I KNOW WHAT YOU'RE THINKING, I'M NOT A REAL ATHLETE, I'M JUST A "WRESTLER"...
"I'm 6'10", 328 Pounds.
Marc Mero, "I won boxing's golden gloves three years in a row.
The Rock, "I was a national champion at the University of Miami.
Faarooq, "My jersey was retired at Florida State University.
Shamrock, "I was the ultimate fighting champion.
"WHEN YOU STEP THROUGH THOSE ROPES, BAD THINGS
DO HAPPEN... I HAD OVER 200 STITCHES... I'VE SUFFERED A DOZEN
CONCUSSIONS... I'VE BROKEN BONES... I'VE SEPARATED SHOULDERS...
DAMN NEAR BROKE MY NECK-- BLOWN OUT KNEES... BUT I STILL
Shawn Michaels, "Try lacing my boots"
The strength of the territory lies in the strength of its' champion.
Bruno Sammartino was WWF World Championl. The fans believed in him, and supported him at the gate. For eight years, (May of 63 until January of 71) Bruno was the WWF's champion. Again on 12/10/73 Bruno regained the WWF world title and remained champion until 4/30/77. 11 years as WWF World Champion.
In 1971 Pedro Morales began nearly a three year reign as WWF World Champion. Pedro had a great background in professional wrestling having begun his career in Amarillo, Texas under the name, Johnny Como and being one ot the few wrestlers picked by my father, Dory Funk Sr. to train me for my debut into professional wrestling. Pedro was a leader in the Puerto Rican community and always represented the WWF with class.
From 2/20/78 to 12/26/83 a period of nearly six years (Except for a short seven day title hold for Antonio Inoki) Bob Backlund was kingpin of the WWF. Bob also began his career in the Amarillo, Texas Territory, coming in first as an extra for television matches but having so much wrestling talent that he quickly became one of our top boys.
Bret Hart was WWF World Champion on five separate occasions. Bret was "New Generation," a renegade but always with respect for what had come before him and looking to advance the cause of "Credibility in Wrestling." Bret also had his first taste of wrestling in Amarillo, Texas where he participated in a few matches while visiting my home in Texas as a teenager. I also accept credit for teaching Bret to Water-ski.
Shawn (Heartbreak Kid) Michaels brought us D-Generation-X, controversy, and also one of the hardest working and best preforming athletes this business has ever seen. At the St. Louis Pay Per View, "A Re-union of Legends," the cage match between Shawn and the Undertaker will live as one of the all time great matches in professional wrestling. They both gave their all for the fans and the business.
The New Generation of "Credibility in Wrestling." Shawn Michaels vs Stone Cold Steve Austin. Who will lead the WWF into the 21st Century???
Eddie Graham built his territory on a foundation of wrestling. It was not unusual for me to walk into a blood spattered ring following a Texas Death Match, Russian Chain Match, Brass Knucks Match, or even a Combination Death Match. Eddie did use gimmicks to draw money in the territory however, he never forgot the importance of, what it said on the sign outside the building. "Wrestling."
"Jack, We are going to build this territory around you and we are going to take our time. It may take so long that you will began to think that we have forgotten about you, but when you are over you will really be over." Eddie Graham was speaking to Jack Brisco, future great NWA World Champion. After coming from a wrestling program at Oklahoma State University where, "to keep your scholarship," you had to keep and defend your place on the team every day and struggling through preliminary wrestling matches in the Oklahoma, Dallas, and Amarillo territories this was music to Jack Brisco's ears.
Eddie's fine tuning of Jack's Career was so precise that one day he heard his bookers setting up a promo for Jack, building him as a teenage idol for the younger generation. Eddie called his office personnel in and "raised hell" because, Jack Brisco was a hero for all generations of wrestling fans.
Jack was the credibility cornerstone to build Championship Wrestling from Florida around. It was hard work making speaking engagements at the local high schools and traveling the territory six or seven nights a week plus television at the sportatorium on Albany Street in Tampa on Wednesday and special promos on Thursday.
That hard work and search for credibility in Professional wrestling paid off for the territory and the wrestling fans around the world when Jack Brisco moved into the top position for an unprecedented run against me for the world championship of over 200 matches in a four and a half year period all before packed arenas and finally culminated in his winning the NWA world heavyweight championship. Albeit, not from me, maybe next time, Jack.
Credibility in Wrestling???
"You can not always take from a community. When a community has been good to you and your family you must return the favors." Dory Funk Sr. loved the community he lived in and was always looking for ways to help out. He was proudest of his three and a half year stint as Superintendent of Cal Farley's Boy's Ranch. He was chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy drive each year, and was a big supporter of law enforcement in the area, on several occasions donating proceeds from wrestling to families of officers injured and even killed in the line of duty. He once bought an eight year old girl, suffering from terminal cancer, from Umbarger, Texas a round trip ticket to Dallas and had his friend Danny (Bull Dog) Pleches pick her up and take her to Six Flags amusement park. He was heart broken when he gave her a hundred dollars and she put it in a saving's account instead of just spending it on a good time.
There was another side of credibility to Dory Funk Sr. From the very early years we understood that wrestling had put the food on our plate and had given us a very special life. It was our duty to respect and stick up for the, "wrestling business." Dory Funk Sr. was a good man, but he could spot an, "ass hole," from a mile away and always had the proper response.
I first time saw my father get mad at someone for putting down the wrestling business was at the age of eight. It happened down on Tenth Street in Amarillo, Texas at Joe Banaski's Playhouse Cafe. I have felt ever since a duty to defend the credibility of this business. I know times are different and you can't do what used to be commonplace, and I know why, but in the names of all who have fought for the credibility of this business including, Dick Murdoch, Terry Funk, Dory Funk Sr., Dorothy Funk, Nelson Royal, Vince Russo, Kieth Franks, Tommy Gilbert, Bruce Prichard, Harley Race, Pat Patterson, Eddie Graham, Tommy Prichard, Tough Tony Morelli, Gene Kiniski, Jim Ross, Sputnick Monroe, Michael Cole, Jack Brisco, Jerry Brisco, Vince McMahon, Linda McMahon, Shane McMahon, Kevin Kelly, Bret Hart, Bret's family, Jerry Lawler, and my wife, Marti. Don't anybody come walking up to me with the first thing on their mind that, "F" word. (And I am not talking about intercourse, I'm talking about that other "F" word -"FAKE" ) "And That's the Funking Bottom Line."
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