Friday, December 17, 2010

RRO's Thompson reflects on Garry Lawler and Man Mountain Mike

RRO's Brian Thompson sent a new column talking about the lives of local workers Garry Lawler and Man Mountain Mike, who both passed away in recent days.

The local wrestling world has lost two good guys in recent weeks with the passing of Man Mountain Mike and Freddy "Garry Lawler" James. I thought I would take the time to give my memories of the two men.

Man Mountain Mike
I never got to work with Mike, but did get to watch him during his run with Bert Prentice's Ozark Mountain Wrestling/North American All-Star Wrestling promotion. In OMW/NAASW, Mike was sort of a novelty attraction. He was a bigger guy and while nobody would confuse him with a Ric Flair or Ricky Steamboat from a technical wrestling stanpoint, he certainly was entertaining and worked well for his size.
At times he fit the roll of being Colorado Kid's sidekick in a similar vein to what the World Wrestling Federation would do with Hulk Hogan having various sidekicks during his run there.
I certainly want to send my condolences to Mike's family and let them know that he is appreciated for the entertainment he provided to me as a teenager during the OMW/NAASW days.

Freddy "Garry Lawler" James
While I never personally met or worked with Mike, I did get the chance to work with Freddy on a few occasions. The first time was about three years ago at a Professional Wrestling Alliance (PWA) show run by his brother-in-law Jamie Jay. It was in Wynne, AR at the Boys and Girls Club of Cross County with around 200 fans in attendance. The main event was Jamie, "Superstar" Bill Dundee and Brandon Baxter against Freddy in his "Garry Lawler" gimmick, Johnny Morton and Scott Fury.
Freddy played the Lawler gimmick up well. He had the look of a smaller Jerry Lawler circa 1988 with crown and even a replica of the AWA World Heavyweight Title that Lawler had held around that time period.
He was always cordial to me and seemed like I nice guy. Since that show I've ran into a few times at shows and helping Jamie Jay at the Vanndale facility he used to run PWA events earlier this year. Living in the same county, we'd also run into each other once in awhile at Wal-Mart.
Ironically, it was just a few days ago when I saw him at the Wal-Mart in Wynne. He was a little far from me and I was in a hurry, so instead of yelling at him across the store, I figured I'd said "hello" some other time. I wish I would have yelled. You just don't know when a friend, family member or even wrestling acquaintance will no longer be around just to even say "hi" to. I send my condolences to his family as well.