Still Crazy After All These Years
I’ve had an interesting week and I’ve come away with a profound respect for my elders.
I was in Toronto at a fund raiser that Bell Mobility did for The United Way. On the steps of my hotel, as I waited for my limo ride to the event, I ran smack dab into the even greater one, Walter Gretzky.
His face lit up and he said he couldn’t believe it was me. My recovery from my stroke so amazed him that he kept slapping his leg and remembering the kind words of encouragement that he gave me I told him that I no doubt owe a great deal of my recuperation to him.
Standing behind Walter was none other than the legendary Bobby Orr, my childhood hero! Walter kept saying, “Can you believe this guy? Look at ‘em! He’s back!”
Bobby Orr smiled big and Walter asked him, “You know Bret Hart?” And I can’t tell you how proud and humbled I was to hear Bobby Orr say, “Of course. Everybody’s heard of Bret The Hitman Hart!” This was a very special moment to me that I’ll never forget.
Two days later I boarded a plane with my pal and former tag team partner, Jim The Anvil Neidhart, to do a wrestling legends autograph session in Fremont, California. Among others, on hand were Bobby The Brain Heenan and Cowb oy Bob Orton, neither one of whom I’d seen in quite some time.
Bobby Heenan was probably the greatest wrestling manager of all time. His sardonic wit came through as a color commentator for years in the WWF and he managed the likes of Andre The Giant, Mr. Perfect, Ravishing Rick Rude, and, of course, Ric Flair - just to name a few. We talked about how Bobby started in the business at seventeen years of age selling programs, much the same as I had done, except I was working at the ripe old age of four. Bobby has recently successfully battled tongue cancer and his spirits were good and it came across in his hilarious stories about Andre The Giant. He told me a tale about early one morning when Andre lumbered into a hotel lobby in Japan drunk as a tranquilized elephant! Andre went down for the count in front of the hapless desk clerk and nobody had a clue what to do. Twenty or thirty people from the frenzied hotel staff - bellmen, waiters and even the maids - pushed and tugged with all their might but they could not budge the snoaring giant! So ... in utter desperation sheets were summoned and they ran around covering Andre up. And there he lay, an unexplained mound, with tourists and businessmen hurrying past him - a do not disturb sign planted on the lump that was his head!
Andre awoke about noon sending everyone running like the return of Godzilla!
Cowboy Bob Orton was one of my mentors when I first got to the WWF in 1984 and I hadn’t seen or spoken with him since he left in 1988. Bob was one of the all time greats in wrestling and he had me and Anvil laughing so hard that we were in tears when he told us about the time that Roddy Piper called him early one morning to come help him and Don Muraco out of a little jam with the Fresno police! Bob got up and stepped into the hallway outside his hotel room, which was set up like a balcony overlooking an atrium, and as he strained to peek down into the lobby he used his leg to hold the door to his room open. Like a bad dream he heard the click of his door closing and realized that he’d locked himself out! I can imagine what a sight for sore eyes it was when Bob marched down to the lobby to vouch for Piper and Muraco wearing nothing but his birthday suit! The amazing thing is that Bob somehow managed to talk his way out of it and rescue Piper and Muraco too!
Bob was one of the few wrestlers that prided himself on his wrestling ability along with his safety record and throughout his long and illustrious career he never injured one wrestler.
With so many legends of wrestling disappearing faster than Siberian tigers I was thrilled to see that my old friends hadn’t changed ... still crazy after all these years ..... but I would not be convicted by a jury of my peers ...still crazy after all these years.