.  It was the best thing but Dog told me that he had a bad feeling about all of it.  Actually, everything was cancelled...because hurricanes are not a laughing matter in Puertot Rico or anywhere they hit.   

This was what Dog saw when he went to the airport.  Hurricanes are
considered a life and death situation in the Carribbean and
 everybody knew how serious HUGO was going to be.  They
weren't wrong either.   
Dog told me he was staying in a small but much older hotel right on the beach in San Juan and when he learned that the matches were cancelled, he made a beeline to the airport which was only a 10 minute taxi ride away from his hotel.  But upon arrival at the airport,  he was met by a sight that he wasn't prepared for.  The airport was JAM PACKED with thousands of  people, mostly tourists, who all had the same idea that Dog did.  They all wanted to leave the island before the hurricane hit. 

At the airport, there were literally thousands of people all trying to achieve the same thing.  Get booked on the next flight out.  Trouble was, demand far and away outweight supply.   The ticket concourses were so packed and the lines were so long that it would have taken all day just to get up to the counter.  Dog said that as soon as he got out of the cab,  his cab driver told him that they had just from his dispatcher that the airport would be closing in two hours.  His driver informed him that if you didn't already hold a reservation in your hand,  you were out of luck.   Dog had no choice but to return to his room and wait out the storm.
Dog told me that the first stop he made on the way back was the liquor store where he bought two fifths of Jack Daniels and 2 liters of coke.   His next stop was at a grocery store which was completely overrun with people.  When he went to get water, all the water was COMPLETELY GONE!!!  There was no water at all because it was the first item to go.  Not to be defeated, Dog did get one gallon of water but he did it by grabbing it out of someone else's shopping cart when they weren't looking.

Dog said almost all the food had been depleted but he did manage to get some little snacks such as crackers and a few cans of tuna.  In a hurricane anywhere in the world, there is no telling when the natural order of things will be restored.  Dog said, he was all alone...and he knew that it was going to be a long, long night. There were no other American wrestlers on the tour and he didn't speak Spanish.

Dog told me he sat alone in his hotel room that afternoon...saving his water and eating a little of what he had just purchased.  There was no going out to eat...everything was locked down tighter than Mick Foley's wallet.  The hotel that the wrestling office had provided him with didn't look sturdy or hardy enough to withstand a big storm.   He watched the sky get darker and darker as it got later in the day.   And gradually,  he listened as a light rain started falling and the winds started to pick up.  He could see the Carribbean through his window and noticed the palm trees outside the hotel as they started to bend more and more as the wind started becoming stronger.   The waves on the beach started crashing in with more force and Dog me that you could feel the pressure in the air drop.    

This was HUGO at the peak of
its intensity.  A MONSTER STORM!!
At the time in the late 80s,  cable TV was really in its infancy and it was rare for anyone to have cable in Puerto Rico.  Puerto Rico,  as with most of the Caribbean at the time,  was about 5 years behind the states in technological gadgets and with TV, were even farther behind.  Since there was a lack of cable exposure in Puerto Rico,  there were only three local channels to watch for English speaking people to get news or weather reports. There was no CNN, no Weather Channel, no MSNBC,  no NBC, ABC or CBS.  But HUGO had hijacked all  the daily programming and even though he didn't speak Spanish, he told me you didn't need to speak Spanish to know how serious these reporters were taking this storm.  He could see when they posted their radar graphics.    HUGO WAS A MONSTER STORM and it was scheduled to make landfall in Puerto Rico at around 11PM that night.

Dog said he had never been so alone in his life...he called his wife and told her what was going on but in the middle of the call...the phone went dead. The storm was closing in on Puerto Rico and all Dog could do was pray and hope that he and the little hotel he was staying at was strong enough to withstand the storm. Then Dog said the wind started really blowing and from his balcony of the hotel, he could see gusts of wind carrying the rain and all the debris it was picking up from the street lights that were still on. There was no traffic..there were no people on the police cars...nothing. It was as deserted as a ghost town Dog said. about 10 PM, the power went out and with that, all the lights in San Juan. It was total darkness in Dogs room and on the street.

Dog felt a long night coming on.  Dog just didn't know how long. 

Finally, the hurricane hit and hurricanes move slowly sometimes as slow as 10 miles per hour and due to Hugo's size, that meant that the storm could possibly have a life span over Puerto Rico of 6 to 8 hours before it lessened. Dog looked at his watch.  It was 11:20PM.  The lights were out and the hotel had no emergency lights at all.  The only light he had, Dog told me,  was a bic lighter, a box of matches and a candle.   Dog said he didn't know why there was a candle in his room but I told him that was standard fare for rooms in the Caribbean...and not only in Puerto Rico.  A candle was in his room for exactly the same reason he was holed up in his room that night.   Hurricanes.  All hotel rooms in the Virgin Islands,  Barbados,  Aruba,  Antigua,  the Bahamas...had the same emergency rations of matches and a candle.  I've been in a lot of rooms in the Carribbean and they all had three things in common.  Matches, a candle and a Gideon Bible which, if you think about it, could prove very helpful in a Category 5 hurricane. 

 The slower speed of the hurricane allowed Hugo to punish the island of Puerto Rico with the worst beating of any location along the hurricane's destructive path. At 2 am local time on September 18, 1989, Hugo's eyewall struck Puerto Rico bringing incredibly strong and deadly 140 mph winds.

Dog said time literally crawled by and the winds were deafening as it sounded like the whole island was being blown away.  Through the roar of the intense winds,  he heard objects outside slamming into other things.   As he sat in complete darkness, Dog said he found a spot in the bathroom and put as many walls between him and the hurricane as he could.   As the wind pummeled the island,  the little hotel was shaking and he said he had never been so scared in his life because the only thing that stood between him and the WRATH OF GOD  was a small guest house type structure that wasn't  built to withstand a hurricane of this magnitude.  

This is the actual hotel that the Junk Yard Dog was in
during Hurricane Hugo.  I took this photo two years ago while I was 
in Puerto Rico and for some reason,  I kept the photo. 
Dog's room was up on the third floor facing the street.  I've been
in this hotel dozens of times as a lot of wrestlers during that
time period.  It was set one block off the beach
 in the tourist section of San Juan and was wrestler
friendly.   Ironically,  this was the same hotel that
 Bruiser Brody was staying on the night he died in 1988.  
As Dog hunkered down in his bathroom praying for a lessening of the storm,   he  suddenly heard a huge ripping sound which was very close to where he was.   He knew it was part of the hotel he was in and he heard screams..but it was total darkness and he was helpless to do anything.  The screaming continued for a few minutes and then stopped but the hurricane didn't. 
The hurricane continued on and on and on.  Dog looked at his watch...1:38AM...2:16AM....3:47AM...Dog said it was the longest night of his life. around 5:45AM, Dog heard  the winds and rain subsiding.   It was 6:15AM when Dog started seeing rays of sunshine  starting to break through the  window blinds in his room.   Then Dog ventured to his window to get his first look at at how much damage Hurricane Hugo had manufactured the night before.  

On the eastern end of Puerto Rico, massive
was done to the infrastructure.  Here is
a beachfront dock in Fajardo, PR
that was completely demolished.
He was stunned at what he saw.    
Dog told me it looked like a war zone. Trees were down, power lines were down, cars were sitting on top of each other and there was flooding on the streets.   Even though everything was in turmoil on the ground,  the sky was a brilliant blue color and the day was beginning to look like another beautiful day in Paradise.   beautiful.    It wasn't until later that Dog learned the severity of the storm.

Damage in Puerto Rico was severe, especially in the eastern part of the island. Agriculture was devastated, the crops of coffee and bananas were completely destroyed and the infrastructure was severely damaged. 12 people died with 30.000 people losing their homes and the damage was estimated at exceeding 1 billion dollars. And those dollars in in 1989 dollars. 

Dog also saw how close he came to meeting his end  when he found out about that   that was completely destroyed.   It was only a 100 feet from where Dog had been hovering in his bathroom floor and two floors up.   The winds had completely sucked the roof off one end of the building exposing a couple of the hotels room which were on the corner.  In the rooms, there had only been a woman and her pet dog.  Both of them were missing.  

Dog knew that it was time the get the hell outta dodge but he had to wait until the traffic started moving again to grab a cab to the airport.  As he grabbed his bags and made it down to the street,  he saw hundreds of tourists all hurrying to get off the island.  Dog caught the first cab he could signal down and intructed the driver to take him to the San Juan International Airport. 

When Dog got there...about 11AM,  again, he wasn't the only one with that idea. The airport was packed just as much as it had been the day before.   But Dog had seen planes circling the airport from the cab so he knew that at least, air traffic had already been restored.  

Street lights were not working because the power was out but the airport was running on emergency power.  When Dog arrived at the airport,   Dog headed to the USAir counter to grab the first flight he could get and the line stretched out into the street.   But he was lucky.  He booked himself on a 8PM flight to Charlotte which meant that he would spend all day at the airport but at least,  he was getting off that island.  Dog said most of the food places at the airports were closed...not that they didn't have food.  The reason they were closed was because none of the employees came to work.  Dog said he was starving, irritable, hot and crowded.  He had eaten all his snack foods that he had gotten the day before and all he had left was a couple of candy bars to last him until he got on the plane.    
Dog caught the flight to Charlotte and gave thanks to God that he made it safely. Dog said he slammed down the meal that was supplied to him.   For those that can't remember,  airlines used to serve meals on the first class and in coach.   Since he hadn't slept, other than short cat naps,  he slept the entire way to Charlotte.  As he stepped off the plane,  he again gave thanks to God for sparing him and vowed to never, ever get caught in another freaking hurricane in his life.   Dog told me North Carolina never looked so good!!!!  

END OF STORY...well not yet.  Keep reading.  It gets better. 

This would be a great time to end this feel good story..of a man overcoming adversity and triumphing in victory having survived a Category 5 hurricane.  It would be great to end it that way...but what's that old saying about Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction?   Even though the Dog was through with HUGO...or thought he was,  that didn't mean that HUGO was done with him.

Dog made it back to his home in Wadesboro and he was so glad to see his family again.  Just the night before,  Dog had been in the midst of a MONSTER Category 5 HURRICANE with 150 MPH winds knowing that he was seconds away from death at any moment.

Hurricane Hugo right before
it hit the US mainland.
But hurricanes don't really have a destination...Dog tole me....they just meaander on and on until their power expends itself.  Dog sat there in his living room that night with his two little girls surrounding and watched the news reports from Puerto Rico.  But Hugo wasn't dead yet.  Hugo was still on the move and was still a Category 5 hurricane and moving directly northwest toward the US mainland.  The forecasters predicted a direct hit on the US southern coast. 


As you can see, Hugo made a direct
path from Puerto Rico to the interior
of the Carolinas and hit JYD's house,
dead on!!! 

Hugo moved northwest along the coast of Florida and hit Charleston, SC on September 22nd but it didn't stop there. HUGO moved right up into the interior of the Carolinas  and Dog watched in horror as HUGO seemed to be coming directly at him.  Dog told me that Hugo was coming on a straight path toward him almost as though the he had personally supplied the hurricane with this mailing address.    And sure enough, the next day, Hurricane Hugo hit North Carolina and again the Dog had to hunker down, for a second time,  in three days as HUGO came to visit him one more time.   Before Hugo moved on,  the Dog's house
was damaged to the tune of $10,000.   

Dog told me that he had never heard of any person being caught in the same hurricane twice in different locations 1.800 miles apart but somehow, he had managed it.  And I'll have to admit, that I had never heard of that before either.  

Now that's a helluva story even if I do say it myself.  

Post script:
 The Junk Yard Dog is no longer with us and its a shame because he was a man with a good heart and a man who contributed greatly to the wrestling profession.  I liked and respected him very much as he was always the same guy every time you saw him.   Very personable and very friendly.   He died on June 2, 1998 in a car accident on Interstate 20 in Mississippi as he was returning from his daughter's high school graduation in North Carolina. The apparent cause was falling asleep at the wheel.

On March 13th, 2004, the Junk Yard Dog was posthumously inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by the great Ernie "the Cat' Ladd and was represented by his daughters LaToya and Christine.

RIP Mr. Ritter. I honor you today with this story and it was a good one.

And as Paul Harvey used to say..."that is the REST OF THE STORY".

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