I saw on Facebook that one of my early mentors, Moose Morowski, had passed away. It did make me sad at first but then I started thinking about the wonderful life that Moose had led and I just sort of smiled. I smiled because I remembered all the great memories I had with him and could only imagine some of the others over his long, illustrious career.
Like me, Moose was a Winnipeg guy, and Winnipeg guys always seemed to look out for others from the city back in those days. As a matter of fact, in 1985, it was another Winnipegger, Al Tomko, who booked me out of Winnipeg to Vancouver. I grew up as a tough, prairie kid who was a bruiser playing hockey. I had played junior football in Winnipeg and had been out to a free-agent camp with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL for juniors and aggression was the name of the game. From there I got into pro wrestling and that led me to Al.
I had started in the AWA and they had a bunch of big boys back then. Stan Hansen, Scott Hall and the Road Warriors just to name a few. As a rookie there you took your beating and thanked them.
Arriving in Vancouver Al says that I will start on TV. He teams with me with Moose who is wearing a hood. We talked and he liked the fact that I had broken in with Verne Gagne. We hit it off immediately. He told me about his background wrestling there and I was impressed.
What I was more impressed with was what a nice guy he was. He said he would help me in the ring and for me to listen for him in the corner. I knew I needed the help so I was thankful.
Okay, so I am going to go on the record now and say I may have been a little stiff. Well, maybe a lot stiff. As a matter of fact, I guess it was basically fight for your life when I was in. I could hear Moose actually laughing in the corner. And that was just the first match of the night of TV.
So we get through the taping of the first show and now we have to do the second week’s show. Moose tells me to stay aggressive and keep going after it. Looking back now he must have been thrilled to have his own, private rib going. Every time I got in the ring it was basically a shoot with the other guys.
As a matter of fact it was so bad that at one point our opponents, Mike Edwards, tagged in Red Mahoney who was probably 6-foot-4 tall. When Red got in the ring he actually turned around and backed towards me. I could hear Moose screaming at me to go after him and I could hear him laughing hysterically. So I did. It wasn’t pretty.
After the match, Al came out of the green room and just said that I almost killed the guy. When he left, Moose told me good job and winked. In a crazy way, I won him over.
I stayed in Vancouver for a number of years. Moose stopped working but would come out to the matches and always made a point of searching me out to say hi. I would often go in and out to other promoters and he always wanted to know who I had seen on the tour and how they were doing. “Denski where have you been?” He would ask. I would tell him and his eyes would light up when I mentioned some of the names, long-lost buddies he hadn’t seen in a while.
Every now and again, Moose would pull the tights on and work a special match. I used to love that. As a matter of fact, it brought on one of my best ribs.
Moose was going to wrestling my good friend Gorgeous Michelle Starr one night at Cloverdale. Starr was a little nervous because Moose had the rep of an old-time shooter that could tie you up. I told Starr not to worry, that Moose would probably just want to have some fun.
Moose and I were sitting beside each other in the dressing room that night. I started with, “I can’t believe he would say that. These young guys are all so bitter.”
Moose bit, “Who said something, what did they say?” I couldn’t resist. “Aw, Moose you know he is just running his mouth but he says at your age you couldn’t stretch him. I stood up for you and said that you absolutely could. I think it is just him being young.”
Moose didn’t say anything else. He just looked at me and gave me that Moose wink.
I remember watching the match and Moose had Starr bent almost all the way backwards over the ropes and laying in the forearms. They were like sledgehammers coming down and Starr was so far backwards that he couldn’t cover up. Ouch, that has to hurt, I thought.
After the match I asked Moose how it went and he winked again. Classic. Later over drinks Starr and I talked about it and he told me that Moose had tied him up a number of times that night. I replied that he shouldn’t have called Moose a mark. Starr was stunned, “I never said that.” “Oh,” I replied, “my bad, thought you called him a mark and I told Moose that was odd you would say that.”
Starr started laughing and said he should have known.
When I think back to that night I am glad I orchestrated that for a number of reasons. That was probably the most energized I had seen Moose in a long time. He would often tell me about his back pain and his knees and hips. But that night, he was that young bruiser again having a lot of fun in the ring. That was a great night for Moose.
Much like Moose stood on the side of the ring and laughed at a young kid beating the crap out guys, I got the opportunity to switch roles with him that night. It was my turn to stand on the side and watch the young kid in Moose come out and have some fun.
Moose buddy, Denski will see you down the road …
MOOSE MOROWSKI LINKS
- September 12, 2016: Moose Morowski dead at 81
- September 13, 2016: Colleagues remember Moose Morowski
- May 24, 2004: Moose Morowski battles back