Behind the Bastards

There’s a reason the History Channel has produced hundreds of documentaries about Hitler but only a few about Dwight D. Eisenhower. Bad guys (and gals) are eternally fascinating. Behind the Bastards dives in past the Cliffs Notes of the worst humans in history and exposes the bizarre realities of their lives. Listeners will learn about the young adult novels that helped Hitler form his monstrous ideology, the founder of Blackwater’s insane quest to build his own Air Force, the bizarre lives of the sons and daughters of dictators and Saddam Hussein’s side career as a trashy romance novelist.

Part One: Vince McMahon, History's Greatest Monster

Part One: Vince McMahon, History's Greatest Monster

Tue, 16 May 2023 10:00

We begin our 6 part series on the Chairman & CEO of WWE, Vince McMahon.

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You're ready for a comeback and with Purdue Global you can do more than take classes. You can take charge of your story, of your career, of your life. Earn a degree you can be proud of and get an education employers respect. It's time, your time, not just to go back to school but to come back and move forward with Purdue Global. Purdue's online university for working adults. Put your comeback at Purdue It's been almost a year since I got my LASIK at LASIK Plus and I'm still seeing 2020. It's changed a lot for me. My glasses don't fog up in the rain or when I got to wear a mask inside. It's made camping easier. It's made so much stuff easy. And of course the exam was easy. Treatment just took minutes and I was back to work the next day. LASIK Plus is a leader in laser vision correction in the United States. And if you want to try it right now you can get $1,000 off when treated in May. That's $500 off per eye. Visit to schedule your free consultation. That's for a free consultation. Tune into the short stuff episode of Stuff You Should Know on routines. Brought to you by Colgate Total Plac Pro Release Toothpaste. By staying ahead of plaque bacteria you can stay ahead of oral health problems like early gum disease, bad breath, cavities, and tooth decay. Colgate Total Plac Pro Release is Colgate's new breakthrough in preventative technology against these oral health problems. With daily brushing it dissolves and lifts away plaque for two times less gum harming plaque versus regular fluoride toothpaste after six months of daily use. Be dentist ready and shop Colgate Total Plac Pro Release at a retailer near you. Robert Evans here and we'll get to the Vince McMahon episodes in a second. I wanted to let you all know that for the fourth year in a row we are doing our fundraiser for the Portland Dipper Bank. Behind the bastard supporters have been helping to fund the Portland Dipper Bank since 2020 and bought millions of diapers for people who really need them. So, if you go to GoFundMe and type in BTB fundraiser for PDX Dipper Bank or just type in BTB fundraiser Dipper Bank, GoFundMe, Indigoogle, anything like that, you will find it. So please, GoFundMe, BTB fundraiser for Portland Dipper Bank help us raise the money that these people need to get diapers to folks who need them desperately. Hey everyone, I'm Robert Evans. I'm the host of a podcast called Behind the Bastards and like most of you I was raised during the 1990s and early 2000s on a steady diet of World War II movies and history channel documentaries about Hitler. I decided as an adult to kind of make that into a career and just read weird books about the Nazis and other dictators and talk about them on podcasts and for the last five years or so, that's gone pretty well. You know, every week I find a new terrible person. I read about him. I write a script and the show comes out that you're all duly familiar with. Well, a couple of weeks ago I decided after a few years of every now and then getting suggestions from people to do a bastard who was kind of from the, it's not really a sport but we'll call it from the sports world. A guy you've probably heard of called Vince McMahon. He is the owner of more or less of the what was once the WWF is now the WWE and I kind of expected it to be like every other episode of Behind the Bastards. You know, I spend three or four days, I read a book, maybe two, do some research, put together a script. Well, to my surprise a couple of things happened. One of the things that happened is that when I posted that I was doing this guy, it got a response unlike anything I've ever gotten. Thousands and thousands of likes on Twitter and wrestling Twitter lit up over it. There were news articles about the fact that I was going to cover this guy which has literally never happened before. Authors of books about Vince McMahon, including the author of the book Ringmaster which we're going to talk about a little bit by Abraham Josephine Reisman here after referred to his Josie Reisman reached out. People kind of lost their mind about it and then I found myself putting together a script that is currently set to be about as long as the script on Henry Kissinger and that may seem insane for a guy whose primary claim to fame is running a wrestling company. But I assure you it's not. He deserves everything we're writing about him and to kind of help me wrestle this monster to the ground. Can I just say I told you so first of all? You did. You tried to warn me Sophie. And like several years. Yeah. So we're doing this and the only people I thought could possibly help me wrestle this thing into a manageable form are two of the people I respect most when it comes to talking about shit like this. Sean Riley, aka Sean Baby who you will all remember from the legendary episodes that we did on famous karate monster. Famous Poonani Master. Poonani Master. Fucking yeah. Yeah. Sean, hey, how are you doing? It's going to be back. I've missed you. I have missed you too, Sean. And this is going to be a special one. And I also want to introduce Tom Reiman to the program. Tom has been on a number of episodes. Tom, you're also a big wrestling fan. Yeah. Yeah. Very excited to be talking about Vince McMahon. I thought I knew everything there was to know about Vince McMahon. But the fact that you have such a volume prepared for us is making me think like, did I not know how much of a cool he was? I thought I did. Well, technically a business goblin. Yeah, he's a business goblin. Yeah, he's a business monster. There's a lot of good on him. There's a lot of good on him. There's a lot of good on him. One of the problems with covering Vince McMahon, weirdly enough, the thing that this episode is most similar to is writing about European royalty in the 1800s and 1900s. Because all of those like Kings, like Napoleon III or Leopold or Victoria, there was like somebody writing about every single second of their life and every decision that they made, right? So there's just this, there's so much shit to go through. There's so much to tail on everything they ever did. And weirdly enough, it's exactly the same with wrestling. Like covering wrestling is a lot like covering England or at European royalty. That's the king Lee, King Lee, a pulled head like a Dave Meltzer and a wrestling observer and stuff just tracking his every move. So that's part of what's going on here. And the other part of what's going on is that like as I started learning about Vince, there are all these other wrestlers like wrestling probably has the highest density of like monsters of any like entertainment industry sport out there, at least interesting monsters, right? Like there's just so many fascinating weirdos. Like a casual wrestling story is like, oh yeah, my friend was cranky so we tore guys eyeball out backstage. Yeah, yeah. It's because they're carnies. It's a carnival thing. And so there's this, it's way more hardcore than I think the more casual person realizes. Yeah. The more casual fan. So ever, probably every episode, all of the first couple so far, we're going to be going on log digressions where we just talk about other crazy ass stories from wrestling. Because like, I felt like I was doing a disservice if I didn't. I wanted to get like, Andre the giant poop stories. We are talking a lot about Andre. Yes. I love Andre the giant. Not a bastard, a hero, by the way, just so we're clear. For sure. I wouldn't let it into cipherable, ultimate warrior monologues. Yeah. Oh God. I have been watching quite a bit of wrestling. I wanted to start by asking, what is y'all's background with pro wrestling? Oh. Okay. Long time fan, since I was a kid, I grew up. I actually trained in pro wrestling for about a half a year and did three live shows as a character named Captain Party. I was a superpower fat boy. I did it here in Portland at the Ash Street, Saloon. Oh, shit. Yeah. And let's see. I wrote three video games about wrestling, three WWE video games. Gosh. I feel like that's enough. Yeah, no, that's that's so much expertise. So hell of a friend of you. Yeah. I can't live up to that. Yeah. Tom, now you're on. Now you're on. I'm actually playing. Yeah. Tom's fucking I'll try. So I also grew up watching wrestling, loved it since I was a kid. I was always more at a WWF or WWE than WCW. I was a backyard wrestler for several years. Hell yeah. And I definitely filmed one of my friends throwing another one of my friends off the roof of their house and then that friend doing a flying elbow drop off of the house onto that friend. I never went off the house, but I had some fun bumps in a backyard done to me as well. My friend back home, books a local promotion. It's actually how I met my wife. I met my wife at a wrestling show. What? I don't know. I've been doing my life for so long. Okay, so so so my buddy Jerry Stiffin eats his books, independent wrestling promotion called Vanguard Championship Wrestling, VCW in Virginia. And many years ago they put on a show where they brought in Rick Flair. He was like a big man with a ring in for the show. So it's a baby by the way. I know. I remember that episode. That's nuts. So she was a Marina was there set up because one of the wrestlers his mom ran this like new age sort of healing a store studio and she had a massage parlor in there. A Marine is a massage therapist. So Marina had a massage chair set up at this wrestling show. And that's how I met her. I met my wife at a Rick Flair appearance. That my friend put on. That is that is a happier Rick Flair story than we've gotten. I mean, the bad Rick Flair press recently. Rick Flair spent the whole day drinking and then tried to stiff somebody else with the bill. That's that's what I heard from that specific appearance. But I have a so I will I will come in and say I have far less experience than all of you. And I think my experience kind of lines up broadly with like most kids in the 90s where like I was never like a huge wrestling guy. I played a bunch of different wrestling video games in the late 90s early 2000s when like I should measure for birthdays. Robert I also own a WWF superstar stand up arcade unit. I should have included that in my record. That is awesome. Yeah. Oh, I definitely played a bunch of that. I was I kind of I had about a maybe two years where I watched wrestling semi regularly. This was kind of I think it's you'd call it the attitude era right when Stone Cold Steve Austin was just one of the big names and the yeah. And I was brought in again it was one of those things it wasn't I didn't it wasn't kind of like it did it like I made friends with the kid and he was like one of the few kids weird enough to want to hang out with me after school when I moved to this new town. And he loved wrestling an old Star Trek right and so he introduced me to both of those things. Obviously the love of Star Trek stuck around longer but I watched wrestling like off and on for a couple of years and you know for years afterwards I'd play games when you know we were having a birthday party or something with my friends. And what I have kind of read you know I didn't know this at the time obviously wrestling was just wrestling but 97 and 98 which was sort of more or less I think when I was watching wrestling was kind of smack dab in the middle of depending on how you count it the third or fourth big American surge of interest in wrestling. And the second of those to happen under the watchful eye of Vince Vince McMahon. I don't remember a whole lot about that time except for that my favorite wrestler was the Undertaker. I'm not sure what like well where that puts me. Although people say he was a great kind of like technical you know wrestler get it back and people up good at the good at the you know kind of pinch hitter for story lines and stuff. Terrific zombie. Yeah. Yeah. So I'm zombie. And Vince McMahon I think for most of us who are kind of on the periphery of wrestling who just sort of know it you know as a in broad terms is one of those figures in American pop culture who's just kind of always been there like I couldn't tell you when I first heard his name right. He's like Michael Jackson or Arnold Schwarzenegger in that he's just someone who's always been kind of part of the foundation of pop culture for basically my whole life. And in the decades since I you know was kind of into wrestling he's become a major Republican donor one of the few close friends of former president Trump people will say that he was one of the only people Trump would take his phone calls and push other people out of the room when he called while he was president. He his wife is also a massive inflow Linda huge influence on the direction of wrestling and also moderately influential person in American politics. She was kind of the only member of Trump's can cabinet who didn't have a huge scandal during his president say like she was just kind of in there for a while and then bounced but there was no like she didn't do a mooch right. Like there was no big blow up which I'm not saying is like praise for her. She is a terrible person but like she's a saviour than a lot of the other people he brought in. Do you remember when the mooch went on like a following spree and followed like everyone at crack. Mm hmm. Yeah. That was a fun day. That was weird. That was a weird day. What a wild presidency. We just we just all blew right past it. But Vince is not just and kind of the reason why we're doing so much focus on him. Vince is not just like a guy who is influential in wrestling. He helped create the foundations in a lot of ways of not just modern right wing media but like modern American culture. You know there's a strong argument that we may not get Donald Trump as president without Vince McMahon and specifically without Trump's time in wrestling where a lot of people argue he learned quite a bit. The best book about the life of Vince McMahon is the recently published tome ringmaster by Abraham Josephine Reisman again here after referred to as Josie Reisman. Any on in the book she makes the point that wrestling is more or less inextricable from human civilization. I didn't know this when I started researching but the biblical Jacob got the name Israel after a wrestling match and the word Israel means wrestling with God at least in one translation. So that's sweet. That's kind of sweet. Yeah. It's dropping a macho man elbow on God. Hell yes. That's exactly how I take it. He's that gone. Palestine does translate the leg drop. Big, big, big leg drop. Yeah. So virtually every culture has some form of wrestling and generally up until the modern era. These were like actual competitions right in which athletes were, you know the end was in doubt. Obviously like all sports people falling on matches for betting purposes has happened for forever but generally speaking it was supposed to be an actual competition. And well, you know that was always a part of wrestling it also relied heavily on spectacle. Right. This has always been a part of it. Now if we're tracing back the origins of modern pro wrestling, the most direct place to do so is the French revolution of 1830. Better known as the July revolution. This is the revolution that led to the overthrow of the bourbon monarchy and its replacement by the house of Orlion. But that's you know boring history nerd shit. So I'm just going to quote from wrestling reporter Kyle Dunning here. It has said that during this time wrestlers were first given nicknames also the tradition of an open challenge being issued to the general public was born. There was commonly a reward of 500 francs to anyone who could knock a wrestler down to the ground. This is where circus has got the idea from. I wish we still had that. This happened organically in me once. I was at a Mexican video game convention and there was a wrestling ring in this booth that I was near just a weird little wrestling ring don't know why it was there and someone asked me to get up and say something. And within two minutes, I just sort of organically offered to body slam the biggest person they could find. And then I just did that for like 10 minutes and then one kid got in and it was like okay cool. Put your phone down. I'll body slam you and then he attacked me and I was like oh this must be how shoot fighting got it start. How did that go? He tried to take me down and then we wrestled for a bit and then I kind of gave him like half a body slam which he did not want so he didn't take it very well and I realized we got to stop doing this. This is escalating too quickly. Yeah, this could go really badly. I always they were back in the day kind of one of the similar moments in early internet culture was the there was this director of horrible video game movies named Uva bowl. You I think everyone is from here is familiar with this story. Yeah. Who got made fun of by comedy writers on the internet a lot and so challenged them to a fight like a televised fight. And he had but he had some sort of semi pro experience right. He was he's like an amateur box. Yeah. He's legitimately like a more built dude than the average internet comedy writer in the late 90s early 2000s for sure. He did not if I'm not mistaken Sean you put your hat into the ring and he did not want anything to do with that. I did. It's going to take like three or four minutes to tell this full story. I want to be said. But like I used to host a show called Attack the Showback in the day on G4. Yeah, yeah. And yeah, I recently came back but and then left again. We wanted to come on and fight Kevin Pereira and Kevin Pereira is like dude that's crazy but wait, wait, wait, I bet Sean maybe fight you and so they they call me I'm like fuck yes. Today. I don't care when and then we're training. Zero training. I don't need to prepare I've been preparing for this fight my whole life. When I got the call I did jump some rope. I'm like all right, all right, let's get into it. Drank some raw eggs. Yeah. And so who is people like called me to get my stats that I was like giving my stats I was you know what six three I'm like 210 pounds. This is not good news for away bowl. They're like do you not a fight I'm like yeah, I kind of know how to fight. You know what, you know what maybe we're not going to do this. And I found out later that he basic I don't think he was like scared but he was like he's kind of a bully. He just wants to beat up on little nerds. He had like feel rocky for. So he's like no I don't I want to like just beat up your smallest toast. I don't want to like stand toe to toe with a real man. Yeah, I want to beat up Richard Keon. Yeah, he beat the share. I sure did. He did. And it's included his DVD extras on one of his movies. So I watched all the fights and it's you know we have since learned afterwards that low tax had it coming. Yes. Yeah. We know that's I will be here. He did offer me a spot in that they're like well, we'll fly to Canada and we'll do it there and like suspiciously they never follow it up on that. But anyway, that's the story of a way ball and then people say like oh he ducked me and I guess he technically did but I did go to the premiere of postal and I was like I think it's only fair that I give him the chance to kick my ass. So I went up because I already like made fun of him in my magazines. And I went up and he's like yeah, I know who you are. And I'm like okay. So like, so like are you like pissed and he's like not and then he just very carefully explained all of my jokes back to me and how they weren't like real. Okay. Yeah, they're fucking jokes like he did. I don't think he understood even a beginning of what I was trying to do there. I'm like yeah, it's making fun of you. The movies are bad. What the fuck are we doing here anyway? I think the way they framed it on the DVD extras that I saw was that he's fighting critics. So maybe he thought it was like all film criticism and not just like jokes. I guess I mean I was criticizing his films. He was just like, you know, like in blood ring, there's a love scene. I was like this is obviously directed by a man who's never fucked and he's like, you know, I had this I had to explore like he's like a clinically explaining like jokes. Who of all does seem like the type of dude that would need to clarify? No, wait, wait, wait, wait, I have had sex. Right. It doesn't translate into my work, but I have touched a little bit. It's I have I have seen the boobies. I do like to think about him like getting in a cage with Ebert and then Ebert like pulling out like the Baracko weapons from Mortal Kombat. Just go and go. Just shredding him. Just fucking swords erupting from his wrist. Yeah, yeah, that's how I imagine him fighting. I never jump in on Ebert. Got too much anti-air defense. So I'll send you beyond the valley of the dolls. This this kind of evolution in wrestling where it starts to come something that like yeah, it people like you're doing it out in public. People are like drinking heavily. You've got random folks locally kind of like showing up to fight try to knock these wrestlers down. It becomes this circus act. This is what marks kind of the first really clear permanent separation from the various forms of competitive wrestling that it obviously been around for forever to modern wrestling as entertainment. Because obviously when you've got like random local drunks like queuing up to be suplexed, the point is very clearly not measuring grappling skill in a traditional way. Right. By 1848, circus troops had adopted a new style of wrestling known as first hand wrestling. All better known is Greco-Roman wrestling, which is not the way that the ancient Greek serroman's wrestled, right? It's just called that. Yeah, they have pants on for one, a lot less abusive and a number of ways. It banned a number of holds below the waist. It also banned a number of holds that have like kept killing people. So they were trying to like reduce the body count. Good idea. Circus troops in Europe quickly adopted this new style. But not eliminate the body count. They never get rid of the body count. Let's be very clear about this. I've been again, I've been watching old wrestling like from the 80s and early 90s with like my young friend, Garrison. And one of the things we'll do in every match is like Google the names and see a kind of who made it the longest. Yeah, a lot of 49 year olds, you know, tapping out of life in this sport, unfortunately. Oh yeah. That's like not a joke. It's just a reality. Yeah. Football is not wildly different. So one of the things that's kind of going on here is they transitioned to Greco-Roman wrestling is that a lot of things like leg hooks are restricted, which were some of the most effective holds. And so because they can't do a lot of the holds they used to be doing, wrestlers adopted the tactic of throwing each other around the room or around the, you know, the, you know, whatever the square, which is obviously like another link, you know, in the chain to modern pro wrestling. The nicknames, fan challenges, and increasingly elaborate throws that evolved over this period of time made wrestling more fun to watch than it had been before. By the end of the 1800s, the new sport had its first real champion, a guy named Paul Ponds. He was a Frenchman. His stage name was Colossus. And he became, by some counts, the world champion of Greco-Roman wrestling. That's what Wikipedia calls him at least. The reality is he won a match sponsored by a magazine and then like another match sponsored in Russia, neither of which were really world championships, but he just started calling himself the world champion because like, who's going to argue with you, right? Right. This is before the internet. You can just say things. This is before the internet and your giant, you know? Right. No. So this made this game a sport. Yeah. I'm in favor of that. Yeah. Yeah. It's fine. This made him famous and he opened a gym for wrestlers and for strong men, right? And this is again all kind of very highly tied to the circus still. The reality of the situation is that a couple of different countries had wrestling tournaments. And winning basically any one of them would qualify you to call yourself world champion if you wanted because like, there was no body that was sort of determining who was what was the real world championship. In the early 1900s, this is kind of the first time that we start to have what you could call a credible world championship. And the guy who wins it for the first time is a dude named George Hackensmith, who is legitimately one of the hardest mother fuckers to ever walk the face of the earth. Basically unbeatable from 1901 to 1908. How lucky is that name then? Hackensmith. Hackensmith, it is. And like, I'm going to have Sophie show you a picture of the student a second here. I'm expecting a real granite faced son of a bitch. He is actually kind of in a pre-steroid era. He looks like he's on steroids. Is that what is carpet of fur? That's right. He is smooth as a fucking waxed dolphin. Oh no, that's terrifying. He's interesting because he's kind of an old guy when he becomes, he's 34, which is like today even. That's kind of like pushing it. No, by the standards of athletes in the late 1800s. Sure, that's like 103. Back then, he might as well have been 97. Yeah. Hackensmith is one of the first really shredded guys, as I said, in the modern sense to ever be photographed. Again, it kind of says a lot that he still looks jacked by today's standards. Even though there's no steroids in this period, there's not even like a great understanding of muscle building. Why do you think they took a picture? Yeah. They were like, oh, this is amazing. It's also, he is credited as the inventor of the bench press and the hack squat, at least according to a website called barbend that repeatedly tried to sell me creatine. I feel like somebody figured out the bench press before that. It's not exactly. We are. We are. I found another website that says he definitely didn't create the bench press, although I will say that website also tried to sell me creatine times. So how much creatine do you get? How much creatine do you get? Clearly not enough, according to these two websites. Did you buy enough creatine to invent the bench press? Not yet, but I'm hoping I bought enough creatine to determine which website is more credible. Like whatever, whichever creatine pushes my bench up more in like a three week period, that's the website I'll choose to believe. This is how we will measure all things from now on. So I want you to show them, like hack and shmit looks like a crude discount action figure from a grocery store toy aisle. Oh, hell yeah. I'll get that dude. He looks awesome. Yeah. Totally nadi. You have to assume because it's 1908. I don't think. I don't think. Yeah, absolutely no neck. He is necklace. He cannot put his arms down at his side. He cannot put his arms down to his side. He looks like a he-man. Yeah, like look at those thighs. This motherfucker never skipped a leg day. We can say that with a degree of certainty. It's interesting looking at... Those are black socks. Yeah, incredible. Oh, hell yeah. He's got the socks pulled up too. Yeah, looks like a professor. He does look amazing. Yeah, it's interesting. This dude is like reminding me of like the difference between like with like Christopher Reeve or like Michael Keaton played superheroes and then like what people who play superheroes look like nowadays. Like this guy's definitely jacked. Yeah. But like he's not Hugh Jackman in the Wolverine. No, no, no. No. It's Hugh Jackman. Next man, Jack. Yeah. Yeah. Although he is a wide-shouldered man. He's so wide. Yeah. He is a fascinating looking fellow. So again, basically none of the creatine websites disagree that he invented the hack squat. So I guess we have to give him that. A different website that tried to sell me workout powders did argue that he didn't invent the bench press. And that article was written by a guy named Roger Rock Lockridge. So I do think we have to trust it because that's quite a name. Sweet name. Yeah. So Hack and Schmidt racked up more. He invented something. He invented something. Yeah. Is the rock in quotes? Yeah. The rock is in quotes. Absolutely. I hope you do could hear them. So Hack and Schmidt racked up more than 3,000 victories during his career. A lot of them were during. He has a there's a 40 day wrestling tournament that he wins in 1900. Um, yeah. So this guy you have to assume pretty good in Derritz. But he doesn't really earn a pace, a place of promise in the history books until 1905 when he travels to the United States. Now in the US and the UK, obviously like in Europe as we've been talking about Greco-Roman wrestling is the big thing. And the US and the UK, it's still a thing, but it's kind of less favored than something called Ketch's Ketch Can Wrestling, which is a combination of several smaller variants of wrestling rules that allows leg hooks, but also emphasizes submissions and mat wrestling. This goes viral in the US because it made it particularly easy to allow challenges for members of the public at big outdoor events. Americans are drunk and love to fight so you can't not have that, but also you don't want either to kill these guys or for them to seriously hurt your wrestlers. And so submission holds are something that wrestlers can train on and can kind of guarantee that they can win without murdering a suburban dad by shattering his spine. I'm just trying to picture the first poor son of a bitch that got put into a figure four. What is that? What is this a spell? No, it's like a medieval peasant eating Cheetos. It just blows your mind. You would just have a stroke and die. You would be able to wrap your mind around whatever devilry was being done to your leg. Absolutely not. No, no, this was still a point. I've gone back to my date after losing to a figure four leg lock. Like, sorry, honey, I just, I thought I had him that time. That would have been my whole life back then, just going out on dates. Like, oh, sorry, I'm going to go to my ass kicked, honey. Like, stop it. Come back to our date. You promised me you wouldn't do this anymore. My whole life. You know, you're just going to wrap your legs up again. I got this time, I'll turn it over. I'll turn him over. If I can slip him over so we're on our bellies, I'm refers to the figure four. You never listen to me. You think my ideas are stupid. I'm imagining like early OS S men watching like a wrestling match and going, we have to, we have to figure this out. We have to put money into this. This is how we beat the crowds. We got to crack this nut. Yeah, they've got like a stone cold stunner locked up underneath the Pentagon. Like, we can't let this out. It's like the plague in the stand. This gets out weak. Anything can happen. I've always thought you could measure how good a lover a man is by how well he takes a stunner. Like how giving he is is a lover by how much he gets obliterated by the stone cold stunner, which means that the rock does like a full back flip. I'm saying on record, I think the rock is a very giving love. It's, I mean, honestly, Sean, it's the rock or Vince. Yeah. Yeah. It's sort of does like a weird like, he was a quiver. He used to do it better. He used to do it better before he blew his knees up. So hack and schmitz style and size made him pretty unstoppable in the US for a time. He very quickly defeated the American champion of the day. I named Tom Jenkins and what was not a particularly hard match. Hack and Schmidt was so dominant that a wrestling promoter named Charles Cochran took him aside and was like, Hey, man, you make a lot more money if you like fuck around with your opponents a little like taunt him, toy with him, give people a show instead of just like beating the absolute piss out of them in an article for e-wrestling news, Kyle Dunning writes, in other words, he wanted to fake the contests to make them more competitive because the marks would keep coming back if they thought he was beatable. With this business philosophy, catch wrestling soon, transition to become professional wrestling. And many other countries adopted the same, knowing there was more money to be made pre-determining bouts for entertainment value. It all relied on keeping decay fave that wrestling remained a sport in the eyes of the public. Now again, it's not as, this is kind of like flattening it a little bit. Obviously other people, other promoters had been doing wrestling matches where the ending was sort of settled ahead of time, but that was not always the case. And it was also a thing where like a lot of time in this day, even if you were supposed to be setting up who's going to win ahead of time, it would still like either egos would get her in the way or something. And like people would actually just wind up fighting, right? Sure. Like this was a lot more common back then. I should also note that the idea in this period that a major sporting event might be determined by something other than legitimate contest was not unique to wrestling. In early 1919, the Chicago White Sox conspired to lose that year's fall classic to the Cincinnati Reds. Members of the White Sox approached a group of gamblers and presented them with an opportunity to make a shitload of money. This did not go well. There's a huge grand jury investigation. There's a trial and major league sports gambling is banned until we realized that it was stopping a lot of terrible people from making money. This took about 100 years. So the the the fallout from this is significant. Anyway, Hack and Schmidt, basically unstoppable in the US until he winds up wrestling the guy named Frank Gatch. Gatch is an American who just was famous for having pretty incredible endurance. It's unclear to me if their big match is fixed in one way. But from what I've read, neither man is able to force the other into a clear submission for more than two hours. And that's that is a huge. So for some perspective, in modern wrestling, one of the most famous matches of all time is an hour long match between Sean Michaels and Bret Hart. These are two of like the best technical wrestlers of their day. They're obviously this is not they're not competing in the traditional sense. But if you watch what they're doing, it's amazing that they kept up that level of energy for now. That's an incredible match. Yeah, they are they are going it is insane shit. It wasn't even a match that went 90 minutes in the year 2000. That was because there's you soccer robber versus hoist graces. Yeah, I love soccer. It's the best. Yeah, the frigging Gracie Hunter. I think the point of making is that Hack and Schmidt and Gatch must have been something to see two hours is still a six. It's fucking match. If if if Gatch's finishing move wasn't called the Gatcha, I don't know what he's doing in the carney business. Yeah, yeah. I feel like I don't know what we're doing as a culture if that wasn't the case, but I haven't found evidence of it, Tom. So I apologize on behalf of America. Not your nuts. Yeah. So, wrestling's Charmin ride along early 1900s, but then you get that whole world war thing. It disrupts the industry. Obviously the kind of wrestling, you know, age men eventually do come back afterwards. But the age that follows world war one is a little more jaded. And one of the things this means is that a larger and larger number of wrestling fans start to doubt whether or not wrestling is real. The sport languished and a shady as a kind of shady side show entertainment for drunks and people from New Jersey until the 1920s. In the early 20s, a wrestler named Ed Lewis is hooked up by his trainer who'd also trained Frank Gatch with a fella named Tutsmond. Now Tutsmond comes from a fucking name. Tutsmond. These all sound like old time baseball players. So, will you look up a picture of Tutsmond? They need to see him. But second, I need to describe this man to you. Tutsmond is in the early 1920s, considered one of the most out of control gamblers in the entire country in the 20s. He has a mobbed up dude who other mobbed up dudes are like, this motherfucker gambles too much. And number two, Tutsmond. Tutsmond is a dude who other men in the 20s are like, this guy drinks quite a lot. It is, it's probable no one on earth could drink with this guy today. I'm really excited to share my screen. Yeah, you got to show these fuckers toots, mom. I can't wait to see this, I can't wait to see this hero. Yeah, yeah, ready. This guy, other mobsters were like, god damn, this man. Holy shit. He looks like a giant baby. Yeah, this is an unfinished clone. He's definitely not a char dummy. Yeah, they paint those nipples on him every morning so people don't get suspicious. He looks, he looks, wow. Yeah. 260. Yeah. And he was just putting it three feet tall from these pictures. Yeah, he is a slab of meat. Look at this dude. A profoundly unsettling man. And I'm only saying that because he's been dead for decades. I would be frightened to make these comments if he were alive. He looks like in the face, not so much as Bill, but in the face, he looks like Brian Erlocker. Ooh, yeah, yeah. He really is like a cabbage patch kid. But yeah, Brian Erlocker looks like a cabbage patch. Yeah, a resting cabbage patch energy. So Toots is an addition to being- They call him Toots because his train conductor had. Toots is also a wrestler. And so he acted as Ed Lewis's sparring partner, trainer, and security man. Together the two worked out a series of new holds and innovative wrestling tactics. They also would wrestle each other in the ring some time during matches. These were, obviously they had set these matches ahead of time. Both of these guys are pretty technically skilled. So Toots is the kind of guy that like Ed can trust and they can trust each other to do a lot of these kind of like throws and tosses and not murder each other and put together a full re-agraft spectacle, right? If you can't trust Toots, who wants to stay in this world if you can't trust the hard drink and gambling and control mobster wrestler? So Toots and Lewis over time develop a new style of wrestling. And it's a hybrid of Greco-Roman, Ketchus Ketch Can, and kind of circus shit, which they call slam bang western style wrestling. And this is kind of the most direct precursor to modern pro wrestling. And a different article for e-Resling news, Kyle Dunning writes, The newly formed trio used their connections to persuade wrestlers from around the country to join their new promotions so they no longer had to be controlled by others. Toots began forming what we would later know as sports entertainment, but the wrestlers had to be in on keeping it secret from the public. This new style of wrestling would incorporate elements from boxing, Greco-Roman, freestyle, lumber camp fighting, and theater. As traditional wrestling could go on for several hours, they implemented time limits to ensure matches would not bore the audience. They also introduced the concept of tag team wrestling, which had seldom been used before. Within six months, they had taken over the wrestling scene and were taking bookings in major sports venues instead of back alley halls and other small places. This just sounds like making lumber. Yeah. A number camp brawls. Yeah, excuse me. Lumber camp brawls. Yeah, this is a major book. Specifically up in the Pacific Northwest, a major form of entertainment where like you just go out and watch lumber camp guys beat the piss out of each other. They are very jacked and they have no money. They are all alcoholics. They will fight for hard liquor. Maybe they'll fight a bear, maybe a tree. I don't know. They don't care. They don't even know the difference. Yeah. One of those dangers. We'll fight for your amusement. To the death if you want, you know, you slip them a 20. Products and services that support this content. Huge fans of blood sports. Yeah. They don't give a shit. There's no sign of identity theft slowing down. And why should it? 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That's what we need air. And they're going to fancy guy with a monocle. Yeah. More guys in suits. Yeah. There's not nearly enough racist caricatures. No one's dressed as a shake. So for one thing, we're going to have to fix that. We got to fix that quotient right now. It is worth noting that around the same time, the late 1920s and early 30s, other people were innovating wrestling too, obviously. Like this is not a two person thing. Among other innovations in this time, the flying tackle and the drop kick are invented, which I I love to think of the first man like the right brothers of drop kicks. They keep failing. Like they're about to like leave for the day and then one more time. Just let me try one more time. I know I can do it with both feet. Yeah. I give both legs up. Can you imagine seeing that for the first? It's like seeing the first drop kick. Oh my god. Oh shit. Yeah. Is he Icarus? Yeah. Yeah. I think the next thing that will be like that is when they finally clone a mammoth. Like my god. Look at it. Yeah. The time line of human history is split at the drop kick. Drop kick. I'm going to drop kick that mammoth right now. Fucking snail. Oppenheimer watching the first drop kick. Now I have become death destroyer of worlds. That's all that's all that's all the bomb is. It's all fishing is it's Adam's drop kicking each other. Yeah. It's it's an evolution of the drop kick. So Billy's sand out would test new recruits for kind of this wrestling business that they're building in his own private ring. Well, toots would work with them on their finishing sequences. This kind of period is when they invent the concept of wrestling having a go home sequence, which is a common place today, but back then it was new and exciting to fans. Toots also introduced the concept of the no contest and double count out, which moves wrestling away from kind of the old school competitive roots and creates a lot of possibilities for like storytelling, right, for ways that you can kind of end matches and stuff without people getting beat up too bad. And that, you know, opens up possibilities for all sorts of storylines, a whole bunch of stuff. And it's kind of worth noting just in terms of how innovative these guys are. Modern wrestling is still a very similar to what Toots and his buddies create. And these three guys become known as the Gold Dust trio, I think because of how much fucking money they make. And they basically are kind of the most direct progenitors of the modern pro wrestling industry. They do a lot of fights in burlesque theaters, side shows, and they kind of move on in a really a fairly short span of time because of how much interest there is to stadiums and other massive like respectable venues. And wrestling for the first time spreads across the United States, not as just like a thing people did, but as a semi-organized business in which there's quite a lot of money. Now Toots is the enforcer in addition to training people and stuff. He and another guy, John Pasek, would beat the shit out of any wrestlers who tried to go into business for themselves. This earned them the nickname Hookers. That's what they're called for doing this. I'm not really certain why. But yeah, that's the old Hooker Toots. I love that Toots just applied his mob training to this. It's like somebody else trying to muscle in your territory. Fucking break his legs. Toots is not a problem that Toots cannot solve with a fucking drop kick. So that's the Gumbarr Brawl double threat when you beat a guy in a ring and beat a guy out of the ring. That's the total package. Toots walking into work, he's got like a briefcase and inside of it is just like a stump. So the trio eventually broke apart due to a power struggle. But wrestling was here to stay and for a time its shady reputation kept it down. Madison Square Garden initially refused to host wrestling events through the 1940s. What finally changes this is that Toots teams up with Bastard's pod alumni, Bernard McFadden, who kind of invented physical culture in the United States. He was a big magazine Baron. One of the guys who sort of started the modern like health and supplement industry. And he provides Toots with the financial backing to expand this business. And because he's got connections, he convinces Madison Square Garden to start hosting wrestling events. In 1948, the first Garden Wrestling Exhibition was held. It basically always sells out. It is a huge business for them. In that first match, a guy named Gorgeous George defeats a guy named Ernie Dusek. That same year sees another seminal moment in pro wrestling history. By that point, wrestling has grown from being the business of a number of shady carny promoters and disgrace boxers to a network of promoters and what you might call like cartel leaders who ran wrestling in different cities and regions and generally hated each other. But in July, on July 14, 1948, several of these dudes gathered together at a hotel in Waterloo, Iowa to talk. And I'm going to quote now from a book called Sex Lies and Headlocks. Right around the room where P.L. Pinky, you're going to love these nicknames, Tom. P.L. Pinky George, a former Bantamweight fighter who ran all the shows out of Des Moines. I'll have to like the book Big Games names in Columbus, but couldn't keep them for long because he was notoriously cheap. Orville Brown, a 250 pound brawler from Kansas City, Max Clayton, a genial Omaha businessman who played only $25 for a main event, but made up for it by buying his favorite wrestler, Street Whiskey and Stakes. And Stony Stetcher, who ran the Minneapolis territory while managing his brother Joe, a three time world champion who could dent a sack of grain with his thighs. Hell yeah. At least one amazing thing on a secret yacht. That's it. Yeah. Dental sack of grain with his thighs. We must be messing something. We did metric. I feel like most people could, but maybe grain was different then. Right. Maybe it made a ton of bag. So the grain. 60 60% of those guys have killed somebody with a wrench. Oh, yeah, absolutely. But only 30% of them remember it. Right. I love how like some of them are like, oh, this guy's the toughest guy in the world. And then one guy's like, I guess he can kind of, you can tell he's been sitting on grain. Yeah, he does a lot of grain. He's a real great. Real great. He's like, it's a real dubious honors in the crew. It's like saying. So the dude who calls all these guys together in 1948 to talk is a man, 42 year old guy. He's a former sports writer named Sam Mochnik. Sam had lost his job as a sports writer covering baseball because his newspaper collapsed. I think none of us can identify with. I can't put a set like. I can't picture that. Yeah. He decided to deal with this trauma by starting to work for a wrestling baron and then becoming one himself. He rises to prominence fairly quickly. And he takes a little break to do some World War II stuff. But when he gets back, he finds himself frustrated by the fact that wrestling is kind of being held back by this vicious pack of promoters who are, they're always fighting and bribing each other to like steal each other's wrestlers. And this is getting in the way of both their profits and expanding the business. So he gets all these guys together. These real shady motherfuckers. And he's like, what if we set up rules together as the bosses of these different kind of syndicates to set up prices to like fix wages to blacklist wrestlers who go into business for themselves? Now, this is very illegal. They are violating the shit out of the Sherman anti-trust act. But these guys are all criminals, right? This is not the first law these people have broken. This is mob shit. This is classic mob shit. Yeah, this is very classic mob shit. And these guys all have a shitload of money. So they figure they can bribe whoever they need to bribe. He gets all these guys at the president hotel to agree to his idea, which amounts to something like the only union wrestling, wrestling, whatever see. And of course, it is a union of owners. This goes on to become the national wrestling alliance. Interesting fact, there's another NWA that's like a wrestling kind of alliance that predates this NWA. But yeah, it's not a kind of big deal in the history. So anyway, interesting stuff. So they all agree on this. They formed the NWA, this big cartel. The last holdout to it is a Muchnik's former friend in Biddle or Rival, a guy named Luth Thes. Thes eventually agreed to merge outfits with Muchnik and join the cartel. And Muchnik is like, okay, but if we do that, you gotta agree to lose a title match to this wrestler, the NWA likes called Orville Brown, right? So this match never happens. Brown and his business partner, another wrestler that he'd fought that night, were like driving home from the match. They're like friends, but they're supposed to be enemies. And they happened to hit an 18-wheeler. They may have been hammered and very nearly die. This is a problem for several reasons, because Brown and his partner are supposed to be hated enemies. And the fact that they're riding together in the same car creates a scandal, I think they get fired for this. It threatens to undo the fragile bonds of belief that made wrestling what it was. So yeah, later on, a similar thing happens to Rick Flarey's in a plane crash with a guy he's feuding with, and they had to pretend like they weren't traveling together. Yeah, I want to actually talk about this a little bit, because it's now fairly well known that within the wrestling world, this kind of mix of lies and theater to create the solution of a contest is known as K-Fape, right? There's debate over where the term comes from. Sex lies and headlocks kind of credits it to turn of the century carnivals, where these wrestlers who would take on random challengers, which they called Marx from the crowd, and would wrestle them in stuff. In that case, they generally know what they're doing, because they have a lot more experience. But when they're wrestling each other, they can't go as hard as they otherwise might, because one of them will get hurt if they do, so they rigged the matches in order to avoid getting seriously injured. And they have to, in order to kind of set this stuff up, they have to develop a secret language that lets them kind of plan stuff out in public without making it clear to others what they're doing, which is this kind of pig Latin dialect called carny. So one theory about where K-Fape comes from is that it's just a term from this little language that they made up. Initially, it's kind of a term for like, shut the fuck up. There's like, Marx watching, right? Like that's the initial meaning of K-Fape. But over time, it just becomes a metaphor for like, don't let anyone on on what's really happening. Well, we don't actually know that that's the origin of K-Fape. Nobody is certain where it comes from. But throughout the middle of the 20th century, this kind of whole language grows up around pro wrestling, as Josie Reisman describes. For nearly a century, this illusion was maintained at all costs in a kind of industry omerta, a heel and a face who were sworn K-Fape enemies couldn't be seen drinking together in their off hours. A wrestler, build a Iranian, couldn't be known to be Italian. Even wrestlers themselves sometimes had trouble keeping track of what was K-Fape and what was not. So they developed two more terms. A work was anything that was K-Fape and anything that was real was a shoot. Now, a couple of other notes here, a heel is a bad guy, right? Like in wrestling, they're generally the guy, especially in this period, they're nearly always supposed to lose, right? Meanwhile, a face which stands for babyface is like a good guy, right? There's generally the people who are supposed to win in this period. That's going to change a lot over time. Eventually, you get to the point where like, heels and faces kind of move up and down and there's also becomes this kind of third category. And a lot of times the heels win because it's people that like the fans like the most. But in this period of time, it's a lot simpler, right? Well, there's a Hulk Hogan's kind of a notorious liar. But like in his book, he had a story about like he had a gun that belonged to one of the Savage Samoans and then they all had to go to jail because the Savage Samoans wouldn't talk in front of the police because the wrestlers were supposed to be like these caveman monsters that didn't speak English. So they could have like cleared up the misunderstanding about the gun. But to keep the cave, they all went to jail and stand. I'm like, there's no way any of it's true, but like this is what Hulk Hogan said. I don't know. I've heard that story from other sources than Hulk Hogan, right? I don't know that like you are Sean, you are very correct. Hulk Hogan is a famous liar. There are stories that crazy that we're about to talk about. Okay. Stuff on that level and even wilder does occur. And I remember reading about how Rick Flair's wife didn't know it was fake until like deep into the 90s. No, no, no, there's a lot of that going on. I do want to note before we get into some of these stories, not all wrestling fans are marks. Over time, professionals split them up into smarts and marks. A smart is somebody who gets that like this is not real, right? These giant men throwing each other across the room are engaged in a performance. This is not really fighting. Rice men and other historians of wrestling, like kind of traditionally the assumption was there's only a few smarts. Most people are marks. And increasingly and other historians of wrestling tend to suspect that actually like most fans, particularly most adult fans over time are smarts. They're all kind of sort of like Santa Claus, right? And you know, there's a period of time where you kind of believe that it's a real sport and then you get older. You see something that breaks the illusion kind of famously Hulk Hogan who again take with the grain of salt. He claims to have been a believer as a young adult like to have been totally bought into it until one day as he's sort of like watching a match. He sees two wrestlers strategizing beforehand and has this like horrifying realization that the game is rigged. I'd be so embarrassed to tell that story about Hulk Hogan. I might believe it because he's not a smart man. Let's be very clear about the Hulkster. What you mean, dude? Rice men also notes that while most fans were probably savvy enough to parse out the truth eventually, wrestlers for decades lived in mortal fear of breaking K-fabe because managers and promoters drilled into their crews that this lie is the only thing keeping the interest in wrestling and thus their jobs alive, right? This is deadly serious to the industry, right? R wrestlers are kind of divided into, again, you know, you've got your heels and your baby faces and stuff. One of the most interesting realities of early wrestling is, is again, kind of how seriously this is taken, you know, even though maybe most fans eventually figure it out, a lot of fans never do. Some of this is because guys like Munchnik would demand that their heel and face wrestlers never travel together, never act friendly together in any way. You know, if wrestlers suffered injuries in their regular life or got arrested and charged with crimes which happened constantly, this would get worked into storylines on the fly. My favorite example of this stemmed from the 1983 arrest of Karee von Eric and we will be talking about the Von Eric family in a little bit. But I want to read a quote from the book, D'Arst story. Yeah, yeah. That's what we're ending on. But I want to read a book, a quote from the book, wrestling Babylon by Irv Munchnik right now. Karee and his wife were returning from their honey moon in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. When US customs agents during a routine inspection caught him with 18 unmarked tablets at his right front pocket. Inside the crotch of his pants was a plastic bag containing an assortment of nearly 300 other pills, including codine, diazopam, Libriam, impossibly perkidan, 10 grams of marijuana and six and a half grams of blue and white powder. The Von Eric's world. The imported. Yeah, that's a pretty good list of shit. The Von Eric's wove the ensuing publicity into the world class TV storyline vaguely suggesting that Karee had been framed by the freebirds. There are rivals 18 months later after behind the scenes maneuvering. The charges were dropped by the Tarant County District Attorney. Very fun story. So the wrestlers in this period. I dropped in my butthole with what's his name, Michael. Oh shit, I forgot his name. The guy from Nevermind. It doesn't matter. So Michael Bolton, you're thinking of Michael Bolton. Yes, I'm thinking of Michael Bolton. Aren't we all always? I am. So wrestlers didn't just kind of keep the fans, you know, try to keep this shit up for the fans. They like to put their own family in the dark. Getting the lie that the matches they were in were real competitions and that their fights with other wrestlers were real. This sometimes caused dangerous situations. An early heel named Mario Galinto was so hated that his wife feared for his life and so she started showing up at matches with a loaded handgun to protect him from his rivals. And she would pull it on them and stuff. Like she would threaten them with it during matches. And eventually promoters had to sit down with Mario and were like, you have to tell your wife the truth. And she was just going to murder someone on television like this is a serious problem for us. I need to stop making six year olds. She was a spul bearer. Some shit. She's the youngest of 38 and do it. Come on, fucking. She's a 30-year-old. She's a 30-year-old. She's a 30-year-old. She's a little more than eight. She didn't, when he tells her the truth allegedly, she doesn't speak to him for three days. Oh my God. I just destroyed her. I destroyed her. I mean, that's because he was humiliating, but also infuriating. Like you lied to me. You lied to me. Oh, stupid. About wrestling. Yeah. Well, I mean, she was in such fear for him that she was carrying a loaded gun to his matches. And he was letting her continue to do this. Yes. Yeah, honey. I get it. I'm unreasonable, too. I hope missed a lot of red flags. Yeah. This is maybe communication wasn't there strong suit as a couple, you know? That's possible. What is, to be fair to her, it was super common for wrestlers to get assaulted and injured by fans. Women in particular had a habit of jabbing heels with hat pins, unlike their way up to the ring and stuff. Men meanwhile tended to throw rocks and bottles at them. In one South Carolina match, a 78-year-old man with a knife stabbed Al Rogowsky so bad that he needed more than a hundred stitches. Now, Al is a hard son of a bitch. So he refuses to go to a hospital. He drives himself back to his house. He finds someone there to sew him up and then he wrestles the very next day. Because I tell you why wrestlers don't have any health insurance. They sure don't tell him. They are better paid back then. A, if he doesn't get any sick time either. So if he doesn't wrestle the next day, he doesn't make money. So it's like fucking glue me up. I'm going out there. I should note, it is generally agreed upon by the historians I'm reading. The money is better back then than it is now by comparison. Like these guys are making better living than like modern wrestlers often tend to, which is kind of interesting to me. Obviously, that does, you know, it's different around the country that's not everywhere. But broadly speaking, it's easier to make an okay living than as a wrestler than it is today. A lot of people argue. You got stabbed more often. You did get stabbed more often. For an example of that, Sean, rowdy, rowdy, piper claims to have been stabbed three times by fans who thought he was an actual bat guy. I don't, I don't doubt it, man. People, he used to drive people crazy. No, they were, he was, because he was, he's genius. He was incredible actors. He's very, very talented at what he did. But also like just looking at rowdy, rowdy, piper, you have to be either ready to die or the drunkest I anyone has ever been to be willing to attempt to stab that man because he was a fucking monster. Also, his whole gimmick was that he was insane. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. God, I love rowdy, piper. You know, enough to stab him. Yeah, I would, I would stab him if it was back again. If we got one more episode of always sunny in Philadelphia with him playing the maniac. The maniac. What an absolute hero. You know what? During this next ad break, go watch the movie They Live starring rowdy, rowdy, piper. Uh, just a champion. Robert Evans here. And as I'm working on the sequel to my novel after the revolution, I've found up Googling a lot of stuff that maybe I don't want in my search history. You know, it's an unavoidable consequence of writing about insurgent groups and their tactics. And I know what you're saying. Robert, why don't you just use incognito mode? Well, let me tell you something. Incognito mode doesn't hide your activity. It doesn't matter what mode you use or how many times you clear your browsing history. Your internet service provider can still see every single website you've ever visited. That's why even when I'm at home, I use a VPN and one of the very best VPNs is our sponsor ExpressVPN. It's an app that reroute your internet connection through their secure servers so your ISP can't see the sites that you visit. 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And then always sunny episode. Um, both works of incredible art. So given all of this, it probably won't surprise you to hear that even in the pre-Steroid days, wrestlers often lived difficult lives. One of the first great modern wrestlers was a guy named Gorgeous George. He was the son of a house painter. He played a narcissistic healer, heel, who was one of the first big popular TV wrestlers. He would prance around the ring in a fur robe. He was kind of a little like queer-coded kind of bad guy thing, right? This is, you know, the 60s. He gouged eyes. He flirted with audience members. And he just like chewed the fuck out of the scenery. George is a huge hit in like the 50s and kind of early 60s. But by the time he retires in 1962, the heavy drinking that came with his career field. Because I mean, it's part of just what these guys do to deal with the pain. Because they're, you know, it's not easy on your body. Had destroyed his health. When he retires, he like uses the money he has to start a bar and van nines. But his medical bills quickly forced him to sell it. In 1963, after a night of bumming drinks from the bartender in the bar he used to own, he dropped dead from a heart attack. He was 48 years old. And sects, lies and headlocks, the author's note. The wrestlers he'd once work with pass around a hat to help bury him in an orchid-colored casket beside which his last girlfriend, a stripper, collapsed crying. It is a very wrestling funeral. He is not the only guy with a story like this. That's a bummer. That is dark. I mean, not that his girlfriend is a stripper, that's whatever. But just like, this is like, his story is not uncommon. No, I mean, it's dark that they had to pass around a hat to pay for his casket and he collapsed, begging for drinks in the bar he used to own. That's dark. It is dark. It is, and again, a lot of these promoters are just straight up monsters. There are more of them who are kind of decent guys in this period. There are a number of like regional promoters who will do shit like when their wrestlers have health problems after retirement, divert funds from their business to like pay for their healthcare. I'm not saying that's the norm, but it does happen. And it's also, there is strong solidarity with kind of wrestlers where stuff like this is not the taking up collections to help old and injured wrestlers pay for medical treatment or pay for funerals. That stuff happens with a significant degree of frequency in this period of time. There is kind of this understanding that like, you know, this is a tough job. We're all kind of going to destroy ourselves doing it and we have to have each other's back, you know? So given the cultural values of the time, good guys and bad guys in wrestling had to be very easy to separate on black and white TVs. In the 1950s and 60s, this often meant that your bad guys are going to be either communists or Nazis, right? Very easy way to make it. Yeah, exactly. An early Russian wrestler, Boris Malenko, was actually a Jew from Jersey named Larry. But you know, he could do an accent, right? That's also an extremely common wrestling story. Yes. Yes. For example, the shake of Arabic who prayed to Allah before each fight was a Detroit native named Ed. And one of the first great Nazi wrestlers was Jack Adkisson, better known as Fritz von Erich. Now, he was a real Nazi, right? Well, the focus of this series is Vince McMahon, obviously. Okay. You know, but wrestling is always traded on brutality and mortgaging human bodies for entertainment. And I don't want to just focus on the ways Vince did that because that's going to give people this attitude, which is sometimes gets put across by like wrestling fans that like before Vince, things were a lot better. You know, some stuff was, but this has always been a pretty brutal business. So we're going to talk for the rest of this episode about Fritz and the Von Erich family. You guys both had a reaction when I brought them up. So I think you might know this story. Oh, yes. There's a lot of sadness in the Von Erich story. It's like a really tragic. It is a nightmare. Yeah. So Fritz slash Jack, and we're just going to call him Fritz from now on, had been trained by the founder of one of the first great wrestling dynasties, Stu Hart, a Canadian from Edmonton, whose dungeon, that's what it's called, the dungeon, was the most celebrated training center for wrestlers of its day and for like generations to come. This is like, they remain very big. Brett Hart, we talked about a little bit earlier, is like one of his kids and you know, trains there. Hart trained Fritz and gave him his stage name. And you might think that having your like mentor be like, hey, you've got serious Nazi vibes to me. Why don't you wear a fucking swastika into the ring? Well, would make you reconsider aspects of your life? But Fritz is like, yeah, man, for sure. That sounds great. He would wrestle. He would wrestle. He would be, how much? Yeah. Yeah. $50 a night for sure, bro. Fritz would wrestle wearing Nazi regalia. His trademark move was the iron claw and he has the distinction of having been wrestling Luthez, who we've talked about before. He's kind of one of the great, big early champions. He and Thez are wrestling the day that JFK gets assassinated. There's not as much great footage of him in the ring as I related. Related? Yeah. Yeah. Definitely a causal relation. There's not as much great footage of him as I'd like, but I found a clip of his brother, Waldo von Eric. Waldo's not his real brother. This is a K-fabe thing, right? The Waldo was another guy who trains at the dungeon and they're like, you know, match brothers. And Waldo was also a Nazi. This clip is from a match in 1975 and it is remarkable. I should note before we start that his opponent here is Jay Strongbo, who is a Native American wrestler who wrestles in a full headdress. He's actually an Italian. Yeah. Not an uncommon story. So here's Waldo von Eric being a Nazi. And as he comes in the ring, he is wearing a stall helm. I should note. Boy, he sure is. Yeah. He is wearing a Nazi helmet and a sleepless shirt. He's got a riding crop in his hands. And he's got in the front of his shirt is there's a Nazi logo. Like the, not like people on his shirt. Here comes the Italian man and the Native headdress. And there's the Italian man. Yeah. Headdress. Chief Jay Strongbo. From from Tuscany. I, all time he wrestlers, I do love the gay coded fancy man and the Indian chief or like my two favorite, like problematic. Oh, yeah. You get some. I love, I love that Waldo's swastika. You can tell they weren't into drawing it. I also love steroids are starting to be a thing in the 70s, but they haven't figured them out great. So these guys are just huge dudes with beer bellies. He's doing a Nazi salute. There was. There was. There was. Yeah. Now the iron claw, if the audience doesn't know, is kind of like a Nazi slew on the human face. You just, you grab the front of their head and you just squeeze it. No. Glorious. Impossible to escape. I mean, yeah. You parmin someone on that face. Yeah. Just. Just rough. Just walk backwards to the side. No, it thinks of that. No, no. When you get, when you get, when you get sigiled right in the forehead, you sort of like it knocks all thoughts out of your brain. That's why I do. That's why Hitler adopted it. Famously great technical wrestler, right? All Hitler. So I will know everything he knows. It's actually how it took himself out. He just did the iron claw to himself at the moment. That's between Jay Strangbo and Waldo problematic, not even close to the most racist wrestling match that you can find. Like, like, it's not even the most racist. It's not even the most racist wrestling match I've seen recently. No. That bounced right off my brain. If you had told me, hey, we're looking at this for racism, I would have been like, this is totally normal all time. Yeah, at least in that case, it's supposed to be the bad guy. I'm not seeing an Indian. Honestly, they're doing pretty good. So Fritz himself has a, as we've discussed, yeah, just a nightmare of a life, but because he's a terrible person. So his, you know, his first son, this is not his fault probably. Jack Jr. dies in 1959 from accidental electrocution that leads to drowning. Obviously, this has an impact on Fritz, and he decides to stop wrestling on the East Coast. As kind of a result of this, he becomes the godfather of Texas wrestling, overseeing a company that runs wrestling in Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio called world-class wrestling. Fritz continued to reinvested the money that he made from wrestling into real estate. He's one of the guys in this who's actually good with his money, and while he's making it as a wrestler puts it into something that's going to make him more money, unfortunately, he's also a giant piece of shit and kind of a real fascist because one of his best friends is Pat Robertson. He is a born-again Christian who becomes a major right-wing donor in Texas and a moral crusader. So that's great. Sweet. Yeah, good guy. So he has four sons, three of whom are four more sons, three of whom at least are groomed to follow in his footsteps, even though several of them lack the talent or the physique to do so. Spoilers, when you said three of whom, I thought you were going to say something else. Yeah. That's where we're going to make. We're starting with a lecture. He's done one boy so far, right? He's got one out of five already out of the match. Did you do a show on Pat Robertson? We've covered him before. We've covered a lot of aspects of him. His dream was to create a wrestling dynasty and imitation of Stu Hart, right? No way, Pat Robertson. No, no, no, no. No, maybe. But definitely, definitely Fritz. As wrestling nerd, Nicholas, all helm rights. By the time Kevin, David, and Carrie, his three large adult sons, entered their teens, they were put into grueling workout sessions by their father. Despite time playing a variety of junior high and high school sports, he would work them out for another three hours after school every day. Well, the boys grew up in wrestling and knew wrestling. It was clear that their father wanted to make it clear they didn't have a choice. Their future was wrestling, whether they wanted it to be or not. Cool. Yeah. So, he's kind of like the Michael Jackson of wrestling or Michael Jackson's dad of wrestling. I always forget that guy's Joe Jackson. Joe Jackson, right? Joe Jackson. But maybe, honestly, Joe Jackson's a better dad with this. That's a heads up as to where this is going. I only wanted his kids or dead. Yeah. It's like a really dark, like, 2,000s era joke punchline. Joe Jackson's a better dad. He's got a better fucking record. So, for a time, the Von Erichs are very successful. In the early 1980s, his boys are all actively in the ring. They are hugely popular in Texas. By this point in K-Fabe, Fritz has been revealed by his nemesis Gary Hart to have been a normal Texas boy, not a Nazi allowing him to turn babyface. This made K-Fabe a little easier for his boys because they didn't have to wear swastikas. But since their dad is the booker and they're the stars, he gets to run them mercilessly, right? And the company is, because these guys are big stars, their entire company is reliant upon their performing basically every night during parts of the year in order to keep attendance high at the venues that he booked. Because there's such a necessary part of the business when they get hurt, which happens a lot, they can't take the next night off. So, dad just starts handing them fucking pain killers like their skittles in order to keep them performing. Another thing that's become necessary. Look at Bandit. And we'll go back when we talk more about Vince. We'll talk about how steroids become a part of the industry. But steroids are a big part of the industry by the 1980s. And so in order to compete and again to keep crowds, butts and seats, they have to bulk up to Hulk Hogan-like levels. And the drugs that they're taking take a toll on these boys' bodies. And after a 1984 match in Japan, David Vaughn-Erik is found dead in his hotel room at age 25. We don't entirely know what happened. His friend, Bruiser Brodie, claimed once that they flushed a bunch of drugs down the toilet after finding his body and basically that he OD'd. I think the family denies this. It's not really clear what happened because after he makes this claim, Bruiser Brodie gets stabbed to death in Puerto Rico. He sure does. We don't get a lot of detailed confirmation either way. Is there a reasonable counter-explanation? No, not really. There's not a bunch of drugs. Not really. Okay. Yeah. I mean, it's the kind of thing where like, you know, today, like any leading man and stuff who's doing big action roles. Is on something that we can call steroids pretty much. But also we've gotten a lot better at doing it without killing people, which is not, I'm not saying people should do steroids. But if you have millions of dollars and doctors who are constantly monitoring your blood levels and doing tests on you and stuff, it's not as dangerous. Like these guys are just kind of shot shooting shit up their asses and seeing what happens, you know? It's a combination of things, too. You know, the road list, it's all the hard drinking and popping pain killers because you take and take the doctor. You just have to keep going. I think they tour something like, I don't know, 300 days a year. Yeah. It's a combination of all that shit. Yeah. Yeah. It's just, it's a different time and it's even, again, don't do steroids, folks, but it's much worse for you at this point in time, even. And yeah, they're also coke as common as Reuters are because I mean, part of what a lot of wrestlers just say is that like, yeah, you know, in order to get into the ring and get amped up, you got to get fucking coked up and then to calm down and to deal with the pain, you take pain killers and then often to get to bed, you add alcohol to that. A lot of guys, oh, deas, result of that shit. I mean, it's, yeah, I mentioned Ultimate Warrior earlier, but never has, you need cocaine to get hyped up for the match. Oh, yeah. Been more obvious than an Ultimate Warrior entrance. No, there are, there are like, cartel warehouses in fucking scene-a-loat that have less cocaine than was in his bloodstream and he given it. He was gliding out there on a, on a board of cocaine like an ice man. Just an incredible man. Just so. So very tragic death, obviously, it's fucking 25. He'd barely, you know, had a life. Very sad. The yellow rose of Texas as David was known was mourned by a crowd of 3,000 people at his memorial service. Fritz though made sure to profit from this selling color photos of his dead son that had once gone for $3 for $10 at the memorial service. Hell yeah. Right after he set his, one of his surviving sons, Harry von Eric, to wrestle Ric Flair for the world title. Because kind of everybody's sorry, you know, because David died, they set it up so that Carrie, you know, wins this match, right? Which is again, not uncommon in a case like this. You've got someone whose brother just died. You give them a belt, you know? I'm surprised like Fritz didn't open up the casket and let people take pictures with David for like 20 bucks. Cut off hair. Yeah. Yeah. 35-year-old. Lock him up. Let me see your money. Let me see your money. Barely. Get a 40 plus thumb. It's a 40 for a thumb. I got some thumb. Get that extra 10 bucks. Yeah. Doin' a do leaf. Next year in 1985, Mike von Eric was charged with two counts of misdemeanor assault against an ER doctor. He got into a fist fight with during a trip to the hospital. Shortly thereafter, he goes to Tel Aviv to wrestle and he takes a bad bump to his shoulder that dislocates it badly enough that it requires surgery. Due to either poor hygiene or bad luck after surgery, he contracts toxic shock syndrome, which is very serious and very uncommon. Just like in general, it's not something men get off and it's certainly not a common side effect of shoulder surgery. He gets transferred to a hospital with 105 degree fever and his kidneys shutting down. The upside of this is that he is too weak to punch another doctor. So that might have helped. The doctor lives through that. So the doctor survives. And he does. And while his son is fighting to survive, Fritz starts making, he goes to the press basically, you know, never waste an opportunity. He tells the media that the number of calls from fans to the hospital, out numbers the calls that a neighboring hospital had received when JFK was sent there in 1963, which is an insane flex. That's a relief. So anybody wants a bag of bloody stool, 70 bucks. Yeah. It's real, it's real Trump saying now I have the tallest building in New York City. Yeah. It's wild stuff. Mike does pull through. He survives this. And his brother, Kevin, gives a press conference calling his survival a miracle. Alas, he takes, he's permanently injured from this, right? His weight drops down to just 145 pounds. He is now no longer able to speak without slurring his voice. He just, he doesn't recover from this. Munchnik writes, quote, Fritz lost no time in repackaging him for the wrestling marks. Mike was nicknamed the living miracle. Fans were promised that he would defeat the odds, wrestle a grin, and claim a championship for God and family. To give the gimmick momentum, Mike was wheeled out in a car to wave to the 25,000 fans of the big October show at the show at the Cotton Bowl. He made his official return to the ring on July 4, 1986 by then. He won't get some, he won't get some 60 bucks. So when he comes back to the ring, he's also contracted hepatitis and his dad's just like, get him out there, get him out there. Yeah, it's, it's so bad. There's some blood with that fella. Yeah. So the next year, 1986, another prominent wrestler, Gino Hernandez, dies of a cocaine overdose. Now this happens right after a TV spot where Hernandez, a heel, had blinded babyface wrestler Adams. And it says a lot about wrestling in this period that the announcer, Bill Mercer, Fritz's employee, announced Gino's real life death on television by saying, we have suffered two terrible tragedies in the last week, the blinding of Chris Adams and the death of Gino Hernandez. He's like, he's like, he's like, he's like, he's like, he's like, he's like, he's like, he's like, he's like, he's like, he's like, he's like, he's like, he's like, he's like, he's like, he's like, do yeah, thanks to K-Phabew沒 the same thing. Cause new tattoo. So the next year Kirim van Eric, wasted his hell, rams into the back of a police car on his motor cycle. His foot is, like, part of his foot. It winds up eventually getting amputated. It is a nasty wreck. Doctors spend 13 hours putting his limb back together, and then he is immediately whisked away to perform in the fucking ring. We come. Yeah, it's a nightmare. I know. He wrestles with a fake foot for a while doesn't he? Yeah, he sure does Tom. He sure fucking does I'm gonna quote again from Fritz here. Sorry Fritz is just smashing these kids Like again, Joe Jackson might be the better dad Quote his opponent this evening was carefully instructed to sell for Carey for it was clearing advance that the man Who was once among the most agile? 250 pounders in wrestling would be virtually a mobile still they had to make a good show of it So while Carey changed into his trunks a doctor filled a syringe with enough Nova Kayn to numb Secretariat's hoof thus fortified Carey discarded his crutches gridded his teeth and hobbled into the ring the match lasted five minutes And as planned Carey won afterwards when the Nova Kayn wore off an examination revealed that the ankle had rebroken Four months later in another operation the foot was permanently fused into a walking position Like Bad bad bad don't take a the chronic pain that you must have had like his calf must just cramp up 20 times a day now look I'm not a big giving people parenting advice, but a free parenting advice from Robert here. Don't do this to your kid Don't do this not good not good not good. Be in a dad Yeah, when I got her Foot her first foot torn off. I was like we're gonna wait two weeks before you get back in that right? Two solid weeks because you're a good father absolutely So despite Fritz's cocaine Yeah, probably well, yeah, of course kids love cocaine, you know You just tell them it's one of those fun fun back. What are they? What do they call that shit fun dip? You know, they love that shit Fun dip bag a coping Fun dip has my mouth numb. I can't taste it anymore. That means it's working keep taking it good fun Dude get net ring. It's probably how a company name. It probably was originally a cocaine product So despite Fritz's pushing Mike never recovers his ability to perform obviously Interviews with him were deeply uncomfortable affairs again. He is probably take some damage to his brain from all this too He rants a lot on air about obscure biblical figures He also like there's one point where he's there's this documentary or something being made about him and he and One of his brothers are like talking in the background and it's like recorded and you can hear them talking about a gangbang that they had together He just kind of loses his ability to sort of you know filter stuff He also has in several minor violent outbursts. He's arrested a handful of times mostly for drugs This kind of all escalates to Mike going back home after an arrest He hikes out into the woods with a bottle of sleeping pills and he takes enough to kill himself He is 23 years old when he dies now According to some versions of the story Mike leaves a bottle of the sleeping pills He'd used to kill himself for his youngest brother Chris with a note that basically says when you're ready to go You can use these now Chris has not performed yet in the ring But he takes to the ring in 1990 kind of near the end of his father's time as a wrestling Baron Nicholas on Helmwright or all Helmwrights Chris grew up with severe asthma He took cred in his own for the condition from a young age and this resulted in a smaller stature than even his brother Mike His bones were brittle and he broke them doing simple wrestling moves He wasn't built to be a wrestler, but David and Mike were dead and Carrie had taken a job in WWF His family needed him already addicted to painkillers and recreational narcotics. He entered the family business He is not in there long. He shoots himself in the head one year later My God. Yeah In 1993 the last survival for serving wrestling von Eric Carrie is arrested for cocaine possession in Dallas The horrific pain from his foot which had required partial amputation pushed him into a semi permanent state of drug abuse After being indicted he drove home to Denton County and his father's Ranch where he shot himself in the chest with a 44 caliber revolver. He made it the longest of any of his brothers He was 33 Fritzwood in the end outlive five of his sorry. He has six sons one of them does survive him He dies of lung cancer in 1997 and good fucking Ritzen James yeah, that man carved a Just a path of Irwin through his sons and if I'm understanding right this is all just to frame Vince McMahon Yes, this is here's the guy who's much worse than this. Yeah, Vince Vince is overall worse than this But you do need to know it's not like he's not rising out of a crowd of angels God yeah, fucking tragedies. Yeah, that's a nightmare When you are responsible for four of your son's deaths Um all before the age of 40. Yeah, not every dad and three of them kill themselves. Yeah Yeah That's that's dark Yeah, it's pretty bleak you guys got anything to plug Uh, Tom you go first oh Well We're for 75 dollars you can take some of this here Okay For 80 bucks so that you hold the gun I like how you like you pause you're like a member really gonna say this Absolutely you know what fritz would have done it I've done it um yeah, you know you can catch me we're at Gameflin employed It's a podcast and streaming network I do with our our former crack co-worker and great buddy David Bell So check that out slash gameflin employed you can find us also on anywhere you look for podcasts and on the social media. So that's that's pretty much it Hell yeah, it is absolutely beautiful and uh I am at 1900 featuring monthly columnist Tom Reiman Who's right and a lot on all starcasta comedy writers We do daily jokes Text and pictures like the old days and it's fantastic I work with Robert Brockway who's also our dear friend from cracked And slash 1900 hotdog Um, excellent Definitely check out Gameflin employed and 1900 hotdog. I have one other thing to plug This is not a product a project of mine, but we will be talking you know Sean in our in our episode on Steven Segal We chat a little bit about judo gene labelle who of course according to some versions of the story Shoked Steven out so badly he pooped his pants now This is debated, but there is a fellow on youtube named bobby fingers Bobby is an Irishman who works does something in the entertainment industry like making practical effects and models um, I can't describe his videos better than like he makes models of moments from pop culture history and one of the Things he does and these I you should just watch them. I can't describe them better But one of the ones he builds is a diorama of judo gene and Steven Segal locked in combat Um go find bobby fingers on youtube and watch this shit. It's genius. I love it. Yeah. I'm writing this down Mm-hmm. Yeah, that's the fucking episode everybody Let's get to bits. Not I mean a little bit. Yeah, it's such a it's such a already such a long-roan road Strune with bodies There's so many men have died and we've just we've only just begun Behind the bastards is a production of cool zone media for more from cool zone media visit our website or check us out on the iHeart radio app apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts Hi, this is Bridget Todd inviting you to discover the future of psychedelic medicine at psychedelic science 2023 Join the multidisciplinary association of psychedelic studies from June 19th to June 23rd at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver Experience informative talks workshops and exhibits with presenters Paul Stamets Michael Pollan Melissa Etheridge and many more Go to psychedelic and use the promo code iHeart for 15% off registration grab a shiny new pair of malseers for you and the kids Because as a Walt Disney World authorize seller undercover tourists. Let's you enjoy the most magical place on earth and save up to $82 per ticket that means more pirates more teacups and more magic moments together For less you know you just can't wait to go visit undercover now to book your hotel in car rental and enjoy 30% off your Walt Disney World experience and with a 365 day refund guarantee There's no excuse undercover Getting the vitamins we need on a daily basis from diet alone is very hard But where do you start to find a brand you actually trust in your health and wellness? Say hello to Mary Ruth's founded by mom health expert and nutritionist Mary Ruth Gingham Mary Ruth's provides vegan vitamins and supplements for the whole family Plus you can say goodbye to pills and capsules and make taking vitamins easy and fun with their liquid and gummy forms Visit Mary Ruth and use code MRO25 for 25% off your first order