As Mr. T might say, “I pity the fool …” Well, that’s the best intro we could come up with in the craziness of WrestleMania weekend to lead into a funny collection of ribs for April Fools Day, from stars big and, well, small. Read on, dear reader, because we all need a laugh.
BEWARE THE ANGRY VENIS
Val Venis had a great run in WWE, and made some great friends. He treasures the greatest rib that was ever played on him — by notorious ribber Owen Hart.
“We had an early morning flight that landed us into St. Louis, Missouri. Everybody was really, really tired, because it was a very early morning flight. We had a deal with the Marriott Hotel right across from the airport. So when all the boys landed, we all go and get our bags from the baggage claim, and then get our rental cars and head over to the hotel. Everyone’s plan is pretty much the same plan: we all want to get to the hotel, check in, get a few hours of sleep, go train, go eat, and then head over to the arena. I was driving with Test (Andrew Martin) and A-Train (Matt Bloom), and by the time we got to the hotel, there was a line-up of the boys checking in.
“Because we always stayed at that hotel, the fans knew we stayed there, and there were hundreds of fans in the lobby waiting for us. As we were standing in line, we’re signing autographs for these kids — you know, they’re taking pictures, and going down the line with action figures and pictures to sign. I’m signing away, and this one guy comes up to me with a stack of about 250 Val Venis pictures and says, ‘Hey, brother, can you sign these?” I look at him and I say, ‘No, I can’t sign all those’ — like he expects I’m going to stand there and sign all 250 pictures for him. ‘Beat it.’ So he leaves, and I keep signing all the kids’ stuff and doing my thing.
“So I finally get checked in and get up to my room. I’m dead tired. I get undressed and get into my bed and just start dozing off and the phone rings. I pick up the phone and this guy says, ‘Hey, man. When you say that you’re going to come back down here and sign all my pictures, then you need to get off your ass and sign my pictures.’ And I went off, I just got angry. I start yelling at him, ‘I told you to beat it! Don’t ever call my room again, I’m trying to sleep!’ and I slam the phone down all angry. About 30 seconds later, the phone starts ringing again. I picked up and the only thing he says is, ‘I’m a big man, and you won’t get by me.’ Well, that just set me off. I leaped up out of bed, threw my clothes on. I didn’t even wait for the elevator, I just ran down six flights of stairs. I ran out in the lobby, and when I get there, all the boys had already checked in, all the fans had left, and the only people in the lobby were Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart. They’re sitting on stools at the bar, which is closed because it’s still early in the morning. I turn to Jeff and Owen and say, ‘Hey, did you see a guy with long, dark, stringy hair and a stack of pictures?’ And they say, ‘Yeah, he just ran out the front door.’ So I run out the front door into the parking lot, and I’m just searching for this guy, but finally give up. I come back in to the hotel, and go back to my room, and crash. But it was eating me alive that this guy had the gall to do that.
“Six months later, I was up in Toronto doing an episode of Off the Record with Edge. And for the past six months when I was on the road, people would bring it up — ‘Hey, remember that guy in St. Louis?’ and I would go off — ‘Yeah, that asshole!’ and I’d get all wound up about it again. So six months later, we’re ready to do the OTR taping and Edge gets a message, and it’s Owen Hart. And the message says, ‘Hey, Edge, you can tell Val now.’ So Edge turns to me and says, ‘Remember six months ago in St. Louis, you wanted to beat that guy up who was calling your hotel room?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah!’ and start getting wound up again. ‘Owen wants me to tell you, it was him.’ This was right before we went on the air. And, man, I was pissed. The bastard had me going for six months straight.
“Owen Hart was one of the best ribbers in the locker room. His ribs were never mean, they were always good-quality, all in good fun. He was a good guy.”
BEWARE THE LITTLE PEOPLE
Jimmy Buckle was a full-time pro wrestler from the late-’70s until 1985 as Chief Lone Eagle, but then was a weekend warrior for another 20 years. As one of the featured attractions on cards as a part of the midget wrestling crews, he said the little people always got theirs.
“Don’t rib a midget, man, unless you want to get ribbed back. When the midget is there only two weeks, and you put a good rib over on him, on his last day out, he’s going to get your ass,” laughed Buckle.
He struggled to remember who exactly were the culprits, but is certain this rib went down in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
“Somebody put Icy Hot on my underwear. When I was going from one town to another, my balls were on fire,” he recalled. “Well, I come to find out who did it and everything. So when he went into his match and I got ready to leave to go to Atlanta, I superglued his dresser bag.”
It was pretty common to come into a dressing room and find his shoes up on a shelf when he couldn’t reach them, even with a chair. It was all part of the deal, he said, and you had to be able to roll with the punches. “Some of this stuff, you’ve got to be able to go along with it. Then there’s others that like to give the rib but can’t take the rib.”
HOLY FOLEY, IT’S A GUN!
Anyone who’s ever read one of Mick Foley’s books, or seen his one-man show, knows that he’s rarely at a loss for words. But ask him about some of the best ribs he’s ever seen, and he struggles to say something… that is to say, without laughing too hard to hear exactly what he said.
“It’s a wild world in that dressing room, and nothing’s off limits as long as it gets a laugh,” Foley said, between chuckling. “Downtown Bruno telling a few off-colour jokes, and having a gun put to his head by Brickhouse Brown with blanks in it was maybe a little much. I was from New York, and we didn’t see many guns in the hands of civilians. So seeing a pistol at all, let alone pointed at the head of a participant in the dressing room, was a little harrowing to me.”
“But even that may be kind of tame to some of the stories I’ve heard. And people were laughing pretty loudly when that rib was revealed. Except Bruno,” he clarified. “He wasn’t laughing at all.”
Last year, former Detroit-based manager “Supermouth” Dave Drason (or Dave Burzynski as most know him these days) shared an elaborate rib that was played on The Great Kabooki. Well, he’s back again, this time with a long story about fellow manager Percival Al Friend. Here’s the tale from Supermouth:
One of the more unique personalities to have graced the world of professional wrestling, Al Friend has given friends and fans a steady diet of memories over the years, first as a referee, a Hall of Fame manager, Wrestling Revue featured writer, website historian, cribbage wizard, and until his passing in late 2015, a personal friend. Having known Al for nearly 40 years, I can say with all honesty he was one of the most sincere, charitable, and closest friends I had in the business. But this rib made me question our friendship!
I remember first meeting Al when he worked for The Sheik for his Big Time Wrestling promotion here in Detroit. He served as a jack of all trades by either setting up and tearing down the ring, as a hard nosed referee, and occasionally strapping on the boots for a few bump and grind encounters when called upon to perform.
Having left the territory for greener pastures, we again met up a few years down the road when I visited him in Kansas City. He was having great success managing the monster hulk of a man Black Angus at the time. He was gracious enough to sit down with me for an in-depth interview for which I was able to do a feature story on the pair for Wrestling Revue. A few lost photos from that period have found their way back to Al.
Years later, having retired from the weary grind the professional wrestling road has to offer, we met up again in his adopted home town of Toledo, OH when he acted as special guest referee during my history making only in ring wrestling appearance. I now was a manager in the business, with Killer Brooks as my top stable mate. On this occasion, Al would be the referee for the match between Killer Brooks and myself against Tony Marino and promoter Jack Cain. A War to settle the Score? Well, it was fun anyway, as the story in one of my past columns will attest to. He did an admirable job, one that his involvement helped sell the whole idea to the fans in a way that made it all too believable, they way it should be done.
Then, with a lull of almost 30 years having past, we were reunited in Las Vegas at the 2003 Cauliflower Alley Club’s annual reunion. Since then, we have traveled the back roads to various wrestling events, offering our charitable services at numerous functions, and I have even been home schooled by Al in the finer world of smackdown cribbage. (I hope some of the initial swelling has subsided from the numerous rudy-poo ass spanking defeats Al has suffered since teaching me his secret strategies of the game) A Champion tournament player, Al plays with all seriousness and with a deep passion for the game that many a wrestler have played in dressing rooms across the world while waiting for their opportunity to entertain fans with their wrestling prowess. All in good fun, playing cribbage with Al is like learning a lesson of life — it’s all in the cards that you are dealt.
It’s now the end of Summer 2007, with Al and myself on our way to Chicago to help make the annual Alicia’s House Charity Golf event a success. It was Al’s turn to deal, and I don’t mean cards either. It was his turn to deal a hand to yours truly, one that was unexpected, one so diabolical, one that blind-sided me more than a Nick Goulas payoff, one that will certainly live in infamy.
Having driven down to Toledo from my home in suburban Detroit to meet up with Al, this particular year it was his turn to provide the limo services once I arrived. Packed for partying, we venture onto the Ohio Turnpike with a 4 hour window until we reach our destination. Behind the wheel of his stretch Pimp my Ride Mercury Grand Marquis, CD player loaded with fresh cut tunes for us to enjoy for the next few days, Al held court serving up momentous stories of wrestling lore that had us in stitches during the ride. Yet, being men amongst men, men have to do what men do best: let nature take it’s course in the form of a “Luis Martinez 12 pack Weideman’s Beer Wiz” half way to our destination.
We make the pit stop at the first service plaza available, which just happened to be after having crossed the Indiana state border. Uneventful as things go, we shake the dew off our little Ox Baker’s and get ready to continue our trek to Illinois. That’s when Al posed the question, “Are you hungry? I know a good lunch spot about a half hour up the road in South Bend.” Sure, fine by me. A good lunch and a chance to stretch your legs is always a good thing. So, we head back down the highway with South Bend, home of the University of Notre Dame and touchdown Jesus, our culinary destination.
Having reached the exit sign for South Bend, we pull off the turnpike in search of our restaurant. Driving a few miles down a 4 lane road, Al suddenly pulls off to the shoulder of the road. “I’m not sure if we passed it, or that it’s still a bit up a ways.” He just wasn’t sure. So, we pull back onto the road. Another half mile or so down the road, Al again pulls off onto the shoulder, saying we must have passed it. He wasn’t sure whether to turn around or go a little farther just to make sure. Thus, he pulls back onto the roadway.
Having driven but a few hundred yards, Al declared “What the hell?” With that, blue flashing lights of a County Mountie are glistening though our back window.
We hadn’t done anything wrong and Al was certainly voicing that opinion well before the officer had gotten out of his car. I wasn’t all too concerned, as yes, we hadn’t done anything wrong, unless pulling off the side of the road a few times in the last few minutes was a crime by Indiana State law.
As the officer approached our vehicle, Al suddenly jumps out of his car. I don’t know about you, but if memory serves me correctly from my last driver’s education exam, a driver is supposed to stay in his vehicle, hand his license and registration to the officer if asked to do so, and politely answer any question posed to him. Maybe it’s a Buckeye thing, something those crazy Ohio drivers do, I thought to myself.
But the first thing I hear outside the vehicle is Al asking the officer “Why did you pull me over, I didn’t do anything wrong.” The trooper then told Al, “Sir, get back in you car.”
Al: “I’ll get back in my car when you tell me why you stopped me.”
Cop: “Sir, please get back into you car.”
Al: “I told you when I’ll get back in my car.”
Cop:”And I said do it now.”
With that, Al gets back into the car, slams the door shut, and demands to know why he was stopped. The officer asks for his license and registration. Al starts grumbling while he fumbles through his wallet to get out his essentials. “Don’t you guys have anything better to do today?” Now, I’m beginning to wonder why Al is putting up this big fuss. Sure, we were pulled over but the fact of the matter is, we hadn’t done anything, so why the big beef. Go through the motions, answer a few questions, and we’ll be back on the road. Case closed.
The officer goes back to his vehicle for a few minutes, yet in our car, Al is beginning to blow a gasket. He’s asking me why we were stopped in the first place, to which I tell him, just keep cool, follow orders and we’ll be fine.
As the officer exits his vehicle, Al again jumps our of his car. Oh my God, why is he doing it again when warned about it the first time. It starts all over again, Al asking why we were stopped and the officer telling him to get back in his car. Again, he climbs back in, slams the door, and asks the officer what the deal is.
The officer asks where we are going. We tell him to Chicago for a charity event. He asks if we have any weapons in the car. We tell him no, but Al injects to the nature of such a pointed question, as if we were criminals. He asks where we came from. From Toledo we say. Did you make any stops he asks. We tell him, yes, at a service plaza to go to the restroom.
He then explains that about a half hour ago, two men fitting our descriptions were involved in a fight at the same rest stop. We explain that we were not involved in any altercation as such, having only stopped to “Wring out the Mop”, then getting back into our vehicle and coming to have lunch here in South Bend. But Al doesn’t seem to be liking the implication the cop is throwing in our direction. He again gets out of his car, forcing the officer to move away from the rapidly swinging door.
The conversation now goes like this …
Cop: “Sir, get back in your vehicle.”
Al: “Listen here Barney Fife. You stopped us for no reason, then you accuse me and my friend of committing a crime we didn’t commit. This is @#$%&$#@!”
Cop: “Sir, please watch your language and get back in your car.”
AL: “Don’t you have a doughnut shop you can do raid, you stupid gumshoe! You can take your Barney Fife attitude and shove them where only Michael Jackson wishes he could be.”
Cop: “Sir, if you keep this up, I’ll be forced to …
Al: “Forced to do what. I’ll take that night stick of yours and show you what we do to Jack Webb wannabe’s in Ohio.”
At this point, I tell Al to get back in the car and shut the hell up. I can now see us in the back of a squad car, going to some stupid precinct and answering questions till the cows come home, (fearing no Night Stick vs My Anus No Holds Bar Match) all the while getting to Chicago very late, if getting there at all on this particular day.
Al then gets back in the car and keeps on ranting. I then tell Al once again to shut up and calm down. To which the officer leans over and now asks me for my ID, my drivers license or whatever I have. As I start to comply, Al voices his resentment. “Now your hassling my friend. He didn’t do anything, leave him out of this.” I again tell Al to calm the heck down, be quiet, and stay cool. To which that, the officer now demands for me to get out of the car. “Get out of the car, and put your hands on top of the vehicle.”
Oh, for chrissakes, what the hell has just happened here? I feel like I’m in a scene straight out of the movie Deliverance, and I’m not to keen to the idea of squealing like pig, if you know what I mean. This has gone way too far, gone way too wrong for my comfort. But I got out of the car, put my hands on the top of the hood, spread eagle like I was told, as I see the trooper angrily huffing his way around to my side of the car. I was nervous, not really scared, but generally concerned.
With the officer fast approaching, and with Al screaming multiple expletives in his direction, he is now within a few feet from me. At this time, I see him extend his hand out towards me and say, “Hi, I’m Jack Pavlekovich, so nice to meet you.” Jack who? Nice to meet who, what? Dammit, I BEEN HAD! Ribbed to the Nth degree. I can see only images of Eve pulling out Adam’s rib and laughing in his face. Which is exactly what Al and the officer were doing at this exact moment. On the side of the road, they were both doubled over in gut busting laughter while I stood stunned yet feeling the relief that it was all a work. Dang it, I had the wool pulled over my eyes and I didn’t see it coming. Yet, after it all, I wasn’t surprised. Only for the fact that I was innocent and had nothing to fear.
We laughed for a few more minutes on the side of the road and then proceeded on our way to lunch where the plot, the planning and the execution were all revealed to me in full detail. Al kept on shaking my hand throughout lunch, explaining that I was such a great friend yet he really needed to do this. It seems the whole thing had been planned for the last 2 years. Although it was Al’s idea of pulling off some type of rib on me, it was actually Jack’s idea that came to fruition. Oddly enough, the whole rib was supposed to take place the year prior, on our same trip to the Alicia’s House event. It wasn’t executed then because Jack was working on special assignment with the Michigan State Police in taking down a meth lab. Thus, he wasn’t able to participate and the plan was temporarily put on hold.
Their idea almost didn’t come off this time either. Remember as Al was pulling off the road trying to find the restaurant? Jack was actually behind us the whole time but when he was about to turn his lights on and pull us over, another State Trooper pulled up behind Jack. Wanting not to get himself in trouble, fearing the other trooper actually thought something was wrong, he waved the other officer off as if everything was under control. He didn’t want this rib to put his job in jeopardy, which in turn, it was this, their second opportunity that almost didn’t see the light of day.
We had a wonderful lunch together, along with some great conversation. I got to know Jack quite well, his involvement in local theater, he being a fellow musician, a wrestling fan, and a down to earth human being, a nicer man you will be hard pressed to encounter. We proceeded to take a few photo’s out in the parking lot as a remembrance of the days events before heading back on the highway.
In the end, the interaction between Jack and Al were priceless, executed like an ad lib promo to the tee. Though I have been involved in numerous ribs throughout my career, I have yet to be on the receiving end of one to this extent. Job well done boys.
— compiled by Bob Kapur and Greg Oliver