Stampede Wrestling #2 Page #2

Of course J.R. found ways to insert a plethora of objects in that wrist guard. Oddly they didn't need to use it. They were that good. J.R. instructed his team called the Masters of Disasters to use quick tags, something unheard of then in wrestling. Even if still fresh they tagged in and out under Foley's orders against Stu's team of Bret and Keith. Gold quickly followed. Oddly years later watching The Hart Foundation battle the Bulldogs I saw the same in and out quick tags and couldn't help but see Foley's influence on his former enemy.

His interviews were memorable as he put many of his boy's over the top with a colorful accent and arrogance. When questioned about interference he constantly denied any to interviewer Ed Whalen, often accusing Ed of blindness making Ed almost explode each and every week.  As well. at the beginning of the telecast he would often invite Ed to an after match party when his boys would win the straps up for grabs that night. After the matches he would ask Ed, "You still wanna go Ed?" Ed would always start to reply,"no", but before he could Foley would cut him off and yell, "you ain't invited!!". This became a running gag between the two and fans each and every week. 

With outside interference, run-ins, sneak attacks, and brass knuckles, he led his boys to countless titles. When he couldn't cheat his way to the top, he bought his way tothe top. In the early 80's he left his khakis behind and donned a big ol cowboy hat and changed his name to J.R. Foley. With a wad of bills in his hands he paid for the services of Dr. D David Shultz, Rotten Ron Starr, The Cobra,and Honky Tonk Wayne. Age crept on J.R. so he employed the services of K.Y. Wakimatsu who did the run-ins and interference with a lethal kendo stick. Amazingly J.R. still would don the tights in eight-man tags with Stu on the other side. The crowd noise was deafening when Stu got his hands on Foley's neck!! 

Possibly the saddest memory for me of Stampede would be when my childhood favorite, Lightning Leo Burke turning on the Harts. For years he fought side by side with the Harts in wars with Foley. I will never forget the day he blindsided Bret. After the match when asked by Ed Whalen, "why?" Leo replied with a maniacal grin, "cause of the money" at which point J.R. climbed into the ring with a wide grin and a fistful of American dollars, which of course infuriated the fans even more, struggling in the early 80's recessions. Burke and Hart feuded long and hard that year...but that's  another story for another day...

In the 80's he passed on his art of cheating to a new group of wrestlers including Bad News Allen, Les Thornton, and the Viet Cong Express in feuds with Johnny Smith, Owen Hart, Chris Benoit and Ben Bassarab.  In the mid 80's, the Express used the same quick tag technique of Brown and Myers in feuds with Benoit, Hart and Bassarab. They brought incredible aerial skills of course on their own, but to cheat could only be taught by the master. He didn't wear the khakis anymore but his pockets where still deep and held a variety of foreign objects and cash. He even paid off referees Rod Hater and Cedric Hathaway!! Backs turned, counts were quicker when his boys were on top. Again gold quickly followed.

Perhaps Foley's crown jewel would be The Dynamite Kid. From Liverpool as well he was quickly recruited by Foley in the late 70's as Dynamite, Bret, and Davey Boy Smith broke into the business. Foley immediately pitted Dynamite against Bret and later on a bitter natural rivalry between Dynamite and Davey Boy (can you say Manchester United vs. Everton?) irritated fans. Feet stomped harder and shouted more when Foley's pride and arrogance soared at Dynamites abilities. Often in interviews he would proclaim, "Ed my boy Dynamite is going to destroy Bret tonight and bring the army gold".  Often he did...

The Bulldogs would not have been so tight if not for those bitter feuds. The Hart Foundation possibly would not have won the WWF straps without Foleys influence.  As Foley's career wound down, I am fortunate to have a wonderful memory to share of Foley wearing the white hat for a moment. Guided by greed, K.Y. Wakimatsu and Bad News Allen decided to turn on their leader J.R. Just like in the lion kingdom the young lions eventually rise up against their elders. After a blindside attack a tag match was set up between J.R. his son (and I can't remember his name! SORRY) and K.Y. and Bad News. Despite his age J.R. taught his former protégés one last lesson in cheating and came out victorious and performed a cartwheel in victory much to the fans and my delight. His final interview I saw ended with him inviting Ed to one last after match party.  This time Ed agreed.

I distinctly remember discovering wrestling mags at the corner drugstore. Hey don't laugh it was a small prairie town ok:) I saw names and faces of wrestlers working in L.A., N.Y. and frantically searched for my Stampede faves. No where was Foley mentioned in the most hated listings.  I was always saddened few knew of the talented entertainers working in the Calgary area. J.R. never made it to the magazines of the time but his influence was felt years later as "his boys" went on to bigger glories.
Bret, Bad News, Owen, Honky Tonk Wayne, Chris Benoit, all found world not being above the rules so to speak. I feel this was a direct result of being managed by Foley or facing off against him opposite the ring. He gained respect from his opponents and in a way passed on this respect despite the black hat. Respect being a key element of what makes pro-wrestling special.

Would his characters J.R. Foley and John Foley make it today?  Probably not. However for years he won belts, got disqualified, suspended, choked down by big ol Stu, and rasied cain. Most importantly he got fans out of their seats and shouting. For me that's good enough for a toast. Here's to you J.R. wherever you may be up there. Rest in peace.


Keith and Bruce...the other Hart brothers.

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