Takedown in the ring extends to real life
- Phil Stanford
- Portland Tribune - News
If this were a song, it'd probably be called 'The Ballad of Billy Jack Haynes.' And it would start somewhere in the early '80s, when, at the age of 28, Billy decides to give up his job as a night janitor and take a shot at pro wrestling.
He's a big, athletic guy Ñ 6-3, 250-some pounds Ñ and, he figures out pretty quickly, he's got a talent for selling a spot, which is wrestling lingo for takedown. You know, make it look real.
Unless you're a complete moron, you already know that pro wrestling is choreographed. You've got your Babyfaces Ñ the good guys Ñ and you've got your Heels.
Sometimes the Heels will win a fall or two. But if you want to keep fans coming back, they've got to know that sooner or later the Babyfaces Ñ of which our hero Billy Jack certainly was one Ñ are going to come out ahead.
• • •
As you may have guessed, Billy Jack rises quickly to the top of his chosen profession Ñ and by 1987 he's working for the World Wrestling Federation in Detroit: at WrestleMania III. And from there they hit the road, playing to packed houses everywhere Ñ including Portland's Memorial Coliseum, where Billy Jack is scheduled for a tag team match. Only problem, Billy Jack is supposed to lose.
'I'll lose anyplace, but not in my hometown,' Billy Jack tells them right to their faces.
So the agent gets on the phone with WWF owner Vince McMahon, and they work it out. That night, Billy Jack and his partner battle to a double disqualification.
After the show, the agent calls Billy Jack aside and tells him he's finished with the WWF. But Billy Jack's riding high now. He owns a gym in Oregon City, a big house on the hill. He'll be his own promoter, right?
• • •
Next year he rents an old skating rink in Oregon City and brings in some of the wrestling world's top talent. And, since it's going to be on the Fourth of July, there's will be a patriotic theme.
In the main event, the Heel snatches an American flag from its stand at the rear of the hall and, smirking mightily, parades around the ring.
But never fear. The Babyface, played this evening with skill and subtlety by a wrestler named Cpl. Kirchner, jumps into the ring and beats him within an inch of his life Ñ stuffing him eventually into a body bag that he finds conveniently near the ring.
To the cheers of the assembled multitude, an ambulance races off with the body bag to the hospital, or maybe even the morgue. Who knows?
• • •
By almost any standard, the event is a huge success. In fact the only real problem anyone can see is that Billy Jack apparently has not set aside enough money to pay the wrestlers. When the wrestlers figure this out, they are not pleased. In fact, they threaten to kill Billy Jack's pet poodle and send it to a taxidermist.
Fortunately, cooler heads prevail, and Billy Jack comes up with enough money to get the wrestlers out of town. However, it's pretty much the end of his career as a wrestling promoter.
After that, Billy Jack admits, he may have done a few things he shouldn't have, like collecting bills for shady characters. In fact, he suspects the recent beating, which left him with a broken jaw, cheek and eye socket, may in fact be related to certain individuals he rolled on when he got busted for those very activities about five years ago.
Do I hear a song coming on?