Whew, ok, here's the rest of them. Sorry Glenn and Chris Michaels, you guys didn't quite make the cut
AROUND THE RING
A Look at Other Competitors
THE BEVERLY BROTHERS
At the height of their national fame, Beau and Blake Beverly were World Wrestling Federation tag team title contenders, flaunting their high-class pedigree and substantial ring talents for us commoners to see.
In September of 1995, they are combing through real estate listings and classifieds, looking for an opportunity to regain what they’d lost.
“The economy has been rough,” says Beau.
“It’s hard on everyone”, says Blake.
With the Dow Jones up almost 3,000 points since they made their WWF debut, the NASDAQ breaking the 1,000 mark, the economy steadily adding jobs in every report, and GDP growth on an upward trend, their sentiments don’t necessarily hit home with reality. On a personal level, the economy has been rough on the once proud Beverly family. After a mediocre stint in the big time, the brothers had blown through a substantial chunk of their family inheritance.
“The trainers, the gyms, it all cost money,” said an anonymous family friend. “They just didn’t win enough purse money to make it up. And the cost of changing managers - you wouldn’t believe the exit clause Coach had in his deal with them.”
That’s left the Beverly Brothers in uncharted territory - looking through the Cleveland Plain Dealer for jobs, an affordable home in their old stomping grounds of Shaker Heights, and notice of any wrestling shows.
“We saw the ad for the MTW Tournament way down here in Cleveland. So we gave them a call,” says Beau.
Blake interjects - “I know we’re usually a tag team, and this a singles tournament, but we need to get our name out there.”
Joseph "Roadblock" D'Acquisto knows a thing or two about working a real job. He’s spent most of his adult life as a construction worker in New York state.
“I was workin’ on the highway most of the time,” says Roadblock. “My nephew kept telling me I was so big that I shoulda been a wrestler.”
Roadblock didn’t take the traditional route into the sport though.
“Well, the big show came to Rochester one night and I saw the champ, Hogan, in the gym getting a workout in. I went up to him and I says, how do I get into this sport?”
It didn’t go as he would have hoped.
“Hulk blew me right off. Said I was too fat, focus on my real life. I was pretty disappointed.”
Disheartened, but not completely broken, the big man bought himself a ticket to the arena event that night. He took that same nephew with him. When it came time for Hogan’s match, Roadblock felt a charge come over him.
“I just didn’t like the way he had talked to me. But my nephew, he loves Hogan, so I wasn’t gonna try to kill him or anything. I did the next best thing.”
To the shock of those around him, Roadblock jumped over the rail before Hogan made his entrance. One Man Gang was awaiting him in the ring, and Roadblock charged after the Gang. There was a scuffle, and Roadblock held his own. The police took him away, but Roadblock made sure to give Hogan a stare on his way out.
The bug had bitten Roadblock, hard.
“I know it ain’t how you’re supposed to start, but feeling that ring, the energy of the crowd, I knew it beat pouring asphalt any day.”
Roadblock trained with the legendary Larry Sharpe, but despite his imposing size, power, and appearance, hasn’t made a dent in the big time promotions.
“I think Hulk got scared. I’ve been a little blacklisted you might say.”
With competition in the wrestling world at an all time high, the matchmakers at MTW didn’t want to leave anyone with talent without an offer - the Hogans of the world be damned. Roadblock got the call, and he was ready to go. The Man Hogan Fears is on his way to little ol’ Port Huron, MI.
D-Lo Brown knows all about hustle. The former Maine Black Bear football standout is back in his hometown of Chicago, and his days are packed.
Early morning, Brown rises from his southside apartment to commute to his day job - working as a freelance C.P.A for various companies in the area.
“I know people from growing up, and they got small businesses and such,” he says. “After college, they wanted to help me make sure I didn’t backslide into what so many kids slide into around here, so they help send me some business. I do the bills.”
Brown is a great accountant, but that’s not his passion.
“I grew up watching them all - JYD, Hacksaw Reed, Simmons - you know I liked the other guys like Hogan and Flair too, man, but those cats showed me what’s possible for someone like me.”
Brown does his day job and then heads to the gym. He grabs matches wherever he can within driving distance of Chicago. Recently, he spent some time running with some questionable characters - New Jack and Mustafa Saed.
“I’m trying to make it in this sport, so I’ll roll with whatever I gotta roll with, sometimes,” Brown says. “Look though, I’m not a ‘Gangsta’ type guy normally. I don’t think they’ve got the best ideas. But you know, you try breaking into this sport. You gotta make some compromises sometimes.”
The MTW tournament holds huge appeal for the young, athletic Brown.
“It’s a chance, first of all, to be on my own. To not rely on a partner. It’s a shot to do this the way that I want to do this, without the cheating and the controversy. To just be a wrestler”.
“Haulin’ garbage ain’t so bad. You get to meet some folks, see some interesting things. You wouldn’t believe what they throw out. Fully working microwaves. Perfectly good furniture. Crazy world we live in.”
Duke Droese was a garbageman long before he was a wrestler.
“Oh yeah I still get made fun of on the street for that. I didn’t know what I was getting into. Vince and the guys were asking me about my background after I won a couple tryout matches. Messed up, mentioned I had been hauling trash. Duke the Dumpster was born.”
Droese doesn’t hold ill-will towards the WWF for the casting.
“It was memorable, ya know? I knew the deal there. You gotta Be Somebody, not just old Duke Droese. And it’s not like it wasn’t true. So I went with it. Pretty good run I think.”
Without the New York media behind him and without the national spotlight, Droese hopes to rebuild - without as much trash.
“I’m excited to be Duke Droese. I got lots of interests. I’m pretty good at cards. Great in the weightroom. I’m more than a garbageman. I’m a wrestler.”
“You got to know when to hold’em, know when to fold’em.”
It’s perhaps the 40th gambling reference the man known only as The Gambler has made, and I’m starting to lose my patience with the interview, held at appropriately enough, the temporary casino recently opened in Windsor, Ontario, not far from the upcoming MTW card to be held in Port Huron, MI.
He doesn’t want to tell me his name, and he keeps pulling the handle on a slot machine, pausing before answering any question I have.
What brings you to MTW? Why wrestling?
“Money won is twice as sweet as money earned.”
But if you win the match, isn’t that earning money?
Silence. More slot pulls.
What’s your philosophy when it comes to wrestling? Scientific? Brawler? High flying?
“The house doesn’t beat the player. It just gives him the opportunity to beat himself.”
This makes slightly more sense.
Who do you fear in MTW? Who are you hoping to face? Are you actually entered in the title tournament?
“In a bet there is a fool and a thief.”
Is that .. an answer? I presume he’s the thief. You’re the thief right?
Nothing. Ok. Do you think you have a shot?
“Nobody has ever bet enough on a winning horse.”
Again, I’m left to assume, and I think he views himself as the horse. This is going nowhere fast.
“Bro, bro, bro, you don’t even know.”
Ok, I say to Jim.
“Bro, I was, bro, I was gonna be big. Like not muscle big, but I am muscle big, but like big, bro.”
“They had plans for me, bro. But I was showing up Hogan, bro. He couldn’t hang with the muscles, bro. He couldn’t do it.”
“Bro, you don’t even know! It was sick. I’m so ripped. So ripped. And Hulk, he was like old. Flab. No way bro, they wanted me, but he had the money, bro.”
“Jungle” Jim Steel is explaining to us that the WCW brass thought he was going to be a champion, but that Hulk Hogan had gotten jealous and pushed him out the door. Because he was in better shape.
“Bro, not just that, I was getting all the cheers. The crowds loved it. That Tarzan stuff, bro, man, I couldn’t believe I came up with such a good idea.”
We explain to Jim that Tarzan was a character. He was using the Tarzan mannerisms that the creators of Tarzan had created.
“Well, bro, yeah, bro, you could look at it that way, but I took that Tarzan thing, and I like, expanded it, into something bigger. I still get people coming up on the street, like, bro, were you the Jungle dude? And I’m like, bro, yes, thank you, I’m glad I meant so much to you.”
Do you really have people telling you this?
“All the time bro. All the time. They loved it. Big part of their youth, bro.”
Is it worth trying to explain to Jim that his WCW run was just one year ago?
“Bro, it meant a lot to people. You know, bro, I had movie offers. TV deals. All in the works. Hogan man, he killed it all. I was gonna be Encino Man, bro.”
The timeline here is quite hazy. I think we’ve learned enough about Jim’s conception of his career.
Tom Brandi is 6’4, about 250 pounds, ripped, and fast. He’s a hot prospect in the wrestling world. And he knows it.
“They’ve compared me to Rick Martel, but stronger. Martel was a champ. I’ll be a better champ.”
Brandi doesn’t lack for confidence, especially when touting his offers.
“WWF has called me. The timing isn’t right. WCW has put in offers. I’m not a stupid man, though. I’m going to collect some hardware, and then the price goes up. I’m going to crush some bums out here in the wilderness, and then we get the big checks.”
Brandi has spent some time in the big leagues, a run in WCW mostly teaming with Tom Zenk, but that was the beginning of his career. Since then, he’s added weight and speed. He’s looking a big time prospect.
“No, I’m not really excited about coming to Port Huron. But I need the victories. I need the buzz. And this is gonna be an easy one. A real easy one.”
Brandi doesn’t spend his time on a spare job or with a family. He’s focused on wrestling 100% of the time. He doesn’t hide his goal.
“I’m going to be the first unified WCW/WWF champion. That’s all there is too it. Nobody has what I have.”
He certainly isn’t lacking confidence.
And that does it - the tournament comes your way in just two days on September 16th!