Does where you are from say something more than where you reside? We like to think so. Every Sunday people huddle around their TVs hoping their home football teams will show the rest of the country what they are all about. We like to say being from the south or from the north instilled a work ethic or a street smart way of life that you carry with you to this day. Certain Americans like to ?Americanism? to show their superiority and so on. Being a wrestling fan from Minnesota I would like to say says something about me, but really it matters little that I happen to be here, but what I make of it.
I began to think about Minnesota and if the rest of the country sees it as important as Minnesota fans do. Every year I wonder if Minneapolis will finally get to host a Wrestlemania. I know it likely never will. And that’s too bad. It would be great for Minnesota wrestling fans to get a huge event like that. The biggest professional wrestling we have had in recent memory is Summerslam 1999, when Jesse Ventura referred the triple threat match that saw Mankind beat Triple H and Steve Austin for the WWF Championship. I guess I can?t get too down about it. We have a Raw coming in a few months, and next year we will host Bragging Rights.
Coming off the heels of a very scary week, Brock Lesnar is now back home in Alexandria, MN. Here at the Notes we wish Brock a quick and speedy recovery. For those of you who may care, this columnist spent the first twenty one years of his life in Alexandria. My parents as well as my brother Dave, a name some of you may recognize from previous columns, still reside there. I love going back home to see my family and I wish I could see my old friends more when I am there. But that aside, Hearing that Lesnar was back home in Alexandria, I remembered a story back when I was a teenager of how Brock showed up at the restaurant I was working at one night. This was in the summer of 2003. I had just left for the night, and Brock and some buddies come in for a bite. Brock sits down and orders a glass of milk. After finishing he asks the server, some sixteen year old girl who had no idea who this mammoth guy at her table was, if refills on milk were free. She told him no. So he asked if he could give her his autograph for a free refill. Not knowing who he was, she again said no. It was probably a good thing I had left when I did. Being a teenager myself at the time or however old I was, I probably would have hovered over him, marking out until he gave me an F-5 through a table. Whenever I think of Brock Lesnar, I always remember that story and how here he was at the height of his professional wrestling career asking a sixteen year old girl for a free refill on milk. It always brings a smile to my face.
When you look at the history of wrestling in Minnesota, you have some of the all-time greats that hailed from here at one time for another. Ric Flair may be the most famous son. Rick Rude, Curt Henning, and Vern Gagne also come to mind. There’s Nikita Koloff, Baron Von Rascke, that guy who was Nailz back in 1992, Mr. Injury?I mean Kennedy, and Jerry Lynn. Maybe some of you remember the Beverly Brothers. Both of those boys came from MN, as well as Ole Anderson and many others.
A few years back my good friend Shane was finishing up his senior seminar project at Minnesota State University Moorhead. For his project, Shane had put together a documentary on backyard wrestling and was able to interview a couple of wrestlers from a local promotion to get their take on backyard wrestling. His professor had ties to Minnesota-grown Sheldon Benjamin, but the timing never worked out for Shane to meet him. The best interviewee he had was a man by the name of J.B. Trask. I had seen J.B. wrestle at a few local shows and the guy was always really cool and laid back. He always took the time to talk to the people that came to the show. The first night I saw him wrestle, we went up to him after the show and asked him how he broke into the business. He told us his uncle got him into it.
His uncle was Kenny the Sodbuster Jay. Kenny had gotten his nickname form his days as a landscaper. I remember seeing Kenny wrestle a show back in 1998. He was by no means the top guy on the card, but when the old man came out wearing boots and bibs, he came out and whipped the crowd into a frenzy. Kenny has since retired, and I wish him a happy life after wrestling.
Other than Sodbuster and his kindness, I remembered J.B. Trask because I would see him wrestle on shows run by Rock ?n Roll Buck Zumhofe. If any of you remember, my first column for wrestleview.com was about going to a show to watch Buck wrestle in a bar. Buck is another one I always have fond memories of because he was just so out there. Last I heard there was a rumor that he was spotted outside Alexandria, in a town called Cyrus, working on yard tools, wearing his wrestling spandex. I guess I wouldn?t put it past the guy, but rumors are just rumors. These men have earned respect and they have mine. Who knows, maybe someday this nosebleeder will retreat to his study and come back with a more in-depth look at all of this. These guys deserve at least that much.
Minneapolis may never get a Wrestlemania, but neither will several other cities. I think about how lucky I am to think of my home state as the same home of so many great stars. Sometimes its cool to think I live just a few miles from Molly Holly or that Brock Lesnar lives in my hometown, but that silliness means nothing unless I am grateful for the legends that came out of Minnesota and the indy wrestlers currently working here who love what they do. Oh, and we have Diablo Cody and Bob Dylan. Anyway, if you are a wrestling fan out there wondering what it means to be a fan where you are at and hoping for something big to happen in your hometown, the answer lies in getting past the idea of being from a certain place, and waking up to what’s around you.
Thanks for reading.