I had mentioned in my previous post that while I was in Tampa, I spent some time with Jack Brisco (my vote for the best of the 70s and 80s), I wanted to go into more detail about that incredible experience.
As I was going to be in Tampa, and being that I had met Mr. Brisco in Vegas at last year's CAC reunion and we had a real nice conversation. I wanted to stop by his auto body shop to say hello. Still,I have to admit, I was hesitant, I didn't want to impose on his time, but Bruce Tharpe - a good friend and former Forida ring announcer, assured me that it would be okay to contact him. I did (thank you to Mark Nulty for helping me out), and we set up a time to meet.
Just as my cab pulled up to the body shop, I spotted Mr. Brisco getting out of his pickup truck. As we shook hands, he smiled, and his genuine friendliness shined through, and it seemed so silly at that point to have felt funny about contacting him.
We went inside the body shop and he intriduced me to the fine folks there. I noticed his new book on his desk and I looked through it - lots of great photos. We talked about some of his favorite opponents, among them were Dick Murdoch, Terry Funk, and Jerry Lawler.
I asked him if they ever considered turning him heel in Florida even though he was the number one babyface. They never did, but he told me about him and Jerry briefly playing the heels during a memorable feud with Mike Graham and Steve Kiern.
Mark out moment - as he was talking and mentioning different opponents, I was transported back in time and it felt like i was listening to him talking to Gordon Solie on "Championship Wrestling From Florida." Then it hit me - oh my God, I'm actually in Tampa talking one-on-one with Jack Brisco!
After talking for a few more minutes, he showed me the rest of the body shop. Really interesting place, and he had bought it back in 1973. "Before or after you became world chanp?" I asked him. It was after. As he concluded this truly interesting tour of the shop, he siad "Come on, I'll drive you by the Armory." This was a thrilling and unexpected surprise! As we drove, we just talked about different things. He mentioned something about being left handed. As often as I had seen him wretle, I guess I never realized it. "Terry Funk was left handed too," he told me. "When we wreslted, I'd ltell him 'I hate working with you left handed wreslters,' and he'd say 'you SOB, you're left handed too," he added with a laugh.
We arrived at the former Armory and parked by it for a moment. "Here it is," he told me. "Bobby (Shane) and I had a lot of great matches in this building." As we drove away, he explained that it is now a clothing factory.
Next, he drove me by the old Sportatorium office on Albany Avenue. "Cowboy Lutrill and Eddie Graham had their offics upstairs," he noted. "They taped the TV matches here as well," he added. I felt a rush, just being so close to where one of hte greastest wrestling shows was taped was an incredible feeling, surpassed only by the excitement as I once again realized that I was there with Jack Brisco! It was like being at Yankee Stadium with Babe Ruth!
As we later prted company, he wished me well with my presentation on Bobby Shane, and I gave him a copy of the song I wrote about Bobby. We shook hands and he siad "see you next week (at the CAC reunion)".
After doing the presentation on Bobby, I went to Houlihan's for an early dinner (it was around 4:30 or so). I really wasn't as hungry as I thought - I think i was full of excitement from meeting with Mr. Brisco and then doing the presentation. After going back to the hotel, I called one of my wrestling buddies back home in New York, and he listened intently as I told him all about my time with one of the true good guys, in and out of the ring!
Thank you, Mr. Brisco, from the bottom of my heart! You are truly one of a kind!