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 - Steve Petersen  

I meant to have this be my column for last month but somehow, with all the memories flooding back to me, it was difficult to cut through the fog and get any sense of organization from my head onto the paper..

When Don Owen passed wrestling lost a giant, we who grew up on  the Owen product lost a part of our youth.    I hope that everyone reading this understands that everything I write about this man is done so with great affection. To many who have only seen his product via videotape Owen may be known just as the guy who could not make it through the ring  introductions. Sadly, he did always appear befuddled and bewildered every time he got the stick in his hand. He would construe hometowns, first and last names, weights, and sometimes, he would flat out get the names wrong.      

This gives me a chuckle because I can remember him announcing Dr D. David Schultz as Dr. J and Schultz doing a full double take. Don was not better when he had to become involved in an angle, or a promo. Often, as a feud got hot, one of the participants would call Don up to the Crow's Nest and would beg for a certain, Cage, Chain, Coal Miner's Glove, match. Don would listen, and then he would cut a semi-promo himself. What was amusing about this is you could see him searching for the right kind of name to call the heel before him. One could almost see the wheels turning in Don's mind as he stammered and searched for the word, often he would just say, "this guy here, who I'm sick of," and that would be the end of the promo and the match would be signed.     

Don Owen, however; must have been sharper then anyone ever gave him credit for. He, along with Memphis, held out longer against the  expansion of the WWF and the Turnerization of the NWA to WCW. How did he do it? He did it by quite simply giving the people a good product. A product that was believable, a product that made sense and a product that did not insult their intelligence. For example, we had a Playboy, but he did not  wrestle in silk pajamas, even with the gimmicks, the performers were still expected to be first and foremost wrestlers. In my memory, the only gimmick that really got over in the PNW, the only gimmick comparable to the ones in WWF anyway, was the Beetlejuice gimmick. And, in this writer's opinion that had more to do with Art Barr being an innovative performer then it did with him portraying a cartoon ghost. The performers under Don Owen were always portrayed as wrestlers first. You did not have to worry if Jonathon Boyd was actually a lord or not, or if The Iron Sheik was really a Sheik, because in the ring, and on the mic, you believed. Any angles, any heat, were expected to come out of their behavior in the ring. This, besides making sense, allowed the weekly TV show to keep up with the angles and the comings and the goings of the wrestlers. This also gave a sense of importance to the TV shows and all the house shows. You truly never knew what was going to happen anytime you went to a show or watched on Saturday night. The product Don Owen gave us was one that not only could he be proud of, but one that the majority of the fans bought into. And we loved his product, not because it was all we had, but because it was so good. 

In the 70's as my friends and I devoured the monthly Apter magazines, the PNW got very little coverage. Naturally we took this to mean that we were strictly minor league, we really believed this when Snuka was nominated for Rookie of the Year in 1977 when he had been wrestling in Portland for years.  More...

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