Well, another Cauliflower Alley Club reunion is in the books, and as usual it was a wonderful weekend of spending time with friends both old and new who share a love for this crazy, unpredictable business we call professional wrestling. For those who are unaware of what CAC is and what it does, head on over to www.caulifloweralleyclub.org and check out the charity. I’ll wait.
Are you up to speed now? Hope so, because it will save time if I don’t have to explain it all. Upon arriving at the Gold Coast Hotel and Casino on Sunday, the day before the reunion was set to begin, I ran into a few wrestlers already arriving and enjoying the slots. Sebastian Ice was the first guy I saw, having a talk with security. You can draw your own conclusions, but things couldn’t have gone too badly, as I saw him many more times throughout the next three days. After I checked in and brought my things up to my room, I headed out to get my car from the valet, and ran into EWF Commissioner Frank Mott and his lovely wife Marilyn in the lobby. As Commissioner, he had arrived first to make sure everything went well with the EWF table we were sponsoring in the Nostalgia Room this year, and to make sure we had everything we needed for the table to be a success. After getting a quick rundown on what Frank needed from me for this week, I headed out into Sin City to enjoy my Sunday night.
On Monday I had some family business to attend to, and by the time I arrived back at the Gold Coast the place was pumping. I went up the the CAC Nostalgia Room and the EWF contingent was there in force. The Sunset Boulevarde Bad Boy Richie Slade, Tab Jackson, Prince Raccid Najjir, Jake Alexander, D.K. Murphy, Yyan Nakano, Webmaster Wade Needham, Sgt. Sanders, and EWF Champion Brandon Gatson were all up there pitching in to make our booth a success. The room was also full of legends. I spotted Boogie Woogie Man Jimmy Valiant selling his book. The Destroyer/ Dr. X Dick Beyer was sitting there. I don’t care how many times I see Dick Beyer at CAC, I always get a chill up my spine the first time I see him. Ivan Koloff Was there. Mad Dog Vachon. Nick Bockwinkle. Of course the Original Mr. Wonderful Rock Riddle was there with the lovely Miss Denise.
Walking into the nostalgia room is a thing to really behold, and a reason in and of itself to visit a CAC reunion. The room is filled with classic photos of the stars of yesterday and today. There are posters from shows, photos of wrestlers from the early 30’s and stars of today. Just standing in that room and watching all the people milling about is a fantastic sight to behold. All of these different people who would never know each other under different circumstances, from all over the world, and they are united by one thing: an unrelenting passion and love for professional wrestling. They are so different, yet they all share that bond you could never explain to someone who does not share that passion.
Yet as amazing as that feeling is when you walk into that room, as deep as the pride and the happiness shared among those who truly understand, you know that the worst part is about to happen. The unavoidable elephant in the middle of the room. As many wonderful feelings as this love for the business arouses within you, it’s that same passion which causes the hurt. In the middle of the room is the collection of photos of our brothers and sisters who have left us since the last Cauliflower Alley Reunion. This year there were so many people on that display. Count Billy Varga. Farmer John Allen. Marquis de Paree. Billy the Kid. Tito Montez. Mod Squad member Spike. Victor S. Kalfus. Danny Williams. Ciclon Negro. Don Carson. Eric The Great. Moondog Spike. A 25 year young man named Reid Flair. And a man who was scheduled to be honored by the CAC this year, Percival Pringle III. Looking at all those pictures together is a very moving experience, especially when a guy you met or talked to the at the previous year’s reunion is on that wall. Last year Percy was sitting at the EWF table at the Baloney Blowout, and this year he is part of the memorial. His loss was felt throughout the SoCal community, and it really cast a bit of a shadow over this year’s reunion. After the Nostalgia Room closed for the day, it was time for the big Vendetta Pro show in the main ballroom.
I do not have full results of the Vendetta Pro Show, but I’m sure they will be able to be found somewhere on SoCaluncensored. The show had 12 matches, stretched for close to 5 hours, and concluded with a 55 man rumble which was won by local superstar Sinn Bodhi. It showcased many fine wrestlers from all over the world, and I would like to take the time to put over three matches in particular. The opening match of Billy Blade(with Bill Alfonso) vs. Willie Mack was very good. Matt Riviera had a good one with B. Brian Blair. Blair doesn’t look to have aged a single day since Wrestlemania 3. Every year it’s a treat to see the legend in action. Also, there was a great gauntlet tag team match which features the Von Dooms, the Ballard Brothers, Damien 666 y Bestia 666, and a few other teams. Very good stuff. It was also great to notice a lot of other people from the Socal area had arrived at CAC. I saw Dave MArquez, Stu Stone, and Angelo Trinidad from CWFH. I also saw Jay Stone, from like 7 SoCal promotions, and Logan X, Whiskey Fists Macintosh, Tex Tunney, and Vandal Drummond from MPW. Terra Calaway was sitting in the crowd still nursing that nasty knee injury.
At the end of the VPW show, everyone kinda drifted to the many bars around the Gold Coast, but the bar in the bowling alley which has $5 pitchers of beer was as popular this year as it is every year. All in all, this was a great first night of this year’s CAC reunion, and I was so happy to see SoCal represented so well. In the past it has made me sad that so many local wrestlers make the decision to blow off CAC. As I will write about in the 2nd part of this article, CAC is a place where knowledge about the wrestling business is given freely. It is a place you can learn things you would never have a chance to learn other places. It’s also a place you can walk up to a guy like Nick Bockwinkel, and if you act respectful he will let you pick his brain about the business. We are just a few hours’ drive from Vegas, and it’s shameful to see more guys flying across the country for this. All the guys from EWF making the effort made me very proud to be a part of the Empire Wrestling Federation, and confirms my belief that Jesse is really teaching the boys proper respect for the business and it’s history. That’s not a slam on anyone else in SoCal, it’s just a statement of pride on my part. After arriving home this week, I have seen a few local wrestlers who claimed they were too broke to attend CAC bragging on Facebook that they are partying in Vegas this weekend, and it makes me shake my head. These are the kind of guys who will find nothing but trouble in this business when they try to succeed, and then wonder where they went wrong. Those are the guys who need to clear their calendar for next April.
Day 2 of the 2013 Cauliflower Alley Club Reunion began much like it does every year. The Nostalgia Room was pumping with visitors and there were seminars going on down the hall. This year, since I was helping out with the EWF booth, I didn’t make it out to the seminars, but from what I hear they were very good. For those who are wondering, here are the titles of the seminars they ran on Tuesday:
Seminar #1: Dan Kroffat, “Life After Wrestling Starts NOW!”
Seminar #2: Steve Hooper, “Working With the Zebra”
Seminar #3: Paul ‘Butcher’ Vachon, Tom Andrews, Beverly Shade, Bruce Swayze, “The Lessons We Learned”
I heard great things about each and every one of these programs, and would have attended all of them if I wasn’t at the EWF table. Some of the wrestlers of EWF were willing to work the table, but since I’m an announcer, I felt the wrestlers had more to learn from the programs than I did, so I was very happy to stay with Jake Alexander and Sgt. Sanders to work the table. Tuesday will someday be notable because we attempted the very first EWF podcast, entitled “Vulgar Display of Podcast,” and it was a complete trainwreck. Black Metal arrived at the table and myself, Metal, and Sgt. Sanders started cursing up a storm. It was fun watching what was going on in the room and goofing at some of the more ridiculous gimmicks being run.
It’s time to talk about the Baloney Blowout. This is the informal dinner held on Tuesday night of each year’s reunion. The dinner is a small buffet with various cold cuts and rolls, alongside salads and cookies. It is supposed to represent when wrestlers are traveling the circuit back in the territory days and all they could afford on the way to the next town was baloney if they wanted to have beer money as well. After everyone makes a plate, they give away some of the smaller awards.
The first award was the Golden Ear award, to someone who has had interesting careers in more than wrestling, and has worked a few different successful gimmicks. This award was presented to David Cantu. He was a veteran of the US Armed forces as well as a hell of a professional wrestler.
The second award was the Jason Sanderson Humanitarian Award went to Lord Zoltan, aka Ken Jugan. After retiring from pro wrestling, Zoltan started a school for the deaf in Pittsburgh, and frequently raises money for this school via fundraisers involving pro wrestling. Mr. Jugan went out of his way to arrange for an interpreter for the hearing impaired at this year’s reunion, as every year there are many hearing impaired attendees, and he wanted them to be represented this year. He said one of his goals in life was “For everyone to be treated the same.” This is the kind of award that makes me proud to be a part of the Cauliflower Alley Club. While it might not seem as glamorous to honor a guy like Jugan, he represents what the “Ring of Friendship” is really all about.
George Schire was presented the Wrestling Historian Award by Dick Beyer in the first great speech of this year’s reunion. This was not a surprise, as every year when the Destroyer grabs the mic everyone knows they are in for a treat. I won’t even try to recap his speech, as the jokes would lose something in the retelling. If you wanna hear the Destroyer talk, you will just have to head to Vegas next year.
The Future Legend Award went to Bobby Sharp of Shadow Park (dramatic pause), Alberta, Canada. He was one of four finalists for this year’s award, but I have to confess this year’s award wasn’t near as interesting as last year when three local guys in Adam Pearce, and Billy Blade, and current Empire Wrestling Federation Champion Brandon Gatson were all nominated. Mr. Sharp accepted his award with a little fanfare, and when he received his award from Melissa Anderson he was also given a kiss from everyone’s favorite cheerleader. If that’s not incentive to aspiring wrestlers everywhere to win this award, I don’t know what is.
After the blowout, everyone headed all over to the casino to the respective bars, and I ended up in the bowling alley where I watched a hotly contested bout of bowling featuring the MPW crew as well as Tab Jackson, Richie Slade, and Yyan Nakano. Watching Whiskeyfists MacIntosh celebrate a strike is something everyone should witness before they die.
All in all, day two of the CAC reunion was a fantastic time, but served to whet everyone’s appetite for the main event of the banquet on day 3.