By Scott Bowden
Scott Bowdens Kentucky Fried Rasslin
2007-07-19 - History Repeats
History repeats: Scott Bowden returns to wreak havoc on Memphis Rasslin'
More than 13 years to the date I crashed my size-12 Doc Marten shoe down on Jerry Lawler's head at the Mid-South Coliseum, I returned last Saturday to Memphis Wrestling for a one-shot deal. (Actually, I taped two shows, with my second appearance airing this Saturday at 10 p.m. on WLMT.)
My appearance shouldn't have come as a surprise to hardcore Memphis fans, who may recall that I once vowed to Lawler on the air, "You haven't heard the last of me!" (For those who have never had the chance to utter that ridiculous expression, it's quite exhilarating. Try it the next time a girl dumps you, or when a friend doesn't pay a loan back. You'll love it.)
I'd love to say that I'd been plotting my revenge for years; however, that's not the case. This was rather an impromptu visit to the WLMT TV studio, where the Memphis show is now taped every two weeks--long gone from the legendary WMC-TV 5 studio. I'd been planning a trip home to Memphis for months, with Kevin Lawler promising (threatening) to get me booked for TV the past couple of weeks. I was so sure nothing would come of it that I didn't bother to pack any essentials of my former "notorious frat-boy from Germantown" gimmick. No Polo leather moccasins. No Cole Haan shoes. No starched Ralph Lauren button-downs. No schoolboy-striped Gap ties. And not a single chocolate-brown rope belt. (And before you ask about the Florida State football helmet, a friend of mine back home recently asked about its whereabouts. I explained that I last heard that Tommy Rich was using it for target practice, shooting it with a shotgun in his backyard. Upon hearing that, my buddy said, "Please tell me that man doesn't live in my ZIP code.")
I burned most of my preppy stuff for a more trendy (think SWINGERS or ENTOURAGE) look shortly after arriving in Los Angeles. (Preppy may have suited me in Germantown, but we're talkin' Beverly Hills, baby!) Lucky for me, most of my Memphis friends still dress exactly the way we did back in '94, so I knew I had plenty of sources for Polo garb. I believe '94 was the cutoff year for most of my buddies, who still look exactly the same--give or take 25 pounds--and still listen to the exact same music. God bless 'em.
Seems like old times: A bag of medicated powder to the eyes was always the best defense in '94. Next time I'm in Memphis, I'll be prepared, Lawler.
Early Thursday afternoon, Kevin texted me, "You're booked." I hadn't been this elated about the business since Eddie Gilbert told me back in May 1994, "We're turning you heel." I recall that before that first Memphis TV heel interview back in '94, Kevin approached me backstage saying, "Man, if you go on to do anything in the business, people will always remember this as the first Scott Bowden interview." I also recall the knot in my stomach getting a little tighter as those words hit me in the face. Thanks a lot, Kev.
I think the only person more excited than me was Mark James, who put together the amazing HISTORY OF MEMPHIS WRESTLING book, a collection of cards, matches, results and newspaper clippings from 1970 to 1985. I called to tell him the news and immediately went into heel mode, practicing my upcoming promo for Saturday TV. I'm fairly certain that Mark--whom I've never actually met--thinks I'm insane.
This past Saturday, Kevin went out of his way--literally--to ensure I'd make TV. Not only did he give me a wake-up text, but he also drove out to my mom's Bartlett Germantown estate to pick me up to transport me to the WLMT (W.e L.ove M.emphis T.ennessee) studio. First, we stop by my dad's place nearby to peruse his dress clothes. I hastily pick out a pair of gray dress slacks and a pair of smart shoes to go with my cool black button-down, complete with a nice pair of silver cufflinks given to me by my fiancée, Hayley.
We arrive at the WLMT studio, and with the exception of a change of venue, the scene is virtually the same as my last TV appearance. Wrestlers joking around like high-school kids, oiling up their bodies and putting on their spandex--a sharp contrast to the bewildered studio employees walking around. Some of the boys are anxiously practicing the spots they'll use later in their matches. (Where did these guys learn to work--the DDP School of Rasslin'?)
In the conference room, we find Lawler and Corey Maclin, the latter of whom bellows, "SCOOOTT BOOWDEENN! Kentucky Fried Rasslin'!" (Maclin's always been a mark for me.) Meanwhile, Lawler quickly observes that I'm a lot bigger than I was 10 years ago, quickly turning to Kevin and remarking "What d'you think? Steroids?" Seemed a little tacky in light of recent events, but.... Little did the King realize my size was a result of my consistent work-out regimen, combined with a steady LA diet of Baja Fresh, Coronas and El Coyote burritos and margaritas. (You, too, kids, can look like this with lots of hard work and indigestion.)
I show Lawler my copy of James' book and he loves it, looking at me innocently as he says, "How can I get a copy of this?" I think he expected me to fork over my copy, but quite frankly, I really didn't want to part with it. (Relax, Kingfish, I've spoken to James and we're getting a copy out to you.) Referee Jerry Calhoun also marked out for the book, as he and Lawler worked several of those main events together for years.
Lawler gives me the spiel for my promo, a scenario suggested by Kevin. Basically, Lawler wanted to capitalize on the amazing media coverage of his incident with "Big Cheese" Sal Corrente, in which the King apparently potatoed the manager with a stiff right hand during an event at Sam's Town Casino in Tunica, Mississippi. Rather than use Sal, I was booked as an associate of the Big Cheese--his Hollywood associate who could assemble a powerful team of lawyers to ensure that Lawler was arrested at the upcoming Friday night card in Tunica. (Back in my heyday, my buddies used to love it when I vowed to assemble "my team of lawyers in Germantown.")
I leave the conference area and immediately bump into another USWA personality from years ago making his return: Sid Vicious.
Still crazy after all these years: Sid Vicious was thrilled to see me backstage Saturday. I was hesitant to accept his handshake.
For months back in '94, I had heat with Sid, who was relegated to Memphis main events after being fired from WCW for stabbing Arn Anderson with a pair of scissors. (Sid and I were standing backstage together at the Mid-South Coliseum while Lawler and Doug Gilbert were screaming at each other over a miscue in the ring. Sid told me, "Man, sounds like it's getting heated back there." I joked, "Yeah, hope there's not any scissors back there." I thought Sid was going to kill me on the spot.) Our eyes met Saturday and Sid, looking absolutely disgusted, said, "Oh...my...God! This can't...be...happening. Fuckin' Scott Bowden's here. My day is shit!" Ah, just like old times.
Sid's Return to Memphis:
Like I used to do years ago, I found a secluded corner and practiced my spiel, ensuring that I had a couple of nice one-liners in my back pocket, with the rest improvised. (The way wrestling used to be before "creative team writers" replaced bookers.)
And, like that fateful morning in May 1994, I stood nervously outside the curtain as Maclin kicked off the show with our segment. Backstage, Maclin instructed me that he would say he had received a phone call from me asking for interview time. I was stunned when Maclin announced to the viewing audience with a straight face that "the caller ID read, 'Kentucky Fried Rasslin'." I hadn't realized he was going to mention the column. Funny stuff.
Full Video of Scott's Return Here:
I cockily walk out, looking at the crowd with disdain, and backhand Maclin with my first zinger: "They say some things never change. But I swear, Corey Maclin, your suits have gotten tackier, and these people have gotten uglier." Booooooooooooo! All my nerves disappear at that moment, and I explain how I'd received a call during a power lunch in Beverly Hills from the Big Cheese--or as he's known in Los Angeles, "El Queso Grande"-- asking for legal help. I explain to the crowd that I empathized because Lawler always used to hit me "waayyy toooo hard." Lawler's music hits and I nervously tell Maclin, "Um, I gotta go call my agent!"
I'm from Hollywood: Lawler's cheapshots didn't stop me from shooting new headshots earlier this week.
Eventually, Lawler sucker punches me. I try to escape, but Maclin tosses me back into the ring. (Hmmph...Lance Russell and Dave Brown always had way too much class to insert themselves into the action.) Lawler punches me again, and one of my precious cufflinks goes flying. Realizing that this is nothing compared to the thrashing I'll receive from Hayley if I return home to LA without it, I desperately start scanning the ring. Lawler gives me his classic fistdrop from the middle rope and leaves me for dead in the middle of the ring.
After Maclin goes to a break, I crawl around in a supposed haze desperately trying to find my cufflink. Finally, success. Whew. (I recall a beating Lawler gave me years ago in which one of my Ralph Lauren shoes went flying out of the ring. The Dream Machine--the late Troy Graham -- made the save, asking me, "Kid...you OK?" My reply in a quiet, desperate whisper: "Dreammm...findddd...myyyy...shooeee!")
Needless to say, this was a blast, and I'm thankful to Lawler and Maclin for the opportunity to revisit the business, if only for a short time.
So, dear marks, it seems Jerry Lawler has the last laugh on Scott Bowden. Or does he? Find out next week what happened in hour two of the TV taping. If all goes as planned, I'll have clips via YouTube on the site as well.
And be sure to check tomorrow's Comics 101 Mailbag, where I'll be answering your questions about my return to Memphis Rasslin'. (Thanks to all for the support and kind words.)