When a “Rock” Meets a Hard Place
Posted by Admin on August 10, 2008
When a ‘Rock’ meets a hard place
Rocky Johnson’s appearance in MMWA-SICW
By Kari Williams
An uncertain buzz filled the tiny East Carondelet Community Center on July 19. Fans were packed into the building, anticipating the appearance of a bonafide legend—Rocky Johnson—who was on hand for his induction into the St. Louis Wrestling Hall of Fame. However, Johnson contributed more to the show than his namesake alone.
Johnson was involved in an altercation with The Connection’s Phil E. Blunt and Jerome Cody, along with their manager Travis Cook.
MMWA-SICW Wrestler of 12 years, “Wild Child” Billy Diamond, saw Johnson’s involvement as more than meets the eye.
“It was an honor to have Rocky Johnson there. There are always going to be times that you get star struck, but they remind you that they are just people dedicated to the same craft you are. Having anyone like that on our show is not only a benefit, but a very big honor,” Diamond said.
Despite his “cameo” of sorts with MMWA-SICW, Johnson relays the fact that the road he took to get to where he is today was not an easy one.
“It took 40 years for me to get here. It took a lot of struggling. It took a lot of hard work. It took a lot of striving. It took a lot of aches, pains, broken bones,” Johnson said.
During that time, the father of The Rock did not think about giving up—not once.
“I never ever thought of [giving up]. I [ran] into some rough times because in the 60s and 70s, and when I came to the south—not so much in Canada—I ran into some racial prejudice, I ran into a lot of that stuff. But it just [gave] me the incentive to go on,” Johnson said.
However, not every wrestler had the mindset that Johnson did. MMWA-SICW Wrestler Mr. Bibbs suffered a back injury in 2006 and questioned returning to the ring.
“It gave me quite a scare to think and wonder if I was ever going to be able to play with my children and live a normal life that I was used to,” Bibbs said.
Injuries can occur at any level of wrestling—Johnson suffered three broken ribs, a punctured lung and knee surgery—but he feels that it is that desire to succeed that holds back independent wrestlers.
“They don’t have that ‘eye of the tiger.’ If they have a job making $300 a week, and then they can they can get [into] independent wrestling and make $600 a week, they’re satisfied. They don’t have the eye of the tiger to make it in any sports,” Johnson said.
Bibbs, however, has a slightly different take on Johnson’s perception of the indy scene.
“Nothing against Mr.Johnson, I deeply respect the man, but I strongly disagree with him. I know a lot of guys in this business that, if given the chance, would out work some of the so called superstars,” Bibbs said.
Although on the same level as Bibbs, Diamond sees where Johnson is coming from. When Diamond first started in wrestling, he was told that there was not an abundance of money involved on the independent level.
“It is your responsibility to make an impact with the people. It’s all on you to seek out going to another level. It can be done, but often because of families or other jobs or other commitments it’s hard to chase it as much as you would like. It does happen though and that ‘eye of the tiger’ never say die attitude is what gets you there,” he said.
That attitude may be alive and well in some of the wrestlers that Johnson saw on his return to the St. Louis wrestling scene.
“Coming back here, I like to look at some of these youngsters and see—hope—some of them will get a chance. I’ve seen a few that probably could make it, but I think what they [have] to get today is that ‘eye of the tiger,’” Johnson said.