Thursday, April 26, 2018

Losing "Number One"...

In 2017 we had a rough week in the first quarter of the year. The wrestling world lost both George "The Animal" Steele and "The Russian Bear" Ivan Koloff within days. As we enter the second quarter of 2018, we have a mirroring situation losing both Bruno Sammartino and "Number One" Paul Jones.

When I first met Paul Jones, I basically only knew his work as manager of "The Paul Jones Army." His group was a rather ragtag bunch, but offered a savage display of heels as opposed to their fellow NWA "bad guy" group, the "classier" Four Horsemen. Jones managed Abdullah the Butcher, Ivan Koloff, the Powers of Pain, Manny Fernandez, and Ravishing Rick Rude among others. Jones, in his almost-Nazi looking attire, barked orders like a general. His feud with "Boogie Woogie Man" Jimmy Valiant? Endless yet entertaining.

It was the NWA Fanfest deemed a "Tribute To Starrcade." Jones was among the first stars that I ran into that weekend back in 2004. "Number One" had a question and answer session that first night, in which it was apparent that he was beloved by many of the Carolina fans, many of which he was on a first name basis with. As my friend and I stood outside of the room waiting to enter the Q&A, Jones, wearing a Stetson, approached us and asked where we were from. Replying "Pittsburgh," Jones quickly retorted, "Well, I won't hold that against you." He was quick to add, "I'm only joking around with you guys," almost as if he were afraid that we were offended. We were not, we had just met "Number One."

I was fortunate enough to see him a few other times at the famous Fanfests and have various items autographed including photos, Wonderama trading cards, and some classic magazines including several issues of the treasured Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling title. One of the latter had a great cover featuring Jones and one of his many partners, The Masked Superstar. After I had it signed by both, I was able to get a photograph with both gentleman and myself holding the magazine.

After that very first meeting, I went back and sought out footage of Jones in his wrestling heyday in both the Carolinas and Florida. It's a shame that Jones will mainly be remembered as a manager, as he was quite the in-ring talent. Seeing these matches, it's easy to see why he was still so popular at the conventions with the fans who saw him live in-ring.

Whether you saw him as a wrestler, a manager, or just a retired wrestler that you met at a convention, you remembered Paul Jones. He was quite a character, and someone seemingly born to be in the wrestling business. It just seemed to be in his blood.

"Number One" Paul Jones


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