Thursday, November 15, 2007

Tony Rumble, More on Moolah, Jericho's Book

It was 8 years ago this week - November 13, 1999 - that "The Boston Bad Boy" Tony Rumble dies of a massive heart attack at the age of 43.

If you were part of the wrestling scene in this area at that time, you know how much of an impact Tony Rumble and his NWA New England promotion had around here. His passing left a void that will never be filled.

Rumble was a unique character. He made his fame as a wrestler, announcer and producer for Mario Savoldi's ICW in the 80's and early 90's. While, by his own admission, he was not a great wrestler, he was one of the great personalities and a talented booker and TV producer. He was able to take a crew of the good, the bad and the goofy and turn them into an entertaining product. He was also a streetwise promoter who built a solid sold show business second to none. His friendships with guys he worked with in ICW, who went on to become major stars, helped elevate the local business and opened doors for many local talents who went on to work for WCW and the then WWF. He would be as proud of guys he knew who made it, as if he made it himself.

More than any of that, Tony Rumble was a very close friend in a business where few real friends are made. Not a day goes by that I don't think of him and wonder what he would think of what our business has become. I would not be surprised to hear him say in that inimitable way of his, "Wow Goldberg, what a bunch of half-wits."

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Dave Meltzer had a great obituary on The Fabulous Moolah, along with a history of women's wrestling in U.S. in his Wrestling Observer Newsletter last week.
Moolah is not a member of of the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame and in Dave's article he goes into the pros and cons of her career and what works against her for Hall of Fame consideration.
One of Dave's issues is that Moolah was never really a money draw and seldom a main event attraction.
I think you have to see the bigger picture with Moolah. She came around at a time when women's wrestling was simply a special attraction used to spice up cards, much like the midgets and specialty acts like Haystacks Calhoun or Andre The Giant. The women generally weren't booked as consistent acts with programs and angles and that was how the promoters of the day did business. Moolah just provided them with an attraction, keeping herself as the top female star. Had the promoters of the era shown interest in making women consistent pushed characters, there would be more validity to that argument.
I would say that Moolah herself was a solid mid-card attraction. Anytime she appeared on a card and the promoter could bill a World Title match, it added something special to the hype for that particular show. I know as a young fan in the late 60's and 70's, I always had my interest piqued anytime Moolah was on the bill.
Moolah survived and thrived in a mans world and she should be recognized for having kept women's wrestling in business for decades. I have my doubts that women's wrestling would have fared much better without her booking the girls. In that era, most likely someone else would have come along and did the same thing.
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I've been busy with a number of non-wrestling projects these past few weeks and have been getting a fair amount of reading in.
Chris Jericho's book, "A Lion's Tale," is a laugh-out-loud fun read. Jericho is a great writer and storyteller who takes you through his career up to his WWF debut.
Anyone who was worked in the business will appreciate Jericho's story all the more. In fact, younger wrestlers who are just starting out should be required to read it.
Even if you don't like wrestling, it's a great book about one man's journey through a strange and often bizarre world to realize a boyhood dream.

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