Memphis wrestling historian Mark James, who penned recent autobiographies on Dirty Dutch Mantell and Jerry Jarrett, has come up with another informative and enjoyable read.
His latest offering is titled “If You Don’t Want the Answer, Don’t Ask the Question: Bill Dundee’s Life Story.”
James does a stellar job keeping the memories alive of one of wrestling’s most storied territories, and this historical narrative is no exception.
“Superstar” Bill Dundee was one of the top stars as well as a booker during the territory’s glory days, and his long-standing feud with Jerry “The King” Lawler ranks among the greatest of the now-defunct circuit. While Dundee may have stood in Lawler’s considerable shadow for most of his career, he will be remembered as one of the top performers in the town’s history.
The late ‘70s and early ‘80s was a boom period for Memphis wrestling, and the two routinely sold out shows at the Mid-South Coliseum. The weekly Saturday morning telecasts of Memphis wrestling were the highest-rated of their kind in the country. The impact these two had on business in the territory cannot be overstated.
“Jerry Jarrett once said that if Bill Dundee (top babyface) and Jerry Lawler (top heel) were to ever put their differences aside and team up, there would be no more Memphis territory ... that will always be Superstar Bill Dundee’s legacy,” wrote manager Jimmy “Mouth of the South” Hart.
Dundee, born William Cruickshanks 68 years ago in Scotland (he later legally changed his name to Dundee), admits in the book’s introduction that he would have never considered writing a book 10 years ago, but with the business no longer the secretive society that it once was, he decided to change with the times.
To that point Dundee may be more than a little behind the curve, since the business has been pretty well exposed for the past quarter century. But better late than never.
Dundee’s story is still a good one and an example that perseverance goes a long way. Greatly undersized for the business at only 5-6, the scrappy Australian arrived in the States in 1974 and never looked back.
A great talker much like his ring adversary, Dundee provided the perfect foil for Lawler, with whom he feuded and teamed for a number of years. The “feud” between the two entered its fourth decade last year with a series of matches between the two in towns that were once part of the Memphis territory.
While Memphis made Dundee’s career, he didn’t come close to experiencing the same success when he moved his family to Charlotte in the mid-’80s, mainly to be closer to his daughter, who at the time was married to Bobby Eaton of The Midnight Express.
Dundee was blunt in his assessment of the one-time headquarters of Crockett Promotions.
“I never really liked Charlotte,” writes Dundee. “The entire town was goofy and the talent was out of control. People were on drugs and drinking too much.”
Dundee also complains that the talent was making a lot of money but spending more than they made.
“It seemed like everyone was trying to keep up with Ric Flair and that was just impossible to do, because Ric Flair couldn’t keep up with Ric Flair.”
Dundee enjoyed a brief run in World Championship Wrestling in the early 1990s as Sir William, the manager of Lord Steven Regal, and later worked as a booker for the Memphis, Louisiana and Georgia territories.
Dundee, who as a teenager worked as a circus trapeze artist, recently returned to the circus when longtime pro wrestling referee Ronnie West, a marketing director for Cole Brothers Circus, offered him a job.
The book’s foreword was written by Beverly Dundee, the wrestler’s ex-wife, who divorced him in 1988 following a 38-year relationship that produced two children. Like most “wrestling widows,” she attributed the split to frustration and loneliness she experienced while the cocky and charismatic Dundee spent most of his life on the road.
“No woman could take him away from me, but I finally grew tired of that life,” she writes, adding that time has since healed those wounds.
The book, which is chock-full of photographs of classic Memphis wrestling, is a must for followers of that tradition-rich territory.
For more information, visit www.billdundeebook.com.
-- Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker are both scheduled to appear on the March 12 edition of Raw in what appears to be a buildup for Taker’s planned rematch with Triple H at Wrestlemania 28.
“What will HBK have to say about the confrontation between his longtime friend (Triple H) and Wrestlemania foe (The Undertaker)? reads the advertising.
HBK also is scheduled to appear on this week’s edition of Raw in San Diego.
-- Former WWE champ The Miz, one year removed from headlining Wrestlemania 27, continued his downward spiral last week after botching a spot during Raw’s Six-Pack Challenge, injuring R-Truth in the process, and getting an earful from Triple H backstage after the match.
R-Truth was taken out of the match, but fortunately was not seriously injured.
Ex-WWE champ Alberto Del Rio, who recently returned to action from a groin tear, told a San Francisco radio station last week that he genuinely disliked Miz.
“I hate The Miz. This is not part of the show. I really dislike like that guy,” he sad. “I’ve tried to punch him in the face several times, not in the ring, I mean outside the ring. He’s like a little girl. He’s always running away from me.”
-- Don’t forget to mark your calendar for Feb. 26 when Old School Championship Wrestling presents what promises to be a great matchup between a star of the past and a star of the future: Al Snow vs. John Skyler. It’ll take place at the Hanahan Rec Center. For more information, visit www.oscwonline.com or call 743-4800.