His place in Tennessee wrestling history may always be overlooked by the mistakes he made. Ronnie P. Gossett, who was the lead manager in Memphis in the late 1980s after Jim Cornette and Jimmy Hart left, died on July 23, 2007, of complications from colon cancer.
Gossett had a strong love for the business, but ethical issues always got in the way of him growing in the industry. He was strong on the microphone and found it easy to get the fans to turn on him and who he was managing. His look was not glamorous: balding, overweight and wearing thick glasses.
“His lack of a moral compass hurt him with most or all of his relationships,” Jerry Jarrett explained to SLAM! Wrestling.
Jerry Lawler respected his abilities enough that Lawler picked Gossett to manage him on a number occasions during his career. Another famed charge of Gossett’s went by the name Master of Pain; later, that man, Mark Calloway, would go onto become The Undertaker. He would also spend time managing Bob Orton Jr., Jeff Jarrett and Tony Anthony.
“He had a wonderful ability to make interviews,” Jarrett recalled. “He also could move around in the ring in spite of his huge size and weight.”
Percy Pringle (Paul Bearer) worked with Gossett in the USWA. “He was without a doubt one of the funniest men I ever met,” Pringle wrote in his online blog, “and I just enjoyed sitting back and listening to him tell stories.”
Gossett started his career in Memphis at age 14 as a ring announcer under owner Nick Gulas. When the promotion needed a new heel manager, Gossett was given the position.
“His character worked in a way because it was an extension of his true personality.,” Scott Bowden told SLAM!. Bowden was a former Memphis manager and current Kentucky Fried Rasslin’ columnist.
“Some old-school wrestlers like Jerry Lawler loved guys like Ronnie because their whole life revolved around the business and they’d do anything to stay in it.”
He may have had a love for wrestling, but Gossett was also open about his passion for gambling. He told those in the locker room that he was the biggest bookmaker (one who takes bets) in Chattanooga, Tenn. His gambling problems often hurt him than helped him.
Since he bragged about how successful a bookmaker he was, people began to believe him. He often asked others for money, and was given it, telling them that he was awaiting a big payout from a big loser.
The one who gave Gossett was the loser in the long run. The money would rarely be returned. He followed that philosophy even recently when he ran independent shows in Tennessee in recent years. People would trust him, based on his name, and would get stiffed on payouts.
“I loaned him $4,800 to fix his car.” Jarrett said. Gossett never paid him back. In fact, years later, when Jarrett had long forgotten the loan, Gossett came to him willing to pay $2,500. “He asked if I would consider the loan paid off. I said I did as I had long forgotten about it.”
Before Gossett was able to pay the money to Jarrett, he told him that his money was been seized by the government and asked for another $5,000 loan. Jarrett passed this time. “Your credit is not acceptable,” Jarrett recalled telling Gossett. The two would never speak again.
Gossett felt burnt by Jarrett despite it was Gossett who owed the money to Jarrett. Gossett would trash Jarrett on radio shows following the incident.
While on his death bed, Gossett found religion, possible trying to make up for all the cons he pulled during his life. He was even baptized earlier this year.
“From that day he told me many times how sorry he had not come to Jesus earlier in his life,” said Jim Powell, a longtime friend of Gossett’s.
Powell would sum up the life of Gossett by calling him “a great con man — the ultimate worker.”
— with files from Ryan Nation