Where Wrestling's Regional History Lives!
- Mitch Lucas
"I did it for the money, and it was quite a bit of money, Gordon Solie." - Wendall Cooley on his heel turn
To this day (and even now, I do still watch the WWE product from time to time) I have never seen a heel turn that surprised me more than the one made by "Wildcat" Wendall Cooley on Aug. 24, 1987, in Birmingham's Boutwell Auditorium.
Cooley was, without question the company's top babyface at the time (a strong build, good looks, stability - he didnąt leave the area like a lot of wrestlers did) and great microphone skills led to big fan support for the man from Milton, Florida. Being a young wrestling fan (I was 16 at the time, and had only been watching for about three years) Cooley was a favorite. He mixed great brawling skills with more-than-capable mat skills, and had a charisma hardly matched in Continental Championship Wrestling.
Cooley, though, became entangled in the hot, hot feud between the Nightmares (Danny Davis and Kenny Wayne) who have both posted here on Kayfabe Memories and Robert Fuller and Jimmy Golden. The feud began over Davis winning a Camaro, and just escalated into a war between the Nightmares and the Fuller-Golden faction, minus Ron, who was (kayfabe) out of the country at the time.
Cooley, the Continental title-holder, had feuded all summer with Dutch Mantell, the Southeastern champion, in a violent affair with both men trying to unify the titles. Mantell had aligned himself with Fuller and Golden, and Cooley then had help from the Nightmares against Mantell.
The Nightmares asked for (and got) a cage match against Fuller and Golden where the loser of the pinfall (or submission) would have to leave the Continental area for at least six months.
On top of that, they asked for (and got) Cooley to be the special referee for the match.
Fuller and Golden played it to the hilt, "enraged" that Cooley was to be the special ref.
When the night came, Cooley was apparently injured earlier in the evening in a match. He couldnąt come back out to officiate the match. Fuller and Golden used a baseball bat, won the match, and "Nightmare" Ken Wayne was forced to leave, effectively ending his eight-year partnership with Davis.
The match did not air on the CCW TV program, but an interview with Cooley and Davis did air the next week. Davis had agreed to a tag match against Fuller and Golden with Cooley as his partner.
"Danny, I'm just sorry, man," Cooley told Davis. "I'm just so sorry. But next week, in that match, we're going to take those titles, I promise you."
Aug. 24 arrived, and this deserves a brief explanation.
I grew up in Vernon, Alabama, a small west Alabama town. I normally watched the Continental broadcast on WCBI TV 4, out of Columbus, Mississippi, at 10 p.m. on Saturday evenings.
But sometimes, I just couldn't wait until Saturday nights, and I would try to get the signal of a Florence, Alabama station to see what the main event would be on the program.
I couldn't make out the visual that morning, but I had the audio just fine.
I tuned in to the show to hear the first few minutes. I remember this so clearly; I was on the phone with my girlfriend at the time.
Cooley and Davis came in normally, and Davis wrestled the bulk of the match (remember, I couldn't SEE what was happening). Suddenly, I heard Gordon Solie make the call that would shock me more than anything ever had in wrestling at that point.
"And Davis rolls Golden up... What's Cooley doing?!"More...