I'm Sorry, I never said Goodby
"Hey Junior, come back, I need to borrow some change for a newspaper." I had just left the news stand at DFW International Airport. I was walking down the concourse toward Braniff Flight 300 to Detroit. I thought, If Terry needs change for a newspaper, How does he think he is going to make it through the weekend in Detroit?
In the early 70's The Sheik's territory was the hottest in the country. Detroit itself was on fire and had a string of forty consecutive sellouts. As world champion I had worked Detroit to huge crowds at Cobo Hall against Hans Schmidt and the Sheik. The Sheik himself was a big drawing card around the world, wrestling to capacity crowds in Los Angeles, Toronto, Honolulu, Japan, Texas, and Florida. At a National Wrestling Alliance Meeting in Las Vegas, the Sheik was even criticized for the thousands of dollars he lost at the crap table. His comment, "We work hard for our money and we will do what we want with it."
In the late seventies, the wrestling business in Detroit changed. Television is the key to wrestling and the Sheik lost his Major television station. He was forced to go to a small UHF station that had a very limited viewing audience. In the past Terry and I had enjoyed much success with the Sheik. He had been a Major drawing card in Texas for us in the 60's setting attendance records in many of our cities. Now his territory was in trouble and he needed help. Terry and I had worked to build up the attendance at Cobo Hall and tonight we were going into the big building in Detroit, Joe Louis Arena. The main event was an Arabian Death Match with Terry and I against The Sheik and Abdullah the Butcher.
It is a thrill to walk into the dressing room on a big show. You see friends in the business that you haven't seen in a long time. As we entered the dressing room at Joe Louis Arena, the first person we saw was big Stan Stasiak. We hadn't seen Stan in a long time. He was an old friend of mine from the Portland, Dallas, and Calgary territories. As Terry greeted Stan he said, "Stan, you have got to go out to eat with us tonight, we are going to eat Greek food, there are some great Greek restaurants here in Detroit." Stan apologized and said that he would love to go out but that he had a bunch of relatives meeting him here at the matches. Terry said, "That's wonderful Stan, bring them along too." Now I started to think, Terry didn't have thirty five cents for a newspaper and at the car rental agency He told me He forgot his credit card. Now He is inviting Stan and all his relatives out to dinner. Who is going to pay for this?
Joe Louis Arena was a near sell out. We had worked very hard for some time to re-build interest in wrestling in Detroit. The match was over and as we were sitting in the dressing room talking, bleeding, and sipping a beer. The door burst open and the Sheik's kid, Captain Ed George burst into the room and said, "Hey, you'll never guess what happened, somebody broke into the box office and stole all the money!! (Strangely enough, I have heard that before)
We received our pay that night with the promise that if they ever caught the robbers that they would send us the rest of the money.
Terry had a few beers and He must have been really hungry. He ordered more beer and more food. As I looked across the table, He was just eating the entree out of the plate and then would order more. He had five plates stacked up on top of each other and was ordering more and still just eating the entree portion from the middle. His unfinished dinner plates were stacked up on mashed potatoes and vegetables five high. My thoughts raced back to DFW International Airport and Terry calling me back to the news stand to give him change for newspaper and chewing gum. I also thought about the rent a car counter and him saying that he had forgot his credit card and would split the cost with me when we got paid tonight. He had forgotten that too. He ordered more food and more beer.
I excused myself from the table to go to the rest room. When I finished I thought, "Do I have a surprise for Terry" I casually walked out the front door of Scorpios and returned to the hotel, laughing all the way. "I thought the joke was on Terry." I never saw Stan Stasiak again. I read last year he had passed away. Sometimes it's that way in the wrestling business.
Twenty years have passed since that night at Scorpios in Greek Town in Detroit. I am reading my list list of names for the WWF's Funking Dojo. Shawn Morely, Marc Merro, Kurrgan, Mark Henry, Darrin Drosdov, Shawn Stasiak!!! Can he be related to Stan Stasiak???
Shawn Stasiak, son of WWF World Champion Stan Stasiak gets advice in the WWF Funking Dojo.
We had some great times in Calgary, Portland, Dallas and Detroit. I always enjoyed seeing your smiling face when we met. I will never forget our match in Portland as partners against Dutch Savage and Lonnie Maine and afterward sharing a few beers at the old Top of the Park Hotel. I am sorry I never said good-by in Detroit.
Stan, I want you to know
how proud you should be of your son. On his own he submitted a video tape
to the WWF with a request to join the WWF's Funking Dojo. He is on contract
to the WWF and guess what? He wants to follow in your footsteps and become
a second generation WWF champion. I have been coaching him and believe
he has what it takes.
Stan, there is more to your son than just a wrestler. He is a good kid, honest and has a big heart. If you could only see him now, I know you would be proud.
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