CAC Member Spotlight: Greg Mosorjak
With a steely resolve, Greg Mosorjak has made it his mission to become a CAC reunion regular. “I hope to be coming here for the next 30 years; I have no plans to miss another one.” And while his roots are based in and around the Steel City of Pittsburgh, he has found a second home in North Carolina in recent years which provide him a home base for his GOUGE wrestling promotion. Mosorjak took time recently to cover the bulk of his career, which today sees him in the dual role of the slightly macabre Count Grog as ringside manager, and the sunny side of Grog’s life as “The Empresario of Fun”, clad in Hawaiian shirts and wowing the hipster crowds in attendance at GOUGE shows, serving as a commissioner.
Like most of our CAC members, Mosorjak’s exposure to the mat sport began at a young age. “I grew up in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and followed the old Studio Wrestling out of Pittsburgh. It was Bruno Sammartino, Dominic DeNucci, Jumpin’ Johnny DeFazio, Frank Holtz and guys like that …some of them people have heard of, some they haven’t,” Mosorjak said. :”I started watching with my granddad around 1968, and it ended around fall of 1974. Studio Wrestling kind of merged with the WWWF. Bruno had a stake in the territory from late 60s to like ‘71, then sold it to Geeto Mongol, who had it for a about a year or two…then he sold it to Pedro Martinez. It didn’t really work out well with Pedro running it, so he sold it back to Bruno around 1973. Occasionally you’d get someone like Jos LeDuc, who had come into Pittsburgh, but not go to WWWF. Plus you’d have a lot of guys like Hurricane Hunt, Frank Durso, Jim Grabmire, and Doctor Bill Miller.”
The transition from ardent fan to passionate performer was a natural progression. Mosorjak remembers the lean, hungry early days: “I started around 1978. I went to Pittsburgh and Johnstown shows and met Ken Jugan, who was running shows, so I got tied in with him, and refereeing on the Indy circuit all through Ohio and West Virginia,” Mosorjak said. “Then I started managing; my first persona was Greg “Punk Rock” Mason… managing Lord Zoltan, J.W. Hawk, Jim Jett, and Jimmy Powell, who was one of the Dirty White Boys down in Alabama. I really had no training to start, and when I started managing, they said ‘you’re gonna have to take a bump’, so Luis Martinez said he would show me some stuff in the dressing room. Then before every show, I’d get there early and Luis and I would get in the ring, and taught me how to bump a little bit.”
The paying of dues is a term tossed around callously today, but Mosorjak learned respect for the wrestling business, a lesson served with Humble Pie for dessert. “I went to Geeto Mongol’s school briefly, and got my ass handed to me after I said, ‘I already know how to work’,” Mosorjak said, “…and Geeto showed me I didn’t! Then I started promoting shows as West Virginia Championship Wrestling around the Morgantown area, the northern part close to Pittsburgh. I was running towns that WWWF had run, but by that point, Georgia was running those towns.”
After a few years, the Pennsylvanian Punk Rock Mason was ready to cross the Mason-Dixon Line for his next career milestones. “My current home is in North Carolina, and I finished college at N.C. State. I live in Fuquay Varina, about 20 minutes out of Raleigh,” Mosorjak said.
”In the early 90s, there was this girl I knew who told me a girl she worked with was a ring announcer for an independent group, and they need a referee. It was Carolina Championship Wrestling Association. I started refereeing, but I told them I was a better manager,” Mosorjak said. ”Shane Helms started there, Mike Maverick…this guy Chris Stevens, who was a big Indy guy in Texas and Georgia. They had some really good talent, and they would just bury them. They let me manage some, but they told me they needed me more to work as a referee.”
The promoter and entrepreneur in Mosorjak were ready to debut. “Me and a couple other disgruntled guys broke off and started Southern Championship Wrestling. That’s where the Count Grog persona was born,” Mosorjak said. “I didn’t want to dye my hair purple anymore, and I didn’t fit into my Punk Rocker stuff anymore.” Mosorjak explains the essence of what comprises his Count Grog alter-ego. “My family is from Carpathia, which is now Slovakia… but my dad always says ‘We are Carpathians!’ Dracula is Carpathian, so I’m gonna do a vampire gimmick,” Mosorjak said. Last year at CAC, I managed these two Gothic guys, and they helped me put face paint on, but I don’t usually wear it. I usually have a stable of foreigner heels: Russians, Arabs, Germans, South Africans like Major DeBeers …and Rick Link! Back in the 90’s Pro Wrestling Illustrated called me “The most employee-unfriendly manager in the business” and wondered which wrestler I would turn on next!”
With Grog now fully running the promotion, he kicked into high gear his initiatives. “I pulled all the guys out of CCWA that were worth a damn… and a couple that weren’t! But I offered them a better opportunity, and we ran with it. I ran SCW for ten years. There was a time my roster was The Hardy Boys, Shannon Moore, Lita, Lodi, C.W. Anderson, The Dupps, Lexie Fyfe…I had Edge and Christian come through. Anybody who was anybody in Indy wrestling in North Carolina was working for me,” Mosorjak said.
You know you’re doing something right as a promoter when you don’t have to look for talent…the talent comes to find you. So it went with Count Grog’s SCW endeavor. “Guys from the north came down like Julio Dinero. Joey Matthews had his first match on one of my shows; Christian York started in that time period. We were making money! Wrestling was hot with the Monday Night Wars, and my roster was hot. I caught wrestling at the right time, packing hundreds of people into this little teeny bar. Guys were getting good payoffs and I was making money myself,” Mosorjak remembers. “Otto Schwanz, who is one of the Dupps, had a lot of friends in Raleigh; he was helping making this big. We ran like the last Thursday of every month. After a couple years the bar was making more money with the wrestling than they were with anything else. Then we got bumped one month for something else, and from then on we were never on a regular schedule. Our crowds went from 300 down to 50. We were trying to find a new venue, and we had TV, but lost that, and I kinda got burned out. That was 2004. I shut down for a couple years and returned to managing a couple times.”
Promoting, however, was still a willing neck that Mosorjak could sink Count Grog’s fangs into.” Guys wanted to do wrestling like the Crocketts had. But I decided to start another promotion, and go in the other direction. We were always heavy on gimmicks, and I started GOUGE in 2006,” Mosorjak said. “I’ve got a great crew of guys; Otto Schwanz has been with me since the start, and he’s still a regular as Seymour Snott… my right hand guy. I couldn’t do anything without him.”
Most recently, Grog’s GOUGE wrestling is creating its own chaos for television with an innovative approach. “There’s a guy doing a reality show on us that was shooting all the matches, and Dale Spear and I do commentary on it. He’s got a whole backlog of it, and little by little, we want to get it on YouTube,” Mosorjak said. “He also wants a more behind-the-scenes thing, the backstage drama.”
Still, the GOUGE promotion shows its promotional strength is in its live events. “We aren’t a traditional wrestling crowd; we’re doing a lot truck rodeos and bars where they’re free to the people. The curiosity factor is there with this over-the-top stuff. One time we did a show in reverse, like that episode of Seinfeld,” Mosorjak tells us. “We came out and thanked the crowd for coming, and put the main event on first. At some of these truck rodeos, the crowd thins out. So they see the main events. Then we end the show with my opening match, and then play the National Anthem and welcome people to the show! We also had one that’s like The Gong Show. I’m in the Chuck Barris role; if the match sucks, they’re gonna get gonged… I told the guys: ‘It’s a shoot…you’re gonna have to deal with it.”
One reason the wrestlers enjoy working for GOUGE is the fun atmosphere, but sometimes even the best laid plans can turn out for the worst. “GOUGE did a big fundraiser show for a high school softball team and brought in Baby Doll, Jimmy Valiant and Jerry Lawler… a few others,” Mosorjak said. “We asked Jerry who he wanted to work, and he chose Otto, so I managed Otto against Lawler, and Valiant refereed. At the finish, I tried to interfere and Jimmy put me to sleep, while Otto gets schoolboyed. During the match Otto was doing some stuff that’s hard to follow; stuff that was pissing Lawler off. So afterward Lawler wakes me up, and I’m expecting to take a piledriver. But Jerry calls a dropkick…and I’m like, ‘What?’ He hit me full flush hard in the face, and I went over the top rope… legit! No I’m lying on the floor and see Lawler coming out, and I’m thinking: “Oh shit… he wants to piledrive me on the floor! So I told security to drag me out of there…now!”
Cauliflower Alley has its fair share of vibrant personalities and larger-than-life talents. In Count Grog, you see plenty of panache but also a focused, dedicated promoter underneath in Greg Mosorjak. His plan is to be an ambassador to drum up more memberships for Cauliflower Alley from his crew back home. Grog has nothing but kind words for the organization and loves the camaraderie at the reunions. “Al Mandell signed me up, back at one of Greg Price’s first Fan Fests,” Mosorjak said. “My first one was 2010, and I plan to come back every year.”
— Jeff Sharkey