Bad News Allen 1943 - 2007
March 7, 2007
I canít believe I am writing another tribute commentary for another lost friend. Bad News Allen/Brown (Allen Coage) passed away Tuesday March 6th at the age of 63. Bad News is likely best known for his run in the WWF from 1988 to 1990, but he was also a huge Stampede Wrestling main stay in Calgary from 1982 to 1988, and a big star in Japan for both New Japan and UWFI. In addtion to pro-wrestling Bad News was also very accomplished in Judo being a 2-time Pana-American Games gold medalist and an Olympic bronze medalist.
Before I ever met Bad News I had heard stories about him. Iíd heard about how much of a legit tough guy he was and how most of the boys were deathly afraid of him. It wasnít just his judo, he was, if youíll forgive the pun, legitimate Bad News. No one ever said he was a bad guy it just seemed that it was common knowledge that you watch your step around him and absolutely no one screwd with Bad News.
I finally met News at the first Stampede Wrestling show I worked, back in February of 1992. Stampede had stopped running regualrly by this point but when they booked this one show at the famed Stampede Pavilion I was thrilled to get booked on it. I knew a few of the boys on the show but this was my first time meeting some of the old Stampede regulars. The locker room had a fun laid back atmosphere, which felt a little bit like a family reunion, for the returning guys. I can still remember the exact moment Bad News walked into the room. He is the only person I have ever met that could change the atmosphere of a room just by entering it. When News walked in the room, it became just a little bit quieter, and everyone seemed to sit up a little bit straighter. It was one of the weirdest experiences Iíve ever had.
Not knowing News at that point I thought that slight calm that fell over the room was caused by fear, after all Iíd heard all the stories, but it didnít take long for me to realize it wasnít fear, it was respect. It was respect for what he could do, but also who he was. Bad News was one of the nicest most straight forward guys you could ever meet. He wasnít the tough guy that bullied people, or pushed people around. He never told anyone how tough he was, he didnít have to, he had a presence and you just knew. He was a gentleman, and a total professional, being tough wasnít who he was, being tough was just an understood fact. Bad News was, in a word, Class.
Class isnít a word you hear much in the wrestling business but Iíll bet you hear it a lot as people rememeber Bad News Allen. I never got to wrestle Bad News but I did get to work with him on some Indy shows in Winnipeg. Bad News was tight with Don Callis, so when Tony Condello ran events in Winnipeg Don would always book News to come as his Body Guard. News enjoyed seeing the boys, but his knees were to the point where he preferred not to wrestle much, so Don booked him in the body guard roll. I generally worked with Don in Winnipeg so Bad News and I crossed paths in several matches.
I rememeber one match where I wrestled Don on an outdoor show in Winnipeg. I had just got back from Japan (WAR) and I had a severely jammed neck. I could barely move and told Don to really be carefull of my neck. At one point in the match Don spun me around in the turnbuckle and clubbed me across the back of the neck. This was one of only two times I have ever gotten legitimately hot in a match. My neck was killing me already so this just made it worse! I stepped out of the corner and drove my knee into Donís mid section and when he bent over I stepped around and snap mared him to the mat to sit him up and proceeded to kick him in the back as hard as a could. I wasnít totally pissed off and I wasnít trying to injure him, but I was going to make sure he knew I was pissed and going to make him feel it. As soon as the kick hit I heard the crowd reaction change and then for one brief second I thought, ďOh Shit, if News thinks this is a shoot, heís going to back Natch (Don), and Iím DEAD!Ē Thankfully this thought occurred quickly so I immediately screamed at Don, ďWatch my Fóing neck!Ē I was hoping this would make it clear to News that my kick was not an attack on Don, merely a receipt. Thankfully it did, because bad knees aside, I did not want to mess with Bad News.
At another Winnipeg TV taping I got to do an angle with Don Callis, Bad News, and Rick Martel. This was the blow off of the Martel Ė Natural (Don) fued and they were doing a cage match. Bad News was again in Donís corner and for the finish News climbed into the cage after attacking the referee with the keys. He locks himself in the cage with Martel and Callis and he and Don proceed to beat the holly hell out of Rick Martel. To work me into the program I was the one who ran out to rescue Rick, but since the cage was locked I had to scale the cage and News and Don were going to catch me as I dove off the top of the cage with a cross body block, I would then fire up and Rick and I would blow a comback and set the stage for return tag team matches.
This cage was a really high one, and seeing that it was a Tony Condello show an incredibly rickety and unstable one. When I got to the top of the cge and stood up the thing was wobbley as hell, and I was scared to death. I wasnít scared of the fall or getting hurt, I was afraid I would land too hard or too heavy on News and he would get hurt trying to protect me. I ended up not getting the distance I wanted and I caught him a little low and the landing was a bit awkward. I was so worried he would be mad, but News, as always was a total pro; we got to the back he checked to make sure I was alright and thanked me for the match. If that wasnít enough, one of the other guys who ran down to try to get the door open (while I climbed the cage) screwed something up, so they couldnít use the footage for TV. We had a second TV taping the following night in a different town and we had to do the whole thing over again. This time I got more height, and Bad News and Don were perfectly underneath me the second time.
We never did do the return Tag Team matches but the dive off the cage aired and looked damn cool. I think they even used camera angles from both nights and worked it into the show opening for the next year or so of Winnipeg TV.
That was such a great time in my career. Working my way up the ladder, dreaming of success, and getting to work with people I looked up to and respected so much, people like Bad News Allen, people who made me proud to be part of this industry. Bad News commanded respect yet still showed respect to others, a class act if there ever was one. You will be missed my friend, and always respected.