Most Embarassing Moment
Question - it's a bit predictable but we have to ask it - what do you remember as your most embarassing moment in the ring?
Z-Man - Well, there's more than one........
When I was in Portland, I'd learned a fancy way to jump into the ring. I'd never tried it in public so I thought I'd give it a shot at the main Saturday night spot at the Portland Sports Arena (the old bowling alley). So I came running down the aisle kissing the women and babies, got to the ring apron, waved to the people, put one hand on the rope and jumped into the ring - and fell flat on my butt! That was "Tommy Zink" trying to be really COOL with a new move for the big Saturday night crowd.
A bit later (February 1987), in Pittsburgh, not long before Wrestlemania III we ("The Can-Am Connection") were doing a program with Bob Orton and Don Muraco. The WWF would hook up teams that were going to wrestle at the big event to make then comfortable working with each other when the big day came, and also to allow them to work out some high spots for the match. Anyway Orton and I became friends inside and outside the ring because I kept my mouth shut and listened. We also partied on occasions and I think I generally had no heat with the boys because I was humble and partied with the heels.
I was never a stooge or tattle-tale about what the boys were up to the night before, cheating on their wives, drugs, drinking, it didn't matter to me so long as you could handle it. And if I was ever asked by a member of the office or one of the stooges about what had gone on the night before, I'd just say "I was at the party but I got so smashed I can't remember what happened". They got the hint by the way I looked at them and after that stopped asking me dumb questions about the guys I'd been partying with. Anyway, on the good side, that meant I never got hurt in the ring because I think most all the boys liked me. On the other hand, there were always a few guys who hated me for my looks - y'know - calling me a "pretty boy," "primadonna," "fag," "gayboy" - all the kind of stuff that Tony Curtis writes about in his bio - about how jealous people have to level things out to make themselves feel better about their own lives.....
Anyway, back to the story. We were working a program with Muraco and Orton and during a match I took Bob Orton down in a headlock take-over and got the 1..2.. He rolled me back over, sold the headlock waited for 10 seconds while the ref asked Bob if he wanted to quit. He said "No" and proceeded to grab the front of my trunks and exposed my c*** and b**** for all of Pittsburgh to see ... I'd never seen that move before and I'm glad we didn't kill the town. (By the way I'm all natural in the trunks dept. No sock rolled up, gimmick, or foreign object, etc.) Both Bob and Don laughed their asses off and I turned red, knowing these two guys and the fact that the crowd response was to really get into it. And one time just wasn't enough for Bob. He had to do it again, and this time it got a better reaction ... I mean exposed me so everybody could see.
Orton and Muraco had quite a bit of fun at my expense but, anyway, how could I get mad at a guy that I respected and liked as a person. Orton was a great guy who accepted me as someone starting out, a second generation man who took the time to help me perfect my craft, as well as taking care of me in the ring. And someone I liked to shoot pool and party with."
Another side of wrestling ......
Question - A lot of wrestlers, asked about their "most embarassing moment in the ring" nominate a "bare-ass" incident ......not a big deal among Japanese sumo fans I'd guess, but still getting a big reaction in the US.....
Z-Man - It's just part of the business. I mean, sometimes it just so happens that when one guy grabs another guy's trunks they go up his butt like a T- back outfit. Generally they grab their trunks and pull them back down, but my best guess is that, if the fans respond, some guys leave them up. Some may think it looks cool or that the "office" might like it or that it might help them get a ring-rat later that night.
I know Brian [Pillman] couldn't have cared less about it. He liked the shock value - he always operated on the premise that "any attention is good attention!" And if the office complained, he was always fast with an answer to the effect that "the heels pulled them up" and he "didn't want to be obvious about pulling his trunks back down while SELLING during the match". There's always a BS answer for the office if they're mad about it. It just depends who sees it (like a road agent) or if they want to use it against you - like "you should know better - there are kids in the audience." But most of the time it gets a big laugh from the boys......
Question - If the office was concerned about it , particularly on television, what sort of precautions were wrestlers expected to take?
Z-Man - Well, I generally had real tight elastic around the legs and waist etc. So did Pillman. Some guys wear T-back style undertights or something to that effect, like male strippers wear. Other guys would have 2 pairs of the same color tights on, with one cut smaller than the outside pair.
Question - In one match, the Motor City Madman used a trunk pull to throw you back into the ring and, in the process, exposed your liners. It got a huge pop from Missy Hyatt (on commentary) and most of the audience......
Z- Man - I think "The Motor City Madman" was a.k.a "Man Mountain" Moore. He was featured in Quebec in the summer of 1986 when Martel was booker. In those days he was another big, tall-man gimmick who had just started in the business. I think his name was Mike Moore, If you're a good worker you barely touch an opponent or feel an opponent touch you. In fact with a really good worker you almost have to watch his every move to time selling a punch or to run when grabbed by the tights. Mike was not a good worker - a very nice fellow but another non-athlete who grabbed my hair and trunks much harder than needed to get the match over.
Z-Man vs Motor City Madman
(from The Tom Zenk Collection Vol 13)
If you're a good worker you barely touch an
I never liked being exposed to the point of my white liners showing-like a jock strap. And I always made it clear after matches when the white liners were shown or my ass was exposed, that it certainly wasn't needed to get the match over. I always felt I was selling family entertainment for the most part and real wrestling a la Verne Gagne or Portland style. The way I learned the business it was think SHOOT but WORK the match.... make it LOOK like you took the other guys head off ... just making contact but RESPECT the other man's body - a lost art by some standards.
Question - It's interesting that matches are so closely worked and timed that it DOES seem incongruous to stop, even momentarily, to adjust your trunks. On a related matter, you sometimes see a match where an established worker 'monsters' a well built younger wrestler,and it looks more like gratuitous humiliation ......
Z-Man - I'm not sure of the psychology of it. You'd have to ask Dr. Freud .... but in wrestling, all the people with stroke in, or with the office, get good workers or well built job guys to make up for their age or lack of training in the gym. It makes a guy like Page, Sullivan, Flair look great beating up on someone with a body or with youth on their side - things that they themselves clearly lack. So mainly it's just to make a guy with stroke look good. But with some guys there may be an element of deliberate humiliation involved ...that's certainly something Kevin Sullivan would have thought about to get over with. Sometimes, the heel who was "so clever," like Sullivan, brag about their cute move and how aggressive their style is. And I know when the red light is on some guys - more than others - take advantage of the job guys.
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