MOONEYHAM COLUMN: Wrestlers, fans turn out for good cause

Longtime area high school football coach Phillip Morgan is greeted by pro wrestling star The Barbarian before a match at the Goose Creek High School gym. To Morgan’s immediate left is his wife, Shelba, and seated directly behind him is coaching legend Bob Biggerstaff.

Provided

Kudos to Glenn Lane, the Old School Championship Wrestling crew, and the many volunteers who made last Sunday night a memorable one for longtime area football coach Phillip Morgan. A benefit was held in the coach’s honor, highlighted by an OSCW show, at the Goose Creek High School gym.

While the crowd could have been bigger, says Lane, the outpouring of support for Morgan and his family was apparent among those who did turn out. Among those attending was legendary St. John’s High School coach Bob Biggerstaff. Morgan played on Biggerstaff’s 1968 state championship team and later coached with and against Coach “Bigg.”

“Of course I would have loved to have had a bigger crowd, but the outpouring of support was there for Coach Morgan. To see Coach Morgan and his family having a blast was worth a million,” says Lane. “For him and his family to be able relive the moment and the standing ovation was priceless.”

Lane, who spearheaded the fundraiser, came out of wrestling retirement and worked his first match in more than 15 years when he teamed with The Barbarian in the show’s main event against Lodi and John Skyler.

“After reuniting with The Barbarian and reminiscing about our former wars, I told him the story of Coach Morgan. He said before we take care of business tonight, I want to shake the Coach’s hand ... you take the lead.”

Lane says he was heartened by the response of the crowd and the coach’s family.

“After the match the whole Morgan entourage were gathered around and they said thank you, and they all had big smiles on their faces, including Coach Morgan. But after the double stack 1-2-3, I rolled over and saw the Coach’s grandkids jumping up and down, and out the corner of my eye could see Coach Morgan smiling. And I knew right then I had done the right thing by lacing them up one more time.”

A trust account for the coach has been established at First Citizens Bank on Sam Rittenberg Boulevard.

-- In the ironic words of R-Truth, the man behind the character just “got got.”

Last week Ron “R-Truth” Killings became the latest WWE superstar to fall victim to the company’s Wellness Policy.

Killings was suspended for 30 days for a violation of the WWE’s drug-testing program. Before the suspension officially took effect last week, however, Killings conveniently was allowed to participate in Sunday night’s Survivor Series main event at Madison Square Garden where he teamed with The Miz in a losing effort against The Rock and John Cena.

Killings did the job in that bout, which featured The Rock’s first official match in more than seven years, and worked an injury angle the following night on Raw to explain his absence for the next few weeks.

While WWE does not disclose specific information on drug-related suspensions, it has been noted that performers have been warned about the dangers of “Spice,” which is a synthetic form of synthetic cannabis (marijuana), in recent weeks.

Evan Bourne, one half of the WWE tag-team champs along with Kofi Kingston, was suspended last month for a similar drug violation.

-- Troubled performer Matt Hardy is back in jail after violating the conditions of his court-ordered substance abuse rehabilitation.

Hardy, 37, reportedly was kicked out of the WWE-sponsored rehab facility he entered in September after failing a Breathalyzer test. Hardy claimed he failed the test because he had just used mouthwash.

Hardy later was arrested by North Carolina authorities, and his bail was set at $1 million.

Hardy had entered rehab after being arrested Sept. 21 for the third time in less than a month.

-- New WWE champ C.M. Punk threw some stiff jabs, or “pipe bombs” as he likes to call them, at Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson last week.

Punk told the New York Daily News that the wrestler-turned-movie star doesn’t stay around the mat business long enough.

“It doesn’t help morale when the guy goes right from his limo to the dressing room, to the dressing room to the ring,” said Punk. “He’s very bourgeois Hollywood.”

Punk also ripped The Rock in an interview with ESPN.com.

“I don’t know if it’s some weird vanity project for him to come back and fraternize with us little people, but I appreciate it. If it puts more money in my bank account, that’s cool, even if I’m not a money guy. I’m very passionate about wrestling. I don’t want to say bitter, because I get it, it’s a business move where Dwayne comes in and people buy some pay-per-views, but it’s the attitude that gets to me.”

The Rock, who sparks a pickup in business every time he appears, acknowledged that not everyone in WWE has shared the love.

“Always remember that the ones who were vocal and disapproving about me coming back — and we all know who the two are — are the ones who are most insecure and jealous. Maybe one day they’ll smarten up and understand the greater perspective.”

-- WWE star John Morrison (John Hennigan) is scheduled to finish up with the company this week.

Reports say that a job is waiting on him at TNA.

-- Killer Karl Kox (Herb Gerwig), who recently passed away at the age of 80, was one of pro wrestling’s top heels during the ‘60s and ‘70s. He also was one of the funniest, recalled Rip Hawk, another of the sport’s legendary “bad guys.”

One incident of note, says Hawk, happened here in Charleston back in the early 70’s.

“A bunch of us were wrestling in Charleston and we were headed back. There was a big snowstorm that night in South Carolina, and it was bad enough that we had to check into this hotel in Charleston. All of the wrestlers got snowed in. So everybody started looking for beer and whiskey. But everything was snowed in,” says Hawk.

“Karl went down to the front desk and asked if there were any liquor stores open. The guy called and checked, and Karl came back up to the room and told us one was open.”

Only problem, says Hawk, was getting to the liquor store. But Kox had a plan.

“Remember what we did in Korea with the tires?” Kox asked Hawk, who had spent time with him in the Marines. “We went down and let the air out ... just enough so they’d grab and the tires spread out. And we all went to the liquor store!”

The group of snowed-in grapplers just happened to consist of some of the rowdiest characters in the business at the time.

Along with Kox, Hawk and his longtime partner Swede Hanson, there were Homer O’Dell, Brute Bernard and Frank Morrell. It was a group the likes of which hotel personnel had never seen before.

“And they never wanted to again,” laughs Hawk. “They never wanted us back in the hotel again after that. We were barred forever. They were happy that we knew how to get out of there.”

-- Mark “Bison” Smith, a former University of Colorado football player who was best known in Puerto Rico and Pro Wrestling NOAH, passed away Tuesday from a massive heart attack at the age of 38 in San Juan.

Smith, who also had a run with Ring of Honor in 2009, had just returned from a tour of Japan.

Trained by Michael Modest and Donovan Morgan, Smith began his pro career in 1998.

-- Sin Cara, who suffered a torn patella tendon during his match at last weekend’s Survivor Series, is expected to be out of action for at least six months.

-- Both the WWE and world heavyweight titles will be defended on the same night on a Monday Night Raw show this week at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia.

A Triple Threat match will feature C.M. Punk, John Cena and Alberto Del Rio for the WWE championship, while Mark Henry will defend his world title against South Carolina’s own Big Show (Paul Wight). It will mark the first live televised WWE event since 2009 in Columbia.

The crew invades the North Charleston Coliseum for a Raw event on Dec. 10. The main event will feature Punk, Cena and Del Rio in a Triple Threat match for the WWE heavyweight title.

Tickets for the North Charleston show start at $16. Tickets also are available at the box office or online at Ticketmaster.com. Charge by phone at 1-800-745-3000.