Long Days and Short Pays
By his own admission, H.E. West was never what you might call a well-known name in professional wrestling.He never wrestled in Madison Square Garden, he never held a championship title, and the small amount of money he was paid seldom covered the expenses he incurred on the road.For all intents and purposes, wrestling was not much more than a hobby, but he was doing what he loved.
West's story is a captivating look at life on the road for a man whose only desire was to be a part of the world of professional wrestling, not matter how small or insignificant that part might be.He takes the reader along with him on his journey into the wrestling world, describing his time in the ring, wrestling in high-school gyms and armories before fewer than one hundred people, and on the road with his fellow wrestlers.West wrestled as Mean Duke West, The Creature, and his most high-profile character, the Canadian Rose. He talks about being cheated by promoters, and being paid as little as one dollar a match.The narrative is peppered with honesty and humor, and told with humility by a man who never makes himself out to be more than he was a wrestler whose sole purpose in the ring was to make other wrestlers look good.
His story comes to a close as, with the advent of Vince McMahon and World Wrestling Entertainment, he watches the wrestling business change around him, and as the independent promotions go out of business, he finds himself standing on the outside of the wrestling business and looking in.
This is the story of a man who sacrificed and did what it took to achieve his childhood dream to be a "professional wrestler."
Copyright H.E. West
When I talked to Mr. Klein in mid 1973, he said he remembered my uncle and invited me to come to his gym in Detroit where he would work with me. When I met with Klein, I told him a few of my "Uncle Louie" stories.Klein just said, "Kid, you should only believe about one-half the horsesht an old wrestler tells you."And dont believe a damn thing he told you about me."He asked about Uncle Louie and I told him he had been dead for some time.He shook his head and grunted, "Well, dont matter.Youre gonna have to get in that ring and show me you got somethin."I was about as green as you could get, and I know that during that first session, I looked like crap, but, probably out of courtesy to my late uncle, Louis let me keep coming back.
Copyright H.E. West
Unfortunately, he was equally bad as a referee.He was always in the way and did not have a clue about what he was supposed to do.If someone was pinned or outside the ring, we had to remind Rick that he was supposed to be counting that person out.Miller promised he would figure out some way to get Rick out of our hair.He finally decided to tell Rick he could get into the show for free the following week by helping them set up the ring.Rick showed up early to help set up.
When it was time for the show, Rick planted himself at front row ringside.Before the night was over, he managed to pull out the proverbial "straw that broke the camels back." He not only showed up at the match wearing his wrestling boots, but he rolled up his pant legs to make sure everyone saw them.He then announced to everyone within ear shot that he was one of the wrestlers.He told them he might be called on if one of the other wrestlers didnt show up.To make matters worse, he began screwing with our "g
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