My heart has been broken with the recent news of terrorism in New Zealand. This terrible situation got me thinking about my own experiences in that beautiful country and how my old boss Vince McMahon once saved the day for a lot of workers who had been wished luck on their future endeavors.
“Some people have bad things to say about Vince McMahon, but he has never bounced a check in his life!”
Back in the autumn of 1990, Mr. McMahon wished me luck on my future endeavors.
About a week later, Pat Patterson called me and said that Don Muraco’s friends were running a tour down in New Zealand and asked if I could be a part of it. It wasn’t a WWF promotion but they were going to borrow some talent for their shows. The main event featured The Bushwhackers vs The Nasty Boys. As you know, The Bushwhackers are indigenous to New Zealand.
It was going to be two weeks for $2000 and I said yes. I had just been fired and this opportunity opened the door for me to get another country under my belt. Besides, I can think of a lot of reasons to say yes as I don’t know many people who are given the opportunity to travel to New Zealand for free. Not to mention, my stock wasn’t up too high after being canned like that. So I said okay.
Pat Patterson told me it would be me against Jimmy Powers on this tour. “Jimmy Powers likes to work with ya!” is what he said, and I liked working with him. We were going to be in the opening match of all the towns which was great.
We go to Auckland, New Zealand and as I said, it wasn’t a WWF sponsored event so they did a few things wrong that I noticed. For example, the first time we went to Auckland, we drew half a house. It wasn’t a big venue either, but it wasn’t full. Not even close. It was a bad house.
“After working for Vince McMahon and the WWF, you can tell the difference in the smaller promotions.”
So the next morning, we’re not in the “Sports” page but we’re on the front page of the newspaper. But see, Vince would never allow that. Vince would have had all of the publicity in front of the show, not behind it. Why would you want to advertise something afterward? That’s something that Vince knows from being a good promoter. After working for WWF, you can tell the difference in the smaller promotions. We never did draw a good house while we were there as this wasn’t promoted by Vince.
We went to a couple of more towns including a fascinating town called Rotorua which smelled of sulfur and was famous for its baths and geysers. You can look it up. It’s a notable town because it has its healing waters. While I don’t know about that, I paid the money and took a bath in their public pools. I don’t know if it was any good for you or not, but they had some outlandish claims and I took them up on it. I noticed no difference.
In between shows, I remember driving really fast in the mountains and there was nothing there to protect us but sticks and rope. It was raining hard and I thought of myself flying off the mountain and killing myself! Siva Afi was the driver and he was going too fast. I said, “Please slow down!” and he started laughing, drinking more and speeding up.
I thought, “Well, I’m screwed…”
I had remembered Matthew Broderick killed some people in Ireland a few years before because he wasn’t used to the driving. It’s not paranoia. It’s facing reality. I didn’t want to be a statistic in the newspaper like this!
“It’s not paranoia. It’s facing reality. I didn’t want to be a statistic in the newspaper like this!”
We got to Wellington, which was the actual hometown of The Bushwhackers, and I got to see a whole lot, but before we got to the south island and Christchurch, the tour got canceled. Just like that, we were flying home.
Before leaving, we all got checks, checks for the dates that we worked pro-rated for whatever we were promised.
On the first leg of the trip home from Auckland to Honolulu, I met a girl that was a flight attendant that was deadheading. She took a liking to me and put me in first class next to her. We got along really well but no precious body fluids were exchanged! I sure had a nice flight home.
I fly back and everything and I’m very exhausted. As soon as I hit spine to feathers, my now ex-wife goes, “Lanny, are you asleep?”
I said, “Not yet!”
It was Vince McMahon’s secretary on the line.
She said, “I’m sorry that you had a bad tour. Did you cash your check yet?”
I said, “No.”
She said, “Good. Don’t, because it’s going to bounce. Even though it wasn’t Vince’s promotion, he felt he was responsible because he sent you on this tour so he’s going to make it good.”
A few days later, I got a check in the mail from Stamford, Connecticut and it’s signed by Vince. Sure enough, that check was good.
Vince saved the day by making the check good for all of the workers on this tour. He didn’t have to do this.
But the truth of the matter and the moral of the story is that some people know the price of everything and the value of nothing. I still got a free trip to New Zealand and I got to see Auckland, Wellington, Rotorua, and a few other places. I got to do all that sightseeing and then Vince made the check good. Had he not done this, I still would have been happy because very few people have made that trip to New Zealand from America and if they had, it cost them money. So I feel fortunate in all ways because of that opportunity. I had a fantastic time out there also because of The Bushwhackers.
As for the person in charge of these shows, I don’t remember his name. What I do know was Mark Lewin and Don Muraco were friends of the promoter. He was a local guy from Auckland.
Back in the old days, the biggest stars that hit New Zealand were Don Muraco, Curtis Iaukea, and Mark Lewin. Those were the men that were the biggest stars in that small area. Mark Lewin was famous as “The handsomest wrestler that ever lived!” He isn’t now but he was then! He was a handsome pretty boy wrestler as well as a helluva worker and big star. He made a lot of money where he went but burned bridges everywhere he went too.
When Rick Martel made his debut, Curtis Iaukea interrupted one of his promos and was accused of being the illegitimate son of Mark Lewin. It’s an outlandish claim made by an outlandish heel but it got Rick Martel over immediately (not that he wouldn’t have gotten over anyway).
Then there was Steve Rickard. He was the man who had the territory out there back in the day and he was one-half of the big promotors down under. You see, you had Jim Barnet in Australia and Steve Rickard in New Zealand and for years they made a lot of money and they kept that place hopping.
As I look back on my life, this was one of those things that I relish. I appreciate Vince McMahon for what he had done. Some people have bad things to say about Mr. McMahon, but he has never bounced a check in his life and he has replaced the divot of a few others.
I never made it to Christchurch but I am truly sorry about the earthquakes and the recent terrorism.