The Night I Got To Be a Manager: A Tribute to My Father (Part Three)
It's been long overdue, but I have finally gotten around to writing the third Installment of "A Tribute To My Father: A Professional Wrestler". Thanks for being patient with me, and hope you all enjoy this one just as much as the others.
This story takes place in a small town in west Georgia called Bowdon. Bowdon Junction was a small venue where weekly wrestling shows were held for the North Georgia Wrestling Association.
My father, as mentioned in previous articles, was a heel tag team wrestler named "The Texas Hangman." His tag team partner was named "The Tennessee Hangman." Together, they made the duo of "The Henchman."
At the time this story I am about to tell took place, they were the tag teams champions of the NGWA after beating the Armstrong brothers (Scott & Steve).
The Armstrongs were really over with fans in that area, so needless to say The Henchman didn't get cheered by anyone, ever.
The one thing in local wrestling that always helps a heel get over is having a manager. A manager likely plays a role in every match finish on the local circuit that he/she is involved in.
The Henchman were managed by "Big Daddy" Bagwell. Mike Bagwell was a cocky, arrogant, better than the fans manager who carried a golden cane and dressed in expensive suits.
He "invested" in the Henchman to bring him power over the people in his area. It was a great gimmick.
Time after time after time, Mike would distract the referee or slip something into the ring or simply get dq-ed to keep the tag titles on The Henchman. As a fan, it made me just as mad as it did the rest of the crowd every week.
Up until this point, I had no idea that parts of wrestling were staged. I was around nine. I went to the shows every weekend obviously and had a good time rooting for the good guys and booing the bad guys.
So here we are in Bowdon. The Henchman once again have won a tag match thanks to interference from "Big Daddy" Bagwell. They had defeated a guy simply called "Edwards" and Jerry "The King" Lawler's cousin, Steve "The Brawler" Lawler.
Lawler had apparently had enough while The Henchman were walking away and grabbed a microphone to cut a promo.
I was trying to solve my rubix cube (which I still haven't, 16 years later and counting), oblivious to my surroundings and not even listening to what the man had to say. That was, until he got to the end of his promo.
If I may paraphrase, it went a little something like this:
"I'm sick and tired of every single week not having someone to watch our backs like you punks do! And that's why we refuse to wrestle next week unless that boy in the front row in the wheelchair comes with us!"
I dropped the rubix cube and began to hyperventilate.
What? I said what?
It was not my first time in front of an audience before. When Dad first began wrestling as a baby-face, he used to bring me to the ring with him. But that was it. I had no role.
This was totally different. For one night, I became a character.
I had one week to be filled in on what to do. It sounded simple enough to me.
"Big Daddy" Bagwell carried a golden cane, as mentioned before. He often used it to help The Henchman win their matches.
I've come to learn that Dad had no idea Lawler was going to cut that promo. All he knew was that no one was doing a skit with me involved unless it was just me and him, because he didn't trust anyone else.
You can kind of guess where this story is heading.
So fast forward to that next Saturday.
The Henchman are in the ring waiting and Lawler's music hits and here we go. I have on my suit just like Bagwell did and I had my miniature cane. I high-fived the crowd and pointed my cane at him.
They were eating it up. He acted all mad and scared. It was a pretty good start.
The ending of the match was there. Mike had jumped up on the apron and slid brass knuckles into Dad. When dad went to use them on Lawler, he ducked and threw dad through the ropes in front of me.
I had mixed emotions. There was my father. The man who brought me into this world. The man who put food on my table. And now I'm supposed to hit him to make these fans happy? Are you serious? Should I?
Oh hell yeah!
He tried using the side of my wheelchair to pull himself up, and when he did, I clocked him over the head with that little cane and broke the crystal ball off of the top of it.
He got tossed back in the ring by Edwards and Lawler got the pin and became the new tag team champions.
To this day, that was the only time I've ever gotten to be an actual character in a wrestling event. Even at nine, the adrenaline rush is unbelievable. I can only imagine how good it will feel now. Hope you all enjoyed the read.
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