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Posts Tagged ‘Dutch Mantell’

Awesome news: Kong cometh to WWE

January 7th, 2011 2 comments

'Tis the beast that will kill the beauties in WWE.

Kia Stephens–better known to fans as Awesome Kong–tweeted on Dec. 29 that she’d gotten her “dream job–yes, THAT one”!

Dave Meltzer confirmed earlier this week that the most unique female wrestler in the country is headed to World Wrestling Entertainment, months after quitting TNA not long after the departure of booker Dutch Mantell, seemingly the only one in Dixie Carter’s company who truly understood her talents. (Most assuredly, Kong will make much bigger money in WWE.) Mantell booked a brilliant feud between Kong and Gail Kim in a great series of bouts that helped establish the Knockouts division as being far superior to WWE’s Divas when it came to in-ring production and match quality.

Kim unfortunately has been blandly repackaged and wasted in WWE. I don’t see that happening with Kong, whose look is so radically different than any other woman–or man (with the possible exception of Mark Henry) for that matter–on the the roster. Her work is extremely solid and her crazed facial expressions are phenomenal.

While Stephens will most likely receive a name change, her current moniker screams for some kind of confrontation with the Miz over who is most awesome (the awesomest?). Or as Jason Mann and I both speculated on Twitter, perhaps she’ll paired with Miz as a sort of female bodyguard a la Chyna. (I personally think that would hurt Miz right now as he desperately needs credibility to establish himself as champion. Would have been a natural fit a year or so ago when he was strictly a comedy figure.)

While watching the Divas tag bout Monday, I was hoping Kong would suddenly storm the ring and eat those bimbos for dinner, but it didn’t happen. I think it would cool if she debuted as a mystery entrant at the Royal Rumble–definitely make for a memorable entrance. If handled correctly, Kong has the potential to be a breakout star in WWE in 2011. (Besides, nearly kicking the ass of Bubba the Love Douche makes Kong OK in my book.)

Christmas Chaos (Part One): Last-minute gifts for the rasslin’ fans on your shopping list

December 16th, 2010 1 comment

"Dirty" language: Dutch speaks the truth in his new book.

The real dirt on the wrestling business: Only fitting that we start off my annual (OK, it’s only the second year in a row, but…) down-to-the-wire recommendations for the rasslin’ fans on your Christmas Chaos shopping list by looking at the new book from “Dirty” Dutch Mantell. I first met Dutch in 1989, my freshman year in college. He was booking Memphis, and had built an angle involving longtime area mid-carder King Cobra and Jerry Lawler, who had recently turned heel for the first time in years. As the main event of Mid-South Coliseum card that Dutch billed as “Christmas Chaos,” Cobra shocked Lawler and the approximately 3,000 fans in attendance by pinning the World Unified champion to win the title. As the crowd popped for the upset, Dutch walked out from the dressing-room area to observe his handiwork. My friend and I, two marks who thought we were smarter to the business than we really were, motioned Mantell to come over, and he obliged. I told him, “You booked a good angle!” Dutch kayfabed me, acting like he had no idea what the hell I was talking about. (In hindsight, I’m surprised he didn’t grab “shoo-baby,” his bullwhip.) A few years ago, I was surprised when Dutch told me that he remembered our initial “conversation,” practically verbatim.

In his new book, Tales From a Dirt Road, Dutch shares his wit and wisdom on a variety of subjects, including the infamous legit street fight between Ernie Ladd and the Brisco Brothers (a great story that will have you convinced Ernie Ladd was the baddest man alive), navigating the treacherous, shark-invested political waters of the rasslin’ business, a showdown with men in white hoods in the South who were definitely not Tim Woods and Johnny Walker, a wild barroom brawl with the Undertaker, trials and tribulations of the wild and wooly JBL, traveling with lunatics like the Iron Sheik and Sid Vicious, and tales of the usual suspects like Jerry Lawler, Bill Dundee,and Buddy Landell. In fact, the chapter titled “The Last Sellout” was inspired by an interview I conducted Dutch earlier this year. When I asked him about the last sellout at the Coliseum–a wild brawl with the Dutchman, the King, the Nature Boy and the Superstar–he told me, “‘The Last Sellout’–man that, would make a great title for a book.” Well, he decided to go with a different book title, but the Last Sellout chapter in Tales From a Dirt Road will give you the lowdown on the one of the last great Memphis angles of all time. (Lawler vs. Idol, Rich drew big money the following year, but they did not sell out.)

Dutch also provides a rare glimpse into the working (arguably, mind you) mind of Vince Russo. Once after a long TNA writing session, a frustrated Russo confessed to Mantell, his writing partner, “Y’know, I just don’t understand this whole babyface vs. heel thing.” An exasperated Dutch replied, “There’s a book you should read.” Russo perked up: “Really, which one?” Mantell deadpanned, “The Bible.” Click the link below to order Dutch’s new offerings of homespun rasslin’ goodness. You won’t be disappointed.

Rasslin’ with history: People frequently ask me what I believe to be the best bouts ever held in the Memphis territory. I can usually rattle off 10 bout, but sometimes it’s difficult because Memphis ran every Monday night at the Mid-South Coliseum during my childhood. So that’s a lot of bouts over my years a fan, which began in the summer of 1977 and lasted through through the period when I became a referee in 1991. Even then, I remained a fan and always will be at heart. (Or as fellow longtime Memphis wrestling fan Dave Millican and I always joke, ”Once a mark, always a mark.”) Certainly, some of my favorites growing up were Jerry Lawler’s bouts with the likes of Bill Dundee, Dutch Mantell, Nick Bockwinkel. For that reason, it might be easier to point to the entire year of 1982–arguably the most wildly entertaining 12 months in the promotion’s history–and say, “Take your pick.”

Like, totally awesome: Revisit Memphis rasslin' in the early '80s.

For the most detailed examination of the year 1982–with a roster than included the Fabulous Ones, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express, Terry Taylor, Koko Ware, Bobby Eaton, the Moondogs, Austin Idol, Jacques Rougeau, Jimmy Hart–and what it meant to Memphis wrestling, be sure to pick the new book from Mark James, Memphis Wrestling History Presents: 1982, A Legendary Year From the Golden Era, which includes reprints of every Monday night souvenir program from 1982 along with comments from the men who made Memphis the most entertaining territory in the country in 1982, everyone from Mantell to Jarrett to Dundee to Austin Idol. Click the link below to order. Mark put a lot of work into this book (gathering the programs alone was no small feat), and any Memphis wrestling fans will be delighted with the result. Available by clicking the link below.

Let me tell ya somethin, paly: While Mark James’ book is packed with excellent insider info and anlaysis, Ron Hall’s Sputnik, Masked Men & Midgets is a gorgeous scrapbook of the bygone days of Memphis wrestling, through the ’50s to the ’70s, with pictures you won’t find anywhere, including rare shots of Sputnik Monroe, Jackie Fargo, Don & Al Greene, Tojo Yamamoto, Tommy Rich, Dundee and Lawler.

Memphis magic

Hall, a longtime authority on Memphis music and local pop culture in general, also includes a special bonus treat: a bonus CD of songs long out of print by wrestlers like Sputnik Monroe, Jackie Fargo, Len Rossi, and even “Handsome” Jimmy Valiant’s 1978 classic “Son of a Gypsy.” Mercy, daddy! Click the link below to order, brotherjackdaddy.

OK, Define “Top”: Easily the most controversial WWE DVD release in recent memory, the company’s Top 50 Superstars of All Time supposedly attempts to take an NFL-Films-style approach to preserving its history with a countdown of the greatest performers in history. To illustrate just how petty WWE is, Hulk Hogan is number 23 on the list, while Rey Mysterio is number 9.

I'll say this: The DVD cover represents what would be one hell of a battle royal.

If Ric Flair had not signed with TNA, he’d likely be number one, especially after his huge retirement send-off; instead, he’s somehow “tied” with Dusty Rhodes at number 17. (Poor Ric–after years of futility in JCP, he still can’t beat Rhodes convincingly.) Shawn Michaels, practically a WWE lifer, is number one–at least that somewhat makes sense. Twenty years ago, I’d never dream that Jerry Lawler would receive such respect on a WWE presentation at number 20. (But even Lawler would be embarrassed to see that he’s one spot ahead of the legendary Lou Thesz.)

Longtime company employees Pat Patterson and Fabulous Moolah are ranked ahead of Buddy Rogers, Jack Brisco and Nick Bockwinkel, which is a joke. And don’t even get me started on the low rankings for Bruno and Backlund. When I initially saw the list, I was more amused than anything–this is pure marketing and political bullshit (Triple Hi is #12)–but you wouldn’t believe how many fans were irate over this.

Even though I completely disagree with the list, I’m intrigued to watch it–much like a trainwreck. Maybe I’ll do a more in-depth look at the list after I’ve seen it, but debating the rankings is about as futile and worthless as discussing WWE Hall of Fame credentials. The release is loaded with clips and matches from the past over three discs, so it’s worth checking out.

I’ll have more gift ideas tomorrow, so check back then, ya stinkin’ rednecks.

Ageless wonders: Jerry Lawler and Dutch Mantell rekindle Memphis wrestling feud, memories

May 14th, 2010 5 comments

Still the dirtiest--and hairiest--player in the game: Dutch takes the fight to Lawler outside the ring.

More than 28 years after their memorable feud in the Memphis Wrestling territory, Jerry Lawler and “Dirty” Dutch Mantell squared off a week ago at an indie show in Paris, Tenn. The two Tennessee legends may be older, but according to longtime Memphis fan and belt-maker extraodrinaire Dave Millican, Lawler and Mantell’s chemistry was as strong as ever.

“Maybe it wasn’t ’82–no black hat and singlet for Dutch and the King’s old style crown replaced by the style he has in front of him every week on RAW–but none of the little changes in the nostalgia of it all mattered,” says Millican, who first became transfixed by the Memphis mayhem unfolding on his TV screen as a kid around 1976. “It was the best live match I have seen in years. These guys might not have the same look that they had 28 years ago, but they still have the same ability to put a crowd in the palm of their hands.”

While Millican still follows the business and is widely regarded as one of the top championship belt makers in the country, his interest in attending live shows has waned in recent years. But with happy memories of those classic ’82 bouts (easily the best matches at the Coliseum that year and, in my opinion, some of the greatest Lawler performances of his career) entrenched in his mind, Millican had to be there last Friday night to see Lawler and Mantell lock up again at the National Guard Armory in Paris.

“There is very little going on in wrestling, sports entertainment, or whatever you want to call any of it these days, that holds my interest. In many cases, I can walk right in the back door of most any wrestling event by making a call, and I still can’t make myself care enough to do it. I don’t mean to be insulting, because I know there are plenty of fine workers out there these days if you look around enough, but I just can’t get interested in anything I have seen recently. The remedy for that? The Dirty Dutchman vs. The King. It was a one-night chance to revisit one of my all-time favorite feuds, as well as visit for a few minutes with two of my favorite wrestlers, whom I have been fortunate to get to know over the years.”

Just like the good ol' days: Strap down, shoulders down, referees down as Lawler goes for the pin.

Millican attended the matches with Memphis Wrestling historian Mark James, who also grew up with the magic of those Monday nights at the Mid-South Coliseum with Lawler and Mantell and the rest of Jerry Jarrett’s crew in the late ’70s and throughout the ’80s.

“Mark and I were talking before the match about how we didn’t expect it to be 1982 all over,” Millican says. “We were just glad to get to see them in the same ring again. Dutch was there early, selling books, pictures, posing with any fan that wanted to snap a pic with him, no way he was the heel on this night.. Then he hits the ring at match time and turns on the crowd; suddenly, Dutch has them booing him, calling for Jerry Lawler so he can beat his brains out. Lawler then takes the mic, telling Dutch that people in the area had a lot to be frustrated about these days, not the least of which was the recent flooding, and that he was gonna help them take all of that frustration out on Dutch. It was a great example of men who truly understand their craft. They weren’t lazy and they didn’t phone it in; these guys went at each other like they did almost 30 years ago. They made it easy to suspend disbelief. Dutch even slid out of the ring at one point, pulling Lawler by the feet into the post, bringing back memories of what Austin Idol and Tommy Rich did to the King during their feud. The best compliment I can give it is that if they were doing it again next weekend, I would make the long drive again and buy a ticket to see it.”

In the end, Lawler got the win; however, Dutch points “that egg-sucking dog had to use a chain.” Smells like a no-disqualification grudge rematch to me.

File under Jerry Lawler vs. Dutch Mantell.