Thursday, October 2, 2014
The Wonderful (& Forgotten) World of Bobby Shane
Thankfully, wrestling has quite the number of followers who enjoy documenting history. Many undercard or journeyman wrestlers would be completely forgotten without these folks. It wasn't that their in-ring work was sub-par, it was just that due to their positioning on the card, these wrestlers didn't get the press and fame that the larger stars did. Bobby Shane is a relatively unknown name to fans my age and younger, but not for these reasons. Instead, Shane was struck down just as his career began to rise.
There are many great biographies of Shane available on the net by those who've studied him. My intentions are to instead familiarize those who, like myself, knew the name from two particular instances that are often retold, as well as various magazine covers and stories. Like so many of us, Shane grew up as a fan of pro wrestling. He got his foot in the door of the business like others in that era, doing odd jobs for the local wrestling promotion, St. Louis in his case.
Shane fulfilled his dream of becoming a pro wrestler, and wrestled through much of the 1960's as "Wonder Boy" Bobby Shane. Accounts say that Shane was a popular babyface, but much of the reverence for the young grappler comes from his run as "The King of Wrestling" that he adopted in roughly the last five or so years of his career. Sadly, there is little footage of Shane remaining. Although a clip of the end of a match pitting Shane against Jack Brisco is currently available and old discussions seem to indicate that a bit more exist, Shane is mostly lost to time.
The two tales that you may remember regarding Shane are from the end of his life. A young wrestler named Jerry Lawler approached Shane to inquire about how he could obtain similar "King" attire. Shane provided Lawler with the name of the company that he ordered his garb from. Since Shane was shortly thereafter going on a tour of Australia where he would not be using the gimmick, he lent Lawler his crown. Shane returned from that trip and began wrestling in Florida, but never did retrieve the crown from Lawler. On a February night in 1975, Shane boarded a small plane piloted by top wrestler Buddy Colt. Gary Hart and Mike McCord, later to be known as Austin Idol, were also aboard. Bad conditions contributed to the plane never reaching its intended destination. Although Colt, Hart, and McCord suffered horrible injuries, Shane did not survive. He was 29 years old.
It isn't likely that WWE is going to teach their universe about Bobby Shane any time soon. It's up to fans who truly want to learn about the lost past of the business. Men and women who have every right to be remembered just as well as the names that are, but who are forgotten for whatever reason. They're unsung heroes who, had life played just a bit differently, might be looking back fondly on the fruits of their labor today. By learning and remembering, we can help make up for it.