I Lived My Dream
by Rex Luther
I grew up in the Mississippi Delta on Mid-South, Memphis, and Georgia wrestling. I missed Mid-South TV twice in seven years and one live show in six years because of being hospitalized. I missed only ten minutes of GCW TV in five years. I mowed yards with a push mower (no motor) to make sure I had front row seats for Ernie Ladd, Freebirds, Ted Dibiase, Hacksaw Duggan, JYD, Mr Olympia, Scandar Akbar, the Samoans, Grappler, and Andre the Giant.
In 1981 at 13, my 18-year-old brother and I left Mississippi to go 450 miles to Atlanta in a 1973 Mercury, spent the night in the Cobb County Civic Center parking lot, and attended the show. We went to the TBS taping (got a $15 room with a black-and-white TV to see ourselves on GCW) and finished off with a night at the Omni to see Tommy Rich, Harley Race, Austin Idol, Freebirds, and Masked Superstar. We got escorted from the Omni hotel for riding the glass elevator and we rode MARTA to kill time. Wednesday night to Sunday night is a long time when you are in Atlanta and broke, but we were just so happy to finally be there for a Freddie Miller "BE THERE" experience. Thank God for the Arby's "Five for $5". I had never been out of MS. I went back the following year on a Greyhound by myself to see Hulk Hogan and the Iron Shiek. I was in Washington D.C. for a school program and walked five miles to see the WWF. I had no idea about the bus system. There was also the Oxford, MS to Memphis in the snow and ice for a Monday night memory.
I promoted for a year with Rip Tyler. Rip and Gino Sannizzaro both were good to me. They saved me from being a money mark and armed me with the knowledge and my passion to actually make money (FL, AL, and MS--WOW). I had dreams coming true in spite of whatever was really going on. I was with Bob Holly, Don Fargo, Mr. Olympia, Austin Idol, Bob Sweetan, Kokina and Samu, Ron Starr (incredible, smart, sadistic, intense), and Pat Barrett. I had some explaining to do at a few hotel bars.
I got to work with Bert Prentice (MS/AR/TN/KS/FL, World Class/USWA/WOW/Music City/Ozark Mtn/Universal/Gulf coast). I sold ads, found sponsors, babysat, and pre-worked the towns, postering, doing radio, setting up rings. In the USWA, I sold tickets, popcorn, pictures, refereed, and even was masked in battle royals. I made special friendships with Eric Fontaine and Randy Rhodes (PYT's) as they were my drinking buddies and bodyguards. We had alot of fun. I'm glad I haven't drank in years.
Bert is a character, but has been a dear friend to me and my parents for 22 years.. I have popped in and helped in for short gaps when he has started new promotions, which has been frequent as you know. He is a lot of things (and some say the devil), but he has been a cherished friend of mine.
I got to work with my childhood hero — MR WRESTLING II. Junkyard Dog was a joy to be around. I met him in a very low point of his life, but he still had a smile and time for all of the fans, and he enjoyed the meat counter at my country grocery. I supplied Jerry Blackwell and Buck Robley undercard talent in Southern Championship Wrestling. I got to meet Bruiser Brody, who spent a great deal of time posing for me for pics shortly before his last trip to Puerto Rico. I got to hear Don Fargo grumble, take ref-bumps for Tommy Rich, Ivan Koloff, Cactus Jack,and The Eliminators (I never want to be on the receiving end of anything from Perry Saturn again). Myself, Koloff and Bobby Fulton made Jackson, MS to Clarksdale in an hour and fifteen minutes (120 miles from the airport to the show), and on the way back, talked the police out of taking Fulton to jail. I got to wrestle a few matches (just to have that checked off my bucket list). I was terrible, but the Headbangers and I had a ball. I quickly got back on the side that I belonged. Taught moves by Buddy Wayne and Adrian Street and learned more than I wanted to know about alot of things. I run across Reggie B Fine and Brickhouse Brown occasionally. I talk and exchange emails with Bill Watts, whose has become a spiritual and life mentor for me.
I will be 42 this month and I don't watch WWE or TNA more than a couple of minutes a month while flipping. I just can't follow it anymore. I binge watch Youtube and search the web reading interviews and reliving memories. My father worked on the MS River on a towboat and was gone a lot, but when he was home, I knew that we would have special time together from Memphis, Mid South, and Atlanta.
My wife is eight years younger than me and grew up only on Memphis. She doesn't understand when I refer to the greats. I think it's funny that her point of reference is the Fabulous Ones, Jerry Lawler, Bill Dundee, Tommy Rich, anad Tommmy Gilbert. I have a four-year-old son and seven- and nine-year-old daughters, and it saddens me that they will not have the warm connection to mat heroes. I have a few people that I can relive the past with, but they are dying on me.
I have rambled enough.
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