Sharkey’s Schmazz – 04-05-09

So many words, so little time.  I agreed to put together one more column for the website before departing for the 2009 CAC reunion.  Now, with just a week away before I get on the plane,  and umpteen things to consider finishing before I do… well, a column was one of those things you think might be able to slide.  Then, a reality check slapped me in the face: what if the reunion organizers had that philosophy?  Put off making plans and just wing it when you arrive?   Hardly the level of excellence we expect to have when we show up.  Granted, not everything works out as I may have envisioned each year.  But I’ve looked beyond my narrowcast to see what the CAC Board has to cope with from multiple perspectives.  I’ve knuckled down and outlined my column and here it is, for all to see.  It’s might not be exactly everybody’s taste, but what is?   As one of the opinion features at the radio company I work for states: “Differing viewpoints are welcome.”   And in the same light, if you run across one of the board members in your travels to the reunion this year, thank them for their dedication to making the event as successful as can be.  And feel free to raise questions or concerns about things you might like to see done differently.  They need to hear all points of view, good and bad.  Communication, what a concept!  I am fortunate enough to hear morsels of CAC ideas from time to time, and I am encouraged at what this year’s event will bring.  I hope you will be as well.

In a previous column, I talked about building a bond with other CAC members in the face of the “social networking” trend that has permeated interactive forms of media.  It is a concept that isn’t going to fade away anytime soon; in fact it continues to evolve in new and exciting ways all the time.  I would like to praise those CAC members who have contacted me since that time at the email provided at the bottom of the page, and also through the website.  If you are a member of this site, look me up and add me to your friends list.  There are board members with pages like Morgan Dollar, Jason Sanderson, Wes Daniel and Jason Deadrich to name a few.  Cauliflower Alley Club has its own listing as well.  I cannot accurately state how beneficial I find this kind of site as it relates to our club’s true intent: to reunite with friends of old and continue to make new friends with every year thereafter.  This isn’t even a hard-sell approach, but making even the smallest effort to reach out to your fellow club members will net you rewards you might never know.   Hopefully you’ll take advantage of the opportunity; I’d like to know if you add me as a friend that you are a CAC member!

In a similar vein, I would like to transfer to thoughts of one of our most talented wrestlers and managers of all time, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan.   In recent weeks I have watched his 2004 WWE Hall of Fame induction speech, and once again picked up his first book Bobby the Brain for another read-through.  In looking through his book once again, I was struck that the most enjoyable part of it for me was not the bottomless barrel of road stories and his humorous take on life; it was a short chapter that dealt with him finding  new members of The Heenan Family.  Not wrestlers, but his biological brothers.  I found myself smiling as I discovered how he fought apprehension at first to approach a total stranger and pour his life story before him, with no guarantee he would be successful.    Luckily the end result was two new family members in his corner.  Whereas “The Weasel” thrived on elements of cowardice at times, here was a wonderful tale of courage and conviction, a Bobby Heenan story where he gets the happy ending!

At the time of the Hall of Fame speech, Bobby had begun his recovery from throat cancer and was encouraged at what was his chance to “do things,” as he had spent much time at home undergoing treatment, and surely had cabin fever while he recovered.   I was sorry to hear that with his most recent surgery for a jaw replacement that once again, the great wit of The Brain was silenced out of necessity.  His first nature is to entertain those around him.  To be unable to do so for a long stretch is denying him his gesture of goodwill to all of us.  I selfishly wish for a return to hearing that sharp sense of humor again.  More importantly, I wish for the very real Ray Heenan the strength to overcome the recent hurdles in his path. 

Finally, I wanted to take the chance to talk about club membership.  I recently took the opportunity to sponsor the membership of four wrestlers who were not aware of the CAC, but have a bit of history with me.  I would like to welcome them to the Cauliflower Alley Club for 2009 and introduce you to them.  Karl Lauer was very gracious in putting together a “welcome wagon” phone call to each of them and securing their initial newsletter and certificates, even while “payment was pending” on my end. 

Tom Walker got his indoctrination into the pro wrestling world in 1971 when he began doing ring crew duty alongside George “Scrap Iron” wdebeershat1Gadaski.  As the AWA traveled to cities in the Midwest, Tom worked in many other capacities including timekeeper, arena program sales, ringside security and emergency referee.  Gadaski gave Tom the experience other would have bled for; a chance to work out on the mats at his farm up in Amery, Wisconsin.  It was there Tom started work on his own “cauliflower ear” which he displays with pride today.  I worked regularly with Tom with our Nu-Age Wrestling booking office in the 1990s, and was happy to get Tom on some of the undercard bouts as a wrestler.  He managed as “Colonel” Tom Walker and his role with the National Guard allowed him to dress the part with aplomb, knowing what details made up the ideal military man.  Today Tom stays active as a referee for independent groups in Wisconsin, and is back with a ring crew role working alongside Lance Wright when a squared circle needs to be set up!  

haynemysBrett Reuter went through the Nu-Age Wrestling training camp in early 1991.  At the time we were both in our early 20s and shared similar perspectives and memories about wrestling; we were fast friends.  He went on to be the resident “rock star” talent in Brett Striker for the next several years.  He caught a few breaks and took bookings out of state and even to Japan at one point, making himself a good name by working with rising talents of the day like Christopher Daniels and Jerry Lynn.   We lost touch for a year or so, during which time he adopted a new persona, one of a particularly otherworldly nature:  The masked, demonic Sam Hayne sprang from his imagination; complete with a fire-breathing ritual and brutal ring style.  I was happy to help him name his fan club, “The Marks of the Beast”.   Along the way, he found his current wife LaDawn, who shares his love of motorcycles.  LaDawn hails from Minnesota and had been on the Twin Cities wrestling scene as “Mystique” for the past few years.  Today the couple works in tandem in the ring as well, and reside in Green Bay between bookings.  I wanted them to know they were welcome in the CAC world as well.

Tony Scrivens spent much of his time in the ring as the 305-pound Tony the Annihilator.  He begantony93 his career in late 1989 and debuted in Rochester, Minnesota on TV against the double bill of Nikita Koloff and John Nord, two featured talents on the AWA scene at the time.  Those bouts recently made their way back to the airwaves on ESPN Classic’s  reruns of AWA Championship Wrestling.   Tony was Nu-Age Heavyweight champion for four years in the early 90s.  Much of our time together was spent traveling to training camp each week.  But Tony was a friend as well as colleague, and helped me secure work when I found myself unemployed in the summer of 1992.   Thanks to his kindness over the years, I stayed realistic about my own prospects of success in the wrestling business.  Tony is active today in the world of strongman competitions and promotions of that sport.  He competes in the masters divisions and knows the value of camaraderie in that world.  I wish I had been able to more effectively showcase his talents in the wrestling world, because he could deliver standing dropkicks like Curt Hennig, and in one fell swoop snap off a powerslam as crisp as toast.  With this membership, I hope Tony is able to see the depth of friendship here in Cauliflower Alley as well.

I thought my idea was novel, unique and unprecedented; sponsor your old running buddies and let them see what you’re doing now.  Three days after I proposed the idea to Karl, the new issue of The Ear arrived, with that very concept being advertised exactly as I had intended.  So much for novel and unique!  But no matter who thought of it, the concept of sponsoring your fellow workers may lead them to a reunion, and a membership renewal on their own next year.  So spread the word of what CAC is and does to the people you enjoyed working with most.

As always let me hear from you at the email address listed below.  See you shortly in Las Vegas!
-Jeff Sharkey

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