By Mike Mooneyham
May 16, 2004
John “Bradshaw” Layfield, who meets WWE champion Eddie Guerrero in the main event of tonight’s Judgment Day, last week lashed out at critics who have questioned his placement in the headline match of a major pay-per-view.
“For those of you fat, out-of-shape Internet wannabes who have never done anything more athletic than play checkers, kiss my (buttocks) for doubting me, and realize why you hate me,” said Bradshaw. “I was the guy in school who made you do my homework and locked you in your locker. JBL will deliver Sunday and you can report’ whatever you want, but you will also realize how little influence you have, except to your little nerd friends.”
Layfield specifically directed the comments toward a growing number of Internet critics who have claimed Bradshaw has neither the charisma nor the workrate to be a big-time player in WWE. Relegated to mid-card status since arriving in the company in 1996 as Justin Hawk Bradshaw, Layfield has been one of the most outspoken performers on the WWE roster and has curried favor with company management over the years despite having a reputation as a locker-room bully who intimidates new talent.With the Smackdown roster hurting for top heel talent, Layfield recently was moved into the upper tier.
“I am looking forward to Judgment Day at the Staples Center. I believe the pay-per-view will be an excellent show,” Layfield added. “I look forward to a very exciting match. I have worked my entire career for this match on Sunday. Believe me, I will do whatever I have to do to have a great match. I am in the best wrestling shape I have been in in years. If we got a half an hour, I will be ready.”
Layfield’s statements were reported on the company’s Web site, and it’s not clear whether the sentiments were heartfelt. But what will speak louder than words is the buyrate that tonight’s show will generate.
– Eddie Guerrero will be featured in a UPN special at 9 p.m. May 26 titled “Cheating Death, Stealing Life: The Eddie Guerrero Story.” According to a release, the program reveals his struggle with alcohol, marriage, work ethic and being the WWE champion. Exclusive footage of the Guerrero family from the 1940s and 1950s will be shown.
– Cowboy Bill Watts checked in recently concerning a column I wrote last year on the passing of Sailor Art Thomas. The hall of fame wrestler and promoter pointed to a recollection in that article by Burrhead Jones of a mid-’60s tag-team match at Madison Square Garden that pitted Watts and Gorilla Monsoon against Thomas and Bobo Brazil.
According to Jones, Watts was angered that Thomas, one of the most powerful wrestlers of that era, had refused to go up for a slam. Jones recalled that when Watts attempted to confront Thomas backstage after the match, Sailor called him out. “We’re not in the ring now. You want to try it now? C’mon, c’mon,” Jones recalled Thomas as saying. “He started walking toward Bill, and Bill took off,” said Jones.
Watts says that’s not exactly the way it happened.
“I never ran or backed down from any wrestler in my life. So, if this incident’ happened as related by Burrhead in the dressing room, there would have been a fight if Sailor or any other wrestler had called me out’ – and certainly come for me’ as the article represented. I’m not saying I could whip everyone, or that I was the toughest guy, but I darn sure did not back down. If you were going to whip me, it would take more than your mouth.”
Watts said Thomas may have said something, but it wasn’t significant nor did it create any lasting tension.
“I did not have any altercation with him in the dressing room. I do not recall ever having a cross word with Art … He had a child-like demeanor, and yes, could be teased, but he always responded with laughter.”
Watts said he respected Thomas’ strength, and the two worked out together on weights in San Antonio, Texas, when he first met him in 1963.
“Anyone knows that a person who has had good amateur wrestling experience is not impressed’ with someone because of their physical appearance or their weight strength,” said Watts. “In fact, Art was considered a bodybuilder and not known for being exceptionally strong on power lifting. The strongest man I ever met in wrestling on the weights was Bruno Sammartino. And in my youth, I was second in the most lifted on the bench press at 585 in 1965. Bruno was stronger, though.”
Jones, however, stands by his side of the story. “There are three sides to every story: my side, his side and the truth,” the Moncks Corner resident joked. Jones added that he had not yet turned pro at the time, but had his wrestling license and was backstage at the show with future pros Carlos Colon and Johnny Rodz.
“Burrhead’s story reminds me of a friend of mine who wanted me to relate a story I was involved in, and when I started it, he said, No, let me tell it, I can tell it better.’ And he wasn’t even there,” said Watts.
The Oklahoman enjoyed a well-deserved reputation as being a tough guy in the ring, as well as running a tight ship as head of his Tulsa-based Mid-South Wrestling promotion. Watts routinely fined wrestlers for being late and had a policy that any of his workers who allowed non-wrestlers to get the best of them in a legitimate fight would no longer be a part of his company.
“In fact, it was noted in my own dressing rooms in Mid-South, I had a policy that we did not stop fights’ if a couple of the guys felt they wanted to hook them up.’ I did not want that tough talk’ to have precedence. In my way, you either put up or shut up. And my Mid-South area was the only one that had that policy. That also stopped the attempted sucker punchers who would throw a punch, and then figure the boys would break them up, before the other participant could retaliate.”
“The only fight I ever recalled in the MSG dressing room,” added Watts, “was after I was in a tag match with Don McClarity, my partner, against Dr. Jerry Graham and Luke Graham. The office was angered at Jerry, and also Don, so he lost a fall, and I took the other two falls. Don started running his mouth in the dressing room, and I hit him, and then had him up against the wall when the boys separated us. Don made another remark and I said, the arena is empty, let’s just you and me go out there and get into the ring, and I’ll finish you off, and he wouldn’t go. And that is the only incident I remember in a dressing room at MSG when I was there.”
Watts also recalled “working” a dressing room fight with Walter “Killer” Kowalski that fooled the crew in Pennsylvania during that same era.
“It fooled the boys so bad that several of them even called the office to snitch us off,” he said. “It was hilarious, it even fooled Red Berry. Walter and I had even ridden to the town together, and we rode home laughing all the way. A couple of the boys, trying to break us up and getting us to shake hands, were even crying, because Walter and I were friends. That is when I knew that a good work’ could be thought of as a shoot if done right.”
– WWE will bring its “Escape The Rules Tour” to the North Charleston Coliseum for a Raw brand show on June 19. The non-televised Saturday night event will feature such names as WWE world champ Chris Benoit, Ric Flair, Randy Orton, Batista, Edge, Shelton Benjamin, Kane, Chris Jericho, Christian, Trish Stratus, Victoria, Lita and Stacey Keibler.
Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Coliseum ticket office, Ticketmaster outlets (including all Publix Grocery stores), charge by phone (843) 554-6060 or www.ticketmaster.com. Ticket prices are $40, $30, $25 and $20 (plus applicable fees).
– George’s Sports Bar, 1300 Savannah Highway, will air the Judgment Day pay-per-view tonight beginning at 8 p.m. Cover charge is $5.
– Ric Flair’s autobiography, “To Be The Man,” is scheduled to be released July 6.
– NWA-TNA will make its Fox Sports Net debut June 4. The group will have a 3 p.m. Friday time slot and will tape its shows at Universal Studios in Orlando.
– A Legends Fanfest will be held Aug. 14-15 in Fayetteville, N.C., at the Clarion Hotel. More than three dozen former NWA stars get together for two days to meet and greet fans. Former Four Horseman Tully Blanchard will be featured in one of two Saturday night VIP question-and-answer sessions. Among the stars already signed include Sting, Cactus Jack (Mick Foley), Dustin Rhodes (Runnels) and The Rock N Roll Express. Bob Caudle, the voice of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling, will emcee the weekend’s festivities.
– Former ECW world champion Tommy Dreamer recently announced that he was done as an in-ring talent with WWE. His contract is up in July and was not going to be renewed. Dreamer reportedly will be kept on in a managerial role and may do some announcing as well. – WWE senior referee Earl Hebner, who has been out of action since undergoing shoulder surgery the day after the Backlash pay-per-view, is looking to return by Summer Slam in August.