Silence is Gouldie: What made the Mongolian Stomper so menacing
Most longtime wrestling fans can vividly recall with fervor the first monster heel who scared the bejesus out them in their youth. It’s akin to recalling the first horror movie that really scared you—it makes an indelible impression on your psyche. Although heels such as Joe LeDuc, Darth Vader (yes, he removed the black helmet before locking up with his foe) and Kimala (you say, “Kamala”) would follow in Memphis, none had quite the same impact on me as “The Mongolian Stomper” (Archie Gouldie) one Saturday morning in 1975.
Ignoring the protests of my sister and me, my dad often changed the channel from our cartoons to WHBQ’s Championship Wrestling program. (I wanted Foghorn Leghorn but I had to settle for Lance Russell—some would argue the difference was negligible.) The Stomper was in his first run in the territory and was built up as an indestructible heel force. My first memory of Memphis TV wrestling was a clip of a post-match brawl at the Mid-South Coliseum in which four wrestlers tried to subdue the Stomper, who tossed them away like sacks of garbage. I was only 4 years old, and I was in total awe of this monster who appeared to be the Incredible Hulk come to life. I never forgot that moment. The Stomper had a mystique that captivated Memphis fans–something that is strongly missing from the business today. (For you younger fans, it’s similar to the aura Goldberg had early in his WCW career before he opened his big mouth.)
Gouldie’s orgins can be traced not to Mongolia but to Carbon, Alberta, Canada. A football player for Saskatchewan in the Canadian Football League, he was trained by Stu Hart, after initially being humbled (i.e., stretched) by the dungeon master himself. The story goes Archie brazenly showed up on Stu’s doorstep and vowed that he could kick the ass of any wrestler; the Hart patriarch showed him otherwise.
Gouldie returned weeks later and politely asked Hart to train him. After months of punishment in the infamous dungeon (the makeshift training gym in Stu’s basement), Gouldie became a capable worker and, ultimately, one the most menacing heels in the history of the Stampede territory.
Apparently, I wasn’t the only young man spooked by Gouldie. As Bret Hart recalls as a youngster watching Gouldie pummel his father in matches: “Archie scared me pale many times as a boy.” Later in life, Hart referred to Gouldie as “the ultimate package,” an impressive evaluation coming from one of the all-time best workers in the business.
After capturing the Stampede heavyweight title numerous times, Gouldie began finding work in the United States, winning the Florida version of the Southern title from Robert Fuller in 1974.
Arriving on the Memphis scene in 1975, Gouldie was billed as the Mongolian Stomper, with his hometown announced as “Outer Mongolia.” (Which I believe is somewhere near “Parts Unknown,” I believe.) Manager Bearcat Wright, who could cut a decent promo, was paired with the Stomper…who merely stood there and looked mean.
Following weeks of squashing opponents, often two at a time, Gouldie continued his mastery over the Fuller brothers, winning the Memphis version of the Southern title from 6-foot-9-inch Ron Fuller and solidifying his position as a main-eventer. They pushed the Stomper like crazy, and he got over as quite possibly the most awesome force the Memphis territory had seen since the Infernos. All this without Gouldie saying a single word.
The Mongolian Stomper was a hell of a drawing card in 1975. Rising-star Jerry Lawler had been banished from the territory by promoter Jerry Jarrett after he refused to make a long drive for a spot show the King had deemed unworthy of his royal presence. After months of “purgatory” (as Lawler described it) in territories like Florida and Alabama, the King returned to his castle as a babyface to challenge the Stomper for the Southern title he’d been forced to vacate months earlier. The July 7, 1975, showdown drew an overflow crowd of 11,500 fans, which saw the Stomper retain. (This bout is available in great quality from my friend Rick Crane over at 70s-TV.com on the disc Memphis Wrestling In the ’70s, Vol. 3. Click here for ordering details. There’s a very cool opening shot of the jam-packed Coliseum crowd before the combatants make their way to the ring, introduced by Russell. Watching the video, you can feel the electricity in the air decades later.)
After trading the title the next two weeks, a rematch between Lawler and the Mongolian on July 28 (an hour-long Broadway) drew 10,991 fans. The Stomper drew two more overflow crowds on consecutive weeks, defending the title against the Magnificent Zulu on Aug. 12 (11,700 fans) and Aug. 19 (11,600 fans). Zulu was a muscle-bound stiff who couldn’t work a lick–a testament to Gouldie’s drawing power.
Apparently, though, after spending so much time in the area, Gouldie was apparently picking up a bit of a Southern twang outside the ring. In Jerry Lawler’s bio, IT’S GOOD TO BE THE KING…SOMETIMES, he recalls how Gouldie nearly killed his gimmick after Bearcat left the area abruptly, leaving Gouldie with veteran Al Greene as his manager. But at some point in the interim, Gouldie was allowed to speak on camera. The results were disastrous, as the dreaded foreign heel sounded more like a Memphian than a Mongolian in his first interview on live television. (Following that on-air debacle, I guess “Outside Mongolia” would have been a more accurate description of the Stomper’s native land.) After headlining against Jack Brisco for the NWA World title on Sept. 19, Lawler defeated the Stomper in a loser-leaves-town blow-off on Oct. 27, 1975, in front of nearly 7,000 fans. (As always, thanks to Mark James and his recently redesigned Memphis Wrestling History site for confirming those dates as well as the clipping.)
The Stomper returned to the area in 1978 (forming an odd-couple-type babyface team with Lawler, which ended in a feud) and again in 1979, managed by Gorgeous George Jr. The Stomper returned as chiseled as ever in fall 1985 for his last Memphis run for a brief feud with Lawler after turned on the King during a tag bout vs. the Freebirds. He never spoke in front of the cameras on Memphis TV again.
Judging from how the Stomper disturbed me, it’s not surprising that my favorite horror film is John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN, featuring Michael “The Shape” Myers. Even though it was the broadcast-edited version of the film I saw for the first time in the 4th grade in 1980, I had nightmares about that pasty-white-William-Shatner-mask-wearing boogie man for months after seeing that film. What frightened me the most was how the Shape would methodically stalk his victims without uttering a sound.
With the Stomper and the Shape, silence was deadly.