Paperback: 253 pages
Publisher: Crowbar Press
Photos: 94 b&w
Cover: Full color
Item #: cbp06-db
"Wrestling with the Truth" is available exclusively from Crowbar Press.
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by Downtown Bruno
Excerpt from "Wrestling with the Truth"
Copyright © Bruno Lauer
When we were clear of the Coliseum, Sid [Vicious] began berating me, and in a very angry, almost insane tone of voice, he told me in great detail about what had taken place in the parking lot just a few short minutes before. "Sid, I’m sorry …" I offered, but he cut me off in mid-sentence.
"Sorry! Sorry? Is that supposed to help? I hit a fu—ing baby because you were fu—ing standing the fu— around instead of getting in the fu—ing car!"
"But, Sid. I was talking to the RPMs because I haven’t seen them for a while, and ..."
At that point, Sid snapped, and in a combination of being insane with anger and not knowing just how inhumanly strong he was, he screamed, "Fu— the RPMs, and fu— you!" He grabbed me by the back of my head with his right hand, forced my head down between my knees, and held it there with all of his strength. I struggled to straighten up, but his brute force was inescapable. As my oxygen supply dwindled, my head felt as if it was going to explode, and I started to black out. Just before I passed out, Sid released his death grip on my neck and let me go.
Bruno’s book is phenomenal and I highly recommend it to everybody. You will learn a lot about the business of professional wrestling, and in the process, you will laugh your ass off.
— Kurt Angle
"Wrestling with the Truth" is the title of this book, but it doesn’t mean what you think it does. Bruno Lauer has no problem telling the truth. He believes in telling it like it is, and after spending 29 years as a manager in the business of professional wrestling, he has a lot of stories to tell.
Entertaining, visual, and vicious. A memorable memoir by a veteran performer who has seen and done it all in sports entertainment.
— Chris Jericho, New York Times best-selling author
The story of Bruno Lauer, known professionally as Downtown Bruno and Harvey Wippleman, relates the fascinating, and often hilarious, story of his life. Direct and opinionated, he doesn’t hold back anything, sharing both the good and the bad things that happened to him. Even his close friends aren’t safe from his scrutiny. Take it from Mick Foley, who read the first draft of the book and found himself on the receiving end of a few barbs thrown by Bruno: "Bruno's honesty can be, at times, a little painful."
A unique perspective from one of the most unique characters in the history of the wrestling business.
— Mick Foley, New York Times best-selling author
As he retraces every step of his career, Bruno’s account of his life as a "sports entertainment" performer begins at age 13, when he joins a traveling wrestling troupe at a carnival, and ends when he wins the WWF "Women’s" world championship wrestling title on prime-time national television.
This autobiography, complemented by 94 photos culled from Bruno’s personal scrapbooks, is a fresh glimpse of life behind the curtain of professional sports entertainment. As full of action, entertainment, heartbreak, and drama as anything that takes place inside a professional wrestling ring, Wrestling with the Truth is the story of a man who struggled to find his place in the wrestling business, and the success that came through his perseverance.
With a Foreword written by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson
[excerpt] Bruno Lauer and I have shared an extraordinary friendship that has spanned more than 20 years. Throughout that time, the same words come to mind when I think of Bruno — loyal, reliable, and as funny as hell!
Copyright © Bruno Lauer
The only thing about the tour that really stands out in my memory is the fact that I wasn’t allowed to enter the trailers where the wrestlers dressed, even when I brought back the ring jackets from the ring. I had to knock on the trailer door and timidly hand the items through a crack in the door, then quickly make my exit as the door slammed shut.
When I look back on it now, with the mindset of somebody who has been in the business for 29 years, those wrestlers (with the exception of one, who I’ll talk about in a moment) were probably the worst-looking, most untalented, group of "athletes" to ever perform in a wrestling ring, but they really took themselves and the business seriously. However, after watching the same ten wrestlers have the same five matches and battle royal every night for six straight nights, with the same outcome every night, and the same occurrences in the matches, even a semi-educated little whelp like me could figure out, that maybe … just maybe … wrestling was fake!
Today, 29 years later, please allow me to say that my assumption was incorrect.
The wrestling business is not fake.
Hold on, now. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to insult your intelligence. "Fake" just isn’t the right word, by any means. After 29 years of getting beaten up (sometimes badly) in the name of professional wrestling, and, of course, nowadays, "sports entertainment," there are a lot more appropriate terms to describe our profession. In my opinion, pre-determined is the best term. It doesn’t hurt any less just because you know ahead of time that you’re going to be body-slammed. You can’t "fake" gravity.
Copyright © Bruno Lauer
On the second night of the tour, once again, I went to the ring with Joe and his opponent. Just so Joe’s opponent has a name, if only for the sake of this treatise, we’ll call him Bill. Unfortunately, I still hadn’t caught on to exactly what I was supposed to do. Now the way I look at it, when Jon Boyd told me I should listen to the promoter and the wrestler I was managing, he should have informed me that, during the course of a match, the referee will sometimes call out a spot, or pass on some kind of instruction, to the manager.
Not knowing this small, insignificant, tidbit of information wasn’t exactly beneficial to my career at this stage, because I didn’t understand what the referee meant when he whispered down to me, "The next time Bill hits the ropes on this side, grab his leg and trip him."
The fact that wrestling was a work was slowly beginning to dawn on me, but even so, I was shocked at the suggestion. What was the deal? Did the referee hate this guy and want to see him get hurt? Or did the referee hate me so much that he was setting me up, hoping that Bill would get out of the ring and beat the hell out of me? Perhaps he just wanted Dale Mann to fire me.
I didn’t know what was behind his statement, but I did know that I wasn’t going to find out. I simply shook my head from side to side and backed a few steps away from the ring in silent protest.
Of course, as we all realize now, that was supposed to be the move or "spot" in the match to start the "heat," or to begin the part of the match where the wrestler I was managing would begin to dominate the babyface. The babyface, of course, was in on it. Perhaps he even told the referee to have me trip him.
Sure enough, a few seconds later, Bill came hurtling towards the ring ropes. As he bounced off the ropes, he suddenly crashed, face first, to the mat. He then proceeded to jerk, shudder, twitch, and flop, selling the fact that he had taken a fall due to my "interference."
Unfortunately, lo and behold, I was standing 15 feet away from the ring when I "interfered." The people watching laughed and shouted out sympathetic and understanding phrases, such as "Bullsh—!" and "You suck!" Meanwhile, you could see it slowly dawn on Bill that I never did what I was supposed to do.
While I watched Joe and Bill go through the motions and finish the match, the general idea of what the referee wanted me to do began to dawn on me. When we all got back to the dressing room, somebody got yelled at and cursed out. Unfortunately, it was me! The subsequent browbeating I took in the dressing room was the exact moment of my epiphany.
I now knew how the wrestling business worked!
Copyright © Bruno Lauer
Lia was the actual owner of the wrestling company. She was the widow of the late Samoan High Chief Peter Maivia, the mother-in-law of Rocky Johnson, and the grandmother of Dwayne Johnson, who would one day become none other than the Rock.
Lia was not only the owner of the wrestling company, but she was, in no uncertain terms, the boss. I realized that fact within five minutes of walking into the office, which was located in the Pagoda Blue building on Kapiolani Blvd. Lars introduced me to Lia, and then he immediately, in a very sarcastic tone I must say, said, "Bruno tells me he isn’t here to set up rings. He’s here to be a manager."
She hated me instantly. She didn’t say so, but I could tell. Who the hell did I think I was, coming to her island, to her company, and telling her what I would or would not do? I tried in vain to explain to her that I wasn’t showing a poor attitude. I simply hadn’t been told that I was expected to work on rings, and that I may actually have declined the job if I knew that was one of the requirements. After all the years of backbreaking, tedious, and basically unrewarding labor on the big, square monster, I swore that I never wanted to touch a ring again, unless it was already assembled and ready for combat. I tried to reason with her, but she turned a deaf ear and told Lars to give me my office duties.
Lars rolled his eyes, and without speaking a word, more or less told me that he was on my side.
Copyright © Bruno Lauer
The main event that night was a six-man tag team match with Dundee, Jeff Jarrett, and Pat Tanaka against Boy Tony and the Japs, with both Tojo and me at ringside. I was determined that this was the night that I would make a stand against the Scottish bastard.
Here’s how it went down: The match was a typical six-man tag with two sets of heat. The first set was on Tanaka, who eventually made the hot tag to Jeff. After a few minutes of furious action, they settled back down and worked, until finally, Dundee tagged in. Dundee worked a while, then tagged out.
Suddenly, I looked up and noticed that Dundee wasn’t standing on the ring apron. When I couldn’t finding him anywhere around the ring, I realized where he was. He was under the ring, crawling towards me, intent on catching me by surprise and bumping me. In the process, he would not only make me look like an idiot, but he would put more heat on me from Lawler. What an asshole. Not only did he not care a whit about my career, but evidently, he didn’t care about what was good for business, either. His actions would take away my heat, and since I was being pushed towards a blow-off with Lawler, it would hurt the houses.
I had to think fast. I knew Dundee was getting in position to roll out from under the ring and attack me. I thought, "Fu— it! If he’s not working with me, then he’s working against me, intentionally, so I’ll do the same thing."
I turned right around and walked back to the dressing room. When I reached the dressing room door, I turned around, just in time to see Dundee come bursting out from under the ring … only nobody was home. Dundee just stood there, looking like an idiot. He looked like even more of an idiot when Tojo whacked him across the back of his head with his kendo stick. There was nothing left for the Superstar to do except crawl back under the ring to the corner where his team stood, but this time, he made the trip with his tail tucked tightly between his legs.
Boy, oh, boy, oh, boy! Dundee didn’t take that lightly. When we got back to the dressing room, that little fireplug called me everything but a white man and a child of God. He even threatened to call "Little Man" (Jerry Jarrett’s nickname) and have me fired by nine o’clock the next morning.
Copyright © Bruno Lauer
Later that night, "Gambler" Bob Owens came over to have a few drinks with us. He drank all of our beer and most of our gin before 11:30. I’ve never been a gin man. For that matter, I’ve never been a big fan of anything other than beer, and I wanted more (I was really out of control by that time in my life). Rocky had already fallen asleep, but before doing so, he had gone through his nightly routine of hiding both his car keys and mine. Bob Owens had passed out on my bed. As I looked around the room, lo and behold, Bob’s car keys were right there on the table. "Are you thinking what I’m thinking?" I asked Dewey.
Evidently he was because, a split second later, he was in the driver’s seat and I was in the passenger seat. Off we went in Bob Owen’s car — without permission, without a driver’s license, and without a care in the world.
Our original plan was to drive to the beer store and come right back, but when immaturity, drunkenness, and youthful exuberance come together, things tend to get a bit complicated. "Want to cruise down to Lower Broad real quick before we go back?" asked Dewey.
"What about Bob and your dad?" I asked.
"Man, they’re out like a light! They’ll never even know we’re gone," said Dewey.
Well, that was good enough for me! I lit a cigarette and off we went. I don’t know how much time passed, but we ended up parking the car and going into a run-down, redneck, beer joint. Dewey had no problem getting in. He was bigger and more impressive looking than anyone else in the place, regardless of his age. We had a great time. About 2:30 in the morning, we thought it might be a good idea to get back to the hotel. We laughed and joked around all the way back, bragging to ourselves about how we got away with our little escapade, and how slick we were. We were on top of the world … right up to the time we pulled into the parking lot and saw Rocky and Bob Owens sitting on the patio in front of our room.
If there was ever a time I wish I could have just exploded and died on a moment’s notice, that was it. I looked at Dewey, he looked at me, and we both more or less simultaneously said, "We’re in real trouble." And we were.
Copyright © Bruno Lauer
After arranging to get Rocky’s car towed to a mechanic to be repaired, we got into my car and headed towards Louisville. Truthfully, we didn’t parade around together at the gas-stations or restaurants on the way to Louisville. I fueled the car before we left Nashville so we wouldn’t have to stop on the way. We kept a very low profile and drove out of town as inconspicuously as possible, and nobody saw us.
Nobody but Paul Diamond.
Somewhere around Elizabethtown, Kentucky, Mr. Stooge himself saw me and Rocky rolling down I-65. As he passed, he gave us the old "shame on you" routine, rubbing one index finger over the top of the other. He grinned and stepped on the accelerator.
When we arrived in Louisville, we knew the Tuesday Night Stooge Report was going to feature us in bold, neon lights. This time, however, we were prepared. I let Rocky out about three blocks away from the Gardens and he walked to the facility alone, while I pulled into the parking area by myself. I made my way inside, waited for Rocky, and then we marched, together, straight up to Randy Hales.
It was apparent that Diamond had already dropped the dime on us because Randy said he wanted to speak to us about an issue he was concerned about. That was all Rocky had to hear. Before Randy could open his mouth, Rocky said, "Yes, Randy. Me and Bruno rode up here together. We know that no-good snake in the grass Paul Diamond already told you, and I bet you’re going to yell at us before you even know the circumstances, so go ahead and yell. We’re ready!"
For a moment, Randy Hales was speechless, but then he started to deliver the same old, worn-out, generic speech about protecting the business and so forth. Rocky stopped him again. "The main event tonight is me and Tony Falk. Lawler and Dundee aren’t on the card." (It was a split crew that night, with Lawler, Dundee, and a few others appearing in Harrisburg, Arkansas, 600 miles away) "My car wouldn’t start. If I didn’t ride with Bruno, I wouldn’t have been able to be here, and without a main event, the town would be hurt. I rode with him out of necessity."
And he was absolutely correct. Randy had no counter to Rocky’s argument and the matter was closed. He told us to be careful going back to Nashville, and that he would personally drive Rocky a few exits down the road to meet me after the show.
Well, according to Randy, the matter was closed, but not according to Rocky. He immediately headed for the dressing room and confronted Diamond about the stooge-off. Diamond emphatically denied it. I think that made Rocky madder than the actual stooge-off. By denying the allegation, Diamond was actually insulting Rocky’s intelligence, and that really pissed off Rocky. Rocky was always the most jovial, care-free, fun-loving guy you could ever meet. There had to be a good reason for him to get mad, and this was the maddest I ever saw Rocky since I’ve known him.
Copyright © Bruno Lauer
Later that night, in Fulton, Mississippi, my wrestling bag grew legs and walked away while I was at the ring with Tony Falk. When I got back to the dressing room, I couldn’t find it anywhere. Paul E. seemed to be very concerned and pretended to help me look for it. When Paul E. went out for his match, Cleo Reeves (a local wrestler from Turrell, Arkansas) told me Paul had hidden my bag above the lockers in the far corner of the dressing room. I retrieved it, checked the contents (which were intact), and put it into the trunk of my Lincoln.
I really and truly believe that every man has his breaking point, and if you push somebody hard or long enough, you’ll find it. Paul E. had found mine. I’m not a violent person, but I am a little guy with a big temper who will lash out when I think I’m being disrespected. Paul E. doesn’t understand just how close he came to needing skin grafts from his ass to repair his face. He should also do everything within his power to locate and thank "Cowboy" Don Bass, who saved his ass. Donny settled me down and made me realize that such a course of action wouldn’t exactly endear me to Lawler or Jarrett. Besides, Paul E. wasn’t worth my time or trouble.
Dale Veasey, Barry Horowitz, and I decided to deal with Paul E. in another way. We decided to deal with him mentally, in a manner which would do more damage than any severe physical trauma I might give him.
At the time, Dale was doing a gimmick with his wife, Bambi, as his valet. Bambi was a good looking, really, really, hot young lady. Any man who had an ounce of life left in him would lust after her. If she was in her prime in this day and age, I believe she would be one of the WWE divas. Dale, Barry and I talked her into doing a really deceitful thing, against her will, I must add. We had her call Paul E’s room (we were all staying at the same hotel) and invite him down to see her. She made up the excuse that Dale, Barry and I all went out drinking together, and that she was very lonely and needed some company. What’s funny about that is; a) Paul E. was down to her room, knocking on the door, almost before she even had the receiver back in the cradle; b) if Paul E. had any sense, he would remember that Dale and Barry didn’t drink, and I didn’t need company when I went out drinking; and c) Dale, Barry and I were hiding in the bathroom behind the shower curtain.
Copyright © Bruno Lauer
But it was Bob Brown’s actions that night which pushed me right to the edge. He decided that when he made his comeback, I would jump up on the ring apron and he would headbutt me. After falling to the arena floor, I would get color. For the uninitiated, "getting color" means doing a blade job, which meant slicing my forehead open with a razor blade and bleeding like a stuck hog. Well, I had done that hundreds of times in Memphis, so one more time wouldn’t hurt. Besides, he was the boss, as much as I hated to accept the fact.
Before the match, I took my niacin (to thin the blood, thus making the blood flow more freely and easily), drank a quart of beer (for the same reason), and made my blade. When the time came for the headbutt, I was Johnny on the spot. Boom! I took the bump, gigged my head like a trooper, and bled like I had been shot in the head with a 9mm pistol.
When I got back to the dressing room, Bob Geigel was furious. He was madder than I had ever seen him. He asked me why on earth I would get juice without being told to do so. As I explained that Bob Brown had told me to do it, Brown walked into the dressing room. Brown tilted his head back in the cocky manner he had whenever he was about to say something that would almost certainly piss somebody off, looked Bob Geigel right in the eye, and said, "I never told him such a thing!"
What a lying, no-good bastard. In an earlier chapter, I called Bill Dundee "Satan." Compared to Bob Brown, Dundee was the Pope. While this was taking place, the Battens walked in and intervened. "We heard Bob Brown tell Bruno to gig himself." Right about that time, Ric McCord walked in, and repeated what the Battens and I had already said.
Bob Brown is the type of guy who would be standing next to a freshly murdered corpse, with a bloody knife in his hand, and try to lie his way out of it.
Copyright © Bruno Lauer
The more Sid drank, the odder he acted. As we sat there with the door cracked open for ventilation (there was no air conditioner, of course), a guy walked past our door several times. He was just going about his business (getting ice, getting cokes from the machine, getting his belongings out of his car, and so forth), but Sid didn’t see it that way. "Let me tell you something, Bruno," Sid whispered, in a voice much like the one he would use years later on TV when he was Sycho Sid. "That mother fu—er sees that Lincoln with those Mississippi tags out there and is figuring out a way to steal it! The next time he walks by, you’d better open up that door and tell him to stay the fu— away from your car!"
"But, Sid ..." I tried to interrupt and explain that I didn’t think the guy was up to anything wrong, but Sid cut me off mid-sentence. "This is Alabama, boy. You’re not in Memphis anymore," he snarled. "If you don’t tell him off the next time he walks past our room, you’ll have to deal with me! Understand?"
The only thing running through my mind at that point was, "What the fu— have I gotten myself into with this guy?"
Much to my dismay, the guy came walking towards our room. Sid pulled out a knife with a blade almost as long as a ruler and said, "You’d better go straighten out the guy or you’ll find out just how sharp my knife blade is."
The guy didn’t look like he was up to anything! He had a brown paper sack in his hand, which I supposed had a 6-pack or something in it, and was innocently walking towards his room. As I nervously walked towards the open doorway, Sid suddenly jumped up, shoved me out the door, and yelled at the guy in a loud voice. "Hey, this guy here says get the fu— away from his car." He slammed and locked the door behind me and left me standing on the sidewalk.
Copyright © Bruno Lauer
The only time I ever saw Chief at a loss for words was after an incident involving the late, great, Owen Hart. One evening, Owen, who was a babyface, was working with I.R.S [Mike Rotundo]. As the match progressed, Owen clapped his hands and stomped his foot, getting the people riled up before he went on the offensive against his opponent. Of course, the people clapped along with Owen and got into the match. Chief, who was the agent for the match, had wrestled with an Indian gimmick for more than 15 years. When Owen got back to the dressing room, Chief called him over to the side. "Rocket!" said Chief. Rocket was Chief’s nickname for Owen. "If you were in a street fight, would you clap your hands and look at the people who were watching?"
"No, Chief," replied Owen, in his usual humorous manner. "I’d probably break out into an Indian war dance!"
Of course, that was what the Chief used in his comeback for the majority of his career. Chief just shook his head and walked away. That story is still making the rounds in dressing rooms today.
Copyright © Bruno Lauer
One of the highlights of my career took place on March 14, 1992. The tour actually made a stop at the Pyramid Arena in Memphis. Sid and Flair (with me in their corner) were working with Hogan and Roddy Piper. Hulk, being the great guy he was (and is), really took care of me. "This is your backyard, brother," he told me in the dressing room. "I’m gonna make you look like a million dollars!"
And he did. During the heat, Hogan rolled out of the ring near where I was standing, and commanded me to "come and get" him. Catching him "off-guard," I punched and kicked him a few times. The way he bumped and sold for me, you would have thought I was Evander Holyfield. This was Hulk Hogan! I couldn’t believe it. As he laid on the ringside floor, he told me to throw him back into the ring, and when I did, Sid and Flair attacked him. That goes to show you what a great guy Hogan is. Here I was, about nine miles from DeSoto County, with a lot of my friends in the audience, and he made me look like the toughest guy in town. I’ll never forget it.
For me, that was the last day of the road trip. I thanked Hulk very much for what he did for me, then headed south on Highway 61 for the short trip home to Walls, where I now owned a modest trailer. Three days later, I was back on the road, beginning at the Coliseum in Oakland, California. Piper and Hogan chased me around the ring and bumped me around like a rag doll. After the first bump, Hulk whispered to me, "We’re not in Memphis any more," then gave me a nice (working) shot to the head.
Copyright © Bruno Lauer
Suddenly, we heard a loud commotion coming from Vince’s room. It was Nailz, screaming and ranting at Vince like a maniac! He was complaining about his Wembley payoff, the show on which he worked one of the opening matches with the dreadful Virgil. I don’t know what his payoff was, but I could hear him loudly demanding that Vince put $100,000 dollars in his bank account, and Vince calmly refusing. As that went on for what seemed like several minutes, a nervous and curious crowd gathered in the hallway to hear the rumpus. Lombardi, the Steiner brothers (who were there that day for their WWF debut), Tony Garea, Rene Goulet, the Beverly brothers, John Nord, Marty Jannetty, and I were all right there when we heard a loud crash. Garea and Goulet ran into the room at that point to see what had happened. Amid all the confusion and chaos of everybody running into the room to break up the argument, I couldn’t really see exactly what transpired, but one of the agents later told me that when they burst into the room, Nailz was on top of McMahon with his hands around his throat. The agents grabbed Vince and the Minnesota boys grabbed Nailz. "Get off me. I’m fine," Vince said to the agents, as Nord and one of the Beverly Brothers took Nailz out of the building.
Copyright © Bruno Lauer
As the engine stopped racing, I sat in utter and complete shock in the eerie silence. Finally, I calmly asked, "Joey! You’re dead, aren’t you?"
Now, I know that’s a weird thing to ask, but in a situation like that, there’s no telling what a person might say. For some reason, I thought it was appropriate to ask Joey if he was dead. When there was no response, I asked again, and still got no response, to which I finally freaked out and screamed hysterically, "JOEY, YOU’RE DEAD!"
I didn’t know how badly I may have been hurt, either. As I gathered my senses and began to get my bearings, I realized that I had lost my glasses during the accident. I am practically blind without my glasses, so I was almost completely helpless. I groped through the wreckage, patting my hands over glass and twisted metal, hoping to find them. When that failed, I remembered that I kept an extra pair of glasses in a Tupperware container in my suitcase. I had to get out of the car and get my suitcase. To accomplish that, I had to crawl over Joey’s body. There was no way other way to get out of the car. "Sorry, Joey," I sobbed, as I eased my way across his lifeless corpse. That was a horrifying thing to have to do. I eased my body out through the shattered driver’s side window, and as I crashed to the ground, I was disoriented, shaken up beyond belief, bleeding from the nose, mouth, and hand, and petrified with fear.
Copyright © Bruno Lauer
One day, as I was going about my normal errands, Oscar, a non-wrestling person who was the so-called "manager" of Mabel and Mo (Men On a Mission), condescendingly asked me where his food was. Shawn, who was sitting in the dressing room, caught me totally off guard when he stood up and told Oscar to, "Get the fu— out of the dressing room. It’s bullsh— for you to be full-time on the road, while a veteran like Bruno, who has paid his dues, is running errands and isn’t being booked on the road. If I ever hear you ask Bruno for another favor of any kind, I’ll throw your ass out into the street!" Just as suddenly as he stood up, Shawn sat back down, and went about his business. I will never, ever forget that. I didn’t ask him to do that for me. He just did it because, a) he liked me; b) he respected me; and c) he felt that it was the right thing to do. Thanks, Shawn.
Copyright © Bruno Lauer
Hayes finally walked up to me one night in Richmond and told me that if I didn’t start taking big, devastating bumps, I would be taken out of the gimmick. I didn’t know whether to kiss him or give him $500. Didn’t he understand? I wanted to be taken out of the gimmick! "Okay, Michael," I replied. "If you want me to take bumps, make me the ladies champion."
Me and my big mouth. One month later, on January 31, 2000, I walked into the Pittsburgh Civic Arena. Satisfied in the knowledge that my program with Moolah was over, and that I could concentrate totally on my concierge duties, lo and behold, "P.S." Hayes excitedly told me that I was going to work with the Kat that night in a championship match. "What?" Kat, a.k.a. Stacy Carter, was Jerry Lawler’s girlfriend and the WWF Women’s champion at the time. Hayes proceeded to tell me that not only was I going to participate in a championship match that night, but I was going over [going to win]. I was going to become the champion. But, wait. It gets even better. Or worse … depending on how you look at it. The match wasn’t going to be held in the ring. It was going to be contested in a wading pool full of snow, and I was going to be dressed like a woman — wig, nail polish, and all. Couple that with the fact that in my best day, even at 25 years old, I wasn’t a very good worker, and Kat, who was getting by mainly on her looks (which were more than enough, I must admit), couldn’t work at all. We were doomed from the start. At the time, I was 34 years old, washed-up, beaten-down, put upon, and constantly in pain, so the match had the potential to be a real disaster.
I wanted to drop you a line and let you know how much I enjoyed "Wrestling With The Truth." I grew up in a small town in NE Arkansas and loved Memphis wrestling. I left there in late 1983 when I joined the military and came back in October 1986. The first show I saw when I came home was the debut of Downtown Bruno. I knew wrestling was a work, but I thought, "Man, this guy must be an absolute jerk in real life. He's just too good at playing one on TV."
I was really surprised when he left Memphis and stayed away so long. I knew the territories were drying up at that time. The adventures between his Memphis runs were very interesting. He gave a great promo when he returned, the "look back in anger" interview.
I guess in many ways a book like this is an insight into a life that fans would have wanted to live. I'm not an athlete; I never envisioned myself as a wrestler. But, I did imagine that I could be a heel manager. Sometimes, I still find myself cutting mental promos for Memphis wrestling. (I wonder if there is any kind of treatment for such odd behavior).
I really appreciate the work that was done on this project.
"Wrestling with the Truth" gives the reader a ringside seat to the extremely interesting life and story of "Downtown" Bruno Lauer. His captivating language and attention to the utmost of details will make the reader feel as if he is right there alongside Bruno as he is experiencing life, from the carnival in Pennsylvania to Madison Square Garden. Lace up your boots and get this book today!
Thanks! I loved the book!
Lauer comes off as a very likeable fellow but also very honest, and oftimes brutal. However, this honesty is somewhat refreshing in that Bruno doesn’t come off as a sycophant in his book, loving everyone he’s ever come across in the business. As in many bios that aren’t necessarily tell-alls (you know, the ones that try to create controversy by being salacious and sleazy), Bruno is able to balance his good-natured side with his honest side, being straightforward where necessary and complimentary when appropriate.
Read the complete review on kayfabememories.com
Bruno has accomplished what few manage to do when writing their life story, whereas he did so by calling it the way he saw it without concern for his antagonist’s feelings, yet making certain he showed appreciation to those who helped him along the way, never taking credit for his own success in the comical, yet sometimes tragic, world of professional wrestling.
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All in all, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of this book. Some of the stories are funny, some are sad, while others will make you mad. It’s a great ride through the final days of what used to be the regional wrestling territories. It also walks you through the emergence of a new world of wrestling superstars (The Rock, Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, Undertaker, etc). Whether you are totally "old-school" in your wrestling, or if you prefer the new stuff, "Downtown" Bruno transcends both eras and delivers the goods with a highly-entertaining book.
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BRAD: Please expand on the Bertha Faye love-interest storyline for our readers. Were you having fun?
BRUNO: The Bertha Faye deal was Vinny Roos' (Vince Russo) idea. No, I was not having fun; don’t get me wrong, I didn’t mind pretending to be in love with a hideous creature — that’s business — I minded babysitting a smelly, alcoholic, argumentative, know-it-all person, with no appreciation from her for anything.
Interview by Brad Dykens
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Bruno Lauer fancies himself a loyal, honest and trustworthy World Wrestling Entertainment employee.
Basically, everything that his pro wrestling character wasn't.
As the treacherous Harvey Wippleman, Lauer managed Sid Vicious (then known as Sid Justice) and a slew of other WWE talent in the 1990s. Lauer was even sleazier during an earlier run working as Downtown Bruno for regional promotions. He was an especially big hit in Memphis, Tenn., where a loyal fan base believed the in-ring exploits of baby-faces like Jerry Lawler and Jeff Jarrett were on the level.
Interview by Alex Marvez of the Rocky Mountain News
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