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Posts Tagged ‘Joe LeDuc’

Pro Wrestling (Crudely) Illustrated

October 26th, 2010 No comments

Neal Snow, belt-maker, cartoonist and all-around babyface, illustrates some of the great–and not-so-great–moments–in wrestling history. More to come later this week so check back early and often.

Joe LeDuc takes a blood “oak” (oath) on live Memphis wrestling TV in 1978. For the back story on this memorable unscripted moment of Memphis mayhem, click here.

Batman has a showdown with the SuperKing while announcer Dave Brown tries to keep a straight face. For the scoop on this classic ’70s Bat-moment on your favorite Bat-channel, click here. (No word on whether or not the hubcaps were stolen off the Batmobile while it sat parked outside 1960 Union Avenue in Memphis.)

Silence is Gouldie: What made the Mongolian Stomper so menacing

September 28th, 2010 5 comments

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.

Drawing cards: Jerry Lawler sketches two of his greatest--if not the best-looking--foes.

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.

Bloody good show: Lawler and the Stomper in a blood bath in 1975.

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.)

A real kick: Visit www.70s-TV.com for a copy of this bout, which sold out the Coliseum in 1975.

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.

YouTube Finds: Joe LeDuc’s Blood Oath on Memphis Wrestling

June 9th, 2010 5 comments
This man’s not crazy. (Kids, don’t try this at home; leave this to the professionals.)

On August 5, 1978, after getting his head split open by Jerry Lawler, “Lumberjack” Joe LeDuc (billed as “Jos LeDuc” in other areas) makes an oath (although it sounds more like “oak”) to get even in front of the thousands of fans watching promoter Jerry Jarrett’s live Saturday morning Memphis wrestling show. 

A nervous Lance Russell, who has no idea why the bloodied, crazed wrestler is carrying an ax, stands by on the floor of the WMC-TV Studio on Union Ave. as LeDuc recounts how men in the lumber camps in Canada would traditionally remind themselves of unfinished business. (Mind you, these were the days before pocket organizers and the iPhone.)

When Joe LeDuc has an ax to grind…the result is television history.

Recalls Russell of the moment he was sure was going to get the Memphis wrestling promotion thrown off the air: “At the time, we trying to make the show a little less violent and a little more family-oriented and not feature a lot of blood. Well, LeDuc comes out one Saturday morning with a double-edged ax. Well, he takes that axe and cuts across his arm, and here comes the red stuff pouring down his arm. He cut his arm open right there on live TV! Fans wondered for years wondered, ‘Was it real?’ Hey, let me tell you, it was real, all right. I nearly had a heart attack–and I think Jerry Jarrett did have one later when he saw it. I tried to tell him after, ‘Joe, you can’t do that on television!'” 

Russell’s sidekick Dave Brown and Jarrett remember a different side of LeDuc outside of the ring.

“Joe LeDuc was such a nice man, and for years after he stopped wrestling in Memphis, I’d get a little note from wherever he was traveling or wishing me Merry Christmas,” Brown says. “I always thought that was special for a man who was traveling like to remember the folks he worked with.”

Says Jarrett: “Joe was a very good wrestler who was a real tough guy. But what I remember most of all about him was that he was a prince of a fellow. When you go through the hundreds of people who you cross paths with professionally, only a few are really special, and Joe LeDuc was one of them.”

Just don’t call him crazy.

File under Joe LeDuc and Memphis Wrestling.