Trip To Bountiful (Las Vegas, Cauliflower Alley’s 50th Anniversary)
Or, “The Girlfriend Experience” (I’m just kidding around)
Article & photos by Dr. Mike Lano
Exhausted and back from Vegas and I think most everyone had an overall fantastic time at Cauliflower Alley Club’s 50th anniversary in Las Wages/Vegas over those big 3 days. Last Sunday night saw night one of the associated CAC wrestling card that hard-working and capable wrestler/promoter Billy Blade does under his Vendetta Pro wrestling group/training center banner.
Old-school and the original 70′s “Mr Wonderful” Rock Riddle wrestled on that show, and managed the indie star who’d go on to pin (with a lot of help from a lot of guys including heel manager yet NWA Prez Bruce Tharpe) Jushin “Thunder” Lyger to take the NWA Junior Championship. This is similar to the great bout last year that saw Rob Conway (who was one of those heels doing the run in stuff to cause Lyger to get pinned on this night) at CAC win what is billed as the “NWA World Championship” in a very good match. So we thank Bruce and his NWA for bringing big time main events to CAC the past two great years. Billy Blade also had another major show the next night, last Monday that saw the Lyger title swap, a big battle royal that saw Kevin Sullivan get “evil” and second heel Tokyo Monster (Hegedus from Florida Championship Wrestling from a few years back on DirecTV’s transmission of FL’s Sunshine Cable Network) which was fitting given their combined Florida history. Santana Garrett was the star but not the winner of a great 4 way women’s tourney that honored our late friend Luna Vachon. The winner came out and danced with Paul Vachon accepting the Luna women’s cup. Luna had her own issues that affected only herself. She was a great, great friend; a lovely person who I and many others miss to this day the way we also miss Sherri Martel, Rhonda Singh, Owen Hart, Louie Spicolli, Art Barr and so many other great friends.
And of course Frank “Bruiser Brody” Goodish. That goes without saying. His widow, Barbara Goodish came to her first CAC alone (she’s still living in Florida I believe she said, with their son Geoffrey living in Texas) but was not alone. As Frank was honored with a very nice video vignette on Tuesday night at our Baloney Blowout (renamed “the Bockwinkel Blowout” by our new CAC prez Brian Blair), Barb said this is her family, the wrestling family. She’s still blown away that after 26+ years since Frank was murdered, that he’s still remembered fondly as if it was yesterday that he was still with us.
Big thanks to Joe Mauriello who each year puts together our bowling tournament which raises a significant amount for nonprofit CAC also. Got great shots of Stan Hansen and Adam Pierce, along with all our friends at bowling here last Wednesday at noon.
I’ve not missed a CAC since my first in 1986. Back then, it was just one evening(always a Saturday) where we gave out awards not just to wrestlers, but also to our large boxing and movie/tv contingent. This was what CAC founders wrestler/actor Mike Mazurki and co-founder (boxing person, printing expert) Art Abrams had envisioned and wanted the club to be in 1965 at those first few casual luncheons with the boys in downtown L.A. They’d just moved to the beautiful Sportsman’s Lodge in the Valley, just miles from HWood and often with a lot of old and new entertainment talent having lunch there or hanging around. I’ll never forget the CAC in ’94 where Larry and Curt Hennig came to their first reunion. Curt spied some major entertainers (Laura Dern, singer Dwight Yoakum, Mary Steenbergin and her husband Ted Danson) and told George Napolitano and I to come with him. “I’m gonna get my photo taken with all of them and I want you guys to do it!” he barked. And he had the balls to go right up and interrupt them all to pose with him. Curt was fearless, and really a great guy. His dad Larry had and has always idolized his son. So at this CAC last Wednesday night, when WWE’s watercolor and oil painter presented Larry and his bride since (what, 1956?! which is amazing) with a giant portrait he’d been working on for weeks on Curt, the Hennigs shed some big tears. They weren’t the only folks who’d be overcome with emotion, or overcome period at our 50th CAC however.
First timers besides Barbara Goodish who is one of the most kind and down to earth people on the planet was Lisa Marie Varon (WWE Victoria, TNA Tara) who is just a sweetheart. Always upbeat, bubbly and positive; she sat both nights with former TNA star Santana(our future legend awardee last year), first-timer Gail Kim and the always irrepressible Chris Daniels and Frankie Kazarian. Chris received a long overdue Men’s award this year, while Frankie was, like Melissa Anderson, one of our earliest CAC Future Legends honorees after the first two (Kurt Angle in 2000 as the first honored with that award along with Chris Benoit the next year, again once we’d moved CAC from L.A. to Vegas in 2000). The original/first Dan Kroffat from Calgary and Stu’s top baby face of all time was back (“hey, tell everyone I just golfed with your former prez Bill Clinton, one on one awhile back”) and he helped the club raise over $5000 by auctioning off one of Nick Bockwinkel’s most famous ring jackets — credit Dan with coming up with that idea all by himself with more to follow next year).
Before I forget, here’s results and thanks to Brian Wescott for helping:
Here are the match results for the Vendetta Pro Wrestling, Gold Rush Pro Wrestling, Alpha Omega Wrestling, Big Valley Wrestling, National Wrestling Alliance, Empire Wrestling Federation, Pro Wrestling Bushido
Casino Royale 2015: Night One Sunday, April 12, 2015 at the Gold Coast Casino & Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada:
1. Ricky Ruffin defeated Alexander G. Bernard by pinfall.
2. The Classic Connection: Levi Shapiro & Buddy Royal defeated A.J. Kirsch & Nathan Graves, Billy Blade & Mike Rayne, and Shane & Shannon Ballard in 7:31 by pinfall in a Four Way
3. Sinn Bodhi (formerly Kizarny in WWE) battled Sam Houston to a No Contest/Double Disqualification.
4. “Ballistic” Brent Myers & Angus McField defeated Rob Love & Jason Muse in 6:49 by submission.
5. Lisa Lace, Andrea the Giant, Kiara Dillon, & Laura Palmer defeated Tab Jackson, Kat Von Heez, Andrea, & Maria by pinfall.
6. Pro Wrestling Bushido Television Champion Rik Luxury defeated Harry Henderson, Scoot Robertson & Funny Bone in 8:03 to retain the title by pinfall in a Four Way match. Harry Henderson? Wasn’t that an 80′s giant King Kong like ape movie character?
7. “The Golden Boy” Greg Anthony defeated Spanky Brian Kendrick in 11:57 by pinfall.
8. Dexter Millhouse & Blake Grayson defeated Team Hi Def: Drake Fortune & Steven Andrews in 5:05 by pinfall.
9. National Wrestling Alliance Vendetta Pro Wrestling Tri-Force Champion Jeckles the Jester (Central California) defeated Chasyn Rance & Brandon Gatson in 3:35 to retain his title by pinfall in a Three Way match.
10. Jax Dane defeated Tim Storm by pinfall to unify the National Wrestling Alliance National Heavyweight Title and the National Wrestling Alliance North American Heavyweight Title.
11. NorCal’s Gold Rush Pro Wrestling Tag Team Champions JR Kratos & Idris Jackson defeated The Keepers of the Faith: Gabriel Gallo & Dom Vitalli in 11:44 to retain the title by pinfall.
12. NWA Women’s World Champion Santana Garrett defeated La Rosa Negra in 5:45 to retain the title by pinfall.
13. APW/Northern CA “Golden Boy” Dylan Drake won the Casino Battle Royale main event. (Over the Top Rope Battle Royal)which included Rock Riddle in it
*Night 2/the next night, Monday
1. Keepers of the Faith: Gabriel Gallo & Dom Vitalli defeated former APW champs The Classic Connection: Levi Shapiro & Buddy Royal by pinfall.
2. Gold Rush Pro Wrestling Heavyweight Champion Rik Luxury defeated Johnny Devine in 7:24 to retain the title bypinfall with a rollup with a handful of tights.
3. “Tokyo Monster” Kahagas wins Second Chance Over the Top Rope Battle Royal last eliminating Harry Henderson.
4. Big Valley Heavyweight Champion Bryce Slaven defeated El Torito Juventud (not the original) to retain the title by pinfall.
5. “Uptown” Andy Brown, Viking Warrior, & R.J. Ruiz defeated Archimedes, Richie Slade, & Father Juan Roman in 8:36 by pinfall.
6. National Wrestling Alliance Western States Heavyweight Champion “Loverboy” Matt Riviera defeated Americos in 12:00 to retain the
title by submission. Matt said that Mr Wrestling 2′s widow was not the only super talent who made the absolute best ring robes for the boys. He also told me that his magnificent robe was made by Wahoo McDaniel’s widow. He paid $4000 for it, but it looks worth it to me as an investment.
(National Wrestling Hall of Fame Class of 2015Induction Ceremony: inductees were former and recent multi- NWA World champ Scrapiron Adam Pearce, current NWA promoter Mike Sircy, & Kevin Sullivan.)
7. Kat Von Heez, Bambi Hall, & Bobby Sharp defeated Kiara Dillon, Andrea the Giant, & Short Sleeve Sampson by pinfall in a Six Person Challenge match.
8. Steve Anthony defeated Jushin “Thunder” Liger to win the National Wrestling Alliance World Junior Heavyweight Championship by pinfall after Rob Conway nailed Liger with the Ego Trip to set up the win and an s-load of interference.
9. “War Pig” Jody Kristofferson (son of music/acting legend Kris) defeated Martin Casaus by pinfall after Jawbreaker Lariat. Kris sat at ringside and after Jody won, he came over to his dad in the front row and bowed like Sheik Farhut before his feet. A very emotional moment for those of us who know Jody, Kris and the family overall.
10. Pro Wrestling Bushido Tag Team Champions The Honor Society: Sir Samurai & Drake/Dalton Frost defeated The Legacy of Brutality: CJ Kurz & Bobby Hart in 15:12 to retain the title by pinfall.
11. La Rosa Negra defeated Barbi Hayden, Andrea, & Santana Garrett to win the 2015 Luna Vachon Lunacy Cup. Paul “Butcher” Vachon presented the trophy to the winner La Rosa who is quite the character. She danced and gyrated around Butcher, and pretended to drink from the cup.
12. “Tokyo Monster” Kahagas (with “evil” Kevin Sullivan) defeated “Golden Boy” Dylan Drake to win the 2015 Cauliflower Alley Cup by pinfall in the main event.
Nick Bock cried, overwhelmed – Darlene said “too much for him to try to take in in his condition”…..
*My well-intended CAC defense to those emailing me directly and others, or posting complaints like “Wednesday night was a mess, too long, too many honorees, D. Brent allowed to go on for over 30 min. (ML: it might’ve felt that way but it wasn’t that long),” etc. has simply been:
This was the 50th anniversary of the formation of CAC by Mazurki and Abrams, not the 50th annual reunion itself. As a result, it was a special once in a lifetime night, and we did of course have a lot of people who deserved to be honored, and a record # of 4 female honorees, etc. Please have compassion for Dennis Brent whose love of the biz, collection & journalist contributions are only equalled by Jim Cornette and the late Eddie Gilbert. He was hit hard by Multiple Sclerosis. Focus on Jim Ross and Larry Hennig, Funk and JJ who were sensational in their speeches, as were Beth Phoenix, Malia Hosaka, Lisa Marie Varon and Gail Kim. Jerry Brisco’s speech, plus JR’s intro, plus forcing new CAC Prez Brian Blair to revisit his infamous mooning to Pat Patterson and Louie Dandero Florida ’84 incident when Brisco was driving with green Blair in the lead vehicle to the next town….
*They announced that Darlene had told them this would be Nick B’s last CAC. And that was Tuesday night as he wasn’t there on Weds. night, sadly. When Terry Funk and I tried talking to him Monday and Tuesday, he asked who we were. Terry has an entirely longer and more personal history with him. I said, “Nick, you used to call me almost every week about CAC biz when you were president…” Most of that sadly drew a blank from NB. I tried showing him old pix I’d taken of him wrestling Hogan, Verne, Curt, Billy Robinson, etc. and he couldn’t ID any of his foes including a shot of he, Heenan and Stevens, and didn’t even mention that he could recognize himself in my shots. Red couldn’t do it either for me the last two CAC’s he attended. Very sad, as both should’ve done major, great books on their lives before getting hit with Alzheimer’s memory loss.
So… on Tuesday night when Brian Blair said he was renaming the BBLowout the Bockwinkel Blowout, and asked everyone to turn towards Nick and give him one last standing O, wife Darlene made Nick stand up and try to face the crowd. He bowed his head, tears began rolling down his face. I was a few feet away from him taking pix. It was rough to watch and Darlene later said “it was too much for him to take in, because he didn’t understand why everyone was applauding and looking at him.” So it must’ve been overwhelming when one has Alzheimer’s so badly. Perhaps that was too too much for someone in his state, and maybe not so healthy if it upset him to the point he cried and was perhaps frightened. Just not sure and they left before Tuesday night finished up.
– Article & photos by Dr. Mike Lano