Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Goodbyes Of 2013

Traditionally we utilize the final blog entry of the year to say our last goodbyes of the year.  The goodbyes are not to the good events and memories of the past twelve months, but rather to the names in the business that have left us.  With the vast amount of folks who have given us so many great moments in and out of the squared circle, it is inevitable that we will lose a bunch each year.  It is an unforgiving business that often directly or indirectly causes premature and untimely deaths, while other notables of wrestling live to ripe old ages.

A sampling of those we lost in 2013 includes Count Billy Varga, Mark Starr, Ella Waldek, Don Carson, Cyclone Negro, Spike of The Mod Squad, Tito Montez, Paul Bearer, Roland Alexander, Doug "Gashouse" Gilbert, Vivian St. John, Gene Petit, Angelo Savoldi, Jackie Fargo, Corey Maclin, Frenchy Bernard, Dutch Savage, Al Green, Matt Borne, Buck Robley, Hector Garza, Reid Flair, Ron West, Dennis Hall, and Geeto Mongol.

Three of the names above, although varying in age, are still particularly shocking to me because of the vibrant appearances that they made at various types of wrestling functions not that long ago.  The first of the three to pass, Paul Bearer, is probably the one that received the most mainstream press as well.

Bearer, who also had a memorable pre-WWF wrestling career as Percy Pringle III, is one of the few managers who crossed over into pop culture even more so than many wrestlers.  While one could argue that it was his association with The Undertaker that caused this, no one would've noticed a cartoonish mortician character if Mr. Bill Moody hadn't given it his all.  When kids of the early '90s imitate a wrestling star that they grew up watching, it's most likely going to be Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, or Paul Bearer.  His ubiquitous and shrill moan of "Ohhhh yesssssss!" at ringside took the character far beyond probably even what the WWF ever intended.  The fact that the character carried on in WWE storylines after Moody's passing is both a great tribute to the late manager and something that would have simultaneously thrilled and humbled the man himself.

Matt Borne was yet another man who breathed three-dimensional life into what could have been a very one-dimensional character.  Doink the Clown was another '90s WWF personality that is remembered by many fans, but it's the hardcore devotees who recall that Borne's portrayal of the character was what really made it great.  Borne was Doink when the character was two things underneath the grease paint: a pure wrestler and pure evil.  His exceptional in-ring skills were greatly backed up by Borne's ability to show that this was not a nice clown at all.  Taking nothing away from Ray Apollo who took over the role, Matt Borne WAS Doink.  Taking nothing away from Borne, who had a stellar career in various other promotions, Doink WAS Matt Borne.

And what can you say about a man that ruled during the "wild west" days of the business and inspired countless others to follow in his footsteps?  That's "Fabulous" Jackie Fargo.  If yet another book ever needs to be written about someone in the wrestling business, Fargo should be the subject.  The stories told both by Fargo and by many of his peers probably haven't even scratched the surface regarding his life and times.  The North Carolina native is one wrestling legend that, years from now, I will still be so thankful that I had a chance to meet.  While others my age, born just as "The Fabulous One" was retiring from the ring, would have little interest, I knew from the moment that I shook his hand that I had encountered someone very special.  So long, pally!

Not a comprehensive list by any means, this was just a small remembrance of some of the fascinating wrestling lives lost this year.  May they all find eternal peace, something that some of them were unable to lock onto in life.  And in the case of Mr. Fargo, who I still cannot ever imagine resting, may they keep on strutting towards that great ring in the sky...

1 comment:

Jeff Leggett said...

Not quite connected to the topic, but a challenge for you... I recall seeing a photo online of a Souvenir Program from the 1995 Survivor Series, but I can find absolutely NOTHING about it!!! Any info??