Sunday, September 19, 2010

Turnbuckle Madness with Lance Jade by George Wren

----George Wren caught up with former USWA/Power Pro Wrestling Superstar Lance Jade to see what he has been up to as of late.

Turnbuckle Madness
with George Wren

Lance Jade

GW: When were you born?
LJ: I am a Leo

GW: Where were you born?
LJ: In the NW suburbs of Chicago a town called Palatine.

GW: Where are you currently residing at the present time?
LJ: I currently live in Pensacola, FL which is in the panhandle about 5 miles away from the Alabama border.

GW: Who trained you?
LJ: "Outlaw" Don Bass

GW: What was your training like? LJ: Tough, extremely tough. We trained in a barn at his home in Arkansas. All he had was a concrete floor, a lot of carpet on top of each other, and I think some plywood. It felt like one piece of carpet on top of concrete. We got there in October and trained during the winter months with just a little space heater that sat behind where Don sat and watched us. We froze to death! Don taught us all the basics. How to control our body on flips. We did tons of flips and somersaults in that barn. We would be so dizzy, and then he started training us on holds and counters. I didn't know which way I was going most of the time. But that is what he wanted. Work on instinct. It paid off tremendously for me. I fell from a second story building a few years back, and fell perfectly on my back on a ceramic tile floor. If it wasn't for him teaching me body control, I probably would have landed on my head. I have started implementing the same training to my soccer kids, so they can start learning body control. But not only did he train us how to wrestle, he also taught us about life. What to expect in wrestling and how wrestling is a lot like life. For example, working a fan to either like you or hate you, is very similar to being in the work place and having your boss and co-workers like you or hate you.

GW: Do you remember your first match?
LJ : Yes, My first official match was in Pocahontas, AR. It was against Don Bass. I had been there a couple times already because Bobby Brawnz started a couple of months before me. I was so nervous and remember Blade Boudreaux peeking out the locker room door because I was just standing there and I thought he was encouraging me by clapping his hands, but he was trying to tell me to clap my hands to get the fans involved.

My first match in USWA was against Bulldog Raines. The night before I was at Don's house, on my way up to do a show for Moondog Spot in Osceola, AR, the phone rang, and I told Don "if that is Vince wanting me to do a job for him, the answer is yes." It was Downtown Bruno(a.k.a. Harvey Wippleman). He needed someone to work Saturday morning. Don asked me, and I said "yes", but really didn't believe him. To know Don, is to know that 80% of his BS is true. You just need to figure out what part is true. I told him he had to go with me down to the studio because I was not going to get ribbed by him. USWA did an angle where Bulldog lost so many matches in a row. I ended up being his first victory, breaking his streak. That was a landmark match for me (only being in the business for 8 months at that time), because we did a spot where I gave him a dropkick, and he bumped. After the match I was so excited because I knew I hit all my spots perfectly, but I get to the back and Lawler cussed me out for not landing the dropkick. On tape it was obvious that Bulldog bumped before contact. I heard he really got "it" for doing that. But I guess because the way I took the lecture, they kept me on and I was a part of the "team."

My first match in Power Pro was a 6-man tag with Blade, Bobby, against Kid Wicked, Derrick and Kevin Lawler. It might have been an 8-man tag, but I can't remember that part. But it ended with me and Bobby doing the Midnight Express Suplex finish.

My first match in WWF (that is what it was called then) was a Shotgun Saturday Night taping. It was against Kurrgan. During the match, they asked us to do a spot over again. I was so nervous after that match, because it was only 3 months after I got cussed out by Lawler, now here I am in front of 18,000 people and I screwed up again. I go behind the curtain after the match, and there are all the workers, even the superstars (they all sit around one tv and watch the matches). They all stare at me; I just knew this was the last time I would get the call. I see out of the corner of my eye someone running towards me, and started walking faster because I was so afraid to get reamed in front of everyone. It was Vince McMahon himself. I felt like quitting right there and handing over all my gear, I just knew that was the end. What happened next might have been worse than getting cussed out, he overly praised me for "finally making Kurrgan look like a million dollars", "we have tried so many workers and you are the first to make him look good. Don't go any where I want Jack (Brisco) to get your info." Everyone witnessed what he said to me. I didn't know what to do or how to handle it. It just got worse for me after that. Here I was in the business less than one year and already doing a WWF tv match. I started putting so much pressure on me, that finally I destructed a match on Power Pro with Tracy Smothers.

My first match with Harley Race's group was against Bob Backlund. Talk about scared. He knew it too. This was the time he was running for senator, I think. He came up to me to break the ice and said "go easy on me tonight, this is my first match." I almost died right then and there. We had an excellent match. I also got to wrestle the Iron Shiek there. Harley liked me, and loved being there, but I just couldn't commit to him since he was only doing tv tapings one weekend a month. Working for Harley was my favorite time.

GW: What promotions (main ones) that you have worked for?
LJ: USWA, WWF Power Pro, numerous NWA affiliates, AWA (David Millican), Moondog Spot's MCW in Arkansas and Harley Race's World League Wrestling in Missouri. I was supposed to be a part of the first TNA show (or whatever it was called back then), but I stayed with Lawler's group, as Power Pro was getting ready to start and I was told I couldn't work both. I know I am forgetting a bunch of promotions, and I am sorry to everyone who gave me a shot.

GW: What titles have you held?
LJ: Power Pro Young Guns Title, I held many tag titles and some solo titles. I really didn't stay with any indies long enough because of my commitment to Power Pro.

GW: Who was some of your toughest opponents?
LJ: There were many that were very difficult to work with. WWF brought this guy down from their training center (Robbie D). He was extremely athletic, but very raw and stiff. Never had a good match with him and he ended up getting cut a few months after our set of matches. The hardest opponent had to be Kurt Angle. Me and Don did a tag match in Tupelo against him and Wolfie D. Kurt wasn't very "smart" or smart at the time. He must of thought I was shooting with him when I was doing my heel role because when we did an amateur wrestling spot, he really tried not to let me up. Here we are in the main event and he tried pinning me in the first 30 seconds. Bobby Brawnz was another one that was hard to work with. Very hard headed and always wanted to control the match. He just never got it.

GW: You showed up in the dying days of the United States Wrestling Association (USWA) what do you felt like held you back from getting the push in the area?
LJ: Experience. As you said, I came in during the dying days. I felt they treated me great. Me and Paul Diamond did the opening match all over while touring, and as Don always told me, the two most important matches on a card is the first and last. So for them to have the confidence to put me in there with a veteran like Paul Diamond, and START THE NIGHT OFF, I felt extremely privileged. Also, for Paul Diamond to put up with me and work with me as long as he did, says a lot about me as a wrestler. No doubt, if USWA would have continued, I would have gotten a chance. And with the minor push I got in Power Pro it is proof to that statement.

GW: What made you decide to come to Memphis to work for Lawler?
LJ: I was living in Phoenix, AZ. I really didn't like living there, but I knew I didn't want to go back to Chicago (too cold). I was hung over one Saturday morning and while flipping channels I happened to stop on a WWF show. I hadn't watched wrestling in a few years. I grew up loving it. I watched it every minute I could. My friends and I used to wrestle in the backyard. This was long before backyard wrestling became a fad. I saw a commercial for Ultimate Warrior's wrestling training camp. It was a one day deal and it was right in Scottsdale. I drove over there that day and talked to his gym owner and got signed up. That Saturday I went to the camp. It was me, Bobby and some trailer park trash looking dude. Bobby ended up staying at my apartment that night and we talked about making a move to Memphis. Hellwig told us, if we ever wanted to become a wrestler, we had to go there. All I knew about Memphis Wrestling was Lawler vs. Kaufman. I watched Mid-Atlantic, WWF, Georgia, AWA and Texas. That was all that was on tv in Chicago. We were both committed to doing this. A month later, Bobby drove down to Phoenix, I packed about 3 suitcases and a tv, put the rest in storage and we drove to Memphis. Bobby had made contact with David Millican and gotten a lot of great info. Dave was (is) awesome. When we arrived, he referred us to Don. So to answer your question, I didn't come to Memphis to work for Lawler, I went to Memphis to become a wrestler.

GW: What are your thoughts on working for Lawler?
LJ: When I got to USWA it was owned by some goof from Hollywood named Larry Burton. We all got paid by that guy. It was nice to earn more than $20 for a match.

GW: After the USWA you and Mike Coy (Bobby Brawnz) became part of Randy Hale's Power Pro Wrestling when it got started. What are your thoughts on working with Mike?
LJ: He is from California and had that California ego. He had an awesome looking body with next to nothing body fat, but was very short. As you can tell from my picture, I had some fat. He could never understand why fans liked me more, and why I got all the breaks, and he didn't. Most workers didn't like his attitude, and me and him never clicked. I come from the Midwest grind and he came from the West Coast "appearance is everything" mentality. When I made USWA, I didn't tell him. He saw me on tv while he was at the gym. When I got the WWF call, he was beside himself.

GW: Mike didn't hang around long during the Power Pro days and if I am not mistaken he left the company and went back to California after he was unhappy with the push he was getting and this landed you as a single worker after Coy left?
LJ: Mike went back to Northern California to work with his father's construction company. I heard he tried working for a group in San Francisco, but he didn't last long (rumor only). Jealously killed him. He had too much of the Warrior mentality in him, and didn't understand that he wasn't tall enough to be the next Warrior. I wanted to be a single worker the whole time. I hated tag matches with him.

GW: What is the status with you and Mike's friendship as of today?
LJ: Never heard a word from him since about the day before he left Memphis.

GW: Speaking of the USWA why would you come work for a company that was on their way out the door due to many finance issues?
LJ: I was looking for experience. TV gave me great exposure and helped me get into other indies that originally had no interest in me. When you are starting out, you can't be too picky. You have to get all the experience you can. And having the USWA on my resume was a good thing. Especially for someone who had only been wrestling for 8 months.

GW: Do you think the USWA would still be around today if poor choices wasn't made?
LJ: NO. The main focus on USWA was the same focus on Power Pro and the same focus on Memphis Wrestling, and that was Lawler, Dundee, and the other older guys. I understand that you need Lawler's name to have respectability in Memphis Wrestling, but for him to get on tb and kick the likes of Spellbinder/Streak/Del Rios butt is not believable. Lawler is one of the best stickmen in the business, but his time in the ring ended in the 80's. If he and the others would put their own egos aside in order to build Memphis the way it was in the 70's and 80's then maybe they could compete with TNA.

GW: Where did you go after USWA was shut down?
LJ: Worked the indies and Lawler had a casino gig on Thursday nights. Never left the Memphis area, though.

GW: What were your thoughts working for Randy Hale's Power Pro Wrestling?
LJ: I was still naive, green, and big eyed to the business. Even though I had already done my spot for WWF, I still wasn't very smart. Don was always my crutch. He kept me level headed. He had a history with Randy, but me and Randy never gelled. I had nothing against him, it was just our personalities just were different. He acted more of a CEO than any other booker I had worked for. Never felt comfortable around him. Nice guy, and I believe he was always honest with me, just something just didn't feel right.

GW: You didn't stick around long with your first stint in Power Pro Wrestling. What was the reason for you leaving the company the first time?
LJ: Bobby left and it left Hales and Baxter without a tag team they wanted to push. I didn't have an identity, and no role. They had me do midcard matches until I had my match with Tracy Smothers. After that match I lost all confidence. I forgot exactly how I left, but I am sure it was very unprofessionally done by me. I know that the WWF was flooding the show with trainees and I wasn’t performing well so I got pushed back. I think I just stopped showing up. I basically left because I felt like a failure and needed to go back to the basics. But mostly to get my head on straight. I was mentally not right at that time.

GW: Where did you go after your first stint in Power Pro Wrestling?
LJ: Indies. I really do not remember much about that time. At some point, Blade got me into Harley Race's group in Missouri. That was a great time. Wrestling Iron Shiek and Bob Backlund. Meeting those legends and Harley. I remember being a kid rooting for Flair to beat Harley inside the steel cage. Also met the Giant Warrior, who was filming the original X-Men movie at the time. He played Sabertooth. Me and Blade begged him to bring us on as extras. Didn't work. Met "Atomic Dog" Steve Sharpe(who became Ali in Power Pro) at that time and he promoted some very successful shows. I raked in the cash on souvenirs during those shows.

GW: You returned back to Power Pro in September 1999 this time doing the IWO gimmick. Whose idea was that?
LJ: Me and Brandon Baxter really clicked at this point. I came back with a refreshed attitude and great experience. I thought about the outsider type role, but he came up with the belt. This was during the whole NWO time, and I am not one to copy(forget about my Ric Flair robe I wore LOL!), but I wanted to see where it would go. Every week we did a different skit and I loved every second. I may be biased, but I really thought that was one of the best things Randy and Brandon conjured up during the whole Power Pro run. I had my run as Young Guns Champ but the character they wanted me to do, didn't fit my personality. That helped my down fall during my first run. But this gimmick was really getting over. And I will brag here; I did something that no one up to that point in wrestling history had ever done, touched Dave Brown. After I did it, I thought the world was going to end. Everyone made such a huge deal out of it(LOL!). Soon, though, everyone was doing it. But Brandon and Randy really hit the jackpot with the IWO thing and how they turned it into a great feud with me and Alan.

GW: With Power Pro being a developmental territory for the WWF/WWE why would you work for a company that no intensions of pushing any of the regular talent but basically was just pushing the developmental talent?
LJ:I didn't care about the push. Well I did…..but…. I had my indy shows I would attend and sell my stuff, plus I was on tv against those guys every week. It was about the WWF seeing me. They watched me against Baldo (A-Train) and maybe say "this guy is good too, lets bring him up." One guy got drafted from a community college this year by a pro baseball team because a scout was there watching another player. Being seen is everything. Why do you think Hollywood goes to awards shows? Not because they are fun(LOL!)

GW: While working in the South in general who would you say was the best to work with in USWA and Power Pro?
LJ: I loved Paul Diamond. He was AWESOME!! I watch the AWA on ESPN Classic just to watch him. Rod Price was another who was really classy with me. Derrick and Blade were always my two favorite opponents. We always had a good time. I enjoyed my feud with Alan Steel a lot also. If I stayed, me and him would have had matches that would have competed for Match of the Year. I wrestled Bulldog Raines so often that we didn't even talk to each other; we just knew. Don Bass was extremely easy to work with. Hardly break a sweat with him, but hard to hold back the laughter. I enjoyed working Moondog Spot, he would pound the crap out of me(LOL!)

GW: Do you ever think Memphis can ever be a territory again or do you feel like the fans has been burnt so many times with all the same ole, same ole, that they are basically tired of seeing the same talent?
LJ: Lawler would have to say "no" to his "group" and run it to make money and not just take money from the backer. He would also have to take a back seat and let talent reach its full potential. Don't hold anyone back. Treat it like a business and not an ATM machine.

GW: What was the reason for your departure with your second stint in Power Pro?
LJ: Many issues all at once. My grandmother died who I was very close to, I was going thru a divorce and because my head was not in the right place, I had fallen incorrectly and got two bulging discs in my lower back. I worked about two weeks with extreme pain, but refused to take pain pills. I didn't let anyone know. I told everyone that I was leaving because I took a job in Birmingham and didn't feel I could make the trip each week. I didn’t want to come across weak. I did take the job there, but I knew it was time to quit. I reached my goal- wrestle for the WWF. I still keep the letter that came with the 1099. No one can take that away from me. I reached one of my childhood goals.

GW: On a very bizarre note there were rumors at one time that after your second stint with Power Pro that your legs had gotten amputated. Did you ever hear anything about this very bizarre rumor?
LJ: LMAO, LOL!!!! I never heard of that. But some mornings it felt like that. For two years after I left, it would take me about 1/2 hour to get out of bed because my back was so bad. My legs would collapse every so often. I have both my original legs still attached to me and am out at there at the soccer field every day.

GW: You returned back to Power Pro on their last show. What was the reason for just coming back for the last show?
LJ: I was on the first show, and wanted to be on the last show. I was so out of shape and looked like crap. That was the last time I ever thought about getting in the ring again.

GW: Where did you go after Power Pro shut down?
LJ: I lived in Birmingham, AL for a while, and then moved here to Pensacola, FL.

GW: What are your thoughts on today's product as so many has stepped away from the wrestling business due to because of today's product?
LJ: I don’t watch it at all. I tried to watch about a year ago, and the work was so sloppy it really was sad. Wrestling sucks nowadays. South Park did a great episode about wrestling. All the boys did was stick work, and whenever someone wrestled the fans would curse at them saying that wasn’t wrestling that stick work was wrestling. It is so true. Product today is TERRIBLE.

GW: The business has been hit hard within the last month or so with several deaths. What are your thoughts on so many that has passed away before their time?
LJ: It is very sad, but understandable. Our bodies go through so much abuse and the demand to keep going is so high, wrestlers just keep pounding more and more pills to ease the pain. Wrestling as a whole needs to better teach the effects of mixing steroids, alcohol and drugs.

GW: Pro Wrestling keeps a "black eye" if you will for many things but the most being is untrained guys trying to train guys when they aren't trained themselves and guys who don't look like workers who should be buying a ticket then being in the ring. What are your thoughts on being trained proper?
LJ: Don, obviously, did a great job on training me. From the time I left the barn to the time I had a match on WWF was less than one year. There are so many guys in the indies who have been wrestling for over 20 years and never been on Memphis TV. Also, if you are not in shape or you haven’t been trained properly, you will not only hurt yourself, but also the guy you are working. I believe that 90% of all wrestlers should quit right now, because you are only embarrassing yourself. I watched Ohio Wrestling on DIRECTV once, and not only should these goofs not be on tv, but they either need to be trained right or get out of the business all together.

GW: So what have you been up to since your days after Power Pro Wrestling?
LJ: Me and my fiancée own a medical billing company here and about to open a Pediatric Clinic. I am also coaching high school soccer.

GW: Are you still active or have you pretty much retired from the business?
LJ: There is a group down here who seems to be doing decent and every so often I think about walking into their office, but my mind and body have NO interest in going thru "that" again.

GW: What are your thoughts on the fans?
LJ: Honestly? They are stupid. Thank you so much for supporting me and buying my pictures and calendars, but please, give your kid a picture of Lincoln, Washington, Einstein or MLK, not a wrestler. Wrestlers are the farthest thing from being a role model. Steroids, drugs, alcohol abuse, lack of responsibility, and no regards for women. Is that what you want your kid to idolize?

GW: In 2012 you will be running for County Commissioner tell the readers a little how that all came about?
LJ: I became active in politics in 2004 when I helped a state rep win a seat. And with the current goof in office, like so many others (Tea Partiers), I am fed up and want to see this country get back on track. I am starting with my county. Pensacola is the major city in Escambia County and there is so much room for growth. It kills me that these guys just sit around and collect a pay check when other smaller cities are getting factories from overseas. This town is slowly dying and I am not going to sit by and let it happen. I live here and I want to see this city thrive.

GW: Any closing words?
LJ: I hope it didn’t kill your website by having a no name, has-been/never-was, like me, on here. Thank you though for giving me another 15 minutes of fame. It has been 10 years and 3 months since my loser leave town match with Alan (my last match). Thanks for remembering me.

GW: Lance, on behalf of myself and Rasslin Riot Online (RRO) we appreciate your time and wish you much luck in your future endeavors
LJ: Good luck with this site. And will someone slap Derrick King upside the head for not getting back with me a few months ago.

George Wren is a former Pro Wrestling Photographer/Associate Editor for New Wave Wrestling Publication, and has also done correspondents for Dave Meltzer's Wrestling Observer. He has also added Rasslin Riot Online (RRO) to his resume as well.