One of the great appeals of Classic Professional Wrestling is that the audience needs to somewhat suspend beliefs. Unlike today’s product where a guy can get hit by 500 chair shots and get right back up a second later, the pre-sports entertainment years were full of wrestling myths. There were many myths including one wrestler was a relative of the other because they had the same name (like Terry Garvin was a brother of Ronnie Garvin-which he wasn’t related to him, but Jimmy Garvin was indeed Ronnie’s real life stepson), to many wrestlers were always bad guys or good guys (Hulk Hogan was a heel before Hulkamania, Dusty Rhodes was a heel, and Ted Dibiase was a face before his WWF career and Ivan Koloff was a face in 1988).
Due to the territories, one wrestler may be a heel (bad guy) until a few months later when they journeyed to a different territory across the country to be the top babyface (good guy). Any wrestling fan knows that Vince McMahon Jr was known to ignore a wrestler’s previous stint at another league, which is why he gave the wrestlers different gimmicks and never acknowledged that they may have been in the WWF years before. Rick Martel, Barry Windham, and Curt Hennig were never known to have a few visits in the WWF before their more successful gimmicks occurred.
I am also going to ignore several of the myths that a certain wrestler was not actually what the gimmick showed, like Barry Darsow wasn’t from Russia when he was in Jim Crockett’s NWA, nor is Ivan Koloff. However, I wanted to write about a few wrestling myths that some people may not know about. Here are a few wrestling myths:
- The Von Erichs were always good guy babyfaces. In the Texas area, there were no bigger crowd favorites than the famous Von Erich family, consisting of Kevin, Kerry, David, Chris, and Mike. Even father Fritz was a big favorite in the World Class Championship Wrestling circuit. Many may know that Fritz started out his career as a heel German character, but most do not know that David was part of a heel stable in Florida around 1981-1982. He was managed by J.J. Dillon ‘s stable of Von Erich,Jimmy Garvin, and Kendo Nagasaki. David even had a match in the WWF as well. Around 1983 David went back to Texas and became the huge star in Texas, even was rumored to win the NWA Title. It was not common for wrestlers to have a heel run early in the career; many are shocked to hear that David was a heel for a short time.
- Hulk Hogan’s Wrestlemania 3 win made him the first wrestler to beat Andre the Giant and body slam him. This was a great storyline going into Wrestlemania 3 in 1987 where WWF Champion Hulk Hogan was forced to face his idol Andre the Giant for the title after Andre’s years of being undefeated and never been body slammed. When Hogan did both in the match, it cemented Hogan as the dominate champion and the hero of the WWF. Vince McMahon Jr. protected his characters and was not going to let the public know that several wrestlers slammed Andre in the past. Hogan did it before in the WWF in 1980 at Shea Stadium, along with several other times. Stan Hansen slammed Andre in 1981 in Japan, Harley Race in 1978, Butcher Vachon in 1971 at Soldier Field, and The Wild Samoans slammed him in a 6 man tag match that is featured in WWE’s “Legends of Mid South Wrestling” DVD. Remember in 1984 when Andre got his haircut on WWF TV in a match with SD Jones vs Big John Studd and Ken Patera? They slammed Andre to set up the event. Many fans knew this history if they collected the famous wrestling magazines, but the WWF tried their best to hide this myth. There is a great youtube video of a fan that combined several clips of Andre getting slammed.
As for the “Undefeated Streak?” Andre lost by pinfall in Mexico in 1984, and had draws with Nick Bockwinkel and Harley Race, and lost in Japan to Antonio Inoki.
- The Fabulous Freebirds were never in the WWF. This year’s Hall of Fame Tag Team Honorees had a memorable speech, and many of today’s fans may not remember how great the Freebirds were, especially in the Texas area, but they wrestled in World Class Wrestling, Mid South, the AWA, and WCW. The Freebirds did show up for a small stint in the WWF around 1984, which was the start of the Rock N Wrestling Connection. The Freebirds (Terry Gordy, Michael Hayes, and Buddy Roberts) wrestled at a few shows before leaving the WWF for the AWA. One rumor was that the WWF officials wanted to break up the team , while Hayes has said on recent podcasts that he was in trouble when he showed up drunk at an event which angered Andre the Giant. In 1996-1997, Gordy returned to the WWE under a mask as “The Executioner,” teaming with Mankind (Mick Foley) in his feud with The Undertaker. Gordy interfered in the “Buried Alive “ Match with ‘Taker and Mankind and then lost a match with Taker shortly after. Hayes returned around 1995 wrestling a few matches before becoming an announcer and later managing The Hardy Boys. Even though there have been some questionable Hall of Fame Inductees in the WWE, with some never competing in the WWWF, WWF, or WWE, but many do not remember the Freebirds and a short run in the league.
- Razor Ramon vs Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania X was the first ladder match in the WWF. There was a time when the ladder match was something new and interesting. There are some conflicting events on who and when the first ladder match occurred, but in Stampede Wrestling in Canada, a ladder match in 1972 between Don Kroffat and Tor Kamata happened, with money being at the top of the ladder, not a title. Since Stampede Wrestling was run by Stu Hart, it was probably Bret Hart’s idea to have the first WWF ladder match in 1992 for the Intercontinental Title against challenger Shawn Michaels. Bret won the match which took place in Portland Maine, and was shown on a WWF Coliseum Home Video (which also showed Bret winning his first WWF Title against Ric Flair), called “Smack Em Whack Em.” Bret faced Bad News Allen in a ladder match in 1983 in Stampede Wrestling. Even though many wrestling fans consider the Michaels/Ramon one of the best ladder matches, or even Edge and Christian tag matches, it was Bret Hart and Michaels that participated in the first WWF ladder match in 1992.
- The Mystery of MR X. For years WWF TV shows were mainly the stars fighting jobbers, or enhanced talent (Wrestlers who would lose every week to put over the talent so the star vs star matches would occur at the arena shows in the local area not on TV). It was not uncommon for wrestlers to wear masks and wrestle several matches on a card in case a wrestler could not attend or injury occurred before the event. “Playboy” Buddy Rose wrestled Tito Santana at Wrestlemania 1 as “The Excutioner,” Steve Lombardi wrestled as one of many Doink The Clowns and Kim Chee, the handler of Kamala.
However in the early 1980s several enhancement talent actually had fan followings and put on great matches, almost beating the star at times but coming up short. From 1984-1986, a masked wrestler wearing red, named MR X was a wrestler that I enjoyed seeing. He was just a wrestler that got beat by the likes of Junkyard Dog, Ricky Steamboat or other WWF fan favorites. MR X even fought Pedro Morales and Bruno Sammartino, two former champions. It wasn’t until recently I found out who was behind the mask, and some fans may be shocked to know that MR X was the referee turned wrestler Danny Marsh, aka Dangerous Danny Davis (not to be confused with wrestler Nightmare Danny Davis). Davis was a referee who started helping the heels in matches, including a cage match of Saturday Nights Main Event between Hulk Hogan and Paul Orndorff, where two referees each claimed the other wrestler hit the arena floor first to win the match. It wasn’t until 1987 that Davis was a part of a major storyline that got him”fired” as a referee. He was the referee in a match between then Tag Team Champions The British Bulldogs vs The Hart Foundation where he ignored the cheating of the Harts and helped them win the WWF Tag Titles on the television show “Superstars.”
This match was interesting to me when I watched it when it aired because the WWF never really had title changes on television at that time and was getting into the pay per view scene with two Wrestlemanias and The Wrestling Classic. Seeing a title change hands was rare, and being a Bulldog fan, made me irate. The results of the match made Davis a WWF Wrestler after being “banned” from refereeing and become an official member of the Hart Foundation. He wrestled with The Harts vs Tito Santana and The Bulldogs at Wrestlemania 3, the biggest card of the year. Davis wrestled other wrestlers like The Junkyard Dog, Koko B Ware, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, and Sam Houston.
The crooked referee angles was used many times before and after the Danny Davis story, including 1988’s Main Event match between Hulk Hogan and Andre, The Montreal Screwjob in 1997, Nick Patrick’s NWO run in 1996, and 1999 Charles Robinson in 1999 when he became the “Little Naitch” character imitating Ric Flair in WCW. However, many still remember the Danny Davis angle the most.
This recent revelation made me look up several other masked wrestlers and their identities that made a fun study for me.
I like studying myths in wrestling, especially in the classic years of 1970s-1990s. From the many people who played Doink the Clown, to why a certain wrestler left the company, there are many myths that can still be searched. Hopefully these myths I just debunked made a good read as well.
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