Brian Knobbs (Nasty Boy) Jim Kelly and Dory Funk Jr.
And the Winner is???
"Jim Kelly, You are a four time looser. You are the worst thing that ever happened to professional football and the Buffalo Bills. You are the quarterback who lost the Super Bowl four times and that is a record that will live forever." It was Randy, Macho Man Savage holding the hand held microphone as he stood at the back of the aisle. His voice echoed throughout Midland Marine Arena filled with 16,000 fans for the Ilio DePaolo Memorial wrestling show.
Jim Kelly was standing in the ring having just received a plaque honoring him for outstanding charity work. He walked over to the announcer and took his microphone. Kelly turned to Macho Man Savage and said, "If you think you are so tough, why don't you get in this ring and I will kick your ass."
Marti and I were riding in the limousine from the Buffalo Airport direct to the arena. We were late arrivals. When we arrived at the arena, we were directed upstairs to the banquet room. There were three hundred people, special ticketed fans, legends, wrestlers, and promoters of the event. My friend, Diamond Dallas Page was the first superstar we saw. As we talked, I kept looking for something that he must be standing on as he seemed awfully tall. Then I realized he was standing on the same thing I was, the floor. This guy is six feet seven inches tall!!
To visit DDP and Kim's Diamond Mine, Click on the Photo
I saw the Giant. I walked over and shook his hand. Just as it was with Andre, his hand wrapped entirely around mine. In a futile effort of self defense, I squeezed his hand. To my surprise he responded, "Wow, what a grip, I wouldn't want to be facing you." We both laughed. Standing beside the Giant was Lex Luger. I complimented him how good he looked. Lex said, "This is the hardest gimmick in wrestling, staying in absolute peak condition. I must be crazy."
Marti and I had the pleasure of being introduced for the first time to a class guy, Dennis DiPaolo. Dennis, his family and friends put together one of the finest charitable events I have seen in professional wrestling. Ray Misterio Junior came by and said hello. If I had my choice between wrestling the Giant and Rey, you can guess who I would choose.
Big Nasty, Angelo Mosca bear hugged Marti and I. After recovering from that greeting I recalled the great game that Angelo played in when Notre Dame ended the 47 game winning streak of the great Oklahoma Sooners. Someone growled at me from behind. I turned and there was the Macho Man, Randy Savage with his father, the man from the Guinnes Book of World Records, Angelo Poffo. (Thousands of sit-ups)
I saw my partner for the matches tonight, Greg Valentine. He was upset that the food looked so good but it was late and his father, John Valentine had told him never to eat after two in the afternoon on the day of the match. I follow the same rules. I have watched Greg as a wannabe wrestler, a superstar performer, and now as my partner, one of the Legends of the business.
Someone grabbed me from behind with a waistlock. Instinctlively I reached for the double wristlock reverse and turned to see the Destroyer, Dick Beyer grinning from underneath his mask. As I was shaking his hand, from the side I recieved my second bear hug of the night from the Nasty Boy, Brian Knobbs.
I entered the dressing room down stairs and met my opponents, Gino Brito for the first time and Tony Parisi. I commented how it is strange how long we have been in the business together but our paths have rarely crossed because of the competition between territories. I also tried to peer through their suits and guess what kind of shape these two boys might be in for the match tonight..
As I was lacing my boots up in the dressing room I could hear wailing coming from the shower room. I thought maybe sombody was dying and in terrible pain, but the matches hadn't started yet. I asked my partner Greg what all that noise was. Valentine replied that it was just Tony Parisi warming up his voice so he could sing the National Anthem, Canadian and United States.
Now in my wrestling gear, I walked out to check the crowd. I ran right into the, "Big Cat," Ernie Ladd. He played with the Kansas City Chiefs with Jack Kemp and at three hundred pounds and 6' 10" tall was the for a while the biggest man in the NFL. He also had one of the biggest contracts of his day.
The, "Cat introduced me to a man I had never met but knew by reputation, Pedro Martinez. As Pedro shook my hand he said, "Your brother assaulted me in an airport and I took him to court. We settled for $5,000. I said, yes sir, I know the story well. Don't worry about me, I am a peaceful man outside the ring. I thought, the Big Cat must be proud of himself making that introduction.
Greg and I had control of our match with Parisi and Britto. We were well on the way to a victory when Greg lost his temper with the referee and popped him with a stiff forearm and blew the match. I told him, "I can forgive this time because it is a charity show, but don't do that when it is going to cost us money." He just looked at me and grinned. I never know if what I am saying to Greg is heard or not.
I knew Jim Kelly was tough. I had watched him take a beating in Buffalo's last Super Bowl and he kept coming back. He had guts and would not be afraid of Savage or anyone else. Savage came into the ring and squared off with Jim Kelly. The next person to come to the ring was Diamond Dallas Page. He protested to Kelly that it was his match and he would take care of Savage himself. Somewhat to my surprise, Kelly backed down and left the match to DDP though Kelly remained at ringside. The end came when Savage was on the top rope ready to leap on Page and Jim Kelly came from the floor and shoved Savage off the top rope into the ring where he was met with DDP's specialty, the Diamond Cutter. After the bell, Jim Kelly was in the ring and dropped a perfect elbow across the throat of Savage. 16,000 Buffalo fans roared with their approval.
And the winners are:
The Ilio Depaulo Scholarship Fund ($70,000)
Sick Children's Hospital ($70,000)
Dory and Marti Funk (A great time)
And then it was party time.
Jim Kelly looks on as DDP applies the headlock on the victim, Me!!
Gunslinger (Dory Funk Jr.)
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