By Trent Rosser
This past Saturday night, the Amarillo Civic Center was filled with cheering, and jeering fans, as muscular superstars and gorgeous divas from the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) came into town for a star filled show. I was unable to get an interview with any of the superstars this time. I was lucky enough to interview Jake “The Snake” Roberts a couple of years ago, but not this time. I did talk to a couple of fans and talked with them about their love for wrestling and their favorite wrestlers.
My first stop was at the ramp of the civic center, where about 50 people were lined up along the rails, just to get a glimpse of their favorite wrestler as they arrived. A couple stood out, both had authentic looking wrestling belts strapped across their shoulders, and both wearing matching referee shirts. Miguel Lopez (an Amarillo Police Officer) and Jodi Tuscana were overlooking the rails for over 2 hours waiting with anticipation. Miguel stated that his favorite wrestler would not be there for the show that night. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has since moved on to become one of the most popular action movie stars to date. They both agreed that of the wrestlers that were to be there, A.J. Styles would have to be their favorite. As we were walking Asuka (A popular WWE Diva) walked down the ramp and all eyes were now focused on her. I then asked what they know about the history of wrestling in Amarillo. All they knew was that Terry Funk lives in this area and he is a legend in the wrestling world. The show was still 2 hours before start time and they were already having fun.
I also talked to a young boy and his father, Chase and Chad Hardisty. Chad, the father, said that he had been a wrestling fan since he was about 5 years old. Chase favorite wrestler is “The Miz” and was hoping to meet him tonight. Chad said that his favorite was all the wrestlers. Chase did not know much about the history of wrestling in Amarillo, but he did inform me of a wrestling show every week across from Wonderland Amusement Park. This is something that I need to check out! Which, hopefully, I will very soon.
I moved toward the parking lot and was about to go pick up the wife, so we could enjoy the show. This is when I met the Wade family. Jarvis, his lovely wife and his three children. Jarvis and his wife were hard pressed to keep up with his kids who were giddy with anticipation. Jarvis Jr. had a sign about one of the wrestlers named Charlotte Flair. She is the daughter of WWE Hall of Famer, Rick Flair. I asked if that was their favorite, but to my surprise they said no. Charlotte is the favorite that would be there that night. Every member of Jarvis family had a different all time favorite wrestler, ranging from Bree Bella, Randy Orton, Sasha Banks and of course Shawn Michaels. I thanked them for their time and watched as the kids drug their parents through the doors toward the ring.
Talking with the fans and asking about the history of Amarillo wrestling and realized that not many people know about the weekly wrestling show on Thursday nights at the Tri State Fairgrounds. They didn’t know about Saturday evenings on Channel 10 where they filmed the shows in their studios. Most knew about Terry Funk, but they didn’t know that many other wrestlers were a big part of the Amarillo Territory wrestling. Wrestlers like Dusty Rhodes, Ted DiBiase and his father “Iron” Mike DeBiase, Pat Patterson and the Brisco brothers (Jack and Gerald), the Youngbloods and of course “Dirty” Dick Murdoch. The promotion was run by Dory Funk Sr. and passed it on to his 2 children Dory Funk Jr. and Terry Funk.
When I was younger, my grandfather would take the 80 plus miles from Pampa to Bushland to pick my brother and I up. We would drive back to Amarillo and watch wrestling every Thursday night. He would then take us back home and then make the trip back home to be at work the next morning. This was a weekly thing in Amarillo and the wresters were local heroes. The shows were nothing like they are now. There were no pyrotechnics or giant monitors showing them walk down the ramp or even flashy costumes. It was just two men walking along a pathway to the ring to do battle. The wrestling shows now are considered child friendly and there are certain things that they can not and will not do. For instance, there are no cussing any longer like there was in the 90’s during the attitude era. And certainly, there is no blood! When we were kids, blood was a big part of wrestling. If a wrestler wasn’t bleeding, then it might not have been a good match. There was bloodshed at every show, and the fans loved it.
I had the pleasure of meeting Terry Funk a while back. We were eating at Burger King and him and his wife walked in. I went to school with his daughters and stopped and said hello. One thing that I think would be very interesting would not to do an interview with him, but instead with his wife. A day in the life of a wrestler’s life. To know what they go through to hold the house down while worrying about their spouse. To learn more from an “Old School Wrestler” and about the history of wrestling in Amarillo is something that needs not to be forgotten. Hopefully, we can learn about the way it was then, and hopefully, we can get back to that way. When family’s put down their cell phone and go to watch two grown men beat the hell out of each other. Yep, that is what I call family fun!