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 - Mitch Lucas

"I bet after you were born, your daddy spent the first year throwing rocks at the stork!" - "Wildcat" Wendall Cooley, to archrival Kris Von Colt.

Continuing our focus on "Wildcat" Wendall Cooley from the last column...

Cooley's return and subsequent Alabama title victory over "The Dirty White Boy" forced me, at age 16 and still new to being a wrestling fan, to re-evaluate Cooley and his place in the promotion.

At the time, Cooley was playing third-fiddle among fan favorites behind The Bullet, a masked Bob Armstrong that was trying to rid the area of Kevin Sullivan and his minions, and, believe it or not, to the "Exotic" Adrian Street, a man with whom Cooley had feuded violently early in 1986, but had transformed into a fan favorite by helping the Bullet keep his mask. I decided to give Cooley a chance to become my favorite wrestler in the promotion. The best way to do this, I figured, was to meet him and talk to him. The main cities for Continental Championship Wrestling in 1986 were, arguably, Birmingham, Alabama, Montgomery, Alabama, Knoxville, Tennessee, Pensacola, Florida, and Columbus, Mississippi (Dothan didnąt really come back into the picture until 1987).

I lived in northwest Alabama, not far from Birmingham, and only about 30 miles from Columbus. So I attended cards in several places, but most notably Birmingham and Columbus. Columbus was never the site of a TV taping for the promotion, but a lot of big matches were always scheduled there. Cooley was popular there, although he was unliked by some longtime fans.

"He's a prima donna," one fan told me. "He hardly ever comes out to sign autographs, and if he does, he won't stay long. He's new - I'm just not too crazy about him." I decided to find out for myself.

During an early match on that night's card, I spotted Cooley signing autographs for some fans around the locker room door. I went back there, and started a conversation based on Cooley's truck (a white Chevrolet Blazer, if I remember right). Our conversation naturally progressed from the truck to wrestling. I don't remember in detail everything we talked about, or most of what was said. But I do remember Cooley telling me how he wanted to give the fans their money's worth, and if that "means putting this Alabama belt on the line every night, then that's what I'll do." He even stayed in kayfabe, saying how he wasn't completely convinced that Street really wanted to help the Bullet. "I think he's in it for himself," Cooley said of Street.

He talked about his feud with Anthony, and how Anthony was one of the best fighters in the promotion. And he talked about one thing that always stood out to me. I asked him what he wanted to do after Continental - if he wanted to go on to the bigger areas, like the NWA (my term for Jim Crockett's promotion). Cooley's answer astonished me, and I still remember it to this day:

"I don't know about that," he told me. "Traveling is hard sometimes, and with my family nearby... Let's just say I kind of like being a big fish in a small pond."

Cooley was certainly that. I came away from that conversation with a better understanding of what made Cooley tick... and really rooting for him to kick Kris Von Colt out of the area. Von Colt was a disciple, so to speak, of Kevin Sullivan, a man I absolutely despised. So when Von Colt, a very limited-talent wrestler, in my opinion, received a shot at Cooley's Alabama title, I wanted Cooley to beat the heck out of him. To the shock of many fans that I knew, the opposite happened in the first meeting between the two. Cooley was ambushed by Von Colt, busted open by a metal helmet. 

Von Colt handcuffed Cooley to a turnbuckle, then proceeded to carve into his forehead with metal sunglasses. Cooley was a bloody mess. Von Colt was disqualified, but he didn't care - his point had been made. The pair continued a bloody feud for months, with, at one point, Von Colt even swiping the Alabama title (he didn't win it, just took it from ringside) and brandishing it with swastikas.

Cooley eventually beat Von Colt in a loser-leave-town, right on TV. The ending of the match was hilarious. Following the pinfall, Cooley quickly crawled out of the ring, and as ring announcer Scott Armstrong announced the result, Cooley began waving his right hand up and down, like a child.  More...

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