By Sam Levin
By Sam Levin
By Sam Levin
By Jessica Lussenhop
By Sam Levin
By Timothy Lane
By Sam Levin
By Dennis Brown
Now the WLW folks treat Kris and his buddies like their own. "B.J. said we're kind of part of the family," Kris says of Race's wife. "And that meant a lot. It's the equivalent of getting paid for doing this."
They've sent Harley and his wife Christmas cards and valentines. Once, for a show in Maryland Heights, they stayed in the same hotel as the WLW crew and got to drink beers with Harley and the guys. "It sounds kind of cheesy, but it's stuff like that that makes it all seem worthwhile," Kris says. "All of us think of Harley as, like, God. I've idolized him since I was a kid, so to get a rise out of him is worth it."
Kris and his buddies go to work. During the all-female match between women's champion Miss Natural and challenger Ch Physique, Kris and Gordon Atkins (a manager at Sonic), stand up and serenade the champ with Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You." During the midget match, Kris pretends that he's going to jump into the ring and beat up one of the puny fighters. Gordon and brothers Jeremy and Michael Harrison all leap up to restrain him. The midget puffs out his belly and points at Kris, who is not the least bit slim. That only makes Kris pretend to be more incensed. "Get in my belly!" Kris shouts.
On the other side of the ring, the Crocker Bunch gets ready for the big tag-team championship. Margaret pulls sheets of poster board out of a blue Wal-Mart bag. Each placard has a message scrawled on it in quick, angular handwriting. One reads, "Harley Race we love you!" Another proclaims, "WLW It Rocks!" She finds one that says, "Bull baby we love you." That's for Bull Schmitt -- a six-foot-seven-inch giant from Coffeyville, Kansas. He's teaming up with former WWF wrestler Ron Harris in a bid to steal the belt from the Gold Exchange.
Margaret waves the sign above her head when Schmitt pushes into the ring, his curly locks flowing halfway down his back. Then Harris joins him. Harris is just as tall as Schmitt, with a bald scalp, a goatee and a spiky tattoo stretched across his bulky biceps.
"And now!" the announcer yells into the microphone. "Being led to the ring by their advisor, Johnny Gold! For the tag-team title of the world! The Gold Exchange!"
Wearing sparkly Elvis shades, Murphy emerges from a door at the far end of the gymnasium. Johnny Gold follows close behind in his black beret and vest, prancing through the crowd and yanking the microphone out of the announcer's hands.
James, Billy and Margaret are all up on their feet, booing and blowing raspberries. Gold stares them down through the ropes, points right at them and yells, "Just shut your face!"
He turns his attention to the rest of the crowd. "I was informed," he shouts into the mic, "that for the simple reason Superstar Steve is in Japan touring, that we have to forfeit this match."
James raises his fist in the air and yelps.
"But what you don't know is," Gold continues, "the stipulation with the Gold Exchange. We can have anybody defend the title."
"Oh my!" Billy screams. "You go ahead and make noise, Johnny!"
"So we introduce to you ... Dangerous Derek McQuinn!"
Derek appears, his arms outstretched as if he's already won. Most of the crowd -- not just the Crocker Bunch -- jumps up to boo him.
In moments such as these, Derek says, all he can think is, I'm going to kick the hero's ass and shut these people up.
Bobby and James stand hollering at Derek as he ascends to the ring -- which apparently makes Sue Clotworthy a little nervous. "The match hasn't even started," she says to Bobby. "They're gonna come down here and do something to you if you don't be quiet."
The bell rings, and Murphy and Bull begin circling, sizing one another up. "Come on, Matt, you coward!" James barks. "Get in there!"
Bobby seizes on it. "Coward!" he shouts. "You coward! Matt's a coward!"
Bull traps Murphy in the corner and pounds his chest.
Bobby yells a refrain: "Matt's a crybaby! Matt's a crybaby! Matt's a crybaby!"
James harmonizes: "You crybaby, Matt! You crybaby! Crybaby! You crybaby!"
Matt tags Derek, who jumps in and kicks Bull a few times. Bobby and James yell, "Derek's a pea-brain!" over and over.
Derek works Bull back to the corner. He steps up and hooks both feet on the first rope, trapping Bull. Towering above the long-haired giant from Kansas, Derek's not the short guy anymore. He drives his fist into Bull's head, delivering blow after blow -- so many that the crowd begins counting in unison. Derek steps away. As Bull sags against the corner, Derek glowers at James and Bobby as if he's going to step down from the ring and tear them apart.
Sue looks as though she might faint. "You don't want him coming over here," she warns Bobby.
"They're not going to come over here," Bobby argues. "That's what the security guards are for."
Find everything you're looking for in your city
Find the best happy hour deals in your city
Get today's exclusive deals at savings of anywhere from 50-90%
Check out the hottest list of places and things to do around your city