As told to Dory Funk by Don "The Lawman" Slayton
Fall of 1973, Jack Brisco was NWA Champion. He won the title from Harley Race July 20th. Six weeks earlier, Harley had won a disputed decision from me in Kansas City. These conditions were great for business in the Amarillo Territory. Brisco was champion after having chased me for years and yet, he never beat me for the belt. A Funk vs Brisco match in the Amarillo Territory is a natural to do great business.
Terry Funk is on the phone with Abilene wrestling promoter, Don Slayton, Aka The Lawman. The Lawman is upset! Abilene runs on Friday nights. The Amarillo Booking Office had dates on the NWA Champion. The champ would appear in Albuquerque on Sunday, El Paso on Monday, Odessa on Tuesday, Lubbock on Wednesday, Amarillo on Thursday, and return on Friday to wrestle Keil Auditorium in St. Louis. Abilene, The Lawman's town didn't have the champion. The Lawman knew the world champion in his town would draw him money.
The NWA President Sam Muchnick received a salary of three percent of the gate on all appearances of the champion. President Muchnick would rather book the champion in St. Louis with a guaranteed gate of twelve thousand people than Abilene where attendance could not compare with St. Louis.
Conversation between Terry and the Lawman centers around securing Jack Brisco for Abilene Texas. Texas Governor Dolph Briscoe carries the same family name as the NWA Champion. Terry and the Lawman decide they will entice Jack to come to Abilene, with the carrot of the governor of Texas wanting to meet his namesake Jack Brisco. It would make for great publicity with champion Brisco meeting Governor Briscoe.
Great idea! A call goes to NWA President, Sam Muchnick. He confirms that Jack Brisco will appear in Abilene for one match the week following his St. Louis booking. The Lawman is satisfied. He schedules a return Championship Match, Dory Funk Jr. vs Jack Brisco. A sellout is assured with six weeks to promote the show.
The Lawman assumed Terry would contact the Governor's office. Terry Funk assumed the Lawman would contact the Governors office, besides that, nobody really cares if they have a governor. The important thing to a promoter is a rear end for every eighteen inches of seat space in the building. A Funk Brisco world title match would accomplish that.
Three days before the show, a call comes from Sam Muchnick's office that they want pictures of Jack Brisco meeting the governor of Texas. Furthermore, Jack is going to make a speech to the Governor and present him with a Brisco Brothers T-shirt. To say the least, The Lawman is up a creek. He has no Governor Dolph Briscoe and Jack Brisco is not one to be messing with. The Lawman must come up with a Governor.
The History: The Lawman is unfamous as a ribber, most noted for the time he induced Amarillo Promoter, Jerry Kozak to drive all the way to Abilene to arrive at 6:00am for a deer hunting trip with the Lawman. Kozak wound up pumping twelve rounds of ammunition into an old dead deer with rigamortis, tied to a tree. (That is another story for a later time)
The Set Up: The Lawman gets his old buddy Martin Pryor, a Ford car salesman in Abilene to get a bright red Lincoln from the company. He also has one of his clean up boys from the wrestling matches dress up like a chauffeur.
The Objective: They must keep Jack away from the local people in Abilene because any idiot in Texas would know old paunchy sly talking Martin Pryor isn't the governor of the State of Texas, Dolph Briscoe.
Small Problem: Wrestling strong man Ivan Putski is also scheduled into Abilene on the 11:00am flight from Dallas. Ivan is from San Antonio and would surely know what the Governor of Texas looked like. They must keep Ivan from telling off on the governor. The Sting: First off the plane is Ivan Putski. The Lawman quickly shakes Ivan's hand and says quietly, "Ivan, we are going to pull a little joke here on Jack, just go along with what ever you see take place.
Following Ivan Putski off the plane is Jack Brisco, NWA Champion dressed in suit and tie carrying a Brisco Brothers T-shirt to present to the governor. The Lawman shakes Jack's hand, looks right at him and says, "Jack, I-- I'm sorry to have to tell you that the Governor Briscoe isn't going to be able to meet you today. He had to go down to Mexico, you know where they had that earthquake."
As they walked to the terminal, they saw a twin engine aircraft. propellers turning. The Lawman said, "Jack I-- I believe that is his plane over there warming up right now." By now Jack was really depressed. He never really wanted to come to this town in the first place.
The four, Lawman, Jack Brisco, Ivan Putski, and another one of the Lawman's helper, wanna be wrestlers, Lawman Jr, leave the airport together in the Lawman's old Ford Station Wagon. In those days, from the Airport into town was a good distance on a country road.
As they left the airport and made the first turn into town The Lawman was the first to speak. "Well my golly, That looks like, I believe it is, It's him, it's governor Briscoe, It's him!!!" The Lawman slams on his breaks and the red limousine does the same. A cloud of dust flies up in the air as the two cars come to a stop. The Lawman gets out of the car and says, "My gosh Governor, we thought for sure we were going to miss you. Jack Brisco is out of the car and the introduction takes place. Jack Brisco thinks he meets the governor of Texas, Dolph Briscoe.
The Rest of the Story: Jack Brisco came prepared to meet the governor, give a speech, and present the Governor with a Brisco Brother's T-shirt. Come hell or high water he was going to do just that. Right there on a lonely dusty road in Abilene Texas Jack began his speech. It was something about long ago the two families were from Oklahoma, they split and their names were spelled different but sounded the same. As quick as he got started, he forgot his speech. While Jack was stammering and trying to remember what he was going to say, The ol'e Governor just laughed and said now Jack, I know your family but, I want you to know those Funk Boys are pretty tough hombres. Jack didn't really hear a word the governor was saying as he raced to the car as in the excitement he had forgotten his Brisco Brothers T-shirt. He was actually fumbling with the latch on the Lawman's old Ford station wagon to get the Brisco Brothers T-shirt before the Governor left. Jack finally got the door open and the T-shirt out and made the presentation to the Governor.
Verification: This event is recorded on old 8 mm movie film for posterity in the wrestling business. The film was taken by Lawman Jr. and features Jack and the Governor (aka Martin Pryor) conversing at the T-shirt presentation. Periodically you can see Ivan Putski walk into view with an old Polaroid taking snap shots of the presentation.
Time was short and soon the Lawman reminded the Governor about his plane warming up for the trip to Mexico. The Governor apologized but wished Jack good luck and said he had to get going. "You know Jack I have just got to get down to Mexico." The Governor was in the red limousine and in a cloud of dust was gone.
The Finish: Now all was quiet, the governor was gone. The Lawman, Jack, Putski, and Lawman Jr. were in the old station wagon. The first to speak was Jack, "Lawman, I just gotta tell you, that rib that you pulled on Jerry Kozak when he shot that old dead deer was one of the funniest ribs I have ever heard of."
And Finally: For the next six months our office in Amarillo received many calls from the St. Louis office requesting pictures of Jack Brisco meeting Governor Dolph Briscoe. We had the pictures, but couldn't send pictures of Jack and the paunchy old car salesman.
And as You Would Know: Everyone in the wrestling business knew the story of Jack Brisco meeting the Governor of Texas, but everyone was afraid to tell him the truth. At least six months went by without anyone telling Jack he didn't meet the Governor of Texas. In the end Harley Race told Jack he was had.
I don't recommend that anyone mention this story in person to Jack Brisco.
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