Wrestling the Legend: Terry Funk
Originally Posted September 26, 2000
I have been asked many times, “What was your best match?” I’ve never been able to answer that question. I’ve always said it’s too hard to tell, that having so many different matches, it’s impossible to pick just one. I can, however, now tell you which one is my favourite; it happened this past Friday night, when I wrestled Terry Funk in his hometown of Amarillo, TX.
There is no one in this business I have as much respect, or admiration for as I do Terry Funk. I even did a commentary (Jan. 2, 2000) about how I thought Terry deserved consideration as Wrestler of the Millennium. Terry is someone who’s career has spanned 20 some years and through out that time he has changed and adapted to an ever changing sport. Unlike most wrestlers of his generation, he never became out of date, or out of touch. The first night I met Terry Funk, was the night he did his first moonsault, at the age of fifty something. It was at a Smokey Mountain Wrestling event called “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, he amazed me that night, and he has done so ever since.
The reason this match is now my favourite is two fold. Firstly the crowd heat that night was incredible. Without a doubt it’s the most heat I’ve ever had as a heel. As much as Americans are both proud and protective of their country, it pales by comparison to how Texans feel about Texas. A few choice words about how I felt, or rather how Lance Storm felt, about their state, and they wanted to kill me. During the playing of the Canadian National Anthem, I was bombarded by debris thrown by the crowd. As strong as my heat was, it was but lukewarm when compared to the pop received by Terry Funk. When Terry hit the ring the crowd exploded, as they cheered for, their Hometown Boy, their Hero, The Legend.
Secondly, this match was just the most fun I’ve had in a long time. Wrestling a man I’ve always wanted to work not to mention respect this much, was great. Having the free reign on a house show to go as long as we wanted and to do what we wanted made it even better. Terry and I went to the ring with nothing but a short finish, and just worked. We wrestled, we fought, we clicked. We fought in the ring, on the floor, in the crowd, and on a table everything we did was met by either cheers or boos. It was a workers dream, the crowd on the edge of their seats we could do no wrong.
The icing on the cake this night was the finish. David “Fit” Finlay, another man I have the utmost respect for, once told me that as a heel, he preferred, in big matches, to do the job, because he felt he got more out of the crowd that way. Putting the baby face over and hearing the roar of the crowd was the best reward and a sign of a job well done. That advice was given to me 5 years ago, and it has never proven to be as true as it did that night, in Amarillo. When the office suggested putting Terry over, I was thrilled. The actual finish was Terry’s idea and it was perfect. It was very simple, very subtle, and it worked. After a couple really good near falls, including a belt shot that he kicked out of, Terry went for the spinning toe hold, I small packaged him 1..2… he rolled it over 1..2..3. The place erupted! I rolled to my knees with a look of shock and horror on my face, as the ref raised the hand of the new Champ Terry Funk. The arena showed their respect and gratitude to Terry Funk with thunderous applause, unknowingly they showed me the same. Fit was right, doing that job and hearing the crowd, was the greatest reward.
After the match I was congratulated by the boys, and was told it was the most fun they’ve had watching a match in a long time. Some even had goose bumps from the emotion of the crowd. I could not have asked for higher praise. In true Terry Funk fashion, he thanked me repeatedly for the match. He thanked me for putting him over, he thanked me for a good match, and more importantly, to me, for taking care of him and making it fun.
When I broke into this business my goal, above all else, was to be respected by my peers as a good, safe worker. I now have that respect not just from my peers, but from the man I respected most in this business, Terry Funk. I will never forget this night, and thanks to Charles Robinson and his video camera, I will have it on tape to show my kids.
I regained the Title the following night, when Terry returned the favour. You would think beating “The Legend” would be my big night, but it wasn’t. Losing to Terry Funk in Amarillo was the greatest night of my career. Terry Funk, you are a class act in a business that is, all too often, short on class, Thank you!
Till next week,