Editor’s note: This column was originally written in the spring of 2011. It is one of my favorites. Plus, the Bella Twins are the 3rd most popular profile on OWW, behind only John Cena and Roman Reigns. That seems relevant. People like the Bellas. So, I hope you enjoy this look back at the 2011 CAC Reunion, and how I came to appreciate Nikki and Brie as WWE Divas.
It’s not every day you attend a wedding where the minister is wearing sneakers, guests are dressed in Rey Mysterio masks, and the groom is sporting a mohawk. Pretty wild. Although I’m not sure why I was surprised by the whole thing considering this is professional wrestling and I was in Las Vegas. Right there that’s an interesting cocktail.
I’ve been working for Diva Dirt for 1.5 years now and it’s been a crazy ride so far. I’ve enjoyed most of the experience: hosting radio programs, conducting interviews, writing my column, and learning from my fellow coworkers. I’ve also enjoyed meeting many of the readers of the site. You guys keep this fun for all of us. Sure there have been some negatives, like dealing with haters and getting my self-esteem smashed every week on Diva Dirt Live, but for the most part it’s been a blast.
I recognize and appreciate that working for Diva Dirt definitely has its perks. Recently Jason and Melanie asked if I wanted to cover this year’s Cauliflower Alley Club (CAC) reunion. I had never heard of CAC but I was sold the minute they told me the reunion was held in Las Vegas, NV every year. Do I want to go to Vegas to cover the CAC reunion? Truthfully, I couldn’t say “yes” fast enough. The only sticking point was telling my wife I would be heading in Vegas to cover a wrestling convention for 4 days. I needed to make sure I had her blessing so she wouldn’t be referred to as “wife #1” in future columns. Hmm, that would be tricky but I would figure it out. “Yes I will go! Yes! Yes! Yes!”
Las Vegas is my favorite city in the world. I love everything about it. The shows. The food. The nightclubs. The gambling. Everything. I even love the history of Las Vegas. I’ve mentioned before “Bugsy” is my favorite movie of all time. I’m so into Ben Segal I even read a book about his girlfriend Virginia Hill (what a fascinating chick by the way. She was basically playing the mob against each other and calling all the shots…she was like the Mafioso version of Vickie Guerrero!) But maybe the thing I love most about Vegas is that I never look at my watch when I’m there. My daily life is so structured that I love the freedom to do whatever I want whenever I want. Trust me, if you are married and have kids you know what I’m talking about.
Sadly it had been several years since my last visit. I used to go for conferences all the time but ever since the economy took a steel chair to the face my company won’t send people on “business trips” as often, especially to cities like Vegas where work takes a backseat to…well…everything else. So I was excited to be headed back in Sin City. (About the only thing I don’t like about Vegas is the famous tag line: “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!” It should read “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas…except for STDs, they follow you home.” You’ve been warned.)
I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect at the CAC reunion but I knew I would be working the Female Fight League / Diva Dirt booth with Jason Deadrich (our esteemed owner) and Cheerleader Melissa. They’ve been there many times so I figured they would point me in the right direction and help me get acclimated. I did know I’d be pretty busy so I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t be able to find time for my single favorite Las Vegas tradition.
Every time I go to Vegas I make sure I get tickets for “The Magic of Rick Thomas”, a campy show starring magician Rick Thomas that includes tricks, illusions, hot backup dancers, and a few Bengal tigers. More than likely you’ve never heard of Rick Thomas; he’s not David Copperfield or Lance Burton, both Vegas mainstays. But Thomas puts on a fun little show that doesn’t take itself too seriously and leaves the audience smiling. And considering the price of tickets compared to Lance Burton, it’s a bargain.
I’ve seen Rick about six times now. Every show is the same…the same tricks, the same jokes, the same routines. The same “I just got back from Japan” story. That kills me because he always seems to be in Vegas when I am, when does he sneak in all these trips? And how does he cart along 4 Bengal tigers? (I guess he’s like Jake Roberts, always packing up the animals for the next show.) I saw Rick at the Tropicana several times, followed him to the Orleans, the Sahara, and finally now to the Stardust. The venue may change but the experience never does. Rick cracks me up and going to his show never gets old. It’s like seeing one of your favorite movies over and over again.
My friends and I always laugh that Rick used to be advertised as the “#1 Daytime Show in Las Vegas” which is like a TV show saying it’s the “#1 new cop drama on CBS”, what’s the sample size again? Since his show was only about an hour long I was sure I could scoot out to the Stardust one afternoon. But then my friend sent me a text, “Hey, bad news, Rick’s show starts at 7pm.” What?!? My buddy Rick was now playing at night? But…my nights were already completely booked. Uh oh. How was I going to work this out? I really didn’t want to break my Vegas tradition. (I’m actually a big fan of tradition. I blame my dad; he was the lead in “Fiddler on the Roof” for like 20 years.)
I quickly got over my disappointment, however, because the CAC reunion was a lot of fun. During the day we worked the Female Fight League booth in the convention hall and talked to guests about women’s wrestling and the types of projects we are working on. Having Melissa there was great because everybody knows her and wanted to come over and say hi. A mix of fans and former wrestlers mingled around checking out memorabilia, telling stories, and playing games of cribbage. It was very relaxed and a nice way to spend time with other wrestling personalities. And as I mentioned earlier a couple even got married one day! Let me tell you the Royal Wedding had nothing on this guest list. (Did you see anyone wearing a lucha mask in London? I didn’t think so. Really the only thing those weddings had in common was that I wasn’t invited to either one…)
The evening events were outstanding and served as the backdrop for the awards ceremonies. Tuesday night was the “Baloney Blowout”, where deli meats and other cold cuts were served for dinner, an homage to wrestlers who spent years on the road, barely making enough money to eat. I looked around and saw an impressive list of former and current wrestlers, including among others: Ted DiBiase, Jake Roberts, Bob Orton (sadly without the arm cast), the GLOW girls, Awesome Kong, Honky Tonk Man, and Rick Martel. During this event Darlin’ Dagmar was honored for her contributions to women’s wrestling. For those of you who don’t know, Dagmar was a midget wrestler and a big contributor to her sport back in the 1950’s. I enjoyed spending a few minutes chatting with her and she seemed thrilled to be at CAC receiving such a nice award. Tuesday’s main award went to Mick Foley, who was physically a lot bigger than I expected him to be. A nice guy for sure, and his speech was a nice way to wrap the day (well, until a group of us headed out to Planet Hollywood to check out their new gaming area. Did I mention I love Las Vegas?)
The next night was the big, formal banquet where the rest of the awards were presented. The WWE sponsored a table and some recognizable names from their past turned out for the festivities, including Terry Funk, Jerry Brisco, Stacy “The Kat” Carter, Brian Blair, Ricky Steamboat, and Jim Ross (who looks very healthy, by the way). Also sitting at the WWE table was 2011 Hall of Fame inductee Sunny. She looked gorgeous and since I was sitting behind their table and I could see her new HOF ring, which looked lovely on her finger. We can debate the HOF all we want but the rings are pretty damn nice. The evening’s top honoree was Sergeant Slaughter, who was all decked out in a camouflage sport coat and Smokey Bear hat. The Sarge was introduced by none other than the greatest talker in pro wrestling history, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. I can’t even put it into words how magnificent “Hot Rod” was, his 20 minute introduction was classic Piper: rambling, hilarious, nonsensical, disjointed, and completely brilliant. Nobody’s ever been better. (He called Slaughter “Uncle Bob” and thanked him for taking him under his wing when he was starting out in the business.)
Two awards were handed out that night to female wrestlers: Awesome Kong got the active women’s wrestling award and Rockin’ Robin got the retired women’s wrestling award. Kong gave a gracious speech and showed some genuine emotion about her current opportunity to work for WWE. It was a nice moment and I’m even more excited to see how this plays out for her (I don’t really love her new ring name but I do think the promos have been great.) Kong is a sweetie and it’s still amusing to me how different these people are from their ring characters.
Rockin’ Robin looked lovely and carried herself with elegance and grace. Her acceptance speech was funny because her half-brother Jake Roberts was sitting there and she retold the story about how the entire family didn’t think his snake gimmick would ever work. People got a kick out of that. She also talked about her infamous rendition of America the Beautiful before the start of Wrestlemania 5. I was there that night in Atlantic City and honestly I don’t remember it being that bad (but I don’t really remember what I ate for breakfast yesterday, so who knows…). What I do know is that seeing Robin accept this nice honor from CAC was a highlight for me, because as much as I love the stars of today I will always honor and respect the stars of yesterday that have made professional wrestling such a big part of my life.
Seeing Kong and Robin receive their awards were stand-out moments but the most fun I had during the entire reunion was hanging out with the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, the legendary GLOW girls. For children of the 80’s the GLOW girls were a fun mix of entertainment, comedy, drama, and wrestling (sounds kind of like the Divas of today, no?) The CAC reunion was their first public appearance together in 20 years and the 12-13 girls who returned seemed to love every minute. They were a nutty bunch and I loved hearing their road stories. They all seemed to appreciate their time as GLOW girls and especially this opportunity to reunite with their fellow cast members. Little Egypt said it was hard locating many of the girls after all this time because she couldn’t find their contact information. They used to call each other by their screen names and Mt. Fiji, Dallas, and Farmer’s Daughter aren’t listed in the Yellow Pages. (NOTE: A special thanks to Hollywood, Little Egypt, and MTV for allowing me to interview them for Diva Dirt!)
I flew home the next day completely worn out. Las Vegas always wins in the end. If you do it right you can only last a few days before you tap out. On the flight home I was reflecting back on the events of the week, and about how CAC is a wonderful tribute to the rich history and tradition of this crazy sport. As for my own traditions, I was sorry to miss “The Magic of Rick Thomas” but I know I’ll catch him next time (unless he is in Japan again…). As goofy as he is, and as cheesy as his routines are, his magic tricks and illusions are really very good.
For some reason this made me think of the Bella Twins. Recently Brie Bella captured the Divas championship by defeating Eve Torres. As always Nikki was by her side and the Bellas used a modified version of their Twin Magic to confuse the referee and distract Eve. I’ve been critical before of Twin Magic because it reminds me too much of Masked Confusion, the same switch-a-roo nonsense the Killer Beers used 1000 times to beat the Hart Foundation (excuse me while I go stick my head in the microwave for a few minutes…).
But I have to give the Bellas credit. I have really enjoyed them in recent months as they have stepped away from being just valets and started to develop actual “on screen” personalities. I especially like them as heels, each showing an edge, a nastiness that has been fun to watch. To me this was always the missing piece of the Bella puzzle. I like Brie and Nikki as wrestlers (no, they’re no reinventing Lucha Libra, but still…), I like their fashion sense, and I even enjoy their theme song (I’m a sucker for ring music. I think I miss Maria’s entrance theme more than Maria herself.) The WWE just never seemed to give the girls anything important to do which fueled the belief they were only on the roster because they were twins.
Being twins makes them unique, but it doesn’t make them interesting. Until recently. Even Twin Magic is growing on me because Brie and Nikki have used it in clever ways, outsmarting the other Divas to pick up a string of victories. Eve thought she had their tricks figured out and even used a black Sharpie to indicate to the referee which girl was her opponent that night. Kind of clever actually, although I would have just pointed out to the ref that one of the Bellas has a distinctive tattoo “somewhere” (which isn’t mentioned by WWE because, umm…this is a family show…).
But Brie and Nikki still found a way to fool Eve and steal her championship. They have turned into quite the magicians and now, with Brie wearing the Divas championship, they are starting to get the chance to showcase their considerable wrestling skills. Strip away everything and the Bella Twins are really very good. Finally they have gone from a day-time act to a prime-time Vegas headliner, just like my buddy Rick Thomas.
However, keeping the championship will not be easy. Raw now features a long list of girls ready to crash the party and the Bellas will need to use every trick up their sleeve to stay on top.