The 47th annual Cauliflower Alley Club reunion was just completed with a record attendance in excess of 500 people in wrestling’s oldest brotherhood organization. In past years, Giant Baba, Antonio Inoki, Sakaguchi, Rusher Kimura, Devil Masami, Chigusa Nagoya and many other legends from Japan have been honored on stage with plaques and trophies as wrestlers of the year. Mil Mascaras, Steve Rickard and many others have equally been honored making it an international event of importance.
This year’s honorees included female wrestlers Wendi Richter, Lisa “Ivory” Moretiti and Judy Martin as well as wrestlers Mike Webster, Gorgeous Michelle Starr(who’s primarily been a Pacific Northwest promoter and trainer), Bill “Hugh Morris” DeMott who had a long hardcore history in Japan, tv/movie star, animal activist and long time wrestling fan and friend Dan “Grizzly Adams” Haggerty, 50 year Kansas City announcing legend Bill Kersten, Al “Mr Outrageous” Burke. Ricky Steamboat received one of the top top Lou Thesz awards from presenter and his longtime Charlotte foe Bob “Sgt. Slaughter” Remus and Jim Ross presented CAC’s top Iron Mike Mazurki award to Stonecold Steve Austin. For anyone who might’ve forgotten, Kersten memorably called Harley Race defeating Dory Jr for the belt in K.C. and although much older and frail, he delivered several of his trademark “helllllllloooooooooooo wrestling fans!” Harley Race spoke of Bill and gave him his award which in the past has gone to greats from Dick Lane to Gordon Solie(former board member) and Jim Ross.
Those who weren’t able to attend last minute but who were scheduled to receive awards included regular Mick Foley and Charles “Godfather, Papa Shango” Wright.
Also present were Mil Mascaras, Butcher Paul Vachon, Gama Singh, Rockin Robin Smith, Melissa Anderson, WCW/WWE ref Mickey James, Sara Del Ray, Zach Gowen, Disco Inferno, Gangrel, Smashing Pumpkins rock legend Billy Corgan and his new Chicago promotion employees, and a plethora of wrestling writers and historians in myself, Greg Oliver, Bryan Alvarez, Tom Burke, Terry Machalek, and Dave Meltzer. And a ton of other old and young wrestlers, promoters, refs, announcers, fans and more. Nick Bockwinkel remains our esteemed president, but it’s being reported he might be suffering from the same early Altimer’s that forced former president Red Bastien before him to retire. If that’s true, JJ DIllon would be the most likely candidate to take over. JJ and Terry Funk again served as superb masters of ceremony for the event for their third time. Before presenting the Thesz award, Terry “got behind” JJ and laughter ensued through the room. Nick looked terrific but sadly never got on stage to say anything. Being one of the kings on the stick, he was always 5 star promo-wise at CAC and we hope the rumors aren’t so. Red’s better half Carol and their daughter Tracy were there as always. Sadly, Paul Boesch’s widow Valerie and son Joey weren’t with us this year as Joey always plays piano and sings.
Cauliflower Alley Club was first started as a wrestlers-only several-times-a-year lunchtime event by Iron Mike Mazurki who was both a wrestling and Hollywood legend. Until 2000, it always honored wrestlers, boxers and movie/tv stars equally. Since then, it’s primarily been about wrestlers but several years back, we re-added the “Reel” award for movie and tv stars which Rock Riddle helped with this year. I’ve been the club’s photographer since the 80’s under CAC co-founder(the late Art Abrams), and we’ve had nearly everyone from wrestling but also Sly Stallone, Arnold Schwartzneggar, Oscar De La Hoya, Willie Pep, Joe Louis and actors ranging from Jimmy Cagney to Elliot Gould. Destroyer Dick Beyer(with a tremendous Japanese career) is still our scholarship director and Tom Drake and others are on the board of directors. Many like the Vachon Brothers and Don Leo Jonathon don’t go to WWE’s Hall of Fame but they always try to make Cauliflower Alley as well as the Iowa and New York wrestling museums/halls of fame. Previous presidents have included Lou Thesz and boxing legend Archie Moore. Jim Ross was so topical, the day Dick Clark died, he said “well, the honor of the world’s oldest teenager will now fall onto Jerry Lawler’s shoulders!” Other bits of JR brilliance include him telling those who call matchs to “don’t just say it. That’s too obvious to call what it is. Don’t say what it is, but what it MEANS!” He also said he rarely does prep and doesn’t like to know what’s happening in advance, because then he can call it more realistically, more naturally. If you’ve not heard his brilliant stories about babysitting former great OK/LA promoter Leroy McGuirk towards the end, you’re really missing out. Jim Ross remains sports treasure.
There were some great seminar class events this year capped with Jim Ross’ 2 hour+ spectacular which was to be on “What WWE is looking for in wrestlers” but quickly evolved into some great Bill Watts and Jim Cornette stories. Former Glow lady wrestling star Angelica “Little Egypt” Altishin set a record for most consequitive years leading some great business and social media classes for wrestlers which were all rated 5 stars. Kizarney/Sinn Bodi had a superb class in how to develop one’s personality. The first of the three nights had a major international show of talent from all over that’s the standard for CAC, promoted by wrestler/promoter/trainer Billy Blade who’s a West Coast young legend. Traditional Championship Wrestling was well represented and Brian Blair was the first entrant who pulled a Flair almost lasting nearly till the very end of the battle royal(mostly young guys) when Rock Riddle snuck in at the last minute and helped toss old Florida rival Blair out to win the first cup trophy given at a CAC wrestling event. Zach Gowen, who has a book coming out with my radio hosting partner Evan Ginzburg(legendsradio.net for archives), is absolutely incredible and awe-inspiring to watch. What an amazing and courageous young athlete, first made famous in WWE and TNA. Back to Sinn Bodi, his freakshow championship wrestling 6 man contributing match saw a 550 legit pound male come to the ring, a guy dressed up in a tux and er, uh a Pink Floyd pig mask, a ref who was doing a gay act in what looked to be a crossdressing cross between a ref’s outfit and a female tutu and more. Sinn/Kiz really is a great, great wrestler who I believe was broken in by and inspired by his mentor Jake Roberts(who was missing from CAC this year). Howard Brody from what is today’s NWA as well as many time current NWA champ Adam Pierce was at CAC including many of APW’s talents like former Tough Enough(Austin/DeMott group last year) winner who came in 3rd in AJ Kirsch who really should be wrestling for one of the bigs right now.