Inspired by the saga of "Wrestling Superstar Virgil," pro wrestling's saddest man, we put out the call for your run-ins with the titans of the squared circle. If you've had your own encounter with wrestlers past or present, e-mail us, subject line "Virgilbag."
On to your letters. Dusty:
Back in the heyday of Attitude-era WWF, a local promoter set up a wrestling event at the UAW hall in our town. The event was to feature among others, WWF Superstars Mick Foley, Al Snow and The New Age Outlaws. At the time, it was a pretty big deal for our little slab of Midwestern middle-of-nowhere.
The day of the show, a local record store owner buddy of mine set up a meet-and-greet with Al Snow and The Road Dogg Jesse James. Both guys turned out to be really cool, taking a ton of pictures, signing autographs and putting up with the small town mongoloids that still thought wrestling was real.
After a few hours Al Snow had to leave, but the Road Dogg decided to stick around and ended up staying until the store closed for the day. My record store buddy had a pseudo-mancave in the basement, so when the door was locked, six of us (including the Road Dogg) headed downstairs. The next two hours were spent drinking beers, smoking some home grown and playing Mortal Kombat. Over that time, I didn't keep an exact tally, but I'd be comfortable saying the Road Dogg had close to ten beers and two giant hits on a Half Baked-sized blunt. Mind you, this was all less than two hours before he was scheduled to wrestle in a tag team extravaganza at the UAW hall.
Eventually, the Road Dog had to leave for the UAW hall, but found himself without a ride. I was going that way, so I offered him a lift, which lead to this gem in the car…
Me: "So, being a pro-wrestler must be pretty badass."
RD: "Ehhh…it beats the shit out of diggin' ditches."
The Road Dogg went on to wrestle that night and didn't miss a beat, which leads me to believe that every Monday night on Raw, that dude was totally fucking bombed.
I was at Barney's Beanery in West Hollywood about 3 years ago, and a gentleman came walking in with a leather jacket and sunglasses on at 11:30pm. He was of middle-age, and he was accompanied by a younger couple. After glancing at him a couple more times I realized it was "Rowdy" Roddy Piper. I walked over and said, "Hot Rod! I'm a big fan."
His immediate response was to shake my hand and ask, "How's your family? How many kids you got?"
I said, "I'm too young for kids. I'm not even married." This triggered a life lesson on starting a family from him, and he did not disappoint.
"Good. Here's my advice: take your fucking time. I got a 19 year-old with a Mustang. You can HAVE him. I don't need him. Do you see this guy here (gesturing to the couple at his table)? That's my daughter and her boyfriend. He'll be dead by sundown. He doesn't even know what's coming!"
I laughed at being invited inside Piper's Pit for about 30 seconds, and went about my evening. It's still my favorite celebrity encounter after six years in Los Angeles.
In the mid '90s, my family and I were on a flight to Jackson, Miss. It was the tail-end of a vacation so I slept for almost the entire trip. As we land, my father makes a comment about someone he
recognizes sitting in first class, but I'm zonked out and hardly pay attention. He then says, "Oh, you're gonna love this." I look up at him from my resting position and notice a smirk. I glance down the aisle but don't see anything out of the ordinary. Right before the plane comes to a complete stop, the captain says over the intercom (paraphrasing) "Ladies and gentleman, thank you for flying with us today, blah blah blah, and before we go, we have a special message from one of our passengers."
At that moment, one of the most unmistakable voices in all of wrestling came over the loudspeakers.
"This is the Million Dollar Man, Ted DiBiase wishing you a safe journey..." and by that point I'd stopped listening and tried to run to the front of the plane. Unfortunately, my father held me back, saying we had to wait our turn. When I'm finally able to exit the plane, the Million Dollar Man is long gone. Despite the potential for an Amber Alert, I bolted to the baggage claim and waited for my favorite heel to arrive. He never did. Pretty disappointed.
I was working a show in Chattanooga, Tenn, that featured many former superstars and some up-and-coming ones as well. On this card was "Grandmaster Sexay" Brian Christopher (Lawler...yes, Jerry's kid). After the match (he won of course, being a former WWF Superstar/Tag Team Champion has it's perks...) he did his usual post match dance schtick. He brought a young boy who had an obvious mental handicap of
some sort up into the ring with him, placed his goggles (those "used to be in-style with morons" ski goggles from the '90s) on the boy's head and did the dance with him.
After the show, the family stopped me and thanked me and asked that I pass on their thanks to Brian for making their son's night a treat. The son still had the goggles on his head and a beaming smile that was
pure joy and awesomeness. So I run backstage and pass the message on to Brian. What I heard in response still shocks me to this day.
"Hey, go get those goggles back. Those things were like, $50 and I have to have them back. I don't care if you rip them off his goddamned head, go get them now!"
What I did was I asked the family if they would like to meet Brian Christopher, had them wait outside the locker room, and told Brian, "Dickhead, they're outside the door. You want the damned goggles back so much, you get them." And proceeded to wave the family in the room, leaving him and the kid.
When the family came out, the kid was sans goggles.
Back in April 2003, a friend of mine and I attended Monday Night Raw at Philips Arena in Atlanta. After the show, we were at a red light outside the arena when I noticed three black guys were going around talking to people stopped at lights looking like they were trying to sell stuff. We didn't think anything of it. At the next light, they came to our car. I rolled down the window and much to my surprise, the guy in the middle was current WWE wrestler R-Truth.
At the time, he was Ron "The Truth" Killings in TNA. He had wrestled briefly for the then-WWF from November 2000-February 2002. He asked us if we would be interested in buying his rap CD, which included a "controversial" track about how much Vince McMahon sucks. Not wanting to spend $10 on this, we told him we spent all our money at the arena. Visibly annoyed, he said, "All right then" and walked off. As he and his posse were walking off, I yelled at him, "Keep up the good work in TNA." He turned around and yelled back, "Fuck TNA".
I had heard that in North Charleston the parking garage was always the easiest place to meet wrestlers because it was the only way into the arena. My friends and I got there early in hopes of meeting our favorite wrestlers. Three fresh stars made their way over to sign autographs. They were Johnny Nitro (later John Morrison), Joey Mercury, and Melina. They immediately walked over to the fans. Then John was like "Who wants an autograph!" To which of course everybody cheered. They walk up to the smallest girl there, she was probably about 3-4 years old, ask her what her name is and take her marker from her. Just as they go to sign the autograph... John takes the marker and throws it across the parking lot and yells "Go fetch!" It was the greatest thing I've seen in my life.
Two years later, I parked next to him (inadvertently) at the parking garage. I saw him getting out and I was like "Hey John, can I get a quick autograph?" He looks at me stunned and goes "Sure, I'll give you a verbal autograph. From John Morrison to you." I laugh about it and then asked for a REAL autograph to which he said "Go get Jeff Hardy's autograph."
My friends and I were going to a WWF show in Winnipeg over 10 years ago when we were 16. As we approached the arena we got a flat tire and had to pull into a Subway parking lot. While changing the tire we noticed that Dean Malenko and Saturn had pulled up to the front door of the Subway. Malenko stayed in the car while Saturn went in to get the food. We finished changing the tire so a couple of us went into the Subway to wash the filth from our hands and as we get near the car Malenko spots us and floors it away. We were both laughing our asses off at this point because we weren't going to approach or even acknowledge him. Then when we get inside Saturn gives us a major "don't you dare fucking talk to me" look. Once again, we weren't going to say shit to him.
As always, we close with a Virgil story. Dustin:
My dad had received press passes for the Cleveland Sports Card Convention sometime in the early 2000's, so I decided to go one summer afternoon with my dad and my friend, also a big WWF fan. We headed down to the press area, off limits to the public, where the sports celebrities hang out before they begin their signings. Immediately as I walk down the stairs, I almost literally, run into Muhammad Ali. We are all pretty much speechless for a few seconds seeing the boxing legend. My dad exchanges a few, brief words with Ali and I shake his hand.
My dad is ready to grab a picture with me and Ali when out of the corner of my eye, I see Virgil. Remember, I was an insane WWF fan. I immediately RAN away from Ali to meet Virgil. In my 12-yr-old eyes, he was FAR more important than Ali. I approach Virgil as he is in the process of hitting on some small Asian woman doing some paperwork. I'm starstruck and nervously ask for his autograph. He grunts and steals a piece of paper from the Asian woman to sign. He never looked at me once during our interaction and was repeatedly asking the woman for her number. She ignored him the entire time and just nervously laughed, looking very uncomfortable. I left with a plain, white piece of paper with "Virgil," barely legible and poorly written sideways, thinking it was the greatest thing I ever received. Ali was gone by the time I got back as my dad was puzzled as to why I fled. I passed up an opportunity to meet the greatest boxing champion of all time to meet Ted DiBiase's slave. I am not an intelligent person.
Thanks for your letters. Keep sending in those stories.