For some professional wrestlers, using the terms “jobber” or “job man” is just repulsive and taboo. Some refuse to even say those words out loud. But for Chris Multerer, these words are merely terms, ones that aren’t “dirty” or “offensive” and for 25 years he was proud to put over headliners and mid-carders in the squared circle.
Noticing a lack of “jobbers” telling their stories, Multerer, who wrestled mostly as Chris Curtis, decided to fully embrace, and with ample amounts of humor, share his role in pro wrestling in his book Job Man: My Life in Professional Wrestling, out October 3 from Wisconsin Historical Society Press. (This edition is an expanded version of Multerer’s previous self-published book Job Man: My 25 Years in Professional Wrestling which came out in 2014.)
“During my career, I’ve dislocated my knees more times than I can count,” wrote the 62-year-old Multerer in the book’s first chapter. “I’ve torn a rotator cuff in my shoulder, broken a hand, cracked a few ribs, bruised a kidney and split my head wide open. Yet, if I could, I’d go back and do it all over again because I feel like the luckiest guy in the world. I had the time of my life wrestling in nearly 700 matches all over the United States. Not many people can look back on a career and honestly say they loved what they did for a living.”
Multerer’s journey to the ring began at the age of nine as a result of parental punishment.
“I was playing catch with my younger brother with a rubber ball and I threw the ball and he ducked and it hit my sister in the head,” recalled Multerer, who currently resides in Slinger, Wisconsin, in a phone interview with SLAM! Wrestling. “So I thought it was funny. She didn’t. So then she starts crying and so my mom sent me in the house. This is 1966 and this was in the middle of summer and there’s nothing to do so you know we had the old TV, the old black and white TV, where you had to turn the dial. So there was nothing on and all of a sudden I turned on a UHF channel and wrestling was on, the old American Wrestling Association (AWA) with Verne Gagne. So I was hooked right away. I thought, ‘What is this stuff?’ And I mean I did everything I could to watch it every week. I was hooked.”
True to his word, Multerer went to great lengths to not miss his beloved pro wrestling show each week. Even after his mother banned it from the house after seeing a promo where The Crusher threatened to send his upcoming opponent, Kobayashi, back to Tokyo in a garbage can, Multerer was undeterred. He says he would walk to a local department store every Saturday and watch the show on one of the televisions on sale at the store. He says he did that for three years! Multerer would go on to get a job as a busboy at a restaurant and saved up his money to buy his own small black and white television. When work interfered with watching wrestling, he would bike to work with the television resting on his knees and set it up on milk crates to watch while he did dishes.
As he grew older, Multerer would attend live matches in downtown Milwaukee, where he is originally from. He says he favored the heels especially the late Ray “The Crippler” Stevens and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, both of whom he credits for inspiring him to get into pro wrestling. Multerer would have his first match in 1978 against Victor. If wrestling fans are scratching their heads not remembering this particular superstar, that’s because Victor was a 600-pound bear!
“There was a sport show every year and it still goes on in Milwaukee,” recalled Multerer. “And there was a guy named Tuffy Truesdale and he’s from the Carolinas and what he would do was he would go to different (pro wrestling) territories, the promoters would hire him and they would put Victor against the top heel in the territory. He might put him in a cage or whatever, but it would draw a lot of money.”
Multerer signed a waiver and agreed to be one of six people to challenge Victor. After watching the three competitors ahead of him fail miserably, Multerer debated whether to put on an entertaining show a la Bobby Heenan for the 6,000 people in attendance or make a legitimate effort to win. He went with the latter.
“I figured the way to beat Victor was to get him off his feet and work him on the mat,” he wrote in the book’s second chapter. “I made the decision right then and there not to put on a show, but to try to win. As it got closer to my time, I was sweating bullets, an absolute nervous wreck. Then they called my name and it was game on! I locked arms with Victor, but right away I dropped to my knees and grabbed his hind legs. This knocked him off balance and I was able to grab his midsection and roll him on his back. I could hear the crowd screaming as I held Victor on his back with my right arm on his left and lying on his legs so he couldn’t kick out and roll out of the pin. The crowd was on their feet as the referee counted Victor out.”
After surviving his battle with the beast, Multerer would make his official pro wrestling debut, amongst humans this time, acting as a manager later that same year for a United Wrestling Association (UWA) show. Multerer would go on to be officially trained by Steve Hall, who worked as Tom “Rocky” Stone. Not long after, Multerer made his way through various pro wrestling territories facing a who’s who of opponents including Hulk Hogan, Gene Kiniski, Ernie Ladd, Mad Dog Vachon and Greg Gagne. He is proud to point out that he worked for Verne Gagne, who was notoriously strict on training and protecting the business, for 10 years.
Multerer also had the opportunity to wrestle for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE, but of course known at that time as the World Wrestling Federation or WWF). Shockingly, Multerer shares that WWE’s Chairman and CEO, Vince McMahon, “was always really, really nice to the job guys. He would always say, ‘Thank you for coming.’ … He appreciated everything we did. No matter how weird he might be and the crap that he’s pulled, he was always nice to us. I cannot bad mouth the man.”
During his career, Multerer managed to garner two victories, which is a lot when your job is technically to lose. The first was via a countout against Canada’s own Rick Martel. The second was against Mr. Washington, whom “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase paid to take his place in the match. Multerer also received a $550 pay day and a hair cut from Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake in what he says is one of his favorite matches.
“I had really thick curly hair and he (Brutus) shaved it from front to back so I looked really stupid,” explained Multerer having great difficulty suppressing his laughter. “I looked like Bozo the Clown. So this is going on and it was Bruno (Sammartino), Jesse (“The Body” Ventura) and Vince (McMahon) doing the commentary. And Vince is like laughing and Jesse is saying, ‘Now this is horrible, here’s a guy who goes in and signs up to do the best of his ability and he doesn’t need to be abused like this!’ And then Brutus spray paints my hair with some hair color and puts this big doily around me. Oh my God! Vince is going crazy and Jesse, he was the perfect foil.”
Multerer also revealed that for the most part, he was treated well by his headlining wrestling peers. Although he is adamant that he was not interested in airing “any dirty laundry about any of the guys” in the book, he does name names when it comes to wrestlers who treated jobbers poorly and/or deliberately tried to hurt them. For Multerer, he says there was only one instance where he felt “double crossed.”
In 1979, Multerer went up against British wrestler Billy Robinson for the first time. Multerer says he was nervous because Robinson “had a reputation of being tough on the newer guys.” Multerer was advised by the late Nick Bockwinkel to “just listen” to Robinson and “you’ll be fine.” Even though Multerer took the advice and had a positive discussion with Robinson about the match beforehand, things didn’t go well in the ring.
“We started off the match like we had planned,” said Multerer. “And I got him in the corner and I went to hit him and he called me a name that I’m not going to repeat and I kind of like I wasn’t quite sure where that was coming from and I did it again and he called me another one. I go, ‘uh oh!’ and it kind of threw me off. It was just like, ‘What did I do?’ and then he just changed everything. He tried to hurt me. He put me in a Boston crab and I tapped. I gave right away. I didn’t know if he was going to try and break my back or what.”
He continued, “He (Robinson) had already been in the business for 15 years and he was a well-known shooter and hooker. So, I just gave right away and I thought, ‘What is this?’ He would do that to a lot of guys and I don’t know if he got the green light from Verne (Gagne) or if it was kind of like our initiation.”
It will not be lost on readers that Multerer takes his role as a jobber extremely seriously. He’s obviously taken an oath for life because even though this is his own book, he can’t help but continue to put other wrestlers over. Amidst his own stories, he includes wrestling cards he attended and later cards that he was on, along with bios of various pro wrestlers. Multerer says his motives for these inclusions were due to his love of “the history of the business” and to show his respect for the wrestlers who “were instrumental” to him.
Multerer retired from the ring in 2003. He did try his hand at running a wrestling school for about a year, but primarily worked as an environmental services director. For the last 18 years, he has been a bill collector and worked in security. Although divorced, he is a proud father of three and grandfather to one.
Although he admits he hasn’t watched pro wrestling in about 20 years, Multerer wants readers to know that he has no shame about being a pro wrestling jobber, whom he likens as essential as “supporting actors” in movies, and that he will always have fond memories when he looks back at his pro wrestling days.
“When they (readers) get done reading the book, I want them to make sure that while they were reading it, they had a laugh,” emphasized Multerer. “(I hope) that they were able to laugh at the stories, that they enjoyed it as much as I did writing it. That they were entertained. It’s not super serious, it’s for them to enjoy and for them to get a good laugh at. That’s what I want. And I want them to know what it was like for a guy like me who wasn’t a Ric Flair, wasn’t a Hulk Hogan, wasn’t a Bret Hart or a Nick Bockwinkel or a Ray Stevens, but a guy who got paid to make them look good and take a fall. And you know what, I loved it! I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I had no problems with what I did.”
He continued humbly, “I think that while I wasn’t the greatest performer out there, there were guys who were better and there always will be, I think that I did a good job of making my opponent look really good. I wanted to make a name for myself so that people would know who I was and I respected the business. Every time I went out there, I wanted to give the best that I could to the audience because they paid their money. I wanted to put on the best show that I could for the people.”