Dennis “Mike” McCord may not have known it, but he, or more so his wrestling alter ego Austin Idol, was considered a recluse by those in the wrestling business. Having pretty much retired in 1990, he came back every few years for a few shots in Memphis into the mid-’90s (and even promoted a territory in Alabama for a few months in 1993). After an appearance on Memphis Power Pro Wrestling’s first show on WMC TV in 1998 where he looked surprisingly old, he fell off the wrestling radar.
This wasn’t a case like Perry Saturn or Mark Lewin going missing and being feared dead. He was just highly sought after for conventions and shoot interviews and unaware of this fact as he devoted himself to his career as a real estate buyer/investor. A few months ago, he reappeared as Austin Idol with an official website showing pictures of him in incredible shape at 60 years old. He then went on to announce that he was running for mayor of Tampa, Florida, and made a convention appearance where Highspots shot a shoot interview with him.
I’ll get my complaints out of the way first. As often happens on DVDs of this type, Idol leaves plenty of openings for follow-up questions that aren’t asked, which is a shame, because when he had a story to tell, he was very engaging. Though it’s unfortunate, it’s to be expected. His attempts at promoting (a big show in 1986 and the aforementioned territory in Alabama in 1993) go unmentioned, but they’re pretty obscure, so it’s understandable. What was surprising was how the plane crash that Idol survived was handled.
In 1975, while working for Eddie Graham’s Championship Wrestling from Florida promotion as Mike McCord, Idol, Gary Hart, and Bobby Shane were flown home from a show by fellow wrestler Buddy Colt on his small airplane. Due to bad instructions from the air traffic controllers regarding weather conditions, Colt crashed the plane into the bay. Shane died on impact, Colt and Hart (who had survived another plane crash in the ’60s) were thrown from the plane, and Idol escaped after the crash. Hart pulled Idol and Colt to shore, saving their lives.
As a bonus clip on WWE’s The Triumph and Tragedy of World Class Championship Wrestling DVD, in addition to a chapter in his posthumously released autobiography, Hart discussed the crash in remarkable detail. On this shoot interview, his first opportunity to discuss the crash in a similar fashion, Idol … didn’t. The interviewer prefaced his question about the crash by explaining that he wasn’t going to ask Idol go in depth because it was going to be a central part of the book that Idol is writing. I was expecting him to maybe say something about it being a sore spot after certain comments of that nature that Hart made in his book. It’s one thing to handle the crash the way they did, but why do it on camera and not edit it out?
It’s insulting to those who paid for the DVD. The crash is one of the few specific stories plugged on the official DVD description, and then the viewers are given a quick summary while being told that they have to wait some undetermined amount of time to get the full story, which they also have to pay for. Wrestling books and shoot interview DVDs are two very different products and there would’ve been no harm towards the potential sales of the book.
That said, this is a pretty solid shoot interview DVD. Idol is a good storyteller and has a good sense of humor about the bad decisions he’s made at times in his career. He’s very self-deprecating as he relays the story of how he went to the WWWF, was promised an extended run in the well-paying territory by Vincent James McMahon (“Vince Senior”), only to leave because there was a snowstorm, which he was not used to as a native Floridian. His time in Georgia (where he had his most visible run thanks to the cable penetration of Superstation WTBS) and Memphis (the territory that he’s most closely associated with thanks to his runs as a rival and partner of Jerry Lawler) get discussed the most.
The Georgia portion features the highlight of the DVD, which, aside from discussion of the plane crash, was probably the post anticipated subject. Throughout wrestling folklore, the story of Idol cashing a $5,000 check presented to him in the ring after winning a battle royal was legendary. Idol confirms it and tells the whole story in great detail. His most memorable moments in Memphis (disguising himself as a masked Mexican wrestler, his feud with Rick Rude, and shaving Jerry Lawler’s head among others) are all well covered. The discussion of Idol’s time in Alabama is interesting as he ponders his complacency in the territory being a negative.
If you’re a fan of Idol, you’ll definitely enjoy this DVD. It could have been more thorough, but it’s still entertaining and easy to watch. For those who buy as many shoot interviews as they can, the lack of road stories may be a negative. Mildly recommended as long as you know what you’re getting into.