The Virgilbag is dead and is never coming back. Here are some wrestler run-in stories you sent us anyway.
It was the early nineties and, I believe, a Friday afternoon. As I walked into my local gym just outside Cincinnati, I notice a line of about a dozen people; each holding some kind of glossy memorabilia and staring longingly through the glass doors. I’m clueless and walk right by them.
After flashing my membership card, I head in the direction of the locker room and see some guy on an exercise bike who could pass for the Ultimate Warrior without the makeup. Thinking I’m hallucinating, I change and make my way to the free weights. As I start to do some lat-pulls, I notice Brett Hart pacing around between sets at a nearby machine.
All of a sudden I realize the gym is packed with WWF superstars, in town for a show that night, and me.
The Undertaker is doing military presses, Owen Hart is wandering about, the Mountie is grinning and strutting (at least, I think it was him; hard to tell without the hat), and Tatanka is working legs. Now I understand the line of people outside; fans angling for an autograph.
I was huge follower of the wrasslin’ but knew these guys didn’t want to entertain some stupid fan geeking out. So I go about my business.
Before long, Brett Hart asks to work in on the same machine. He turns out to be cool, very quiet, and an all-around nice guy. We never even broached the subject of wrestling, which I think he appreciated.
Meanwhile, the Ultimate Warrior is now hitting on a girl who works in the gym and the Undertaker is busy scaring the crap out of me just by looking in my direction.
I wander into the room that contains all the leg equipment and am shocked by what I see. Tatanka has thighs the size of tree trunks and the leg press loaded with about 1,000 pounds. He’s chatting with some other guy then reps the sled six or eight times. I stare at him in awe, the “Tatanka stomp” now becoming a true weapon in my eyes.
Ten minutes later he finishes, starts to pull a plate off to begin cleaning the machine, and pauses. He looks at me, all six-foot-five and 175 pounds, and jokes in a perfect deadpan delivery, “You want to help me break this down or should I leave the weights on for you?”
I have no clue how I came up with it, but reply, “It’s a little light but it’ll do.”
He laughs, “Have at it, big guy!” Then wipes his forehead with a towel and walks out. It took me ten minutes to strip that leg press.
The best part of that whole experience was heading to the show that night, gloating, and lying to my younger brother, “Yeah, you should’ve seen me spotting the Ultimate Warrior on bench press.” To this day, he still believes me.
It’s May 3, 2002. It’s a Friday. I’m off work for the day and hanging out in Westwood while my wife works at UCLA. I decide to catch a movie, and head off for the first showing of Spiderman. There is a 11am showing at a little theater just off campus.
I end up as the one of two people in the theater. I enjoy the film, and being a wrestling fan from the 80's, enjoyed seeing the Macho Man in it.
The movie ends, and I head outside and right into the Man himself. He’s in full “Macho Man” costume, and has a camera crew with him. I’m stopped in my tracks, shocked, that he’s right there. It was just so bizarre to go from seeing him the big screen to having him in front of me. Before I can process this, he’s on me. I get an “oh yeah” and he goes into asking if I saw the movie, the camera right in my face.
I nod, and finally get it together. So we start talking about the movie. I tell him I thought he was great as “buzz saw”. He pauses, then corrects me in character, “Bone Saw”. We chat a little more, I keep telling him he was great, and keep saying “buzz saw”, with him correcting me every time. We finally shake hands an he thanks me.
I start to walk away when the other guy who saw the movie walks out and the Macho Man is on him. First words out of the new guy, “Hey, it’s buzz saw!”
In 1999 in the Super K in Mentor, Ohio my buddy and I went to a meet-The-Undertaker event.
“Do you want a pie?” Paul Bearer asked me, not unkindly, pointing to a stack of pies that some corporate-type no doubt carefully thought out placing there.
He seemed like a very nice person. He did not really want to be there.
Though I didn’t realize it at the time, in that moment he demonstrated the absurdity of corporate life.
Why were the pies there? I had never considered it until Paul Bearer brought it to my attention.
For that I am grateful.
In first year university (2003/04) one of the activities that the school planned for kids in residence was a night of Q & A with former wrestlers - Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Honky Tonk Man and Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart. It was pretty much what you’d expect - a bunch of 18 year old guys who used to watch wrestling asking questions to uninterested wrestlers.
When the show finished me and the 3 guys that I went with thought we should ask if Hacksaw would want to come have a beer with us in our dorm room. He was really nice, laughed and politley declined. Our attention then turned to The Anvil - he told us to wait around for a minute so he could get his stuff together - “holy shit, he said ‘yes!’”. 20 minutes passed and the people cleaning up the room started giving us the ‘get the fuck outta here’ look and telling us that we had to leave. We were just about to go when The Anvil emerged with a hat pulled low over his face and walked with us through the main lobby area of our residence towards the elevator (I enjoyed that he tried to hide himself at over 6 feet and 250 lbs walking with 4 kids who each weighed about 160 lbs by pulling his hat down over his face).
When we finally got to our room the 5 of us stood in the tiny space. We only had cans of ‘make your own beer’ beer in our fridge that The Anvil actually seemed to quite enjoy (‘this shits better than some other shit I’ve had’). Over the next 10 minutes he had 3 beers and told us a story about his new steel toe boots and the trouble he had in airports with them. By now 3 more kids from our floor found their way into our room and one of them asked ‘what’s the deal with the fake tables?’ - for a guy who already looked like he was pissed off at all times you could see The Anvil became even more pissed off and I heard the irritation in his voice as he repeated ‘fake tables?’. Even with 7 of us in the room I had no doubt that he would have beat all of us to a pulp and I was mortified thinking about what was going to happen next. With quick thinking I was able to smooth out the situation with a ‘cheers to the Heart Foundation and the memory of Owen’ (although you could tell he was still thinking about clobbering the kid who asked about the ‘fake tables’).
For a super intimidating guy, he was actually a really nice (so long as you didn’t ask about fake tables) genuine dude. He hung out with us for about a total of 15 minutes and gave us all signed photos as a ‘thank you’ for the beers and was on his way.
I was attending junior college in my hometown in the Blue Ridge foothills of North Carolina. One evening I was on my way home from a part-time job loading trucks in a plastics plant when I pulled in to a Scotchman convenience store to gas up my Civic. This was when you could still pump first, then pay. When I went inside, I was witness to a somewhat seedy spectacle.
Loading up on beer and junk food were Ivan Koloff, The Russian Bear, and Buzz Sawyer, The Weird Mid-Carder. I was a casual fan of the Crockett family’s NWA promotion headquartered in Charlotte, so they were easily recognizable. Well, sort of. On TV, guys like this seemed huge and burly. In person, they were smaller than life. At 5' 11" and change, I fairly towered over Ivan. I also had a bird’s eye view of the blading scars on his forehead, which looked like a knot of angry red worms.
As Ivan and Buzz made their way to the counter, some local jerkweed who had been lingering in the magazine aisle snickering suddenly piped up:
“Heeeyyyy, Eye-van! I heard you got yer butt whooped over at the Naysh-nel Guard Arm’ry tonight!”
Without breaking stride, Ivan replied in his trademark must-be-Russian rasp: “No. I wrestle Ron Garvin tonight. Referee disqualify me unfairly.”
Jerkweed was delighted. “Well, that ain’t what I heard.”
“No, I am superior Soviet athlete.”
At the time, I believe Ivan’s “nephew” Nikita had turned good guy to tag-team with Dusty Rhodes. It was one of those ripped-from-the-headlines angles that played off the prominence of Gorbachev, glasnost and the beginning of the end for the USSR. Ivan had remained a bad guy, stunned by his nephew’s seduction at the hands of the decadent imperialists or something.
To his credit, he stayed in character during his interaction with Jerkweed. Good for Jerkweed, especially when you think about those blading scars on Ivan’s forehead. I would not want to fight anyone who had sacrificed that much for his craft. Buzz just stayed silent. Maybe he was tired.
The clerk rang up Ivan and Buzz and they drove off into the night in a 1970s American dreadnought sedan.
In 1996 I was a high school senior. My buddy was a big fan of pro wrestling. Because he was into it, I got into it too. I really only watched what was then called the WWF. He watched it all, and even subscribed to magazines that had stories about obscure wrestlers in Japan. Anyway, one night he wanted to go to a local independent show in downtown Cleveland. I went with him. We arrived early and sat close to the steps where the wrestlers entered and left the stage.
Many of the wrestlers were regular, overweight joes. The crowd gave every wrestler hell. The headliner that night was Shane Douglas. My buddy informed me he was somewhat big in WCW for a while. He was the good guy, but the crowd still gave him a hard time during his match. After winning, Shane took to the microphone and lectured everyone about how he was now a teacher, was dedicating his life toward teaching children, and that the people of Cleveland were not usually bad people. When he finished his speech the crowd cheered.
As he was walking by my friend and I, my buddy stuck out his hand and said “Good job, Shane. Put it right here.” Shane went to give him five, but my buddy pulled his hand away with a motion like “too slow, Joe” and laughed. Shane turned to us and spit right in my face.
August 1983, I took an early Sunday morning flight from Chicago to L.A. via Minneapolis to start my sophomore year at USC. The AWA had a show the night before at UIC Pavilion, and several wrestlers were on the flight. I went up to who I thought was Dr. David Schultz, who was sitting alone, and asked him if he was Dr. David Schultz. He was in mad character and said, “NO, I’M NOT DR. DAVID SCHULTZ, I DON’T KNOW WHO HE IS, AND I DON’T WANT TO TALK TO YOU!!” Yowza! So I left him alone. This was more than a year before he slapped John Stossel upside the head.
Also on the plane were Blackjack Lanza and Sheik Adnan El-Kaissie. They kept to themselves, and no one bothered them. While boarding, who is walking next to me but Baron Von Raschke. He was very polite. I asked him about the show the night before, then I asked him about his college years at Nebraska, since I was flying on to LA and USC. Then I said, “Were you at Nebraska before or after being in Germany?” He replied, “I never been to Germany.” So that was a nice little wake-up for an 18 year old mark.
When we were deplaning in Minneapolis, Raschke and I passed each other again. I said it was good to meet him, and he just replied, “Study hard.”
I worked as a manager of an EB Games in Tampa from 2004-2006. In the Fall of 2005 there was a huge X-Box 360 shortage. You couldn’t get them anywhere. Since we were in a high end mall I was used to famous clients from the area (mostly local sports talent like hockey or football players) but since this is Tampa we also had a number of wrestlers. So it’s the Fall and working on inventory when in walks Hulk Hogan.
Now, Hulk has been a regular at our store for while and I greet him as such. He asks me in typical Hulk fashion if “I have any 360s brother?” I let him know about the shortage and that we aren’t expecting any for weeks. He decides now is the time to press on and insists we are holding some in the back. He keeps pressing and I keep assuring him we don’t. Finally, too annoyed to argue any more I say “Hulk, let me walk you into the back room and show you there is nothing hiding back there. But once I do, I need you to leave since you’re distracting the other customers.”
Amazingly he agrees (I think it wanted it for his son for Christmas and was getting antsy with not being able to find one) and I walk him to our back room (it’s a small store so you can see everything back there in about a minute), he sees we have no 360s, and agrees to leave as per our arrangement. He ended up coming by a few times after that but had stopped asking about 360s. Nice guy if a little persistent.
On a very rainy night in 2005 or 2006, at around 2am in South Philadelphia, I decided I was in the mood for some freshly baked donuts which get delivered to the local 24hr Dunkin Donuts around that time every day.
After picking up my tasty treats, I popped into the CVS which is situated right next door to the DD.
I walked through the automatic sliding doors and headed straight for the drink refrigerators but I spotted a familiar face as it passed me. I stopped, thought “it looks like him, but he’s all puffy and disheveled looking, but I think that’s him”, so I turned around, and said “Raven?”
He spun around, looked at me and said “hey man.” I quickly told him how I used to watch him all the time on tv and was a big fan. He thanked me and started to walk off before halting in his tracks and saying “hey, you don’t have a phone charger I could use, do you?”.
I didn’t have one, and told him so. And we went on our separate ways.
The year was about 1999 and The Rock had just blown up to be one of the top 2 most popular wrestlers - him and Stone Cold. The Rock was coming a local mall to sign autographs. It was packed and he was charging anywhere from $15-$25 for an autograph (I forget exactly - 17 years ago). We were college kids, not waiting in line, and not paying for an autograph. However, we saw his Lincoln Navigator stretch limousine in the parking lot, so we had a better idea. We stalked out the limo and waited for him to leave.
After exiting the mall premises, the limo was driving on a 2 lane road. We, in our 2 cars, had one drive very slowly in front of him while the other pulled along side. The windows were tinted so we couldn’t see in the back, but the driver was certainly responding to our yelling by yelling back and giving us the finger, etc.
Then they pull into a gas station. Rock gets out to get some gum. Dude was awesome. As a big fan, I asked him if I could get a People’s Handshake. He told me no. I stuttered. Then he told me he only gives People’s Pounds. He pounded us all (6 of us), then signed our shirts, our elbows (ala The People’s Elbow), and talked wrestling with us for a few minutes. It was very cool that he didn’t yell at a bunch of 18 year old punks and even listened to our theories as to what was going to happen at the next pay-per-view and throw some BS theories back. Genuine nice guy to people that he didn’t have to be nice to.
It’s 1987 and a group of us with wife and girlfriend go to a wrestling show in a small bullshit town in Alabama known only for a monument of a bug that would eat all the crops; Dothan, Al.
My takeaways from the matches: Eddie Gilbert wore lifts and was short as shit, the Lord Humunguswas huge. As you likely know, he became Sid Vicious later. We go to a sawdust bar later and who’s at the bar drinking? Lord Humungus. He was a large guy. So the lead smartass with us eased over and said “Lord Humungus, you are humongous” And he rumbled back “yea, that’s kind of the point, dickhead.”
Not sure of the date but back when [wrestling promotion] ran matches all the time at [arena located in state prominent former NWA wrestler is closely associated with]. My 18 yo self and my uncle (only 6 years older than me) plus one of his stoner buddies go to a night match. Usual fun. The Koloffs, Ricky Steamboat and of course…the biggest mouth of all [prominent former NWA wrestler] I don’t think he was fighting that night, but was just there to do color with [announcing partner].
This was in the prime of his [flamboyant image]. My uncle was a head so he was pretty high but I started yelling during one of the sessions with [announcing partner] (we were right at the edge over looking the shot) that [prominent former NWA wrestler] smelled like Jovan Musk. About the 10th time I said it he turned and looked at me but didn’t say anything.
So after all the festivities…we are in the parking lot having a smoke when out walks [prominent former NWA wrestler] himself with some woman that the only thing natural on her was her bad accent. My uncle being a genius decides we are going to follow them since it is only around 9:00pm.
[City located in state prominent former NWA wrestler is closely associated with] back then was not the mecca of small bars and great locations it is today. Pretty much, you ended up at the same place. The bar in the old Holiday Inn tower downtown. Yep, there he was with his ‘trophy’ woman being an obnoxious jackass. Lots of [signature shout]s and such in the air. We sat down at a table about 20 feet away and ordered a few beers. After a bit he starts giving us the stink eye. I guess he recognized us from the arena. The bouncer was also the dishwasher and he was a big black guy, like Kimbo Slice in the good days, named Clarence that worked at a lot of the bars around town at one time or another. Nice fellow. Never gave you any hassle. If you were drunk, he just picked you up and took you out side and sat you down. Never saw him hit anyone, until about 2 minutes later.
[Prominent former NWA wrestler] started yelling for them to kick us ‘rednecks’ out of the bar. Said we were bothering him and his lady. Yelled at Clarence to do something about it and Clarence was washing glasses, looked over at us, looked at [prominent former NWA wrestler] and said ‘They ain’t bothering no one. You are the only one being a problem.’ and went back to washing glasses. [prominent former NWA wrestler] stood up, walked over to where Clarence was and said…
“N-word, I told you to throw them out!”
I don’t think there was a single wall, floor or part of the bar that Clarence didn’t bounce that stupid [hair color] fucker off of. Only time [prominent former NWA wrestler] hit him was trying to desperately get him off of himself. The girl just sat there drinking her drink. We sat and watched. And after about 10 minutes of the best fighting we had seen all damn night, Clarence just dragged [prominent former NWA wrestler] out to the vestibule, and went over and told his lady friend to take him to the ER to get his head stitched up.
OF course, we couldn’t wait to see the next TV performance. And there he was. Bandaged head, busted hand. And what did he say had happened? the Kolloffs had jumped him in the parking lot and he single handedly beat both of them down but had suffered a few scrapes and such in the fight.
Never went to a wrestling event again as I knew I would never see a fight better than the one in the Holiday Inn.
Back about 10 years ago, I would go to this hole in the wall strip club. One Wednesday night there were a lot of women crowded around this one guy. Since this is Birmingham Alabama, I’m thinking he’s a dopeboy or a rapper. But I hear the DJ screams, “Shout out to the World Strongest Man in the bitch!” It’s MARK HENRY he is huge. All I’m thinking is that Sexual Chocolate is living his gimmick out.
The next week I went back to the same club, he was there again. This time I was able to sit at a table behind him, and we chatted. He said he was in town rehabbing at Health South. So with my view behind him, I had the best FREE show of naked women doing x-rated things for tips. Mark stayed in the city for a few months. Around that time, I saw him more in the club than I did in the ring for that for that year.
A couple years ago I was part of an indy wrestling show at a local Boys & Girls Club in Simi Valley, CA. Our special guest that night was former WWF superstar Gangrel. Before the show started, I had to go to the bathroom. As I walked in, Gangrel came out of the stall. He looked at me with a huge grin on his face and said “Ah, that’s much better.” I cannot put into words the stench that was emanating from that toilet.
I worked at a steakhouse in Calgary in the early 2000s. Chris Benoit came and sat at the wood one time I was bartending. After a bit I asked for an autograph for a family member and he said no. I replied something like “that’s cool. It’s for my uncle with down syndrome and he’s really into wrestling.” Benoit replied “he has down syndrome? I’ll be right back.”
He left and came back 15 mins later with tons of swag. Autographed posters a shirt and some other stuff, and something about how handicap matters to him. I did not know his son was nor did he tell me. He also took about 15-20 pills that he had sitting openly on the wood in a tissue. No booze but 2 pots of coffee. No joke 2 pots and a bunch of tiny pills.
In early 2002, my brother and I were traveling on vacation with our parents. In LAX airport, we got up from our gate to walk around and grab some food while we waited for our flight to begin boarding. There was about a 5-foot space between us as we walked, and at one point a noticeably large guy wearing all black Adidas gear walked between us and on past us. Like a cartoon, as soon as he passed us we both looked at each other with one of those, “did you just see what I saw?” expressions. It was William Regal, then a heel in the WWE and soon to be ‘commissioner.’
When we got back to our gate, it turned out he was on our flight to Atlanta. My dad had noticed as well, and took us over to where he was sitting to say hello. He looked pretty tired, slumped back in an airport chair, but immediately stood up to shake our hands. We chatted for a minute about the upcoming Wrestlemania, and then left him alone. Being an idiot college student at this time, I had no idea why he stood up to shake our hands, but my dad explained that it was considered polite and respectful to do that, and to this day I always remember it as the day I learned some manners from a WWE wrestler.
I experienced Virgil for a couple of days in Las Vegas whoring himself out and trying to sell bullshit photos of himself to anybody that would listen
1. There was a sign with him outside the store stating Ted DiBaise [sic] would be appearing at the store as well.
2. Trying to get people to buy the pathetic pictures from 25 years ago.
3. Very abrasive to people who wouldn’t engage him in conversation.
4. Telling people he was in 17 Wrestlemanias.
5. Told me he makes around $150,000 in royalties from WWE.
I believe after 2 days the store threw him out.
This is Gawker Media’s last week as an independent media operation, and while that shouldn’t affect you much one way or the other as a reader, we’re still going to take advantage of a pretext to run some especially stupid posts. If you have any ideas for such posts, hit us at firstname.lastname@example.org.