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1980s SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA INDIES (part 3)

 - Kurt Brown

Azteca Gym in Downtown Bell, California, is just that--- a boxing gym. It wasnít built for public sporting events, but that hasnít stopped local wrestling promoters from running shows there. It could seat a maximum of one hundred people, and the wrestlers are stuck working in a boxing ring with absolutely no give. There was no public restroom, thus the fans had to use the locker room toilets where the boxers showered. Promoters improvised by using the gym managerís office as the heelsí dressing room (spacious) and one of the storage rooms as the babyface dressing room (cramped).

Karl Lauer and Pistol Pete Marquez ran the first show there on July 23, 1983. The only reason that the date of a tiny indie show stands out in my mind is because I debuted on that show.

Pete was an interesting booker in retrospect. He really understood how to book a palatable show with the resources he had. He was a bit delusional in that he saw more potential in his students than existed, but he structured a good indie wrestling show.

I was booked in the opener against Surgeon #2, who was a fellow named Frank. It was his first match too. The main difference between us was that I had been training for six months, while Frank had maybe three wrestling lessons. He was a relative of somebody who pulled a few strings in landing Pete and Karl the building, so they were obligated to use him on the show as a favor.

Pete was up front with me. Frank was green as the grinch, and I would have to carry him. Pete knew the combination of my lack of experience and first-match-nerves greatly limited my carrying power, so he instructed me to keep it very simple: some basic matwork, let Frankís babyface ways outshine me, and then go all-out heel on him. The match would go five minutes, and the finish would be cut and dry: I throw him into the turnbuckle, I charge him for a tackle, Frank moves, I bonk my head, Frank cradles me for a three count. Simple.

I had no clue how to call a match or the finish. Pete left the finish to the referee. "The ref will tell you when to go home. Then you just toss Frank in the turnbuckle and the rest is a piece of cake."

Simple.

Or so I thought.

Turns out the referee was greener than Jimmy Cyclone and Surgeon #2 combined.

The gym was sold out, and the small unventilated building felt like a sauna of beer and perspiration. I hit the ring, scared out of my mind, but I gave the most contemptuous scowl I could, and that gave me instant catcalls from a beautifully feisty crowd.

Frank was decked out in the Surgeon outfit, and he actually looked pretty cool in the Medic throwback gimmick. We locked up, and I just kept it simple with go behinds, front facelocks, and a few dropkicks. More...

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