De Truth, And Nothing But De Truth
An article by Mike Mooneyham
Published in 1992
At first glance, Steve Prazak might strike you as a normal, upwardly mobile business type.
After all, he’s a graphic designer at the Institute of Industrial Engineers in Norcross, Ga. – Atlanta’s version of the Silicon Valley.
His educational background is solid – he graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in journalism, is a Middleton High School product and spent his grade school days at C.E. Williams Middle and St. Andrews Elementary.
But, upon further examination, you’ll discover another side to Steve Prazak.
He has an alter ego, you see. When he’s not designing ads and brochures for high-powered companies, he’s moonlighting as the controversial Steven DeTruth, heel wrestling manager and announcer.
Prazak, or DeTruth as he is known in the squared circle, has carved a niche in the local Atlanta wrestling scene since arriving in that city in the mid-1980s. He’s co-host of the North Georgia Wrestling show, a program that is seen mainly on the Atlanta cable system but bills itself as being “national.”
North Georgia is national, Prazak jokes, because “the signal seeps into Tennessee.”
The 35-year-old Prazak got hooked on the sport while attending local shows in Charleston in the late ’60s.
“I’ve been a big wrestling fan ever since I started going to Henry Marcus’ cards at County Hall,” says Prazak. “Pop and I started going to County Hall in 1968. I remember the first show I ever saw. The main event was George Becker and Johnny Weaver against Rip Hawk and Swede Hanson. The semifinal was Gene and Ole Anderson against Sandy Scott and Abe Jacobs. It was something that really fascinated me because Ole was just so hateful that night, and when Abe put him in that kiwi leg roll, Ole was screaming bloody murder. I haven’t looked back since then.”
Prazak left Columbia for Atlanta in 1985 and renewed his interest in wrestling when he formed a friendship with former World Championship Wrestling announcer and ex-Global Wrestling Federation boss Joe Pedicino.
“I’ve been acting local theater for a while in Atlanta, and I became friendly with Joe. We just traded wrestling stories. He knew I was into acting, and he figured the combination of the two was just too obvious, so he came up with this psycho-yuppie thing – not the Paul E. Dangerously) version – but my own little adaptation. So I turned it into a Thurston Howell III concept. And now it’s depraved itself into the shell of man you see before you,” Prazak jokes .
Along with Scott Hudson, Prazak became a part of Pedicino’s Atlanta wrestling block with a segment called “Point-Counterpoint.”“It turned roughly into a Laurel and Hardy type thing, which I personally like,” says Prazak. “I like more of the sitcom variety than getting involved in any managing thing. Eventually it came to the point where I told him I could beat any wrestler in the world and told him to get a list of wrestlers. He said, `OK, why don’t you wrestle The Blue Blazer?’ So Joe Pedicino has the foresight to put this on as part of a GWF show at the Cobb County Civic Center. Here comes one of the valets with a little blue sports jacket on a hanger. Of course I give it a clothesline. My little bit with (Scott) Hudson also got on ESPN.”
In addition to the announcing gig, Prazak has also appeared as a manager in the North Georgia Wrestling promotion.
“I have good and bad memories of the managing bit, one of which is when I had to go up for a Tommy Rich piledriver,” recalls Prazak. “The fact that both he and Steve Lawler were roaring drunk for that match
I really felt safe,” he adds, with more than a touch of sarcasm.
“Every match I managed for Steve Lawler he lost,” says Prazak. “The highlight was the first match I managed in Cummings, Ga. I waved a twinkie at Junkyard Dog, and he came over and I threw it in his face. In Douglasville, Ga., there was a “lights out” match between Lawler and Rich with the loser having to retire. The promoter thought it would be really funny to turn the lights off and then turn them back on. But they were those mercury lights that take 10 minutes to come back on, so it was literally a “lights out” match. I couldn’t see a damn thing.
“The Steven DeTruth character had sunglasses, so people are tripping me as I try to get the ref’s attention, and I’m falling all over them. I’m up on the ring trying to throw Lawler a chain, and some fan runs into the ring, grabs the chain and runs out the front door with the chain. I’m still up on the ring apron trying to get the ref’s attention, and some guy grabs my belt and yanks me out the ring. The match ends up with a ref bump. Rich pulled me into the ring and gives me a piledriver. When he covered me for the pin, I did a perfect Jimmy Valiant twitch.
“Tommy Rich and Steve Lawler would bleed constantly, and this was in 1992. So I’d work with these surgical gloves. I want to emerge intact. I felt like telling these guys, `Would you mind if I not get your blood on me? Thank you very much.’”
Perhaps Prazak’s greatest claim to fame in the wrestling business, however, is an insider newsletter that he has put out monthly with Hudson and Jon Horton. The newsletter, called The Shenanumake Post, is a parody on the sport and its participants. The sheet’s three editors are known in wrestling circles as “The Atlanta Boys.”
Horton, who as Craig Johnson served as an announcer during the first year of the Global Wrestling Federation, recently left the Atlanta area to start a new job at a television station in Seattle, where he produces a weekly 30-minute Seattle Supersonics show among other duties. The move, unfortunately, has prompted the disbanding of the popular newsletter.
“We had also run out of Chic Donovan jokes,” Prazak laughs, referring to the seasoned veteran who serves as a tried-and-true target of the editors’ abundant humor in every edition. “Some of the craziest people love it. (Former WCW boss) Jim Herd is our biggest fan. He just loves it. Scott and I are just so hated at WCW. They think we’re killing the promotion.”
Some examples of the outrageous hilarity in The Shenanumake Post:
“Chic Donovan has filed an injunction forbidding any California Raisin commercials to aired on television claiming that the raisins don’t bear too close a resemblance to him. Hey, don’t flatter yourself, Chicster.”
“A food shortage of near Somalian proportions has been reported in the food court at CNN Center, forcing United Nations peacekeeping troops to place Jody Hamilton (The Assassin) and Dusty Rhodes under house arrest in order to leave at least something for everybody else.”
“To cement its image as the most violent and hardcore wrestling promotion, Tod Gordon’s ECW has announced its next TV taping locations in Bosnia, Haiti, Somalia and a rest stop in Florida to be named later.”
Or, a couple of “ads” in the newsletter’s Trading Post section:
“Chic Donovan of 811-F Cokebottle Glasses Avenue in Geritol, Fla., is selling copes of “The Bible” personally signed by the author.”
“Buddy Landell of 11-c Freeloader Homes in Gold Brick, Ala., has an extensive tape list of all the great matches he never had due to his unpredictability. Please send SASE.”
“According to Ole Anderson, I’m one of the seven people who are ruining professional wrestling,” says Prazak. “The Shennumake Post is really an outlet. It’s so absurd anyway. It’s a little more WCW-based because Eric Bishoff and the boys just give us so much ammunition.
“David `Jiminy’ Crockett gave us such a time one night when we were cheering our `friend’ Tex Slashinger. I never even met the geezer (Slashinger). But he takes it all in good cheer. The whole thing started at a taping in Gainesville. Well, a new guy, we thought, maybe he’s all right. He sucked. It was a tryout, and we knew he was gone. But next week, there he was, for four matches. He was even worse. We all started holding up signs. It was really getting silly. Now they don’t even use Tex on any shows anymore except for spot shows in North Georgia.”
Prazak, while expressing concern that the major organizations are hurting the business, says the sport will survive.
“There’ll always be pro wrestling,” says Prazak. “It’ll always exist. But it will become much more regional. It will still be universally liked, but the appeal will be diminished. The hardcores will still be nuts. But even some of the hardcores are flocking away because of ridiculous personnel, ridiculous using of the personnel and ridiculous execution of the matches. And the mildly interested ones will leave for much the same reasons.
“The future of wrestling is (Jim) Cornette’s group. At WCW, well, you know the cast of characters. The guys who get the pushes are all of Dusty’s friends or his family. It’s a buddy system. Dusty’s simply run out of ideas, and the old ones aren’t cutting it anymore.
“I just want to see a level of popularity where wrestling can exist by itself. And it will always exist on a local, grassroots level, as long as there are matches going on in places like Moncks Corner. I can’t help but think that small groups like the `Moncks Corner wrestling federation’ is where wrestling is headed. By the way, I’m in a band called `Slave’ out of Greenville, and I stole my stage name “Ramon Burrhead Jr.” from (Moncks Corner resident) Burrhead Jones.”
Prazak fondly recalls his days in Charleston.
“I was a member of a rock ‘n roll band. I played guitar in `Guillotine’ and we played in the Battle of the Bands at the Coastal Carolina Fair in 1975, played two Kiss songs, a Nazareth song and a Blue Oyster Cult song. We came in dead last. We really stunk.”
Despite his connections and strong ties to Atlanta, Prazak occasionally returns to his roots in Charleston.
“My pop works at Westvaco in the polychemical dyestuff division,” says Prazak. “My mom is a math professor at the College of Charleston. She could teach math to a rock. I was born in New York City in 1958 and came to Charleston when I was 8. I figured everyone would say `honey child,’ but I haven’t heard `honey child’ once.
“I look forward to attending the Middleton High School reunion in 1996. But I really didn’t care for high school. It was just too cliquish. High school was a tough four years. It was good fun, but I didn’t have a clue. I left Charleston to go to Columbia in ’76, and I haven’t been back except on holidays to see my folks. I graduated in 1980, got married two years later, got divorced two years after that. But things have worked out. I’m seeing this great gal now. She’s not a wrestling fan, though. If she liked wrestling, we probably wouldn’t be seeing each other. These are the good times.”
Prazak’s non-conformist style was forged back in the days he was growing up in Charleston.
“My friend Eddie Fennell and I were both Beatles nuts,” recalls Prazak. “Eddie’s eight years older, but he helped me get through puberty in Charleston, S.C., which was sheer agony. And without yelling at gas stations and prank phone calls at 4 in the morning, I’d have probably gone crazy. Along with sneaking into drive-in restaurants and late-night movies at the Ultravision. If I hadn’t have gone through all of that stuff, I probably would have ended up having my face on some barroom floor. So I owe Eddie one. Eddie never adapted to the wrestling philosophy, to his eternal credit, which is why we are still friends.”
Prazak earned a degree in journalism at the University of South Carolina, where he specialized in advertising public relations. Pro wrestling, he says, is a diversion and an outlet. But it’s also something he wouldn’t do without.
“It’s (wrestling) just for my own amusement and nothing more,” he says. “If I were in it for the money, I’d have been out of it a long time ago. I can earn a whopping $5 per TV taping and $15 a card for managing. But it’s fun to be affiliated at an arm’s length.
“I’ve gotten everything I ever wanted out of wrestling. Everything now is just gravy.”