YouTube Finds: Caught with my pants down on live Memphis TV
As a fan growing up in Memphis, I saw wrestling managers subjected to the worst forms of humiliation over the years. Their heads were shaved bald (Mickey Poole, Chuck Malone, Jimmy Kent). They were beaten unmercifully with leather belts (Jimmy Hart, Jim Cornette). They were manhandled by women (Malone) and midgets (Hart). They were stripped naked and tar and feathered (Hart). They had their pants pulled down, revealing ladies underwear (J.D. Costello). They were forced to parade around in an over-sized diaper while sucking a binky (Ronnie P. Gossett). And poor ol’ Nate the Rat had to enjoy a McDonald’s Value Meal the hard way at the hands of Jerry Lawler. Yet somehow as a young man, I often thought to myself, “That’s something I’d really love to do one day.”
So when Lawler laid out a TV angle to turn my charge Tex Slazenger babyface in 1996–one that would involve my newly fired wrestler pulling down my pants around my ankles–I didn’t flinch. If you want to be wrestling manager, you often have to check your integrity at the door–especially when you’re working in your hometown. “Perfect,” I told Lawler. “I’m wearing boxer shorts with sailboats on them–should look funny on TV.” As we prepared to walk out for our interview, Lawler warned Tex, “Now be careful. Only pull his pants down–not his underwear.” Hmmm…I could have sworn I saw Lawler wink at Tex.
Behold, the beauty of live TV.
Yep, Tex not only yanked my Polo khakis down but also my boxer shorts. (Thank God I wore a solid denim shirt that morning as opposed to my usual white dress shirt.) As Russell quickly went to a commercial break, I crawled toward the back, struggling to pull up my pants. Lawler was standing over me as I opened the curtain. “Do you realize that the entire city just saw your ass and your dick on TV? Oh, fuck, Bowden! You two idiots are gonna get us thrown off the air!” (Ironically enough, Tex would move on to the Naked Mideon gimmick during WWE’s Attitude Era.) I was speechless–like this was somehow my fault. Besides, I imagined this incident would greatly expand our female demographic, much like the ’80s heyday of the Fabulous Ones and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express. Or maybe not.
But then I thought of my poor parents watching at home. After the show, I headed straight to their house for any damage control that might be necessary. Instead, they laughed off the angle as no big deal, which I couldn’t figure out. I nervously watched the replay on their VCR. Somehow, the camera hadn’t caught any of my crown jewels–the King had been ribbing me.
Months later, Lawler wouldn’t be so lucky. After moving the weekly cards to the Big One Expo Center, the promotion would show classic wrestling shows on a big screen TV prior to the matches. Apparently, Lawler got his tapes mixed up, as he handed Mr. Guy Coffee a copy of what he thought was old-school Memphis wrestling. Instead, fans in attendance at the converted flea market building were treated to footage of Lawler wrestling around with Stacy Carter in their birthday suits. (Speaking of which, happy birthday to the King, who turns 61 today.) From what I understand, despite several blown spots, there was a huge pop at the end.