REAL NAME: Dave Levinsky
AKA: Dave Pinsky
At the age of 39, Dave Pinsky knows his time in the squared circle is winding down. That’s why he became “Hardrock” Dave Pinsky, and used his real name for the first time in his 13-year wrestling career. It’s earned him a stint as the River City Wrestling Hardcore champ, and now, he would like to tell his story.
Pinsky was in a business related to wrestling, entertainment, before he entered the squared circle, and admits he kind of eased into the business in his mid-20’s.
“I sort of fell into it, because I had an entertainment background, so I did stand-up for years in the Manitoba area. I started off as a ring announcer, and then sort of backed into refereeing and then wrestling. I came into it in a very roundabout way.”
He’s not the only one to start off as a “ring boy” before actually grappling, but Pinsky distinguishes himself from others in that not long after he entered the ring, he also helped to form a new promotion in Manitoba, which was known as River City Wrestling, in 1993, only six years after he learned to take a fall. (River City has been bought out by the CWF.)
“I got involved with it because it had to be done. It was the old guard who ran things their way, and it needed to be opened up to bring some new blood. People had to be shown that, I wouldn’t say easy to run a wrestling promotion, but that it can be done. There’s nothing magical about it; it’s just hard work and a little brains. Some of us, at the time, younger guys started off on our own and tried to run it on a shoe string budget just to show that it could be done. You didn’t have to put in a name wrestler, or had to have been around in the ’60s or ’70s in order to have some magic ability to run a wrestling promotion. Now, because it’s a lot of work and not so much fun, I’m trying to stay just in the production end of things; helping with the booking ideas and doing little angles to get guys over. That’s basically what this hardcore thing is all about. I’m going to go out there and do it and eventually they’ll find the right baby-face to push, and I’ll do the little job. Then eventually I’ll sneak my title back and we’ll do it all over again.”
Back in 1987, when Pinsky started, there obviously wasn’t too much in the way of hardcore. His explanation of how he adopted the style is actually quite humorous.
“The easy answer to that would be my lack of ability as a wrestler (laughs). At this age the only thing I have going for me is a hard head and sneakiness, so there’s no time left for fans to see tricks, or high flying maneuvers, that wear out the knees even faster.”
He continues: “My current character is basically not unlike the Terry Funk kind of thing — getting toward middle-aged crazy. He’s had an opportunity late in life to live out a dream, in a way. I sort of fluked my way into the title and I’m protecting it in anyway possible.”
It’s almost ironic that Pinsky found the character he enjoys most at the latter half of his career. When he started, he jumped from alter ego to alter ego, and usually wore a mask, which he has another humorous reason for.
“It started off that I was basically forced to wear a mask in order to achieve my wife’s permission to wrestle. Now, I’m more established in my career, and not too concerned what the public thinks about me, so I have taken off the mask and I’m doing what I like, doing what I please. I definitely prefer to wrestle without a mask; I’m a good talker, I’m pretty good on the stick, and I think the mask makes that much more difficult. You can’t make facial expressions, you can’t yell stuff out, can’t use the stick as well, so I definitely prefer plain old Dave.”
“Plain old Dave” also prefers to use a plain old finishing move — a sleeper. And he’s not apologetic about using it either.
“I think one of the problems with wrestling today, and certainly true in Manitoba, is two things; two main problems. One, we got a lot of guys who have a lot of fancy high flying moves, but haven’t picked up on the subtleties of wrestling. In the old days if (Verne) Gagne hit you with his drop kick that was it; it was over. One drop kick. Nowadays it could be a hurricarana, a DDT onto a chair, a 720 spinnerama through the air into a frog splash, one-two, he kicks out. Everybody’s moves are meaningless. But if one cane shot, or one nut shot ends a match I think it injects some more realism into the thing. So, the way it started off was where I had a match where I won, and basically the guy beat me bloody, and every time where I recovered my senses and my feet I’d put my sleeper on him. Eventually he was just so tired he couldn’t get out of it. That was it. He went down and it took him about a minute or two to succumb to the sleeper, and I think that’s the way it should. A finishing hold should be a finishing hold, not something miraculously to “Hulk” out of.”
One thing Pinsky couldn’t “Hulk” out of, even if he wanted to, was his training by task master Rick Patterson, better known as Leatherface of Japan’s IWA. Pinsky tells the story of how he met up with Patterson.
“Rick was trained by another guy who was sick of the old guard approach to wrestling, who ran the New Brand promotion here in the ’70s, and he was sort of a friend-of-a-friend. There was a ring out at this old-timer’s farm, out in the country, and I guess we heard about it through the grapevine. It was set up in a barn and we asked him if he would let him train some guys. I guess that’s the generation of wrestlers that started just after New Brand, so in the early ’80s the generation of Manitoba wrestlers started that way — the man’s name was Ernie Rheault. He goes way back. I guess he was a friend-of-a-friend and he was working out and he sort of volunteered to help out. If you survived great, and if you didn’t survive, also great.”
Well, Pinsky has survived, and done well on a local level. After 13-years, he has a definite highlight to his in ring career, and it didn’t even involve him taking a bump.
“Oddly enough I’d have to pick one that I refereed. I don’t quite remember the date on this, but I refereed for Gene Kiniski on his last night as a pro. That meant something to me because I used to watch him on TV when I was a little boy. I believe it was February of 1992. Technically it wasn’t his last match, because he also wrestled in the main event, which I did not ref.”
It’s just Horse here, Dave. I hope that you get a chance to read this, so here goes. I want to thank you for everything tht you’ve to help me along the way in this town. I realize that you’re probably wondering what I’m talking about, seeing as how you never actually “took me under your wing”. But you have been one of the few people to actually encourage, inspire and congratulate me when I’ve done right. Not to mention offer constructive criticism after all the times I screwed up. Dave, thank you. You truly deserve your spot on this page and I hope to see you soon.
Although Dave has provided countless hours of wrestling memories, the one I recall best happened in Russell, Manitoba. I was the feature act of a night of stand up comedy and Dave was my opening act. The audience was especially rowdy, Dave responded to a drunken heckler with the phrase, “If I want to hear from an asshole, I’ll fart”. The heckler bolted towards the stage, and I thought Dave and I would have to fight our way out of the bar. Luckily he was grabbed by a group of patrons and they began dragging him out the door. He broke loose and started running at Dave. Dave picked up the microphone stand and lifted like a baseball bat ready to smack him as soon as he got close enough. Again, more patrons intercepted him just a few feet from the stage, and dragged him out. As usual, he was a tough act to follow. He was also the greatest entertainer I’ve ever worked with.