By Promoter Herb Simmons
Is it WRESTLING or RASSLIN, that is the question that has been asked for many years, and it depends on who you are talking with. Years back they pronounced it RASSLIN, in the good old days of “Good Versus evil” as time went on it became Wrestling. Today after forty one years of that debate, I call it fun. Yes and this past April of 2016 that is just what we did at SICW All-star WRESTLING. I had the honor of being invited back to Las Vegas to the CAC where all the greats of the WRESTLING business attended, among the talented upcoming workers to the legends that are still with us. Legends like Paul Orndorff, Sgt Slaughter, Ricky Steamboat, JR Ross, Mean Gene Okerlund, Howard Fnkle, The Killer Bee’s, Ken Patera and a host of others. My main reason for returning this year was spend time with my friend, one of the greatest of all times, Terry Funk. Terry and I was in Vegas last year along with Stan the Lariat Hansen and Barbara Goodish the widow of the late Bruiser Brody.
I wanted to make sure this year that I met up with Terry because the following weekend he was coming to SICW All-Star WRESTLING in East Carondelet to make an appearance. The main attraction that weekend was the “Terry Funk Title Tournament”. It was to be several matches to see who became the number one contender for the SICW Classic Championship that was currently held by Flash Flanagan. I wanted to make sure Terry remembered he was going to be a big part of the double weekend shot, you see not only was he and another Legend, Cowboy Bob Orton appearing in East Carondelet Illinois, the next day they were traveling for SICW to Cape Girardeau Missouri for not only a WRESTLING show, but during the day a Comic Con.
Well just as it was back in the days of RASSLIN, you always expect the worst and hope for the best. My lovely wife Mickey and I returned home on that Thursday and immediately began the final steps of preparing for the first ever SICW Friday Night Event. That’s right, in all the forty plus years I never remember doing a Friday night, yes it was scary. You may ask then why, well as I stated above, my friend Ken Murphy from the Cape had his annual Comic Con scheduled and he wanted Funk and Orton along with Ron Powers, Kahagas the Tokyo Monster, and Earl and Dave Hebner from the WWE referee era to participate.
So I arranged to move our monthly Saturday night event to a Friday to help accommodate the Cape show. And as you can figure we were all ready for the Friday night action, Terry Funk, Cowboy Bob Orton, Larry Matysik and all the SICW stars were ready, the capacity crowd was fired up, we were ready for some good old WRESTLING or RASSLIN.
Shortly before the sound of the first bell one of those wrenches got thrown in to the game plan, our Champion Flash Flanagan, who I knew was having shoulder issues informs us that it’s not only one should that needs repaired but both of them. Being the true professional that he is, he wanted to go out and compete to help give the fans the best show possible. After a long discussion with Larry Matysik, Terry Funk Bob Orton , it was determined that it wasn’t in the best interest for Flash to wrestle that night.
So, as during the history of this crazy business we call WRESTLING or RASSLIN, we went to a plan B, yes Plan B that in a matter of a few minutes it was determined that instead of naming the winner of the “Terry Funk Title Tournament” the number one contender, the winner would become the SICW All-Star Champion. Simple right, you got it, the event went on and the action was great as always. The new champion was named, Ron Powers recaptured the gold and the celebration with him, Terry Funk and Cowboy Bob Orton took place in the ring.
After being jet lagged from the trip from Vegas and making sure Terry got in town on time, the night was long and I must say my wife and I was a little tired. We ended taking Terry to the hotel. We dropped him off at midnight and told him we would pick him up at 7am, what another true professional, no complaints at all. We arrived home around 12:45 am. As always after a show I need to unwind, I laid down around 4am.
As the sun came up I knew it was going to be a long day. Even though I was looking forward to my two and half hour drive with Terry Funk, it was still stressful, new territory, hadn’t ran a show in Missouri for many years. We arrived shortly to find Terry Funk standing outside the hotel waiting on us. As the true veteran he is, he was bright eyed and bushy tailed. I must say there isn’t anything more rewarding than to spend a couple of hours in a car with such a legend as Terry Funk. We talked about everyone and everything pertaining to the WRESTLING or RASSSLIN business. The stories that man has could have kept me entertained for hours. I thought that with him flying in late, then being at the show all evening and getting in to the hotel late that he may fall asleep on the drive to Cape, boy did he fool me. The only smart one was my wife, she curled up in the back seat and took advantage of my driving.
Terry talked about how the business was back in the day, how guys he helped get into the business, like our late friend Bruiser Brody. He talked about how it was in Japan and how guys back then respected the business. I must admit, the guy has a memory, he talked about the show in the high school gym we did years ago when Greg Valentine, Orton, Spike Huber and Chris Adams who were are working with us. He talked about the first time Brody told him about our small independent promotion. He stated the name of Larry Matysik and Herb Simmons is known way beyond the St. Louis area, I must admit I wasn’t surprised about Larry, but me, big old Herb Simmons that had just been fortunate to be in the right place and the right time and have a friend like Larry to introduce me to Sam Munchnick, Brody, Murdoch, Valentine, Dory, Dibiase, Ox Baker, Jerry Blackwell, Dick The Bruiser, Bulldog Bob Brown, Harley Race and man the list could go on for a long time. It has been a real treat to be able to say I have done what only some other have dreamed of. I truly owe a lot to not only Larry, but to my wife who allowed me the time to live this dream.
After spending the day in Cape Girardeau with Ken Murphy and standing for hours while Terry and Bob signed pictures, I must say the day seemed like it was never going to get over. There were hundred’s of fans that wanted to get a picture and talk with the WRESTLING or RASSLIN legends. They began signing a little after 9:30 and only for about an hour from 3-4pm when they did a Q&A, did they take a break from meeting and talking with the fans. Around 4:30 we went to lunch, Terry, Orton, Kahagas, Ron Powers, my wife and I. Again sitting with that crew was another experience, they had all worked together and they all had the stories. Around 5:30pm we headed to the AC Brase Arena, the building that was home to the ICW, operated by Angelo Poffo, Randy Savage and other legends from back in the day. It was a beautiful building and upon our arrival fans were already standing in line, see Terry and Orton and the boys were scheduled to do another Meet & Greet. So not only was I scheduling that, I had to get the card ready for the night. My right hand man, Dr. Drew, SICW ring announcer and Television Play by Play guy was a life saver. He jumped in and help get it lined up. Between him, Ron Powers and Gary Jackson the show went off great. The crowd was in to all the action and our friend Ken Murphy was pleased.
I lucked out that after we got the ring down my good friend Gary Jackson decided he would stay in town and take Terry Funk to the airport early in the morning. It was midnight when we left Cape, so it was good for me and the wife not to worry about getting back down there to get him to the airport. My wife repaid the favor for me driving down, she drove home. It was a great weekend both in East Carondelet where the best WRESTLING or RASSLIN fans are, and then to meet new fans in Cape was just as good. The talent worked hard both nights and without them and great fans there is no show.
So I hope this painted the picture of two shows in April, back to back with two Legends, Funk and Orton, and all the other great SICW Stars, oh, and did I mention, the next morning we started on working on the third show for April that was scheduled for the last Saturday in April in Millstadt Illinois, my point is in this business its run run run, and fun fun fun. Until next time we meet at the matches take care and be sure to support independent wrestling and also Check out MRW (Missouri Wrestling Revival) for all the greatest information on WRESTLING or RASSLIN.