Welcome again everyone to another wild edition of "TBP", tonight we are pleased to have with us THE FAN OF FANS when it comes to this sport,he may have the history of wrestling, but he's more known for his fashion sense, he's the Bob Mackie of wrestling fans, the multi talented MARK THE LARK.
Q1:How long have you been a Pro Wrestling fan,and how many organizations have you seen
I went to my first show in 1963. It was at the LC Walker Arena in Muskegon, Michigan- Leaping Larry Chene took on the Student (George "Animal" Steele in a mask). Playboy Gary Hart managed the Student. It was a full scale fan riot and the cops had to come escort the heels out of the building. Also on the card was George "Crybaby" George Cannon (Who went on to manage Captain Ed George and the Kangaroos) He took on Bobo Brazil's real life best friend and fishing buddy, Tiny Tim Hampton. It was love at first "bell" for me. Bigger than life characters-action-drama-laughs-pandemonium.
I've been to just about all the majors back in the day-
Dick the Bruiser's WWA, Vince Sr's WWWF which morphed into the WWF and now the WWE
Verne Gagnes' AWA in Chicago (Great Shows at the International Amphitheater and outdoor extravaganza's at Comiskey Park and Soldier Field
Bear Man McKigney's Canadian Promotion in Windsor
The NWA in Philadelphia, Detroit, Toledo, Flint, Grand Rapids
WCW, Jim Crockett Promotions, Mid-Atlantic,Georgia Championship Wrestling
The AWWL, The IWR in Detroit, Great Lakes NWA
Thunderzone Wrestling in Detroit (I actually did some ring announcing there and CK-3 tried to clock me-I had to leap out of the ring. Such fun is rare.
Metro Pro Wrestling in Detroit, XICW in Detroit
Border City Wrestling out of Ontario
Prime Time Wrestling in Belleville (They use TNA, ECW stars, local indy boys and Border City workers-Good Shows and a wonderful venue)
Q2: In your opinion, has Vince McMahon been good or bad for the sport of wrestling.
It depends on your definition of good and bad. If good means action figures, cartoons, overpriced Pay for Views and crossover marketing to the masses-He's good for the business-If good means letting the workers develop their own characters, and allow for a co-operative system (Like the National Wrestling Alliance originally was) of independent regional promotions, sharing national stars and grooming "up and comers", he's been bad for the business. The WWE has done to wrestling what Clear Channel did to radio. Me....I don't like what he did, especially related to the "sports entertainment" moniker. I think the long term impact on the business will be negative.
Q3:What matches come to your mind as some of the best in history
When the Sheik met the Bruiser in August of 1974 it was the first time in 11 years. Due to promotional conflicts they'd not faced off in a long time. It was a wild affair and the 14,000 fan's at Olympia wanted and got blood. It went over 20 minutes and even the ref wore the "crimson mask" by the time he disqualified both of them for roughing him up. Of course, we had a rematch and they brought in Big Haystacks Calhoun as a ref, hoping the giant from Morgan's Corner, Arkansas could make them behave. WRONG! Neither Bruiser or The Sheik liked "Stacks" and the first thing they did was to team up on him and roll his bloodied, beaten 400 lb self out of the ring. Then they fought for 15 minutes without an official and finally a ref came out and called the bout a "no contest" Now, in most matches that would have ended things but Sheik and Bruiser were not about to stop. After another 10 minutes of brawling all over Cobo Hall about 10 wrestlers came out of the dressing room to break it up and it was like a no ring hardcore battle royal. What a feud!!!!!!!
Other great matches were Terry Funk and the Sheik, Killer Brooks and Tony Marino in a Chain Match, and The infamous Stretcher Death Match between the Sheik and Johnny Valentine (Greg's Dad)
Mark Maniac Lewin used to visit Detroit often and his brawls with Killer Cox, Sheik and King Curtis were always wild and bloody affairs.
In 87 I saw Ronnie Garvin win the NWA World Title from Ric Flair in a cage at Joe Louis and that was a tremendous showing on the part of both men.
So many great matches-It'd be hard to choose my favorite.
Q4:Who have been some of your most favorite wrestlers?
Sheik, Killer Brooks,The Fabulous Kangaroos, Mark Lewin,The Funks, Abby the Butcher, Balls Mahoney and Sabu.
Q5:Where do you see the indy wrestling scene in 5 years
I'm concerned. Costs for putting on shows are out of control. Insurance, security, advertising and rent all total up to a ton of "upfront money" just to have a show.
The workers are underpaid and many talented workers lose their drive and give up.
Talent needs to be rewarded and nurtured. Without a means to do that, the indy scene will die.
Q6:You were a fan of the original BTW,what if any differences have you seen from the era of the sheik to today
The wrestlers are athletically better than ever but they don't live their gimmicks or observe kayfabe. I met the Sheik and he was the Sheik. Bobo was always Bobo, in or out of the ring. If you meet Eddie Venom he's not Eddie Venom in real life.
There's also a lot more crudity and inappropriate language which hurts the box office. There are some shows that I wouldn't take my kids too.
Q7:Do you see sort of a shift away from the schlock and wrestling of the WWE to a more professional style of yesteryear with some indy organizations.
The WWE mirrors what is happening in all forms of entertainment-A lot of organizations (UWF-WCW-AWA-TNA) have pointed at them and said "we wrestle"but they pretty much do the same things as the WWE. It's like the term "alternative music" but in reality it's the same as mainstream music.
Q8:How much if any has the sport changed since your first event?
Less blood-no Kayfabe, more aerial move, more story lines (usually stupid ones) no 2 out of 3 fall matches anymore, more gimmick matches (3 ways-mixed gender tags-battle royales) Way more talking and way less wrestling.
Q9:who would you say has been the most influential figure in pro wrestling be it owner or wrestler
No doubt about it-The Sheik paved the way. He had his own TV mobile unit before anyone else-He was involved in the 1st pay for view (not in homes but at arenas) when Ali took on Inoki. He left his mark on the business. Sadly, the public forgets and most folks would say Vince Jr.
Q10: Do you think there will be a day when even the wrestlers have a union?
OK Mark the Lark, its time for you to face your demons in THE THREE QUESTIONS OF FATE
All questions supplied in the golden envelope courtsey of our accounting firm of Dewey,Cheatem,Howe,Fleecem,Engulf and Devour,
NO ONE at the AWWL,XWA,WLAJ nor even the guest or myself have seen the questions 3,,,and now, THE THREE QUESTIONS OF FATE!!!
Q1:Paradyce, pussycat or a force to be reckon with in Wrestling
Neither...Just a nice old lady with poor fashion sense
Q2:Worst thing to come to the music industry: napster or American idol
No doubt Idol......They make stars like Vince Jr does and people with real talent who want to work their way to the top are left in the lurch. Napster did what the record companies didn't-He saw the creative application of the Internet to distribute music and did it. It may have been illegal, but remember, pioneers often break the rules. I have a hunch when Henry Ford invented his first car he drove without a drivers license.
The entertainment industry are victims of their own reluctance to change. It took a pirate like Napster to show them the way and they still don't get it.
Q3:Complete this sentence: "The three things I couldn't live without are??"
Wrestling-Music-my family (which includes 3 dogs and 9 birds along with my 8 kids, wife, Mom and Dad)
Mark the Lark, musician, businessman,Wrestling fan, we thank you for joining us for not only surviving the 3 questions of fate, but also giving us at "TBP" an interview we will never forget.